I’m so excited to be interviewing Elizabeth Briggs, author of New Adult, stand alone, contemporary romance MORE THAN MUSIC.
Many of you may be familiar with Liz, since we’ve mentioned her several times on this blog. I met Kati and Heidi when Liz chose all of us to be a part of her 2012 Pitch Wars Team. So, you already know she has good taste. Since then, Liz and I have become close friends and I could not be more excited about the release of her NA debut MORE THAN MUSIC.
But before we start chatting, here’s a little more about More Than Music (from Goodreads):
Music major Maddie Taylor seems to have her life all figured out. She’s just finished her junior year of college, has a summer internship lined up with the LA Philharmonic, and plans to go to grad school to write movie scores. Only her roommates know she practices guitar every night and secretly dreams of a louder life. But geeky girls like her don’t get to be rock stars.
Tattooed singer Jared Cross has a new girl every week, but when he catches Maddie playing one of his songs, she attracts his attention in an unexpected way. His band needs a fourth member for The Sound, a reality TV show competition—and he wants her. Though Maddie refuses to be another notch on Jared’s bedpost, she agrees to risk everything for the chance to be a rock star.
Once on the show, Maddie discovers there’s more to Jared behind his flirty smile, and with each performance their attraction becomes impossible to ignore. When the show pressures Jared to flaunt his player image, they’re forced to keep their relationship secret, but Maddie can’t help but want something real.
As the competition heats up, Jared will do whatever it takes for his band to win, and Maddie must decide if following her dream is worth losing her heart.
Doesn’t that sound awesome?
I was able to read an early version of MORE THAN MUSIC, and one of the things I really loved about this book were Liz’s many references to comics and music. Even the name of the band name Villain Complex is connected to comics—it made the book so fun to read. Liz, were these things you had to research?
Liz: The geeky stuff didn’t require any research because I’m already a huge comics fan. I did search for different villain shirts for Jared to wear though, which was fun. I had a huge list, so I’m sure new villain shirts will pop up in future books.
The music took a lot more research. I play the guitar but I’m not great at it because I don’t have time to practice regularly. Still, I tried to learn many of the songs that Maddie performs myself so I could describe the way it feels when you’re actually playing them. I also watched a lot of guitar tutorials, live performances by the original bands, and covers by other bands. And of course, episodes of The Voice!
Stephanie: I’m glad there will be more villain shirts in future books! I actually wanted to buy a couple of the shirts Jared wore.
So, I’ve heard a rumor that one of your novellas might be set at Comic-Con. Would you be willing to confirm that?
Liz: This is true! Hector (the drummer in Villain Complex) is also a comic book artist, so his novella will be set at Comic-Con. The tentative title is MORE THAN COMICS and it takes place about a week after MORE THAN MUSIC. I’m going to my 7th Comic-Con in July, so I plan to do LOTS of research there!
Stephanie: I have always wanted to go to Comic-Con! That sounds like the best research. Too bad, that means the novella hasn’t been written yet. Is there anything else you can tell us about your other upcoming Novella’s?
Liz: Other than Hector’s novella, there will also be a prequel novella set about a month before MORE THAN MUSIC. This one will be focused on Kyle, the keyboardist in the band, who is Maddie’s friend and Jared’s brother. The novella is set at the UCLA vs USC Battle of the Bands and it shows how Villain Complex got the gig at the start of MORE THAN MUSIC.
After that, I plan to write books about Maddie’s best friends, Julie and Carla. But you’ll have to wait a little longer for info on those, sorry!
Stephanie: That’s okay, as long as there will be more books I’m happy.
So, although I loved all of your awesome comic references throughout More Than Music, the romance was definitely my favorite part of the story! I’m not going to lie, I totally fell in love with Jared Cross, would you mind sharing how you came up with his character?
Liz: Jared is loosely based on Jared Leto from Thirty Seconds To Mars. I originally used the name Jared as a placeholder, but it stuck and my friends wouldn’t let me change it. Like Jared Leto, the Jared in MORE THAN MUSIC is charming, something of a player, but also pretty silly and more down-to-earth than people might expect from a rock star. Also, they’re both very hard-working and driven and perfectionistic. Plus, they both have brothers in the band that they’re really close to, which causes other complications (the drummer in Thirty Seconds To Mars is Jared Leto’s brother Shannon).
There’s also a little of my husband in Jared, too, because every love interest I write is partly inspired by him. For example, my husband also wears a lot of geeky shirts. And like all characters, Jared is partly me, too. I definitely feel the same way about writing that Jared (and Maddie) feel about music.
Stephanie: That’s so sweet that you put a little of your husband in every love interest you write!
Before writing More Than Music, you wrote young adult science fiction. I know a lot of people think the main difference between YA and NA is just the age difference of the characters and a stronger emphasis on romance, but as someone who’s written both, what would you say the main difference is between writing in the two different categories?
Liz: For me, the main difference is that the characters are a bit more mature in NA and have more independence than teens do. They’re on their own for the first time in their lives and have more experience than they did in high school, but that freedom and maturity also comes with new challenges and responsibilities. It’s a time of transition and change, and NA characters are starting to figure out who they want to be for the rest of their lives – in their careers, in relationships, and as people. This combination of independence and uncertainty is what I loved most about writing NA.
Stephanie: And finally, what piece of advice would you give any writers who are thinking about making a switch from writing YA to NA?
Liz: First of all, do it! I thought people might give me a hard time about switching to NA, and worried that my CPs or my agent wouldn’t want to read my book, but that hasn’t been the case at all. In fact, my agent told me NOT to use a pen name because there is so much cross-over audience between YA and NA these days. Plus, NA is growing right now, and there’s no telling where it will go next, so it’s a perfect time to start writing it.
Second, keep in mind that NA isn’t just “YA with sex.” There are lots of great NA books out there without any sex. However, NA does have a slightly older voice and maturity level than YA, with characters who worry about different things than teens do. For example, they might worry about how they’re going to pay for the next semester of college, or they might be starting a summer internship or their first job. Or they might be living away from home for the first time and enjoying new freedoms, but also new responsibilities like paying rent and dealing with roommates. That said, a lot of the same things readers love in YA work great in NA, so the transition is a lot easier from YA to NA than you might think!
Liz, thanks so much for taking the time to stop by and answer my questions.
To enter to win, all you need to do is leave comment before midnight (PST) June 24th. If you share this on twitter, we’ll give you an extra entry, just make sure you tell us in the comments. Our winner will be announced the next day, June 25th.
Short and Sweet
ELUSION by Claudia Gabel and Cheryl Klam is full of awesome science fiction, fast paced mystery, and dangerous romance. I picked it up because I was in the mood for a good science fiction, and it didn’t disappoint!
For those of you not familiar with ELUSION, here’s a short summary:
In a future full of acid rain, and air pollution levels that make it dangerous to breathe outdoors, Regan’s father has created Elusion, a type of virtual reality that allows users to escape into a more beautiful world.
The book takes place several months after Regan’s father’s death, right before Elusion is about to be released nationwide. Regan is still grieving her dad, when rumors surface that Elusion is addictive and dangerous.
Regan is the first to defend her father’s work. But as Regan seeks to prove there’s no problem with Elusion, she begins to discover dangerous secrets, and…I’m not going to give anymore away.
If you want to know more, you’re going to have to read the book. And this is book I would recommend.
Lately I’ve been a little burnt out with anything that feels like dystopian, but rather than focusing on the problems of this society ELUSION focused mostly on the technology of Elusion. There’s a lot of mystery as Regan searches for the truth as to whether or not Elusion is addictive and dangerous, and I found myself turning pages really fast. I liked that the emphasis was more about solving a mystery, and not so much about the state of the world, or bringing down a corrupt government—in fact there was no mention of government at all.
But there was a romance, and since I don’t like to give too much away, I’ll just say I really liked the way this romance was done. Romance definitely played a significant role in this story, but at the same time it never overshadowed Regan’s real goals. Her focus stayed on Elusion and the many mysteries she uncovered as sought to figure out if there was truth to the claims it was harmful and addictive. I really liked her as a character!
One of ELUSION’s authors, Claudia Gabel, is a Senior Executive Editor at Katherine Tegen Books, and it was very obvious as I read. The writing was clean, the characters were multi-dimensional, and as I’ve already said, the fast pacing made it difficult for me to put this book down.
My only complaint is that I would have liked the ending to wrap up a little more. I’m not sure I would call the ending a cliff-hanger, but it definitely left me wanting the next book. That being said, if you’re looking for an easy science fiction read and you don’t mind a little dystopian flavor, I would say ELUSION by Claudia Gabel and Cheryl Klam is worth picking up.
So, what about all of you, have any of you read this? Or do any of you have any other good science fiction recommendations? Now that it’s summer and I have more time to read, I’m looking for some good books!
For today’s Fiction Friday, Stephanie, Kati, and I all read “Cruel Beauty” by Rosamund Hodge so we could bring you a joint book review! For those of you who have never heard of this book, it’s a retelling of the classic Beauty and the Beast fairy tale with mythological elements, as well as its own unique spin.
HEIDI: What did you both think of Cruel Beauty?
KATI: I really liked it. But the main character did drive me crazy in the one scene near the end.
STEPHANIE: I loved it! I’ve always loved Beauty and Beast, and I loved that this was true to that story, but I also felt it added some unique elements. But, I also think I know what drove Kati crazy and I agree!
HEIDI: I liked it quite a bit, too. I loved that it was Beauty and the Beast, but that the heroine wasn’t super pure of heart and sweet. It was a nice change.
KATI: I also loved the Pandora’s box references.
STEPHANIE: Yes–I loved the way she tied in mythology. I really liked the characters. I don’t know about you two, but in the beginning Nyx was so difficult, I wondered if she was kinda supposed to be the beast.
HEIDI: I wondered that briefly, too! But then I decided they were both a mixture of both.
STEPHANIE: Aw, yeah.
KATI: But she really did feel like a product of her environment. Her family was pretty awful.
STEPHANIE: I agree with that too. I didn’t blame her for how she was. Her family sucked.
HEIDI: I thought it was a little unfair how they were to her aunt, though. It seemed like it was a really bad thing for Nyx’s father to remarry, and I couldn’t figure out why.
STEPHANIE: I just thought it was weird…
KATI: It does seem weird to marry your dead sister’s husband.
HEIDI: Yeah, a little weird and icky, but it had been years…sixteen, right, since Nyx’s mother died?
KATI: After 16 years, I still wouldn’t want to marry Sean. ; p
HEIDI: Watch it, there, lady! I would haunt you both! >: (
HEIDI: So…what did you think of Nyx and Ignifex’s growing relationship? Did it feel believable to you? I think sometimes those hate-turned-to-love romances don’t always work, but I thought this one did.
KATI: I liked it. It felt believable.
STEPHANIE: I thought it was unexpected and well done.
KATI: They felt very similar to each other. Plus, they loved each other for their faults, too.
HEIDI: I loved that neither one of them thought the other was perfect.
STEPHANIE: I agree–I thought the romance was best too!
KATI: For me, it was a toss up between the romance and the setting.
STEPHANIE: Oh, yeah, I thought the world building was awesome.
HEIDI: Oh, I thought of my other favorite part – I LOVED the deals that were made, the trickster part of Ignifex.
STEPHANIE: Yes! I thought that was really cool–although it was depressing, but I liked it!
KATI: I did like them, but some of them were so sad.
STEPHANIE: This was another thing I liked, I feel like a lot of books that have strong characters have weaker plots, but I felt like this book had a great combo of plot and character.
KATI: Good pacing, too.
HEIDI: I agree. Great plot, unique, strong characters, and, even more unique, it’s a standalone book. Did you have a favorite character?
STEPHANIE: Oh, good question. I feel like it’s a toss-up.
HEIDI: Definitely Ignifex for me.
STEPHANIE: I really liked Ignifex. He was interesting, and I liked how he treated Nyx. But, I also thought Nyx was a great character.
KATI: She was a great character.
STEPHANIE: Here’s my final question: Would you recommend this book?
Kati: Of course. It was well written, with believable characters, great setting, and a great pace.
HEIDI: Definitely! Two thumbs up! I think anyone who enjoys romance, or fairy tale retellings, would love this book.
Kati: Or mythology.
STEPHANIE: For sure! I agree with it all!
How about you? Have you read this book before? Do you have your own favorite retelling?
When Heidi first mentioned the idea of Fairy Tale February, I was so excited. I’ve always loved fairy tales. When I was a little girl, I think I believed it was actually possible to grow up and be a fairy tale princess. Thankfully, I got over that delusion. But I have never gotten over my love of fairy tales.
So, three years ago, when it was announced that two new, fairy-tale-inspired televisions shows were coming out. I was totally sold. The shows were Grimm and Once Upon A Time. I don’t even think I’d watched the trailers for either show and I had already set series recordings.
For those of you who have never heard of either show, Grimm is a sort of fairy tale version of a cop show. It takes place in Portland, where, apparently, all sorts of fairy tale creatures live because they commit murders every week. Fortunately, homicide detective, Nick Burkhardt is a Grimm and he can see these creatures for what they really are.
Once Upon A Time has a completely different feel. In this show, it’s Disney fairy tales that have come to life. Under a curse from the Evil Queen, they all live in Maine, unaware of their true identities, until someone breaks the curse.
For a while I watched both shows faithfully, although initially I was more impressed by Grimm. It had an amazing pilot, weaving a dark and twisty, modern tale of Little Red Riding Hood—with just the right amount of humor. Once Upon A Time’s pilot was not so stellar. I wasn’t crazy about the main character, who came across as a stereotypical tough girl, afraid to love anyone. And the scenes set in the fairy tale world came across as cheesy—Snow White and Prince Charming were a little too dramatic for me.
But then slowly over time, my opinion of each show changed.
I started avoiding my recorded episodes of Grimm in favor of re-watching episodes of Once, I still thought Once was cheesy (and I still think it is, from time to time). Grimm remained far from cheesy, but I also felt as if it was a little too far removed from fairy tales as well.
And, to be honest, Grimm became too dark for me. I don’t mind dark things, but I found myself disturbed more often than entertained, and for me, as the series went on I felt as if it lost it’s connection to the original fairy tales. Grimm is full of all sorts of supernatural beings that are supposed be somehow connected with fairy tales, but instead of using the real names of these fairy tale character, like they do in Once Upon a Time, in Grimm they use names like, blutbad, Hexenbiest, & Fuchsbau—and only occasionally, do they say what these character would be in a fairy tale story.
Once upon a time, on the other hand, got deeper into fairy tales, putting unique twists on each story – Red Riding Hood is actually the wolf, Peter Pan is the villain, Captain Hook is the good guy (sort of), and the Evil Queen has a really good reason to hate Snow White.
In a lot of ways I felt Once began to surpass Grimm. And maybe I only love Once Upon A Time because I totally have a crush on Captain Hook, but I think the main reason I love it is because it has heart. Once Upon A Time captures the feel of a fairy tale. Fairy tales are dark, but they are also magical. Grimm has all the darkness, and it has magic as well, but it doesn’t feel magical. Not in the way I want to think of magic—pixie dust, and happy thoughts that take me to Neverland. And I’m okay with Neverland being dark when I get there, but I still want it to feel like Neverland, even if it’s different than the Neverland I grew up with.
So what about all of you? Do any of you watch Grimm or Once Upon A Time? And if you do, which do you like better?
Over the holidays my little sister got engaged, and as I’ve watched her and helped her over the last few weeks, I’ve realized that planning a wedding is a lot like writing a book.
For The Most Part There Aren’t Many Different Types Of Weddings—Or Plots
I’d say most weddings I go to have a very similar feel. Or, perhaps more accurately, they have one of five different feels: the traditional wedding, the trendy wedding, the destination wedding, the low budget wedding, and the lavish high-budget wedding.
Basically there are only so many different ways to do a wedding. And even when people think they are doing something original, most of the time, they are just doing something that is a start of a new trend.
What makes a wedding unique is what the couple brings to it. Over the summer I went to a wedding and for the father-daughter dance they played the song Take Me Out To The Ballgame. It was adorable because this particular father and daughter had traveled all over the United States to visit different baseball parks. So, even though a father-daughter dance isn’t a unique part of a wedding they made it unique by making it theirs.
I would say same with is true for writing a book. Some people say there are only seven or eight major plots. What makes most plots unique is what the writer brings to it. But what does that look like? That’s a question that only you, as a writer, can answer, but I think it’s worth exploring. What makes you unique as a writer? Is it the way you see the world? Is it your perspective on life because you were homeschooled? Or because you you’ve traveled back in time to the French Revolution? What makes you the only person who can tell the story that you are writing?
Working With A Budget Is Kinda Like Working With A Word Count
Since most of you probably don’t know my sister, you probably don’t know that she is not rich. Her and her fiancé have a budget for their wedding, and working within this budget has been difficult for her. There are a lot of cute little things my sister wants for her wedding, but those cute little things add up. Sort of like cute little scenes in a book.
Chances are, unless you’re super famous like Stephen King you’re not going to get an unlimited word count for your books. So when someone tells you that your 100,000 page picture book is too long, you should probably take their advice and cut some things out.
I know we all love our cute, but slightly unnecessary, scenes and sentences, but if your book is over the recommended word count for your category and genre, those need to go. You don’t want to scare an editor or agent off before they even read your book.
Weddings Make People Crazy—And So Does Writing!
My sister is one of the sweetest people I know. She’s a first grade teacher, so you know she’s patient. And generally she handles stress better than I do. But I have never seen her as stressed as I have with this wedding. My sister hasn’t gone crazy—she’s actually stayed pretty level headed. But I think a lot of people go a little nuts when they’re planning a wedding. Everyone wants their wedding to be perfect. And as writers we all want our books to be perfect and loved by all, so I think it makes us a little crazy sometimes, too.
At least once a week, one of my writing friends tells me they are struggling with discouragement or depression. And I know I get the same way. I’ll have moments where I think I’ve just written the most awesome scene ever! Other moments, I will think that same scene is worse than any scene anyone has ever written. And for whatever reason, I have a bad habit of connecting this with my worth and my value as a person.
It sounds ridiculous when I write it out—to think that my writing has anything to do with my value as a person. I would never judge someone’s value as a person based on their writing. Of course, I also think that every person is valuable just because they are a person. So for me, sometimes I just need to step away from the writing and remember that even though it’s a significant part of my life, it doesn’t define my life.
So, what do all of you think? I’m not married, so I’ll be the first to admit that I could be totally wrong about this post. Do any of you think planning a wedding is like writing a book?
Brenda Drake, Brent Taylor, Cora Carmack, Dannie Morin, Diana Gallagher, Elizabeth Briggs, Elizabeth Penney, Erica M. Chapman, Evelyn Ehrlich, Gail Nall, Heather Webb, Jaye Robin Brown, Jennifer Downey, Jennifer Malone, Jessie Humphries, Joy McCullough-Carranza, Julie Sondra Decker, Lady Lionness, Laura Tims, Lindsay Currie, Lindsey Sprague, Lori Goldstein, Marieke Nijkamp, Megan Whitmer, Meredith McCardle, Mina Vaughn, Molly Lee, Monica B. W., Naomi Hughes, Natalie Knaub, Nazarea Andrews, Patricia Leaver, pitch wars, Rin Chupeco, Sarah Henning, Sarah Nicolas, Sean Mcconnell, Shannon Lori Ann, Shelley Watters, Skylar Dorset, Stacey Lee, Stephanie Garber, Susan Spann, Tina Moss, Veronica Anderson, Veronica Bartles
Hi, all! In case you missed the announcement earlier this month, Pitch Wars is back! This year I get to be a mentor, and today is the day we get to post our wish lists!
So Here’s My Wish List:
If you write YA fantasy, thrillers, paranormal or science fiction, I am your girl!
For the fantasy, paranormals, & sci-fi, I don’t care if it’s set in our world or another world. If your book has a strong magical/paranormal/ supernatural/science fiction element, please send it to me. I’m a big fan of time travel, historical fantasy, fairy tale retellings, stories that have curses, and anything with a magical feel. I especially love books that have a romance element. I like love triangles, swoony kisses, and books where the love interests start out hating each other.
I also love fast paced thrillers. They can either be full of action or just full of suspense. I like creepy, I like mystery. And I especially love really well developed villains, and books where I’m never sure who’s good or bad.
Some Of My Favorite Books Include:
DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by Laini Taylor
THE LUMATERE CHRONICLES by Melina Marchetta
THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS by Rae Carson
UNDER THE NEVER SKY by Veronica Rossi
ALL OUR YESTERDAYS by Cristin Terrill
THE VAMPIRE ACADEMY SERIES by Richelle Mead
THE ACROSS THE UNIVERSE TRILOGY by Beth Revis
UNEARTHLY TRILOGY by Cynthia Hand
THRONE OF GLASS by Sarah J. Maas
GRAVE MERCY by Robin LaFevers
SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo
ALICE IN ZOMBIELAND by Gena Showalter
THE DIVERGENT SERIES by Veronica Roth
ALTERED by Jennifer Rush
HEMLOCK by Kathleen Peacock
If you could use any of these books as comp titles please send me an application on December 2!
A Little More About Me:
I write young adult science fiction and fantasy, and I’m represented by Jessica Negrón of Talcott Notch Literary. When I’m not writing, I teach Advanced Creative Writing at a private Christian college in northern California. I think it’s the best job ever. I get paid to talk about books and writing and work with some incredible students. I’m addicted to Honeycrsip apples and frozen chocolate chip cookies. One of my not-so-secret goals is to get into Club 33 at Disneyland—because really, what could be more exciting than getting into a top secret club that’s located inside one of the most magical places on earth?
When it comes to critiquing, my strengths lie in pacing, world building, and opening chapters. I was a mentee during Pitch Wars last year, so I understand how it feels to be submitting for this crazy contest. I worked with The Amazing Elizabeth Briggs, and if you’re thinking about pitching to me, you should also consider her. Not only is Liz a total editing ninja and a fantastic human being, we also tend to have similar taste in books (or mostly similar tastes).
If you want to know anything else about me, check out this interview, or feel free to look around our blog.
For submission guidelines and links to all the other awesome Pitch Wars mentors, check out Brenda Drake’s Blog. I tried to link to all of them from here, but my links didn’t want to work.
And Now, Here Is This Year’s Awesome List Of Participating Agents:
Isn’t that an awesome list of agents? I’m really excited!
If you have any questions for me please let me know. I always respond to comments.
SECRET LETTER: E
Hello all! Just a quick announcement – tomorrow Stephanie will be posting her wish list for Pitch Wars! Yay! That’s right, in case you missed it, not only is Pitch Wars coming around again, but our very own Stephanie is one of the mentors! We’re very excited! 😀
So first of all, if you have a finished manuscript, I definitely recommend you enter the contest. Brenda Drake has done such a good job of creating these super positive contests – everyone’s always really nice and supportive, the mentors are great, and the agents who are participating are all top notch. Kati and I entered last year and made it onto two different teams as the alternates – we met a lot of great people (including Stephanie) and have a couple of truly superb critique partners, all thanks to this contest. There’s no cost to enter, so really, what have you got to lose?
Convinced yet? Great! Then I’d like to leave you with a personal endorsement for Stephanie – she’s one of my critique partners, and I highly, highly recommend pitching to her. Highly. She’s got eagle eyes when it comes to story – I feel like our manuscript is about 200% better thanks to her, and I’m much more aware of many of my writing tics and bad habits – she catches it all! Plus she says it all really nicely. 🙂 So if your story falls within her wish list requirements, she’d be an excellent choice! Just sayin’. 😉
And finally…since Stephanie will be posting her wish list tomorrow, but mentors don’t receive pitches until December 2nd, we’ll be temporarily going on a blog hiatus so Stephanie’s post can stay right there, front and center. Plus it gives us more time to finish those pesky Nano novels…
So happy writing all. We’ll be cheering for all you Pitch Warriors from the sidelines – good luck! See you in December!
Earlier this week Heidi wrote a great post about attending local write-in’s. If you didn’t read it definitely check it.
Inspired by Heidi’s post, I decided to write a little about my NaNoWriMo experience. Before NaNo started I felt as if I read a lot of posts on how to prepare for the month, so I thought I’d put together a post of things not to do (because I am very good at doing all of these things).
Five Ways to Fail at NaNoWriMo
1. Participate in NaNo alone: There’s a reason the awesome people of NaNo have put together an awesome website where you can connect with writing buddies and people in your region. NaNoWriMo is not meant to be a solo sport; it’s easy to give up on something when no one is holding you accountable.
This is my third attempt at NaNo, and while I’m off to a slow start I have been writing every day. I have a small group of friends who are also doing NaNo and we send each other daily emails. We share how many words we’ve written, and sometimes we’ll include pieces of other fun info, like the music we’ve been listening to. This has really helped me stay motivated, and it’s made the whole experience more fun!
2. Compare yourself to other writers: Two things always happen when you compare yourself to others, either you start to feel as if you are way better than them, or you feel as if you’ll never measure up. The great thing about NaNo is everyone can win. It’s not a race where the first person who reaches 50,000 words is the only NaNo champ. We can all be champs!
3. Go back and edit your work: This is probably the NaNo sin I’m most guilty of committing. I have a hard time moving forward if everything isn’t perfect. But this strategy doesn’t work too well for NaNo. So no matter what, resist the urge to go back and edit. Fight it like it’s a Zombie that wants to end your writing life. Just keep writing. Keep writing. Keep writing. Keep writing.
4. Stop reading just keep writing: I know I just told you to keep writing no matter what, but now I’m going to go back on that, because everyone needs to take breaks. I know it’s tempting not to take those breaks, and to push pleasure reading aside in favor of just writing. But, for me, I know that whenever I say I’m going to stop reading books for pleasure my writing suffers.
Reading amazing books keeps me inspired to write. I’ve also found using reading as a reward can be a great motivational too. If it’s later at night and I’m having a hard time pushing through, I’ll reward my self with Chapter Breaks. I’ll give myself a word count goal and if I reach it, I let myself read a chapter of a book that I’ve been dying to finish.
5. Give up when you fall behind: Along time ago I read a quote, “It’s the start that stops most people.” The first week of NaNo is coming to a close. Hopefully, most of you have had amazing weeks with daily word counts that far exceed 1,000 words. But for those of you whose life has perhaps gotten in the way of your writing, don’t feel discouraged. There are still 23 days left in November. Three weeks full of long nights. It’s the perfect time to bundle up with a blanket and coco and write some amazingness!
So, what about all of you? If any of you have any good tips about failing or succeeding at NaNoWriMo I’d love to hear them.
P.S. If you want to find me and be my one of my NaNo buddies click here.
Blogging stresses me out. I love it when I actually do it, especially when we have a themed month, or when I do a joint post with Heidi and Kati. I get excited to read the comments people leave, and I love responding to them. But generally when I first sit down to write a post I freeze up. I’ll write one sentence.
I’ll stare at my computer but no matter how hard I try, there are days where I cannot turn that sentence into a paragraph. I think about other bloggers, bloggers with published books, bloggers with bigger platforms, bloggers who are great at finding awesomely clever pictures to highlight their posts. And suddenly what I want to write isn’t good enough. It’s not original. It’s not something that is going to appeal to anyone besides me. Insecurity takes hold and I would rather produce nothing than something less than perfect.
I was struggling with this earlier this week. Then I thought about something I learned when I used to work with high school students. After I graduated from college I thought I wanted to teach high school government/economics. I’d never been interested in teaching while in college, so a friend of mine suggested I test things out by volunteering with high school students.
For the record, I love working with high school students. I think they’re fun and funny, and I love being able to support and encourage them as they navigate what I think are some of the most challenging years in life. But the difficult part about working with high school students is that sometimes it feels as if the work you’re doing, and the time you’re investing, makes absolutely no difference.
I remember someone telling me that when you work with high school students it’s all an act of faith, because often you’re not going to see the impact you have on them until years down the road—and sometimes you never will see that impact. You just have to trust that the work you’re doing is making a difference.
I was reminded of that yesterday, when I was feeling insecure about my blogging.
When I first started writing I read a lot of blogs, but I never commented. It probably took me over a year to work up the courage to comment on my first blog. These blogs were having a significant impact on my writing and my life, but most of those bloggers had no idea. Now I try to be much better at leaving comments, which is funny because while I enjoy all the blogs I read, I don’t know that any of them impact me as much as those early posts did when I first started writing, when I didn’t have any other writer friends and I felt totally alone in this strange writing world.
A year ago, when I saw a post on Krista Van Dolzer’s blog about a contest called Pitch Wars, it changed my life. I know that might sound extreme, but it’s absolutely true—and not just because I think it’s part of the reason I found my agent. As I’ve said before, I made dear friends through that contest, like Heidi and Kati, and our amazing mentor Elizabeth Briggs.
I don’t know that any of my posts are making a huge difference for anyone who reads them, but as I think back about all of this, it’s a good reminder that I never know what kind of impact I could possibly have. And I think that’s true for all of us.
What about all of you? Do any of you ever feel this way? Or have any of you been impacted by someone who has no idea that they’ve changed your life?