Monday, October 4, 2021

Read So You Can Write

During the summer, I drafted a novel in two months. It was my first young adult contemporary romance. I had the itch for a story that brought me to tears during a walk when it came to fruitation. Any free-ish moment I had, I was at the coffee shop for an hour at a time trying to get it down. I was stoked with how it turned out, given how fast it went. Then, I took a two week break and decided to fill down time with hoarded reading time before edits.

I've been an avid reader since my childhood. For the past several years, I dived heavily into YA fantasy, because that was what I was writing at the time. Another genre would be my second or bedside table read. This summer, I spent more time finding my comp titles, so I veered toward writers in the contemporary genre. I was thankful for that opportunity because I found some new authors/books to love. In general, I do read just about everything and two books at a time. One in a genre I'm writing, one in another, for the most part.

But the thing is, I was asked how I can even find time to read. However, I posed a question back to the person and said how do you fill your day? They answered with various hobbies, about three of them. My answer to them was when they are busy with their hobbies, I read. When I'm done with work, dinner, a walk, family time, etc.--I read. I read before I go to bed while in bed. I read when I have downtime at work. I read when I'm waiting in my car when I rarely need to. I read when I want to relax and everyone is off doing something else. I read after church to chill. I read when I'm going through emotions and need to escape. I read because that is my hobby, and the one thing I keep coming back to.

Part of my reading, is also part of knowing what I like in writing, research really. What I'd like to aspire to be, what worked and didn't work for me in a book, what writerly tricks, familiar tropes, prose styles are still workable. It's studying and learning. It's familiarizing yourself in a work you want to do and commit time to. If I were an artist, or aspiring artist, I would look at other people's art. I would want to go to galleries, look them up online, see their videos of how they did it, and what I'd like to try myself. If I were a singer, or aspiring singer, I would listen to other's songs. I would go to concerts, look up artists, watch their videos, and test my vocal range and style because of it.

If you're going to be a writer, read so you can write.

Love your guts, 
-Tammy-

Here's what I've read this year so far in fiction. Yes, I read non-fiction as well. (5 writing craft books, 1 self-help, 1 memoir) If you've read any of them listed below, or wondered how they are, let me know! 

ALL THE STARS AND TEETH by Adalyn Grace
FABLE by Adrienne Young
NAMESAKE by Adrienne Young
TIDES by Adrienne Young
THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF ADDIE LARUE by V.E. Schwab
MIDNIGHT SUN by Stephenie Meyer
FURIA by Yamile Said Mendez
CEMETERY BOYS by Aiden Thomas
LOVE ME AGAIN, COWBOY by Torsha Baker
THE POET X by Elizabeth Acevedo
CLAP WHEN YOU LAND by Elizabeth Acevedo
WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON by John Green
PAPERTOWNS by John Green
LOOKING FOR ALASKA by John Green
A PHO LOVE STORY by Loan Le
THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY by Jenny Han
WHEN SUMMER ENDS by Jessica Pennington
AGAIN, AGAIN by E. Lockhart
SUNKISSED by Kasie West
BONE GAP by Laura Ruby
IN THE WILD LIGHT by Jeff Zentner
SIXTEENTH SUMMER by Michelle Dalton
MORE HAPPY THAN NOT by Adam Silvera
HISTORY IS ALL YOU LEFT ME by Adam Silvera
LOVE AND GELATO by Jenna Evans Welch
SOMEONE LIKE YOU by Sarah Dessen
THE TRUTH ABOUT FOREVER by Sarah Dessen
RANDOM ACTS OF MURDER: A MURPHY'S LAW MYSTERY by Terry Deighton
ELEANOR & PARK by Rainbow Rowell
THE SHADOWS BETWEEN US by Tricia Levenseller
BEYOND THE MAPPED STARS by Rosalyn Eves

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Finding Your True Voice

If ya'll remember, back in 2017, I eagerly drafted a Viking fantasy in 3 months. It had sisters, believing in oneself, a side order of romance... and then months later, I redrafted the entire book. Yeah. I did that. And suddenly, the theme and direction began to change. I felt the microscope of the writing community and what publishers were currently publishing coming down to a few subjects/themes. I became overwhelmed with this incessant need to write to that. If I didn't then my book wasn't good enough. And without actively wanting to, I let my book be for them. That's how freaking tight the grasp was.

Those are the lies we tell ourselves - that it's not a story if it doesn't fit the current xyz. Um, hello, those change frequently. New trends happen because we make them happen.

I'd several requests for the book, came close, never made it. 

However, it taught me more than I asked for, and for that? I'm grateful. I learned to not write for some idea going around. I learned that I needed to be behind it's every word 100% with my words, not ones stuffed down my throat. I made a mistake to myself. I moved on, vowing never again. I'm better for it. Although...there is one side character asking for a redo and to power up to main character.

That is finding your true voice - your writing. YOUR writing.

It's not a secret. It's not a formula. It's your words, in your order, with no influence of mass media or anyone else filling your head. It's your character in your way because that's how you see them, not how you think they'll sell by changing the true image that came to you. It's your message, or no message. Your theme, or no theme. It's how you see the story in your head if you never knew what was trending in the moment. It's what brings you back to telling the story because you are steering the wheel. It's your jargon. It's your twist on sentences and paragraphs and chapters and all their structures. 

It's you on the gosh dang page. Not them. Just write what you see, and tell it how you'd tell it. In your own gosh dang words.

Love your guts,

-Tammy -

P.S. What about you? What are you writing, listening to, watching on TV? What has 2021 looked like for you?? 

Thursday, May 28, 2020

A Surprise Subplot

I would be silly to not talk about what's happened since Covid-19 came around. A lot of my work in the healthcare field was affected. However, the changes allowed me to reflect and realize how I have full control of my workload. Full freaking control. Yet, guilt riddled me to do everything I could to appease others regardless of that fact. Which in turn, made me let that control seep from my fingers like sand in an open hand. And not once did I notice I had done that to myself until quarantine forced me to step back. Once that hit me, I closed my fist, vowing to never let that happen again. P.S. the guilt never really goes away right off the bat. That'll take a little more time...
     
In the meantime of all that, my full manuscript is still with people in the industry. A fresh full manuscript request (that excites the crap outta me) came into my email the other week. I'm still editing my Orphans of Dark, but HOLY CRAP, something majorly crazy happened. I was near the end, NEAR THE END, and I just needed to do a few more scenes and then the book would be over. BUT NO!! I couldn't fall asleep, was thinking about my book, and a "what if" came to mind, and then of course I stayed up to answer it. A secondary character, the one in the next scene the MC was going to talk to that would be the "saving grace", was the wrong gender.

     
WHAT??? YEAH... and by changing the gender, this whole world came to view. A whole romantic subplot that holy hell had to happen. I didn't sleep good that night, took a walk listening to moody music the next day, and it all continued to pour out in my head. All the freakin' emotions behind their story, their backstory, all of it!!
     
I went back to my laptop that day but couldn't write. I didn't have enough no matter how much I wrote about the person on paper. So, just 10k shy of being done, I began to edit my book and edit that subplot in. I'm going hella slow. Molasses has nothing on
me. Literally, I'm on chapter 2. Not kidding. My mind is so occupied with things, like reading two books at the same time, church things, home schooling things, being a bum things, I'm not jelling with writing time like I should.

BUT, this next week, I'm penciling in the commitments. Actually, I haven't but saying it here means I have to -- Jedi mind trick. And besides, I was getting on my youngest to just sit and put his fingers to the keyboard, and his essay would come faster than not doing it. After saying that, I was like dang, walking contradiction much??

How is everyone doing out there?? What are you reading, writing, watching, doing??

Love your guts,

-Tammy-

Monday, February 17, 2020

2020: A Year of Doing

I know it's been awhile since I've come on here, but various things have fallen between the couch cracks in the last few months. For me, life in 2019 was maybe one of the hardest (personally) that I've had to endure. I experienced more tears in that year than while giving birth to my four kids - combined. I kept my face brave, endured it with my family and support of friends who knew how things were going, and kept prayers going on a daily. 

This year, I thought as January was looking up, would be different. However, I'm not so sure. Everything just stings from 2019 still and I feel like I need a ton of daily affirmations just to get through the days. My husband's hugs are the best and he doesn't even know it.  

I will say, and I never thought I'd say this, I found a soft jazz instrumental music station on YouTube for one of my clients at work, and holy hell, it has been my own life changer. The comments have stated how the music helped several through depression or anxiety. I found my mood calmer when listening to it, too. I'm not a jazz listener. I've tried. I can do vocal jazz. But instrumental? My ears say no. This soft jazz though, like big time elevator music, has stabilized me every time it's on. When I'm cooking, working, studying, whatever I'm doing. My youth group even said they found it very relaxing and chill. 

Aside from all that, in my writing path to publishing, I'm awaiting some agents with partials/fulls with big crossed fingers. It's a shame this is taking so long, but requests for more came right before the holidays, so I imagine agents have a lot of catching up to do. And normally, I try to keep this all quiet and hush-hush. But honestly, I'd rather be transparent about it and find solidarity in others doing the same or having been there done that. In the end, it'll all be worth the wait. Right? Right???

Luckily, I also have 70k words drafted in my YA dark fantasy, and my goal is to finish it before the summer at close to 80-95k. Finished meaning off to betas after my own edits. I know it would've been done by now if work and personal stress hadn't gotten the best of me. So, if my Viking fantasy doesn't pan out like I hope, I'll have another to query this year. My comedic Kpop romance went to the side for now, but will be continued once the dark fantasy is off with betas. Gotta have something to do in the meantime, right?

One word to summarize 2019? (suckfest, that's mine)
A book and/or movie you loved in 2019? 
(A Song for the Stars by Ilima Todd, Sadie by Courtney Summers; movie...not so much)
Any word for 2020 to motivate you? (convinced; various predicators say this is my year; why argue??)

Love your guts,

-Tammy-

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Querying and Writing and Writing Some More...

I noticed that I haven't blogged in about ten months. And generally have spaced out my posts by several months. Remember that time when you tried to do it several times a week or at minimum once a week and some days were better traffic days than others, and some times to publish them were better than others? Yeah, me too...

As of summer, I've been in query mode for my Viking fantasy. Will it ever take off? I don't know. I've had some promising requests, and am looking forward to finding out the end result, but like I've been told time and time again in the book writing/publishing world, time is not on your side, be patient.

Have you met me?? Patience is my nemesis. But, I will say, I'm getting better at it.

In the meantime, I'm drafting two books. The first is a YA dark fantasy that I conceptualized almost two years ago. I hit a wall with it about a quarter way in, something feeling off. I realized I needed to invest more into the secondary characters because they were the back bone of the story. Sometimes taking your concerns to another writer friend so they can offer advice is just what you need. I ended up spending the following days journaling all about each of the main/secondary characters and the dark clouds parted and the sunshine shined. Now, I can't wait to continue the story! This story has islands, anti-heroes, missions, love, and humor.

I'm also working on a YA contemporary. This one was more of a surprise. It's comedic (right up my alley), and came about when I watched my daughter at a choir concert. There's a lot more to it than that, but I literally was watching something unravel before my eyes and a story idea hit, and it hit hard. I've enjoyed working on it because it's quicker writing when you're not trying to worldbuild as much. This story has k-pop, first loves, mental illness, YouTube-ing, and lots of humor.

Oddly, both are male POV's. And oddly, I'm LOVING WRITING THEM.

OKAY, that is all! Hope everyone is enjoying the fall weather, getting cozy in their sweaters and pumpkin spice - apple spice aromas.

What are your plans for the remainder of the year? What've you been working on? 

Love your guts,

-Tammy-