Progress Report: A First Draft of “Little Paranoias” is Complete!

We have a first draft! We have a first draft! *throws confetti*

“Little Paranoias: Stories” is my next short story collection. It’s not like my previous short story collections, though; which are both very short — four stories apiece. “Little Paranoias” will have twenty pieces: five short stories, twelve flash fiction stories, and three poems.

“Little Paranoias” is also unique in that I came up with the title long before I knew which stories I wanted to write and collect for the book. I didn’t even have a story called “Little Paranoias.” The title came to me and wouldn’t go away. It ended up becoming a small, four-line poem that will open the collection.

The collection will feature a mix of both new, never-before-published stories; and pieces previously published in ezines and anthologies — including my work that has appeared in The Sirens Call, and “Hearts are Just ‘Likes,'” my short story featured in Camden Park Press’ “Quoth the Raven.”

Right now, I anticipate publishing the collection in early December. In the meantime, the book is already listed on Goodreads — please add it to your shelves!

I can’t wait to share this next collection with you. Watch this space for more updates, including the cover and a final table of contents.

Progress Report: Pieces Here and There

No, this isn’t a redux of All the Pieces Coming Together — though I have something fun in the works for that one next month. Stay tuned!

2019 has started with me working in pieces. A flash piece here, a submission there, a proofread right here, and bits of stories in between. At the moment, I’m working on an epistolary piece for a themed submission. Epistolary pieces are usually told through letters. I decided to take a different approach and tell a story through an ongoing thread on a fictional Reddit forum devoted to nightmares. The title may change, but right now, it’s “r/uawake.”

Writing it has been a challenge, mostly because with the setting of a forum and for the plot itself, time stamps are important. As such, I have to write time stamps for each post, which has made my eyes cross more than once. Balancing it out, though, are the names of the users. I’ve had fun coming up with punny usernames. My current favorite is Constant Craven (if you take it and/or it already exists, then, insert disclaimer about how all characters in this story are from the author’s imagination).

I’m also in the final stages of preparing Without Condition for publication on February 12 (mark your calendars). I received my ebook and paperback proofs from Doug, and just finished reading through my paperback to make any final corrections. I’m also sending it out to reviewers. If you’re interested in providing an honest review in exchange for a free ARC, let me know in the comments; or feel free to contact me at sonorataylor (at) gmail (dot) com. Please include a link to your site or your social media pages (Goodreads, Instagram, etc.) where you’ll post the review.

Whether you review it or just want to give it a read, I hope you’ll pick up a copy of Without Condition on February 12! In the meantime, you can shelve the book on Goodreads; or learn more about it right here on my website.

Thanks for reading, everyone.

Progress Report: It’s All the Same Bug

Work on my next book is still going strong. This time last year, I was almost finished with the first full draft of Please Give. I’m maybe 2/3 finished with the next book, and hope to have a finished draft by May. I set myself a deadline of May 10, but that may be a deadline that, like Douglas Adams said, I can enjoy the whooshing sound of as it goes by.

I’m in the odd stage where I’m writing and having to contend with my original ideas changing or being dropped altogether. I already changed the title and reconsidered some of the themes. I’m also finding original scenes, moments, and ideas — ones I had before I even started writing, and ones that became my first passages — dangling on the precipice of the manuscript, waiting for the fateful keystroke that will send them to my Lost Passages folder (because I never delete anything, even drafts I hope never see the light of day).

Some of these are scenes I can’t wait to revise. I actually spent the past couple days revising one scene that was awkward when I wrote it and works much better now that I’ve written more of the story. But there are others I’m afraid to go back to and press CTRL-X, because a part of me feels like I’m letting go of a piece, a moment, or an element that I held with love for a long time — perhaps longer than necessary, but they were pieces I liked; and I grew sad when I first realized they no longer fit in the story that grew from them.

So much of writing a novel is learning to let go — and most often, what we’re letting go of are the moments that formed the novel in the first place. These are the darlings that are especially hard to kill. How can I drop pieces that inspired the story?

I can ultimately drop them, though, because the inspiration they created remains, even if the starting point does not. I’ll often go back and look at a finished piece and think, it’s so different from where it was when I first thought of it. And it is. It always is. But in many ways it isn’t. The fundamentals are still there. The idea is still there. It’s just in the form it’s supposed to be in.

It’s a cliche to use the caterpillar-cocoon-butterfly metaphor. I’m almost embarrassed to use it — I’m making myself type this with all my strength. But it’s an apt cliche because it’s true. A story crawls into existence, wraps itself in words, and emerges as something completely different from the caterpillar it started as — but at the end of the journey, it’s still the same bug. The caterpillar didn’t disappear. It just changed. And knowing that makes it a little easier to cut away the cocoon of a first draft that I’ve wrapped the story in to get it going.

I’ll be sure to post another GIF-filled entry once I’m done with the first draft of this book. I’ll do my best to not post a bunch of caterpillars and butterflies.

You can read a better use of bugs as a book-writing metaphor in my essay, My Jar of Fireflies.

And check out my progress on the book so far under its current working title, Without Condition — the title’s already changed, and probably will again until the cover’s been drawn and I can’t go back.

Thanks for reading!

Progress Report: Over 50,000 Words!

This past week, I crossed the 50,000 word mark on my next book. Achievement unlocked — I have a NaNoWriMo!

Woo hoo, I have 50,000 words!
I actually dance like this.

I call this a NaNoWriMo because the goal of NaNoWriMo — aka National Novel Writing Month — is to write 50,000+ words, or a novel, in 30 days. I always get excited when I reach this point, even though in my experience, it’s one where I can see the finish line as opposed to having crossed it.

Truth be told, my excitement increases when it doesn’t feel like the finish line. I like crossing the 50,000 word mark and knowing I’ve still got more to write. I know I’m going to be doing a lot of trimming, so having too many words is my ideal when a first draft is done.

I have more to write, but at 50,000 words, I am at least halfway done — maybe more. I’m thinking that Without Condition will reach 90,000 or 100,000 words when I finish the draft, and rest somewhere around 80,000 words by the time it’s complete. Of course, I say that now and I’ll end up with 200,000 words by the time I finish the draft.

But for now, I have over 50,000 words in the manuscript; and I’m feeling pretty good. To the next 50,000 — and soon, the next draft!

seinfeld-dance

Thanks for reading, everyone.

Progress Report: Heaps of Sand

I’ve been working steadily on my next book for the past week. It’s up to over 25,000 words, and the story seems to shape itself more with every day’s work (it also tends to shapeshift, but that’s all part of the process).

Despite this progress, it’s been hard to plow through because I’m reconciling with this being a first draft. Having completed a novel and several short stories, I figured I’d be familiar with the feeling of stumbling around an apartment looking for the light switch that comes with trying to write a first draft. I’ve even written about that feeling before.

Yet each day I open my document, start writing, and wonder why I can’t just magically have a complete story, one with all my questions answered and one without any bracket notes or paragraphs that basically summarize everything as opposed to narrating. It has all the things I see when I revisit my old drafts of Please Give. I know the words will eventually shape into the story I want. But my impatient self wonders, why can’t I have this now? I’ve done this before — I should be able to do this immediately.

But the truth is, I haven’t done this before — not with this story, at least. I think that’s what I forget when I get discouraged at my words feeling clunky or incomplete. It’s brand new to me, and I need to familiarize myself with the apartment and memorize its corners before I can just walk through and flick on the light.

I came across a quote on Twitter that helped put things in perspective for me, and helped me feel a little less discouraged at the state of writing my draft:

This is a perfect summary of the feeling I get when I write a first draft, that I’m tossing things haphazardly into Word and nothing’s making sense. But it will — and one can’t build the castle without piling in the sand first.

I want to close with my own interpretation of that feeling, inspired by one of my favorite TV shows, The Golden Girls:

Progress Report: Let’s Keep It at Two

Happy 2018, everyone! It feels like it’s later in the year than it is. I always want January to go pretty quickly, as it’s cold and grey and makes me feel like a sad hibernator. I like to be out and about, enjoying my walks to the Metro or late evenings out with my husband. Enjoying my time out helps me feel happier indoors, where I do my writing.

But alas, I cannot change the seasons. I can, however, keep up with the writing. I am still working on multiple projects, but have gotten into a better balancing act of a) keeping it at two active ones, and b) working on one at a time.

I am making more progress on Without Condition, my second novel. I’ve outlined several sections and written out a few. I like having notes not just to help me remember things to write later, but to see how far the story’s come since my initial ideas. I save all my notes, even ones I know won’t be used, as keepsakes throughout the process. Like my old drafts, I find it fun and amusing to revisit them — especially once the final version is out in the world.

I also find the notes useful in focusing my efforts on other projects that need to be done first. I am at a point in Wretched Heroesthe graphic novel I’m working on with Doug Puller — where I need to just focus on finishing a first draft of the current script, rather than switch between projects. I reached this point in part by forcing myself to write through unknowns, putting me on a better-known path towards finishing. I still have ideas for the book, though; and writing down the notes helps me feel better about putting it aside for a week or two while I finish the first draft of the next Wretched Heroes script.

So, I’m currently in full-on script mode. It’s a very different experience writing a script for a graphic novel, even with my fondness for dialogue in my books. Among other things, I’m learning to divide scenes into panels as opposed to just moving through them with motions and words. I need to account for scenes happening in blocks as I write — something that takes practice.

Both projects give me something exciting to work on when I’m stuck inside on a cold day. I look forward to sharing both with you later in the year! Stay warm, everyone.

Progress Report: Wrapping Up 2017

The end of the year is upon us! And what a year it’s been. I both wrote and published pieces this year, and it’s been an experience doing both.

I am readying another short story collection for publication in 2018. It is currently called Wither and Other Tales, and will feature five short stories. Four of them are with my editor, and the fifth is going through one more pass with me before I send it along to her. I look forward to sharing them with you once they’re complete. I anticipate publishing the collection in mid to late 2018.

While those stories are being edited, I’ve begun steady work on what I hope will be my second novel. I got the idea over the summer, a time when I was swimming through lots of ideas and trying to form them into their own pieces. I got some short stories, the beginning of a novella, and some “just for me” writing out of that time; but during early fall, pieces of the ideas from the novels I began combined with the one big idea I got over the summer. All are slowly but surely shaping into my next book. I will reveal more of the plot as I write more of it down. But, in the interest of not strictly speaking in vague terms, I will say that it’s currently called Without Condition, and more similar in tone to my darker short stories.

I am also working on a bigger project with Doug Puller, who drew the covers for The Crow’s Gift and Please Give. I am working with him on a graphic novel called Wretched Heroes, currently a four-volume work. Volume 1, The Man in Rags, is set to come out in mid to late 2018. You can learn more about it on Facebook, where you can like and follow the page for more updates (and also see some of Doug’s amazing artwork for the series).

2018 promises to be busy, but busy with something I love to do. Thank you all for reading and following along this past year. Happy New Year!

Also, a reminder that both Please Give and The Crow’s Gift and Other Tales are available to purchase on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.