jessicasteiner: (Save the World)
I've just recently finished a novel by one of the authors that was an instructor at the Out of Excuses Retreat, Nalo Hopkinson.

I'd never heard of her before the retreat, and it was a true joy to get to know her and hang out with her and her adorable spouse at the airport for a few hours at the Fort Lauderdale airport. I asked her what I should start with, if I wanted to read her work, and she told me to read Sister Mine.

Sister Mine is about a pair of black conjoined twins who were separated at birth. The girls' father and paternal family are nature gods! And the girls live in Toronto. I loved the weaving of modern life and mysticism together in this book, and the unique ways in which the characters use magic and interact with the world. The dynamic between the two sisters, as well as between them and their bizarre family, was interesting and multi-faceted, and a delight to read.

I heartily recommend Sister Mine, especially if you like Urban Fantasy. If you're bored of the single sexy white girl Main Character thing that is so ubiquitous in urban fantasy these days, Sister Mine totally breaks that mold.

What are you reading these days?
jessicasteiner: (NaNoWriMo: Logic)
I've been working on writing pretty regularly lately, however, I decided against doing NaNoWriMo this year. Usually, I set aside whatever I'm working on to throw myself into a new (or in-progress) draft and get some good, solid work done on it in November. That's worked pretty well towards me getting a bunch of drafts finished, but since I haven't been as productive in other months, it hasn't done a whole lot towards me getting anything edited.

That doesn't mean I don't want to work on my draft, but I had a more compelling reason to keep it in the drawer for now - I've been asked for a full manuscript of OtherWhere by an agent. So instead of working on new words, I've been working on getting the last few changes done on that manuscript so I can submit it.

This past week, while my beta readers read the manuscript, I've been reading it out loud. It's a piece of advice I've heard a lot, but have never had the courage to actually implement. And you know what? It's working.

There are a lot of small changes I'm definitely making that I never had noticed before. Word repetition and run-on sentences are big ones. I'm also noticing some issues with character voice - people sounding very similar to one another - that I'm trying to work on a bit more.

All in all, it's been a great exercise. I expect to be finished it within the next few days, and to get my manuscript submitted to the agent by the end of November.


Nov. 6th, 2015 06:03 pm
jessicasteiner: (Blank Paper)
Greetings. It's been a rough two years, but I'm back.

For the past two years, my work schedule has gone from very busy, to very very insanely busy, and basically stayed there. I've dealt with a coworker who flamed out and dumped their entire caseload on me, and also a three month period of absolutely no income while the government body who writes my paycheque "upgraded" their system. During that entire time, I carried a caseload of over 100 clients and worked every one of them as hard as I could.

It didn't leave much time or brainpower left over for writing, and even less time for blogging about writing.

However, I now see the light at the end of the tunnel as far as my work load at the day job. In addition to that, I've had some important boosts to my writing brain, and I believe I'm firmly back in the saddle now, with enough brainpower left over on the side to attend to my social media as well.

In September, I attended the Out of Excuses Retreat. When I got back from that utterly life-changing experience, I went to the Surrey International Writer's Conference, and pitched OtherWhere to an agent, who asked for a full manuscript.

I've decided not to do NaNoWriMo this year, so that I can concentrate on getting my manuscript up to par and getting it out to the agent.

In the meantime, I am committing to updating this blog regularly again. I intend to update on a rotating schedule, every Friday, and it'll probably be more writing and life updates, and writing exercises, rather than reviews. Though I will probably do the odd review, as well.

So thanks for being patient! I hope you enjoy reading what I have to say.
jessicasteiner: (Fangirl Moment)
Today I bring you a much-delayed review I was asked to give of Starship Grifters: A Rex Nihilo Adventure. The author provided me with a pre-release e-book copy of the book, which is published by 47North.

Starship Grifters is the story of a half-insane space-faring con artist named Rex Nihilo, who travels the stars looking for ways to pad his pocket book. He's always in debt, pursued by the authorities, getting into unbelievable adventures, and nearly getting himself killed. The story is told from the POV of his robot, who has a program fault such that any time she has an original thought, she shuts down and forgets what she was talking about. This creates some delightfully odd moments in the narrative.

I honestly didn't know what to think of the story for the first chapter or two, but it sucked me in despite myself. I found myself laughing out loud at quite a few points. It's written in the quirky and satirical vein of the Hitchhiker's Guide, and as a long-standing Douglas Adams fan, I was originally skeptical of anyone who was trying to follow along in those footsteps.

However, Kroese won me over, and I eagerly look forward to the sequel.

I want to thank Kroese for approaching me to do this review. It's a book that I likely wouldn't have found on my own, but I hope this review prompts more people to check it out.
jessicasteiner: (Save the World)
Here we go! The course is live and ready to go, and you can get it here.

I had originally intended to give a 30% discount initially, but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to ensure that you all had the best deal I could really give you, as thanks for being the first to support me and help me on what will obviously be a very big and long-term project.

So for this week only, the course is only $9.99, which is a 50% discount from the price I ultimately intend to offer it at.

For only ten bucks you're getting:

1. The course, with all worksheets included, in an electronic, easily printable format.

2. BONUS THE FIRST: an already-formatted spreadsheet for tracking your writing work, so you don't have to make one of your own.

3. BONUS THE SECOND: My personal availability by email for answering any questions you might have, and for personalized coaching. This is a commitment I am making to you, as a purchaser of my course, that I will do what I can to help out with simple questions. I WILL NOT WRITE YOUR BOOK FOR YOU. But if you have any questions about the course, or a particular situation that the course doesn't seem to cover, I invite you to email me and I'll see what advice I can offer.

4. BONUS THE THIRD: Access to a LOCKED AND EXCLUSIVE Dreamwidth writing community, so that all of the students of my courses can share ideas, offer help to each other, find beta readers and support. This community was originally started as a writing group for me, but has inactive pretty much since the beginning. I'm resurrecting it, specifically for you. Only purchasers of my courses will receive an invite to the Turn Write community.

VERY VERY IMPORTANT DO NOT MISS STEP - after you complete your purchase, you will need to send me your email address. This will make it easier for me to send you the course, and also allow me to send you an invite to the community. DON'T JUST CLOSE OUT THE WINDOW WHEN YOU'RE DONE.

Whew, that was a lot of capslock. I hope you're as excited as I am to get rolling, so here, once again, is the link to the course.

If you have any questions or problems whatsoever, just go ahead and comment or PM me and I will make it all better!
jessicasteiner: (Blank Paper)
It's nearly here! After several months of work and a few data crashes, the Motivation course is going to go live on my website tomorrow.

I know that I've said that I think this course will help you, no matter who you are. Let me tell you why.

I have known as long as I can remember that I wanted to be a writer. I remember being in high school, and writing reams and reams of paper. The very first novel I ever wrote and completed was a Star Trek: DS9 fanfic - I figured I could get it published as a novel tie-in, if I could just polish it up enough. A friend of mine read it for me, and my next novel, which was a truly horrific vampire novel. And the next. I think that one had aliens in it. It was also terrible.

Then I hit university and my focus shifted to fanfiction. And somewhere along the line, I stopped writing completely. I knew I still wanted to write. I spent hours roleplaying online, writing shared stories with other people, but I felt totally unmotivated to actually write. It felt like work. I still had my passion, but any time it came time to write something down without working from the prompt of another person, I just never seemed to get around to it.

I tried NaNoWriMo a few times, and fizzled out after a few days every time. After five years of basically nothing, I was facing down the death of my dream, and wondering if maybe writing was just too hard for me. I wondered if I just couldn't do it.

Then I started learning and applying the kinds of techniques that I've put in the course. Most of all, I applied the technique that I mentioned in my last post - I remembered what I loved about writing, what I wanted out of life, and I focused on that rather than my fear.

I started writing, and I've never looked back. That was 10 years ago, and I am more sure than ever that writing is what I want to do, what I can do, and what I will do full time, someday.

That's why I know these techniques are good. Because they ended my 5 years of writer's block, and they have stood the test of time.

Now it's your turn, and I'm looking forward to having you come along with me on this journey.
jessicasteiner: (Fangirl Moment)
You already know that you want to be a writer. But do you see yourself AS a writer? Do you know what that looks like?

By the time you finish the Motivation course that's coming out at the end of this week, you'll not only know how to conquer the fears you have, but my intention is that you'll have a clear vision for where you're going.

If you don't know where you're going, how can you get there? I'll tell you: You can't.

Think about it now.

Close your eyes and picture what your life will be like when you achieve your goal. Think about where you'll live, in what sort of place, what you will do on a daily basis, where you will work, what clothes you'll wear. Picture it until you know it as well as you know your own life right now.

Pick one thing you can do today that will move you forward, even if it's just the tiniest bit, towards that goal.

I can't do this for you. Only you can make the decision to take those steps forward. I'm not saying that this course will do it for you, either. But what I can say, is that I've done my best to gather together every technique I've found over a lifetime of learning this stuff, into one easy place for your benefit.

If only one exercise teaches you something new, if you spend just a small amount of money and spent a few hours on this, and only move just a little bit closer to where you want to be, isn't that worth it?

I think it is, and that's how I live my own life. Using the techniques like the one above, I have written four full novels, published one, and begun making actual money each month from my writing.

You can do it, too. I can't wait to see you achieving.
jessicasteiner: (Fangirl Moment)
Hey everyone! I've got some exciting news.

My betas have gotten back to me, and the final formatting passes have been done.

It took a lot longer than I had originally expected, mostly because my long-suffering wife was trying to do the final copyediting and beta pass, and lost the changes she'd made three times due to unscheduled laptop reboots and other unforeseen problems.

But after a lot of cursing, she powered through it again and I'm happy to announce that the motivation module is finally complete. It will go live on my website on Saturday, March 29, 2014 as early in the day as I can manage given that I'm in PST and will need to do some website changes to make it available.

I'm afraid that I won't be able to offer it on Amazon or other online retailers, at least right now, because of the format, so my website will be the ONLY way to get the course.

What you'll be getting )
jessicasteiner: (I Write Therefore I Am)

Hey everyone! I just wanted to let you all know that Smashwords is running a promotion this week. All of my stories are at least 50% off - most of them are free! If you were thinking about checking out my books but hadn't gotten around to it yet, now is a great time to do it.

You can see my books here:
Books under my own name
Books under my pseudonym

Even if you're not interested in my books, I highly encourage you to look into the promotion. There's a full catalogue of the authors who are participating in the promotion, which can be found here.

Happy browsing!
jessicasteiner: (Blank Paper)
I often have a hard time thinking of things to say here. Often things just seem like same-old-same-old, and I'm just poking along at the things I've been poking along at for months. But at the same time, I'm happy with the progress I'm making. I guess it's time to do an update and round-up.

I'm working on my fifth draft of OtherWhere, doing line edits, tightening the language, obliterating adverbs and unnecessary, redundant wordiness. I'm really happy with it, though I totally don't understand how people can finish this kind of thing in a month or two. After an hour of this stuff, I start skimming and have to stop.

Once I get this part finished, I'll be sending it out to (more) agents and also beta readers. Maybe that'll happen in March. I HOPE it'll happen in March.

I'm also poking around at various other projects without a tonne of focus, just doing whatever I feel like at any given moment. I expect to release my Motivation course by the end of February, though I'm eyeing the date right now and wondering if that's realistic. If not, then it'll be the first or second week of March.

I've been doing a lot more reading as well, which I consider to be really important. I started reading the collected works of Sherlock Holmes, because I've gotten really into Elementary, BBC Sherlock, and the RDJ movies as well, and I had gotten very interested in connecting with the source material, which I had never read. I remember picking it up once when I was probably 12 years old, saw Sherlock shooting up cocaine and went "Hang on, this isn't what I thought it was", but this time I've been really enjoying it.

Thing is, I had to interrupt because I needed to read some short stories. I've written a story I intend to submit to Crossed Genres magazine for their April deadline (Theme: Time travel!), but I haven't read a lot of short stories in recent years. I picked up Dangerous Women, which is an anthology of short stories that cover many genres, by many of the giants in speculative fiction - we're talking Jim Butcher, George R.R. Martin, and Brandon Sanderson. I figure I can learn some things from them. I'm enjoying the stories very much, and learning a lot about structure, and when that's done I'll be finishing off Sherlock Holmes.

Unless I get distracted by the three books I bought today, whoops.

Aw, man

Feb. 16th, 2014 02:16 pm
jessicasteiner: (Bad Writing Day)
Miko discovered that she'd lost all the changes she made when betaing the Motivation module of my course, when her computer rebooted. Sooooo, it might be delayed a little! But when she gets the motivation (heh) to redo all her hard work, it shouldn't be too long before it becomes available. I'm still shooting for the end of February, but it might be a week or two later than that.

In the meantime, think about this:

What can you do today to get just a tiny bit closer to your goal?
jessicasteiner: (Constructive Criticism)
It's the new year, and as promised, the Motivation Module for the course is nearly finished. This course (and the ones that will follow) is designed by fandom writers in mind, for people who want to break into professional writing. What I need next is two beta readers. I'm giving one one week of warning, because this is somewhat of a big deal. So if you're interested in this, please read this post carefully.

What's in it for you:

1. A FREE copy of the course to keep. If I make any changes due to your feedback, then you'll get the updated version automatically.
2. Full access to me until you're done the course, to answer any questions you have and help you get through the course. I commit to answer all your questions and coach you, even if it's not specifically about motivation, free of charge.

What you give me in return:

An absolute commitment to read the module, do ALL of the exercises, and give me a detailed play-by-play of what worked for you, and didn't work for you, and to do all this definitely by the end of February.

I'm serious. If you can't commit to this, then I feel it would be unfair of you to get a free copy of the course. If you know that life is probably going to be too busy for you to really, honestly commit, then please just wait for the course to come out properly. It's not fair to me and not fair to your fellow course-takers (who would have to wait for me to find another beta reader).

So what are you committing to, really? The course is not very long (about 30 pages, with 10 short exercises) , so I expect that most people could get it done in a couple of hours. The timeline I've set is totally doable. But I know that people can be flakey and that life intervenes. If your life does implode after you are selected, I have no problems with working with you and giving an extension. All I ask for is honesty, and to communicate with me.

Also, if you do well with this one, you will be shortlisted to beta future courses as well.

So how do I get to do this, anyway?

I decided to give everyone advanced warning, so you can look at your schedule, decide what you want to do, and also prepare, because this is going to require a teeny bit of work.

On January 18, 2014, I will open up submissions. If you want to be a beta reader, you will simply have to send me a couple of paragraphs by email, telling me who you are, and why you should be selected as a beta reader for the Motivation course. The submission window will close on January 20, 2014.

If you have any questions, go ahead and send me a PM or ask in the comments. I'll do my best to answer questions as quickly as possible.
jessicasteiner: (Default)
This month I argued the last 8 days of a 13 day trial, while preparing for Christmas, and attempting to keep up with all the rest of my regular work at the same time!

One day I may be able to do a general update that isn't about how busy I am in my day job, but...that day likely will not come soon.

I also completed the first draft of an intensive course about motivation. If you're interested in being involved in the closed beta and getting to take the course for free, while also giving me valuable feedback, head over here and join the mailing list. I'll be sending out a call for beta readers in the new year.

I hope you all are having a great holiday and are looking forward to the new year with optimism!
jessicasteiner: (Fangirl Moment)

6-day Supreme Court trial (which I totally won), and I still won NaNoWriMo with a day to spare.

I'm pretty much the most badass person I know.

Now to rest.
jessicasteiner: (Default)
But I have over 26,000 words. Halfway there and it's only the 11th. Woo!

Tip: celebrate your successes.

Also, get more sleep.
jessicasteiner: (Fangirl Moment)
Yesterday I was travelling and had no internet access, so I was unable to update the blog.

Travelling is fun, and I'm sure a lot of people have travel plans for November, since I have no doubt that a large proportion of Wrimos are American. Personally, that's not the reason I'm not at home - it's my birthday and my wife and I are in Victoria, BC, staying at a bed and breakfast.

But travelling doesn't have to mean no words get done. All it takes is a little planning.

If you don't expect to have any time to write, then plan for that, bank up words by making a special effort to buckle down in the days before your trip, so you create a buffer and don't feel discouraged when you get back. Otherwise, make a specific effort to carve out time during your trip when you can write without neglecting your other responsibilities.

Sure, you might have family time that you can't get out of and that's normal. But there may be times when you're not expected to be doing anything else. I had a ferry ride to get to where I am, and I made a point of writing while on the ferry. Right now I'm sitting at the B&B. Miko is off doing a photoshoot, which is part of the reason we came here, and I'm using that time to get my words in. Tomorrow will be ferry time again. In the end, I expect to have at least as many words done during this trip as I would have done if I were at home, yet I'm still having a great time and getting to enjoy my vacation.

Don't get discouraged by a disruption to your routine. You can still find time, even if it's just half an hour, to get something done. I promise if you do that, the feeling of accomplishment you will feel, knowing you did the right thing and worked towards your goals instead of throwing it out the window, will make the sacrifice worthwhile.
jessicasteiner: (Default)
No, really. I honestly forgot. I also wrote a lot of words.

I have 17,083 words, which I'm proud of! Nyla has finally figured out she has superpowers, and is pretty sure she knows how they work, however crazy and illogical it might be. Time to ruin her life! But that'll wait until tomorrow.

Today's tip: When you screw up, strikeout is your friend.

I try not to go back and revise, but sometimes you have a really amazing idea for a better way for a scene to go. It does take a while to edit, and I strongly discourage people from spending much time doing this. You can spend an hour going over a scene and only add a few words, or even lose them. That's an hour you could have been adding to your wordcount.

But sometimes you just have to. In cases like that, don't ever delete words you wrote. Strike through them (It's ctrl-shift-minus sign in Scrivener) and write the new thing. Of course, you might find bits of what you wrote before that you want to keep and fiddle around with, which is fine, but at least you won't lose the bits you actually don't want to keep.

They still count for your NaNoWriMo words, so don't rob yourself by using the delete key.
jessicasteiner: (NaNoWriMo)
I wrote chapter three, another 1878 words, for a total of 6160 words.

I was struggling with this one a little bit. My outline said that Nyla meets a particular character, and locates a particular place - a gaming store - which will be very important for the series. However, I was having a lot of trouble writing the scene, because while I knew the goals I needed to hit, I didn't have any conflict for the scene.

Thankfully, I managed to push through. I came up with enough of a conflict to carry the scene, wrote some nice conversations, and introduced two characters I hadn't intended to introduce so soon - but it actually works better that way.

It wasn't something I thought of before I sat down to write. When I sat down, I didn't know how I was going to make it through the scene. But I think that's a good lesson. One of the things I often struggle with is the desire to know the shape of a scene before I sit down to write it, and if I don't know how I'm going to fix the problems I see, I hesitate to start.

So today's tip: Even if you feel like you're heading into fog, write your way to a solution. You can always tighten up the scene later, but if you just keep writing, feeling your way through, moving back and forth as you figure out the problems, you will find a solution.

Just start, and don't stop.
jessicasteiner: (NaNoWriMo: Logic)
Today I wrote chapter two of my new novel, and added another 2200 words to my pile.

I've learned something about myself already, and it's only the second day: I believe I'm an outliner when it comes to plot, but I'm a pantser when it comes to characters. This is a thing that's possible! I think the only reason I didn't realize it before is because I've always heard of planner vs. pantser as being an all or nothing thing. Sure, some people are more organized, more pantsy than others, but I've never heard anyone say they divide things up this way.

Here's why I believe it's true: I've been planning The Geek Club for about a year, at least. Some aspects I've been working on for longer. It has been through two major incarnations, and I have incorporated an entirely different novel (which I trunked halfway through the planning process).

The planning process had been halted for a while, but in July I had a flash of inspiration to take the book in a whole different direction. At that point I had a general idea for plot, and several characters. Since July I've completed a full plot outline and written a tonne of worldbuilding notes.

Three days before NaNoWriMo started, I was still cudgelling my brain, trying to come up with villains.

I had one villain who wasn't going to be important until probably the third novel. I had several sub-plots that suggested antagonists I needed to come up with, and I couldn't come up with anything.

Over the years, I've tried lots of different methods for developing characters. I would try questionnaires, write pages and pages of great info, and nearly all of it would get thrown out when I started the book. Whenever I was writing, I'd either completely forget about things I came up with in the questionnaire, or I would find it confining.

Today and yesterday, after a week of struggling to come up with something, anything that would constitute an antagonist for my story (other than faceless organizations), three living, breathing characters walked onto the page to interact with my main characters without any effort at all. I don't know everything about them, but they're great characters and I'm excited about them. And I feel like now that they exist I can flesh them out.

So my tip today is: Everyone does it differently. Figure out what works for you, and do that. Keep an open mind, and don't assume that what works for other people is the only way to do it.
jessicasteiner: (NaNoWriMo)
Today I started a brand new story, which I've dubbed The Geek Club. It's about a group of geeky females who get powers and become superheros. Also vampires, werewolves, and Lovecraftian horrors.

I completed chapter one, in which my main character, Nyla, and her twin brother Nolan, meet their respective roommates. For some reason, the roommates don't seem to like each other. But Nyla's sorority-obsessed roommate, Kailey, seems really excited to meet them.

Wordcount so far: 2003/50,000!

Tip of the day: I saw this on tumblr, and used it for the first time today.

Sometimes when you're writing along, you suddenly run across a detail that you need to think about. For example, today I realized that I never actually worked out what school Nyla goes to. It's a pretty important detail that's going to take a lot of research. I might need to pick a real school, or to make up a fake school so I can manipulate the details however I like.

For a second, I pulled up Google, but then I realized that if I wanted to do all this research, it was really going to cut into my writing time, which is pretty precious!

So instead, all I did was call it 'elephant university' and move on.

Any time you come across a detail like that, where figuring it out will interrupt your flow with research or a lot of thinking, just put in the word 'elephant' and keep going. When you're done writing for the day, maybe you can go back and do the research, or wait until your draft is finished and fill it in on the revision.

Either way, the point is to just keep writing for the month of November.


jessicasteiner: (Default)
Jessica Steiner

November 2015

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