Postponed Novels, Surprising Sequels, and New Projects–Oh, My!

I am a planner in all areas of my life. I always joke that if I could plan out my entire life, I would. I know where I want to be in five years, for sure. This is also true in my writing.

For those of you who may not know, many writers are categorized as plotters, a writer who plans out their novel before they write it, or pantsers, a writer who flies by the seat of their pants and plan very little before setting out to write. I fall very firmly on the plotter side, as I must have an outline for every aspect of my book in order to keep everything in order, though I am known to add in new plot details and changes at the last second. It’s not that I don’t ever make last-minute decisions, but it takes me a long time to convince myself that is the right option.

Oh, yes, I’ve been dead set on several things, and now I have changed my mind, created a new plan, and I am now setting up my course.

Let’s start with my novel, True Power.

Beginning March 1st, I began the querying process for True Power. This novel has been my baby since Fall 2018, so I was really excited to begin this process. I sent out a healthy stack of queries, all of which ended in rejection or no response. I expected this because it usually takes a long, long time to be accepted by a literary agent.

Then, I got a book called Save the Cat! Writes a Novel: The Last Book on Novel Writing You’ll Ever Need. This book has helped my writing become significantly better. I had heard of Save the Cat!, but I had postponed ordering it. When I finally got my hands on it at the end of April, I realized that True Power needed a better plot structure.

And that is why I decided to postpone my querying process until I can get my plot structured. That being said, I have not really worked on True Power because I have been preoccupied with a new book, one that feels a lot better at the moment, and I decided to focus on it for the time being. (This was a very difficult decision to make!)

In April, I participated in Camp NaNoWriMo, a way for authors to push themselves on their projects, in preparation for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November, when writers set a goal for 50,000 words in 30 days. I began writing my novel, Double Vision, at this time.

First Draft Double VisionThis novel is very fun and exciting, a lot of fantasy and deep generational trauma, something I feel very passionate about in understanding our culture and society. I have been very motivated to complete this book, and on June 24, I wrote the last chapter of my first draft, bringing me to 85,333 words!

Double Vision will probably end up with a different name, but it is a novel that has helped me develop my plot and my voice in ways I had not ventured before. I am so excited to share it with the world–hopefully soon-ish! I am taking a small break from it, and I will do a read-through, then begin the second draft. And that’s not all…

Double Vision will have a sequel. I have not decided the entire plot to it yet, so I am not sure if it will be a duology or trilogy yet, but I am really excited to begin that process.

I have never attempted a sequel before because I am pretty particular about sequels in general. Many times, when I am reading for leisure, I devour the first book in one sitting, and then I take a long time to get through the sequel because it was not as thrilling as I hoped it would be. Because of this, I have always thought I would be a stand-alone novelist, never really making a series, especially because trilogies are common in the Young Adult genre that I get a little frustrated seeing so many.

But for Double Vision, I have stepped out of my comfort zone so much, and I knew that the story was not over there. My characters deserve more of a storyline, so I decided to embark on a sequel that I will begin to seriously plan out soon!

So, a lot has changed since March 1st. No more querying, a novel lying dormant, waiting for my attention, and a new completed novel, the fastest I’ve ever written one! So, what’s next?

Well, July is another Camp NaNoWriMo Month, so I will be setting some new goals for Camp. The new project I am beginning to work on is kind of a secret, but I’ll give a few more details.

Have you ever had a piece of your life you wanted to keep just for you? Maybe some trauma that has not been resolved and lingers with you for a long time?

Blog Post 06.28.2020I have a story I share with very few people because of my own issues with it, things I have been working out in counseling, allowing myself to open up to others and share the story as an important aspect of my life, rather than a burden.

For years, my family has hoped that one day I would write the novel about my story, and while I thought that as a writer, it was important for me to do that, it made my stomach squeamish to think about all these people knowing. Truth be told, it still does.

But, it’s time for me to use my story as a way to heal instead of hurt.

My project for July Camp NaNoWriMo is a memoir.

It will be interesting having to write about myself in ways that sometimes feel uncomfortable, but I think this is an important journey for me to take. And I may not pursue publication with it. It may be a story that stays just with me. But it’s time for me to open up, and I am excited to share my progress with you.

So, there’s a lot going on in my world of writing! July is coming up quick, and I have lots to do, tons to think about.

I appreciate all of the support you all have given me, even if you don’t see it through the computer screen. I would not be pursuing my dreams as a writer so fiercely if I did not have cheerleaders encouraging me on my way. Thank you for coming with me on this journey, and I hope you will enjoy my weekly check-ins during July as I begin writing a memoir.

As a plotter, I did not see this coming. 2020 has been a wild ride for all of us, and it does not exclude my writing goals. In January, I never would have thought I would be attempting all these new, adventurous stories, but I’m excited for some change, an ambition I did not realize I had. So I’m going to hang on tight and make some plans I may end up ignoring, but I’m ready to do this.

A Single Candle

Sometimes, I feel empty. There are days I want to give in, let myself become a rag doll, so that I could somehow get some rest. I’ll lie in my bed, cocooning into the darkness that seems so daunting to some, but somehow it calms me, and I’ll think it is easier to become a puppet. If I let others control me, if I let them win, some day I will get peace. I’ll throw on my facade and let them assume victory, smile triumphantly as they take my feelings as a trophy, displaying them on the mantle with their other prizes, like their pride and envy and anger.

Other days, I am heavy. Anchors tethered to my feet, I’m thrown into the deep end, and as the weight drags me down into the depths, I cry out for help, water seeping into my throat, my lungs, salt stinging the sores in my  mouth from biting my tongue for so long. And I’ll wait to be rescued because I cannot swim with chains around my toes, ankles, knees, hips, stomach, arms, chest, mouth, eyes. No one could.

As I wait for someone to notice, I’ll count my blessings, reminding myself that I could have it worse. So I’ll decide to keep my outcries to myself, let them fill my chest with a fire only I can feel, let it burn every part of me so that it does not harm anyone else.

I am a people-pleaser, and often times, I fear that if I let my opinion out, if I share how I am feeling, what is weighing me down, people won’t see me as a kind person. I’ll be someone to argue with, someone to fight against, and as a person who strives for harmony, it is difficult to believe in myself.

Single CandleSometimes, it is easier to give in to those feelings. For years, I have argued with myself, trying to convince the girl inside to let the fight escape me. The light she holds is only a single candle in a dark and antagonizing world, and I remind her that a single breeze could extinguish it, and that many people will try to blow it out themselves, if they are ever given the opportunity.

So as I let myself sink into a lifeless body or let myself be buried by the tides, I seek a reminder that this is easier, and if I give up the fight, if I let them win, it will somehow become a chance for me to also claim a trophy.

But wrapped in my chains, lungs longing for air, I see someone else there, too.

Fighting harder. More chains, louder screams, heavier anchors. Soon, they will be emptier than I could ever be. They fight for things that I have no concept of in my own world. They fight for things I take for granted.

That’s what brings me out of my rag doll state, and that’s what forces me to battle my own chains. Because there are so many people in this world who are drowning, and I  might not have a life-jacket, but if I can release the weight of my own world, maybe I can swim to them. Maybe I can help them. Maybe I can share some of their chains so they don’t have to do it alone.

And I won’t tell them, I know how they feel. I won’t tell them that my chains are just as heavy. Because we all carry different burdens. We all pay a different price for life.

I am only a single candle in this world, but maybe with a match–and a whole lot of kindness and empathy–we can spread that fire around, each of us lighting our single candle until the world is illuminated with hope and love.

There is so much to fight for in this world, and when I want to give up, I remember those who cannot. I remember those who haunt my dreams, their pained faces telling me that there is not as much kindness as I had hoped there would be, but there is much potential for it.

So I’ll carry a match. I’ll fight my chains. I’ll revive my rag doll body.

Not for me. But for you. I’ll fight for you. I’ll fight for our world.

Because I am not happy with what I see. No matter how much I love the feel of the sun kissing my skin or the feel of soft grass between my toes, there is much more to our world than that. There are dark voids that replace hearts and anchors that hold many prisoner. And when they try to drag me down, I’m going to fight for kindness. I’m going to fight.

Will you join me?

“Never Impossible”: An Interview with Indie Author Sarah Sutton

For years, I have preached that nothing is impossible. In the words of Audrey Hepburn, “the word itself says ‘I’m Possible’.” This belief in all things possible has led to many valuable opportunities and dreams in my life.

My band director in fifth grade told me I would never be able to play the flute. A year later, I had given up saxophone and picked up the flute, remembering how devastated I was that I was not allowed to play. By my senior year of high school, I played flute and piccolo in our Wind Ensemble and had become Drum Major for our marching band.

It was this belief in possibilities that influenced me to start writing. It’s been a dream of mine for about ten years, a desire that has stuck with me to see my own book sitting on the shelves of Barnes and Noble. I’ll never give up on this dream.

Though I will say over and over, “Nichelle, nothing is impossible. Nothing is impossible,” there can be some doubt at times. Fear and disappointment have a way of creeping in, and I’m sure we all have some experience with that. But we all have the potential to stand up to our fears and never back down.

That’s why I decided to interview my friend, Indie author, Sarah Sutton, about her experience with impossibilities in setting out her goals and achieving them as a now-published author.

94065426_222124532451180_8175583256937768148_n(1)Sarah Sutton is a twenty-one year old Indie author I met on Instagram. She has such a wonderful personality, and she and I clicked instantly as we talked about our writing.

Back in January, I followed Sarah on her journey of publishing her first Young Adult romance novel, What are Friends For?, and I knew immediately that she had quite a future in writing. She ended up sending me a What are Friends For? bookmark, and her thank you note was incredibly heart-warming–about as sweet as her romance novel.

Sarah SuttonIn April, she sent me another bookmark, out of the blue, for her new YA romance book, Out of My League, and another cute note. Needless to say, I think Sarah has a great future in writing, and I am very thankful to have met her. She is a huge light on my Instagram feed, and I will happily share her writing and her amazing personality.

She is creative and ambitious. As I came to know her and her dreams, I decided I wanted to ask her opinion on impossibilities and where she stands with her creative endeavors.

Without further ado, here is our “Impossibilities” Q&A with Sarah Sutton:

Q: How would you define a passion project for yourself? Is it an “all at once” endeavor, or do you pursue several at a time?

A: For me, I definitely think it’s one at a time! It’s a project I can delve all of my creative energy into and just let it all out. I love those kinds of projects!

Q: Tell me about how you developed your passion for writing and/or other passion projects you might have?

A: I think I really developed a love of writing by reading. Entering worlds created by other authors really stirred that desire in me to make those worlds of my own.

Q: How many passion projects have you felt were successful over the years? For example, I’ve written many beginnings to books, but I never really felt successful until I poured my heart out into my writing once I started high school. 

A: I think a “successful” project is very subjective for me. If I’m able to complete a first draft and fully get my thoughts onto paper, I believe—for me—that’s successful! If I feel connected with my characters and that we’re on an intimate level of understand, that’s a successful project for me!

Q: What helps you feel most inspired to complete your projects and share them with the world?

A: The idea of surrounding myself with my different “worlds” is such an inspiration to me. I love the idea of having all of my thoughts and ideas scribbled onto paper and to share them with the world. It’s kind of silly, but sometimes I just picture taking a photograph of me surrounded by all of my story ideas—I think I’m up to 10!—and it fills me with happiness!

Q: What’s your favorite aspect of fiction? What gets you most excited to read and write books?

A: I love how amazing these worlds can be! Let’s be honest, real life sucks. Especially right now. But diving into a fiction world—whether that be fantasy or contemporary—is so exciting to see all of the endless possibilities that authors are dreaming up!

A: In your book, What are Friends For?, the protagonist, Remi, struggles with art, so much so, that she might not finish her senior year! When I read this, I immediately related to Remi because I am so bad at art and drawing. When I want to do them, I usually get frustrated and end up quitting because I am just not pleased. Do you have any passions similar to that, where you feel frustrated that you are not better at them?

A:  For me, it’s definitely painting. When I was younger, probably middle school and high school age, I loved painting. I loved the idea of a blank canvas and covering it with something beautiful. However, I’m not great at painting, haha! I don’t have unique ideas to illustrate. I wish I did, though!

Q: How do you think your younger self would feel if she could see you now?

A: Oh, I think she’d be blown away. So blown away. She’d be impressed with how “out of my shell” I am, how I’m not letting anything get me down. I’m still kind of in awe of how my life is panning out. I never would’ve thought this would be possible!

Q: Do you have a specific message you want to share with others, for either social media presence or within writing?

A: Such a good question! In terms of social media, I think it’s super important to remember that the followers you have are not numbers. They’re people behind their phones, cheering you on, rooting you as you go along your journey. They’re choosing to be there for you, and it’s important to never forget that!

Q: How would you encourage others to pursue their dreams, whether or not they fall within the writing world?

A:  I’d tell them, whether authors or not, to never lose heart. Don’t forget why they’re wanting to get to this destination. Don’t forget what’s propelling them forward. Don’t forget their dreams. It can be easy to allow yourself to feel discouraged—I definitely know that!—but don’t let that derail your train!

Q: Sometimes our passions seem impossible to complete. How do you feel about pursuing something seemingly “impossible”?

A: Nothing is ever impossible! Never! I know it can sometimes feel that way, but even if it takes time, your dreams are achievable. Why else would you want to achieve them? Would you allow yourself to want to pursue an unachievable goal? What purpose would that serve? No, if you have a dream, it’s because in some capacity or another, it is achievable. Never impossible. You’ve absolutely got this!

Never impossible. — Sarah Sutton

Sarah has such powerful dreams that keep her going. What an inspiration! Not only does she keep up a wonderful social media presence, developing a relationship with so many of her readers, she has also started a YouTube channel to discuss her writing career and challenges–something very impressive to this introvert!

95777849_238968753978360_2667861782139459335_n(1)She has been quite an influence on me over the past six months, and I know that she has great things in store.

Even if you are not an aspiring author, Sarah is an amazing example of setting your heart on something… and getting it! With hard work and patience, nothing is impossible. Thank you for being that reminder for me, Sarah.

What are Friends For? was released January 14, 2020, and her upcoming YA Romance, Out of My League, will be released on June 16, 2020.

Please follow the links below to support Sarah on her writing journey! If you would like to check out Sarah Sutton’s YA Romance books, the Amazon links are listed below, as well. If you have time, please leave a review on Amazon–they are a big help to our Indie authors!

Sarah Sutton’s YA Romance, What are Friends For?.

Sarah Sutton’s YA Romance, Out of My League.

Sarah Sutton’s Website.

Sarah Sutton’s Instagram.

Sarah Sutton’s Facebook.

Sarah Sutton’s YouTube.

Becoming a Better Listener

I’ve often been told that I’m a good listener, and while that is always my goal, I know I can improve. Recently, I truly realized that there is much more that I need to be doing as a listener, as an ally, as a human being. 

I’m sure we all know the state of our country right now. Facebook is flooded with arguments and horrors that make us uncomfortable. And as white people, it’s time we accept the uncomfortable feeling.

Being white gives me a privilege that can be easily forgotten if we let it slip our minds, but I will no longer allow myself to forget about it.

I am not here to engage in any arguments or to even state my opinion on the situation.

All I know is that it takes kindness and compassion to listen to others, to those whose voices are getting lost in the shouts of hatred.

So instead of talking, I am listening.

I am here to urge my white readers to take this time to research everything you can about the #blacklivesmatter movement. Use this time to reflect on the voices that are struggling to be heard.

Yes, even if you disagree with them.

We stand with youI am using this time to give you some articles to ignite your research. Please read through these and practice understanding and compassion for these voices. Listen as best you can, reflect, and research some more.

In addition to researching, there is more that you can do! Support Black-Owned businesses. Read voices from people of color. Set your feelings aside to listen to what they are saying.

In my own search to be a better ally and a better listener, I am looking for more voices to hear. I have ordered some books written by black authors, and I am searching for more. (I am open to more suggestions!)

I urge you to take a step back, forget about your own feelings, and face these issues head on in your own research. Let’s be better. And let’s do it together.

A few resources to start your journey:

For Our White Friends Desiring to be Allies by Courtney Ariel

Dear White Friends, I See Right Through Your #BlackLivesMatter Posts by Elyse Cizek

You Asked, I Answered: 7 Difficult Questions About Racism by Shola Richards

Slam Poem “What the Dead Know by Heart” by Donte Collins

What is Systemic Racism?

First Five Days of Camp NaNoWriMo: April 2020

April has begun, and though the month does not seem to be what anyone would have imagined when we started 2020, I am really proud of how much I am adapting and striving to define my silver lings each and every day.

There is so much negativity on the news, and when I go on Facebook, I can’t help but witness the countless people who feel stuck in their houses, the people whose depression and anxiety are drowning them in their own home. It is hard not to feel that cloud follow you all around, and at times, I have felt this way, too.

Honestly, I am a huge homebody, so not being able to go out and do things has not affected me as much as it has other people. And I really feel for you if this is something you are struggling with. I know so many people who feel weighed down when they don’t get out and socialize or feel free to do so, and I am so sorry.

I hope that soon we can socialize freely, but it is so important to keep our community safe and healthy, so I thank you for your sacrifices.

I also want to say another thank you to our heroes in the hospitals, in the grocery stores, those stocking our supplies. I am so appreciative of their sacrifices for us and the global community.

Anyway, my struggles come from my inability to compartmentalize my life at the moment. For those of you who know me, I keep everything separate, and while I have my different planners for work, school, writing, and a bullet journal with everything to keep my grounded, I usually account for certain days being my “normal” way.

Everyone’s normal has been flipped upside down, and for me, I am trying to separate work from school, and those two from free time. For all three activities, I am sitting at my desk, so it becomes difficult to differentiate what I am doing at any given moment.

My times and due dates seem to be changing because of the inconsistencies of doing university online. For me, a planner-person, I am frustrated with how many items in my planner I have had to cross out and move to different days–and this has happened multiple times for one assignment, on a few occasions–but there is one thing that I have found to be a huge blessing during this time of stress at my desk.

For the month of April, I am participating in Camp NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). This is an online community of writers who support and encourage each other to write 50,000 words in 30 days.

Camp NaNoWriMo - Writer - BadgeThe official National Novel Writing Month is in November, but in April and July, the website hosts a camp to prepare for that goal and connects you with other writers who are writing new books, editing their manuscripts, etc.

50,000 words is a very ambitious goal, and I got a little worried that I wouldn’t meet that because of the stress of work and school, so I lowered the standard (because you are allowed to do that during camp), to 30,000 words.

So far, as of April 5th, 2020 (which is today), I have written 9,945 words since April 1st, which means my goal is about 33% complete with 25 days to spare. I am ecstatic about the progress I have made in just five days and how much I have enjoyed writing a new book (while still querying for True Power, of course).

Along with this new writing journey I have begun, I have met so many supportive and encouraging writers who are also participating in Camp NaNoWriMo on the NaNoWriMo website as well as in the Instagram writing community, and even on Twitter.

While making a post about Camp NaNoWriMo, I was invited to join a Discord group (never thought I’d be on Discord, but there I am!) to participate in word sprints and other challenges with other young writers, aged 15-22. It has been really inspiring to see all these young writers hard at work with a variety of word count goals.

I am extremely blessed to have this time to write and enjoy the words as they come.

I am so excited about the week ahead and the progress I’ll make this week.

Say it with me, Silver Linings. ❤

If you want to see my updated word count as I go, you can follow this link to my NaNoWriMo profile where I will be updating my progress every day.