On Reading Slumps

Photo credit: mark sebastian on Flickr
I'm not sure if this is a busy-ness thing, a dealing with a whole lot of words thing, or a tiredness thing (or maybe all three?) but I've been dealing with a bit of a reading slump lately.

It's not like I don't have good books to read (that is definitely not a problem *eyes growing TBR shelf*), but I've been finding that my motivation to read has just been...waning. Which it shouldn't be, because there've been so many books I want to read but when I sit down to actually get through some pages, I've been super easily distracted and just...in general struggling.

Maybe it's partially what I've been reading too? I've been enjoying the last several books overall, but it seems even when I'm invested the motivation has been lacking. I'm mostly hoping this too shall pass and I'll be back to my regular reading motiv
ation levels soon, but for now it's been a struggle with nearly everything I've tried to read, which has been annoying.

#bookworm problems, I suppose. Or overworking problems, maybe.

I'm curious, though: what do you guise do when you hit a reading slump? What has gotten you through it?

Twitter-sized bite:
What do you do to get through a reading slump? Join the discussion on @Ava_Jae's blog. (Click to tweet)

Fixing the First Page Winner #34!

Photo credit: coffeego on Flickr
Quick Saturday post to announce the winner of the thirty-fourth fixing the first page feature giveaway!


And the thirty-fourth winner is…


Hooray! Congratulations, David!

Thanks again to all you wonderful entrants! If you didn't win, as always, there will be another fixing the first page giveaway in May, so keep an eye out!

On (Needing?) External Deadlines

Photo credit: dgoomany on Flickr
So I recently started part-time work again to help me save for a thing, and when I initially started and got my hours I was a little worried about how I was going to be able to squeeze everything in. Between being on deadline (and not a self-imposed one!), and working on my freelance projects, and now the extra work, I was genuinely concerned there might not be enough hours in the day for me to get everything done that I needed to—and that's even with starting work around 6AM most days, and working on Saturdays.

That concern is still there for some days, but on my first super-packed day where I had a long shift and had to work on my deadline project and had to work on my freelance project, I found that squeezing it all in actually wasn't as terrible as I thought it might be. Largely because I wasted a hell of a lot less time on Twitter and random apps when I knew I had to stop working in a couple hours to go to work.

It kind of surprised me how easy it was to ignore distractions when I didn't have unlimited time throughout the day—I hunkered down and edited, and read, and did everything I needed to, and on the day that I tweeted, I ended up finishing with time to spare. Go figure.

Which got me thinking...maybe I kind of need less hours in the day from time to time? Even on the days that I don't go in to the day job, I had a renewed appreciation for the full hours I had available to me, and I ended up getting more work done than I needed to so I'd have less work to do on days I had less hours available. And really, getting my butt in gear was as a simple as just having five to six hours less on certain days of the week.

It's something I hadn't really thought about before—and I am still more actively worried about burnout, because understandably, I'm working even longer days than I used to. But it's been interesting, at least, to see how much easier it is to focus when my days are less flexible.

Maybe I work best under external deadlines after all.

What do you think? Do you work best under external deadlines or limited time?

Twitter-sized bites:
Do you work best under external deadlines or limited time? Join the discussion on @Ava_Jae's blog. (Click to tweet)

Ava Edits One Year Anniversary Sale!

So about a year ago I made a pretty site and opened my doors to freelance editing! It's been a fantastic decision for me—I've really enjoyed working with so many talented clients—and I love my job. I'd like to celebrate my one year freelancing anniversary with a sale—yay sales!

To celebrate my one year freelancing anniversary, from now until end of May all services are 5% off to everyone, and because I'd like to help get more #ownvoices projects out in the world however I can, I'm also offering 10% off to #ownvoices projects! #ownvoices means you share a marginalization with your protagonist (not that someone in your family shares that marginalization, you). Also it must be a marginalization, not an experience, so something related to race, gender (I don't mean "woman," I mean "not cis"), sexuality/romanticism, religion, disability, or neuroatypicality.

Don't have an #ownvoices project you want edited? That's fine, you still can get 5% off any service! And like last time, you don't necessarily have to have anything ready right now to take advantage of the sale—as long as you book before the end of May (even if you book for, say, July), it will count!

Finally, I'm currently pretty booked in April, but I've got openings for everything May onwards.

So that covers it! Thanks again for all of your wonderful support—it's been a great year!

Twitter-sized bite:
Freelance editor @Ava_Jae is hosting a one year anniversary sale w/ 5% off all projects & 10% off #ownvoices projects until 5/31/17! (Click to tweet)

Vlog: Why Didn't I Self-Publish?

Once upon a time, several years before I got an agent and well before I got published, I seriously considered self-publishing. But here's why I decided it wasn't for me.


What do you think?

Twitter-sized bite:
Author @Ava_Jae vlogs about why she didn't self-publish one of her nine trunked manuscripts. (Click to tweet)

Fixing the First Page Giveaway #34!

Photo credit: thezartorialist.com on Flickr
Once again we are halfway through the month! So, as always here on Writability, it's time for the next Fixing the First Page feature.

For those who’ve missed before, the Fixing the First Page features is a public first 250 word critique. Using the lovely rafflecopter widget, anyone interested in winning a public (as in, featured in a post on this blog) first page critique can enter.

For an example of what this critique will look like, here's the last Fixing the First Page post.


  • ONLY the first 250 words will be critiqued (up to finishing the sentence). If you win and send me more, I will crop it myself. No exceptions.

  • ONLY the first page. I don’t want 250 random words from your manuscript, or from chapter 3. If you win the critique and send me anything other than the first 250 words of your manuscript, I will choose someone else.

  • I will actually critique it. Here. On the blog. I will say things as nicely as I can, but I do tend to be a little blunt. If you’re not sure you can handle a public critique, then you may want to take some time to think about it before you enter.

  • Genre restrictions. I'm most experienced with YA & NA, but I will still accept MG and Adult. HOWEVER. If your first page has any erotic content on it, I ask that you don’t enter. I want to be able to post the critique and the first 250 in its entirety without making anyone uncomfortable, and if you win and you enter a page with erotic content, I will choose someone else.

  • You must have your first page ready. Should you win, you need to be able to submit your first page within 48 hours of my contacting you to let you know you won. If 48 hours pass and I haven’t heard from you, again, I will choose someone else.

  • You’ll get the most out of this if it isn’t a first draft. Obviously, I have no way of knowing if you’re handing me a first draft (though I will probably suspect because it’s usually not that difficult to tell). I won’t refuse your page if it’s a first draft, but you should know that this critique will likely be of more use if you’ve already had your betas/CPs look over it. Why? Because if you don’t, the critique I give you will probably contain a lot of notes that your betas & CPs could have/would have told you.

  • There will not be a round 2 (unless you win again in a future contest). I hate to have to say this, but if you win a critique, it’s NOT an invitation to send me a bunch of your revisions. I wish I had the time available to be able to look at revisions, but sadly, I don’t. If you try to break this rule, I will nicely say no, and also remember to choose someone else should you win a second contest. Which would make me sad. :(

So that’s it! If you’re okay with all of the above and would like to enter to be the thirty-fourth public critique on Writability, do the thing with the rafflecopter widget below. You have until Friday, April 21 at 11:59 PM EST to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

So You Just Got an Agent...Now What?

Photo credit: Premnath Thirumalaisamy on Flickr
Over three years ago, when I signed with my lovely agent, I was ecstatic—and pretty at a loss as to what to expect. While there are a lot of resources out there about how to get an agent and everything that entails, there's significantly less information about what happens after you finally achieve that goal.

Getting an agent is a huge accomplishment, so if that's you, and especially if it's a new thing for you, you should definitely be proud of yourself (and I hope you've celebrated!). But once the dust settles down, being a newly-agented writer can be a little nerve-wracking and nebulous.

The biggest thing I was worried about—even more than career and book stuff—was that I would become an annoying client and my agent wouldn't want to work with me anything. This was a silly fear—my agent is wonderful and has expressed on more than one occasion over the years how happy she is to represent me—but it's not an uncommon fear amongst newly agented writers. The idea that this massive thing you've finally accomplish could just...go away is common in large part because brains are jerks and writers are often the anxious type to begin with.

So first of all, let me assure you, as long as you're not e-mailing your agent multiple times a day every single day and constantly demanding their time, your agent is not going to think you're too annoying to work with because you reach out to them. Having an agent is a professional relationship that requires communication. That means checking in with your agent if you haven't heard from them in a bit, or if you have news, or if you have questions. It also means talking to your agent about your preferred communication styles—your agent can't know phone calls make you anxious so you're not likely to pick up the phone and call them, for example, unless you tell them.

Learning how to communicate and be open with your agent is actually great practice, because it's likely you'll have a similar relationship with your editor once you sell a book. One of the biggest things being in the publishing industry over the years has taught me, it's if you want something, ask. Getting past my anxiety and asking my editor if Beyond the Red could get a map is the only reason I saw my dream come true of getting a map for my book, and same goes for the glossary and (more unusually) some of the interior design elements.

So the first thing you should expect is to get used to communicating with your agent—and understand that it might take a while before you're comfortable enough to send an e-mail with little anxiety (if I'm being transparent, I really didn't reach that level of comfort until sometime late last year).

As for the actual steps that are next, that's going to vary depending both on your agent and your manuscript. If your agent is editorial, you may be spending the next several weeks (or even months!) revising your book before your agent deems it ready for submission. If your agent isn't editorial—or your manuscript is ready to go from the start—then you'll probably jump right to the submission stage and enter the glorious waiting for news period that is all too reminiscent of querying.

But in the quiet moments, when the high of reaching this milestone wears off, the thing to remember is you've accomplished something huge. Getting an agent is a massive step toward turning your writing into a real career—and its one that a lot of people give up on before meeting. So be proud of yourself that you've made it this far—and get ready for more of the publishing rollercoaster ahead.

Twitter-sized bite:
So you just got an agent—now what? @Ava_Jae talks common fears and steps when you first get represented. (Click to tweet)
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