Progress, goals, and deleted scenes!

I’ve had a busy few weeks! Balancing writing and a day job (plus family) is certainly a challenge. There comes a point, though, when you have to decide whether you want this or not, and saying no to my writing is out of the question. So I’ve been working on several projects and trying to wrap my head around promoting for self-published authors. It’s an exciting journey, and it takes a lot of time, but at the end of the day, this is what I want. And every day takes me one step closer to my big goal.

First of all, I’ve finally finished writing and revising my three ‘deleted scenes’ – additional content for Naheli’s Sacrifice. I’ve revisited the Spire and spent some time eavesdropping on Naheli, Thilkhan, and Dhamikhan, to name just a few. I never thought that Naheli’s story would turn into a series, but I was surprised at how much fun I had writing these scenes, and also at how much background story there still is to discover. So aside from the planned prequel, I may (perhaps) dive more deeply into that story again and see what sacrifices other characters had to make.

Deleted Scenes SMALL

For now, though, if you are interested, you can download the little e-book of deleted scenes by clicking on the following link:

Please note that these scenes contain SPOILERS, so do not read them unless you have already read Naheli’s Sacrifice. You can download Naheli’s Sacrifice for free from Kobo, Barnes&Nobles, Nook, Scribd, Tolino, and soon Amazon as well.

Aside from that, I’ve also been working on said prequel, which is turning out to be about Dhamikhan’s first arrival on the island, the challenges he faces, and the troubles in his family, mainly his strained relationship with Rhima. The completion of this story is still a bit away, but I’m looking forward to uncovering it.

Finally, I’m working on my new novel, Darklight Rest. I’m hard-pressed to say what genre it belongs in. For now, I’d classify it as a dystopian novel with SciFi elements. I’m nearing the completion of the first draft, at which stage I’ll better be able to say what it’s actually about. 🙂

I hope your weeks are as productive as mine, and that you’re making great progress with the projects that matter to you. I’d love to hear about them – please do leave a comment for this post, or write me an e-mail at I’d be thrilled to hear from you!

Happy reading, writing, and ‘projecting’!

Letting go

This isn’t my first attempt at writing Darklight Rest. There’s something about this story that is tempting, intriguing, compelling, and then there’s a big, huge, overwhelming part that’s incredibly hard to grasp. I’ve been on pure Muse territory lately, and it’s like feeling my way forward through the dark, hands outstretched, with no idea where I’ll end up. Most of the times, I’ll find a wall. Change direction, start over, another wall. Sometimes a tiny corridor I can just about squeeze through but by God, the light in those corridors! If this story weren’t so tantalizing, I would have abandoned it half a dozen times by now…

But Mariany’s voices comes through so clearly. When the writing goes well, I don’t have to think at all. It’s like channeling what’s already happening elsewhere, I just need to type it in and later take out the typos. I love writing when it happens in this way. Trouble is, I hardly seem able to write any other way anymore.

It’s a lot to do with my recent changes in lifestyle, I suppose. The past two years have been a rocky journey towards removing from my life as much as possible of what’s bad, boring, heavy, dishonest, not worth my time. Seems my Muse is coming along for the ride, with the result that I’m getting better writing, but also a lot less of it. It takes longer to find the right way, and I don’t have a process for it yet. I guess that’s fine. Life changes, writing changes. And I’m having many more of those brilliant-writing moments than I used to.

I get impatient, though. I want to know the story of these two women who meet in a place without memory. Why are they here? Who were they before they came? Why does one of them die? Yes, I get told this on page one, second paragraph, but my Muse is holding off the revelations for later. It’s like reading a book, not knowing the ending until I write it (I think I’d hate to know the ending in advance, because if I did, what would be the point writing it?). It just takes such time, and I’m usually a fast reader.

Every time I encounter writer’s block, if I want to call it that, there are lessons to be learned from it. I think this time around, the lesson is patience. Letting go, trusting the Muse. It’s true, I have been bad at trusting her for some time now, and yet she’s never let me down. The more I succeed in letting go, the more the words just come to me. It’s just that nowadays, we all get taught so much on how to succeed, how to perform, how to work hard, and you hardly get through any book, course or blog on writing without it telling you that writing is hard work and if you’re just in it for the fun, go find yourself a different hobby. Sad, isn’t it? Because it’s those fun bits I enjoy so much, and since I’ve started looking after myself more, I get plenty of them. But it seems my Muse also demands her resting periods.

You know what, have them. I know we’ll meet when we’re both ready for it.

The dreaded middle

It’s finally here, and knowing that it would come doesn’t make it any easier. Three days before the beginning of NaNoWriMo, I’ve hit the dreaded middle of my novel. The point where I hate all my characters, I don’t know where this story is going, I don’t know how I thought it was a good idea, and I don’t remember why I ever thought I could be a writer. Or that I had anything interesting to say. Incidentally, I still like Naheli’s Sacrifice, but I guess it has to be, then, the only great story I had in me. I’m guessing most writers know this feeling.

The good thing is, this isn’t my first novel, and this isn’t the first time I’ve hit this point in my writing. I was semi-prepared for it, and I have some strategies to pull myself out of it. My logical mind knows that this is a normal part of writing, that I’ve come through it before, and that it’s a matter of persistence and careful examination of the story now. Why did I come to a halt here? What problem is there that my Muse has spotted but I haven’t? Knowing that I’ve been here before, and that this is fixable, will stop me from giving up and throwing this story away.

What I’ve done so far is a read-through of my manuscript so far and a collection of all the story points that seem valuable and important to me. I’ve also found that my main character has reached a point where her initial compelling need won’t carry her anymore, so I need to look at that and figure out how her needs have changed and what she wants right now. These are some starting points. Then of course there’s Holly Lisle’s brilliant writing course How To Think Sideways (I’ll never stop talking about that one), which contains a chapter exactly on this problem, so I’ll be going back to that and reading up on her advice. I know it’s helped me before.

The interesting thing is that a very clear split of Feeling and Thinking occurs here. The first half of a novel, for me, belongs mostly to the feeling part of my brain (although I’m such a structured person that probably a lot of thinking goes into it without me noticing), but this middle is thinking business. Most importantly, it’s now the thinking part’s task to convince the feeling part that we can do this. That it’s okay to stall, to falter, and that we’ll stand up again and see this novel through to the end. That it may take some time, but we’ll find the right path and we’ll turn this story into something we are happy with, even if it takes a long revision.

I kept a writing diary while I wrote Naheli’s Sacrifice, and it’s funny to read in retrospect. Having published Naheli and being so happy with the result, it’s easy to forget that it was a piece of work, too. I wasn’t by far happy all of my writing days. I messed up the ending horribly in the first draft. I had a story in shambles before I went into revision. And some days, I hated the story and Naheli and Thilkhan and their stupid island.

Then I revised it and I ended up loving it.

Keeping a diary like that makes it easier, coming to this point now with Darklight Rest. Once you have pushed your way through one, two, or several novels, you don’t encounter every problem for the first time. Of course there are always new ones, but some are familiar, and even if you don’t have the one-fits-all solution, it’s a comfort to know that you have fixed it before. I’ll fix it this time around, too.

NaNoWriMo starts in three days, and I’ll be ready to write on Tuesday. I don’t know how at the moment, but I will be writing. This part of a novel requires persistence, and that’s something I’m good at. So, off to diagnosing the problem.

Ever hit the middle of a novel and stalled out? Tell me about it!

Room for writing

I’m incredibly inspired lately, and very suspicious of it. I know, I know, I ought to be thankful, and I am, but it’s been so long that I felt like this that I keep fearing this rush might end. Though deep down I don’t think so, not right now. I’ve cared better for myself this past year, I’ve tended to my Muse, taken time for my writing, been in closer contact with myself through morning pages, so this isn’t a fluke. That’s just my Old Critic’s voice creeping in, telling me I’m not cut out to be this, a writer.

But while it lasts: It’s fantastic! I am now over 40,000 words into Darklight Rest and still haven’t hit “the middle” where things slam to a sudden stand-still. Even better, I’ve failed twice before trying to write this story, and both times for the same reason (I think): It was too character-based, centered only around Liya and Mariany and ignoring the rest of the people and the immense conflicts that could arise from a setting like that. This time, there are half a dozen other characters who have interacted with Liya as much as or more than Mariany, and I have (gasp!) subplots!

Now, I realize this doesn’t sound very confidence-building, coming from a supposed author. But this is first draft, and first draft is chaotic, and I’m just glad it’s flowing as well as it is. I’ll pick up the pieces in revision, and I know that I can. Revision is a beautiful, powerful process that can turn a real mess into a brilliant story. I’m looking forward to it!

Favourite quote from today’s writing:

Just that the sky over Darklight Rest would never be full of stars. Liya wasn’t even sure that stars existed in this place.

My Muse was really with me this morning. The words just flowed from my fingers, beautiful, easy, right. Those are the moments I write for, and would write for even if I could never earn a cent with my writing (now that I already have, I guess that statement doesn’t work anymore; still true, though).

Another cool thing: I keep having little glimpses of ideas for a prequel to Naheli’s Sacrifice. I thought I was done with this world, but the idea of returning to the island, if only to meet those characters again at a different time in their lives, keeps enticing me. It’s one of those that won’t let go, I think. Right now, I’m thinking a young Dhamikhan, coming to the island for the first time, and a story explaining who he used to be and how he turned out to become the powerful Lord Dhamikhan supervising Naheli’s Sacrifice. If Darklight Rest shouldn’t last me through all of NaNoWriMo, I think I’ll be doing this prequel next. 🙂

Finally: I’m up to six reviews on Amazon now! 😀 During my latest free promotion, I was able to give away exactly 100 copies of the e-book. How great is that?! People all over the world reading (or at least owning) my story! And I can’t wait to put more stories out there. It seems the more room I allow my writing to take, the more my Muse comes out of hiding. I love this!

The 2nd fifth

Writing has been good lately. Great, actually. I’m writing daily and usually getting at least 1,000 words, which I’m putting down to working less so there’s just more energy left for creative work. Teaching children is immensely creative, but it’s also draining. This school year, there’s just more room for stories in my head. 🙂

Darklight Rest is progressing well. I’m in that lovely place of a novel that is after the beginning (which usually consists of a lot of finding my way, my voice, the direction of the story) and the dreaded dragging middle (where I lose my way completely and have no idea what I wanted with this story in the first place). So roughly the second fifth of a new project always flies — characters keep popping up, the setting grows as I need it, witty dialogues and unexpected rules jump up from all directions. I’m enjoying this part of the writing. I sit down every evening and get words almost immediately. Varyan, who was intended to be a side character, is taking much of the stage and being surprisingly loud-mouthed. Not the way I imagined him, but I’m going to let him play for now and see what he’s planning.

I’m starting to like Liya a lot. She has a bit of spine that I want to bring out more, and she says what’s on her mind. She’s still succumbing to Darklight Rest, but I there’s not much she can do at this point.

Mariany, on the other hand, hasn’t made an appearance at all yet, although she was meant to be the second main character. I’m not worried, though. The more backstory and subplot I have, the better. Last time I tried getting this story right, it came out too thin. When there’s too much, I can always cut later. (I cut LOTS out of Naheli, leaving only the bare, stark bones of the real story in the end.)

I’m not sure, however, that this is still going to be the story I’d originally intended. That’s fine, too. My Muse usually comes up with something better during the process, even if that means ditching ALL of my plans, and 99% of my first draft writing. I write fast, so I can shoulder that time loss. The first draft always seems to be like just writing down what the story is really meant to be — what I honestly wanted to tell, beyond all the things that I thought I wanted to tell. It’s pure creativity.

Also, NaNoWriMo is around the corner! It’s my eleventh year, and my third go at Darklight Rest. I have a good feeling this time around, though. I’ll get it done this year. The characters are coming out too strongly to go back into hiding after this.

Finally: I’m celebrating my very first subscriber to my mailing list and three reviews for Naheli’s Sacrifice. 🙂  Moving very slowly here, but steadily. That’s always been the way I work, taking longer time than others to get going, but then staying on the path until I hit my goal. Doesn’t matter if it takes decades; I plan to be around and writing for a while yet!

Darklight Rest & Naheli

It’s really exciting to watch the stats Amazon produces on your published e-books. Apart from being able to see how many copies I sold (three, two of which to family :D) and how many were taken during the free promotion (just over 50 now!), I can see how many pages have been read by readers using Kindle Unlimited. At least, I think that’s what it is — still learning my way around this!

The graph is really interesting and looks like this:


Now, there’s no telling how many people actually share those read pages, but seeing as there are days between those two spikes with no pages read at all, I’m guessing there were only two people. And if that’s correct, it would mean Person A read the entire book (which is about 445 pages) in two days, and Person B read it in one day. Which, although at first glance it may seem sad because there were only two people, is actually great — because it would mean that at least two people found the book interesting enough to read it in just a day or two. 🙂  And I may be totally wrong with this, but I’ll choose to interpret it in this way and be happy about it!

This week I got the print version for Naheli’s Sacrifice done. I am now waiting for my proof copy to make sure it all looks good, and I’m so excited to see it! That must be a special moment, to see the book in actual printed form… well, unless I’ve messed up with the cover and it looks horrible, which might be the case. 😀 I’ll know more hopefully this week when it arrives.

Darklight Rest writing has been good today. I don’t really know where I’m going with this story, other than some vague ideas about Liya and Mariany. But I’m about 20,000 words in and Mariany hasn’t even showed up. Which doesn’t matter, I always tend to write a LOT in first draft and then cut a lot in revision. But I’m inspired and enjoying the writing and also getting some new characters that I like.

Also, I discovered PinInterest! I can’t believe I haven’t used it sooner. I made this collection for Darklight Rest, and it inspires me to no end, especially when, as usual, I get stuck with the setting. 🙂