Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Beautiful Books 2016: Cloy

[Want to know what Beautiful Books is all about? Care to join in? Here's the link-up for you too <3 ]

Hey Readers,

I'm popping in to chat about my WIP, Cloy, with the help of Paper Fury, Further Up and Further In, and the Beautiful Books writing link-up for bloggers this NaNoWriMo Season. I'll be answering their questions below. Go check out their website, it's pretty fantastic. But while you're here, let me ramble a bit about my writing this November:

1. Overall, how is your mental state, and how is your novel going? 

The novel is going, well... Slowly. I tend to do this thing where I have an exciting plot (okay, you know, when I have a plot at all) but when it comes to the actual writing, it turns out to be a couple of main characters standing in various locations talking about what's going on, rather than doing anything. Other than that, I suppose it's going well. I'm getting in the word count, and I guess you could say the story is progressing. As far as the first part of that question, my mental state is really good. I have been able to spend my past two days off from my day job, and pretty much crashed at the neighborhood cafe to write like mad. I've felt like a professional writer, like this is what I do for a living, and it has made me so happy and content.

2. What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?
"Stories and histories begin in many ways and many places, some quite unexpected, and some quite unexpectedly normal. They can be told and are told by many voices, carrying through countless generations, weaving their facts and rumors and mysteries into our lives in ways we often overlook. I suppose this story should be no exception, and could be told by many people, revealing a thousand lies and a million truths. I’m going to tell it, however, simply by how I came to know it best, from the voices that told it to me when I was very small, until I was old enough to read the books, and listen to the old men at the bar, and go into the secret galleries on my own." 
~Cloy, from the verbose and completely unnecessary prologue.

3. Who’s your current favourite character in your novel? 

Ooohhhh, tough choice. This year, I kind of slammed into my novel headlong without knowing it or its characters very well up front. I'll go with Mathen, for the moment:

Mathen is the Head of a scientific endeavor to explore and capture magic. He is the boss of both of my MCs, River and Captain. He is an impersonal sort, intent on his job, clever, and secretive. But he has a kind of fondness for Captain and takes great - if thinly veiled - interest in River's abilities. He's fun to write, I look forward to seeing how he develops as a character.

  [Art by Phobs at phobso.tumblr. This is similar to how Mathen looks, almost more in the personality than anything else. He's a bit more modern, but I like this illustration for him and am using it for inspiration.]

(alternatively, I think Rufus Sewell would be amazing as Mathen, so that's probably how I'm going to think of the character. Related: it is very difficult to find gifs of him in not extremely obvious period garb.)

4. What do you love about your novel so far? 

I love the carefree attitude I'm taking with it. XD It's not carefully plotted, it's not spectacularly written, it's just kind of words thrown out there and raked together like a pile of leaves vaguely resembling the original tree of the story I have in mind.

5. Have you made any hilarious typos or other mistakes? 

Some, I'm sure, but I can't think of any off the top of my head... Most of my bad typos have come in talking with friends about the story, rather than in the writing itself.

6. What is your favourite to write: beginning, middle, or end — and why?

I think I like them all, they're all so different, but for me, the beginning is the hardest. It sets up absolutely everything about the story, so you've got to get it just right. Everything else is a payoff of that foundation. Your first line, first paragraph, first chapter - all of that is massively important to what the story will become, how it will progress, and what sort of ending it needs to have. I enjoy writing endings. I have a tendency to rush them, but I love tying up the loose ends finally and letting everything fall into place at last. Middles are cruising territory, which feels very safe but can often be dangerous: the middle is important too, and I sometimes let it sag a bit into descriptions and simple stuff.

7. What are your writing habits? 

Inconsistent. That's what my writing habits are. Actually, the things I like to do best, especially during NaNo, is find an energetic location to write at (like a cafe) and allow the noise, sights, sounds, smells, and other stimuli to get my writing brain in gear. I love going somewhere to write, because it gets my brain in gear to actually be doing work, instead of allowing myself to kid around and be lazy. But there are times, especially late at night in the quiet of my apartment when the rest of the building is pretty much asleep, that my creative side gets busy, and those are great and productive times as well.

a) Is there a specific snack you eat? 

Skittles. Skittle candies have been my writing snack of choice for years. They're like tiny little rewards. I finished a scene. Red one. I got through that paragraph. Green one. I introduced a new character. Yellow one. I got my word goal in. Aaaallllll the orange ones. Also, this year, I've been having lots of bagels from the cafe, whoops...

b) Do you listen to music? 

I do. Music helps energize me, put me in the mind of work, and also engages the artist side of my brain. This year I'm primarily listening to Ramin Djawadi's Person of Interest soundtracks, Danny Elfman's Age of Ultron soundtrack, David Arnold's Amazing Grace soundtrack, and various lyric tracks from the band Take That that I feel tell the characters' story:

c) What time of day do you write best? 

Nighttime. Definitely nighttime. I am not a morning person by nature, and I do my best work just as the sun is beginning to go down, right up until it threatens to rise again before I'm ready.

d) Feel free to show us a picture of your writing space! 

I don't have a desk at present, and I have been doing most of my hardcore writing at the cafe, but this is the corner I do my writing in while staying in the apartment. It's nice and cozy and pretty comfortable, and there's a handy outlet nearby for keeping that laptop battery running. The corner is really dark tonight, but here's a pic facing out of it from earlier.

8. How private are you about your novel while you’re writing? Do you need a cheer squad or do you work alone (like, ahem, Batman)? 

One of the reasons I love doing NaNoWriMo so much is the community aspect. Everyone is working to achieve the same goal, even if you're working on your own projects and in your own ways. I absolutely love doing word wars with people, staying up late to hatch plots and patch holes, and the rants back and forth between friends about what characters or aspects are or aren't working. I don't need a cheer squad, I can settle into the darkness of my Batcave and get things done, but I'd much rather be an Avenger, solving problems on my own but working among a team when I get the chance.

9. What keeps you writing even when it’s hard? 

Caffeine. Just kidding, mostly. Right now, for this particular NaNo, it's been knowing that this story has so much potential, and not allowing myself to let fear of failing that potential get in my own way. Also, because this is the seventh (HOLY COW SEVENTH??) NaNo Project I've done, just trying to keep a spotless record is pretty good incentive. I know I can do it because I've done it before. I try not to let my expectations get in the way. The days I fall behind, the way the story doesn't flow the way I want - all of that, I try to push it aside and just write. 

10. What are your top 3 pieces of writing advice?

1. Don't get in your own way. ;) Seriously though, there are so many times we let our ideas get in the way of making them happen. You have to let yourself know it isn't going to be perfect the first time around. Heck, it may never be perfect, but don't let that stop you from creating art. Write as you can, let it be, get it done. Don't think about revisions as something you have to do to fix the story. Think of them as touching up, remolding the beautiful work you've already made to make it better.

2. Pursue your craft. Don't ever think that you've gotten to a place where you are as good as you're going to be. Keep working, keep learning. Nothing is owed to you, so work hard for it and earn it and you'll be amazed by what  you can do. Spend time in libraries, follow your favorite writers' social medias, subscribe to a science/political/social/etc magazine, and then just write. Practice it, measure it, refine it. Always continue to learn, don't rest on your laurels, and just keep at it because the journey goes ever on and on and each new destination is beautiful.

3. Serve the story. This is something I learned recently from author Kathy Tyres, one of my favorite writers and teachers of craft. "You need to add this particular demographic to your novel." Okay, but is that what the story needs? "I really wanted this character to be a Helper, but they keep siding with the antagonist." Hey, let them side with the antagonist, see what happens.  Don't force it to be something it's not. It's a middle-grade novel but someone told you the themes were too deep, dark, or complex? Kids are perceptive, smart, and don't always want Garfield comics. No matter what your or someone else's preconceived notions are, serve the story.


Well, there you have it! Me rambling about Cloy, and my writing habits and the road thus far. Hope you've enjoyed this bit of insight and maybe found something helpful along the way. 

In the very least, there's a gif of a kitten playing in leaves, right?

Go visit the link at the top to grab the button, answer the questions, and join the link-up of writers! Have fun!


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Please Pardon the Dust of Progress...


Hello Reader,

I know the readership of this blog has never been particularly large, and that is mostly due to the inactivity of the writer. I'm not just the most conscientious blogger on the face of the planet, but I do definitely miss it, and as my career as a writer is branching off in new, exciting, and - okay - frankly downright terrifying directions, I want to keep you updated and involved while keeping a sort of record for myself. (Like a blog is supposed to do, imagine that!)


Rather than saying "I'm going to" or "I will try" or "well my hope is" let me offer you these words instead:

1. This blog will be seeing a lot more activity in the very near future.

This blog is currently undergoing some minor-to-major adjustments and changes as far as format, activity, content, and intentions. While I of course intend to stay true to the statements set out in the "About" section of this blog, I'm going to allow myself to branch out a little, have some more fun, relax a bit. Stop being such a stuffy-face writer peering at the world from over my glasses and instead, dig down deep and get into the core of writing, reading, and adventuring.

I don't know exactly what that means you can be expecting, but rest assured, we'll soon be finding that out together. :)

2. You'll notice a few extra pages being added to the bar at the top of the blog. 

They're pretty self-explanatory:

A. The all-new Book Reviews page will consist of a concise (and, eventually, categorical and alphabetical) list of the reviews hosted on this blog, along with pretty little thumbnails (coming soon) of those books and movies and etc. so that you can easily peruse them to your heart's content and at your very leisure.

I've been meaning to add this feature for quite some time, but it's finally there!

*cuts ribbon, throws confetti*

B. The About Writing page is just exactly that - I do try to keep some things simple. On this page you will find a (hopefully comprehensive) list of all the articles I have posted on Craft, on creating stories. I will also add add links I have used and recommend from other writers with their own information, discussion, and tips on writing. As always, feel free to check out the recommended blogs and websites listed on the side of the blog: they've got some even better gems on building your Craft there.

I hope to be adding more pages once I've got these up and running effectively.

3. There will likely be more exclamation points. (!!!)

"Okay, what, why?" you say. I hear you. I'm not an exclamation point kind of person. I don't like writing with them. What I mean by this, mostly, is that I intend to have more fun and invite you to have more fun with the blog as we go. I'm okay with just spilling my thoughts into the void, especially when it helps me work out a problem, but I one-hundred percent would rather this be an interactive journey. Community means so much to me.

So then,

If you're feeling a little down,
Or maybe a little unsure about your writing,
or your future,
or you goals,
or whatever it may be,

Join in - let's do this together. We're not meant to go it alone.

I look forward to what this next year means for me personally, for this blog, and for all the beautiful people I am able to meet up with along the way.


In the meantime, seriously, pardon the dust, it can be a bit messy in here... 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Random update: have a look-see at the mockup cover I did for my NaNoWriMo novel "Cloy"

One day soon I may get this blog up and running for real. But for now...

(And yes, I broke all the rules and used an illegible font for the C. It's NaNo, I do what I want. ;) )

Friday, May 13, 2016

An Open Letter to the Verbally Upset dc Talk Fans

Look, guys.


For just a second here, okay?

What with the build-up and announcement, dc Talk has been all over the web and the airwaves, and I've heard some back and forth about it all, but it wasn't until I was over on the dcTalk personal page that I discovered how many people are shamelessly bashing these men for everything from the object of their announcement, to the supposedly improper handling of said-announcement itself. And...I'm flabbergasted. Appalled would, here, be a better word.

So, honestly:

I get that you're disappointed there is no full length album on the way. I get that a cruise is not the same thing as a world tour, with the same accessibility. I totally understand that you were hoping the band was coming back together for the big times, for truth, and yes indeed it would have been heaven on earth.

But, please. Chill.

Toby and the others have said for years that there are many reasons they haven't done anything as a band since they parted ways oh-so long ago. Can we not be happy for them with this huge opportunity they were presented with and accepted? Can we not love the fact that our favorite trio is able to take this on? After many silent years with brief intermissions of cameo appearances on stage at each other's concerts, and on each other's albums, this. is. HUGE. And exciting.

"This is a give back that we wanted to do -  we wanted it to be intimate and special. More intimate than an arena tour could ever be. It embraces what we are doing and what we did. We are excited about both. Who knows what the future holds." 
~dc Talk to The Christian Post

I adore and respect these guys and their work - soooo much - and I am absolutely ecstatic for them because this really is fantastic news, and they seem so happy and excited, they obviously wanted and expected us to be happy and excited for them and for us too, and why shouldn't we be? There were no promises made leading up to the reveal, and if they'd just been like, "oh, yeah, we're performing as a band on this cruise" we would have demanded more fanfare. Does this post, this opinion, mean that I'm going on the cruise myself? (*moment of uproarious laughter*) Yeaaahhhh, no. Not. I wish, but this is sadly not in my future.

"After 16 years of silence, we are thankful there are still so many passionate fans!
Someone came to us with the idea of Michael, Kevin and I getting together on a cruise and we thought, "That would be fun and it would be intimate, way more intimate than an arena tour could ever be.”
We've said "No" to coming back together so many times, but this time we finally said "YES". It can be so challenging for us to all get together with our families going in different directions, and our own bands, and their families.
We are sorry it is not everything you wanted. We would never want to let any of you down."
~TobyMac's public statement

These guys are obviously really enthusiastic about this happening and what it means for them, and just as obviously hurt that their fans have taken it the wrong way. They are even apologizing and they shouldn't even have to. How petty are we to demand something more of them? So, again: chill. Good grief.

Support them, Jesus Freaks.

Be the die-hard fans you have claimed to be all these years.

Stop giving the rest of us a bad name.

Be proud.

Stand by your band.

Take a minute to be thrilled about what this means for the future.

This is amazing and miraculous news, and there is no room here for your disdain.


Friday, September 4, 2015

oh, hi there

Hey. Hi. Hello there. I'm still alive, remarkably enough. I just...kind of neglected my blog...for like...well, since January.

I plan on making an actual post soon.

Once I actually have something to make an actual post about.


Carry on.



Wednesday, January 7, 2015

40+ Prompts: How Well Do You Know Your Character's Family?

40+ Prompts
How Well Do You Know Your Character's Family?

Whether they're the cold-hearted adversary or your courageous protagonist, your character has a family and their family is their history. (Unless, of course, your character is an orphan or foundling whose family doesn't exist, in which case this exercise is completely pointless for them, and a waste of time for you, so why are you even still reading this?)

Take a few minutes to answer these questions about your character's family tree and learn a lot more about them in the process!

Step 1. Mum and Dad
1. Give full names for both parents:
2. Where was their mother born and what is her happiest childhood memory? Her saddest memory?
3. Growing up, what or who did she hate the most and why?
4. What was her most treasured childhood belonging?
5. Who is her closest friend as an adult?
6. Name one dream of the character's mother:
7. Where was their father born and what was his childhood like? His happiest memory? His saddest?
8. When he was little, what did he want to be?
9. What gave him nightmares as a child?
10. As an adult, who is someone he respects and why?
11. Name one thing the father regrets:
(Now, go back and flip the questions around for the parents—answer the mom's questions from the dad's perspective and vice versa.)
12. Write a paragraph (more, if you like) about how these parents met:

Step 2. Siblings
13. Does your character have siblings? Make a quick list of their names and ages and one thing about each of their personalities:
14. Were their siblings born in the same place as they were? If not, where?
15. Which sibling does your character have the most in common with?
16. Which one irritates them the most?
17. Which one do they spend the most time with (because they want to, or they have to)?

Step 3. Grandparents
18. Choose a pair of your character's grandparents from either side of the family (or answer these questions for both sides, if you wish!). What are they like?
19. What ideals did these grandparents instill in their own children?
20. How was the world different for the grandparents than it is for the character?
21. How have the actions of the grandparents affected the character directly and indirectly?
22. If they were to give one piece of advice to your character, what would it be?

Step 4. And In No Particular Order...
23. Which member of the family (sibling, parent, aunt, etc.) does your character look up to most and why?
24. Which member of the family does the character see as their greatest enemy?
25. Which member of the family, living or dead, does the character most resemble in both appearance and character?
26. What is your character's earliest memory of a family member other than their parents?
27. Which family member(s) support the character? Explain.
28. Your character is upset. To which family member do they turn?
29. Which member of the family makes your character the most uncomfortable and why?
30. If your character could tell one family member anything, who would it be and what would they tell them?
31. What secret does your character's family keep—their skeleton in the closet?
32. Every family has a black sheep somewhere in the line. Who is your character's? How does this person influence the character?
33. Describe the most valuable family heirloom, its history, and its importance:
34. Are there any hereditary illnesses or curses in the family line?
35. Someone somewhere in the family died unexpectedly. How? (Was it heart attack? Shark attack?)
36. What are two things your character longs to do which the family disapproves? Explain the “why” of both sides:
37. If your character was separated from their family permanently, how would they react and how would it change them?
38. Pick five different family members (probably the ones you know best) and have them describe your character in one or two sentences each:
39. Does your character want a family of their own? Explain your answer by how you think their family life has affected these desires:
40. Imagine the character was abandoned/orphaned while still a minor. Who in the family (older sibling, aunt, etc.) would take them in and what would life in that surrogate family be like for the character?

Step 5: Bonus! Using What You Know
Imagine that your character is in a post-apocalyptic world or possibly just lost in the wilderness. (If they are already—congratulate yourself on being sneaky, clever, or lucky.) Pick two family members for the character to have with them as they try to survive. Now answer the following questions:
1. Is there a particular reason you chose these two characters?
2. What familial stresses are caused by this journey or set-up?
3. If your character is injured and needs one person to stay with them while another goes for help. Which family member goes, which one stays, and why? If your character has any say in it, how do they decide who goes and who stays?
4. Which family member might snap/lose it first?
5. If attacked, which family member has the greatest chance in a fight?
6. Your character dies (Don't panic, it's just an exercise.) and the two other family members are left. How do they handle this loss and what do they do next?
7. Have them sit down at a campfire or give a brief funeral ceremony: What do they say about your character? What they hated, and what they loved, and what they'll miss the most?

Now, look back at your answers. How much have you learned about your character? What have you learned about their story? I hope you've enjoyed growing this family tree and that your character and story are richer because of it!