Tag Archives: Thought

Turning 30 and Breaking Down the Numbers

I’m so glad to have you all here with me (well, long-distance—I’m even long-distance too, since I’m still fishing) to celebrate my 30th birthday (okay, and it’s actually this Sunday, the 13th, but who posts on Sundays?).

AHEM. Anyway. Turning 30 is such a milestone—I mean, this is only my third completed decade—such a “big” number, that it makes me think about what I’ve been doing with myself, and a few of the other numbers that have added up to a fledgling writing career. My dream career. So, while sometimes it feels like it has taken me a really long time to get to this point, at least I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing.

Now for the breakdown (non-emotional, I hope)…

30: years old

6: years writing seriously

3: manuscripts abandoned well on their way

6: fiction manuscripts completed (3 young adult novels, 2 adult novels, and 1 middle grade)

1: nonfiction manuscript completed

3: completed manuscripts trunked (2 adult novels and 1 young adult)

2: manuscripts sold

1: publisher

2: completed manuscripts with high hopes

2: novels in the works

1: debut book launching August 8th, 2014

As for how those numbers will change, it’s anyone’s guess. I have interesting projects in the works this next year: a sequel to WORDLESS called LIFELESS, which will come out a year after WORDLESS does—and WORDLESS comes out in only a month! I also have a middle grade project that I’ll soon announce… and prepare to be surprised (can one actually prepare to be surprised?), since it’s not a typical publishing deal. (Hint: I’m working with a company. A toy company.) Anyway, all of this is very exciting, and I’m just so thrilled to have you all along for the ride with me.

This is where I say something cheesy like:

Incalculable: My joy to be doing what I love, surrounded by people I love.

And so I did. Just, uh, ignore that if it triggers your gag reflex.

AHEM. ANYWAY… Cheers to 2014, to 30, and to the other awesome numbers yet to arrive!

adriannestricklandAdriAnne shares a home base in Alaska with her husband, but has spent two cumulative years living abroad in Africa, Asia, and Europe. While writing occupies most of her time, she commercial fishes every summer in Bristol Bay, because she can’t seem to stop. Her debut YA sci-fi/fantasy, WORDLESS, is coming August 8th, 2014 from Flux Books. You can follow her on Twitter and like her on Facebook.

Writing Outside of Your Box

I’ve often preached to any new writer who will listen about writing more than a first book. Oftentimes people will put so much into that first book that they don’t want to let it go… even if it might, in fact, suck. I heard someone compare books to pancakes once—that first one is a complete mess and usually goes in the trash, or, in the case of books, the trunk. (Mine sure did.)

More pancakes!

The topic of this post is sort of an extension of that one: try something new. Not only should you write more than one book if you’re feeling stuck; write outside of your usual genre too. I’ve done this three times, and all have been invaluable experiences.

1.) Writing outside of my usual fiction genre

The first time, I used the great excuse of NaNoWriMo to write something fun. The challenge I read about on a blog and decided to try was this: anyone who hadn’t written a romance novel should, well… write a romance novel. My first (trunked) book was an adult paranormal, but not romance. My second (also trunked) book was a YA urban fantasy. So, I had some free time, and I figured, why not?

Except I said yes. Hey, it’s not always a bad idea!

It was a blast, writing full-bore romance. And while no one will ever see this book, it taught me how to write way sexier romance scenes. While writing an entire book of them isn’t, I discovered, my cup of tea, it helped me be able to inject more romance and tension into those few scenes I do write to spice up my non-romance books.

2) Writing nonfiction

This was a big step for me, and less fun, but in a really challenging, enriching sort of way. I had an interesting experience in high school, and decided to write about that year of my life in the form of a YA memoir. The jury is still out on whether or not you’ll see this, but even if you don’t, the experience was still hugely valuable.

If you need a quick way to learn how to write dynamic characters, just try writing a real person as a character. You instantaneously have a three dimensional picture of this “character” in your mind since, you know… this person actually exists in three dimensions. Writing real people is excellent training for writing complex, interesting fictional characters since you can remember the steps you took to get that real person down on the page and apply it to your fiction later.

Also, writing nonfiction really made me think about story structure and appreciate the freedom I have when writing fiction. Trying to cram real events into a strong story ARC is soooo much harder than when you can make those events up. After writing the memoir, the story ARC for my next work of fiction and the events that comprised it came together with surprising ease.

3) Writing for a different age

I’d already written adult and YA fiction, so when I got the opportunity (more on this soon) to write for the middle grade age-range, I was excited—this was something new! I couldn’t rely on the relationship dynamics I was used to in order to craft my older characters, which involved more adult themes (even in YA) and oftentimes some type of sexual tension, however subtle. I had to tap into my inner 10-year-old, and write a story based on friendship and family.

How one DOESN’T want to write MG…

But whether or not you’re writing for a 10-year-old audience or 50-year-old, those types of relationships are crucial. To go back to the basics, and build something in a new way, was a wonderful exercise in writing relationships of all types.

Now, I bid you–go write something new and wild! Something you never would write, normally. You might be surprised by the benefits.

adriannestricklandAdriAnne shares a home base in Alaska with her husband, but has spent two cumulative years living abroad in Africa, Asia, and Europe. While writing occupies most of her time, she commercial fishes every summer in Bristol Bay, because she can’t seem to stop. Her debut YA sci-fi/fantasy, WORDLESS, is coming August 8th, 2014 from Flux Books. You can follow her on Twitter and like her on Facebook.

Resetting My Writing Self: a Day in the Life of My Fishing Self

I have limited time to blog at the moment (you’ll soon find out why), so I’m re-posting this from my personal  website blog. But to freshen up the post, I’ll frame it with a new question:

What do you do to reset yourself?

I find that, as a writer, I need to do something different every once in a while to clear the clutter/excess words out of my brain. After I do this, the words come back stronger than ever.

Luckily, every year during the months of June and July, I get the chance to reset myself in the form of commercial fishing. If you didn’t know this already about me… yes, I commercial fish in remote Alaska, in Bristol Bay. I’m about to head out again on my yearly adventure. (I have some blog posts scheduled while I’m gone, but if I don’t respond to your comments, this is why.)

So, in case you ever wondered what goes on out there, here’s a “day-in-the-life-of” post for my fishing self, while my writing self is taking a break. See you in late July, recharged!

Going Fishing: A Day in the Life of a Fisherwoman

Pre-season (~June 1st-June 15th):

Hanging net in the fishermen's warehouse
Hanging net in the fishermen’s warehouse

This is the time we get our boat and nets and other miscellaneous odds and ends (like ourselves) ready to fish. It usually involves twelve hour work days, with activities such as boat painting, fiberglass work, engine maintenance, and net hanging. This is when my out-of-shape body whines a lot as I lift heavy things and bash it around all day.

Early season (June 15th-July 1st):

Fishing is pretty mellow at this time. The fishery managers/biologists start us out on one tide per day, usually around low tide and only lasting for about four to six hours. Sometimes we even skip days entirely. I’ll still probably be doing some work around the dock and hanging nets when we’re not fishing. And if we’re lucky, the weather will be lovely (it’s usually 40 degrees, blowing and raining), and we’ll throw a giant bonfire party on the beach that lasts throughout the night like the midnight sun.

Mending net on the boat
Mending net on the boat

Fishing itself involves unspooling our 900-foot drift net from the reel in the center of our boat out over the roller on the stern. We lay it out depending on the tide, wind, sandbars, where the fish are running, and where the fishing boundaries are. (You don’t want to cross those. The fishery is sustainably managed, and the managers take their job seriously. You drift over the line, and it’s a $3-6K ticket, plus a court date—that you have to fly to in the middle of the season in order to make.)

At this point, we catch anywhere from a couple hundred pounds to a couple thousand pounds on a good opener (though we had a freakish first day last year where we caught 13,000 pounds). And usually our openers are during the daylight hours, because the fish aren’t moving much at night (or moving much at all), so it’s pretty calm, fun fishing.

Beach bonfire!
Beach bonfire! It’s about 11 pm.

Peak of the season (July 2nd-July 15th):

Picking fish
Picking fish

This is where it gets a little crazy. The fish start pushing—hard—in huge balls or bands. The biologists freak out because they’re getting too many fish upriver (which could potentially crash the fishery), and suddenly we’re fishing two tides per day, which usually means eight hours at a time with only four hour breaks in between—at best. In those four hours, we often have to deliver our fish (which can take two hours on a busy opener), cook, eat, mend a giant hole torn in our net by who-knows-what, and sleep. Doesn’t leave much room for sleep.

Reeling in the fish
Reeling in the fish

And when it gets REALLY busy, there can be eighteen-hour-long openers, or the fishery can even be thrown wide open to 24/7 openers. And we’re usually not just twiddling our thumbs. There are so many fish in the water that we’re constantly picking them out of our net, resetting the net, and trying to squeeze in deliveries when our boat gets packed. Last year, we caught 16,000 pounds in a single net in two hours. That’s a hellofalotta fish to process—it took hours to get it all in the holds, and then our gunwales were only a few inches above the water. Then we had to deliver, which took three hours, during which time we ate a Cup of Noodles and a Snickers bar a piece (yes, healthy, I know—but there’s not always time for healthy)… and then we went right back at it for another eighteen hours. And then sixteen hours. And then twenty-four hours. I only had an hour-long nap per day for about five days, and you can get pretty darn crazy. Which for me usually means laughing maniacally or crying at the drop of a fish.

Going a little crazy. My deck mate is pretending he's Gollum and I'm... kissing a fish head?
Going a little crazy. My deck mate is pretending he’s Gollum and I’m… kissing a fish head?

My fingers also get so swollen I can hardly bend them, I have to slather them in Bag Balm to keep my skin from cracking, I get so coated in fish slime and scales that some even get stuck on my face for upwards of a week, my hair gets so gross I just tuck it under a hat and try to forget it exists…

…and yet I keep doing this every summer. Because I love it, for some insane reason. There’s just nothing like having your entire universe boiled down to catching your living, eating when you are starving, sleeping when you’re about to fall over from exhaustion. It resets my priorities like nothing else can. I feel so refreshed after a fishing season that I have my most productive months of writing (by far) afterwards. And there’s just nothing like standing on the deck of a boat at eleven at night with the sun still sparkling on the water, eagles soaring overhead, grizzlies stalking along the beach, seals cruising around the boat, and the occasional pods of belugas rolling in the surf off our stern. Nothing like it.

Sunset beauty

adriannestricklandAdriAnne shares a home base in Alaska with her husband, but has spent two cumulative years living abroad in Africa, Asia, and Europe. While writing occupies most of her time, she commercial fishes every summer in Bristol Bay, because she can’t seem to stop. Her debut YA sci-fi/fantasy, WORDLESS, is coming August 8th, 2014 from Flux Books. You can follow her on Twitter and like her on Facebook.

The Power of Words + WORDLESS ARC Giveaway!

Today I’m giving away one of my few signed ARCs of WORDLESS, my debut book, so pardon me while I wax arm-chair-philosophical. (Or you can just scroll down and enter the giveaway.)

Since I’m writing books about the (super-) power of words—people with the ability to speak and have their words literally manifest in real life—and since I’m, you know, a writer, it’s always fun to think about words and why they fascinate me.

I think it boils down to this: words are powerful. From a simple sentence, a whole world of ideas can be born. And they can be used for good or evil: inspiration, lies, love, hate.

I’ll be frank with you—I started out on the evil sides of things, back when I was five years old. I was a habitual liar. It was a revelation that I could open my mouth, say something, and have people believe it was true when it was anything but. As a generally powerless kid (like most) who was told when to go to bed, take a bath or eat my vegetables, I suddenly discovered I had immense influence. Did I eat all of the candy in the cupboard? No. Was I sick and needing to stay home from school? Yes. Did I draw a treasure map on the couch in permanent marker? No sir-ee. Did I live on a farm populated with a ridiculous menagerie of animals? Why, yes I did.

I felt like a god. Of course, some people didn’t believe me, but they just exchanged knowing looks with a nearby adult. When you’re a kid, people let you get away with this stuff.

Except for my grandma, who, after she asked if I was trying to thieve a stuffed-animal from her house and I said no, called me out on it, made me take it out from under my shirt and put it back where I’d gotten it. Yes, yes, I tried to steal from my grandma. Evil five-year-old, remember? Still, I’ve never been so ashamed.

And good for her for humiliating the heck out of me and sending my little power trip crashing to the ground. Because lying might be somewhat funny when you’re five and can only inflict minor damage on gullible friends and siblings. Adults are mostly impervious and accept such childish behavior with an, “Oh, is that so, dear?” (…Unless you’ve been drawing on the couch in permanent marker. Then your mother gets PISSED.) But what happens when you’re in school later, and you tell someone they’re ugly? Stupid? Worthless? What happens when you’re an adult and you tell someone that you love them…and you don’t? What happens when you claim “she wanted it”? What happens when you tell an entire country that a certain race of people is lesser than yours?

Very bad things, that’s what happens. Evil, if you will. But words are like SCIENCE (cue darkly dramatic music). There’s not always a mad scientist cackling in the background over chemical weapons and atomic bombs. Cures for diseases are discovered, computers invented, washing machines gifted to the people of earth. (Seriously, have you ever had to wash all of your clothes by hand? It royally sucks and takes half of the day.)

Words are like that. So much potential. We can create worlds… or destroy someone else’s, all with words. And that kind of power is still fascinating to me. These days, I like creating worlds in the form of novels, which is essentially a glorified but a mostly harmless form of lying for other people’s entertainment—the difference is that I now call it fiction from the get-go. (Thanks Grandma, for not putting up with my sh*t.)

And so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that my first published book is about living Words: god-like people saying, “Flame,” and making things burn; people saying, “Die,” and watching someone topple over; people saying, “Live,” and letting them stand up again. And even less surprising is that there’s a kid without words at the heart of it all, feeling powerless and wondering how much better life would be if he only he had such power.

How, indeed? Because, while words are powerful, it’s all about how they’re used.

Now you can enter the giveaway!

-Adri out
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Wordless - small

“The Gods made their Words into flesh, giving privileged individuals the powers of creation…”

In Eden City, a member of the illiterate wordless class would never dream of meeting the all-powerful Words … much less of running away with one. So when a gorgeous girl literally falls into his lap during a routine trash run, seventeen-year-old Tavin Barnes isn’t sure if it’s the luckiest or worst day of his life. That girl is Khaya, the Word of Life, who can heal a wound or command an ivy bush to devour a city block with ease. And yet she needs Tavin’s help.

By aiding Khaya’s escape from the seemingly idyllic confines of Eden City, Tavin unwittingly throws himself into the heart of a conflict that is threatening to tear the world apart. Eden City’s elite will stop at nothing to protect the shocking secret Khaya hides, and they enlist the other Words, each with their own frightening powers, to bring her back.

adriannestricklandAdriAnne shares a home base in Alaska with her husband, but has spent two cumulative years living abroad in Africa, Asia, and Europe. While writing occupies most of her time, she commercial fishes every summer in Bristol Bay, because she can’t seem to stop. Her debut YA sci-fi/fantasy, WORDLESS, is coming August 8th, 2014 from Flux Books. You can follow her on Twitter and like her on Facebook.

Why I Write

For my first post here on this new website in this new year, I gave a lot of thought to what I wanted to discuss. My book is through its edits and mostly out of my hands now, on its way to the completion of a journey that I have dreamed about for years. And, as a consequence, my life lately has been more worrying about marketing than worrying about writing. And some of this marketing gave me advice about the things I should be writing, about what’s selling and not selling, about what people want to read. Which is all important when you are in the process of marketing your book.

But it got me to thinking about why I write. And, when I sit down to write a story, it’s because the characters are clamoring in my head and I need to get them out so I can get some peace and quiet. It’s because there’s an image, or a place, or a line of dialogue, that I want to get down on paper (or screen, more likely), so that I can share it. And it used to be that I just shared it with my family and friends, but now I’m lucky enough that I get to share it with all of YOU. (Or maybe you’ve all become my friends!)

So I write. I write because I love creating. I write because it brings me joy. I write because it makes me happy. And I hope that what I write brings you some joy and happiness, too! That is, I think, my best approach to marketing. 🙂