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Angela Goff

Writer. Teacher. Potter. VisDare Creator.

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Welsan

Writing. Because Pie

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I love it when writer’s meetings look like this.

I have an awesome writer’s group.

We’ve been meeting now for almost six years, and it’s been fascinating to watch everyone grow as writers and individuals. Our individual story-telling styles – and the stories we choose to write – have changed drastically during that time, but the essential core of who we are has not.

Individually and collectively, the group has proven a consistent Safe Place for ideas, scary out-of-your-comfort-zone writing, word sprints, excessive coffee consumption, field trips to used books stores, and the kind of random hilarity that makes other coffee drinkers quickly relocate to distant tables at our favorite coffeeshop.

Added to that is the never-swerving encouragement to keep on swimming, keep on writing, keep on doing what makes me Me and makes us Us.

Which is why, when I finished my 8th draft of Memento Mori (now retitled The Blank Mara) this past summer, the group’s unanimous response was to have a pool party and homemade pie.

Blueberry-peach-basil pie. From scratch. With vanilla ice cream.

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Be jealous. It was delish.

I’d spent 3 years – almost to the day – bringing Welsan, Jada, Casper and Gallows to life, along with all their obstacles and hardships. They knew how long I had labored over it,  wrestled with the material, and doubted myself along the way. And so they encouraged me, as only like-minded cohorts can.

Let’s face it: Most writerly moments – good and bad – can only be helped along by pie.

I wish all my writing friends could have such a group they could call their writerly home. There’s so much said today about inclusion, tolerance, and finding that “safe place” – and that extends to the ideas and stories we share in writing. Even when the stories are fictitious, they are still deeply connected with who we are and where we come from.

So – thanks, y’all. To all my writerly friends who have helped me get to this whole new stage of the writing life.

And to my blogging family: I hope you have a network of writerly souls who encourage your dreams and ideas on a regular basis.

If you do – or don’t – I’d love to hear you out. Drop by the comments and fill me in! Perhaps the road to publication is long, but there’s no law that says we must do it alone. 😎

Eighth Time’s a Charm

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Here it is. The first page. Yay for Kindle formats!

So…my laptop is repaired. I got it back four days ago. And I immediately got to work.

Result: My 8th complete draft of Memento Mori was completed two days ago.

47 chapters.

103,829 words.

279 pages (in paperback, according to Scrivener).

It took just a smidge over three years to complete.

Today, I sent copies out to beta readers. I’ve celebrated with ice cream, cranberry orange muffins, and a massive nap.

I need about three more of those naps.

But mostly, I’m just proud of myself, for finishing what I started.

Is Memento Mori ready for querying? Who the heck knows. But I’ve got a great team of beta readers. They’re honest and insightful, and give solid critique. They’ll let me know if I’ve missed my mark.

But for now I’m going to sleep. And walk away from the #amwriting hashtag for a few weeks.

And wait to hear what my betas say.

Yay me.

*falls over into a deep sleep*

 

 

Welsan lives!…in spite of my ineptitude.

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Look at that time stamp. 😀

109,000 words. 48 chapters.

402 pages (according to Scrivener, if it was printed in hardback).

Last night I finished Memento Mori‘s 8th complete rewrite, at two minutes to midnight on July 1st. Only a couple weeks past its third birthday. Three years ago, I stumbled onto my main character, Welsan, during an off-the-cuff attempt at flash fiction, and he has dominated my creative life ever since.

Three years on one manuscript. Wow.

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I was excited. So I threw a mini-Twitter-party. Or tried. 

I’m not sure if three years is a long time on one manuscript, or a very short time. I suppose it’s all in how you look at these things. But as this is my first “serious” manuscript that I’ve finished, and the first that I’ve any real hopes of querying to an agent, I guess three years isn’t too bad. I’ve learned a LOT in those three years, and from Welsan in particular.

I’ve learned that there are no shortcuts in writing. NONE.

  • I’ve learned that imaginary friends really can run your life.
  • That plot is more important than description.
  • That sometimes it’s okay to be more direct, and less poetic.
  • That if I can say it one word instead of five, then one word will do.
  • That if my characters have it easy, I’m not doing my  job.
  • That mango unsweet tea is the inspirational drink of champions. Or maybe a peanut butter latte, if it’s the middle of winter.
  • That the inevitable question “What’s your book about?” is a great chance to practice pitching your book – without sounding like a madman – in two sentences or less. (Carpe diem, yo.)

I also learned that fellow writers are the most amazing community in the world. They’ll cheer you on via Twitter at 2 am, and promise you homemade pie if you meet your deadlines. They’ll cover your pinboards with creepy photos that have EVERYTHING to do with your favorite plot twists, and send you breathtaking playlists on Spotify to get you through the wordsprinting slumps.

This is me. For the past three years.

Most importantly, however, I learned that I can finish a major writing project, and more or less on time. If you had asked me that even as recently as two months ago, I would have told you no – I couldn’t. But I was wrong.

I’m glad I was wrong. I’m glad that I kept writing, and that my writing friends – online and locally – didn’t let me off the hook.

I missed my original deadline for Memento Mori by about three weeks. But ONLY three weeks.

For someone who has had the skeleton of this story rattling around in her head since she was twelve years old, this has been a long time coming. And now it’s here.

Nor is the journey over. More edits. Polishing. Spit-polishing. Beta reads and reviews. More darlings to kill (but hopefully only small ones – the big ones were stabbed out of existence long ago).

There’s more work to be done, of course. But for now I’m basking in the finishedness of it.

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This will be me. After I get about twenty years of sleep.

SO….Welcome to the world, Welsan, Jada, Casper, Gallows, Anaba, Raspa, and Manyon. Happy birthday. I hope you like it here! There’s no cake, but there will be more stories…as soon as I get some sleep. 🙂

Meanwhile, you can find my state of emotions somewhere around the middle of this spectacular GIF-fest about the writing process.

Steampunk it ain’t.

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Hello, Summer. I am glad to see you….at last.

My poor neglected manuscript, Memento Mori, is now getting the attention it deserves. After languishing since the last round of beta-reads in December/January, I am now working to finish this puppy. Now.  Before my characters eat my brain.

Because that’s the real threat, isn’t it? That one day your imaginary friends will walk out on strike, and not come back till Doomsday, whenever that is. Or they’ll decide on different tangents when you’re not looking. Before you know it, your steampunk tale has turned into dark fantasy, or an historical paranormal urban fairy tale with chainsaw murders.

Actually, that’s not too far off my own experience. When I first began Welsan from an off-the-cuff flash fiction in June 2012 (YIKES. Three years this month!), he was originally intended to be a businessman in a suit, wandering the foggy streets of London, in a Victorian steampunkish world where harvested souls were the currency of the land.

Now, he looks more like this:

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So…yeah. A lot darker than I originally intended.

But that’s okay. I think the story resonates more, has more texture, more life (even though a lot of the story, obviously, centers around death).

It’s still a long way from being finished, in the polished sense of the word. I’m sure there will be another round of edits before sending off those query letters.

But I intend to close that gap as much as possible. Now. This summer. Before my characters really DO walk out on strike.

Wish me luck. Here I go….

Hi. I’m a coward. Thanks for asking. :)

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I’ve been hiding waaaaay over here.

Can’t see me? Good.

Wait…no…not so good….

Reality Check #487: These edits of Memento Mori are kicking my TAIL.

Not that I expected any less when I started out on this writing journey. But it’s a different thing to be down in the trenches, with the story in your brain and the story on paper going completely sideways to each other. When you’ve given yourself deadlines, and actually told people to hold you accountable to those deadlines. (What was I thinking?!? Oh yeah…I want to be finished with this, someday…)

Then, you know – life and stuff. It has a way of not stopping.

And the adulting thing sucks a lot of times. Not always, but usually the suckage comes at the most inconvenient moments.

But it’s got to get finished. Welsan and Jada, Casper and Gallows – they now have too many fans (Eek! Can I call them that?) pestering me for sequels, let alone a completed, polished draft.

But you know half the reason I’m dragging my feet here?

I’m terrified.

Because I know what comes next. What follows is the querying stage, or the self-publishing stage, depending on your take on such things. For me, it will be a query letter, a long-overdue kept promise to my twelve-year-old self, to try and “get published” the traditional way, warts and all.

And putting myself out there is scary. So it’s easier to just “not finish,” y’know?

Thank goodness for my beta readers. And my parents. And my writer’s groups – both the online and the in-town ones. They are all hugely valuable. And they’re not letting me leave Memento Mori alone.

That’s my confession, dear readers; and now — my request:

Bug the snot out of me on this, won’t you? Because if I don’t try I won’t know. And I’m too close to give up now.

But boy, do I need some cheerleaders between here and the finish line.

Let’s say….June 6th? Yes? Okay. Thanks.

*cowers under the covers*

*nervously gets back to her manuscript*

Villainous Pursuits

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The original photo prompt that started Memento Mori. Yes, I keep posting this one, because it still grips me. I'm not sure why.

My deadline for getting Memento Mori to my editor is rapidly approaching. I’ve tweaked, spell-checked, tried to reverse my awful habit of abusing the semicolon, and double-checked my timeline. I’ve done three full sweeps for various continuity issues. Now – for this round of edits, anyway – I’m down to Continue reading “Villainous Pursuits”

TTT: Stick-To-Your-Ribs Inspiration

Blogger’s Note: The Triple VisDare returns for NaNoWriMo on November 5th! Stay tuned!

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Writing is hard.

Editing is harder.

Or maybe it’s the other way around.

Either way, the road to publishing is not for sissies. I don’t feel like Superwoman while I’m in the writing trenches, anyway. That’s why it’s important, I think, for any writer to stop now and then and take stock of where you’ve been, and what inspired you to set off on your own writing journey.

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A few weeks ago, one of the ubiquitous “Do this and tag 10 friends, plus the person who tagged you first” trends made its round through Facebook. As a general rule, I ignore them; but this one caught my eye because it was about books. A Top Ten list of favorite books, to be exact.

Like any good bibliophile, I can’t reasonably narrow down my favorite books to ONLY ten. In my head, books are categorized into sub-listings of Top Tens: Top 10 Favorite Picture Books. Top 10 YA Historical Novels. Top 10 NonFiction Travel Writing. And so on.

But since I am currently in the editing trenches, I thought it would be good to jump in the Top Ten Tuesday trend and list the 10 books that have had the most profound influence on my current project, Memento Mori. Not all of these are obvious correlations to Welsan’s saga, but they have all had their impact – whether in content, writing style, or both.

Abhorsen, by Garth Nix
Bridge of Birds, by Barry Hughart
Silverlock, by John Myers Myers
Sylvie and Bruno, by Lewis Carroll
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C S Lewis
Egil’s Saga – 11th Century Viking Saga (author unknown)
Man Without a Country, by Edward Everett Hale
To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
The Once and Future King, by T H White
Christy, by Catherine Marshall

What about you?

What books have influenced your current project – or writing in general?

Drop by the comments and let me know!

Writing My Story (and Other Stuff)

 

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Happy October! It is a new month, a new season, and I am so. very. glad. it is here.

Life in my world has taken some interesting turns lately, including a drastic shift in family dynamics (all good – just new, and adventurous!), shifts in workload, and all the rest. For some reason, the advent of Autumn brings a whirlwind of change anyway, and this year is definitely not an exception.

Heap on that the fact that I have been working to get Memento Mori ready for the editor, and what I’m left with is a big ol’ scoop of CRAZY.

Result: The VisDare did not post this week. I apologize to my regular VisDare gurus, but I found myself at a triage moment with time, resources, etc and had to make a decision.

Decision: I spent those stolen moments of writing time on my nearly-fully-edited 7th draft of Memento Mori. I did this for 3 reasons:

1.  I was short on time and needed to make my deadline.

2.  I want Memento Mori off my plate before tackling NaNoWriMo again this year.

3.  I felt the need to create more “real” posts for this blog – beginning with this one.

7571b7e4c0528435aa248f90296e1c68 Not exactly a teaser for Memento Mori, but the atmosphere is about right.

Memento Mori took me on quite the journey these past 27 months. Started as an off-the-cuff flash fiction entry, it quickly morphed into something MUCH larger. It has been completely rewritten five times, and heavily edited/reworked twice. I have a hunch that when the editor finishes with it, it will need yet another facelift…or at least another round of edits.

Then maybe…just maybe…I can take that next step. I can draft queries for agents. Maybe even send some out. I’ve already got a shortlist of agents I’m following on Twitter, to see if they would be a potential “fit” for myself, and my work. It’s exciting, even though I am not on the publishing radar yet.

The deadline for having the edited manuscript to my editor is the end of next week (hold me accountable to that, OK?). This means that the next several days are going to be very busy, on top of the usual life/family/work/church dance.

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What does this mean for you, and the VisDare community?

1. The VisDare will return November 5th, with the first of my traditional Triple VisDare Challenge, in honor of NaNoWriMo.

2. At the end of November, the VisDare will then go on hiatus till January 14th, to allow me time to line up VisDare challenges for the 2015 calendar year.

3. More than that – though this may not please you as much as it does me – I’ll have the opportunity to schedule more “real” blog posts again.

Honestly, I think I’m way overdue.

What about you? Where are YOU in your creative process?

Drop by the comments and let me know! 

 

Switching (#amwriting) Gears

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If you follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or G+ you *might* have noticed me squealing about some news in the last 24 hours.

OK. It’s not HUGE news. I don’t have an agent (yet) and I’m certainly not published (yet). But I hit another milestone on my way there.

Last night I put the final touches on Memento Mori, a fantasy novel about a man who harvests souls for a living. It was started as an “off the cuff” writing exercise that I dashed out as an entry for Lillie McFerrin’s “Five Sentence Fiction” weekly challenge in June 2012. Out of all the flash fiction I have posted since beginning my blog in 2010, that one entry has received the most comments, and the most “Say, did you ever do anything with….?” follow-up questions and comments from readers. Obviously, Welsan needed a complete story of his own.

So I gave it to him.

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The flash fiction photo that started it all. The Five Sentence Fiction prompt was “harvest” and I was trying to get out of the box…. [photo source]

Memento Mori went out to beta readers last night. It was the 6th draft in two years. It currently stands at 61,601 words and 237 pages (double spaced). In it, a soul harvester and a sin eater find themselves on the wrong side of the necromantic laws that rule their land, and are forced to flee the very system they have served for so long.

It’s a much darker story than I originally intended, but after so many drafts, I think the story finally flows the way it ought. It asks the right questions. It pays out the right conflict. The characters who ought to do the telling, do. At least – that’s what I hope.

That’s where my beta readers come in. They are all very different people from wildly disparate walks of life, and I like that. I am sure they will tell me where my story has gone astray, and I am eager to know what the full spectrum of feedback will be. Regardless of how positive or negative the feedback, it will all go toward making Welsan’s tale a stronger, more dynamic read.

Is Memento Mori ready for querying yet? Oh no. Not by a long shot. I still have another round of edits, and one more battery of “inner circle” beta reads left. Maybe….just maybe….by early fall I’ll be ready to query. We shall see.

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Look! A teaser pin for my upcoming rough draft. No hashtags on this one yet – the story is still very VERY young. [photo source]

In the meantime, I’m changing gears on the writing front. I have a quite different novel idea that’s been pestering me since college, and in the last few weeks I think I have FINALLY settled on how best to tell the story. One of my writing groups meets tonight for a write-in, and so….I’ll be pulling out this New Old Idea (or is it an Old New Idea?) and starting up the plotting furnaces. I’ve got playlists and pinboards ready for inspiration.

And the #amwriting journey begins again.

Where are YOU in your #amwriting journey? Let me know! You can post in the comments, or follow me on Twitter. Let me know where the muses are taking you!

 

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