Becoming an Author — Authory Updates, Goals, and Whatnot

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Yeah, I didn’t write a hiatus post…but it’s too late now. I was gone (church youth camp), I came back, and celebrations are in order. Or a virtual cookie handout. One of the two.

Anyway…this new post! It might turn into a blog series…who knows. It’s called Becoming an Author, with the emphasis on the unspoken “not just a writer”. You see, I’ve made a few decisions over the past few weeks that mainly culminate to this:

If I want to become an author as a career, then I had better start acting like one right now.

Hence becoming an author.

And I want to talk with you about my goals! And ideas! And how I’m faring after my first day at the “job” of being an “actual” author! (Decent…decent.)

But first, some updates.

So, you know I’ve been working on my Iris novella. I finished that last Saturday (the week-and-a-half ago one) at about a total of 24,000 words. It…was pretty great. It felt really good to start and finish something and to know that I put my heart into it. It was fun. It was emotional. And I’m so happy I wrote it.

(And, you know, if you were one of the people who read the Spotlights and decided you wanted more, tell me in the comments and I’ll email the story to you.)

Besides that, I’ve had a whole bunch of plot bunnies, mostly from my dreams, oddly enough. I wrote a 1500-word story/poem/story-poem that was vaguely Rapunzel based from a dream I had. And it was fun.

But I’ve been talking…to myself, to my family, to friends…and I know that I can’t keep writing short stuff like this. If I want to be an author, I need to write a novel. Like, an actual one. That I finish, and revise, and try to publish.

So, I had a little talk/counsel/thing with my parents yesterday and worked out some goals and a schedule for what I’m going to do this summer, and in the future.

First, I needed money. Because there’s things like college looming in my near future (eek!), and who knows when I’ll actually publish something. So I’m working part-time this summer for my dad & grandpa. (I’m transcribing my dad’s journals and editing my grandpa’s history. Both of which should maybe help me with writing, and I’ll enjoy them much more than some other entry-level job.)

And secondly, I need to write like it was my actual job. Well, not necessarily, because I’m only doing two hours a day. But I’m doing two hours a day! Which means I’ll be doing something consistently with writing, which I have not done in the past.

Also, I’m working on one novel that will hopefully be ready to be published by June 2018. If it’s not publishing-worthy or if I don’t publish it by then, whatever. But I just want to have it as ready as I can make it.

Want to know what it is?

Drumroll, please…

It’s Battle Song, the novel I started last November for NaNoWriMo! And, as a plus for me, there’s already a page for it. (An non-updated page, for sure, and everything’s subject to change, but hey, it’s there.)

Besides the novel ha, I make it sound like it’s so easy to write a novel, I’m also looking to publish a few short stories, whether through magazines or contests. If you know of a good one, please tell me! I’d love to hear it! I have one or two (or maybe just one) stories I could try to publish, so I’ll probably need to write more, but I want to try to get my name out there and maybe develop my craft a little more along the way.

I want to publish at least one short story by September 1, 2017. Because that’d be cool. *nods*

Aside from writing, there’s blogging! Yes sirree, you never thought this day would come, the day when I, Lana, at The Music of Words, would actually make…a posting schedule.

I’m going to spend two hours on “writing marketing” (which is basically just talking to people online and writing blog posts) once a week, and write two blog posts & set them to post. (Probably Saturday, since I don’t have “work” that day.) And then the other day that my post comes out, Tuesday, will also be my blog response day where I respond to comments. Which is only supposed to take 30 minutes. Heh. Heh. Heh.

But, as you can tell, it is a Wednesday, which isn’t on my posting schedule at all. It’s also not in my general schedule either, but I’m writing this during my free time. So if I have a brilliant idea for a blog post, it might appear on a random day. (You can thank me later.)

Oh yes! So, today was my very first day on the job. I actually followed a schedule from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm. Crazy, I know! (And then I had free time…ahh man, I’m going to love my free time.) So, how did it go?

Well. It went well. (Wahoo for good grammar!)

Okay, it was actually easier than I thought to keep to a schedule, though I was sorely tempted to stop and just finish the book I was reading. (I finished it during my lunch break, instead. And then read another book during my after-five-pm free time. *grins*)

But it was also hard to work on writing. I’m trying to figure out world building so that it’s actually cool (not to mention I think it’ll solve a lot of plot problems), but it’s more difficult than expected. How does one take influences from a real-world culture, put it into a fake world, with certain requirements and characters, and still make it realistic? I have no idea. But at least I’m trying, and that feels really good.


talk with me!

Do you like/not like the Becoming an Author posts & why? What should I do differently in the next one? (less updates, more advice?) Are you excited for my goals as well? What are your plans for the future & what career do you want to go into/are in? What are your best tips for keeping to a schedule? Or for writing? Or just tips for life in general? I’m a willing listener here to all the sage wisdom you have to give. Especially if it’s a little sarcastic. *wink wink*

 

Monthly Dares: March 2017

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Yay, March! It’s been a little while since I posted, and I’m a bit late for March, but that’s okay! It’s never too late to make new dares. If you’re new here, you may be wondering what monthly dares are? They’re inspired by the fabulous Kellyn Roth @ Reveries, and basically you set goals for the next month and dare yourself to do them! My twist on it is that most of my goals help me to achieve my New Year’s Resolutions throughout 2017. You can check out February’s post here. Let’s begin!

*NYR indicates that the goal is part of a New Year’s Resolution.

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Overall, February was kind of bleh. Some parts of it were great…other parts of it were not so great. But I did learn some new things and have decided to trust in God more and turn my life over to Him, which was awesome. Anyway…here are my results!

 

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1. (NYR) Read my scriptures every morning & pray morning and night. Pretty good! Basically, the same as last month, which is that I read my scriptures every day and prayed almost every day. However, there’s a lot of room for improvement in regards to actually getting something out of it…but I did get a new scripture journal, and the other night I felt really close to my Heavenly Father as I was praying, which was wonderful.

2. (NYR) Write in my journal at least 23 times (since 23 is my favorite number)! More or less. Well, more on the less side, actually. I only wrote 11 times…but at least I wrote several entries that were more than one page. That’s pretty impressive in and of itself.

3. (NYR) Research the colleges in my state and see which ones I’d most like to go to. Not really. I did think about college a lot, though! And this was partly I’ve already basically decided where I want to go to for college…now I just have to get a good enough ACT score to get a decent scholarship. *crosses fingers*

4. Study for five minutes every night for the ACT. I did okay with this goal. I didn’t do it every night, and I’m definitely not feeling ready to take the ACT in just a few days, but the fact that I did study is great! And after I take the ACT the first time, I’m going to study more and get good enough to get a really high score on it.

5. (NYR) Get my driver’s license! Seriously! Failure. I didn’t even drive. No more on this subject…I don’t want to dwell on the pain of this procrastination.

6. (NYR) Finish my online class and take the test and BE DONE WITH IT. Nope… I got an extension for the class and I have to be finished and take the test next week. Which totally explains why I haven’t done any assignments for it today… *hides in shame*

7. (NYR) Do at least 1 hour of service once a week, and try to do one small act of service every day. *dies* *slowly* Well, I was feeling positive at the beginning of the post. Okay, so I didn’t do any huge service stuff. But I did, on the other hand, do some small little service. But nothing deserving green, or even yellow, text.

8. Keep track of the chores I do so that I can actually get paid for them. Work for Dad for at least a couple of hours to get back in the groove. Yeah! At least for the first part. I didn’t really do all that many chores, though, so I think I’ll have to alter this goal again to meet my needs.

9. Floss every night. I’m rockin’ this one! Still not every night, but I think I did better this month than in January. Like, it’s even starting to be a habit and it’s quick and pretty much painless even when I’m super tired.

10. Sing at least 4x every week to practice for my weekly voice lessons. Hm…not my best. I think I sang more in January. I was busier this month, but that’s not really an excuse. I think I sang an average of 2 times a week. Maybe 1.8 or something like that.

11. Finish Personal Progress! No. I didn’t even really work on it. I have to finish sewing this quilt and it’s going to be the death of me. (Not really, but how come it’s so hard to arrange blocks in the right place?)

12. Get off the computer by 9 p.m. at least half the time. Hopefully this will help me to get to bed sooner…? This never happened. It might have happened once. And I also didn’t get to bed sooner, either. *marks this goal for review as well*

13. Do at least 20 minutes every week of Spanish practice with Duolingo. Grrrrr. I did it for one out of the four weeks. So that’s something, at least. And I went to Spanish class as well… Okay, okay, I’ll try to do better next month.

14. Hand write a letter and mail it to someone. *sighs* This didn’t happen. I mean, I thought about it, and I thought of who I’d want to write too, but it didn’t happen. I just need to buckle down and do it!

15. Make a meal for the family at least once. *sighs again* Nope.

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1. (NYR) Read 5 books this month. Awww yeah! I read 7 books this month! Not quite as good as last month’s ten books, but still above my goal!

2. (NYR) Write reviews for the said 5 books on Goodreads. Mostly. I’ve written reviews for three of them, and the reviews for the other four (plus the one I read today, in March) will be coming eventually! I’m kind of excited to write my review for The Hunger Games because after I finished it, I was analyzing all of these writerly things and why it was a bestseller and such. No promises that I’ll remember all of my thoughts by the time I write the review, but I’ll try my best. You can find my Goodreads page here, and I actually have a profile pic now! It’s the same one I use everywhere online, but still, it’s not a blank face anymore.

3. At least one has to be a book that someone has recommended or that is on my TBR. Check! I read Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. After watching the anime for a second time, I decided I wanted to read the book. I loved it and I shall also be writing a review of that soon!

4. Read at least 200 pages more in The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time #1) by Robert Jordan. Well, no. But I decided that if I don’t enjoy reading something, what’s the point of reading it? So I’m probably going to just stop reading this anyway because I can’t even convince myself to open it up anymore.

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1. (NYR) Write at least 6 blog posts this month. Pretty darn close. I wrote five blog posts, and in actuality, I did write a sixth one on the last day of the month so that I could achieve that goal, but I decided not to publish it because of Goal #3 in this section. I didn’t feel like you’d love the post, so I decided it wasn’t worth posting.

2. Make a graphic for each post, like I’ve been doing. Yep! No more to say here.

3. Blog what I want to and don’t feel pressured about it. Yes, I did this! And it’s been really great, but I have been thinking about blogging recently and I realized that my blog, at the moment, probably only appeals to writers. I believe once people start reading and enjoying my books, they’d love to read it more, but at the moment my posts mainly only help writers, and that’s the audience I’m getting.

But as an author, I need more of an audience of readers…so my thoughts now are: how do I draw in people to my blog who’d be interested in reading my books while staying true to myself and enjoying blogging? What kind of posts would I enjoy doing that would accomplish this? Do you have any ideas for me?

4. (NYR) Keep the sidebar updated, especially the word count for Enhanced. Well… There wasn’t all that much to update.

5. Make the Zel page. Also, think about making a resources page sharing what you’re learning about self-publishing and stuff. I don’t think so. I mean, a goal to think about things isn’t a very good goal…but I definitely didn’t make the Zel page (bad llama!) and I didn’t think all that much about making a resources page. But I did think about it once or twice, so maybe that counts for something?

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1. (NYR) Write 28,000 words this month (1k every day) and keep track on it on the 365K spreadsheet. Ha. Ha. No. My spreadsheet is horribly sad. I wrote a pitiful 11,116 in February. Basically, I didn’t write 2/3 of the time. *flails and wails*

2. (NYR) Write 30,000 words in Enhanced. Even worse. I think I wrote something like 6k in Enhanced this month. On the other hand, I did get past a major problem I had with it, but I’m still finding it hard to get back into the story again.

3. (NYR) Write a short story or flash fiction. *growls at self* No. I did work a little bit on a short story, but I didn’t come close to finishing it.

4. Finish the short story from last month. Nope. Nada. Nothing. Didn’t even think about it.

5. Write another chapter in TC. *melts because melting seems like the appropriate response* I think I opened up the document once…but I didn’t write a thing.

6. Force my friend (a different friend than from #5) to write her part in the CN (a different collaborative novel), so that we can finally finish it. YAS. A wonderful, glorious YAS. Because it was very hard, but it finally did happen! Now I just need to force her to write just one more part, and then I’ll write one and the book shall be done with!

7. Research cover-making and the important aspects of it, since that’s definitely a major point with self-publishing. Yeah, a bit. I did do some research; I read a couple of articles, found some more self-publishing articles, etc. I still do have more to learn, though, but I did pretty good at this part of the goal.

8. Along with #7, create at least five covers using what I’ve learned, at least one of which I have to be proud of. Not yet. I’ve only made one cover so far (which I’m not terribly proud of), but I want to continue doing this in March and give you a nice post at the end about what I learned and sharing & critiquing the covers I made–yay!

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This is a new section where I can share the awesome things that I did that weren’t in my goals! Yay! So, here’s a short list of some of the things I did:

  • I was more social! Which led to me getting asked out on a fun date. (I mean, I’d already known the guy for many years, but I know that being more talkative made the difference.) I’m really getting into the social aspect of Social Dance class. I’ve made several new friends, and I’m improving in my skills with talking to guys!
  • I went to a three day writing conference, which was amazing! Seriously, there are so many things that I learned that I want to try and to share with you. My dad took me and I skipped school to go listen to authors talk on different subjects. This is part of what inspired me to finally get over the stuff that I was having problems with in Enhanced.
  • I went to a family history fair thing and now I want to learn stories about my ancestors.
  • I turned 17! Yay! I got a coloring book and gel pens, a Brandon Sanderson book, a jacket, and a lovely new scripture study journal!
  • I decided on my birthday that I would turn my life over to God and let Him be the one who takes control and guides me. I’ve been hearing all over the place in seminary and in church that He will help me with my goals and to become the best I can be. And yes, I’ve failed many times every day since then, but I know that when I have relied on Him, He’s helped me. It’s amazing.

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Now onto March and my dares for this month! Everyone cross your fingers that I’ll be able to achieve them!

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1. (NYR) Add more meaning to my scripture study and prayer. Journal about scriptures 5x a week, and write down a prayer at least 2x a week.

2. (NYR) Write in my journal at least 20 times! This gets lower every month…I guess I’m just waiting for a goal that I will actually reach.

3. (NYR) Research the colleges in my state and see which ones I’d most like to go to.

4. Take the ACT!

5. (NYR) Get my driver’s license! Or at least work on it.

6. (NYR) Finish my online class! This one is happening this month no matter how much I procrastinate, thank goodness.

7. (NYR) Find service to do, and do it! My cousin told me about this project people were doing in her neighborhood where they crocheted afghans, and I do love crocheting, so I think I’ll ask her for the pattern.

8. Do my chores more often (every day, if possible)! Work for Dad at least 10 hours this month–money goes toward college.

9. Floss every night.

10. Sing at least 4x every week to practice for my weekly voice lessons.

11. Finish Personal Progress…I know I have to get this one done…I just have to!

12. Get enough sleep so that you don’t die the next morning. (a.k.a. get 8 hours of sleep.)

13. Do at least 20 minutes every week of Spanish practice with Duolingo.

14. Hand write a letter and mail it to someone.

15. Make a meal for the family at least once.

16. Learn a story about an ancestor.

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1. (NYR) Read 5 books this month

2. (NYR) Write reviews for the said 5 books on Goodreads + reviews from last month.

3. At least one has to be a book that someone has recommended or that is on my TBR.

4. Read something edifying or knowledge-giving. (Yeah, I don’t even know what that means either.)

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1. (NYR) Write at least 6 blog posts this month. (Wahoo, 1/6 of the way there!) 5

2. Continue making graphics (because this is one of the easier goals to keep).

3. Come up with five blog post ideas that I would enjoy writing but are not just about my book or about writing advice.

4. (NYR) Keep the sidebar updated, especially the word count for Enhanced. Add a “Scripture of the Week” section?

5. Seriously, just write a couple of bleh paragraphs on the Zel page. That’s better than having nothing there.

6. Reach out to other bloggers! Comment on 5 people’s blogs that I’ve never commented on before.

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1. (NYR) Write 40,000 words this month (1k+ every day) and keep track on it on the 365K spreadsheet.

2. (NYR) Write 40,000 words in Enhanced. This one I think is kind of crazy. 40k is a lot even in NaNo months, but I do need to catch up from last month. If I really do write 1k every day, I think the excess that I write will add up to 40k total (though maybe not in Enhanced necessarily).

3. (NYR) Work on The Luminary (the dark short story I mentioned in a different post) and outline it to its completion.

4. Write another chapter in TC. Don’t let the story dieee!

6. Force my friend to write her last part in the CN. We’re so close!

7. Continue with last month’s goal of cover-making research + making 5 covers (one of which I have to be proud of). Write a post afterward sharing what I’ve learned.

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February was kind of a crazy month, and writing-wise, I did pretty badly. Again, reading was one of my best, but blogging also had a definite improvement from last month! And life was about the same as last month. So the takeaway: I can do better! I want to really take a positive outlook on this and actually do better next month! Hmm…maybe I can find some way to measure how well I did each month and compare…

Anyway, I just want to keep trying again and again! I think that is the most important thing to do. No matter how many mistakes I make or how much I want to growl at myself for how I did this month, I can always try again! And that’s what I’ll continue to do.



What are your thoughts? How did your February go? Are you excited for another chance to try again and start over? What are some of your goals for March? I want to hear about them, so link me to your posts or just tell me! What posts are you most excited for this month and what new ones do you think I should introduce? How should I do better at blogging? I would love your advice!

Thank you all for reading! You are amazing!

Monthly Dares: February 2017

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I feel like February is a really purple-colored month…don’t you?

It’s time for the second Monthly Dares installment, inspired by the illustrious Kellyn Roth @ Reveries! If you want to read last month’s post, you can find it here, but I’ll be reviewing my goals from last month in this post, so you could survive without reading it. (But, you know, if you want more of me, then you should probably read it.)

Monthly Dares are monthly goals that you make for yourself. Each month you review how you did on last month’s goals and make goals for the next month. I also use it to keep track of my New Year’s Resolutions. Sounds fun, right? So, without further ado, let us begin!

*NYR stands for New Year’s Resolution



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Life Goals:

1. (NYR) Read my scriptures every morning & pray morning and night. Yeah! Well, mostly. I did really great on reading my scriptures every day, but that’s not really surprising considering that I already did that every day. Praying, on the other hand…I actually did better in the morning than during the night, which is kind of crazy. I’ve just been really tired this month and I went to bed a lot without praying. Bad llama.

2. (NYR) Write in my journal at least 6 out of 7 days a week, which equates to 27 days in January; I can miss only four. Well… I definitely did not miss only four days. I think I probably ended up only writing half of the time or maybe a little more. But considering my record for December, that was an improvement!

3. (NYR) Research different college majors I’m interested in, and research at least one in-state college. Yeah…. No. Actually, I did look into the majors at one of the colleges I’m interested in, and I did decide that I probably want to minor in Creative Writing! However, I do not want to major in English…the only exciting classes there are the Creative Writng ones. So yeah, I have no idea what I’d want to major in.

4. Study at least 2 hours (30 min a week) for the pre-college test. Not really. You can see my success rate steadily declining as I go down the list… I did study 30 minutes, once. However, I have a different idea for this next month, so hopefully there’ll be some improvement there.

5. (NYR) Get my driver’s license! Not even close. I don’t even think I drove at all this month, let alone practiced or took my test or any of that. So nope. And I don’t even really have an excuse.

6. (NYR) Catch up on my online class, which probably means doing 1 assignment every school day. Um… Yeah, this didn’t really happen. In fact, I’ll probably have to ask for an extension considering how far I still have to go. I did work on it a little bit, but in no way did I “catch up.”

7. (NYR) Do at least 1 hour of service once a week, and try to do one small act of service every day. Pretty good. I did an hour of service every week except one. I shoveled snow, helped clean my church, and tied blankets for refugees! I don’t think I did as well at doing a small act of service every day…but there’s always next month!

8. Earn some money by doing at least 12 hours of work for my dad over the month (3 hours a week). Nope. I didn’t do this at all. Granted, the Christmas tree is still in the way of the desk I use to do it, but…that’s not really an excuse.

9. Floss every night. Improvement! I didn’t do it every night, but I definitely improved. I did 5 to 6 nights every week, which is awesome.

10. Sing at least 4x every week to practice for my weekly voice lessons. Not quite. I averaged about 3 practices a week, which is okay, but I didn’t reach my goal.

11. Do at least 2 hours (30 minutes a week) of Personal Progress. Semi-decent. I probably did an hour on it total, but I didn’t really feel like I got much done… I need to start working on my quilt since I want to finish all of my Personal Progress by the end of the month.

12. Go to bed before 10 p.m. at least 15 times this month. Ha. Ha. I think this might have happened twice. Well, maybe three or four when I was so tired that I just fell asleep. However, I only went to bed after midnight twice, so…I mainly stayed in the range of 10-11 p.m. Not good, but not super bad either. Okay, maybe it is super bad, considering how tired I am.

13. Do at least 2 hours (30 minutes a week) of Spanish practice with Duolingo. Basically not. I did about 20 minutes the entire month.

14. Hand write a letter and mail it to someone. No, unfortunately. I didn’t ever feel like I had the time, even though I probably did…

15. Try updating Habitica every day and see if it helps me to keep these goals. Awww yeah. (Studio C reference, anyone?) I’m still going strong on Habitica and it’s really helped me so far! It’s the reason for me flossing more and that I actually wrote in my journal as much as I did. So yay!

Reading Goals:

1. (NYR) Read 5 books this month. Done and done! I actually read 10 books this month, which was awesome! I think having this goal and knowing I needed to read books this month led to me reading a lot but also not feeling super overwhelmed.

2. (NYR) Write reviews for the said 5 books on Goodreads. Yep! I reviewed 9 out of the 10 books…if you want to check them out, here’s my Goodreads page!

3. At least one has to be one that I’ve started but not yet finished. Technically… I read The Archived by Victoria Schwab, which I technically started in December, but that wasn’t my intention behind the goal. I didn’t finish anything that I’d been reading for a really long time like ADSOM or the first Wheel of Time book.

4. Make a Goodreads goal of 60 books for this year. Check! That one was pretty easy.

Blogging Goals:

1. (NYR) Write at least 6 blog posts this month. Almost. I only wrote four posts, but that’s okay. I was happy with the blog posts that I posted.

2. (NYR) Keep the sidebar updated, especially the word count for Enhanced. Yep. Basically the only thing I did was updated Enhanced’s word count, though…I probably should’ve done something more, like take off Battle Song since I’m not currently working on it right now.

3. Create the page for the Zel novel. Oops. I kind of forgot about this…? So no, it didn’t happen.

4. Make pretty graphics for at least 3 of the posts. Yes! I made a graphic for every one of those four posts and I’m happy with them.

Writing Goals:

1. (NYR) Write 31,000 words this month (1k every day) and keep track on it on the 365K spreadsheet. I scraped through… I did write 31k in the month (barely), and I did keep track of it, but I didn’t write 1k every day. Still, I got the 31k, and that was the most important part.

2. (NYR) Write 30,000 words in Enhanced. I tried… I ended up writing about 25,000, which is pretty good. Thankfully, I’d already written 10k of it before 2017 began, so I do have a little bit of leeway. If I actually had written every day, I probably would’ve gotten there, but the days I skipped were hard.

3. (NYR) Write a short story or flash fiction. *nervous laughter* I didn’t start on this until the end of the month (procrastination for the win!) but I did end up planning a short story out and writing ~500 words in it. I still need to finish it, though.

4. Write a chapter in TC, a novel that I’m writing with a friend that should no longer be abandoned. Definitely. Well, technically, I finished a chapter I’d started, but it only had a couple hundred words in it, so it was basically like writing a chapter. I also got excited about it again! Which is a good thing.

5. Force my friend (a different friend than from #4) to write her part in the CN (a different collaborative novel), so that we can finally finish it. I wish. I got her to write a couple of paragraphs, but it didn’t end up happening. Of course, this one is not entirely under my control, but it’s still frustrating.

6. Ask friends & other bloggers about self-publishing vs. traditional publishing to get a better outlook on it. Yep! I rambled about it a bit for one of my posts (Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing) and I’ve done a little bit of research beyond that. Currently, I’m leaning toward self-publishing, but still doing research on both.



Whew, there’s the review! I learned a lot from this month, and I have a couple of new ideas to try for this month’s goals, which are coming right up!



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1. (NYR) Read my scriptures every morning & pray morning and night.

2. (NYR) Write in my journal at least 23 times (since 23 is my favorite number)!

3. (NYR) Research the colleges in my state and see which ones I’d most like to go to.

4. Study for five minutes every night for the ACT. I think this simpler, shorter time frame will work better for me to actually study. Besides, people always say that studying every night helps more than studying a lot one night.

5. (NYR) Get my driver’s license! Seriously!

6. (NYR) Finish my online class and take the test and BE DONE WITH IT.

7. (NYR) Do at least 1 hour of service once a week, and try to do one small act of service every day. I thoroughly approve of this goal, so I’ll keep it how it is.

8. Keep track of the chores I do so that I can actually get paid for them. Work for Dad for at least a couple of hours to get back in the groove.

9. Floss every night.

10. Sing at least 4x every week to practice for my weekly voice lessons.

11. Finish Personal Progress!

12. Get off the computer by 9 p.m. at least half the time. Hopefully this will help me to get to bed sooner…?

13. Do at least 20 minutes every week of Spanish practice with Duolingo.

14. Hand write a letter and mail it to someone. I still definitely want to do this one.

15. Make a meal for the family at least once.

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1. (NYR) Read 5 books this month.

2. (NYR) Write reviews for the said 5 books on Goodreads.

3. At least one has to be a book that someone has recommended or that is on my TBR.

4. Read at least 200 pages more in The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time #1) by Robert Jordan. I’m kind of struggling with finishing this book…at this rate, I might finish it by the end of 2017.

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1. (NYR) Write at least 6 blog posts this month. (Wahoo, 1/6 of the way there!)

2. Make a graphic for each post, like I’ve been doing.

3. Blog what I want to and don’t feel pressured about it. I’m starting to learn what sort of blog posts I like writing the best, and so I want to write more of those and not feel pressured to write any other things. Which is why schedules don’t work for me.

4. (NYR) Keep the sidebar updated, especially the word count for Enhanced.

5. Make the Zel page. Also, think about making a resources page sharing what you’re learning about self-publishing and stuff.

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1. (NYR) Write 28,000 words this month (1k every day) and keep track on it on the 365K spreadsheet.

2. (NYR) Write 30,000 words in Enhanced. This will be even harder this month, since there’s only 28 days…but we’ll see how I do!

3. (NYR) Write a short story or flash fiction.

4. Finish the short story from last month.

5. Write another chapter in TC, a novel that I’m writing with a friend.

6. Force my friend (a different friend than from #4) to write her part in the CN (a different collaborative novel), so that we can finally finish it. I’m really working on this one. I’m even bribing her with cute shippy scenes that she can read as soon as she writes it.

7. Research cover-making and the important aspects of it, since that’s definitely a major point with self-publishing.

8. Along with #7, create at least five covers using what I’ve learned, at least one of which I have to be proud of.



So, what did I learn this month? My main takeaway was that I need to print off my dares! I forgot about several of them throughout the month and just focused on the main ones instead of trying to work on all of them. Because of this, a lot of time that could have been spent productively was instead used to procrastinate. This month, I’m definitely going to do better, especially with my life goals.

What was I proud of? I’m really proud with my reading goals this month–did you see all of that green? They were awesome.

What do I need to work on next month? I need to work on doing the little things more–like the handwritten letter or the Duolingo. That stuff is harder because it’s not done every day and so I need to focus more on it.



How has your January been? What have you accomplished? Do you have any posts about January? Link me to them–I’d love to read them! What are your goals for February?

Progress is Progress (a Music + Writing Post)

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It’s all too easy to get discouraged and down on ourselves when it doesn’t seem like we’re progressing: in writing, music, and life in general. In whatever we do, no matter how old or experienced we are, there are days–or even weeks or months–in which we feel like we’re getting nowhere, despite our hard work.

I started taking voice lessons last summer, in June or July, and since then I have learned so many new things. But just a few weeks ago, I felt awful. I didn’t want to practice or sing or do anything with to my voice at all. It felt like I hadn’t progressed at all. We’d been working for weeks and weeks trying to get some vibrato to come into my voice, and it wasn’t coming. I felt like I was trying my best and getting nowhere.

When I went to my voice lesson that next Monday, my voice teacher told me that my mom had talked to her and told her a little bit how I was feeling. For a little bit, I felt a bit betrayed that my mom would tell her something like that, but now, I’m really glad about what she did.

My voice teacher asked what was wrong, and, amidst a lot of tears, I told her how I’d been feeling.

“[Lana], every one of my students comes to me and tells me that they don’t feel like they’re progressing. Especially the students like you, who have been in choirs for years and years, feel like they should be better already, even if they’ve only been with me for a few months. Let me tell you that your voice is amazing and you have come so far.”

She then took out my notebook and listed three columns: what I’d been good at before I started learning with her, what I’d improved on since then, and then what I still needed to work on to improve my voice.

And she was right: I had come far. There was so much that I’d learned and improved on. Of course, there was still more to do, but seeing how far I’d come helped me realize that I had progressed, and that I would continue to progress in the future (and I have).

It’s the same with writing and everything in life. There are days when you stare at the screen and don’t know what to write next. There are days when scenes don’t work and your writing is horrible and, no matter what you do, you can’t seem to figure out that tricky character’s voice. There are even days when you think you’re not cut out to be a writer at all.

But that’s when you’ve got to realize that progress is progress, and you’ve made it. It’s good to realize how far you’ve come, how much you’ve learned, how amazing your voice is. When I think of how much I’ve learned since I started writing…the results are tremendous. About characters and plots and realism…

But, after you’ve realized how far you’ve come, you have to create that third column. It’s no good to realize the progress you’ve made if you don’t do anything about it. Once you find out what you’ve done, you have to decide what you’re going to do–and try to do it. Keep practicing, a little at a time, a tiny fraction every day. And you will progress, but you may not notice unless you take the time to look back on it.

It takes time, but you will progress. You have progressed, and however far you still have to go, that’s amazing.

Self-Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing

 

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I’ve been thinking a lot about this subject over the past fourteen days of the month. I mentioned in my January Dares post that one of my writing-related goals was to get a lot of different opinions on self-publishing vs. traditional publishing…and also to do some research of my own. Not just to know about it, but so that I could hopefully decide which one I want to do.

I still have several people to ask, and so there may be a part two of this at the end of the month, but today I was thinking about it a lot and looking through different websites and trying to pinpoint what exactly my goal was, and you know what I found out?

Self-publishing isn’t the easy way out.

Okay, yes, you can write a novel and put it on CreateSpace with minimal effort, but making an actual career out of self-publishing? It’s hard. Way hard. When you traditionally publish, the choices are left out of your hands. You don’t have to worry about talking to libraries and bookstores and managing how much your book is priced, and all of that, because the publishing company takes care of it.

But then you lose control, which seems to be the main reason that authors choose self-publishing. That’s why it’s hard–it’s an entrepreneurship, where you deal with the repercussions if your book doesn’t sell out; you have to be the one to make the hard decisions; you have to be the one to revise your book; you have to be the one to do every single little thing.

And that’s the reason traditional publishing is so wonderful, as well. Because all you have to really do is write and revise and have an online presence, and write some more. And if that’s all you want, then that’s great.

I still don’t know which I want to do.

I love the idea of self-publishing and being able to market my own book. I love that I can write what I want, when I want. I love that I reserve all the rights. I love that I’m the one who can be in control.

When I was younger, I created my own massage business around the house (mainly geared toward my dad and mom), which led to my older brother also creating his own, competing massage business, which I responded to with a ferocious increase in marketing.

I liked getting paid, but, more than that, I loved convincing people to buy from me. I loved creating little massage cards that I could print out and cut out in nice little stacks. I loved making posters exclaiming about me giving the massaged person an M&M or a skittle for every minute they were massaged. I loved marking down star ratings of my massages (though I can’t say I reacted well to the not-so-good ones) and calculating the overall rating of my business. I loved creating specials where people could buy certain things from me and get something else free. I even created a newsletter partnered with my brother’s business, with my dad as the editor, to inform my parents of important massaging information.

All this points to me choosing self-publishing, and I admit that today, looking through all of the options that were open to me, the same sort of excited feeling washed over me…but I’m also terrified.

I’m terrified of having to do things I’ve never done before, and, yeah, you still have to do that with traditional publishing, but I’m terrified of the idea of having to do it on my own.

I love to improve myself, but there are times when I feel so alone trying to do it on my own, and I desperately want someone there to help me, to give me advice, and to carry me through those hard times.

That’s why traditional publishing is so tempting. It’s so safe, so easy, but it’s also stagnant to me. I want to query so I can be rejected, I want to query so I can be accepted and know that my writing really is good enough, but I don’t know if I actually want to be traditionally published.

The choice is obvious; I know it is. I know you can see it–if self-publishing is going to be hard but rewarding for me, then that’s the road to take, isn’t it? I can see it, too, but that doesn’t mean I’m not afraid. Even though I know I have years and years ahead of me, and that I can change my mind, and that I could even do both if I wanted to, something seems so final about saying that I’ve decided to self-publish.

Gah. I need to stop doubting myself, but I’ll wait until the end of the month–part two of this, probably. Until then…if you have any opinions/advice/good places to learn about either type of publishing, please comment below and let me know!

Research Tidbits/Conclusion – May 21st

The Research Week has come to its end. First off, I just want to thank all of you who have participated! Your participation has helped me (and others, I’m sure) do some research for their novels. More than that, when you submit your research to the RRW, other writers will be able to see your research and use it for their own novels as well! So, thank you so much.

Despite the Research Week being officially over, I think I’ll still keep researching for a little while, since I procrastinated I didn’t research all the topics I wanted to, and I encourage you all to keep researching as well. It is so helpful in making your writing realistic and believable, and you’ll just learn more!

Oh, and one more thing before I share my research-y quote and a little about it: in about a week, I’m going to make a post with links to all the research that was done this week. So during this coming week make sure to get all the research you did together and submit it to the RRW, and once it’s been added to the site, comment with the link(s) here. Then we shall all be able to look at each other’s research!

Now, for the quote:

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I really love this quote, because I think it describes what we do with writing in a beautiful way. Writing is realistic and unrealistic at the same time. Relatable, believable even, and yet fantastical.

Because when you write, what you’ve researched doesn’t have to be the truth. That’s what imagination is, that’s what writing is. You find the truth and twist it. You go back to a decision that was made and change it. You warp everything just a little, and immerse your readers in the magic that you’ve created.

Research, knowledge, experience, that’s the baseline. You need it so that you can have somewhere to push off from, a reference to look back at, but the beautiful thing about writing is that you can see it from a new perspective.

Research makes the story believable, and imagination is what makes it beautiful and interesting.

So when you look back at your research, try to “think what nobody else has thought”. Isn’t that why we write, anyway? To show a new perspective, to show how things could be or might have been.

It’s a beautiful thing, to imagine, to write, to share, and when that is supplemented with research and realism…you might even be able to change the world.


How has the Research Week gone for you? How much did you get done? What have you been most excited about learning? (I’m researching castles right now!) Tell me, why do you write? And don’t forget to share the links to your research once you get them!