Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Writing Goals/Resolutions for 2016

It's almost a new year, so it's time to make some resolutions/set a few goals! I should probably be making personal/school related goals as well, but right now, the only goals and resolutions I've managed to set are related to writing and publishing.

My resolutions are the same as last year:

1. Write and/or Edit everyday. Currently at day 344 (today is day 344) of the streak. I'm the sort that, when on a streak, will do anything to keep the streak. Conversely, when I break the streak, I go on a long, long hiatus. So here's to hoping this writing streak stays.

2. Give feedback every day. Currently at day 260. The number for this is smaller (and will always be smaller), because there are days where I can only feedback or write, and I'll choose to write.

Writing Goals for 2016:

1. Publish Beauty's Daughter, which is the sequel to The Nutcracker King (if possible, I want to finish the second draft/main rewrite by this year!)

2. Finish the first draft (at least) of The Goblin Apple, which will be the sequel (of sorts) to Beauty's Daughter and The Nutcracker King aka third book in series.

3. Publish one of the short story collections at 0.99 (cause these are SHORT). I have a collection of satirical stories (on Japanophiles like me) and one of Biblical parable retellings. I have to choose one, get a cover for it, and get it copy edited. Any preferences as to which?

Stretch goals (in case I'm suddenly super productive and get the work done early):

4. Finish Mi & You, this WIP that's been a WIP for the last few years. Maybe I'll post chapter 1 here one day to give myself pressure lol.

5. Decide what I want to do with Free of Heart (this year's NaNo). If I decide to publish, I want to finish the second draft by the end of 2016 as well.

I actually have a lot more WIPs (and plot bunnies nibbling at my brain), but I want to focus on these first! With any luck, announcements about goal 1 will be made before June this year, and goal 3 sometime before or after that.

What are you goals and/or resolutions?

Saturday, 5 December 2015

The Nutcracker King - Published!

I don't really know how to announce this, so I'm just going to come right out and say it - I've self-published my first novella!

The Nutcracker King was one of the stories that I wrote for last year's NaNoWriMo rebel project, and after one year of rewriting, fiddling with the sentences, and general procrastination due to fear of embarking on the next step, I finally worked up the courage to self-publish.

Of course, this wouldn't have been possible without a lot of people. The Google+ community got me back into writing as a habit and gave me many self-publishing role models, and WriteOn gave me more author friends like M.N. Arzu and Lincoln Cole, who not only provided me with encouragement, but took away all my silly excuses not to self-publish. And the Dayre community - I just entered the community, but all of them have been lovely and supportive.

And of course, my friends, like James who did a mock-up cover that got me so excited I immediately opened D2D accounts and started formatting. And Rachel, who did the actual cover. And everyone else, who spent the time listening to me talk about how I want to publish without pouring cold water on my dreams (as well as reading my first drafts).

Without further ado, The Nutcracker King:

What if there was no ‘Happily Ever After’?

It has been eight years since the defeat of the Mouse King. Marie has never told the Nutcracker she loves him, and he has never broken the curse. Instead, Marie dances her nights away at Marzipan castle every night, while the Nutcracker tries to break the curse. Desperate, he uncovers a dark secret about his kingdom, and decides to use the knowledge to reverse the curse. In the end, who will get their happily ever after - Marie or the Nutcracker?

This story is a roughly 30,000 word novella.

As a new author, I'd really love some reviews (and sales. But I'm focusing on reviews first). If anyone would like a review copy, please email me at eustacia.tan[at]gmail.com, letting me know if you would like an ePub or mobi copy, and I'll send one to you straight away. Review copies are available until the 12th of December.

And to end, buy links! My novella is available on:
Amazon (link leads to the .com site)
Page Foundry
Tolino (Can't find the link, sorry)

Friday, 27 November 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015 Winner!!

Today, I've validated my NaNo WIP and am officially a winner!!

I'm not sure, but I think this is the earliest that I've validated the novel. I've normally validated only on the last day, so this is a pleasant feeling.

This is the first year where I used an outline system, and I think that played a big role into helping me win early. Getting to know the characters in advance, and to have a few chapter beats written out (I didn't plan the whole thing, because as I write, I get to know my characters more and I wanted room to change things) was fun and a game-changer. I'll probably use the same system for the next project/NaNo.

Last line of the WIP:

The secrets deepen and only time will tell the truth.

And of course, the official winner's certificate. By the way, I may have exciting writing-related news up ahead. Stay tuned!

Monday, 23 November 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015: Week 3

Ok, I'm a little late this week, but that means I have exactly one week to go. And right now, my word count is at 43,280 which puts me at almost three days ahead of the whole thing!!

I've been averaging about 2000 words these past few days (except when I had the headache), but I'm a bit worried about the last week. For one, my family is here, and that tends to bring my headcount down. For another, I'm going to Kagoshima from the 26th to the 28th. I haven't decided if I'm going to bring my computer or not.

In other news, I gathered up the courage to share the first two chapters on my Dayre. Not many responses at all... although one person did camp my day (i.e. pushed a button to say they want to be alerted when I updated it).

Anyway, graph for the week:

Some words from this week:
Although there was no reason for Amiko to obey Hiroto, she still made her way to the wishing well early in the morning. There was no harm, her brain said, in listening to what he had to say. Perhaps he was here to apologise. Or maybe, another part of her brain said, she was still under his sway, just like when they were dating.

“Morning,” Hiroto said as he strolled towards her. Amiko nodded in response.

“What do you want?"

Hiroto frowned, “I liked you better before. You were such a pliable girl.” When Amiko didn’t rise to the bait, he continued talking, “I need you to help me win Ada’s heart."

“I’m already helping you. I’m giving you information and advice, aren’t I?"

“It’s not enough. It only took me two weeks to make you fall in love with me, it’s been over a month, maybe two for her and still nothing,” Hiroto raged a little at that. He had never been patient. The shadow-student president of the Academy might appear kind and self-controlled, but he had always been selfish and he always would be.
How's NaNo going for everyone? Any validate theirs so far?

Saturday, 14 November 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015: Week 2

And with my week 2 update, I can say that I'm back on track!! I've made it to 24076 words, which means that I'm slightly over the target for today!

It's been a tough week - I've managed to write a bit more than 1667 per day most of the time, but there were days like yesterday where my class lasted for 6.5 hours and my brain was too tired, or that the words wouldn't come. I can't do much about brain tiredness, but the beats thing is seriously helping (I think I mentioned that in the last post too?).

Just realise I was taking screenshots last year! (That's how little I use this blog) I'm too late for last week, but here's this week's screenshot:

Some of the words I wrote this week:

The first days of exile were never easy. Up until then, the other lands had always been something that he read about in books. They were good for dreaming, not so much for living.

Pendragon opened the chest he was allowed to bring with him. He had opted for the minimal amount of clothes in favour of as many books as possible. Of course, this presented difficulties in moving the chest, but making it grow legs didn’t take that much energy. Now though, it was sitting quietly in the middle of the boat, as Pendragon waited for a passing ship to pick him up.

But the ocean was wide, and there were no ships to be found. None in the right direction, anyway. One day, Pendragon swore, one day he would ride the grandest ship ever built back to his homeland, where he would be feted as the visionary he truly was. But until then, he had to find a new place to live. He looked at the setting sun and sighed. Another day gone. That made five.

Five days since his sentence was handed down. Three days since he last saw land. And all because of the little book that he was holding in his hand.
How's everyone's NaNo going? Are you keeping up with the word count?

Saturday, 7 November 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015: Week 1

I have realised that this blog has turned into the occasional writing update. (Also, I need to update about how the editing went... all those months ago ><) But anyway, I'm participating in NaNoWriMo again this year, and here's my Week 1 update:

Word Count: 10,085

I'm 1581 words behind, as of today, and that's partly because of the Saga International Balloon Fiesta, and partly because I fell sick. As a result, there were a few days were I didn't even meet the minimum word count. I've been averaging more than that, though, for the past few days, so while I'm not ahead (like I was in the previous years), I still have hope for winning.

This year, I'm trying something different: I actually plotted.

Well, actually, I wrote the beats for the first 22 chapters, and I got to know the characters and the world before I started writing on Nov 1. So far, I've got to say that it's really useful - while writers block still exists, it's not as bad as before, because I have this rough skeleton to cling to.

I'm going to need to plan the beats for the next few chapters soon though - but I want to know the world a bit more.

By the way, I'm putting my NaNoWriMo WIP up on WriteOn, mostly for the word count function. You can find it here.

By the way, in the spirit of plotting, I actually wrote out a blurb, but whether the story goes according to blurb is yet to be determined:

Everyone is playing a game. 

Heartless, foreign Ada is having fun breaking the hearts of Sakoku boys. Of course, she's staying within the rules. Why get sent back to Kaiguo before her fun is over?

The Sakoku wizard trainees have their own bet going on - the first one to break Ada's heart, well, since she's heartless the first one to pull the rug from under her feet, will rise to the top of their group.  
Watching everyone is the Head Wizard, Pendragon, who's playing a little game of his own. Only this one goes beyond Ada and the wizard trainees. This game is going to played among countries.

To end my update, here's the first line of my WIP:

Dear Headwizard Pendragon,  
 Oddly enough, the reason why I decided to put my heart in a box wasn't because of a failed relationship or anything like that. It was because of my friends.

What about my NaNoWriMo friends? How are you doing? (Also, I'm really sorry if I'm absent on G+, school's been busy so if I have time, I'm working on my NaNo)

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Reflections on Feedback

I wanted to do a one-month Writeon-out-of-beta post, but first, I want to talk about feedback. Because if I don't, the one month review of the "public" WriteOn would be 90% about the feedback there.

Before I start talking about feedback, I want to tell you a story.

About two NaNoWriMos ago, I wrote a story. The first few chapters got good feedback on Scribophile and Figment, but after that, things sort of petered out. So, when I got into WriteOn, I uploaded way more chapters there than on any other site. And yes, people had nice things to say about the first few chapters, but one day, one of the members who's opinion I really respect, told me that after a strong start, the middle of the story was a huge mess.


Some other readers were nicer about it, but when I went back to the story, I realised she was right. I cut out 40-50% of the irrelevant stuff, and while the remaining chapters still need work, it's much, much better. (The nicer readers commented on that too - that the tightened version was much better)

The takeaway from this is that while feedback can hurt (and that member was really nice while delivering the bad news), it can really help improve the story. And I've seen this many, many times, both for my stories and for other people's stories.

Which is why I don't understand the people who join a writing site and get upset that not all feedback is positive. There's a writer who insists that her grammar mistakes are a literary device (or something like that, I honestly did not see it), and there was another who basically called me a naive fool for thinking that you have to show things in stories instead of just telling them (I wanted to tell him that I intended to read the whole chapter, but the telling was so much I gave up after 11 pages. But, something told me he wouldn't take it well).

That all sucks, but it's nothing compared to what some other members go through. I've seen one member (let's call her A) tell another (Member B) to eat wolfsbane for daring to give feedback (on member C's story), because Member B told C that there were too many grammatical errors. Seriously? Woflbane is poison, so to me, member A basically told member B to "go and die", all for a review. As it is, I've reported the comment, but it's still up on the site. Member C has not commented on that (although it has one upvote), but her reply to Member B was basically "Put up work scary WHY YOU MEAN?" (I'm paraphrasing. Obviously) What happened to building a supportive environment?

To go all full-disclosure and stuff, I happen to agree with member B's feedback, because I like stories to be readable with regards to grammar (it read, to me, like something passed through a bad google translate). The feedback wasn't that mean either, there was no snark in it.

Oh, and I should mention, in above instances, the members who reacted negatively were soliciting for feedback, through requests and/or the "feedback wanted" button. Not one of them said "I only want people who like this work to comment. If you don't like it, don't comment." Personally, I would have much less of a problem if they did that, instead of asking for feedback then snarling when it's not 100% positive.

Yes, putting your story out there can hurt, and yes, people not liking what you write can hurt. But before you start yelling "hater" or "fool" or "go eat wolfsbane", take a look at your story. The feedback may or may not be useful. I know I don't use all the feedback (not all readers are your audience), and I may think some are unwarranted comments, but I make it a point to thank everyone who does take the time to comment, and I consider all comments before deciding whether to accept or dismiss them.

I should add here that the authors here are still a very small minority.vThe authors I all interact with regularly are lovely people, and very understanding. I've had one tell me, "Eustacia, it's ok if you don't like the work, I already know not everyone will like it." <- Backstory: I already committed myself to reading the whole thing, but then I realised it's not something that appealed to me. It's well-written, but there are aspects of the book that I disagree with (with regards to my faith).

But still, a very small minority can chill a community, especially one that's still growing. At least two authors have stopped giving/drastically cut down on feedback after attacks (and that's a pity, because their feedback was very detailed and insanely useful). I'm worried that WriteOn will lose what made it great - the space for people to give honest feedback about the things they read (*).

So yeah, this is all. While I understand the (temporary) hurt that can come with constructive/not totally positive feedback, I personally think it's great that people are willing to be honest with me and tell me what doesn't work. I know I'm a better writer for it.

I'm still optimistic about the site. Just slightly ... down at this turn of events. 

*: Ok, not totally all. I thought of something while thinking about feedback, but since it's not really related, I'm making it a footnote/asterisk of sorts. I was wondering about why I stopped being so active on Figment, when there was a time I basically checked it every hour, something like how I am with WriteOn now. I realised that one reason (not the reason, but it probably played a part) may have been finding the first toxic person who wants to write there. I wasn't attacked or anything, but someone I was giving feedback on was, and I now remember thinking, "Oh, why would I want to be part of this community".

P.S. I didn't include screenshots because I can't really be bothered to redact names and stuff. Besides, I didn't write this to pick on people, I'm writing this to work through what happened and figure out what I think about it. Sometimes, the brain doesn't organise itself until words are written down.

Monday, 9 March 2015

A Big Step Forward - I hired an editor!

If you've known me for some time, you'll notice that I enter NaNoWriMo every year. And even before that, when I was a little girl, I enjoyed writing stories. But I stopped for a few years, when school essays turned from stories to argumentative essays (which are fun in their own right, but not a story).

So after three years of NaNoWriMo, I started getting that nagging feeling that I'm making the same flaws in writing. WriteOn members are awesome, and I know that I'm not good at setting, but I figured that it was finally time to take the next step:

I hired a developmental editor.

This is the WIP's placeholder title and cover. Because I realise having
this two things really motivate me to keep writing. 
Because I have a finished novelette that I want to improve, and I heard about Alida from when she was on Rocking Self Publishing, I really, really wanted to hire her. I did get sample editing from another editor, the Skype call and feedback makes me feel that I'll really be able to learn a lot from her.

I'm so excited right now! I can't wait to get Alida's feedback on the whole novelette, seeing where my weak spots are and correcting them :D

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Micro Fiction - Reflection

I'm not the type of person that falls asleep quickly. Sometimes, words come into my brain, and I have to write them down. I didn't know where this micro-fiction/vignette should go, so I figured that for now, its home is here.

Today I went into the mirror.
My reflection tried to stop me, but I brushed her aside.
I stepped through the glass. Surprisingly, it didn't hurt. It was like walking through water.
It only started to hurt when I looked around. I breathed in a thousand cuts. I breathed out a thousand hurts. I opened my mouth, but nothing came out but the whine of the unloved. Around me, all I heard were the voices of the angry.
"I tried to stop you." My reflection mouthed to me.
Our gazes held each other in place until she broke free.
Now, it's my turn to be the reflection.