A to Z Challenge: Reflections

So. We’ve come to another end of the A to Z Challenge. I won twice again, which makes me a bit happy. Still… the achievement was a bit anti-climactic.

But the main reasons I can think of is me. I loved the series I did for both blogs, and got back a lot of wonderful feed-back, but the fact is, I didn’t do what I wanted to do. I wanted to meet new people while making sure to keep track of everyone I already knew. Last year I neglected the latter.

This year… I just couldn’t manage to do the former as much as I wanted. It’s just sort of impossible at this stage of my life.

Right now, blogging is still a wonderful activity, but the fact that I got a publishing deal changed the way I look at it. I’m not sure if it’s a good thing.

Because the thing is… Writing has now become something that’s getting somewhere for me. And because of it, it’s also moving up in my list of priorities. So’s editing.

Fact is, talking about writing isn’t the same as doing it, so I just can’t put blogging ahead of my writing/editing/creation related activities.

Which means I visited an all time low number of blogs. But I shouldn’t feel even a bit guilty, because despite the above, the number is close to 700 comments this month. Problem is, I would have liked to do about double that, so I could find more of the new blogs.

Which really brings me to this point. I don’t think I’ll take part again next year. It used to be a fun activity that greatly expanded my readership, but now it’s something that becomes work. And because of that, not all that fun after all.

Anyone else know what I’m talking about?

A to Z Challenge: Zoo

Today’s the last day, kids! Thank for those of you who stuck around. I hope it amused and taught you something new. Also, I want to thank the Veteran Novelists for their thoughtful, useful and encouraging comments. You are all legends in your own rights.

But today, I have one thing a new novelist should know before starting a novel.

The characters.

They live.

They breathe.

They think.

And they make one hell of a racket in your head.

Sometimes to the point where you think you’re insane. Because really… you sort of are. And that’s okay. Because if you were normal, you’d be boring. No one wants that. Except boring normal people. Forget about it.

Talk to your characters like they have minds of their own. If you give them time, they’ll start answering. Often in ways that surprise you, yet makes more sense than anything you could have come up with.

Some characters will take over. Even for your muse. If he’s a badass who stuffs up your inner frenemies for you, even better. Most of all, love the zoo of different characters in your head.

You created them. And they all love you in their own special ways.

And deep down, I can’t really think of anything else quite like it.

Other than that, this is the end of this year’s challenge, so I just feel that I need to re-emphasize something from early on.


Nothing is worth the aggravation that comes to a writer who stops writing.

And with that, I bid you good night!

A to Z Challenge: You

A sad update on Damyanti’s mother-in-law. After being bitten by a venomous snake a couple of days ago, she has passed away. Please pray for Damyanti and her family as they go through yet another difficult time. 

I want to point out something supposedly obvious today. Unfortunately, it’s something that gets missed a lot by novel writers.

Writing is about you.

You write the book you want to read.

You write the characters in your head. The way you want them to be. Unless they decided to disabuse you of any notion of control and ran away with your story ages ago. It happens. Trust me.

Writing for the market is stupid. Repeat after me. Writing for the market is stupid.

Don’t believe me?

Okay… sure. I hope you enjoy writing stories that you don’t care for because the one you love above all isn’t in the market. And let me just mention that the Reichenbach falls happened to Sherlock Holmes because his author grew to hate him. Why? Because no one wanted him to write anything else. Agatha Christie apparently killed off Poirot for the same reason.

And imagine you do succeed (by some miracle) at writing a novel that you hate, but it makes money. And no one ever ever wants to read something else by you again.

It’d be like being trapped in the seventh circle of hell. Just remember the waterfall has been done.

Now you get what I’m saying? Feeling a little nauseous at the thought of a writing career based on something you hate?

Good. Repeat after me. Writing for the market is stupid.

I’ll draft only for myself. What I love.

And then edit in line with market expectations.

A to Z Challenge: Xtreme Moods

Before I start today’s post, I just want to ask that you please pray for Damyanti and her family. A few weeks ago, her sister-in-law passed away. But that’s not all. A couple of days ago, her mother-in-law was bitten by a saw-scaled viper. This is a terribly venomous snake and she’s in the hospital as we speak, fighting for her life. Allergic to the anti-venom, and systems starting to fail. D asked me to spread the word as far as I can, as her mother-in-law and the family as a whole need as many prayers as they can get. Please share this message with as many people as you can. And please pray. 

Today, I want to warn new writers about another thing no one ever tells you.

What you write can and does affect your mood. If your character is euphoric, you will be. If he’s being crabby, you will be too. Murderous… yep. If you write a character’s sex scene, you’ll get turned on. A death scene and you’ll cry your eyes out.

I can’t really suggest something to combat this, because all of the above means that you’re writing right. If you didn’t feel any of how you wrote, how would you be able to get the emotion across to your readers?

But yeah. Be prepared. And remember that your family will think you’re insane if you leave your writing space without winding down first.

Turn on some relaxing music, or do something that’ll take you out of your writing world and put you in the real one. Possibly something repetitive and moderately mindless like knitting or mmm… sit-ups. Sit-ups are a good idea to combat all the sugar and caffeine you consume while writing. Jumping jacks too. Or just do a crazy dance while no one’s looking.

Lock the door first, though, or you might be walked in on and be classed certifiably insane.

Veteran novelists: Do you unwind after a day’s writing? How do you do it?

A to Z Challenge: Vital Hydration

Note from me: I’m coming down with the flu, it seems, and I’m growing less coherent. So if my sentences run and end up half finished, forgive me.

So today’s piece of advice isn’t all that make or break, but it’s definitely a tip I wish I knew when I started.


We need it.

Not coffee, tea, sugar, soda or any other fluid.


The others are nice, but the energy they give you aren’t permanent. And after the initial high, they’ll do more damage to your concentration than having gone without. So you drink more of them, and the resulting crashes will be a bit worse, until you can’t go without the drinks at all.

Which is perfectly fine if you’re into that sort of thing.

But please. Do me (and you) a favor and drink a glass of water. If you don’t like the taste, add mint. Or lemon. Or strawberries. Or all of the above. But get some water in.

You brain craves water. If you drink caffeine, you just dehydrate it more. That’s why you get head-aches when you stop.

But yeah. I know how hard it can be  to start drinking water when you’re used to fizz, sugar and caffeine. So here’s my tip. Keep a jug and glass at hand. And drink one glass. If you feel thirsty, drink another. Repeat through the day.

Also, if your mind feels fuzzy after a long day, go for water. Usually it’s just dehydration.

Before you know it, you’ll be a regular water guzzler.

What’s your preferred drink? Will you be thinking of me while draining a glass of water? (I hope so. ;-))

A to Z Challenge: Unsure

One thing you need to know about writing: You’ll never be quite sure about it.

You’ll feel amazing one moment. The next, you’ll doubt every word.

You’ll spend the rest of your life trying to master the craft, except you never will. There’s always something else to learn.

Sometimes, you won’t even be sure about why you write at all.

But you’ll write anyway, because it’s the one passion in your life that’s almost as important to functioning as breathing.

So don’t worry about being unsure. That aspect to being a writer never goes away.

Get used to it.

What are you always unsure of as a writer?

A to Z Challenge: Taking Breaks

Once you get to the end of your first draft, you’ll fall into one of two camps.

The “OMG THIS IS AWESOME WRITING!!!” Perky Writers and


If you’re lucky, you’ll be on an island in the middle. And friendly with campers on both sides. Actually, I think this situation is by far more preferable to either of the above camps.

Why? Well. You think that the Perkies are best? No. Because Perkies tend not to have a clue as to the depth of the suckiness in their first drafts. I mean… Really. I don’t think I know anyone who writes a publishable first draft. And as unassuming as I am, I think I’d secretly hate that person if I did. Ahem. There’s also a special class of Perky. The Delusional. Don’t be one. They’re usually the least popular kids at camp. Seriously. Other writers often want to drown them.

On the other end are the Emos. They don’t think that anything they produce is worthwhile. So. When they edit, there’s a serious risk that they’ll cut out too much, even jewels that really should have stayed. They have been known to take out a story’s very soul during edits. Because they just can’t stop tweaking.

See? The island is best. Come chill out away from the terrible over-confidence or the negativity. How? By taking a break. Catch up on t.v. Write something else. Paint. Take that non-writing holiday you sort of planned. Don’t read your story or work on it for a while. By this I mean, if you remember a detail from something you wrote a few weeks ago, leave the book alone. What you want is the thrill of discovering something new every time you open your WiP to work on it. This includes rewrites, revisions and EVERY. SINGLE. ROUND. OF. EDITS.

Because if you veer towards either camp mentioned above, your edits are sunk until you can be neutral about your work again.

So, veteran novelists. Which camp do you usually belong to? How do you prefer to get away from your book?

A to Z Challenge: Stop Worrying!

Seems people have picked up that my series this month is about reality checks. Uh oh… now I have to change my approach or those in denial will avoid me. That would just be… inefficient.

So. Today will be a reality check for new writers still, BUT with a difference. This one has a much more positive spin. 
The message is simple. 
So what if your story has no plot? So what if your story is completely different from anything else in your genre? So what if prudes and the ignorant masses will try to burn your books once they’re published? 
Most of us are fortunate enough to live in countries where we won’t get shot for writing something different. 
Use that. Go nuts. Be as mad as a hatter on speed. 
Be you. 
And you’ll be okay. 
I promise. 

A to Z Challenge: Reading as a Writer

If you’re a writer, odds are that you’re a reader too. It’s probably your love for words and stories that inspired you to write in the first place. 

Needless to say, reading is important to writers. 
Once you start writing seriously, though, you might find yourself struggling to find time to read. I know I did. Still do. But it is important to keep reading. Whatever you can manage. 
Firstly, because reading is a good way to rest. And seriously, you’ll need some. 
Secondly, the words you read or something about a plot or character can get you thinking. And those thoughts turn into ideas. Actually, this can happen with t.v. and computer games too, but don’t go spending too much time there. Because I’ve discovered that looking for inspiration never works. You have to wait for it. 
Thirdly, whether you’re trying to learn from writing or not, you’re going to absorb a lot of information just by reading. That alone is worth its weight in gold.
So whenever you’re blocked or need to rest your story before starting edits, read. 
Read a lot. 
Because if you’re anything like me, you’re going to miss it like an amputated arm while editing. You see, I can’t read books at all during edits. Unless I’m critting them. 
It might be strange, but I can compare my issues to Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. That bit where Simza asks him what he sees. His answer: Everything. That’s what it’s like for me. I can see every tiny little thing the author did. Sometimes down to which scenes were put in later to smooth something over. 
You might be the lucky owner of an editing eye that closes when you tell it to. But if you don’t, read as much as you can, when you can. 
You’ll thank yourself later. 
Anyone else have issues with leaving editing mode? Even when reading other people’s books? 

A to Z Challenge: Querying

Welcome back, ladies and gents. Today, I’m going to dangle a carrot before you. You want to get published, right? Excellent.

Here’s the thing, if you want to go the traditional route to publishing, there’s this small technicality between a completed novel and the publisher of your dreams. 
Veteran novelists, stop wailing. You’re scaring the new kids. 
Okay… so honestly, it’s more than a tiny technicality. It’s… well… Honestly? 
Querying is a bitch. 
It’s about being told no again and again despite the fact that agents keep saying they want what you have. And then they don’t even tell you why. You don’t even get to ask. 
Then I’m not even talking about the absolute agony of drafting the query letter in the first place. You see, you can do what you want. 250 words will never do justice to your story.
And more often than not, you’ll have one shot at catching that agent’s assistant’s attention. 
Basically, what I’m telling you is this. Querying is like going into Category 5 hurricane with an umbrella. What you don’t want is to query with an unfinished novel. 
And no, you definitely don’t want to query a first or second draft. You want to go querying with the absolute best you have to offer. In other words, a story you can’t imagine editing again. And the best query letter you can write. 
Without those, you haven’t a hope. 
Any other query tips for a new novelist?