Vlog: The Best Decision I Ever Made as an Unpublished Writer

I often get asked about writing advice, so today I'm sharing the best bit of writing advice I have. And it's probably not what you think.


Twitter-sized bite:
Author @Ava_Jae shares their best writing advice—and it's probably not what you think. (Click to tweet)

Discussion: What Are Your Goals for the Rest of 2017?

Photo credit: paul bica on Flickr
So! Originally I had a fixing the first page critique scheduled for today, but the winner never sent me their excerpt and I didn't have enough time to draw a new winner, so instead let's discuss! Because discussions are fun.

There are 37 days of 2017 left (I know, right?). And with the new year approaching, I thought it might be fun to talk about what you'd like to accomplish before 2018 dawns. Mine include:

  • I already talked about my book goals so I won't reiterate them, but in short: read a ton of books for fun. 
  • Finish THE RISING GOLD revisions. 
  • Build the end table that's been sitting in my room for too long. 
  • Get at least one bookshelf situated (yay!).
  • Finish playing Final Fantasy XV.
  • R E L A X

It's been a very intense Fall for me, but with things soon winding down, I'm very much looking forward to some much-needed Me time. And with that comes (hopefully) completing some goals that I've been wanting to accomplish for a while. 

What about you? What are your goals for the rest of 2017?

Twitter-sized bite:
What are you goals for the rest of 2017? Join the discussion on @Ava_Jae's blog. (Click to tweet)

Vlog: Demystifying (Some) Writing Lingo

There are looooots of terms frequently used in the writing world, and they aren't always really explained. So today I'm sharing a quick run-down of some important and often-used terms.


Twitter-sized bite:
Frequently used writing terms can sometimes get confusing, so @Ava_Jae breaks down quite a few in their vlog. (Click to tweet)

Fixing the First Page Winner #41!

Photo credit: 1 Fine Cookie on Flickr
Quick, pre-vlog post to announce the winner of the forty-first fixing the first page feature giveaway!


And the forty-first winner is…


Yay! Congratulations, Billano!

Thanks again to all you wonderful entrants! If you didn't win, as always, there'll be one more fixing the first page giveaway this year (woot!), so as always, keep an eye out!

Fixing the First Page Giveaway #41!

Photo credit: kgroovy on Flickr
Off-schedule post because the end of November is rapidly approaching! Which means Thanksgiving is like less than a week away in the US and even better *clears throat* the next Fixing the First Page critique giveaway is upon us!

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 forty-first public critique on Writability, do the thing with the rafflecopter widget below. You have until Monday, November 20 at 11:59 PM EST to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

On Writing Nuanced Relationships

Photo credit: alhussainy on Flickr
I've been thinking a lot lately about how people are complicated. How we can still love people who have hurt us—even repeatedly, even without apology. How one person can do wonderful and terrible things, how they can hurt someone without intending to and intentions don't matter when they do; how apologies don't have to be accepted and even when they are it doesn't always mean things will go on as they were.

I've been thinking about all of that and how that affects relationships, particularly when those relationships are between family members.

While I'd never claim complicated family relationships don't exist in kidlit (YA included), I do think depictions tend to happen along a good/bad binary. Either families are lovely and wholesome (the Weasleys) or they're downright awful and abusive (the Dursleys). But when writing about families, I've increasingly wanted to depict something more complicated, more nuanced. Families who love each other, but also sometimes lash out, or make damaging mistakes. And sometimes those mistakes can't be undone with an apology.

It's a hard thing to write. Hitting the balance between bad and good in a way where the bad doesn't outweigh the good (at least, unintentionally) can be a challenge—and like most things in writing, it takes a lot of feedback to figure out if you've hit the mark. But it's a challenge I'll continue to tackle with different characters in different ways.

Have you written complicated character relationships? What was it like? 

Twitter-sized bite:
Author @Ava_Jae blogs about the challenge of writing complicated character relationships. (Click to tweet)

Vlog: About Your Rights When You Traditionally Publish

In which I respond to the many writers I've had tell me they're afraid of traditional publishers changing their book to something they don't want.


Do you lose creative control when you traditionally publish? @Ava_Jae breaks down this myth & talks your rights. (Click to tweet)

End of Year TBR List

We have less than ten weeks of 2017 left! I know, I could hardly believe it either when I counted—twice—to make sure I hadn't missed, like, two or three weeks in there somewhere. But somehow, the end of the year is rapidly approaching.

100% thanks to grad school (and picture books) I've already met my 2017 Goodreads reading challenge. But I'm nowhere near done reading what I want to read before 2018, so I decided I would make a list of books I want to prioritize reading before the New Year.

If I'm being realistic, I will probably not actually be able to really start on this in earnest until the semester is over (in early/mid December) but, you know. Helpful to do this now anyway.

So in no particular order! Here are the books I'd like to read before 2018.




If you're looking at that list and going fifteen books is a lot to read in, like, three weeks, Ava! you're right! I will probably not actually read all of these before the end of 2018, but I like having a long list of options. Winter break, I think, will be full of books and visits to the library. :) 

What books do you want to read before 2018?

Twitter-sized bites:
What books do you want to read before 2018? Join the discussion on @Ava_Jae's blog. (Click to tweet)

Vlog: Writing Doesn't Get Easier

In which I talk about revising my 17th manuscript and how some things in writing never really change.


What do you think?

Twitter-sized bite:
Author @Ava_Jae vlogs about revising their 17th WIP & how writing doesn't really get easier. (Click to tweet)

On Over-Ambition and Rebalancing

Photo credit: Mike Gabelmann
I'm an ambitious person. Always have been, for as long as I can remember.

I was the kid in class who always had to get As. Who wrote novels in math class (and still aced math tests), who took AP classes and was only satisfied with a 4 or 5 score on the test at the end of the year, who wanted, more than anything, to get published again, and again, and again.

So I guess it's not surprising I'm also the person who, in August, thought, yeah, I can do grad school, launch a book, and do thirty hours of part time work at the same time. It'll be fine.

Spoiler: it has not been fine.

As of this blog post, I'm nearly a month behind on Book 3 revisions. I've had to, on multiple occasions, not finish my readings for class. For the first time ever I had to e-mail a professor and ask for an extension on a paper. I have publishing deadlines this week I'll be diving into as soon as I finish this post. In short: October has been a tough month.

October was also the month I realized what I was doing wasn't sustainable and took action to lighten the load for me this month by cutting back on my part time hours. And though it was touch and go for a while, it does look like things will be fine after I get through another weekend plus week of overwork. All because I got a little (well, a lot) overly ambitious.

Ambition is great—it encourages you to dream big and push yourself to get there—but it can be a flaw if you're also a workaholic, like me. I learned that the hard way over the last two months, and it's a lesson I'm pretty sure I'll never forget. And while I'm feeling a little better knowing the light is at the end of the tunnel and soon I'll be able to breathe, I will fully admit it's been A Lot.

But I like to be honest about that, because sometimes you can give the impression online that you're a superhuman doing All The Things and everything is fine, fine, fine, and I don't want to give that impression because I've always found it comforting when authors I follow online say, "Yeah, this is hard."

So yeah, this is hard. But it's good, too. Though I've been overwhelmed, I've been overwhelmed with things I enjoy. And once I get a little better balanced, everything really will be fine.

Just got to push through until then.

Twitter-sized bite:
Author @Ava_Jae gets real about being overambitious and rebalancing. (Click to tweet)
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