NaNoWriMo 2016: Super Excited & Extremely Nervous

Wow. November is tomorrow. Like the past two years, I’ll be doing NaNoWriMo, aka National Novel Writing Month where you write 50k words toward your next novel project.

I’m participating this year for multiple reasons, but the main reason is that I need to. If you’ve been following this blog for a bit, you know I’ve fallen off my rocker this year. The PTSD has pretty much stolen all remnants of self-esteem. NaNo has always been a source of positivity for me. Between achieving the challenge itself and the NaNo community, November has just been a good month for the past couple years.

bb-redoneSo when I say I need to participate, it’s really a matter of needing to prove to myself that I can still do a thing that makes me happy and fulfilled. And like last year, I’ll be participating in the BEAUTIFUL BOOKS meme hosted by Paper Fury and Further Up, Further In.

Here’s post 1 of 3: An Introduction to my NaNo Novel

 

Question 1: What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?
Redeemed (working title) is book 4 of the 5-book YA Fantasy series I’ve been working on. And to say it’s kinda been an enigma (plot and character-wise) would be an understatement. Since I first developed the series, I knew the main character’s abilities, where the story would take place, and what needed to happen (in terms of the series’ big picture) for Book 5 to work, but other than those three things, I was at a loss.

Gwen, the MC, went through a million name changes. Nothing stuck. There was Blaire, Alison, Winifred, Jaclyn. I had zero luck ironing down any details with her character. Then I finished the final draft of book 1, discovered a character that would play a huge role in book 4, and from there, everything started clicking into place.

Looking at my working outline and notes, I can see where I’m pulling different inspirations from. And honestly, most of it comes from friends and other incredible people who have entered my life.

Question 2: Describe what your novel is about!
Here’s the very shabby synopsis I have on the NaNo site:

Gwen Carter has visions. Some of the near future. Some of the past. But when she sees a future where a woman named Helen tortures her family to get to her, Gwen takes off.

Now halfway across the country in Seattle, Washington, Gwen realizes she can manipulate her visions and seeks out Helen from her nightmare to lure her away from her family.

Helen isn’t the only one searching for Gwen, a man who can shift into different animals is also on the hunt. But there’s something different about him, the men he travels with call him Tadgh and clearly trust and respect him.

So Gwen seeks his help. Unfortunately, there’s only so much Tadgh can do when the lives of his men are being held as collateral for his allegiance to someone else.

Question 3: What is your book’s aesthetic?
I think the aesthetic is going to be equal parts grit and clarity. If that makes any sense. Between Gwen’s abilities and the plot itself, there’s a lot of potential for some dark, gritty moments – think NBC’s show Hannibal (except no cannibalism). But there’s also opportunity for bright, beautiful moments like Disney’s live action Cinderella. We’ll see how well those two mesh. Lol

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Question 4: Introduce us to each of your characters!
Gwendolyn Carter – Gwen is the most innately heroic of the protagonists in my series. While she doesn’t seek out danger, she can’t sit idly by and watch injustice unfold either. Her ability to hear thoughts and see others’ choices makes her decision-making far more strategic, so nothing she does is impulsive.

Tadgh O’Connell – Tadgh, a shapeshifter of sorts, is defined by his leadership role in his clan. Integrity, camaraderie, and loyalty are his core values, and he can’t/won’t sacrifice them for anyone or anything.

Helen Veritas – Helen is the descendant of the Roman Goddess of Truth, Veritas. She can sense when you’re lying, and if she chooses to, she can literally carve the truth out of you. She’s vicious and unapologetic.

Celeste – Celeste can manipulate earth and air. She’s desperate to save her kin from the Council and is running out of time to do so.

Question 5: How do you prepare to write?
I am a planner through and through. I have a scene outline, a beat sheet, character profiles, and other extraneous notes on the world and its many complexities.

Usually, I’ll start each day with a goal sheet of what scenes I’d like to accomplish based on what mood I’m in, what inspiration is striking, etc.

Question 6: What are you most looking forward to about this novel?
Eek. Just to see what it turns into. Last year, I went into NaNo having a pretty clear vision of what book 3 was going to be, and it still surprised me. Redeemed is already a complete enigma, so I wouldn’t put it past these characters to throw me for several loops.

Plus there’s the whole thing of this being the second to last book in the series. That’s fairly terrifying. lol

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Question 7: List 3 things about your novel’s setting.
Overcasts, Ferries, and an Amalgamation of charming old storefronts and sleek new construction. It takes place in Seattle, WA.

Question 8: What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in the way?
All Gwen wants is for her family to be okay, but in order to do that, she has to lure Helen and Celeste away from them.

Question 9: How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?
Uhhhh. Honestly I have no idea. I think I’m going to just be pantsing this bit.

Gwen is a fairly well adjusted character compared to the MC’s of my first three books. So we’ll see how this ends up.

Question 10: What are your book’s themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?
The major theme in this novel is to greet others with an open heart and an open mind. None of us have the ability to know someone’s full backstory upon meeting, so stereotyping or making snap-judgments only prove to hurt ourselves and extinguish progress.

As for how I want to readers to feel, I want them to be even more excited for the series conclusion in book 5. lol

***

And there it is, what I’ll be working on this next month. I can’t tell you how excited I am to see how this turns out, especially with it being the final adventure before the big showdown in book 5. This series has been such a fun place to live in and I’m still finding new things about the characters and the world. I just hope I can do all the characters’ stories justice.

 

Timey-Whimey Snarkitude No. 3 – My 2015 NaNoWriMo Project

And here it is, the last of three posts devoted to my 2015 NaNoWriMo Project.

For those of you new to the blog, this is part of a 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.

If you haven’t read the other two posts in the series, you can find the first one here and the second here.

But to catch you up, here’s a quick run down of the WIP:

Enveloped (working title) is the third book in a YA Fantasy series that follows the next generation of Aeons, manipulators of the natural world, as they come into their own and battle the Council to maintain the balance between the magical world and the rest of humanity.

Meredith Wilson is the Aeon of Time and Space, and to protect her, her mother has shuffled her from boarding school to boarding school. The only constant being her Guardian, Wyatt.

In her last semester before she’s finally free to her own devices, Meredith is tired of running, tired of going through life without any real ties to keep her grounded. But when she puts her trust in the wrong person, what little she did have is put in jeopardy.


And now for the questions:

No 1. – On a scale of 1 (worst) to 10 (best), how did the book turn out? Did anything defy your expectations?
So I’m going to cheat with this scale a bit. With 1 being garbage and 10 being publishable, I would put this NaNo draft at about a 4. I definitely have a lot of material to work with going into revision, but I wouldn’t show this draft to ANYONE, especially with there being chunks of the story missing.

No. 2 – Comparative title time: what published books, movies, or TV shows are like your book? (Ex: Inkheart meets X-Men.)
Veronica Mars meets Doctor Who, where Veronica IS the TARDIS. (I can’t tell you how happy this makes me.)

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No. 3 – Do you enjoy working with deadlines and pressure (aka NaNoWriMo)? Or do you prefer to write-as-you’re-inspired?
Yes and yes. I’m definitely goal oriented, but as much as I would love to write only when I’m feeling inspired, I would rarely get any work done.

No. 4 – How do you go about editing? Give us an insight into your editing process.
After the rough draft, I begin on macro-edits. Basically, I map out what’s missing from the story and what’s not working. Once those are completed, I start fleshing out the places that feel lackluster.

When I’m happy with the overall arc and flow of the story, I start ripping apart the mechanics and refining the actual writing. This is usually the part where I start pulling out my hair and cursing at metaphors.

No. 5 – What aspect of your story needs the most work?
The settings. And the connective tissue between the scenes. During my initial draft, I work more in individual scenes than in overall story. The skeleton draft needs some tendons to make it usable.

Please excuse the maniacal laugh in the background. The gruesome analogy required it.

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No. 6 – What aspect of your story did you love the most?
I know I said this during the last BB post, but I really did love Mer’s resiliency.

Coming in a very close second is her friendship with Wyatt. He’s calculated, sweet, and can take all of Mer’s snark in stride. Getting to see their friendship grow and evolve was so much fun.

No. 7 – Give us a brief run down on your main characters and how you think they turned out. Do you think they’ll need changes in edits?
Mer is resilient, but starts the story off thinking that her ability to manipulate time and space makes her more untouchable than she is, so she wanders through life less than present. She learns throughout the story how fragile and tenuous life is and begins to fight for what she wants.

Wyatt is sweeter than I thought he was going to be, but no worries, he’s still an epic badass. After all, he does share a bloodline with Thor. But he has some adorable backstories that kept me swooning over and over and over again.

Then there’s Marcellus. Charming, vile, manipulative Marcellus. He may have been modeled after Mads Mikkelson’s Hannibal. Need I say more? Granted Marcellus isn’t a cannibal, but still super awful.

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Everyone gets alterations in edits. Tis the nature of edits.

No. 8 – What are your plans for this novel once you finish editing? More edits? Finding beta readers? Querying? Self-publishing? Hiding it in a dark hole forever?
Well I have a couple other manuscripts to revise and polish before I jump into editing this one, but once it’s done, I’ll send it to beta readers.

No. 9 – Share a favourite snippet!
So this comes in two parts because it’s a reoccurring gag. Full circles make me smile. XD

Here’s the origin of the gag:

Wyatt surprised me during those two weeks I was stranded on his futon. He cooked all our meals. Nothing fancy, but they were better than anything I’d had at the school cafeteria. He even joined me for a few movies, including a superhero flick about Thor. I teased him about how his arms weren’t as big as the actor’s, and he was quick to remind me that he trained for efficiency not bulk, and that if it came down to it, that actor would be useless without a stunt coordinator’s choreography.

“Way to destroy a girl’s dream,” I said, still oogling faux-Thor’s muscles on my laptop screen.

“What are you even complaining for? It’s not like your boyfriend is built like that.”

Ah, yes. Peter. Wyatt had taken plenty of jabs at Peter during my recovery, primarily whenever Peter texted. Wyatt claimed his new disdain for him was because Peter hadn’t been there when I needed him during the attack, but his quips weren’t lined with anger. They were lined with frustration.

“Peter isn’t from Thor’s bloodline,” I said. “You are, so step up your game, sir.”

“You have one of two choices: either keep me the way I am with my practical muscle mass and ability to protect you or have me bulk up to look like pretend-Thor and be less useful.”

“But you’d be nicer to look at.”

He rolled his eyes.

 

And the second mention:

Chuck and Lena went inside, leaving Wyatt and me alone in the parking lot.

“They’re a curious pair,” Wyatt said.

“They’re probably saying the same of us right now. You didn’t tell me you’ve seen Thor’s hammer.”

He gave me a sly smile. “I’ve thrown Thor’s hammer.”

My jaw dropped.

“When I was sixteen, my father gave my brother and I lessons with it. My brother was two years older than me, so the right to Mjolnir was his, but dad believed that the hammer chooses its master.”

“And?”

“And it chose my brother.”

“Well that’s lame.” I kicked a pebble that was on the ground. “Does your brother have Thor muscles? I bet your brother has Thor muscles.”

He gave me playful nudge, knocking me off kilter. I laughed.

“You’re a dick,” he said through his own throaty chuckle.

I gave a coy shrug. “I do my best.”

No. 10 – What are your writing goals and plans for 2016?
Hopefully get an agent. That would be nice. Also, I’d like to get solid, polished drafts of books 2 & 3 done as well. Maybe a rough draft of 4. Who knows? I’m not putting limits on it. Lol


Well, I hoped you enjoyed learning more about my 2015 NaNo Project over the course of this link-up. I know I’ve enjoyed sharing… did I mention that I love this book?!

Thanks for reading!

– Bree

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Timey-Wimey Snarkitude: My 2015 NaNoWriMo Novel

Okay, so that’s not the actual working title of my NaNo WIP this year, but it is pretty much the gist of the piece.

This post is brought to you by the incredible 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.

Below are ten Q&A’s about my upcoming NaNoWriMo project. I’m so excited about this project, guys! The story and characters have been lingering in my head for years, but it’s the third book in my series so it had to wait… :,(

BUT NOT ANYMORE! MUAHAHAHAHA (Did I mention I was excited?)

No. 1 – How did you come up with the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?
When I was developing the series as a whole a few years ago, I mapped out all the different elements of nature that I wanted to play with for each protagonist. I had physical elements like water, earth, air, and fire, but I also wanted to bring human nature and the encompassing universal elements like time and space in as well.

So book 3’s protagonist Meredith was assigned the ability to manipulate Time & Space, which of course is never as easy as it sounds. I mean even The Doctor has trouble with it sometimes. (Fun fact: I developed this idea before becoming a Whovian… my fangirl game used to be super lame, but that’s since been rectified.)

I also knew that I wanted to write a character with the same brash intelligence and humor as Wesley from the Princess Bride, so Mer inherited that as well. After those two pieces were decided, the story and other characters began filling themselves in. My story-development brain basically works like an avalanche: starts off with one snowball then everything falls off the side of the mountain.

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No. 2 – Why are you excited to write this novel?
Time-Wimey-Wibbly-Wobbly Awesomeness and Snark… What’s not to be excited about?

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But seriously, this story has so many twists and turns and is harboring so much set-up for the last two books in the series that I NEED IT TO BE A DRAFT ALREADY! Plus it’s the first time that one of my protagonists gets to spend any time in a world that isn’t our own. So that’s exciting for me.

No. 3 – What is your novel about, and what is the title?
The working title is Enveloped, and the really shabby synopsis on my NaNo profile is:

Meredith Wilson hasn’t seen her home in four years. Instead she’s been shuffled around from boarding school to boarding school, never staying anywhere for very long, never hearing from her mother, never getting any explanation for her ability to manipulate time.

And so she makes use of it by keeping herself out of trouble. And getting into some.

All she has to do is finish this last semester of school before she can travel where she will, but this latest destination, Duluth, MN, offers love and friendship. And answers.

No. 4 – Sum up your characters in one word each.
Mind you this is at the beginning of the novel. Some of these change as soon as the midpoint… Did I mention this plot is twisty? *cue maniacal laughter*

Meredith – Snark

Wyatt – Badass

Peter – Chivalrous

Lena – Smart

Chuck – Adorable

No. 5 – Which character(s) do you think will be your favorite to write? Tell us about them!
Mer. Definitely. She’s smart and spunky and isn’t afraid to let people know what she thinks of them. Think Veronica Mars, but without the need to solve murders and such.

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No. 6 – What is your protagonist’s goal, and what stands in the way?
Mer wants to be able to find “her place” in the world. Not in the “who am I?” sort of way, but an actual physical place where she can finally lay roots and make friends without the fear of being shipped off to the next boarding school the moment she’s settled in.

This is her final semester before she turns eighteen and no longer has to obey her mom’s orders. Unfortunately, Mer finds out that all that moving around was for a reason: to avoid being abducted by the Council and used to tear open the veil between the magical and human worlds.

Of course it wouldn’t really be a story if her mother’s plan succeeded. Oh no, the Council finds her and Mer’s life – as fragile as it was – is dumped upside down.

No. 7 – Where is your novel set?
DULUTH, MN. It’s gorgeous up there, guys. So green and the air is so clean… it’s also right on Lake Superior, which is also quite lovely. 🙂

No. 8 – What is the most important relationship your character has?
Her relationship with Wyatt. They balance each other out and he’s the first friend that Mer can count on for the long haul.

No. 9 – How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?
Good question… I mean she lets go of a lot of the anger she had toward her mom. She also finds “her place” in world, even though it doesn’t end up being a specific place, but a close-knit group of friends.

No. 10 – What themes are in your book? How do you want your readers to feel when the story is over?
Themes… So I’m bad at this one because I don’t really go into the first draft thinking remotely of what “themes” are supposed to be picked up on. My concern is more about the MC’s journey and what’s needed for the plot to move forward.

As for how I want my readers to feel when the story is over: emotionally exhausted. Like they just went on an epic, nonsensical rollercoaster of heartbreak and feels that they “can’t even.”

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If this series ever does get published and makes it to book 3, I’m looking forward to the responses to a specific scene in the MS where I’m sure more than one reader will chuck the book across the room. Again, *cue maniacal laughter*.

BONUS! Tell us your 3 best pieces of advice for others trying to write a book in a month.
1. Just keep writing.
It doesn’t matter if you get in your 1700 words for that day in description, just make the time to write those words.

2. Don’t worry about the quality. This is a pretty common piece of advice for NaNo, but don’t worry so much on the eloquence of a metaphor, just get down the meaning you’re aiming for then move on. Editing is for later.

3. Don’t be afraid to go off the rails. If you lock yourself in a little box, saying that you’re only going to write in sequential order, you have a higher likelihood to fail. So if one day, you look at your outline and feel like writing a scene a few chapters ahead of your current spot, do it! Enjoy what you do and you’ll have a better chance of avoiding burnout.

What about you? Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? Join the link up and tell us about your NaNo project!