Tag Archives: indie author

I’m Back!

Well, hello there Epic Dreamers. I’ve missed you all. I’ve missed this blog and writing posts.

I didn’t really mean to take a break from blogging. It just sort of happened after so many times of sitting down to write a post and realizing I had nothing to say. Eventually, I stopped thinking about it and the next thing I know, it has been months since I’ve been on here.

I’ve enjoyed the break after seven years (how has it already been that long?!) of blogging, but lately I’ve been thinking how I miss the writing community here and feeling an internal nudge to start writing again.

I’m here now to announce that I am officially back from my unofficial sabbatical. 🙂

I’m planning on keeping the content the same: a mix of writing tips and short stories. So it’s back to the good ol’ Invisible World you know and love! I’ll be giving you different ways to outline your novel next week in honor of preptober (prepping your novel for November’s NaNoWriMo) and I also have a short story coming up after that (I’ve missed writing short stories).

Hopefully Indivisible World hasn’t been shoved down WordPress’s algorithm tunnels so far that all my readers are washed away. 😀

Let me know if you’re still here with a comment, if you would be so kind. And if anyone has any suggestions for future posts, I would be glad to hear them.

I look forward to chatting with you all again!

 

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The Most Important Thing You are Missing as an Author

Hey Epic Dreamers!

Do you ever feel like you are missing something in your writing journey? You have great ideas, you’ve studied the craft, you’ve put in the writing time, or maybe you’ve even published a book. But for some reason you still don’t feel like a real writer.

I saw an interview with Rachel Hollis the other day that made me realize there was a part of this being an author thing that I was missing that wasn’t the prose, the plot, or the characters. While studying the craft and knowing how to flawlessly weave these elements into a story is important, there is another element that is crucial to whether we will achieve our writing goals.

The Stages of Making ADRs, As Told By Disney Princess Gifs – Fairy God  Bloggers

That element is the mindset of the author.  Whether our dream is to be a best-selling author or to indie publish a collection of short stories, our success in achieving those goals is determined by our mindset. Our mindset is also what can hold us back from success, even if it is our most sought after goal.

Authors (or maybe just creative types in general) have a tendency to downplay their achievements and dreams. I know I do!

We may downplay our actual goals for our writing, telling family members or friends that it is “just something I play around with” because, we are afraid that they will judge us. We are afraid they will think we are arrogant for thinking that our writing is, or could ever be, that good or that they will laugh at us for taking a career in writing seriously.

As Rachel Hollis said, “None of us can step forward into who we are called to be because we are too worried about what [others] think of us.” 

 

What she said in her interview made me realize that there was no shame in having a dream, no matter how big it is. 

Believe you are ready to shine disney tiana

If you’ve struggled with taking your writing goals seriously or struggled with sharing you dreams of being an author with others, then take a moment to give yourself permission to dream. If you are feeling stuck with your writing it may not be because you haven’t read enough books on writing or because your plot isn’t exciting enough. It may simply be because you’ve hidden away the author side of you so much that it doesn’t dare to come out, even for you.

If you have a dream, don’t waste time being ashamed of it.  🙂

“I do not care what other people think of me for having dreams and goals for myself.” –Rachel Hollis

***I’ve started a monthly newsletter where I share videos that inspire me as a writer (ones like the interview with Rachel Hollis). They are short and to the point and only once a month, so I’m not spamming you to death. 😛

Saving the Cat Saved My Story

Hey Epic Dreamers!

Has it really been two months since I’ve posted? Yikes! I should be fired.

I’ve been in a bit of a writing rut for the last month or so. Maybe it’s the cold weather or the COVID craziness or simply because I’ve been working on the same story for roughly a year and not feeling like I’ve gotten anywhere with it, but I just can’t drudge up the energy to write (on the story or here).

Then I really had an “all is lost” moment when I received feedback on my WIP from my alpha reader and was attempting to use her suggestions to fix my story when began to notice even more in the story that needed fixing. I realized that it was such a mess that I wasn’t even sure it was worth salvaging and was seriously considering tossing it aside and moving on to something else.

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At the same time I had this dark revelation, a book I had ordered from the library, Save the Cat by Blake Snyder, happened to arrive. I decided to push thoughts of my broken story out of my head and spend some time learning about the craft.

When I got to the section on the 15 beat story structure, everything began to click into place. I suddenly understood why things weren’t working in my story and, most importantly, how to fix them.

It wasn’t that the overall idea of the story was bad. It was simply that I didn’t have the right tool to transform the story into what it needed to be.  I felt like a builder hopelessly staring at a bunch of  scattered boards and nails, unsure of what to do until someone placed a hammer in my hand.

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After learning this way of plotting, I have made the painful decision to scrap my manuscript and completely  rewrite it.  I am going back to “ground zero” and going through the brainstorming/plotting stage with it and looking at it as if it were a completely new story that just happens to have the same characters and overall idea.

It was emotionally draining to realize that three drafts and months of work had to be scrapped, but it was also energizing to have found a way of plotting that finally clicked, jelled with me, synergized with my way of thinking about a story.

I bought a huge cork board and am covering it with index cards that represent each scene just as Snyder suggested. It’s been a lot of fun and I am actually excited about my story again and can see how the choices I’m making with the plot now will make it a much better story.

So, I guess I said all that to say, that’s my excuse for not posting in a while. 😉

Why Do You Bring Me Excuses GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

I hope you all have been doing well, and I’d love to know how your writing projects are going (hopefully better than mine).

Also, I am starting a monthly newsletter where I will share fun, inciteful writing videos. Join us to get this month’s letter which will have a breakdown of the 15 beat story structure using Interstellar as an example. 

I’ll be sending it tomorrow!

 

The Wand in the Attic

Hey Epic Dreamers! I thought we could all use some fun in the form of flash fiction since we are stuck in quarantine. This little story is extra relatable since the main character is stuck at home with someone she doesn’t want to be. 😉

Enjoy the story!

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The Wand in the Attic

I was hiding from my bratty stepsister in the attic when I found it. At first I thought it was just a strange stick—as long as a ruler and as thick as a pencil—then I found the book Beginner’s Guide for Wand Use. I flipped through the many spells listed on the pages, thinking the book was a joke. Then I tried one.

I held it out and said “time for magic” to activate it as the first page instructed. I jumped when the wand gave a slight tremor. I was sure that I’d imagined it, but just in case…. I pointed it at the first thing I saw—a wooden music box that no longer worked—and said “muveras” which is what the book said to say if you wanted something to move.

The wooden box shot off the crate it was sitting on and crashed to the floor. I jumped and drop the wand. I looked from the box to the wand at my feet, to the box again. I wasn’t sure if I was excited or scared. Magic only existed in fairytales. How was it in my attic?

“Sarah! Quit leaving your dirty clothes in the bathroom!” It was my stepsister. She was twelve like me, but because she was five months older she seemed to think she was my second mom or something. That’s why I was looking through old boxes in the attic instead of watching TV downstairs. With mom gone on a date with my stepdad, she was more whiny than usual.

“Hello? Sarah? I’m talking to you. Come clean up your stinky clothes.”

I rolled my eyes and started to climb down the attic ladder.

Then I had an idea.

I snatched the wand and hurried downstairs. My stepsister was standing beside the bathroom doorway with her arms crossed. She was still yelling for me, so she didn’t hear me coming. I ducked behind a table with a huge decorative vase and scooted so I could look into the bathroom.

She wanted me to move my clothes? I would move my clothes.

I pointed my wand at the pile on the floor and whispered, “muveras.” The clothes shot through the bathroom door like a cannonball from a cannon, and exploded into the hallway. My step sister shrieked so loud you would have thought it was an actual cannon.

She stood, frozen for a moment with my tank top over her left shoulder and my underwear on her head. I had to bite my lip to keep from laughing. Maybe staying home with my stepsister would be so bad after all.

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How I Got Over my Month-Long Writer’s Block

After reading the print out of my first draft, I sat down to start on the second draft…and immediately became overwhelmed.

There was so much I wanted to add: relationships between characters needed strengthening, story threads needed to be woven tighter together, new scenes added, old scenes revised. The list seemed never-ending.

Because I had pantsed my way through the first draft, I knew that I would have to rewrite every chapter to get it the way that I wanted it. At first, this idea was exciting because I was looking forward to adding in all the fun ideas I’d had while reading through the first draft, but as I began writing chapter one again I got these overwhelming feelings of lethargy. I felt like I was walking in circles—like I’d beaten a game only to have it crash and make me start back at square one.

I realized that I would have to do more than just add in some things and rewrite some paragraphs here and there. I would have to completely rewrite ever single chapter.

Chapter one suddenly seemed more daunting than when I was starting from scratch.

It didn’t help that I had this huge list of things that I wanted to accomplish in the first chapter. There were so many world-building elements I wanted to add, characters I wanted introduced, back stories and tension between characters that I wanted to hint at. Making the list was helpful, but having it loom above me while trying to write the first chapter made me feel more like I was writing a college essay than a story.

So there I was, barley a chapter into my second draft, and the only feelings I had were a sense of starting at ground zero after months of work, and the nagging feeling to make it perfect this time through so there wouldn’t be so much to add in the next draft.

Working on the story left me feeling frustrated and frustration dried up any creativity which might have helped me out…which left me more discouraged and frustrated.

I kept thinking that it was just a faze and I’d snap out of it, but my writing sessions were pitifully unproductive and I started wanting to write less and less.

Finally, I got tired of waiting for my writer’s block to leave me and sat down at my lap top determined to figure out WHY I had writer’s block in the first place.  Everyone goes through times where their writing sessions are sluggish or they are a little lethargic…but a month of no writing? Yikes!

First I figured out everything I wrote above. I realized that I was putting too much pressure on myself to be mostly finished with this story when the second draft (at least for a pantser) is basically just the first draft since the first draft was simply me figuring the story out and serves as more of an outline than a first draft. (Why do I have to be a pantser? Seems like a curse.)

Instead of focusing on all the little details that needed to be added in and trying to fit them in at just the right place with just the right wording, I needed to continue focusing on the big picture and overall flow of the story just as I did in the first draft.

I was feeling bored and frustrated with it because I was trying to get everything set in place and nailed down too soon.

I was allowing myself to get bogged down with the dos and don’ts of story writing—looking at it like a list of boxes I had to check— instead of simply continuing to let the story tell itself, which for me still means keeping those concepts in mind but still letting the characters and theme drive the story.

One of the reasons I love writing the first draft so much is because of the dream-like quality it has for me, the sense that anything can happen, and the excitement of getting to know the characters and world. Writing those first drafts are a lot like smearing paint in colorful blobs on a canvas: anyone watching will see meaningless shapes, but the artist sees the overall picture, including the details he will add later.

I was trying to make my second draft like a math equation: Perfectly formulated character arc + perfect place for back story + every detail given in the “right spot” = a perfect story.

While there are times to evaluate a story like an equation to find what’s going wrong or what aspect could be strengthened, that approach simply wasn’t working for me at that stage. I needed to let surprises happen, start writing without knowing exactly where the scene was going, and begin a chapter without looking too closely at how the first draft of that chapter was written.

In short, I had to pretend that this was the first draft and—to keep from feeling like the first draft was a complete waste of time—pretend that the actual first draft was a messy, overly-detailed outline.

If you are reading this because you a struggling with a case of writer’s block and are hoping for a magic “trick” to help you out of it, I’m sorry to say that I don’t have one. There are so many reasons for writer’s block and what works once to get you out of writer’s block three months ago may not work for you in your current state of writer’s block.

But what helped me get out of this particularly long slump is something that can get you started on writer’s-block recovery even if it doesn’t cure it outright. I had to let go of how far along I thought my story should be—stop looking at it like a puzzle with a thousand frustrating pieces—and look at it as an adventure I get to go on every day. Some days are tough, but some days bring me the most beautiful scenery.

The only magic trick that can cure writer’s block is rediscovering that magic that drew you to the story in the first place. Find that spark that ignited the idea—a character, a scene, an aspect of the world—and focus on refining or expanding that character or idea until whatever is blocking your flow is forced to melt away.

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I’m excited to announce that The Hashna Stone has been selected for the book cover contest on allauthor.com!

The winning book gets some pretty sweet prizes, including free advertising.

It would help me out so much if you clicked the link below and voted! My book needs to stay in the top 100 covers in order to go to the next round.

Thanks friends!!! 🙂

VOTE FOR THE HASHNA STONE

Spilling the Secrets on My Newest Novel

I’ve kept the novel I’ve been working on for the last three months a secret because making myself wait to share it motivated me to keep working on it and because I don’t like to share things too early. I need more than some character sheets and world building to comfortably announce what my novel is about. Mostly because the story could change quite a bit from the idea I had in my mind to the first draft I write, and because there is always the chance that I may decide that the story isn’t worth pursuing while writing the first draft.
But once that first draft is finished…I’m committed!
I finished the first draft on Christmas Eve (which made a fantastic Christmas gift) so that means I can finally spill all the secrets on my newest novel.
Yay! 🙂
So let’s start with the genre. It will be another YA fantasy, although the tone will be a bit darker than The Hashna Stone. Also unlike The Hashna Stone, the main character will be female and it is entirely in one point of view.
Synopsis: 
Everything changes when Azrin, daughter of the most feared warlord in Asarna, finds out the truth about her heritage. The unimaginable knowledge forces her to rethink, not only who she is, but the views she’s held all her life. Will she let the secret she’s discovered ruin her, or will she fight against everything she’s trained to be?
Azrin
Introducing the Main Character
Now that she is sixteen, Azrin is allowed to become a warrior and pledge her allegiance to her father, the clan leader, and her clan, Dorgan. Being a warrior means that she finally gets to go on the raids that Dorgan is famous for and prove her worth as a warrior.
When her father refuses to let her go on the raid, she wonders if it is some sort of test, and decides to sneak off after the warriors anyway.
It doesn’t make sense that she wouldn’t be allowed to go when every new warrior is always taken on the next raid to prove themselves. Not being allowed was as bad as failing the test that determined if you were worthy of being a warrior. Were you really a warrior it you weren’t allowed to go raiding?
Azrin know it wasn’t because she wasn’t a worthy fighter. She had been training since she was seven and while her father was perpetually disappointed with her twin brother, he seemed to single Azrin out for special training that she simultaneously resented and was proud of.
Azrin knew that the extra training, though painful, was preparing her for something big, but she didn’t know what.
After a falling out with her father, Azrin accidentally finds out what it is her father has in mind for her, and she sets out to do it without his knowledge, seeking to win his approval back.
Other Characters:
Bryden–a sixteen-year-old bastard who lives with the town’s blacksmith. His mother was a slave, taken captive from another clan during one of Dorgan’s raids, who died giving birth to him. No one knows who his father is, but unbeknownst to most, Bryden carries the secret with him, knowing his father wouldn’t take too kindly if he revealed it, and bitterly not wanting to claim a father who wouldn’t claim him anyway.
Azrin befriended him when they were young, but after a falling out when they were twelve, hasn’t spoken to him for four years. But events play out in a way that leave Azrin no choice but to–at least begrudgingly–speak to him again and eventually admit the value of his friendship.
Delzred–Azrin’s father is cold, unforgiving, and ruthless. He is the clan leader of Dorgan, the clan that has been thrown out from the other clans of Asarna and banished from interacting with them in anyway. For generations, his clan has been forced to raid and steal from the other clans because none of them will trade with them (although they do enjoy the excuse to enact revenge on the clans who wronged them).
Delzred has found a way to make Dorgan a part of the Clans of Asarna again, though it make take a bit of trickery and Azrin is absolutely essential to the plan.
Does it have anything to do with The Hashna Stone
This book has nothing to do with The Hashna Stone and is a completely different story set in its own world and its own characters, so if you haven’t had the chance to read The Hashna Stone, you can still enjoy this book.
Well, there’s the scoop on my newest project! I’m loving this story so much and enjoying writing Azrin. She is pretty much pulling me along and I’m just writing what she does. She definitely made writing the first draft interesting!

New Year’s (Writing) Goals

The new year is a time to reflect on what happened in the previous year and dream about what may happen this year, but I haven’t spent that much time on either of those things until today.

It’s been a rainy, gloomy, sleepy day that hasn’t been good for productivity, but it did make for the perfect opportunity for some refection.

A lot of wonderful things happened in 2019. I moved into a new apartment, published my first book, and married my best friend. One might think that with so many amazing things that happened in 2019 that 2020 couldn’t possibly be any better. But I have a really good feeling about 2020 and am convinced that it will be even better than last year.

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions because people don’t tend to stick to those, but I’ve found that what works for me is to regularly evaluate where I’m at and where I want to be and list what steps I need to take in order to get there.

So I may not have some big resolution, but I do have goals I want to achieve in the next few months (which, to me, is much more doable than a vague or overwhelming New Year’s resolution).

One of these goals has to do with writing of course, because what would life be without constant writing goals. 😉

I’ve planned out the next steps I need to take with my manuscript and jotted down tentative dates for when I will start and finish each step. This includes reading through a printed version of the first draft (Which I’m working on now!), writing the second draft, sending it to beta readers, writing the third draft, sending it to more beta readers, then writing a forth draft, then (hopeful) it will be finished and I can start phase two and get an editor to look over the first few chapters.

Why only the first few and not the entire book?

That’s another goal for 2020. I’ve decided to give traditional publishing a shot with this new novel.

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I’ve given the indie author life a try, why not try traditional as well? 🙂

Since agents are likely to request a sample of the first pages or chapters in a book along with the query letter, I think it would be a good idea to have an editor look over it before sending (something I wish I would have done with The Hashna Stone).

These steps span out until April, so when April comes, I’ll reevaluate again and set new writing goals. That might mean a new story or yet another draft of my current WIP, depending where I’m at with it.

But whether I get an agent or self publish again, 2020 will hold yet another published book and all the work and thrill that comes from it.

And that, to me, will make 2020 a smashing success.

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I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and New Year’s celebration! Any favorite memories about the holidays that you care to share? What about New Year’s resolutions? Any big plans/goals for 2020?

***Also, I haven’t forgotten about sharing some tidbits on this novel I’ve been keeping a secret. I’ll be sharing next week! But if you don’t want to wait that long, head over to my Patreon page for all the details.

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Growing as a Writer: NaNoWriMo

If you aren’t familiar with NaNoWriMo and you are an aspiring writer, you should go to their site and sign up right now.

Seriously, what are you waiting for?

Okay, really though, NaNo played a huge part in getting me to take my writing seriously and in motivated me to take my writing to new levels.

If you’ve somehow never come across this magical place and time for writers, I’ll explain what and how NaNo works.

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Let’s start for what this strange group of letters means: National Novel Writing Month.

It’s exactly what it sounds like; Writers from across the country band together to do the unthinkable and write an entire novel (50,000 to be more accurate) in a month.

It all takes place online, so no need to travel to another state of pay for a conference. 🙂

When does this mad rush begin? November! So for those of you who haven’t heard of it and want to try it, this is perfect timing. You can still do some last-minute planning before November and NaNo begins.

If you aren’t sure if you want to participate, well, I’m about to make you want to. 😉

 

Gives you a support group

Writing a novel can be a lonely process. Even if you aren’t writing a novel and write short stories or flash fiction for your blog, it can be difficult to find others who enjoy writing fiction like you do.

NaNo gives you a way to meet other writers so you aren’t so alone in this this solitary art.

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Pushes you to your edge

When I participated in my first NaNo, I’d never wrote 50,000 words in one project before. My largest story at the time was about 12,000 words. So yeah, taking on NaNo was a leap for me, but it pushed me to write more than I thought I could and taught me that I had more in me than what I was using.

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Sure that first NaNo project was a mess that I would never show anyone (I should probably go back and read it so I can get a good laugh), but with every year that I participated, my writing and word count per writing session improved.

I  began to create plots easier, get to the essence of a character faster, and writing scenes came more naturally.

I even wrote the first draft of my book, The Hashna Stone, during NaNo. 🙂

 

Gives you a rush of accomplishment

If you feel stuck in your writing, want to challenge yourself, or just want to explore working on a bigger project, NaNo is perfect for that.

I knew what I wrote for that first NaNo project would never be used for a published book (or even shown to a single person) but I’d never felt more proud then when I verified my word count and officially wrote my first 50,000-word novel (which is actually a really small novel, but it was a lot of words for a single story than I’d ever done before 😛 ).

If you don’t do it for another reason, do it to prove to yourself that you are a writer. Sometimes you need to prove to yourself that you can do it…that you take writing seriously enough to make it a priority.

Completing NaNo gives you a different mindset.  “Oh I’m just playing around with this writing thing,” becomes “I am a writer. There’s no reason I can’t write a book just like all the authors I look up to.”

Once you do that, writing a 140,000-word novel seems more possible (looking at you Hashna Stone 😛 ) and you go from aspiring writer to writer. 

All that said, you better join NaNo this November. *wink*

If you want to do NaNo together, look me up. I’ll be happy to be your NaNo buddy! My user name is AnnaFoxwrites. Or just click here

Oh, and since I’ll be busy novel writing, I won’t be posting for the month of November…as is my custom. 😉

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