Writer’s Awakening- Renee Wiseman

Moonlake: Hi, I’m Moonlake Ku and welcome to the first episode of Writer’s Awakening. Today, we have author Renee Wiseman with us. Firstly, tell us about yourself and your journey into writing, Renee.

Renee: My journey into writing was a twisted one, because I actually started as a kid. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, and I started writing to escape my life, especially as things grew worse. As my mom’s condition deteriorated I poured a huge amount of energy into creating a science fiction universe. It was an escape from a reality where the person who meant the most to me was failing and preparing to leave the world. She passed away when I was 14, and by that time I had a novel about half written (I thought.) I finished the novel and tried sending it to some publishers with a query letter I found online. This was in the 90s when the internet was still relatively new, and resources scarce.

Moonlake: How was this first novel received by publishers?

Renee: I got personal responses back from several of the publishers. In hindsight, I should have framed those! One in particular I remember just asked me to expand it by a few thousand words and resubmit. But I was a fragile kid who had just lost her mother and was suffering from low self-esteem. I gave up and poured my writing energy into online roleplaying games instead. I created new worlds that way and spent hours a day on them. They really honed my characterization and world building skills. My interests also shifted from Science Fiction to the fantasy genre. About two years ago it became more difficult to find other players and many of the games I was in closed down. I was left with time on my hands and found an old copy of my manuscript from when I was 15. I cringed when I read some parts of it, but got a niggling idea that maybe I should try it again.

Moonlake: Wow, this sounds amazing, Renee. Just so you know, I’ve recently become a player in a dedicated weekly gaming group but I’m not a Game Master (GM) like you, just a player. But really, it amazes me that as a teenager, you already recognize that being a writer is what you want to be enough that you would actually query agents/publishers.

Renee: I remember it took me over 4 hours to print my book on an old fashioned dot matrix printer. I enclosed the envelope so they’d return the manuscript because it cost so much money for me to produce it. I spent more time on those queries than I spent on my college admission essays.

Moonlake: Oh okay, so you were about 18 when you did the querying? But still amazing.

Renee: 16. I started querying at 16.

Moonlake: Oh, you stuck at querying for 2 years?! Wow, you were very persistent back then.

Renee: My dad always told me I was stubborn.

Moonlake: Lol, stubborn is good when it’s for a good cause. So what eventually happened to this first project?

Renee: Well, eventually I gave it up. I got enough rejections I decided it wasn’t good enough, especially with those around me telling me the same. I put it away. That novel was lost in a hard drive crash years ago, though I still have a paper copy of the manuscript.

Moonlake: Have you looked through this first manuscript since you gave it up just to see how far you’ve come since then and maybe plan about giving it a re-write?

Renee: I did actually. Most writers cringe when they look at something they wrote years ago. I didn’t cringe when I read that one, I fled in terror! That book had its place, but it’ll never see print in anything close to its current form. It helped me confront life issues that I was much too young to deal with. I confronted death in that book, and doing so helped me come to terms with what was happening in my real life. I know now that the world was underdeveloped and many of the characters were superficial. I’m not saying I’ll never rewrite it, in fact my husband wants me to, but I’m much more interested in the fantasy genre now, and I have no shortage of stories there to tell.

Moonlake: On looking through old work, actually I’m someone who routinely goes through old writing of mine just to see them with fresh eyes.  But I can see that if that initial project was just a means for you to deal with your real life situation at that specific time and like you said, the core ideas are under-developed and your interest had moved on, then it’s best to just keep it as a memorandum. So when is it that you first decided to pursue writing in a serious way and what are the circumstances?

Renee: I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Ever since I was a kid part of me knew that I was supposed to be doing this. For the past 15 years or so I was content to just share it with a small group of my friends in the form of those online games, but about 2 years ago something in me changed, and I wanted to do something more serious, and more lengthy than a play by email post. I’ve always constructed massive storylines in my games and I just took that to the next level and began doing it largely for myself. Something inspired me, and I began making the time and pouring my energy in that direction instead. Now I have a completed 125K word novel to show for it, with plans for a second book.

Moonlake: Just out of personal curiosity, you said earlier you’ve sunk a lot of your energy into gaming, would you be able to describe more specifically how much time you spent on it?

Renee: At one point I was playing in 22 games, and GMing 5. I spent a ridiculous amount of time on those online games, really. Even now, a group of those friends and I are gaming together in the world I’m creating in my novel. They’re all really excited to read it. Three of them already have.

Moonlake: So I guess the gaming also gives you some natural fans to begin with?

Renee: Yes, it seems I do! And I make sure to put references to those games throughout my works. They are subtle, and things only those involved in the games or plots would recognize. Names of characters or places, or events that happened. As a matter of fact, the plot for my new novel is a plot I ran in one of my RPGs about 10 years ago. I just repurposed, redeveloped and expanded it tremendously.

Moonlake: Ah, additional benefit: recycling of story elements. I’m always fond of recycling too. Now, looking back, how would you have done things differently or would you have done things differently?

Renee: Looking back I would have slapped my teenage self and told her to expand that novel and get it out! I truly regret the time I lost, though I can’t say I fully regret my online gaming years. I have many good friends and great memories that came out of that experience, and working with many characters in one scene taught me how to juggle different voices and points of view. Putting together plots for the games taught me about making plots for books. My settings, descriptions and characterization are all stronger from the input I got from those amazing friends. Looking at my writing then and now I can see how much those skills benefited me. I’m a stronger writer for it.

Moonlake: So overall, how far do you think you have progressed from your initial point?

Renee: More than I can easily quantify. When I was a teenager writing that first book, I was learning so much. That was really the first fiction I ever wrote. As part of my Master’s degree I had to write a nonfiction book on history, and doing so taught me many of the technical aspects of writing a book, but holding my work in hard bound form also taught me a feeling of pride and accomplishment that made my gaming experience pale in comparison. That was really my ‘ah hah!’ moment when I said “I love this!” I’m now a far more experienced and sophisticated writer than when I wrote that first book as a teenager.

Moonlake: In terms of your foray into fantasy, how far have you gone in terms publishing? And maybe share your WIP?

Renee: Well, I’m proud to say I have a short story in the upcoming Monsters Vs. Zombies anthology from Stitched Smile Publications. That is due in October. I’m currently putting the finishing touches on my novel, tentatively titled “Ayneria’s Call”. This one is about a girl who was born a slave in an empire resembling our historical Rome. She is selected by the Goddess of the Fae to lead the tribes, which leads to a conflict, since she was born and raised among humans, she only wants to be human. But Goddesses aren’t easily turned down, now are they?  I’m currently looking for an agent to represent my novel.

Moonlake: Sounds great, those developments. Now, if we want to follow you on social media, how can we find you?

Renee: https://twitter.com/ReneeMWiseman

https://www.facebook.com/ReneeMWiseman/

Moonlake: Okay then, best of luck for the novel. I think that about wraps up the interview. Thanks for your time today.

Renee: My pleasure.

Moonlake: That’s all for today. Thanks to all of those who read this through.

Writer’s Achievement Diary- 18 June 2017

Mon 12/06/2017

Long weekend plus still down with cold so took a day off.

Tue 13/06/2017

  1. Scene 1, chap 20

Wed 14/06/2017

Doc appointment day, took it off

Thu 15/06/2017

Resting at home to recover from sickness

Fri 16/06/2017

  1. Relocated part of a scene to later

Sat 17/06/2017

  1. Chap 20 done

Sun 18/06/2017

Took a day off, indecision over how to proceed after catching a bug in timing of events.

Week Goal: Up to Chapter 20 outlined (1 chapter).

Week Tally: 0.4 achievement on average on weekdays and 0.5 on weekends

Sum story progress: 1 chapter

Against last week: Still recovering from cold so don’t expect much progress. But did manage this week’s goal so that’s fair progress.

Writer’s Achievement Diary- 11 June 2017

Mon 5/06/2017

1. Chap 17 done

Tue 6/06/2017

1. Scene 1, chap 18

Wed 7/06/2017

1. Chap 18 done

Thu 8/06/2017

1. Expanded scene 2 of Chap 18, tagged on a little more events to fill it up so that it can stand on its own
2. Scene 1, chap 19

Fri 9/06/2017

1. Rough gist of rest of chap 19

Sat 10/06/2017

1. Refinement of scene 3, chap 19

Sun 11/06/2017

Down with cold. Took a day off.

Week Goal: 1 achievement on average on weekdays and 2 on weekends. Up to Chapter 20 outlined (3.5 chapters).
Week Tally: 1.2 achievement on average on weekdays and 1 on weekends
Sum story progress: 2.5 chapters
Against last week: The cold interfered with my progress but it’s still fair, didn’t reach the assigned week goal but moved ahead compared to last week.

Writer’s Achievement Diary- 4 June 2017

Mon 29/05/2017

  1. Settled on ages for 2 main male characters
  2. Re-order a bunch of scenes between chaps 12-15
  3. Readjusted content of scenes in chap 13
  4. Idea seeds on chaps 16, scene 1 of chap 17

Tue 30/05/2017

  1. 20 grids filled for Chan Lok
  2. Vague idea for scene 1, chap 16

Wed 31/05/2017

  1. 22 grids filled for Si Ma Gun (out of goal of 20)

Thu 1/06/2017

  1. Scene 1, chap 16

Fri 2/06/2017

  1. Chap 16 done

Sat 3/06/2017

  1. Sorted out the ‘ending’ of chaps 16-20 block
  2. Working out the rough gist for chap 17
  3. Scene 1, chap 17

Sun 4/06/2017

  1. Started on list of easily pronounced Chinese characters to be used for naming (sizable surname list and 2 full names, first names to be done)
  2. Joted down notes on chap 18/19 (floating scene for now)

Week Goal: 1 achievement on average on weekdays and 2 on weekends. 5 Chapters outlined

Week Tally: 1.8 achievement on average on weekdays and 2.5 on weekends

Sum story progress: 1.5 chapters and fair progress on 2 main characters

Against last week: Now that I switched to the other plot-line I feel a little stuck as I needed to get back into it.

Moonlake’s Progress as a Writer

Random reminder: there’s now the option to receive new posts of this blog via email. It’s located at the bottom of the blog for anyone interested.

This blog has now been up for exactly two and a half years (as of the time of writing) and just prior to the creation of this blog, I started dipping my toes into fiction. So I thought it’s high time that I do a post on my own progress as a writer since then.

What I’ve Done:

  • Dipped my toes in novel writing and
    • Fully outlined up to book 2 of a quintet and partially all the other books in the series
    • Written up to chap 15 for book 1 out of a planned 21 chapters
  • Tried my hands at short story writing through a multi-author anthology
    • Co-authored one short story
    • Written a solo piece- A Thread of Chance that I’m converting to a novella right now
  • Creating a new novel series right now
    • Outlining book 1 as I type now- round 1 almost concluded

What I’ve Learnt:

  • Signed up for James Patterson’s Masterclass, a course crash on all aspects of the writing and publishing process. What I took away from this was mostly the idea of doing comprehensive outlines based on the provided sample outline from JP
  • Learnt a lot about myself as a writer and a person from the epub venture
    • Fine-tuned/refocused myself on novels rather than short stories
    • Learnt what makes me tick versus what doesn’t as a writer and a person

What I’ve Achieved:

  • I’ve made the important mind change to viewing writing as a hobby to thinking about turning it into my career. I’m still doing a FT day job at the moment and planning to make the transition slow but the mind change is the important thing
  • I’ve broadened my social network and gained on board a lot of writer friends through social media
  • I’ve expanded my reading horizon slightly and taken on board historical fiction as a new genre
  • Last but not least I’ve made this blog which isn’t much now but can be leveraged to build an author platform for myself

 

Writer’s Achievement Diary- 28 May 2017

Mon 22/05/2017

  1. Scene 1, chap 46 done
  2. Scene 2, chap 46 outlined very roughly

Tue 23/05/2017

  1. Scene 1, chap 47 partially outlined

Wed 24/05/2017

  1. Scene 1, chap 47 changed completely
  2. Chap 47 done
  3. Scene 1, chap 48 done

Thu 25/05/2017

  1. Changed ending of scene 1, chap 48
  2. Scene 2, chap 48
  3. Scene 3, chap 48 in main gist
  4. Rounded out scene 3, Chap 48 done

Fri 26/05/2017

  1. Vague idea of a subsequent happening

Sat 27/05/2017

  1. Cleared out floating scenes that belong to book 2
  2. Scene 1, chap 49; 3. Chap 49 done

Sun 28/05/2017

  1. Scene 1, chap 50
  2. Chap 50 done

Week Goal: 1 achievement on average on weekdays and 2 on weekends

Week Tally: 2.2 achievement on average on weekdays and 2 on weekends

Sum story progress: 5 chapters.

Against last week: Taking it leisurely after ‘big push’ last week but still making good progress.

Writer’s Achievement Diary- 21 May 17

Mon 15/05/2017

1. Finished off scene 2 of Chap 27
2. Figured out main gist of scene 2, chap 28
3. Made decision to relocate another side-plot section
4: Sketched out scene 2 of Chap 28 from scratch

Tue 16/05/2017

1. Decided on general shape of events for Chap 29-30 (equivalent of 4 achievements)

Wed 17/05/2017

1. Tidied up chap 29-30 in comprehensive form (equivalent of 4 achievements)

Thu 18/05/2017

1. Came up with an important flaw in Sin Sin’s character
2. Came up with rough idea of book 1 end
3. Rounded out scene 2 of chap 30
4. Fleshed out scene 1 of chap 41
5. Very rough idea on what goes into scene 2, chap 41; 6. Ironed out gist of main event in chap 42

Fri 19/05/2017

1. Relocated one scene as floating scene
2. Fleshed out new scene 2 of Chap 41 from scratch
3. Scene 1, Chap 42 done
4. Scene 2, Chap 42 done
5. Scene 1, Chap 43 done
6. Chap 43 done

Sat 20/05/2017

1. Scene 1, Chap 44 done
2. Scene 2, Chap 44 rough gist done
3. Fleshed out Scene 2, Chap 44
4. Scene 1, Chap 45
5. Chap 45 done

Sun 21/05/2017

Took a break since finished monthly goal already!

Week Goal: 1 achievement on average on weekdays and 2 on weekends

Week Tally: 4.8 achievement on average on weekdays and 2.5 on weekends

Sum story progress: 8 Chapters!

Against last week: Speed really picking up this week on weekdays!

Writer’s Achievement Diary- 14 May 17

Mon 8/05/2017

1. Fleshed out the empathy scene b/w Sin Sin and Lok for potential future incorporation
2. Identified key decision points for the outline as a separate doc

Tue 9/05/2017

1. 10 grids filled for Ip

Wed 10/05/2017

1. Came up with rough idea on scene 2 of chapter 26

Thu 11/05/2017

1. Come up with rough idea on Chap 27
2. Made rough decisions on some of the floating scenes
3. Progress on scene 2 of chap 26

Fri 12/05/2017

1. Finalised scene 2 of chap 26
2. Finalised scene 1 of chap 27

Sat 13/05/2017

1. Rough outline of scene 2, Chap 27
2. Rough outline of Chap 29

Sun 14/05/2017

1. Joted down idea on round 2 outlining concerning plot relocation in early 10 chapters following received feedback
2. Plotted out scene 1 of Chap 28

Week Goal: 1 achievement on average on weekdays and 2 on weekends
Week Tally: 1.8 achievement on average on weekdays and 2 on weekends
Sum story progress: bit more than 1 chap, abt 1 chap worth of rough outlines.
Against last week: weekdays almost catching up to weekends! Sum story progress also going nice.

Writer’s Achievement Diary- 7 May 17

I forgot to mention it last time but I’ve newly added an email subscription option to my blog which is located at the bottom. Finally! Thought I would point this out to my followers.

Mon 1/05/2017

  1. Made decision on how to proceed with Chap 26

Tues 2/05/2017

  1. Made decision on how to proceed out of too many plot lines and not enough chapters

Wed 3/05/2017

Did nothing for outline today.

Thu 4/05/2017

  1. Restructured scenes for chaps 26-30

Fri 5/05/2017

  1. Made chap 21-25 clearer for alpha readers
  2. Plotted out part of chap 26

Sat 6/05/2017

  1. Worked out the next plot point for chap 26

Sun 7/05/2017

  1. 26 grids filled for Sin Sin, exceeded goal of 25
  2. Completed scene 1 of Chap 26
  3. 10 grids filled for Ip (cousin)
  4. 10 grids filled for Ning Yee
  5. Came up with the seed for a potential future scene between Sin Sin and Lok

Week Goal: 1 achievement on average on weekdays and 2 on weekends
Week Tally: 1 achievement on average on weekdays and 3 on weekends
Sum story progress: 1 scene or half a chap but fair progress on characterisation
Against last week: Woohoo for weekends!

Writer’s Achievement Diary- 30 April 17

Okay, so I’m starting yet another blog series to document my weekly progress. This time, it’s for a brand new novel series and now I’m just outlining book 1. I want to trial doing more comprehensive outlines which means that I’m considering a multi-round progress and I’m still on round 1. My intention is to put no time limits so that I don’t rush but then an unfortunate side-effect is that I end up bludging so I’ve started to create a goal of how many achievements on average to make on each day. That of course gives birth to a writer’s achievement diary where I have to mark down achievement on every single day. This idea came to right at the end of April and what you see below is pretty much the speed I was outlining at:

Mon 24/04/17

1. cleared the debt with earlier parts of the outline, can now concentrate on Chap 25
2. tidied up my idea journal and G drive creative folder
3. Made headways towards Chap 25

Tue 25/04/17

ANZAC day holiday

Wed 26/04/17

1. Restructured the alternating plotline to be every 10 chapters
2. Scene restructuring with cascading effects
3. Finished one new scene

Thu 27/04/2017

1. Plotted out rough sketch of Chap 25

Fri 28/04/2017

1. Plotted out scene 1 of Chap 25

Sat 29/04/2017

1. Expanded scene 1 of Chap 21

Sun 30/04/2017

1. Fully fleshed out scene 1 of Chap 21
2. Finished Chap 25

Week Goal: 1 achievement on average per day
Week Tally: 1.6 achievements on average on weekdays and 1.5 on weekends 
Sum story progress: 1 chapter