Tag Archives: thesis

Happy Accidents

I did a thing. It was a semi dumb thing and I’m not sure why I did it.

As you may or may not know, my third book, The Earl and the Artificer, is also my MFA thesis project, so I have an advisor who is supposed to look at it and give me feedback along with a class who does the same. Thus far, my thesis advisor has been very lenient with me. Some demand at least a chapter a week or put their students on a strict schedule, but he’s pretty much let me do what I want since he knows I’ll get it done.

Well, I knew he would need to see something before the end of the semester, something substantial, in order to give me a grade. Originally, I told him I would hand in the finished piece (unedited) by mid-October. At the time, it sounded like a good idea. I’d have all the time in the world. I’m only taking two classes, so how much work could I have? A lot, that’s how much.

This is when I did something dumb. Part of my job in the English department is to create a newsletter, so I spend a bit of time emailing professors, harassing them until they tell me what they’ve published this semester or what events they’re holding. While emailing my advisor to ask him about his writing, I wrote, “I’ll be leaving an edited draft of the first act, which is about 80 pages in your mailbox next week.” I sent the email off without thinking much of it until about an hour later. NEXT WEEK?! Was I temporarily insane? At that point, I had only edited three out of the eleven chapters in act one. In less than five days, I would need to edit eight chapters to get them to where I was willing to show my advisor without cringing.

I immediately texted my best friend telling her of the stupid thing I had done. “But you work well under pressure!” she replied. I do, but why did I do this to myself? Why give myself added stress for no reason? If I had told him I would hand it in two weeks from then, he wouldn’t have cared and I wouldn’t have been freaking out. Then again, my best friend is coming from England in two weeks, and I would be worrying about my stupid project instead of getting ready for her arrival.

It’s strange, but it’s as if my subconscious gave me a boot in the ass. I’ve had ample time to edit my story, but I’ve been procrastinating and doing everything but writing and editing recently. Would I have had anything to hand in by the end of the month if I hadn’t accidentally cracked the whip on myself? Probably not.

Over the course of three days, I powered through chapters one to eleven, going over what I edited already and combing through the ones I hadn’t touched yet. Last night at midnight I finally finished. While I was too tired to add any new content to the story, I officially finished my edits of act one and will hand them into my advisor on Monday.

I’m somewhat proud of myself for actually getting this all done before the weekend and that on Monday I’ll be able to present my advisor with the first third of my work. After dilly-dallying for so long, it seems strange that I’ll actually be handing in part of my thesis. Luckily my mistake created this progress. Sometimes all you need is to give yourself a kick in the ass to get going.

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The Absent Awkward Authoress

The Awkward Authoress has not been posting nearly as often as she really should, and for that, she must apologize. I have unconsciously decided to take a little hiatus from blogging this month to throw myself wholly into my writing. For nearly all of May and most of June, I struggled through The Earl and the Artificer, adding only a hundred words or so here or there, taking several weeks to muddle through a chapter. In one of my recent posts, I mentioned that I was participating in Camp Nanowrimo and that my goal is 15,000 words by the end of July, which would bring my manuscript’s word count up to 30,000 words if I met my goal.

Well, it’s going swimmingly, and I am trying very hard to keep up the pace with my novel. The downside is that to keep productivity up, I have had to take a step back from blogging for a little while. In August, I hope to figure out how to balance writing and blogging better, but for now, I will be only posting once or twice a week until the end of the month. Most will probably be progress updates and info posts about my current WIP. I do feel guilty about neglecting my blog and its readers, yet I hope you will understand that my novel is more pressing. It will be my thesis project for my MFA, and I need to get as much of it done over the summer as possible because once the school year starts, I know my productivity will drop dramatically.

When you get the chance, I hope you will check the Progress and Projects page at the top of the website to see how The Earl and the Artificer is coming along. I should be updating it every few days.

Once again, I apologize for disappearing this month, but it’s for a good cause.

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Errant Plots and Acccepted Proposals

The other day I received an email from the director of my graduate program that my thesis proposal was approved! Not only that, but she wanted the file to use as an example of what a proper MFA thesis proposal should look like. I beamed with pride for most of the day, and I feel as if a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. In the fall, I will officially begin my thesis and finish up with my MFA in May of 2016, which really means I’ll be going into book three full force as soon as possible.

Part of the reason I hoped my proposal would pass in one shot is that I am trying very hard to separate myself from what I wrote in it about book three. For the professors to approve your proposal, you need to show that you have your shit together and are really prepared to take on a big project and actually finish it, so you have to provide a lot of info about your work even if you really haven’t thought it through yet. It’s all subject to change (thank god), but I had to do quite a bit of cooking up of ideas in a brief amount of time. Now, my very anal analytical side wants to take all of my half-assed ideas from the proposal and check them off, but I know it won’t turn out well. The ideas I wrote down aren’t forming the story I would like to read.

Because of this, I know I need to take a step back and re-evaluate my ideas and where the story is going. It’s been on the backburner for about three weeks while I was working on classwork, but now that the semester is wrapping up, I can finally go back to it. It feels great to be able to finally go back to my writing after a self-imposed hiatus, yet it’s daunting knowing that I need to figure this out before moving forward.

My writing style is somewhere between plotting and flying by the seat of my pants. I don’t like to plot the whole thing out, but I need to know where I’m going before I begin writing a chapter. This system gives me structure but allows for fluidity and for my characters to stretch their legs a bit.

At the moment, I feel a bit lost with The Earl and the Artificer. I have a few chapters done, which are shaping up to be a good foundation, but it feels like an insurmountable task to figure out where I’m going.  The good thing is, I say this every time I begin working on a new book and by 10,000 words in, I’m usually fairly on my feet. I don’t think the anxiety goes away until I’m two chapters away from finishing it.

I’m also back to reading historical fiction again, which always seems to help. I’ll be outlining and diagramming and creating monstrosities that look more like summoning circles than outlines, but now that my proposal has been accepted and my final paper is well under way, I should be able to finally get into book three. I plan to keep everyone posted on the writing process and what I discover along the way with research or writing or myself, but first and foremost, I must write.

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Projects, Projects, Projects

Hi everyone,

This will be a short blog post before I run up to the university for the night.

You may have noticed the new banner at the top of my page.  I decided to go to Fiverr and get a logo made for the Ingenious Mechanical Devices series, which hopefully will be used in the future for t-shirts or mugs at events and down the line a table banner for when I do author events. Honestly, I love it. I have been gushing over it for the past two days and am dying to go to Cafepress and make up a t-shirt or something.  I’m easily excitable at times.

The second point I would like to mention is: The Winter Garden is still doing well on Amazon! The ebook and paperback launched last Sunday, and the response has been quite good. I have 4 reviews thus far, all 5s or 4s, and if you are interested in reading it, please check it out here. I’ll do a post about the reviews after I get a few more, so in a week or two.

On to the next: I have finished my thesis proposal! It is done! All I need to do is finish the bibliography, which I’m just too lazy to compile because it’s time consuming and I’m waiting for two books to come in the mail.  In a few weeks, I will turn it in and wait for the committee to hopefully approve it. The project will be book #3 of the Ingenious Mechanical Devices series, but if you want a little hint as to what I am up to, you can check out the Pinterest board for it here. With school and miscellaneous projects, it has been a slow go, but in a month or two, my writing should pick up.

My final piece of mind vomit is, projects! I feel like as soon as I half-think of one project, another one pops up in my mind.  If you are a fan of the Ingenious Mechanical Devices series, I can already let you know that there will be a third book (Eilian and Hadley), a fourth book (Emmeline, Immanuel, Adam), and a book in between, which will contain two novellas (Adam and Immanuel and one focusing on Emmeline) and possibly a few short stories that will fall somewhere between books two and four.  Stay tuned for more news down the line.  I hope you all are as excited as I am.

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What I’ve Learned From My Thesis Proposal

I don’t really read much steampunk.

When I submitted a draft to my professor, he sent back revision suggestions with a note along the lines of “What steampunk books can you cite in your bibliography?”  I stared at the page for a few minutes before sitting back and sighing. Shit, I needed to add steampunk books.  Somehow, I didn’t think I would need to reference any.  Continue reading

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