National Novel Writing Month 2017

Hi. Hello. Salutations my friends. Happy Halloween the 12th.

Yeah, I’m being weirder than usual. Sorry about that.

Today’s post is brought to you by a caffeine headache, my favorite hockey team failing at hockey, and staring at a project I haven’t touched in a year for an hour without typing a single word. These should help explain my scrambling.

Today I want to talk about NaNoWriMo. I did a post about it last year as well, but some things have changed. For starters, I know how hard it is to write a novel in a month now. (Confession: after I hit the 50k word limit last year I put the project away and haven’t touched it since. It’s still only 2/3 of the way done, almost a year later.)

Writing 50k words in 30 days sounds daunting on its own. Once you try it? You realize it’s beyond daunting. It’s horrible. And I’m not talking about the experience. I’m talking about “I actually wrote this? These are words that actually came from my brain and I thought they made sense? I thought this was good???”

My NaNo draft from last year needs a lot of work. And I’m not talking about just being unfinished. NaNoWriMo is tough, and requires a TON of editing after the fact, just like any other first draft.

So, I know what you’re thinking. “This is the part where she tells us she’s not doing it this year. It’s too hard to finish. She can’t do it. That’s what’s changed.”

Well, you would be WRONG.

I announced my NaNo novel two nights ago, and I’m nervous and unsure if I can really manage it this year, but I fully plan on participating. You can read all about the story I plan on writing here. (Also–be my friend! I need more writing buddies!)

Now I’ve probably confused you. “If she’s participating, what’s changed?”

I am SO glad you asked! I have a few things to say, along with some advice to go along with them.

  1. I am actually writing with a full outline this year. Yeah. I don’t recommend being me last year, only using a partial outline and hoping for the best. Really, it’s not smart. If you don’t like outlines, hey more power to you. I’ve been bitten in the butt too many times without one. I now require one before starting to write. But please, if you’re going to outline (and I recommend it) use a good one. Detail it. Have a plan. Trust me, you will thank yourself when you sit down to write your 1,300 words for the day.
  2. I will be working around a full schedule. Unlike last year, when I was mostly working around school, I’ll be doing Actual Adult Things in November (but also school). Between major papers, presenting at a conference, and other important obligations, I’m getting a taste of what a deadline looks like with a busy life. Which, this will hopefully be what my life looks like after college. So, I’m looking forward to working like this. Nervous, but it’s practice for the real world, so looking forward to it.
  3. I’m working in my comfort zone. Last year I tackled a multi-POV contemporary suspense (is that a thing? I’m saying it’s a thing). I’ve worked in dual POV before, but never more than that. My novel last year alternated between SIX points of view. Not to mention I’d never so much as touched a suspense plot before. This year I’m working with one point of view, in a genre I’ve worked with before. I’m always one for pushing the comfort zone and making yourself into a better writer, but when you’re hitting so many words in so little time, sticking to your comfort zone is not necessarily a bad thing. If you think you can handle it, then absolutely push your limits. But don’t push so far that you end up leaving the project in a folder for a year, not because you don’t love the idea, but because it’s just so bad and pushing yourself caused that.

Honestly, I love the idea of giving my inner editor time to rest. She is so overworked. Giving her this project off is something I am very much looking forward to doing.

If you want information about National Novel Writing Month go to their website! I hope to see all of you in my writing buddies list very soon.

Enjoy the rest of your Halloween the 12th!

Kailey

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PubforPR

Hey all!

This is just a quick post to say that there is an amazing contest going on RIGHT NOW until tomorrow (October 5th) at 10 PM! 

PubforPR is an auction with several book/writing/publishing-related items to bid on. All the money will go to benefit Puerto Rico after the recent hurricane. There are so many things to bid on from ARCs, to critiques, to tuition for writing conferences!

You can access their website HERE to bid. Remember the auction closes tomorrow (October 5th) at 10 PM. BUT if you want to donate after that they have links for places to donate to as well (go here and here). And if, for some reason, there’s nothing you want to bid on or, (like me) you get outbid, by donating you get entered to win a surprise raffle prize. The guidelines for this along with their bidding guidelines are located on the PubforPR website.

Make sure you check this out! Sorry for the late notice and quick post, but this is a great way to raise money for Puerto Rico and I think you’d all love to donate if possible and help out (plus the many prizes are all amazing as well).

Thanks for reading my mini-post and go check this out before it’s over!!

Kailey

Pitch Wars & Currently Reading

Hi!!

I’m still editng. Thought I’d just jump right in and let you all know. I’m still editing. I feel like that’s my life lately. It’s alright, it’s necessary. And it can be fun. Sometimes. And it’s only going to continue in the next few months, if I make it into Pitch Wars.

Oh yeah, did I forget to mention? It’s almost Pitch Wars time!!

The mentor blog hop went live last week. I may or may not have attacked it as soon as the wishlists went live. (Alright I did.) It’s a great opportunity to get to know exactly what the mentors are looking for, and who is a good match for you.

More on that in a few minutes though. Before we get to that I want to talk about something that’s very important. The book I am currently reading.

Daughter of the Burning City was released today. And yes, I did go to Barnes and Noble and buy it as soon as I could. And yes, I will be starting it in less than an hour. And YES, I am VERY excited.


See? Excited! You should be excited too. Just saying. I’m excited enough for all of us though.

I wrote an entire post on why you should read this book, so I won’t pressure you guys here. But I absolutely feel like you should get it (*cough* it’s available on Amazon and B&N *cough*).

And, unrelated, look how pretty it is!


So pretty. I took this this morning when I found it out in the wild (aka Barnes and Noble). Anyway, I’ll be reviewing this one as soon as I finish it. Be on the look out for that to come soon!

Now, onto Pitch Wars.

If you don’t know, Pitch Wars is a (free) contest where you can submit a finished Middle Grade (MG), Young Adult (YA), New Adult (NA), or Adult (A) manuscript to four mentors of your choosing. These mentors will then go through all of their submissions and choose one person to help with their manuscript for two months. At the end of the two month period, the shiny manuscript goes up for the agent round. Participating agents will then peruse the manuscripts posted, and decide whether or not to request.

The submission window for Pitch Wars opens next Wednesday, August 2nd, at midnight EST. It runs through Sunday August 6th at 10 PM EST. Then the mentors (you can find a list lower in this post) have until August 23rd to pick one person who submitted to them to mentor. I’ve heard there’s an occasional war over potential mentees, but you’ll have to ask the mentors about that one.

(Psssssst there’s an entire askmentors hashtag going over on twitter! They’re really helpful! If you have questions, I’d recommend asking.)

That’s the really basic explanation. I’m bad at making really awesome things sound interesting sometimes. This is one of those times, because this is a really awesome competition. I made a few friends from it last year, but I’ve already made some new ones this year as well. This is an invaluable experience for a writer. There’s so much support and love going around right now. It makes me smile seeing everyone hopeful and banding together. There have been numerous times people have offered me advice, or given me a critique on the Pitch Wars forum, or offered to swap pages with me. And this is true for everyone. It’s a great place to help grow as a writer.

Since I’m terrible at explaining things today (but apparently super gushy), I’ll link you to everything you need to know.

Here is the contest information.

Here is the mentor blog hop.

Here is the mentor lists broken down by category, thanks to my lovely CP Katy (she’s the best you guys, I swear.)

Here and Here are the lists of agents participating.

Here is the forum link (also found above).

Here is a link to donate and get extra mentors (or just donate to be a cool person).

Here is query help.

Here is synopsis help.

And here is the link to Brenda Drake’s twitter. Because she’s amazing for organizing this (with some help)(my suggestion is follow everyone because they’re all super nice and helpful).

Phew. That’s a LOT of links. But they’re all more helpful than I am, so I think you’ll be grateful that I linked everything instead of trying to (badly) explain it all myself.

This year I’ll be entering my New Adult contemporary manuscript. It has romance, a lot of (very subtle)(most of the time) How I Met Your Mother references, and was inspired by one of my favorite bands (they were very excited when I told them). This has been my baby for a year and a half now, and I’ve gotten great responses from my critique partners. I’m so nervous and so excited to send it out my chosen mentors next week.

If you have a finished manuscript (seriously, it has to be finished. And polished. Don’t send in a half-finished one!) I’d totally recommend entering Pitch Wars. (Unless you’re writing NA, in which case *hisses* stay away from my potential mentors.)

(I’m kidding. Like 98% kidding, I swear.)

It really is a lot of fun, even when you’re crazy nervous about who’s getting chosen. This kind of experience is invaluable, and you won’t regret it if you do enter.

Must go back to editing now. I have two chapters to finish before I can start Amanda’s book. And I should probably study for the GRE at some point. I don’t want to think about that though. That’s adult stuff.

Alright, wish me luck! And if you decide to enter Pitch Wars come say hi to me on twitter! We can freak out together during the submission period.

Kailey

Camp NaNoWriMo & Editing

Hello people. It’s been a while.

Tomorrow begins Camp NaNoWriMo, an entire month of writing, editing, or working on a project in general. In my case, it’s 31 days of editing a project in preparation for Pitch Wars (new post on that later this month). I thought that since I’d be doing so much editing this month, I’d do a post about it.

Please note: my editing process is entirely my own. This is not my way of telling you how to edit. I just wanted to share what I go through when I sit down to work.

So, here’s how I usually edit a project.

  1. Re-read. I always go back through and re-read everything I’ve written. This is to get a feel for the story in general. Generally it’s been a while since I’ve seen the beginning of a story. This step helps me to slip back into my initial mindset, and take a quick look at what needs to be fixed most there.
  2. Make notes. Once I’ve finished going back through the story, I make notes on it. I use Word comments and track changes for this step. It allows me to see my thoughts as I go through the work. It also helps me, as I have these notes right there and don’t have to check other pages or flip between windows.
  3. Actually edit. Round one of going through and making changes begins here. The amount of changes I make depends on how much work I feel each section needs. This last project I only made light changes in the first round. Partly that has to do with the next step.
  4. Send it out to critique partners. Currently I have two CPs, and they’re both amazing. They aren’t afraid to tell me what’s wrong with my work, but they know how to keep me going as well. It’s a balance that they’ve perfected after dealing with me. I know I said this isn’t telling you how to edit (and that’s still true) but I would highly recommend getting yourself a good CP. It’s a decision you won’t regret.
  5. Repeat steps 3 & 4. It will depend on how much editing a work needs how many times I send it back out. I try not to bother my CPs all the time, because in the end it’s my work. And I’m the one who needs to make the decisions and do the writing. But having their advice at every stage is a wonderful thing that I’m very grateful for.
  6. Final read through. This is just to double-check that everything is ready. At this point all of the editing is basically done, but it never hurts to have one last look before sending it out for querying. Last minute (usually minor) changes can be made here, but that’s not what this step is for.

That’s pretty much my entire editing process. I haven’t gottent through the full range of steps for my current project. I’m in step 4 at the moment. Since I’m preparing this project for Pitch Wars, I’ll have to write a query letter at some point. Right now I’m just focused on getting this right. This process works for me, and I hope that your process works for you.

I’m about to head out to see a friend and convince her to submit to Pitch Wars (which I will hopefully be doing for all of you later this month). Have a good weekend!

Kailey

Mental Illness Visibility in the Creative Arts

Hello. It’s been a while. I hope everyone has been fighting the horrors the world has been throwing at us and reading a good book or two. I know I have.

Update on my life (I’m going to pretend you all care for a few minutes). I am neck deep (fun expression, good band as well) in Windwitch and I am so upset I haven’t had the time to devour it yet like I wanted to. Rest assured it will get done. As soon as it does I’ll have a review up for you all.

I have not been writing nearly as much as I’d hoped. At least, I haven’t been writing for anything other than school. I wrote a speech the other day that had to be fictionalized. That was an adventure. Let me say, I do not think I have a future in speech writing. I think I’ll stick with fiction.

Also, I saw Twenty One Pilots in Chicago last weekend. (I know what you’re thinking: “What purpose does this have on a book blog Kailey? Why do you always go off on tangents Kailey?” I promise this has to do with my topic today. And I go on tangents because I have a lot to say that isn’t always relevant but I enjoy sharing anyway). On this subject let me just say something about that band: they put on a show. I’ve been telling everyone I know how it’s the best live show I’ve ever seen. I’m pretty sure everyone is really sick of hearing about it (minus my friend who brought me with her)(she’s a massive fan and this band means so much to her)(I’m trying to get her to meet them but it’s not going too well)(story for another time though). 

One of the reasons I say this was such an amazing show was because of the energy in the room. I have been to a lot of shows. I’ve seen a lot of crowds: good, terrible, and everything in between.

I have never seen anything like this. 

There is a moment when Tyler Joseph is singing “we’re broken people” and the crowd is singing along with him. The ability for thousands and thousands of people to take up this chant, not as an admittance of guilt but as an empowering truth, it blew me away. It really made sense to me then, why everyone loves this band so much. Yes, they make good music. Yes, they are phenomenal performers. But the reason they speak to so many people is because they have paved the way for everyone to admit that it’s okay not to be okay. They have done what people loathe to do and talked about mental illness, brought it into the world in a way that shows the reality, not the romanticization, of it.

This is something that I feel like needs to be done more. Yes, there are people out there who are open about their struggles. More and more people open up every day. In the world of creativity, I would argue doing this is more important than ever.

There is a long history of people in the creative arts struggling with a mental illness of some sort. Addiction, depression, and alcoholism are just three of the most commonly associated diseases that come to mind when people are talking about artists or writers. But the problem is, no one talks about this until after the fact. It’s the same with ordinary people. So many people cannot or will not talk about their struggles because there is still such a stigma surrounding mental illness. No one, save for a brave few, is willing to take on the judgment that comes with opening up about their problems.

I don’t think I need to tell you all how much I hate this. It makes me very, very, very, a thousand times very mad. However, I know you guys don’t read these to hear me rant. (Side note: I’m not sure why you read these posts but thank you if you do.)

Obviously this issue means a lot to me. Like the two men in that band, I want to help people. I want to reach out and show people that not everyone is okay, and that’s alright. Some people’s brains are just different and that isn’t their faults.

My very first manuscript is about a girl struggling with demons. It’s been a project four years in the making and probably another four at least before it’s  going to see the light of day, if it ever does. But I will not stop writing about this issue because it is one that needs to be addressed.

Off the top of my head I can only name a handful of books that have characters or struggles like the ones I’m talking about. This is potentially due to my lack of exposure to such books (as much as I’d like to I cannot read every book out there). I would argue though that it’s also due to the lack of people writing about these problems. I see more and more upcoming books that have characters like mine and who suffer from similar problems as so many in reality do. I cannot wait to read them. But there needs to be more. 

Like the men in Twenty One Pilots we need to talk about this. We need to show the world that this is what we look like, this is who we are, and that this is not our faults. That is why I write what I write. One day I hope to have helped even a fraction of the people that they have. 

I was inspired last weekend. I saw something I could never have even dreamed of. It was a reality that I want to see spreading, through books, music, anything, and everything. It was beautiful to witness, and certainly put a fresh energy into my writing. And this is just the beginning. I’m excited for what is to come.

So, that’s my incoherent, strange rant for the day. I hope this made some sense at least. Organizing this post was a struggle but I hope it came out alright. 

This definitely turned into a more pro-Twenty One Pilots thing than I had planned. They’re a great band and I hope you guys listen to them. If nothing else, do it for their lyrics. It’s some of the best song writing I’ve ever seen. Use it to inspire your own writing.

I am picturing people reading this going “Yes I already know that. I’ve been listening to them for years. What rock did you just crawl out from under that you just found out about them?” Well, to tell you the truth I’ve only been listening to them for a few months, and even then only because my friend invited me to go with her to this concert. BUT I was hooked in right away. So yes I know I’m super late to the party but I’m here now! (If you’re a super fan I’m sorry don’t hate me)(so many fans at the concert gave me looks guys. I was so afraid. They are intense human beings)(but they were all super shocked when I started rapping almost every song alongside them hehe)(okay I’ll get back to the point now).

This was a really long and confusing post but I hope it made some people happy, or thoughtful, or that it made sense to you in some way. If anyone can think of some good books that have characters that are neurodivergent feel free to comment them below (they don’t have to be YA but if they aren’t please specify)! I’ll be making a post soon of recommendations of books that showcase these stories, and would love some input if anyone has it!

And, as always, I must go do work now. I will leave you with this lyric that speaks to me from (naturally) the Twenty One Pilots song “Fake You Out”:

Our brains are sick but that’s okay.

Kailey

P.S. – I know this was really heavy about the band. I blame the concert partly. Almost a week later and I’m still buzzing from that show. But their message really is relevant to what I’m trying to say here. I am sorry if I went a little overboard though. Okay. Bye.

Writer Resolutions

Hi all! Long time, no write. I hope if you’re reading this you’re doing well. And I hope if you’ve celebrated a holiday recently that it was good and not stressful!

So the last time I was on here I was talking about NaNoWriMo. That was about two months ago. You might have already guessed that a lot of stuff has happened since then.

A brief update on everything since I’ve last posted. I finished NaNoWriMo (shockingly). It was painful and pushed me way past my limits, but i finished it. Even a month after it’s done I feel the same sense of accomplishment as when I hit the submit button. 

In addition to NaNo, I’ve continued working on my two major WIPs. One is almost done, with maybe another 10k words to go on it. The other is just getting started but I’m in love with the world and the characters alike.

In non-writing news, these past couple of months have been stressful for me in my personal life. I’m trying not to get political but let’s just say I am not happy about recent events. I have very strong opinions on this matter and this has strained my relationships with some of my family members. But I know it’s been a lot worse for some people. The reason I bring this up is because I want to make sure everyone knows they can talk to me if they ever feel upset or threatened or uncomfortable by what’s happening in the world right now. You are not alone, I promise.

I won’t go off on a tangent (because this could turn into a several thousand word rant) but I needed to say that. 

Now then, let’s get down to the writing stuff. 

In the spirit of New Year’s Eve, I, like most everyone else, am making my resolutions. But when I started to do this I noticed a lot of what I was making goals for had to do with my writing. Hence, my Writer Resolutions. Here’s what I came up with.

1. Write 1k words a day. Even if it’s nonsense and terrible, just write something. Getting the words out is what matters the most.

2. Finish revising my first (and favorite so far) completed draft. It’s gone through quite a bit of editing so far but it needs a lot more work before it’s ready to start querying again.

3. Finish my Captain Swan fanfic. Yes, surprise, I write fanfiction. And I love Captain Swan. Don’t get me started on them or we’ll be here a very long time. But I’ve been plotting and outlining and tentatively planning this story for a while. It’s only a few chapters in so far and I’m excited to take it places, but I have to actually write it first.

4. Finish writing and revising my current pet project. I want to have it ready for fall contest submissions (like Pitch Wars)(I liked that one a lot). Or maybe even send it out to agents by the end of the year. I want to have it ready for anything, basically.

5. READ!!! I know this isn’t writing, but it’s related. Everyone I’ve ever seen talk about this has said that to be a good writer you need to be a good reader as well. And I am a very good reader. My goal is to read 50 books (school books don’t count) by the end of the year. Seems pretty doable to me considering I have triple that amount on my bookshelf.

6. Write some book reviews. The plan is just to put them up here. I don’t have a set number in mind. But I figure if I can reach Resolution #5 then I can get a couple of reviews posted on them. 

That’s all I’ve got as of now. I’m sure I’ll add some more as the night goes on. I’m an ambitious person. I have some personal goals as well, but the ones I wrote here are very important to me. Feel free to share your writing goals too! I’m curious to hear what you guys are trying to do for the new year.

That’s it for now. I’m going to go read a book (shocker! I know). See you guys in 2017!

Kailey

NaNoWriMo Begins!

Plus a little randomness because it’s me.

Hello my lovely people! I hope you’re all doing well. 

It is now November! And do you know what that means? Hot chocolate of course!

Just kidding. It’s 78 degrees in this stupid city. Hot chocolate is not a thing that will be happening just yet.

But what November really means is (drumroll) NATIONAL NOVEL WRITING MONTH! Also known as NaNoWriMo (and henceforth referred to as NaNo in this post).

So it is November first. I know, congrats Kailey, you know how to read a calendar. Well, yes, yes I do. Thank you for noticing.

November the first marks the very first day of this month long contest. I’ve already updated my word count for the day and am about to tackle some more writing after I finish up here. But I couldn’t let this go by without posting something about it.

I’m not sure how many who read this are doing NaNo but I wanted to share some resources I’ve found for it.

The website itself has a lot of great resources, naturally. Make sure to check those out.

Next, I got this handy dandy word count tracker from Tera Lynn Childs. She has it available in two separate forms and I recommend using it as it has a graph and I like graphs.

Also, here and here are two good videos from my friend Lily Meade who is a really cool writer and booktuber. She makes great videos that are very helpful when it comes to writing tips and such. Her story is also a strong one and I recommend checking her out. She’s so nice too! Go watch her videos! I promise you’ll enjoy them.

Finally I wanted to remind everyone that your friends and family are good resources as well! Make sure you use your support system when things get stressful. That’s what they’re there for. The tumblr writing community has been very kind to me in the past but I understand that some people have people outside of a computer who enjoy their company. I say take advantage of that.

(I’m kidding guys I have friends in real life. Two of them are probably going to give me a look when they read this because they also happen to be my roommates. Who will be listening to me whine about NEW characters for the next month. I’m sure it’ll be a fun change of pace.)

So that’s it on the NaNo update. A few odds and ends before I end this post though.

One: I want to thank everyone who actually reads these posts. You are truly wonderful people and from the bottom of my cold, lifeless heart, thank you.

Two: I am always looking for more writer friends. Feel free to talk to me on twitter or comment here! 

Three: I want to point out again how amazing my friend Lily Meade is. We met at a Harry Potter/writing conference last summer and she is the sweetest person! She is also going through a tough time right now. Watch this video, it explains everything. She doesn’t know I’m doing this but I want people to see how strong she is. We might not be really close but I’m inspired by her and her story and I think others should know how strong this girl is. She really believes in this community she is a part of. Please watch the video.

Four: I hope everyone has a good day and sees a puppy they can pet.

That is all. I had more points but decided to cut this post short since this is a writing blog and they were not writing points.

Ok, I’m off to work on my NaNo project. Bye!

Kailey