November Wrap-up & Plans for December

 

Did anyone else’s November just pass by without so much as a “hello”?

… apart from Adele’s album release that is…

Mine sure has. Then again, I spent most of the month inside a fictional world where the characters were throwing all the things at me all the time.

So I guess that’s a good enough place to start as any with this wrap-up… THE MANUSCRIPT!

For NaNoWriMo this year, I decided to vomit out a draft of book 3 of the YA Fantasy series I’m working on. There are still scenes that need written and stuff that needs to be fleshed out, but I now have a skeleton draft of a story that has been clawing for my attention since the conceptualization of the series.

I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed writing this story. There were things that popped up that not only challenged the MC but also challenged me. The biggest hurdle I had to get over during this draft was allowing Meredith (the MC) to take each hit. She is not the warrior Kjersten of Book 1 is; she does not have the training nor the strength to defend herself physically. But dear lord can she take a hit.

Meredith managed to find herself in the most mentally and physically painful situations possible in this book and all I could do was sit there and watch it happen. BUT despite everything she goes through, everything she loses, she still fights to survive. She digs up whatever token of strength she can and holds onto it, determined to move forward. Always forward.

SIDE NOTE: After I wrote that last bit, I realized that it was my company’s motto during military training. SMH. Crazy what seeps into your subconscious.

This book also provided some of the world building answers I’d been looking for for a while. It just took seeing the alternate dimension through Mer’s eyes to find them. (She can manipulate time and space.)

GAH! I could gush about this story and the characters ALL DAY! The more time I spend working on this series, the more excited I am to [hopefully] share it with the world some day.

Looks dreamily off into the distance.

Anyhoo, that was pretty much the gist of my November. I did get to meet my long-time CP Lynanne for the first time, which was AWESOME! I took a weekend, drove up to see her, and spent the weekend writing, laughing, and procrastinating by way of THE MUMMY. But seeming as how Ardeth Bay is the inspiration for the father of one of my characters, I’m choosing to think of said procrastination as inspirational material. Totally legit. *cough cough*

Again, I apologize for my radio silence on the blog and on social media. I guess I can’t multitask when I’m in the rough-draft stage. SORRY!

Now onto plans for this month…

I should be back on my normal posting schedule (MWF). Might be discussing some writerly things like handling character deaths and other emotionally complex issues (I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit miffed by that PW article. I mean seriously?! YA isn’t emotionally complex. Here, let me throw a bookshelf at you.). If you have a writing topic you want to discuss, PLEASE leave it in the comments below!

But the big To-Do in December: Get Book 1’s MS ready for querying. I’m so close, SO CLOSE! And I’m so excited to see what it looks like in a couple drafts. Hopefully, it’ll look somewhat like a representable manuscript. *fingers crossed*

What about y’all? What did you do this past month? What are your plans going forward?

Happy Writing!

 

 

Timey-Whimey Snarkitude No. 2 – My 2015 NaNoWriMo Project

So I’ve been sucking up on the blogging front this month. SO SORRY! I swear the hiatus was in the name of good stuff. Good stuff meaning drafting a manuscript that has made me laugh, cry, flinch and rage.

For those of you new to the blog, this is the 2nd post in the series link-up, Beautiful Books, created by Sky of Further Up, Further In and Cait of Paper Fury. For more information on the link-up, check out the original post, here. And for the first post regarding my 2015 NaNo Novel, you can go here.

But now onto the questions…

No. 1 – Is the book turning out how you thought it would be, or is it defying your expectations?

Yes and no. All the major plot points and twists are the same, but DEAR LORD, DID IT TURN PAINFUL FAST! Seriously! This manuscript will need to come with a list of trigger warnings. Between sexual assault, physical abuse and death, this story surprised me by how dark it got. Mind you, my stuff isn’t usually sunshine and rainbows anyway, but this was supposed to be the fun novel. And in a lot of ways it was. But I swear, the more mentally resilient my MC is, the more violent their story becomes. Like torture, literal effin torture.

PB torture

No. 2 – What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?

My duffle bag strap dug into my shoulder as I lugged it up the stark concrete stairs to the third floor. You’d think the worn strap would have snapped by now after five years of use. I’ve had to stuff that blue bag over capacity every six months since I was twelve to make the trip to yet another boarding school.

No. 3 – Are you a plotter or a pantser? Have you ever tried both methods and how did it turn out?

Last year, I was a methodical plotter. This year, I had an outline, but it was significantly looser than my one last year, which left the MS open to surprising me… often apparently.

What is this thread about.gif

No. 4 – What do you reward yourself with after meeting a goal?

Umm. I’m going to be super duper lame and say that having the story finally out of my brain and on the page is reward enough.

I more so treated myself to brunch/nice-ish dinner/binge-watching Netflix or Hulu whenever I needed a break from the MS, which was quite often with this one. Seriously, when it came to killing off a character, I avoided it for a solid few days before I was ready to pull the trigger.

No. 5 – What do you look for in a name? Do you have themes and where do you find your names?

It depends on who the character is. One of my characters, Marcellus Herides, is a descendant of the Greek Goddess Hera. Marcellus is of Latin origin meaning “warrior.” His surname, Herides, was built from Hera and the Greek surname suffix “idis/ides” meaning “descendant of.”

No. 6 – What is your favourite to write: beginning, middle, or end — and why?

I’m realizing during this Q&A that I don’t have a whole lot of rhyme or reason to my process. Lol Everything is dependent on the MC and story. For this novel, my favorite part to write was the middle, but I HATED writing the midpoint.

The Feels.gif

No. 7 – Who’s your current favourite character in your novel?

I have a lot of favorites in this book. From the humans, Lena and Chuck, to the elderly elven attendant Fran, I love them all. Meredith, the MC, is probably still my favorite. Not only is she snarky and smart, but she is incredibly resilient. She gets dragged through the mud and put through the ringer and [insert your favorite saying describing pain here]. But she still comes out the other side with her compassion and sense of self in tact. I am in awe of her mental and emotional strength.

Chillin like a villain.gif

No. 8 – What kind of things have you researched for this project, and how do you go about researching? (What’s the weirdest thing you’ve researched?!)

The main things I researched during this project were the different styles of western architecture and clothing. Google and Pinterest were my two main sources of searches. I usually had multiple tabs open to crosscheck sources because I’m a nerd that way.

I’m pretty sure most of the things I research would be considered “weird” by normal standards. So I’m going to go with my most infuriating search: Nordic Goddess Frigg. SO MUCH CONFLICTING INFORMATION ON FRIGG. Seriously! My frustration even made it into the MS, because it worked in the context:

So many hours perusing so many sites, and for what? Contradicting reports on the roles of Frigg and Freya and how they were basically the same goddess. Screw you Wikipedia.

No. 9 – Do you write better alone or with others? Do you share your work or prefer to keep it to yourself?

Well I haven’t really built a writerly community down here in Florida yet, so this NaNoWriMo was significantly lonelier than last year in Maryland where I attended write-ins twice a week. My poor writing buddy, Lynanne, has gotten multiple Twitter DM’s involving sections of the MS. She’s a trooper for dealing my nonsense. THANKS, LADY!

No. 10 – What are your writing habits? Is there a specific snack you eat? Do you listen to music? What time of day do you write best? Feel free to show us a picture of your writing space!

I try to write everyday, word there being try. I’m usually at the local Starbucks drinking a hazelnut latte from 5:30pm until they kick me out. They’ve come to greet me as ‘Novelist Bree.’ I love them. If I do ever get published, they may get put in the acknowledgments simply for being a constant source of awesome in my life.

Hope you enjoyed this Q&A on my 2015 NaNoWriMo Novel. I can’t wait to hear how y’all’s November went. I feel like I’ve been so disconnected this month while in hyper-drafting mode.

Head Colds & NaNoWriMo

Usually I write posts on writing on Mondays, but I have a couple things to address so the post on writing will be swapped with personal musings this week.

Onto the things…

No. 1 – My apologies for the random hiatus! I had an ovarian cyst burst followed by a massive head cold/sinus infection thing. No worries! I’m fine. 🙂 Still got a couple sniffles, but I’m feeling good and am excited to return to y’all!

No. 2 – NaNoWriMo Update!

Despite my body not working with me, I still managed to crank out words for the WIP each day. You can thank the meds I was on… insomnia was a side effect. Then yesterday happened.

Yesterday, I sat down at Starbucks for the first time since November 1st and fell into the zone. I came out a few hours later having met 20k words (started the day at 13k). Returned to the MS after dinner and knocked out another few thousand. I guess my brain had stockpiled all the words while I was sick, so when I felt better, it just sling shot them onto the page. *shrug* I am okay with this.

But coming up on the “midpoint” of the NaNo word count goal, I had the horrifying realization that I’ve [barely] dug into the story. Don’t get me wrong I’ve written a lot of scenes that are pivotal to plot and character development, but I’m looking at my outline, seeing everything that has YET to be written along with my notes of additional things that need to happen and I’m feeling like Frankenstein.

giphy (2)

I’VE CREATED A MONSTER!

You see, I’m currently working on book 3 of a 5-book series for this year’s NaNoWriMo. It is the midpoint of the overarching plot, which means there’s a lot of things to tie up as well as groundwork that needs to be laid. Also, because I’m a glutton for punishment, I’ve structured the series similar to the Avengers’ movie franchise. (Book 1 is Ironman, Book 2 is Captain America, etc.) Each book has its own protagonist who goes through her own character development, but pieces from each book advances the overarching plot until the big hoopla in book 5.

For those of you who’ve read the Lunar Chronicles, it’s structured like that, but with singular, first-person POV’s and without the fairy tale retelling bits.

Anyhoo, on top of the challenges of writing the middle book of a series, I’m dealing with a snarky character who can manipulate time and space. In order to properly develop the characters and attend to the plot and story necessities, I had to cut the book into three portions: Part One, Part Two, and The Fall Out.

Part One is all the character development and relationship building fun and games for Meredith. She gets into some serious trouble, but most of it is “real world” problems. Part One ends with worlds colliding and character deaths (Cue maniacal laughter), which paves the way for “fantastical” problems in Part Two. But because I’m introducing a whole new protagonist, certain scenes with her abilities have to take place in Part One in order for y’all to accept her competency in Part Two.

Also, Time and Space manipulation is really difficult to make tangible. Water in book 1 was so much easier because it has a molecular structure to use as a jumping off point. Time and Space? I feel like I’m in limbo between awesome and cliché. All the time. Now I know why The Doctor has the TARDIS.

Tardis

My saving grace is one of my other characters is a descendent of Sif (Nordic Earth God, sometimes depicted as Thor’s wife, all around mythical badass), so many jokes to be had.

For more info on my NaNo WIP, read the intro post here. If you’re doing NaNo, add me as a writing buddy, here.

Happy Writing!

Overcoming Fear & Moving Forward

So I have one scene left to flesh out before printing out the new version of Guarded and buffing out the hard edges, but I am dragging my feet. Seriously I can’t tell if it’s the fact that NaNo starts in a few days or the undercurrent of fear for what comes next. Mind you, I WANT to query, I WANT to publish, I WANT to share this thing I love so much with the entire world.

But the impending, soul-crushing rejections.

I know that fear is the reason why I’m struggling with crossing the finish line of this draft. Because if I don’t finish, then it can’t be rejected.

This post may be more pity-party than I intended it because I recognize that I’ve already come quite far in terms of creating something that people may [hopefully] want to read. But that god-awful fear. I don’t consciously fear much, so when those pesky subconscious ones rise up, they can be quite the little devils.

I imagine fear as a Gremlin, and my MS is poor Gismo.

I imagine fear as a Gremlin, and my MS is poor Gismo.

Like Gismo, I know my MS will kick fear is its arse, but right now, in this moment, I’m looking at my notes, then at my computer screen, then at my notes, then I walk away.

So in an attempt to get my mojo back, I went to the YouTube’s. Ya’know, like ya do. I spend more time on YouTube than I should for entertainment anyway, but I do a lot of research on there as well (especially in terms of what dislocating an elbow looks like – spoiler alert: it’s vomit-worthy).

Anyhoo, last year, Under Armour launched its “Will What I Want” campaign, which IMO was one of the most positive and inspiring campaigns created by an athletic clothing’s company. But they did this brilliant thing by launching the campaign with Misty Copeland as its first spokeswoman. A ballerina. An artist. A black woman who defied the standards of her industry to become the first black female Principal Dancer with the American Ballet Theatre.

Here’s the ad.

She’s an inspiration to people across the world, and even though I have no way of properly empathizing with her struggles, her work ethic and determination motivate me to keep chasing my own dreams.

So here’s me mowing over my fears and willing what I want.


Featured image via Hard Body News via Under Armour.

Last Minute Plotting: Because I’m a wimp & can’t pants.

Alright, so I thought I was going to have to pants this year’s NaNoWriMo. My MC had only given me bits and pieces of the story, so when the calendar kindly reminded me that I had less than a week before the challenge started, I began to freak out about the in-between scenes (the stuff between the major plot points).

Here’s the thing, I am a plotter through and through. I like having a plan/map to guide me through a draft because I have an awful habit of writing non-linearly, which is a fancy way of saying I like to jump around. Last year, I wrote all my fight scenes within a week (I had a lot of tension to work out I guess). And the idea of not having that freedom scared me into finishing my beat sheet for my NaNo project.

For information on the beat sheet, you can check out my post on outlines here. And if you’d like to see what fresh hell I’ve cooked up for myself for next month, you can check out my NaNo Q&A here.

I know plotting isn’t for everyone. Some writers can just start writing and come out the other side with a finished, coherent MS. I am not one of those people, so I’ll be taking my beat sheet and expanding it to a heftier outline between now and November 1st. I know, I’m working at the last minute, but characters don’t always like to reveal their secrets. Side-glances at MC

But regardless of my inability to pants a novel (pants: write a story by the seat of your pants without any outline or plan), I’ve learned how incredibly useful having a MS’s blueprint is post-drafting.

In the past year, I wrote what is now book 1 of a [slated] 5-book series, revised it, sent it to beta-readers, demolished it then rebuilt it. During that demolition/rebuilding stage, I was able to look at my previous outline and build over it with something that may [hopefully one day] be worth reading. Having that reference point kept me anchored during the process, so I didn’t go off into crazy, hair-pulling, head:desking la la land.

Basically, this…

giphy

So instead of driving myself to insanity later (basically the equivalent of running away from cannibals), I will be last-minute outlining between now and November 1st, like that habitual little plotter that I am.

What about you? Are you doing NaNoWriMo? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

If you are doing NaNoWriMo, add me as a writing buddy here!

Happy Writing!