Reflecting On A Chaotic Win

Camp NaNoWriMo has come to a close for the year 2017, sadly. They always go by so quickly, each time making me realize I am way too close to the cold months, holiday madness, and the big November NaNoWriMo. (Which, as of right now, I have absolutely no idea what I’m working on during that month.)

Camp NaNo 2017 Winner

Camp NaNoWriMo July 2017 WINNER!!!

I can officially say I made goal for Camp NaNo in July. It was not a pretty win, but I did make it.

If anyone recalls from my post last Tuesday, I had lowered my goal — on what I thought was the last possible day before validating began — down to a mere 55 pages compared to my hope of 146 at the beginning of July. If you also recall from that post, I had started working daily on the editing for Fated to Darkness with a writing buddy and had made it half way to my original goal with six days left to Camp yet. So yes, I had technically already passed goal and could have stopped but I did wish to see if I could hit my original before the month ended.

I found out a couple days later through my email that Camp NaNo no longer has a cut off date for goal changing. That meant I could officially bump my goal back up so that I would have to keep working every day. (I was going to keep working anyways, but this just gave it a little more motivation. I’m not quite sure how I feel about this change though.)

Truthfully I didn’t bump by goal back up until the 30th, once I determined how much I could manage to get through on the last day of Camp. I didn’t jump to my original 146 pages, but I did jump pretty close to it.

At first I thought I could manage the whole 146, but then I told myself I better be a little bit more safe than sorry. (I’m glad I was.) I was on Chapter 9, and I wanted to get through at least Chapter 10 by the end. Well, turns out Chapter 10 was twenty-some pages long. I told myself I would cut that chapter in half for my final page goal of the month. It ended up evening out to 135 pages, which isn’t bad considering where I sat a week and a half ago at a mere 23 pages.

And yes, I made goal. I validated around nine o’clock Monday night. 31 days, 135 pages, 10.5 pages (including the prologue), and many, many concordance pages. It was probably more like roughly two weeks instead of 31 days after my complete fallout in the middle of the month, but I still did it.

I say I was glad I didn’t tell myself to do the whole 146 pages because my plans for Monday were tweaked after I woke up in excruciating pain that morning. It took me longer than I planned for to get myself up and moving to be able to edit yesterday. I’m still in pain and my movement is limited.

So despite all the hardships and roller coaster rides of July, I can say I put another winner’s certificate in my belt. It didn’t go at ALL how I had planned for the month to go, but I learned one important lesson. Or maybe two…

Perseverance is everything.

If you can push through and keep showing up every single day no matter what, then anything is possible to accomplish. You just have to have enough dare and nerve to do it, and keep doing it.

Secondly, never give up.

No matter how bleak, daunting, far off, or foolish a goal or dream looks, never give up on it when it means something to you. It can be attained with enough effort and perseverance.

Two weeks ago I wanted to give up, and two weeks ago now I learned to simply show up and persevere.

Now I’m one-fifth of the way through the first part of this phase of editing for Fated to Darkness. One milestone down, many more to come to add to my accomplishments list as I watch it grow. Camp NaNo may be over for the year, but I will find a way to keep making myself show up everyday to work.

This month may have been a chaotic mess, but it was in no way a fail even with all the faltering I did. Now’s the time to put what I learned to use outside of the madness that is NaNo:

To stop dreaming so much in the big picture and look at the stepping stones along the way. To stop making the ginormous goals and simply just show up day after day to do some work, even if it isn’t as much as I wanted it to be.

Progress is progress, no matter how small or big it may be.

Bring on August, and bring on the simple daily editing goal.

Deadlines: A Writer’s Best Friend, or Worst Enemy?

deadline looming

Since this is the final stretch for July’s Camp NaNo session — only three days left! — I figured I would talk about deadlines and how they either help a writer or stress them out, depending on the type of writer you are.

No matter what kind of writer you are in the face of deadlines, there is one thing that you can always count on happening:

That deadline sneaks up on you way faster than you thought it would!

When I think about deadlines, I find there’s a few different types of writers that I have encountered: the jump starters, the pacers, and the procrastinators.

The Jump Starters

If you’re a jump starter, you’re the type of writer who looks at that deadline and immediately gets to work with everything you’ve got. It doesn’t matter how many days, weeks, or even months away that deadline is, you hit the ground running from the getco and you don’t stop until 1) you’ve burned yourself out, or 2) you’ve finished the project early.

Jump starters try to get everything done as soon as possible so that they won’t stress over it last minute, or run out of time. They take that intense amount of work and tackle it like a bull fighter. The sooner they get started on it as well, the sooner they can get it off their plate for the next thing life throws their way without having to rush too much. And if they’re done early with the project than that means either more free time to relax without worries, or jumpstart the next project! They are the motivators and hard workers who never stop (for the most part).

I am not a jump starter, not really at least. I start out as a jump starter sometimes depending on the project, but then burn myself out quite easily and become no more productive than a puddle of stagnant water.

To a degree, jump starters have solid reason behind starting that project early and getting done with time to spare. For one it always leaves room at the end to double check your work and correct any other errors so it’s the best it can be. Being done early also leaves you with time to add to it if something better or new strikes you. Not to mention the sooner you finish something and possibly hand it off to other hands for review, the sooner you’ll probably get it back with feedback, right? That is, providing the fast pace work to get it done quick doesn’t leave your work a little too rushed and require more attention down the road.

For a jump starter writer with motivation and energy to spare, that deadline on the horizon is a huge motivator to get moving and get it done, making the deadline their best friend who likes to give the kicks in the ass, gun-to-the-head-kind-of-muse style.

So to you jump starters, I say keep plugging along on the productivity line and watch your accomplishment list grow and grow! Just remember to take a break sometime before you burn out from the constant go, go, go, write, write, write, edit, edit, edit, go, go, go. Breaks are a good way to recharge.

The Pacers

If you’re a pacer, then you’re the kind of writer who plans everything out evenly from start to finish. You don’t push yourself too hard, but you don’t slack off either. You have a set goal to reach each day (or week) and you stick to it without issue. This means you normally don’t burn out from overworking yourself since you have small breaks to do other things, but you also don’t normally finish early. You tend to finish up with one last glance over right on time.

Pacers are great list makers and schedulers. They’ll break projects down into smaller parts and plan each one out before jumping into the thick of things. They are the kind of writers who can make a routine and stick with it every single day. The better the plan they come up with, and the more spread out it is to handle the workload without being overwhelmed, the easier it is to accomplish, crossing off one small part at a time until the project is complete. They might take the full length of the deadline to get it done, but you can be sure they’ll get it done on time.

I am definitely not a pacer. Sure, I’m a lover of lists and I have started to break bigger projects down into parts to better manage them and my time, but I am not a pacer. I fall off the slow-and-steady-wins-the-race wagon way too easily.

Like the story of the tortoise and the hare though, slow and steady is sometimes the best way to go. It leaves you time for other things as well so you don’t become bored and frustrated, and it allows you to take your time and focus on the project as a whole when you go part by part, putting your best effort into each and every piece.

For pacers a deadline is a frenemy. It’s a good thing because they can take the allotted time given and plan out each and every phase accordingly, never having to burn themselves out or stress too much. However, it can also be their enemy if the time given isn’t enough to fit their steady pace. In those cases bring on the stress and the plea to extend the deadline. With pacers you can be sure the work will be top quality to the best of their ability though, making for a lot less editing woes. (Or so we hope.)

To you pacers, I think you’ve figured out the best system out there to writing and tackling projects, and your steady perseverance is both admired and maybe a little envied. You get to smell the roses along the journey when us jump starters and procrastinators may not. Keep it up!

The Procrastinators

If you’re a procrastinator, then you’re the type of writer who always waits till the very last moment to start everything. You think you have all the time in the world to get the work done and kick back in the beginning, either not doing any of the work, or doing a bare minimum to start. Then that time flies by way too quickly and you find yourself scrambling to start and finish the project before the deadline.

Procrastinators are kings and queens of the saying, “eh, I’ll do it later”. They don’t plan too much and like to have their free time instead of worrying and working at projects that look so far down the horizon you have plenty of time to worry about it later. Sometimes they just don’t have the motivation to get it started earlier, or work in shifts on it like the pacer. Procrastinators are either great under pressure, or testy under pressure when it comes down to the wire.

I am the procrastinator for the most part. I love to tell myself I’ll do something later, or I have lots of time, and then realize “oh shit, I really don’t have a lot of time”.

If working under the pressure of an immediate deadline gives you your best work, then a procrastinator is the kind of writer you probably are. For others though it doesn’t help the quality of the work and perhaps you need to adopt a new style. The procrastinator is truly the one type that can go either way — friend or foe — with a deadline.

If you are the kind of dragging-feet-writer that does better under pressure, then those deadlines are your best friend to light the fire to your heels. However, if you are the kind of procrastinator that waiting till last minute stresses you out too much to do any work half decent, those deadlines are your worst enemy. At the same time though, without those deadlines, wouldn’t you just keep saying, “eh, I’ll do it later” and never even start it at all?

For the procrastinators there is a fine line between helpful and harmful in deadlines, and depending on which side of that line you stand on, it may be time to find a happy medium.

No matter what kind of deadline writer you are, I find there is always a degree of panic…

keep calm deadline

Personally in the end I am a combination of two, if not sometimes all three, types. I’m more a strange mix of the jump starter and the procrastinator. I’ll look at that deadline with glee to start a new project and get right to work for about a week in the beginning, then I’ll fall off the wagon and end up procrastinating until the end where I again scramble to finish like a chicken without its head. Most of the time of at least. There are a few blue moon times that I manage to start strong and finish strong, or pace myself out, but I mean they are blue moon times.

I do more work in NaNo months where there is a stuck in stone deadline that I cannot change, with a set goal I cannot change, then I do out of the entire rest of the year combined. It’s pretty sad actually. Perhaps though I am starting to find my happy medium in trying to become more like the pacer. Then again, I don’t really do planning everything out into detailed parts. I break things down into smaller bits now, but to go detailed and scheduled out? Nope. I know life gets in the way too easily to stick to set schedules all the time, plus I’m still too much a pantser writer.

Now there’s a different topic for another day…

What about you? What type of deadline writer are you? Are deadlines your best friend, your enemy, or your frenemy? What tricks have you found work best for you in meeting deadlines?


(Footnote: To anyone, author/blogger/writer/reader/so forth, who has other ideas or topics they would like to see me cover or talk about, please feel free to drop a comment below. I look forward to hearing your interest.)

Progress Is Progress

Hello, world. Somehow I have once again managed to find my way to the surface to post. Truthfully, I had every intention of posting at the beginning of this month and keeping up with it this time. I even had all my Writer’s Guide topics laid out for each week this month! That’s a miracle!

Unfortunately that didn’t go to plan in the slightest, and I’m not really sure what happened that screwed every intention I had.

My last post — nearly a month ago now — was right before Camp NaNo began, and I had talked about getting ready for that, and I possibly also ranted about work… *Looks off innocently*

I suppose I could account part of my “falling off the blog wagon” incident to work and how much of a hell situation is was a month ago, but that has smoothed over for the most part again about two weeks ago. Maybe I was just so burned out and fed up with life and work that I no longer cared. Or maybe I was just so bummed and mad at myself because I wasn’t working on my Camp project that I figured I had absolutely nothing to talk about. Maybe all of the above and then some. Who knows with me, I’m not going to try to find the source of my absence, it’d be pointless.

(I do know there was more than one time I remembered I needed a blog post, and by the end of the day I had totally forgotten again and it was too late to do it. That happens a lot anymore. I need to start setting myself an alarm to write my posts so I stop forgetting.)

So while the first two and a half weeks of this month were a complete bust in Camp NaNo and life, I seem to have finally managed to pull some semblance of productivity and motivation back together. Perhaps this time the pieces of my life are a little more well glued together. A feat I can credit to some friends of mine.

Camp NaNo 2017

For the first three weeks of July, there were truthfully only two days in which I edited and worked on my concordance for Fated to Darkness. Those days were Day 1 and 2.  After that it was all down hill from there.

My original goal was to work up through Chapter 11, which was roughly 146 pages or so.

At first I wanted to work on it and kept telling myself I should work on it, but it just didn’t happen between work and other obligations. After that first week, when I had fallen so far behind in only managing to do 23 pages, I started to give up.

In the beginning it came across as I was going to have to lower my goal, to what I didn’t know, but I was going to have to lower it below 100 pages because the rest of my month was so booked with work, camping, and other obligations, that I was never going to have any free time at all to edit. (Or so I thought.) Then that notion began to spiral into not caring if I won for the month or not, which lead to wanting to just delete my entire Camp project for the first time ever because I was so frustrated with myself. I couldn’t figure out why I had tanked so hard this Camp.

On the last possible day before validation began I dropped my goal to 55 pages, which was only two more chapters from where I fell off the Camp wagon. A couple hours after that, I dropped my goal even lower to only 38 pages: one more chapter.

I hated myself for it. I hated how pathetically small that number looked, when I had such high hopes and plans for how I could finish the minor editing and concordance work before November started. I could see all those plans and hopes washing away down the drain each time I sighed heavily and officially dropped my goal.

But I’ve come to realize that I dream too big for the war I fight inside my own head every single day. I’ve come to finally see that those dreams carry me away on an euphoric high way up into the pristine white clouds and sunshine for a little bit, then the storm clouds roll back in at the slightest diversion to those dreams, snuffing the sun out, and the high is gone. The storm takes my motivation and hopes with it; and Mother Nature always wins in the end.

I also realized something else though. If I cannot find the willpower strong enough to hold myself accountable to my goals and dreams, then I do need help to do so. I don’t mean just encouragement, I mean the kind of help that stands at your side as your shadow, doing exactly what you do so that you aren’t doing it alone anymore. It’s easier to motivate yourself when you have someone in your corner consistently cheering you on and helping you build castles from sand.

And that is what happened finally.

Five days ago the black clouds began to clear, and with help — and much grumbling and resistance at first — I got myself to once more sit down and try to edit. I only expected to work for an hour, if that if I could keep myself focused, and instead I ended up working for two hours. Perhaps I didn’t feel very accomplished in the end, perhaps I didn’t feel the excitement to be working again yet, and I didn’t believe at the time that “some progress is better than no progress”, but that was because again I was still dreaming too big.

I’ve been looking at the long run goal for so long instead of looking at the stepping stones that lead me there. I’ve been looking at the completed concordance, and all 43 chapters (including Prologue and Epilogue) read through, slightly edited, noted for paper edits, and all the work for Phase 2 of this stage where I take all my messy notes and organize them to the concordance, and every word of every page in the Word doc that is overwhelming.

I’m psyching myself out when I stare at the project as a whole.

Yes I have a long, long way to go in this novel yet, but don’t they always tell you to stop and smell the roses, to enjoy the journey instead of focusing solely on the destination? Isn’t it easier to see how far you’ve come when you break the journey into parts, like traveling cross country, state to state, city to city.

If I stop thinking about the goals, if I stop making the goals, then I finally stop stressing about making par, about getting to the page or chapter or word count I so-called need to.

Progress is progress, no matter how small or big.

Yes, I want to finish this stage before November, but I don’t have to plan out doing this many chapters and pages every single month. All I truthfully have to do is show up and work, and before I know it…I’ll be farther than I thought I would be. Then suddenly I won’t be worrying so much about par, wondering if I’ll make my goal for the month.

I read somewhere that it is more motivating to make a list of all the things you accomplish, instead of a list of all the things you want to accomplish and never get to cross off half. Watch the positive list grow and grow to build yourself up, and if you so wish, make that goal list anyways and watch it grow smaller and smaller compared to your accomplishment list on steroids so long as you show up to work. At some point the positive one will come to outweigh the ever-growing, daunting list.

So right now I have no true monthly goals anymore. My only intention is to be through this stage of editing before November, and at the rate I’m going now without the stress of meeting quotas, I might even be there before October.

Right now it’s just work for one hour a day at the very least with a friend to help hold myself accountable. (Most days I’m finding I do more than an hour.) It doesn’t matter how many pages I get done, or if I make it through the chapter or not, just work. The hope is the more I do it, the easier it will get, the more habit it will become until I can hold myself to it every day without issue. And the more I work, the further I get every single day.

A week ago I thought I wouldn’t make goal for Camp. A week ago I wrestled with myself over deleting my Camp project and giving up entirely. A week ago I didn’t care. It’s amazing how one week, one day, one conversation can change everything.

Now I here I sit making sure I edit every single day with a writing buddy for at least that one hour. Now here I sit somehow managing to get through almost a chapter a day without even realizing how much progress I’m making. Now here I sit truly wondering if I ever needed to drop my Camp goal at all from just four days of work.

I am over halfway to my original goal of 146 pages, and there is still six days left to Camp NaNo. I am 23 pages away from being one-sixth of the way through my entire book. I am 23 pages away from breaking triple digits in page numbers. I am three chapters away from breaking double digits in chapters.

When I look at it that way, in bits and pieces, only then do I see just how far I’ve gotten already. When I look at how many pages are being added to my concordance, how many notes are being organized and recorded to make the paper edits that much easier, I see just how far I’m getting finally.

Progress is progress, no matter how small or big it may be. Remember that fellow authors, writers, poets, and dreamers. Always remember that and the storm clouds will clear the way for sunshine once more.

Gearing Up For Camp NaNo

The Evil Day Job and writing don’t always mix nicely, especially when you work in soul-sucking retail. Sometimes it seems impossible to be able to unplug from work and find time, or energy, to write once you make it home — hopefully in one piece. And other times…it really is impossible.

I am going to hate myself for saying this, but I have begun to associate this work week as a third Christmas. (Easter is the second Christmas when it comes to retail, and actually Back to School could be the third mini Christmas instead, so maybe this is like my fourth Christmas.) Essentially this week is Hell Week when my boss decided it’s a great time to take an eight day vacation — for what I swear is the third time in only a couple months, throw myself and the two other managers under the bus more than once, and leave all of us to pick up her slack the final week before the biggest boss visit of our store’s life.

Thanks, bitch! NOT! I don’t care what’s going on in your life right now, you should definitely be here for this.

I do not get paid enough for this amount of stress, frustration, and responsibility now sitting on my shoulders. I should also not be going into overtime this week, but guess what? All three of us managers left to deal with this bullshit are probably going into overtime, even when we’re technically not allowed.

You know it’s time to find a new job when you’ve got to the point that you really just don’t care anymore. You do what you get done and the rest… “Well, fuck it. It is what is anymore. I don’t care.”

I get it though. You’re the general manager and you’ve adopted an “I can do whatever the hell I want” attitude because of it. Whatever though. I don’t care anymore. I’ll look for a new job unless things start shaping up as fair again, or I’ll leave and laugh while I watch you scramble to fill an already shorthanded position.

Well no wonder I’m going into overtime then when I’m not supposed to!

*Rolls eyes* Idiot…

I shall forego a longer rant about work though and move onto writing. If there’s one thing overtime kills, it’s free time at home and the energy to do anything once you get home. It also doesn’t help when you work so many messed up shifts that you have to choose between eating, sleeping, or getting things done once you finally do get home.

The bad thing about all this happening right now is that it’s the week before Camp NaNo starts for me. By the time Saturday rolls around I’m going to be so fed up and exhausted that I’m going to need all of Saturday just to recover some sanity and motivation — maybe longer than that at this rate, which means I only have Sunday left in my request off days to get a head start on Camp.

I should have taken the first three days of July off for Camp, but then again, even if I did, my boss would be taking away the approved third day just like she took away one of my approved days — approved in FEBRUARY — this week because her life took precedent over mine.

I did not do it for you, bitch, I did it for the two other managers getting stuck with your bullshit too. Don’t you dare thank me for it, or I might just have the balls to finally say to your face I didn’t do it for you. (The other two managers know straight up I did it for them.)

Despite how much hell this week is going to be I did manage to start my Camp NaNo  project on Sunday. For the first time in two months I finally picked up some of my writing and got to work. Since I’m using Camp to work on the concordance and some minor editing of Fated to Darkness, I wanted to get a head start so I could play around with the best way to go about this project.

I’m glad I did get a head start because I spent a good hour and a half just organizing pages in my concordance and figuring out what sections/categories needed added yet, and making lists for what to include in certain categories (like character sheets, and chapter summary information for easy access to arranging plot lines, and so forth).

By the time I did call it quits Sunday night since I had to be at work early Monday morning, I had a better basis for how to do things, started a rough note notebook to keep track of things for said pages above, had managed to get through the Prologue of my story with the minor editing, and created a reference and question Word doc I can consult and use when I begin the major editing.

My hope is by making this Word doc I’ll better be able to organize the notes I left myself in my rough draft. I’ll be able to use it to answer questions of past events or miscellaneous things, or note that I need a character name, or a chapter title, or that this section needs more editing, or that I need to watch my “telling words” in this section, or this scene needs more description, etc. etc. etc.. By transferring and noting where those references and questions are in my rough draft, I should be able to eliminate lots of unnecessary words and some pages so I’m not printing — or paying — as much when I start paper editing the book. (I plan to put the Word doc on a flash drive and take it to an office supply store to print it instead of using all my own paper and ink.)

I think it’s going to work based on how things started out for me, and my hope is to get up to at least Chapter 11, which is about 146 pages, by the end of July. If I want to stick to my original goal of getting through the whole book by November, that gives me four months, and there’s about 40 some chapters in this book. Roughly ten chapters a month, not too bad — I don’t think. By doing it this way I can use the minimal free time of November and December to organize the rough notes I’m putting in the notebook into my concordance, and also print my reference Word doc and the actual book.

(Wait, what free time in November? That’s NaNoWriMo! And the start of the holiday!)

The more I think about this, the scarier it is to see how far I’ve really come. At the same time it’s exciting. It’s hard to believe I’ve really come this far.

Now if only I can figure out how to regain energy and motivation in the face of work’s hell to keep pushing forward this week — I would like to get through Chapter 1 before Camp starts — and in the future at this rate… Music only helps so much sometimes. I need another way. Like maybe taping the logo of my company — or maybe my boss’ face — on my target and practice shooting my bow at it. Bet you I’d hit a bull’s eye…

How do you unplug from work to shake off it’s exhaustion and frustration to be able to focus on writing and/or editing once you’re home?

The Benefits of Guest Posting for Authors

Hello and welcome to my first post in the new system I am trying out for this blog, A Writer’s Guide. I hope to make things more informative and thoughtful than just my simple ramblings of the journey that is writing for me.

To start, this is not an actual guest post from someone else. Yet. This time I am simply going to discuss what could be some benefits to having guest posts, as well as the many ways in which you can use guest posting.

As I’ve been brainstorming for topics to use in these posts, I stumbled across the thought of guest posts. I realized it was something I considered doing before, but for different reasons than I am considering it now. With that realization I began to wonder a few things:

What all can guest posting do for you, or fellow bloggers/authors? Can it be helpful in growing your online following by expanding to others as well, which in turn might bring new readers that could potentially become new followers? What kind of guest posts can you feature?

These questions began to tumble about my head, exploring one avenue of thought before branching off to another. The more I tinker and debate over the idea, the more I see the possibilities within guest posting. Let me break it down a little bit in regards to the questions I had about it.

What all can guest posting do for you, or fellow bloggers/authors?

Obviously to have guest posts all the time defeats the purpose of running your own blog, but it can be beneficial to spread your wings a little bit and include others once and awhile. Of course it may require some more work than simply sitting down at your computer and typing out a post from your own thoughts. You’d have to coordinate with the person you wish to feature for the post, figure out what you would like them to write for you or talk about. Then you have to go through the process of creating the post with them and getting it scheduled and completed with enough time before your date of posting.

Yes, that is a bit more work, but it could also be great fun to chat with fellow bloggers and authors to co-write a post. You get to possibly learn something new about them or about the topic you are discussing, have a laugh or two even. Plus it changes things up a little for your current followers, and who knows? Perhaps your followers could become their followers because they like what they see in your guest post. You could not only be helping yourself by trying something new, but you could be helping them as well.

This possibility goes hand in hand with the next question I presented.

Can it be helpful in growing your online following by expanding to others as well, which in turn might bring new readers that could potentially become new followers?

The answer, plain and simple, is yes! It can definitely be beneficial in expanding your online following. If you host a guest post, then not only does that post get sent out to your followers, but it is highly likely your guest will share the post with their followers as well. Therefore you get double the eyes on your post, and as I stated above, perhaps some of those followers will become both of your followers because they like what they see.

It could even go further from there. Perhaps a follower of your guest likes them so much and what they posted with you that even they share the post. Now you’ve got triple the eyes viewing your post perhaps. It could go on and on from there.

If you show you’re friendly and talkative with other bloggers and authors, you’re giving yourself a boost in which others might just come to you to see what you’re all about. A bit of advice I was given is that you have to go out and sort of reel your followers in by being active with others, guest posting is a great way to do that. Who knows? Maybe someone could even like your idea of guest posting so much that they contact you to see if they could share a guest post with you, or invite you to write one for their blog.

The possibilities in the extra number of eyes you could reach are almost endless by guest posting with others.

What kind of guest posts can you feature?

And speaking of almost endless possibilities, there are various ways in which you can feature guest posts in such a wide range of topics depending on what your blog is about, what they’re about, and so forth.

Last year in October when I got my debut publication, one of the things my publisher did for promotional benefits was feature an author interview guest post on their blog, Once Upon A Word. In it I got to share a little bit about myself, give insight into where and how I came up with the idea for the short story I wrote, share an excerpt of said story to gain some interest for my work, and answer a few other questions in regards to the topic and theme of my story and the anthalogy I was published in.

I was suprised to be asked to do an author interview for the blog, for I hadn’t expected it, but the more time has passed, the more I’ve come to realize it is a great promotional benefit without much fuss or grandstanding so to say. And every author out there knows promoting can be a royal pain in the arse, so if someone asks you to guest post an interview, why ever would you turn it down? It’s essentially free pubilicity for you! A win win all around!

So, naturally, an author interview is a great way to feature a guest post, but it doesn’t just stop there.

Guest posts could range as far as simply asking someone to share their secrets to writing (if they dare give them up), or to share their wisdom and tricks of the trade. Perhaps you could even feature a guest post as a part of someone’s research into a certain aspect of writing or publishing, create a poll or survey with another. You could simply discuss the ins and outs of this industry with someone more experienced and get more insight, in turn helping yourself and anyone else who follows you. Instead of an author interview, you could create a book review and then ask the author for them to host a character interview for you just for fun.

The ways in which you can feature a guest post are almost limitless. If it can be fun, informative, promotional, or helpful in any sense, and involves another author/blogger — even a friend — you can probably find a way to create a guest post out of just about any idea you may have.

Overall, should you venture into the world of guesting posting then?

That answer is ultimately up to you as a fellow blogger or author. I, however, do believe that guest posting can have many benefits to you and your fellow guest poster. It’s a great way to draw new eyes toward you by featuring someone else. It can be loads of fun to share a post with someone else. It gives you something to fill your post requirements when your creative juices are completely blanking on what you can write about thanks to the soul sucking Evil Day Job. You can use it for promotional reasons as an author. You can not only help yourself grow, but support someone else you care about, which in turn helps to get your name out there just a little bit further just like theirs.

There are many more benefits to guest posting, and while I’m sure there are some downsides — the extra work to creating the post and coordinating with someone, and the possibility that things may not follow through as you had wished them to — I believe that the benefits in this case outweigh the downsides.

So does that mean I’m going to start featuring some guest posts?

Probably. I’ve already had a couple ideas as to what guest posts I can feature and with who. Of course those posts won’t come right away, and I’ll have to see if they’ll accept a guest post on my blog first, then work with them to create the post. Sometime in the future though I’m rather sure there will start to be guest posts popping up within this blog. Perhaps I can make it a once a month thing, or an every other month thing.

Whichever way it comes to pass, there is one thing I have learned:

authors success

And that is especially true for authors and writers. Supporting their success by celebrating and sharing it with them not only brightens their days and relieves some of the burden on their promotional shoulders if you guest post with them, but it may just be returned to you one day later in life. You know what they say, what goes around, comes around.

So support your fellow authors like you support the celebrities you don’t even know, and share a guest post with them. After all, word of mouth is our greatest tool in the writing industry.


(Footnote: To anyone, author/blogger/writer/reader/so forth, who has other ideas or topics they would like to see me cover or talk about, please follow the first hyperlink above and drop me your ideas in the comment section. I look forward to hearing your interest.)

Finding Topics

summer solstice

Blessed Summer Solstice, folks!

It seems like just yesterday it was the start of spring and here we are already at the longest day of the year. I hope many of you get to enjoy the beautiful weather and extended light, I unfortunately have work. It sucks to think the days are going to start getting shorter already. Didn’t the nice weather just start?

Solstice aside, I didn’t get a chance to write and post my first helpful post last Friday. Lots of things got in the way and I lost track of time, and at that point after finally deciding what I’m going to go forward doing from this point on, Morgana struggled to come up with a topic to babble about.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking about it though. I’ve started a list of topics that I can use for those posts — including things like the benefits of Camp NaNo and NaNoWriMo, where to find inspiration, brainstorming and outlining and world building — and whenever something strikes me that I can use I add it on. It’s not a long list yet, but it’s growing slowly.

Other than my brainstorming for topics, I have failed to be productive at all this past week. I’ve had the want to be productive, but not the will and motivation it seems. I suppose the want to be productive is a good start though considering my past weeks. If only I can get myself moving on the actual act of being productive now that’d be great.

I do seem to have decided what I’m doing about Camp NaNoWriMo in July though, and it’s not going to be my normal kind of decision. (I believe I’ll explain more next week about it.) We’ll see how this decision works out because I want to be able to start the project before Camp starts just to get a feel for how it will go, and if I can manage to make it work. Hopefully I’ll be able to have a chance to start before Camp, but at the same time… The rest of this month is a giant clusterfuck of things going on. If I’m not working, days off will consist of not being home to get any work done. Go figure, right?

(I’m mostly blaming the Evil Day Job because I’m about fed up to my eyeballs with all the bullshit going on there.)

As long as I have some opening shifts next week I should be able to manage it, but, you know, for whatever reason I’m getting the short stick for the past month or so and only getting closing shifts which leaves me NO time to get anything done at home, so who knows what I’ll really end up with.

For now I will do what I can I suppose, and try not to throttle anybody in the process. I should have the time to write and schedule a post for Friday this week now that I have some topics to use. I’m undecided about writing a Shard this week so I’m not sure if there will be a Wednesday post just yet. If the prompt gives me an idea by the end of the night perhaps I will write something for it and post again, but in the meantime I do have a question for my dear readers.

Whether you’re an author, a publisher, a writer as a hobby, a journalist, or a reader, or anything at all; when it comes to stories, writing, and everything in between, what kind of topics do you want to hear about, and maybe learn something about? What kind of suggestions can you give me for a topic to write about that’s a little more informative than just my rambling? It can be anything from involving characters to involving publishing to involving a certain genre or research or more. What do you, as my followers, want to see me post about from this field?

Changes Coming

It has been a month since I have posted anything. I am neither apologizing for that or explaining why I have been absent this time. This year has been a trying roller coaster in many forms, most of which have been downhill drops. Not the fun kind of downhill drop either.

A lot changed for me toward the end of last year. I became a published author and began to follow that dream further. It’s amazing how quickly the high of an accomplishment such as that can die, and it’s also amazing just how quickly it can all go up in smoke. A lot changed last year, but this year even more has changed again, and still must change.

For that reason I am switching things up on this blog now, and I plan to finally redo a lot of the pages as I had wanted to in the beginning of 2017.

Originally, I had created this blog two years ago as an author platform to help get my name out there, to be able to log my journey and look back one day to see how far I’ve come. As I’ve gone along though I’ve realized it’s hardly been what I had hoped it would be, just like Wattpad.

Every author out there envisions this sudden huge following and fan group flocking to their work whenever they join something new like a website/blog, or a writing site, or a Facebook page, but very seldom does that actually seem to happen.

Maybe some people just get lucky, while others continually struggle to build that following — though not for lack of trying. To the people who grow and grow beyond imagination day after day and year after year, gaining a fan base of readers who actually interact with them, kudos to you. I wish I knew your damn secret.

I, however, have not been one of those lucky ones. I have never been a lucky one for anything in life, no matter how hard I work.

Since my lack of luck has hardly gotten me anywhere in two years of WordPress, and four years of Wattpad, I am changing the way I do posts here.

This blog will no longer be a straight diary-like journey of my writing and dream. I will not stop sharing my journey so that I can one day look back on it, but posts will be less about me, and maybe more about writing. As of now the idea in my head is to make one of my posts (either Tuesday or Friday) about what’s going on, and the other something more…informative or helpful. My hope is it will draw in some more readers, and maybe more interaction, but it doesn’t mean there will always be a post. Sometimes I may just not have anything to say anymore.

For now I am also forgoing Sunday Snippets. With the completion of the first draft of Fated to Darkness, as well as not much else in the works, or shareable in my eyes, at the moment, I have decided I am stepping away from it. It wasn’t like I was getting very much support from the group anyways, despite the fact I was a supporter of everyone’s snippet at one point, regardless of the fact they visited my blog or not. Maybe that’s selfish or bitter of me, but I’m tired of not feeling good enough and forgotten. No one’s even noticed I’m gone. Perhaps I will go back to it one day when I feel I have something again to share, or if I feel like trying again to see if anyone cares, but for now I am done with Sunday Snippets.

Lastly in regards to my posts, I am undecided if I will continue my Shards on Wednesday’s from P.T. Wyant’s Wednesday Word prompts. A part of me wants to because flash fiction is a good writing excercise and some of them are really fun. The other part of me though is a bit worn out worrying about getting one written and posted when I never know what that day is going to bring thanks to my job. Not to mention, again, they hardly ever garner any kind of feedback or interest, even on Wattpad. Perhaps they will pop up here and there, or maybe I’ll write some whenever I have time and those posts may be sporadic little treats instead — probably not considering I’m a tad OCD, but I am undecided if I will truly continue them or not.

For these reasons, I will be changing how I use Wattpad too, and my author page on Facebook. I have no idea where I am really headed now concerning my dream, this blog, or anything else, but I do hope those of you who follow me will stick around to find out with me.

Heartstone Voids (Wednesday Words 5.10.17)

Welcome to a piece of Wednesday Word’s flash fiction on Darkling Dreams!

A good friend of mine, P.T. Wyant, is doing a blog post every Wednesday called Wednesday Words with a new prompt for a bit of flash fiction writing, just to get in the habit of writing something, anything. (Even if said flash fiction is complete garbage at the time. Garbage is better than nothing though, right?) If you’re looking for some inspiration yourself or just something to aimlessly write, then go check out her blog for this week’s prompt!

With that being said, I am going to share what I came up with for this week’s flash fiction Shard based off a photo prompt. So here is my very rough around the edges minute of inspiration based off her prompt. I’d love to hear what you guys think of it!

(Please excuse any errors you may see, I said it was rough around the edges.)

This tale is also a continuation of Dragonstone from 3.15.17.

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Heartstone Voids

Innin’s bellows echoed off the high stone ceilings. The sounds of distress carried through the maze of passages linking Flamer hideouts to their winged mounts’ dwellings, disturbing those that were trying to rest in the mountain. She didn’t pay mind to the responding screeches and yells from them trying to get her to quiet down. She was too agitated to care.

Smoke filled the space around her, flowing freely from her snout with each distressed huff. The sound of raking claws on stone only furthered her agitation as she paced around and around, wings flaring.

He should have been back by now! Foolish rider! Why did he have to go off on his own?!

The sun had nearly set below the horizon and still there was no sign of Fenian. He had left that morning to try to track down the dragonstone and should have been back by now. He should have been back hours ago, or at the very least have gotten within range to reach out and say he needed her now.

Can’t trap a leprechaun while trying to hide a dragon. She snorted. I could have been out of range while he hunted the leech. He didn’t have to go alone!

Another roar of worried frustration shook the cavern, sprinkling dust down over her shimmering emerald scales. The prickling of dread seeping through her veins with each passing moment was making her antsy. The bond was trying to tell her something, she knew it, but she couldn’t figure out what it was trying to say.

Was Fenian in trouble? Had he bit off more than he could chew without her? Or had he just been delayed in finding the leprechaun and was on his way back now?

Her tail flicked against the stone as she rounded and stomped to the mouth of the cave, staring out over the dwindling landscape below. She could see the forests, the lakes, the towns and kingdoms from here; almost as well as she could see them from the skies. With eyes like a hawk she caught the flurry of movement along the mountainside. She snaked her head out further and looked down to find a female elf hurrying up the carved staircase set into the cliffs. One rickety line of wood railing kept them from plunging to their death. Worthless railing if anyone asked her.

The setting sun glistened off the elf’s hair. Red hair, petite… Is that…? Innin flared her nostrils, trying to catch the elf’s scent on the breeze. Alenia!

Innin rushed out of the cave and pushed off the rocks, flinging her wings open to ride the wind currents down to her. The passing of her great shadow caused the elf below to pause and look up, then retreat a few steps backwards when she landed hard on the mountainside, digging her claws into the rock to hold herself. Pebbles and dust rained down onto the stairwell. She left her wings open for balance and turned her head toward Alenia.

:Alenia!: she shouted telepathically, catching the elf off guard by the booming voice in her head. To her credit, dragons didn’t normally mind speak with anyone other than their Flamer or other dragons. :Have you seen Fenian?: she demanded.

The elf shook her head and blinked before focusing on Innin’s words. “I…” She floundered out of breath. “I… No, I haven’t seen Fenian. I was…actually coming here in hopes of finding him. He said we would meet at the tavern tonight for dinner but he never showed and I haven’t heard from him.” Her brow creased worriedly. “Is he…not here?”

Innin reared her head back and shot flames upward over the rock with a guttural growl, scorching them. Her scales rattled when her body quivered.

“Innin!” Alenia exclaimed. “Innin, what’s wrong?! Where is Fenian?”

:I don’t know!: she snapped, fangs clicking together as she cut off the flames. Smoke poured from her snout with each heavy breath. :He said he went hunting to find the leprechaun that stole the dragonstone, and he didn’t want me to come because a dragon is easily spotted. He left this morning. He should have been back by now! But I have not heard or seen heads or tails of him since. Something is wrong.:

“Have…you tried reaching him with the heartstone?” she asked timidly. “Have you felt anything through the bond?”

:It is blank! An abyssal void! I cannot feel or sense anything even when I should, I can’t even sense HIM!:

Alenia flinched at the senseless fury and worry in her tone, giving her head a shake. “Did Fenian say where he was going?”

Another billow of smoke wafted from her nostrils, curling her head toward the elf with blazing eyes of fire. :He mentioned the Enchanted Forest, that was all.:

“Then let’s go and look for him.”

:It’s almost dark!:

“I know…” she replied, trying to sound soothing. It was kind of hard to be soothing toward an enraged dragon though. “But we can still look. If he did run into trouble then we can’t wait till next sunrise. You go on and fly ahead, I will race back and get a horse and a few scouts to help, then I will meet you out there.”

Innin stared at her, trying in vain to calm her racing heart and all the unspeakable thoughts darting through her head. Leprechauns were not a friendly bunch, and their people had never gotten along with those thieves and murderers. She feared for what could be happening to Fenian if he had run into trouble with them. She whipped her tail back and forth.

:No. Send a hawk with a message for scouts to meet us there. I can’t waste any more time. You’re flying with me.:

Alenia’s eyes widened and some of the color drained from her face. “Wha-?”

She broke off in a squeal when Innin wrapped her tail around her waist and raised her wings. She pushed off the mountainside and beat hard to raise higher in the air. Only once she was level in the sky and hovering did she wind her tail to her back to set Alenia down between two of her dark green spikes. The elf clung to the spike in a bear hug for dear life.

“Innin,” she squeaked. “I don’t like the idea of-”

:Oh just hold on and you won’t fall off. I’ll catch you in my claw if you do.: She heard Alenia gulp, then she shot forward in the sky, taking off for the Enchanted Forest. :Now hang tight, I have a rider to find and flay to a crisp after saving.:

“But I haven’t sent a hawk!” she exclaimed, voice nearly lost on the wind.


Now you can find this flash fiction work and others on my profile on Wattpad! Click here for my profile and go dive into a sea of Shards of Imagination!

Shards of Imagination Cover Final

Now What?

On Sunday I finished the first draft of Fated to Darkness and since then…I have felt like a lost puppy. I’ve sat on my desk chair spinning in a circle because I haven’t known what to work on. I’m so used to working on FtD for so long now that it feels weird to not be working on it, to not be pushing for that end scene yet.

I feel so lost.

There’s still a very palpable sense of grappling for straws on the reality of completing this novel right now. The “now what?” feeling as I try to figure out what I’m supposed to be doing. It’s been five days since I finished the novel, but I’m still staring somewhat dumbfounded at the binder that holds my concordance for FtD and at my other WiPs with an “aaaaahhhh….” kind of expression. I could almost just flip a coin to try to figure out what I’m doing.

Granted, there are many, many things I could be doing now.

For starters I could get back to working on Clockwork Heart like I wanted to use part of Camp for. I could use the rest of the year, or however long it takes, to work on that novella/novel. Or I could go back to the very first novel I ever started writing, Breaking Point, and continue that. (The more I look at that novel though the more I need to do some outlining and brainstorming and probably a title change too. To what though I have no idea…sort of.) I could even start outlining Shapeshifter Wings and start work on that. Then there’s the option of starting one of the plentiful, new novel ideas kicking around in my head — like Alice in Court, or Book 2 to The Dark Heir series, or the horse ranch storyline that’s been kicking around up there since I was little that actually has a title and subtitle already.

Or, I could forgo novel work for the time being and start on some short stories. I could write the sequel to The Black Lake, or redo that story altogether to make it better then do the sequel. Or expand and fix up The Beast. I could also poke around at Seductress and see if it leads me anywhere beyond the vague storyline and grand ball scene it has.

On the other hand, I could refocus my efforts to editing instead of writing. I don’t mean editing Fated to Darkness. No no. That is going to sit and wait until I can come back with fresher eyes. I mean that I could take this time now and focus on re-editing, polishing, and maybe expanding Rivers of Black more. The thought has crossed my mind to try to publish the story, but I’m not going to explore that spurt of consciousness any further yet. I don’t want to think about publishing right now…

The fact I have finished the first draft of Fated to Darkness doesn’t mean it’s not going to be touched at all until I’m ready to edit though. I won’t let it collect dust for a couple months. I still have a binder concordance I need to flesh out and finish, and there are multiple notes within my book that I need to find a way to organize and put together in a notebook or something so that as I go along and edit and answer the questions I left myself I’ll be able to avoid plot holes or errors.

There’s still quite a lot of work to do on FtD before I get to the true editing phase. So while I spend the rest of the year — I’m hoping to be done before December, because…holiday — finishing the concordance and finding a way to organize those notes and questions to myself, I am going to be working on something else as well. I would like an entire month of letting FtD sit completely ready for edits before I do dive into full on scrutiny paper edits, but until then there’s lots left to do.

My tentative plan right now as I start to get the ball rolling again is to get working on the concordance and an organization technique for the notes/questions I left. In doing that, I will be reading through my entire novel, which also means that while I’m reading I can minimally fix light edits. Say a missed word, or the wrong version of a word, missing quotation marks, and so forth. The things that won’t require me stopping for an hour on one paragraph to make it sound the best it can possibly be. Doing this will make the paper edits a little less daunting in red marks.

That’s the plan for Fated to Darkness from here till December. *Prays I can be ready by then*

Because I don’t want to lose the next six or seven months with no writing to show for it — well, that wouldn’t have happened anyways because of July’s Camp NaNo and November’s NaNo — I am going to work on something alongside the next stage of FtD. I believe that “now what?” feeling is going to be geared toward writing Clockwork Heart and trying to finish that story this year, as well as re-editing Rivers of Black.

Actually, my original goal of May was to re-edit Rivers of Black finally since I kind of failed on that one last year. Perhaps that will actually happen now that FtD is done. Then again, I had expected Clockwork Heart to only be a short story and already be done by this time too, but…

Yeah, the universe hasn’t been kind to me this year in more ways than one.

But that’s the plan for now. I guess I’ll see how it works out, though I don’t have many expectations for it. I’ve learned better at this point. The hardest part I think is going to be finding a balance between these three projects now when my life is already so screwy and unpredictable.

Or, maybe, the hardest part is going to be finding the heart that says it’s worth it again…

A Life Too Short (Wednesday Words 5.3.17)

Welcome to a piece of Wednesday Word’s flash fiction on Darkling Dreams!

A good friend of mine, P.T. Wyant, is doing a blog post every Wednesday called Wednesday Words with a new prompt for a bit of flash fiction writing, just to get in the habit of writing something, anything. (Even if said flash fiction is complete garbage at the time. Garbage is better than nothing though, right?) If you’re looking for some inspiration yourself or just something to aimlessly write, then go check out her blog for this week’s prompt!

With that being said, I am going to share what I came up with for this week’s flash fiction Shard based off a three word combination prompt. So here is my very rough around the edges minute of inspiration based off her prompt. I’d love to hear what you guys think of it!

(Please excuse any errors you may see, I said it was rough around the edges.)

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A Life Too Short

In Loving Memory of a Dear Classmate

One of my classmates died yesterday. Unexpectedly; just like every other tragedy that occurs. The sun is shining and birds are singing on this picture perfect day outside, but the beauty is lost on so many today. To us it is overcast by shadow and storm clouds of a different kind. Our worlds have come to a standstill, but life around us hasn’t slowed or stopped to mourn with us.

It keeps on turning, blissfully ignorant to the pain in our hearts.

The clock continues to tick away the agonizing seconds, minutes, hours, transforming them into days and weeks. They say time heals wounds of the heart, but that isn’t always true. Sometimes time only makes the pain worse. It makes days likes this, perfect days, become mockery to our suffering.

Doesn’t the world care?

Of course it doesn’t. At least not all of it. The world as a large whole is unaffected by this tragedy, just like so many others that happen every day, but so many individual lives around me are now grieving and trying to process a loss that is incomprehensible.

How do you deal with the unexpected tragedy of a life so bright, and so full of heart, snatched from a world that was better off with her in it?

The answer is I don’t know.

Maybe you sit and stare blankly at a wall, unable to feel, unable to cry just yet because it still feels surreal. Part of you believes the phone next to you is going to light up and start ringing with a call from your friend, daughter, cousin, sister… But it doesn’t.

No matter how much you will it to not be real it unfortunately is.

Or perhaps the reality slams into you so fast and so hard that you want to find some place secluded where you can scream at the world at the top of your lungs for this injustice. The middle of the woods, a garden shed, sitting in your car, anywhere available where you can let it out. Where you can curl up and cry until you have no tears left, and scream until your lungs give out.

I don’t know how you grieve, how you may cope. Everyone is different. Maybe one day time will scar the wound we now bear, but that day is not today. For when our hearts freeze like an unexpected snowstorm in May, I do know one thing for sure…

The world lost a beautiful soul yesterday. A kind, caring, selfless individual who always smiled and always welcomed everyone around her with open arms. She could light up the room with her presence. I had never met another person so devoted to their family, with such a bright future and a good head on their shoulders. A young woman who touched and changed so many lives with her own. The memories and photos left on her wall speak of a life that was worth every moment of it, and it is a shame it was cut so short at just twenty-two years.

I guess it’s true when they say the good ones are always taken first.

I saw a quote a friend of hers shared yesterday: “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

How lucky we were indeed.

Tonight I choose not to mourn anymore, but to celebrate the bright life she lived instead. Tonight I light a candle in her honor. She may be gone but she will never be forgotten for the joy she spread and the lives she forever changed. The world may not have stopped to mourn with us, but know we would have stopped the world for you.

Rest easy now, and fly high, angel.

not to die


Now you can find this flash fiction work and others on my profile on Wattpad! Click here for my profile and go dive into a sea of Shards of Imagination!

Shards of Imagination Cover Final