Monthly Archives: December 2012

Happy New (Writing) Year!

Well, 2012 is almost over, and we’re all alive and un-apocalypsed, so woot!

I know a lot of people do the whole ‘new years resolution’ thing, but I’ve got several. It’s really more of a to-do list than anything, but still. New year, new goals, maybe even a new life!

I’ve said it in various places, but I’ll reiterate just for the sake of mashing it into my brain. (I have this notion if I repeat it to myself a million times, it’ll happen… something about psychology, but yeah.)

I want to write for a living. I want to be a ‘stay-at-home’ writer. I want my stuff to support me, so I can write full time. Mostly, I just want to share my stories with people who might like them. I want people to know my characters as intimately as I do, and I’ve always longed for that moment when someone I don’t know gushes about something I’ve written. That’ll be a cool moment.

So! My goal this year is to, at the absolute minimum, get book #1 of the Redhaven series out. I have about 80 berjillion ideas for other books, but I’m going to focus on this one first. It appears, from very early planning, that the Redhaven series will be around 7 to 8 books. Maybe 9 including the finale. I dunno. Somewhere there abouts.

Now, getting one book out a year is uncomfortable for me. Ideally, I’d like somewhere in the neighborhood of 5-6. (Which, if I sat here every waking spare moment, I could probably get the whole series out in a year, but then my fiance would be a stranger and my kitty-children wouldnt know me anymore, lol.) So, baring total soul-consumption-paced writing, I’m shooting for 4. 3 months a book seems… just about right. That way, the whole series can be done in around 2 years, and hopefully by THEN I’ll have enough of a people-base to do some other projects.

For the moment I’m staying focused on #1 though. Baby steps, Tori, baby steps.

The second thing on my list is to start an excercise/diet routine, but I make that one every year, and it only kinda works. Maybe I’m content with my fluff. This is going to be a year of kicking myself in the butt and making myself do stuff, so hopefully my determination to write will bleed over into my determination of un-fluff myself.

 

We’ll see! Happy New Year!

 

(I am going to get so drunk tonight. I love you guys.)

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This is how I felt about writing about a month ago

Holy crap this is scary.

My brain is warm with the possibilities of a writing career. Though, the more I read and research, the more I realize this is going to be fucking hard as fuck. Like, seriously. You talk about diamonds being the toughest substance on earth? Take this herculean task, and condense it and your diamonds are now buttery cheese. That somehow made sense, I think. Either way, this is gonna be… rough.

I think it’ll all come down to whether or not the actual content of my book is good (whether it’s a good story, keeps you involved, has interesting plot points, etc. I’m not quite sure my story is that good right now, but with a little chiseling, I think it might be). I also think another HUGE (read: gigantanormously gargantuatanic) part of it is being a prolific writer. I’m talking about like, writing all the time, forever, in every spare second of your life, kind of prolific writer. I can’t even put into words how to convey this.

I just need to write.

And here I thought I was doing pretty good. 14 chapters (about half of the book) in under a month. Apparently I need 14 chapters in 14 days. And even that’s slow. Maybe I’ll just write up for the first 3 books before release, and build up a cushion while I write the other ones.

I know my blog is full of “omg dis writing ting is so scurry” and “oh what do?” and “amigaw  never gonna give it up, never gonna let me down, never gonna run around, and not wriiiite yooooou”, but seriously! I don’t know whether to be afraid or motivated. I’m a little of both. It’s kind of like wanting to climb a mountain, but crapping yourself out of fear on the way up. (Too much? Sorry ’bout that.)

Maybe I’m sleep deprived, and this is where the random ranmble is coming from.

Either way, I need to get serious(er) about this writing thing. I was serious before, but the amount of seriousness that I went from before I started, to when I actually started is the amount of seriousness I need to get serious again. Seriously. (If you didn’t understand that, don’t worry, I didn’t understand most of if either, and I wrote it.)

In short: Omg, need to write more.

3 Things I Learned From My Writing Field Trip

So, I recently made a trip to Barnes & Noble’s, with the idea for ‘research’ in mind. I read somewhere that you should study and read as much as you can of your chosen genre, to get an idea / sense of the trends in your area of writing, and your target audience. Basically, I wanted to feel out my market (with my market being cautiously aimed in the urban fantasy / teen fantasy / YA. I was mostly interested in what the structure for book blurbs were like, as I’d had some trouble constructing my own a few days ago. (The wreckage of said attempt is viewable on my ‘Redhaven Saga’ page.)

Anyway, I learned some stuff, and I thought I would share. Perhaps some of you have noticed the same things? Something contradictory?

3 Things I Learned From My Writing Field Trip

1. It’s all about the same girl – And it’s always a girl courted by some mysterious boy (or boys). This is kind of a no brainer, but it still struck me as noticeable, because every cover had a pretty girl on it and  thesynopsis started almost the same. Girl X does stuff, and gets noticed by Boy X, and crazy romance-y stuff happens. I kind of wanted to read a book where the girl was in charge, but the whole ‘being pursued’ thing was still pretty hot. My book will probably have a bit of this same flavor, romance-wise, but it still seems very… cookie-cutter from the selection I saw. Maybe it’s time to change the formula.

2.  But it’s not all about the vampires anymore – This relieves me. Apparently mermaids are on the rise, from what I can tell. Other supernatural races, besides vampires, are growing too. There’s the shifter sub genre (which isn’t just wolves anymore), and even stuff like Valkyries and Witches are up and coming. This makes me feel better. Vampires are still king right now, but it’s looking less and less so.

This really does it no justice at all – the inside of it is intricate and beautiful and glossy.

3. And that thing about cover design is actually true – I’ve read that cover design is absolutely HUGE. Probably the next important thing under the content of your book itself. And this is absolutely true. As a reader and  a shopper, I can tell you that the books I picked up and read were the ones with the gorgeous covers, and it’s not even completely just the look of the cover, its the feel too. Some of them have beleveled titles, or intricate gold filigree, or are just detailed inside and out. The cover of the book Blessed by Tanya Hurley is probably the single most beautiful physical cover I’ve ever seen. The girl on the front isn’t some average looking brunette with smuldering eyes – she’s pale, and gaunt and almost so beautiful, she’s creepy. The inside of the jacket is even intricate and features a kind of alternate cover face. It was freaking awesome. I almost bought the book for the cover alone. (I still might). My point is, you kinda really do judge a book by it’s cover. Its an enormously important factor, and I’ve tested the notion.

I also happened to find a signed copy of Amanda Hocking’s Wake, which admittedly made me squee a little. Plus, the cover was holographic and pretty. I hope someday I can pick up my own book like that. One day, someday… Motivation!

Writing and the Holidays

“Mom invited us to dinner later. Oh! And she wants to know if we want to go look at Christmas lights after. Also, we’re supposed to be at Dad’s place tomorrow at three. We should probably finish wrapping presents at some point too. You still need to bake those cookies, right? I wonder if we can get some last minute shopping done before the stores close… I wonder what kind of presents you’re supposed to get a cat. Hmmm….”

_____

Yeah. Holidays are busy, and being busy with holidays means you’re probably NOT busy writing. Which is a bummer.

On the other hand, family and food is good too, and hey! You might get something writing related for Christmas. It’s good to take a break every now and then, and you can always squeeze in a few words here and there. For a lot of writers, myself included, getting out a measly 400 words during the holiday days is an accomplishment.

Luckily, I have a few spare hours here and there, which is a lot more than some. As I sit here writing this, my hair is wrapped in a towel from my shower, and as soon as I’m finished writing this, I’m going to work on busting out a chapter before family dinner stuff tonight. I think I can do it. If I don’t, no pressure – there’ll be time.

To step away from the writer talk, what are ya’ll doing for the holidays? I’ve got two separate Christmases lined up. (Whats the plural of Christmas? Is that even a thing?) Is there anything you’re hoping to get? Someone you want to see?

I’ve been very badly wanting a Kindle Fire lately, but thats expensive, so I’m going to have to save up for that one. But then I’ll get it a nice pretty cover, and I can share it with Kev, so he doesn’t have to lug around a big heavy book every time he wants to read. Other than that, I’ll just be happy to hang out with people and eat stuff. Plus, getting to see people open presents you’ve gotten them is fun. :D

Kind of looking forward to Bailey’s too. Mmmm, delicious alcoholic creaminess…. Aah.

So, that’s my ramble for today. May be a bit absent for a while, but I’ll be back!

Happy Holidays!

6 Things I’ve Learned as a New Writer

At the beginning….

 

I haven’t written in large volume, consistently, for a very long time. I’m just starting out, actually. I’m writing my very first novel. But like with some new adventures, there are things you learn right off the bat; things that become glaringly obvious in the first few steps. Don’t stick your arm out of the shark cage. Fasten your seat belt on a roller coaster. (Seriously). Make sure the car is in reverse if you want to go in reverse. (Don’t ask.)

I’ve turned a new chapter in my life, and I’m pursuing a writing career. Whether I make it or not is still up in the hair, but with a lot of hard work, I think I’ll get there. I’ve only been at this for a short while, but I’ve already learned some key things.

 

Take it with a grain of salt, as this is just my personal experience, but here’s 6 things I’ve learned as a new writer:

 

  1. Outlines change. – Even if you don’t outline, things change. Even if your plot is ironed out in your head, it’ll probably still change. That cool plot you thought you had? It will totally shift and change and become practically unrecognizable toward the end. New ideas will sprout as you write, and it’s okay to change stuff. Keep a record, and/or write down your ideas. Play mix and match. Find out what you like and what you don’t. Everything can be changed. (Well, most things can be changed… the important stuff kinda has to stick.) I can’t tell you how many times I’ve changed chapter 7. If you’ve spoken with me in the last week or so, you know how much I hate chapter 7.
  2. Listen to your characters – They, at some point, WILL speak to you. It may sound a little creepy, but they will – you’re basically playing god with people you’ve created. You know their inner most thoughts and motivations, and you hold their destiny in your hands. Listen to them! If someone or something seems off, re-write it. Get in their heads, and theirs shoes, and let them write themselves. Do some character exploration if you have to.
  3. There will be days you’ll hate writing – I call these ‘burn out days’. It’s okay to take a break once in a while, but be careful that a break doesn’t become infinite. Clear your mind if you’re getting frustrated, but always come back and write some more. Some days that’ll be really hard. Some days it won’t. Keep going, no matter what.
  4. If you’re doing this as a potential career, treat it as such – Set a schedule; you have no idea how much they’ve helped me. Go ‘to work’ at no later than x time, and schedule breaks and a lunch. Decide when you want to be done for the day. If you don’t get a whole day off very often, give yourself ‘split shifts’. Basically, carve out a set time to write, and stick to it. If you don’t ‘show up for work’, your book will ‘fire you’. For me, I usually get up sometime between when my fiance leaves for work (6:30am) and when it’s too late for me and I feel guilty about sleeping in (9am). It’s not a concrete wake up time, but I ‘get into work’ no later than 9:30 no matter what. I write until noon, and then break for lunch. Then I write until 4pm when my fiance comes home. Sometimes I write into the evening, but I like to spend time with my loved ones, so I don’t feel quite that guilty. Just do whatever works best for you, but again, keep going, no matter what.
  5. Having a writing buddy is INVALUABLE – This is just my opinion, and it may not work for everyone, but I absolutely ADORE having someone to pick at ideas with. My best friend Maegan is also writing her book, and we spend more time than we probably should on Skype, tossing ideas back and forth, and helping each other when we get stuck. My fiance Kevin is also a valuable ally as I tackle the monster named ‘Novelzilla’. He’s my muse. Find your muse! Find someone who’s creative brain inspires you. Check out the author’s section of Kindleboards. Maybe a professor? If you’re stuck on something pitch some ideas to them as a reader; see how they react. One or two extra brains are nifty.
  6. Never, EVER even THINK about giving up – At some point, and I can attest to this, you’ll have the ‘big moment of self doubt’. You might have more than one. You’re entire process might be riddled with them. You might even go straight to publishing with one. These moments of doubt are basically just moments when you beat yourself up. You think your writing isn’t good enough, or your idea is stupid and no one would ever want to read it. You think, well, if I suck so bad, maybe I should just quit. DON’T. DON’T. NO. STOP IT. DON’T MAKE ME SMACK YOU. If you love writing, even on the worst days, and it’s all you want to do, persue that bitch! Write like there’s no tomorrow! Write like you mean it! Write because it’s inside you and you want to get it out! Don’t stop writing, if it’s something you genuinely enjoy. You have the next big thing in there somewhere. You won’t know until you try.

 

This might change in the future. I’m still at the beginning of things. I’m still new! This is just what I’ve taken away from my experiences so far. This is whats working for me. I’m not claiming to have all the answers and suddenly be some writing guru, but this is just what I know so far.

 

Take with a grain of salt. Hopefully, that grain of salt is on a margarita glass sitting on a coaster next to your laptop as you clickity clack away on your book. That’s where mine was, anyway.

Vlog #4

 

Today’s topic is the monster that is self-doubt. Sometimes it’s hard to know if you’re cut out for your target industry. Sometimes it’s intimidating.

 

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Figment (First 3 undedited chapters) http://figment.com/books/489229-Redhaven

Blog: authorvictoriabarrow.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ToriBarrow

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/RedhavenSaga

Pinterest Inspiration Board: http://pinterest.com/honeyshadow/redhaven/

Should you feel guilty about taking a break?

Is it called ‘just being lazy’? Did I just crap-out for the day?

I started off today with the intention that I would get some serious writing done, since it’s my first day off in like, a week. So why not take advantage of that time, eh? I did actually finish Chapter 10, so thats exciting. And then I kind of…never went back to it.

I played some GW2, played some Minecraft, and then sort of dilly-dallied. I missed my games! Maybe it’s a good thing to give the old noggin’ a break once in a while. Plus, you know, Saints Row 3 is fun too.

On the other hand, I’m afraid ‘a break’ will somehow lead to ‘totally slacking off quittersville’ but I think thats the old me. The new, writerly me is excited to dive back into some chapters. So, all in all, I think the only real damage is that I didn’t spend that time writting chapter 11.

Incase you couldn’t tell, this is more one of those ‘talking to myself about something’ kind of blog entries, although ya’ll are more than welcome to chime in.

Lazy, gaming comfort vs super productive, maybe bad-ish writing…. hmm.

Quitting – That thing you should never do.

A letter to my writing buddy:

So, something scary happened last night, but I’m glad it didn’t. My writing buddy and best friend Maegan almost threw in the towel with her book. She was having trouble with a chapter, and it was one of those important chapters that sets up stuff for later in the book. She couldn’t get it right, no matter how hard she tried. The feedback she’s been getting had discouraged her, and she had pretty much made the decision to give up, because her ‘writing was crap’. If she couldn’t fix the chapter, the rest of the book wouldn’t work.

I told her it was growing pains – it’s your first book, and the first draft will never be perfect. Thats what second drafts are for, and third. That’s what beta readers and editors are for. Thats what notes to yourself in your chapter files is for. I’m pretty sure every author ever has had a point in the beginning of their writer’s career that discouraged them to the point of quitting. But the difference between successful writers and non successful writers is the fact that the successful ones kept writing. You have to keep writing, no matter what! Everything is ‘fixable’.

Maegan! Never give up! Never surrender! Harper needs you! Your writing doesn’t suck! Stop doubting yourself and just do it!

Constructive criticism is a delicate subject. It hurts when someone tells you something you’ve written doesn’t quite work. But they’re not telling you that because the whole thing sucks – they’re helping you polish up this already cool, shiny thing. It’s not personal, and it’s not an attack on skill. It’s better to catch these things early and fix them. And you did! You fixed chapter 4, and it was fucking awesomesauce. Let it be a lesson to you! Never give up! Never surrender! YOU CAN DO EEEEET.

I knew she could do it. The moment I knew she could do it was when I asked her “Do you want to write a book?” and she said “yes”. That’s all you need. Really. Just the want to do it. SO DO IT.

I had the same kind of issue with my chapter 7. It was a life sucking black whole of shittyness. But in writing said shittyness, I figured out what parts of it were wrong, and wrote myself a note about. That way, when I get done and go back for edits and second draft, I’ll know exactly what I need to write. I’ve been there, my dear friend, and I feel you.

Just keep chugging away; you’ll get there.

Love you Maegan,

-T

Settle down, it’ll all be clear
Don’t pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found

Just know you’re not alone

Rare moments of clarity.

So, I’ve been chugging away at writing my book lately (as always) when I can, and I’ve had a few of those ‘rare moments of clarity’, when it just like… flows. You know, those precious few minutes where everything is coming out right, and you know exactly what your next sentences are, and you’re almost so excited to get there you can’t help but be a little excited with yourself.

I wrote one scene, and when I finished it, I had this “Aaaah…” moment. I felt good to get it out, and I was excited to write it. I wish the whole book would be this way. I need to pay attention to when these moments happen, because apparently thats what I like writing the most. And apparently what I like writing the most is emotional-ish, vaguely romantic scenes. So that’s cool. I like romance. Who doesn’t like romance? Especially when it involves witches and stuff. Ooooooo, Mishaaaaal, don’t touch Lucy there, eeeeee~

Okay, maybe not that heavy, but still. Very cute moment. This book is going to be fun, and I’m glad I’m even capable of having these moments. It reassures me that I’m writing the right thing.

It’s kind of like being glad you like your kid. Sometimes, you give birth to a kid, and you’re just like ‘ew, no, you’re annoying, go away’ and then the whole relationship is awk-awk, and life sucks. Sometimes you’re really bonded with your kid to the point they tell you all thier dirty secrets and its sort of creepy, but still. I want to be creepily aware of my book. Does that make sense? I’ve been sick lately, so maybe I’m a little foggy from all the Nightquil.

Either way, my point is, I’m glad I have these moments. I like my book. <3

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