What I’ve been reading while stuck on the couch

As you might know if you follow me on social media, I broke my ankle 2 days before Christmas. I had to get surgery, and plates and screws, the works. THEN, I was hospitalized when the surgery gave me 2 blood clots in my leg. It’s been a long, painful, boring, miserable 46 days, but I am finally at the point where I feel a little better every day. In 4 weeks, I’ll get to start walking with the boot cast! By summer, I’ll be fully walking again.

In the meantime, I’ve been tearing down my TBR list like crazy. I’m reading eBooks, real books, and listening to audiobooks at night while I work on puzzles. It’s all in an effort to pass the time until I can do normal things again, like laundry. (My wheelchair doesn’t fit in the laundry room. I haven’t even driven my car since last year, ya’ll.) As boring as it gets being homebound and stuck on my butt all day, I am loving the fact that I have time to read.

Here are some of my favorite reads! Some are new, some are old, and all are fantastic.

ROAD TO EUGENICA

This book actually releases TODAY but I got an early copy a couple of weeks ago. It’s a sci-fi romance that I’m completely obsessed with. And the best part? It’s the first in a series. BRING ON MORE!

 

OUTLANDER

I am SO late to the Outlander game. Truth be told, I actually started reading this book probably about 7ish years ago during the down times at my old day job. I don’t think I got more than 100 pages in before I gave up because historical books aren’t really my thing…. then, as time went on, I saw it everywhere, saw people I admire raving about it, and then noticed that there was a TV show, too. I decided to pick it back up again. And WHOA. I’m in love! The books are scary huge and there’s several more of them, but I’m ready for the challenge.

JOYRIDE

This one was a random library book I chose based on the cover alone. I mean, how cute is that? It ended up being a heartwrenching tale of a girl’s struggles to get her parents back into the US, and the boy she meets along the way. There was a thrillery ending that I didn’t see coming, and I was hooked. Check out JOYRIDE if you haven’t already.

 

FIRE IN ICE

FIRE IN ICE is another first in series book (YAY!) from my author friend Jenn. She sent me an early copy of it and I was totally hooked from the first chapter. It’s got superheroes, (we know I love them), romance, and it’s set in a more contemporary setting, so even if you think you don’t like sci-fi type novels, check this one out. It’s SO GOOD!

Next on my reading list:

THE SHADOW AND BONE TRILOGY

This is another series that’s been out a while, and I’m totally late to this as well. I actually read SIX OF CROWS and its sequel, CROOKED KINGDOM last year and fell so utterly head over heels in love with those books, it was insane. I can’t believe I waited so long to pick up that gorgeous hardback with the black pages from the bookstore. I saw it a million times and never read it until recently. The Shadow and Bone trilogy was actually published before Six of Crows, but it’s set in the same universe. I’m so excited and scared to dive in, because the way Bardugo hooked me the first time was pretty brutal. I’m pretty sure these books will also wrap around me and make me obsessed. Which isn’t exactly a bad thing, when you’re stuck on the couch for several more weeks!

Let me know what you’ve been reading in the comments. I could use more recommendations!

My shaky start to 2018

It’s a new year.

It’s time for my annual goals blog post where I list out my professional and personal goals for the year, and eagerly and methodically tick them off one by one as the months go by. However, I’m finding myself stuck this time. That’s a first for me, the person who has a spreadsheet of my monthly budgets going back to 2011 and a closet organized in ROYGBIV color order. I am incredibly organized, put together, and always on top of things.

Until now.

I know my current predicament isn’t the end of the world, but it certainly feels like the end of happiness for a while. Two weeks ago, on Christmas eve eve, I was carrying an armload of wrapped presents down the stairs and I tripped and broke 2 bones in my ankle. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the horror I felt when I looked down and saw my ankle bent around the wrong way. My husband called 911, and I was taken to the ER and told I needed surgery. Pins and metal plates — the works. My doctor said I’ll be in a cast for at least 8 weeks and then several weeks of a walking cast and then several weeks of physical therapy after that.

Thanks to insurance being useless, my surgery was denied and cancelled the day before I was supposed to get it. We called dozens of surgeons and couldn’t find a single one in the Houston area who takes my marketplace insurance. Now, after 17 days of being stuck in a recliner in the living room, I’ll finally get the surgery I need to begin healing. Only I have to pay it all in cash.

And when I say “cash”, I mean “debt.” This has been painful, frustrating, infuriating, and depressing. I’ll be paying this off for years to come. As a full time writer, I don’t get the luxury of living off my book income alone. Book advances are few and small, and I spend most of that money on promoting my books. I have yet to receive any royalties on my traditionally published books because they haven’t earned out. I rely on money from my self published books and freelance writing to pay most of my bills.  I also substitute teach a few days a week, run an Etsy store, babysit, and live frugally.

When I checked my planner and saw that I’m due for a “2018 Goals Blog Post”, I felt completely empty. It’s January 7th. I should be finishing up writing chapter 7 of my new WIP that I should have outlined in the last week of December. I filled out my Passion Planner weeks ago and I should be checking off items on it every day. But I’m not. I haven’t done any of that. I haven’t written or outlined or even brainstormed because the pain meds make me too woozy to function. I had to put my Etsy shop on vacation for two weeks because I didn’t have the strength to make orders, and I lost 30% of my monthly income from losing my ability to substitute teach. By the time I can teach again, it’ll be time for summer break.

I feel totally lost. I have no idea how long I’ll be unable to work to the capacity that I normally do. I’m feeling my plans for the year slipping through my fingers, and I can’t seem to nail down any actual goals this time. My first hardback book releases in the fall, and by then I hope I’ll have my stuff together, but for now, I am just taking it one day at a time. One of my biggest fears is being realized, and that’s that I’ll have to find full time employment to pull myself out of bankruptcy, which will mean my writing career gets put on the back burner.

I do not feel that I’m in a place to ask for donations, but many people on Twitter have asked how they can help me during this unplanned downtime and financial crisis. The best way to help is to buy my books. That way you can help me keep my bills paid and also get something in return.

My favorite self-published novel is Motocross Me, a YA series about Hana Fisher, a 17 year old who moves to live with her dad on his famous dirt bike track. She quickly learns that the extreme sport is filled with hot guys, and soon not one, but two of them are racing for her attention. Click the link below to get Motocross Me in eBook, paperback, or audio:

books2read.com/MotocrossMe

 

 

 

 

My Etsy shop will be closed from Jan 8-9th while I recover from surgery, but if you’d like to place an order later, you can use the coupon code NOVA15 to get 15% off. I sell bookish decals and items and can custom make any decal you’d like. You can find my shop here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/NovaBookish

So that’s my New Year. Broken and laid up in a recliner for who knows how long. I am so grateful for everyone’s kind messages and words of encouragement. This is the first time I’ve ever broken a bone, and now I have two broken bones to contend with, but having bookish friends to chat with while I’m stuck here has been a total lifesaver. The book community is the best community and I’m so proud to be a part of it.

My 2018 has started off on a bad note, but I’m hopeful that it’ll turn around soon. Let me know your bookish or writerly goals in the comments. I need some inspiration!

xoxo,

Chey

Why I write books in 30 days or less

When I started writing my “first official novel”, I had a full time job that took up most of my day. I spent more time daydreaming about this novel than I actually spent writing it, and when I did write it, it was for thirty minutes here and there before I went to bed. It took me nine months to complete that first draft and the inconsistencies were hilarious. My main character’s mom had three different names and eye colors seemingly changed quicker than the Horse of a Different Color.*

And those were the easy fixes.

Now that I have a few dozen manuscripts written, I go about things much differently. I write fast. I use an outline and I write at least 5000 words a day, always finishing the first draft within 30 days. You might think the manuscript would suffer in quality from being written quickly, but it’s actually quite the opposite.

Something magical happens when you spend 3-4 hours a day–every single day–in your fictional world. You never leave the story. Your mind stays with the characters in such a way that they seem to pause when you stop writing for the day, and when you come back to it the next day, you still remember what you were writing. You can put your fingers to the keyboard and the characters hit play in your imagination, and start living the story again.

You’re still in your setting, still in the mood, still feeling the tone of the story. Your character’s motivations and emotions are still churning in your mind and you can keep up the same vibe for each chapter.

Nuances stick with you that you would otherwise forget. That side character has a smudge of motor oil on his shirt, and you’ll remember to have someone comment on it it when he speaks next. Your MC is starting to get a headache and in the next chapter, you’ll be able to note that it’s only getting worse.  Little things in your story’s surroundings will come out naturally as you write because they’re still fresh. These things aren’t in your outline, but they give the story a pulse.

Writing fast means you never have to go back over what you’ve already written to reorient yourself with the story. When I used to write slowly, it would take me at least 45 minutes of reading back over my MS to remember what exactly was going on. Total waste of time. If you step away from your story for a week or so it’s even worse when you go back to it. You’ve forgotten everything, and it’ll show in your writing.

There is certainly no perfect writing formula for everyone, and I always encourage writers to do what works for them. But I also encourage you to try something new. So if you’re a slow writer, try writing fast. Don’t overthink it. Just do it.

 

*Do ya’ll know what that is, or am I dating myself?

Level up your writing (by reading books)

 

I’ve got a great analogy for you guys.

When I was young and in shape and totally not dorky or weird at all, I rode dirt bikes every day. My dad would pick up my sister and me from school, bikes in the back of the truck, and we would head out to the dirt bike track and ride around until it got dark. It was the BEST! But then eventually I made some friends and started realizing my fun putting around didn’t really match up. I was slow, and they were fast.

I wanted to be faster.

I wanted to race and not be the last bike over the finish line.

So what did I do? I got on the bike and rode around and around and around, all by myself, trying to make myself faster. It worked, a little. But then my friend (a racer for over a decade with several motocross championship titles to his name) would get on the track too and just blow me away. I’d grit my teeth and seethe in his dusty wake, hating how I was so much slower.

I’d say, “How do I get faster?”

And he’d say, “Follow me.”

And I’d say, “Uh no. Screw you. You’re way too fast. You make me feel slow and stupid.”

And he’d say, “Just follow me.”

And so I did. My dear friend took pity on me and would ride juuuust fast enough to stay ahead of me without completely zooming away, which he was totally capable of doing. I wanted to stay behind him so badly that I’d push myself harder with each lap, pulling the throttle back more than I ever did, soaring over jumps faster and higher than ever before. Within days, I was faster. Within weeks, I was unrecognizable on the track. I actually looked like someone who knew what I was doing.

My friend was practically born on a dirt bike track and he knew exactly what he was doing. By making me follow him, I was pushed out of my comfort zone. I made myself go faster, work harder, and get better. I would have never gained this skill just riding around the track by myself, because when you’re alone, you’re only as fast as you want to be. There’s no marker. No level to reach, no way of striving for more.

That, my friends, is the same way you can level up as a writer. Several people have told me they enjoy writing books but they never read other books because it makes them feel stupid when the writing is so much better than theirs. Friends, this is NOT the way to live your life!

Read widely. Read the good authors. Read the outstanding authors. Read the best sellers and the popular books. Do it as much as you can, and definitely do it more than you write. By following in the wake of an excellent writer, you too will gain better writing skills. Their awesomeness will seep into your brain, subliminally teaching you how to pace, plot, write, and tell stories. Use their talent to motivate you, not discourage you.

Before you know it, you won’t be the last bike on the track. You’ll be crossing the finish line at the same time as the writers you admire.

Now, go pick up a book.

2017 Writer Goals

It seems like just yesterday I was writing my goals blog post for 2016. I was lucky last year and managed to achieve all of them. 2016 was a great year for my writing and I hope to be as lucky this year, too! Of course, the thing about setting goals is that luck only plays a little into it. The rest is massively hard work.

I’m going into my third year of being a full time writer, and as always, my biggest goal is to stay self-employed as a writer. See below for how I hope to accomplish that.

Cheyanne’s 2017 Writer Goals

  • Get another traditional book deal. My agent and I currently have a book on submission, so hopefully this one will work out! If not, I’ve got plenty more manuscripts to share with my agent in hopes of landing another deal.
  • Co-write a YA novel. One of my best friends and I are currently planning a YA novel together.  I’m not going to share details just yet, but we’re both very excited about it and she is a fabulous author so I know half of this book is in capable hands. Now I just have to fulfill my part!
  • Write at least 2 additional YA manuscripts. That’s 3 books in a year,  which is low for me. But if I manage to reach goal number 1, I’ll be busy with edits and revisions, so I’m making time for that. If I don’t sell a book in 2017, I’ll up it to 3 or 4 more manuscripts. Also, there’s this whole other part of my life that I don’t talk about on here, and that takes up at least 2 weeks a month, so my writing time is limited this year. Still, I’m hopeful I can accomplish great things!
  • Blog twice a month. I’m tired of telling myself to “blog more.” So this year, I’m making it a goal. I’ve already gone through my Passion Planner and marked the places where I need to blog. Luckily, this post counts as my first one for January. If all goes well, you’ll see more of my ramblings in the coming year. Not sure if that’s good news for you, but it is for me.
  • Read at least 52 books.  If we’re not Goodreads friends, feel free to add me! This may sound like a reader goal but it’s actually a writer goal because I firmly believe that reading widely improves your abilities as a writer. I make an effort to read one book a week both because I adore reading and because it makes me a better writer. And because I have a TBR pile that could kill me if it accidentally fell over.

There we go! My goals for this year, typed out and posted publicly. I am really looking forward to this year, and I feel like I’ve really hit my stride as far as figuring out the best way to research, outline, and draft novels as a full time writer. Here’s to a wonderful year with many things to be grateful for.

What are  your goals for this year? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

Using Instagram as a Writer

instagram-for-writers-cheyanne-young

If you’ve been following me for more than five minutes, you’ll know I’m a huge believer in being a person online. I absolutely can’t stand the mindset of an author marketing themselves in the form of spam on every social media outlet. If someone wants to buy your book, they will. Asking them 10 times a day in the form of a Tweet or post will not make them buy your book. The best way to connect with readers and other writers is simple: be a person. Just a living, breathing, book loving, book writing, person.

The old adage to “just be yourself” works perfectly here. The thing is, your books aren’t you. They’re a product you create and they should be advertised separately. YOU are an author. You have quirks and hobbies and unique skills. You might even have photogenic cats, which is always a plus. You bring a new perspective to everything around you. Let that reflect in your social media account.

Facebook is out. Twitter is becoming a political trash talking message board. Instagram is where the book people are. I’ve talked with a few writer friends and we all agree that Instagram is the most fun you can have in the online book community.

So how do you get the best out of Instagram as a writer?

  • Let your readers see behind-the-scenes. Nothing makes me fangirl more than when my favorite authors post details of their writing lives, snippets of their WIPs, or cute cat photos. Where do you write? What’s your desk look like? Did last night’s casserole inspire a scene in your WIP? Let’s see it.
  • Post Tips and tricks. I’m not the only writer who adopted Victoria Schwab’s using a star-sticker-on-the-calendar-page to mark your writing progress trick. If you have a unique way of laying out your index card plot, post a photo of it. Have a book shelf organizer that’s unique? Post it! Did you finally figure out how to make Word stop correcting already correct grammar? Let us see.
  • Exclusive book stuff. Readers love photos of your first set of ARCs, your cover reveal, the hardback sighting on a bookstore shelf. Anything new about your books should always go up on Instagram first. It gets readers excited and they can spread the word of your new book/deal/cover/etc faster than you can alone.
  • Be a person. This is my favorite one. Post fun and interesting photos of your normal life outside being a writer. This is where your cat photos are necessary. From lattes to silly socks to a rock you found that’s shaped like a heart. These are the posts that separate you from the spam author who only wants to sell books. Trust me, you will sell more books in the long run by making a personal connection with people and from being yourself.
  • Make friends! Interact with other users, both writers and readers. Book bloggers are on Instagram and they’re some of the hardest working most book loving people you’ll ever meet. Comment and like posts and follow people who share your same interests. You’ll make friends in no time.
    • Note: Don’t forget to thank people who post about your book!
  • Share the book love. #Bookstagram is a very big thing right now. It’s the art of arranging books and decorations into taking beautiful, artistic photos. And although I am NOT the least bit talented with photography (sad face), so many book bloggers and readers are! Use Instagram to post photos of your favorite books, your bookshelves, your TBR list. Tag the authors in the pictures you post so they can repost it if they want. Get creative! Nothing makes my day more than seeing a beautiful photo of one of my books on Instagram.
    • Post Reviews. #Bookstagram is a PERFECT way to leave book reviews as well! Since Instagram lets you leave a very long caption for your photos, you can write a review (or copy/paste it from the one you wrote on Goodreads since cell phone typing is annoying) and tag the author. This is a great way to spread the #booklove to your followers.
  • Utilize hashtags! I get about 200% more likes and comments when I use the appropriate hashtags for my book photos. Be sure to click on your favorite ones every so often and like other users’ posts.
    • For authors: #writersofinstagram #authorsofinstagram #WIP #amwriting #amediting #wordcount #writerslife #NaNoWriMo #WritingTip #TeaserTues

    • For sales & book promo: #FreeBooks #ebooks #kindle #Nook (or any other ebook retailer) #KindleUnlimited #NewRelease #CoverReveal #KindleBargains #KindleBargain #BookGiveaway
    • For Young Adult specific: #yalit #IReadYA #YoungAdult #YAbooks #YALitChat #YA
    • For general books or reader posts: #bookgram #bookishfeatures #book #books #bookstagram
      #booknerdigans #bookworm #bookaddict #booknerd #booklover #bookstagramfeatures #booklove #booklovers #bookish #bookswag #bookboyfriend #Bookshelves #Bookshelf #BookPhotography #BookChat #Goodreads #WhatToRead #EpicReads #bibliophile #instabook #instabooksm#igreads #igbooks #reader #amreading #TBR
    • Have your own hashtags! Your author name: #CheyanneYoung, and your books should have one too: #TheBreakupSupportGroup

There you have it. A guide to using Instagram as a writer, and doing it in a way that won’t make you annoying. 🙂 I’d love to hear any more tips and tricks you have in the comments! Until then, if you need me, I’ll be hanging out on Instagram.

Cheyanne’s 2016 Wrap-up – books, writing, & more!

The year is almost over! I know this is two weeks early, but let’s face it, as soon as my kid is out of school for the holidays, I won’t be getting any work done. So here’s my 2016 wrap up post! Many wonderful writerly things happened this year, and they’ve made me even more excited for 2017.

In Publishing:

City of Legends was published by Alloy Entertainment! I originally self-published my teen superhero series, but Alloy bought it, revamped it, and made it better than ever! This was my first foray into traditional publishing and I couldn’t have worked with nicer people. (PS- if you haven’t read COL yet, Amazon has them all half off for the month of December!)

The Breakup Support Group was published! I really adore this book. I wrote it during the breaks from editing the City of Legends series and it become very close to my heart. It was picked up by a small publisher in the spring and was released in the fall. I really lucked out with such a cute cover!

In writing:

I wrote 651,344 words this year. That’s an average of 1800 words a day. WHOA. Even for someone who writes every day, this feels like a lot. This all comes down to about ten novels, WIPs, and drafts, some unfinished, some published, and one agented and on submission. *fingers crossed*

I probably wrote half of that in 2015, which was my first year as a full time writer. And probably half of that the year before. Trust me, all of those words weren’t great, but they taught me something. I’ve learned so much in these nearly 2 years of writing full time, and the most important rule of all is this: Write Every Day! Write often. Write every chance you get.

The secondary rule is this: Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day. Life happens.

In reading:

2016 was a great year for books. So many wonderful YA titles were released, and I’m still not done reading them all. My TBR pile has at least 50 books in it right now, and I’ll be using the rest of the year to read as much of them as I can. So while this list is nowhere near inclusive, these are my favorite books of 2016:

Pearl by Deirdre Riordan Hall

Holding up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

If I Fix You by Abigail Johnson

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Shadow of a Girl by Shannon Greenland

It Wasn’t Always Like This by Joy Preble

We Own the Night by Ashley Poston

How was your 2016? What was your favorite read this year? Did you accomplish anything spectacular? Let me know in the comments!

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