Book Signing!

There’s a time when I didn’t even know if I would ever finish my book, let alone find enough courage to go out in public and do a book signing.

Then again, ‘courage’ here is a bit of a sketchy detail.

I’ll be the first to say that I’m a huge introvert. Give me my pajamas, some cats, and a pot of tea any night over leaving the house and socializing. Add a book to that mix, best night ever.

However, one of the great ironies of writing is that we often are drawn to writing because, although quiet, we like to speak. The thing is that we just do it better on paper where we can think before speaking, than in public or face to face. Yet, take on the mantle of author on top of just being a ‘writer’ and you soon realize that you have to *gasp* socialize in order to get your book out there and sell it.

However, this isn’t meant to be a huge, exponentially deep post.

The news is that – although excited and terrified at the same time – I have my first book signing this Saturday!

Should be an interesting time, if anything. I’ve already started a bit of a discussion on a fantasy group on Facebook, and it’s good to know so far that basically every author feels nervous and awkward at book signings. So, at least I’m not alone.

And really, I’m not alone. Being my first ever book signing, I’m truly thankful and relieved that this is not a sole book signing revolving around me and me alone. This is a “Local Authors” signing event at my local Barnes & Noble, meaning that I won’t be the only author there. And, to top it all off, though we’ve never met in person before, I do already know one of the other authors.

Really, though I am prone to social anxiety, I’m just trying not to think about it too much and pretty much play it as I go. I have a good number of books. I have business cards. And I’m in the process of making bookmarks to have on the table as well.

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Aren’t they pretty? I plan on doing a professional print of these soon, but as it’s hard to find a company that will print within a week that doesn’t charge $30 for express shipping, I had to improvise.

On a final note to all my readers, if there’s any authors out there, have you had any book signings? How did they go? Tips? Horror stories?

Book Signing for “Sparks and Shadows”

Barnes and Noble – Midland, MI

Saturday, April 9 – 2016

2-4pm

 

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2015: A Year in Review

“2015 was a year of struggle and perseverance… but it was the year that defined me as a writer.”

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My 2015 can practically be summed up in the sentence above, and though I could very easily leave it at that, I will go into depth, because I feel that in some ways it was one of my worst years, and yet, one of my best. A statement that is difficult to understand without explanation. Because how can it be the best and the worst? Yet, that’s just part of life, isn’t it? We take the good with the bad, and we come to realize that we only recognize the good things when we’ve experienced the darkness. It’s the only way we can see the contrast for what it really is.

 
Because so much happened in 2015, I struggled a bit on how to write this post – and maybe that’s why it’s taken me so long to commit words to screen. But I finally decided to go about this in parts, because in a way, that’s how 2015 shaped up in the end… all these separate parts came together to make the whole.

 

OF DECLINING HEALTH

Though it’s hard to admit – not only to myself, but to others – I won’t sugarcoat this. I’ll let it be known that I spent far too much time within the past couple years not writing at all. You’ll hear, time and time again – from authors and artists alike – that the best way to hone your craft is to work at it every day. And I really do believe that. One of the hardest things I’ve discovered about writing over the years is that the longer you allow yourself to fall out of the habit, the longer it will take you to pick it back up. I’ve reread entire drafts of my story more than once due to allowing myself to fall out of writing too often. The best thing you can do as a writer is to do exactly that – write. It doesn’t have to be anything spectacular, but just the act of writing, keeps you in the writing spirit. It’s one of the reasons that I have a dedicated writing journal. Because I’ve found that even taking the time to complain to yourself about how much your writing sucks or how far you’ve fallen down the rabbit hole in terms of actually working, it’s still writing and it keeps your mind in the habit.

 
That being said, I spent the majority of the last few years lost amidst depression and failing health. I don’t know when the problems began, but I remember when they truly culminated – probably 3-4 years ago – and feeling terrible became the new normal. I had terrible brain fog all the time, making it difficult to focus on writing and keep things straight in the story. And even when that would clear, I was tired all the time. So tired that it didn’t matter if I slept 3 hours or 12, I always felt like I needed a nap a few hours after I woke up. I had panic attacks for no reason. As well as breaking down and crying for no reason, other than the fact that I was frustrated, not knowing what was going on, and just wanted my life back.

 
In the fall of 2014, the doctors finally discovered that I have an autoimmune disorder called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Finally having a name to place the blame on was half the battle, but it would still take nearly another year of battling symptoms and fighting doctors before I felt decent.

 
So, 2015 continued on much like 2014 ended… appearing like there was no real hope in sight. Trying to align myself with the fact that maybe feeling like shit was just my normal, and trying this, that, and the other to reconcile myself to that fact. I tried different diets, tested out different supplements… hoping that something would take to make me feel at least a tish better. I would go in swings, feeling good maybe once or twice a month. Though, as to if that really made a difference, I don’t know. It almost felt as if those few days of feeling good just made me realize all the more what I was missing out on when I returned to the usual days of feeling terrible.

 
Amidst all this, I tried to write here and there, but I fell into the terrible habit of telling myself that, “I don’t feel great today… tomorrow… Tomorrow, I’ll finally work.” But that quickly became the daily mantra, and a week later, a month later, I would still be telling myself the same thing with nothing to show for it. Even when I did find the ambition to do so much as open a blank Word document, or to open some of my previous writing, I would practically sit there with my vision blurry, trying to figure out what to say, what to write. It felt more and more as if I were losing myself. My art suffered, and in a way, I believe that left me to suffer all the more – as if all that untapped artistic drive within myself was withering in the darkness and backfiring, turning into an internal poison.
One quote that has always stuck with me is:

“A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity.”

And I really do believe that.

I continued to gather more symptoms – wicked insomnia and hair loss that scared me – before I finally found a doctor that would listen to me. After months on medication that didn’t help me much at all, I was finally able to go on the natural – Armour – that I had wanted since the beginning of this journey since reading that people with Hashimoto’s do far better on it.

 
It still took a month or two to really kick in, but I began feeling better and better.

 

THE WALL OF DARKNESS

A great weight had been lifted from my life, but it took me another few weeks to realize just how much damage had been done in that time – not only to my mentality, but to my writing.

 
I had tried to write here and there along this zig-zaggin journey, though hardly anything of real worth had presented itself during this time. I might have editing a chapter or two – though I remember hitting that brick wall in my edit, and hitting it hard. I danced around the same three chapters for months – hating the story, hating the writing, trying to get it to behave and fit in with the rest of the story. (I actually wonder still if anyone that pays attention close enough could find it in the final book.)

 
But, it was during this ongoing fight that I ran into the worst days ever with my writing, and to be honest, it had nothing at all to do with the writing itself. Strangely enough.
No, what haunts me to this day, is that I was met with what is probably every author’s worst nightmare: my characters themselves actually fell silent.

 
And, sadly enough, it actually took me a couple of weeks to realize it…

 
But I started writing Nyte-Fyre way back in 2006, and since then my characters have always been with me in my mind… constantly bickering, speaking with one another, letting little facts about themselves slip. Writing is probably one of those rare professions that it’s actually part of the job description to have voices in your head, and to listen to them. It had become such a constant chatter that I had kept a notebook by my bed for years to write down conversation pieces that would pop up.

 
Nigh on ten years, I’d had that cast of characters living with me, co-habituating in my mind. I had grown used to their individual voices vying for my attention. So, it would be a bit of an understatement to say that when they fell silent, I felt lost. I had never experienced this before, and I felt so empty, drifting aimlessly into a silent void.

 
And it was during this time, looking at the draft of “Sparks and Shadows” and how much work was still left, and trying to find any shred of voice of my characters to cling to, that I began to horrifically wonder if maybe this wasn’t the end. Maybe this was my sign that I should give up. Rather than my characters talking, my inner critic – that had always been there regardless – was given all the more room to rear her ugly head and repeat to me all my fears. That I had never been meant to write. That I wasn’t an artist. A writer. That I was wasting my time. Just how many times could I tell people that this would be the year that my novel would finally be done. That it would finally be published…

 
Maybe it really was time to hang it up and find something else to do.

 
And for one of the first times in my life, I actually considered it.

 

THE STRUGGLE AND THE PERSEVERANCE

That very easily could have been the end. There are probably a lot of people that would have taken that as a sign and moved on.

 
However, if I am anything besides creative, it’s stubborn.

 
It was tempting to toss it all to the wayside and allow myself to be defeated, but there’s something stinging in that word… defeat.

 
2006, I had started with a small seed of an idea and went with it, allowed myself to be drawn into the magic of writing, of creation.

 
Was I really going to allow 9 ½ years to go to complete and utter waste?

 
So many days I felt like I hadn’t really gotten anywhere with the story… but look at the Nyte-Fyre folder on my computer and it’ll tell you otherwise.

 
A 421 page first draft of the first novel. Half of what had already been rewritten for the edit. Side stories and back stories. About 25% of the second novel and half of the third, and some of the fourth, thanks to three consecutive years of participating in NaNoWriMo. Not to mention the copious amounts of notebooks filled with thoughts and notes and character conversations and whatnot floating about the room. Those years hadn’t been entirely wasted, and I had a story blossoming, waiting to finish blooming to tell me that.

 
Was I really prepared to give all that up?

 
No… I wasn’t. Because I knew in a way, that even if I had reconciled that I would never write another word on Nyte-Fyre again, it wouldn’t go away. That unfinished business would haunt me for the rest of my life, and it would feel as if the word ‘failure’ was stamped on my head for everyone to see.

 
The thing is that I’ve always taken on projects that might have been challenging, or more than I needed, because I’ve always been stubborn enough to pull through. It might take me awhile, but I don’t take failure as an option.

 
I bought a daily desk calendar last year of Latin quotes, and one of them that stuck with me is something that I’ve kept and pertained to my writing ever since, if only because it’s the mentality that I have:

“Either don’t try, or else carry it through.”

Basically, if you don’t plan on finishing it, don’t even bother starting. And though it may sound harsh, to me, it’s inspiring.

 
And that alone is one of the things that kept me going throughout 2015. It acted as an inspiration, and at the same time, almost a taunt. “Why did you even start if you didn’t think you could finish this project? If you had planned on giving up?”

 
Because I couldn’t be haunted by that. I wouldn’t allow it.

 
So, I did what needed to be done.

 
I sat down and I began to work.

 
It was difficult, no doubt. Especially at first. Though I had half of the edit/rewrite done, I was stuck in a compromising position – I had left off at the part that had tossed me headfirst into that brick wall, essentially leaving me with a writing concussion. Not a great place to start. Not only that, but my characters were still missing in action, and I still felt so far from the end it wasn’t even close to being funny. But I was tired of telling people that “This will be the year!” with nothing to show for it come January.

 
I did what I never wanted to do with my writing – instead of fun, it became work, it became my job. Some days that I would grudgingly drag myself to.

 
But, I made it work.

 
I printed off all that I had of the rewrite, and I read it through – realigning myself with the story and the characters. I perused my endless notes and all the entries in my writing journals. (I knew I had kept those journals for a reason, though I never thought when I began that particular venture in my writing in 2012 that they would actually at one point become detrimental to my continuation as a writer.)

 
And once I re-familiarized myself with the story, I began to edit again. It was a slow process, but I dutifully worked, day after day. Sometimes it would only be a paragraph at a time, other times I’d get a whole chapter done in a day. My biggest problem was that I still wasn’t straight editing. I was still stuck in parts of the book that I knew needed to be rewritten and reworked. Some of the hardest things I discovered in that process was deciding what to keep, and if I was going to keep it, where to put it. There were certain lines that I knew I wanted to keep for certain, and in my drive to make sure they were back in the story, they ended up in the writing multiple times, causing more frustration.

 
One of the things that cut my rewriting time down a bit was that I left myself a note about where that brick wall had assaulted me and taunted me for months and moved on. I knew that I would still have to return and smooth that over, but I moved on to what I knew I could work with.

 
For the longest time, “Sparks and Shadows” has been broken down into sections – maybe 5 in all. So, I moved on to my final rewrite section, and though difficult at first, I was given the chance to enjoy myself again, if only briefly.

 
One of the things that I discovered that I hated about editing was that this story has been with me for nearly 10 years. I knew what happened in the first book. I’d spent years with it. It was no longer new and exciting to me. I didn’t want to remain stuck in limbo there. I wanted to move on, to explore new writing and to feel the magic of discovery again. And though it wasn’t the height of that, moving into this section that had so much rewriting left, gave me just enough of a taste of that to keep moving on.

 
It took me a couple weeks, but once I moved on from that section, so began the tedious work of the actual editing. I began this novel when I was 15, so needless to say, my writing style had changed a bit. So, it was my ongoing goal now to smooth over that writing so that it read cohesively, readers unaware that there were 8,9, almost 10 years writing difference between some sections. This was a slow and tedious process, but I plucked away at it daily.

 
There were times during this process when I began to wonder if it would ever end.

 
And then I ran into a day where as I was going through, the writing seemed to grow better dramatically. I suddenly wasn’t having to edit nearly as much and it was making the process go a lot faster. This right here was when I felt that heavy weight finally lifted off my shoulders. And I knew that though I still had a bit to go, the end was near. The light at the end of the tunnel wasn’t a train, it was actual daylight.

 
It wasn’t long after that that I finally, after all those years, finished what I had started with the edit. I reached the end of the book again. And I returned to those chapters in the middle, and sussed those out to something workable.

 
I had finished what had begun to look unattainable.

 

TRIUMPH

However, that wasn’t the end.

 
I may have finished the final draft, but I still wasn’t done.

 
Had I decided on taking the traditional route of publishing, then I would have begun the waiting game. I’d have written a query letter and sent it off to agents and publishers with my fingers crossed. But I had decided a number of years ago, that although it would be difficult, I wanted to try my hand first at self-publishing. I didn’t want to give up the majority of my rights for a small royalty after all the work I had put into it.

 
Yet, that left me with a lot of work that most authors don’t have to deal with.

 
And one of those definitely proved to be far more hassle and frustration that I remember, and that was a demon called ‘formatting.’

 
The thing was that I thought I had that under control. Thanks to NaNoWriMo, I had a coupon code for a handful of free printed books from a company called CreateSpace. I used that in 2014 to print off what I’ve been calling since my test-copies. Essentially, these were never meant for resale. I only wanted to see what the book would look like in print. In a way, it was a token of all my previous work and a physical reminder of my goal at large. My 2014 test copies were a print off of my first draft. But, though it’s writing that I wouldn’t necessarily send out to the world (save for my close friends who read that draft), it challenged me to pick up those editing and formatting skills.

 
Having done the formatting once before, I mistakenly thought that it was going to be easy the second time around.

 
Oh, how wrong I was.

 
Though a good majority of the formatting process is still a copy and paste job, what you’ve got to watch out for is the pesky formatting that Word likes to throw at you. Though a wonderful program most of the times, it definitely has its downfalls once in awhile. Especially when trying to format. Word has a nasty habit of taking what you tell it to do, and doing something different.

 
Not only that, but I made the mistake of thinking that 10 chapters a day would be a good goal… that is until you realize just how long ten chapters is. I have 81 in all. So, essentially, my 8 day project turned into a month.

 
As I copied and pasted, I wasn’t only transferring over my chapters, I was doing a final run-through grammatical edit. I had to figure out what my chapter headings would look like – what font to use, what size, and the spacing from the top of the page and in between. I had to add page numbers, and figure out how the dreaded headers and footers worked. Something that was all the more difficult when you add in the conundrum of wanting different odd and even headers, and no header at all present on chapter title pages. That was where most of the headache came in. I would get one thing figured out, and then something stupid would take its place – like all my odd page numbers disappearing.

 
But again, my stubbornness came into play. I know that self-publishing sites offer these services – but I did my own formatting and my own cover art. I spent numerous hours searching forums for answers and playing around. I learned more about headers and footers, and a spectacular feature called ‘page-breaks.’ It was a long process, but I feel like I learned so much in the long run. And with seven or eight books total in the series, I’ll be using that knowledge again.

 
Though long days of frustration and my vision going blurry from staring at a computer screen for so long, I crossed that bridge as well.

 
A bridge that had felt off limits to me for so long.

 
It was a long and twisting journey, but I had finally reached the end.

 

ENTER THE DREAM

Now I would, after all those years, get to reap the rewards.

 
I remember feeling so jittery when I sent those final files off, wondering if there were things that I had missed, if maybe I should have spent more time honing the story or if people would even want to read it. I had experienced for so many years what probably every artist has heard in their lifetime… “Oh, so you write (draw, paint, etc…). That’s nice. So, what do you really do?”

 
Of course I was nervous.

 
But then I got that first box of books. It was only 25 copies, but it’s certainly surreal to open a large box and have multiple copies of your own book looking back at you. To have people buy it. To create the Kindle file and to be able to look it up online. To see your novel and your name on big name sites like Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com.
To be honest, it still feels like a dream. Like some fantasy world I’ve stepped into.

 
So far, I’ve sold probably 100 copies in person and online. I’ve run a giveaway through GoodReads (which I will be doing again soon), and I’ve received numerous comments.
Most of which consist of “Holy crap!” when they see the actual size of this novel (a whopping 694 pages), to “I couldn’t put it down! When is the next one coming out?”

 
It’s been a long time coming, but all of this is just fuel for me to continue what, deep in my heart and soul, I knew I was meant to do all along. I may have lost my way a few times, but maybe in the end, it’s the struggle that brings out our true colors and shows us what we were really meant for.

 

I still remember starting the novel way back in 2006, and I remember that day in 2011 (December 29th) when I wrote the final word of the first draft – long before I even knew that “Sparks and Shadows” would be the final chapter. I was high on that ultimate thrill and magic of writing, of having completed such a long project, and knowing that I had faithfully stuck with it for all those years. Most of those years I had only written 5 chapters a year.

 
I could have given up anytime during those early years. Those statistics alone should have left me with a dark cloud over my head, taunting me and telling me it couldn’t be done. Yet, I was never deterred. I soldiered on. And honestly, I don’t think quitting ever once crossed my mind those first few years.

 
There are times when I wish I could return to that carefree writer that was filled with that blazing spark.

 
Now, it’s not to say that I don’t enjoy writing anymore – if that were the case, I wouldn’t continue to do it. But, I’ve walked the other side of that line now. That realization that writing isn’t always easy. That, as much as you can love it, you can also find yourself loathing it as well… the long days of not writing a word, of spending more time hitting the backspace key as opposed to committing words to paper, and wondering if there isn’t something better you can be doing with your time.

 
It’s hard to come back from that.

 
Though, not impossible.

 
And, maybe I’m one of those people that needed that harsh slap in the face.

 
I’ve felt the magic of writing, and I’ve also danced amongst the flames of writing hell.

 

But, I think what makes you a true writer is when you keep going despite those difficulties, and instead of living on one side or the other, you find a way to balance those two hemispheres and to walk that thin line in between.
Because, really, what is the light without the darkness? It’s all about contrast.

 

~ Kendrick von Schiller

 
P.S: And if anything good at all has come out of this (besides finding the drive and the courage to publish my first novel), it’s that my characters voices have returned to me in full force. It was as if they had picked up on waning ambition and had collectively decided to test me by gathering in a corner and remaining silent. Yet, as I got back into writing, they slowly returned to me, as if they could tell by my returning to the writing that I wasn’t going to give up. I wonder if they hadn’t planned that all along. The thing is, they haven’t shut up since… and to be honest… I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Free Reading – Update

Hi all,

I’ll admit, I’m behind on where I want to be with my blogging, but my own personal journaling for my writing comes first and I’m not finished with that yet.

However, I just wanted to say that Chapters 1-5 of my first fantasy novel “Sparks and Shadows” are now up on Wattpad to read for free. The first five chapters are all that I intended to put on there, as my novel is published.

I thought that it would be a good way to give potential readers a taste of the writing style and the story to see if it was for them. I may or may not add another couple chapters, but for now, this is it. I think that it’s enough for people to decide if they want to continue the story.

On that note, playing with the sight and trying to figure out how it works, I did discover that you have to have a Wattpad account to read any works on there. Wattpad is free to sign up for, and you can do it quickly through Facebook, even. Yet, if you don’t care to go through the hassle, I do also plan to upload those same five chapters for free reading on both DeviantArt and on here. I’ll be creating a tab specifically for the novel here soon.

For now, here’s the link to the Wattpad version:

https://www.wattpad.com/story/57310579-sparks-and-shadows-book-one-of-the-nyte-fyre

Enjoy!

~ Kendrick

Free Reading

Hello all,

Kendrick here.

If you took notice of my last blog post regarding the aftermath of NaNoWriMo, that was indeed part one of a much longer musing. I have yet to upload part two, but hopefully that will be soon.

In the meantime, I hope everyone is having a fantastic holiday season.

As for me, I just wanted to let you all know that I have recently signed up on the Wattpad site and am in the process of uploading a few chapters of my first novel.

Currently, the prologue, and chapters 1 and 2 are up for your reading pleasure. I will eventually have the first 5 chapters up on their to read for free.

Of course, Sparks and Shadows is a published work and I’m not going to have the entire book up on their to read for free, but I wanted to give current followers, as well as potential fans of the series the chance to read a little bit of it without the obligation of buying. By doing this, I’m giving everyone the opportunity to browse through the first few chapters to see if you like the writing style and if the story catches your attention. Much like being able to pick up a copy in your local bookstore and browse.

I’ll leave the link below, and see if it’s possible to add a tab or button on the side bar to take you to the site.

Depending on what I write in the future, I’ll probably use this platform to upload the first few chapters of the second novel at some point, as well as some short stories (possibly Nyte-Fyre related, possibly not), and if I ever have any other ideas for stories. I’m a writer… who knows what might end up on there.

Overall, though I have the first three chapters available for reading on my Facebook page, this site just provides a nicer looking aesthetic for reading. And makes it easier to keep it all in one, easy to navigate place.

https://www.wattpad.com/story/57310579-sparks-and-shadows-book-one-of-the-nyte-fyre

 

The Aftermath of NaNoWriMo – Pt. 1

*NaNoWriMo:
Aka: National Novel Writing Month.
A challenge to writers to write 50,000 words of a novel within the month of November.
50,000 words.
30 days.

Sound challenging?
If you answered yes, then you just may be correct.
Unless you’re a writer, or are friends with one, chances are that you haven’t heard NaNoWriMo. And if you’re not a writer, you may also be thinking to yourself… “Why would anyone ever put themselves through that kind of torture?” Because, if you really stop to think about it, 50,000 words is A LOT of writing. Especially if you think about the big picture and having to write all that in a month’s time. Remember those exercises in English class when you had to write a 500 word paragraph? Yeah, that’s nothing.

If you divide out the 50,000 words by the 30 days given to you to write them, that leaves you with a daily goal of about 1,666 words. From my four years of experience with WriMo, that’s about 2-3 pages of writing, depending on your font size and your spacing. It might not seem like a whole lot, and there are two sides to that argument:

– If you have a clear goal in your head of what you want to write, if you’re buzzing with excitement to sit down at the computer and put your fingers on the keys and take off like a marathon runner, then no… it’s really not. (I’ve had these days. You sit down to write and the words just flow from your fingers like magic and the world around you fades away and you become lost in the story – completely unaware of the fading daylight or of the fact that you haven’t ate in six hours.)

– And then, there are your off days. Or, for some writers, maybe these are your normal days (and the aforementioned seem to be flukes, though ones that you wish you could repeat on a more frequent basis.) You have the story in your head, maybe even clear as day, but you sit down to write… and your mind is a blank wasteland, complete with tumble weeds and swirling clouds of dust, choking out all creative thought. You keep your butt in your chair, telling yourself that you just need a second. And yet, an hour passes, and all you’ve managed to do is check the same four sites over and over, eaten a bag of oreos, stared at the wall, and have somehow found yourself either washing dishes, reading a book, or lost deep in the abyss of Youtube, watching endless cat videos… or, possibly answered the siren call of Netflix. (Unfortunately Netflix and NaNoWriMo start with the same letter – guess which one comes up first in my browser when I type the letter “N”…)

Though I’ve had great years regarding NaNoWriMo, I’ll be frank and say that 2015 fell into the latter category about 95% of the time.
Am I proud of that? No.

Either way, for those that follow, here’s a more in depth look at how November shaped up on the writing front:

October 31-2015

With NaNoWriMo, this day has become a night filled with both dread and anticipation. The downfall here is that Halloween is my favorite holiday, so I like to dress up (not that I don’t any other random day of the year) and enjoy myself, but there’s also that lingering thought in my mind that once the clock strikes midnight, it’s time to place butt in chair and get to writing. Starting to write at midnight and getting the majority of my word count done at night before I go to bed so that I have words to wake up to has become my way of blasting through WriMo since first undertaking the challenge back in 2012.
Halloween night: It was chilly, windy, and I’m pretty sure it was rainy as well, but I still dressed up – nothing like wandering the house dressed as my villain from Nyte-Fyre (that’s one way to get into the writing mood, and literally into character). My best friend came over and we ate candy and watched movies.

November 1-2015

I wrote a good chunk of the second Nyte-Fyre novel last year for NaNoWriMo, and with that 50,000 words, it was some of my best writing to boot. So, easy enough to pick up where I left off in the midst of quite the commotion in the storyline, right? I thought so anyways. With the final push to publish my first novel, I had kind of burned myself out on writing/editing and hadn’t done much writing since the end of August. But, I was still excited to continue on the path that “Isle of Hell” was taking me down. I knew the main points of where the storyline was taking me, and I’ve known the ending of this particular novel for over a year and a half.
I sit down to write around noon the next day (possibly my first mistake: I didn’t start writing at midnight as per usual), and… nothing. On that first day, I wrote a whopping 59 words. Yes… not even 100 words.
Despite all my enthusiasm, I just wasn’t feeling that writing magic. I wrote a sentence, didn’t care for it, and walked away. Got distracted, and never got back to the computer that day. I went to bed feeling disappointed in myself, but that was okay. It was only the first day, and I could easily catch up with one good writing spree and be back on track. I still had this.

November 3-2015

Though still rather unfocused (I still chalk some of this up to the fact that I unfortunately started November with a cold. I was tired, had a runny nose, and mildly irritable.), I sat down and did my best to write. I ended up writing just under 2,500 words – great for a day of writing, and over the daily WriMo goal… except that it didn’t bring me back up to par with that golden line that you strive to keep up with on the WriMo website throughout the month. Once again, I told myself that that was fine… it was only day two. Even if I just wrote a couple hundred more words than the 1,666 a day, I would catch up in a matter of days. It sounded easy enough in my head, anyways.

November 4-6 – 2015

Once again, easier said than done. My mind just wasn’t focused, my heart ultimately not in the game. And let me tell you, no matter how many years you’ve been writing, it’s just not easy to put words to the page when you’re feeling that way. The writing becomes a chore, and real chores, like cleaning the house, become far more appealing than they would on any other given day. However, like any true writer (or, stubborn person) I continued to write, sometimes begrudgingly, sometimes with a little more fervor than someone giving a cat a bath. I wrote at least 1,000 words a day – sometimes going beyond the daily 1,666 word goal, sometimes falling short. However, it felt like I always remained consistently 1,000 to 1,500 words below that line. I shrugged… so I had a bad starting week. It wasn’t the end of the world.

November 8-9 – 2015

And then my first 0 word day hit. Nothing new, to be honest. In the four years I’ve done WriMo, I’ve always had a couple days where I wrote absolutely nothing. However, they were usually far later in the month, when I’d reached a bit of a writing burn out. Looking at my past calendars that I’ve printed for keeping track of WriMo word counts only left my guilt worse – on day nine on the first year I participated I had already technically won the competition.
That day was followed by a second 0 word day. It wasn’t looking good. Two days with not a word written, and quickly falling far behind target.

November 10-2015

I refused to let myself be saddled with a third 0 word day, and yet, I sat at the computer and couldn’t contemplate what to write. I printed out the last chapter that I had written the previous WriMo year and studied it, and it occurred to me that maybe the reason I was having problems was that in my rush to finish WriMo in 2014, I had kind of blended scenes from 2-3 chapters into one in order to get my thoughts on the page and to finish (I had a relatively difficult time in 2014 as well, but nothing like this year). Was that my ultimate problem? Did I simply need to go back and write out that chapter as it should have been? Maybe, and who knows where it would have ended had I done that. However, still feeling rather uninspired, I didn’t feel like getting out another sheet of paper and sifting through my thoughts to create the outline that I should have done in the last weeks of October in the first place. Yet, I just couldn’t get myself back on track with the second book. So, I did the next best thing… I moved on. In the same document, I started writing a relatively new scene in my head that is actually a part of the after novella that I’m planning for the Nyte-Fyre series (after book 7 or 8). With something fresh and new in my mind, I did far better, managing 3,400 words that day.

November 11-15 – 2015

I did okay for a few days, and then troubles started to arise again. I had a few more 0 word days. I had other days where I hardly even managed a couple hundred words. Despite having so much story material in my head, I began to lose hope.

November 16-29 – 2015

And so that idea continued to fester in my head. The halfway point came and went, and I continued to struggle along. The lure of Netflix become brighter. What was usually cold weather at this time of year had given way to warmer temperatures than was normal, leaving me to want to play outside, rather than sit at my desk. I fell victim to both.
However, no matter how down I was feeling on the writing front, I kept going. I wondered at times if maybe this time couldn’t be better spent on doing something else… anything else. Yet, I routinely sat at the computer and opened Word. Sometimes I wrote a few paragraphs before losing ambition. Other times I stared at the screen and wrote absolutely nothing.
But, the one thing that separates true writers from those that simply say they write, is just as simple as that: be it good days or bad days, we continue to write.
The greatest thing about NaNoWriMo is that although you are competing alongside millions of others, none of those people are your enemies. The only enemy, and the only true competition, is yourself and that nagging voice in the back of your mind saying that you can’t do it. And it’s to prove that mocking voice wrong that we keep going, despite how little hope we feel.

November 30-2015 (Do or Die)

And finally, it was the last day of the competition. Never before had I ever been writing on the last day. You can start validating your word count around the 25th, and I usually do. But this year it was actually down to the wire, and I finally understood the panic of the last days that I had heard other people speak of. I had never been in this position, but the thing was that I could have easily quit at any time during this competition, and yet, I didn’t. Here I was on the last day with 48,000 words. I couldn’t quit now.
The thing was, that it was the last day – whether I finished or not, this was the last day. I could wake up the next morning, a winner. Or I could wake up, having come some close, yet still so far, and feeling that utter disappointment in myself that plagues us writers constantly.
So, though it took me most of the day, I wrote.
And, low and behold: I finished!
I got my pretty certificate saying that I was a winner, and the pride in myself that, although difficult, I still powered through.
And, maybe that in itself made the win all that much better – knowing just how close I had come to losing, to giving up. It felt in a way that if I were to give up, I wouldn’t just be giving up on the 2015 round of NaNoWriMo, but on my writing dreams. A little dramatic? Of course, we’re writers, that’s what we do best.
But, I had just published a giant novel, I couldn’t let myself fail now.
I’m pretty sure I had a tea and simply stared at the wall after writing that last hundred words and validating my word count – 50,732 words.
Though it wasn’t nearly as magical as the first year I participated, I still feel a thrill looking back even now – 14 days after the fact – and realizing that even if I think they’re the shittiest combination of words in the history of the universe, I still wrote 50,000 words, and that’s nothing to sneeze at. 78 pages isn’t just a few thoughtless paragraphs to throw out later. I’m certain that, although it’s definitely not publishing material, there’s definitely some gems in there that I can mine later.
The fact is, that I powered through.
As I say to people who ask about NaNoWriMo, or in these posts each subsequent year, the greatest thing about this competition, is that whether you’re an actual published author, or still a kid in middle school with writing dreams, or just someone that writes as a hobby, NaNoWriMo brings out some form of writer in us all – begging us to simply write. No one ever needs to read what you wrote, and that single thought in itself can be one of the most freeing realizations. It gives you the opportunity to suck. It’s not going to be published. It’s not going to be graded. It’s only going to be read if you decide to give it to someone else to scan through. The truth of the matter is that you don’t even ever have to read it again yourself. If you want to delete all 50,000 words on December 1, then go for it… though I wouldn’t advise it.
The solid fact is that you completed what many see as an unattainable goal, and that right there is something you should be proud of.
Even if you didn’t make it to 50,000… whether you wrote 500 words or 20,000, before calling it quits, you still have more than what you started with. And that right there is something that usually keeps me going throughout the month.
What I think helped even more this year was the NaNoWriMo community. One thing I’ve discovered is that if you’re on social media, you can connect with so many people over one common goal during a challenge like this. I know one girl that I follow on DeviantArt that wrote over 220,000 words! (Supremely jealous! Blows my first year 100,000 out of the water). And I know another girl over on Twitter that powered through and wrote 10,000 words on that last day and won with less than an hour to go.
It was the posts of all these other writers that kept me going, and that reminded me that all writers are different and yet the same. Some really can power through, day after day with what appears to be little problem. And others, like me, really do have trouble most of the time, and yet we still keep going… why? Because, whether the muse regularly visits or not, we still love writing (even when we declare that we hate it.)
And at the end of the day, that’s what makes us writers:
Whether people know about our goals and ambitions or not, we power on, and we write. Because, deep in our hearts, we know: We’re writers.

And whether you’re an outliner, or a pantser, we’re all in this together.

My Worst Start to NaNoWriMo Ever, and Why I Will Persevere

So, I’m just going to (sadly) go ahead and admit this: As the title claims, this is my worst start to NaNoWriMo, ever.

However, does that mean I’m going to give up?

Nah. And you know why? Because I’m a writer.

Writing is what I do. Sometimes, the words flow without pause – feeling more like you’re reading a good book than feeling like you’re the one creating the story, the world. And, well, then there’s the times when they simply don’t. The well is drier than the desert, and there doesn’t seem to be a light on upstairs. In fact, someone stole the damn lightbulb.

But, that’s just the way things go. What separates the writers from those that simply say they write, is that the writers do just that: they write. Whether the words are there or not.

And I think that that’s why I’ve come to love NaNoWriMo – though I’m sure that anyone else that has spent the month of November in a caffeinated, “I haven’t slept in a week haze,” knows that it’s more along the lines of a love/hate relationship.

The people that don’t write look at that final number – 50,000 words – and think we’re crazy. “There’s no way that that’s an attainable goal!” While us writers look at the daily average of 1,666 words that will get us to that number, and think “well, that doesn’t look bad. I can do this.”

And plenty of those that participate do, every year. And then, there are those that don’t. However, that doesn’t make us failures if we don’t reach that ‘magical’ number. The fact of the matter is that whether you get the 50,000 words, or only manage to write 2,000 we still managed to write. If anything, it’s more than you had at the beginning of the month. Sometimes all it takes is a fleeting idea, or a sentence or two to start a whole story.

If you only wrote two sentences, you may never look at them again, or you might start a whole book three years down road simply because you jotted down the beginning kernels of an idea. Who knows where a few words can take you, because, honestly, the imagination is a wonderful – and sometimes frightening – place.

I actually started NaNoWriMo in 2012 with low expectations. I started writing the first book of my Nyte-Fyre Prophecy series way back in 2006, averaging about 5 chapters (anywhere from 15-40 pages a year). In other words, I wasn’t getting anywhere fast. I loved to write, and yet, I seemed to have a problem getting the idea from my head, where it sounded fantastic, amazing, and downright magical, to the blank page that sat staring back at me with that blinking cursor that made it feel like it was laughing at my aspirations. So, when I had a friend a fellow author friend at the Renaissance Festival tell me about NaNoWriMo, I originally scoffed at the idea. There was no way I could do that. How could I? I let this be known, and yet, he insisted (Thank you, Dave!). So, I grumbled, said maybe, and went on with my day, with my week.

As November approached, I followed his Facebook updates that frequently made mention of WriMo. I heard it other places on the internet. And I began to wonder. Could I maybe do this? What could it really hurt? Would participating in this make me feel more like the author I wanted to be? That I dreamed of being?

Looking back on my own writing, I reminded myself that I had just completed my first novel December 29th of the previous year. And I remembered that feeling of putting the last word on the page. That thrill that I had accomplished something huge. Nyte-Fyre had begun as a project for myself, a challenge to myself to actually finish something. To this day, it’s still one of my largest undertakings. Yes, I wanted to be an author. But, whether anybody ever read a word of that story or not, I had made myself proud. And, honestly, I wanted to feel that again.

Unfortunately, I’m a wicked perfectionist, and also a defiant procrastinator. Two things that do not go well together. That’s probably why it took me so long to write. I could stare at a paragraph of my own writing for 6 hours, rewrite it 100 times, and still end up deleting it at the end of the day. The problem is, that that’s not going to get you very far.

Still grumbling about the idea of it, yet intrigued by the challenge, I signed up on the NaNoWriMo site at 11pm on October 31st.

I went in with exceptionally low expectations. And yet, I had the time of my life. I sat down and I wrote, and I wrote, and I wrote. I told my inner perfectionist and editor to piss off, and I just let the words flow. I actually ended up completing the 50,000 words on day 9. I had never felt so damn invincible in my life. Though I had a few slow days after that, I met the end of the month with just over 100,000 words. And you know what? It ended up being some of my best writing.

I honestly think that that’s because having to keep a certain pace, you’re not really given the time to stop and think. You don’t over-think, you don’t edit, you just do.

Now, I’ll admit, all my NaNoWriMo years have not been equal. As a matter of fact, that first year almost feels like a fluke, or just the fact that it was the excitement of something new. The second year wasn’t quite as magical, but I still managed to complete the 50,000 on day 15 and then continue on to validate my novel at 80,000 words.

Last year, I almost didn’t compete at all. I had convinced myself that I wasn’t going to do. I had resigned myself to the fact that I had other things that needed attending to first – like continuing to edit my first novel for publication. I was fighting health problems and I was battling depression from the health problems. In a nutshell, I felt like absolute shit and writing was one of the last things I wanted to do. I would have preferred to curl up in a ball in the dark and watch Netflix forever. And yet, there was this niggling feeling in the back of my mind that I had done NaNoWriMo for two years. I almost felt obligated to not participate. I started to feel bad about not wanting to take part. Not because I felt that I would be judged by my friends on there, but because it was a month of writing, and wasn’t that what I wanted to do? Yes, it’s hard at times – really hard at times… just as any author – but, down or not, writing is my happy place. Even if I have to fight for it tooth and nail… sometimes feeling like trying to pull a ten ton tree out of a lake of molasses… there are those times, sometimes brief, when you’re writing that you simply feel like you can conquer the world.

So I begrudgingly got on the NaNoWriMo site, entered my novels info for the year, and sat my butt down to write. Though I had planned on starting the fourth novel – feeling that I HAD to start a novel – I decided to continue where I had left off on the second novel that had been plaguing me. I reread the chapter I had left off, wrote a bit of an incredibly sketchy timeline, and opened a new Word document and started writing. There were days when it felt like pulling teeth. The writing didn’t always flow as I would have liked. And it was super dark. I actually think that one of the reasons that I had been so slow to write the second book was because I had known even before writing that first word that it was going to be a dark novel, and in a way, it scared me to write that. I didn’t want to explore that part of myself. And thought I only just managed to make it past 50,000 words last year, the fact of the matter is that I still did it. And, reading through it afterwords, it’s some of my best writing yet. It’s incredibly dark, and I love it. I think that having a word goal per day gave me the drive to power through those scenes that I didn’t necessarily want to write, reminding myself along the way that I was the author, I could make those scenes as dark and as gritty as I wanted. No one ever had to read them. If I wanted, I could edit those out later to appease readers. And yet, uncomfortable as they may be, I’ll actually probably end up keeping them.

Now, fast forward to this year:

I don’t know where things went downhill to be honest. I was excited to start NaNoWriMo this year. I honestly was. I haven’t touched the second book since last year because I’ve been editing the first, and I published it the end of September, finally! Which was super exciting! I still can’t believe that I have a finished product, available for people to read. Now, when people ask – “Oh, do you have anything published?” I can give them a big smile and declare that, “Yes! Yes, I do. You can find it here, here, and here.”

I left “Isle of Hell” (my second book) at a rather dark place last year, and I was excited to get back to that. Though I know where I want the book to go, how it will end, it took me awhile to actually sit down and sketch out a bare bones outline. In all honestly, I actually just completed that a few days ago. But that didn’t stop me. I was still happy to be facing the month of November again.

So, November 1st rolled around,

And I wrote a whopping 59 words.

Exciting, right?

I thought so, too.

I looked at that, and of course felt disappointment in myself. But, I shook my head, went to bed, and told myself, that’s okay, it’s the first day. Tomorrow, I’ll just make it up. The second day, I made it to 2,500 words. Nowhere near where I wanted to be. I don’t know what’s been going on this month, but for some reason, I just don’t feel the drive I’ve felt in previous years. I look at the page and my mind goes blank, or wanders. I look at my stats on the WriMo site, and simply feel disappointed in myself.

The thing is, that I could very easily just give up and tell myself, yeah it’s just not working this year. I’ll take a year off. But, you know what? I’m not going to. Because that’s not how I work. I might feel disappointed if I don’t make the 50,000. Who am I kidding, of course I will. However, I will feel even more so if I simply give up because I had a bad week of writing.

No book would get written if authors gave up like that. Everyone has bad weeks. That’s no reason to throw in the towel. It’s called perseverance.

It’s just life. The things that we love, tend to be the things that kill us. It’s the artist way, especially. I love writing, but if it’s going to fight me, well then I’ll be damned if I won’t fight it back.
Looking at my stats thus far on the lovely graph that NaNoWriMo gives you on the site, I’ve been riding about 1,00o words below the average line per day. One of these days, I’ll surpass that line. Hopefully, soon. Yes, this hasn’t been my best NaNoWriMo year ever, but it doesn’t have to stay like that.

If you’re feeling down about your own writing, just know that it’s only day 9. There are still 21 days left. Looking at the stats I wrote down for myself over the last three years of participation, I’ve had days where I wrote nearly 10,000 words in a day. I still have plenty of time to do this. And so do you.

So, to any of you out there struggling, I raise my tea to you. Here’s to us. Here’s to writing. Because hardly anything is impossible if you put your mind to it. You simply have to get out of your own way.

So, off to writing town – I have some catching up to do!

P.S. Do these 2,120 words count for today?

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

“Then it comes to be that the soothing light at the end of your tunnel is just a freight train coming your way…”

Yeah, sorry, couldn’t pass up the opportunity for the Metallica reference.

Moving on.

But, wow, what a long and trying few weeks. When I said last year that I would never try to edit a full book in a week again, I really should have taken it more to heart. It always sounds like a good idea, until you’re halfway through, going loopy and wondering what you’ve done. Especially when you look at just how much is left to do and you feel that overwhelming weight that there’s no way in hell that the task you’ve undertaken is plausible.

And, in fact, it may turn out that you’re right. However, that’s never kept me from at least trying. Yes, I may have been continuously placing impossible deadlines on myself, but I’ve continued on regardless through each missed one. All the work up to those points is still work. More than would have been accomplished if I’d simply stepped back, evaluated the situation, and said, “Nope, can’t be done,” before walking away for good. I’ve discovered that with many projects, the best thing is to not look at the big picture at all, but to continually pick away at small pieces. Before you know it, you find yourself at the end, able to look back at everything you’ve accomplished.

Now, before I continue to wax poetic, I will let everyone know that this is a post that this book, after so many long years, trying times of frustration and wanting to give up, and numerous self-doubts of if I was even good enough to lay claim to being an author, that there is actually a light at the end of this tunnel. And though I might have said it before, this is the first time that it’s felt real. That I’ve seen an actual end to this long and twisting path.

And by close, I mean that either tomorrow or Thursday this book is being sent to print! No longer just a test copy to look at to keep myself going, or to show people when they wonder about my legitimately being an author to go “This! This is what I’ve been doing”, but the final copy that I will proudly be able to sell to the world. That I’m going to let free to endure people’s judgment. It’s a scary thought, but one I knew I would eventually have to face in this line of work.

I will admit that this last push has not been easy, nor has it gone nearly as quickly as I’d hoped. Then again, though going through ten chapters a day seems completely doable, you begin to quickly realize that it’s not a good idea if you actually want to be able to catch all the mistakes. On average it’s been taking me about an hour and a half to run through a chapter. Coupled with the fact that you can only focus on small writing on a computer screen for so long, it’s honestly just a recipe for disaster.

I might have had a minor breakdown last week, but I pushed on regardless. I’ve left a lot of things behind these last weeks in this pursuit. I even gave up a chance to go to Ren Fest early. As hard as it’s been, I know it will all be worth it in the end.

I had some days where I would go through my writing – the sections between my fantastic rewrite and where it began to filter into my better writing of my first draft, where everything I read looked like complete and utter crap. I had a number of those days where I had to rework sentences to read better, to omit words and a few lines here and there, even add a paragraph or two. And then, I suddenly hit a chapter that hardly needed any work at all. And then, another one after that. I think that was when I was finally able to breathe a huge sigh of relief. The task no longer felt as ridiculous.

From that moment on it’s been better. Though, I will admit that no matter how hard I try, I still seem to get my best work done at night. Late at night. More times than not in this last week I’ve still been awake at 4am. Yet, not fighting fatigue. In all honesty, I haven’t felt this alive in ages. There’s just something about the late night hours that strip away all self-doubt of creativity. The world is quiet, so few people still awake, leaving only you and the project you’re focused on. It’s been a wonderful feeling. Reminding me a lot of NaNoWriMo (Which is coming up soon.)

And it reminds me of one of the most inspiring quotes that I’ve run across is actually from Pinterest, and goes something along the lines of “An author is a writer that has had his work published. A writer is simply someone who has written.” So, essentially, even if you don’t have a book published, you’re still a writer. I don’t have to heft my lofty novel around to claim the title of writer – though it does help.

That being said, as for what’s left to do:

I have a chapter or two left that still needs some minor revision. A small list of things that need to be looked over one last time.

And then, it’s on to the fun part of formatting. And I’m not being sarcastic about that in the least. I love the actual writing. The editing and rewriting makes me want to pull my hair out. The formatting allows my visually creative side take over. That’s not only the sign of the final push to completion, but also gives one the chance to make things look pretty. Something that I have absolute freedom over because I’m self-publishing and doing the formatting myself.

Basically, I have to do all the visual fine-tuning. Making sure all the Chapter titles and page numbers in the table of contents matches – one of my test copy versions didn’t match. Making sure all the spacing is correct. One of the things I’ve been playing with the most is how the chapter titles themselves look throughout the story. In my test copy, I was starved for time – not that I’m not now as well – and only ended up simply typing the names in capital letters. Nothing all that special. Just enough to get the job done. The one thing I didn’t care for was that I couldn’t find a way to make the chapter numbers look good with the title so I simply omitted the numbers. However, I prefer to keep the numbers. Below, is what I’ve been messing with as options. Because it matches the overall darkness and style of my story, I’m leaning towards the second with the Slythra (the winged snake).

  Untitled3            Untitled2

And then, beyond that, I’ve got some tweaking I’ve got to do to the cover artwork, and a possible rework of the synopsis.

Still quite a bit of work, but it doesn’t look so daunting now.

So, back to the grind. And I will see you all again on the other side!

~ Kendrick