Cady Hammer’s Journey into Publishing

March 18th 2020

By Cady Hammer

This post is originally from Fluff About Fantasy and can be found here.

My Experience With NaNoWriMo 2018

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Making the decision to take the National Novel Writing Month challenge wasn’t an easy one.

Let’s look at the facts:

Pros:

  1. I have an idea! I’ve been mulling over the same concept and world for nearly ten months, narrowing down the plot, finessing an outline, and building a beautiful world from the ground up. I had all of the preliminary work finished. Now it would just be about writing the story.
  2. I wasn’t involved with too much on campus yet. My afternoons were relatively open depending on how much homework I had.
  3. I really, really loved this idea, and I wanted to make it a reality.

Cons:

  1. I’m a college freshman in the middle of my first semester of college. Classes are beginning to pick up with an increased workload before and after midterms. Did I really have the time to put in?
  2. I had attempted NaNoWriMo several years back and failed miserably. I didn’t want to see myself fail again. I knew if I didn’t succeed this time with this story, my motivation for this story would surely fall and it would disappear on the shelf with the rest of the unfinished ideas.
  3. I didn’t know if I could do it. That’s what stops from me trying a lot of new things. I just don’t know if I can pull anything off. Three cheers for anxiety!

The Decision

Eventually the turmoil came to a head about three days before the first of November. I was sitting at the Caf (one of the cafeterias on campus) with my best friend at college, Roger, where somehow, we end up on the topic of writing. He mentions that he’s got a few ideas and that he’s going to take on the NaNoWriMo challenge himself within the week. Then the decision suddenly seemed easy. If one of my friends was going through the process too, maybe I could find it in myself to dive in headfirst.

This was going to be the most I had ever undertaken creatively. 50,000 words looks very far away when you’re sitting with a blank page and a word count of zero.

But on the eve of the first, I surprisingly felt ready.

November: The Process

Let’s just say the month started off poorly.

I missed class the entire day of the 1st because I was stuck in bed with a terrible migraine unable to move. I was so disappointed; I had been psyching myself up to start writing, and now I was unable to look at a computer screen without my head spinning. Had I already failed before I got a chance to start?

Luckily, by the next morning, I was back to my normal self, and after class, I wrote my first 700 words. I know, not much, but it’s what I could put in at the time. And it boosted my mood immensely. Alright! Now I’ve started!
I wrote over 2500 words the next day. Then another 1000. I found myself getting into a good pattern. I would write whenever I had inspiration, even it was jotting down only a single paragraph. If my inspiration stalled for more than ten seconds, I would immediately highlight over the text I had just written and see how many words it was. Then I would go to the NaNoWriMo website and update my word count. Watching the little blue bar rise closer with every update gave me the energy I needed to keep going.

And the story grew with every word I put down on the page. My characters became full fleshed beings who I manipulated through dangerous situations and honestly, put through quite a bit of hell. I began to see the inklings of the world I was creating although I knew eventually I would need to develop it a little more with the research I had already done. Events connected to each other seamlessly, and I found myself taking the story in a slightly different direction from my original outline. But I followed wherever the characters showed me, and it honestly made for a better story.

About a third of the way into the month, I took a little weekend trip to visit my boyfriend in Dallas. Since we hadn’t seen each other in over three months, I spent every last second I could with him and I did not pick up my laptop to write a single word. I don’t regret it for a minute. But when I came back and looked at my word count bar, I was reminded of how far I had to go and how much I needed to make up. I don’t think I was doubting myself yet, but it definitely was beginning to stress me out.

So what did I do? I became a maniac. I wrote about 3000 words each for four days. Don’t ask me how I accomplished that because to be honest, I don’t remember. Low homework days and a bunch of music, I think. Then I was pretty much back on schedule, now only needing to write 1667 words a day to be on target to reach my goal.

The End of the Road

I reached my goal on November 29. I surpassed my goal on November 29. In 30 days, I wrote 53,001 words. And my novel wasn’t even finished! I wouldn’t finish the last 5000 words until after finals in mid-December.

But I had done it. I had written 50,000 words in a month, and I had created something beautiful that I loved. I sat and stared at my computer in awe for a good ten minutes. I was so proud of what I had accomplished, probably more proud than any singular accomplishment in my life.

My Advice

If you’re thinking about undertaking NaNoWriMo, I want to give you the following advice:

  1. JUST DO IT. Commit. Sign up for an account, and put your name on the list. The only thing that is holding back is fear. It isn’t your ability or your inspiration or your idea maybe not being up to par. It is only fear. It is so much easier to figure out what to do next once you’ve made the decision.
  2. Set aside an hour a day to write. Get yourself on a schedule. You are far more likely to stick with the challenge if your phone dings with a reminder at 2 pm every day to write. And actually listen to your reminders; don’t swipe them away, or you will never finish.
  3. If 1667 words a day seems like a lot to you, break it down. I discovered during the month that I wrote paragraphs that were about one hundred words each. Ten of those, and I had a thousand words. Much easier to stomach in smaller terms.
  4. Feel free to write from any point in your story. Don’t feel like you have to write straight from beginning to end. When I lost inspiration for the forward moving plot, I would skip to the end and start writing chapters in reverse order. (And yes, I did actually meet in the middle in the end.) You may find you reach your word count much more easily if you write where the inspiration leads you rather than trying to force it.
  5. Know that there are thousands upon thousands of writers just like you who are going through the exact same process that you are undertaking. Everyone is in the same boat, whether it’s your first or tenth challenge. Go read the forums if you get discouraged. It really helps boost your confidence.

I hope to see all of you join me for next year’s NaNoWriMo challenge!

Revisions, Revisions, Revisions: Part 1

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This Sunday, I completed round one of revisions for Chasing Fae. It was a long and laborious process, and while I’m incredibly excited and proud that I made it through, I know my job is far from over. But for now, let’s talk about what round one of revisions looked like, especially for those of you who find themselves in the revision stages of a novel.

Once NaNoWriMo was over, I put aside the book for about two weeks. It’s a little short of a turn around time, but that’s the bare minimum time that you should let a novel sit before attempting revisions. When I picked it back up, I read the first draft all the way through while taking notes. Now, I did this in Google Docs, using comments down the side to make my notes. Most writers like to print their draft out and make handwritten notes. I did not have the means to print out 200+ pages at the time, and I found that working online and typing works faster for me.

I did not hold back in my comments. I picked out everything, large or small, that I wanted to fix or add or revise. Nothing was sacred, and that’s the way it should be. You have to be critical if you want to get anywhere with your next draft.

From there, it was two long months of revising. I wrote about an additional 8000 words. I fleshed out worldbuilding details in various places, trying to make the Three Realms come to life in a brighter way. I wrote two new chapters and reworked nearly the entire middle of the novel to create better flow. I tried to work on my characters by making their intentions more clear from scene to scene.

Eventually, I ended up with a beautiful set of 66,519 words of YA fantasy.

Now, I’m beginning to send this second draft out to my chosen beta readers who I’m hoping can give me a lot more feedback about where my novel needs to go next. I know that there are places that need a lot of work, and I really would like help identifying where those places are. I’m looking forward to seeing what they think!

Until next time. <3

This Week in The Publishing Process: March 16, 2019

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Hey guys! Sorry for the short (and late!) post today; I have been super busy doing logistics for next semester and this summer.

For most of this week, I have been lying in anxious wait for my boyfriend, and extremely helpful beta reader, to finish reading my novel. This week, especially on Friday, I have had such a drive to create. Having set aside my novel for almost a week and a half really put me in a creative mood. I kept bugging him to finish so I could get back to work!

During the week, I focused on my magic system. I had been working previously with only categories of magic, such as energy magic, elemental magic, and flight magic. I realized that I really needed to modify this system to make it more specific. More magic needed to be incorporated into my world to make the fantasy feel real. So I broke down each category into specific types of spells, specific magical actions that would fall under each category. After three days, I could see real progress in my magic system.

Feeling like the master of your story is very powerful.

I have also begun to look into literary agents. While it’s a little early for me to be looking heavily into this, I believe it’s a good idea to go into the querying process with your eyes wide open. Working with a guide that I bought a few months ago, I’m working on a master list of literary agencies and agents that I would like to query. I love to make organized lists of details; I’ve got a table going along with details of what needs to go into each submission package.

Something that struck me during that research is how diverse the submission packages can be. Some agencies want a query letter and the first ten pages, one wants a partial manuscript right off the bat; I even found one agent who wanted a query letter, first three chapters, a one paragraph pitch, and a list of similar books that could be comparable to yours. Who knew?! I can’t even fathom where to begin.

But luckily, it’s not quite time for that yet! 😀

Tonight and tomorrow, I’ll be receiving feedback on my book from my boyfriend, who has been incredibly helpful and critical so far. Tonight, as I write this, we’re working on revamping my universe’s economy (which could not hold up, let me tell you; I’m terrible with economics). Every comment he has made so far has gotten me to look at things in a new perspective, and I could not be more grateful for that. I will update you guys with the beta reading results once I sort it all out!

Thank you all again for following me on this wild ride. Much love. <3

Cady Hammer

The Results of A Second Reader

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One of the most important parts of preparing a draft for the querying stage is to get another opinion on your work. At a certain point in revising, an author loses sight of the flaws in their own work. When you’ve worked with a story for a long time, it becomes ingrained in your mind. You can’t see what’s clear or not clear.

This is the point where you need to pick a beta reader. An outside perspective that will let you know exactly at what stage your book is at. Whether you’re getting close to a polished draft to start querying on or whether you need some heavy revisions in certain sections. This person can really come from anywhere. It can be someone close to you, a family member or a friend who loves to read. It can be another writer that you’ve connected with through a writing group or social media. The possibilities are endless. You only have to make sure of two things.

  1. Your beta reader is going to be able to be critical about your work without covering their opinion to assuage you.
  2. Your beta reader is available to finish your book in a reasonable time frame.

Two weeks ago, I was ready for this stage of the writing process. For my first reader, I chose my boyfriend. I did this for several reasons. He’d been extremely motivational during the writing process. He’d been asking for weeks to be the first to read it. But most importantly, I knew that he was going to be able to be critical of my work and tell me exactly what needed to be done regardless of whether it hurt my feelings. He’s one of those people who loves to find loopholes in everything.

Spoiler: There were a lot of loopholes that need fixing.

One of the things about the writing process that I don’t think authors talk enough about is their mistakes during drafting. So I’d like to be candid about what the results of having a beta reader were for me:

1. Too much plot convenience in the beginning: Things happen a little too quickly without much explanation of how we got there. My main character, Grace’s strength doesn’t quite match her body type and needs to be adjusted. Speed and agility over strength.

2. Magic system: My boyfriend immediately pointed out to me that certain parts (okay, maybe more than a few) of my magic system were overpowered and needed some sort of system to work out exactly how much power each individual had. We sat down together and worked out a tiered level system that allows for both natural affinity and growth within those affinities without giving everyone a high level right away. As I’ve been working on it over the past couple days, I am finding it to work a lot better!

3. Economy: Can I say no comment here? Because… I just don’t do economics. I had no idea what I was doing. My boyfriend made that very clear. On the upside, we’re gonna work on that together later! (Thank God.)

4. Relationships: The relationship between Grace and Aiden needed to be explored further at a slower pace with more scenes added. See, I was afraid of writing too much, but it seems I wrote too little. Luckily for me, it’s easier to add than cut!

Extra: My boyfriend seemed to guess a lot of things before they happened. I’m pretty sure that’s a combination of the way he is and how well he knows me. I’ll need a second opinion on this.

Now, I get to move forward and revise yet again! But this time, with a much clearer picture of what needs to be done to improve my novel. Overall, an extremely favorable experience. <3

Going Back to the Beginning: A Lesson in Revisions

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Hey everybody! On Monday, I finished up my last exam and my last paper, and I am officially finished with my freshman year! I can’t believe this year has gone by so fast. It feels like just a few weeks ago, I was moving into my freshman dorm, and now I’m trying to move out! I swear moving in was a lot easier.

My thoughts are a little jumbled right now due to me being a little under the weather. But I wanted to make sure I put out something solid for you all to read. So, I want to talk a little more in detail about the work I’ve been doing over the last couple weeks on the novel.

Revisions

At the advice of a very handy revision guide (linked here for reference; I will most likely do an article on this later), I decided to break down my novel into chapter summaries. Basically for each chapter, I made notes about which characters were featured, where the scene takes place, and the important plot points. This serves as a really great tool to understand everything that is going on in the book without rereading the whole thing every time you want to make changes. Note: You should still frequently read the whole book when you do make changes; but right off the bat, I’ve found this to be a good first step.

After this, the revision guide provided me with a multitude of questions to identify the main structural edits that my book desperately needs. I really loved working through them. They gave me the best information I needed to identify what needed to be done. Sometimes it’s very hard to formulate these questions on my own without any direction. With these, I made a list of about 25 major/moderate structural changes that needed to be made.

25 seems like a lot to me. The guide recommended listing 20 for your first pass, but I’ve never been able to do anything with limitations xD. Now, once the list is made, the guide recommends to go ahead and start revising. But… I felt like I really wasn’t prepared to do that yet. Two of my biggest fixes were as follows: make character development bigger and much clearer and incorporate more worldbuilding throughout. I didn’t feel like I had all the tools necessary to revise in the best way.

So I went all the way back to the beginning. Back to my ten months worth of research and notes from before I wrote this novel in November. I hadn’t visited them in great detail in a decent amount of time, so it was long overdue. I worked with the character interview questionnaire alongside my character profiles so I could work with both my basic original ideas and have inspiration to build off of them.

I focused on Grace and Aiden for now as they are the most prevalent in the novel. I plan on working with other characters as I revise as they pop up in the story. Grace has become a fuller character: retaining her stubborn and passionate nature while mixing in a few more character flaws, fears, and somewhat of a softer heart underneath. Aiden has completely reverted back to my original intention for the character that did not come across at all in the current draft. He plays a little more fast and loose and is driven by a strong desire for adventure. His regrets in his life will hopefully come more into play as well as he develops.

What Happens Now?

Now that I’m finished with character development for the time being, I plan on working a bit with each of the locations. As much as I talk about worldbuilding, I need to revisit mine and create more descriptive details that can be readily incorporated when I need them. Especially in the Middle Realm: that area has not been as planned out as I would like.

So because of all this, my timeline has shifted significantly. I plan on spending the entire summer in revisions. A second beta read will be pushed to either late July or August, depending on how efficiently I revise once I’m ready. I won’t be querying until potentially September or October. As much as I am a little disappointed that I wasn’t able to start looking for literary agents this summer, it is more important that the book is in its best possible condition before being judged. I believe it will make the process go quicker at the end of the day. I want my novel to be strong. So I will put in the time.

Third Draft Complete!

I am incredibly excited to announce that the third draft of Chasing Fae is finally finished!

I’ve had a decent amount of time on my hands after working at my internship during the daytime. I’ve had many an afternoon and evening to concentrate on making this book the best that it possibly can be. Major structural changes have been made that I believe really transform the reader’s experience in the world of the Three Realms. From character arc clarification, to new plot points, and a renewed sense of urgency in the storyline, the changes I have made make me very proud to be a writer.

I tried a new technique this time of working with two drafts side by side. I started an entirely new document for draft three and wrote alongside draft two, making large changes or copying and pasting between drafts. I felt like this really allowed me to watch the writing expand and shift directions. I could really see the movement of the story much better than any other revision technique I’ve used thus far. With a very clear to-do list in hand, I wrote and rewrote and wrote anew. The novel length increased by over eight thousand words. This puts it in a fantastic range for YA fantasy without going too far.

There’s nothing more invigorating than seeing your hard work finally come together on the page.

So what happens now?

I’ve sent off my book to three new beta readers who I’ve met through various #WritingCommunity projects. I’m going to give two of them a quick shoutout here since I know them well enough to do so: my wonderful friend, Hill T. Manner over at steamblogger.com (who I’m now collaborating with in admin on his site!) and the fantastic CJ Landry who I collaborate with over at All in the Pantheon. (She’s also just released a new poetry book, which I’m going to link here.) I’m super grateful to all of them for taking this on for me. I’m really excited to hear their feedback.

While I’m waiting to hear from them, I have a variety of tasks on my author to-do list! I’m going to spend some time working on the website to build up more of a following. (So if you’ve got some friends who you know would love this site, please send them a link!) I’m going to focus on Aphrodite’s storyline over at All in the Pantheon and make some decisions about who I want her to be. Finally, I’m going to work heavily on my query letter and my synopsis to make sure that those will be ready for querying this fall.

The writing never stops! But that’s what we love about it, isn’t it? We never have to stop.

Thank you for your constant support, everyone. Much love. <3

Author Update!

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Hey everybody! For today’s post, I want to take some time to go over what’s happening in my life right now, both the writing news and the life news.

Chasing Fae is Complete!

Monday night, I finished my novel, Chasing Fae! It’s finished! I’ve done four different revisions on this book from first draft to the final draft (draft five!). It’s been a real learning curve, learning how to edit properly. I’ll definitely be pulling information on revising and editing your novel for a blog series for you guys because I had enough difficulty trying to figure it out on my own research. I did my final readthrough and grammar check over two days to make sure I caught any remaining mistakes.

I’m incredibly proud of this novel; it has been a long time coming to get from idea to where I am right now. I want to thank everyone in my life who has supported me throughout this journey: from my parents, to my little sister, to my amazing boyfriend, and all my friends over in the Writing Community. I wish I had the time to thank absolutely everyone who was involved, but you’d be here all day!

Next Stop: The Querying Stage

Starting Saturday, I’ll be sending out my first batch of queries. Six, to be exact. I’ve read that it’s good to send out between six and eight at once. I’ve already picked my first six literary agents to query to, and honestly, I’d be pleased to work with any of them. I’m feeling confident about my query letter itself; the professional editor thought it was very strong. Now, it’s all up to fate! Wish me luck!

My First Writing Conference

On Saturday, I will be attending the Chesapeake Writing Workshop right here in DC! I’m so humbled to have the opportunity to attend this writers’ conference. I’m going to be sitting in on various lectures from professionals on a variety of subjects on writing and publishing. I also have the opportunity to pitch my book to a literary agent for the first time and get feedback on the first ten pages of my novel, which is usually part of your standard query package. I can’t wait!

Professional Publication

I’m super excited to announce that this week, one of my articles I wrote at my internship is going to be published on their website this week! Because the website is being archived by the government, it qualifies as a professional publication. I’m so incredibly proud. To be professionally published in my chosen field of history at nineteen is crazy. I can’t wait to see it. Let me know if you want me to link it on the site!

Getting Geared Up For Fall Classes

I know it’s almost two months out, but I’m already getting ready for fall classes. This fall semester is going to be a big one for me. I’m declaring both of my majors, history and anthropology, which means I need to start thinking about who I want to be my advisors! That’s gonna be a difficult find. I’ve also got a really great line up of classes. I found a way to take three history classes because one of them is under the classics department. Sneaky, huh? (They don’t typically recommend doing that, but I know what I want!) I’m taking a Greek Civilization class, a class on the Crusades, and a class on historical method. I’m also continuing on with French while simultaneously starting German. Yes. I know I’m crazy. But hey, if I’m looking at grad school, I want a good head start.

Thanks for reading! See you on Saturday where I’ll be catching you up on what happens at the writing conference!

Chesapeake Writing Workshop: A Day to Remember

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Yesterday, I attended the Chesapeake Writing Workshop in Arlington, VA. This was my very first writing conference, and it was such a whirlwind! I had the opportunity to interact with other writers in the area, get some feedback on my first ten pages, and pitch my book to a literary agent for the first time. I’ve got a lot to tell you about, so let me get started right away.

Arrival

I actually missed the first train to Crystal City.

I was in the Foggy Bottom metro station waiting for the blue line train to come at 8:36 am. An orange line train was stuck on the track because of a holdup at the next station over. I was getting nervous because I wanted to get to the hotel with enough time to check in and get oriented. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I watch a blue line train pull into the opposite track. Turns out, I had been looking at the wrong side.

Typical of me to get turned around, to be honest.

The doors closed before I could hop on, so I had to wait for the 8:48 am train. Luckily, I made it to the Crystal Gateway Marriott in plenty of time. I got my nametag and a folder with a copy of the day’s schedule before setting off to the first talk I wanted to see.

The first lecture I attended was about middle grade and young adult books. It was there that I truly understood how versatile the YA genre truly is; people from mid elementary age all the way up to adulthood read young adult novels. You have the ability to cater to a wide audience with YA that I think is very genre-unique. I only got to stay in about twenty minutes though because at 10 am, it was time for my 10 page critique.

Ten Page Critique

I wasn’t sure what to expect going into my critique. I wanted to keep my expectations reasonable, but I also wanted to believe that I was ready for querying. In my heart, I was ready. But was the book ready?

I met with Moe Shalabi, a Palestinian-American author and former junior literary agent at Talcott Notch Literary. As soon as I sat down, the first words out of his mouth were how he loved the story, loved the characters, and needed to know more. I have to say, I was floored. I just filled up with excitement, wanting to hear more of what he had to say. His evaluation of my work was incredibly helpful. He pointed out some details to elaborate on: ways to bring the world to life more, a few points about fleshing out the characters sooner, and some points about verb tense in flashbacks. He also said something to me that I will never forget, something that’s going to stick with me for a long time.

He told me that I had a natural talent for writing.

In that moment, I felt like I was on the right path in my life. This was the idea, this was the story, this was the one that was going to get me where I’d always wanted to be ever since I was 11 writing my first novel.

Published.

It was such an honor to hear that, and I’m quite humbled by it. I couldn’t wait to get home and make those edits. I knew they were going to make my work stronger.

My First Pitch

Of course, then I had to turn around and pitch half an hour later! I spent about ten minutes riding out the high of my critique before I buckled down and drilled my pitch out loud several times. I wanted to make sure I could deliver my summary confidently and clearly.

At 10:50 am, I walked over to Stephanie Kehr, a junior agent for C.Y.L.E Literary. She was my one and only pitch for the day. I liked what I had read about her, and I was hoping that I could make a good impression. After introducing myself, I sat down and launched directly into my pitch. For the first time, I delivered something verbal clearly and concisely with no waver on my voice and without my face turning bright red. It went off without a hitch.

She asked me if I happened to have a sample chapter with me. Although the conference had said you shouldn’t need to hand over anything to the agent you’re pitching to, I had thought ahead. I had seen on Stephanie’s website that for in person pitches, she liked to see a sample chapter, so I had one on hand. She glanced over the first page and told me it seemed like good writing. She handed me her business card and asked me to submit materials to her: my first three chapters, a synopsis, and platform numbers.

I was ecstatic. Especially because she’s currently closed to submissions. To make it over that hurdle means the world to me even if that’s where my book stops with her.

Somehow after all that, I still had almost five minutes left in my ten minute pitch time. I felt incredibly awkward, so I tried to start up a conversation. She gave me some good advice for debut writers and young writers in particular, and we talked briefly about YA as a genre and its versatility. I thanked her for her time and walked out of that room beaming.

Afternoon Lecture: Author Platform

After lunch and a sit-in on a live agent critique of authors’ first pages (never got to mine), I went to my favorite lecture of the day on building an author platform. This is probably my favorite subject, and as most of you know, I’ve been doing a lot of work on building that up over the last six months. But I really wanted to know what more I could be doing to improve my visibility.

A couple takeaways for me:

  • I really need to start working on an email newsletter. I’ve attempted to start one a few times, but due to international spam law (that’s a thing!), I have to leave a mailing address at the bottom of the newsletter. Now that I’ve had more time to think about it, I probably could use my mailbox at my college. That would be a physical mailing address I have access to, but if something malicious were to occur, I can’t be tracked to my dorm room or my home address. I need to look more into that.
  • I want to do more guest posts for others. Preferably fantasy leaning or writing blogs that would help boost traffic onto my website. I think I’m doing a fairly good job of writing about fantasy writing, so why not share it with more people?

Aftermath

After the conference, I worked into the late evening on editing my first ten pages according to my critique. I pulled all of my query materials together, and last night, I sent out the first batch of query submissions: the six that I originally selected plus Stephanie Kehr from the conference. I had a little send off call with my mom, sister, and boyfriend where I sent off the emails/online forms with them on the call with me. My dad was unfortunately traveling, so he didn’t get to join me. Next time though for sure! I’ve forbid him from traveling during the next submission round xD.

Now comes the waiting game.

How long will that be?!

Note: I want to especially thank my father for paying my way for this conference. It was an invaluable experience that I will never forget. I made steps in my writing career today because of him, and I just want to say thank you.

A New Project: The Book Creators Program

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Over the next year, I’m going to be embarking on a new writing journey that I am so excited to share with you all. Last month, I joined the Book Creators Program, an open source program created by Professor Koester of Georgetown University to guide student and young professionals to write and publish a nonfiction book. I ran into this opportunity on a flyer in the cafeteria, and being the writer soul that I am, I couldn’t resist signing up.

Over the course of the next 5 months, I’ll be working on researching, interviewing, and creating content for an approximately 25,000 word first draft of a nonfiction book that parallels something that’s either important to me in my life or to what I want my future career to be. I will have the opportunity to work with a developmental editor as I begin writing and focusing my book. Around February, I’ll have the opportunity to work with New Degree Press, a hybrid publishing option that helps authors set up a presale campaign to pay for the production of the book. I’ll work with an editing team, a marketing team, and learn all sorts of valuable publication information. And if all goes well, I’ll have a published book in my hand by July 2020 and for sale on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble.

Reading the information packet is an absolute whirlwind. I can’t even fathom how all of these pieces come together in such a specific period of time, though I imagine it takes longer for some writers. I’ve had my first two class sessions with the professor and a large group of writers, and I think he’s absolutely brilliant. To come with a project to motivate young writers to create and actually publish something early in their professional career with minimal cost to the author is really special. I’m excited to get started.

The idea I’m working on right now is tentatively titled Bringing History Home. It is going to explore this concept of personalizing history.

Historians are always searching for ways to bring history to the people, ways to make people care about the past and its impact on the future. But in my experience, it always appears that they are trying to accommodate some denominator that will hit the largest amount of people the same way. I want to take a look at what it means to bring history down to the individual and touch each person in a way that fascinates them. So far, I want to investigate interactive and living museums, such as Colonial Williamsburg; history through the arts, like the smash success that is Hamilton; and discovering history through genealogy. I’ve got a lot of ideas that are simmering, and it’s exciting.

Writing Book #2 of my fantasy series, querying for book #1 (and hopefully participating in Pitch Wars!), and writing this at the same time definitely seems like I’m staring up at a massive hill with no real knowledge of how to get to the top. But I’m up for the challenge. I love all of these projects, and I know that with hard work, I am absolutely ready.

I’m an author. That’s just what we do.

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The Biggest News Of All Time

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Setting it up big here with the title, huh?

I am so happy to announce that New Degree Press is going to be publishing my fantasy novel, Chasing Fae, in July 2020!!!

This is absolutely huge, and to be honest, several hours later it still hasn’t set in yet. I’ve been working on this book for two years now, and my dreams are finally coming to fruition. And don’t worry: I will still be working on my history book through the Book Creator Program and release that book later in the year after this one.

Let me walk you through how this came about.

The Beginning

So, I have been working with New Degree Press for a while in partnership with the Book Creator Program. In late November, I was sitting in on a seminar with Professor Koester about the process of hybrid publishing. I was intrigued when I realized that using their pre-sale model (which uses the sales from preorders to generate the cost of publishing the book and has a 99% success rate) while retaining full rights and full creative control of the novel sounded like a great deal. It seemed like a viable option outside of traditional publishing that didn’t fall into the vanity publishing category, which I would NEVER want to enter into.

Out of curiosity, I messaged Professor Koester after the seminar and asked him if New Degree Press took outside submissions. To my surprise, not only did they read submissions from authors outside the program, but he could introduce me to the head of the publishing board the next week and get the process started. I was kind of taken aback! I hadn’t expected things to move so quickly, especially right before exams. But I decided to take the ride and see where this went.

The Conversation

I set some time aside during my exam week for a video chat with the head of the publishing board at New Degree Press, Brian Bies. We talked about the publishing process a bit and what my goals were for my book and my vision. I really felt listened to. He treated me with respect and answered all of my questions. And I asked a lot of questions. I think somewhere in the ballpark of 20-25. None of my questions phased him; he answered all of them completely and with plenty of detail. I felt like a professional rather than the confused young writer that I think I am.

I decided that I needed to submit to them. I just needed to try. I knew only about 8% of submissions would make it to publication, but I needed to try.

The Submission

I went home for Christmas break and dove into revisions. I wanted to make a few revisions from my original manuscript sent to literary agents because I had some new ideas to improve the novel. I revised heavily for about a week. Then I sent off the draft to be read at the end of December.

Then came the waiting. I waited for almost four weeks until…..

Thursday, January 23, 2020

I’m going to have a fantastic “how did you find out your book was going to be published?” story.

That morning, I woke up groggy and just not feeling well. I had a bad headache, congestion, and a slight fever. I was thinking “Really? On the second day of classes? I hate the cold.” I rested as much as I could during the morning, missing my German class, so that I could go to my first Field School in Material Culture class in the afternoon. This was a class that only met once a week, so I didn’t want to miss one right off the bat! Getting sick at the beginning of the semester sucks because I feel like teachers may think you’re trying to skip out. I’m not! I’m a good student! I just don’t function while ill.

Anyway, I went to this class, and I snuck a peek at the messaging platform that I was communication with New Degree Press on. To my surprise, I had messages! After I quickly scrolled up to the top of the thread, and I realized what it said: New Degree Press green-lit Chasing Fae for publication this summer.

It didn’t hit me. It didn’t hit me at all initially. I couldn’t think, and I couldn’t process this information. And then I had to wait THREE HOURS for my class to be over in order to communicate to other people what happened!!!

When I got out of class, I called my family and my friends, and I told them what I had learned. I posted the announcement all over social media. And suddenly, I was ecstatic. I couldn’t stop smiling. Love was pouring in from everywhere, and I just did my best to absorb it all.

This is REAL now. Chasing Fae is going to be in print and in people’s hands. I cannot wait to share this book with the world. And I want to thank every single person reading this post right now for being involved in my journey. For listening to what I’ve shared about my book, coming to my website to learn and be invested in the journey, and thanks in advance for checking out my book when it releases!

Subscribe to Fluff About Fantasy to keep up with all the latest news about Chasing Fae!

My Experience With My Publisher So Far

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Hello everybody! I’m back!

It has been a crazy three weeks, but I am finally back to tell the tale. First, I had a crazy couple of weeks of midterm exams and papers to finish. I worked so many hours on those assignments, and so far, they’ve turned out okay. Got a B- on my Irish Archaeology exam (which was awesome!) and an A- on my Medieval European History paper. I am pleased with both and am anxiously awaiting the results from other classes.

Then I finally got to take a little vacation in Austin, Texas to visit my boyfriend, Daniel. I hadn’t seen him since October; I have missed him so much. We spent four wonderful days together. We went out a few times, but mostly stayed in to cook together, play Smash Bros, and binge watch Gravity Falls. And cuddle. <3 I think the best part of being in a relationship is being able to hug someone else super tightly and hold them forever.

Then I flew to Orlando to meet my family at Disney World, left Disney World because of coronavirus concerns, my college is shut down until at least April 3rd, I had to find a way to get all my meds that I need for my asthma, and now I’m home practicing social distancing and trying not to panic too much.

So, yeah. It’s been a busy time.

But now to the point…

But today! I am here to talk to you about updates with New Degree Press and the upcoming publication of Chasing Fae.

Now that I am under contract, things have actually been moving pretty quickly. I met my Acquisitions Editor, Jordana, who is in the process of reading my manuscript and offering her insights. I am very excited to hear from her soon. This is the first time I will be receiving professional feedback on the entirety of the book, and I am sincerely hoping that she has a lot of ideas to offer.

Last week, I also met my Marketing and Revisions Editor, Kristy Carter. She is the one I will be working with from day to day, and wow, am I glad to have her around. Although we’ve only had a few conversations so far, I can tell that we are going to get along very well. She’s an urban fantasy author and a kindred spirit. I feel comfortable with her presence, and she’s managed to get me a lot of the information that I have asked for early. As somebody who is so ready to just dive into everything, I really appreciate this. I am looking forward to her ideas for the book as well.

Last night, I got to watch my promo video for the first time. Honestly, it looks amazing! The footage that was chosen, both the pieces I recorded and the stock footage the editing team chose, was quite masterful. The pieces depicting the world itself are just spot on. I can’t wait to share it with everyone. I did notice a couple of small typos, but those are being fixed currently. I’m not sure if I will continue with the slightly flawed version and proceed on schedule with the preorder launch or if I should hold off until the new video is complete.

Which leads me to the next point….

Chasing Fae’s Pre-Order Launch

Chasing Fae will be out for pre-order this coming week! I’m thinking it’s going to be Monday or Tuesday. On that day, I will be posting the link to the campaign on IndieGoGo everywhere! The website, the newsletter, all the social media platforms, and in as many other places as I can find to post it. If you want to be one of the first to know, make sure you subscribe to Fluff About Fantasy! These exclusive signed copies will only be available for thirty days, so make sure to act fast.

This is honestly the most amazing accomplishment of my entire life. This book means the absolute world to me, and I cannot wait to share it with the rest of the world.

Stay safe, everyone. Happy writing!

Chasing Fae Preorders Are On Sale Now!

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CHASING FAE IS HERE! My debut YA fantasy novel is out for preorder today, and exclusive signed copies and access to special content will be available until April 15th. Secure your copy today!

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