January 2019 Writing Update

I’m wondering if the way I feel about what I write is how parents feel for their children. You love them. But they also make you question your life choices.

I swear, depending on the day, I either think, you know, this is pretty good or why did I write this?

Yesterday, I was super pumped because while agent stalking, I found two agents that seem perfect. I was reading one #MSWL, and my story has all the things!

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Then today, I remembered I am one of a gazillion people with the same dream. *sigh* There’s such a fine line between being pessimistic and realistic. Know what I mean?

I’m about 95% finished with this current WIP dissection. By current, I mean, final. Because it has to be. However, I’ve already returned to chapter one because I’m obsessed and can’t leave it alone. My biggest obstacle I’m facing? My opening pages. I’ve managed to cut out some crap from earlier drafts, but I wish my chapter one was as good as say, chapter 12, for example? 😀 The beginning of my book has always been my least favorite part. If I could send an agent something from the middle, I’d feel so much more confident. Grrr. Continue reading

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Extremely Impractical Writing Advice

I will flat out tell you that I’m not a writer to emulate. Granted, I think I’ve shared a few worthy tips throughout this blog. But as far as my own process, I’d never suggest it. (I’ve been working on the same WIP for 10+ years and have only written two short stories in the meantime. #goals) Thing is, it has worked for me. That’s what I tell myself.

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Previous Writing Advice Some May Deem Impractical:

-don’t set word count goals. ever.

-don’t set writing goals

-stay far away from NaNoWriMo

-don’t write when you don’t feel like it

-adverbs are absolutely necessary

-never give up on a project

Which leads me to my most impractical writing advice to date.

There is no such thing as spending too long on a single project.

 

If you’re already saying, “Yes, there is” hear me out. Continue reading

2018: The Year That…Was.

Well, 2018. That’s a wrap. Time to go.

It’s been quite a year for me. Things happened that I never thought would happen. Some things I wanted to happen, didn’t happen. That’s pretty much every year though, right?Related image

I figured I’d take some time and reflect on 2018. Categorically. Expect a rambling mess of thoughts. Ready?


Writing

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The Good:

1- I’m in an effing book. Available here: Maryland’s Emerging Writers

Seriously, though, this was pretty amazing, and while I feel like it never actually happened—because I don’t think Z Publishing did a speck of advertising, (Have you heard of America’s Emerging Writers? No? Oh. Well there were 50 books. Still no? Yeah, one for each state. OK. Well, there were.)—it’s still an incredible achievement, even if I’m the one only who knows about it.

2- Because of this achievement, my interest in writing came back. #thankful

3- I had the courage to send out some novel queries early in the year. Despite all the rejections, I’m considering this a good thing. I haven’t given up. Yet.

4- I revised my YA short enough to confidently submit to magazines.

5- I reached 5k followers on Twitter. Listen, I thought this would be the pinnacle of the whole social networking thing. But. It’s far from it. It’s just a number. And it means absolutely nothing. When you tweet something and get 2-3 likes, what’s it matter that you have 5k followers? No shade here. I do appreciate the followers. And I do hope to have more of a Twitter presence in 2019.

The Bad:

1- My writer self and I parted ways. We’re currently reconciling, but I really did just give up on writing some time during the summer, it seems. I didn’t touch my novel for months. I disappeared from Scribophile. The whole writing world just no longer excited me.

2- I didn’t get my novel published. Duh.

3- Going along with number one, I didn’t get my novel “finished” by the end of the year, which I was hoping for. And I didn’t write anything new.

4- Just yesterday, I was rejected from a magazine for my YA short. That was to be expected. But I’m still glad I submitted. I have two more (I think) possibilities.

The 2019 Plan:

1- FINISH MY EFFING NOVEL. Dear God. And all the rest…get an agent, book deal, interview with Oprah. The norm.

2- Don’t give up on my YA short. I’ll be sending it out this coming week. Please hold me to that.

3- Return to Twitter. The most doable in the list.

4- Return to Scribophile. I’m paying to use this website. WHY?! I haven’t so much as signed in since September. *sigh*

5- Not directly writing related, but I need to read more this year. I miss reading. I’d like to read more novels in my genre so that I’m familiar with the current market.


VIPKID

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The Good:

1- For more details on this, I have lots of blog posts called VIPKID Vibes. But basically, I love this job. It revived my passion for teaching. I’m happier than I’ve been in years. I feel like I’m making a difference, and it’s all so rewarding and awesome.

The Bad:

1-Aside from the cons of being a VIPKID teacher (lack of insurance, the hours, the inconsistencies, tech issues, etc.), on a personal level, the life balance is horrific. It’s VIPKID on one side and everything else on the other side. Because of this job, I stopped writing, making videos, reading, treadmill-ing. I put all my time into this job. And it probably doesn’t make sense considering I’m finished teaching at 9 AM. It’s the prep work, the reward systems, the YouTube videos, the blog posts, the necessity to nap, on and on. It becomes an obsession.

2- I’m tired all the time because of the hours. Over 1k classes and I’m still trying to find the balance.

The 2019 Plan:

1-I have no plans to stop, obviously. I will continue to blog about my experiences, and I’d like to become a Mock Class Mentor if possible.

2- I need to balance my life better. VIPKID can’t be the only thing I care about.


My Cat

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The Good:

1- I started a YouTube channel for my cat–yes, that’s sane–and while it didn’t blow up, I had SO much fun making videos. I used to make videos back in high school. They were essentially “music videos” where I’d pair a movie/show with a song. I liked the editing aspect of it. Anyway. I started throwing together some videos of Mocha starting in January. I met some cool people and Mocha got some love. Win, win.

2- Around the same time, I made an Instagram profile for Mocha. Also completely sane. In the same way, I met some cool cat people and learned a whole new platform. I’d never used Instagram before. And while it’s my least favorite social media, it works well for cats. I got loads of followers for the first few months, but I’ve held steady around 430 for probably 6 months.

3- My cat is awesome. Really though, living alone is awesome, but it comes with a certain, how do I say, isolation? So it’s nice to have another presence around. I’m going to stop before I sound completely psychotic. Point is, Mocha makes me happy. Cats rule.

The Bad:

1- I stopped making YouTube videos. Several reasons. Mainly, time. When I started VIPKID, EVERYTHING else came second. So I didn’t have time to write or read or tweet or make videos. I probably did, but I didn’t feel like I did, if that makes sense. But I also stopped making videos because honestly, it was disheartening to put all this effort into making them (and it takes longer than my “production value” might suggest) only to get a handful of views. Maybe that’s petty. So be it. But for 2019, I’m returning to the idea of making content you want regardless of your audience. It should be the same for an audience of 63 (my current subscriber count) to 1k (my aspiring subscriber count).

2- I didn’t post to Instagram daily as I had been. Or liking others’ photos as I had been. I lost the motivation for it.

3- Although Mocha is super awesome sauce, she has her moments. For instance, she suffers from what I like to call “elevator butt.” While peeing, she will lift her butt in the air, and therefore pee out of the box. If you know cat pee smell, it is heinous. So now I use giant storage containers. The first ones I had, I simply cut a square in the side, but then she started peeing out of the square. Now, they have a cut-out towards the top, so she has to hop in there. Whatever works, eh?

4- Mocha decided one day she didn’t like the food she’d been eating for two years, so I went through all these different cans of cat food. Her flavor of choice: sardines. Who knew?

5- Mocha likes to chew things, which unfortunately included an Easter lily. If you didn’t know, lilies are toxic to cats. This resulted in an after hours stress-filled phone call to my vet who didn’t even want to talk to me and cut me off. (Needless to say, I no longer go to this vet.) A mustard induced vomit. (I don’t know if you’ve ever pried open a cat’s mouth and squirted mustard in there, but it’s all kinds of fun.) A 30 minute fight to get Mocha in the carrier which left me bloodied and mentally scarred. And a nice vet bill for an overnight stay.

She’s damn lucky she’s so cute.

The 2019 Plan

1- I want to make videos again! This is pretty much my only cat-related resolution.


I’ll leave it at that. I hope your 2018 treated you well. New Year’s is always my favorite and least favorite time of year, which I plan to explain in a future post, possibly this week.

To all those who liked, commented, or followed me this year, a huge thank you to you. I really do appreciate the love. I’m humbled by it. And confused by it. But mostly just thankful.

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I’ll just throw this out there. If there’s anything you’d like to see a blog post about, I’m listening.

Here’s to an awesome 2019! I’ll see you then.

-Lauren

“Music” for Writers

Think of this as a Music Monday/Writing Wednesday mash-up.

I’m sure you’re already aware of these ambient sound videos, but I figured I’d share anyway. Somehow–honestly, sometimes I have no clue how YouTube recommends videos to me–the video below showed up on my YouTube home page thing. And while a tavern isn’t my go-to writing location, it’s still a cool idea.

*There are so many of these kind of videos, but all of these are from the same YouTube channel: The Guild of Ambience

Continue reading

If You Want an Agent, Write YA?

Any underlying snark you may pick up on while reading is completely unintentional.

Listen. There’s something that’s been bothering me, and now’s the time to talk about it.

Why is it that every person who shares a “How I Got My Agent” story is a YA writer???

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Before you think I’m exaggerating, I did a simple google search: how I got an agent. Nine out of the first ten results were from YA/MG writers. NINE! (Not to mention, one of those results was a post highlighting the agent stories of 10 YA/MG authors. So, yeah.)

The only result that offered any hope to me was a Writer’s Digest article with a list of author stories. You know how many of those were YA/MG? Guess. Out of the first thirteen I read (I had to stop out of frustration), eight, one of which being a picture book.

And there’s so much sci-fi/fantasy stuff! Where are the normal people doing normal things? That’s my jam. Why isn’t there a place for these books? Agents, hello? Continue reading

For the Procrastinating Writer: Font Match

Yes, fonts.

I’m assuming since you’re here, you’re already procrastinating and most likely avoiding your NaNaWriMo project, right? Well, I’m here to help give you something to do, which, in the long run, will benefit your novel and make your characters rounder. At the very least, it’s something to do that’s actually related to the world of your novel.

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I was online–shocking–and I came across a particular font and thought Whoa, that’s exactly how Tyler would write!

And just like that, my afternoon was shot.

You may know of this website, but it was new to me:

www.dafonts.com

a magical place with a gazillion fonts to download

So many fonts, people! I decided I’d try to match a font to each one of my characters. Why? Why not?! Listen, my characters in particular are more real to me than actual people, but if that’s not the case with yours, you may want to try this out. A person’s handwriting says something about them.

Do they write in all caps? Do they use a dark, thin line or a skinny one? Does it have loopy, swirly letters? Does it slant one way or the other? How large are the letters–in relation to each other? Is it neat or sloppy? Do they dot their i’s with hearts?

I managed to find fonts that match my characters pretty well. I actually mention two of my characters’ handwritings in the novel itself, so for Mark and Tyler, I already knew what to look for.

Here’s what I’ve found:

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So if you need something to procrastinate with, there you go! Or if you think knowing how your characters write could flesh them out, there you go! Either way, have fun! It’s strangely addicting.

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11/12/18


Thanks for spending some time here. Happy font matching!

Don’t Like NaNoWriMo? Try LaNoRevMo!

November 6, 2018

Last year around this time, I posted about how I don’t understand NaNoWriMo or why anyone would put themselves through such a masochistic exercise. And while I still feel this way, I’ve decided to use the writing buzz in the online air to my advantage.

As you know, the writer in me has been in hiding, and it’s been difficult to coax her out. But lately, I’ve been feeling inspired, namely because of everyone talking about writing, and word counts, and outlining, and coffee shop sitting, etc. So, I made up my own little exercise for this month.

Presenting: LaNoRevMo

which obviously stands for Lauren’s November Revision Month.

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While everyone else is writing, I’ll be deleting, rearranging, and condensing. I’m giving my novel an overhaul, in a last ditch effort to make it into something worthy of an agent’s eyes. I’ve already started this process, and I’ve made some headway. Continue reading

Writing Wednesday: Let the Revisions Begin!

Hello! Happy Halloween!

Related imageI’m at the library! Woo! I had to get out of my house. I tend to be more productive here, so here I am! I finished listening to my novel yesterday. Maybe the day before, I’m not sure exactly. As I was listening, I wrote down things that needed to be changed: some major, some only taking a second or two. Needless to say, I did the easy stuff yesterday. I saved the major undertakings for today.

I’m talking changing where the novel actually starts, for one thing. I’m not looking forward to this at all. But I know it’s for the best and that’s honestly what keeps me going. Knowing all of the changing I’m going to make will help the overall story and help its chances of being a thing outside of my computer screen.

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Continue reading

Writing Wednesday: I’m Waist Deep in the WIP Love-Hate

Well.

I started. I’ve been dreading looking at my novel again. (Why? Find out: Writing Wishes, Not Writing Goals). I’m in the process of listening to it. It’s just better that way. And I’m on chapter 20, which is about halfway.

It’s been interesting, for sure.

I think I’m going to write a post about dealing with first chapters–not advice, just venting–but for now, I’ll just say, my first chapter is pretty bad. Why didn’t anyone tell me this? Oy. I mean, at least it’s not like it’s the first thing an agent sees. OY.

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Luckily, things got a little better and I could listen to this thing without cringing. For a few chapters… Continue reading

Writing Wednesday: Yes, I Cut the Words!

It’s Writing Wednesday! On Thursday! It happens.

I was going to skip this week, but I wanted to share the amount of butt that was kicked by me. Worst. sentence. ever.

 

So here’s the deal. I’ve been on a quest to submit my short story to an online publication willing to accept something not only hella long, but also with a portion previously published. I’ve managed to find three. Yay! (Well…two were “yes” and one was more of a case-by-case basis kind of thing.)

About twenty days ago, I got the go-ahead from two of the three. (One of them said yes about a month ago.) So what have I been doing? I didn’t start the epic trim until about three days ago. And before that, I spent many hours trying to wake up my writer brain. First, I had to find it, then basically beat it into submission. I watched too many YouTube videos to count from different AuthorTube people I like. I needed inspiration. But the good news is, I’ve managed to cut a grand total of…2,101 words! That is major for me. My story is now sitting at 9k, which is still pretty long for a short story, and it may pretty much send me directly to the slush puppy pile. But that’s ok! I still consider this a victory. A) I actually did what I set out to do! and B) Cutting words is so hard for me! I hate it. I thought there was no way.

So, despite what happens with my story, I look at this as good practice for when I tackle my novel revision. That’s my next project. Oy vey.

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Side note: did you know you have to have a cover letter with a short story submission? Yeah, you probably did. I did not. So there was another hour of my life trying to figure out how to write one.

For most people, sharing how you cut 2k words is far from blog-worthy. For me, this represents the first step of my return to the writing world!

The real return this time. Not like last month. False start–something like that. I mean it this time. I’m ready! Finally.

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Also, sticking with what I said last week, I’m still going to avoid goals and stick with wishes. There are things I hope to accomplish. Hope to. We’ll see what the next few months bring.


Thanks for spending some time here. Happy writing!