Happy, Happy Birthday

Woop woop! Today, May 23rd, is my birthday. I am older and maybe, maybe, a little wiser. But that’s about it, lol!

It’s taken me until this point in my life to really appreciate having a day set aside specifically for celebrating myself. I used to be modest and humble about it but now I don’t care – I’m my own biggest fan and you had better believe I’m living it up accordingly!

May’s birthday isn’t until September 29th but goodness knows she likes any reason to celebrate

But the fact that it’s my birthday also makes me think about where I was one year ago today. SO MUCH has happened in the last twelve months! A year ago I was just getting this blog set up and waiting impatiently for June to arrive because that was when I had decided I would start sharing May and Em’s world of The Star and the Ocean with everyone.

Since that time I’ve completed two novel drafts, had my words read by thousands of people (WTF!!) and made so many incredible friends along the way. I’m even almost ready to start posting The Wind and the Horizon, the sequel to The Star and the Ocean, beginning in July!

So, yes: happy birthday to me but thank you to every single person who has helped make this last year so incredible!

Ko-Fi May

Just Right: How Long Should a Novel Be?

How long should a novel be?

Like, in your opinion, what would be the word count of a not-too-short-but-not-too-long novel be? The Goldilocks length, if you will.

I ask because I’m working on The Wind and the Horizon right now and, when I was trying to figure out where in my outline to end book two, I realized I didn’t actually know the final word count of The Star and the Ocean. I had also noticed a few users on Wattpad steamrolling through the story in a single sitting, which on one hand was cool but on the other raised questions about its length. So, I looked into it, and…

It was only 67k.

Now, according to the folks at NaNoWriMo, 50k is considered to be a respectable length for a short novel.

But think about this for a moment: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is nearly 77k and it’s the shortest of the series (not that I’m trying to write my own Goblet of Fire-length epic or anything).

I supposed to a certain point it’s all subjective: one person might think HP1 is a fairly brief read while another could consider it an ideal length. The same could then be said for a novel of 67k words.

Personally, I expected TSATO to be longer. I’d like for it to be at least as long as HP1, which means I’ll have some serious beefing up to do when I get around to revising the next draft. I left a lot of ideas out when I was writing with my Wattpad audience in mind (by in large they don’t really have the patience for backstory and exposition) and now I have regrets.

This is probably a good time to mention, if you’ve read The Star and the Ocean already I would love to know if there are any sections or plot points you think should be expanded. Thanks to the people who saw me whining about this on Twitter earlier this week and have already passed on some solid suggestions!

Whether you’ve read TSATO or not, I’d still like to know what you think the ideal length of a novel should be!

New Short Story PLUS an Art Giveaway Coming Next Week!

A super quick update for you, my friends!

My next Maggie Mail newsletter will be going out on Monday, May 15th.

This month’s installment will include two and half fun things you might be interested in:

  1. The password for a new May & Em one-shot story called Can’t Stop the Waves! (I’ll also be re-sharing the password for last month’s story for my new subscribers!)
  2. A contest link for a pre-birthday art giveaway! Subscribers can enter to win a full-body colour character commission (public value: $50 USD!)

Both of these goodies are exclusively available to people on the mailing list. If you want to get in on the good time make sure you sign up before Monday the 15th!

Ko-Fi May

Experimenting With In-World One-Shots

I’ve mentioned a couple times now that I’ve been writing short one-shot stories as exclusive freebies for my mailing list subscribers. This exercise has turned out to have an unintended yet awesome benefit that I thought I would share for my fellow writers to consider.

Aside from being a fun way to say thanks to the people who have chosen to invest their time (and occasionally their dollars) in my work, writing these stories has been the perfect way for me to take a break from my larger WIP without losing my writing momentum.

The stories I’ve been writing take place in the Starborn universe (so far just focusing on May and Em but I’ve got plans for other characters too). Writing them gives me the chance to be self-indulgent (*cough*Good Morning*cough cough*) without worrying about impacting the overall plot of the story, while simultaneously exploring the characters and their world. It’s turned out to be a writing exercise that keeps me working and inspired; I’ve already managed to iron out a couple of tricky issues that were slowing me down with book 2 just by giving my mind a bit more room to play.

Everyone has different ways of dealing with hang-ups when working on a writing project: walk away for a while, re-work the scene, write out of order, etc. But I’ve always struggled with most of these options. Not writing, especially when it means temporarily excusing myself from the story I’ve been so engrossed in, makes me feel unproductive (plus I miss my characters!) and writing out of order never really works for me. In-world one-shots let me stay with my characters without having to commit to anything more than a thousand-ish words.

The next time you find yourself struggling with your WIP (or even just needing a change of pace for a little bit) give an in-world one-shot a try! I’d love to hear how it works for you!

P.S. Are you interested in reading my next EmMay one-shot, Can’t Stop the Waves? Sign up for my mailing list before May 15th 2017 for access!

Ko-Fi May

May Round-Up of Project Links

I genuinely thought I had a good idea for another blog post this week but for the life of me I can’t remember what it was. So, in lieu of whatever that brilliant idea was (RIP) here’s a quick round-up of all the projects I have on the go right now!

  • I’m just putting the finishing touches on an EmMay one-shot called Can’t Fight the Waves. This fluffy short will be available exclusively to my mailing list subscribers later this month.
  • Speaking of my mailing list, have you subscribed yet? Maggie Mail Stars will get to read the sequel to The Star and the Ocean first, have monthly access to exclusive stories and artwork (including last month’s steamy one-shot, Good Morning), get special VIP rates on commissions and more!
  • Aaaaand speaking of commissions, I still have a few spots left at my VIP rates. Once I get enough to cover my dog’s x-rays the public prices will jump back up so if you’ve been thinking about it, now’s the time!
  • Lots of commissions = lots of nightly drawing warm-ups. Because it’s May, I’m doing a fun little project called #31DaysofMay over on Twitter where I share a new warm-up sketch of May every day! You can follow along on Twitter or wait for the weekly round-up in the TSATO Art Book on Wattpad. Pose suggestions are always welcome!
  • While I’m on the subject of Wattpad, I wanted to mention that The Star and the Ocean recently broke 60,000 reads! This month marks a full year for me on the platform and 11 months since the story went live. I am so overwhelmed with all of the love it has received in such a short period of time!
  • Progress on the TSATO sequel – The Wind and the Horizon – is coming along. With any luck I’ll be able to start posting next month. July at the latest!
  • I started a new Facebook profile specifically for writing-related shenanigans. Wanna be friends?
  • Oh, and I’ve started writing poetry… Should I share some of it or nah?

Okay, I think that’s it for now! Next time I post I promise it will be something of substance!

Ko-Fi May

Just Another Camp NaNoWriMo Runaway

It’s May: the month of my birth AND a the month I spend jumping every time someone says the date because I think they’re talking about my May. The fact that it’s May also means that April – and subsequently, Camp NaNoWriMo – is over.

So, how did I do?

Let’s put in this way: LOL.

I didn’t even come close to hitting my 30k word goal.

That said, I did write. A lot, in fact.

For starters, I made a solid start on The Wind and the Horizon, the sequel to The Star and the Ocean. In the first half of the month I was able to get the prologue and first nine chapters drafted, which is pretty respectable in my opinion. I also managed to write two one-shot short stories that I’m making exclusively accessible for my mailing list subscribers (speaking of which, have you subscribed yet?)

All in all, I’m pretty pleased with my progress.

How about you? If you participated in Camp NaNoWriMo, how did you finish? If you didn’t go to camp, tell me about what you’re working on right now!

Ko-Fi May

Character Commissions Now Available!

I’m gonna cut to the dear chase, friends: my dog is sick and I need money to do something about it so I’m opening commissions to the masses!

My dog is my whole damn world. Recently his back legs have started going out on him (and when you’re a 110lbs dog, not having use of your back legs really messes with your quality of life). He’ll need 5 to 8 x-rays to rule out any serious conditions and, in the mean time, his meds are hella expensive.

To help me get those x-rays asap I’m offering as many commissions as I can handle at my mailing list rate. I’ll draw real people, OCs, and existing characters (although I do reserve the right to decline if I think your request isn’t something I can take on).

There are four different types to choose from: sketch, lines, flats, and full colour. Every commission gets you a high res JPG as well as a PSD file. I’m only able to accept Paypal at this time and payment is required upfront.

Don’t want any art but still want to help my boof? I’m always accepting micro-donations via Ko-Fi!

Thanks everyone!

Maggie Rediscovers Libraries, Promptly Falls in Love

The last town I lived in didn’t have a library.

Well, it did, but it was under construction virtually the entire time I lived there. When it finally reopened it was a very cool space – modern architecture mixed with a charming heritage building. I didn’t have much time with it but I did use it as a writing escape a few times.

I never did get a library card there though. For starters, the application process was a strange nightmare (I needed two official pieces of I.D. and it was going to cost me $15 – cash only). Their selection also wasn’t great. It was disheartening.

So imagine how excited I was to walk into one of Vancouver’s many public libraries only a few short weeks after moving here. I got my card (free and easy) and loaded up on books I’ve been wanting to read for ages.

Why more people don’t think libraries are the raddest shit ever is beyond me.

Don’t get me wrong: as a writer myself I love to financially support authors by paying for their work – when I can. Unfortunately, I can’t afford to buy all the books on my TBR list, and it sucks when money holds you back from being able to appreciate literature. So, being able to walk out with a stack of great reads without having to drop a fortune?

Sign me the heck up.

I feel like a dork for being this excited – libraries are nothing new. But they’re definitely under appreciated, so I wanted to share a bit of love.

Do you have a library card? If so, what was the last book you checked out? If not, why?

Also, if you have any book recommendations hit me up! I’ll need a new stack once I’m finished blowing through these beauties!

Want early access to the TSATO sequel and other exclusives? Subscribe to Maggie Mail!