Blogs Are Hard

I don’t know how people manage to write blogs multiple times a week, let alone daily. Clearly I’ve been struggling to do it weekly, considering I’ve just skipped the last two weeks entirely. I don’t know why it’s so much easier for me to write 200,000-word novels than it is to write a short blog post.

I guess part of it is that I feel like I’m running out of things to say or I don’t have anything interesting to talk about. All my interesting ideas show up in fiction, as far as I’m concerned. Writing fiction has always been easier for me, anyway, than writing anything non-fiction. I think another part of it is that it feels like I’m shouting into the void, because, really, who reads these? Besides my most amazing writing buddy who proofreads them for me.

And then, of course, there’s the fact that I’ve just been drained lately. It’s hard to find the motivation to write blog posts or even post on Instagram while working full-time and writing 2-3 hours a day and also having to exist as a human adult. I know a lot of that is self-inflicted. I could not be trying to finish revising the second Enorians book (which keeps getting longer… help me) by the end of June. I could be taking it easier, but I want to revise A Compass in the Shadows by the end of summer and start sending it out into the universe, and I won’t be doing that if I don’t get book 2 done.

So for now I think I’ll stop writing weekly blog posts and just write when something comes to me. At least until I finish revising the first two Enorians books. Once those are done maybe I’ll be better about taking breaks and not pushing myself so much, and maybe I’ll find the time and motivation and ideas to write weekly again. Or maybe not. We’ll see. For now I just need to put what energy I do have into my books.


What I wrote this week

Enorians Book 2 – Draft 2 Chapters Fifty-Four through Sixty

What I read this week

The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin

King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo

The Mirror of Aethos

Long ago, there lived two Veroxian brothers, Ziraeel and Vronrei. They were rare because they had been born on the same day, which all people know is highly uncommon. Those who knew them said they were one soul split into two bodies, and so it seemed, for from the day they were born, they never left one another’s side for long. They sat next to one another in their classes, slept in beds set side by side, and where one went, the other followed.

They lived in a town that was well known for its temple to Aethos. People from all around came to ask the Aethan priests to send their loved ones to the next world. Ziraeel and Vronrei’s mother was one of the workers who kept the temple clean, and so the boys spent much of their time in the temple after their classes had ended and on days their father was busy at the green houses. Ziraeel in particular was fascinated with the ways of the funeral rites, the runes, and the goddess of death, and he and Vronrei learned more about Aethos than most enorians ever would.

So when they had grown and finished their studies and Ziraeel, the older by mere minutes, joined the Aethan priests, Vronrei wasn’t far behind. No one was surprised. The two brothers worked hard and were happy in their service to Aethos. They spent many hours perfecting their co-run funerals, taking extra care to learn all the ways in which they would best please Aethos.

With the help of his brother, Ziraeel even learned how to save lost souls from the realm of Kezerien and send them to their rightful afterlife in the Aether, which had thus far never been done as far as anyone knew. Even at the temple, the brothers were never far from one another. They even slept in the same room in the temple housing, though it wasn’t necessary. And everyone was certain they would pass together in their sleep long in the future, when their wings drooped and their dark hair was streaked with grey and their eyes had turned the color of the moon.

But then tragedy struck, and Vronrei was killed.

Ziraeel felt like he’d been torn in half, his heart ripped to pieces. He didn’t know how he could possibly survive this. He wept for days, begging the gods to take him, too, for he could not live without the other half of his soul. But the gods did not take him. It wasn’t his time.

In a moment of respite from his weeping, Ziraeel remembered a tale his mother had told the two of them during their many hours in the temple. She’d told them of the mirror of Aethos, an item so special it allowed the griever a chance to see their loved one again. But only the most special and loyal were given the gift of the mirror. He sat up from where he’d been lying on his bed, thinking for sure he would be given that chance. After all, he was an Aethan priest, was he not? He had been loyal and faithful in his task, in his worshipping of their goddess. He had loved her all his life. He thought surely he, of all people, would receive her blessing.

He told no one of his plans, for he knew what the other priests would think. The dead were meant to stay that way. They should be left at peace, his mother would tell him even in her grief, but Ziraeel needed to see his brother. Just once more.

And so the day after Vronrei had been sent to the Aether, in the most intimate and beautiful ceremony Ziraeel had ever performed, Ziraeel went into the temple after everyone had gone to sleep and threw himself at the feet of the statue, the beautifully carved likeness of Aethos. There, with the moonlight streaming in through the windows above, he begged her to let him see his beloved brother again.

Aethos, in her realm, surrounded by her flowers and the dead she watched over, heard his pleas. She felt his pain, had seen the pain Vronrei felt even still, despite the peace he should feel in the Aether. And both brothers had been nothing but the best of her worshippers. She had been impressed when Ziraeel had managed to save a number of souls from Kezerien’s realm, for she knew her nephew did not give up his fire spirits easily.

And so she bestowed upon him the blessing. She sent him her mirror to find when he returned to his room in the house where all Aethan priests lived.

Ziraeel stared in shock at the sight of the ornate mirror when he walked into his room. It stood taller than him and seemed to glow with an inner light. He’d been so certain Aethos had ignored his pleas, but here stood this mirror. And who else could have sent it to him?

His eyes welled with grateful tears as he stepped toward it. He told himself he just needed to say goodbye, because he’d been unable to. And saying goodbye would somehow make the loss bearable, though he knew he would never be whole again. He spoke his brother’s name, calling to him.

When Vronrei appeared in the mirror he looked the same as he’d always been with his shining green eyes and his milky skin, with his looping horns and moth-like wings. He smiled his familiar smile, and Ziraeel wept with joy at seeing his brother again. He reached out to touch Vronrei, but his fingers met only the cold surface of the mirror. If only he could hug his brother one last time, but this would have to do.

They talked as if nothing had changed. For hours and hours, well into the night, and Ziraeel barely felt his hunger or thirst, too wrapped up in seeing the other half of his soul again. Ziraeel asked Vronrei how the Aether was, and Vronrei asked about their parents and the woman he’d fallen in love with, though only Ziraeel knew about her, for Aethan priests were meant to only hold Aethos in their heart.

This went on for days. Ziraeel shirked his duties. He barely slept, barely ate. On the rare occasion he had to leave the mirror, Vronrei swore he’d still be there when Ziraeel came back. And upon Ziraeel’s return, his brother was always there, smiling at him. For even in the Aether, Vronrei’s soul cried out for Ziraeel.

Their mother questioned him, and Ziraeel claimed to be sick with grief, which wasn’t entirely untrue. And so she let him be, though she spoke to the priests and her husband about her concerns.

Only when Ziraeel’s vision started doing strange things, when the edges began to dim and lights danced before his eyes, did he remember the warning. His mother had warned the boys that those who stared too long within the depths of the mirror would lose not only their sight, forever, but also be no longer able to even hear their lost loved one.

But he hadn’t had enough time. He wasn’t ready to give up his brother yet. There had to be a way for him to prolong this, to spend just a little more time with Vronrei. Surely Aethos would understand. She was the goddess of death. She understood the grief associated with it, he assured himself. He didn’t tell Vronrei what was happening, not wanting to worry his brother. Nor did he tell him what he planned, for he feared Vronrei would try to deny him.

Once he had hatched a plan, Ziraeel went in search of all the mirrors he could find, and he set them up around his room to allow the image of Vronrei to bounce around to the other mirrors. He hoped it would minimize the effect and slow the blinding, and he was right. When he gazed into the other mirrors, his vision stopped dimming and dancing.

And Ziraeel was thrilled he’d outwitted Aethos and her mirror tricks. Once he may have worried it would anger her. Once he would never have done a thing to upset the goddess he had loved all his life, but all he cared about anymore was extending the time with his brother, and now he had it.

But this made Aethos angry, angrier than he could have imagined. Those who were dead were meant to stay that way. It was the way of things, and she, on rare occasions, gave her blessing for certain special people to say goodbye. She had given a man she thought to be a loyal, faithful servant one such rare blessing, and now Ziraeel was taking advantage of her kindness by deceiving her and thinking himself smarter than a god.

And so she punished them. She split Vronrei’s soul between all the mirrors, fragmenting it, tearing it apart, and causing Vronrei to howl and scream at the torment. Vronrei became angry and violent, banging on the insides of the mirrors, causing them to crumble and crack, which only caused him more pain.

Ziraeel dropped to his knees, covering his ears and weeping. He begged Aethos to stop, telling her he was sorry for the deception. He begged her to release Vronrei from his torture, swearing he would never try to do anything to upset her again.

But it was too late. Aethos would not stand for such insolence, and so she left Vronrei split between the mirrors and took Ziraeel’s sight, and though he could no longer see his brother, Ziraeel was forced to listen to his tormented screams for the rest of time.

Mario & Captain Thunderpants

We weren’t intending to get a cat as soon as we did. In fact, Josh and I were still working on painting the spare room at his dad’s house, where we lived at the time, and getting it ready for all the bookshelves that would soon end up in there and turning it into an actual spare bedroom. We’d decided once that was done, we’d get a cat. But then one day I went to Petco, and there was this shy little tuxedo kitten named Mario. And he was just so adorable.

The next day, I went back again. And the next day and the next for six days straight. On the seventh day, I dragged Josh along and made a comment about how I’d be so sad when Mario was gone. With a knowing “Oookayyy,” Josh went to get an adoption form. Though we had to wait a few days to pick him up once we were approved, because he was a bit sick, we ended up with the sweetest seven-month-old angel kitten (light of my life, my reason for being – as Josh says) in all the land.

He was pretty terrified for a while after we got him, hiding under the bed and such. He was even afraid of the TV for the first couple days. And even after he got used to us, anytime a new person came around, he was nowhere to be seen. In the six years since we got him, he’s become much braver, going so far as to walk up to new people and let them pet him.

I felt bad leaving the sweetest angel kitten alone while we were at work and thought he needed a friend. We’d been letting Josh’s brother’s cat, Simba, come upstairs on occasion and Mario always tried to play with him, but Simba wasn’t really about it. So a few months later, after going to the local animal shelter, Josh picked out a scraggly-looking former stray that the shelter had dubbed Scootsy-Toots after telling him, “You’re kind of funny looking.” Which, he was. He was skinny with a massive head. Also, can we just talk about that name? Scootsy-Toots? What? Nope. He was immediately dubbed Captain Thunderpants.

For the first few days, he was a bit sickly and sniffly and wanted nothing to do with Mario, but eventually he accepted Mario’s attempts to play. He’s grown from not really being super affectionate and spending a lot of time meowing loudly in the hallway to ensure Simba knew he was the boss to coming to lay on my pillow before bed and demanding attention by coming to sit in front of my computer. Though he’s still not a lap cat, and most definitely not when there’s blankets involved. Captain weirdly hates blankets.

While they did at first, they’re no longer the kind of cats that cuddle or groom each other (much to my dismay), but they coexist happily. Multiple times a day they chase each other around – you can always hear them scrabbling along the wood floor – and have Wrestle-Mania sessions where they body slam each other into the ground, but otherwise they generally ignore one another.

Mario is the sweetest, cuddliest, most demanding cat who will make it known he needs attention with aggressive headbutts, and when he wants treats, he’ll make sure to let me know. And Captain is the biggest whiner I’ve possibly ever seen, but he’s so loving and adorable I’m not really mad about it (most of the time). They have both made it clear to me that any future cats I own will be boys, because they’ve been nothing but the sweetest, least aggressive cats I’ve ever had. And I love them so much that I actually can’t even.


What I wrote over the last week

Enorians Book 2 – Draft 2 Chapters twenty-seven through thirty-four

What I read this week

A Phoneix First Must Burn by Patricia Caldwell

Traces by Sophie Johannis

The Artful Edit by Susan P. Bell

The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin

Book Hangovers

Have you ever finished a book or series only to be left with a strange empty feeling? A kind of longing for more, but then there is no more. And sure, you could just reread, which you undoubtedly will, but it’s not the same. It’s been years since I had one. In fact, I didn’t remember how terrible they could be, until last Wednesday.

I finished reading the Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo that day, and I literally haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since. It was just SO. GOOD. The heists, the banter between the Crows, and the characters in particular were all just phenomenal. Both as an avid reader and a writer, it amazed me. Talk about character goals. It took me a full week to get to a point where I wasn’t filled with an empty void. And even now, I’m looking at my to-be-read list and going, “but nothing will be like Six of Crows.” It doesn’t help that the Shadow and Bone show is coming out in just over a month, so getting away from that world is basically impossible.

One book that leaves me with a book hangover every time I reread it is The Scorpio Races by Maggie Steifvater. I’m so sad it’s a standalone. It’s another situation where I just love the characters so much. Plus, there’s horses, and carnivorous water horses. It’s just so cool. It’s one of those books where, as a writer, I always go “Damn, I wish I’d written this.” Now that I think about it, Sean, one of the protagonists, might have been a slight accidental inspiration for Rowan from the first Enorians book.

While Harry Potter doesn’t generally give me problems anymore, the first time I finished the series was rough. After so many years of loving something that hard and waiting for the last book to come out? And then finishing it in about a day and a half? Talk about a wicked book hangover. It’s the first book I remember leaving me feeling that way. Though starting a reread with my writing buddy has helped me fill the void left by Six of Crows, because it’s comfortable and familiar.


What I wrote over the last week

Enorians Book 2 – Draft 2 Chapters Eleven through Eighteen

What I read over the last week

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling

A Phoenix First Must Burn by Patricia Caldwell

Books From My Childhood That Stuck With Me

Some books just stick with you, even 20 years after you read them. These are the books that stuck with me in some way, even if it’s just by a vague feeling.

The Unicorns of Balinor by Maggie Stanton – I loved this series so much when I was a kid. I loved Ari and Finn so much that I named the two main characters in my first story after them. And, of course, it’s about unicorns in a magical unicorn-run world. What’s not to love? I fully intend on giving this series to my god daughter when she’s old enough.

King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry – It will surprise no one that the first two on this list are all horse books. I loved a lot of Henry’s books, including Justine Morgan Had a Horse and Misty of Chincoteague, but King of the Wind stuck with me for so long that I actually bought another copy a few years ago. I don’t even remember what it was that made me love it so much, but there’s just that feeling, you know?

The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke – I only read this once, but I loved it so much. The only thing I remember about it, though, was a moment when the truth came out, and it destroyed my soul. Would it be strange to reread this as an almost 30-year-old adult? Because I kind of want to reread it.

The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton – Again, I only read this once, but I remember that it messed me up emotionally. I read the entire book during a trip to Holland, even though we were reading it for class, and by the time I came back, everyone else was still only about a third of the way through. Whoops! I was definitely mildly obsessed with this book for a while after I finished it.

Harry Potter – Given this is the series that started my love of reading, I couldn’t leave it out. It will always be dear to my heart, especially because my mom read the first three to me. It’s one I’ve continued to reread every couple of years, and probably will continue to do so no matter how old I get.


What I wrote over the last week

Enorians Book 2 – Draft 2 Chapters Four through Ten

What I read this week

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo (10/10 would 1000% recommend)

A Phoenix First Must Burn by Patrice Caldwell

The Artful Edit by Susan P. Bell

Book Adaptations

Most of the time I like the book better than the movie or TV show. In fact, nearly every time I prefer the book over the adaptation. Many a coworker has heard me go off about the movie adaptation of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, because it’s just so wrong on so many levels, and I could go on forever about why. But on rare occasions, I prefer the adaptation. Mind you, for all the following, I watched the adaptation before I read the book, so perhaps that has something to do with it.

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Don’t get me wrong, I love Neil Gaiman. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is one of my favorite books, and I’ve enjoyed every other book of his that I’ve read. However, there was just something about Stardust that wasn’t great to me. I love the movie, and I’ve seen it a number of times, but the book just didn’t seem to have as much heart as the movie. It didn’t feel as magical. The narration felt so distant, which I’m not the biggest fan of, so it’s probably just a preference thing. But it made it so I couldn’t bring myself to care about the characters as much as I did while watching the movie.

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

Mostly I love the development of the side characters that you get in the show that doesn’t get to happen in the books. Since the books are more focused on Quentin, I missed my favorites: Elliot and Margo. I also particularly loved the way Quentin’s relationship with Elliot developed in the show. I know that they veered way off of the events of the trilogy in the show, but for once that didn’t bother me. It quickly became one of my favorite shows, and it’s one of the few I own on Blu-ray.

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

I think this one in particularly is a case of I-saw-the-movie-first. The movie was just so much…well, cooler. While the book was interesting and the mystery of the area was intriguing, I kept waiting for weird, messed up animals to come wandering by. I kept waiting for all the cool, bizarre things that showed up in the movie. And then they didn’t, and I was disappointed and wanted more weird plants and fungus taking over bodies and doubles of animals bounding along. Especially after reading Borne by VanderMeer, I was disappointed by the lack of weird, magical things.

Do you have adaptations you enjoy more than the books? If so, which ones?


What I wrote this week

Draft 2 of the second Enorians book – Prologue through Chapter Two

What I’m reading right now

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

A Phoenix First Must Burn by Patrice Caldwell

The Artful Edit by Susan P. Bell

On Writing Schedules

Years ago, I read a book called The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes by Jack M. Bickham, and the first thing on the list is “Don’t Make Excuses.” The entire chapter is basically just saying you have to write every day and not make excuses for why you don’t want to. The thing that sticks out to me now is, “Writers write; everyone else makes excuses.” When I read this the first time, it apparently didn’t speak to me, because I didn’t actually stop making excuses until years later. 

Somewhere around the time I read that book, I went to a book signing for Cassandra Clare with some friends. This was during my undergrad years, and someone in the audience asked her what advice she had for aspiring authors. She told us to write every day. Even if it was just 100 words. To at least write something. And I did for a while that summer, but then the habit fell away again.

Then my mom gave me The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. I don’t remember exactly when that was, but I think that was finally the book that made me look at what I was doing. The author talks about being a professional when it comes to writing. He says: “The amateur plays part time, the professional full-time. The amateur is a weekend warrior. The professional is there seven days a week.”

He goes on a few pages later to say, “All of us are pros in one area: our jobs” and gives a list of ways in which that’s true, including: showing up every day, showing up no matter what, staying on the job even if we don’t want to, and a number of others.

This is the big difference between how I viewed writing up until two years ago and today. I always said I wanted to be an author, but I never put in the time and effort needed to get anywhere near that goal. I did basically everything except write. I drew and painted and played videogames for hours on end. I took up crocheting for something like a year, and while all of that was fun, it wasn’t getting me to where I wanted to be. It wasn’t helping me finish Rowan’s story.

It wasn’t until the end of 2018, when I decided if I wanted to be serious and actually get somewhere, that things started to change. I told myself that during 2019, I would sit down to write every day, whether I wanted to or not, even if I was tired or not in the mood or just over it that day. I made a goal of writing at least 500 words daily. And, of course, I didn’t write every day, because life happens. My mom was sick and then passed away. My sister got married. I was doing my Master’s program and working, which kept me busy. But I tried so hard to sit down every day and put at least something to paper.

And by the end of the year, I’d managed to finish the third rewrite of Rowan’s story. And sure, it was a mess, and I rewrote two-thirds of it last year again, but it helped me form a habit. There are still days where I don’t want to write. There are days when I’m tired and just want to take a nap. There are days where my motivation is in the toilet, but I sit down at my dining table or on the couch and put words down anyway, because writing anything is better than nothing. And if it’s terrible, I can always fix it in revision.

That seems to be the advice most authors give when asked that question. In his Masterclass, Neil Gaiman basically says the same. He keeps it simple, “You should write.” And “Finish things.” But the thing is, that’s the best advice there is. Just write. If you’re really serious about writing, sit down and put words on the page, whether that’s in a notebook or in a Word document or on a typewriter. You can always fix it later, but there’s nothing to fix if you don’t get anything written.


What I wrote this week

Revised a short story.

What I’m reading right now

Bloodsworn by Scott Reintgen

The Last Revision by Sandra Scofield

Why You Need a Writing Buddy

People think writing has to be a solitary affair. I thought so, too, for a long time. But you know what’s so much better than doing it alone? Having a writing buddy. Some people call them critique partners, but it’s so much more than that if you find the right person.

Writing buddies are a beautiful thing. You get a critique partner, but also someone who you can just talk to about your book or short stories or novellas or whatever it is you’re working on. It isn’t the same, trying to talk about your book with someone who might not actually be interested or who may not understand. And, of course, there’s the fear that you’ll annoy someone if you talk about it too much, but that’s not an issue with your writing buddy, because ideally, they’re as into the book as you are.

With a writing buddy you have someone you can bounce ideas off. You have someone who can give you unsolicited advice that you didn’t know you needed until she suggests it. You have someone rooting for your work and asking for more. It’s a great feeling to see “Ready for moreeeeee” at the ends of feedback emails. Even better is hearing that they’re having fun reading the 738-page book they’re beta-reading for you, because “it’s almost like a reread cuz I already know the story and the world, so it’s just comforting.” You have someone who not only looks forward to your work but whose work you look forward to reading in return. Maybe you can even buddy-read books with them because you’re basically the same person and so, of course, you enjoy the same books.

A writing buddy like that, who has also become a dear friend, is invaluable and a literal blessing. They’re someone who can urge you to write when you’re not feeling like it, someone who can help keep you accountable or also acknowledge that, no, sometimes it’s okay to take a break and take that nap you’re just really wanting to take. I know a lot of people say they write for themselves, and sure, I do, too. I wouldn’t be writing the stories I am if I wasn’t interested in reading them myself, but you know what else is nice? Having someone to share those stories with that’s excited about them. And they make you feel like, oh, maybe I don’t entirely suck, and maybe my work is worth the time and effort put into it.

I decided, partially, to get my Master’s because I wanted to surround myself with other writers, but I somehow never expected to actually find a friend that I would end up talking to literally daily. So, thank you a thousand times over to my writing buddy’s partner for pushing her to message me. I will be eternally grateful to you always.

Now go check out her website, because the trilogy she’s working on is amazing. And also, her post about writing buddies here, because naturally we organized posting these at the same time ;).


What I wrote over the last week

Inserted two more chapters into The Children of Oher, because apparently I just can’t stop expanding this book.

What I’m reading right now

Blood Sworn by Scott Reintgen

The Last Revision by Sandra Scofield

Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman

And finished Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer yesterday

But can we talk about those covers? And yes, I absolutely did buy Blood Sworn before I even started Ashlords, because that cover.

Love in Fiction

It’s Valentine’s Day weekend, so let’s talk about love in fiction.

I love me some subplot romance. It doesn’t need to be the whole plot, but please give me a background love story. The moment the love interest shows up, I’m automatically more invested (haha, is that terrible?). That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy books with no romance aspect, because I definitely do, but I’m never unhappy to see it show up.

But you know what drives me nuts? When the couple doesn’t get together until the very end. Even worse, making me wait until the end of the series. I’m looking at you Ember in the Ashes series and Witch King’s Crown trilogy. That’s not to say I don’t love both series, because I do, butI want to see the cuteness. Show me the love before the end of the story!

Anyone else feel that way? Or is that just me?

I mentioned this quote by Toni Morrison a few weeks ago when talked about horses – “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” – and I think this relates to how relationships shows up in my books, too. Or even that love shows up at all. While I did manage to write a book with no horses in it, I don’t know how often it’ll happen that I write something that doesn’t have at least the smallest bit of romance. At least, all my currently planned books have a love aspect.

And when it does comes to the stories that do have love in them, I am fully in the get-the-characters-together-early boat. In the first Enorians book, the couple gets together in the first third of the novel (and then have issues to work through). In the second, the couple gets together also in the first third of the novel (and then, again, have problems to work through). In the third, there will be two separate love interests for two separate POV characters, and one won’t get together until the end, but you better believe the other will get together before the halfway point, because I want to see the love! And with The Children of Oher, the relationship is already a thing when the book starts, which was even more fun, because I didn’t have to worry about them meeting and all of that buildup.

Anyway, point is: gimme some romance and don’t wait until the last 20 pages to get the couple together. And to any future readers who feel the same as I do about getting to see the couple get together early, you’re welcome 😉.

Also, check out my instagram this weekend for some love-related quotes from The Children of Oher and books one and two of the Enorians Saga.

Happy Valentine’s Day!


What I wrote over the last week

The two final chapters of The Children of Oher. I also rewrote parts of chapters 1 and 2 of The Children of Oher and beyond that reread the whole book now that it’s finished.

What I’m reading right now

Ashlords by Scott Reintgen

The Last Revision by Sandra Scofield

Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman

Plotting vs Pantsing

For those who don’t know, plotting and pantsing are terms we novelists use to describe how we work on a story. Pantsers typically just take an idea and run with it and see where it takes them with minimal planning. They fly by the seat of their pants, if you will. Or, at least, that’s how I understand it. A plotter, though, plans out their story ahead of time, makes an outline of some sort, and then follows it while they’re writing. Some people, of course, fall somewhere in between.

Back in the day, during my undergrad years, I was a pantser. I don’t think I even considered plotting out a story. And so, I pantsed my way through the very first version of Rowan’s (first Enorians book) story, mostly while sitting in my Ancient World on Screen class, in the dark auditorium, as movies likes Alexander and Clash of the Titans played on the giant screen.

I also attempted, multiple times, to pants my way through the first version of Vivian’s (second Enorians book) story and failed every time. I never managed to make it to the end.

I stuck with being a pantser for years after that. In fact, I continued to flounder my way through Rowan’s story up until just over a year ago. Over the years since that first version, I pantsed my way through not one, but two rewrites. The first, I don’t remember well, but the second I wrote during 2019, and it came in at an insane 300,000 words, mostly because I didn’t know where I was going with it, so I’d just throw in scenes that I thought would be useful.

Turns out I was wrong.

It wasn’t until my amazing and wonderful writing buddy (who has here own website dedicated to her work here) told me about Save the Cat Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody that I even considered changing the way I was doing things. Save the Cat quite literally changed my life. I realized that while pantsing may work for some people, I am not one of those.

Writing has gotten so much easier since I started plotting, it’s kind of ridiculous.

It took me something like eight years to actually finish the first rewrite of Rowan’s story, and then it took me another full year to do the second rewrite. Neither of which were good or planned out well and felt like disorganized messes. I mean, part of what took me so long in finishing Rowan’s story was just not giving it the attention and time it needed, but I think the lack of structure and planning didn’t help.

The third rewrite, after using Save the Cat to create beat sheets for all the POVs and actually planning out the book, took me like five months. And Vivian’s story, which I hadn’t actually finished up until last year, took me six months to write after I plotted it out. To be fair, part of it being finished so quickly was because I ended up having two months off due to COVID, but still. If I’d been trying to pants my way through that, I never would’ve finished in that amount of time, nor would it have been anywhere near as solid of a first draft as it is.

I’m now a and a half chapter away from finishing the unintended Children of Oher, which means I’ll have written that in two months. If someone had told me ten years ago I’d write a nearly 90,000 word book in two months, I would’ve laughed so hard, but I did it. And the reason I could finish it so quickly is because I knew exactly where I was going with it. I am 100% certain that if I hadn’t sat down and created beat sheets and plotted out this book chapter by chapter before starting it, I wouldn’t be anywhere near this close to the end. And it would likely be a mess.

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I’m not saying everyone should be a plotter. What works for one person, doesn’t work for others. I know some people see plotting as restrictive – though, it’s not like you have to stick with the plot you came up with. The Children of Oher started as a 24-chapter outline. I added chapters where I needed them and changed some along the way, but overall it stayed relatively the same – and others say it ruins their motivation to work on the book because the story’s already figured out. I haven’t personally had that issue, but I can see where that would be true.

I don’t know, maybe I was just pantsing wrong? Maybe there is a right way to do it and I was not doing it that way. Or maybe it’s just that certain people can’t be pantsers, which, yeah, I now fully believe I am meant to be a plotter. But if you’re a pantser and you’re struggling, I highly recommend Save the Cat Writes a Novel, though I’m sure there are tons of other books out there about plotting your novel. Just try it and see how it goes, and if it doesn’t work for you, well, that’s okay, too.


What I wrote this week

Chapters twenty-five through twenty-seven of The Children of Oher

What I’m reading right now

This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone

The Last Revision by Sandra Scofield

Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman