November thoughts

I’ve been pretty busy this last month. It is National Novel Writing Month after all, and I have indeed been working on the first draft of my next book. Because of the word counts I was trying to achieve, this blog post got put off again, and again, and again… And then suddenly it wasn’t November anymore. But my word count is done and I’m here now!

First off, I should tell you that my current book in progress is turning out to be a lot longer than I thought. Originally I planned for it to be around 50,000 words, but I’ve reached that goal, and still have a lot left of the story itself. I have made tremendous progress, however, and I’m super excited to share more information with you guys. Since the story is bound to change quite a bit from the first draft, it might be a little while though.

It’s kind of odd to think, however, that right now I’m immersed in a world that literally no one else knows about yet. Meeting people no one has ever met before. When a story is read it’s no longer the author’s anymore, it becomes a part of all who read it. But for right now, just for a little while longer, I have the privilege for this story to be mine. It’s magical, like when Mary finds the door under the ivy in The Secret Garden. That’s what books are; a door that’s hidden under the ivy, all we authors have to do, is find the key.

Another odd thought is that it has now officially been a full year since I started writing Honey Butter. One year ago on November 4th I sat down and wrote the first words of the first chapter of the first draft of my first book.

For today though, progress on my book is slow. I wrote 2000 yesterday no problem, but today I’ve written for three hours and only have 500 words to show for it. I’ve officially diagnosed myself with writer’s block for the day. Oh well, I probably need a break anyway… Besides, as I said in my recent podcast interview on Brave Writer, taking a moment to stop and think and wonder is just as important as the writing itself.

Speaking of interviews, I did another one recently too on the blog of fellow teen author Riley Aline. Check it out here or on my Press page.

Now that I’ve brought you up to speed, here’s a collection of short musings about books that I’ve posted over the past month on Instagram. I thought they were blog worthy, and that you guys might enjoy them, so here they are!

November 16:

I watched The Giver last night.
As usual, the book was better than the movie. But is that really the right thing to say? I know there are some movies where the book is definitely better than the movie. But I wonder if sometimes we get picky and say that different than the book means worse than the book. A movie explores things in a different way. It’s not an extension of the book. It’s the story in a different thought form. Because there are so many ways to think about a story.
And watching the Giver and reading it too, made me think about how books, and movies, and songs, and stories, and maybe art in general, are like the Memories that Jonas receives.
They make you think beyond your world. They let you see it in a new way. (whether good or bad.)
Authors are Givers.
Readers are Receivers.
And a book clasps their hands together, transmitting the memory across the distance, and across the years.

November 20:

I broke into a fresh new notebook recently after filling my old one from cover to cover. And I can’t help but wonder what adventures I’ll have with this one. 📒✏️
Right now I’m getting to the point in my first draft where it’s really starting to feel like a mess. A mess beyond repair. Like how my room sometimes felt when I was little. Character development among a pile of stuffed animals. Subplots and socks shoved under the bed. But even though my story is a mess, I looked up from my keyboard today a realized that I’m really enjoying myself. Slowly typing away, plodding on. On that rare quiet afternoon with a pencil and a notebook in hand, or on that crisp and early dawn taking my seat at the computer. I’m writing, I’m a writer, and I’m happy.

November 29:

My endings are always the best part of my books, maybe I have a knack for them, but I think it’s more likely the simple emotion of it. There comes a time in every first draft, usually two-thirds of the way through, when everything begins to feel a tad bit hopeless. The story is falling apart and terribly tangled, and I’m so exhausted by all the writing that I start to get emotional. Luckily enough, this usually happens when the climax is coming and the main character starts to get emotional too. The funny thing about this exhaustion is that instead of making me want to stop, it makes me want to keep going, it makes me love my tattered mess of a story all the more. The finish line is in sight, and it makes me even more passionate. When it came to Honey Butter, I quite literally cried through writing the last few chapters. A surprising and humbling amount of readers have told me that the last few chapters made them cry too. So I think that this tired, slightly hopeless feeling is a good thing. Right now I’m starting to feel it as I draw closer to the end of my current novel. Writing a book is emotionally draining; so many tears go into it that they more than make up for the blood and sweat called for. Step by step, word by word, we’re getting there. So if you are feeling this exhaustion; don’t give up, you can do it.

Well, that’s all for today! The season of Advent is upon us, and I have the very important job of enjoying it that I must attend to. 😉 No doubt you’ll see more of me soon.

Keep Writing!

  • Millie

 

The Brave Writer Podcast

I’m am so, so completely thrilled to share this amazing news with you! A few weeks ago, I was interviewed by Brave Writer, an incredible writing/homeschooling community. My family has been using a lot of their teaching methods, like Poetry Tea Time and Freewrites, and we love it! I’ve also taken a few of their online classes over the years, and have been greatly inspired by both my teachers and fellow students.

It’s always been one of my dreams to get on the Brave Writer Podcast, one of those things you imagine yourself doing, but never really think you will. But so many of my dreams have been coming true lately, that I thought ‘why not?’ Now my podcast episode is LIVE!

Listen to it here.

It was so much fun to chat with Julie, the founder of Brave Writer. Admittedly, I’ll chatter on to whoever will listen about writing-related subjects, so I’m no stranger to it, and to have an in-depth conversation about stories, writing, and homeschooling, was right up my alley.

Keep Writing!

  • Millie

An Author’s Sacrifice

Right now I’m in one of those steady, happy routines. Nothing huge is going on (at least not writing related) and I’m working on a new book, promoting Honey Butter, cooking, reading, and enjoying the coming of fall.

There are always new challenges, of course, one of which is balancing both promotion and writing. I’ve been managing homeschool and writing for a long time, (Plus, when you’re homeschooled your work only takes about as long as you want it to) but adding promotion has taken some getting used too. This is partly because it’s not in any way predictable. Sometimes it means replying to emails or writing informational blog posts. Sometimes it means googling ‘book review blogs’ and sifting through the results or going to award websites and reading through their submission guidelines.

My current writing projects are going pretty well. I’m hoping to finish the first draft of the new fantasy book I’m writing over the next few months. And I’m seventy-five percent done with the book of poems I’m writing.

But away, let’s get to the point of this blog post.

I envy my readers. Not in a bad way, but more of a wistful ‘oh well’ way.

The reason for this is that I can never read my book, and they can. I don’t mean that I am literally unable to read the words, but I can never really read it. I’ve analyzed this story to the breaking point, I always know what’s going to happen next, I’m pretty sure that if I tried I could recite some passages from memory.

I will never be surprised by the plot twist, never caught off guard by something a character says, never wonder ‘what happens next?’. I will never be able to sit down and experience it the way a normal reader would because I’m not the reader.

I guess that’s just the sacrifice an author has to make to bring a story to life. But you know what’s great? Actually, there are several great things;

  1. Other people can experience it.

Dear readers; never take for granted your ability to read and truly experience a book, because the author of that book cannot. This is crazy to think about, but it’s true. Think of all your favorite authors and their amazing books, then realize; they can’t read that amazing book the same way you can! But to give the world a story, and to give you a story, makes it totally worth it.

2. There is more than one author in the world.

Even if I can’t read my own book, there are millions of books out there, and new ones keep on coming. I have a forest of pages before me, all of them ready to explore…

Well, those are my disorganized musings for the day, and I hope you found them interesting. With all the promotion work I’ve been doing, hopefully, there will be some reviews and interviews coming out before too much longer. When they do come out I’ll set up a page here so you can read them if you want. In the meantime…

Keep Writing!

  • Millie

Release Party Recap

This post is a bit overdue,  but I wanted to give you guys a quick recap of the book release party. It was amazing!

The night before the party, my mom and I made a cake that looked like the paint card on the cover of my book.

The afternoon of the book signing, we pulled all the snacks and supplies together, got everyone into the car, and drove to King City Books. We did a little setting up, and then people started coming.

The rest of the evening passed in a flash. At least thirty people showed up! And honestly, I can not thank them enough, the support was amazing! My mom and I were worried we would run out of cake, but actually, we ran out of books! We sold out of Honey Butter copies about halfway through the event.

It’s fun, and kind of weird, to sign your books for people. I practiced my signature a lot before the event.

Fall is almost here. Leaves change color, the air cools. It’s the season for apples and pumpkins and soup and baked things. I think my next book might take place in fall. I’ve started working on it recently, and it’s very refreshing to start something new. I love Honey Butter; it’s a sweet story and will always be important to me,  but I’m a fantasy writer at heart. I’m ready to write about magic and forests and adventure. I haven’t been working too seriously or with a goal in mind, on my next book, but I have been writing it, and that’s always a step in the right direction.

Keep Writing!

  • Millie

Eclipse

Hey, everyone!

So it has been a couple of weeks since my book was released and things have gotten kinda crazy. Crazy in a good way, mostly. I’ve been getting so much support from the community at teenauthorsjournal.com and from my friends and family around here. Big thanks to all of you!

I’ve also been working on promoting my book, no easy feat since I’ve never done it before. If you’d like to help, leaving a review on Amazon or Goodreads would be amazing! Reviews really help my book.

I also received print copies of my book in the mail recently and it was so rewarding. To really hold my own book and read its words on cream-colored paper. A note to all unpublished writers: holding your book is everything you hope it will be. I’m not going to lie, I cried when I opened the box with my books.

It was also fun to show my siblings the dedication I wrote in the book. I dedicated Honey Butter to them, but I’d wanted to keep it a secret until I got the printed copies. My plan worked. 🙂

On a completely different note, I have a poem to share with you!  You’ve probably heard about the eclipse that happened, maybe you even got to experience it. I hope you did, it was other-worldly.

In case you didn’t, though, I wrote the following poem about my experience. My family drove to a place where we could see a full two minutes and forty seconds of totality. It felt way shorter than that though. I hope you enjoy it!

Eclipse

First, the color drains from the world…

The sky has a pallid gray tint,

As if a lens has been put between us.

The heat of the day evaporates silently,

New air, thin and cool,

takes its place; breezing over us.

Each blade of grass is shaded a brilliant neon.

Excited tension emanates from the watching figures.

They know that every passing second could be the one that sends them into the unknown awaiting experience.

And then it does.

Suddenly and silently the shadows fall,

They pool on the ground

And run into each other

And join together as patches in the blanket of night illusion.

“Look up!” someone says,

and I do.

Almost expecting to see the half-covered yellow dot

In the dark sea

That I’ve seen through my paper glasses.

Like a computer generated image,

Just a two-dimensional dot on a black screen.

But this

Is so different,

So real,

Exploding into every dimension.

So much like a fantasy or a dream that it has to be real.

A shining band blazes around a jet-black circle.

A fiery, sunset-like crown encircles the horizon in every direction.

Shadows ripple on the ground like the light coming through blinds.

I look into the sky and stare and stare as hard as I can,

Holding onto each moment of the phenomenon around me.

Clasping the world in its strange twilight zone,

as bright as the night of the harvest moon.

In the distance, I hear people shout,

And I’m trying to take a breath of the sky,

I’m trying to drink the shadow of the moon and the fire of the sun.

And that’s when the world starts to shift.

Like a drop of food coloring blooming its shades into a glass of clear water; the darkness recedes and day returns.

It’s as if the sun has blinked, for only a moment.

And the process reverses.

I wonder if this is how time travel feels.

And then it’s as if my mind is eclipsed,

As it tries to hold on to the wonder it experienced,

Just until I can find a pen.

Keep Writing!

  • Millie

Published at Last . . .

Well… Honey Butter is published.
I guess when you boil that down it means two main things:

 

  1.  You can read it.
  2. I can start a new story.

Both of which are equally hard to wrap my brain around.

If you love reading then you know it’s not just understanding what the words on the page mean. It’s immersing yourself in an entirely new world. Becoming friends with characters that make you laugh, wince, and cry just like real life friends. It’s seeing things a totally new way. A way that makes you think long and hard about the world around you. A good book isn’t just words on a page. In the words of Ray Bradbury:

“The magic is only in what books say, how they stitched the patches of the universe together into one garment for us.”

A good book does that. Whether or not my book is a good book I am not in the place to judge. That’s your, the reader’s,  job. But now that it’s published, the readers can do their job. And if my book is good, will it ‘stitch the patches of the universe together’?

It’s a terrifying and wonderful thought. That something you wrote could do something or impact someone in this world. Whether it actually will or not you can’t really know. All you can do is keep writing, which brings us to the second thing.

What am I going to write next?

As strange as it may sound, I’ve never been able to ask myself this question before. Until now I’ve always written until I got sick of the story I was writing, and by that time I had another story idea I was burning to write. So there’s never been any question what I was going to write next. Now I’m faced with the choice between two or three story ideas that I’ve had for a while. So while I’m deciding on those maybe right now it would be best to take a break from writing and promote my book. Now that my first book is published a lot will be going on around here…

 

Keep an eye out for giveaways and events! If you subscribe to my newsletter then you’ll get notified whenever a new one pops up. (What? You knew I’d be putting that in here somewhere.)

If you would like to buy a copy of Honey Butter I would be very grateful. Below are the links to places where you can buy it.

Amazon    Barnes & Noble    Kindle

Thanks so much to everyone who helped and encouraged me along this journey! And, as always…

KEEP WRITING!

See you soon!
– Millie

Honey Butter Publication Date Released

This is it, you guys.

My book is getting published in five days… FIVE DAYS! How is this happening?

It’s kind of hard to get it through my head. That I’m completely done. As in, done done. I just finished the last bit of formatting yesterday. (Being me, I turned on some dramatic music when I got down to the last few pages.) A few hours ago, my Dad and I went through everything, and my book is set to publish on the 14th.

I chose August 14th as my publication date for a few reasons. It’s the day that the last chapter of my book takes place, and it’s the day of one of the character’s (Laren’s) birthdays. My book should be available for ordering sometime around August 14!

When Honey Butter comes out, I will host a few different giveaways, a book release party and other promotional events. Also, just a note, the window for previewing the first chapter of my book has closed and if you subscribe to my newsletter now then you will no longer receive the link. However… my newsletter is still pretty awesome without it, wink wink. 😉

To any unpublished authors wondering, actually pressing the publish button for your book isn’t really that amazing, at least not for me. You have to keep going back and making sure you clicked the right buttons and all that. (Does anyone else think that a confetti animation should shoot across your screen when you finish publishing?)  Actually receiving my book in the mail will probably be more magical. I’m very, very, very, excited to get a print copy of my book! So…

So…

Let the final countdown begin!!

Keep Writing!

  • Millie

 

Formatting and Yellow Watermelon

Guess what?!

Yellow watermelon actually exists! I just ate some and it was amazing!

Oh. And my book will be published in a matter of weeks, that’s amazing too. 😉

I just started the formatting stage, and you’d be surprised by how awesome it feels. It’s also very tedious. For example, I spent the last three hours putting italics in the right places. Yesterday I chose the font, page number placement, whether or not to have chapter titles at the top of the page, and obsessed over trim sizes. My Daddy said I was turning into Steve Jobs (apparently he obsessed over fifty different shades of beige to color the outside of a computer).

For those who want to know the technical details, maybe for their own book, here they are:
Trim Size: 5.06 x 7.81 Update: I ended up using 5 x 8 because only white paper was available in the size 5.06 x 7.81, and while I still think that 5×8 is just a tab bit too skinny, it was more important to me to have cream colored paper than the perfect size.

Type Font: Garamond. Type Size: 12 pt. Page Numbers: Bottom Center. And the platform we used to format all this was InDesign. Which, fun fact, can convert into both an Ebook and print file from just one format.

Formatting 101: Make sure nothing about your format distracts the reader from your story. Cool fonts and fancy chapter titles are fun but don’t just use them because they are. Make sure they fit with your story, and even when they do, ask yourself “will this be distracting?”

Formatting 102: Look for at least five other books from your story’s genre and compare the formatting. Consider what you like and don’t like about each one. Also, consider the averages. Do most of them have the pages numbers in the middle or to the side? How big is the font on each? What patterns do you see? Okay, that’s all my advice for today. 😉

Oh, by the way, I hope everyone liked the sneak peek! If you haven’t already checked it out, then just subscribe to my newsletter and you will receive an email with a link to the first chapter of my book. Remember, on August first I will be taking it down, so read it while you can!

Also, just to clear things up my book WILL NOT be published on the first day of August. We have some epic family stuff going on then. I’m not sure about the exact date yet, but it will definitely be sometime in August. Also, just to let you guys know, on the day I publish my book the print version will not be available for purchase because it takes a while for Amazon and other websites to run everything through.

Wow. This is amazing you guys… When I’m looking at the formatting screen, or all the different trim sizes laid out on the table in front of me, I keep thinking “look at this! Look at how close you are! Your life-long dream is literally coming true!” Because it is! And it feels… Kind of insane.

Keep Writing!

  • Millie

A Fool Proof Plan

I can’t believe how close this is getting! Honey Butter will be published in ONE MONTH! This means, however, that I have a lot of work to do. So let me quickly give you the updates.

Update one: The final edits have been completed. And now we’re on to the proofreading stage! My mommy will be proofreading for me, so big thanks to her. We’re aiming to finish the proofreading by July 15. But we have A LOT going on this summer, so we might not make it. Fingers crossed.

Update two:

Doesn’t that look awesome?! My Dad helped me put together five quotes from Honey Butter, I will publish a new one every Saturday in July on my Instagram account. If you want to check them out, my username is millieflorenceauthor.

Update three: So, you know how I had to explain to everyone where to find the subscribe button on my site. Well, it is now in a much easier to find spot. Right at the top of the screen in the mobile version.

And now for the biggest and most exciting update…

I’m giving you guys a sneak peek of the first chapter of Honey Butter!

All you need to do is subscribe to my newsletter. In your confirmation email, there will be a link to the sneak peek. I hope you enjoy it! 🙂 Note: This is only valid for ONE MONTH. Anyone who subscribes after July will not get this offer.

Keep Writing!

  • Millie

Own Your Words: How to Deal with Being Embarrassed by Your Old Writing

Hey, guys! So. I’m doing something a little different this time. Updates on my book will be in the next post, but for now, enjoy! I hope my advice helps you out!

Rejection is a big topic in the writing world.

Getting over the fear of your writing being rejected. Rejected by your friends, family, publishers, critics, etcetera. But I think there’s another kind of rejection not touched on quite as much. And that’s being rejected by yourself.

I’m not really talking about what you’re writing now. We know our writing isn’t perfect when we write it, but as authors, we usually get over it. We have to if we ever want someone else to read it. But that’s a different topic.
What I’m talking about are past writings. Past stories, books, and poetry.

Because obviously, whether you are twelve or twenty-one, your writing improves over time. And before long, what you wrote a year ago seems pretty terrible compared to what you’re writing now. And when you get to the point when your past writing feels terrible, often authors start a writing re-call.
If you posted that old story online: You take it down.
If you self-published it: you take it down.
If you gave a copy to a friend: you get it back and throw it away.
If it’s a draft: You completely re-write it.
Sometimes, if it’s really old, you might delete it entirely. (Do NOT do this. Ever. Seriously, you will regret it.)

Inside, you are cringing with embarrassment, and hoping that no one you showed your story to will remember it.

I’m not saying that this isn’t a valid feeling, it is. I’ve felt it too. But if writing is your passion, and especially if you want to make it your profession someday, then there’s something you need to consider.

Every author ever feels this way. And I’m not just talking teen writers and self-publishers. I mean everyone.
I once asked a traditionally published author I know: “Do you ever feel embarrassed by your book?”
His answer: “Yep. Every single day.”
And I’m willing to bet he’s not the only one.

Think of all your favorite authors’ names. J K Rowling, Kate Dicamillo, J R R Tolkien, C S Lewis, and Shakespeare. I bet that they all looked back on their books, the ones you love, the ones you read over and over again, and cringe.
Actually, I don’t need to bet. I know. Here’s what Stephen King said about re-reading one of his older books.

“…As a result, I was not surprised to find a high degree of pretension in Roland’s debut appearance (not to mention what seemed like thousands of unnecessary adverbs).”

But what would have happened if they started a writing re-call? Can you imagine “Harry Potter” or “The Lord of the Rings” Disappearing from the market because the author was too embarrassed?

But I’m not as good a writer as them! You might be saying.
Okay, maybe you’re not. I think we can agree that very few of us could match their writing quality. But when it comes to embarrassment, writing quality doesn’t matter; all writers go through the same struggle, no matter how good their books are.

And please don’t say that nobody really cares about your writing. They do. Even if only three people ever read your books, those are three intricate, unique, wonderful individuals, with lives as complicated as your own. And they chose your story out of millions.

Don’t deny your readers the gift of your imagination because you’re too embarrassed by your story. You are your worst critic, and will always judge yourself the harshest.

Here’s something else that the author I know said.

“Millie, someday you realize, you’re going to feel embarrassed about your writing. You may even think it’s terrible. I don’t think of it that way, I think it’s really good. But you probably will, because it’s a sign you’re getting better at writing. Just remember, at some point in life, you have to own your words. You have to acknowledge that ‘this is what I believed at the time, this is what I said at the time, this was my best at the time, and I’m okay with that.’”

But my story is really bad! You might be saying.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t ever take your writing down. (My policy is that original writing stays, but I can do what I want with fan fiction.) But here’s another piece of advice from Mr. King, also talking about re-reading one of his old books.

“In any case, I didn’t want to muzzle or even really change the way this story is told; for all its faults, it has its own special charms, it seems to me. To change it too completely would have been to repudiate the person who first wrote of the gunslinger in the late spring and early summer of 1970, and that I did not want to do.”

So. Be true to your former self, and don’t scorn them. Own your words. It may be hard (just like owning this overly dramatic sentence will be for me) but we’ve got to do it.

Keep Writing!

  • Millie