Sunday, 11 December 2016

One Year Publishing Anniversary

One year and one week ago, I published The Nutcracker King, which marked the start of my self-publishing journey! To be honest, I had intended to write this on the exact date, but I forgot when I started self-publishing. I definitely haven't "made it" (whatever "made it" means), but I do want to write a short post so that when I check back next year, I can see if I've made any improvements or not.

In one year, I managed to publish 3 books - The Nutcracker King, Beauty's Daughter and The School of Anime Characters. In total, I sold 57 books and the breakdown is:

The Nutcracker King: 25 Copies
Beauty's Daughter: 9 Copies
The School of Anime Characters: 23 Characters

Apart from this, I also gave away 582 copies The Nutcracker King, in the hopes that people who read it will like it and go on to buy Beauty's Daughter. And to build up my mailing list.

Even though Beauty's Daughter is the sequel to The Nutcracker King, it hasn't really been selling. I suppose because the stories can sort of standalone, the hook isn't strong enough. I'll have to see what I can do about that, though I'm still waiting for the results for the giveaway (so far, I've had one December sale for Beauty's Daughter, which might be the result of it). In addition, I only started my mailing list recently, which means that I couldn't tell people who enjoyed The Nutcracker King when Beauty's Daughter was out.

Across stores, the breakdown is:

42 books on Amazon (about 74%)
9 on Kobo (about 15%)
6 through Draft2Digital (about 11%)

At this point in time, it might be better to stick only to Amazon, for the KDPS benefits, but I still want to stay wide, purely because I'm from Singapore and I want Singaporeans to be able to buy my books without having to go through extremely complicated methods. (Although it would help if the Apple store in Singapore would sell my books! I don't know why it doesn't even though I distribute to Apple)

Since I'm still a student, I haven't really been able to spend money on marketing. I did manage to try a BKnights promotion, but it moved 0 books. Hopefully, after I start working next year, I'll be able to save up and start investing in marketing and doing regular promotions.

Do I have any regrets self-publishing?

Not at all. I still think this was the right path for me to go on, even if I haven't achieved immediate success. After all, as long as Amazon, Kobo, Apple and the other online stores exist, I still have a platform to sell my books. Time is not really of my concern (although I guess I should start caring more about ranking during the Hot New Releases time period).

Saturday, 3 December 2016

November/NaNoWriMo Writing Update


Guess what? I WON NANOWRIMO THIS YEAR!!!

That makes it five years in a row! WOOHOO!

The only thing is that I was a sort of rebel this year. I started off by working on Red, a story in the Coming from Darkness series that I've been wanting to write. But, when I finished red, it only had 30000+ words. So I turned to another story that it's in the revising queue and started revising/rewriting that, and managed to hit my word count.

I'm actually really happy about that, since I had a very slow start this year (I barely wrote while I was volunteering for the Saga International Balloon Fiesta.

 
Writing Goals for 2016:

1. Publish Beauty's Daughter, which is the sequel to The Nutcracker King (if possible, I want to finish the second draft/main rewrite by this year!)
Done
2.5 Finish the second draft of The Goblin Apple by the end of the year. 
Done! I totally forgot to do an October Update, but this is what I finished in October, marking the completion of all my writing goals for 2016. I guess now I just have to think of what I want to do for 2017!
3. Publish one of the short story collections at 0.99. 
DONE

Stretch goals
4. Finish Mi & You, this WIP that's been a WIP for the last few years. 
DONE
5. Decide what I want to do with Free of Heart (this year's NaNo). If I decide to publish, I want to finish the second draft by the end of 2016 as well. Finish the rewrite of Heart-less (previously Free of Heart)
DONE

Publishing Update

I tried out Instafreebie, a website that lets you giveaway copies of your book and get people onto your mailing list. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a screenshot of the graph before my premium account expired, so I can't share that with you.

But what I do know is that over the course of one month, I gave away 582 copies of The Nutcracker King and added about 70 people to my mailing list (I didn't want to force people onto my mailing list, because I figured that all the uninterested people will just unsubscribe anyway. But I may be wrong). That's about a 12% signup percentage (with one person unsubscribing so far), and again, I'm not sure if it's good or bad since I don't have anything to compare it to. So consider this just a report, rather than an analysis.

Most of my giveaways occurred because I was in a promotion with a few other authors, so group promotions really do seem to work. Without them, I was giving away only about 4 or 5 copies a day.

Like I mentioned two paragraphs ago, I gave away The Nutcracker King, which is supposed to be first in the Coming from Darkness series. As of today, though, I haven't made any sales of Book 2 - Beauty's Daughter, but I don't know if it's because the story isn't good, or if the preview of Beauty's Daughter isn't good, or if people just haven't finished reading it yet. I suppose I'll have to wait a while before I find out.

My December will mostly be writing/revision, but I will probably be posting when it's my one year publishing anniversary, just to see how much (or little) progress I've made.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Instafreebie Book Giveaway



Happy Thanksgiving everyone! (If you celebrate)

Wow, I have not posted to this blog in ages. I was thinking that NaNoWriMo would make me more active, but... it seems not. Then again, I'm behind on my NaNo wordcount (oops!) so my main focus right now is to get back on track and win before the end of the month. But that's not what this post is about.

I'm posting this because I'm participating in my first ever group giveaway! I am, as you can guess, incredibly excited about this!

The giveaway is for Horror and Urban Fantasy books. There are 45 books in total, and you get get most of them free from Instafreebie! (And if it's not a free copy, it'll be a free sample)

In particular, I really recommend The Ninth Circle by Lincoln Cole (link leads to my review) and Underneath by M.N. Arzu (again, link leads to review, if you want to read more). I read and enjoyed both of them very much, and if you think they sound good from my review, then definitely go pick them up - The Ninth Circle is free and Underneath is a free sample.

Get your free books here

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

September Writing Update

Ok, this is a little late, because I had some job stuff (not really job hunting, but sort of officially accepting the offer) to do on the first.

Writing Goals for 2016:

1. Publish Beauty's Daughter, which is the sequel to The Nutcracker King (if possible, I want to finish the second draft/main rewrite by this year!)
DONE. DONE. DONE.

This means all my initial goals (not counting goal 2.5) HAVE BEEN FULFILLED FOR THE YEAR! I am ecstatic!

I haven't sold many copies of Beauty's Daughter so far, but hopefully that changes (and I suppose since it's a sequel, I'll have to hope for more sales of The Nutcracker King first?)
2.5 Finish the second draft of The Goblin Apple by the end of the year. 
I am two-thirds done, so I hope to finish by the end of this month.
3. Publish one of the short story collections at 0.99. 
DONE

Stretch goals
4. Finish Mi & You, this WIP that's been a WIP for the last few years. 
DONE
5. Decide what I want to do with Free of Heart (this year's NaNo). If I decide to publish, I want to finish the second draft by the end of 2016 as well. Finish the rewrite of Heart-less (previously Free of Heart)
DONE

I realise that this space is really like a update space, and it's not very fun reading. But I'm not very good at all these outreach stuff, I suppose. I have the social media sites that I enjoy (like Dayre), and I post there, but it's hard for me to get this author-marketing hat on. I suppose I should make that one of my goals for next year.

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Beauty's Daughter - Published!


Beauty's Daughter is finally published!! It feels like I've been sitting on this for the longest time ever, and I'm so glad that it's out in the world now. If you've been wanting to read more about the world in which The Nutcracker King was set, you should definitely check out the book.

And this time, I'm trying something new - it's called a universal book link, and once you click on it, you can set it for your store of choice. That should make things a lot easier

BUY HERE:



Blurb:

What happens when your ‘Happily Ever After’ is a lie? 
Queen Beauty and King Charming lived happily ever after. At least, until the birth of their daughter. Despite their invitations, none of the fairies show up to give the princess a name-blessing, something Beauty is determined her daughter should receive. Rashly, she decrees that her daughter will either have a name-blessing or no name at all. With that one decision, she unwittingly casts a dark shadow over the land. 
Growing up, the princess shared her mother's dream of getting a name-blessing, but that's the only thing that they have in common. For everything else, there's the Lady in the Mirror. The Lady listens to her, and unlike her father, isn't afraid to criticise her mother, Beauty. 
After many years of waiting, the fairies are finally coming, and the princess will do anything to get her name-blessing. 
Anything. 
Beauty's Daughter is the second novella in a fantasy series that features an unexpected, and darker, side to everyone's beloved fairy tale characters. Author Eustacia Tan has added Asian-influences in the second book of the Coming from Darkness series.
Buy Beauty's Daughter and step back into a beautiful but dark fairy-tale world.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

August Updates

All the promise in July just went out the window, because exams and coming home took a lot more time than I expected. So... I guess I'm back to a monthly thing, because I don't really see September as being any better (I've got a couple of camps)

But in light of the exams and my new schedule, I did make a couple of changes to my writing goals so I figured I'd just go through them here.




Writing Goals for 2016:

1. Publish Beauty's Daughter, which is the sequel to The Nutcracker King (if possible, I want to finish the second draft/main rewrite by this year!)
Ok, I can have good news for this by next month's update :D
2.5 Finish the second draft of The Goblin Apple by the end of the year. 
Just started on this, so yay! I've finished the planning (Which is a lot less planning than my other WIPs at this stage), and I'm justing doing the rewrite now.
3. Publish one of the short story collections at 0.99. 
DONE

Stretch goals
4. Finish Mi & You, this WIP that's been a WIP for the last few years. 
DONE
5. Decide what I want to do with Free of Heart (this year's NaNo). If I decide to publish, I want to finish the second draft by the end of 2016 as well. Finish the rewrite of Heart-less (previously Free of Heart)
DONE
4. Finish writing Seals vs Penguins, the collab story I'm working on. 

Cancelling this one, because the story is going on hiatus again. I'm just feeling very funny, I guess. Perhaps I'll put this as next year's goal, if the last few months of this year are productive enough.

In writing news: I finished the first draft of Twilight Children! It's pretty short (but still longer than Beauty's Daughter), and there are some pacing issues, but the first draft is done! I feel like I know the characters better now, and I have been getting feedback on this, so I'm going to use that when I do the rewrite.

Fingers crossed for a more productive month!

Monday, 1 August 2016

July Updates!

Just a quick update for the month :D

I have made absolutely no progress on my goals. I would feel disappointed, but it's exam season now so I don't really have the time or energy to.

As for the writing side: I wrote 20396 words, which is less than last month. On the bright side, it's all new words, which is something new (I've been doing a lot of revising this year).

I also went to a fireworks display today, and while I'll blog about it properly tomorrow, here's a sneak peak:

This is possibly the nicest picture of the lot
Here's to a more productive August, and for me to pass all my exams!

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Podcasts (and other stuff) that Inspired Me 2

I've got more podcast episodes and stuff that I really like to share! So.... A second post!

From The Creative Penn, I found an episode on banishing writer's block! I thought it was really great, so if you're looking for something to listen to, you should check it out:

I really like this quote that includes a quote:
"I think people put so much pressure on themselves to be perfect and that’s baloney. I love the Ernest Hemingway quote where he says, “We are all apprentices in a craft that no one ever masters.” "
Another podcast that I started listening to is the Planet Money podcast. My friend introduced it to me, and it's definitely worth subscribing too. Episodes I like include the one on living on the poverty line, bitcoin (brought up some points that I haven't considered because most of the bitcoin people I know are extremely positive about it), a cheese cartel, and the latest episode, on getting your money back.

And in the none podcast stuff, I found an article on self-editing, and I thought it was pretty useful. I'll probably be using that (in conjunction with the other stuff) the next time I'm doing revisions.

Another really interesting site is called Immerse or Die, where the guy tries to immerse himself in a book, but gives up after three strikes. I don't think I'm brave enough to submit yet, but there's a lot of helpful advice in there - look at what pulled him out and I think it can point to places we can check in our own writing.

Lastly, I found two really cool MOOCs, which I wrote about on my other blog here.

Let me know if you found anything interesting lately. I'd love to hear about it(:

Thursday, 7 July 2016

June Writing Update

Have a photo of a cat, taken in the month of June
Yike, it's now July! Ok, June really flew by too fast. I actually have a few more podcasts/websites that I want to share, but it looks like I didn't do so for the whole of last month! That's kinda sad. Ok, I shall try to do at least one post this month. Anyway, my update for June:

Writing Goals for 2016:

1. Publish Beauty's Daughter, which is the sequel to The Nutcracker King (if possible, I want to finish the second draft/main rewrite by this year!)

Still waiting on the edits for this one. (and yes, I said the same thing last month. It's a waiting game) - Please note that I just used last month's message.
2.5 Finish the second draft of The Goblin Apple by the end of the year. 
I haven't started on this yet. With any luck though, I can start for the July Camp NaNo (if I do it) Not doing July's Camp NaNo, and I have no idea when this will be started >< Probably after I publish Beauty's Daughter.
3. Publish one of the short story collections at 0.99. 


Stretch goals
4. Finish Mi & You, this WIP that's been a WIP for the last few years. 
DONE

5. Decide what I want to do with Free of Heart (this year's NaNo). If I decide to publish, I want to finish the second draft by the end of 2016 as well. Finish the rewrite of Heart-less (previously Free of Heart)

DONE

Surprisingly, my stretch goals are finished, while my main goals... aren't. I suppose it's because the stretch goals are mostly writing-based, while one of the main goals isn't. Although technically, I have finished goals two and three, just not goal 2.5.

Oh well, here's to a more productive month. By the way, I'm adding a new goal:

4. Finish writing Seals vs Penguins, the collab story I'm working on. 

Last, word count news. I wrote 21358 words last month, which was actually less than May. I was quite surprised, because the month was off to a good start. But I guess I had too many distractions in the latter half of the month - that'll teach me to be complacent.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

May Writing Update

Instead of the same ugly goals picture, have a snapshot I took couple of weeks back(:
So, we're into the month of June now, and after I blogged about the podcasts... I didn't come across any more I wanted to share. Funny how the universe works like this.

Anyway, May has been the best writing month so far this year (since I started keeping track). I wrote about 19k words, which is double April. I'm still a turtle compared to others, but at least I'm improving :D

Anyway, the usual update on how the writing's going:


Writing Goals for 2016:

1. Publish Beauty's Daughter, which is the sequel to The Nutcracker King (if possible, I want to finish the second draft/main rewrite by this year!)

Still waiting on the edits for this one. (and yes, I said the same thing last month. It's a waiting game)
2.5 Finish the second draft of The Goblin Apple by the end of the year. 
I haven't started on this yet. With any luck though, I can start for the July Camp NaNo (if I do it)
3. Publish one of the short story collections at 0.99. 


Stretch goals
4. Finish Mi & You, this WIP that's been a WIP for the last few years. 
I'm actually making progress on this on! I started posting it on Wattpad, so now I've started working on it one day a week. Progress is slow, but progress is progress.

5. Decide what I want to do with Free of Heart (this year's NaNo). If I decide to publish, I want to finish the second draft by the end of 2016 as well. Finish the rewrite of Heart-less (previously Free of Heart)

This was actually my NaNo project! I'm more than half done with this, and with any luck, I'll be able to finish this month *fingers crossed*

So, that's all. If you've got any writing goals, I'd love to hear how you're doing, especially since half the year is now over(:

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Podcasts that Inspired Me

I know, a post? Mid-month? It's definitely a blue moon, because this blog... is normally not very regularly updated. But, I've been leaving long statuses on Wattpad (I'm trying to get into Wattpad, again. Hopefully I won't fail, again), and I realised I wanted to save them somewhere more permanent. Like this blog.

So anyway, I listen to a bunch of podcasts, and there were a few that really inspired me recently. The two latest episodes of The Creative Penn were really good. I loved the one about writing with emotion, especially this quote:
"So after the big universal world building, the next level down, and you can break this down into several steps, the first one for me is finding a universal theme, which is a primal emotion and I’m going to center everything around."
And from the latest episode on creativity, art and business, I really loved this quote:

I used to think that eventually as a creative person or as an artist I would “arrive,” and I put that in quotes. And what I mean by arrive is that someday I would get to a place where criticism didn’t bother me, where I felt very confident, where everything I put into the world felt easy, and where my life had a certain, my creative process at least, and my putting my work into the world had a certain flow. I realize know because I’ve been doing it for so long now that that’s never going to happen, like it doesn’t really change, and that that’s not actually a bad thing.
This episode also talks about the imposter syndrome, which is something that I definitely feel whenever I publish something, whether it be for sale, or just to a writing site.

And speaking of writing, there is this really interesting Artificial Intelligence software that analyses your story to see how well it fits the market and stuff. I have studied about AI, but I'm more of the IoT/Industrie 4.0/Industrial Internet side of things, so this is super new to me. I'd love to give it a go, but sadly, it's a bit too expensive. Details about it on the 20booksto50k forum, and the Rocking Self Publishing Podcast has some info too.

And on a completely unrelated note, I really liked the recent (two weeks ago) Freakonomics podcast on Grit. As someone who tends to have a wide variety of interests, this line by Angela Lee Duckworth struck me:
"[O]ne thing that I found about paragons of grit, you know, real outliers in passion and perseverance, is that they have extremely well-developed interests. They cultivate something which grabs their attention initially, but that they become familiar with enough, knowledgeable enough that they wake up the next day and the next day and the next year, and they’re still interested in this thing. And I think that is something that we can actually intentionally decide: “I want to be the kind of person who stays interested in something.”
 I definitely want to stick with my many interests and not keep giving them up for something new. So far, I'm doing ok with sticking to writing, but well... it's a good reminder.

And this is what I've found inspiring lately. I actually quite like sharing these, so I guess I may make it a weekly thing :D

Thursday, 5 May 2016

April Writing Updates AND I WON NANOWRIMO



I have the official winner's banner and everything! Of course, my goal was really little - just 10k words instead on 50k, since most of the month was spent planning revisions.

Funnily enough, my wordcount for April was 10965, while my word count for March was 9177, so it seems like NaNo did have a positive effect, even though I didn't think that I wrote that much. It'll be interesting to see if this carries over to May, since I haven't finished rewriting Heart-Less.

Writing Goals for 2016:

1. Publish Beauty's Daughter, which is the sequel to The Nutcracker King (if possible, I want to finish the second draft/main rewrite by this year!)

Still waiting on the edits for this one.

2. Finish the first draft (at least) of The Goblin Apple, which will be the sequel (of sorts) to Beauty's Daughter and The Nutcracker King aka third book in series.

GOAL REACHED. So it's time for version 2.5 of the goal:

2.5 Finish the second draft of The Goblin Apple by the end of the year. 
I wonder if it's possible though, since my stretch goal is taking up my time so far.
3. Publish one of the short story collections at 0.99. 

GOAL REACHED! Although this really is a May thing, but I did it before the update so it counts, right? The School of Anime Characters is now for sale on Amazon, Kobo, Apple and the other retailers that D2D distributes to. And I'm still in love with the cover, so let me post it again:


Stretch goals
4. Finish Mi & You, this WIP that's been a WIP for the last few years. Maybe I'll post chapter 1 here one day to give myself pressure lol.

Still no progress on this one, I'm afraid.

5. Decide what I want to do with Free of Heart (this year's NaNo). If I decide to publish, I want to finish the second draft by the end of 2016 as well.
Well, this was my Camp NaNoWriMo project, so I'm working on this right now! Hopefully I'll finish it before NaNoWriMo in December so that I can start a new project :D

I actually think setting goals was a great idea. I feel like this year has been a lot more productive than last year. Or maybe it's because I'm checking in regularly (sort of), so it becomes easier to see how far I've travelled. I'm sort of hopeful that I'll be able to finish four out of five goals by the end of this year though!

Monday, 2 May 2016

The School of Anime Characters - Published

Today, I hit the "publish" button for the second time!

The School of Anime Characters is basically a short collection of short stories inspired by the anime-loving side of me. And luckily for me, I've got plenty of anime-loving friends, so their stories gave me all that inspiration. And a cover.

So, thank, James! I really, really love the cover you made.

And thank you, Nic, Bekah! This taco totally appreciates all the listening and helping you did <3

Ok, now on to the book:

All Freida wants is to be normal. Getting sent to ‘The School for Anime Characters’ was definitely not part of the plan. Being told she was the hero — well, things couldn’t get worse than that. Can her new classmates get her to embrace her inner hero, or is the world doomed to be overrun by crazy fangirls?  
 The School of Anime Characters is a collection of short stories that add up to roughly 12,000 words, or about 48 book pages.
I'm not very good at announcements and stuff like this, so I'm just going to put the buy links at the bottom. And I guess I have to create permanent pages for my books now.

You can get The School for Anime Characters at:
Kobo
Amazon (US, Japan, and all other stores)

Monday, 25 April 2016

My Current Editing Process



So unlike other camps, I have completely neglected updating this space. Well, most of my month has been taken up with job hunting activities, so the editing process has been very, very slow. I doubt I'd hit 10k by the end of the month, which was my original goal.

Anyway, I thought I'd just write a bit about how I'm currently editing. Of course, self editing is no substitute for getting a pro to do it, but I have no money so...

Oh, and this editing that I'm doing for camp is Developmental Editing. The other major type of editing is Copy Editing, which is the one that makes your sentences sound better and gets rid of typos. Developmental Editing is breaking your story down to build it up again.

To be honest, I probably wouldn't need so much developmental editing if I learnt how to properly outline, but the most I can do is a few chapters at a time so...

At least it's not as terrible as my completely pantsed stories.

Ironically, I use a lot of plotting tools for my self-editing, although the first step is an editing tip I learnt.

Step 1: Break it Down

To fix my story, I have to know what's wrong with it.

First, I created a scene list and a character sheet. A scene list is an idea from 2k to 10k by Rachel Aaron, and basically, I bullet-point the entire novel. What this does is to help me quickly identify the biggest plot holes (people doing the same thing twice, or someone doing something odd given the current level of information, etc), and figure out pacing.

A character sheet is from the snowflake method, and it basically lays out my characters motivations, goals, and hopefully by the end, their personal story (summarised). I should probably expand it into a character bible, which includes things like age and appearance (Ok, I'll start that tomorrow).

All this, plus feedback from early readers, help me to figure out what are the problem spots.

Step 2: Build it Up

There are basically two ways I could do this. If the structure of the story is particularly terrible, then I'll restructure it according to "Take Off Your Pants". If the basic structure is sound, but I just need to fix certain holes and flesh out certain scenes, then I write a story beat (from Write, Publish, Repeat) for each chapter.

A story beat is basically a paragraph sketch of the chapter. It can be as detailed as you want, though I tend to lean to the less detailed side.

Once I have my new "outline" ready, it's time to rewrite. Normally, one big round of changes is enough, and subsequent rounds of editing would be to make the actual writing better (i.e. Copyediting).

Right now, I've managed to finish step one and two, and I'm in the rewriting stage. It's going slowly though - I've only just finished chapter five today! And I think I planned for twenty odd chapters in total :p

Monday, 11 April 2016

Advance Review Copies for The School for Anime Characters Available!

Hey everyone! I'm super excited to announce that I'm about to publish again soon! This time, it's a collection of short stories called "The School for Anime Characters"

What's it about:
All Freida wants is to be normal. Getting sent to ‘The School for Anime Characters’ was definitely not part of the plan. Being told she was the hero — well, things couldn’t get worse than that. Can her new classmates get her to embrace her inner hero, or is the world doomed to be overrun by crazy fangirls?  
The School for Anime Characters is a collection of short stories that are woven together.
Why am I telling you about this?

Because I need reviews! The book is almost ready to go - I'm just waiting for a cover. So, I was wondering if there's anyone out there with an Amazon/Kobo account/blog (and Goodreads as well, if possible), who would be willing to reading and review the book when it comes out.

The collection should be published sometime in early May, and as long as you post a review within a month (so by the end of May), I'll be ecstatic.

I'm interested, how do a get an Advance Review Copy(ARC)? 

If you're interested, shoot me an email at eustacia[dot]tan[at]gmail[dot]com with:
1. Links to your review profile/blog
2. Whether you would like a mobi/ePub/PDF file.

I'll also send a reminder when the book is out, with links to where you can post the reviews, so all I really want are your thoughts.

If you don't feel like reviewing, no worries! The permanent price of the book will be $0.99/99yen, so you can snap it up when it's finally out.

I'll be giving out ARCs until the week before publication.

Thanks for reading this!

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Camp NaNoWriMo has Started! (Plus March Roundup)



April's here, which means that my spring break is rapidly coming to a close, and that Camp NaNoWriMo has started!

My Camp NaNoWriMo project for this camp is... editing (no big surprise). I've decided to start editing last year's NaNoWriMo project (which means that I'm now working on my stretch goals) - which means re-structuring the whole thing. I'm still in the "finding big plot holes" stage, so I'll be lucky if I even finish one third of the rewriting by the end of the month. But the important thing is to start.

Alright, now on to an update on how my March writing went:


Writing Goals for 2016:

1. Publish Beauty's Daughter, which is the sequel to The Nutcracker King (if possible, I want to finish the second draft/main rewrite by this year!)

I finished my edits, and now it's off with the most grammar-picky friend I could find for the last round of typo spotting! But I still have to get the cover and such, so... with luck it'd be out by June.

2. Finish the first draft (at least) of The Goblin Apple, which will be the sequel (of sorts) to Beauty's Daughter and The Nutcracker King aka third book in series.

GOAL REACHED. I can cross this out now. Of course, the next step is editing, but that's probably going to happen after I finish Camp NaNoWriMo.

3. Publish one of the short story collections at 0.99. 

This one is also finished and is now with a friend for the last round of typo spotting. I've also got a cover for this, but the cover will only be done at the end of this month, so it should be published sometime next month.

Stretch goals

Like I mentioned earlier, I'm starting on one of my stretch goals now! I'm not sure if I will be giving weekly updates - I'm thinking of just updating when I finish one big stage in the editing process. Thoughts?

Overall, March was a really good month for me. I finished one goal, and I made good progress towards the other two. But with shukatsu (job hunting), and now school starting, I guess April may not be as productive. I do hope that Camp NaNoWriMo will keep me on track though.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

#26minutememoir

A little while ago, I read Writing is my Drink by Theo Pauline Nester. It was interesting, but out of all the exercises that she mentioned, the 26 Minute Memoir was the one that intrigued me the most. Basically, you set a timer for 26 minutes and try to sum up your life. 

So here's my unedited 26 minute memoir: 

Act 1: I am Good

I am the good girl. I have always been the good girl. Good meaning ‘well-behaved’, meaning ‘doesn’t ask for much’. A conversation and an occasion stick out in my mind as to what ‘good’ means, how the word has been defined for me all these years.

A word of warning: I don’t know if these were separate conversations, if they took place of the course of months, if it’s related to the occasion I’m going to tell you about. They have all melded together to form one big occasion, a neon light pointing the path forward. Funny thing, these memories of mine.

In my memories, I am young. Primary school, perhaps. There’s nothing I want more than an actual doll’s bed. The reason why is immaterial, probably I read one too many Enid-Blyton novels and decided that a doll’s bed would give me a life like her protagonists. I don’t recall anymore. All I recall, is that I wanted the doll’s bed. Wanted it so very very much.

It took all my courage to open my mouth to ask for it. I remember we were in the car, and surprisingly, none of my siblings were there. It was just me, my mom and my dad. I asked for my doll’s bed, half-expecting a ‘no’, because it was not a necessity, it was not a book. But to my surprise, my dad said yes.

“Eustacia rarely asks for things, so when she does, we have to say yes.”

“Eustacia is a good girl. Unlike your siblings, when you’re sick, you don’t ask for anything."

Was this one conversation or two? It doesn’t matter because that sealed it to me. I must be good, and I must learn not to ask for too much, because if I ask too much, my requests would be denied. Keep it infrequent, keep the requests big, and they had to say yes.

“May I go to Japan instead of England to study?”

Was this even a request? I don’t know. It was something I wanted that was not what my family expected. I was supposed to head to England, with my fancy IB scores that would have let me in. But I secretly applied for the scholarship to Japan - my parents have even turned it into a bragging point “We didn’t know she applied for the scholarship until she came back and told us she had to skip school for the examination”. Cue the laughter at how independent I am.

Keep my requests infrequent, and the answer will be yes. Because I am good, and I don’t ask for much.

Because if you’re good, people will love you. And if people love you, they say yes to your request. Therefore, if rate that my requests are granted at is higher, then I must have more love.

What stupid thinking. What childish thinking. My parents love me no matter what, I know that much.

But I am the good child, and habits are hard to break. I do not bother my parents with phone calls at 2:30 in the morning, complaining of homesickness (unlike my sister). When I’m sick, I lie quietly in bed and eat whatever I’m given. I take care of my brother without complaining.

I am good and therefore I am loved.

Act 2: I am Strange

I am the strange foreign girl. I say the things that no one will say, and I say it without care for the consequences. No one knows how to deal with me.

I was not always so strange.

Even in MG, even in AC, I was weird, yes, with my sugar highs and my insatiable appetite for books. I was weird yes, but we were all weird. I cried at nights, yes, but deep down, I always knew I belong. I may have been the misfit, but in a school of extraordinary people, a misfit may pass as extraordinary with the help of her classmate-family. I was not as strange as I thought I was.

Here, I am just the strange gaijin girl.

I will open my mouth and tell you that Japanese guys are not gentlemen (in front of my male classmates). I will tell you exactly what I don’t like about the Japanese unemployment system, how awful it is to girls and foreigners. I will propose the weirdest things - let’s take a trip to go to a wine tasting. Oh, not everyone can drink yet? Oh, but there are other things to do.

It has gotten to the point, that when, in a pique of anger, I told my senpai that I thought him useless, he took it all as a joke. There was no need to apologise, he said, because you were joking. In truth, it is because I am the strange gaijin girl and I am always saying things like that. I do not need to be taken seriously. My words have lost their power. I am stranger than I thought I was.

Me, who was so proud of my words, so proud of learning my third language, so proud of having won MUNs and presentations. I am no longer good with words. All I can say are strange things, because I am the strange girl and I do and say what the normal people don’t.

I am weird, I am strange, and I do not fit in. My words don’t need to be listened to.

I am to be humoured, I am the amusing companion when you’re drunk (and I’m not, but finally we’re on a similar wavelength to the foreign girl). I am the one who openly asks about everyone’s marks and relationship status.

I get to ask the intrusive questions, the rude things. I get to say what I think, because my words don’t matter. The mask I put on to get some freedom has become my cage.

I am the strange foreign girl and I don’t belong.

Act 3: I am a Fake

I am good (but I’m not). I am strange (but this is exaggerated). I don’t care (but I do). I have friends (but do I?)

I am a fake.

Act 4: I am Loved.

I may be a lonely fake, but You still love me anyway. I may not accept it, and I may run from You, but You still love me anyway.

I am running straight back to you, like the prodigal son. I may take some time to get there, I may get lost and distracted along the way, but at the end, I will go home. I will go to my heavenly home, and I will be real.

If a toy rabbit can be make real through love, a fake girl can too.

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

February Writing Update



Hey everyone! February certainly flew by. It's now March 3rd, which is Girls' Day in Japan (though I'm not celebrating), and job hunting season for me has just started. Anyway, a report on February. In February, I managed to write 19271 new words. Now, how about those goals:

Writing Goals for 2016:

1. Publish Beauty's Daughter, which is the sequel to The Nutcracker King (if possible, I want to finish the second draft/main rewrite by this year!)
Well, I definitely did not finish most of the editing. I'm halfway through, though, and I've managed to add more description, which is good. And I got the map of the royal compound! Wheeee!
2. Finish the first draft (at least) of The Goblin Apple, which will be the sequel (of sorts) to Beauty's Daughter and The Nutcracker King aka third book in series.
I'm on the last chapter right now! This might actually be the first goal I'll finish this year.
3. Publish one of the short story collections at 0.99 (cause these are SHORT). I have a collection of satirical stories (on Japanophiles like me) and one of Biblical parable retellings. I have to choose one, get a cover for it, and get it copy edited. Any preferences as to which?
I mentioned that I had to rewrite the arc holding the collection together last month and... I finished the rewriting! (On the last day of the month too) Now it's to test and see if the rewrite's any good, get some feedback, etc. And then cover and all that.

Stretch goals

No progress on this front, though that should change next month, when we start Camp NaNoWriMo.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

How I Write

A user named @rideofvalkyries on Dayre asked me about my writing process, and I thought it'd be interesting to blog about it here as well. I'm still very much a newbie writer, but this is what I've learnt/gone through so far in my writing education.

First, I started as a...

Complete pantser

A pantser is basically someone who doesn't plan out what s/he writers (as opposed to a plotter). I've heard from multiple people that plotters are faster (and probably write cleaner, because they can figure out potential plot holes) and that you can switch from a pantser to a plotter, but I haven't been able to do that yet. Hopefully I can, some day.

For my first two NaNoWriMos, I pantsed my way through them, with the same predictable result: first few chapters were good, but then it fell apart.

Obviously pantsing my way through the book wasn't the best method. But I simple couldn't sit down and write a complete outline, because the later chapters would just be blank.

Using Plotting to Edit?

And one day, I read this book called Take Off Your Pants by Libbie Hawker. I had heard that it's supposed to be a really good book on how to plot, and I was certainly inspired by it when I read it.

I tried using it to rewrite Mi and You (one NaNoWriMo novel that I really like and want published someday), and... I ended up being told that my rewritten version's pacing was a bit too fast.

For the record, I'm on the third rewrite of Mi & You (actually it's on a hiatus but...)

Let's Try this Plotting Thing (Sorta)

For last year's NaNoWriMo, I decided to try partially plotting the book using story beats. Story beats are basically this idea that you can sum up your chapters in short paragraphs, so you don't have a detailed outline, but a rough frame with lots to work on. And because I can't see more than a few chapters ahead, I only wrote a few beats at a time, adjusting and writing more as I wrote the actual story and learnt more about the characters.

I'm not sure how that worked out, but it was so much easier writing this than my other NaNo projects. So much so that I'm currently doing all my first draft WIPs this way.

I guess I graduated to becoming a partial plotter, which is a cause for celebration so *excuses self to go celebrate*

Case Study: The Nutcracker King

The Nutcracker King was entirely pantsed, but because it was really short (I think it was less than 15k for the first draft), it wasn't terrible.

As for editing - well, I normally use WriteOn for feedback, but this time, I wanted a professional's opinion, so I hired an editor. I figured I'll probably have the same mistakes for everything, and it'd be cheaper to have a short work edited than a long one.

Best. Decision. Ever.

With the feedback from my editor (Alida Winternheimer, if anyone's curious. You can find her at Word Essential), I rewrote The Nutcracker King. WriteOn (my writing site of choice) helped me find the typos and point out some minor plot holes.

And after a fellow author friend gave me a free copy-edit, I got the cover done and the rest is history.

One More Editing Technique

Because I pants most of my writing, I think most of the improvements take place in the rewrite. The first draft is really me getting to know my story.

Anyway, for Beauty's Daughter (sequel to The Nutcracker King), I decided against using the story structure method in Take Off Your Pants, because the structure wasn't that bad. Instead, I used this editing technique I learnt from this book: 2000 to 10000 by Rachel Aaron

Basically, I went through my story and made a scene list - bullet points of what actually happened. That let me see problems with time (a timeline was also recommended) and other plot holes easily. If The Goblin Apple (third book in the series) comes out relatively clean thanks to the partial plotting thing, I'll probably use this as well.

Oh and yeah, I have several WIPs that I'm working on simultaneously. One is a first-draft, and two are rewrites (I have more on the back burner too)

The reason why I do this is because of the Plot Bunnies, and me being easily distracted. If I have three main projects, it's easier to work on one of them every day, because there's no way I will get writers block on all three.

I could theoretically just work on one at a time, but I would probably end up very distracted and starting too many new stories. This helps me focus enough to be somewhat productive.

And that's my currently writing/editing method. I've no doubt that it will change as I continue, and hopefully it changes for the better.

Monday, 8 February 2016

January Update - How the Writing's Going

I'm sure everyone is sick of seeing this,
so the next time I post, I'll create a new image!
Happy Chinese New Year everyone! (Yup, I get two new years in one year, without the extra age). Anyway, the new year reminded me that I haven't updated this blog in a long long time, and that at the very least, I should be aiming for a monthly update on how the writing's going (if nothing else).

Since I had an exam today (and will have an exam tomorrow), I shall take the straightforward route of directly comparing how I'm doing with my goals. Original goals will be quoted and italicised, and my own self-evaluated progress in regular text.

By the way, if anyone is wondering, I'm totally keeping up with my resolutions :D

Writing Goals for 2016:

1. Publish Beauty's Daughter, which is the sequel to The Nutcracker King (if possible, I want to finish the second draft/main rewrite by this year!)
Ok, I've been neglecting it due to exams, but I'm hoping to finish most of the editing by the end of this month. After that, it's just fine-tuning and getting the cover. If I try for some free pre-publication review, though, I'll have to delay it by four months. Still a bit torn over whether I should do that.

2. Finish the first draft (at least) of The Goblin Apple, which will be the sequel (of sorts) to Beauty's Daughter and The Nutcracker King aka third book in series.
This is possibly the goal that's going to be achieved first. I'm about half done, thanks to exam season, which has made me completely avoid editing in favour of writing new words.

3. Publish one of the short story collections at 0.99 (cause these are SHORT). I have a collection of satirical stories (on Japanophiles like me) and one of Biblical parable retellings. I have to choose one, get a cover for it, and get it copy edited. Any preferences as to which?
On the bright side, I chose a collection (the Japanese satire ones). On the other hand... they need to be rewritten. Looks like if this comes out, it'll come out in the middle of the year-ish, rather than spring holidays, like I planned.

Stretch goals

Looking at how the main goals are going, I don't think I even need to report on the stretch goals. But let's just say that it's not going. At all.

That's my update for January. I'll pop by in early March to give February's update - unless I have more news, in which case, a new post will appear!

Saturday, 16 January 2016

OnlineBookClub - Entering Their Publishing Contest

Hey everyone! Have I wished you all a happy new year? No?

Well, happy (belated) New Year!

Anyway, the start of the New Year has been really, really busy for me. I've been busy mainly with school, but I've also been doing a few writing-related things on the side. One of them being this - the OnlineBookClub 2016 publishing contest.


Basically, this contest is based on votes, and the winner (the one with the most votes)
"wins a publishing deal from OnlineBookClub.org worth thousands of dollars!  
 The winner will also get an advance. OnlineBookClub.org will cover all the costs of publishing including editing and digital services. Additionally, OnlineBookClub.org will invest thousands of dollars worth of advertising into the published book."
The first place entry currently has over a hundred votes (compared to my 8), but there's still about three more months.  I basically want to win for the editing, and the hope having one book with marketing money behind it will help all the other books (this does mean I have to publish more too - update: I've finished the second draft of Beauty's Daughter, the sequel to The Nutcracker King. I'm just polishing up the details and such now).

Anyway, I decided to enter my NaNoWriMo 2015 project - Hear-Less (back then, I called it Free of Heart). If you want to read the entire raw first draft, you can find it here, on WriteOn, and I'll be taking it out of 'shy mode' for the whole competition so that you can check it out.

My pitch, since the one in the photo is tiny, is:

Heartless, foreign Ada is finally getting used to life in Sakoku. Too bad the wizard Pendragon has other plans. But no matter what he throws at her - magic lessons, council membership, she can handle it.  
Her only goal: Keep the truth a secret.

If you have a membership to the OnlineBookClub and are willing to vote for me, or if you're just willing to create a membership and vote for me, you can find the link to my entry here (haha, just bolding and making all the links extra large. If it's annoying, let me know and I'll stop).

That's all for now, I guess. If something exceptionally exciting happens, I'll update everyone again, but until then~

P.s. If you are entering that contest, do let me know :D I'll help vote!