An Elaboration on My Writing Process Video

Hello friends!

The above video is the one I posted last week on my channel, alorabora. It’s mostly comedic, but it covers my first draft writing process. I thought an in depth discussion of my process would be better served as a blog post for my other writers to read if they wish.

Please note that this is just my rough draft writing process. I’m not even going to touch on revisions.

For both Ahlam and Complete Immersion I stared with a rough plot outline. Complete Immersion was based on a dream I’d had and Ahlam stemmed from a writing exercise I did during a Pen & Paper meeting. My friend Chibi and I plotted out lots of major events and sketched out character attributes for Ahlam. It was great fun and I still have all of those notes. I wrote the first draft of Complete Immersion during Camp NaNoWriMo over three years ago, so I am going to focus on my writing process for Ahlam.

As I mentioned in my video, I have a story binder. This holds all of the information about my story: characters, maps, outlines, timelines, etc. The very first page of my binder is a chapter list. As I write new chapters, I add them to this list. It helps me organize my thoughts and easily get a good look at how far the story has come. So far, it has thirteen chapters. The next page is a map of Ahlam’s work and a list of everyone she works with. Following that I have more reference pages and a timeline of how I want the story to progress.

I don’t have a strict outline that I follow while writing. I would say that I plan organically. I know how I want the plot to progress and how the story will end on a high-level, but scene-by-scene I take a more pantsing approach and let the characters interact organically. I use my reference pages to track character traits and facts, new characters, new ideas, etc. I look back at them whenever I need, hence why the writing binder is necessary for writing.

I use a simple Word Doc to write my manuscript and while I write, I plan a couple of chapters ahead. I use my big timeline to track how the story is progressing and I’ve also creating a pacing chart to map out how I want the book to be paced between major events. When I start a new chapter, I think about what’s happened so far, and what needs to happen to get the story where it’s going. Then I create a general plan for that chapter and the next one. Sometimes I follow this plan. Other times something comes up in the story and I go a different direction. I write my plans for that chapter and the next a few lines below the actual line I’m writing on, so I can look at them as I write if I want. Keep in mind that these plans are just a few words, usually not even a sentence about what I want to happen.

That’s really about it. Then, as I said above, out-of-sync with the audio, I do that over and over and over again.

I really like the way my writing process is right now. It works well with Ahlam and it keeps me on track with my plan while also allowing for organic growth and additions. I really like the name organic planning or maybe organic plotting. Can we make that one of the writer-type categories?

What do you guys use when you draft? Does it change between manuscripts? I’m super curious about how other writers write, so please let me know in the comments. Or if you have any questions about my process, hit me up in the comments or on twitter and we can have a chat. 😀

Alright, that’s all from me this week.

(Unless you are subscribed to either of my youtube channels.)

Good luck writing!

-Alora

The Struggles of Living Alone

Alternate title: The Struggle of Cleaning Your Own Apartment

Alternate Alternate title: The Joys of Paying your Own Bills

Hello friends!

So, I have been moved out for over a month now, (The video above chronicles my move to my apartment, if you want to watch it.) and it’s about time for a blog complaining and rejoicing my experience so far with living alone. To be fair, I have lived alone before. I spent two separate semesters without a roommate in college, but I always had a friend across the hall. Not so much anymore.

My feelings about living alone are constantly going up and down. Late a night, I usually don’t like it so much. I get tired and sometimes lonely. Whodda thought that living alone was lonely?? Hehe.

Anyways, I usually really like it. After living with five other people not including pets for most of my life, it’s nice to have some peace and quiet. The best part of living alone is being able to keep whatever schedule I want. I don’t even mean staying up late. I mean being able to come home and make dinner and then spend the entire night writing or reading. I don’t have to hang out with anyone. I do miss the constant hanging out sometimes, but it’s nice to have some quiet.

Having to clean everything myself though. That is a struggle. If you ever visited my room at school, you know I wasn’t the best at keeping it clean. It’s even harder, yet more necessary, to keep my apartment clean. The worst is the dishes. I’m not very good at washing my dishes immediately, but I don’t have enough to let them sit around either. I am constantly making new dirty dishes and having to wash the old ones, so I have something to eat off of/with. The spoons get the worst of it. I only have a few of them. I know this sounds silly, but I never realized how many dishes I make before. At home, we switch off chores, so I’m not usually stuck doing the dishes of six people for more than a month. Now, I’m doing the dishes of myself while also having to clean the floor, make dinner, do the laundry, clean the bathroom, work full time and pay the bills. It’s a bit nerve wracking.

Speaking of bills, I paid my first internet bill tonight. I’ve been paying my own phone bill since March, but now I have to pay all of my other bills too and the rent. It gets really stressful really quickly. I no longer just have a job to have a job. I have a job to pay the bills and the rent and to buy food. I have to plan ahead with my money, so I know I’ll have enough at the end of the month when the major bills roll around. It’s stressful, but also kinda nice. Sometimes, I actually enjoy making my own decisions. Since moving out, I have a lot more power over my life. My independence is at once a joy and a source of stress. Although, I guess that’s what being an adult is about.

When I titled this blog, and when I started writing it, I was planning on doing a lot of complaining. I guess I have, but I don’t feel like complaining so much anymore. This is what other adults do too, so I know I can do it. I only have me to worry about. I don’t have to feed a kid or a pet. I may have lots of new worries and stressors, but only for me. Someday, I’ll have my own family, but right now, I think I should relish the silence of living alone. Or at least try a little harder to relish it.

How are your living situtations doing? Does anyone feel my pain on keeping the dishes together?

Until next week,

-Alora

Office Kickball of AWESOME

Picture of me about to catch the ball

Hello friends!!!

So last Friday, we had an office event! A bunch of us went to the park and played kickball for like three hours. It was great and so much fun to get to know the people in my office better. Interactions outside of the office with office people was super fun. It also helped that my team crushed the other team. Though, to be honest, I would be happy either way. I love playing random sports. And kickball is great because it’s like baseball, but it requires less skill. And, if you don’t know, I love baseball. It’s my favorite sport. As a kid, A League of Their Own was my favorite movie. I still adore it.

Anyways, onto some play by play. So, I spent most of the game guarding second which I don’t mind because it’s not super high pressure for getting anyone out or anything. Though, it did get a little boring because I barely got to touch the ball. But, at one point, I was being charged by the runner as she raced to second and I totally caught the ball while on base, like right before she got there. It was amazing.

Towards the end of the game, I kicked the ball and then was racing to first. The other team didn’t catch the ball outright, but they got a hold of it pretty quickly. I was already off balance and worried about them throwing it to first before I got there, so I totally slid right into first. It was amazing. The only slide in the whole game and all I did was scrape my knee a little. Well besides getting covered in sand. After that I made it to second, but then I got pegged with the ball on the way to third. I would’ve stayed on second, but I had to go. It was super lame because the ball was right over by third.

A few kicks in a row, it was immediately caught, so I got out. Both of those kicks were also the third out, which I was super frustrated by, but then. The third kick after those two, I hit the pitcher in the face with the ball, so he almost caught it. Thankfully he didn’t and I made it on base.

I also got to run across home plate at least once. I feel like I scored a second time, but I’m not positive. One inning, my team practically doubled our score with two outs. I scored that inning and I ran people home a bunch of other times. Like we got the two outs and then scored a bunch before getting the third. We totally wrecked the other team. We had three times the points of them. It was great.

Kickball was so much fun. We had pizza. I got heckle people in good spirits which was fun. The only unfun part was getting home.

I don’t have a car, so I bike everywhere. That day, I biked to work, home from work, to the park, and home from the park. I also played kickball for three hours. Needless to say, I was very sore the next day. Everything hurt.

I am very excited for the next office event. I think I heard from someone it was going to be ultimate frisbee? We’ll see. Either way, it will probably be awesome!

Until next time my dudes!

-Alora

Thank you very much to Scott Kelley for the photos.

picture of me kicking the ball

Decorations.

Panorama picture of my art wall

Hello my good friends.

Today we are going to talk about decorations. I have lived in my apartment for almost a month now, but it is only recently starting to feel like home. One of the reasons why is because I finally hung up my decorations. Now, this may not be true for everyone, but for me, I need decorations. My room in my parents house and at college was always chock full of stuff and well decorated. I do not leave patches of wall lying around. I put things on them!

I have some paintings. Nothing framed because that’s expensive. But I do have watercolor paintings of mine that I did during watercolor class a few years back. I have hung my favorites of those up. I also have some paintings that Brittan did which I’ve hung up and I have some other paintings as well. I really like my paintings because they soften the sharp lines and bright colors of my posters, since most of them are watercolors.

I have been collecting posters since forever. I have about ten which may not sound like a lot, but they can fill up an apartment nicely. My posters are where most of my nerdy attributes are plastered. I have a Star Trek poster that I just got from Mom and Dad. I also have a Doctor Who one, a Minecraft one, Jurassic World, etc. You get the picture. I have lots of nerdy posters.

The biggest piece of my decorations is my art wall. This consists of art prints, postcards, colored pages, a piece of embroidery. Anything that is art, that it smallish, and I can hang up goes on the art wall. My current art wall set up is above/behind my desk. It is the picture at the top of this blog. I am very proud of this art wall set up and looking at it makes me so happy. All of the art that my friends have done and postcards from my trip to London are quite inspiring to look at.

The last section of my decor is just miscellaneous stuff. I have some plaques and medals. I have a pennant from school. By far the best thing in this category is my key chains. I have been collecting key chains from the places I go since elementary school, I think. I have traveled a lot, so there are a lot of them. For years my key chains were all on a single lanyard hung on the wall. You couldn’t really see any of them or look at them, but they were all together and hung up. Junior year, I finally improved this system and hung my key chains on a length of embroidery floss. Now, they all hang spread out over the big windows in my family room.

If you ask any of my friends, they will all agree that I am very materialistic. I like my things. One of my things that I like is my decorations. After I hung up my posters and paintings and art wall and key chains, my apartment finally felt like mine and not just some place holding my things where I slept at night. Moving out is really weird. Sometimes I really enjoy the privacy and the quiet. Other times those same things are just lonely and sad. Putting up all of my decorations has decreased the lonely and sad parts of moving out. This is my home now. This apartment is where I live with my things and my family and friends come to visit or I can visit them.

It’s weird to think about having a home where my parents and siblings don’t live, but I am slowly accepting it as my apartment feels more and more like my own.

That’s all for this week!

If you want to see more of me, I will be posting a video on my YouTube channel tomorrow and Brittan and I have revived WogsVlogs. She is doing VEDA (Vlog Every Day in August) while she travels Europe.

Thanks for reading. 😀

Much love,

-Alora

Official Timeline for Ahlam Warsi: Private Detective

My hand at the computer, ready to write.

It’s writing update time!!!!!

I’ve settled into my new apartment and gotten back into the swing of writing. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I have started working on Ahlam Warsi: Private Detective. This book will follow the story of Ahlam Warsi’s first year living in London after she moves to the big city for her new job at a private investigation firm. I started it a year ago while I was studying abroad in London. I wrote the first two chapters and it has been sitting still since then. But no longer!

To encourage myself to write, I have set up a timeline. It is a tentative because I have no idea how long the revision and editing process will actually take. However, I’m hopeful that I can stick with it. I’ve already been able to keep up with a relatively daily writing schedule and that schedule puts me on track to, at the very least, finish my rough draft on time.

  • September 30th

    — Finish the first draft
    — Start researching for revisions / writing break

  • October 17th

    — Start revisions
    — Open call for beta readers

  • January 2nd

    — Distribute draft to beta readers
    — Continue revisions

  • April 30th

    — Finish query letter

  • May 1st

    — Finalize draft
    — Begin submissions

Any suggestions or comments on my timeline are welcome. I have never fully finished a book for publication before, so my times could be all off. That’s part of what makes this an adventure!

Until next time!

– Alora

Two Weeks as an Adult!

Me with the bacon I made the other morning.

Hello friends,

I have been gone for a good while because I don’t have internet in my new apartment. For those who do not know, I have officially moved out of my parents house and into the real world. I am working at a real job and using my degree to boot. I have relocated out of Tennessee and into Atlanta which is an adventure unto itself.

I have been at my new job for almost two weeks now and I am really enjoying my job. I get to do the nitty gritty of data analysis like data clean-up and copy and pasting stuff from Excel, while also doing the cool stuff. The setup at work is extremely complicated, so I haven’t been able to much of the fancy stuff yet. However, I am working my way towards that and all of the other analysts are wonderful. The whole team at the office is very nice and lovely and it is a great place to work.

Since I just started, I do have some downtime while at work. At first this was boring, but now I have found a project to fill my time. I am using my free time at work to learn Python and then apply it to Jupyter Notebook in the automation of some of the stuff we do in Excel. It is going well so far. I have a lot to learn in Python which is slowing down my automation, but I am excited about the possibilities.

My commute to work is probably the best commute I will ever have. I don’t have to drive and I don’t have to worry about public transport. I bike into work everyday. It is tiresome and my legs can’t quite make the whole trek without walking up that last hill, but I am getting there. It is hot in the south, but I have been blessed with cooler mornings and evenings so far. I’ve only been rained on once. Although, that was on my first day, on my way home, but it was fun. The path I bike to work, isn’t just sidewalks or roads. It is an actual bike path that goes past my work, but the other direction goes all the way to Stone Mountain. I bike past a sign everyday on my way home that reminds me that it is only 16 miles further to Stone Mountain. 😛

In other news, I have been doing a lot of reading. Without internet, I mostly come home and read. So far, I have read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, The Host, and Honey Girl by Lisa Freeman which was just fantastic. Expect to see some more book reviews coming soon. I also am keeping up with my writing, so expect more posts on that.

Remember last summer? That’s basically the kind of content that will continue. Except I won’t be starting school in the fall, so I won’t have that to distract me from posting. We might actually end up with a long-term schedule of blog posts. We’ll see.

I will see you again soon.

Be safe.

-Alora

I got a job! (and some other life things)

Brittan and I went to pride. It was fun!

(So this doesn’t relate to my job, but I talk about me and Brittan’s trip to pride at the end, so it’s kind of related. Whatever. I needed a cute picture.)

Hello everybody!

My job search is complete and my apartment search is in full force because I officially have a job in Atlanta! I am so excited to be moving down there soon. I start work on the 18th of this month and I am really looking forward to it. I went down to Atlanta last week for an in-person interview on Friday and it went really well. I got to hang out with family, especially one of my baby cousins, and I got to meet most of the people in the office which was very fun. Everyone there seems really nice and I am excited to work with them!

I am going to be working at Kingsley Associates in downtown Atlanta and I will be living in an apartment with my best friend, Mimi. I am so excited for this opportunity and I can’t wait to get started on a real job like a real adult. Also, I will get to do things that I am passionate about which is fun and NO MORE SCHOOL!

Also, next week I am going to a Panic! at the Disco concert and last weekend Brittan and I went to Nashville pride. These past few weeks have been super busy which is great but also horrible. Also, it’s why I missed a couple weeks of blogging. I have been trying to get a new blog out every Wednesday, but sometimes that doesn’t happen. I guess you’ll just have to bear with me. Anyways, Brittan made a cool video about our Pride adventure which you can watch here, or you can go do something else. I don’t care. Go outside. Read a book. Do what you want man.

That’s all from me today folks. I will blog again soon. 😀

-Alora

Let’s Talk About Orlando.

Gif with many different pride flags
Gif from sammiieus

We need to talk

If you haven’t heard, this past Sunday, 49 people were killed at a club in Orlando, Florida. Many others were injured. Do you know why those 49 people were murdered? Because they were at an LGBT bar called Pulse. This shooting marks the largest mass shooting in US history and it was a hate crime against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and every other non-straight or cisgender person. Also, the shooting occurred during Latin night at the club, so the crime has racial tones as well. It was a horrendous tragedy.

We cannot let their murders go unavenged. Forty-nine people died.

Forty-nine.

That is unacceptable.

The following is a poem I wrote after I found out about this tragedy. Below that is a list of links. The links are direct links to more information, action centers, and some videos. The most important thing to do in the wake of this tragedy is to mourn.

Then, we must make sure it never happens again. With discriminatory laws in many states and low gun regulation, we have a long way to go, but we can make it.

Enjoy my poem.

How do you even begin to honor the dead?
How do you honor a life cut short by useless violence?
I cannot understand.
I am too angry.
Too sad.
Too long have we been oppressed and attacked.
We must fight.
I will fight.
Because without equality,
There is nothing.
Without equality,
There will never be peace.

Links:

Thank you for reading. Stay safe and please help out. Comment below if you want to talk. I am here for you, if you need me. We can mourn together.

With so much love,

-Alora

I Love My Bullet Journal

My bullet journal day one

Hey guys,

This past Sunday, I set up my bullet journal. My sister, Brittan set one up the day before and two of my favorite YouTubers recently mentioned that they are also doing bullet journals. Last semester, my roommate tried to do one, but it didn’t work for her. Now that I am out of school, I no longer have a school planner, so I thought I’d look into it.

I read almost ten blog posts including the official bullet journal website before setting mine up. To be quite honest, I did not like the official bullet journal set up. I had trouble understanding how to set up the journal and the whole thing seemed pretentious and not in a good way. My favorite blog post that really helped me figure out how to set up my journal was a post on The Lazy Genius Collective. I based most of my set up off of that blog post. The author explains their set up really well and shows great pictures. Also, I love their signifiers, so I adopted those too.

As of now, I have been using my bullet journal for three days and I am in love. Googling “bullet journal” pulls up all of these really fancy, well-decorated journals. The main takeaway I got from the Lazy Genius Collective post was that simpler is better, at least at first. The author stressed that trying to keep up a fancy bullet journal isn’t for everyone and it is important to remember that as long as your bullet journal works for you then it is a good journal. It doesn’t matter how fancy your journal is. That’s why my journal is in simple black pen. The journal itself is a random free journal with an elastic that I found in my house. The lines are too wide and the pages are kinda weird, but it works for a starter journal. I am using it to get the hang of bullet journaling.

When I was in school, I used my school planner in much the same way I now use my bullet journal. That is why I’m loving my bullet journal so much. It’s also good for extra notes that you need to take on things: shopping lists, meeting notes, anything. The bullet journal is so versatile that I can use it for anything and I can modify the system to suit me the best way possible. I am super happy with it. If you guys think this sounds good for you let me know. We can be journal buddies!

I’m excited to keep using my journal throughout the year and see how I keep up with it. Maybe I’ll do another blog post about it in the future.

Talk to you next week!

-Alora

So, I graduated from college.

My friends and I walking down the steps by our old dorm in our graduation robes.

Hey guys,

I’ve been busy the past couple weeks with graduation and then coming home. But I am here today and that is what counts. I am currently supposed to be job hunting, but I figured while I was being productive, I’d write a blog post. Graduation was super fun. Well, in the fact that I got my diploma. The ceremony itself was way too religious, cold, mildly rainy, and equipped with the worst commencement speaker I have ever heard.

The poor woman tried to cram every bit of advice she had ever heard into one speech while also trying to sell us her hand-painted wine glasses. At one point she tried to make a joke about Mary Baldwin women having nice legs and it really flopped. Nobody laughed. I felt a little bad for her. After her speech she was walking around talking to people and I don’t think she realized how much she messed up. If she did, she did a wonderful job of hiding it. None of my friends or family liked her speech. It was painful to listen to.

Brittan and I both in our graduation robes. Together at MBC.

When her speech finally ended, everyone got their diplomas. Mary Baldwin is a pretty small school, so we don’t have any fancy tech for getting everyone in order. Instead we have class marshals. One of which was me. I got to sit at the front of the line instead of at the back with the rest of the W’s, but I also got to help the graduates get their diplomas. While the dean called everyone’s names I checked with the next person in line to see if they were in the right order and then had to nod to the dean if someone was absent at which point she would add in absentia after their name. It was a tad nervewracking, but mainly, I was just cold. I spent a good portion of the 200-some graduates shivering as I directed them. It wasn’t bad though because I got to hug my friends before they got their diplomas and I didn’t have to sit and wait at the end of the ceremony because the class marshals walk out first. Also, I got to wear a gold epaulet on my shoulder to signify my office. It went well with my Omicron Delta Epsilon economics honors society cords and my Lavender graduation pin. I also got to wear a gold tassel because I was a Global Honors Scholar.

The graduation ceremony was long, but at the end I got to walk across the terrace and get my roll of paper from Dr. Fox. (We picked up our diplomas elsewhere.) This being right after the dean called my name with the highest Latin GPA honors. I really enjoyed all of commencement weekend. It was nice to be honored by the college I’ve been attending for four years. I worked hard and they honored me nicely. Also, unlike other schools, MBC has a bunch of different events to honor different subsets of graduates. I went to Lavender Graduation, the VWIL Change of Command Parade, and the PEG Reception. It was fun.

The squad pushing Brittan away because she left us.

I’m really going to miss Mary Baldwin. For all its faults, I really enjoyed my time there and all of the friends that I made. I look forward to the next chapter, but I’m going to miss the last one. I’ve been feeling down these past couple of weeks since graduation. Moving on from a four year chapter of your life is hard, but I’m moving on to bigger and better things. I got this. 😀

Squad pose

I hope you all are doing well.

Much love,

-Alora