Writing Rituals!

Thanks to MK England for tagging me in the writing rituals video! I didn’t answer any of the questions, but I did what inspired me! Which was to poke fun at my own rituals and how they can fail me sometimes. See, rituals are intended to get you into the proper headspace for getting work done, so you have to re-evaluate if it isn’t working for you!

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Getting Published: Setting Achievable Goals

My life goals typically look like this:

  • Acquire matching socks.
  • Acquire fingerless gloves.
  • Buy a stupid mango and actually eat it instead of forgetting it exists and throwing it away two weeks too late.
  • Acquire fresh produce and cook a meal. It’s been a while, and I’ve gotten lazy at this.
  • Accomplish list of things required to maintain the frimbly facade of being an adult (including, not limited to: go to bank, schedule ophthalmologist appointment, research cars, probably call internet company?)

Basically, my lists are now-oriented. I’m not a big fan of Bucket Lists or Life Goals. Why? Because I want attainable goals that I know I can accomplish. I want to dangle the cookie just within reach, because then I’ll fight for it. I don’t want to hang the cookie on a distant star in outer space where I can only see it through a very expensive telescope that I can’t afford.

There’s a metaphor in there, I promise.

Anyway, my goal lists are always concrete and reasonable. This goes for things like basic human functions, and larger scale goals that are linked to my passions.

So when I set the goal as a wee child to publish a book, I knew I had a lifetime to do it. It was my cookie in the stars. But as I grew up, I broke that goal down into cookie-on-a-string tasks. Here’s a brief list of goals I set:

  • Write 100 poems and 100 short stories during high school.
  • When, among one of those stories, a premise had enough promise to potentially be a longer story, I set the goal of writing a novel.
  • I set the goal of finishing it while I was in high school. Two years later, as my high school graduation neared, I finished it with less than a week to spare.
  • My first year at college, I set the goal of writing my first NaNoWriMo book during my first year of college, where I wrote 12,000 words on the first day, and I finished the book by that January.
  • I set a goal to revise my first book and write my first query letter.
  • Then I read the entire Query Shark archives to actually learn what a query letter is supposed to look like.
  • I set the goal of researching and querying 10 agents.
  • After I graduated college, I had written three books, and I gave my first manuscript another pass on revisions.
  • Then I gave myself an end-of-year goal: apply to grad school for creative writing or get a job. I got a job as a technical writer three months out of college (which I love).
  • Instead of moving on, though, I entered Pitch Wars 2015 on the last day of submissions. I’ve talked a lot about my Pitch Wars experience here (and feel free to ask questions about it here), but a hop, skip, and boat ride away, I got multiple offers from agents. Then I got multiple offers from publishing houses. Then, suddenly, I had a book deal for two NAMELESS books.
  • But my goals didn’t stop there. Now, my goals have been things like:
    • Cut the opening 100 pages to 50 pages.
    • Write my first outline (it ended up being 13 pages long!) to guide my revisions.
    • Write an outline for book 2.
    • Do line edits for a friend’s book (which I’ve never successfully done before) ((and guys, she’s awesome))

Things are crazy. This place I’ve found myself is crazy. Setting goals makes it seem less crazy and stressful and makes it seem possible. It makes it achievable.

At times, it’s incomprehensibly and phenomenally lightning fast. Sometimes it trudges like dregs of unmixed hot cocoa: delightful and painfully out of reach. Sometimes its simplicity is astoundingly sharp.

Sometimes I get to write blog posts about the hundreds of tiny steps and goals, the relentless and torturous ambition, and the unending thrill of finally being so close to my sky-cookie that I can taste it.

And guys? It tastes like starlight.*

 

*not literal starlight, which tastes more like electric blue and unsaturated nebulas… so I’m told.

The Concerns of a Someday Author: Coping with Inevitable (Hilarious) Mistakes

Fact: Someday, I will sign my own name wrong in a book that I have written.

Planned Reaction: Hey, yeah. So… I spelled my name wrong in your book here. I’m just gonna… yep. I’m just gonna keep this one and, uh, slide you this shiny new copy. Isn’t that shiny? So shiny. And you know what? I’m not even going to sign it. We’ll just call this a wash–a net zero situation. You walk away with a totally neutral book, not marred by any egregious misspellings, and I’ll just have this pile of reject books over here. That’s okay, right? No? Okay. Well…. No, yeah, that’s totally how I’m spelling my name now. Yep. There are three C’s in Rebecca now. Totally.

 

Fact: Someday, someone will ask me about something in my book, and I’ll have zero recollection of making that decision.

Planned Reaction: Errr… why did that particular plot event happen, you ask? Uhh, I see you’re holding my first book there. That’s, um. That was a tough decision to make. Having the, er, character… do that thing they did. And geez, the tension and conflict? Must’ve been… it was a bold choice, to be sure. There’s… wait, what? Whoa, did that really happen? I wrote that? And there’s that terrible plot hole? Yeesh. Well, I’m sure I had my reasons. Probably. Did you want me to sign it? Because I’ve doubled up on the number of C’s in my name. I’m now signing my name as Rebecccca MccLaughlin to avoid confusion for when I spell it wrong by mistake. I also offer fun variations like RebClawflin for that super authentic scribbling signature vibe.

 

Fact: Someday, my ego will get the better of me in a normal everyday situation.

Planned Reaction: Oh, yes. I’m buying this shiny new laptop. Why yes, I do need the full sized keyboard. You see, I’m an Author. A Proper Author who authors things, and I am in quite desperate need of a keyboard that makes the right kind of sound when you type. I’m sure you’ve seen my book. It’s on the very front shelf at that bookstore across the street. I mean, it was in the back of the store when I was snooping, and I moved it up onto the fancy bookshelf near the front. I also signed it while I was there. You’ll see that the signature matches this new driver’s license I’ve had issued: Rbcccccca Mcccccln. My name is mostly C’s now.

 

Fact: Someday, I will say something inadvertently foolish, insensitive, or dumb online.

Planned Reaction: Yeah, I tweeted about it, for sure. What did I say? Oh, just that all books in the universe should be set on fire. Well, no. I meant it as a metaphor, obviously. Obviously! Sure, that’s fair. I DID light one of my own books on fire as a visual aid for the metaphor. Well, how was I supposed to know that the–what’d you call it? The booklr community? How was I supposed to know they’d get so upset. Come on, it’s not like I threatened to light ALL of the books on fire. Oh. I did? I did say that? Well, obviously I was overdosing on coffee and caffeine, and I shouldn’t be held accountable for–wait, what? There’s a trending hashtag about me? Really? Is it… no, it’s not good. Oh. Definitely not good. It’s #RbccccccaHatesBooks. Hmmm. I can see how that would be bad. At least it’s not being–oh it is. It’s being archived on the internet forever. I see.

 

Fact: Someday, I will accidentally spoil something about an unpublished book.

Planned Reaction: Okay, well I just announced to the world that everyone dies at the end. Yeah, I thought it was a joke too, until I remembered that 98% of the characters actually DO die at the end. So, what should we do about it? Is it too late to pull the books from circulation? It is. Okay. Well. How about we do a sequel where they all come back to life? And then there’s a High School Reunion that they attend even though none of them ever went to high school? And then someone inherits the universe?? No, I know it doesn’t make sense! But I’m panicking! This is what happens when I panic! I have really terrible ideas that I immediately pursue! Yes. YES. I DID just tweet about the sequel. What do you mean, “a sequel isn’t in my contract”??? What if I publish under a pen name?? How do you feel about RccccccMcccccc as a pen name???? Why can’t I stop tweeting?? NO, I KNOW I’M PANICKING. WHY DON’T YOU STOP PANICKING?!

 

So as you can see, I’ve given a lot of thought to what my life might be like as an author. I’m basically 100% prepared for any and all situations that may face me. Except for the complications of changing my name so that it has zero vowels and an excessive number of C’s.

I mean, I’m ready for that journey, but I don’t think my driver’s license will be a helpful tool for the police officer when I’m arrested for a.) signing my own books at a book store, b.) lighting innocent books on fire for an incomprehensible metaphor, or c.) breaking into the Twitter Archives to delete panic-induced tweets.

Writer’s Life: The Pen Cup Crisis

A typical Saturday morning of an author. Any writer knows the struggle of the pen cup.

You know how it goes. One pen, two pens, 90-thousand pens—half of which don’t work. All of it resulting in a tetris-jenga mess.

THE NAMELESS QUEEN, my debut novel, is out in Spring 2018!! AHHH! (Mark it as to-read on GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28173303-the-nameless-queen)

Find me on the Social Medias:

Twitter: twitter.com/mcrebecky
SnapChat: mcrebecky
Blog: makawalli.wordpress.com
Tumblr: mcrebecky.tumblr.com

Two-Book Deal: A Tale of Multitasking

If I didn’t freak out enough (I probably did), then I’ll restate it here:

I’m getting published! And not just any old published—I got a 2-book deal! That means that my super-savvy literary agent, Pete Knapp, finagled our way to getting a book deal that includes not only THE NAMELESS QUEEN, but an as-of-yet-unnamed sequel!

This leads to fun things like contracts that say stuff like “THE NAMELESS QUEEN + UNTITLED SEQUEL” and “Nameless Queen + Book.” It’s all kinds of fantastic math that boils down to the simple conclusion:

Starting in 2018, I will be a published author. And within another year-ish, I’ll have TWO books published.

*delicately refrains and fails from squealing with joy*

Let’s talk multi-tasking. Two books is no small feat, and most books are published about a year apart. So let’s take a look at the general timeline.

Let’s say my final manuscript is due this December, 2016. (It is.) Then it’s about 1 whole year until it’s published and out on a shelf somewhere. (Yep. Spring-ish 2018.) So, that means Untitled Sequel Book is being published in 2019 Spring-ish. So my final manuscript for NQ2 will likely be due in 2017 December.

But hold on, says the mathy part of your brain. How long did it take for me to do the first draft of NQ1?

It took me about 3 months to do the first draft, and then another 4-5 months to do revisions on my own, then 2 months of revisions with my mentor as a part of Pitch Wars, and another week of revisions with my agent, and—so far—another 3-5 months to do revisions with my editor.

That’s about a year and a half of work. And now I’m supposed to have a book coming out a year from the first one? Yikes! But don’t freak out so much, math brain. Let’s talk multi-tasking.

While I was waiting for my edit letter for a good solid few months, I had time to start Book 2. I got about 1/3 to 1/2 of the way through it during that time. Right now I’m working on edits for Book 1, and when I send my edits to my editor for review (in August), I’ll have some more time to jump back into Book 2. Then, when I’ve submitted my final-final version by December, I can dive in full-strength.

So by the time I’m on the 1-year-to-finish-Book-2 clock, I will already be at least 1/2 way through drafting. Yes, this means I’ll be working on Book 2 (and will likely finish it) before Book 1 even comes out.

Not to mention that I’ll get to work directly with  my agent and editor on revisions, so it’ll be a much more streamlined process. AND! The world and characters are already set up, so doing a sequel isn’t as much upfront work as starting a whole new book! It’s still going to be a lot of work on a tighter schedule, but I’m ready for it.

I have a solid foundation to build from, a good support system backing me, and a clear path ahead.

Basically, COME AT ME, 2017. I GOTCHU.

I’m Getting Published!

I don’t have enough energy to squeal with the amount of delight currently contained within my VERY SOUL.

But guess what?

I’M GETTING PUBLISHED.

Can we take a moment to faint? Okay.

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This is me. I’m the Doctor. (I wish)

When you’ve regained consciousness, come back to me.

Come back to me and hear the story of the FOREVER SECRET PUBLISHING JOURNEY.

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I wrote a post about this months ago, but it didn’t contain nearly enough gifs or squealing. So I’m rewriting it on the fly.

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When I fly, it’s often via Ear Plane as well.

*attempts to reign in the gifs*

This story is filled with SECRETS AND SECRETIVITY started back in December. That’s when I got the lovely bombshell from my agent that about a day or so after going on submission, we had our first offer. Then we had plural offers. Then I was at auction.

!!!!!!!!!!

Those exclamation points are my emotions. As soon as we got that offer and then plural-offers, THE NAMELESS QUEEN was going to be published. It was just a question of where. Like a bomb you know is going to go off, if that analogy helps.

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Pete Knapp, my illustrious agent, did some negotiations, which I picture as a high stakes poker game in a New York warehouse where the dealer is an enthusiastic, well-contained auctioneer throwing down pages of my manuscript like playing cards. Pete exchanges poker chips with terms written on them in black sharpie, non-nicotine (probably cotton-candy scented) smoke clouds the air, and there’s a lot of small nods and winks.

[There does not exist a gif for this, but there should.]

In reality, it was a lot of back and forth emails and other business-up-front type of things. The party in the back was me screaming with excitement far away in Michigan.

We settled on the basic terms. I chatted with some editors on the phone. I made a decision.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And then….

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Well, then there was a lot of waiting. And secrecy.

Sometimes things move fast (like getting an agent, going on submission, and going to auction in a number of days), and some things move slowly. In my case, it was a question of contracts.

If you’ve never heard the term “boilerplate,” just know that when it’s being revised, it takes an infinitely looping eon for it to get finished. But that’s okay! Because book writing is both a fast and a slow industry. So while the contract was being worked on (I like to think the contract got a trip to the spa and got a Swedish massage or something, sipping a delightful drink), I started the SEQUEL.

Because YES! The deal is for TWO BOOKS!

THE NAMELESS QUEEN will have an as-of-yet Unnamed Sequel! (pun completely intended)

So while I was waiting for my edit letter and for any news on the contract, I made a decent 1/3 – 1/2-ish dent in the first draft of the sequel. And let me tell you, things get COOL. Familiar faces, familiar world, and a dash of the unexpected!

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And now I’m doings edits on THE NAMELESS QUEEN, and polishing it to a shiny rock. It’s mega-levels of excitement. And the deal has finally been announced!!!! YAYYYYY!

I’m still early on this road of books and authoring and authorial booking of booky authory things. But it’s a long road, and I’m going to enjoy the journey! Somewhere ahead, we’ll get to do final revisions, the cover release, the proper publication date announcements, and all sorts of exciting fabulousness!

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Have questions for me on any of this? Ask me!