Panicking Over Ghosts

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I have seen a lot of friends in various states of despair over their revisions, changing their latest novels through and through because either a) agents aren’t biting, b) they’re getting feedback, or c) because they simply want to.

And a lot of them are getting tired and disillusioned because no matter what they change, it’s never enough. Or because they don’t want to, but have to change things in order to make their novels more commercial. Or for several other reasons, and they’re weeping and panicking because they don’t know what else to do.

I’ve been there. I’ve done that. My advice? If you’re pulling the hairs out of your head, if you’re screaming because you can’t find the new path you need to take, if, in general, it’s making you miserable, then please:

Stop.

I’ve had a lot of anxiety-related problems in the past. I have them still, sometimes. I’ve driven myself into holes I couldn’t get out of. I’ve cried myself to sleep over the most menial things, and was it worth it?

No.
No matter how important something is to you, it’s not worth it if it puts you in a constant state of self-deprecating madness. Nothing is.

I get that it’s your dream, but sometimes, you should take a break. Don’t force yourself into changes that are not organic just because you want to please someone else. If you love your novel as-is, don’t change a word because agents aren’t biting. Don’t tire yourself out over something that’s beginning to saturate you. It’s not good for you, and it’s not good for your novel.

No one benefits from complete exhaustion. Not you. Not your novel. Not anyone.

Sit back, relax, leave it be, and come back when you have a fresh perspective. In the meantime, write something else, or play a game, or watch a new TV series – do whatever you need to do – but put yourself first. Your writing won’t exist without you, and it certainly won’t benefit from you being so sick of your story you can’t stand it anymore. You’re not abandoning your child, although it can feel like you are. But rather, think of it as going on a much-deserved vacation, and your novel will still be there when you return. And when you come back, you’ll see that everything will flow much better.

No one’s after you. You don’t have to be published right now. You don’t have to be published next year. If it’s meant to be, it will happen, and it will come at the cost of hard work and dedication – but those things rarely happen when you keep on beating a dead horse with a stick. There’s no pressure, except the one you put on yourself.

My point is: don’t drive yourself mad over something you’ve been constantly changing to please someone else. If you’re doing it for yourself, fine. Otherwise?

Yeah, take a break. Or don’t. What do I know?

I’m not your mother. Just a stranger giving unsolicited advice.

#Fall1stHop Mind Witch 1st 250

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#Fall1stHop Mind Witch 1st 250

Since the wonderful Michelle Hauck is hosting a #Fall1stHop on her blog, and my capacity to be critical of my work changes between “This fucking sucks, I should quit” and “This is fucking flawless, I’m a genius”, I’m posting the first 250 of Mind Witch for critique. Once a day after work, I will go around the other blogs, critiquing my share.

So here. Have a glimpse at my brilliance.

Mind Witch, First 250


Revision 1

When you’re a mind witch, people are your playground.

Zéphyrine repeated that mantra in her head over and over, not because it was comforting, but because it was true.

People would remain a playground until she had this country’s King under her heel and the city in her grasp. And no matter how wrong her orders were, she wouldn’t—absolutely wouldn’t—feel sorry for them. Pity had a way of killing you faster than a sword in the gut.

Her mind tingled with alarm, demanding she look up at the top of the stairs. Francisca stood with her hand on the carved staircase railing, frozen in shock, and Zéph recognized her prey immediately. Prior to coming here, she had lived with this woman’s niece, in another city, for six months, and she’d scoured the girl’s memories for all the possible advantages she could use once her orders changed.

She could still remember the warmth with which that girl had spoken about her family—a family Zéph was about to brainwash her way into.

She was a stranger to these people, but not for long.

Francisca’s eyebrows drew together in confusion as she opened her mouth to ask, “Who—”

Before the woman could say anything else, Zéph stepped forward. Her mind reached. Invaded. Conquered. You know me, she whispered into the woman’s head. Her victim’s mind whirled, trying to place Zéph in her myriad of memories.

Do not feel sorry.

She became a parasite, infiltrating a host of recollections.

Messy Original

When you’re a mind witch, people are your playground.

Zéphyrine repeated that mantra in her head over and over, not because it was comforting, rather because it was true. Zéph had played person after person in order to get inside Almar’s capital of Almudena under the guise of a noble girl who’d survived the most recent attack on the border with Bharaté.

People would remain a playground until she had this country’s King under her heel and the city in her grasp. And no matter how wrong her orders were, she wouldn’t—absolutely wouldn’t—feel sorry for them, because pity had a way of killing you faster than a sword in the gut.

Her mind tingled, demanding she look up at the top of the stairs, and there she was. Her prey stood atop the staircase, hand on the carved railing, the woman’s body frozen in shock, her eyebrows drawn in confusion. “Who—”

Before the woman could say anything else, Zéph stepped forward. Her mind reached. Invaded. Conquered. You know me, she whispered into the woman’s head. Her victim’s mind whirled in shock, trying to place Zéph in her myriad of memories.

Zéph recognized the girl’s face as soon as it came up—María Isabel, with whom Zéph had lived for six months before the Ravager issued the order to destroy Alaterra.

She’d seen this woman in María’s mind: Lady Francisca, wife of Lord Sidonia, her uncle. Zéph still remembered the warmth with which María had spoken about her family—a family Zéph was about to take for herself.

Writing Process Blog Tour

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Next stop is Lisbon, sitting in sunny Portugal with some of the most amazing food in the world. Most of the country is still experiencing summer, though we expect rain to start drizzling any time soon as fall settles in (along with hot cocoa). It’s friendly, it’s fun, and it’s one of the best places to be in all year around.

1. Introduce the author who passed the blog tour to you and link back to their blog.
The amazing Natasha Raulerson passed this onto me. I met Natasha through the In With the New contest hosted by Michelle Hauck, and during PitchWars we hung out on Skype sometimes – I even co-hosted Whiskey, Wine and Writing when her kick-ass co-host Tiffany couldn’t make it, and, like Natasha and Tiff, it was SO MUCH FUN!

2. What am I working on?
Currently, it’s a YA Fantasy named Mind Witch. The main character, Zéphyrine, can manipulate people’s thoughts and

Ubik was a big inspiration for Mind Witch

Ubik was a big inspiration for Mind Witch

memories (hence the title), and she was one of the leads in my previous project (Withering Spring). Mind Witch came from my first CP telling me Zéph was her favorite character and that she was sad Zéph’s story started out in media res. I didn’t plan on writing it, but one thing led to another and now it’s too much fun to stop.

3. How does my work differ from others in its genre?

Mind Witches/Psions are usually more of a sci-fi thing, so there’s that. I’m also telling the story from a more antagonistic perspective, and doing a play o the Chosen One trope by having the person who’s supposed to deliver the world from evil wanting to take it for herself rather than retiring from heroism – and no, it’s not the MC.

Iriae seems very sweet, but actually, she's insane.

Iriae seems very sweet, but actually, she’s insane.

Oh, and I’m illustrating it as well, so… that too?

4. Why do I write what I write?
I write Fantasy because, aside from being my favorite genre to read, I enjoy creating worlds that don’t have the same restrictions as ours – and because I love it.

5. How does my writing process work?
I often start novels with only a vague idea, either a scene that’s hounding my head and needs to be put into words before I forget, a theme I want to explore – those things. Then I start mulling it over and expand on it using a series of bullet points like “MC can control people, is sent to turn a country upside down”. I write a preliminary query, ask friends/CPs “Hey, is this something you’d read?” and then go for it.

6. Introduce the next author on the tour and link to their blog.
Next stop will be at Kyra Nelson‘s blog! Kyra interned for a literary agency, and I first came across her when she was offering query critiques (Mind Witch was #2!) and she gave me great pointers. Her blog is filled with useful writing advice for both queries and novels, not to mention the actual query crits she does are extremely useful and have information we can all take for our own query-ous nightmares!

Meet my character Blog Hop!

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The lovely Kathleen S. Allen tagged me in this blog hop. You can see hers on her own blog, and it honors me so so so much that she used the free character sketch I made for her during a contest <3

And now, for my turn!

Meet Zéphyrine

 

1) What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?
Zéphyrine – Zéph, for short – is fictional.

2) When is the story set?
It’s a baroque setting in an unnamed fantasy world (seriously, I just call it The World), during Zéph’s father’s quest to end the influence of the Gods on earth.

3) What should we know about him/her?
Zéph is one of the four children of the Ravager (the main antagonist), and is a Mind Witch, which means she can hop around inside people’s heads and manipulate them as she sees fit.

4) What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?
Her life has always been messed up, so, in a way, conflict happens when it starts becoming less so. When she gets to Almudena (where the story happens), she’s intent on bringing the city to its knees and be done with it. She starts falling for Jasen (the Prince, whom she’s been told to brainwash), but it’s only when she meets Iriae, the one person who could go against the Ravager should she wish to, that Zéph starts having options in regards of where her life goes.

5) What is the personal goal of the character?
First, its to survive through obedience. Zéph’s scared shitless of her father (the one time she was a disappointment to him, he burned her half to death), and she wants to remain on his good side. But at around page 110, it changes into protecting Iriae and Jasen from the destruction the Ravager wants to bring upon Jasen’s country and the world.

6) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?
Mind Witch, and you can read if you ask me, I guess. The query is in a separate header in my blog, too :)

7) When can we expect the book to be published?
When I get an agent, and said super agent sells this to a publisher. Meanwhile, have one teasers of an unfinished illustration for one of the book’s scenes.

boy meets psion prev

Boy Meets Psion Preview

Dana Collins, E. L. Wicker, you’re it!
(plz don’t hate me?)

#PimpMyBio for #PitchWars. This might get long.

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Hi, I’m Diana, and I’ve entered Pitch Wars with a NA Fantasy!

I'm so classy!

I’m so classy!

 

1. I have a Portal gun. However, it’s only a miniature one. STILL, it works. When my friends need anything, I will use my super-advanced Math and Physics skills to calculate the exact trajectory, shoot up a portal towards them and LOVE IS SENT. Granted, we don’t need portals for that, but they make everything cooler.

 

PORTALS

PORTALS

2. I have two cats. One is very derpy and adorable and wishes he was a dog; the other is a dainty princess who purrs louder than a train engine. I DO share all the cute/funny pics of my beloved Sushi and Jubas and you.will.love.it.
I do love dogs as well, but since I don’t have a house big enough to make one happy, I’m dog-free for now.
3. I’m Portuguese and like any proper one, I love going to the beach AND I love food.
Perrie gets me

Perrie gets me

4. I also draw, and I dare say, am pretty decent at it. I illustrate all my novels because I love it.
5. I love games and I want to write my own. Or rather, I’ve written my own, All my novels WILL have future incarnations as games, one way or the other. And yes, I will make them myself. I’m also not afraid to admit it was games that got me into writing. Particularly Ocarina of Time, Planescape: Torment, Baldur’s Gate 2, The Longest Journey and Grim Fandango. Planescape, particularly, had such a big impact I got the Rune of Torment tattooed on me! Below is some artwork for Sightless (text-based Point and Click) and Blob Defense (platformer).
6. I do believe one of the best things that’s ever happened to me was getting my first novel, Sightless, rejected.
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“How can you say rejection is good, Diana? Are you crazy?”
It was good because I wasn’t ready and Sightless was NOT the best thing it could’ve been. Three years later, it became a kick-ass game concept and an even better story about seeing the world through other people’s eyes. It was a humbling experience and I owe a lot to everyone who rejected me back then – hitting that brick wall not only made me a better writer, it made me a better person as well.
As for being crazy. Well…
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7. I am an extremely hardworking person. As in, I will work day and night to get my story where it needs to be. You won’t ever hear me complaining about it.
Want an example of how hardworking I am? From fifth to eighth grade, teachers told me I would never be able to draw properly. Eleven years later, I’m proving them wrong by being PAID to draw. Hard work + stubbornness does wonders.
8. A lot of my long-term friends came from the internet. One of them is also participating, and if you follow me on twitter, you already know I’m talking about Dana Collins. She’s awesome and I’m not afraid to pimp her out in here as well. She’s my L’Oreal: totally worth it.
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9. Speaking a bit more of pets: I AM MAD about bearded dragons and reptiles. I JUST GOT MY NORBERT! 10 points for Ravenclaw if you get the reference!
10. I have SO MANY projects that are already outlined and just waiting to be written. The only reason I haven’t is because my time machine only allows me an extra hour a day. Said projects include: blind girl who can use other people’s eyes to see. Voiceless is about a person who steals voices in a story that’s a play on clichés.
11. I swear like a sailor, much to my parents’ constant dismay.
SORRY MOM!

SORRY MOM!

12. Want to laugh at my first attempts at writing in English or just see how much I’ve evolved throughout the years? Look at my fanfiction.net page. Yes, fanfic was great help to improving my English. And yes, I still write fanfic. No one else was writing that Diablo 3 Demon Huntress/Tyrael porn and it NEEDED to be done.

 

13. I’m a great cook, according to everyone who’s ever tasted my food. Specifically, my version of cod with cream.

 

14. I’m such a sucker for romance I’ve compiled a list of Games With Romantic Elements to make life easier for suckers like me.

 

15. I love things that mess with my mind. Books/comics/games/movies, you name it. My favorites include Ubik, 1984, Fables and 90% of my go-to movie list: http://www.classreal.com/

 

16. My favorite writers in YA are: Susan Dennard, Sarah J Maas (I had a lot of problems with Throne of Glass, but her follow-ups are MASTERFUL), Tahereh Mafi, Maggie Stiefvater, Gail Carriger, Kristin Cashore, Rae Carson and Scott Westerfeld.

 

17. Fav writers of all time? George Orwell (I have TWO 1984-inspired tattoos), Juliet Marillier (whom I’ve actually met in person and SPAZZED — good things do come out when you a) keep in touch with agents who rejected your manuscripts BUT gave you awesome feedback and b) you’re shameless and e-mail author’s agents about how much you love their client), Philip K Dick, Tolkien, JK Rowling, George R R Martin (forget Game of Thrones — have you read Fevre Dream?)

18. I played roller hockey for sixteen years. No, not a typo. I was skating at five and competing on a national level at 10. We were in the finals for the National Cup, and we did the Super Cup as well. Unfortunately, I had to quit (only so much time in a day, plus, I had to move to Lisbon for college, and there are no local teams).
19. You know how rush week and pledging to fraternities and sororities can be awful in the US? Well, we have something similar here, called Praxe. It’s open to everyone and it’s a lot of fun. I’ve met one of my best friends and “big sister” Sofia Teixeira through it, and now, we blog together about books — in fact, her blog is one of the biggest in the country!
20. I have an awful sense of humour. Meaning, I laugh at incredible inappropriate jokes and then feel TERRIBLE about it.
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21. And last but not least, because a lot of people ask me this: Yup, Pinguicha is my real name.AND BECAUSE I PROMISED! MOAR KITTIES!

And don’t forget to check out the other awesome mentees! Blog hop at Dannie Morin’s!

So, I’m a grown-up now

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Not that I haven’t been an adult (technically, anyway) for seven years now. But I have a grown-up job that finally allows me to be monetarily independent. YAY!

And since I’ve been quiet for a while, here are some illustrations I did for Withering Spring (Belladonna) and for Sightless 2.0, the game.

BellCharacterScreen_AislingV2 many sketches

WIP Blog Hop

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Originally posted on accidentalwriter:

So I was tagged by the infamous E.G. Moore to participate in a blog hop. I hate to admit that while I’d heard of blog hops, I didn’t particularly know what was involved. So, of course, I “Googled” it. And here I am…

Emily tagged me because we were both finalists in Michelle Hauck’s In With the New agent contest, in which we all submitted our query letters and the first 250 words of our manuscript. Gosh that sounds dry, doesn’t it? But for writers, it was a week of nail biting, Twitter tweeting, screen refreshing, more nail biting, and for me & Emily – virtual tequila floats.

Don’t knock a tequila float until you’ve tried it, y’all.

Anyway, in my vast research on blog hopping (snort) I learned that some bloggers even give things away – so I’m going to deviate from Emily’s WIP questions just a bit…

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Query Critique 2

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pinguicha:

Super helpful critiques from Kyra Nelson, who interned at a literary agent. MIND WITCH is my most recent project.

Originally posted on Thoughts From the Agent Desk:

I’m so impressed to have  another query to critique so soon. At some point I’ll probably go to only doing one or two critiques a week. But as I’m building the blog, I’m going to try doing as many as possible. In other words, now is a great time to submit. See the query critiques link at the top for details.

My comments are in green.


At five years old, Zéphyrine’s father told her to throw an emperor out a window. At seven, she was commanded to brainwash her brother into submission. At twelve, she was forced to do the same to her sister; countless others followed. Although I get that the emperor thing is supposed to establish how cruel her father is, it’s a little distracting to me (it doesn’t seem to have much to do with the main plot, and since she was five, I’m guessing she didn’t…

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My group and I delivered this project mid-December. We’re now making the Game Treatment, but in the meantime, here: have the prototype for Sightless.

It’s very short and we had to strip down some of the features to deliver it on time (we had one week to make all of it). Writing and art are by me, coding was by my three colleagues!

What I’ve been doing… part deux

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So, for Game Design and Development, we had to submit a game idea of which the nine most voted by the entire class would be made into game prototypes. I subbed an idea I had based on a re-write of Sightless and it was the third(!) with more votes.So yeah, we’re making it! One tiny step towards one of my dreams, which is turning some of my own novels into games!

I’ve been doing concept art for the game. Here are a couple of screens of Aisling!

sightless CA 01 Screenshot 2013-11-11 17.56.00

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That aside… I’ve been working on fixing key plot points of Withering Spring as well as taking my Master’s degree classes. Busy busy busy!