It’s Live – A New Comedy

Comedies are quickly becoming my favorite genre. There’s nothing like chuckling along as you write.

My latest, Once Upon a Punchline, uses some of the “far away, in a magical kingdom” tropes of our favorite childhood bedtime stories in order to explore the trials and tribulations of…

adulting.

It’s available at all the ebook retailers (paperback is forthcoming):

Amazon

Kobo

Apple

B&N

If you enjoy Once Upon a Punchline, don’t forget to check out my other humorous shorts:

Cover Reveal & New Newsletter – Comedies!

I have such a good time writing comedies. It just cleanses the soul.

I’ve been working on yet another comedic release–soon to come (I’m in the copyediting phase).

AND: I’m delighted to share the cover:

It might just be my favorite cover.

I’ve also started a new comedy newsletter, so you’ll always know when a new funny read releases. You can sign up here: http://eepurl.com/hNysJD

When Your Computer Crashes Or the File Won’t Save (Losing a Day’s Writing)

This happened to me recently. It wasn’t a first draft (I had earlier versions saved), so I did have a few ways to reconstruct what I’d done. The whole put-it-back-together task would have been infinitely harder if I’d been in that first draft phase.

I’d spent several hours that day reading the vast majority of a 20K-word project out loud, editing as I went along. I thought I’d saved the file. When I came back to it after dinner, the computer had restarted. I opened the file only to find that everything I thought I’d saved was gone.

Here’s how I dealt with it:

Lots and Lots of Cussing

It’s fine to scream about it. Why wouldn’t you scream? There’s nothing worse than the feeling of losing a whole day. But then you have to put it all aside.

Reconstruct Immediately

Don’t wait. Don’t think your mind will be better able to work if you’ve completely cooled off. Don’t give it a night’s sleep. You’ll forget a ton of it. Reconstruct immediately.

Think Big, Then Small

I raced through the sections, jotting down notes to remember the big strokes changes I’d made. Once I’d made those notes, I went into the sections and made the actual changes. Then I read the sections straight through (silently this time). And I could remember, as I read, where I’d made smaller changes.

Was It the Same? Nope.

But that was okay. I do think the bigger changes were tighter the second time around.

Point Is, I Didn’t Lose Anything

I don’t think there’s anything I lost permanently. No, it wasn’t word-for-word. But I don’t think I’d have remembered half of it if I’d decided to tackle it again the next morning.

And besides, by tackling it as soon as possible that very evening, I could go to bed knowing that I didn’t actually lose a day’s work.

November – Epilepsy Awareness Month

I just found out that November is Epilepsy Awareness Month. Like most things, I never thought about epilepsy much until it became part of my everyday life. I’ve talked about it often, but my dog Gus has epilepsy. It was a slow process of figuring out what it was–whether seizures were severe or frequent enough to warrant medication. We started meds last August; just before Halloween, we had another seizure (the first while on meds), but that was because he threw up / didn’t get the right dose of his Keppra. (Next time, I’ll have some better idea what to do in that situation–everyone’s different.)

I’m just at the beginning of this whole journey–but I’m thinking about the animals and people who are also dealing with epilepsy on a daily basis. There are so many brave people out there taking care of animals or children or other family members who have seizures. I’m already so grateful to our vet (who absolutely saved Gus’s life last summer during a terrible seizure) and to our online communities who’ve helped me take better care of Gus–and who make me feel like I’m far from alone.

The Ultimate Fear

The absolute worst fear of all is that I would stop, at some point, hating older work.

Okay, so maybe hate is a strong term. But I would hate, hate, hate to get to a point where I read something I’d written several years ago and didn’t see a million things I would do differently if I were to write it again.

It would mean I hadn’t grown. I hadn’t changed my mind a hundred different times about what a story was supposed to do. 

A while back, I got the rights to the very first book I ever published: A Blue So Dark. Blue gave me my first starred review. It won awards (silver medal in Foreword Reviews INDIES Book of the Year and gold medal in the IPPYs). 

And yet…

Sure, there are things I’d do differently. But should I? 

In a way, this book captures a moment in time–and in my life. It was a real struggle to figure out what would stay and what would go.

In the end, I didn’t change the plotline or characters, none of the major points. But I did change it up quite a bit as far as the line edits went: I changed the language Aura, the main character, swears. I mean, she swears a lot.

People swear. they do. Especially when things get difficult. But in Blue, I think it’s used to the point that it takes readers out of the story. 

I’m in the midst of typing the epilogue now–which means the next step will be formatting the ebook and print versions (I’m going to do both hardback and paperback editions). 

Be sure to sign up at my YA newsletter to find out when the book is available (I’m planning a super affordable ebook upon re-release): Holly Schindler’s YA News.

Aaaand–drumroll, please–my official cover reveal:

Write in the Midst of a Busy Life (Gearing Up for NaNoWriMo)

Even all these years in, I still go through periods when I think it: that I’m too tired, too frazzled, too worried about something to be able to write properly.

And then I tell myself to just shut up.

Everybody works differently, and there’s no one right way. But for me, I do better if I carve some time out each day. I no longer swear by daily marathon writing sessions that used to make up the bulk of my day. I just plain can’t write for ten-plus hours a day. There’s too much going on in a busy household. Dinners and dog-walking and lawn mowing and license plate renewing and…

You know. You have all the same stuff to do.

But I’m better off if I carve out something, like I said. Half an hour, even. There’s usually some section of the day that’s quieter, even in the most chaotic of households. Maybe really early in the morning. Maybe around lunch. Maybe mid-morning, after you drop the kids off at school. Maybe in the afternoon, while the kids are doing homework and before you have to put dinner on. In my own house, it’s post-dinner. I can actually get a few hours of work in, between about seven and eleven (when my dog needs his last round of meds for the day).

When you write in short bursts, the hardest part is keeping your train of thought going. The best way I’ve found to keep my momentum going?

Write Out of Order

Write scenes. Don’t worry about the order of events. Don’t worry about the narrative thread linking it all together. Just write scenes. Action scenes. Love scenes. Scenes of characters meeting. Write all the pivotal events.

Do a NaNoWriMo-Style Challenge

It’s coming up anyway, but why not do your own NaNoWriMo-style challenge? Tell yourself you’ll write 40-50K words of scenes in a month. The point of NaNoWriMo is to just get it down, right? Great! Draft your scenes. Do it in a month. Then slide the pieces (ahem, chapters) into place, linking them all with a narrative thread. (Tip: This part works much easier in a writing program like Scrivener. I haven’t drafted a book in Word in ages.)

The Point Is…

Every house is loud. And busy. Laundry baskets are always full and cars are always leaking oil. There are always repairs and chores. It’s true for everyone, even professional writers. There is absolutely no perfect time to write. There just isn’t. But there are plenty of great snatches of time in the midst of all the chaos, when you can write some surprisingly lovely stuff.

Gus the Epileptic Pekingese (Life’s Greatest Blessings)

This is Gus. Seen here on his favorite deck chair, which comes complete with a lookout hole:

Gus is not the easiest pet I’ve owned. I’ve mentioned it elsewhere online, but he has idiopathic epilepsy. We had to start medication in August, following a severe seizure that became an emergency rush to the vet.

He is, though, the friendliest pet I’ve ever had. I know far more of my neighbors than I did a couple of years ago. He’s made the roughest parts of the pandemic far more manageable. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on life; in many ways, I feel like I’m more a part of life than I ever was before.

Maybe we always do wind up learning more–about love and acceptance and commitment–from the harder four-legged companions. And maybe, in the end, what they show us is that “hard” is actually relative, that love isn’t love without a little risk, and that sometimes, life’s greatest blessings come in the most unlikely little packages.

Just ‘Cause – Writing Projects that Bring Joy

I took a break from my novel last week to write a short story.

‘Cause I wanted to.

There is something so wonderful about writing a just-’cause project. No concerns about word count or genre or marketing. A project you want to write. It charges the batteries.

And more: it gives you a chance to play with structure and voice. It gives you a chance to grow.

Every project you write changes you as a writer, if only a little bit.

If you are stuck with your WIP, take a day to write a just-’cause piece. Something for yourself.

It will teach you, unlock some door you didn’t know was locked before.

And, because you’ve grown a bit as a writer, it can help you tackle your WIP again.