HalfLife, NaNoWriMo, Writing

NaNoWriMo 2018 Wrap Up

Surprise! Hi! It’s me! I’m a terrible blogger, but I have some of the most amazing news.

For the last few months, I’ve been doing research and taking strides to get my novel into shape. By the end of October, I’d started the rewriting of the manuscript. I had under 4,000 words.

Now if you’ve followed my blog since its inception, you will already know what the month of November is to writers. You can go ahead and skip down to the next paragraph. For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. The group that organizes it has a website where you can keep track of your word count, message your buddies, and connect with other writers whether locally through a write-in or through the forums. The goal is to write an entirely new 50,000 word novel by November 30th.

Prior to November, I was pretty sure that I wasn’t going to do Nano again this year. I didn’t want to work on a new idea. I wanted to finish shaping up my old one and getting that gal ready to fly. I remembered from participating in Nano two years ago that there was a badge you could award yourself if you were a “Nanorebel.”

On November 1st, I decided to rebel. I decided that this month was finally going to be the month that I got this draft done. The entire manuscript needed a major overhaul. From story rewrites to perspective changes to new story structures. It needed a LOT of work, and my sense of adventure kicked in. For the first time in a long time, I felt confident about writing. So I registered my novel, made a pretty cover image, and on the evening of November 1st, I sat down in my library and started (well, continued) the rewrite.

What. A. Month.

I can’t even begin to express what the last 30 days have meant to me. For so long, I felt like my writing was lost, that I was lost. Because who was I if I wasn’t telling stories? For the last couple of years, I had been putting so much pressure on myself. The purpose to writing was being published! Right…? Wrong.

I can live without being published. I’ve lived for almost 30 years being unpublished. What I can’t live without is writing. Storytelling.

The month started off really well for me. On the first day, I clocked just over 5,000 words. Within the first week, I’d hit 30,000 words and I was feeling great. It’s been a while since I’ve actually had fun writing, because of the pressure that I put on myself. As I’ve said before, the beginning and endings really needed a lot of work. I’ve had a plan of what I was going to do for almost a year now.

Finally being able to put it in place was a lot of fun. Through this month, I have realized just how much that I’ve learned from writing to begin with. The draft that I sent out to Beta readers in early 2017 was definitely no where near where the manuscript needed to be. But in the time that I haven’t been writing, I’ve been reading. I’ve been seeing how other authors do things, and it’s not only inspired me but it’s helped me to learn where my shortcomings are.

For many scenes in the novel, I was simply adding depth that wasn’t there before. It’s like with each draft that I go through, I add another layer, and to me, that was a lot of fun. To see where my writing was and where it is now makes me incredibly proud.

What surprised me was just how much fun I was having. In the past, writing has felt so much like work, and I don’t ever want it to feel like it’s work. The old saying goes, find a job in a field you’re passionate about and you’ll never work a day in your life.

The last month of writing has felt like anything but work.

In addition to writing/rewriting/editing the novel, I spent a lot of time interacting with others participating in Nano, specifically on Instagram. At the end of a long day of work and writing, I would scroll through the hashtag and like posts, send other writers encouragement, and follow people. I ended up gaining a lot of new followers and friends through the month, and that has been great as well. It’s always good to have a support group. For me, I always feel better about myself if I spend time encouraging others. I’m happy to say that though Nano is over, I’ve made some connections that I’m sure will last when it comes to keeping up with the writing.

I hit 50,000 words on November 12th. A lot of the month (especially in the beginning), I saw days where I wrote 5,000 or more. My average on the month was around 3,500. Just like when I did Nano in 2016, I was reminded that I absolutely can write every single day; it’s always been a matter of making time, which is kind of like relationships. If you don’t make the time for it, it isn’t ever going to flourish or grow. I enjoyed writing so much this month that now that it’s December, I’m feeling a little lost.

The last two weeks of the month, I worked at a slower pace. My word count was going up, up, up, and as I neared 80,000, I was feeling really good. The second draft of the novel (that I sent out to Betas) had only been around 88,000. So I was confident that I could get everything done by going at a moderate pace.

Boy, was I wrong.

On day 30, I sat down after work and started writing. About an hour or so into it, I glanced down at the pages that I had left in the previous draft to get through so I could get to the end.

Y’all. I underestimated so bad it isn’t even funny.

Still, I promised myself that I would finish the draft in the month. While I didn’t meet the end until after midnight, I still count all of the words that I wrote between 6 PM and 2 AM on that last day.

My final day’s word count alone was 21,889. Some of those words, I’m not proud of. I didn’t spend nearly as much time with the details and a fine toothed comb, but the most important thing is that I finished. Around 2:11 AM, the draft was done.

My total word count is 112,894.

How. In. The. World. Did. I. Add. 20,000 words?

It took me completely by surprise. I didn’t think I even had that many words inside of me for this story. It had been such a battle to write the first couple of drafts that I thought maybe it would turn out around 90,000 or so. Certainly not over 100,000. I’m incredibly proud and humbled that these characters chose me to tell their story.

So now we fall into the “what’s next” phase.

My heart is screaming for me to start over, go back through, and begin an edit to make this a fourth draft. But my head knows that the smart thing is to give it a little time before I try to dive back in. I’ve learned a lot about writing and the publishing industry. Through many drafts of many different stories, I’ve seen just how easily you can overlook simple errors or miss key plot points because you’re too close to the story.

December is upon us. While it’s really hard for me to step away from this project, I’m probably going to take at least a week away from it, so that when I get back to it, it’s with fresh eyes.

My hope above hope is to be able to have my baby’s fourth draft edit done by mid to end-January of 2019. Then, in the early spring, I will be reaching out for beta readers again. I had four people read for me in 2017 and the feedback I was given was invaluable. The notes that I got back helped me to look at the story in even further depth, to make sure that the passage of time felt natural, and to really dive into the characters, their motivations, and the actions in the story.

This project has been a major labor of love for me, ever since it began. It looks incredibly different now than when it was just an idea in my head when I was 18. I feel like I have poured my blood, sweat, and tears onto the page, and I’m so excited to be on this road again.

Once the beta readers are done, I intend on taking their notes into consideration, then working a fifth draft. Maybe, just maybe, at that point, I’ll be ready to start querying agents. The query stage is always frightening, and can be disheartening. Following a lot of literary agents online has helped me to get a better grasp of the industry, and how it works. I know that before I’m ready to query, I will need to spend a lot of time researching the genre, seeing what trends are popular, and then trying to find a home for my baby.

What a month!

Thanks for reading,
Abbie, xo.++

HalfLife, Writing

Writing ADD

Sometimes, as a writer, it is very hard to keep your attention on one project. I think a big part of that goes back to my writing origins. When I was fourteen, I discovered what role playing was (text based, you take on a character from a TV show, book, etc. and write like you’re the character). I played so many different characters across many verses. Over the last fifteen years (wow, I’m old!!), I have developed my writing from simple one-line responses to novel length stories.

In total, I have about six projects on my docket. Some of them are simple ideas scrawled out on a note card, or maybe a scene or two saved in a word document. Obviously, I have HalfLife, which has been sitting on my desktop for several months untouched. Then, there’s a fanfiction that is based off of a role play a friend and I did over the course of several years.

What has been so difficult for me is maintaining my focus on one project or another.

It’s like in order to avoid the hard work I have to do on one, I’ll start a new project or jump back into an old one that is still years away from being developed. Yes, I avoid it. I’ve been avoiding HalfLife for several reasons. It was only recently that I discovered why.

I’ve been through a lot over the last few years. In the course of this, I let myself believe that the ultimate goal to writing is to be published. I put pressure on myself to get this perfect or that just right, and that’s unrealistic. To put it simply: I lost the enjoyment of writing. I was no longer doing it because I loved it. I was doing it to put out a product that may or may not be successful in the world.

Let me tell you, when you lose the love for your passion, it becomes a chore. It becomes something that you don’t want to do. I never want to look at my writing as an obligation or because I have to do it.

The day I lose the love of writing, it’s all over.

I’ve finally found the enjoyment in it again. No longer is it about getting published for me. Yes, that is the dream. If it ever happens, I will be immensely joyful about it. But I had to find my love of it again. Without love of a passion, it’s no longer a passion. It’s like sweeping the floors or doing the dishes. That’s not what writing is for me.

Writing has been a big topic of discussion in my therapy sessions. We artistic types tend to express our trauma in our art. Writing has always been an outlet for me. A way for me to make sense of the things I’ve experienced. A way to express the things I feel without really expressing them. I’ve known for over twenty years that I wanted to write stories. And one of the biggest lessons that I’ve learned is that there is no time limit on reaching your dreams. I’d lost my passion, but I’ve finally found it again.

Over the last couple of months, I’ve been composing a fanfiction and I’ve written over 30,000 words. This character is a part of me that no one ever gets to see. I’ve had her stuck in my head for years, just under the surface. Write me… she says. And until I get her story down, I don’t think I’ll be able to move back into HalfLife. I’m hoping to be finished with this by the end of the year, so that in 2019, I can start fresh again.

I have posted what I have so far of the fanfiction over on fanfiction.net. If you’re interested in reading it, shoot me a message.

I’m determined that I am going to finish the next draft of HalfLife next year. Whether that’ll be agent ready or not is yet to be seen. There is one thing I know for sure: I am going to enjoy the process.

As always, thanks for reading.

Abbie

HalfLife, Mental Health, Writer's Block, Writing

Mental Health, HalfLife, & Positive Intentions

May is Mental Health Month, which is fitting, because a large part of this blog is going to be dedicated to exploring my own journey over the past year. It’s been about eight months since I’ve posted anything, and longer than that since I’ve sent out an update on my writing.

The writing process is tedious in itself. I have a full time job, family responsibilities, and myself on top of trying to spend time in my craft. If I didn’t have those “real life” pressures, it would probably be easier to get something done on HalfLife. However, this is real life. My life.

For nearly the last year, I haven’t been able to write.

When I sent out my HalfLife draft to Beta Readers early last spring, I dove right into the sequel book. I managed to pump out 50,000 words in a very short time, but when I got the beta notes back, it was like I froze. A writer’s block in the worst way hit me. I would try and try and try again to rework the manuscript, to find the spots that needed the most work, to heed the advice of my Betas.

The truth is: I wasn’t doing well.

I hadn’t been for a couple of years. A year ago, I spent all of my time in bed if I wasn’t at work. I didn’t hang out with people. In fact, I actively avoided them. I literally only did the things I was obligated to do. There were periods of time where the only people who saw me were my parents because I was living with them.

I was really struggling. I’d lost people in my life, dealt with family issues, and my parents flooded in 2016. By the Spring of 2017, I was a mess. I tried dating, which I don’t really do, and my anxiety was horrendous. I’m talking three hour anxiety attacks beforehand. I didn’t know how to handle the way that I was feeling.

This week marks one year since I started seeing my therapist.

When I first went, I felt hopeless. I was at my lowest point. I felt alone, and lost, and scared. To this day, talking about how I was feeling then will make me cry because that’s a scary place to be. Logically, I knew that my thought processes were ridiculous, but emotionally, I had convinced myself that I had no worth, that I had pushed away everyone important to me, and that I was a burden on the world. Looking back on it makes me cry because I’m terrified of being that person again. That was a scary place to be, and I never want to go back there.

It was hard at first to admit that I was in therapy. When I was leaving early every week, I’d tell my coworkers that I was leaving for a doctor’s appointment. It took a good six months before I was comfortable even telling people outside of my immediate family that I was in therapy. At the time, it made me feel weak, like I was admitting to not being this strong person that I was for other people.

A year later, I know that taking that first step was the strongest thing that I have ever done.

I’ve learned so much about myself in the last year. I’ve changed. I still have anxiety. I still have depressive episodes, but I’ve learned how to manage them. I’ve also learned that I have to be gentle with myself. I’m my own worst critic. For the most part, this change has been positive, but not everyone has been supportive on my journey. As a result, I’ve had to say goodbye along the way. But through that goodbye, I was able to realize the people who are supportive. I am so lucky to have people that still care even when I blew them off for months (even a year!) because I was going through a hard time.

So how does this relate to my writing?

When I’m not well, the creative side of my brain shuts down. I go into survivor mode. Do the bare minimum. I’m finally in a place where my creative brain is working again. I have a clear plan for HalfLife, and I’m working to make the time to get through it.

This is my plan:
–rework the entire first half of the novel to increase and establish actual stakes early on
–character development (some names are changing & developing more concrete backstories)
–Building up the story so the ending doesn’t feel like a big bomb going off without any build up.

I have at least this draft and a round of heavy edits before this is ready for anyone else to look at. To those who beta read for me last year, thank you, and I’m sorry. That draft wasn’t ready for anyone’s eyes. I may be looking to do another beta read, but when that time comes, I’ll be asking different people so I have fresh eyes on the manuscript.

So, I’m here, I’m better, and every day I move more toward my goal of being published. Thank you to those who have stuck around. This is only the beginning.

Love,
Abbie

PS: if you or someone you know is struggling, please know that there are resources out there designed to help. I know it’s scary to admit you’re struggling. Just remember, you have made it through 100% of your bad days. If there’s anything I can do to help, please reach out to me at abbiewritesx@gmail.com. I would be happy to help in any way that I can.

HalfLife, Writer's Block, Writing

When You Just Don’t Wanna…

I am blessed to have the things I do in my life. I’ve got a great family, wonderfully supportive friends, and a good job. But sometimes, it can be hard to balance everything in my life and writing. By the time I get home from work, eat dinner, and shower, I don’t have the energy to write most days. Those are the days I feel like a failure.

I always have this mindset of ‘I should be writing’.

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Many echo the sentiment of “if I didn’t have a day job, life would be so much easier.” Well, yes. Not because I don’t want to work, but because I want to be able to spend my hours on my craft. Instead I’m making ends meet at a normal, weekday office job. Juggling life can be difficult. There have been a lot of times where I’ve gotten overwhelmed with the amount of things that I have to do AND write. Partner my responsibilities with the fact that my brain doesn’t normally work right until 10 PM, let’s just say a lot of writing goes undone during the week.

So, this is to all of you who know you should be doing something else, but aren’t. And if you just don’t wanna, that’s okay. It’s a phase.

But make sure it stays just a phase.

As I’ve said before, I started working on HALFLIFE when I graduated high school (10 years ago next month…holy cow!), but I haven’t been constantly working on it. I got into a mode of I don’t wanna and it took years for me to get out of it. Who knows? If I had been able to keep the I don’t wanna to a minimum, there’s a chance HALFLIFE would be published.

All I can do now is keep the I don’t wanna to a minimum and jump back in as soon as inspiration strikes…even if it is at 10 PM on a Wednesday evening. When inspiration strikes, you have to run with it.

Normally, the I don’t wanna phases come when I’m avoiding something in my writing. Whether it’s a painful scene that I’m afraid to write, or a plot point that I absolutely hate, it’s something I’ve had to push through. Writer’s block doesn’t help in these situations either. But, one of the most important things I’ve learned is that it doesn’t matter if a draft is bad. The important thing is to get the story down.

How do I battle the I don’t wanna? I normally find another world to disappear into for a little while. Most of the time it’s a book. Other times, it’s television or movies. Currently, I’m watching The White Queen series from Starz. Also, having the house to myself for an entire day will help this coming weekend. 🙂

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So, where am I at in the process? I spent an hour on the phone last week with Lauren going over beta reader notes. She’s doing a line-by-line edit for me. As soon as she’s done, I’ll be jumping into edits of HALFLIFE. I’ve also got a lot of work I need to do on the prologue (this was the last thing I’d written in the prior draft, and I had lots of notes from betas on it). In the meantime, I’m still working on book two. Progress has slowed, but I am at 50,000 words and about halfway through the first draft.

I’ve also been reading like crazy. I intend on posting another book review soon for POSSESSION by Elana Johnson (if you’re on goodreads, feel free to add me: https://www.goodreads.com/babbzabbz; I’ve already posted my rating over there). I started reading LEGION by Marie Lu this week. So far, I’m really enjoying it, which wasn’t the case with POSSESSION.

What are some books you’re reading? If you have a suggestion of a book you’d like to see me review, drop it in the comments or reach out to me at one of my social media sites.

As always, thanks for reading,
Abbie

HalfLife

Beta Reader Feedback & More

So it’s been a little while since I’ve posted a blog. It happens. Life gets busy!

I sent out HALFLIFE for beta readers on February 21. I’ve heard back from nearly everyone, and I am really excited about the next round of edits. So far, the feedback is pretty positive! I went on vacation last week, so I figured I could relax the deadline. Hopefully I’ll hear back from the other beta readers within the next couple of days. And then…EDITS! More edits. I hate editing.

Once I turned HALFLIFE over to my readers, I dove straight into book two. I found that I like writing a hell of a lot better than editing. Edits are a necessary part of any manuscript, but they get tedious. For me, once I’ve finished a draft, I don’t like touching it too much. There is such a thing as over editing. But I also find that I get bored exploring the same story. To me, writing is a fun process, and editing is the necessary evil. I like being able to explore the world without limitations, and editing makes me feel like there are limitations. Book two is coming along nicely. I am really excited about the journey the characters are going on.

Now, that being said, I have to return to book one. If this series is ever going to be published, the manuscript has to be refined. I was so nervous about handing my book over for betas, and there’s a part of me that was horrified that people might not like it. Considering a lot of people don’t know what a beta reader does, I gave a list of questions to my readers as a guideline, mostly about things I doubted. The questions are below:

1. There are five main characters in HALFLIFE. Did you feel this was too many perspectives? Was there ever a time you were confused about whose voice was in a specific chapter?
-I was incredibly worried about this. Most books that have multiple perspectives limit it to two or three. There are FIVE in my book, and I was really worried my readers would feel it was too much. I was worried the characters’ voices would not be unique and people would get confused with whose perspective they were reading.
2. The point of view of each character is in first person. Would you have preferred seeing these characters from third person point of view?
-In the original draft, this story was in third person. There was one chapter in particular where a male and female character were talking about another female character. The hes and shes got incredibly confusing. By taking out one of them, I felt I was able to convey the story better. In first person point of view, you can give a lot more of the internal of the character than you can in third person. Conversely, third person allows for more mystery (recently read the Throne of Glass series and third person kept the reader from knowing much about the main character, which I really liked). I’ve struggled with whether I wanted to keep the story in first person or maybe do a variation (The OUTLANDER books, for example, have multiple perspectives, but the only one in first person is the main character, Claire). Overall, no one disliked the story being first person, so I feel like the decision to keep each character first person is a good one.
3. Were there any glaring plot holes or continuity issues? For example, Kate’s eyes are blue in chapter one, but green at the end of the book.
-This is something any author needs readers to keep in mind. I’ve changed little details, such as hair color, or the outcome of a character. I always try to make the updates, but the readers were able to point out several plot holes I missed so I can fix it.
4. Did any chapter feel random or out of place?
-This book started out centered on Dominick, the main character. When I wrote it centered around her, I found there was so much more to the story that we were missing. One thing my writing partner told me as we talked about HALFLIFE was that the supporting characters make the story. I had actually considered scrapping this and taking the voice of one of the supporting characters because it seemed everyone loved her more than the main character. But the truth is, this story isn’t just about Dominick or Kate or Caleb. It’s a culmination of all of these characters. The point here is, there are times where I’ve had to add a chapter from another character as a filler, and if it didn’t feel like a natural chapter, I wanted to know.
5. Did you have a favorite part of the book?
-This is purely for me. I wanted to know what the readers liked. So far, each reader has different parts they liked, and that tells me the story can appeal to a broad group of readers. I felt like I had a very diverse group of betas, so I could touch on different audiences. The only thing I didn’t have was a male perspective (if you’re a guy and want to read my book, please reach out to me!)
6. Did you have a least favorite part book?
-Again, purely for my knowledge. As a reader, there are times when I read a book and literally throw it because I didn’t like something. Not because I want the author to do something different. Because it made me feel something. Besides, if everyone came back saying the same thing, it would give me an opportunity to pause and rethink if that is something I should keep. So far, this hasn’t happened.
7. Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
-I love every single character I’ve written. Whether they have a perspective or not, I am biased. They are people that I’ve created that live in my head, and I was curious to know if others liked them. Most of them like Kate, who, unsurprisingly, is a version of my best friend. I was glad for that, because I feel like it is a dedication to who she is in real life.
8. Is there something you wanted to see by the end of the book, but didn’t? If so, what?
-It’s always good to see if a reader has suggestions. There are books that I’ve read and felt dissatisfied because the author could have done this, or could have done that. I wanted to give an opportunity to readers to tell me what they missed. I was not disappointed.
9. This is the first book in a series. Would you pick up book two based on this first story?
-For those keeping score, I have five books planned in the HALFLIFE series (plus, there’s a prequel story that may or may not be a series). It could end up being more, if the books do well, but as of today, five is the magic number. This made me incredibly happy: every single person said that they would continue reading. One even volunteered to beta book two because they wanted to read what happened next. For a writer, that is a glorious feeling.
On a more personal note, in addition to writing, I’ve got a lot going on in my life right now that I felt the need to share.
-Four years ago, I lost a lot of weight and I recently gained it all back. I’m working really hard to get it off. It’s been more difficult than it was before. I am the type of person who eats my feelings. I’m happy? Let’s celebrate by eating! I’m sad? I need to eat to feel better. I’m overwhelmed? Food will make it better. I’m bored? I need to eat something!
-I have also quit smoking. I picked it up when I was young and never really thought it would be this big thing. But it is. I smoked my last cigarette on Sunday. Words of encouragement aren’t necessary, but they are definitely appreciated.
-Vacation was fun! My parents and I went on a week long cruise to Jamaica, Cayman Islands, and Mexico. While seven days on a boat is a little too long for me, I had a great time doing something new. Now I can say I’m an international traveler!
-Lauren and I are working on a hardcore overhaul of one of our books. Progress has been slow (life has gotten in the way for both of us), but I’m excited about the changes and hopeful the story will be better off in the long run. We’ve also determined that series is four books, instead of the three originally planned.
To those beta readers who have provided me with feedback, please check your email. It may have gone to your SPAM box, so be sure to check there as well. Thank you again. It means a great deal to me to have such awesome people in my corner.
Thanks for going along on this crazy journey with me!
Abbie 🙂
HalfLife

Beta Readers!

Last Saturday, I spent about eight hours finishing up my second full draft of HalfLife. I love those productive days where it is so easy to get sucked into the manuscript. It is rare that I am able to just take an entire day and really dive in, so I appreciated the time immensely.

Through my writing process, alongside my partner in crime, I have learned a lot about the book industry and how it works. You can’t just send a book in somewhere and have it published. Because there are literally thousands of people trying to become published authors, it is actually very difficult to get published. The steps, as I’ve learned, are as follows:

  1. Write a Book
  2. Get an Agent
  3. Agent obtains Publisher
  4. Publisher publishes book

Those are the four big steps. Seems simple, right? I’m here to tell you that isn’t the case. Within those four steps, there are sub-steps. Just as in writing a book, there are main plots and subplots.

Take Step One: Write a Book.
I have learned that a first draft is just that: a first draft. Advice to new writers: never, ever, ever submit a first draft to an agent or publisher. I speak from experience. A first draft is getting the story out, the bare bones, if you will. What agents look for is a work that is as close to being publish-as ready as possible. It can take three, four, five drafts before it’s ready for publishing, or ready enough to obtain an agent.

Therefore, I provide you with Step One, Section A: Edit your Book!
HalfLife is only on its second full draft, but I’ve been editing and reworking and developing backstory on it for years. Do I think it’s ready for an agent yet? No. The point of a first draft is to get the story down. The point to an edit is to take out and revise and add and develop. My favorite quote about first drafts: “I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.” The revision process is very important. Not only do agents and publishers want to see a work as close as possible to being publish ready, but how can you be sure there isn’t more to the story if you stop after a first draft?

I want to build castles, not just shovel sand. 😉

Step One, Section B (This is where I am!): Beta Readers!
Last Saturday, when I finished this draft of HalfLife, I put a post out on Instagram and shared it to my other social media accounts. I was proud of the work I’d done. In that post, I put out a request, that if anyone wanted to beta read my manuscript, to please let me know. I thought maybe I would catch the attention of a couple of friends. I also reached out to a couple of people who posted ads to beta read for authors through Goodreads.

What I got back surprised me! I had over ten people volunteer to beta read. The thing is, most of those messages started out with: I don’t know what a beta reader is, but…

I am absolutely floored by the support and outreach so many have given to me. I expected I would have to fight tooth and nail to find folks willing to read my work. To everyone that volunteered, THANK YOU!! To those who I reached out to for email addresses, your copy of the manuscript is in your email if you haven’t already found it. 🙂

So, this post boils down to that very question: what is a beta reader?

The best way to polish a manuscript is to have feedback. You don’t know how your work is going to be received unless you actually let people read it. The point to betas isn’t to have a line by line edit done, but to have people read it, tell you what they do and don’t like, point out any glaring plot holes, and give you an honest opinion as to whether they like the book.

As a writer, I have to tell you, this has been the most terrifying step so far.

When I began the HalfLife journey ten years ago, I don’t know that I really thought I’d ever get to this point. I always hoped I would, but I’m a realist and psyched myself into thinking it would never be a fully workable manuscript. I’d like to think every author goes through this phase. The “What if they don’t like me?” phase.

This project is my baby. And I worry that people won’t like it. But, the truth of the matter is, if I don’t try it, I will never know, and I have to know if this story is as good as I believe it is. I know there are still places for improvement. Trust me, ever since Saturday when I finished the draft, I’ve been pointing out spots where I need to do more, be more consistent, or just downright remove the fluff.

But I won’t know how people feel about it until I let my baby go and walk on its own.

Again, thank you to every single person that volunteered to beta for me! I felt bad having to turn folks away, but, believe me, this isn’t the last project and I will absolutely need betas in the future. I am very touched by the support. I’ve spent a lot of time the last couple of years feeling like I was lost, or alone, and I realize now just how wrong I was. It means the world to me that there are so many people out there who want to support my journey.

I’ll come back to the steps and sub steps of publishing in the future, hopefully while I’m climbing the ladder myself.

As always, thanks for reading,
Abbie 🙂

HalfLife

February: The Verge of 28

I really am bad at keeping this thing updated. With the start of the New Year, things took a big turn in my life. While I haven’t kept up with my blog, I have been busy. So, what’s been going on?

  1. My writing partner Lauren (shout out to the other half of Our Kindred Souls!) and I have gotten back into working on our joint projects. They are big projects, and most of our work has been discussing plot points and adding key moments to our big project. It’s something no one in our lives has had the pleasure of reading yet. Hopefully we’ll have a workable draft soon. We are also looking into publishing options for our first project, A FOOL’S ADVENTURE. More to come there, I’m sure.
  2. I have been fighting a bout of depression. Mental health is very important to me, and I’ve always been an advocate of self care. During everything that has happened over the last 18 months, however, I seemed to have forgotten taking care of myself. I took a step back from a lot of things and realized what’s important to me. I’m taking the steps necessary to get back to being happy. I’ve always gone through phases in my life where depression strikes and I can usually get myself out of it. This time has been the hardest. I found myself just doing what I had to, to get by. That’s not living.
  3. I’ve been learning a lot about what medications do to your body. Not based on anyone else’s opinion, but on what I’ve experienced. As most of my friends know, in 2012, I lost 50 pounds. I’ve struggled with my weight my entire life. During this depression, I managed to gain back all of my weight and then some. At the end of 2016, I signed back up at the gym I lost the weight at and I’ve been trying to work out at least three times a week. As of last Friday, I had only lost 2 pounds in six weeks. So I evaluated what was different from last time. Obviously, I was younger. But also, I wasn’t on birth control then. Now, “they” say that birth control doesn’t make you gain weight, but I beg to differ. In 2012, I stopped losing weight around the time I started the birth control back. Since then, I’ve never really been able to do much more than maintain my weight. And one side effect of birth control I wasn’t aware of: depression. So, I threw the pills out. A week later, I am definitely feeling better, more productive. Happier.
  4. I’ve been reading a lot. Finally, finally, Victoria Aveyard released the third book in the RED QUEEN series, so I spent my Monday and Tuesday this week binging on reading it. Amazing story, and I’m going to do my best to post a review next week. My to be read shelf for 2017 just keeps growing, but KING’S CAGE was the book I was most excited to read this year.
  5. In just a few days, I am turning 28 years old. When did I get to be nearly thirty?!?! Either way, I’m determined to make 28 a hell of a lot better than 27 was. I’m excited to get to spend some time with family and NASCAR (if you didn’t know, I am a huge fan!). Here’s to whatever 28 may bring!

AND….HalfLife is so close to being ready for beta readers I can taste it! Not only do my partner in crime and I write stuff together, but we help each other with our own projects. Lauren has been great in reading samples and giving me tips. It has really helped the progress along.

That being said, I will be searching for Beta Readers as soon as this draft is ready. I am hoping to have it ready by the end of February. If you would like to volunteer, please review the “HalfLife” tab at the top of my blog, and if it interests you, you can email me at abbielynnsmith0711@yahoo.com, send me a message on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, or leave a comment here with your contact information.

As always, thanks for reading and going along on this journey with me!

Abbie