Chronicling The Craft: On Beta-Readings, New Writing Projects, and the Future of This Series

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On Beta-Readings, New Writing Projects, and the Future of This Series

Chronicling The Craft is a series where I share my experience with working on my YA fantasy novel THE KEEPER’S CURSE. These articles alternate between progress reports, fun WIP-related content, and writing / revising / editing tips. Today’s post serves an update on TKC’s beta-reading stage and the beginning of Draft #1 of “The Novella.”

Starting a new phase of the writing process is always exciting. And nerve-racking. And scary. But mostly exciting. However, what makes this “new beginnings” Chronicle unique from past ones is that it covers not just one writing project, but TWO!

Today’s Chronicle is mostly updates on my YA fantasy novel The Keeper’s Curse and my fantasy novella-in-progress, which is tentatively titled The Novella. (Not very imaginative, but I don’t have any title ideas yet. *lol*) I’ll also share my plans for the upcoming round of Chronicles – and if you’re interested, I could use your help with deciding what “fun stuff” to share during the progress reports.

Also, because I saw the movie “Moana” recently, I declare today as Moana GIF Day. ❤


Ready? Let’s start with…

The Keeper’s Curse Is Now With Beta-Readers

As I mentioned in November, I divided my beta-readers for TKC into two groups. The first group received the manuscript in December (with the first responses expected very soon), and the second group received it this past weekend. Realistically, I’m not expecting to start Draft #4 of TKC until March or April. This should give everyone enough time to read and respond to the manuscript, and I can get a headstart on my new writing project.


So, until I have more news on TKC, keep an eye out for next week’s post. It’s not a Chronicle, but it will ask for your feedback on something very important for TKC.

Draft #1 of The Novella is Underway (a.k.a. Wait a Minute – Sara’s Writing Something NEW?!)

I spent part of my blogging hiatus plotting the novella and working on profiles for some of its supporting characters. (I’ve already known the protagonists Eva and Nomaro for a while.) But the actual Day 1 of Draft #1 was Tuesday, January 3rd, and I’m almost done with Chapter 1. So, yes, I’m finally working on something NEW. 😀

Unfortunately my excitement over The Novella has been tempered by frustration with time management. I found myself rushing to adjust to my writing schedule after taking several weeks off for the holidays – on top of going back to my day job after a week’s vacation. I had even forgotten to print out my outline / notes beforehand. Oops.

Yup, Hei Hei. It felt a lot like that.

Yup. It felt a lot like that.

Yeah… It might not have been the smartest idea to deal with both “returns” at the same time. But I think I’ve figured out what changes I need to make so my writing schedule can work again. Hopefully things will smooth out by the next pair of Chronicles.

You know what else feels weird so far about this new project? It’s not TKC. Ever since I started writing that novel 4 years ago, I’ve never shifted my focus away from it. I’d work on one draft, then take a couple weeks off before tackling the next. That was my pattern from January 2013, when I began Draft #1, until now. (Being a slow writer and having limited writing time due to a full-time job have stretched things out, too.)

But now that TKC is out of my hands for a while, I can work on a different story. No words, animated GIFs, or emoticons can adequately express my joy – or my trepidation – about this. It’s an interesting conflict of emotions that might be best explained in its own post.

Which reminds me…

The Future of Chronicling The Craft

After thinking about how to continue this series, I’ve decided to take a “wait and see” approach with future Chronicles. It’s partly because I have two writing projects going on, and partly because I have no idea how quickly The Novella’s first draft will progress. Between my adapted writing schedule and The Novella’s expected word count, it should take less than the 25 months it took to crank out 132K for TKC’s first draft. (I’ll scream if it doesn’t. *lol*) But until I’m further along, and with a once-a-week blogging schedule, I’m hesitant to commit to any timelines or milestones right now.

That said, I have a few ideas for topics to cover in upcoming Chronicles:

  • Conquering fears about starting a new writing project
  • Writing a novella versus writing a novel
  • Writing a dual-POV story versus writing a single-POV story
  • Additional beta-reading tips based on my experience with TKC’s beta-reading stage
  • Planning revisions / edits based on beta-reader feedback

By the way, thank you for suggesting that I split the progress reports and the writing / revising / editing tips into separate posts! Doing this gave readers the opportunity to check out one half of each milestone pair or the other, or both halves on different days. It made the posts more reader-friendly in the long run, and easier for me to prepare. In this way, the splitting turned out to be the best way of formatting the Chronicle series to date.

Also, the advice posts earned more views and shares than the progress reports, which didn’t surprise me. But judging from your comments during the Draft #3 cycle, long-time and dedicated readers have really enjoyed the progress reports, and so do I. They have an enthusiasm and intimacy (or personableness?) that the advice posts lack because of the “behind-the-scenes” glimpses they offered into TKC.


The thing is, I’m not sure what fun or “behind-the-scenes” things to include in the new progress reports. So far I’ve shares songs from TKC’s novel playlistoffered excerpts for your critique, and done various story reveals from world-building to character profiles. This time I’d like to offer something different, maybe something pertaining to The Novella instead… but I don’t know what.

So, what “fun stuff” would you like to see in the next progress reports? What have you seen other writers post about their WIPs on their blogs? Is there anything you’re itching to learn about TKC or The Novella that hasn’t been discussed yet? Feel free to share any suggestions in your comments – they’ll be warmly welcomed!

25 Days to Go for the GoFundMe Campaign for the Iceland Writers Retreat!

With about 3 1/2 weeks to go, the GoFundMe campaign for my trip to this year’s Iceland Writers Retreat is just under 40% funded ($1,355 of the $3500 goal, when I last checked). So many people have been so generous with their donations and willingness to spread the word, and I appreciate all of it more than I can express.

The campaign’s deadline is set for Saturday, February 4th. So if you’d like to help however you can, here’s what you can do:

If You’d Like to Donate: Submit it via the campaign’s GoFundMe page by February 4th. We’re down to the last two U.S. Tea Lover perks, so get your donation in soon if you’ve had your eye on that one. Plenty of other perks are still available, too (the same tea perk for international donors, first-chapter manuscript critiques, writing coach sessions via Skype, access to an online photo album of my trip, etc.) And if you’re not interested in perks, simply fill in your desired amount and mention it in the donation’s comment.

If You’re Unable to Donate But Still Want to Help: You can share the campaign’s link on Facebook, Twitter, your blog – whatever you feel comfortable doing, and whenever you choose. And if you see my campaign posts on Facebook or Twitter, you’re also welcome to share or retweet them.

Thank you all so much again for all the support and encouragement you’ve voiced for this trip and the campaign, and for continuing to follow me on my writing journey. If I ever meet any of you in person, I’m giving you a big hug. 🙂


Say “Bye bye for now,” Baby Moana.

How are things going with your current writing project(s)? Are you planning to a start new one soon? If you’ve reached the critique / beta-reading stage of a manuscript before, how do you like to spend your time while you wait for feedback?

23 thoughts on “Chronicling The Craft: On Beta-Readings, New Writing Projects, and the Future of This Series

  1. The last baby Moana GIF was cuteness overload! 😄
    I think I’d be interested to know the differences between the novel and novella writing. Right now I’m not able to think of any new ideas (it is very late where I’m at, you’ll have to excuse my tired brain), but I’m sure you’ll find something interesting, like you always do. 🙂
    Good luck with the novella writing! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • ISN’T IT?? 😀 It comes from the opening scene of Moana, and when I saw her character at that age, I had a very big case of SQUEEEE! XD The whole movie was wonderful, though, and I got emotional a couple times because I could relate to Moana. So I highly recommend seeing it.

      Thanks for the thumbs-up on the novel vs novella idea. I think that would be a great post to write when the time comes. And no worries about other suggestions – but if you think of any at a later date, just let me know!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The Mona gif is adorable:). It’s an odd feeling when you complete a first draft, isn’t it? I’ve never felt that blast of triumph regularly depicted on TV, as I always feel sad and rather flat – for I know that though I may frequently revisit it, but it’s not the same as writing that initial draft. As for Chronicling the Draft, maybe discussing the issues you are having with editing? I actually think that editing techniques are every bit as demanding as writing the first draft – and editing can certainly make or break a novel.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The entire Moana movie is just as adorable as the individual GIFs. 🙂 Plus, I could relate to the film’s premise (a young girl is discouraged by her family from venturing into the ocean, only to sail across it anyways to save their island from environmental disaster). It reminded me of my family’s initial reaction to the Iceland trip.

      Oh, I’m still a ways off from finishing The Novella’s first draft! *lol* But I do remember how it felt to finish Draft #1 of TKC. It was a rollercoaster: joy / excitement, catharsis (I really did cry for a moment), relief, accomplishment… and hunger, since I’d put off eating for an hour so just to finish it.

      Thanks for your suggestions, btw. I already have some ideas for the tips-oriented posts, so I was looking for something fun or interesting to include in the progress reports, like I did with the TKC playlist tracks or excerpts for critique. And I agree, editing tips are just as handy as writing tips… but I find it difficult to blog about a stage in the writing process that I’m not currently “living.”

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Firstly, yes to Moana GIFs! Any time!
    Secondly, I completely understand the feeling of it not being TKC. When I was first working on Pirate Eyes (10 years ago) it was all I dedicated myself to. The first time I tried my hand at a new project was one of the strangest feelings ever. To not have Keira and Sean on the page was a shock. I’m kind of used to it now 😉
    I wish you all the best of luck with The Novella (I kind of love that you’re calling it that for the moment)! As much as I love editing, I’ve always loved turning to a new story as well. It’s refreshing 🙂 Have fun with it!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Four years straight with one mss — I applaud you! I love consistency because I believe it leads to better productivity. So go you for taking that step into a new project. Novellas are fun, and I recall particularly enjoying your worldbuilding posts on TKC. Your posts on betaing will be much anticipated. I’m sorry you’re having a couple hiccups with it so far, but it will be okay! In a way, it’s kind of like writing a long episode. Maybe blogging about the character’s emotional conundrums or something could be useful? But then again, that could be kept to a writing journal… it’s hard for me to blog about my WIPs, but whatever you end up posting, I know it will be awesome!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! It’s been a long ride with TKC, mostly because I’m not the fastest writer… But it wouldn’t be where it is now if I hadn’t stuck with it. And I just finished Chapter 1 of The Novella last night, so WOO HOO! 😀

      I think I’ve figured out how to make the writing schedule work again. (Yay!) So now it’s a matter of getting used to the routine again. But this week turned out to be a bit of a rollercoaster because I heard from my first December beta-reader this week… and she won’t be able to finish. Her reasons are perfectly understandable (she’s an MFA student who’s going back to school next year and had hoped to read TKC over her winter break, but realized too late that she had overcommitted herself). I completely understand if someone can’t finish the critique / manuscript (I’m not expecting a 100% response rate)… yet it still stung. But I can’t take it personally, though.

      Hmmmm, that suggestion reminds me a bit of the Beautiful People posts I used to do. I could do a shortened version of that… We’ll have to see. I’m also waiting to see if the #WIPjoy prompts give me any ideas. Maybe I could feature a few of those Tweets / answers at a time and go a bit more in-depth for The Novella?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I totally admire your tenacity and patience to be working on the same project for so many years. That dedication is admirable and awesome, and definitely an achievement to be proud of. Too many of us give up after so long, me included. You’re a trooper, that’s for sure!

        I am sorry about your losing a beta reader. It is a big commitment, and I’m currently betaing right now, and I also start off with high hopes: “Oh, I can do this in 2-3 weeks; it’s reading with commentaries” but of course, it’s taking much longer than 2-3 weeks, I am sad to say. I should’ve learned from when I was a member of that critiquing is so much more than reading and making comments and pointers -.- A 5 minute read turns into a 50 minute undertaking. For me, anyway.

        I would offer to beta… but as I’m currently betaing right now, I would’t gyp you like that. I hoping that I can finish the remaining 60 pages by February. But do know that if your request for betas are still in effect a month or two from now, I would be interested!

        Congratulations on finishing chapter 1! How are you liking the novella format? Don’t stress too much over the word count, you can always trim and compress in the edits.

        And yes, expansion posts on #WIPjoy tags is a good idea! I was actually considering making a few posts on the #authorconfession tag questions, because a 140 character limit felt a bit stifling at times 😉


      • It does take a lot longer to beta than you first think, I agree. The first time I did it, the writer asked if I’d have it done in 1 month… and I needed 2 in the end. :S (I tend to be very thorough with my comments, though, so maybe that explains it.) So now I know to give myself anywhere from 4 to 8 weeks, depending on the manuscript’s length.

        Thanks for the offer, Jess. 🙂 I’m good for the moment, though. Even after my paring down of beta requests last fall, I still ended up with 10. XD :S But I might need another round in the future, depending on how this one goes.

        How am I liking the novella format? I don’t know yet. XD I don’t think I’m far enough along yet to have a sense of the difference. But I’ve had that first chapter in my head for at least a year now, so I’m glad it’s finally in words now.

        I’ll keep #WIPjoy in mind then. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: What Do You Think?: Asking for Your Feedback on My Novel’s Blurb | Sara Letourneau's Official Website & Blog

  6. Yay for progress! I plan on donating after I get a check in for working this week. I usually work on another project while waiting for beta feedback. And it’d be cool to see the differences between novella and novel writing. ^ ^ Best wishes!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I can only imagine how exciting you must be starting a new project: even though I work on multiple WIPs at the time, I still get that flush of joy when I’m about to start something new – and to do so after 4 years of being focused on one project only? Wow. I hope writing this novella will turn out fun for you. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Joanna! Starting The Novella was definitely exciting, but also nerve-racking. Both feelings have mostly worn off now, though – and replaced with reminders like “It’s a first draft, you can fix that later” and “Stop worrying about word count – you always overwrite your first drafts.” (*chuckles*) So I’m re-learning what it’s like to write a first draft all over again. But yes, it’s been fun so far. Nomaro is turning out to be as prickly as I hoped he would be – but he’s surprised me once or twice already, too.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. It’s such a weird feeling when you change writing projects after years of focusing on one story! That’s exactly how I felt when I began drafting my novella, while waiting for beta reader feedback on my book. Building an outline beforehand did help with the feeling and nerves though, in the end. I hope your novella is coming along well and that the nerves are gone! *hugs*
    I hope this second round of beta reading is going well, too.

    For upcoming Chronicles, I’m interested in advice for writing dual POV story, and hearing your beta reading tips and revisions.
    For future “progress reports,” I think it would be fun to hear about the Novella: it’s playlist, story aspects and themes, etc. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, E.! Yes, at the moment, the nerves are gone. Though now I’m constantly reminding myself that I overwrite my first drafts so that I don’t get too frustrated that it’s taking more words than necessary (in my opinion) to finish each chapter! XD :S

      Progress-wise, I’m closing in on 7K, but I’m not quite done with Chapter 2. I *think* this is working up more quickly than TKC’s first draft is, but I’m not holding myself to anything… But at this rate, the 10K Chronicles pair should be coming in February. I just have to write them first.

      The first beta-reader response for TKC came in last weekend (from one of the December readers). I’m not expecting more until February, so we’ll see how it’s going then. 😉

      Thanks for your “progress report” suggestions, btw!

      Liked by 1 person

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