Novel Progress #6 (Reading Whilst Writing, etc.)

np6Hello, March! You snuck up on me this year. With the beginning of a new month, I have the excitement of a fresh start (even if it’s just psychological). So I’m feeling optimistic right now, even with no good reason why. This past week in writing started off really well, then I got stumped again. But I’m pretty sure I know why I got stumped (which I’ll go into in more detail in the section Reading Whilst Writing).

This week’s Novel Progress is not really a progress update, although I did make some progress (which I’ll probably share next week if when I’ve written more!). Rather in this post I want to talk about: 1) why I’ve been reading while I’ve been trying to write, 2) a new deadline, 3) some notes on my series trajectory, and 4) plans for Camp NaNoWriMo this April. So grab a mug of coffee, or tea, and get comfortable, because this post might be a bit of a doozy!

Reading Whilst Writing

If you follow me on Goodreads, you probably already know I’ve been reading The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud. This is a book I loved in middle school and has always been a major influence (in the back of my mind) on the type story I wanted to write. Having been rereading the novel for the first time in what is almost 10 years, I’ve realized how little I actually remembered of the book! So it’s been really refreshing to jump back into this story and be able to appreciate more than just what I had remembered.

The Bartimaeus Trilogy-The Amulet of SamarkandThe reason I originally wanted to reread this book was in the hopes it would help me develop my own magic system. Mine has not been set in stone, but I really like the idea of the magician’s apprentice and my own system is slightly modeled upon that. But in rereading this book, I’m happy/relieved to say that that’s about where the similarity ends. Nevertheless, I’ve really found other parts of this novel really helpful in bringing my own plot ideas to life. And this is why I think my own writing progress has been slowed down.

I’m reading this book slower than I’d ordinarily prefer, partially because I’ve been battling allergies (and school) but also because I am analyzing why I find elements of this novel particularly effective. I’ve been able to identify things I don’t like about this novel, like the slowness of the beginning and more action-packed scenes (because I personally don’t love long action-scenes). But things I really like are the world-building, the scene-setting, the complex character relationships, the humor (although I don’t see myself writing a character as fun as Bartimaeus!), and the balance between the personal and the greater world conflict.

So reading whilst I’ve been trying to write has slowed me down, but I choose to believe it’s for a good purpose. One of my favorite pieces of writing advice that I’ve come across is to read everything within the genre you want to write. This is not so that you can steal all your favorite ideas and paste them all together (as I gather Victoria Aveyard has done with Red Queen and which I find kind of despicable), but so that you know the nuances of what has been done before and hopefully innovate and contribute meaningfully to the genre in a way that only you can.

Deadline Update

I’m still aiming to have rough overview of my entire novel figured out by April 1st, but I’ve come to realization that given my writing pace (some days I only write 200 words, others I manage about 1,000) this draft will not be satisfactorily “complete” by April. By my calculation, I’m thinking I that to officially finish my first draft, I will need around 90,000 words, if not more. Which is why I’m now aiming for that word count goal for my first draft by June 1st. (April 1st is now more of a deadline by which I hope to finalize the plot.)

That’s almost exactly the half-way point of the year, which means I’ll have the rest of the year to edit and revise. By November, I hopefully could even start working on the second book which might even help while I edit the first book. At this point, I’m certain this will be a series. I’m also certain I would like to begin querying this novel next year, and I’ve always felt like I would want to have more than one book written before I do that. Especially given that this is a series. If I can find a publisher for this series, I’d want to make sure I could have a new book out every year (without it being a rushed job).

Series Trajectory

One thing I realize I haven’t really talked about is the series trajectory for my story. That’s partially because I’ve not been able to think much past this one novel, but also because I have no ideas that are set in stone and don’t even know for sure how many books there would need to be. All my plot ideas are very fluid and I have a whole page in my Scrivener document where I can see all the potential books + bullet-point lists of things to happen, and I’m always moving things around. Nevertheless, I thought I’d finally share some of the general ideas I’ve had for a while.

I like the idea of in each book seeing my female protagonist be another year older, very much as happens in Harry Potter. I’d like readers to be able to grow up with my protagonist and see her “face typical teenage problems” on top of “saving the world.” In the first novel you will see her at age 13, and I’m thinking I’d like to end the series with her at 18, so that will make the series either five or six books long. (I do want to note that I don’t see myself “dumbing down” the story, or catering to a specific age group, because of my protagonist’s age. I want all ages to be able to enjoy the books. All the major characters range in age anyway.)

You might be wondering if I have enough to drag out the story that long. (I’ve wondered that myself.) But I’ve decided I definitely think it’s possible. My world is vast, the conflict complex, and I have a lot of different characters with which I want to play. Also, I don’t see each novel’s focus being protagonist and antagonist in constant battle. I see my protagonist grappling with multiple issues (and roadblocks), only complicated by her destiny. Also, I really want to have time spend more time with the antagonist. So I’m thinking I’m not going to get bored!

I have not wanted to jump down into the rabbit hole that is The Mortal Instruments/The Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare, but I love the idea of writing multiple books belonging to the same world. Diana Wynne Jones did this to an extent. And Leigh Bardugo is doing a similar thing right now with her new Six of Crows series being set in the same world as her debut Grisha trilogy. I think if you create a really unique world, you don’t ever really have to leave it if you don’t want to.

Camp NaNoWriMo (April)

I am thinking of doing some iteration of Camp NaNoWriMo this April. If I stay committed, I might have between 25,000 & 30,000 words complete by April 1st, which might consist mostly of words in the beginning and end of my novel as I’m prioritizing those sections at the moment. But I should essentially know everything that needs to happen in the story and be able to have fun connecting storylines. So Camp NaNoWriMo might be great motivator to keep up my progress.

I don’t know yet if I will want to aim for 50,000 words or set something more manageable (like 30,000 words). I do think I’d like to start trying to vlog on YouTube around this time with weekly, or possibly even daily, progress reports and motivational videos. I think it could be really fun and hopefully help me connect with more even more writers than are able to find this blog.

End Note

I’m really hoping to write a lot more this month. I have a dry-erase calendar board with little green boxes on the days I hope to write at least 1,000 words this month (mostly Thursday–Sunday each week). I have spring break to look forward to in two weeks, but I think I’ll have enough going on that week that won’t allow me to write much more than usual (just being realistic). Nevertheless, I think I’m planning to write more than I have over January & February combined!


I hoped you enjoyed this week’s installment of Novel Progress. Let me know in the comments what you might want to see me talk more of in the future or if you want me to elaborate on anything I mentioned here. I’m hoping to start posting more on Ink Keys and Other Things beyond Novel Progress posts, so whether that be more topic-based writing posts (i.e. the seven-point plot structure I use or the cut-up technique as relates to writing) or opinion pieces (sample topics being subscription boxes and feminist book clubs). Let me know if there’s anything specifically you might want to see.

Thank you for reading!
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Week in Rewind #2

I’ve decided to continue on with this Week in Rewind feature on Ink Keys and Other Things. But unlike last week (see Week in Rewind #1) where I kept a short log of the productive parts of each day, I’ve decided to just do random highlights this week! I don’t want this feature to become a time-consuming, stressful thing to write so I’ll continue to experiment each week with how to record what I want to share and remember. I might never formally adopt a permanent format.

This Week

➴ Grad School

I had my first presentations of the semester this past Monday in my Digital Textuality class which went well. There were only like five people in the class that night and it was a really positive experience. The topics of my presentations were my reviews for two text tools of my choice. I chose Wattpad, which I’ve wanted to start using since about last November, and Twine, which I’ve been somewhat obsessed with since learning about it last September. In case you missed it, I did post a revised version of my review of Wattpad on Tuesday and I hope to post the Twine review later this week.

➴ Reading

Reading took a bit of a backseat this week. I started The Girl from Everywhere last week, and it’s not been a captivating read yet. What I really want to do is finish up all the books I’m “currently reading” on Goodreads and finally begin to reread some books I’ve been wanting to revisit, which is a hefty list in itself. I don’t where I’m going to start when I finally get the chance. To see what’s on my immediate list of books to read, see my Bookentine 2016 TBR post that went up on Friday.

➴ Writing

This was a big week for writing! Something I’m not sure I mentioned in Novel Progress #2 this week was that I had hit a road block over the past week in my story. While I had plotted my story very loosely a couple of weeks ago, I had gotten very hung up on the fact that I didn’t have a strong opening Hook to my story and that my protagonist’s parents were a lot more interesting than my protagonist. So I while I have been busy with school, I’ve also just not written much because I didn’t know what to do. But I’m happy to report I’ve worked my way out of this problem!

I don’t want to talk much more about what I did, because I plan to share everything in Novel Progress #3 this Wednesday! But I will say that I’ve had so many ideas I want to share and I think this week will have a post nearly everyday on specific writing-related projects I have started or have in mind.

➴ Blogging

This was also a big week for blogging. I experienced my first blog failure on Wednesday. I got first-hand experience with what experts “The White Screen of Death” which was terrifying because I’m not used to working on back-end web development and had not yet backed anything up. (Still haven’t! I need to do that!) Luckily I was able to fix this problem with a FTP program, all on my own on Thursday! I’m very proud of myself, although I will admit it was an easy problem to fix after I had calmed down.

The reason I had run into the problem was because I was trying to delete the code for my Meta Slider in the functions.php and I missed a piece of the code. I like the idea of the slider, but I don’t have motivation to make the most of it and I didn’t like the way it was appearing on my static pages. Some other design elements I changed on the blog were the Google Fonts I use for Headings (which I’ll probably do a tutorial one day).

As far as blog content, I updated my About and Portfolio pages, which I still consider works-in-progress. Because I think of this blog as something semi-professional that I want to put on my resume I am always trying to emphasize the best possible version of myself and my work. It’s not easy! But if you’re interested in looking at my Portfolio, you’ll get a glimpse of the some of the projects I’ll be sharing soon.

One final thing concerning the blog is that I’ve decided not to do full-length book reviews anymore. I’ve liked doing them for myself, but ultimately they take too much time to write and time is becoming precious. Also I don’t think that my thoughts reach many people here anyway so I’d rather just get better about reviewing books directly on Goodreads.

Next Week

Next week I am participating in the Bookentine 2016 Read-a-Thon, so I’m hoping to read a lot but also keep up my work on my novel. My new deadline for my first draft (announced in Novel Progress #2) is April 1st, so I don’t want to lose any momentum. As far as what will be going up on Ink Keys and Other Things beyond my text tool review of Twine and Novel Progress #3, I think I will be doing three additional writing-related posts, including: an introduction to the text object I’ll be creating for my multimedia portfolio, my future plans for fanfiction, and the works you will soon be able to see on Wattpad!

I hope you enjoyed this post and are excited for what’s coming up here on Ink Keys and Other Things! As always, thank you for taking the time to read. See you soon.

Thank you for reading!
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My New Year’s Resolutions for 2016.

·.··.·.·.  My 2016 New Year’s Resolutions  ・.·.·.··.·

I love setting goals and I find that New Year’s is the best time to think optimistically about what I want to accomplish. Even though we’re about a week into 2016 and I almost didn’t create this post, I’m happy I have because reflecting on what I would like to accomplish this year has inspired me to kick my butt into shape and start being productive. There are few things that make me happier than ending a day feeling like I’ve been productive and I’d love to be able to look back at the end of 2016 and appreciate what I’ve accomplished in the past year.

➴ Reading Resolution

I set my Goodreads Reading Goal at 60 books for the year. I regret not setting 52, averaging at simply one book per week. But in 2015 I was so close to 60 books and I hardly read much at all at the end of the year that I feel confident I’ll read 60 books if I keep at it.

➴ Writing Resolution

I want to finish my first novel and also write 12 short stories, one per month. I started the novel I’m currently working on in NaNoWriMo 2015, and it’s evolved a little since then. But overall I’ve not been able to think about much else. I’d really like it to be the first in a series. I’ve even worked on plotted the series as a whole. The main thing that’s been holding me back in making more progress on this novel at the moment insecurity and procrastination.

I’ve long been thinking it would be wiser to start smaller and work my way up to a novel. Filmmakers often start small with short films. I originally thought I might try to write 12 novels this year, but since I’ve yet to finish a novel at all in my time as a writer, I’ve decided instead to shoot for 12 short stories. I’m thinking of making it an anthology collection united around a certain theme or idea.

I plan to elaborate more on my writing plans in a separate post in the near future. 

➴ Blogging Resolution

I want to be a better blogger this year. I don’t want to have any productivity slumps. I want to be consistent this year with everything I want to do. I want to pre-schedule posts and stick to a good posting schedule. I also want to comment regularly on the blogs I follow and overall just be a good community member.

End Note

There are a few other goals I have for 2016, but none that I can think of that would have concrete products or evidence of the goal (yet). For example, I know I would like to work on becoming more fit, but I don’t have set goals for what that would necessarily look like. Also, I want to do more art this year, but I don’t have a numeric goal or particular project in mind at the moment.

What are your opinions on new year’s resolutions, or goal-setting in general? Do you have any new year’s resolutions this year? If so, what are they? Let me know in the comments!

Thank you for reading!
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Hello January 2016 (Life Update + TBR).

Life Update

Yesterday I made the three-hour journey from Houston to Dallas, effectively ending my holiday retreat at my parents’ house. In past years, the end of the holidays had always been more sweet than bitter. This year I’ve found myself indifferent. I feel more carefree when I’m staying at my parents’ home, but I also feel like it sets me back. I have trouble being productive there. Also, I feel tethered to my parents’ schedule.

One would think returning to my apartment in Dallas would have been met with a bit more joy, but I can’t stop thinking about tornados since the devastating outbreak this past Christmas that destroyed hundreds of homes not far from where I live. I live on the third, topmost floor of my apartment building. If a tornado hits I’m not sure I’ll make it. (Am I being dramatic? I’m not sure.)

If I’ve learned anything over my past semester at the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD), it’s that I don’t want to live in Dallas past graduation. Unless a dream job comes up, but that’s unlikely.

Next Monday classes start back up for me again. All my classes will be in evening from 7–9 pm, but I’ve still not finalized my schedule. I’m certain only on the two classes required for my degree program which are only offered in spring: Digital Textuality and Digital Culture. But I’m taking one more class, an elective, for which I have two options from which to choose: Creating Interactive Media and Information Design for New Media. I do not want to take both (primarily because I don’t want to take four classes this semester), so I’m squatting in both classes right now as I wait patiently for the syllabi to show up which will hopefully help me decide which will best serve my interests/needs.

With the rest of my time before classes start, I’m just trying to work on getting myself on a productive schedule. I haven’t been reading as much as I like, I haven’t been writing, and I haven’t been blogging because there’s been so little to talk about. It feels like I’ve been static for too long and I’m ready to come back to life again.

 January 2016 TBR

This year I am trying to live by the motto “slow and steady wins the race.” I’ve always been someone who gets hooked on something and then quickly burns out and loses interest. Last year I read the bulk of my books early in the year. This year I’m not going to push myself so hard. Especially as reading more was my primary goal for the year (which I achieved; I read well over 50!). But this year I have more things I want to do, which I’ll explain in my New Year’s Resolutions post later today or tomorrow.

Also, I’m trying not to buy too many new books this year. My living situation is precarious and I don’t like buying books that then get left at my parents’ house before I can read them. As I’m now a graduate student I have a new library to utilize, which is very good about stocking new releases! So there’s no predicting what I’ll be able to get my hands on. 🙂

So the only books I know I want to read from my personal library are:










Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton

I’m a little over 50 pages into this book and it’s been off to a great start. The brilliant characters and conflict grabbed me immediately. I’m reading it fairly slowly as I’ve been preoccupied with other things in my life and I’m out of reading shape. 🙂

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

I can’t really explain my interest in prioritizing this book. I just feel like the summary is intriguing and I’m attracted to the depth I’m expecting of this book. Also I love the movie The Virgin Suicides and I’ve never even read that book so I’m excited to finally experience this author’s writing. I’ve also not read fiction set in the real world for a while so this excites me.


I also have four digital ARCs from Edelweiss that I need to get to by the end of the month for review.

AND I have my writing buddy’s first draft of her first novel to read! She sent it to me on Christmas Day and I can’t wait to read the story we’ve been talking about for well over a year and provide her with feedback. 🙂

End Note

I will be posting my New Year’s Resolutions for 2016 late today I think, or I might schedule it for tomorrow morning (CST). I’ve not yet posted my official announcement on Books o’ the Wisp. I don’t expect too many people to follow me here from there, but I worry I’m letting people dangle over there. And I do intend to make that blog completely private once the premium features expire.

I have lot of posts planned for this new blog. I’m going to try and pre-schedule things so that everything doesn’t come out all in January and I have nothing left for February (“slow and steady”). Hope you enjoy my new blog! If you’d like to receive notifications of when I post new things, please check out any of my other social media links below!

Thank you for reading!
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