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

Updates & Some Notes on Inspiration

Hello I am alive! Barely. So for whatever reason I thought this semester was going to be super easy. HA GOOD JOKE! Nope it sucks. Crazy hard. Next semester is going to be worse. Yay for me.

But no one really cares how my life is going. Nope if anyone is reading this they are doing it for the writing stuff probably. So here is that writing stuff for you.

So in my last post I talked about how I had special beta-readers in mind for my WIP. Well they all said yes! I’m so excited. I’ve sent two of them the first chapter already (I don’t think they’ve ever done this before so I wanted to ease them in)(plus they’re kind of really busy too) and I’m sending out the other three the first chapter this week. It will probably be a month until I hear from them again but I’m excited to get this process going!

You also might remember I said I wanted to have this done by, oh, October 9th? Guess what? It didn’t happen! Writer’s block is a vicious thing. It likes to attack you right when you need to make things happen. And when you’re on deadline. And, well, just about all the time if you’re me. Luckily I’m (finally) able to get my life together and (double finally) able to write consistently again. I should have the whole thing done by time NaNoWriMo rolls around. (Have you seen my post about it? Go look at it! Let’s be writing friends!)

So you are officially updated on my writing life. (If you want to be updated on my life-life follow me on twitter.) Now that you’re up to date on all the parts you care about let’s move on to the part where I explain why I’m typing this up for the world to see.

So, inspiration. Inspiration can come from a lot of places. So many of my own stories and writings come from my dreams. I find dreams to be a good source of inspiration because mine are extremely vivid. Certain details or experiences tend to unravel into entire plotlines in my mind. I always tell my friends and people I know and random people I see on the street to pay attention to their dreams because they mean something. Okay not random people on the street but you should still pay attention to your dreams! They could turn into an idea and that idea could be The Thing that gets your writing going. 

But recently I’ve learned that ideas can come from songs and music as well. Theoretically, I already knew this. But I’ve only put it into practice recently. My inspiration for my current work in progress came from the album Stories For Monday by The Summer Set (available on iTunes and at Best Buy)(they’re one of my favorite bands do not judge me for plugging them because their music is phenomenal). I misheard one of the lyrics and BOOM twenty minutes later I was plotting this story out. So music can be a catalyst for writing as well. Obviously you can’t steal stories from songs (plagiarizing is wrong)(and punishable) but if one sparks an idea go for it.

I’ve found that inspiration can also come from people watching or listening to conversations. Certain phrases you overhear or a person in a seemingly odd situation can make a great place to start a story. Build off of that. The story will come eventually. 

I know these were pretty basic places to look for inspiration but they’re also very decent (and simple and easy) places to start. Your stories are not just going to come to you fully formed inside your head (in most cases anyway). Look around you. Use your resources. DO NOT STEAL SOMEONE ELSE’S IDEAS but let other people inspire you. Stories are everywhere you look. It’s up to you to find them and write them down for the world to enjoy.

On that super cheesy note, I’m heading out. This story isn’t going to finish itself and I have betas to get it to (and a NaNo outline to finish)(and a presentation for a class to make)(but no pressure or anything). Go write something down. Even if it’s just “This Kailey girl rambles a lot about nothing.” It counts. Byeeeeeeee!

Kailey

PS – I just got back after going to a concert out of state last night so I’m exhausted. I did proofread and edit this but I’m sorry if it still doesn’t make sense. 

Fall Contests & Some Ramblings

Hello!  My cat says hello too as she is currently butting her head against my hand as I type this. She doesn’t like to share my attention it seems.

Hope everyone is enjoying the nice weather! It’s finally fall!! Time to break out the jeans and sweaters and hot chocolate right? If not, well, too late on my part! 

I love fall. Mostly because it’s my birthday season and because of all the great holidays. I’m a huge Halloween fan. Love October and the awesome Halloween themed everything it brings. And then we get November and Thanksgiving! An entire holiday dedicated to eating? Um yes please! But really I love seeing a spending time with my family more than anything. There’s something about doing it on that day that makes it so much better than every other time of the year. 

But November has another holiday too! Did you know that? Yes oh yes it does. November has … (insert drum roll here) … NaNoWriMo!

Okay, so I guess technically that is not a holiday. It’s a contest (ta da! We’ve reached the contest portion of the post! Hooray!) and it’s a huge deal. 

In case you don’t know what NaNoWriMo is I’ll explain as best I can. NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month, and it’s basically exactly what it sounds like. During the month of November, if you are participating, you write a novel (or fanfiction if that’s your thing). You have all 30 days to write 50k words on it. You don’t edit it, you just update your word count on the website. And at the end of the month, you have a novel! A really rough novel most likely but a first draft is a HUGE accomplishment. 

You’re probably wondering, well what do I win if I finish this? Good question! You can find the list of prizes here on NaNoWriMo’s website. You can also check out the contest itself and poke around for more information if you’re interested in signing up. (If you do, feel free to add me as a writing buddy! I’m KSteward on there. Come join me as I cry over yet another book I’m writing!)

So yes, I’m participating in NaNoWriMo. If you’ve read some of my earlier posts, you’re probably thinking, “Wait, I thought she was writing a book right now! And doesn’t she have a manuscript she said she was querying?” Well you would be right! (This is where the ramblings part of the blog comes in. See aren’t I awesome at making this thing flow? What’s that? Shut up Kailey? Okay yeah probably should do that.)

I am currently more than halfway done wth my WIP. I plan to actually be done with it by next Saturday (original deadline was that but it will probably be more like late October). I have very special beta-readers in mind for this and I only get to see them two times this month and those are my only two chances to ask. So if you could please wish me luck on a) finishing the MS and b) asking them that would be really cool of you!

As far as the MS I’m querying, the original round of queries I sent out have all been rejected. I’m putting it through another round of edits before sending it out again. I have multiple betas sending me notes and two CPs who have already given me great feedback so I have a good feeling about the next time I query it.

In other news, I dropped way too much at Barnes & Noble last weekend but what else is new? Got some great books (and a coloring book) that I’m looking forward to devouring next time I get a chance.

I think that’s all I wanted to say. If anyone else is doing NaNoWriMo or has done it in the past let me know! My roommate is doing it too and we’re both sort of panicking aha. Advice welcome! 

Alrighty I’m off to go get a couple thousand words on my WIP. Bye!

Kailey

Food For Thought

Super, super, SUPER short post but I had a question and wanted to see what other people thought.

I finished reading Carry On by Rainbow Rowell yesterday. And while I LOVED the concept and most of the story, I felt like the ending was rushed and could have been better. 

I was talking with one of my roommates about it and she told me how she thought it read like a newbie fanfic writer wrote it: all build up and then rushed action. I thought that made sense.

One of my own theories is that because this was written as a fanfiction in a book originally, maybe she wanted to keep the feel it might retain.

No matter what the reasoning, it’s really bothering me. I was wondering if anyone else had read Carry On and could give me their opinions and thoughts on the second half of the book. What did you think of the structure when you read it? How did you feel the characters were treated? Do you think the speed of the plot was appropriate to the latter part of the story?

Anyone who has read Carry On is more than welcome to leave their opinions below! And I wanted to say that, despite my disappointment in the ending, I still really loved this book. Simon and Baz are amazing characters and I am glad that I got to read their stories. If you haven’t read it I say do but I really recommend you read Fangirl first.

Ok I’m off to my mythology class (it’s pretty cool). Bye!

Kailey

Empire of Storms

Hey all! So I know it’s been a while but school and life have been mega crazy lately.

So recently I finished the new Sarah J Maas novel Empire of Storms and I’m. In. Love. 

A bit of background on this for me: I’ve been reading Sarah’s books for about a year now but I read everything that she had published in a little over a month. Her writing is fabulous and her world building makes me swoon. So do her characters.

EOS was no different. This isn’t a review per say but I do want to talk a little bit about it (no spoilers don’t worry!). 

First of all I want to talk about the perfection of details that SJM puts in her books. She brought back things that I hadn’t thought about in a very long time. Her reintroduction of these small (but significant) bits of information was done near flawlessly. Something minor we dismissed in say Queen of Shadows turned out to be instrumental to EOS. I’d love to go into a gushing tangent about her skill in this regard (reminded me a lot of Cassandra Clare’s talent with it to tell you the truth) but if I did that it would be a very, very long post and I don’t think I want to do that to anyone who might be awesome enough to read this. So I’ll leave it at that and move on.

Next I want to discuss the storyline. Holy plot twists Batman. Did I see that coming? Nope, never, not at all. But that’s the mark of a talented writer. The mark of an even better one is when they pull it off seamlessly. Without spoilers it’s hard to talk about the plot in more than vague terms but I’ll give it a shot. 

Essentially the story picked up a short time after Queen of Shadows left off. Not much time had passed but enough that we weren’t in the exact same moment. Days to weeks at most between times. I thought this was well done because books that pick up at the exact moment the previous one ended for me always feel rushed. Giving the characters time to react and digest the previous ending always makes for a more interesting beginning. But that’s just my opinion.

We do pick up the story in Terrasen but one thing I will tell you all is we don’t get to see much of this beloved country. The story follows Aelin and her court closest obviously but we see quite a bit on Manon Elide as well. Their stories are just as essential as our court’s even if they are all in different places (or are they . . .).

So I guess that’s a good segue into characters! We saw a lot of semi-familiar faces throughout the book and they all served their purpose to further the story. I don’t think there was a single person in this story who I felt could’ve been left out. Each person’s story was intertwined well with the overall plot. We got a little bit of Lysandra’s POV but that’s one thing I wish we could’ve seen more of. We got some great Aedion moments and I won’t spoil anything but Aedion is now a character with a very special place in my heart.

So now that I’ve given a bunch of vague teasers and gushed my way through the basics, let’s get down to the fun parts.

Things I loved about EOS:

  • The language! I am a super picky reader. Not to say I don’t have about 7 billion books I love but there’s a difference between loving a book for the plot and loving a book because it grips your soul. For me all soul-gripping books have fabulous language. And EOS did not disappoint in that regard. SJM is one author who knows how to wield words like the weapons they are. I could feel how each and every word was chosen carefully in order to reach the novel’s full potential. Now there were a few points where I thought the phrasing could have been done better but they were few and far between and overall didn’t detract from the beauty of the story in any way. 10/10 on the language she used.
  • The settings! Okay so I told you before we don’t get to see a lot of Terrasen BUT we do get a few fabulous new places to see. I loved the introduction of new settings into this story. She built these places strongly and vividly. One thing I was disappointed on here though was that at one point we see ruins, and these ruins are supposed to be this creepy, chilling place. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel that when I read about them. I felt a little too much distance. But I know other people HAVE felt that creeped out feeling when they were reading that part, so I’m going to chalk this one up to personal issues and leave it be. Plus she makes up for that (in my opinion at least) when she writes about other places Aelin and her court visit. It felt like I was there with them nearly every step of the way. That was how good the settings were done. I give it a 9/10 on this aspect of the novel.
  • The plot twists! I said it earlier and I’ll say it again–HOLY PLOT TWISTS BATMAN! Now these weren’t as shocking as say a “you’re brother and sister” kind of thing (any Cassie Clare fans out there? Any at all? Please?) but they were substantial enough that they warrant talking about. For example, Aelin will always be Aelin. We can see how she’s growing and learning but she will always have something up her sleeve that we did not see coming. That’s part of the fun I think. Knowing that she’s got to have some trick up her sleeve and wondering what it is or when she’s going to reveal it. But she’s not the only one. Lets just say we didn’t see the last of Maeve in Wendlyn. Which is really just too bad. We get more than a few confirmations of things we’ve all been waiting for as well. Plus a few bombs dropped we probably would have rather not found out. So many twists and turns to this novel. Gods and monsters and plots, oh my! 10/10 on this (but really more like 50000/10 because wow). 

Things I didn’t like as much:

  • The sex scenes. Yes, there are sex scenes in EOS. I was little surprised when I came across the first one (I hadn’t read any spoilers or hints at all about this book before diving in). I don’t think they detract from the book in any way. In fact they show significant moments and give us a lot of insight to what’s really happening in the characters’ heads. They were done very well and not at all overly long or cringe worthy. This is just a personal preference I have that I don’t much like sex scenes. That, coupled with the fact that I wasn’t expecting them, made me not as much a fan of seeing them there. But looking at it from SJM’s point of view I can understand why she added them in there. 
  • The way some characters were introduced. So I haven’t read The Assassin’s Blade yet. I discovered that I probably should have while reading EOS. A lot of characters who come into play throughout the story aren’t fully introduced because they had their own short stories with Aelin in The Assassin’s Blade. Well, if you haven’t read it yet (or you’re like me and didn’t know to read it beforehand) that can be a little annoying. I was able to fill in the gaps by clues and context, but I would have preferred to know full back stories. Moral here: read The Assassin’s Blade before EOS if you can.
  • The distribution of POVs. GIVE ME MORE LYSANDRA! I WANT MORE LYSANDRA! It was all fairly even distribution between characters except for her. So that was sort of disappointing. Personally I’d rather have had less Lorcan and more Lysandra. And more Aedion too if possible.

I know a lot of people took issue with the fact that Chaol wasn’t in this book but I think it makes perfect sense not to include him. Let him heal in the south and bring him back in the final novel. Overall not many things in this book that were problems. The issues I did have aren’t all big things and they didn’t take away at all from how much I loved this book. I would have devoured it in a day if I could have but I’ve been so busy with school and other things that I’ve barely had time to read. 

I highly recommend this or any Sarah J Maas book to anyone and everyone. She’s a fantastic writer and one of my favorites. It’s no secret that I want to be her when I grow up (no I’m not a grown up I’m just a college student shhh that doesn’t make me a grown up). One thing I will warn you about: you will cry. There is no way around it. Accept your fate. Tears will be shed because holy hell this book is emotionally stacked. That’s all the warnings I’m going to give though.

So I hope this made sense and wasn’t too bad of a review/reaction. Now I’m going to go crank out another 2k words on my WIP (almost halfway done!) so I’ll talk to you soon! 

GO READ EMPIRE OF STORMS!

Kailey

Rejection & Random Thoughts

So rejection sucks. Shocker I know.

But here’s the thing: rejection doesn’t mean you’re not good. It means you’re not the right fit for whoever it is that rejected you. 

So far in the past month I’ve been rejected by four agents and all of the mentors I submitted to for Pitch Wars. And one thing they’ve all been sure to stress to me is that just because I’m getting rejected does not mean I am not a good writer. It just means that they are not the right fit for me. I need to keep going and find someone who is. And that’s something I wanted to share with all of you.

Now onto the random thoughts portion of this blog. In the past week I’ve moved into an apartment and started classes as a college junior. Because of this I haven’t had any time to write (boo). However one of my classes is a screenwriting class (um just a teeny bit different from novels right?) and my professor has mandated that we write for a half hour a day.

THIS IS SO IMPORTANT! Not only is it forcing me to write every day (which I should be doing anyway) but it’s forcing me to develop a routine. Writing schedules are super mega important!!! I don’t have one (even though I said I was going to for this year oops) and I know know know how much that kills so many of my ideas. 

GET ON A WRITING SCHEDULE PEOPLE!

Ok that’s all. My project list is currently three ideas deep and I’m on an internal deadline of October 9th for a first draft of one so I gotta get back to work.

Go soak in some good words or something else that sounds weird and smart. Or don’t, you know, whichever.

Kailey

Balancing Act

Hi there! So I’m heading back to school tomorrow (boo) and start classes on Wednesday (yikes). And since I am still waiting to hear about Pitch Wars (even though I have a pretty solid idea where I stand there) I’m not editing my MS. Instead, I’m working on two new projects that I am in love with.

It’s pretty weird working in an entirely different world than the one from my first book. One of my projects is set in two separate universes and another is set in our world like my first MS. Except this time it’s without the magic added in. 

I’ve been working pretty steadily on those two projects, switching off and trying to reach my desired word count for the week on each one. So far I’ve made a decent dent in both.

Now that I start school though things are about to change. This past month I’ve been able to sit down and spend as much time writing as possible since I worked from home. Now I’ll be balancing writing with classes and assignments. This is something I’ve done poorly in the first two years I’ve been in college and for this year I’m planning to do things differently. This year I have a plan of attack.

So in order to meet my internal deadlines and make wc goals each week I’ve decided to set aside a time to write every day. I’ve also put a set wc goal on my writing and I intend to meet that goal (if not exceed it) every day. Other people I know have done similar things and it’s worked very well. I’m an extremely chaotic person so I have no idea if working under a schedule will help me or not, but I thought it would be a place to start at least.

Anyway that’s the update on my life. I hope you guys are good. Go read a good book. Or if you want go write one!

Kailey