Further Plotting & Beginning on the New Stories

It’s Saturday morning and I am sitting here in the sunlight with my cats, my comfy clothes and my hot, yummy coffee.  FINALLY!  I got my Folger’s Black Silk back and I could not feel more at peace – their Columbian brew was just nasty to me.

I am trying to plan out my work for today.  I have to create art for the Secret Project work (not writing, but related) as well as work on my stories and create a baseline in a program to them share with my project partner.

I also have to do a HUGE amount of pages of art for the Sketchbook Summer challenge (finish 220 pages of a roughly 8×10 sketchbook in July) and I am waiting on pins and needles to hear back from my first beta reader.  I have to have time to finish fixing anything from her notes before sending the book off to my bug hunters.  And that could take an hour or a day or three days.  Ugh!

So I’ll be doing my Lesson 3 today (from the How to Write Short Stories course that I am working my way through) and figuring out how to handle the bits and pieces that I’ve done so far.  It looks like there is a significant amount of writing on today’s agenda.  I might be stuck on lesson 3 for a couple of days.   Sunday, I doubt I will get any writing done at all as I have the time with my mom (we Zoom every Sunday), secret project work all day except for the few hours I have to spend with my husband.  And whatever time I can spend trying to catch up on the Summer Sketchbook project.

Being stuck on lesson 3 for a few days is perfectly fine.  It looks like I am also focusing on the themes when it comes to these short stories.  That’s wonderful because, after writing Leaving Wandalucia, I am eager to return to meaningful stories!  The themes in that novel meant a lot to me.

Considering the fact that How to Write Short Stories is supposed to be an eight-week course and I’ve done two lessons in two days, I’m moving at a fine pace, even if I get stuck for a couple days.  And I don’t want to rush these stories.

Oh, shit!  I forgot to mention lesson 2!  It was fun but also hard, because it was taking me through different thoughts on how these stories could come about as well as different methods.  I kept returning to my lists that I made in lesson one to find a way to use those lists in these short stories and it worked in AMAZING ways.  I’m so pleased with how these ideas have been generated.  I’d get stuck wondering what new thing I could pull from Wandalucia to add something neat to this story and I’d look to my list.  I came up with some super cool stuff!

And I loved The 6 Cookies approach.  I usually use a scene by scene, character-based approach to getting the scenes and plotting done, but this was cool!

So I got all three stories done (as far as the lesson went) for the basic plotting.  I’ve gotten two fleshed out and the third just put together with the 6 Cookie method before calling it a day and spending time with the old man.

Also, I spent the first probably 45 minute of my “Focus Room” time (Skype’s chat feature where my mother and I work off of tens with each other, keeping, duh, focused) finishing up different things related to the Secret Project.  My mother and I both had a productive day!

So now I am off to work.  Happy Caterday to you all!

 

* Holly’s links are affiliate links and will never charge you extra because of this. However you can easily Google Holly’s Writing Classes to find all of her courses.  The link to the Sketchbook Summer page is NOT an affiliate link.  You can also find them on Instagram and Facebook.

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Further Plotting & Beginning on the New Stories

Three Wandalucia Stories

Yesterday I worked on the first lesson of How to Write Short Stories and it took a couple of hours.  I worked through the bulk of it in sections as I took care of other things like the pets, cleaning a bit, laundry, dishes, husband’s lunch (I read The Obesity Code and it’s eye-opening, especially for my PCOS riddled body, so I’ve changed my eating habits drastically and I am loving it, therefore I didn’t eat).  The rest I got to as soon as my husband left for work.  Using Holly’s methods with characters I already had in mind, I came up with some really kickass story ideas and cannot freaking wait!

The class is still in Splinter Mode (Holly’s version of beta-testing), so I found some typos and errors, but when I went to report them they’d already been mentioned.

I would have never thought to come up with the ideas in such a weird way, because my process is very different.  Doing it this way has left me with stories with elements I would have never thought of!  So cool!  It reminded me a little of the Mind Maps from How to Think Sideways which is my all time favorite and most life altering course of hers I’ve taken.

So I have three women that have all been mentioned in Leaving Wandalucia: Amber, Hannah and Sammy and three very different stories of romance.  Amber is a married woman with a tween, Hannah is a long-ago divorced woman with spunk and a 33 year old son, and Sammy is a 19 year old with an odd obsession – odd for the people of Wandalucia, anyway.   Holly’s method gave my muse Sammy’s obsession and I couldn’t be happier!

I am more than a bit giddy, and I’ll be working on lesson two today.  I wanted to get started on the story last night, wanted to pull out the old tried and true standby I learned from Syd Field’s book The Screenwriter’s Workbook (mine was an older version than the linked one, but that one is listed for $24!!) – the technique many writers use with a pack of index cards – and get to plotting… but as I am using her course to write these, I’ll wait and work on all of the stories as I follow along.

I have other things I need to accomplish (especially in the next 4 weeks) so I’m taking these lessons from How to Write Short Stories one at a time.  Still, I want at least one of these stories out well before Halloween (Sammy’s story) so I’ll be going at a decent pace getting these lessons done.  I believe it’s an 8 week course, so that means 8 lessons and I’ll have time to spare!

 

* Holly’s links are affiliate links and will never charge you extra because of this. However you can easily Google Holly’s Writing Classes to find all of her courses.  The links to The Obesity Code and The Screenwriter’s Workbook are NOT affiliate links.

Three Wandalucia Stories

Working on Wandalucia Freebies

I emailed the revised book yesterday to my first beta reader, a friend of mine for roughly 16 years now and a friend that I bonded with over plenty of things, romance books in particular.  We met when I was maybe 19 or 20 and I saw her working at a fast food chain.  She was nice at the counter and I knew the restaurant I was working at was looking to hire someone new.  Who knew we’d still be friends today?  And that her returning the favor – getting me a new job once she’d left – would eventually lead to me meeting my husband!  It’s a wild world.

Anyway, she would get a crapload of romance novels – in particular those ever abundant Silhouette or Harlequin novels – and she was a voracious reader.  Once she was done, she often passed those books along to me.  She still likes reading romance, so I thought she was the perfect first reader for me.  She’s also blunt, like me, and honest, so hopefully any parts in character, story, chemistry or sex that don’t work out will stand out and she’ll be able to point them out so I can fix them!

For now, though, I am left with a choice.  I could move on to begin to plot book two in the Wandalucia series – which I already have ideas for – or I could create some free stories that would go out to any readers that buy and love Leaving Wandalucia and that happen to look me up.

Because whether or not Harlequin (or any other traditional publisher) takes it, it’s getting published.  I am worried that the dynamics of the character personalities might not fit the world’s current ‘politically correct’ male and female personas and therefor might not be what they’re looking for.  Those are the things that I will not change to get the book accepted.  I love my characters the way they are and everything happens the way it does for a reason.

So I decided I’d start on the short stories, at least until Leaving Wandalucia is in the hands of my bug hunters.  This gives me a reason to crack open a new course I have, How to Write Short Stories and I am thrilled.  I have written short stories many times and successful* ones.  But the reason I am taking the course is because I want to be more successful.  Even though I have had success with my short stories, that doesn’t mean I can’t get better.  I don’t think I will ever reach a point where I am done learning and when it comes to art and writing, I am always happy and willing to take course upon course, read book upon book in order to learn more!

So today I am opening lesson one (and may get further!), pulling out a fresh notebook and naming it Wandalucia Shorts.  I am planning on creating a series of short romances that tie in to the larger ones with side characters brought up in the course of the books.  I thought that would be so cool, to give readers more of the background for all of these characters walking around in the world that they see but only in short glimpses.

And as a huge learning dork I finally get to dive into the new Short Stories course!  I cannot wait to make my writing better and better.  For as long as I live!

 

*In this case I define success with my short stories as ‘stories that people have paid for and were pleased with my writing, wanting more’.  They loved what I wrote.  Giving the value for the short stories more than what people expected 😀

  • the above links for How to Write Short Stories are affiliate links and will never cost you extra to buy if you wanted to do so.  You can also just Google “How to Write Short Stories Holly Lisle” if you don’t want to use my links 🙂
Working on Wandalucia Freebies

Leaving Wandalucia

Early this year I was going through a bit of a crisis with Glass House. I had fallen in love with this book and the stories that would follow for another 7 books.  I didn’t want to risk my mother’s history with traditional publication by taking that route with them.

Why?  Because even if they were successful, a publishing house could feel they weren’t successful enough and cancel the series, forcing me (as my mother had to do decades before) to wrap up the series early.  And worse?  They’d have the rights to the world for many, many years.  Decades, even.

Um… Fuck that.  Not only are there 8 books I want to write in the Glass House series, but many, many more follow that entire WORLD.  I want to write so many in these different connected towns full of mystery and magic that I’ve created and dreamed of since I was 19.  I can’t imagine someone else holding the legal rights to my dreamworld.

However, I had made that promise to my husband that I would submit a novel to a traditional publisher.  So what was I to do?

I put aside Glass House and focused on getting back into writing romance.  This time, Suspenseful Romance.  I love the very wide genres of romance and erotica, despite all the shit they catch and the sometimes less than stellar books out there.

On March 6th I started plotting here and there.  Then forgot about it until the 31st.  I started writing it on the 31st.  Finished it on April 19th, missing only one day of writing in that time!  I took 4 days off and started revisions on April 23rd.

I cannot be grateful enough for the course, How to Revise Your Novel.  I know, if you follow me on Instagram you have seen my hashtags and yes, I am mentioning it again.

Thanks to that INSANELY in depth course I handed off my book to my content editor on July 6th.  He sent me back his comments over the weekend (he doesn’t actually WORK weekends, but I think his schedule was wonky).  I opened them today and instead of the week long slog I was anticipating fixing all of my errors and plot-holes and poorly developed storylines or characters – I spent less than two hours.

This credit is given to the course, 100%.

The How to Revise Your Novel course was very literally the hardest and most insightful (at times infuriating) course I have ever taken.  It was the hardest task I have ever given to myself.  At times you’re wondering how in the world what you’re doing will relate to the book or even how in the world you can REPAIR this book.  Because you get so damn close to the subject, you’re torn, thinking your book is crap and you should just start over.

That’s not the case.  You rebuild after you tear down.  And it’s amazing.

I have my first two readers in love with the story and characters.  So I have only one issue left to work on before sending it out to my bug hunters on the 28th.  I pushed aside the sex scenes focusing on the story itself.  This was important, I wanted the characters to be lovable, the story compelling and the sex, hot, yes, but I needed the story to be right before I could work out the sex.

Strange, because I’ve never needed that before!

So I have roughly two weeks to ‘work out the kinks’ in the intimacy department and my bug hunters will receive my novel!  I am so excited and nervous!

I’ve started plotting book two (started on the 7th of July LOL) and I’ll be sharing my methods here.

Looking forward to submitting this new book.  The working title is from my content editor, Matt Turano (from MattContentEdits not an affiliate link) :

Leaving Wandalucia.

 

(the above links to HTRYN are affiliate links and never charges anyone extra, but you can always just Google “Holly Lisle How to Revise Your Novel” as well).

 

Leaving Wandalucia

Altering Characters, Abilities and Adding Details

Though not productive in numbers, I did well today.  Very well, it feels like.

I started out with 451 words written last year, background on characters, two of which are only hints in this first novel.   I had to change a few things built into their characters, the magical abilities and predilections.  As I finally built the bones of the magical system, now I have rules in which to play, thank goodness.  Rules set limitations and limitations add stress, risk and reliability, to name a few things.  The also, most importantly, provide conflict and a world in which your reader can become accustomed.

So I went down to 326 words, then began building the characters up through their characteristics, physical looks, magical traits as well as natural, non-magical but still paranormal traits.  I built up a little bit of the past as well and started integrating the character whose background I needed to build in order to gather the motivation of the villain (you can see where I figured out what I needed while backtracking through what I didn’t have in Not Quite a Fail).  So I’m getting there.

Considering the research I had to do, the berserker kittens that went insane and cost me about 7 minutes of writing and the 5 minute coffee break, I did well.  With 48 minutes I ended up with 1255 words, 929 of them new.  I ended up with images of two of the characters homes and a bit of research done to indicate what elements each character (past) would focus on.  There was also a lot of sitting and thinking, trying to figure out just how these characters differed and how their home lives would effect their choices.  I’m not done but I’d like to think I’m halfway or more there.  Then onto the victim’s backstory.  I just need to get my MC’s family tree open and it’s with a program I originally only had a trial of, argh.  I could have sworn I had purchased it.

I might write more today, but I do also have commissions nearing their deadline and these need to get finished (for the smaller ones) and worked on (for the paintings).

Altering Characters, Abilities and Adding Details

Pirate Story for a Pirate Sculpture

A friend of mine and owner of the Fan Art Workshop Consortium (come on and join us if you’re a fellow artist!) on Facebook has been sculpting a pirate and started a short story tagging me to continue it.  I honestly don’t even remember and didn’t check back to what he’d written because I had this idea that I had to go with instead.

Before getting to the writing, check out this super awesome work in progress!!  All work and photos by Chris Thompson and copyrighted as such.  Shared with permission.

Forgive any error in writing or research.  I had 20 minutes to get the story down and different correct references down.

The heat felt as if it were sealed into the back of his neck as he stood there, mouth agape, unsure if he were seeing what lay before his eyes.  The ocean’s soft waves could still be heard even though it was at least a stade away.

“Rotten… filthy,” he muttered, throat parched.

He was a wanted man, as are many pirates. By the Queen of Spain, his head was demanded.  By England, William III wanted him dead or alive.  The colonies weren’t safe to him either, as many a man had heard the tale of Cristofer Thomsun.  He’d not been kind, he’d not been gentle and he’d not suffered a fool.  No one crossed a man as ruthless and as bloodthirsty as the great Pirate Claythumb.

Until now.

He’d been hunted.

His crew had died, one by one.

He’d nearly died of thirst… or starvation.

Maned by only him, he’d managed through the most hellish storms; surely the ungodly sirens and the great, fierce ocean beasts had come within a mere palm’s length from making him a feast.

What a bitter, tough, sour feast he would have been, he’d thought to himself as he pulled himself from the wreckage of The Bahbross, previously a beauty to behold.  He’d consoled himself with the fact that he still had his spyglass, shovel and map… and the last two jugs of booze – one wine, one rum.

Now, fully out of supplies, he stood over the treasure site, sugary sand piled up in a crescent shape around him.  It had been a miserable half day of digging.  He stared down at the contents of the hole.  X had marked the spot.  But of this?

“A… a joke?  A JOKE?” he rasped.  His knees buckled under him, the spyglass slipping from his hand and, as if to add further torment to his last moments, he banged his head on the handle of his shovel as he fell to the sand.  He barely registered the blistering heat through his threadbare clothing.  His other hand clutched desperately at the stone-smoothed, sun-beaten map.  It had never been sealed or weather proofed and so the lines had faded… but they’d still lead him to this.

The grave of another pirate lay before him, the ‘treasure chest’ lay atop ole Mr Skull and Bones.  On it was carved fifteen stick figures.

His wife had given him the map.  After he’d spent so much time with his crew, after pirating had become his obsession.  She’d said she’d stolen it from another man at a tavern.  Now he doubted the truth of this.

“15 men,” he croaked, falling into the grave, the lights behind his own eyes fading.  “On the dead man’s chest.”

The wind blew the salty air around him, sand softly falling around him with the breeze.  “Yo ho ho.”

The last words of the great and feared Pirate Claythumb, Cristofer Thomsun, who’s only crime was loving the pirate life too much.

My first intentional use of an allegory that I can think of HA!  The “pirate life” he so loved is actually The Artist’s Life.  There are several inside jokes and references in the story itself and I had a blast.

It might be a complete miss if you’re not a part of the group and that’s fine 🙂  It’s not meant for everyone, but it was fun, I wrote it and I wanted to keep it somewhere I could find it.

Pirate Story for a Pirate Sculpture

Not Quite a Fail

This morning I was dragging!  I used to have to get up at 4:30 to 5am to complete a very lengthy process to get to work by 8am.  Our car had been totaled, we had no money for another one, so I was walking (eventually I rode a bike once we had a little $ to buy one) to catch a bus to get to the Tri-Rail (when we lived in South Florida) and then from there I would walk or ride my bike, unless a friend of mine picked me up.  I’d leave work around 6 to 7 to get home around 9pm and crash around 10 to start the whole thing over.

All this and yet I feel as though 7:30am comes so fast!  Still, I’m grateful I am no longer where I was.

Today I sat down to my computer, found out my mom had been in there already for a half hour.  She did GREAT today!  I, on the other hand, struggled.

I got some great notes on how to start integrating one character’s past through just actions and little hints.  That was the first ten minutes, but then I was done with that.

The next task was to find the detailed motivation for this antagonist to kill his victim.  Of course, this should have been covered pre-book writing, but I had been so excited by my concepts that I rushed ahead.  Now I’m carving out and slim-grinding these bits and pieces to fit the puzzle I have created.  Not for the faint of heart.

What’s worse is that, while bits and pieces of his motivation ARE in HIS backstory, I needed his victim’s backstory.  And to create that I needed MORE backstory and 3 bios along with a clearer definition of three now-dead characters’ past powers, updated to fit the newly created magical system.

So before I can create the motivation for a single character, I need all of this.  It’s actually a good thing to have figured all of this out and now I have a clear direction.  Hence the “not quite a fail” title.  It’s still difficult, but I have a solid path in front of me.

Off to work!

Not Quite a Fail