Author Goals

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My firsts goals in writing were to finish my books and be published. I’ll never be done finishing books, because there’s always another one waiting to be written, but this year my first book was published.

So, what do the rest of my author goals look like at the moment?

See my book on a store shelf. I get excited whenever I see Vanity in Dust anywhere. I’m sure I’ll have a full on giggle fit when I see it on a store shelf.

Finish the Crowns & Ash series. I can’t wait to get to that ending! I have the second and third written and the fourth and fifth outlined.

Science Fiction! I want to publish a scifi series. Space ships, high tech adventure, pirates, maddening viruses and androids! I have the roughest rough draft of the first book waiting in line to be revised and I am so excited that I dream about it.

Fanfiction! It would be a real “achievement unlocked” moment for me if anyone was ever so interested and invested in one of my worlds that they would write a fanfic for it. And the stranger the better.

Write enough books that I can start doing hilarious dedications. I love funny dedications! But I have a list of people I want to sincerely dedicate books to that I should probably get through first.

Publish horror novels. I like writing scary books and would love to see some of those published too.

I’m sure there’s more but maybe that’s enough for right now. We’ll see how many more I come up with in another year.

-Cheryl

 

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Editing Tricks

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Editing Tricks aka Learning from my mistakes!

I like to think that editing Vanity in Dust has left me with a few new tricks and, if the universe is kind, taught me some things so that I might not make the same mistakes on the next manuscript.

I won’t go through my whole editing process here, just a few tricks I learned from substantive/line edits with my editor.

Among other issues, it turns out I have two major problems with my writing. I’m too wordy and passive. I feel like this is an eerily accurate breakdown of my personality problems, as well…

One of the ways I combed through my MS for passive issues was by using the find and replace function. This function is your friend! I searched for the word “seemed” and weeded out a bunch of those. A bunch. On the first search I found 146 in my MS. I easily brought that down to 34.

I also ran searches for the words: seem, as though, and imagined. Pretty much if I didn’t need it to make the sentence work, it was out. They end up being wishy-washy, noncommittal words that I use on reflex.

Another thing I needed to keep an eye on was how often characters woke up. This sounds dumb if you don’t think about it but if enough scenes start with someone waking up, it becomes noticeable and kinda lame. I started keeping a tally during one of my read throughs and if I could change it, I did.

Speech tags! I love to explain what everyone is doing all the time. It took a great editor to break me of that and really point out how it can slow up dialogue. Again, rule of thumb for everything, if I don’t need it or love it–I delete it.

Formatting!

I had a habit of clicking tab rather than setting indents before this process. Luckily, this was an easy fix. Again, the find and replace function was my best friend.

During one of the rounds of edits I realized I’d gone through at least 1/3 of the book without tracking my changes. My first thought when I realize I’ve done something like this is to buckle down and start fixing it by hand. In this case, that would have meant starting over. I had a mild meltdown before doing some desperate googling. Turns out you can merge docs and track the changes! Google is also your friend. 

Before going crazy and doing anything the hard way, check to see if there’s an easy way.

I’m sure I’ll learn new things with each book that goes through the rounds of edits and if anyone can learn from my mistakes, it’s worth writing about!

I’m currently knee-deep in revisions for the third book of the Crowns & Ash series and putting some of these tips to the test. Wish me luck!

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Published!

Vanity in Dust is officially published!

I’m supposed to just say that I’m crazy happy and scream/giggle a lot but let’s be honesty–authors are usually a mixed bag when it comes to emotions. The week leading up to today, I was a mild wreck. I had trouble sleeping and focusing. I threw myself into any basic project or task I could get my hands on and watched unreasonable amounts of drama to distract myself. I even cleaned. I was outright twitchy.

Vanity in Dust was a labor of love and obsession and it’s now my first published novel. I was equal parts happy and terrified.

The week before today, before publication day, I was hit by this tidal wave of doubt that I was not prepared for. I didn’t see it coming. I didn’t expect it. But it showed up and I did everything I could to ignore it. I ran hard from that wave and pulled every trick from my bag to avoid sinking under it. And then, just as suddenly as it came, it was gone. Sometime yesterday, I stopped being anxious. I stopped worrying. I think it was the inevitability of today–that it was finally upon me and I had made it–that brought this calm.

Turns out, publishing is like getting to the top of a mountain that a part of you was never really willing to believe you’d be able to climb. Or at least, it was for me. I have this pessimistic voice in my heart that I try hard to ignore, but it’s always there, whispering to keep me from getting too hyped or too dependent on something. It warned me, even though everything was set and ready, that there’s always someone waiting to pull the rug out from underfoot.

Well, fuck the pessimist because today I’m published!

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Pantser VS Plotter

Okay, so there’s generally two camps in writing (there’s a lot of middle ground here, but these are the general groups). A panster is a writer that writes “by the seat of their pants”. Kind of unfair term because many have a plan, but they don’t have an outline. They write what comes to them in the story, finding their way to the end.

A plotter is, exactly what it sounds like, a writer who plots. Yes, all writers plot, but these are the ones that have an outline before they start writing their book.

I used to be a pantser and then accidentally became a plotter. No joke, it just happened. While writing Vanity in Dust, I had all these ideas for the next books in the series. I wouldn’t let myself start another one until the first was done, so I just kept notes for the other books. When I was ready to write book 2, I took a look at my notes and started moving things around into the right order and adding scenes where I needed more and, in the end, had a complete outline.

I decided to try the nanowrimo method and give myself a daily word count goal and just write it–from one scene to the next, down the outline until I was done. 95k in a month.

I’ve done this four more times since and it works for me. I obsess about an idea for a while, thinking it over and making notes that are anywhere from paragraphs of detail and dialogue to “something here”. Some scenes do develop organically while I’m writing, adding to the outline here and there after the daily writing, and others come out exactly as I planned. But, because I have an outline, I never get stuck thinking about what I should do next and inevitably on twitter or watching Killjoys.

Plotting works for me, but that’s not to say the pantser method doesn’t work for others.

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Vanity in Dust release date

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We’re excited to announce that Cheryl Low’s debut fantasy novel, VANITY IN DUST, will be available in ebook and paperback August 8, 2017. VANITY IN DUST is the first in the Crowns & Ash series,  set in a decadent dark fantasy world of hedonism, addiction, and political intrigue.

About the Book

In the Realm there are whispers. Whispers that the city used to be a different place. That before the Queen ruled there was a sky beyond the clouds and a world beyond their streets.
 
Vaun Dray Fen never knew that world. Born a prince without a purpose in a Realm ruled by lavish indulgence, unrelenting greed, and vicious hierarchy, he never knew a time before the Queen’s dust drugged the city. Everything is poisoned to distract and dull the senses, even the tea and pastries. And yet, after more than a century, his own magic is beginning to wake. The beautiful veneer of the Realm is cracking. Those who would defy the Queen turn their eyes to Vaun, and the dust saturating the Realm.
 
From the carnivorous pixies in the shadows to the wolves in the streets, Vaun thought he knew all the dangers of his city. But when whispers of treason bring down the fury of the Queen, he’ll have to race to save the lives and souls of those he loves.

About the Author

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Cheryl Low might be an Evil Queen, sipping tea and peeping on everyone from high up in her posh tower—a job she got only after being fired from her gig as Wicked Witch for eating half the gingerbread house.

…Or she might be a relatively mundane human with a love for all things sugary and soap opera slaps.Find out by following her on social media @cherylwlow or check her webpage, cheryllow.com. The answer might surprise you! But it probably won’t.



We’ll be revealing the cover for VANITY IN DUST on May 10th. If you have a book-related blog, join our cover reveal team so you can see it before anyone else, and also have the chance to receive an advance review copy.

While you wait for the cover, please add VANITY IN DUST to your Goodreads shelf, and follow Cheryl Low on Twitter.

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