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: (I Write Therefore I Am)
I'm not really able to give a proper sum-up, because too many awesome things. All I can say is that three agents asked me for manuscript samples. My goal is to get those out before I start NaNoWriMo, which doesn't give me a tonne of time.

I got a flat tire on Saturday night, which sort of messed up my evening... I hadn't made it out of Surrey yet, when someone started gesturing at me to tell me I had a flat. Of course, none of the tire places were open yet, so I faced the options of driving home on my doughnut...and back the next day, or to stay at the hotel, which is what I decided to do.

I went into my hotel room, only to find a note addressed to "Mr. R. Thompson" and a bag of Halloween candy. The note welcomed Mr. Thompson to Surrey and hoped he'd have a pleasant stay.

I put the chain on the door and enjoyed the mysterious Mr. Thompson's candy thoroughly.
jessicasteiner: (Fangirl Moment)
This weekend I'm attending the Surrey International Writer's Conference for the second time. I went once before, 6 or 7 years ago, and it was a life-altering experience. Unfortunately, at the time I was working on a book that I have since trunked, so even though it got very good responses from both agents and readers, I never did anything with it. Then I went to law school.

It's nice to be back.

Yesterday I attended two master classes, one on subtext, which was basically about how to use word choice and things like that to set tone and convey character. The other was about editing. Though there wasn't really much in the second one that was completely new to me, I learned a lot at both classes.

Then there was a really terrible accident on the freeway and it took me over 4 hours to make a one hour trip home....

Today I attended a workshop on cliches in YA fiction and another one on diversity in fiction. The latter was by Jim C. Hines, who appears to be a thoroughly awesome individual. He'll be reading the first three pages of my novel on Saturday, so I hope he likes it XD!

As a side note, not totally unrelated: For various reasons, I feel like a number of forces in the universe are pushing me towards submitting OtherWhere for publication instead of self-publishing it, so that's what I'm going to do after this weekend. Wish me luck!

I think I'm going to be extremely tired, but very enlightened, by Sunday night.
jessicasteiner: (Default)
The response to my survey was truly exciting, and I am already noodling ideas for the first module, which - by popular demand - is definitely going to be about motivation, and Getting Shit Done.

However, I won't be putting anything out until at least December. Because NaNoWriMo. I'm sure you understand.

But in light of that delay, I'm putting something out there as a challenge and an awesome opportunity for people who are interested in the course. Those people should totally do NaNo with me.

I know NaNoWriMo can be scary, and I know that you have only a week or so before November starts. You may be saying "But Jess! I don't have a plot or anything, how can I get ready in time?" You may be saying "I've never written anything original before, and now you want me to start by writing a 50,000 word novel? You're crazy!"

The thing is, this is my 11th year of doing NaNoWriMo, and after all my years of doing this crazy challenge, I know one thing for sure: There is no downside to trying, and there are tonnes of upsides.

If you sign up and don't make 50,000 words, then you still made however many number of words you likely wouldn't have written if you didn't sign up. I will not personally come to your house and shame you for not finishing the task. What I will do, is congratulate you for doing what you did. Because anything you do is an accomplishment, and you deserve to feel good about it. You can still try again next year, too!

Not only is there no downside to trying, but just by signing up for the mailing list and committing to helping me put together this course, I am going to make a HUGE commitment to you that may actually screw me over for finishing NaNoWriMo myself this year: If you come along with me on this journey, what I do promise is that I will help you. I will schedule live online write-ins so we can get together and bang out words. More than that, I invite you to write to me if you get stuck or need encouragement. I will even spend the rest of October helping you to get ready.

All you need to do is join my buddy list AND join my mailing list, and when you need a lift or have a problem, then email me, and mention in your email that you are part of the course mailing list. I will do my best to help you, whatever the snag you've run into. I will brainstorm with you, give you advice, and coaching and buttpats. A lot of the people who filled out the survey told me that you would pay for coaching - well, here is your chance to get some for free.

But you have to be doing NaNoWriMo this year.

This is going to be awesome.
jessicasteiner: (Fangirl Moment)
I downloaded John Scalzi's Redshirts from Audible.com. The audiobook is narrated by Wil Wheaton, which is a treat to listen to for a lifelong trekker like myself.

Redshirts is basically the story of a bunch of ensigns on a starship, rather like the Enterprise only, yanno, not. On this ship, away teams are pretty hazardous for people like this. There's a lot more to it than that, but I don't think I can say anything further without spoiling some of the best bits. You'll just have to read it for yourself.

This is the first of Scalzi's books that I've read. I get the impression from reading his blog that he writes a variety of things, but if any of his other books are like this, I may have to read more of his work. Redshirts is a great story, nerdy and clever, and has interesting characters.

I enjoyed most of Wil Wheaton's narration, though there were a few rough bits where it knocked me out of the story. With such a large cast, a narrator who was able to better differentiate between the different characters' voices would have probably helped a lot to keep things straight. But I love Wheaton so much I don't actually mind the few hiccups.

I believe quite a few people didn't like the ending. Specifically, Scalzi didn't just end the book, but tacked on three codas, from the perspective of other characters, tying up plot threads. Personally, I loved them. It allowed Scalzi to wrap up a few important threads, and I found the overall experience of the book more satisfying with that resolution. I'm sure there are other ways he could have accomplished the same thing, but this was neat.

Overall, if you like popcorn science fiction/space opera, and especially if you geek out over Star Trek, this is highly recommended
jessicasteiner: (Blank Paper)
I've closed the survey (or rather, I would if I could figure out how. Anyway, officially it's considered closed, though you can still take it, I guess) and I'm totally blown away by all the responses.

I have a lot going on the next couple of days, but I just wanted to let people know that:
a) You can still join the mailing lit for updates and free stuff as I get organized, and,
b) Cool stuff is coming.

Later.
jessicasteiner: (I Write Therefore I Am)
Just a reminder that my survey for fiction writers who want to write original fiction is going to be closed tomorrow!

I've had a great turnout. Honestly, the answers are really giving me a tonne to think about. Though I think quite a few people may have missed the link to join the mailing list as well. That's right here.

I'll be doing some follow-ups on the mailing list over the next week, so if you want to take part in helping me make the course as good as it can be - not to mention getting free stuff - follow that latter link, even if you haven't taken the survey.
jessicasteiner: (Fangirl Moment)
It's been 24 hours since I announced the survey and I've already had over 20 responses. I'm gathering some really helpful data already, and I'm hoping to get a bunch more responses before I close the survey.

In order to do the analysis and get started on developing course material, I'm going to have to put a deadline on the survey. I've decided to give it a week, so the survey will be closed to responses on October 20th.

If you're interested, please go here and fill out the survey, and don't forget to sign up for the mailing list so you don't miss the course when it's done!
jessicasteiner: (Fangirl Moment)
Vcon was an awesome experience. I met a tonne of great people and learned a lot. I had lunch with Dan Wells, hung out with Mur Lafferty, and I feel like my writing career just took a leap forward. Lots of exciting stuff on the horizon.

In that vein, I have decided to put together some courses for fanfiction authors who want to make the leap to professional writing - or at least, original writing. I've known so many people who write, who have passion for writing, and see themselves wanting to one day move to the realm of original writing.

Writing fanfiction is not the same as writing original stuff, but I truly believe that writing fanfiction is great preparation and practice for original writing.

If all you want to do is write fanfiction, that's awesome. I don't believe that writing is useless unless you intend to make money one day. But if you do have any interest in writing original stories, whether or not you want to go all the way to professional author status, then please do me a favour and fill out this survey.

It would really help me out in determining what people would like to see in a course.
jessicasteiner: (I Write Therefore I Am)
It's been a crazy couple of weeks, between work and novelling, but I have finally reached a point where I feel I can write about it, so...yay!

I am taking a couple of courses, which is sucking up some of my time. I'm also continuing my cut of OtherWhere, which is going fabulously. I'm 115 pages in, out of about 350 pages of manuscript and I'm really feeling as though it was a better book to start with than Mortis Unbound, which means that it's a lot easier to cut and fix.

I've also put together a new website, which is at http://www.jessicasteinerbooks.com (Unfortunately, someone else named Jessica Steiner has the url I wanted o999)

It's pretty bare bones right now, but if you head over there you can see that I've migrated my mailing list over to a new provider. I'm going to be giving away stories and doing fun little things on the list, too, so I'm excited about that. I'm also excited by the fact that soon there will be the ability - through my website - for people to give me money without giving any money to Amazon or Smashwords. That'll be really cool! Over the next few weeks I'll be cleaning up this blog and migrating some content (like the sticky post) over to the website and fixing things up.

Next weekend I'll be going to VCON. If the universe aligns, Dan Wells and Mur Lafferty will know my name by the following weekend. My goal is to contain my fangirl and instead be totally awesome and professional. We'll see.

Between now and then, I have to finish critiquing three stories for the workshop I'm doing, and finish organizing my website. I also hope my new business cards arrive. They're supposed to show up by Wednesday.

If you head over to my website, please let me know what you think? I'd really like to hear feedback and/or suggestions
jessicasteiner: (Procrastination)
I reached a new milestone in my edit of OtherWhere. I finally got through the agonizing process of identifying things I want to change, ensuring that everything is going to be consistent throughout the course of the novel, and that no important plot threads were dropped, and can finally move on to actually making changes to my manuscript.

I got so excited, I decided to run a sale.

So now if you click this link and sign up for my mailing list before November 8th (which is my birthday!) you'll get a coupon for 40% off of my first novel, Mortis Unbound. The coupon will allow you to get Mortis Unbound in any ebook format, from .mobi to .epub to .pdf, and it'll be good until Christmas.

The mailing list is totally non-spammy. I only post to it when there's a new story coming out or special offer I think my readers would really like to know about. The only way you can learn about stories written under my pseudonym, is by being a part of my mailing list, and I release stories about once every other month.

Go ahead and head over here and join my list! http://www.jessicasteinerbooks.com/contact/
jessicasteiner: (Blank Paper)
I've been having some really interesting discussion with a fellow writer who stumbled upon a post I had made about a future project - the steampunk AU set in Sengoku era Japan that I've been poking at for a while. It's made me think - and rethink - a lot of what I'm doing.

I have to admit that historical fantasy is a subgenre that I've only lightly explored. For a long time, I wasn't interested, but over the last 5 years I've become a fan of several writers in the genre. I'm not up on all that the subgenre has to offer, though I've thoroughly enjoyed what I have read, enough that I want to try my hand at it.

So I have a question or two to toss out there, and I'm going to start with this one:

When making changes to create the alternate universe, how far do you need to go in following the changes you make? How far back do you go? How many countries should you trace the changes back? How permissible is it to handwave, fudge, and pick an arbitrary point at which "everything is the same" and then follow it forward?

The world is pretty interconnected, not just now in the internet age. Changes in one country, specially big changes, will affect the history of any country they traded with, bordered on, or conquered. As a writer, do you need to follow the changes through all the linkages, even if those countries aren't going to appear in your series?
jessicasteiner: (I Write Therefore I Am)
Today I had the day from hell at work, but that's neither here nor there, really. The topping on the cake was when a self-represented opposing party - a man who's stooped to such dirty levels to get an edge in his case that I can barely stand to even be in the same room with him because I keep getting this icky feeling in his presence - demanded a free and signed copy of my book.

I've always - despite him yelling at me in the face, while accusing me of rudeness - treated him with as much courtesy as I could manage. So naturally if he had purchased a copy of the book, I would have signed it for him. But this was over the top.

We were in the elevator, my client waiting for me in another part of the courthouse as this man and I returned from an errand, and he made his "request". I literally stared at him in utter disbelief, and said that, no, I wasn't going to give him a free, signed copy of his book.

He literally chased me down the hall, insisting that he didn't have enough money to purchase a copy of my book, that he was a big fan of science fiction and fantasy and that he was sure I was going to be really rich one day, and he'd be able to say he "knew me when".

I told him that I wouldn't get rich giving away free copies of my books to opposing parties.

He told me that it wouldn't cost me anything, anyway, so why was I being so meeeeeeeeeeeeeean?

Uh, yeah, actually it costs me money to purchase copies of my books. Less money than it costs everyone else, but REAL. ACTUAL. MONEY. Not even taking into account the money I don't make when someone doesn't buy my book.

"What, you don't get free copies for friends and family?"

"No, sir, I don't."

And even if I did, he is neither.

I think that's got to be a square on Writer's Bingo that I can now mark off. Does Writer's Bingo exist? It should.
jessicasteiner: (Bad Writing Day)
Today I realized that there's a distinct chance that I could do research and planning for my steampunk historical fantasy series set in Japan for the next decade before feeling confident enough to actually begin writing.

I'm overall okay with it.

Good thing I've got a lot to do in the meantime.
jessicasteiner: (Default)
Today I received one of those emails with a petition to sign. Sometimes I sign them, sometimes I don't. This one was one of the few that got me digging a bit deeper, and say something.

Apparently Trinity Western University has petitioned to have an accredited law school. TWU is a Christian university in British Columbia, the same province where I practice law.

They also have a discriminatory anti-homosexual policy. They have said that gay students will not be welcome at their law school, and that those who are homosexuals who want to go to law school will simply have to go somewhere else. I find this appalling.

I certainly hope that the Law Society of British Columbia refuses the accreditation. A school that violates the Charter - which actually does apply to Canadian universities, if I'm remembering my first year Constitutional law class correctly - should not be tasked with teaching that Charter to the next generation of lawyers.

One of the things that I feel strongly is that the legal profession is there to push the envelope. We not only uphold the law, but justice. We should be better than the average population at rising above stereotypes and prejudice. We shouldn't perpetuate racism, sexism, or homophobia in the way our laws are interpreted and applied. We should fight against such things, and when a law is being applied in a discriminatory way, we should recognize that, and fight against it.

Lawyers can be Christians - many of my colleagues are, and they are ones that I have deep respect for. I don't have an issue with TWU being a Christian university. What I do have a problem with, is hate. And a university that operates in violation of our most fundamental constitutional principles of equality should not teach law.

The petition is here. I don't know that it'll help, but who knows?

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Jessica Steiner

February 2016

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