This Writer’s Life In October 2018

It’s been a while since I’ve posted an update, so I figure it’s about time. I’ve been busy lately. I just finished a new book, a beautiful ghostly story about two sisters. I’m not planning to self-publish this one, but am hoping to find an agent or a press that will pick it up, which is a bit different for me.

Since I’ve now finished two literary projects, I’m taking a break by moving back into the comfortable world of Avalum. Artifacts of Avalum Book 3, The Chain, is moving along nicely and I plan to have a good draft done before NaNoWriMo begins in November, when I hope to write something new. Here’s a picture of the cover art for the The Chain, I just love it. As always, it was done by Leah Keeler.

IMG_1570

Other than writing, I’ve been working on being more environmentally responsible. I’m trying to switch to using only reusable coffee cups. While to-go cups are convenient, they create a lot of waste. I imagine there will be the occasion where I need to use a disposable cup, but I’m definitely trying to reuse where I can. Here are a couple pictures of some of my favorite travel cups.

I’ve been using these mugs to enjoy way too many pumpkin spice lattes, but it’s good to enjoy fall while it’s here,  because in Saskatchewan, it’s just way too short.

JEH

Writing for Teens: How to Keep it Real

A short essay on writing for teens, and how I keep my fiction real.

I’ve written a lot of Young Adult fiction, sure, it’s not as much as some people have written, but it’s enough that I’ve learned what to look for when crafting a young adult novel. Now that I’m in my thirties, high school feels distant and trivial. Did I really get that upset when my best friend didn’t invite me to a party? Things that upset me then, wouldn’t upset me now. The trick is remember how I acted in my teen years, and not force my adult learning on my characters.

The above mentioned party happened sometime in my senior year of high school. When I found out about the party late that night, or possibly the next day, I was in tears. Did my best friend at the time (we aren’t friends anymore, unless Facebook counts), mean to hurt my feelings? Probably not. She probably just wanted a break from me, wanted to have fun with someone else, or thought it wasn’t my thing. I don’t believe she was vindictive (she seems like she’s a nice person overall). But I do believe that she didn’t have the words to express why I wasn’t invited, or why she lied instead of telling me the truth.

IMG_5616

Thinking back on my teen years, and about the teens in my life now, it is very common at that age to ‘read too much into things’. By the time adulthood rolls around, most people have stopped taking every look and every word dished out personally. We’ve begun to accept our differences, our path, and our identity. But this is something teenagers struggle with.

One of the ways I stay in touch with my teen self is by keeping my teenage diaries and occasionally, when I feel strong enough, by reading the terrible, painful entries: here’s an example.

“I finally talked to Red. I don’t know how it is. We’re talking tomorrow after school. That’ll be hard. It was hard enough on the phone. I think she was crying. I’m not sure. I almost felt like it. But I don’t cry. It’s too hard. I almost said, “I can’t stand Blue”, when she said she couldn’t stand Green, but I couldn’t. This is hard. I mean, we have a circle. We work together and I told her we shouldn’t. That was hard. I don’t know what to say. Tomorrow we have to talk and I have to tell her my happenings and feelings….”

IMG_1793

See, everything is hard when you’re a teen. So hard in fact that I reused that word five times in that one short paragraph. And this was just about having a simple conversation with the friend about why she didn’t invite me to a party! Nowadays, I’d just go up to my friend and be like, Yo, You didn’t invite me b-! And my friend would either apologize and offer a reason that may or may not make sense, or we’d just laugh about it and move on. It wouldn’t be as difficult for me now that I’m older.

What about you? Did simple things seem more difficult for you when you were a teenager?

JEH

Trying to Commit to a Publishing Schedule

One of the hardest things about self-publishing (at least for me), is committing to a publishing schedule. I’m terrible at picking release dates for my books and achieving that date. Having a day job never helps, since something always comes up that slows down book development, but as I’m currently a full-time writer until July, I’m hoping I can make some big goals and stick to them. It’s been lovely going to cafés and drinking tea, and getting so much work done on projects that I love.

IMG_5550

In the works right now I have The Circlet: Artifacts of Avalum Book 2, which is off with my beta readers. After I get their comments, it will be another round of edits before sending the book to my editor. I’m hoping to have The Circlet released in May.

The-Circlet-Generic

This week I finally found the time to compile the Black Depths Boxed Set for the complete series. I whipped together an ebook cover and compiled all the books into one gigantic read. It’s live on Amazon, Kobo, and Smashwords right now, and should be up on iBooks and Nook soon. If you like to read everything all in one go (or no someone who does), be sure to spread the word.

Black-Depths-Boxed-Set-Generic

I’m slowly picking away at The Chain: Artifacts of Avalum Book 3, and hope to release that in the fall, with a box set of that series to follow after a couple months. There are two books I wrote years ago that I’m planning to clean up, one of which I will release as a one off and the other that I hope to shop around to a small, literary press. Both of those should be complete by May.

What I’m trying to figure out now, is what story idea should I pursue next? I love self-publishing, and I want to write a series that is similar to both Black Depths and Artifacts of Avalum. I would like to get the outlining for this series done before I head back to my day job in July, but, as I’m also working on my short story collection, I’m not sure how much time I will have.

IMG_5553

But, here’s a chance for you to vote. My main debate right now is whether I should write another “Port-hole” fantasy, which means the characters start in this world and travel to a different, fantastical world, (similar to Artifacts), or whether I should write a 100% fantasy, where Earth does not exist (or at least the characters in the book don’t know about Earth, because they have magic, not space travel). Do you prefer fantasy that is connected to our world, or not? Let me know in the comments!

JEH

Becoming a Full-Time Writer: The Transition

So far I’ve had two full-time weeks of being a full time writer. I will admit, it hasn’t been the smooth transition I was hoping for, yet I also feel like it is going pretty well. Part of this is because halfway through last week I admitted to myself that transitioning will take time, and developing a new routine will take time (I think they say it takes 30 days to form a new habit).

IMG_5388
Working Hard in My Office

I’ve written myself up a few draft schedules, which go something like this:

8:30 AM: Do a quick writing exercise and read a non-fiction book about the writing craft while finishing coffee/tea.

9:00AM-12:00PM: Work diligently in the basement office on short stories.

12:00P-1PM: Lunch break with reading.

1PM-130PM: Yoga/Exercise Break

130PM-4PM: Odds and Ends (i.e. other writing projects, blogging, emailing, submissions, queries, other short stories, more reading, art, journalling, staring off into space etc.)

So far, this schedule has worked pretty well, if I stick to it. But last week I ended up going out on Wednesday night to meet my writing group and worked for an extra two hours and I completely burnt myself out by Friday. So on Friday, I mostly stared off into space and got nothing done until I decided to call it a day and just watch Downton Abbey. It turns out this was a good idea because this morning I feel refreshed and ready to think deeply about what I want to say again.

IMG_5395
Weekend Reading Break

I recently read, The Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway, which I loved. And this experience reminds me of the Hemingway quote:

“I had learned already never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.”

So this week, my focus is going to be stopping writing before the well is dry. There are a lot of other things I need to do daily, other than write, and this includes researching markets, submitting stories, reading up on craft, or just taking a break to refill my creative well by reading a fiction book, doing some painting, or visiting with a friends. 

IMG_5393
Weekend Painting Break (from a tutorial). I’m getting better at painting!

Here’s to a good week!

JEH

 

February Catch-Up

I know – I’ve been pretty quiet this month. Mostly, I’m busy getting ready for my time as a full time writer. The office is prepped, I’ve outlined stories and projects and books I may work on, in order of importance, and I’ve even tagged some educational reads. I can’t wait to spend the next four months as a full-time writer. I will have no distractions (hopefully), and no concerns (hopefully), other than to get my manuscripts finished.

I’ll be returning to my day job at the beginning of July, and by then I hope to have generated a bunch of amazing material.

IMG_5276

I also had a little blog blitz in January, and an associated giveaway of two copies of The Torc. Those copies are now in the mail, and the winners were notified. The first three letters of their emails were rjs and far, just in case anyone is wondering. I really hope these readers enjoy reading The Torc as much as I enjoyed writing it.

IMG_5283

Last weekend, I spent a lot of time re-reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I haven’t done much (if any) re-reading in the last couple years, so it great to spend some time with a favorite book. Do you regularly re-read your favorite books?

IMG_5258

JEH

It’s Halfway NaNoWriMo Day

If you’re a 2017 NaNoWriMo participant, then you know today is halfway day!

I hope your novel writing journey is going fantastically! Me, I’m exactly on target, though I’m hoping to write more tonight and finish at least one day ahead.

My trusty NaNo mug has been reminding me to write. I’ve also been attempting to work on my final edit of The Torc: Artifacts of Avalum Book One, which can be previewed here: https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/WNGLSOVB1GOP

The best news, however, is that I have finished my first draft of The Circlet: Artifacts of Avalum Book Two! I can’t wait to have these books out in the world, and to be done another successful NaNoWriMo!

JEH

Finding the Inspiration

It’s another year of NaNoWriMo, and as usual I’m flipping up and down with both motivation and inspiration.

I had a great weekend marathon-ing with one of my writing groups. I drank plenty of coffee, brought out my favorite soundtracks (The Hobbit), and not only caught up on my word count but got a couple days ahead.

Fast forward a couple days later and I’ve slowed down again. Today, I’m currently sitting right on par, though I hope to get another couple thousand words done in short spurts throughout the day (yes, that’s often how I get my writing done).

As for the motivation problem, I’ve had to bribe myself again. This year, I’ve decided that if I win NaNo, I get to buy myself a three month subscription to a book box of my choice. I’m already excited, which means I better keep my fingers moving or no books for me! How is your NaNo writing going?

JEH