3 Tips – For NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month starts tomorrow, and I thought I’d share some tips for a successful month. 

Also, I’ll be including videos on more of my posts.

  1. Don’t feel like you have to stick to the 50k goal if that’s too daunting for you. You can edit your goal or create a new goal for the same project. Also, your outline and summary counts if you’re working on that too. It all goes towards that final book.
  2. Keep your inspiration flowing with some good wiring playlists, whether it’s your favourite artists, or some emotional, instrumental music. My YouTube and Spotify has some playlists if you want to check them out.
  3. Writing sprints are a great way to help keep you focussed, so be sure to find some sprints either via the site or through other writing groups.

I’ll be announcing my project tomorrow.

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Writing Ranting – Supporting Writers Between Writing

As writers, we can be a complex bunch, and we write for many reasons. One of my main reasons is some form of therapy to process my emotions or dreams. This form of expression through art isn’t new, and writing can get a lot of emotions out in a way that makes it meaningful to me as a mental health sufferer. 

I don’t often talk about it on here or my bookish social media because I want to keep things light. But sometimes, I need to just point things out.

Recently, I offered to be a beta reader for a couple of writers I knew through TikTok. They were both super nice, but one manuscript, I couldn’t finish because of life changes, and the other I took longer than I planned. When I explained this and apologised, they were both so understanding. 

They both said I could reach out whenever if I was struggling or just wanted to talk. Sometimes people say that to be nice, but I got the sense they meant it. Either way, it was nice to hear since I have been going through a rough time since spring. 

My mum is going through cancer treatment, and though we had some very good news that the treatment is working, it’s still hard for her with the side effects and being very limited in what she can do. Last week was particularly stressful because I have a foster kitten, Nix, who is in a very bad way and has been in and out of the vet’s for over two weeks now. Then my dad had his COVID vaccination and had the usual reaction so was limited in what he could do. 

When it rains it pours. 

All this is temporary, but with my mind not being able to cope with too much going on, I just stalled for a whole week. It was Mum, kitten, work. That was all I could manage. 

Writing Ranting – Magic Makes a Story

Magic systems are more than just world building in fantasy fiction. As a writer, you make the rules and can use your magic system as part of the plot.

Here are things to consider for your magic system when planning your story…

  • Create a challenge for your characters like newly discovered magic, opening a magical room, translating a magic book.
  • Represent something emotional for your MC. Maybe trauma locked away their powers. Maybe an estranged parent has answers.
  • Establish a social hierarchy. More power could mean more respected or feared. Certain abilities might be good or bad in society.
  • Tools to complete a bigger task. Maybe a specific power will achieve the final goal. Maybe a certain combination of abilities is the only way to solve a problem.
  • Secret magic. Perhaps magic is banned, so any magic users have to hide it. Someone could dabble in dark magic and they have to keep it a secret.
  • A race. There could be something special that multiple people are trying to find.
  • Base your magic system on something real. Manipulating natural energy or elements can make it easy to set limits and exceptions.
  • Magical conduits like devices, runes, spells, etc. can have specific magical effects on things or people around them. 

There are probably more, but these are some of the main things that I have in various WIPS. 

My favourite is connecting emotion to magic. I have a character who fears her magic because her mother couldn’t maintain control, and my MC is worried she’ll end up the same. Another WIP has merging magic that is only possible with a strong emotional connection like family, friends and extra fun when it’s between lovers.

In one WIP, I imagine the magic as a way to combine magic, science, and religion in that one all powerful being (a sort of star) released a massive amount of energy that created the universe. This being then created worlds and more masses of energy that are like stars from a science perspective but are also similar to angels. Each ability has a scientific explanation or theory behind it, such as creating wormholes like portals, breaking down and reforming physical matter for shifting, bending light, etc. Sure, much of it is pushing it in relation to exact science, but it helps me as the writer decide what is and isn’t possible. 

One WIP has stones that hold the power of the elements, and only specific people can use them through special devices. The stones are also used for everyday things like light, heat, showers, helping plants grow, and powering airships.

Writing Update- The Fourth Wall Series.

Oops. I meant to give this one last check yesterday before posting it, since I post my writing ranting on Wednesdays. This week has been a bit weird with final prep for summer camp at work and family health stuff getting to me. Actually, this is perfect way to introduce todays post because it’s something I work on when I don’t have much.

The Fourth Wall is a new mini series I’ve started based on a TikTok video I made about my MC accidentally hearing me as the writer. I thought it would make a few short and fun pieces to have for various characters where they overhear me or tumble into my world if it suits the story’s magic system, which in some cases, it does.

It’s also a way to get an interest in my novels as prequel chapters since they’re set not long before the mains story and don’t spoil anything. I have some other short stories planned for various WIPs as non-spoiler backstories, and some bonus chapters from other POVs. But they’re something to share after I’ve published to keep people interested in between each book in the series.

Mostly, these started when I got into writing slumps or in the middle of planning. They helped with world-building and fleshing out my characters or detailing past events that don’t need whole scenes or chapters in the main book. 

I have my debut novel about to go through the publication process once I’ve chosen my editor and made some decisions on art, etc. My Fourth Wall story with Clair will be available before publication as a glimpse into her life. Also, it’s something fun to write during a busy few days where I need to write but can’t focus on the main novel.

Writing Ranting – How Realistic Are Your Characters? Part 2

Warning: Spoilers of Zodiac Academy, A Court of Thorns and Roses, and The Dark Artifices ahead.

Disclaimer: I don’t read a lot of LGBTQ+ books purely because I don’t come across that many recommendations from the sources I find new books from. That being said, quite a few books in my preferred genre include LGBTQ+ content either through 1 of many POVs or a character close to the MC. 

We’re in Pride Month, so I thought I’d share some of my favourite LGBTQ+ romances. 

  • Mark and Kieran from The Dark Artifices. This is established pretty early on in thestory so not much of a spoiler. I just adore these two and how they found comfort in one another. The mentions of them cozying up to each other after hunting the skies just warms my heart. 
  • Seth and Caleb from Zodiac Academy. In a series with a lot of enemies to lovers, this friends to lovers is refreshing. It’s also so freaking hot how they tease one another since Caleb is supposedly straight until we start seeing hints of his feelings for Seth. Also, his reasons for holding back don’t come across as “Wait? I’m gay?” it’s more like “He’s my best friend and I’m scared of ruining that.” I just love how it plays out.  
  • Mor and Emerie from ACOTAR. I had very mixed feelings towards Mor in the original ACOTAR trilogy and the way she treated Cass and Az. But now I’m over it, and have read A Court of Silver Flames, I want to see things happen in the next book. 

As a writer, I believe it’s important to be inclusive without forcing characters for the sake of it. However, I have a few characters whose sexual orientation works for their character and the story, not that working for the story is more important. It just comes across as more relevant and realistic based on similar relationships I’ve read in other books. Yes, below is including minor spoilers from various WIPs, but nothing significant story-wise.

  • Cleopatra ends up being torn between the boy she’s grown to love and the girl who holds answers to her past.
  • Marina has a tragic love story when she crosses worlds to be with the girl she loves only to find her gone.
  • Drystan is open to anything in bed but will ultimately choose a woman for a relationship.
  • Esme is occasionally physically attracted to men, but only loves one woman.
  • Killian and Nolan are more than happy to be intimate with each other if a woman is involved. 

Like many aspects of my characters, things with their personalities and preferences evolved with the story and just felt right. 

Writing Ranting – Helping Other Writers! Part 2

Writing may come naturally in some ways, but not necessarily in others. One writer might have the ideas for a fun story with a good structure. Another might have a knack for writing dialogue, while another is better at scene-setting or world-building. These are just a few aspects that make a good story. 

Working with others can help share your talents to make one super talent while keeping your stories your own. I would never consider sending anything to an editor or agent without running it by my peers, and in exchange, I help them too. 

Critiquing is a great way to share work with other writers. I found Critique Circle several years ago. I go by Fantasist if you want to find me on there. I’m not particularly active since I’ve finished critiques and betas on one book, and the next isn’t ready for sharing. But I found this website amazingly helpful. Not only learning about writing, but learning about my own style and what kind of writer I want to be.

I’m also on a couple of private writing chat groups and have my own on Discord, which is a bit quiet lately, but mostly because there aren’t that many people on it yet. Feel free to email me or find me on Discord lovefantasy#0367 for more info and an invite.

Sharing your work not only brings writers together, but you can learn so much about writing and what you want from it. I think I’ve learned more about writing from sharing and critiquing than anywhere else. 

Writing and Reading Ranting – Don’t Feel Bad I’ve Not Having Enough Time!

Lately life has been getting to me, and I haven’t had much time or brainpower to write or read. It happens to all of us. I meant to post this yesterday but forgot. 

Instead of huffing and getting frustrated about it, I’ve focussed on short posts for my writing blog which I’ve hashed out while waiting for something or half watching TV after lunch or dinner before getting on with the essentials. It takes less brainpower than writing my novels because I’m just expanding on whatever thoughts crop up on any given week in relation to writing. 

I’m always thinking about my novels or adding notes, but sometimes, sitting down to write at a document can feel daunting when life is weighing on me, so I’ve dialled back in that respect. I did manage to hash out some rough scenes last weekend on my viper WIP and felt pretty good about them. I can never let any WIP sit for long.

As for reading, I’m catching up with my Audible TBR since there are a few good series I’m partway through. I’m currently flipping between Mystic Bayou by Molly Harper and Halven Rising by Jules Barnard which are a group of standalones but follow on from one another through different protagonists. 

So I don’t feel bad for not writing and reading, because I am writing and reading in the ways that I can. And I’m keeping up with my social media posts since they feel good to make. I’m on TikTok as @lovefantasynovels and on Instagram as @emiiadashfire

Writing and Reading Ranting – What’s the Point if You Don’t Follow Through?

A writing and reading rant today since this both annoyed me as a reader but made me think about how I could avoid this as a writer. 

I’m going to start off vague so as not to spoil a recently released best-selling fantasy series. I recently saw a video review of a widely-wanted scene from book 4 of a series that was set up in book 2. I gave up on this series in book 3 so I didn’t read said scene, but I know what it was and how excited readers were over it. 

It fell short apparently, and quite a few reviews had said the same thing.

It’s like any build-up when you plant possibilities in a reader’s head. You need to either dial back the build-up to match a marginally interesting moment or amp it up and have the climactic scene to make it worth it, otherwise, it just feels like a letdown. The same can be said for overdoing a scene that wasn’t set up in any way or was just overdone with no real need to be.

I recently reread another popular fantasy series after several years. I won’t say which one, but if you’ve read it, you’ll probably recognise it. It’s not quite a top favourite, but I enjoyed it more the 2nd time and rediscovered a top favourite character (not the protagonist). Anyway, There’s a sort of prophecy where the protagonist has to sacrifice her magic and lifeforce to close the gates to other worlds and send the demon king back to his own world. Mades sense. But when we got to said scene, I’d clearly missed a key detail in that it wasn’t guaranteed that the demon king would be sent home. It was part of a bargain with another group of people who changed their minds at the last minute. I was like… WTF? 

I was prepared for something to go wrong, but not so pathetically. It made the whole prophecy look pointless since the protagonist was relying on an ancient bargain. I went back to see what I’d missed, and it was there, but… lamely pointed out. There was little to no doubt that it was a done deal, and certainly wasn’t established as something she had to worry about. So when the bargain failed, it just fell completely flat.

It became more of a plot device since it had other implications for the character by leaving her with virtually no magic. I can understand the need for it from that perspective, but honestly, there could have been countless other ways to do that with a surprise scene that left people more shocked than disappointed over it. 

On the bright side, it did get me thinking about a prophecy in my own book and how to balance the build-up with the climactic scene. It’s a very different prophecy but is hinted at and built up in a similar way, so I’m going to use this experience to help me think about what would work better or even if I need the prophecy at all. Could I throw in a twist instead? 

Writing Ranting – Why Do I Write? Part Two!

In my previous post, I mentioned a forum post on a writing website where a struggling writer was overwhelmed with their writing projects and hated their job.

Firstly, I get it. I’ve had crappy jobs in the past that suck all my energy so I don’t feel like writing after a long and shitty day. But quitting a job to write creates a whole bunch of others problems.

There’s the pressure to make something of your writing if you have no other income. It forces people to rush a project or get frustrated that it’s not going anywhere. Most writers feel that way at some point but have other income to keep them going.

Patience is key because this whole process can take anything from a year to three or five or ten. Anyone who can publish in less than a year makes me suspicious.

Finding time to write can be hard when you’re working, but that’s pretty much what all writers do until they make money from their books. Then maybe, they can dial back on the regular job to spend more time writing and have a double career. This is my dream.

Here are some ways I help save time so I can write more…

  • I tested out some writing routines to see what times suited my creativity best. Then I keep to it as best I can and don’t let it get me down if I get too busy sometimes.
  • Routines for other things like errands and chores help. I do my washing on the same days, go to the supermarket on the same days. Things like that.
  • I like to write on my lunchbreak when I have my long days at work. I also use small pockets of time to work on things like outlining, character profiles, Pinterest collections or any other ideas for your writing. 
  • Plan meals for several days ahead, including lunches if you take that to work. It helps save time if you know what you have to prepare in advance and makes supermarket trips quicker when you know what you need in advance.
  • If you like to read, try audiobooks for some multitasking. I have a long drive to work and find a good audiobook makes the time fly by. I also listen to help me relax in bed. It’s a lot like meditation.
  • Relaxing is super important. On my long days at work, I watch something fun on YouTube or Netflix on my lunchbreak.

I’m very lucky in that I was working part-time when I started writing, so I had the time to establish my writing style and plan some projects and draft a pentalogy. That pentalogy is shelved for now since it’s a huge project, but I’ve finished a standalone novel (pending publication) and am currently drafting book 1 of a trilogy. 

Last November, I took on some more hours at work, hence the irregular posts the past few months, but I’ve managed to write a lot and mostly keep up with my social media. It is possible to balance a full time job and writing. 

Without so much social media, I’d probably work more on my writing but I love booktok and bookstagram and making silly videos and cosplaying, so I’m not going to give that up. Also, I’m establishing an online presence for when I need it for marketing. A lot of agents prefer authors who can manage their own social media, and if I self publish, I have a platform already established.

This is my hope for my writing, that it’ll be a paid part-time job to balance with my teaching job. But I would never dare think I could turn it into a full-time career. Besides, I love teaching too much to give that up anyway.

So to any writers struggling with that work/life/writing balance, don’t let it overwhelm you. If you have a paid job, then you can take your time with the writing and not let it be a burden. 

Writing Ranting – Why Do I Write? Part One!

Because I can’t imagine not writing, and if you ask yourself this too off, then something isn’t right.That doesn’t mean you should stop writing. But maybe it’s time to evaluate how writing fits into your life.

In this post and the next, I’m going to be breaking down two of the most important things a writer needs. Time and the right time. When I say the right time, I mean being in the best mood to make the most of your writing time otherwise you could end up staring at your document with nothing in your head. 

The whole point of this blog is to share my thoughts and experiences with writing in a way that might help others if they’re struggling to find encouragement in their own writing journey. 

I’ve had various writers rant at me about what I should do without considering what I want for my writing. Writers are as different as musicians. Some prefer the modern styles, some the classics, and others like jazz with a wild rhythm of its own. So finding a one-stop-shop for writing advice is impossible.

One particular writer on a forum I saw recently was struggling with their reason for writing and had quit their job twice to write. My first reaction was 😲 but unlike many others on the forum, I didn’t jump on that because that wasn’t the main question. See my next post for thoughts on life/work/writing balance.

For some context, this person was feeling the strain of a long writing process that hadn’t made them any money. They’d shared their work with friends who didn’t sound particularly helpful since they weren’t writers. 

Me being me, couldn’t help but try give this person some perspective on their writing. Here’s what I said, hoping it would help.

I’m sorry you feel this way. I’ve been writing for a while now and I’m still not published, but I keep going because I love writing, and making money is just something I work towards while enjoying the process.

Maybe taking a break would help.

And as for agents, you never know what clicks with an agent. Get critiques and beta readers and a professional editor and try self-publishing.

Or maybe think about if what you’re writing is what you truly want to write. Should you try another genre that you might feel more excited about? Should you try a different style that might have a limited audience, but that you connect with more?

Or, if it’s that much of a struggle, perhaps you should consider whether it’s the career for you. I gave up a career because it didn’t suit me and I wasn’t happy doing it.

Writing isn’t for everyone, but if you’re determined, then there is a way. I hope you find the answer you’re looking for and turn it into something that makes you feel good.

P.S I’ve learned more via my critique partners, giving and receiving crits, than from any advice given out of context.

I sent another post later about the person’s job troubles, but I’ll save that for the next post.