#NaNoWriMo2017 Wrap Up – So How’d You Do? #IARTG #amwriting #amediting #Walker

We’re now three days post-NaNo, and winners across the internet are crowing about their victories. Some wrote well in excess of the required 50,000, while others squeaked by with only a word or two to spare. What was my total, you ask? Um, around 30,000.

Okay, less than 30,000.

Merrowkin

placeholder cover for Merrowkin

This marks the second consecutive NaNo where I haven’t met the 50,000 finish line, and honestly I’m okay with that. While I certainly don’t take on challenges without intending to meet them, I had a few things going in in my writing life that took precedent. Here they are, in no particular order:

  1. I had to prep and finalize the marketing plan for Walker, which releases on December 5.
  2. I completed a round of revisions on a short story that has been accepting to an anthology, releasing in March 2018.
  3. A writer friend contacted me, needing help with his own story (since his story concerns folklore and tattoos, I was uniquely qualified).

There were also the million and other distractions that life throws at us every day. While I probably could have burned the midnight oil and squeezed out another twenty thousand words, I concentrated instead on the quality of my prose rather than the quantity. In doing so, I leaned several valuable things about my story:

  1. I need to decide if it will be a mystery or a coming of age.
  2. I need to increase the stakes earlier in the story.
  3. I must decide how much of a paranormal element I want to include, since right now it could go either way.

Most importantly, I learned that I’m still in love with this story–because lets face it, we’ve all gotten wrapped up in projects we ended up hating. I’ve cleared some time in January, and hope to complete the full plot at that time. After that, it should all come together rather quickly.

Crap. I just jinxed myself, didn’t I?

Have you preordered Walker (Gallowglass #2)? It’s only 99 cents, but it won’t stay that cheap for long.

2017-667 Jennifer Allis b02

 

Walker (Gallowglass #2)

Preorder here –> http://amzn.to/2idd1pq

Who is hunting the gallowglass?

When Karina and Robert relocated from Scotland to New York, they expected things to settle down. New York is known for many things, but a hotbed of supernatural occurrences isn’t one of them. Karina returned to her life as a graduate student, and agreed to teach a class over winter break. That was when things got weird: first she and Robert encountered an angry centaur, then a fairy enrolled in her class, and Karina learned that her mentor just might be a deity. When the Seelie King started making unannounced visits to Karina’s apartment in the middle of the night and warning her and Robert to be careful, she knew things were serious.

All of these events led to a single question: Who doesn’t want the gallowglass on American soil?

Meanwhile, Chris has problems of his own. The university grudgingly restored his teaching position, his agent and publisher are hounding him for a sequel to his worldwide bestseller… and he wonders if he can teach again. Write again. Hell, he can barely even speak to a woman after what happened between him and the Seelie Queen. Then a woman—a fairy woman—comes into Chris’s life, and damn it all if he doesn’t want her to stay there.

The god plays their hand, and the Seelie King calls Robert to his side. Alone and more frightened than she’s ever been, Karina tries to solve the mystery of who is hunting the gallowglass. Will Karina find the answer in time, or will Robert be lost forever?

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Writer Wednesday: How To Research Your #NaNoWriMo project #amwriting #IARTG

Hello readers and writers! Last week we talked about the three steps to NaNoWriMo success. this week, I thought we’d dive a bit deeper into the first item on the list, research.

Research is just as important to your work as proper grammar. You need to have a working knowledge of what you’re writing about, and you need to integrate concepts seamlessly into your work. Nothing, and I mean nothing, will kick a reader out of a story faster than an obvious error on the author’s part.

Some resist research (I get it, research is hard) and use the excuse of having built a second world, usually in a fantasy or science fiction setting. That’s all well and good–and you get to make up place names and holidays for whatever society you’ve created–but what about those aspects of your world that are common with the one we live in? For example, horses and guns.

People get horses and guns wrong all the time. In the case of horses, I’ve read books where the characters ride for hours or maybe even days, and never stop to rest or feed their horses. They also never remove their tack, never rub them down… Really, the list goes on. These poor fantasy horses are not happy!

Guns are treated just as badly. In one memorable instance, a character loaded their modern automatic weapon by sliding bullets down the barrel, like a Pez dispenser. If only they’d Googled “how to load a gun” and spent the next five minutes reading, they could have avoided that egregious error.

I may know a lot about a little and a little about a lot, but I’m not arrogant or foolish enough to think I know everything. When I incorporate certain elements into my work, I research them. To expand on the examples above, I have very little first hand knowledge of horses, but I have friends and relatives who do. I hit them up for information, and sometimes I score free horseback riding lessons. I know even less about guns, since I’ve never even held one, and I tackle that issue in my own unique way: I don’t write about them. I do, however, have characters who wield swords and other edged weapons, so I’m definitely filling my weapon research quota.

For my upcoming NaNo project, the bulk of the story takes place in County Cork, Ireland. I have been to Ireland, so I do have a feel for the land. In addition to my memories, I’ve subscribed to Irish periodicals, purchased a few maps and travel guides, watched Irish television (hello, Father Ted), and I’ve been learning Irish. I’ve also gotten a few YA titles set in Ireland, but I’m saving them to read in December, after I hit my 50k and before I start editing. My intent is that this low-key immersion in contemporary Irish culture will lend my main character an authentic voice. Even if it doesn’t, I adore all things Irish, and learning is never wasted.

How are you researching for NaNoWriMo? Tell us in the comments!

Learn more about NaNoWriMo (and sign up!) here.

Karina didn’t set out to free the Seelie Queen’s gallowglass. Now she’ll do anything to keep him.

After Karina and her brother, Chris’s, lives fall apart in separate yet equally spectacular ways, they leave New York behind and head to the UK. Karina buries herself in research for her doctoral thesis, all the while studiously not thinking about the man who broke her heart, while Chris—who’d been a best-selling author before his ex-fiancée sued him for plagiarism—drinks his way across the British Isles.

In Scotland, they visit the grave of Robert Kirk, a seventeenth- century minister who was kidnapped by fairies. No one is more shocked than Karina when a handsome man with a Scottish brogue appears, claiming to be the Robert Kirk of legend. What’s more, he says he spent the last few hundred years as the Gallowglass, the Seelie Queen’s personal assassin. When they’re attacked by demons, Karina understands how dearly the queen wants him back.

As Karina and Robert grow closer, Chris’s attempts to drown his sorrows lead him to a pub, and a woman called Sorcha. Chris is instantly smitten with her, so much so he spends days with Sorcha and lies to his sister about his whereabouts. When Chris comes home covered in fey kisses, Karina realizes that the Seelie Queen isn’t just after Robert.

Can Karina outsmart the Seelie Queen, or is Robert doomed to forever be the Gallowglass?

Britt Sullivan, part time model and full time aspiring artist, is sick of living alone in the city…

Taking lame jobs just to make ends meet is leading Britt nowhere, and she knows something has to change. She needs some excitement, and when she meets blue-eyed Midwesterner Sam MacKellar at a photo shoot, she realizes he’s perfect for her in every way—well, except for the fact that he’s gay.

A devastating childhood trauma turned Sam’s whole life into a lie…

Sam came to New York City to escape an existence that had become unbearable, and when his job as a photographer’s assistant leads him to Britt, he realizes he’s finally met someone who sees him as he really is. But plagued by nightmares and trapped by his own deception, he doesn’t know how she can truly be part of his life.

Friendship leads to a passionate encounter and hidden dangers…

Britt comforts Sam though his nightmares, and they begin to explore their mutual attraction, but the tables are turned when Britt faces unwelcome attention from a manipulative art instructor and Sam must come to her defense.

Sam is terrified to reveal the source of his nightmares, sure the truth would shatter his complicated relationship with Britt, but when she suffers an unspeakable trauma of her own, only Sam can help her pick up the pieces.

When Britt learns the magnitude of Sam’s lies, will his reasons and the depth of their feelings be enough to allow her to forgive him? Does she have a future with Sam, or does his deception also include the reality of changing teams?

Writer Wednesday: Three Steps to #NaNoWriMo Success #IARTG #amwriting

Happy Wednesday, readers and writers! October is just around the corner, which means you have just over thirty days to plan your Halloween costume, and finalize your NaNoWriMo plan of attack.

Plan NaNo now, you ask? Why, it’s still September! Yes, yes it is, but believe me that in order to win NaNo–in other words, write 50,000 over the course of the 30 days in November–you need to plan, plan, and plan some more.

Regular readers of this blog know that I’m a huge fan of NaNoWriMo. In fact, two of my currently published novels, Changing Teams and Gallowglass, were both written during NaNo. However, last year’s NaNo was an epic fail on my part, and it was all due to poor planning. I had my story idea, and I’d done a bit of outlining and research, but not nearly enough. It wasn’t long before the story had gone so far off the rails there was no way I could fix it in 30 days. You can read all about that disaster here.

But this year will be different! I’ve done my homework, and I expect that even if I don’t have a finished story by November 30, I will at least have my 50,000 words. Here are the steps I’m taking to stack the deck in my favor:

  1. Research – Then do some more research, ask a librarian for help, and maybe book a trip to visit any real-life locations. Really, you’re not going to get too much information so go all in.
  2. Outline – A nice detailed outline is key. One incorporating the classic three act structure would be ideal, but you want a strong map to follow. Think of it like you’re downloading the newest map software onto your Garmin, as opposed to using a paper map printed in 1952.
  3. Character Profiles – Who’s the protagonist? Antagonist? What do they want? What are the stakes? What will happen if they don’t get what they want? Again, you cannot have too much information.

Next week, I’ll share some of the research I’ve done for my NaNo 2017 masterpiece. Okay, pending masterpiece. In the meantime, click the links below to learn more about my two most successful NaNo projects. Happy reading!

Learn more about NaNoWriMo (and sign up!) here.

Karina didn’t set out to free the Seelie Queen’s gallowglass. Now she’ll do anything to keep him.

After Karina and her brother, Chris’s, lives fall apart in separate yet equally spectacular ways, they leave New York behind and head to the UK. Karina buries herself in research for her doctoral thesis, all the while studiously not thinking about the man who broke her heart, while Chris—who’d been a best-selling author before his ex-fiancée sued him for plagiarism—drinks his way across the British Isles.

In Scotland, they visit the grave of Robert Kirk, a seventeenth- century minister who was kidnapped by fairies. No one is more shocked than Karina when a handsome man with a Scottish brogue appears, claiming to be the Robert Kirk of legend. What’s more, he says he spent the last few hundred years as the Gallowglass, the Seelie Queen’s personal assassin. When they’re attacked by demons, Karina understands how dearly the queen wants him back.

As Karina and Robert grow closer, Chris’s attempts to drown his sorrows lead him to a pub, and a woman called Sorcha. Chris is instantly smitten with her, so much so he spends days with Sorcha and lies to his sister about his whereabouts. When Chris comes home covered in fey kisses, Karina realizes that the Seelie Queen isn’t just after Robert.

Can Karina outsmart the Seelie Queen, or is Robert doomed to forever be the Gallowglass?

Britt Sullivan, part time model and full time aspiring artist, is sick of living alone in the city…

Taking lame jobs just to make ends meet is leading Britt nowhere, and she knows something has to change. She needs some excitement, and when she meets blue-eyed Midwesterner Sam MacKellar at a photo shoot, she realizes he’s perfect for her in every way—well, except for the fact that he’s gay.

A devastating childhood trauma turned Sam’s whole life into a lie…

Sam came to New York City to escape an existence that had become unbearable, and when his job as a photographer’s assistant leads him to Britt, he realizes he’s finally met someone who sees him as he really is. But plagued by nightmares and trapped by his own deception, he doesn’t know how she can truly be part of his life.

Friendship leads to a passionate encounter and hidden dangers…

Britt comforts Sam though his nightmares, and they begin to explore their mutual attraction, but the tables are turned when Britt faces unwelcome attention from a manipulative art instructor and Sam must come to her defense.

Sam is terrified to reveal the source of his nightmares, sure the truth would shatter his complicated relationship with Britt, but when she suffers an unspeakable trauma of her own, only Sam can help her pick up the pieces.

When Britt learns the magnitude of Sam’s lies, will his reasons and the depth of their feelings be enough to allow her to forgive him? Does she have a future with Sam, or does his deception also include the reality of changing teams?

Writer Wednesday: NaNo Check In, And Release Dates for Changing Fate and Gallowglass! #WriterWednesday #NaNoWriMo #goals #amwriting

It’s Day 16 of NaNo! If you’re writing your 1667 words per day (the minimum daily word count to stay on track to reach 50k by November 30), by now you have written 26,672 words.

My current word count is 16,998. I’m not exactly killing it this time around.

That low word count begs the question, what’s going on? I win NaNo EVERY year. Usually, I hit the 50k mark around the three week mark, and gloat like a gloatasaurus rex all over the internet. To call this situation is perplexing is an understatement.

As for what’s impeding my progress, a few things happened. I had to reevaluate the publishing timeline for my Parthalan series, and complete a massive re-edit ASAP. That took up the first week of November, which put me behind in my word count but moved my series forward. All in all, that was a good trade.

Having put out that fire, I got into my WIP…and right around the 6k mark, the plot went off the rails. It didn’t deviate all that far, and it’s definitely fixable. This story is one that I’ve wanted to write for years, and I will definitely see it completed. Could I fix it and still hit my 50k goal? Probably. But, then something happened.

Something kind of awesome.

Out of the blue, I was hit with the most fricken’ amazing idea ever. It’s a YA, and I never write YA, so that in itself is exciting. It takes place in Ireland, and there are mermaids and lost cities and surfing. I haven’t had this much fun writing in years, and even though I’m 10k behind, I don’t care. I am going to finish this story, and then I’m going to edit and revise it to perfection. Who cares if it doesn’t hit 50k by November 30? No one, that’s who.

My confidence is bolstered by the fact that my previous NaNo projects have fared well. My 2014 NaNo, Changing Teams, released last November, and the third in the series, Changing Fate, will release on March 28, 2017. And my 2013 project, Gallowglass, will release on June 6, 2017.

You read that right–GALLOWGLASS HAS A RELEASE DATE!!!

To sum up, keep working on your WIP, no matter where you are in your word count. To steal NaNo’s motto, the word needs your novel.

Have you encountered some NaNo setbacks? How did you work around them? Tell us in the comments!

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Get Changing Teams here: http://amzn.to/2f5PDcZ

Changing3

And the sequel, Changing Scenes: http://amzn.to/2giKSPC

Finding Inspiration, World Holiday Edition #WriterWednesday #inspiration #amwriting

Hey all! For those of you NaNo-ing, your word count should be right at 3334. Personally, I’m at 1053, but I have 28 days to catch up 😉

Today I’m talking about inspiration again, since having nothing to write about isn’t really conducive to meeting word count goals. Several times, I’ve been inspired by holidays.

Yes, you can be inspired by the more commercial, well-known holidays, but reading about other holidays can spark all sorts of creative thoughts. For instance, today is November 2, All Souls’ Day in the Christian religion, which commemorates the faithful departed.  A quick Google search, and the associated imagery it uncovers, can feed your imagination for a week.

Here are some other interesting, and not widely celebrated (at least not where I am) holidays:

Beer Day – Celebrated in Iceland on March 1. it celebrates the end of Prohibition, and, um, beer.

Lei Day – Celebrated in Hawaii on May 1. The custom is to wear a lei throughout the day.

National Science Day – Celebrated in Thailand on August 18. Commemorates King Mongkut’s prediction and observation of a total solar eclipse in 1868.

Feast Day of Our Lady of Meritxell – Celebrated on September 8 in Andorra. In the 12th century, the statute of the Virgin Mary from the chapel in Mertitxell somehow left the chapel and was found under a wild rose blooming out of season. The villagers took it as a sign to build a new chapel on that site.

The holidays I’ve mentioned above are only the the tip of the iceberg. If you find your inspiration lacking, I highly recommend a virtual stroll among world holidays.

How do you find inspiration? Tell us in the comments!

htts-1Enter to win an ecopy of Heir to the Sun! https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/1ad36b898ed7a91e

virgin_queen_final-draft_text2The Virgin Queen is on sale for 99 cents: http://amzn.to/2fh2tWM

Writer Wednesday: Finding Time To Write In Three Easy Steps #WriterWednesday #amwriting #goals #inspiration #findingtime

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.” — Robert Louis Stevenson

And that’s exactly what you’re doing when you write, whether it’s a grocery list or participating in NaNoWriMo, planting seeds. Unless you’re going for instant gratification via social media or blogging, when you write something it takes time for it to pay off. But no matter what or why you’re writing, you need to get the writing done first.

Which leads me to the following list, my release schedule for next year:

Rise of the Deva’shi (Parthalan #3) – February 2017

Changing Fates (Changes #3) – April 2017

Gallowglass – June 2017

Golem (Parthalan #4) – September 2017

Bride of the Gallowglass (Gallowglass #2) – November 2017

Well, that’s certainly ambitious.

There are lots of reasons why 2017 will go down in history as Release Madness, the main one being that three of the above titles are extremely close to completion (they don’t need more than a final edit/proofread and finalized covers), and the other two are very close to final draft status. Still, that’s a helluva schedule, and I’m not even mentioning my DDJ (Dreaded Day Job), wrangling the Wonder Twins and Wonder Dog (the parrot is above our shenanigans), or grad school. So how the heck will I find time to write?

Simple: I will make time.

Honestly, that’s really all it comes down to. Whenever we have something we’re passionate about, be it writing or woodworking or running marathons, we find the time to do it. We all get the same 24 hours each day; some of us choose to use them wisely, others binge on Netflix (says the girl who watched 2 seasons of Daredevil in four days. What? It was, um, research.)

Here’s how I find time to write:

  1. I write at the same time every day. For me, that means after the Wonder Twins get on the bus, and my husband goes back to bed. This gives me about an hour of peace and quiet per weekday. Of course, I can write at other times, but having a set schedule is very helpful.
  2. I strive to meet my word count. usually my word count is 2000 per day. I don’t hold myself to that if I’m in deep edit mode, since I’m often deleting while writing, and keeping track of all that is maddening.
  3. I take days off. Forcing yourself to write is not the way to create compelling stories. I get much more quality work done when I take breaks from writing, and 500 good words beats 2000 filler words (that will likely get deleted) any day.

That’s how I do it! How do you find time to write? Tell us in the comments!

htts-1Enter to win an ecopy of Heir to the Sun! https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/1ad36b898ed7a91e

virgin_queen_final-draft_text2The Virgin Queen is on sale for 99 cents: http://amzn.to/2fh2tWM

 

Writer Wednesday – Take Care Of Yourself #WednesdayWisdomForWriters #amwriting #wellness

Recently, I was discussing con crud with a writer friend. What’s con crud, you ask? I assure you, it’s just as gross as it sounds.

This ailment got its vivid name because it tends to pop up among conference and convention goers a few days after the event in question has ended. Typical symptoms include congestion, cough, and a general feeling of malaise. I know, makes you want to sign up for even more conferences, amiright?

For years I thought that con crud was the inevitable result of being packed into a hotel or other public facility, breathing in the same recycled air as hundreds if not thousands of others, subsisting on stale coffee and cookies, and sleeping less than usual. Many anecdotal cures promise to cure the crud, ranging from taking high doses of vitamin C to eating raw garlic. They never worked, at least not for me.

But what if con crud wasn’t inevitable? What if by making a few small changes to my pre-con routine, I could avoid con crud altogether?

This called for science, and its buddy, research. In true mad scientist fashion, I used myself as a test subject.

I put my plan in motion shortly before I attended Necon this past July. During the week leading up to the event, I slept a full eight hours every night, and took at least one nap per day. I doubled my water intake, eliminated alcohol, and made sure to consume vegetables and protein at every meal. Basically, for a week I behaved like a normal healthy person, not my usual overstressed, pretzel-munching, coffee-guzzling self. And guess what?

I didn’t get con crud!

By resting, keeping myself hydrated, and eating as well as I could manage, I got my body into the best condition it could possibly be in BEFORE the con. While at the con I still drank the stale coffee, and I didn’t sleep nearly enough, but I didn’t get con crud. In fact, after four days at Necon I didn’t even have my usual post-con fatigue. In short, I felt great.

So, what does this have to do with writing? Quite a bit, actually. First of all, your creative impulses are a higher level function than talking or moving around or breathing, so when you’re not feeling 100% your body naturally diverts resources and energy to where it’s needed most.  If you imagine your creative process as the top 10% of your energy, you can (probably) visualize what I mean. And have you ever tried writing when you’re sick or tired? It’s not easy.

Therefore, the better shape we keep ourselves in, the better our creative output will be. I’m not saying you should live like a monk, and ingest nothing  but spinach and water and sunlight. Just take the time to take care of yourself, and know your limits. If you have a big event, a deadline looming on the horizon, or are taking part in a writing challenge (ya’ll didn’t think I’d forget to mention NaNoWriMo, did you?) be cognizant of your habits. You’ll never make your word count if you’re too tired to type.

Do you have any tip on avoiding con crud? Tell us in the comments!

I’ll be at Whipowill Stables for their open house on September 18, selling books and playing with horses. Learn more about the event here.

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