Win a Copy of Victoria Schwab’s “A Darker Shade of Magic” as Well as a Rad Poster!

Fact one:  the flu is a terrible, terrible thing that I had managed to dodge the entirety of my life. UNTIL NOW.

Fact two:  the flu ate my February. You’d think you’d have time to write but no, the only thing I had the energy for was staring blankly at YouTube.

Hence, no entries for February. But here I am now, full of returned vigor and using a considerably lower amount of tissues each day!

Here’s a quick post to tide you over:  Victoria Schwab’s new book,  A Darker Shade of Magic, is out and it is hot. I have the ebook version that I am going to curl up with tonight but here is a chance to win both a hard copy version and a poster of the gorgeous cover art!

The Midnight Garden Giveaway!

Good luck to those who enter! May the flu never ensnare you with its snotty tendrils. Ugh, I grossed myself out writing that.

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BOOM. I’m back.

Two truths and a lie, and then a bunch of links:

1) Working on an early draft of a novel is boring.

2) There is a place in my town that sells “drinking chocolate” that is right across from our main library branch.

3) I returned all of my library books on time, as I always do.

 

First Draft in 30 Days is a how-to book that will, in theory, help you crank out a highly detailed outline that can be gently jostled into a first draft. I found it worth the trip to the library, and suggest you give it a read through if you have trouble organizing your plot.

Scared Yet remains a fantastic study of scary stories and if you haven’t discovered Kris Straub yet then you are just flat missing out.

She Walks In Shadow will hold open submissions for their Lovecraft inspired anthology. The submission pool is open to female-identifying authors only, and they will start taking submissions in November.  I want to submit to this real, real bad so we’ll see what sort of Lovecraft vibe I can shake out of my brain. What I don’t know about eldritch horrors I can make up for in a weirdly expansive collection of man made industrial incidents and I have all sorts of thoughts on how closely the two are related.

The NaNoWriMo Aftermath

Whew! Okay, I think I finally caught my breath.

After a frantic week and a dollop of writing, I managed to win NaNoWriMo! Sound the tiniest of trumpets! Slaughter, well, not the fatted calf, that should be saved for a special occasion. Maybe put a pork tenderloin on the grill or something. So what did a month of devoted writing get me in terms of working towards a novel-length story?

I obtained:

  • Some solid worldbuilding
  • A lot of character development. The main character has gained a lot of facets and her older brother is no longer Big Mac from My Little Pony. They have motivations and flaws and stuff!
  • There is now a defined second act, which is the most difficult part for me because it is that dastardly middle ground. So far from the beginning conflict, too far from the end resolution.
  • Lots of words. I would be so bold as to say that about 45% of them are worth salvaging.

Perhaps more importantly, I realized that I am lacking:

  • A fully-fledged antagonist. By that I mean that my bad guy has not progressed to far from “Bwahaha, I am evil and will therefore oppose the antagonist because… uh, did I mention I AM EVIL?!?!” which doesn’t work that well.

That’s the worst of what I’m missing right now and is my current main focus. It is hard to focus on making the antagonist worth their weight when I am constantly distracted by the shiny protagonist, but it is fun and a challenge to think of the story from their point of view. It has forced me to realize that I sure can build myself a fine straw man for my protagonist to knock down, but it has been fun to try and create a character that can stand in someone’s way with complete conviction that what they are doing is right/profitable/worth the effort to achieve their own goals.

I want you to realize:

  • One of my cats is asleep in a spare office chair, and he is hella-cute.

 

In other news, I am going to submit another story to PodCastle (coming for you, you magnificent market!) and am currently also working on a short story about a high-school girl that has to make up extra credit for Home Economics with maaaaaagic spiiiiiices. It’s dumb and I regret nothing and it is mostly about my personal struggle to make a pan of cinnamon rolls.

I will also be hauling all of my podcast reviews from my other blog over here, as I seem to be garnering an audience! Thank you so much for reading/subscribing to this blog. I am very happy to share my writing thoughts with you and will do my best to provide delightful content. Y’all give me the honey glow somethin’ awful.

What are you working on? Did you reach your NaNoWriMo goal? What is your cat’s name? Let me know in the comments!

Furious Self Reflection

Let’s take a look back at what I said on November 12th, during the second week of this glorious National Novel Writing Month:

So far the outline is helping. Writing down one-sentence summaries of characters seems dippy, but it forces me to describe minor characters further than I normally would. If I spend a month in a writing experiment that leads me to a solid first draft then that’s good enough for me. I’ll be hung if you don’t find me scrabbling to churn out 20k words on the 29th-30th

Hey, at the very least I know myself. Today marks day… what, four or possible five of me cranking out over 5k words a day. Right now I am totally exhausted and yes, totally and admittedly using this blog entry as a way to both pad my word count and get a little bit of a warm-up before I once more plow back into the story I am working on.

Not the lack of apostrophes, it is a dead giveaway of a NaNoWriMo’er in desperate straights. But hey, look at my little NaNo widget! Look at that little bar getting filled up!

The big question I find myself asking is this:  are my efforts worth it? There are a lot of ways someone can work if they dedicate an entire month to writing. Maybe you could write a single short story and have it edited and ready for submission in thirty days! If you are some one who finds it hard to come up with new premises you can think up a plot hook each day (actually that would be pretty cool because then you would be set with story ideas for a good while). If you are not a writer, you could devote all your spare time to reading new books and adding to your Goodreads lists. Is NaNoWriMo the best use of time?

For me, for 2013, the answer is yes. I went into this year’s crazy merry-go-round of word count chaos with a plan to come out of the other side with an outline and if possible, a first draft of a story. Right now I have a bloated, but complete first act of a story and more importantly a ton-load of world building tucked away. I know the town that my main character starts in and how it functions. I came up with reasons for there to be magic, and why it the main character would have access to it in ways that supporting characters do not. I think I turned most of the background characters from stupid tropes into functioning people that have their own lives other that edifying or harassing the main character. So far I have resisted the urge to include an adorable animal companion.

Although I totally could throw in an adorable animal companion. The main character would absolutely care for an orphaned raccoon or something and it would be awesome. It would wear a collar and everything AND I would even give it a chance at not dying in a cheap ploy to provoke the reader’s emotions.

The benefit of NaNoWriMo for me is the constant press to keep the words appearing on screen. This helps to break my habit of leaning back and spending hours searching Wikipedia or sites that may or may not be relevant to ideas I have for the story.  That constant stream of thought brings out connections and ideas that I would have spend a week mulling over in the course of a single night of frantic writing.

To any one else participating in NaNoWriMo that reads this, I wish you Godspeed and a joyous thrill when you reach 50k. May you feel justified in your purchase of the “winners” t-shirt and may you one day find a purpose for your story, whether it be in a published novel or the simple pleasure of know you had a story and now it is down on paper (digital or otherwise).

Good luck, and keep writing!

Third Week of NaNoWriMo: The Excusening

Week three! There has been… little improvement to be honest.  The word count has slowed to a slogging crawl. I’m happy that my local NaNoWriMo group will be meeting for a write-up tonight, as that will help push me over the 10k mark, but 50k is looking to be unobtainable this year.

But I have excuses! Good ones, even! I realize that excuses are the domain of those who hope to weasel out of work but hey, I gots ’em and you’re going to read ’em.

EXCUSE #1: I am helping to coordinate an illustrator signing at my local friendly comic book store. While it is a smallish event, it takes a lot of effort and time to organize and arrange a very small store into an acceptable event venue. This event includes not only the illustrator signing but children’s crafts, people in mascot costumes, baking tons of cookies for treats, and a Toys for Tots donations drive.

Did I mention this store is about the size of a one bedroom apartment? We’ve had signings before that turned out really well, and I want to make sure this is another success.

EXCUSE #2: Because I am using this NaNoWriMo to produce a first draft, I am breaking one of the main rules of NaNoWriMo in the fact that I’m doing research. There is a lot of me staring at the screen going, “Hm…why would a town be built this way? What would it take to run it? What Wikipedia articles should I bookmark?” and that does not lead to a rip-roaring pace for my word count. That being said, what I’ve done has been super useful thus far so hey, that is a good thing.

 

EXCUSE #3: I’ve become an adult with other stuff to do in my life? That isn’t really an excuse, it is, because lots of people with full time jobs and commutes and kids can crank out 50k.  But… I don’t like essentially abandoning my husband for month. It stressed me out last year to spend my time doing other things while the 1,667 daily words hung over my head.

I will push myself to write more, and by the end of the month I hope to have a fully detailed outline. A full first draft would be nice, but if I can get the world and magic system settled then I’ll consider it a good first push.

 

excuse #4 I’m cheating on this story by working on a short story as well. There’s a themed submission during January that I want to enter and I’ll need enough time to edit and whatnot, so that adds to my workload.

 

IN OTHER NEWS, I didn’t place in Writers of the Future again. At this point I just kind of shrug at the rejection e-mails from them. No biggie. I’ll keep trying, you’ll keep trying, we’ll all keep trying.