Tag Archives: drafting

Chapter Nineteen of The Gold in the Dark and a Writing Update!

Illustration courtesy of Ally Grosvenor.

The nineteenth chapter of The Gold in the Dark is out! New chapters, complete with brilliant chapter illustrations courtesy of Ally Grosvenor, release every other Sunday at 11 AM EST! You can get started on the series with Chapter One right here or now also on Wattpad!

Not much to report for these past two weeks; I’ve been drafting, which for me is always a painful process. I won’t lie, things are slow-going at this point—I’m still working on getting into the groove of this story, establishing characters and back story. I’m by-and-large a pantser (as opposed to someone who plots out their books), which can cause the process to be slow but also allow for creative spontaneity. So hello to the insight that aliens really like hot sauce—but heaven forbid you look at my pathetic writing speed. Oh well, it’s just the way I work. :/

This may sound funny, but I’ve also spent the last few weeks paying close attention to bookstagram. There’s kind of a long-winded explanation to this… As an indie author, I do all my marketing and social media, and there’s not enough time in the day to be on all platforms, so I have to pick wisely about where I want to be posting. It might be surprising to some people, but common wisdom in the indie community is that building up your personal newsletter is key to success. The reasoning behind this is that you don’t have to rely on algorithms for your posts to reach your audience; even if you’re following someone on Facebook, for example, there’s no guarantee that you’ll see their posts. (As an aside, I don’t think that newsletters make you immune to an algorithm effectively gatekeeping you from your audience, given that it’s really easy for Gmail to drop your carefully constructed newsletter into the dumpster that is the promos tab.)

All this said, I have a strong suspicion that newsletters are not the best way to keep a YA-reading audience updated on new releases and updates, since the demographic skews younger. (And yes, I obviously understand that older people read YA too. I am one of them.) Which leads me to Instagram/bookstagram; if I had to guess, bookstagram is the current best way for YA indie authors to connect with new readers. That means that I need to be more participatory on Instagram in a way that best connects with readers… which is a roundabout way of saying that I’m going to be going for a more “bookstagram” feel on my Instagram account, so I’ve been hard at work on that. Maybe it takes some of the magic out of all those beautiful pictures to think about things through this marketing slant, but that’s where my head’s at right now.

Anyway, drop a line down below if you actually read any of the newsletters that you’re subscribed to! Do they even arrive in your main inbox or do you subscribe and then get them relegated to a spam/promo folder? I am mega-curious about this. Myself, I have been a major slacker at newsletters; I don’t think I’ve sent one out since March. Gotta be better at that.

That’s all for now, folks! Have a great rest of your weekend, and enjoy Chapter Nineteen.

Music and My Writing Process

I was talking with my grandma the other day, and the topic swung around to my newest WIP, which I’ve affectionately dubbed “Beauty and the Beast and Aliens.”

“How did you ever think of that?” she asked me.

I took a second. “Well, I don’t know… Music helps with brainstorming ideas, I guess?”

Here’s the reality of things: as with my other books, I don’t really remember the exact seed for this story. A little bit of this and a little bit of that rattle around and around in my brain, sometimes for years at a time. Somewhere down the line they twine themselves together and poof, there’s your book idea. However, music continues to play an integral part in informing the way I want my books to go, and since I think I might use music in a slightly unusual way as a writer, I thought I’d set my “process” down on paper to hopefully be of help to somebody else.

The first way I use music is by letting the mood of several songs lull me into a meditative, imaginative state. For example, in the aliens book, I know that storytelling and travel are going to feature heavily, so I’ve been listening to a lot of songs like “Another New World” by Punch Brothers/Josh Ritter and “Northwest Passage” by Stan Rogers. But I’m not really listening to these sorts of songs while I’m writing, but rather when I’m doing other, mindless tasks like driving, walking the dog, etc. I find that this practice allows my creative brain to chew on the song in the background and every so often spit out new ideas for my WIP.

The next way I use music is a bit complicated; I listen to music that reminds me of other books that I want my book to feel like. Here’s an example: when I was in middle school, I became obsessed with the Chinese singer Faye Wong and the book Sunshine by Robin McKinley at the same time. (Both of which I still adore, by the way.) I have distinct memories of spending a Christmas vacation curled up in an armchair in my grandparents’ living room, devouring Sunshine as I listened to a Faye Wong CD over and over again. So in my mind, that book and Faye Wong, and especially the song “再见萤火虫/Goodbye, Firefly”, are forever linked. That’s step one.

Now, for a couple different reasons, I want my alien book to have a similar feel to Sunshine, even though the actual stories are pretty dissimilar. Therefore, I’ve been using “再见萤火虫/Goodbye, Firefly” and another Faye Wong song to enter a state of mind where I feel what I felt reading Sunshine that first time. Doing so has allowed me to more easily craft my WIP with the specific tone of voice I’m looking for—a bit older, a bit more stream of consciousness, a bit more something that gets me closer to the story I want to tell.

The last way I use music is a bit more typical for writers, I believe—I listen to music similar to the mood of each scene while I’m writing that scene. Most of the time this music has no words, so that’s where you see orchestral pieces and soundtracks creep into my playlists. So this is where my playlists become a bit like a book soundtrack; you can very roughly map out the changing mood of the book with the playlist.

So if you’re interested to see how all this music ends up coming together into one confusing playlist monstrosity, take a look at my Spotify book playlists—I have one for each of my published works, and a private playlist is already in-the-works for the aliens book. I really hope this is helpful for other writers out there who might need help with brainstorming or inspiration!

A small aside—if you haven’t seen the book trailer for Specter yet, check it out! Specter debuts July 7th (just one month away!!!!!), and is available for preorder at all major retailers.

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