jadewritesbooks · On Writing

Writing Is Hard And Other Obvious Things

When I first say to people that I want to be a writer, it’s met with one of two reactions –

“Oh, cool!”

or

“Nice, you know my friend/my boyfriend/someone I met randomly on the tube one time wrote a book, it’s 270k words but it keeps getting rejected, publishing doesn’t recognize genius”.

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Granted there’s a few “I couldn’t write a book” responses or “I’ve always wanted to write a book” thrown in there, but it’s more the first two options that I experience.

(FYI If you want to be a nice, supportive person, go with the top option. “Oh, cool!” is a safe response to most writers, but if followed by the scariest question of all time — “What’s your book about?” — be prepared for the author to shrivel up and cry rather than actually be able to tell you cohesively what they are writing about.)

The second option is one that many writers get, and it’s often soul-destroying. It insinuates that writing a book is something many people are doing, and doing well, and clearly because they have not got ahead in publishing us poor souls must be wasting our time.

Second Option Responders rarely recognize the sheer amount of hard work that actually goes into a book. The amount of tweets that are out there with the up and down cycle of falling in and then out of love with what you’re writing multiply by the minute. There are gifs, painfully accurate in their portrayal of a writer’s suffering, because if writing books were easy —

* EVERYONE would write one.
* The market would NOT be as competitive as it is today
* We would have way more whinging observations about how Life Is Hard for straight white males with money
* There would be no need for contests like PitchWars or mentoring systems

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I’ve struggled with writing my 4th MS for the past year. I can’t remember when I first started writing it — probably around the time President Grump was inaugurated – but I’m only just finishing the first draft. During this first draft I was finishing up my 3rd MS, entering PitchWars 2017, being mentored in the contest, doing extensive edits, querying, going at it tooth and nail and forcing all thoughts of 4th Book out of my head until finally, around March of this year, I decided to go for it.

It wasn’t as easy as I’d hoped. Even with an outline I struggled to get past scenes I wasn’t interested in writing, or figuring out why I didn’t like this scene here, or switching chapters, or just making my writing not suck. I read books on craft, I watched YouTube videos, I shoved so many nuggets of information into my head I looked like a 20 box at McDonald’s.

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Life got in the way as life often does, with money issues, illnesses, and the pesky inconvenience of having to keep the house in a functioning condition. Distractions were at every turn, a devil when I was actually 100% committed to my writing hour.

I had writing sprints with my darling CP, I focused on getting a word count goal for the day, and then finally – FINALLY – today I reached my 70k word count. I may not be finished, but it is book-shaped, and it has enough words to be considered a novel.

The finish line is in sight – I can see it – and I’m striving towards it. But next time someone tells you writing isn’t hard, or they want to write a book in their spare time, when you’ve buried the instinct of throwing water in their face please ask them why they haven’t written one.

Their answer may be because they haven’t had an idea, but I bet you it’s because “they haven’t found the time”.

Books aren’t made overnight. Books take care, and time, and graft, and sweat, and their fair share of tears. Writing is not easy.

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Be proud of every word you write, because each one is one more than those who’ve never written that book in their head have managed to do, and it’s a step closer towards your goals ❤

 


 

Have an MS you need editing? I can help! I have spots open all summer for developmental edits, query critiques and proofreading. Email me – jadewritesbooks@gmail.com – or visit Cover to Cover Edits for more information on how to reserve your place!

7 Sins Saturday · Just For Fun · Random Musings

Seven Sins Saturday – 7 Authors I’ve Never Read – But Maybe Should

Any of the Bronte sisters

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I’ve heard Wuthering Heights is a big complicated mess of ugly personality characters, and I don’t even know the plot of Jane Eyre – but they’re classic British female writers from t’north of England so I feel I owe it to them, as a British female writer from t’north, to go back and actually read some of their novels.

John Green

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Ok so recently I bought The Fault In Our Stars at a charity shop, and maybe like a week later everyone was screaming because of the recent news he’s got a new book coming out. I’ve heard bits and pieces about John Green which may or may not be entirely favourable, from personal conduct to quality of stories, but he’s such a big presence in YA I have to at least read something from him.

Roxane Gay

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I read a teeny excerpt in one of those “books coming out in June” or whatever things and I enjoyed it, but I haven’t ever read a book from her. I know she’s an incredibly influential writer, and her stark observations on modern day women and the situations surrounding them are second to none. I’m actually excited to read from her.

Margaret Atwood

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YAS MY FELLOW SCORPIO LADY! The Handmaid’s Tale is EVERYWHERE right now and I keep hearing how Margaret is exceptional with her storytelling. I feel so guilty I haven’t read anything from her. I will amend, I will amend.

Ursula Le Guin

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ANOTHER FELLOW SCORPIO. Maybe I should do a list of Scorpios. SFF Queen. Duchess. Whatever. I need to read her books, because she genuinely seemed ahead of her time and absolutely breakthrough in terms of storytelling and subject matter. I’ll actually look for a book RIGHT NOW.

Robin Hobb

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……that’s a lot of books. Queen of Fantasy, yeah? Forshame that I haven’t read any of her books! I think it’s a distilled need in me to avoid her novels, simply because when I was a kid I skimmed the blurb of her books in the library and didn’t really ‘get it’. I’ve still had no real interest to delve in to a fantasy world – adult fantasy worlds always seem so bloody complicated to get into – but I will definitely have to try and sample some of her work soon.

Terry Pratchett

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Holy heck. Now I may have told a teeny lie here – I have actually read some of him, mostly in Good Omens which he co-wrote with Neil Gaiman. The only thing is, I found Pratchett’s chapters almost unbearable to get through not because the writing or plot was bad, but because the rhythm was so staccato. It didn’t flow, it jarred me out of the story, and I couldn’t relate to the characters. It was the same when I read the first few pages of a Discworld novel I can’t remember, and the footnotes at the time weren’t cute or funny, it was more like an essay. I will try him again one time, but my previous experience has kinda put me off.

What about you guys? Any recs from these authors, or any ‘classics’ you need to read?

On Writing · Writing Advice

#VoicesofYA Book Tag

I was tagged by the gorgeous Hetal Avanee to answer these questions! Be aware I may be rambly at times but I’ll try to inject it with as much concise info as possible 🙂

ABOUT THE WRITERS:

 What draws you to YA?

I had a reading slump for about 7 years. I barely lasted through the books I read, apart from Neil Gaiman’s works, because the adult arena of SFF and fantasy had lost its luster. I wanted more. More diversity, more variety, more risk taking in stories. I wanted to be punched in the gut with emotion (oh boy do I regret that now!).

YA provides all of that for me. It seems to take more risks in themes, stories, voices, etc. where adult is still stumbling along with it a little bit. I love the fact that I can see strong teenagers coming through – because to be honest, even at 29, I still don’t have my shit figured out, so I feel more in tune with the YA characters than I do with adult most of the time!

Also Sci fi and fantasy? YA is KILLING it, AND with the female characters.

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Describe your writing process. Do you like outlines and structure, or seeing where the story takes you?

Both, but to be honest it varies from story to story. Not sure whether it’s just me, and the fact I’m growing with every novel I write, but this tends to be my process:

IDEA! WOW! Ok let’s write this out… brainstorm it… I see these scenes, ok, write those down, tidbits of characters, awesome, great.

*writes out brief plan of novel*

*writes the first 7 chapters faithfully, sticking to the road*

OOoooo look! Shiny new path!

*wanders off entirely and writes self into a corner even though this stuff is half fantastic and half complete drivel*

*cries for about 3 weeks because I can’t bridge between this barren land the path I should ACTUALLY be on*

*figures it out and then writes some more*

WOOHOO writing!

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I also actually write queries first now, to give myself an outline of it. It seems to really help me keep on track for the heart of the story.

How long have you been writing? Where are you in your journey?

Image result for it's been 84 years gifSince I was teeny tiny I have been writing stories. I just never knew what to do with them. I lived in a time before internet (I KNOW) and my outlet was books, but without the internet I never really thought about the publishing process.

My teacher, when I was young, told me to promise her to always keep writing stories, no matter what else I did. So I kept that promise.

After writing stories about fantasy and other stuff (based on other books I was reading at the time) I started my first proper book. My first novel took me 10 years to complete, my second novel took me a year, and I think it’ll be the same for my third.

 What do you need to write? Coffee? Music?

I often listen to music, I have playlists GALORE but I can easily write in the quiet of night (when my ear isn’t ringing and annoying me lately, which is rare). But yeah my playlists help. And I always need a drink of some kind, mostly tea or water.

If you could offer one piece of advice to another writer (OTHER THAN “don’t give up”), what would it be?

Know your characters. It doesn’t matter if the plot works or not just yet, if you don’t know your characters or don’t focus on making them the heart and utter backbone of the story, nobody will care whether their world ends.

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ABOUT THE BOOKS:

What book still has you reeling from its plot twist? (*no spoilers please*)

You know, I don’t think I’m reeling from a plot twist. A lot of them I either knew already from people talking about it or it was like “oh ok”. I think, though, the way Maggie Stiefvater ended the search for the King was REALLY unexpected. I loved that.

What books are you most anticipating for this year?

I need more August!! I adore him.Image result for our dark duet

This sounds fantastic.  And LOOK AT THE COVER. I need the US version.

Daughter of the Burning City

And this one….

Royal Bastards

AND THIS ONE

In your opinion, which YA book/series has the most unique premise?

GOSH. I’m not sure. Actually I would say the Monsters duology by Victoria Schwab because I haven’t actually read a story about a warring city full of monsters created from bad things happening, so I’d put that.

What is your all-time favorite quote from YA lit?

“I will have you without armour, Kaz Brekker, or I will not have you at all.”

QUEEN INEJ, DUDE. QUEEN. INEJ.

What book do you most hope will have a movie adaption?

Movies are hit and miss. They don’t cram as much intricate information in them and they’re only so long. I’d MUCH rather have a TV series, and since Raven Boys is already happening, I will say SIX OF CROWS.  I need to see Scheming Face in real life!

 

Top 5 Wednesday

Top 5 Wednesday – Favorite LGBTQ+ Reads

Talk about your favorite books that feature LGBTQ+ characters or are by LGBTQ+ authors.

*cracks knuckles* LET’S GET STARTED, SHALL WE?!

In no particular order.

sixofcrowsSix of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

*dances a dance of wonder at Jesper and Wylan, and the fact Nina is reportedly Bi, and just gorgeous*

I credit this book with getting me interested in storytelling again and a LOT of that was because of how diverse the characters were. I absolutely adored Wylan, easily my 2nd fave beneath Kaz, and I’m looking forward to re-read this later on this year.

Similarly to the Raven Cycle I enjoyed how it wasn’t shouted out “I am gay, and this is my process of coming out!” everyone either knew already, or was eased into knowing, and it wasn’t a big deal. So props!

 

28356624Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

A recent read for me, I truly enjoyed the romantic relationship between the two leads but I felt it was diluted too much with other POV’s I didn’t give two hoots about. I would have loved more of the dynamic between the two of them, and there was a slight issue with Simon only thinking “gay or straight?” when he realised he was in love with Baz after going out with a girl for 6 years, but hey, this was still a cute, cozy little love story.

I think I just need to read more LGBTQA books this year.

 

 

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The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

Ok so unlike Carry On above, Adam Parrish – who I went on a ride with, let me tell you, from hating him to loving him – doesn’t even question the labels he might be dumped into. He fancies and desires Blue, that’s for sure. But then he realises, with a thrill, that Ronan quite fancies him. And that he fancies Ronan. And it’s so subtle you have to really LOOK at it, but God. THE ATTRACTION, YOU CAN TASTE IT.

And Ronan, dear Ronan, is unapologetic in who he is as a person in the first place and that extends to his sexuality. He doesn’t deny it, his friends don’t mention it overtly. They already know. It’s implied, but never really brought up as Something We Must Talk About until the final book where Adam confesses to Gansey that they’ve kissed each other (thus potentially changing the dynamic of the group) when it makes sense for them to talk about it.

I LOVE THESE BOOKS. I can’t wait to read more about Pynch ❤

Image result for cloud atlas book coverCloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Robert Frobisher is a character I seldom talk about, and as a result, do not talk about HALF as much as I should do. When I read Cloud Atlas, I was a bit distracted by all the literary writing flourishes and shit and the formats, but oh – Robert Frobisher stole my heart. I cried. I laughed. I got jealous. It was just… he’s amazing. The book itself is ok, I had to skip the entire central chapter because I didn’t understand it at all, but Robert as an LGBTQA+ character (while he loves a man deeply but enjoys sex with women I don’t want to call him strictly bi, I think he might be pan) is absolutely amazing, full of life, and while he’s a bit tortured towards the end with emotions I just. Augh. He stayed with me for a long time. So this.

 

gathering-of-shadows_ukcover-400x586Shades of Magic Series by V.E Schwab –

VE Schwab also identifies as bisexual, so I give this an uber thumbs up, but Rhy and Alucard and even Lila, who is reported as being canonically gender-fluid, are LGBTQA+. Rhy and Alucard are a big ship, and I shipped them too (before I found Alucard to be an annoying whingy little antagonistic self-righteous brat) but the fact they’re also unapologetic about who they are and who they love, is something very empowering.

Also, MAGIC!

 

Honorable mention – Queens of Geek & The Upside of Unrequited

PLEASE give me your recommendations! I know there’s so many I haven’t yet had the chance to buy or get from the library. I would love to know what LGBTQA_ reads I’m missing out on!

Friends · Personal · Random Musings

One Lovely Blog Award!

PictureYay! I was nominated for the “One Lovely Blog Award” by the lovely Micaela Eagle! I met Micaela during Pitch Wars in 2016, and we continue to regularly connect on Twitter about the writing trenches.

PitchWars was a fun time, with constant gif parties and endless support which seems to keep on going! So, according to the rules, I have to put 7 facts about me you wouldn’t know from my bio, and link to the referrer’s blog!

The Wonderful Micaela Eagle!

PictureI am a Native Texan, currently living and teaching in the south portion of the Lone Star State.  I lead a new generation of “Theatre Weirdos” and love every minute of it.

I have always been an avid reader and I come by it honestly – my mother and grandmother always had books in their hands when I was growing up. They are the ones responsible for getting my nose stuck between the pages of a good book for hours at a time. I feel blessed to say I have had the same influence on some of my nieces and nephews.

I have been writing stories since I was very young. I’ve always said someday I would write a book. And now I can say I have – I’ve written two actually. (Infected’s sequel is already in the editing process.)

The only person is who gets annoyed by my hours of writing and reading on end is my Miniature Schnauzer, Hanes. He has to remind his Momma that bathroom breaks and food are necessary…not just for him but for her too.

Read more on Micaela’s blog and website HERE

Seven Things About Me That Aren’t in my Bio

  1. It took me 10 years to write my first novel, an Urban Fantasy set in my home town (in my defense, I was travelling and at Uni for most of that)
  2. While I never used to have a fear of anything like it, I HATE Zombies. I can’t stand any programme or story that involves them. Nope.
  3. Despite this, I know precisely what I’d do in the event of a zombie apocalypse.
  4. I was essentially homeless for about 4 months in 2007 before we finally found a house to rent.
  5. I love swimming, but I have a fear of open water – go figure – and boats, because apparently (and I forgot this) I was knocked from a pedal boat into the lake in the park. My dad told me about it years later.
  6. My favourite pudding is hot chocolate fudge cake, preferably with gooey sauce, and ice cream. Hot and cold puddings are my weakness.
  7. My ideas book currently stands at 35 individual ideas and counting

The Rules for the Nominees

When you get his award, thank the person who nominated you and link their blog

Add the One Lovely Blog Award to your post!

Share 7 things about yourself that are not in your Bio.

Pass this on to as many people as you like (max 15).

Include this set of rules.

Inform your nominees.

ALRIGHT! Nominees, who I will inform individually anywho – Angel @ Avid Reader, Kaelan Rhywiol, Faith Rivens, Alex Harrow, Tristen Van De Berg, Anna Mercier and Nicolette Elzie!

positive posts · Random Musings · Writing Advice

Productive-Positive Diary.

 What happens when Life™ creeps up on you from behind and waggles a list of responsibilities in front of your face?

Either you smile, and go “oh yes I’ll get right on that!”.

For those who are more stressed, you may go “agh shit right, yeah, in a second”.

Or, if you’re a writer with a deadline, you’ll likely go….

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Social and personal responsibility wouldn’t usually strike me with such fear, but the moment I settle down to write and then look at my diary with “DOCTOR 3.20pm” I instantly remember everything else I was meant to do, such as send letters, emails, pay bills, respond to friends and actually keep my house in some semblance of order.

I’ve tried to start managing with To-Do lists. At first, this only served to make my anxiety worse because it demonstrated just how much I actually hadn’t done in between doing everything else.

My solution? Have-Done lists. Not an exhaustive list of things I feel obligated to do, or the routine things that can sometimes be left til last minute – no. This is a general list of things I HAVE done, which make me feel proud and accomplished, and it’s a good way of feeling like you’ve been productive in some way.

It could be simple self-care, like “took a shower” or “took meds”. Because self-care is important. Notes can be “wrote 250 words” – whether they sucked or not.

But I find the more positive I’m being about what I’ve achieved in the day rather than what I’ve forgotten, the more it boosts my mood and puts a much better spin on it than an imaginary Principal Strickland shouting “Slacker!” at me.

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When I tackled some readings, videos, Critiques and other general bits and pieces, writing them down as completed almost felt like a weight off my shoulders. Much more so than staring at a list with lines through it.

The little I do still matters. And it builds strength enough to tackle the bigger things that might slip by due to tiredness, forgetfulness, or simple avoidance of doing the thing. Almost like a productive-positive diary.

I’m going to (try) and start doing this every week on this blog. Even if it’s “read 100 pages” or something similar, I think it’ll be fun to keep track.

Do people already do this? Does it help others?