Romance, Uncategorized, Writing

I’ve Been Hiding and Writing Smoochin’ Stories

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

Writing (and life) took a few unexpected turns in 2019. I learned some valuable lessons, and a lot about the publishing industry. To put it short, I had my heart broken by it.

For the past few months, I’ve been working on a new project; a fresh start, an attempt to reclaim my love for telling stories.

On about October 29th last year, I decided to take part in National Novel Writing Month, and write something purely for my own enjoyment.

That project was a fantasy romance novel, The Lady of Blackmere.

As it turns out, I adore it. (Who’d’ve thought following the advice “write for yourself” would produce something you actually like). And, incredibly, people other than me also adore it!

I wanted to write a romance with a love interest I could see myself falling for. Brandon is a big, squishy cinnamon roll, strong enough to carry anyone off into the sunset, and gentlemanly enough to ask first.

He’s hairy, he’s sweet, he’s rockin’ a dad-bod, and I’m absolutely besotted with him.

I can’t wait to bring you more updates as the year goes on. I’m currently working the second book, and I’m having a blast.

I’m hoping to start using this blog a lot more frequently, so stay tuned for more news!

Thanks for sticking with me!

 

 

 

Uncategorized, Writing

It’s been a while

So, what’s going on with my stories?

I am currently working on a trilogy of stories, set in the same world but revolving around different characters. The trilogy’s title is The Unbound Saga.

Book 1:¬†The Thief’s Pardon

TTP is going off to an editor really soon. I’m already so proud of this story, and I can’t wait until it’s all polished and wonderful. I think I must’ve read it 1000 times and it still makes me feel so many things. I can’t wait until I can release her into the world. I have a playlist of songs which inspired The Thief’s Pardon, so If you’d like to listen to that the link is right here

Book 2: The Ash Prince

TAP is currently going through the first round of self-editing. It’s so much fun to delve back into this story, because I haven’t touched it for months (whilst I’ve been working on the other two books). This is definitely my longest and most ambitious story so far, and I know that when it’s finished up people are going to enjoy it. It’s an epic fantasy with an enormous heart.

Book 3: The Shepherd’s Watch

This book will tie everything together. I have big plans for TSW, but I need to make sure that all the pieces are in place throughout TTP and TAP. I will say that I’ve had a lot of fun (and headaches) designing a hard magic system for this story. Right now I’m just in the planning stages of this book, but I’m so excited to begin work on it.

 

So, there’s a lot going on, and hopefully in the next few months I’ll have some announcements to make in terms of release dates, newsletters, giveaways etc.

I’m also teaching a creative writing course at my local community center starting in June, which is extremely exciting and absolutely terrifying.

Thank you for sticking around.

 

 

 

Writing, Writing Advice

The New Year Self Sabotage Monster

Happy New Year one and all!

This time of year is good for one of two things, setting goals and sneering at people who set goals. I’m a goal setter. I want to lose the weight I’ve gained since moving to the US, drink less caffeine (I got into the habit of drinking diet coke or pepsi before bed and wondering why my heart felt like it was exploding out of my chest), and I want to be nicer to myself.

I also have writing goals. I want to finish and polish my 2nd book, The Ash Prince, which is a companion novel to The Thief’s Pardon. I would love to find a publisher for them both. I’m still working away on writing prompts for my #365prompts challenge on my Instagram page.

Oh, and I want to read more.

I know a secret though. I know I’m going to screw up at least one of those goals… probably all. I’m going to have days where I fall off the diet wagon and eat sooooo much food. I’m going to have days where I tell myself I’m good for nothing (Actually, I did that on New Year’s Day because I filled in my planner on the wrong day). I’m going to have days where I don’t write, or I think about deleting the whole thing and giving up. And that’s fine.

It’s fine because I know I’m going to have those episodes. We all do it. How many people do you hear say “I’ve ruined my diet” or “I’ve broken my resolution.” They haven’t. They had one slip-up.

New Years resolutions give us the perfect opportunity to wuss out. But the secret to succeeding is to know that slip-ups are normal. Between 2015 and 2017 I lost around 8 and a half stones in weight (about 120lbs). It was hard. It felt like it took forever. I exercised, I ate healthily, I said “no” to so many treats, but sometimes I said “yes”. I had to learn to climb back on that wagon so many times. Then I moved to America and then America happened and I gained some weight back. The wagon is kind of rumbling off towards the horizon but I know I can catch it again. I’m fine with it. Losing all that weight in the first place taught me to be patient and to believe in myself, because at the start I could barely walk, and by the end I ran for 10 miles. You can do more than you think.

Life never goes the way you intend it to, so you have to be flexible and cut yourself some slack. Giving up on your goals because of one mistake is like buying 365 eggs and throwing them all away because one egg has a crack in its shell. You might even have a run of bad days, a week of binge-eating, not writing, and all round hedonism. So? You still have 358 perfectly good eggs.

So, no matter what your goals are, work through the slip-ups, keep pushing to achieve the dreams that make you happy, and accept that every success worth celebrating is built on the bones of past failures.

 

Thank you for reading. You’ve got this.

NaNoWriMo, Writing Advice

Writing is for life, not just for November

December is finally here! Some of you have completed NaNoWriMo, some of you didn’t make it, and some didn’t attempt it. Today I want to look at what comes next for novel writers. What do we do with ourselves now that the official Novel Writing Month is over for another year?

 

Option 1: You Won NaNoWriMo!!!

Holy crap, you should be so proud of yourself. You wrote fifty thousand words in a month (or less) . Remember in school when you would get assignments to write 1000 words in six weeks and you’d moan, “That’s impossible!!”? Well, you just did that fifty times over for fun! You beautiful weirdo!

So, what comes next? You have two options here. If you reached 50k and your story isn’t over yet, try to keep rolling with the momentum and get it written. Or, if the story is done (or you’re feeling burned out) stick that masterpiece in a drawer for a few months. Wait for all the mistakes and instances of bad writing to mature and ripen like stinky blue cheese. Distance yourself from your project after you have reached a stopping point, and come back to it with fresh eyes for the first of many rounds of redrafting. I like to leave at least a month between rounds of editing, just so I forget what I’ve written.

Also, it isn’t uncommon for Nano participants to feel a little slumpy when all the hype has died down. But don’t worry, your inspiration will return. Rest, relax, bask in your victory, and try to read and do a couple of writing exercises when you’re feeling up to it.

 

Option 2: You Took Part But Lost NaNoWriMo

I’m in this category. My laptop died a glorious death halfway through. I was disappointed, but I’m not too upset, because I know that I can write any time I want to. And, I have 23,000 words of a new novel that I can continue working on now!

Novel writing doesn’t have to be an activity saved just for November. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter that NaNoWriMo is over. You can keep going. Be your own inspiration, and push yourself to achieve your goals.

Whether you wrote 1 word, or 49,999, holy crap, you should be so proud of yourself. Life gets in the way, and committing to something as intensive as NaNo isn’t always possible. But you should be so proud of yourself for trying.

Keep going. Keep writing. Set yourself a deadline, or gather your writer friends (if you don’t have any then I’m more than willing to help – find me on Instagram @marielipscombwriting ) and keep yourself, and each other, accountable. Sometimes we can bash out a story in a month, sometimes it takes a decade. However long it takes, know that you’re contributing something to our culture and that in itself is amazing.

 

Option 3: You Didn’t Participate

Perhaps NaNo just didn’t appeal to you this year. Perhaps it never has and never will appeal to you. Perhaps you’ve never even heard of it (in which case this has probably been a confusing read for you, and I apologize). Whatever the case, just keep doing your own thing. You’ve got this. And holy crap, you should be so proud of yourself. Going it alone isn’t easy, but you’re doing it.

If you didn’t take part because you couldn’t think of anything to write, then try to do as many writing exercises as possible. Try flash fiction, free writing, write about anything, but try to do it every day. Even if it’s just a sentence. Keep a diary of your little ideas and exercises, and I promise you that eventually you will have an idea that sticks in your head and becomes a full story. And the best thing is, you don’t have to wait until next November to start working on it. Any month is Novel Writing Month if you write a novel in it.

 

 

Thank you for reading, and I hope this helps you feel good about what you’ve achieved. And you should feel good, no matter how last month went for you. Keep writing.

Writing Advice

Deeply Flawed Diamonds.

“And what would you say are your worst qualities?”

It’s the question we all dread when it comes to interviews. Pointing out our flaws to someone whose job it is to scrutinize our character is almost impossible to do honestly.

“I work too hard,”

“I’m such a perfectionist,”

Come on. No one believes the standard answers. If we’re really truly honest with ourselves we’re kind of lazy, we daydream, we’re bad-tempered¬† and snippy, sometimes we’d rather dig our eyes out with a spoon than go to work, we pick our noses, we fart, we’d rather spend a little bit too long in the toilet cubicles than go back to that god awful desk…

I honestly don’t know why interviews bother to ask, because they never get a real answer.

It’s the same with literary characters. We know that to create well-rounded characters we have to come up with flaws. Bad habits make characters more relatable, because none of us are perfect, but it’s all too easy to give the “interview friendly” responses. We love our characters; they’re our babies, and we want readers to love them too!

“My character is deeply flawed. They’re too humble, too kind and adorable, and they have a weird defect whereby they poop solid gold…”

No.

Sure, your readers have to want to spend time with your characters, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be royal pains in the arse from time to time. If anything, when done correctly and balanced with good qualities, it just serves to make your characters more interesting and fun. Readers like to see themselves between the pages, and making your protagonists perfect just makes them seem alien, untouchable, and honestly, dull.

Flawed characters are wonderful!

Take, for instance, that lovable rascal Hannibal Lecter. He’s charming, funny, well-traveled, intelligent, a renowned forensic psychiatrist… oh, and he’s a cannibalistic serial killer. As character flaws go, that one’s a biggie, but I don’t know many people who aren’t captivated by him. Your examples don’t need to be as extreme as chowing down on long pig, but you get the idea. He’s the antagonist of the story, but he’s certainly the most memorable character.

Harry Potter might be the only one who can stop Voldemort, but he’s by no means the most intelligent, or the most perfect student at Hogwarts. He can be arrogant and impulsive, sulky and clueless, and that’s why we love him- because aren’t we all?

The protagonist of my current work in progress is a thief. She can be callous, stubborn, cruel, cowardly, she drinks, swears, and steals. And yet she’s witty, charming, she cares for the people closest to her and will endanger her own life to save them. She’s been through a lot, and putting on the mask of a rotten little shitbag helps hide her vulnerabilities. I absolutely adore her, and simultaneously want to throttle her, and writing her story has been the most fun out of anything I’ve written before.

Look at your friends, your loved ones, and be honest with yourself. Sometimes they drive you absolutely nuts. It doesn’t mean you don’t love them, it just means that they’re human, and that’s how your characters should be. Maybe you have a friend who is grouchy and hard-faced until you get to know them and realize they actually run a shelter for unwanted puppies and just have little faith in humans anymore? Or someone who won’t spend a penny to do anything nice, because they’ve been financially ruined before and never want to go through that hell again?

A writer’s job is to “collect” interesting people (figuratively speaking- please no kidnappings). Observe the douche-bags, the pushovers, the people who have you rolling your eyes one minute and grinning ear-to-ear the next. Those are the interesting characters. None of us are perfect. We’re deeply flawed diamonds.

For ideas of character flaws I highly recommend Now Novel’s character flaw list:

Character flaw list: 30 intriguing character flaws

I’m also on instagram @marielipscombwriting

Thank you for reading if you made it this far, and have fun creating your own beautiful disasters.