Long term goals

Changing Gears

Hello and happy Saturday!

The school year is off to a good start. I’m teaching some pretty cool kids biology, but good teaching means busy weeks. I’ve spent more weekends than I care to admit bumming around my apartment playing the procrastination game with papers that need grading. I’m happy to say that I am currently caught up (well, let’s say 95%) and life is good. I’ve even started planting the seeds for my next novel, which is insane because that means I’m getting to the point where I can imagine finishing my current work in progress (what!?). Also, another word on my students- I’ve told many of them over the last couple of years that I’m writing a book and can I just say how much it warms my hard when I see kids in the hall and they say, “Hey Ms. D! How’s your book coming? I can’t wait to read it!” Just, joy to the world. Little (big) sweeties.

On my last post I shared some last-half-of-the-year goals with you all and I think it’s about time for an update. Below are the goals I set for which my self-imposed deadline has passed:

Complete a second pass through my 6th draft by 8/23 DONE! albeit not by that date

Send draft 6 to CP (Thanks Twitter) and Betas by 8/25 DONE! Again, not on time, but done

Draft a synopsis and query letter by 9/15 Not done, but in progress!

Have a list of at least 50 agents to query by 9/23 (I currently have 13) Not done, and I haven’t even tried, if I’m honest

So far I’ve met none of my goals on time, but that’s been pretty standard since I started this novel writing journey. The bright side is that I am, indeed, accomplishing the goals that I’ve set… just on an extended timeline. I am a bit disappointed in myself for literally spending ZERO time searching for more agents to query. That is a critical part of the process and I need to start devoting more time to it.

Sending my manuscript off to my critique partner and betas felt pretty momentous. It’s the first time people will be reading my book from start to finish, which is an exhilarating combination of scary and exciting. It also felt like a major transition point. I’ve been drafting for years and now I’m getting to the place where I have to seriously consider what comes after I decide I’ve polished my MS to the best of my ability. There is a very different vibe to this side of my journey. So far I’ve been focused on writing the best story I can. Now that I’m about 90% done with that part, I have to start thinking about how I can pitch my story in a way that will hook agents. It’s difficult, but I find the change of gears enjoyable. Summarize my 86,000 word novel in 500 words? Challenge accepted! …I’m currently failing the challenge, but I’ve got faith. I haven’t done much on the query side except play around with the first few sentences. It’s tough, but I’m glad to have a break from drafting and revising my MS.

I’ll check in again when I get feedback from my CP and betas. Hopefully that will set me up for my final draft… or maybe they will tell me my story is crap and I’ll spend another year revising… mysteries of life!

Happy Writing!

-ED

Follow me on Twitter: @ElleDesa_Writes

I’m on Pinterest, too: Planning My 1st Book , Writing Inspiration and Tips

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Fourth Draft Complete

Hey Folks!

My first major writing goal of the year has been met. I wanted to have the fourth draft of my novel completed by 2/21, and I’ve brought it in four days early. I’m currently on winter break so I will likely devote the rest of my time off to putting a dent in draft five. Right now, I think draft five will be the last one. We shall see. If I don’t feel like it’s ready, I sure won’t be rushing to begin the querying process. That said, aside from a few notable things I want to update, I’m not sure continuing to fiddle with the story will add anything of value and I’ve heard that that is when it is time to stop, lest you go on tweaking until the end of time.

I’ve quite enjoyed the revision process. Getting the first draft out was like pulling teeth, but I’ve found loads of joy (okay, the kind of joy that is drizzled with frustration) in figuring out how to make that little story I wrote better. I love challenging and pushing myself.

Stats on draft four:

Word count: 82,000

Time to complete: 48 days

And just for fun… stats from draft 1:

Word count: 71,000

Time to complete: over 364 days

Goals for draft five:

Do not allow word count to exceed 83,000 (awesome if I can find a way to hack it back down to 80,000)

Finish by 4/6

Make it as awesome and polished as I can

 

Happy Writing!

-ED

Follow me on Twitter: @ElleDesa_Writes

I’m on Pinterest, too: Planning My 1st Book , Writing Inspiration and Tips

I Think I’m Getting Close

I’ve spent the first couple days of 2016 alternating between working on the fourth draft of my current novel and learning all I can about how to build a platform. Something definitely feels different about this draft. Maybe it’s because I’ve spent too much time reading about querying, agents, and publishers, but I think I might be working on my last draft (well, let’s be real, second to last) before I try sending my baby off into world. Perhaps it was the subconscious realization of this that led me to begin my research about what comes next in the first place. Who knows, but it sure is exciting!

Yesterday I shared two of my goals for this year, but both of them had more to do with the “build a platform” side of things. I took some time this morning to outline goals for my WIP and ended up creating a list of all the things I’d like to achieve/do (deadlines included) between today and the end of June. What can I say? I’m a goal setter through and through and if I don’t hold myself accountable, who will? Plus, I’ve gotten really good at setting realistic, acheievable goals. Everything I wrote down is 100% doable, even with the busy schedule of a teacher/coach.

Highlights:

  • Finish draft 4 by 2/21
  • Complete final draft and polish by 4/6
  • Let manuscript rest about a month. Use that time to knock some books off my reading list and think about other projects
  • Read and revisit manuscript by 5/8, make note of problem areas
  • Revise by 5/31 (the last day of school)
  • Use first few weeks of summer vacation to write query letters etc.
  • Start sending out queries, maybe participate in a Twitter Pitch Party or Pitch Wars

Of course, I could finish draft 4 and decide the whole thing needs a complete overhaul, and if that happens, it happens! I’m not going to rush the process if my book isn’t ready. Maybe I’ll work ahead of schedule, maybe I’ll be forced to push back some of my personal deadlines, but either way, I take great joy in having a plan.

Happy writing, y’all.

-ED

Follow me on Twitter: @ElleDesa_Writes

I’m on Pinterest, too: Planning My 1st Book , Writing Inspiration and Tips

Building My Platform

I hope that you all enjoyed bringing in 2016 last night! My top three accomplishments of 2015 were coaching my lacrosse team to the state playoffs, getting my masters degree in biology, and writing the first three drafts of my current work in progress. I’d like to do all I can to have a similarly successful 2016. Now that I’ve proven to myself that I can commit to an idea deeply enough to write a book start to finish, my next goal is to truly put some effort into developing my platform. I still have more drafts to write and more polishing to do, but I’d like to start preparing for the next step. I set goals year round, but like so many others, I’d like to take advantage of the extra motivation that a new year brings.

My first two goals:

  1. Develop a Twitter presence
    • I had a personal twitter account, but I primarily used it to communicate with my students. Once Remind (an app that allows communication with students and parents through text messages) became a thing, I quit using Twitter as a teaching aid. Last night I made a new account that I would like to use to tweet about writing and connect with others in the industry.
  2.  Get serious about blogging
    • I originally created this blog as a way to keep myself accountable and update friends and family on my writing progress. It’s time for my blog to do some growing up! It’s time for me to make connections and start writing about things that people not so close to me might be interested in reading. I have a few ideas, but cluelessness is my overwhelming emotion. Using Google for help has only served to amplify this emotion, but I felt that way when I first started writing my book, too. I have always found persistence to pay off.

What goals do you have for 2016? Who should I follow on Twitter? Post your social media info in the comments and I’ll find you!

-ED

My Twitter: @ElleDesa_Writes

I’m on Pinterest, too: Planning My 1st Book , Writing Inspiration and Tips

Hello… It’s me.

Sorry. I couldn’t resist the lame title, but it has been a while, and I feel like quite the stranger to WordPress. Last time I updated, I had just completed my second draft and now the completion of my third draft has sent me wandering back. Revision has been going well, but I still feel like there is so much to be done. That’s alright though. I plan to keep nurturing this thing until I feel I’ve done the best I can do.  I know I can still make it better and that knowledge is exciting to me. Right now my sweet little WIP is sitting at about 80,000 words – that’s up 10,000 from draft one. I’m not overly concerned by that though. Draft one was seriously lacking some  meat. It needed a little oomph. Now, I might have packed on a bit too much oomph (me and my book… have you guys ever eaten Christmas Crack? my goodness…), but I think my next plan for revision will trim away at some sloppy bits.

I printed out my first and second drafts, but I’ll skip the hard copy of three. I need to, or else I’m going to have a six foot stack of drafts. My plan is to save the draft as a PDF and, between today and tomorrow, just read it. I want to read my book without nitpicking every word (hahaha, right). After that I’m going to create a chapter by chapter outline. I did do that originally, before I ever started trying to throw paragraphs together, but a good bit has changed since then. I want to see a skeleton view of my story as it is now. Hopefully it will easily reveal problem areas and I can start making note of changes to be made for draft four (or rather, start making more notes of changes to be made). I’ve also played around with the Hemingway app and might make a little use of it as I revise.

I hope you all have a happy New Year filled with lots of lovely reading, writing, and dream chasing (and achieving!).

ED

Second Draft Complete!

I completed the second draft of my very first book just a few minutes ago. It feels great, even despite the self-doubt that crept up as I approached this milestone. Once I realized that I was actually committed to my story enough to complete the second draft (I wasn’t so sure during a two month slump after editing the first 70 pages), I started reading up more on writing query letters, finding agents, and how to get your work published. I’m sure many of you know/can imagine how discouraging the information out there can be for a new writer. I took it all with a grain of salt at first though. I figured I would just write the best story I could and hope somebody would fall in love with it when it was done. That sounded just fine until I got about three quarters of the way through the second draft and realized my story would still need some MAJOR work before I could even think about writing a query letter. All these fixable, but numerous, plot issues starting springing up left and right. Just the thought of all the restructuring needed to fix the problems was daunting. Suddenly, all I could focus on is how long it would take me to polish my book, and how much doing so would throw off the lovely little outlining-to-publishing timeline I had in my head (as if I’ve actually stuck to one timeline I’ve made since I started). It took a reminder from a good friend to get me back in the right mindset. All he said was, “The goal should be to make the book as good as you can- not get it sold.” He’s right. I would love to worry about selling this book one day, but I’m not there yet. Right now, I need to put all of my energy into crafting a piece of fiction that I can be proud of. That way, whether I get a shot at sending my baby out into the world or not, I can still feel that sense of success.

It’s been about a year and half since I started this journey. I’m not sure how long this ride will be, but I sure am going to make the most of it.

Next up, draft three! I’ve got a plan for how to approach it… time to execute.

-ED

*My book is an apocalyptic/dystopian/scifi young adult novel currently sitting at about 78,000 words (306 pages)

I wrote a book y’all

I finished the first draft of my first novel about a week and a half ago. I think it’s finally set in… both the fact that I actually finished it, and the fact that I have to do something else with it. I’ve spent a good deal of time working to convince myself that what I’ve created isn’t 100% crap. Now, it may be 99% crap, but I can work with that. The big question is where to begin! This time last year I was digging up information on how to outline and get your story started. This year I have to tackle editing the first draft. Do I start with spelling, grammar, continuity, content? Do I do all of these things at once, or make several passes through? It’s pretty intimidating to look at my near-300 page stack of creative vomit and try to figure out how to polish it into something presentable. All I’ve managed to do is go on a mini office supply shopping spree.

Editing tools!

Okay, that’s not all I’ve done… I’ve also taken all of my bookmarks for landmarks and displayed them in a shadow box. Completing a novel from start to finish was something on my bucket list (more as a challenge to myself, not an arbitrary thing to tick off a list- this writing thing is forever) and I have a habit of not adequately celebrating/acknowledging my accomplishments so I wanted to do something nice. I also like the idea of keeping up with this new tradition for any future novels I may write.

My first draft and all eight bookmarks for landmarks

My first draft and all bookmarks for landmarks

If you have any editing tips, please share them!

-ED

PS. Fun coincidence… today is an exact year since my very first blog post!

Bookmarks for Landmarks! #7

It’s done! I finished my first draft about 30 minutes ago and I am thrilled. 71,343 words. I’ll definitely be back with a longer post soon. I’ve been working on this draft for a full year and what an experience it’s been! I’m so thankful to all my friends, students, and family that have encouraged me along the way.

Here is my final bookmark! I’ll be arranging all of them together sometime soon and celebrating with friends this weekend!

71, 343 words

71, 343 words

-ED

Is dystopian dead?

I decided to write a book because it’s always been something I’ve wanted to do. I love to read and I love to write, so taking on the adventure of creating a story, a whole world, and putting it on paper sounded like a great idea! I brainstormed for a while until I latched onto a storyline that set my heart aflutter and got my creative juices flowing. I researched how to approach writing your first novel and things like that, but I didn’t spend much time looking into the types of stories agents/publishers want to see. I didn’t do this because getting my story published wasn’t something that was really on my radar. Finishing my story was my goal. It’s still my goal. I’ll be perfectly content to complete my book and let that be the end. The process is quite the personal journey and I’ll be proud to finish this huge undertaking. That said, I still want to leave my options open.

So, out of curiosity, I started Googling a bit about the types of work YA agents/publishers are looking for and uh… it seems dystopian is not it. In fact, it seems that many push away anything with a hint of dystopia to it. It’s overdone, they’ve seen it all, they say. (more…)

Managing Time

So as I mentioned in my last post, I’m struggling to balance work with keeping up with my writing. I’m a high school biology teacher so summer was the most perfectly beautiful, awesome time to immerse myself in writing my first novel… and many days were still a struggle! Now, the first week of school as a teacher is chaos, but as we get going, I’ll fall into a relatively comfortable routine. Still, teaching pulls a significant amount of time outside of work. I wake up around 5:30am most weekdays, get to work around 6:45, leave at 4 on a good day, get home, relax a bit, eat something, maybe grade a few papers and BAM it’s pushing 9pm and my eyelids are getting heavy. Let’s add on top of that that I’m three classes away from my masters degree in biology and I’ve got two classes starting week after next. Ah!! Let’s not even talk about what my days will look like once it’s time to put my lacrosse coaching hat back on.

It’s alot… but I did choose this life and I do love it! (more…)