It’s officially December, which means that NaNoWriMo22 has come to an end. I still have a lot to do for this novel, however it’s been so much fun to write, edit and develop the world of this story. I also got a lot of work done on the next books in The Vermin Series, and am preparing lots of fun content for that.
On Friday we wrapped up recording the newest season of Matchbox, which was fantastic! I can’t wait to see it fully animated in the new year. I have a lot of fun imagining what each scene will look like, and it was so much fun recording in studio with my co-star Julian this season. He’s a fantastic actor, and I can’t wait for you all to hear him as Kayla’s little brother Mason James. I’ll be sure to share the episodes when they come out.
Speaking of shows, on Thursday night I attended the premiere of Stay Tooned hosted by Eric Bauza aka the voice of Bugs Bunny. I love cartoons, and I love documentaries and film studies so this show was right up my alley. The premiere was so much fun, and nostalgic. I felt like a kid again seeing clips from the shows I grew up watching. When I got to thinking about it afterwards, a lot of these cartoons helped shape me, and inspired me to to do what I’m doing today. Stay Tooned is fun, informative and it is so clear that everyone who worked on the show put lots of love into it. It’s available to stream on CBC Gem.
I also released some new music, and have more coming very soon. My most recent releases are all songs my niece asked me to release, and the future ones are based on my favourite game, and stories I’ve written with my niece and sister. Hope you’ll check them out!
For those participating, how is NaNoWriMo going so far? We’re now 17 days in, and I’m fairly satisfied with my progress so far. I like what I’ve put down, and am emotionally attached to my characters, so I’m excited to finish and get to editing.
I’ve been feeling under the weather these last couple of days, so I haven’t gotten as much work done as I would’ve liked, but I’m sure I’ll make up for that lost time eventually. I love creating mood boards, playlists and doing sketches of my characters while I’m writing. I find it helps me capture the characters personality, and see them as more fleshed out. I could honestly spend hours just creating characters, I think that’s why I spend so much time in Create-A-Sim when I’m playing Sims4. I like to imagine the story of their life, what sort of careers they might have, who they’ll love…if they’ll love at all? I love to think about the types of clothes they wear, what they eat, what they listen to, what their favourite genres are. That’s why I had so much fun doing OCtober last year. I wish I did it again this year, but I didn’t have time unfortunately.
For the novel I’m working on right now, I’ve got a playlist going with an array of songs that I find really fit the theme and characters…or just the overall vibe. Heaven, California is one of the songs that just fits the vibe.
Sometimes I just have this playing faintly in the background while writing. I also listen to a bunch of other songs like Greenroom, My Girlfriend is a Witch and Girl With One Eye.
The images above are all outfit inspiration that I draw from for some of the character’s in the novel. Some character’s, at least in my mind, have a signature colour scheme. Occasionally I’ll sketch a series of outfits that I want to describe for key scenes in my novels. This can be helpful when I go back and edit, in case I want to add some more visuals. Sometimes I do this just for fun. With Vermin, I have a lot of outfit sketches and things, especially for Rose. She has a few signature looks that she wears throughout the series.
I’m very excited about this new novel, and of course I will keep you all posted on the next two books in The Vermin Series, and when those will be released once I have more information on that.
I thought I’d do a NaNoWriMo reflection post, to break down what I accomplished this year, my feelings about my project, and other stats.
In total, I reached 55,453 words during the month of November. Although I didn’t complete my manuscript, I am glad that I was able to reach the word count goal of the month.
When it comes to the importance of word counts I can only speak for myself, but I find that focusing too heavily on trying to have a specific number of words isn’t helpful. It might be because of how much pressure it was to have specific word counts for essays in university, as I never understood why in some of my courses being 200 under or 500 over was so strict? I mean, I get if someone is handing you 10 pages when the assignment required a minimum of 4, but there were some professors (many of which I luckily avoided thanks to my amazing upperclassmen), who would deduct marks for every 10 words you were over. I think this definitely has effected how I approach the 50k words. Like, I want to reach the minimum word count, but if I’m over I’m not going to go through a cut 30% of my book just so I can have exactly 50k words. To me that seems silly. Instead, I treat NaNoWriMo as though I’m trying to reach a writing milestone. Do I wish I could’ve reached this milestone and completed my manuscript in a months time, absolutely. Am I disappointed that I was unable to? No, because I’m happy with what I was able to get done, and at this rate, I should be ready to send my manuscript off to my editor by my deadline as planned.
According to my NaNoWriMo stats, on average I was writing anywhere between 2000 and 7000 words a day. It seems that on the weeks where I missed days I was spending more time writing on my days off to make up for it. Apparently I was also writing a lot between 4 and 5pm, which is a little surprising to me because there were many times that I was up till the wee hours of the night typing away…however, based on my work/recording schedules this month I’d say that it would make perfect sense for me to be writing around 4pm every day.
I also consistently had the “happy” emoji throughout the month, which means that while writing I was feeling great!
I’d say this is 100% accurate. This entire month I was I zoned in, and couldn’t wait to get back to my manuscript. It got to the point where I was dreaming about it, and waking up in the middle of the night itching to get back to it. I tried my best to get enough sleep, because I find when I’m tired a I make more silly errors like spelling a word using American versus Canadian English (like center and centre).
I try to have spellcheck set to British/UK English and or Canadian so that it doesn’t underline words that are spelled correctly here, but most programs don’t correct the American spelling, regardless of whether you change your settings or not. If I had to give feedback for editing software’s and writing programs, I’d say this is something that often gets overlooked.
English is a weird language. You can go your whole life spelling pajama as pajama only to realize that it’s actually pyjama…and that’s why it makes no sense when you look at the word because when you speak you pronounce the word as “pyjama” not “pajama” but you write it as pajama because a lot of the books you read as a kid were printed in the US, versus Canada. Also Canadian’s aren’t consistent with the spelling of this word and we tend to flip between the two versions…but pyjama’s is technically right…and is still the preferred spelling. So neither version of it is considered wrong.
I know that might be a random example…it but this is something that has frustrated me since I was 13 and I read The Boy in the Stripped Pyjama’s. I think that was when I realized the difference.
It’s like, you’re technically not spelling it wrong but you’re also not spelling it right. People lose marks on their essays for something as small as that! So, keep this in mind if you’re taking English Literature in University like I did.
Sorry, I got a bit off topic there…back to NaNoWriMo21.
I had an absolute blast this year, and I really liked seeing how supportive everyone was. I know some people had a bit of a rough time here and there, and it was nice to see other writers coming in to cheer them on and give them a little boost. I think we all need a bit of encouragement sometimes, and the overall vibe this year that I got from the community was really lovely.
I’ll be continuing to work on my manuscript everyday until it’s complete. I’m mainly excited about peoples reactions to certain characters and scenes. I know there are a few spots here and there that I need to go over, but overall I feel extremely good about this book. I love it.
I’ve got so many novels and writing related projects to finish, and the urge to bounce back and forth between them is strong. Obviously I know that multitask writing won’t help me produce anything faster–that it’s best to stick to one project at a time–but I can’t help but want to jump into everything all at once.
Working on The Vermin Series is lots of fun. I’ve had the time to really bond with these characters, and watch them grow, learn and explore the world around them. It’s just that I’ve also got like 10 other projects that I’ve started, that I really, really want to get back into. Usually what I’ll do is work on another book or writing project while my novel is off with my editor. I find this allows me to build up the foundation of my other work, and develop my setting and characters while I’m waiting for feedback and corrections.
Still, there are days when it gets a little bit frustrating. I often think about those kid shows where the main character finds a way to clone themselves, and becomes more productive. On the other hand, those episodes always ended badly and the main character tends to realize that it’s not always best to get things done quickly, but rather get things done properly by having good time management skills.
Like a few days ago I spent the majority of my time scrolling through social media, versus reading and writing like I’d initially planned to do. While scrolling through twitter, one of my favourite authors was having a discussion thread, which ultimately lead to them explaining why it’s important to set a scheduled writing time during the day so that your family and friends are respectful of that time. Then they know that say from, 9-11 am you’re writing, and not to disturb you.
I honestly think that’s really smart. It’s important to respect peoples time, and their space…and setting that boundary early on, by creating a routine can not only help you with productivity but it also helps others take you more seriously when it comes to your work.
I’ve been writing for a long time, so my family knows that generally if they don’t hear me listening to music or watching Netflix, I’m most likely working on a manuscript or I’m reading. The same thing happens when I’m recording or auditioning, I always let them know in advance, and now it’s become a routine. They’re aware that I’m working and won’t disturb me during this time.
This practice of setting a schedule in order to create boundaries can be applied to all arts, and I personally feel that this author was correct in stating that these boundaries are often necessary for those in the arts to gain the respect of those closest to them. For as long as I can remember, my Dad would advise my siblings and I to treat certain things like a job. Set a time of day, and it becomes routine. Obviously, I will acknowledge that it isn’t always easy to create on a schedule, but people do it for NaNoWriMo every year, if you think about it?
I’ve learned by keeping track of when I write, that I tend to do a lot of work after lunchtime. Whenever I have a day off, I like to write as much as possible, regardless of the time of day. It’s on those days that the urge to work on one of my other projects grows stronger. I’m sure many people go through this. I just have so much fun creating new things, that I honestly can’t wait until I can jump into the next project. I also used to finish drafting novels within a month no problem, but as I’ve gotten older and had you know…bills and such, I’ve tried to find a good balance between all of these things. It’s not always easy, sometimes I get very busy, which I don’t mind, but it can feel like I’m juggling multiple things at once and occasionally I need to take a breather. I know everyone’s methods are different, and truthfully I’m probably not an expert at this sort of thing, but I do find that making a to-do-list helps when I’ve got a lot on my plate. I can cross things off as I go, and it kind of takes away a bit of the pressure once I’ve laid out everything that I need to complete.
I do this with my novels, and sometimes set deadlines for myself outside of my publishing deadlines. Sometimes I want to reach a certain point before I go back and edit something, or I want to spend a teeny bit of time fleshing out a character. Making a list helps me determine what needs to be done first, in order for me to move onto the next task.
Currently, I’ve been forcing myself to solely focus on Vermin, so that I can then have more time to put into my other writing projects and novels. I’m having lots of fun with it, but I have all these storylines I want to develop and explore…and I think it’s the whole development portion that is making me more eager to jump into these projects. Once I know exactly where I’m going with a project that urge seems to settle, and I feel more at ease. With The Vermin Series, I’m always like, “I gotta write this scene. Ooh! Wait what if I change this line here to this and then do this in here instead.” Which is a different sort of excitement, and I think there’s even more now that it’s being read and I’m hearing back from readers.
It’s exciting to be able to talk about my characters and to see people drawing them, and asking about certain scenes. I have to constantly remind myself that because other people are reading it, I need to zip my lip about certain characters and details, because I know that if I say the wrong thing it could spoil stuff, and I don’t want to do that.
If you follow me on social media, you already know that I reached 50k words a week early. overall I feel good about what I’ve written this month, and i cannot wait to share it.
If you haven’t already, you can grab a copy of Vermin from Amazon, or Indigo. currently the eBook is only available for kindle readers. There is also a dedicated TikTok account for the series @theverminseries, and the first chapter is available to listen to on YouTube!
Over the years I’ve picked up different tips and tricks to help make drafting my novels a bit easier. When I first started writing novels, I would draw out what my character’s looked like, along with say their bedrooms or parts of their house but for some reason I stopped as I got older. Personally, I think it was because of how much time I had. As a thirteen-year-old I had more time to work on my stories and was completing a novel every one to three months…which I’m still astonished by because it took me seven years to complete my last one. Can you imagine doing NANOWRIMO every month?
Having a visual was fantastic. I of course still draw all my character’s, but I stopped drawing where they lived which at first, I didn’t think was such a huge deal but now I’m realizing not having those visuals can become extremely frustrating. Sometimes while drafting you might forget the colour of a particular character’s bedroom, and perhaps this colour is significant throughout the story. Let’s imagine that this bedroom will ultimately become this character’s tomb, so recalling the colour, the smells and the overall atmosphere of the room should be brought up multiple times throughout the text. If you however have no clear idea of that or even say you step away from writing for a week and jump back into the story, you might miss something. Like I mentioned earlier, you could forget that this character’s bedroom has an apricot colour and that it smells of a certain perfume, let’s say a deep floral. A few chapter’s later, if you aren’t careful this entire image could change. It’s as bad as when you’re watching a movie and the main character is dragging their right leg because they’re injured but then in the following scene they’re hobbling along with their left. Being consistent with these types of details is equally as important as remembering the colour and texture of your main character’s hair.
Something that I decided to do was do description exercises, where I would write up what each character’s home looked like, taking the time to describe the individual rooms and overall property. Not just the important ones, but all of them, as if I were taking a tour. I found that in doing this I was less likely to forget the characteristics of a room. Instead it allowed me to give stronger descriptions later on. Personally, I wish I had been doing this all along.
Another thing that I tried was creating my character’s homes on The Sims, which again works well but only if you can constantly go back to look at it. It did however help me realize some issues with how I chose to layout certain houses. For example, the top floor having what seemed like an endless number of bedrooms and the main not having enough space to compensate that. Little peculiarities like that. If you have access to the game (or something similar) I would recommend it, as you get a great visual. This may not help with everything, but it can definitely be a good starting point. You might want to build your character’s world within the game before trying to describe it.
One other thing that I want to recommend, since we’re on the topic of descriptions is to include character’s when doing these types of exercises. This is to avoid using the same words over and over to talk about a character’s hair. Let’s pretend they have thick curls. Are you going to say “Philip ran a hand through his thick curls” every time you want to reference his hair? Are the curls tidy or messy? What colour do they have? Does the colour change depending on the lighting? Something else that’s important to a character is how they choose to dress themselves. Does this character take great pride in how they look, or could they care less? This is not to say that you spend pages upon pages telling us about what Nadya wore to school that morning, but you should have some idea of how your character likes to dress and if the clothing is significant to a scene keep track of it. It’s important that Cinderella is wearing glass slippers, is it not? Dorothy’s she’s are also significant to her story. We aren’t to forget that these shoes have magical properties!
Perhaps you want to assign your character a particular style? This is something I did as a kid, especially when my younger sister was playing games like Style Savvy. It was incredibly helpful. I had some character’s who preferred to dress in comfortable layers and others that preferred goth and alternative fashions. It may not seem as significant as a character’s overall voice and personality, but what they wear can help contribute to that. Do we not cultivate clothing to add to our collection (well, some of us do) or decorate our personal spaces with things that reflect who we are?
I personally wouldn’t have soccer trophies in my bedroom if I didn’t play soccer growing up.
Something that you could do as a warm-up is to describe a room in your house (even a desk if you wanted to try something small scale). For instance, by mentioning the soccer trophies in my room, the reader might then infer that I have an interest in sports. If I add that the trophies are dusty, that would indicate that I haven’t played sports in some time or that I don’t take pride in it. If I go on to add that the trophies were all participation trophies that would give off another hint about what type of person I am.
By doing these exercises with your own characters and settings you’ll have an easier time catching inconsistencies down the line (or avoid them altogether).
Tomorrow is Rose’s birthday so I thought I’d write her a poem. It also started to snow, which made things very fitting. I think snow is pretty but I prefer all the colours of Fall. I do love all the decorations at this time of year though.
Today is the anniversary of the completion of my first draft. I can’t believe so much time has passed since I finished writing that novel. So much has happened since then!
Yesterday I finished recording an audiobook, which was incredibly fun. I learned so much from working on that project. The story and it’s character’s really mean a lot to me. It challenged me in so many ways as a voice actor, and inspired me as a fellow creative. I hope my character’s get people as excited as the ones in this book did!
As I mentioned in my last post I’m currently working on Book #2 in the series. I’ve missed writing so much. I thought it would be fitting to do a little writing on the anniversary of my first novel’s draft. The draft completion date for Book #1 is also in the same month as my character Roland’s birthday…so, happy birthday Roland!
Funny enough I also had cake today. My niece made it. It had baby Yoda/The Child on it. It was so cute! It was almost too cute to eat–it was also delicious. It was nice to have a mini social distance visit. She’s gotten so much taller since I last saw her in…what? August…September maybe? It’ll be nice when we get to have sleepovers and do tea parties again but having that short visit was nice too. Talking on the phone just isn’t the same. Hopefully things turn around during the winter and we’ll be able to spend time with our loved ones come spring.
After several rounds of edits, I was given the okay to take a break and go back to working on the sequel!
First, I have a recording to complete (which I’m very excited to share) and then I will be dedicating the month of December to rewriting book two.
I initially wanted to begin book two later on in the story but changed my mind during my last two rounds of edits for book one…and so the entire book I wrote during NANOWRIMO last year is going to be redone/revamped. I actually moved parts of it into book one instead and am spreading out the other pieces throughout the story. The rest will be scraped, which is a little sad but I don’t mind. Yes, I worked really hard on it but I know that I can make it even better.
I’m seriously looking forward to writing again next month. I might also dive back into some of my other writing projects while I’m at it. We’ll see!
I often call myself an “over-editor” but I’ve started to wonder if over-editing is actually a thing. Way back I posted a video on my editing process. I broke it down into its simplest form because I know some folks would rather get a quick run down versus spend 40 minutes watching a video when they could be working on their manuscript. Still, that video which I believe is around 4 minutes doesn’t accurately show how much time I actually spend editing.
For me editing also takes part in the planning stages of the novel. At this point you’re researching and deciding what to include in your book. That to me is the same as when you decide to cut chapters or make word substitutions later on when your manuscript is complete.
Then there’s the “okay I’m finished writing” editing…which is reading through your first draft. I do three rounds of this edit. Sometimes more. I want to make sure I didn’t miss any “stupid errors” as I call them, which is basically spelling, grammar or major plot holes. These tend to be the mistakes I made while staying up till 3 am to write after working all day.
This editing also familiarizes me with the text because I am forced to read it over multiple times. I also try to take notes while editing, however I make more notes while working with another editor or a beta-reader. Notes from other peoples feedback is extremely beneficial and I tend to keep it to enhance not only my current work in progress, but all my future projects as well. It can be difficult to realize what areas you need to work on and to top it off you also learn where your strengths are!
But is over-editing a thing? After writing and revising this manuscript as many times as I have…personally I’ve lost count. I’d say to keep things simple I’ve gone over it about 8 times in total. 3 times on my own with the initial first draft. This being the 3rd now while editing with my editor…which makes 6 and within those 3 I read over it on my 3rd edit two extra times before sending it back to my editor yesterday. So yes. 8. Math.
I suppose over-editing could be a thing but to me I’m only doing what I feel is necessary. If it feels like something is off or needs to be corrected, I find a solution for it (or in some cases scrap it and start fresh). To me that is all apart of the editing process…I think however there are probably more efficient ways of editing ones book but each of us are different and will benefit from different forms of editing. I know some folks who don’t edit their own work at all. I simply prefer to edit mine before giving it to someone else to read because I want it to feel “reader friendly”/”ready.”
As a reader I absolutely hate being thrown off by a random spelling error in a book. This has happened more than I’d like to admit. It’s like having someone pinch you while you’re in the middle of a good dream! Little things like that get to me. It doesn’t make me stop reading, but it can pull me from the experience temporarily if I have to go back and reread the same sentence to figure out what’s going on simply because a single word was spelled incorrectly.
I’ve seen this in a lot of traditionally published books I’ve read lately…more so in comics. For me with the comics it is more frustrating simply because it literally lists every person who edited the book, and I’m like “there were 5 spelling mistakes.” One I can forgive but 5? And by a larger company…yikes. Especially since those books are expensive! I love them…and they’ve brought me so much joy over the years but I can’t get over how the last 3 books I’ve purchased from them have had around 3 to 5 spelling errors each. Which then while I’m editing (which I’m almost always editing…unless I’m writing) makes me extremely paranoid about spelling errors in my own manuscript.
So…maybe to answer my own question: There’s editing, not editing at all and editing for hours on end because you’ve suffered from editorial errors as a reader and don’t want to do that to anyone else.
Honestly if I find spelling mistakes in my manuscript I get a little cranky. I’d say I’m fairly calm when it comes to my projects but if I accidentally spell “peach” as “peech” I’m not very peachy.
Anyway, if you’re doing NANOWRIMO this year, how is it going?