Giving my characters birthday’s has always been something I’ve done. Occasionally I’d mash together the birthday’s of friends and family members. I started writing the first version of Vermin when my niece was two, so her and Rose have the same birthday. So happy birthday to my super fun, creative, fashionable, warm-hearted niece…and to the outspoken young lady from my debut novel.
So…Roland and Nicholas’ birthday’s have already passed since the novels release. I actually do celebrate my character’s birthdays just like i did with my favourite toys as a little kid.
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!
I’ve been having a lot of fun with NaNoWriMo this year, despite being on the fence about whether or not I’d partake…however, I’m not really aiming to reach a specific word count but instead to complete the ending of Vermin’s sequel. I’m very far along, and have been making an effort to write everyday.
The Vermin Series (along with myself) are now on TikTok, as a large chunk of the readers are use Bookstagram, BookTwitter and BookTok, we thought it would be best to have updates about the series on all three. I’ll try to make the content as fun and engaging as possible.
I just finished writing one of my favourite scenes in book two so far. I’ll try not to give away any spoilers, but the scene follows one of Nicholas’ siblings. For those who haven’t finished or read the first book yet, I won’t say anything more. I’d hate to say something that might spoil it for you.
I’ve also been working on two other projects. One is voice over related, and I have been having an absolute blast recording! What I can tell you, is that it’s for a really cool children’s web series, and that I play two key roles. It also makes me feel like a little kid again, and reminds me of one of my favourite things to do in the summer with my family when I was small.
Well, I’d better get back to writing. Although slightly ambitious, I think I might be able to finish Vermin and start prepping another book that I was hoping to write in December. We’ll see how things go of course.
Here’s a little sneak peek at one of the chapters in book two:
I’d been debating on participating in NaNoWriMo this year, mainly because I wasn’t sure if I’d have time, but in the end I thought it would be a good motivator for me to really dive into my work.
Vermin is coming along nicely, and I’m always thrilled when I hear someone else has read it. It’s really cool, having others read your work.
I was also casted for a new animated series, so this month will definitely fun! I’m thrilled to start recording this show, especially since I get to work with one of my favourite directors.
Now, back to NaNoWriMo, I really want to push myself and write as often as I possibly can. I’ve been both writing by hand and typing because I find that I can continuously build the world inside my head even when my laptop isn’t directly in front of me. I pre-planned a lot so that I could spend as much time writing as possible. Usually I continue to research and plan as I go, but this time I’m really trying to focus on allowing myself to write freely. Writing by hand seems to help with this a lot. There’s less distraction.
My minimum goal is to add 1000 words a day, as I know that not everyday will be ideal with work and also factoring in life events and schedule changes. I think last year I made my goal around 5000? One year I did 10,000 a day, which was surprisingly doable but I was lucky enough to have a lot of spare time. I’ve learned over the years that focusing on the word count while drafting can create a lot of unnecessary stress. It kind of takes the fun out of writing for me, because it feels like I’m drafting an essay for school versus a novel…and I would rather much enjoy my time writing. One year my draft was around 98,000 and not once did I panic about the word count. I chose not to focus on it at all, and just write. Personally, I’d rather have the right words rather than a bunch of stuff all thrown together that’ll most likely be cut down once the editing starts.
If I can, I’d like to draft more than one book this year but I’m going to be realistic, factoring in how much spare time I actually have outside of work.
I want to wish all those participating all the best! Have fun with your stories and feel free to challenge yourself here and there. Perhaps try a new POV or genre? Maybe try to incorporate a certain character trope you’ve always wanted to explore…or flip a common trope on its head! Just have fun!
The other day I was able to get a good chunk of writing done, which I’m absolutely thrilled about. Trying to manage several different projects, on top of work can be a bit challenging. I often have to remind myself to take breaks and make time for other things like reading, drawing or playing games with my friends.
I’ve been trying to get through my TBR by multitask reading. I tend to finish my manga and graphic novels within a few hours…usually stretching them out into two nights. Novels I’ve been taking my time with, mainly because I’m really enjoying the stories and want to hang out with the characters a little longer. My manga and graphic novels are series, so I get to see the characters again and again…but all the novels I’ve read recently are one offs and it makes me a little sad when I have to say goodbye to the story.
I have a group of novels that I can’t wait to start, so I made sure to get ahead in my reading goals back in August and September, so that I could have time to enjoy them before the year ends. I love to get to the point where I’m reading books in 1-3 days like I used to, but with work I just don’t have the time and during university reading books that fast really took away from the experience. I like to enjoy the books I read, actually pay attention to the language being used and the way the characters develop throughout the story.
Recently I’ve picked out a handful of 9-12 books to read. I like to jump into them every once in a while because they’re always extremely entertaining and they have the best cover art! I don’t know what it is about children’s literature, but the covers bring me so much joy! They’re always so interesting to look at. The cover artists are so talented! Bravo! These are also my favourite books to do for audiobook narration, so whenever I get auditions for them, I hunt them down and read them (if they’ve already released in stores!).
I was really hoping I’d be posting more art myself this month for #inktober but I haven’t. It’s not even that I haven’t drawn anything or had the desire to do so, I’ve just been more focused on my writing…and much of my free time I’ve wanted to read.
I knew prior to publishing that at a certain point I’d need to become more strict about my writing schedule, so whenever I have a day off I spend it working on my books. I’m glad that this was something I figured out early on, because I like to spend a lot of time on the planning stages and am constantly doing research while I work. One thing that I’ve been doing recently is compiling a list of outfits for certain characters/colour pallets. I notice as I get to know my characters better, that there are certain items of clothing or colours that they tend to wear, for example in Vermin, Rose always has ribbons in her hair. These little details help me connect well with my cast of characters, and I think it adds a little to their personality.
Speaking of Vermin, book two has been coming along nicely. I’m extremely pleased with my progress and can’t wait to share more details on it. I know there are many people who are excited about the sequel, and I’m so, so, so incredibly happy to hear that! Thank you so much for letting me know your thoughts on the book.
As for my other projects, I’ve had to hold off on a couple of them temporarily while I work on other things, but I’m still thinking about how to improve them and also how to really build up to key events.
I’m not sure if I have a favourite. I alternate between first and third person POV’s depending on what works best for the story I’m trying to tell. I do the same with tenses. It just depends on the project.
8. Do you write romance in your projects? What kind?
I do. Not always but I’d say probably 80% of my books have some kind of romance. Honestly the majority of what I’ve written between middle school and university has a sprinkle of romance in it…off the top of my head there’s only 2 books that I’ve written one in middle school and one in university that focused more on friendships and family relationships…everything else I’m thinking of has had a love interest. I think I just like having cute moments between my characters. Funny enough, most of the romance I read is manga…but I do enjoy romance subplots in novels as well.
9. What inspired your recent project?
The inspiration for Vermin came from a dream I had after mulling over what to submit for my creative writing assignment. This isn’t the first time a dream has saved me before a deadline for one of my creative writing courses…but I was so stressed out and kept writing out random pieces of things and nothing was clicking. A few days before my deadline, I had this dream which part of ended up being the first chapter of the book.
What I submitted for my assignment however features an adult Nicholas. The dream was long, and the assignment was a short story, so I ended up only submitting that portion of my dream instead.
10. Is it hard for you to kill your darlings?
Thirteen-year-old Ardin would’ve said, “Absolutely not,” however I’m in my twenties now and after having angered many friends of mine who read my earlier unpublished works throughout school, I would say it gotten harder.
When I was younger, I firmly believed in the phrase, “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader,” so whenever I felt a strong connection to a character I figured that the readers would most likely feel the same way. However, I also learned after killing off a favourite character in a series I’d written back in the day, that its very cruel to put your readers through that…and so I revived the character.
In more recent years, I’ve managed to kill characters off without feeling the need to miraculously bring them back to life…I do miss them when they’re gone though. It hurts and I do cry…but I also feel sad when I get to the end of a story I’m working on.
Well, I’m off to catch up on some reading! Feel free to check out my recent blog posts, and if you’re into YA Paranormal Urban Fantasy books, check out Vermin!
Today is Rose’s birthday! Giving my characters birthday’s has always been something I’ve done. Occasionally I’d mash together the birthday’s of friends and family members. I started writing the first version of Vermin when my niece was two, so her and Rose have the same birthday. So happy birthday to my super fun, creative, fashionable, […]
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 […]
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 […]
The other day I had the opportunity to speak to a young reader, who had just finished Vermin in a day and a half! It was such a cool experience, getting to talk to someone about my book, and hearing all of their thoughts about the story and characters.
What really resonated with me from our conversation, was how much they took away from the story. They discussed how much they enjoyed the deeper meanings within the story, what certain characters symbolized, and were pleased to see these messages being presented in a way that kids their age and younger could understand.
I won’t give any major spoilers here, because I know many folks who are just starting the book, or who are only part way through, but it they definitely hit the nail on the head with their interpretation.
During our discussion, I confessed that when I’d initially begun writing Vermin, I was still in high school and that one of the main takeaways from the story was put in there subconsciously. It wasn’t until I was reviewing the early draft of those first chapters in university, that it dawned on me. What I didn’t tell them, was that at the time I’d started writing Vermin, I had been experiencing some of what my character Nicholas and his siblings were going through. As a teenager I found it difficult to talk about these things, so I wrote about them in hopes that I could try and understand for myself, why I was being mistreated by some of my peers. It wasn’t until I began editing the first book in the series, that I realized what I had written.
As I mentioned earlier, I’m being vague about what themes this young lady pulled from the book because I’d like to give others a chance to discover it for themselves. I guess after studying English Lit’ in school all those years, I’ve become a bit sentimental about ones own interpretation. I think that, a personal takeaway from a story is much more impactful than being told what one should have gotten from the text.
I do again, want to thank the people who arranged for me to have that discussion with this young reader. It was my first time discussing my writing outside of a peer review group, and it honestly made my whole day. I’m glad that Vermin had that much of an impact on someone, and I hope that it will have that effect on other readers as well.
Want to find out more about Vermin, or are looking to purchase a copy for yourself? Click one of the buttons below, to be directed to Goodreads or Amazon.
Today’s the day! Today’s the day! Today. Is. The. Day.
I’m so excited, I’ve stayed up till midnight counting down to the exact hour…and now it is August 1st! Vermin is officially available!
My brain is like, “whoa…is this real life?” haha but I’m also super excited to share my characters and story with my family and friends. As I mentioned in my last post I’ve got a few surprises to share later this week, related to The Vermin Series.
If you haven’t already, check out the official facebook page, and follow me on twitter and instagram @ardinpatterson to get notified about The Vermin Series.
If you’d like to purchase a copy of my debut novel, click the button below!