Thursday Words

Zero Draft

Hello friends and welcome to another lover of longhand edition of Just Another Struggling Writer. I’m just another struggling writer.

Since turning in most recent, and possibly last for the year, romance novella last week I have found myself with the most curious thing: spare time. Wild, I know. Of course, I took a few days off to let my brain unclench a little after I struggled hard with that last romance, but now it is back to the grind.

I had just started what I am, for now, calling a cozy fantasy (though I am starting to doubt that label) when I got my contracts, which meant I had to take a two-month break from the idea. This week when I hauled out my notebook again, I’ll admit it was pretty darn tempting to just lay it aside and dive into something new or different, especially since I’ve been doing some world building on the Border Towns rewrite (more on that later).

But, my better sense won out in the end (for once), and, honestly, it felt really darn good to write until my pen ran out again. 

If you’re new around here, it might come as something of a surprise that I prefer to write my first draft entirely by hand. When I’m on deadline I have to switch to typing simply because of the time factor, but absolutely given my druthers, longhand is the most effective method for me to push through a first draft. 

Think about it, first drafts can be pains in the anatomy. If you’re like me and many other writers, the propensity to doubt (or even hate) what you’ve written can often lead to just wiping the slate clean and starting fresh. And while I’m of the opinion that no words are wasted as long as you’re learning from what came before, moving backward is rarely helpful when you’re trying to tell yourself the story, like in a first draft.

For me, writing longhand helps stem the tide of backspacing. Part of that is simply because I’m so neurotic, I really don’t like seeing a bunch of big ugly scratch outs on my page, and I really, really don’t like wasting paper and pens. So, when I’ve written a few paragraphs that I don’t necessarily love, where it would be easy to erase them and start over on a computer, when I’m drafting on paper I pretty much have to decide if it’s worth it or if I should just move on. Most of the time, I move on.

Because it’s the first draft. It’s not supposed be pretty and perfect. 

Actually, in a way, I consider my longhand writing to be the zero draft of a project. My scribbles are often indecipherable to any second set of eyes, littered with shorthand and misspellings, repeated words are rife, and description is thin on the ground. Then, when its time to transcribe the pages into my computer, I take things nice and slow, fixing errors and rewording things as I see fit. That’s when I identify the places where I’ve written myself into a corner, or repeated a scene idea. That’s when I evaluate what lessons I’ll take into, what I consider, the real first draft. 

Plus, writing longhand gives me an excuse to buy sparkly gel pens I’ll actually use and pretty notebooks I’ll actually write in. And what writer doesn’t love that? 


But, the cozy fantasy (working title: Pieces of Eight) isn’t all I’ve been spending my creative energy on. Nope, you read that right: I, Kerry Share, have been world building. And its not just any world building. Its world building for a story that long time readers might recognize as Border Towns, my erstwhile WIP that I took to Nano, finished just days before my 30th birthday, and then proceeded to struggle with in subsequent drafts because, as I later realized, it needed major revisions.

That said, revisions isn’t quite the word I would use to describe what I’m doing with the project. Complete overhaul is more accurate. While the premise, characters, and general plot threads will remain the same, pretty much everything is getting a massive makeover. I’m even changing all the names, including the title. Henceforth, Border Towns will be known as Tyranny of Titans.

And the very first lesson that I’m taking from its predecessor is: I can’t just leave the world building for later. I’ve got to have a really clear picture of the space around the characters, the cultures they exist in, and the broader scope of the conflict at the heart of the story, before I can start writing in earnest. So, in the creases between the day job, the child rearing, housekeeping, and drafting Pieces of Eight, I’ve been doing some world building.

I’m starting off slow with just the custom language of the setting. I used the VulgarLang tool to plug in the phonemes of the language I wanted to base mine off of (a secret, in case you were wondering), and generated a few examples until I found one I liked. Then I skimmed through the dictionary (I paid for the full version of VulgarLang years ago and is still one of the best purchases I ever made) provided and chose about 100 words that I liked the sound of and plugged them into an excel spreadsheet. From this list I am coming up with the names for my cast of characters.

I’ve always been really bad at coming up with names in my stories and one of my chief dissatisfactions with the original Border Towns was that everything felt so uncreative because the world had no uniqueness to it. So, this process has been actually kind of fun and inspiring in its own way. I definitely recommend checking out VulgarLang if you’re a fantasy writer, like me, who might need or want a fantasy language for their story but can’t figure out how to make one.


That’s all from me. I’m still trying to think of ways to fill the Friday blog spot, so I may post something random or experimental tomorrow. Until then, my friends! May your writing be plenty and your struggles be few.

Kerry Share

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Drabble Rock

The Ballad of Mercy May; 0012

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the creatures pursuing her are her answer. She has no other choice but to push her already exhausted body onward to the city on the hill.

Surely they will tire, she tells herself, a sharp pain in her side like a knife between her ribs from the effort making it difficult to breathe, and the walled city growing ever so slowly nearer. Surely they will give up the chase.

Alas the monsters are not so accommodating.

However, in a stroke of good fortune, the woman does not need them to be, after all. For, just as she feels her legs


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Drabble Rock

Drabble Rock; Week 10


blame


“Your mother never told you what she was doing in my city that day, did she?” Torrence’s voice was low and teasing, a sadistic smile tugging at their lips.

Leema didn’t answer – couldn’t. But her silence was answer enough.

“Of course she didn’t,” the spy continued, still circling her as an animal might circle their cornered prey, “because that would mean admitting that she had done something not just reckless or foolish, but utterly wrong. And we both know the perfect, peerless Mirabel Stone would never confess to being responsible for all those deaths, now would she?”

No. She wouldn’t.

Monday Motivations

Monday Motivations; Knight of Cups

Help friends and welcome to another wolfish week of writing.

Friends, I am back after yet another unexpected week off thanks to yet another of my children coming down with appendicitis. For those keeping track at home, that’s two in two months.

Fortunately, everything went well and I am back to the grind. Best of all I was able to use some of the down time to at last finish the romance novella that had been giving me fits for the last five weeks. I’m hoping I can squeeze one last pitch in before the cut off but if not then that is a wrap on romance writing for the year.

Which puts me in the position to, for the first time in months, focus on my fantasy writing for a while.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t of two minds about this prospect. Romance writing is what helps pay the bills after all and with Christmas right around the corner, it sure would be nice to have some padding in the bank account.

On the other hand, fantasy is where my heart is at. I can scarcely pick up a book, watch a tv show or movie, or play a video game even tangentially related to a fantasy setting without getting inundated with dozens of new ideas for stories. So, having a few months break to really focus on a fantasy draft should be exciting.

If I can finish, that is.

Because that’s always the rub, isn’t it? I have too many ideas in my head to properly keep track of but not enough time, focus, energy, or some combination of the three to actually bring those ideas into existence.

So, while it sound like fun to take these next few months to blow off writing in the interest of recharging my batteries before romance pitching opens up again, I think it’s actually more important than ever to really focus on finishing up this cozy fantasy draft. At 900 words a day, less than the output I strive for when I’m under contract for my novellas, I can knock this sucker out by New Year’s. And wouldn’t that be something?


Until next time, friends!

Kerry Share

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Drabble Rock

The Ballad of Mercy May; 0011

Previous


their own volition, as if her body is possessed by a power that is at once both foreign and familiar. It is… strangely exhilarating.

Eventually, the wild terrain gives way to tamed, yet unkempt farmland. A dirt path forms, a welcome relief to the woman’s aching feet after the undergrowth, and here and there barns and cottages dot the landscape. Yet, as she draws nearer, she realizes the houses are not the first taste of civilization she’d hoped for. All of them, to a one, are rundown — abandoned.

What happened here? The woman wonders desperately.

The baying and snarling of


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Thursday Words

Just Keep Swimming

Hello friends and welcome to an underwater edition of Just Another Struggling Writer. I’m just another struggling writer.

Friends, the last few weeks have been a little fraught in my world. Emotionally, financially, and writing…ly? I’ve had a lot of up and down moments, from launching my Patreon page to failing to secure a single Patron outside of my own inner circle, from having to cancel my trip to WorldCon because I could no longer afford the hotel to finally getting back to my romance novellas after a long summer off, from 7000+ word writing days to the stretch I’m in right now where flying a commercial jet seems like it would be easier than finishing this manuscript.

tenacity: the quality or state of being persistent

Something I’ve come to realize over the course of this journey, and its a lesson I am certain many authors have learned before me, is that determination is probably the most important quality in a writer — even more so than raw talent.

Because writing is going to be hard. There are going to be days (or several days in a row, or a week, or months) where it feels like there are no more words in your wrung out sponge of a brain. There are going to be periods where you think that you’re never going to make it. There will be deadlines you’re going to miss and you hate yourself for failing. It will feel like no one cares about your writing. It is going to be utterly demoralizing. And not everyone is going to be cut out for it.

I’ll be totally honest. I’ve thought more than once (often, even) that I’m one of those people. That, because my chronic depression and anxiety often rob me of creative spark, I’ll never be a professional writer. That, because I often find myself just too worn out from the other parts of my life that demand my time, attention, and mental energy, that I don’t deserve to succeed. And when the call is coming from inside the house like that, it becomes harder and harder to ignore.

There have been times when I “quit” writing. I just straight gave up. Told myself that writing was supposed to be fun, and I was making myself so miserable with guilt for not writing, that it was no longer an enjoyable activity for me. And if that was the case, what was the point? So, I walked away.

But, inevitably, a day or two later, I would miss it. I would feel the itch. I would be playing a video game and making up stories about the world or characters. I would be watching tv or a movie, and think about what I would do differently. I would hear a song and all sorts of ideas would come to life in my mind.

Then, just for shiggles of course, I would take a glance at the last thing I wrote before I rage quit, half expecting the words and ideas to be so terrible that they would actually affirm my decision to abandon writing altogether. Of course, they weren’t. Some of them were actually pretty good. And now that I looked at it again, I suddenly knew how to fix that trouble spot that made so frustrated before.

You get the idea. The point is this: I gave up. I stone cold quit. I was done. Writing was relegated to the long laundry list of failed endeavors.

And then I came back. 

Me to my WIPs

Okay, so maybe I didn’t quit quit. I really just took a break. But, at the time I made the decision, it really did feel like I was walking away, with all the emotional turmoil that entailed. And, weirdly enough, I think that was ultimately a good thing. It showed me how much writing meant to me, how I couldn’t stay away from it even if I tried, that though times get tough I will always find my way back to what I’m supposed to be doing.

Which is unquestionably, unshakably writing.


My monthly suggestion box is live over at Patreon for the $3.00 and up tiers. This month I am asking my Patrons to let me know what their favorite romance sub genres are. Who knows, maybe I’ll write one or two in those genres in the future. If you are a fan of romance, or know someone who is, please consider becoming a Patron or sharing my page: Patreon.com/KerryShare


That’s all from me this week, sorry it was a day late again. I’ll be back on Saturday with another installment of The Ballad of Mercy May. Until then, my friends, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few.

Kerry Share

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Drabble Rock

The Ballad of Mercy May; 0010

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as she passes.

The hot panting breath of the monster on her heels steadily fades. A scream of frustration echoes through the trees.

But she is leaving it behind. Slowly, the nigh on suffocating foliage begins to thin, and, a few strides later, she bursts through the thicket into bright sunshine and open space. In the distance lies a walled city on a hill, and her salvation.

A deranged howl behind her alerts the woman to several more of the beasts’ kin joining the hunt alongside it. She does not slow — she cannot. Her legs seem to be moving of


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Monday Motivations

Monday Motivations; Five of Pentacles

Hello friends and welcome to another wrangled week of writing.

It’s officially back to real life this week and I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss the routine. While I fervently wish writing could be my routine, it’s not and so I have to make hay with the one I’ve got.

Unfortunately, I have once again found myself in a pinch time wise. I’d like to make some sort of great excuse here about why I wasn’t able to write very much over the last month, but I can’t. The simple truth is I procrastinated. And now I’m in a hole.

At least the hole is familiar. Familiar enough that I’m not quite panicking (yet), though we’ll see how I feel after I’ve pulled three all nighters in a row to make deadline.

I’d also like to say that I’ll do better next time, but it seems like that too is destined to be a lie. So instead I’m just gonna be honest with myself: while it would be nice if I could make it a habit to write every day, so I’m not frequently putting myself in such a bind come deadline times, I recognize that am largely a binge writer.

I’ll try to get better. (Seriously.)

Kerry Share


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Drabble Rock

The Ballad of Mercy May; 0009

Previous


this gods forsaken forest, this is the end.

No.

In that moment, it is the only word she knows. Whether it is her own determination, or that of the disembodied presence hovering at the back of her consciousness, it saves her — at least for the moment. A surge of energy courses through her, and suddenly she is running like the wind, until her eyes are streaming from the air rushing past her. The dense vegetation of the forest no longer feels like it is grabbing at her hair and clothes, but now seems to be bending out of the way


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Thursday Words

A Lot of Balls

Hello friends and welcome to another juggling edition of Just Another Struggling Writer. I’m just another struggling writer. 

For the last eight days, I have been at home on my last staycation of the year before my day job launches into its busy season. I would like to say that I got a whole mess of writing done and my latest manuscript is ahead of schedule and everything is fabulous and wonderful. But, uh. That would be a lie. 

Actually, I did what I probably needed to do and for the first three or four days I did pretty much nothing else but sleep and otherwise relax. Still, I’m not super worried. Part of me has actually come to accept that, at my core, I am a binge writer, and trying to write every day just doesn’t work for me. I’d like it to. I’m going to try to get better about that, but I’m not going to overly stress myself out about it either. 

Me, circa one week ago.

That being said, now that I am well rested and bursting with creative energy, I’ve been wondering whether or not I have enough writing projects on my plate at the moment. 

Yes, you read that right. I am looking for more things to do. 

Ever since I launched my Drabble Rock projects earlier this summer, I have found that I am far more fulfilled creatively than I was just working on one manuscript or fantasy project at a time. While finding the time to manage all of my wild ideas is an ongoing project in and of itself, I find that when I sit down with my planner to map out my day I’m more excited to have a variety of writing related activities on my to-do list. 

So, I’ve decided that I’m going to add a worldbuilding task to my daily endeavors. As some of you may know, I hate worldbuilding. However, I have come to recognize that my chronic avoidance of it is why my fantasy projects tend to stall out so quickly. Worldbuilding, to me, isn’t sexy like drafting (or editing *drool*), but it is necessary BEFORE I launch into a project. 

This is in addition to writing romance for Scribd, Drabble Rock, blogging, producing Patreon content, and drafting an already in-progress fantasy manuscript.

Piece of cake.

Alright, so lets be real, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to maintain all those projects and expect to have a life outside of writing.

(Who needs that? Wonders Dark Me.)

And, sure, I imagine that I’ll get really tired of the grind some days and will need to take mental breaks from writing from time to time. That’s fine. But for right now, the idea of having so many moving parts, so many possible outlets, so many avenues to Being a Writer™ to explore… its energizing to me.

I’ve talked before about my desire to be prolific. To have millions of words to my name and dozens upon dozens of titles. I’m not going to achieve that taking it one story at a time.

Call me impatient, call me overly ambitious. I’m all that and more.

Lets just say, I’ve got balls.


Pearl is young, single, and completely uninterested in the trappings of marriage. Not that her father cares about her personal preferences. When Pearl is married off in what is meant to be none other than a good business deal between families, she decides she will have nothing to do with her intended husband. Or so she thinks.

Kind-hearted Thomas is more welcoming to the thought of a marriage partner than his betrothed, but such a gentle soul would never dare to overstep Pearl’s boundaries. With a partner so intent on keeping him at arm’s length, how can he convince his new wife that he truly loves her?

Pearl and Thomas are forced to get to know each other in the most unfortunate of situations: an arranged marriage unwanted by both of them. Will their families’ meddling come between the blossoming of what looks like an actual romance?

The Dutiful and the Disfavored, a Regency Romance, is available now on my Patreon, with pledges starting at just $1.00. Click here to find out more!


Well friends, that is just about everything I have for you this week. If you like my content, please consider subscribing to my Patreon, or making a donation to my Ko-Fi. Every little bit of support, monetary or moral, is sincerely felt and appreciated! And, as always, may your writing be plenty and your struggles be few.

Kerry Share

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