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1. What were your writing achievements last year?
Well, I did all three NaNo events, with 50K in April (The Way of the Pen) and November (Binding Destiny) and 20K in July (Once Upon a Dream). I finished two of the three WIPs I had at the start of the year, as well as The Way of the Pen. I also edited Once Upon a Dream and submitted it to the Five Magic Spindles contest hosted by Rooglewood Press.
2. Tell us about your top priority writing project for this year?
I . . . do not have a single top priority writing project. I have several high-priority ones, which will each take precedence at different times of the year. At the moment, finishing Monster in the Castle is the highest priority. Once that's done, editing my completed novels will be my main project.
3. List 5 areas you’d like to work the hardest to improve this year.
-Brevity. I am very good at writing long, long novels and scenes and such. I am not so good at being concise. And while long is good, there is something to be said for being able to fit a complete and cohesive plot into ten pages or less.
-Poetry. I don't exactly write poetry very much, and I feel like a lot of it (not all of it, but a lot) is pretty average. And while I'll always be primarily a novelist, I would like to get better at verse.
-Editing consistently. In some ways, editing is easier and more fun than the first draft- the plot and scenes are already there; I'm just polishing it up. However, if a story or scene needs more than just polishing, I . . . well, I tend to procrastinate. I know I shouldn't- I want to be able to edit a certain amount every day just like I write a certain amount every day. (Or, so many days a week, anyway.)
-Character voice. I feel like a lot of my characters sound really similar? I mean, there are exceptions. ( For example, Jared, Jason, and Jarek all have distinctive voices in their stories- and they're distinct from each other as well, though more subtly- and Katelyn might be recognizable simply because she's my only character to regularly make book/movie/etc. references. And Abbie Alyron has an accent that I stole from Entwined.) But a lot of my characters do sound very similar, in my opinion.
-Worldbuilding. By which I mean I want to do more of it this year, outside of thinking of things while I'm writing and saying "Hey! That sounds like a cool idea! Let's use this!" Once I finish Monster in the Castle, I'm planning to go through Storyworld First by Jill Williamson and use whatever advice and such I find in there to further develop the worlds of Berstru, Aralan, Udarean, and whatever I end up calling the world of my fairy-tale retellings.
4. Are you participating in any writing challenges?
I'll do the Camp NaNoWriMos, and hopefully the main NaNoWriMo as well. If GTW does the 100-4-100 challenge this year, I'll do that too. If not, well, probably no. Not unless you count the occasional long-term word war with friends.
5. What’s your critique partner/beta reader situation like and do you have plans to expand this year?
. . . I don't have a critique partner or beta reader situation? The closest I come at the moment is that I occasionally post bits of my stories (or, in the case of Berstru Tales, whole novels) on Whitehall Forums for my friends there to read. I will need to get some betas, though, once I finish some editing.
6. Do you have plans to read any writer-related books this year? Or are there specific books you want to read for research?
I got Storyworld First for Christmas, so I'm going to read that as soon as I finish Monster in the Castle. Other than that . . . nope.
7. Pick one character you want to get to know better, and how are you going to achieve this?
That's a tough one. I guess maybe Eleri from Between Two Worlds, who . . . well, she's not as vibrant in my mind as Aedon or Jarek, let alone Katelyn and Ella. How will I get to know her better? By writing about her more. And by answering questions in the Supporting Character Questionnaire on the NaNo site, which is one of my three favorite threads on that forum.
8. Do you plan to edit or query, and what’s your plan of attack?
I plan on editing. Great deals of editing. And also researching where to query and submit so that when I'm done with a round or two of edits, I'll be ready to start querying and such.
9. Toni Morrison once said, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” What are the books that you want to see more of, and what “holes” do you think need filling in the literary world?
Well, for one thing, I want to see more steampunk. For another thing, I want to see more characters- main characters- in fantasy and related genres who are pretty much average. Characters who aren't super-warriors or such, or perhaps even characters who can't fight, period. Characters who don't have special, magical powers. It's not that I don't love these characters- it's just that I'd like a few main characters who are a bit more like me. (That's one of the many, many reasons why I love the Goldstone Wood books- the vast majority of the main characters are not particularly skilled or powerful or anything of that sort, not in the traditional Heroic ways.)
10. What do you hope to have achieved by the end of 2016?
By the end of 2016, I want to have all my current draft-WIPs finished. I want to have finished editing at least one, preferably two or three, of the novels I have in queue to be edited. I want to have entered the next Rooglewood Press contest, and I want to have taken steps towards publishing- preferably have something ready to submit for publishing. I want to have written a host of short stories and poetry that I can share on here and on Whitehall. And, most importantly, I want to have grown as a writer and a person.
Well, there you have it. My goals for 2016. Will I accomplish all of them? Any of them?
We'll have to wait and see.
Thanks for reading!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)