Theatre, adulting & other nonsense

So… I’ve been up to a few things since last we spoke, dear internet. Mostly good, a little bad, and a shit ton in-between. Questions is where to start? 

Let’s go with theatre. Three musicals, one play, a revue, a showcase, and a mini-concert for Pride racked up my evenings and weekends. I had the pleasure of acting alongside some incredible people while learning plenty of new skills in the process. 

The highlight? Playing Wednesday in the Addams Family Musical at the Postal Playhouse in Le Mars. Not only did I get to use my [vocal] belt in a musical for the first time, but I also obtained my first experience applying prosthetics. 

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Thirteen hand-made bald caps later, I couldn’t be prouder of that show, especially the cast. We had a lot of high school students in Addams, most notably the actors playing Pugsley and Uncle Fester (pictured above). Our stage manager and make-up assistant director were also both high schoolers and they carried themselves with so much maturity – just incredibly impressive. 

The mini-concert I put on for OC Pride was the other performance highlight for my year. I can’t begin to express how grateful I was for the opportunity to perform during this weekend celebration (clip of “Wish That You Were Here” by Florence and the Machine below). In my corner of the country, homophobia and general bigotry run pretty rampant, so the ability to celebrate love and gender representation with some of the most beautiful souls I’ve met was an absolute blessing I’ll cherish forever. 

Moving on… since ya know… I kinda abandoned y’all for a year. I began working full-time again. I was given the opportunity to write for a local paper. I’d forgotten how much I loved journalism. Everyone has a story to tell and getting to tell those local stories was an utter joy. I’ll link some of my favorite assignments below. 

One million and counting

King says goodbye to LPD

Fire chief takes mental health program on the road

I have since been offered a job at another company doing more administrative work (journalism pays pennies). It’s been a better transition for the puppy. 

This past year has also seen a fair amount of travel. Two anime cons and one writers’ workshop and your girl is exhausted. I love cosplaying and fangirling as much as the next nerdfighter but I’m tapping out at four cosplay creations between Katsucon and Anime Midwest. Though I’m not gonna lie, cosplaying Aziraphale from Good Omens with my best friend as Crowley was definitely the highlight of my year. 

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And I launched a podcast! Today. My bestie, Melanie, and I launched “The Shiny Squirrel Podcast” today, July 15! Season 1, episode 1, can be found on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Podbean. We’ve also released an off-topic pod (normally accessible on our Patreon during the off-season) and an Anime Midwest special episode to celebrate the launch. 

Last but not least, I’ve kept writing (do I even have the option of quitting at this point?). I finished book one of the Aeon series [adult edit] earlier this year and sent it to beta readers. Now, I’m polishing the beastie for querying later this fall. I’ll have to do a complete separate post on this project’s evolution because otherwise you’ll be reading a novella-length blog post. 

Along with the novel, one short story was featured last October in another blogger’s Halloween series, and I’ve since applied for one anthology and plan to apply for another this week. I’m only mildly terrified, guys. Okay, super terrified but whatever. 

So what have y’all been up to? Hope 2019 is treating you well despite the psychotic political climate the US of A has managed to contort itself into. 

Much love!
Bree

 

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

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.

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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!

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…

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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!

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!