Happy Halloween!

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For the last few weeks, I’ve been bouncing between spending far too many hours at work and holing myself up in my apartment working on sketching out my outline for the sequel to Songstruck. I know, I know–I said I was going to have a draft finished like…three months ago. But now that I’ve scrapped the old draft I was working on, it’s taking some time to get things back on track. Luckily, though, I’ve always been in the habit of cannibalizing old stories, so there are going to be passages from the old version that still fit into the new version. So that’s a plus, and a little less struggle on my part.

Tomorrow is November 1st, which means it’s officially the start of National Novel Writing Month! One of the few times of year when I make it my mission to pretty much spend every spare moment writing. I mean, I carve out time pretty consistently to write as it is, but every November, that kicks into high gear. Late nights, early mornings, and my journal constantly by my side so that I can write when I take breaks at work, too. It’s a crazy 30 days, but I love it! For anyone else participating this year, good luck!

~Sofia

Of Rescheduling and Redesigns

Currently listening to the Finding Neverland Broadway Cast Recording

Rescheduling. I have been doing nothing but rescheduling things for the past week and a half. Not for writing things, but rather for my graduate assistantship. Who would’ve guessed that managing a crew of 50-odd people would mean so much rescheduling? We’re only about a week into their duties, and they’re calling in absent left and right.  Not that I mind; it goes along with the job and so far, all of the rescheduling has gone fairly smoothly.

I have also been rescheduling writing-related things. We’re in the final stretch of September, and Stagestruck is…not complete. I mean, the draft is coming along fairly nicely–I’m about two thirds of the way to being finished with the draft, I should think. But it still isn’t done, and the deadline I had set for that was the beginning of August. So I’m running just a bit late. The new deadline is to have it finished by Halloween. My grad assistant job should be calming down significantly now that my workers are actually working–the planning/preparing stage is finally over–and my internship is…well, I’m honestly not completely sure what’s going on with that right now, but there’s not a lot of interning happening with it at the moment. Basically, the moral of the story is that I should finally have some free time opening up, and that is a beautiful, beautiful thing. And I will be desperately trying to get the first draft of Stagestruck finished on Halloween, because I want November freed up so that I can participate in National Novel Writing Month with a fresh story–the third book in the Songstruck series. It would be phenomenal if I could bang out a good chunk of that manuscript before moving on to preliminary editing of Stagestruck. I’d get that warm and fuzzy feeling of accomplishment that only about five people in my life will respond to with anything more than a mildly confused stare.

Now, what’s the bit about redesigns, you ask? (You probably didn’t ask, I know. But nonexistent, hypothetical you totally asked) Well, I’m planning on commissioning a new cover design for Songstruck. It’s not that I don’t like the cover I have now–I absolutely do!–but I think I need a change. Something a little…flashier? More striking? I’m not exactly sure yet.

Still terrible at maintaining this blog, but valiantly attempting to breathe life back into it again,

~Sofia

Of Nerves, New Ideas, and Neopets

Currently listening to Lights, by Ellie Goulding

You know what’s seriously nerve-racking? The sudden realization that people are reading your writing. And not just people, but people. Strange people. People you’ve never met and will probably never meet.

This isn’t a new sensation for me; as some people might know, I’ve been involved off and on in role-playing on Tumblr*. And with that, every now and then you get a non-RPer who likes or reblogs one of your roleplay posts, or a drabble, or an in-character ask. Personally, I don’t have any issues with that–it’s great that people like the posts and it’s awesome that they express it! But sometimes there’s a moment of “Oh my God someone is actually reading this. Who are they? Why are they reading it? Do they really like it? How often are they reading it?”. I mean, it’s writing that you’ve put out in public, so it’s reasonable that other people might stumble onto it and read it, but seeing actual evidence that that hypothetical audience exists tends to give me a moment of…well, it’s not quite panic, but…it kind of is. Maybe a flash of crippling insecurity before O get over it and go on with my day.

I get a similar feeling when it comes to people reading my other writing–my book, my short stories…You see, I’ve been seeing some Kindle sales of Songstruck recently that I know don’t belong to anyone I know. That’s great! It’s what I want–what any author wants! It’s still a little unsettling, though, and there’s still that moment of fright because people are reading things I wrote. It’s not like a roleplay where there’s at least one other writing partner spinning stories with me and we’ve got a shared responsibility for the content that people are reading; my book is just me. I’m a little more exposed than I’m used to, so it always takes a few moments longer for me to shake off the strange realization that people are actually reading my work. And I’ve been even more surprised to see that people have been pretty steadily reading my stories on QuarterReads.com. Those are just short stories that I’ve scrawled in my spare time or when I needed to take a break from other writing, and people are reading them, too. Hopefully, they’re even liking them. But it’s still intensely weird for me sometimes to see such crystal-clear evidence of their presence.

What else was I going to write about today? Oh, right. New ideas. One of my biggest problems has always been sticking with a writing idea and following through with it. Despite that, I’ve been managing to pretty steadily work on Stagestruck and I’m fairly pleased with how it’s going even though I still need to go back and fix those chunks at the beginning. But I’ve also got a few ideas for an Alice in Wonderland-inspired piece bouncing around in my head. I’ve already got drafts of three different possible Wonderlandish stories that I’ve tinkered with over the past year or so, but last night a series of characters came to mind. I had to open up Storyist to make pages for them, and I even found some images that just screamed those characters. So now I want to explore those characters and nail down a story for them. I’m trying to resist the urge. For now, at least, so that I can keep up the progress on Stagestruck

But maybe if I just write a short story about them for now…

~Sofia

*I feel like it would be disingenuous if I didn’t admit that I got my start with roleplaying as an 11-year-old on Neopets.com. I still have one of my accounts there, too, even if I haven’t logged on in ages**, and I still mourn the loss of my oldest account which I lost the password for years ago and must have been purged from the system. Medieval-world-inspired RPs were my thing. And more often than not, I wrote some kind of thief or mage. Go figure.

**That’s a lie. I logged in today, because this post made me think about it. And I’ve got a Halloween Lupe, a Zombie Peophin, a Mutant Jetsam and a dorky Electric Lenny because the Lab Ray never gave me anything cool. Jealous? 😛

Of Stories and Scents

Currently listening to The Carnival by Amanda Jenssen First, an announcement. I have a new short story up on QuarterReads. It’s called “A Divine Wager”, and it’s found here. Remember, you can now “favorite” writers on the site, which means you’ll be notified when they publish new stories. And every week, there’s a free story. This week, it’s Natalia Theodoridou’s “We Call Her Mama”. The rest of this post is just a little bit of nonsense, and I’ll elaborate later. But for me–and for many others–scents can be very evocative. Maybe you always associate the smell of baking cookies with your grandmother, or lavender reminds you of the candles your aunt always had burning in the house. I love perfume, and one of my favorite places to get perfume is Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. Which means I love being able to get various scents from them. Right now, my favorite is probably Pink Snowballs, which is an older scent–one that’s been released a few times as part of Yule collections (yes, BPAL has all kinds of collections, including limited edition releases for holidays). It’s a sweet, soft vanilla rose. But there are other scents, too. A whole line, for example, of scents based on the movie Only Lovers Left Alive. I have one of them, Quintessence of Dust. What does it smell like, you ask? Well, here’s the scent description: “The passing: beeswax and smoke, yellowed paper and well-worn leather books, droplets of spilled ink, faded incense, blood-tinged salty tears, and the metal of the knife that skewers that illiterate zombie philistine’s portrait.” And…that’s really kind of what it smells like. The scent descriptions are all fascinating, and many of them are impressive works of writing. Most of the scents are designed to be very evocative, and more than once, I’ve found myself applying a blend that helps put me in the mindset of a particular character, or something that strikes me as “fitting” for the scene I’m working on. ~Sofia

Of Self-Imposed Deadlines and Poor Success Rates

Currently listening to: Empire by Shakira

One complete first draft.

That’s the goal I’ve been aiming toward since…oh, I don’t know. Something like August 2014. In fairness, I was neck-deep in work on Songstruck for a while, but I’ve been more or less free of editing and publishing concerns for that novel since the beginning of January. So I have no excuse for my lack of productivity since then.

But I’ve been working on the sequel to Songstruck, and now I’m hitting a point on that manuscript that I once hit while writing Songstruck. I just don’t feel like writing it. I know what I want to write. I know what scenes need to be trimmed that are already written. I know all of it, but I can’t get myself to do it. I am on a deadline, though, and I’ve given myself plenty of time to reach it. My goal is to have the first draft of the sequel (which I suppose I can mention is to be called Stagestruck) finished by New Year’s Eve of this year.

Why so far away? Well, first because in all fairness, I am busy. Graduate school is fairly demanding. Also, since I participate in NaNoWriMo, I manage to write a lot in the month of November. Around 90% of Songstruck was written in November of 2013. November is the part of the year where I am most motivated to write, no matter what other obligations I have at the time, because there is such a huge community of other people doing exactly the same thing.

I’ve also put the deadline there because I’ve found over the years that when I put myself on a deadline for a big project (like writing an entire manuscript), I don’t meet it. And then I get frustrated and discouraged. Smaller goals, like getting Songstruck published on Christmas Eve (the goal was technically before the new year in general, not just before Christmas), are much easier to manage, because in cases like that, the bulk of the work was already finished. But if I tell myself that I need to finish the first draft of Stagestruck by, say, June 1? Life will inevitably get in the way, and I won’t get around to finishing it for whatever reason. I don’t like missing deadlines, but I also don’t like giving myself goals like “type 30 pages by X date”. And so I put the deadline somewhere I can certainly reach, for the whole completed project.

I’m sure others are just the opposite of me, and set smaller deadlines. Or perhaps you work better by setting a bigger deadline sooner, to push you to work on the project more? Or something else? Maybe some of you shun deadlines of any sort? Let me know!

~Sofia

On to the Next, and a Note for Book Reviewers

Currently Listening To: Dernière Danse, by Indila

With Songstruck published and available for purchase (I’ll make a note when it filters over to Amazon, by the way, and ebook formats will be available in January), I’m turning my attention full-time to my next project. Or rather, my next two projects. One is, of course, the sequel to Songstruck, and progress is going quite nicely on that. The other, though, is a sort of pet side project unrelated to the world of the Songstruck series. I’m pretty equally excited for both of them, and it’s a toss-up which one will be finished first. Classes start up again soon, though, so I have to spend the next week or so getting as many words down as I can. For the same reason, I won’t be posting as much here over the next couple of weeks. I can still be reached on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, though, and of course anyone can feel free to shoot me an email.

*Note: I know that some of you review books occasionally on your blogs. If anyone has an interest in reading and reviewing Songstruck, feel free to get in touch with me, and a free ebook copy can be arranged.

~Sofia

Until I post again, I’ll leave you with an image of my book cover, created by the wonderfully-talented Ms. Corinne Baltz:

Songstruck Cover

Current Status & Upcoming Projects

Currently listening to: Monster, by Dev

I’m currently in the final stages of prepping Songstruck for publication. I had a few hangups with the cover–minor issues, and my cover designer has been absolutely wonderful in getting the edits done and returned to me quickly, and those hangups have, unfortunately, caused enough of a delay that Songstruck probably will not be made available for purchase until after the first of the year. That’s a little unfortunate, but assuming all goes well with the cover submission this time, I’ll be able to order a proof copy sometime tomorrow. Unless I want to pay an exorbitant fee for shipping, that will probably mean that I’ll receive the proof a few days after Christmas. Give me another day to look through the proof, and…well, I could just barely make it before the new year. Maybe. We’ll have to see. Of course, when the book becomes available, I’ll announce it here, as well as Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr.

As I wrap up all of this publishing prep, I’m turning a lot more attention to the sequel to Songstruck. I’m always excited to work on it, especially since I tweaked something in the final draft of Songstrucks that opened up a little more of my magical little world to play with. It’s little more than a throwaway line in the book, but it goes a long way to explain some of the characters that show up in the second installment.

~Sofia