A New Start

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Hey all, it’s the New Year, and although I haven’t made any New Year’s resolutions regarding writing, I’m still making progress.

I have three different things happening right now on projects.

I’m on the editing stages on All the King’s Men, which is a cyberpunk novel. I just finished my second round of edits, so hopefully I will have more news soon on progress for that novel. This novel has been in the works for me for a long time, and it feels like quite an accomplishment to have it progressing.

Secondly, I have finished writing a dragon fantasy novel and I’m having it beta read by a few different amazing people. I’m letting that one be for a while before I start revisions and line editing. I wrote this one for 2015’s NaNoWriMo and it won. I’ve tentatively called it “Far Patrol,” although that could possibly change.

I’ve started writing the sequel to Far Patrol, and I’m only a few thousand words into that so far. If I’m writing a series, I want to have as much written as possible by the time I submit the first novel. I’m getting a bit ahead of myself, because Far Patrol is nowhere near ready to submit.

Lastly, I’m writing a short story for the Magic and Mayhem anthology, which is a charity anthology being written in order to help fund future Gay Romance Northwest initiatives. As I have attended all three meet-ups, I am definitely submitting something to help.

So those are my projects for this winter, so it should be a fun few months.

Another short announcement that I have is that I recently purchased a bookstore business called the Final Chapter, and of course, I am looking for LGBTQ titles so that I can make an LGBTQ section in the store, as it was sadly lacking one when I purchased it. I have a few books that I can donate as I’ve read them already, but hopefully I can get even more!

So that’s it for now, folks! I’ve been a bit busy, but hopefully I can get some more blog posts going now that all the kerfuffle of Christmas and bookstore bargaining is over with.

NaNoWriMo is coming!

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Hey all, as fellow readers and writers, I’m sure you all know what NaNoWriMo is. For those who don’t, National Novel Writing Month takes place in November, and is the undertaken challenge of writing 50000 words in 30 days. It can be a gruelling challenge, especially for those with jobs or university and college classes. However, it is doable, and it can be very fun

regulus.I first took part in the challenge in 2012, and I decided that I was going to write a novel about a vampire on a space station. For those of you who think that sounds familiar, you would be right. My novel Rangers over Regulus was written for NaNoWriMo that year, and it won! Yes, I wrote the last 12000 words on the last day, but I still won. I think my brain might have gone a little loopy, because when I reread chapter 8, I had no memory of having written it. Not only had I won the challenge, I also had a 50k word novel on my hands, writing finished, editing much needed.

In 2013, I didn’t win. I came very very close to winning, but fell short by just over 6000 words. So close! Although I didn’t win, the fact remains that at the end of November, I had 43000 words of a novel already written. And guess what? I finished that novel, and my publisher has accepted it for publication.

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My point is, NaNoWriMo gets people writing, and it gets them churning out words by the thousands. Sometimes writers win the challenge – sometimes they don’t. But no matter how much a writer finishes by the end of the month, they have still accomplished something on their latest project, even if it’s finding out that their current project falls apart under pressure.

I’m hoping that this year is once again productive on the writing front, and that by the end of this November, I’ll have a good chunk of my next project finished – hopefully at least 50k words of it. This year, I’m writing about Ignius, an agender dragon and their dragonrider Kathely, who want to join an elite squadron known as Far Patrol. It should be fun to write, although probably won’t be the novel anyone is expecting – me least of all!

Join me on my quest to achieve noveldom!

I’m testosterone-tea on the NaNoWriMo site, and you can follow my progress on Twitter as well.

Plot Bunny Hell

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You know that feeling you get when you realize that your head is overflowing with ideas, and you already have three or four projects you need to get finished?

Of course you do. Plot bunny hell is an affliction that all writers have.

Because the pull is there, to starts a whole new adventure from scratch, because there’s a really awesome idea bubbling just below the surface. And you just know that you won’t be able to start it, because not only have you got enough on your plate, but if you DO start it, then it will collapse in on itself eventually because you haven’t done any research or outlining or even any plotting.

But it’s maddeningly there, sitting in the back of your head, eager to get out.

Curse you, plot bunnies.

Sometimes, it’s easy enough to jot down a note somewhere for later, so that you don’t forget what it was. But then, when you go back and look at the words you wrote on the page, it just doesn’t sound as amazing now that you’re reading it. Or, you don’t remember the exact context, and you’re wondering what you meant when you wrote “hawk coat.” Seriously. Where did this thought come from, and how did it coalesce into these two words that no longer make sense out of context?

I’m sorry for all of you that I’ve now made imagine all the weird things that those two words together could possibly mean. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t miniature coats for hawks OR coats made of hawks. Pretty sure.

Usually, I have some sort of advice for a solution to problems I discuss on my blog. But in this case, there are no solutions I can think of.

Really, it’s only a nuisance because you can’t bend the plot bunnies to your will and make them do as you like, which is help you write a story. But really, what a plot bunny is, in effect, is the side-effect of having a creative mind that just won’t bloody shut the hell up. Ever.

And really, you don’t have to worry, because these stray thoughts escaping are just a fraction of the creativity inside your head. Sort of like an iceberg, I suppose. Or the Lock Ness Monster.

So what I’m trying to say is, that plot bunnies are like pests that are hard to catch or kill. Maybe “plot cockroaches” is a more apt saying.

And so comes to an end this rambling post in which I pose a problem, offer absolutely no solution, and then cause you to muse on the properties of plot bunnies.

You’re welcome.

Rangers on the Read

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Hey all,

I’ve decided to start a project on social media called “Rangers on the Read.”

What is it? It’s a project in which I give my book Rangers over Regulus to one person that I know, and they will read it and pass it on. Sounds simple, right? It really is, it’s a project with no real parameters except curiosity. Where will my book end up?

I’ve left a message on the inside cover with instructions. You can read them below:

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If you’re looking at this message, one of your friends has given you this book to read.

This book is starting out with one person, and that person is going to read this book and pass it on. I want to see where this book ends up. Call it an experiment of sorts.

I’d like to try to keep track of it, so if you receive this book and feel like updating where it is and who you are, just send me a message, maybe a picture of where it has ended up this time.

#rangersontheread is the hashtag I’ll be tracking on social media.

You can PM me on Twitter @aa_powell or Tumblr alexpowell-writer.tumblr.com

or even email me at aa.powell.author@gmail.com

Or you can just read and pass it on.

Seems pretty straight forward, right? Just read it, send me a message if you like, and pass it on to the next person. I want to see where the book ends up. I’ve decided that I’ll start with just one book for now, and I’m starting it in Prince George, BC, Canada, which is my hometown.

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In case any of you readers are wondering where the heck that is, I’ll tell you. Prince George is a town of about 72 000 people in the middle of the Caribou Central Interior of British Columbia. It’s near the west coast of Canada, and is the largest city in northern BC. It’s an hour flight to Vancouver or Edmonton, and a ten hour drive by car. Two major highways run through PG, one running east to west and another running north to south. We have a small university, the University of Northern British Columbia (not to be mistaken with UBC, which is far less awesome).

If I had to take a guess where the book is going to end up, I’d say probably the university. But I can’t say that I’d be surprised if it ended up anywhere else.

My book might just circulate around Prince George for awhile and then end up in a garbage somewhere, missing its cover. Or it might end up on the other side of the world.

I guess we’ll wait and see. I might try this again with my starting point in Vancouver later, if this turns out to be a success.

Thanks everyone, I’ll keep you updated on its progress.

Summer Writing Projects

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I’ve gotten a bit behind on my writing projects of late, which makes me a bit sad. Apart from being a writer, I’m also a student trying to get into Grad School. That’s going well for the moment, so I’m returning to writing projects I need to get done. I’ve included a couple of pictures of my hometown in the post, just so you have an idea of what type of place I’m writing in.

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Top of UNBC hill in Prince George

 

  1. My cyberpunk novel is actually finished being written, revised, and beta-read! It took almost forever, and right now I’m on the editing stage. As you know, I find editing tedious but necessary to the final project. The novel is at 58K words right now, and I will be submitting it as soon as I finish my editing rounds. As I’ve discovered, I really like putting unnecessary words like “started to” and “began to” at the beginning of sentences and have to take them out. It is time-consuming, but I’m hoping to be done editing by mid-May.
  2. My ace dragon story is already outlined at over 40k words, and these types of things have a tendency to get away from me. So I’m guessing that it will probably end up around 50-60k words by the time I finish. As I’m hoping to get a lot of writing done this summer, I’m hoping to have the writing bit finished by the end of July.
  3. I keep saying I’m going to write for collection and anthology calls, but the things I write end up being longer than expected. So I’m going to try and fit in a short story for the Bisexual anthology call Enchanted Soles with Less Than Three Press. I find short stories the most difficult to write, so hopefully I won’t get carried away!
The road at the bottom of UNBC hill

The road at the bottom of UNBC hill

As usual, I have plot bunnies running around breeding profusely inside my head as well as projects I put on the back burner. I’ll try and stick to my guns and get everything finished. Summer writing projects are fun. Two summers ago, I was in Vancouver, and I managed to finish off Hakusan Angel while writing in posh cafes. Prince George is slightly less posh, but hopefully, that won’t curtail the writing flow!

Writer’s Block

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All writers commence groaning.

Writer’s block: a sort of strange and terrible phenomenon in which all creativity and motivation abandon the writer’s brain and leave for parts unknown.

How do we beat it? There are tons of different suggestions out there. Some of them work, and some of them don’t. Sometimes, it just seems best to sit down and do something else other than writing because of this problem.

I have a secret for you: being a good writer doesn’t come from momentary inspiration.

As much as you may doubt yourself and your writing ability when you don’t feel the writing vibe, you don’t just start being a terrible writer just because you aren’t feeling it right at that moment. Sometimes, you just have to push on through and keep writing, even though you don’t want to. Some of us don’t really have a choice, thanks to looming deadlines.

The thing is, your writing is still going to be good, even if you think that it’s boring when you’re writing. Sometimes, you don’t know what you’re going to write next, and that’s where the block is coming from. This is where you actually have to think about the mechanics of your work, and not just about the creative juices. I did mention in a past post that some people outline and some people don’t, and either is fine. But that doesn’t mean that you garden-growers out there can stop thinking about where your story is going and what kind of message you want to send. That means that in order to move your story along, you need to figure out where it goes next, and what kind of scene will take it there.

For outliners, this is the easy bit. What did you plan to write next? Do it now.

Now for the hard part. Write it. Whatever scene you’ve decided you need, get it down on paper, or on your computer, or wherever you write. Because the thing is, even if you don’t think it’s going to work, or is boring, or that it’s bad, it’s actually not. Once you’re done, set it aside for a bit and come back to it later, or add onto it again, when you’re thinking creatively again. I can almost guarantee you that if you look at your work later, you can’t tell the difference between scenes you wrote while feeling creative and inspired and scenes you wrote while feeling bored and stuck in a rut.

The problem? Most writer’s block stems from being bored. Well guess what? Writing is actually work sometimes, and sometimes work can be boring. Suck it up and get writing. After all, the only thing that suffers from you slacking off is you and your story.

Now that we’re done with that semi-inspiring speech, I’ve got some work to do on my own projects.

On Not Giving Up

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Okay, so your submission to a publisher came back with a rejection. Not only does it happen to the best of us, it happens to all of us. The vast majority of writers have publishers reject one of their works at some point or another.

It doesn’t mean that you’re a bad writer, necessarily. There are many reasons for a publisher to reject work.

One of them is that the work that you’ve submitted isn’t exactly what that publisher is looking for right at that instant. Sometimes it’s harder to figure out what a publisher is looking for when they have a general call out. Try again. Just because that publisher rejected it, it doesn’t mean every publisher will.

It could be that the publisher has limited space, and that they can’t publish everything that comes their way, even if it is good. It might be just that they’ve decided to go with authors that they are already familiar with, or that your work is similar to another author’s, so they went with the other one. It happens.

And I know you dread to hear it, but sometimes it is because of the writing.

So, I have a couple of questions for you, if you suspect that this is the case.

How long have you been a writer, and how much are you practicing? I’ve been a writer since I actually could write, and I get feedback from fellow writers at regular intervals. Are you taking any writing courses or following any writing blogs? Getting advice from others who can give you critical feedback?

The only way to get better at writing is actually writing. I’ve looked at some of my old work, and it’s just horrendous. But that’s looking at it from now. You can only get better with practice. That, and reading. Please read as much as you possibly can, because that’s how you can tell if you’re improving.

Don’t give up on writing because you got one rejection letter.

Other questions to ask yourself:

  • is my story predictable or typical? What can I do to change it up a bit, to make it different from all the other stories?
  • did I revise my story? How is the pacing, are there unnecessary scenes, or did you leave any out?
  • how’s your opening chapter? Do you have a good hook? What kind of scene do you open with? A lot of editors judge a book by its first chapter, and if that doesn’t impress them, they won’t read any further.
  • did you edit properly? Remember when I said editors can tell if you didn’t edit it? Yeah, they really really can, and dislike it immensely.

Any way you look at it, you shouldn’t take a rejection letter as a cue to throw in the towel. It is not a sign of failure unless you give up afterward.

Never think that writers are born. Writers create themselves.