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NaNoWriMo 2018, Day 5, Elayna’s Log

Current Word Count: 12,065 words

Current GIF Mood

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It’s that magical time of year again friends, and even though I’m terrified of the election tomorrow and it often feels like the world has gone beyond dumpster fire into full on eldritch dystopian hellscape, I’m trying to find a tiny piece of hope to hold onto, and right now, that hope is NaNoWriMo. That hope is, as it always seems to be for me, Alteria.

You may recall a few months back when I made the whacky decision to try and write a third draft of book one at the same time as a first draft of book three. In retrospect…

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Not the best idea.

It was a great idea in theory, but I burned out on that faster than a cheap t-light candle, and fell into a bit of a hole as I went through some stuff in my personal life. I wasn’t working on the story, book one OR three, and I was to be honest, feeling a bit trapped.

But then I applied for Pitch Wars 2018. I was more hopeful than I’ve been in a long, long time, thinking THIS IS IT. THE THING. IT IS HAPPENING. And then when I got a full manuscript request from one of the writers I was most stoked about pitching, I was bursting. Everything I’ve ever hoped and dreamed was so close I could taste it and friends it tasted like your favorite ice cream mixed with homemade cookies and goddamn rainbows.

When I got another email from that same writer, asking me specifics about the history of the manuscript and other questions of import, it felt like it was just a matter of time. I was drunk on hope, anxious with nerves, and really, really thought that my name was gonna be on that list on October 12th.

And then it wasn’t.

And then I broke a little.

Added to the six rejections I’ve gotten from agents in the last calendar year, that brings me to seven. When I got rejected from ANOTHER mentorship last week, that brought me to eight. I was feeling so kicked down, and scared that maybe I should quit. This manuscript will never be ready. The book will never be finished. I tried staying positive, but internally, the breakdown was more like an implosion.

Leave it to National Novel Writing Month to save the damn day and remind me to have hope in humans, existence, and my story.

The last five days working on this new draft (after an astronomical overhaul of the outline, plot, and even chopping some characters) I feel fan-bloody-tastic. Is this the honeymoon week of NaNo talking? Maybe. But who the hell cares if it means I feel rejuvenated in my writing?

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This draft, while in some ways very scary and new, is honestly one of the best decisions I’ve made creatively in a long time. Its outline came after talks with some closest friends about why I was getting stuck, and looking over rejection feedback, and a lot of it came down to this… there was something about my book that wasn’t personal enough.

If y’all have read my poetry, you know I go in. I lay myself out and say, this is what my soul looks like. But it turns out my fiction writing was full of just a little too much fiction, and not enough of my own voice. I was trying so hard to tell the plot of a sweeping epic trilogy, without telling the story of a girl who learns she’s got light inside of her. And so writing this so far has felt more authentic and honest than any drafts prior.

I’ve included places from my hometown. Woven in my own memories to Piper’s narrative. And if you can believe, I found a way to include poetry into my YA fantasy novel. I described the writing of this version as feeling like, “adding new plot elements, but talking to an old friend”, and so far, its been a magical decision.

I’ve got zero way of knowing right now if this is gonna be the one. I could still be in for a draft four, five, six, and twentyteen. Maybe this one will end up being too personal and I’ll have to go back and do this all over again. God only knows. But right now, I’m letting the delightful fire of a new draft fill me up and keep me warm. I’m enjoying the bejesus out of writing fiction, which I haven’t felt in some time. It’s a nice feeling. Just so nice.

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Though now it’s time to get back to it. I’d love to try and stay as ahead as I can on this word count, so I can make the most of the end of month when I have some vacation days tucked away just for writing.

If you’re participating in NaNo as well, sound off in the comments so we can encourage each other! And as ever, thanks for listening to my ramble about this thing I love doing so dang much.

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What I’m Going To Do

Current NaNoWriMo Word Count: 12,522 words

Current NaNoWriMo Mood (via a GIF):

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Kind of kicking myself for waiting till the 12th day of the month to update y’all on my NaNoWriMo progress, but the timing works I suppose since yesterday was the best writing day I’ve had in a long time, for a lot of different reasons.

For one, it was 11/11, which is my favorite day because my favorite number is 11. Good mojo from the jump on that front. Add that to the fact that we had an extended Write In with some of my friends from the PhillyWrimos group, and you have the recipie for a very good writing day.

And boy howdy was it.

Wrote just over 5,300 words yesterday, definitely my best writing day since the summer, and by a long shot my best one of the month so far. Not only was the quantity of words exciting to reach, but the content of those words was so wonderfully unexpected and important to the core of the story I’m trying to tell. Obviously the writing of it itself is probably swiftly written garbage that will need lots of revising, but the ideas are there. The framework has been laid down, and I feel as if yesterday’s writing is something truly thrilling that I will get to build upon later.

The month as a whole has gone pretty well, even though I did have a several day dry spell where I couldn’t get anything down. (Though to be fair, that was less about not being inspired to write and more about being too busy/tired to actually sit down and try any writing.) The month goes on though, and to be honest, it goes a little too quickly for my liking. I can’t believe we’re almost half way through it.

But even as time flies by, I have to say this experience so far this November has been like 90% blessed and 10% stressed, because there is a indescribable thrill that comes with first drafting for me. Its like the one Terry Pratchett quote, “The first draft is you telling yourself the story.” That has largely been how I’ve felt. Its like I’m an archaeologist of my own subconscious, digging around in there and uncovering characters and plot points and moments of meaning. My love for the exploratory nature of first drafts knows no bounds in this or any universe.

I know that the writing process is made of many hills and valleys, and so I don’t expect things with this draft to stay lovely forever. I know I’m going to go through times of writers block, plenty of low points, and if I haven’t tried to defenestrate the manuscript at least a half dozen times before its done, I’m doing something wrong. But every part of the process, both the good and the bad, is what makes me love it. For every murky moment of self doubt, there’s a time for clarity and confidence. When I one day hold the finished thing in my hands, it’ll be worth every second of it, because I didn’t give up on it, and I made a thing that didn’t exist in the universe before. Even in the darkest of times, the little spark of hope inside me holds onto that thought, and it is what keeps me writing. No matter how many times I think I’m going to quit, I just ask myself the one question that’s been my guiding light this year… WWWWD? (What Would Wonder Woman Do?)

Not give up, that’s for damn sure.

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Back to the words. I’ll check in again soon.

 

Lots of Magical

The last two months have gone by in a big, messy, life-altering blur, and I feel remiss to have not written in so long. But had to get in at least one post before the month is out, and with everything that’s been going on, I think it was high time for an update on my life and my book.

Let’s start with life.

For those who don’t know, I’ve spent three long years working a job that, well, to be candid but also respectful, was not very great. Lots of management changes and stressful days doing something that wasn’t very creative or along the lines of what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Some days, it made my depression and anxiety unmanageable, and I spent much of that time so monetarily broke and feeling emotionally broken that I honestly don’t know how I made it. But if my heroes who came before me taught me anything, its that strength comes from struggle, and I can say with conviction, while I might not be unbreakable, I am certainly a much stronger human than I was back then for having gone through it all.

But in good news, playing the long game paid off, because as of May, I finally started the job I’d been wanting and pitching during that whole time I was here. Its been a lot to take on, with its own new challenges and responsibilities, but I can honestly say that it has been a very long time since I worked a job I enjoyed doing this much. 90% of my job relates to social media, which I love contributing to. And to make things even better, I’ll be moving soon, into a new place with one of my best friends, which will start a whole new chapter for me. It’s terrifying, but also pretty damn exciting.

Then there’s been IndiePen Ink.

I haven’t had much chance here yet to talk about the website for writers that my dear friends and I launched back in February, but after a few months of getting our feet wet, we’re soon rolling out some really big and exciting things that has me more jazzed than I can describe. It feels like we’re at the beginning of something really beautiful, and after spending the most wonderful week in recent memory with the two ladies I co-founded this site with, I can genuinely say that I believe we have something really special we’re creating here, and that’s just magical.

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The savvy, snarky, sassy founders of IndiePen Ink. (Aka, mah girls.)

Speaking of magical things, SpeakBeasty just turned 40! Well, sorta…

We just recorded our 40th episode… fortieth. When I think about where we are and where we started, goodness, it gives me so many emotions. Our show certainly hasn’t been without its bumps in the road, but we’re getting to make something that’s just so much fun to create, and the more comments we get like “thanks for helping me power through this week“, the more full my heart is. It’s living out a childhood dream for me to get to contribute to this show. Being a professional fangirl is, and always shall be, #goals.

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Recording the 40th. Can’t believe it.

And for one more magical thing, how about an update on my book?

As you might know if you’ve been following along on this journey, I spent pretty much all of 2016 reworking and reworking the first parts of the book, all while trying to run that campaign on Inkshares. After that crashed and burned, I took it hard. I didn’t finish NaNoWriMo, a bigoted orange got elected president, and I ended last year/started this year with next to no positive creative energy. March 1st of this year though, I finally decided to take all those reworkings and incomplete chapters and set them on a shelf to start a fresh new draft, which came with a shiny 22 chapter outline, which built on the Frankenstein version from last year.

Since then, I’ve been trying to get through this second full draft, and making what has felt like slow, but is actually pretty steady, progress. As of this writing, I’m through 13 chapters, and have 9 left to go. And with it officially being Camp NaNoWriMo again, I’m reeeally looking to finally get this draft finished.

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Me at the cafe earlier today, revising that Ch 7 bit & intermittently working on Ch 14.

This will be my third July Camp in a row in which I’ll be working on this book, which feels very strange. The version I did in 2015 got scrapped. The version for 2016 was more me beating the same chapter to death without making much progress. But this year, I go into July with 13 (sorta?) solid chapters, and have a strict trajectory of what needs to happen form now through to the end of the book. I’m more prepared than either of my previous July Camp attempts, so really what I need this coming month is just going to be lots and lots of focus. If my estimates are correct, there’s about 30,000 words to go before I get to finish the last chapter and slap that exciting ‘To Be Continuued…’ on the end of this book. (I’d especially like this to happen so that this November, I can take a wild, crazy, pantser-style stab at the first draft of Book 2 in The Alterian Trilogy, but let me not get ahead of myself…)

This road has been long and weird and winding, but even on its worst days, I’m still so happy to be doing it. I spent today having several writing friends look over some pages I’m using for a writing residency I’m applying to, and I was mortified to share it with them, because the scene I had them looking over was one of *the most* important scenes in the book. (Your only hint is that its in Chapter 7.) And while the mark-ups and edits were many, the consensus among them was pretty similar: still needs work, but you’ve got something here. Can a writer really ask for more?

So to bed I go. Want to be up early so I can get in some words before work. Because I’m resolved friends: this draft is getting done this month. No matter what, I’m making it happen. I think it is finally time.

See you on the other side of Camp!

 

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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Editing So Far

A little over four months ago, in my post So It Begins, I wrote about launching into the brave new world that would be editing the first draft of They Are the LastI can say now with much certainty from the experiences thus far: editing is weird.

I thought then it would largely consist of combing through what I’d already done and just tweaking things and chopping bits out. What I’ve actually found is that I’ve had to rip the poor thing to shreds, tossing the bulk of it to the wind only to salvage the few gems that lay hidden in a good line of dialogue or a piece of important structure. At that time, I also had no idea I’d be discovering Inkshares. While I’ll admit that at times that has diverted my attention from the draft so I can focus on campaigning, Inkshares has also been a great service to the draft by way of providing me with the support of other writers who’ve given me some of the most insightful and helpful feedback I’ve thus far received.

Really, there’s been less editing than I expected and more just all out rewriting. Some days I get little glimpses of that special NaNo creativity where I just type like a maniac until the story’s been freed from me, but much of the process now is careful writing. It’s taking the ideas I’ve spewed out before and making them more coherent and beautiful. It really is like the refining of a diamond. I know that the story I’m trying to tell is this lovely thing buried somewhere in there, but I’ve got to cut and polish and cut and polish all of the roughness away to get there. It’s not anywhere near as easy or freeing as the initial draft, but I’ll tell you what, it’s making me a much stronger writer, and for that I’m grateful.

All of this is really coming out right now I guess because just this week, I made a pretty big decision regarding my editing process. The second draft I’d been working on since January 3rd? Baby is getting put in the corner and I’m starting it over.

During April’s Camp NaNoWriMo, I managed to make it to 35,000 words on that draft, but much of it didn’t get to incorporate the many aspects of feedback I’ve been receiving as of late. I’ve also in an exciting turn of events, begun reading again. I finished the AMAZING novel Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, and am about half way through reading Gary Whitta’s book Abomination (an Inkshares book itself!) and just seeing other people’s finished novels has me realizing that my story has a long way to go, but it needs a new start.

So I’m scrapping what I’ve done and starting anew. This will be the second time in the last year that I’ve done that, but if we’re looking at my track record, this bodes well. I spent July to October of last year getting done a 44,000 word draft of They Are the Last which on October 31st, I decided to scrap in favor of starting the first draft over for NaNoWriMo proper. The draft I started the next day went on to be the first completed draft of the book. I’m taking this new beginning as a good sign for this rewrite draft that I’m about to hurl myself into.

There’s no possible way I could have known when I started revisions on January 3rd that before the year was half way through, I’d be in the throes of trying to get the book published. I mean seriously: the book currently has 133 pre-orders. Remarkable. Given that, God only knows where I’ll be come five months from now when the campaign for the book concludes. While I dream that by that day, I’ll have reached the pre-order goal to be published, I’ve no way of knowing which way the wind will blow. One can only hope that if nothing else, my draft will be further along and I’ll be ever the little bit wiser for it.


PS,

Speaking of the book, if you happen to see this post prior to the evening of Monday May 23rd, I’m running my first promotional contest! You can visit the official They Are the Last website for more details, but the prize is NAMING A CHARACTER IN THE BOOK! Plus every person who enters will receive a handmade bookmark. Click the image below to visit the official website, or click here to directly visit the CONTEST page!

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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:

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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. 

Trusting the Path

If all else fails in the universe, there are at least two things of which I am always certain.

The first, is that Book Ron and Book Ginny will always be better than their film counterparts. (Even though I love Rupert & Bonnie. They couldn’t help bad character development in the scripts, poor dears.)

The second, and what this post is actually about, is that nothing in this universe gets me more excited or filled with hope than NaNoWriMo.

Growing up, NaNoWriMo was always a frantic rush to 50K during November. It came when the air was cooling, the leaves were crisping, and the hot chocolate cravings were calling. But as with most things that we do for many, many years, NaNoWriMo has changed, and last year was the first time I decided to increase my yearly amount of noveling shenaniganry by participating in my first two Camp NaNos.

The idea behind Camp NaNoWriMo is simple. You get the same creative rush, but you use it towards a word goal you choose for yourself, or you can use the month to edit. It’s more loose in its creative restraints, but no less thrilling than November, when you get to share in the energy of lots of people all creating at once.

My very first Camp NaNo attempt was supposed to be last April, but due to uncertainties about the story I was trying to do at the time, and a certain trip that changed my life, I didn’t get past a few thousand words. It didn’t feel like a real crack at it to me. It did, however, end up being the month that set me on the path back to Alteria. That call made in a small cafe in Edinburgh ended up informing the rest of my year, as I would come to spend July’s Camp NaNo, and November’s official NaNoWriMo 2015, working on versions of They Are The Last.

Funny how you can start off thinking you know precisely where you’re going, and life can be like NOPE, RIGHT THIS WAY PLEASE. IN THE EXACT OPPOSITE DIRECTION OF WHERE YOU PLANNED. Kind of like a story, if you ask me.

All that being said, the plan I’m attempting to carry out will involve me writing 50K this April, something I’ve never achieved outside of November. While time is running short, I’ve actually yet to decide if the 50K I write will be towards my second draft, or if it will be 50,000 words worth of backstory short stories. We’ll see what happens. Regardless of which path I choose, I’m sure I’ll end up right in the place I’m supposed to be.

In the meantime, I’ll be over here, being alarming levels of excited by the fact that I have no idea where that place will be.

12 Years in Alteria

Get your flux capacitor and TARDIS ready, everyone. For today’s post, we’re going back in time. To when, you ask?

February 9th, 2004 at 10:13am. Room 107 of East Norriton Middle School.

I was 13, sitting in class with a teacher I didn’t much like for a subject I was rubbish at. The few days prior to that, I’d made the decision that I wanted to write a story. Heavily influenced by the magic of Harry Potter and the space and time travel in The Pendragon Adventures – a YA series you should absolutely look up if you’re unfamiliar – I knew that I wanted the story I’d be writing to be some combination of the those elements. Science-y magic, if you will.

I came up with a character to lead this universe, Piper Anderson, who was so named because Piper was my favorite girls name, and Anderson was my 7th grade English teacher’s name. Next, I realized Piper needed a universe to belong in – a world. Sitting in that math class, I tried to come up with a name. Something original. But with nothing around me but other disinterested classmates and a teacher droning on, there wasn’t much for inspiration. So I worked with what I had . . . my math worksheet.

I started using different words from the instructions on the page, combining them in scribbles at the bottom of a piece of paper that I have sadly since lost. I rearranged words and letters, until at last, I jotted down a word that just worked. It clicked.

My world would be called Alteria.

And so I opened my notebook to a blank page – a page I still have – and jotted down the date, time, place, and just above it a phrase. Alteria: The Adventure Begins. Below that, a chapter title. And below that? A horribly cheesy first line that only 13 year old me could have come up with.

Piper Anderon looked like your typical 17 year old girl. But she wasn’t.

Yes, in the first line of my first book, I spelled my own character’s name wrong. DERP.

The rest of that year was spent coming up with alien races, doodling notes, and handwriting pages upon pages of story. That November I decided to write a prequel to this first Alteria story, and the result was very first NaNoWriMo novel called The Waters of Nen. As anyone who’s read this blog before knows, NaNoWriMo is the other thing I’ve been spending the last 12 years doing.

The ensuing years after 2004 saw much of my free time being consumed by coming up with grand ideas, some of which stayed, and some of which went back into the communal creative consciousness for someone else to grab. But even when I came up with something bad, I’d just scrap it and keep going. Most people are still surprised when I tell them the story is as old as it is, usually asking things like, why didn’t you get distracted and just stop writing? I can without a doubt say one of the biggest reasons was an incredibly kind and endlessly encouraging middle school librarian who told me to keep at it. (Spoiler: When I get to write a dedication to this book one day – you can bet she’ll be in there.)

High school saw me getting into other projects, trying new things, and you know, learning how to be a person. Then in college, I was so caught up in the incredibly exciting task of learning to be a filmmaker. While those years were amazing and shaped me so much as a storyteller and creator, Alteria spent much of that time on a shelf, waiting until I was ready to tell the story as it deserved to be told.

Flash ahead to 2015. At the conclusion of one creative project, I found myself wanting to take up the mantle of another one. I debated relentlessly in my head as to which story I should work on, and carried the dilema with me when I went to London and Edinburgh in April for my own adventure. I sat in the very cafe where JKR wrote her much of Harry Potter, thinking about Piper and Alteria, and wondering: is it their time? Am I finally ready? As I walked home that night, mulling it all over, I stopped by a shop, looking for a souvenir for the friend who helped me get there. In that store, I saw this . . .

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I took the hint. I went back to Alteria.

I spent July to October writing the first 44K words, then November and December I began a new draft which I completed with less than an hour to spare of New Year’s Eve. I rang in 2016 standing on a street corner waiting to catch the bus to my friends party, because I HAD TO finish my book first. Watching fireworks explode over the city skyline, happy drunken cheers all around, and with Hamilton the Musical‘s song My Shot blaring in my ears, I gotta say – that was one of the most surreal and profound moments of my life.

Which brings me to 2016. A new year, new beginnings, and a new chapter in the life of my story. And now – a new challenge.

This time last week, I was working on revising my draft, with no idea when I’d ever be published, or hell, even how I’d be published. Would I self-pub? Find an agent? I was preparing myself for all possible avenues I could think of. But as I’ve discovered is the pattern in my life, God usually tends to answer my prayers in the one way I that I could have never expected or prepared for.

Along came Inkshares. My friend – bless her heart – sent me a link to a contest called The Nerdist Space Opera Contest, run by the magnificently wonderful Inkshares website. The rules? Get my book to be one of the most pre-ordered books by March 15th, and I get published. That’s it. I’d be a real live published author, and one of the top 3 items of my bucket list would get to be checked off when I’m only 25. Talk about blessed.

So here I sit. My story turns 12 today. 12 years of my life spent with my head lost across the stars in a world I love, which no one ever used to know existed, until now. Now, Piper’s story isn’t just mine. It can be yours too. I imagine this must be what a parent feels like seeing their kid off to school: thrilling, exciting, nerve-wracking, happy, overwhelming, etc.

I don’t know what’s going to happen with this contest or my story will find itself in the winners circle, because to be honest, SO MANY OF THESE BOOKS SOUND SO GOOD. But the great thing about Inkshares is, even if I don’t win the contest, I still have until May 4th to sell 750 pre-orders, and if I do that, my book will finally be on your shelves.

Suppose it is fitting that a post with the words 12 Years in the title should take a while, but if you’re still reading, thanks for sticking with me. Not just in this blog post, but in life. On this crazy journey I’m on to live passionately and fiercely pursue my dreams. I hope that if you’ve gotten this far, you’ll take some time to check out this story that’s meant all the worlds to me. You can read Chapter One here.

If you’ve been there at any time in any way for these past 12 years, I thank you. You’ve become part of the story between the lines inherently by being in my life. As for the rest of you, Alteria will be waiting.

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Update: As of September 14th, 2016, Elayna cancelled the funding campaign for They Are the LastRead her official announcement here. Readers can still visit theyarethelast.com to learn more about the story.

So It Begins

Today marks the start of a new part of my journey, one I’ve never embarked upon before, but which is sure to be about as exciting as it is nauseating. Today, I set down to start editing my novel.

As I sit with notecards scattered about me, about to delve right back into the story I’ll be spending the next goodness knows how many months combing through, I can’t help but feel the same sense of thrill I felt for the first time last year. It’s not a feeling many might associate with an activity such as sitting down in front of a computer, going through a word document, but the feeling still stands:

This is the same kind of feeling I got the first time I was on a plane that was about to take off. Weird maybe, but follow me on this one . . .

Last year, when I first hopped on a plane, ready to go to England, it was something I’d never experienced before, but which I had heard about from others numerous times. Some had bad experiences, others had great ones. Some felt the need to vomit, while others might have felt exhilaration. That very much captures what I’m getting at.

I’ve had so many supportive and amazing people reach out to me these last few days, saying things like Congratulations on your novel! You finished it! Awesome! Can I read it? And while all of this is LOVELY to hear, the idea that finishing draft one means this novel is done, could not be farther from the truth.

Finishing draft one was merely the end of the beginning.

Now the real task begins.

Am I scared of what’s to come? Sure. A little. That’s how I know it’s going to be exciting. In a conversation with a close friend I had earlier today, I described that I feel much like Bilbo in that scene in the first Hobbit movie, when he’s running down a road through Hobbiton, waving that piece of paper and screaming to someone, “I’M GOING ON AN ADVENTURE!!”

Ya know? This one. (Gosh I love this gif…)

That’s really what I’m doing. Telling the adventure that is my novel is an entirely separate adventure that I must embark on. The road will be long and hard (and hopefully I run into at LEAST one dragon…) but it’s a road that I know will change me and make me a better person at the end. And hopefully, dear reader, the end of this journey will allow me to finally put this book I’m writing into your hands.

*downs last of my coffee* Let’s do this.

NaNoWrapUp 2.0

Well, it’s been six days since the literary mayhem of NaNoWriMo concluded, and I’m coming here to say that I’m a little frustrated with myself, because since that day, I’ve not written a word.

Some may say, but you worked so hard during November! You needed a break! It’s okay. Well yeah, to some extent, I can understand that argument. But if there’s one thing that NaNoWriMo reminds us of, is that momentum is important. And right now, I feel as though I’ve shot myself in the foot a little by slowing down and not getting anything done this past week.

That changes today.

November really was the most magical month for my writing. I’ve never felt so incredibly inspired and motivated to keep at it, and I feel that was largely due to the rewarding aspect of taking on both the roles of a Municipal Liaison and a NaNoWordSprints leader. Both positions allowed me to be the source of encouragement for others, and when you’re constantly reminding others of how remarkable they are, how great their word counts were (no matter their size) or that they are a rockstar for simply giving their all to try – it becomes a feedback loop. Others being inspired by me reminded me that I have it in me to inspire myself, and be inspired by those who are being inspired by me and JUST GOSH THERE’S SO MUCH INSPIRATION I COULD CRY.

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Another enormous contributing factor to me finishing this year would be the story I’m working on. As I’ve detailed in past posts, the novel I am working on right now is one that’s been in my head for eleven years, so it basically is the epitome of an idea feeling like my baby. I came up with it at age 13 when I barely knew what I was doing and the story has grown with me, always being in the back corners of my mind as I learned how to tell stories in film school, and now it’s finally coming to the forefront. This month’s NaNo is officially THE LONGEST single piece I’ve ever written, at 62,000 words . . . and I’ve still got a bit less than half way to go. It’s so exciting and exhilarating to see this story at last coming to fruition, and to have it happen in a month in which so many other good things were happening was just icing on the NaNoWriMo 2k15 cake.

What lies ahead is territory that is completely unknown and uncharted. When I finish, I will begin the process of rewriting and editing and rehashing with the hopes to get a draft of it into the hands of an agent sometime within the next year. As I said, momentum is important, and I do not want to lose the tremendous amount of it I’ve built up over the last year, in particular, the last six months.

If you were to put together the draft I did from July to October (my Camp NaNoWriMo draft) which was 44K and my new 62K one I wrote in the last month for NaNoWriMo proper, that’s over 100,000 words in the last six months.

100,000 words?!? o_O
100,000 words?!? o_O

That’s more than I’ve written probably in the last several years combined, so needless to say, I am pretty proud of that accomplishment. But while it is certainly a majestic milestone, it is not the end. There’s a long, long road ahead, and if I want to see through to the end of it, I cannot stop now.

taylor-swift-shake-it-off-cant-stop-wont-stop-moving

So here’s to the rest of the road, and to getting to the end of this draft before the clock strikes 2016. I’ve got 26 days to do it. Let’s freaking go . . .