Author Archives: Laura

2018 in review

In the spirit of accomplishments, this year I

  • wrote over 100k words on my novel (probably over 120k?) written this year, increasing my overall writing pace.
  • hit 245k three times as I wrote, unraveled, and rewrote large sequences. Yep, I like big books, I cannot lie.
  • translated 5 folktales
  • completed another translation draft of “Fairer”
  • applied for several grants and a residency program in France.  A girl can dream, right?
  • renewed my passport and driver’s license, and got back to driving again, yay health improvements!
  • with driving comes A LIBRARY CARD and going to the library!
  • continued being a moderator for ELTNA.org

2018-wordcount-total

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From coniferous forest to….

Currently pausing forward progress on my novel rough draft by going back and readjusting/revising generic mountainous forest setting description to…this.

Aka I did my research wrong in the beginning and I need to go back and adjust several chapters to be more awesome.

(Current wordcount: 245k)


200k and other milestones

So, last week I hit a few milestones!  Unlike my 100k blog post where I went into all kinds of detail about my novel-writing journey to that point, this post is going to be fairly short.  I think.  <.<

200k-april-2018

200k reached April 19, 2018 😀

I hit 200k on my novel wip.  The day before, I also wrote the scene I’ve been writing towards since April 2015–so, three years.  I wrote it all in a day, so that means I ended up writing 3k: 2.5k that afternoon and another 500 words of tinkering and adjustment in the hour before bed.  I don’t think I’ve ever written 3k in a day before, especially not while sick, but probably not even when I was healthy.  I’ve written much more than that in collaborative writing sessions, but writing solo where all pieces on the board to figure out are mine is different.

Honestly? I’ve been kind of exhausted and reeling ever since.  This scene is a crucial turning point.  The fall-out of this scene would also traditionally be the spot for a cliffhanger, since it changes everything for the protagonists up to that point, but I’m not going to split this into two books, so I’m going to keep going.

Nevertheless, reeling.

At this point I have no idea if I’ve pulled it off.  I’m sure the answer is both yes and no,  and that I will need to adjust things that come before, during, and after the scene to make it really clinch.

However, let me just say, it was EXTREMELY WEIRD to feel both the relief and satisfaction of having completed The Scene and the sadness and anguish for the characters and the turmoil they are now in.  I’m not a writer who cackles gleefully or otherwise enjoys putting characters through a difficult time, so…WEIRD.

~

In any case, my other bit of news is that I’m on track for this month’s Camp NaNoWriMo.  I’m working on revising the fairy tale I’ve chosen to be my sequel to Persinette.

campnanowrimoApril2018

The fairy tale is 96 old book pages, and I’m retranslating/revising another 30 of them this month.

~

If you want to check out my novel’s first chapter, join my fiction mailing list.

If you want to support my fairy tale and folktale translations, see my patreon.

Till next time!~


2017 in Review

wipwordcountdec2017

(Screenshot from “Sandbox project” on myWriteClub as of Dec 28, 2017)

This is going to be brief because there’s a lot going on this holiday season, but this year I –

  • Added ~100k to my novel project
  • Took “The Dragon’s Gift” novelette through more revisions, with the serious/experimental goal of publication. Tested out Scrivener e-book compiler and started learning Jutoh compiler.
  • Launched a fiction newsletter
  • Cleaned up and retooled my patreon for 2018
  • Alpha/beta-read several projects
  • Started drawing and painting again
  • Focused on health and healing, and added swimming and battodo to my exercise repertoire

“The Dragon’s Gift” – is an actual gift!

inktober0116

I’m going on an adventure!  Would you like to come along?

I’ve been kind of hush-hush about my fiction over the past few years, but I’ve decided it’s time to step out into the world again and start sharing.  I’m launching a newsletter for my fiction.

My fiction newsletter will have loads of sneak peaks condensed into a four-part welcome series, including but not limited to:

  • a dragon friendship tale e-book
  • the first chapter of my folklore-inspired novel work-in-progress
  • not to mention the novel’s title (besides “sandbox project” >.>)
  • and current cover
  • and what folklore inspired it
  • and probably an exclusive folktale retelling….

Yikes, that’s a lot of insider info.  I’m actually kind of daunted to share, but I think it’s time.  And what better way for you to get to know what I’m like as a writer?

Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

Sign up for my fiction newsletter and get a copy of “The Dragon’s Gift” e-book. (Link deleted)

(Newsletter sign-up now closed for revisions and a change of material. Thanks to all those who signed up and took a chance and a curious peek!)

 


Gods, Witches, Space & Stars (+bonus short story)

Back in 2011 when I started this blog, I named it “Gods, Witches, Space & Stars” as an encapsulating summary of the type of stories I was working on at the time: switching back and forth between what I called my “Gods & Witches” secondary fantasy world and some science fiction.

I first created my “Gods & Witches” world in 2009 for Brandon Sanderson’s SF&F writing class.  As part of that class, we were to begin a whole new writing project rather than continue working on any pet projects.  So, I began a Rapunzel-inspired story set in a secondary world of–you guessed it–gods and witches, where “gods” had creation magic and “witches” had destruction magic.  The repercussions for using their magic were inspiring awe, reverence, and a compulsion to worship or follow (gods) or inspiring intense fear and hatred in anyone in the vicinity to the point of their wanting to kill you (witches).  There’s a bit more to it than that, but my idea was to take folkloric trends and human tendencies and press down on them, exaggerate them, or make them a bit more concrete and a bit less abstract.

I ended up writing something like 76k of the first book of my planned duology (The Witch’s Tower (Rapunzel retelling) / God’s Arrows (Cupid & Psyche retelling))  before running into several problems I was unequipped to solve at the time.

One, The Witch’s Tower was far bleaker and more tragic a story than I actually wanted to write.  And although I retooled the ending and overall arc several times to make it lighter or more hopeful, I kept running into the fact that although I mentally wanted to write something more uplifting, I emotionally couldn’t.  Frankly, I was carrying too much emotional baggage from my own life that I needed to confront, work through, and heal in order to be able to write anything else.  Writers write from our hearts and our subconscious as well as our minds, after all.

Two, even though I’d been writing collaboratively with friends for over a decade by this point, I had comparatively little experience crafting plots solo.  The 76k I’d written barely scratched the surface of the story I wanted to tell, and I was frustrated by its lack of substance.  I wasn’t sure at the time if this was due to my intense love of long-story formats or if I simply didn’t know what I was doing.  I suspected it was more the latter, (although frankly it’s probably both).

It was really hard for me to reach the decision to set the world and these stories aside, however I don’t regret it.  I spent the next several years experimenting with and learning from short fiction, from 1k one-offs to my 44k novella.  I won’t say that I’m a master of plotting now, but I’m increasing my ability to tell if my pace is a plot problem that needs solving or if I simply need to go ahead and indulge my love of wandering through character and worlds.

Then in 2014, my friends at World Weaver Press did a #SFFLunch Twitter chat on my birthday and I jokingly suggested they create a dragon anthology for me.  Aaaand they agreed! Haha, I’m still highly entertained and pleased by this.

After looking at the worlds and stories I had to hand to see where I might craft a dragon story to submit, I eyed my Gods & Witches world and characters and realized that allowing the mentor-figure of The Witch’s Tower to encounter a dragon in her backstory would set her on a much less lonely, wearying, tragic path.  It would also unravel a good deal of the resulting situation and plot I’d written out in that 76k, and sort of create a “what if something else had happened” alternate direction.

In other words, if I wrote a dragon-and-girl friendship romance story with this character in this world, I could not only practice my plotting, but I’d create much more light and hope and a greater potential for happiness within my own inner worlds.  It felt like a much more suitable way to say goodbye.

I took up the challenge; I wrote the story.  I saved it a couple years to submit to the anthology, but unfortunately due to a few things the anthology never got off the ground.

However, I’ve also sought help and feedback on the story sporadically over the years, and I’ve learned a lot from my experiences revising. From cutting a scene on one reader’s feedback, to putting it back in with a different approach on the very next reader’s feedback, revising this story has given me a lot to think about concerning what’s right or wrong in regards to storytelling and the relationship between a writer’s intent and readers’ expectations.  Especially since, in my quest to write a lighter story (despite the protagonist’s difficult past), I originally undercut the protagonist’s emotional arc and made her a bit colorless and the ending weak or difficult to understand.  I’ve definitely grappled a lot with the balance of dark and light in this story.  We will see what impact my revisions have made.

Now it’s time to share it with the world and move on to the next big adventure: another world, another novel that’s now well over 100k and pleasing me much more.

I should probably change the name of my blog to something more suitable to what I’m writing currently, but first, my announcement!

I’m giving away this story, “The Dragon’s Gift, Once Given” for free to start off my new fiction-writing and releases newsletter.  The story clocks in at roughly 12k, right between short and long, haha.  I’m still happy with how I wrote their relationship.  A dragon with a sense of humor? Check!

Enjoy! 🙂

~~

Click to sign up for my fiction newsletter and receive a copy of “The Dragon’s Gift.”  (Link deleted.  Now no longer on offer as a freebie. Thanks to all those who were interested!)


100k & WIP Thoughts

I recently hit 100k on my current novel WIP and also passed the 2 year mark for how long I’ve been working on it, so I thought now would be as good a time as any to talk a bit about it. (As I write this, I’m really tired/worn out, so be prepared for a somewhat dry entry, but here goes?)

Before I talk about the novel WIP, I should say – if you’re curious about when Persinette‘s sequel Fairer will be ready, I’ve been holding off on touching its second draft until this novel’s rough draft is done.  Whether or not that’s entirely a smart idea I’m not sure, but I’d really really like to finish the rest of this novel draft in one go then use Fairer‘s second draft as a break between novel revisions.  The two stories also complement each other thematically in a way that pleases me, so if I can release them more or less together, that’d be cool.

Okay, now to talk about this novel WIP journey.

2015 was a rough year for me, so starting a new novel in January, beginning its draft in April for Camp NaNoWriMo and completing its first chapter (among other things) was super comforting.  I kept moving forward in the story over the course of that summer but eventually had to come to terms with the fact that I didn’t know the protagonists nearly well enough yet to feel comfortable continuing.  At the point I stopped, I think I’d written something like 5 or 6 chapters (I write long chapters, so between 50-60k?) before I realized I’d taken the story on a path that just…did not feel right at all and I didn’t have the equipment to fix it.  (Generally when I work well in a story, it’s because I’ve known the characters for longer than a few months.)  So I wrote a few more side/prequel short stories, exploring the characters, the world, and the…flavor–for a lack of a better way to put it–in more depth.

I was more or less successful with these?  The short stories took a lot longer to “get right” than I’d been expecting, and I sought a lot of help with one of the stories in particular.  I have no idea how effective or appealing they are as short stories since I’ve gone over them a bajillion times, but writing them accomplished what I set out to do, at least.  I know the characters a lot better now than I did at the start.

Midway through 2016, I paused in my efforts on figuring things out to move States.  I also took a break from frustrating short stories/novel to translate a few folktales, finish the translation rough draft of Fairer and dabble in a paranormal murder mystery for a while before I eventually got stuck on that too (haha >.>).

But! Getting stuck again forced me to reevaluate my priorities.  I decided that I really really wanted to see what I could accomplish with this novel project, if I could pull it off, etc, now that I knew the characters better.  So, after reevaluating, I ditched almost half of what I’d previously written and restarted there from scratch.

I’m now in the midst of drafting a whole new section of the story, carving a path through barely-charted territory.  I just used this year’s April Camp NaNoWriMo to help me add another 10k to the draft even through the midst of some really difficult personal-life things.  Ironically, this most recent chapter went the wrong direction again, but I caught it early!  So I ditched what I had, let the problem simmer, spent a day picking apart what went wrong and brainstorming fixes, and I’m about to dive in to start its replacement.

I’m not going to predict how long it will take me to finish this novel’s rough draft.  I don’t want to set anyone’s expectations, especially my own, especially since working on it isn’t my top priority in my day-to-day life.  My healing journey comes first, and this is just an appendage to that.   But the cool thing is that even though I’m slow enough to be writing only about 150k or so in two years at this pace, it took me four years to complete my 44k novella, so this is a vast improvement in my story-construction pace and really encouraging to me.  It’s not nearly the speed I wish I could go, but it’s still encouraging.

The one prediction I feel I can make at this juncture, however, is that even though 100k is a traditional novel’s length or longer–um.  Well.  I have a feeling this story is going to be at least ~200k.  I’m currently rereading the Touchstone trilogy by Andrea K. Höst which is nominally three books but in my head is one book just split into three convenient parts, especially since I bought them lumped together in an omnibus.  (350k in total? Something like that).  And I adored reading 400k-a-pop monstrosities as a teen.  I love detail and exploration and character and sinking my teeth into story.  Sooooo, yes.  We’ll see what this draft produces. >.>

I do intend on coming back to the paranormal murder mystery eventually.  That one I predict will be much shorter than this WIP, too, and might make for a conveniently-sized palate cleanser or dessert.

If you want to stay informed with my (albeit very sporadic) updates, feel free to subscribe to my blog posts on the upper right side of this page.  I’ll have a proper newsletter for my fiction up and ready later this year or early next, but meanwhile that’s probably the best way to stay informed.  Or, if you’re here to learn about my fairy tale translation e-book releases, there’s a newsletter just for that, as well.

Updates will remain sporadic for the foreseeable future.  But rest assured that my silence means I’m focusing my creative efforts on becoming healthy and crafting good stories.  I haven’t disappeared. 🙂

 

 


#1lineWed

This is a writing blog, but I haven’t done much talking about my writing lately.  So I thought I’d share some writing-related snippets from my Twitter account, whether that be a super short story:

Or community-themed lines from my current work-in-progress:

(You can tell I was trying to take advantage of the 140 character limit, because all of these quotes are about the same sentence structure, haha. )

(Oh look, a snippet from the prequel:)

I keep surprising myself by how often I associate the #1lineWed theme word with a rather gruesome subject. Check out my use of “fresh”:

Otherwise, I’m continuing my trend of not discussing my projects in any detail until they’re done.  This mitigates the pressure somewhat. But I do occasionally share sideways snippets about what’s happening with it. Whatever I feel comfortable sharing usually ends up on Twitter:

Till next time! 🙂


2016 in review

2016 has been all about changing focuses and swapping priorities around.

Outside of resting and trying to take care of myself physically, I used to put writing/translation as my top priority of things to do when I had enough energy or I didn’t feel too much like crap to do something.   That’s why this blog got started in 2011, actually, as a way to express this priority and its relationship in and around my health challenges.

But for this year, I decided to change that.  Enough was enough.  I’d reached a health plateau (before being a full-time caretaker in 2014 and the major post-caretaking health crash) and I wasn’t progressing in my recovery the way I wished to.  That plateau was really comfortable, though.  I could live the rest of my life like that and still have a good life, still write the stories I want to write (if in slow motion), still have good relationships and so on.

But it’s not the life I want. I want to be expand these limitations, be free to live the life I want with full recovery of my health.  So towards the end of 2015 I did some reevaluating.  From then on, and throughout 2016, I would put healthwork first before any writing or translating or social life or fun with friends or family connections or any of the rest of effort-inducing, spoons-depleting things.  I set aside multiple days a week and specific times of day and I swapped my priorities so that if I was going to reach for something to do, if I had the energy to do something more rigorous, it would be to seek full recovery so I could have more power to do the rest of what I wanted.  It’s not that health-seeking hadn’t been a priority before nor that I hadn’t worked on it before, just as it’s not like I’ve given up writing/translating completely now in order to make this happen, but my focus is completely different, what I put first is different.

And you know what? It’s paying off.  I found the path I need to take to full recovery.  I’m on it, and I’m making actual progress.  Miracles are happening.  My health is recovering.  My life is changing.  I picked up writing again a few months ago and my ability to write and how I’m writing and what I’m capable of writing about is changing.  That’s all I’ll say for here and now.  I’m a bit superstitious and don’t want to jinx it, true, but also it’s a private, vulnerable topic, and I’d rather discuss it more in detail when I’m through and can look back on the other side.  So don’t ask.  I’ll talk about it when I’m ready.

Life is definitely a journey, full of discoveries along the way.  I’m interested to see what 2017 brings.  Where I’ll be, where I’ll go, and what I’ll do.

Thanks for supporting me along the way.

❤ Cheers.

Other things accomplished in 2016:

  • Moved out of state
  • Finished wrestling with the government
  • Got health insurance again
  • Rewrote/revised a lot of what I wrote in 2015
  • Translated a few folktales
  • Finished the rough draft of “Fairer,” which will become the e-book sequel to Persinette
  • Alpha/beta-read 2 or 3 pieces
  • Started a fairy garden

Beta-reading Services

So, let’s say you’ve given your manuscript to all your alpha-readers already.  They pointed out trouble-areas and you fixed those then gave your manuscript to your beta-readers.  They pointed out more major structural changes and you put your nose to the grindstone and made more changes.   Unfortunately, now you’ve run through all your regular readers and you want a fresh set of eyes.

Or let’s say that for one reason or another, you don’t think your regular alpha/beta-readers will appreciate your new manuscript.  It’s not to their preferred taste and you’re looking for someone outside your normal sphere of feedback for this one-off project.

Or maybe you’ve just had no luck at all getting feedback and need a reader who will take your work seriously, who will actually get back to you when they say they will, or who will speak bluntly about their reading experience.

In all of these cases and more, I offer my services as a beta-reader.  This is not to be confused with the job of an editor or copy-editor.  I will be reading your work using these principles.  Preferably, I will not be the first set of eyes to look at your manuscript, but if that’s what you need, then I am willing to be an alpha-reader, as well.

Normally, yes, you don’t pay your alpha/beta-readers but swap services with them instead.  “I’ll read your manuscript if you read mine,” and so on.  However, good feedback is sometimes hard to find, especially a fresh set of eyes when you’re in a pinch.  I’ve had to do a lot of scaling back on alpha/beta-reading these past several years.  I don’t like saying no, but my time and energy are limited.  So this is the solution I’ve hit on, to fill a specific need.  Finances are also rocky at the moment, I still have health challenges, I need some additional income, et voilà. Necessity is the mother of invention. 🙂

Portfolio.

  • I’ve read for Mary Robinette Kowal (Glamourist Histories, books 3-5), C.N. Holmberg (The Paper Magician Series), translator Lara Harmon (Alone, On the Wind), Niki Smith (Some Did Rest webcomic), translator Allison Charette (Words without Borders, December 2015 issue), and others.
  • See Mary Robinette Kowal’s post on my alpha-reading or her referral on Writing Excuses podcast.
  • See Charlie N. Holmberg’s plug on Twitter
  • Lara Harmon’s public thanks.

Services.

  • Unless you’re seeking feedback on a translation, I will convert your novel (40k+ wordcount) into a form I can read on my Kindle, read it using beta-reading principles, and provide feedback to you in an e-mail summary. Don’t worry, my notes won’t be short. 😉
  • I will cover such topics as characters, plot, worldbuilding, anything I found confusing or incomplete, parts I particularly liked, and so on. 
  • I will act as a built-in sensitivity reader for topics such as religion/spirituality, disability, chronic illness, and the aromantic/asexual spectra.  (You may be surprised by this addition, but there have been very few projects I’ve read where I wasn’t a sensitivity reader in some way.)
  • I will only read fiction projects.  I prefer some combination of fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction, or mystery in MG, YA, NA, or Adult varieties.
  • No rape, rape-overtones, or post-rape PTSD with flashbacks.  No erotica.  No gratuitous violence or sex.  No horror or grimdark.  If you include any of these, I have the right to stop reading if it becomes too much for me to handle.  Your feedback will end there, wherever it happens in the manuscript.  (If I stop reading, you won’t be charged for the unread portion.  I apologize if this happens, but there’s as much risk involved for me as for you when taking on a stranger’s work.  Let’s just hope it won’t happen!)
  • I estimate turn-around to be 1 month.  This allows me time to factor in bad-health days, to read your novel (2-5 days) and to digest what I’ve read and provide feedback to you via e-mail (1 day).

Payment.

  • $250 flat fee, split into two payments.  $100 will be billed upfront when we make the agreement for me to read for you.  This ensures that you really will deliver your manuscript at the agreed time and I really will read.  The remaining $150 will be billed when I deliver my feedback.  If for some reason I was not able to finish reading then you will not be charged the remainder.
  • Payments will be made using Paypal. 
  • Why $250?  Cheaper than hiring a freelance editor who, granted, would be offering you even more detailed feedback, it’s still a reasonable price to pay for my time and experience.  Included in that price is payment for my services as a sensitivity reader, and $250 per project is an acknowledged minimum rate for that.

 Instructions:

  1. Query me at laura -at- littletranslator.com.  Describe your novel briefly, though you don’t have to be as formal as you would be when querying an agent.  I’ll get back to you with if I can take the project and my timetable on when I’d be able to get to it.
  2. If we agree on the arrangement, I’ll bill you the first payment via Paypal.

 

 Update: Now taking clients for projects read in January 2017 and later.

Keywords: find an alpha-reader, find a beta-reader, beta-reading services, critique partner, reader, manuscript reading services, sensitivity reader


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