Return of Camp NaNo

Three summers ago I participated in my first ever July Camp NaNoWriMo, where I began writing what would go on to become my first fully completed draft of the first book in my Alteria Trilogy. This July, I come full circle.

This summer I am writing the first draft of the third book.

And the third draft of the first book.

Three summers later, and the Inception meme is still applicable.

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BWAM BWWAAAM BWWWWWAAAAAAAMMMMM

I realize that writing two books at once (while also wrapping up production on Unraveling Light, which will be dropping VERY SOON!) is madness, but I’ve always been one for crazy endeavors, so why stop now.

The decision to work on Book 3 though this summer wasn’t an easy one to come to. I found myself so torn about whether or not it was the right call. I always told myself that Book 3 was a far off thing that I’d do well after the first and second books were done and out there. But I realized that 1) I have nothing to lose by writing a first draft of it early and 2) In fact, it will make the revision process for Book 1 go much smoother, because as I am writing the newest draft of it, I’ll know where the story ends, and thus, will be able to breadcrumb all the right things in there for readers.

The idea of really fine tuning They Are the Last before I begin a second round of querying feels right, but so does wrapping up the series by getting the first draft of Book 3 to paper. It’s going to be a writing adventure unlike anything I’ve done before, which fills me all kinds of up with the excitement and dread and wonderment that makes me love writing so. damn. much.

I will do my best to blog along in the process as I go this month, but I make no promises of writing every day, since every time I say I’m gonna do that, the pressure makes me never actually do it. Hopefully this bizarro journey will teach me some new things, and if I find any of that worth sharing, I’ll be sure to put that together into something for y’all.

I’m already three chapters into the third book, and already there’s been some majorly gut wrenching to write scenes. This is where everything comes together, friends. I cannot believe I have come to it, and that I will at last be finding out how Piper’s story ends. Many more drafts will surely come over the years of all 3 books, but to know generally speaking where my babies end their journeys makes me feel nine kinds of everything all at once.

Hoping to cross the 5K mark on the third book tonight, so it’s about time I get back to it. But to those of you who’ve been around since the beginning, thanks for sticking with me through this. For those of you just joining the journey, I’m glad you’re here. Off to Alteria we go…

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(Photo I took of the bridge that plays a huge part in the story, and Alteria shining in the distance.) ((Ok its the moon but LET ME DREAM OK))

 

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Fresh Start

It’s days like today where the subtitle for my blog (Capturing Life’s Chapters) feels particularly fitting. After writing yesterday about my end of an era with working for MuggleNet, today feels like a bright new beginning, with lots of exciting things ahead.

Now that I will have more time, I have big plans to make Elayna Musings my main focus. What with Unraveling Light on the way, pending queries out there for They Are the Last, and a bunch of bubbling new ideas, the next few months look to be unreal levels of exciting. So I thought to kick things off, I’d share an update, detailing all the awesomesauce things y’all have to look forward to in the next few months. Let’s get to it.

They Are the Last

As I’ve been working on the poetry, and also waiting to hear back on my first major round of query letters, this project has been on a bit of a hiatus. I’ve got big plans for working on what will be the third draft this summer, before sending out more queries this fall. Just know that even though I haven’t been talking about it as much online, does NOT mean it has gone anywhere. Trust friends, I’m doing my best to get Piper’s adventures into your hands ASAP.

Unraveling Light

As of this writing, the manuscript is in the hands of my editor. (GOSH DOES IT FEEL COOL TO TYPE THAT PHRASE) She is hard at work doing final edits, as I’m over here finalizing the art work and making perks. Currently, we’re still on schedule to release it June 26th, 2018, but keep your eyes on this space for any updates should that need to change! And while you’re waiting, feel free to add the book to your shelves on Goodreads! *faints in disbelief over having a book on Goodreads*

Patreon

This is something I have always regretted not having more time for, because so many of the volunteer things I was doing on the side took up my every extra hour. But now that I’m re-centering on my own creative works, I’m psyched to announce I have done a 100% overhaul of my Patreon page, including a new about section, rewards, and goals. Y’all know well enough by now that being a full time writer and making you more stuff is the dream, so if you have $1 a month to spare and want to help make that happen, head on over. It is in conjunction with Patreon that I am absolutely bursting to tell you about another new project I am launching as of today.

elluminations

Bringing Unraveling Light to life with you all has been one long, magical dream, and it has made me realize how much I desperately love writing poetry. Having to keep that book down to just poems that suited the themes became harder and harder as new poems and ideas poured out of me. But to publish full collections of them with art included on a frequent basis would be something that would burn me out faster than you could blink. However, Patreon’s monthly subscription model has birthed an idea for how I can share my poems with you all on a more regular basis, without fizzling out.

Introducing elluminations

elluminations is going to be a quarterly chapbook that I plan to put together for you all so that when I don’t have a major release coming out, you still can have new, original content from me. In keeping with the theme of Unraveling Light, I felt elluminations was the perfect name, because not only is it a nod to my first published collection AND my own name, but it also hearkens back to illuminated manuscripts of medieval texts, in which monks painted elaborate designs around their letters and pages.

A chapbook, for the uninitiated, is just a shorter collection of poems by a single author, so you can expect that each one will contain anywhere between 10 and 30 new poems for you. Since monthly would be too hectic of a turnaround, but one a year would be too few, I’ve decided I will release a new volume each season. (So for the rest of this year that means you can expect one in June, September, and December!) Each volume will be named by a unifying theme to tie these little collections together. I already have some ideas brewing about the first one, which I’m hoping to release right around the same time as Unraveling Light this June.

But HERE’S THE REAL EXCITING PART! These past few weeks, as things with Unraveling Light have been flourishing, I’ve managed to put together a Volume 0 which will be free and available to the public, both here on my blog and on Medium, so that you can get a taste of what to expect from future editions!

Volume 0 is titled Independent, and the theme deals with the journey I found myself on as I struggled through the loss of my parents. A rough topic to start on I know, but this mini collection (which features 17 poems in all) is very close to my heart. And if you end up enjoying what you read, you can hit up Patreon to become a supporter, so that you’ll get all the future volumes delivered to you once they’re done! (So for $5 a month, you get a subscription to elluminations plus a bunch of other cool stuff!) I am so, so excited to get this project started.

So that about wraps things up for now! As I said a dozen times in this post, I am THRILLED to finally be dedicating my time to writing and creating original things for you. 2018 really is shaping up to be one helluva creative year, and honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. ^_^

 


 

Cover photo by unsplash-logoDebby Hudson

 

Here’s to Hope

Here we are. 2018. To be honest, after the past year, I honestly can’t believe we made it.

Hopelessness permeated the nation and the world last year. Hurricane after hurricane, shooting after shooting, scandal after scandal. I thought people had been happy to see 2016 go last year. But then 2017 rolled up and was like…

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You know nothing of pain, 2017…

But with all that dread and fear, came some moments of true inspiration which reminded me maybe the world hasn’t gone entirely to shit. The Women’s March turning out astronomically more people than a cheeto’s inauguration. The triumphant releases of films like Get Out and Wonder Woman and Girl’s Trip and Coco, proving that audiences are ready AF for more inclusive media. In a response to certain bigots getting elected, we saw a backlash of people running for office, and WINNING, like the amazing Danica Roem. 2018 looks to be even more promising on many of these fronts, what with things like Black Panther, A Wrinkle in Time, and the elections that could flip the government in favor of, oh, I dunno, general human decency?

But this post isn’t meant to be a political commentary or an analyzation of media, even those are obviously both things I care about. It is meant most of all to say, 2017 was quite a year, and I’m ready to put it to bed and look forward to this year.

In terms of personal things this year, it was pretty fucking majestic. I finally got a promotion, moved into a new place with my best friend, published my first short story, launched a new podcast, traveled to Seattle and Orlando and New Hampshire, began a writing website with my friends, and nearly finished the first draft of You Are the Dawn. I think about all that I’ve done this year and I’m overcome with joy, that despite all the financial struggles and social struggles and mental health concerns I faced this year, I did what I said I hoped I would last year. I made things. I read books. I told stories. I lived.

It seems my experiment of putting down less concrete goals actually friggin worked, and so too this year, I want to do the same thing. As I go forth, I hope to blog & vlog more. I hope to go further into my work on the Alteria series. I hope amazing things happen for IndiePen Ink, and that all the ancillary things that are part of it will flourish. I want to *hopefully* move somewhere new where I can really spread my wings.

But there is one more concrete goal I have that I will put into words, in the hope that writing it here might help me speak it into existence. In 2018, I really hope I find my literary agent so They Are the Last can finally see light break on the horizon.

Here’s to hope. Here’s to love. Here is to 2018 overflowing with light for you and yours and for all of us. Live loud and be blessed, friends.

The Convention Kid

Two years ago yesterday, the very first episode of SpeakBeasty debuted, and thus began one of the most remarkable creative endeavors of my life. Since then, we’ve hosted live shows at MISTI-Con and New York Comic Con, we’ve covered the red carpet premiere of the first Fantastic Beasts film, we’ve had one of the show’s four main actors as a guest on the show, and (this one is my favorite) we’ve gotten to meet some of our incredible listeners IRL, and hear their stories about how our show touched their lives or made them smile on a bad day. There have certainly been struggles and conflicts and moments of frustration, but all of them have been outweighed by the staggering amount of good things to come of this show. From professional milestones to profound friendships, it’s been an incredible ride, and we still have so much yet before us with the release of the next four films.

But as SpeaBeasty continues on (our 52nd episode is due out on New Year’s Eve) I’m today starting on a new adventure, and launching my first solo podcast—a new show called The Convention Kid

The Convention Kid was conceived out of a culmination of moments, the first being that my roommate asked me if I’d ever considerered reviewing or talking about the conventions that I go to. I said I wasn’t really sure how I would, but the idea was inception-ed in the back of my brain. The next part, was going to PodCon, which was one of the best weekends I’ve had in a long time. The con was so wonderful and pure and full of infectious creative energy, and all the panels left me with new ideas for new shows I could create. And then, it hit me. A memory from childhood. A sign that maybe this was always where I was meant to end up. Something that goes back to the literal day I was born.

Folks, I was literally born during a convention.

Backstory time—my grandfather was a firefighter chief for years, and so every year in the end of September, my family attended the Pennsylvania State Fireman’s convention. Mind, this was no comic con sort of event like the ones I attend now, but it was still a convention. And so while all my family’s friends were off at the event, my mom was in the hospital having me, racking up a crazy phone bill calling everyone from the convention who wanted to hear how she and brand-new-me were doing. And so each year, when we went to the convention, my mom’s friends would see me and say, “Hey, it’s the convention kid!”.

Apparently, I’ve always been who I was supposed to be.

And so thanks to PodCon, these ideas coalesced into this pilot, called A Rising Tide, which comes from a quote that the hosts of the Spirits podcast said at PodCon that really stuck with me in a big way. The phrase was…

A rising tide raises all ships.

It’s a beautiful phrase, that I think embodies how artists and creators should approach their work. It reminds me that when we uplift others, we uplift ourselves as well, and then together achieve more than any of us could have achieved alone. It made me want to start this new show, so that people like me who love cons and fandom can bond together over our geekiness.

I’m really psyched to start this new journey, and I hope you’ll join me along the way. And if you really like this first episode, definitely consider popping over to the shiny new Patreon page for The Convention Kidwhere for anywhere from $1 to $10 a month, you can support the show so I can keep making more episodes and deliver you an even better show.

So now to the reason we’re here, I’m proud to present Episode 1 of The Convention KidI hope you enjoy the show.

Failures & Dreams

This morning, I’m waking up at the crack of dawn for a moment I’ve waited almost a year for. As the sun rises, and the crisp November air bites with both a chill and a promise, I’ll be off to see Hamilton in New York City.

Today also begins another NaNoWriMo adventure; my twelfth attempt in thirteen years. I’ll be taking the month to punch my rewriting efforts to warp speed, with the intention of completing the new draft of They Are the Last before the month is out. I’ve spent months chipping and hacking away at bits and bobs of a second draft, but now’s crunch time. Do or die. Write or—well, there really is no other option. There is no try, there’s only the words.

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And lastly, today is the day my Inkshares campaign should have ended, had I not cancelled in back in September. On the verge of such excitement and success and fulfilling of dreams, there is also a small sense of sadness that I didn’t accomplish what I’d set out to back in February with my campaign.

So many people, my hero J.K. Rowling included, have spoken on what it means to fail, and how it builds you as a person. Hank Green recently did a video about his own experiences “failing” at a convention that’s adored by hundreds. I “failed” at a campaign to fund a book, but made friends and connections and gained experiences that already have, and will continue to shape me. Some of the things I learned haven’t even fully hit me yet, and won’t until the moment is right. But here’s what I do know.

This year has been immeasurably incredible. I’ve fallen hard—my campaign, my financial instability as I search for a job that’s right for me, my depression and anxiety flaring up and making some days feel impossible to function through. But I’ve also seen and done things this year that I could NEVER have fathomed possible, with two whole months more of that to come with who knows what sort of magic.

I’ve dreamed of things, sometimes things bigger than the world has told me I should dare to. Last year, I said I wanted to see Hamilton. “IMPOSSIBLE,” cried everyone. Yet here I sit here with my ticket on my desk. I wanted to get my book published, but instead managed to be part of an anthology to be published by Nerdist Industries. I dreamed for so, so many things, because in my heart, a dreamer is what I always have been and always shall be. But in the process of bringing these dreams to life, there have been, and will inevitably be, more moments of failure.

I will fail, so I can savor the dreams. I will dream harder, so I know that when I fail, there’s still something to fight for.

“We do not need magic to transform our world. We carry all of the power we need inside ourselves already.” —J.K. Rowling

Happy NaNoWriMo, everyone. Here’s to the failures sure to come, and to the courage to strive for our dreams in the face of them. After all, there’s a million things we haven’t done, but just you wait…

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Freeing the Madwoman

This month is my second whack at Camp NaNoWriMo, which could easily be described as the lite version of National Novel Writing Month. Last April, I ended up in London and Edinburgh on a journey that very much became about not just finding myself, but also finding my story. As it would have it, the story I found was the one that had lay in waiting inside of me the longest. Piper’s story. Alteria’s story.

I’ve written several times about what I’m writing (which sounds a little odd to say) because I for one have always felt that reflection on the past helps get you caught up with the present so you can better make way for the future.

But what this month do I have to reflect on? Not much to be honest in terms of story, as most of my time has been spent revamping the campaign to get said story published on Inkshares. So much of that time in fact, that I’ve somehow managed to get so far behind that I now find myself faced with the task of writing 39,440 words in 5 days.

That’s an average of 7,888 words per day.

Someone who tweeted at me put it best:

Screen shot 2016-04-26 at 12.02.00 PM

Creativity is a funny thing, and begets a process that is full of uncertainty. You can get into a habit of creating – daily writing in the morning just after a cup of coffee with exactly one spoonful of sugar – or, you can be a complete and utter crazy person and try to write 30K+ words when running on no sleep and three red bulls. Each person does it differently. But there is one thing I’ve noticed in my own creative processes, whether they are jammed into a short amount of time, or whether I have six months.

There’s an extent of madness that needs to happen. You have to let go. You have to let Jesus take the wheel sometimes, and be the backseat driver to the story itself. Your characters, if you’ve let them truly come to life, sometimes make rash decisions and go the opposite of where you’ve instructed them, and trying to steer them back to what you think is best can be to the story’s detriment.

So for next few days, I’m handing the reigns over to the deeper, crazier parts of myself to see where the rest of this second draft goes. I didn’t foresee originally that so much rewriting would be necessary to a second go of this novel, but all of the rewrites I’ve done so far have done a great service to the narrative, so at this point, I’m running with it.

To all of you who may be pondering a similar endeavor to get the creative juices flowing, my advice would be to go with it. Run full steam ahead, flailing your fingers across the keyboard or fluttering that pen across your page. You never know what kind of magic can happen when you stop trying to be a writer for a second and just write something. 

Camp NaNo: Day 1

END OF DAY WORD COUNT: 1,343 words

CURRENT MENTAL STATE

Tina Fey & I are playin NO GAMES
Tina Fey & I are playin NO GAMES this month. #CampNaNo2k15

So as I type this, it’s somewhere around 2:30 in the morning and to be honest I am dead tired. But as I venture for the first time into the forest that is #CampNaNoWriMo (A month long novel writing challenge spin-off of the November version of the same name, minus the camp) I realized that in my early years of NaNo noveling, there was one thing that really and genuinely helped to keep me sane amidst the late nights and the probably-illegal-in-several-states amount of caffeine in my blood stream – and that was writing about it.

Writing about writing, eh? I can guess what you’re thinking . . .

BWAM BWWAAAAMMM
BWAM BWWAAAAMMM

It’s not as crazy as it sounds I swear. For me, writing about my experiences has always been something that helps me to organize my thoughts, and make me sit back and reeeally reflect on how it is I feel about something. So as I’m writing (and some days, I write a lot) it can be quite helpful to vent, share, squeal, or just incoherently key smash out my frustrated feels in order to get back to a proper state of mine to write words.

So as I start off on this latest noveling journey, I’m going to be mixing my mediums by – wait for it – blogging AND vlogging every. single. day.

Is this going to be a serious challenge for scatter-brained-always-got-a-new-idea-but-not-enough-time me? Yes the heck it is. But the way I see it, if I was somehow able to get through college with it’s bajillion and one different things to do at once, I can certainly make it through this.

The videos will most likely all be short and sweet, and honestly both vlogs and blog posts here can fluctuate in terms of time for each. Tomorrow I may write a novel of a blog post (geddit?) or a six word story. The videos may be me giving long insightful feedback on how best to approach writing meaningful themes or character development, or they could be me making tired grunty noises at my camera. But the goal is this: SOMETHING every day.

Apparently this post is brought to you by Tina Fey?
Apparently this post is brought to you by Tina Fey?

In addition, I will still be posting other blogs to here, so don’t think that will stop as I focus on this writing! (I know many of you are still excitedly waiting for the remainder of posts from my UK trip, and they’re comin, I promise) Just hope that the experience of recounting my noveling journey is as enjoyable for you as I hope it will be for me. But now, I’m going to stop getting nostalgic over something that hasn’t happened yet and get my self to sleep.

Wish me luck & see you all on Harry Potter’s birthday when I cross the #50K finish line! (AT GEEKY CON NO LESS!!!)

JULY 1st VLOG