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Wow, this place is dusty. I mean, really dusty. Layers of dirt and cobwebs everywhere. It’s not the first time I’ve taken an unintended break from my writing, letting it fall to the side for more than a month, but I think this is the longest gap I’ve had in posts since starting this blog. Previous breaks from writing were at least peppered with good intentions of trying to return, a day here or there where I’d post, and then still fall back into the break.

But it has been almost 2 full months since I posted even an attempt at keeping up with my writing. Which is because I haven’t attempted to keep up with my writing since February 17th. Looking back through my blog, it was even before that that I really started into this slump. It’s interesting to me, at least, to see the progression. It went something like this:

I finished revising my first novel, “Pithea,” to the point of even being able to send it off to a few publishing companies.

I dove right into revising my second novel, the first draft of which had already been written.

I got a new job on the weekends, which largely affected the rest of the week enough to make finding time and energy to write more difficult.

I hit an early roadblock in revising my second novel, and more time and thinking was required to push past it.

My new job started to ask more of me than I expected, including working during the week for a few weeks, thus exhausting me more and making things more strained at home.

I made a conscious decision to put off revising for a few weeks, dropped my daily writing habit, and let myself be lazy in the evenings (my normal writing time) instead of pushing myself to sit at my desk and get some writing work done.

It’s important to note that I am one who in the past has insisted that even people who lead busy lives should be able to find time to write. And I’m not saying now that it’s not true, but I definitely have more perspective on that now. It only took one change to my life and normal routine to throw me off enough to just give up on writing for a while. It took me two months to get to where I am right now, which is starting to feel a strong enough desire to get back to my writing that I’m willing to put aside the lazy evenings for more structured ones again.

It may take a few weeks to be back to where I was for 9 months before this break, writing almost every day. I don’t know when I’ll have time or ideas for another Write Every Day post. It may even take me a few wasted evenings of going back over what I was last doing in my work before I’m able to make any real progress. But the important thing is that I’m finally feeling up to it again.

Something else that bothers me about this break I took is that I fell away from all things writing and blogging. I haven’t read posts by others that I normally keep up with, and I know there’s no way I can find time to go back through 2 months worth of posts (not that I follow all that many blogs regularly).  I’m going to scan through my WP reader and try to hit the highlights, but I don’t want to take so much time reading that it hurts my attempt to start writing again.

I do want to say that I appreciate those of you who contacted me during the last few months to check in or ask if everything was okay. I’m sorry I didn’t respond at the time. I didn’t mean to be rude or anti-social, I just couldn’t get my head into the right space to think about any of this. Hopefully that makes at least some sense.

Thanks for reading my rambling. I hope things get back to normal around here soon. I miss my story world, and even the blogging world I’d created.

Daily Writing Check-in: January 15, 2016

Words/Time:  620 words of writing practice using my Writer Emergency Pack for the first time. With The Triangle published and “Pithea” as far as I can take it for now, my attention turns to “Pursuit of Power.” I’m going to wait at least until Monday to start into revision, partly because my brain could use a rest and partly because I’m not even sure where/how to start. But I didn’t want to let the day go by without writing. I wrote a little bit about the MCs in “Pursuit of Power,” though it was about what would come after that book. It was more enlightening than I thought it would be.

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Daily Writing Check-in: January 14, 2016

Words/Time:  45 minutes working on another submission for “Pithea.”  I finally buckled down and started on my first query letter. It is nearly done; there’s just one small line that I can’t quite decide how to word. I think (fingers crossed) that after this, submitting to more places will be easier, because I will have created the different documents that I can alter as I need. Except the CV. I’m still unsure what to do about that, so if it comes up…I may spend another 3 days researching.

The Triangle releases tomorrow(!), which I’m a lot more nervous about than I thought I would be. The proof copy of the paperback came today too, almost a week sooner than projected. So things are moving really well on that front.

Daily Writing Check-in: January 12, 2016

Words/Time:  1.5 hours working on a synopsis for “Pithea.” I reworked the synopsis that I sent to the first publisher I submitted to. I found ways to trim some unimportant information and add in more of the meat of the story. Hopefully this new version of the synopsis will usable for multiple submissions before I decide to rewrite it again.

The writing group that I’m part of, which started as NaNoWriMo write-ins and then became a weekly group, met tonight. We’ve decided to make ourselves more official and created a name for our group. Then a Facebook group, so we can better communicate and draw more people in. Though we didn’t get much writing done in the time we met, we have ideas for how to make our weekly meetings more helpful and productive, by adding some structure to it. So that was a lot of fun, to be part of the beginning of something like that.

They’ve already asked me to read an excerpt from “Pithea” sometime soon. I have just the spot picked out, which is actually the same section I will be posting on my story blog soon.

Introducing Naolin

Finally posted something new over on my Made in Pithea blog, where I post more about the story and story world. This is an introduction to the secondary main character, Naolin Dark.

Made in Pithea

From the pen ofDrear

Naolin Dark is pretty much my favorite person ever. Maybe that’s not the most objective thing for me to say, since he’s just one of many people who I’ve researched and whose lives I’ve connected. But I do have a reason to be biased—he’s my brother.

Though Naolin and I lost seven years when we were growing up, when we reconnected, you’d never guess we’d been apart. The most fun I’ve ever had has been when I’m spending time with my brother. Training in the domes is definitely better when he’s with me. I don’t enjoy caving as much as he does, but I’ll go with him anytime he asks.

He’s smart, generous, fun to hang out with, and he cares a lot more than he lets on. On the other side, though, he is also one of the rudest people I know. Some…

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Daily Writing Check-in: January 6, 2016

Words/Time:  50 minutes revising “The Triangle.” I finished the draft and worked on the formatting a bit. Now I’m turning my attention to getting the synopsis and sample chapters of “Pithea” sent off to a few publishers to start with. After doing some more research, I started to question the way I’d written the synopsis. However, I don’t see that there would be an easy way to change it, so I’m just going with what I have for now. I don’t want to start stressing myself over whether it’s right or not this early in the process. I have plenty of time for that.

Daily Writing Check-in: January 5, 2016

Words/Time:  2 hours working on “The Triangle,” a story I wrote 4 years ago. It’s a 15,000 word story that is too long to be considered a short story, but too short to be a novella. It’s a novelette, which is apparently a bit of a dead zone when it comes  publishing. Rather than just sitting on it, since it’s a complete story, and one that I really like, I’m planning to self-publish it.

It’s been a while since I last read through it, and I’ve learned a lot from revising “Pithea,” so I’m going through it one time before formatting it for publishing. I got about halfway through it today. Because “The Triangle” is not related to “Pithea” at all, and it’s not novel-length, I’m having a hard time thinking about it as a serious project to share on here. But I’m going to write up a quick synopsis to post soon.

Daily Writing Check-in: January 4, 2016

Words/Time: 45 minutes working on the brief synopsis of “Pithea” that I’ll be sending to a publishing company soon. All of the people I sent it to have responded in some way, a few of them with some minor notes of things to change. I’ve polished up the synopsis, will sit on it for a day or two without looking at it (if I can help it) and then give it one more look later this week. After that, I think it’ll be time to release “Pithea” out into the world (or at least the first few chapters).

I’ve been working on crafting a decent one-sentence synopsis too, with the help of my husband, who was bugged by a lot of the wording I’d used in my first attempt. I suppose it’s normal to feel like one sentence can’t possibly encompass everything the story holds (especially when you’re looking at a 100k-word novel, and especially when a lot of what makes the story different and interesting is some sort of fantastical element that can’t possibly be boiled down). But this is what we came up with today, and we like it:
Two teenagers discover friends and enemies, triumph and tragedy, as they forge their own paths in a world alive with Power and Madness.

Daily Writing Check-in: January 3, 2016

Words/Time: 3:10 hours finishing the next (and hopefully last) draft of “Pithea.” (WOOHOO!!!) The work consisted mostly of reading, making sure everything flows, and making a few small edits along the way. I got through the last 3 chapters after midnight, and then went on to work on the brief synopsis that I need for the first submission I plan to make.

The synopsis was oddly both harder and easier than I expected it to be. As soon as I realized that even a brief listing of all the plot points would be too long for the space I was given (2-3 pages double-spaced, which is basically 1.5 pages of text), I gave up on a traditional synopsis. Because the book is 4 parts, each with its own sub-conflict and resolution, but tied together by a couple of main plot threads, I gave up on the sub-plots completely and just made sure to explain the main plot lines well. Add to that the space taken up by giving a brief introduction to my story world (no technology, magic-like Power substance, and Madness), and that was the bulk of my 2-3 pages.

The reason I said it was also easier than I expected is because, overall, it didn’t take me as long to write it as I thought it would. Now I’m waiting on feedback from the main 5 people who already know the story, so I can make sure it’s as good as it can be. I anticipate my first submission by the end of the week!

A Look Back at 2015

I would have preferred to post this before the end of the year, but the last few weeks have been rough for me. Still, it’s not too late to take a quick look at the writing-related highlights of 2015.

PitheaWith the help of 2 of my sisters, I finished draft 4 of “Pithea,” which was the most intensive revision the book should ever need. We met once a week on Skype to work through any issues, and the book definitely came out stronger on the other end. We even worked on general world questions, especially those related to the fantastical elements in the story world. It was also during these meetings that the book went from a working title (“Adventures in Pithea”) to its official one.

cover1I finished the first draft of a third novel this year, titled “Too Many Irons in the Fire.” It’s not one I expect to go forward with, but it was still a complete novel draft, so it’s an accomplishment to be proud of.

I participated in my 6th year of NaNoWriMo, and won with 100,383 words, passing the 50k word mark on the 12th. I wrote 25k on the first day, but I don’t think I’ll try that again. I went to my first write-ins this year and was even in an article in the local newspaper while attending one of them. It was during NaNo that I finished the aforementioned novel draft, and I also wrote most of a second novel.

I also want to share a few gifts I received for Christmas that are writing-related.

My husband went a little overboard, but it’s hard to complain about the amazing gifts he gave me. The first was a blank journal with the motto I made up last year engraved into the clasp.
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The second gift was a desk clock with pen, and he had my name engraved into the front of it. I teared up when I saw the engraving.
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My mom gave me a t-shirt that my sister had designed. The front has a bunch of characters, towns, and other important words from “Pithea.” It also includes things related to the previously mentioned editing group my sisters and I formed for a year to whip the book into shape. The back of the shirt contains various quotes from that editing group–things one of us said while on Skype, or even during an in-person meeting, that we found particularly funny and decided to make a note of. I cried a little when I opened this present too, especially when I looked at the back.058 062

This final gift is much less emotional than the previous ones, but one that I was really excited to get. My parents-in-law found this deck of cards, which contains all sorts of different writing prompts, in varying detail. It’s called Writer Emergency Pack, and it’s billed as a way to help get unstuck if you’re having trouble with your writing. I’d say it would work for any time you wanted a quick start to a short story or writing practice too though. There are some really thought-provoking cards in there, and while I haven’t sat down and written anything with it yet, when the final work on “Pithea” is done, I’m looking forward to cleansing my palate, if you will, with some writing practice before I move on to my next big project.
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Going forward from here, I have a lot of plans. With the final draft of “Pithea” finished, I’m working on a short synopsis to use for submission. The first draft of the synopsis is done, but I’m asking for opinions from others who’ve read the book, and going to go back over it again myself after a day or two, when I have fresh eyes. Though I have a publishing company in mind to start with, of course I’ll start looking elsewhere to submit the novel too. I don’t plan to look for an agent, and in the end, if I haven’t sold the manuscript by the end of the year, I’ll probably self-publish it.

I also want to finish a quick revision of “The Triangle,” a novelette-length story I wrote several years ago. It’s completely unrelated to the world of “Pithea,” is set in the real world, and is the tale of a man struggling to keep his family together when he feels life is moving too fast and he’s losing control. I have a start on a cover design, so after I finish this revision, I plan to self-publish it. Hopefully that will happen in the next few months.

Then I’ll turn my attention to “Pursuit of Power,” a novel that runs mostly parallel to “Pithea.” I wrote it during NaNo in 2014, but have barely touched it since. It will probably be another long project, which I anticipate taking at least a year to revise. There are a lot of notes for big changes I need to make, along with normal editing that it likely needs.

I have tentative plans to write every day, meaning actual writing. For the last few years, I’ve settled for doing any kind of writing work every day, which 95% of the time means revision. I miss the actual writing, though. I usually feel like I don’t have time to write unrelated, pointless pieces when I need to spend all of my free time revising. However, the truth is, because I dislike revising so much, I don’t spend all my free time revising. Most days that I have time to do any revising, I could easily spend 10-15 minutes writing 250-500 words of writing practice before I start revising.

So my plan is to do just that. I’ll set the goal at 250 words per day and see what that looks like. Most of the time, writing from a prompt or such, it ends where my idea ends anyway, whether that’s 200 words or 750 words. My daily revision goal will still be 20 minutes on top of that. I honestly don’t know how well I’ll keep up with this, and I won’t feel like I’ve failed if it drops off. But it’s a plan for now.

To all of my fellow writers out there–whatever, whenever, and however often you write–what were your highlights for this year? What are your proud or disappointed moments from this year? And what are your plans for the coming year?