Blog Post #15: New Year, New Goals, and the Nano Manuscript

Hey creatives!

It’s been a while since I wrote a blog post; work changed locations, goals were set, and priorities were shifted. Now that everything has settled again, getting back to blogging much more aggressively is right at the top of my list for 2020, along side writing in general, and thus I wanted to pop back on here and follow up on Nano, the holidays, and the start of the new year.

I’m still working on my horror manuscript from Nano, but unfortunately I didn’t win.  My manuscript came in at just shy of 30,000 words at the end of November, a far cry from the writing 10K words in a day blog post I just wrote here last (heh, cosmic karma for biting off more than I could chew, now I eat crow sheepishly while typing this).

However, it wasn’t all a loss, since at that point I realized I wasn’t executing my concepts and characters correctly, and so I gave myself the past two months to ponder and sift through my ideas, and it’s given me the necessary change in direction that I needed to get the ball rolling again.  Thankfully, most of what I wrote can still be used in my second first draft, but I’m energized to move forward with my newly formed characters and plots.  I’m hoping to finish this book completely before the end of March, but we will see how it goes. I’d love to plan to write 3, 4, 5, or 6 books this year, but it’s the execution that always evades me. (From my own doing, no less. I just spoke to my hairdresser yesterday about how people need to get out of their own ways and stop self-sabotaging, and what did I do tonight? Sat on the couch playing Skyrim until finally deciding to get to work.)

With the start of the new year I also enrolled in Poynter University’s copy editing certification (which I will link below), and I hope to complete the program before the end of January, but at the latest the end of February. I’m enjoying it so far, and it’s definitely making me feel more comfortable about performing self-edits on my works, as well as giving me hope to find a job geared more toward editing or technical writing.

Before I leave you for the night, I wanted to say that I really appreciate the people who have been taking the time to like, hell, even read my posts, let alone follow my blog.  With this new year I’m vowing to come back strong to writing these blog posts, granted, the posts may be shorter than my previous posts, but I’d like to increase to a few times a week, if not daily, and I imagine people would rather hear about the small lessons/breakthroughs, my daily writing, or my opinion on the books I’m reading at that time, rather than me prattle on repeatedly about the same shit to shell out content.

So you’ll hear from me tomorrow!  Happy creating ūüôā

Poynter University of Journalism and American Copy Editing Socieity’s Certification in  Editing: https://www.poynter.org/shop/certificate/aces-editing-certificate/

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Blog Post #14: Attempting a 10K Day at Home because your Week at Work was Hell!

Hey! It’s half way through Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) and I am not half way through my manuscript, heh…

I’m not too far behind, sitting at 18,966 words out of 50K, but this week was hell, as many can relate, when tasks come ahead to quick deadlines and documents required re-editing, the sort of stuff that makes an already busy administrative assistant want to rip their hair out.

Needless to say, when I got home every night I made dinner (if we were lucky) and sat on the couch, enjoying some wine and playing through¬†Outer Worlds.¬†I was zapped mentally, and thus creatively, and the thought of attempting to sit down in my off time and write any words was¬†unbearable,¬†so I didn’t.

Even thought it put me a little back, I decided to give myself the room the relax because I know if pushed myself to write I was going to hate it and it would ruin any future motivation I would’ve hoped to have. It’s depressing, but it’s not something I can’t achieve (or at least get close to achieving).

Today I’m doing a feat that only a few have been able, I’m attempting a 10K day to make up for my lost time and (hopefully) getting ahead. Mr. Frost is busy in his workshop today, giving me the alone time I need to write in between cleaning sections of the house.¬†Because none of that shit got done this week either and I don’t have a dishwasher.¬†

This 10K attempt today is a loose goal, however, I’ll be happy with any words on the page because I haven’t written in four days, but this would be the first time I’ve ever written 10K words in one sitting. I’ve heard that some writers can write 5-10K words a day on average, and this would definitely be a game changer in terms of independent book publishing potential.

Just wanted to give you guys and update today! I’m roughly 1/3rd of the way through this manuscript, which is what I was expecting, I’m estimating this first draft to reach somewhere around 60-70k, with my editing adding an additional 20-30k.¬† This won’t be a long book, but I think it will be a good debut, and a good first book to a series of seven.

I’m already brewing the second book in this seven part series, (which won’t be a direct sequel, this is going to a be loosely tied series based on an underlying themes resonating between each of them. Each individual story will resolve with those specific characters (though¬†other encounters and events will clearly tie them together for perceptive readers).

I also have a new story idea entirely, a two-part series (a retelling of a specific series of classics) about a very important and often ignored global issue set in a psychological horror-scape. I’ll have to do a significant amount of research about the topic in order to give an accurate portrayal of the victims, a voice to the voiceless in many ways, but I feel like the background of these classics in particular, juxtaposed to the issue at hand, I think most¬†people will be able to pick up on the issue/themes, but I’ll have to do a¬†really good job¬†of portraying the events in a dream-like dark fantasy horror setting, combining the symbolism of the character’s surroundings and story events to the emotional trauma they are experiencing in the real world.¬† I don’t really know when I’ll be working on these stories, even if I brainstorm/plot/write my first series’ books each in 60 days, I still won’t be touching the new series until next year. It feels good to have a plan though, something that I can keep thinking about.

I’ve been practicing brainstorming these new ideas while writing this manuscript, before I just ignored them, hoping to finish my current project before starting the next, but it never really works like that, it’s important to have one project that you put most of your writing into, but jotting ideas is something that needs to be done at all times to catch your best ideas, and it’s been easier than I had anticipated at first.

So that’s an update to where I’ve been the last two weeks, I’m still loving my current manuscript, and I’m excited to get into writing it.¬† The chapters I’m beginning with aren’t my favorite, but I’m reminding myself that I’m in the muddy-middle, getting bogged down happens to everyone.

Blog Post #13: What I’ve Been Doing, Starting Nanowrimo, and How I Plot a New Book without Killing My Free Spirit

Hey guys.

First, sorry I blipped off the radar there, I just wanted to take a step back before a switched gears¬†again. I’m already prone to change plans (because I’m a crazy Sagittarius, or because I didn’t plan enough, or for any viable reason, really and especially, if the current direction is not working), and I didn’t want to give you guys a string of posts about me being indecisive.

Pretty much I realized that as of now TAW: WRP is shelved. That doesn’t mean I’m not doing anything with it, or I’m going to delete it, I’m sitting it down for now. Dystopian is pretty dead, I’m debating on possible placing it into a fantasy setting, but the main point is: I just don’t know what to do with it.

My editing plan was going great, but I hit A LOT of road blocks in developmental edits because I didn’t do enough character planning and development, so the plot points were home runs but the characters were… flat as fuck.

So we’ll just see, maybe I’ll work it out and Dystopian will come back, maybe I’ll change the setting to Fantasy and it’ll be a knock out, for now it’s going back into the idea pile.

Deciding to shelf this idea was good, not only because I was bashing my face against a wall reworking this manuscript over and over, but because I really wanted to participate in Nano for the first time.¬† I had been mulling over a psychological horror that was really intriguing me, and I said¬†fuck it, I’m plotting it.¬†You can also find me over at the Nanowrimo website under the name AnastasiaFrost! (As well as Goodreads under… you never guessed it, AnastasiaFrost, where I do actively update what books I’m reading, have read, and which books I DNF’d).¬†

That’s why you didn’t see me all October, I spent the spookiest month of the year plotting a psychological horror in the same vein as Jacob’s Ladder, Silent Hill 2, and elements of Dante’s Inferno. This first manuscript is about gluttony, and the main character is a recovering addict recently released from prison. Once I finish the manuscript and polish it, I will most likely post the first few chapters on this blog to stoke some excitement.

When I plotted the chapters out, I cried at the end of my redemption arc, and that’s a good sign I’d say, as it was the first time I was ever moved to tears by a story I was crafting.

This is probably a good time to give you all a short run down on how I plot my novels. I would consider myself someone who uses both plotting and pantsing, but I definitely fall more in the plotter category because if I don’t plot I chase every bunny down their holes no matter how time consuming or horrible an idea it might be. I need to plan so I have a map when I’m writing, or I just write whatever comes to me first, and that’s not the best way to sift your ideas!

I also don’t recommend purchasing a shit ton of index cards, different colored pens, or color-coded anything. All I suggest you purchase is: a lined journal with two book strings, a pack of post its, a pack of book page tabs, and a pack of your favorite writing utensil. The rest is all in your head.¬†

This journal is essentially the first round of your “book bible” and it will be MESSY. That’s okay though, you really want it to be messy, because this book isn’t just a book bible either, it’s your¬†stream of consciousness¬†when it comes to this particular story idea. My first third of my journals for both TAW and what I’m now referring to as¬†Dark Requiem¬†are just bullet point brainstorming. And when you’re brainstorming, especially for something like psychological horror, you really want to think outside the box, think of ways to invert or express themes in a different way, and to do that I suggest you track¬† basically every idea you have whether it’s a scene, a line of dialogue, a summary of a character’s motives. LITERALLY WRITE IT ALL DOWN.

Once you’ve scribbled enough ideas and you’re noticing a line of concepts that you could string together to form a plot or at least the¬†themes of your story and the struggle of your main character, now you’re edging into true plotting territory, which might terrify some pantsers, but hear me out quick.

I’m not suggesting you need to PLOT EVERY DETAIL RIGHT NOW. I’m simply suggesting to go through on a roughly chapter by chapter basis and just write the cliff-notes version of what the point of the chapter is, even if it’s just a sentence. These small notes will be elaborated on later, for an example, your chapter five summary now might say “Characters suspect that a witch is behind the terrible plague infecting the town”, and then in a few weeks after you’ve expanded more on the idea it’ll turn to “Characters suspect a witch is behind terrible plague, begin asking around, get directed to a witch hunter, witch hunter is gruff but could help, some characters don’t trust him, etc, etc”.

The point of plotting isn’t to kill your free spirit and snuff creativity, it’s to give you a map when you don’t know where you’re going, and believe me¬†with all the plotting I do, I still end up changing chapters or changing character direction, because it’s all fluid based on what the story needs, not based on what your plotting journal says.¬†

With this method I had brainstormed for about three weeks and plotted out 12 chapters in the last week of October, giving myself a clear map to keep me focused during writing. I’m hoping for this book to hit 100,000 words, but we’ll see. At this point I’m just trying to get a catalog of 6-12 books stashed so I can publish every 30-60 days of my first debut year. It’s a hefty goal, but it will be so rewarding.

With that I’ll leave you be and remind artists to not be afraid to change gears multiple times, to do what feels best now, but always thinking ahead.