Wednesday, December 16, 2015

In which I return from the deep dark hole that was November and talk about NaNo again

   Yes! I have returned. After a month.



   November was wild. The first half of the month was consumed with being sick, NaNo-ing, and packing. The second half was driving from Texas to Utah(a very long drive let me assure you), visiting family and friends, finding out that my dad's cousin is also a writer and getting to read her first chapter, and having almost no wifi for two weeks. That last part was not so fun.
   But I'm back now, and I'm all ready to tell you about what happened with NaNo by linking up with Cait and Sky's Beautiful Books meme.


1. On a scale of 1 (worst) to 10 (best), how did the book turn out? Did anything defy your expectations?

   Ha.
   Hahahhahah.
   Word count wise, it was awful. I got 11k instead of my goal of 25k. So that was lame.
   HOWEVER.
   I got to write some freaking awesome scenes that I've been wanting to write for foreverrrr. Including, but not limited to: kissing, almost-kissing, backstory revealing, and risking your life to save your friend.
   So I'd say seven.


2. Comparative title time: what published books, movies, or TV shows are like your book? (Ex: Inkheart meets X-Men.)

   THIS IS ACTUALLY REALLY HARD, GUYS. I've been thinking about it for dayyyssss and can't really think of anything specific. Just, any generic fantasy story meets a generic coming-of-age YA story. That makes it sound way lame but I swear it's not.


3. Do you enjoy working with deadlines and pressure (aka NaNoWriMo)? Or do you prefer to write-as-you’re-inspired?

   Give me alllll the deadlines, precious. I really like the tracking-my-progress part of NaNo too. Which is why I use myWriteClub during the non-NaNo months. If I just wrote whenever I felt like it...I would never get anything done.


4. How do you go about editing? Give us an insight into your editing process.

   When I find out, I'll tell you. I've actually....never made it to the editing part? But I'm getting there, which is terrifyingly exciting.

Actually me right now
   I do have a plan though.
   1. Get critiques from my alpha readers(hint hint, you guys)
   2. Read through Children of the Nameless after a break and take note of things I need to change/fix/get rid of
   3.  Change/fix/get rid of those things
   4. Cry
   5. Wonder why I'm writing this stupid thing
   6. Remember how much I love it
   7. Send it to my betas
   8. Panic
   9. Get their critiques
   10. Repeat steps 2-9 until I find it satisfactory


5. What aspect of your story needs the most work?

Also me. All three expressions. Me.

   Lots of things. All the things. It's my first book ever; what do you expect? To be honest, though, the characters and storyworld really need to be fleshed out more, and I need more character development. I have most of a plot (read: most), so I'm pretty good on that aspect. But all in all I'm terrified excited to fix this.


6. What aspect of your story did you love the most?

   The fact that it exists? The fact that people like it? The fact that I'm 71% done?
   Okay but in all honesty, I think I love my characters most. Because in the end, that's what matters most. If someone loves the plot but hates the characters, they probably won't like the book. True, a lame plot can't really hold awesome characters, but to me, characters are the most important part of a book.

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?

   Speaking of characters. Ah, my babies. I can never talk about them enough. I apologize in advance for the length of this section.


   First off, we have Kaleth. Pretty boy, courageous, protective, strong Kaleth. I struggle with writing him a lot, despite my love for him. I want him to come across as a strong, fearless, calculating leader, but in my efforts to make him seem like that, he became....one-dimensional. And, with help from some awesome friends(looking at you, Emily and Sierra!), I'm realizing that I need to stop panicking. He's barely seventeen! He's human! Let him write himself! Leaders can still have fun and joke around with their friends! Especially when they're teenagers!


   And then there's Barrow(who does not look or dress quite like this gif, but it's adorable and something he'd do and I wanted to use a gif). He's a player, a flirt, and an obnoxious jerk. But oh how I love him. He's gone through hell, and hasn't quite come out of it, but he's getting there(with help from *cough*certain people*cough*). He's got issues. He's destructive, and caring, and annoying, and brave. He's a jumbled mess, and I'm really proud of how he's come through in this draft. I just need to make his friendships/crushes more gradual and less out of the blue.

Why do I only have one gif for her. I need to fix this.
   Ah, Danica. My lovely precious child. She's brilliant but doesn't believe it, beautiful but can't see it. She's incredibly smart, caring, and gentle. She came across as a bit of a pushover in the beginning, instead of just shy like I'd intended, so I need to fix that. I'm also sad her genius didn't make its appearance as much as I'd want it to(mostly due to my fear/hate of writing planning meetings). I'm still struggling to figure out how exactly to write her POV, but all in all she did quite well in this first draft.

   Allorie is Cinderella. Seriously. She's had a super sucky life(sorry darling), has a nasty mother, is forced to live and work wayyyy below her station, but through it all, she's still one of the kindest, sweetest, most selfless people ever. "Have courage and be kind" is pretty much her life motto. I understand her really well...in theory. When I'm not writing. I haven't quite found her voice, or how she works, but I'm getting there. I love the child to bits, though.

   This is Katria. Sort of. She doesn't dress or look quite like this, but it shows you how gloriously kickbutt the girl is. She's violent, sarcastic, anti-social, and easily angered. She's a quick thinker and loves a thrill. She's in love with her childhood best friend, but no one(not even she) knows it. Somehow, despite the fact that she's almost my complete opposite...she's one of the easiest to write. It's weird. But I love it. I love her sass, her knife obsession, and the way she thinks about said best friend all the time(resulting in me screeching "WOULD YOU HURRY UP AND FIGURE IT OUT AND JUST KISS HIM ALREADY" despite the fact that they're hundreds of miles apart). She did really well this draft.

   And last but not least is Egin. He is a "Beautiful Cinnamon Roll Too Good For This World, Too Pure". Literally. He's got asthma and really bad social anxiety. He can do a little magic, mostly just making pretty things to calm him down when he has panic attacks. He loves his family, especially his little sister, who he'd do anything for. But...he came across as really really really whiny. He's only had a few chapters but he has a panic attack in each one. Yeah, he's not as brave now as he will be in later books, but I don't want him to seem like an obnoxious wimp. And the traditional writing structure kinda goes out the window when I'm writing from his POV, and I'm afraid that'll annoy people. So, Egin as a character is perfect. The way I write him is not.

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?

   Edits! All the edits! I wanna get this baby published eventually(in which case I might actually cry).


9. Share a favourite snippet!

   Oh boy. I shall attempt to find something not full of spoilers.

#Ishipit
I got to write an entire chapter of her daring stunts. It was glorious. 



10. What are your writing goals and plans for 2016?

   Originally, my plan was to finish the first draft of Children of the Nameless before the end of 2015, but I don't think that's going to happen. Sadly. I want to finish it as soon as possible, and then get started on edits before I start writing the second book at the end of next year. Someone hold me I can't believe this is happening.

teen wolf, holland roden, and lydia martin image



   So there you have it! A basic rundown of my November. I am so ready for Christmas break(which will hopefully translate to "lots of writing time").




Did you do NaNoWriMo? How did it go? Are you excited for the holidays?

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Beautiful Books #2

   Hey guys! I'm back with another post about NaNo. I'm almost to 10k! So please forgive any mistakes in this Beautiful Books post, since I wrote it as quickly as possible to allow more time for writing Children of the Nameless.


1. Is the book turning out how you thought it would be, or is it defying your expectations? 

   I don't know what to expect. I don't know what I was expecting. But it's turning out great. My word count is slowly increasing. A little too slow my my liking, but I'm writing more than I usually do.

2. What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)? 

 First paragraph of the book:

"It was a time of war. No one was safe. It was a time of blood, but the only glory came to those who delighted in death. Some fought for power. The rest fought to keep themselves and their loved ones alive."

First paragraph that I wrote for NaNo:

 Katria couldn’t help being slightly relieved that the two idiots were still alive. She’d thought Kaleth had lost his mind when he’d jumped off the ship, until she realized Barrow wasn’t on the ship either.

3. Are you a plotter or a pantser? Have you ever tried both methods and how did it turn out?
   Plonster, definitely. I have to have a basic idea of where the chapter is going before I start writing or I panic. And can't write. At all. But when I have an idea, I use it to guide me, and the characters just do whatever they want. Which sometimes involves broken arms. I'm not too happy about that one.

4. What do you reward yourself with after meeting a goal? 

   A piece of candy for every 500 words I write in a day. 

5. What do you look for in a name? Do you have themes and where do you find your names? 

   Most of the time, I look up traditional names from the real-life country I've based the fictional country on. It's a lot easier than making things up(which i did for all of the main characters). I like the names to have meaning, too.

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

   So far, I like the middle best. I get to write things that I've been planning for years no joke. Things are finally starting to happen!

Things not unlike this.


7. Who’s your current favorite character in your novel? 




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?!) 

   I...don't really research that much? Usually I ask on my writers' group to see if anyone's already done the work for me. I do look up things sometimes though, like mental disorders and weaponry.

9. Do you write better alone or with others? Do you share your work or prefer to keep it to yourself? 

   I can't write when other people are doing distracting things in the room, and I abhor when people watch me write, but I love love love word warring with my writer friends! You know who you are.  And I absolutely have to have people read my stuff. Even though it sucks sometimes. I'm really pushy about getting my alphas to read stuff so they can tell me it's not too horrible and/or flail with me.

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!

   Always music. Always. And I can write whenever, pretty much. My favorite place to write is on the comfy couch in my living room right next to the window.

It is the comfiest of all comfy chairs.


How is your November going, my blogglings? Any plans for Thanksgiving? I'm driving up to Utah on Saturday, and I don't know if I'll have wifi there, but I'll be back in December with all the details about how NaNo went!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

In which I spam you with links and flail sadly about NaNo

   It's been an interesting week.
   I'm still sick, but not so sick that I can't sit around and write like I did last week. I've had all day shopping trips/doctor's appointments and basically?
   Writing didn't really happen.

Me too, Snape. Me too.
   Last week when I posted. I had 6k, almost 7k. Right now? I'm at 8k 8628 words if you want to know exactly. I've been trying not to get down on myself for not writing very much, but it's hard. A good friend reached 50k today. It's hard feeling so behind. I just have to remind myself that it's okay to go at your own pace, it's okay that life happens. We're leaving on vacation this Saturday, so this week will be busy with packing and planning, so writing will probably be limited next week too.
   But it's okay if I'm behind, because I can catch up. It's okay if I don't win.
   It's okay if i publish this post that I'm writing at 10:30 at night.

   And I obviously didn't have the time to write up a post about Children of the Nameless like I did last week, so instead you get links. (The main story playlist is a lot bigger and better than the individual character ones.)

Children of the Nameless - story board  playlist
Kaleth - character board  playlist
Danica - character board  playlist
Barrow - character board  playlist
Allorie - character board  playlist
Katria - character board  playlist
Egin - character board  playlist


And now I shall sleep. And/or write. Goodnight. 

Saturday, November 7, 2015

In which I talk about how I write(when I should be writing)

   "What is this?! Krissy, still posting? Have I entered an alternate dimension??"
   No.
   Shush.
   I decided it would be lame to leave you without my presence for an entire month when I've so recently re-entered the blogging world(for the millionth time). So, I aggressively stalked my friends' blogs and looked for tags I could do about writing and wrote most of them the last week of October. Or during NaNo. Mostly during NaNo, because I procrastinated.



   Today I'm going to talk about my writing. All the nitty-gritty, behind the scenes stuff.





1. Is there a certain snack you like to eat while writing?

   I sometimes write a little while I eat lunch. Does that count? When I'm seriously writing, I don't like having any distractions. I will sometimes eat Halloween candy, though.



2. When do you normally write? Night, afternoon, or morning?

   Usually I write a lot in the afternoon. I don't get many chances to just sit down and write, so I sneak it in whenever I can.

3. Where do you write?

   Usually the big fluffy chair in our living room, at the kitchen table, or my bedroom.

4. How often do you write a new novel?

   Ha.
   HA.
   You're funny. This is the farthest I've ever gotten in a book. So I'm mildly proud of myself.

5. Do you listen to music while you write?

   ALWAYS. Sometimes I listen to random stuff, sometimes one of my character playlists, or the Children of the Nameless playlist. I have a hard time focusing when anything interesting is going on nearby(whether it be a conversation or my sister watching Studio C again), so I need music to kinda drown out the background noise. And it helps me get in the mood for what I'm writing.

6. What do you write on? Laptop or paper?

   LAPTOP. ALWAYS LAPTOP. Writing on paper hurts my hands and is 37643675 times slower than my brain.

7. Is there a special ritual you have before or after you write?

   I put on music, like I said before. Sometimes I reread the last few paragraphs so I can get in the rhythm of it again. And I usually pull up one of my Pinterest boards, either the main board or one of the character boards.

8. What do you do to get in the mood to write?

   I write best during a word war, so I ask if any of my friends want to war. People are much more willing to war during NaNo, fyi. 

9. What is always near the place you write?

   My charger. I won't have this computer dying on me, no sir. And my water bottle, so I don't get dehydrated. And a blanket, because being cozy is the most important.

10. Do you have a reward system for your word count?

Yay me, now I don't have to stress about writing any more today. But I should still go write more.
   Also, I made a reward system where I get a piece of candy for every 500 words I write, but I'm regrettably behind on that.

11. Is there anything about your writing process that others might not know about?

   I am the slowest chipmunk in the history of chipmunk writers. Cait from Paper Fury is rubbing off on me. In a 15 minute word war I might get 130 words? It's terrible. But somehow all the wars I'm doing are adding up, and I'm averaging about 1000 words a day, which is my goal.


   And I'm too busy to tag people in this, so.


NaNo Update

   As of the moment I'm writing this, my total word count is 6743 words, meaning I'm only about three hundred words away from meeting my goal this week!


How is NaNo going for you? 

Friday, October 30, 2015

In which the fabulous Aimee talks to us about Nano

Only two more days until NaNo!! Waht is this. I'm not ready!! But before you start panicking, we have another NaNo veteran, Aimee, who's going to tell us about how to have fun with NaNo instead of stressing.


Having Fun With NaNoWriMo
We’re days away from that time — NaNoWriMo. A month of insanity and novel-writing and support and stress and tears, and pretty much everyone enjoys it. You could look anywhere in your circle of writerly blogs and find a good handful of posts about NaNoWriMo. How to write more, how to win, how to write faster, how to plan. With only a few days between us and November, people are going crazy getting everything in place.
I’ve already blogged about that on my own blog — here — so I’m not going to come up with more advice for you, especially since we’re so close.
I’m gonna remind you to have fun.



Now, I get it. You want to win NaNo. You want to succeed at NaNo. I want to succeed at NaNo just as much as anyone else. But sometimes I can get caught up in failing, or not writing fast enough, or even the dreaded someone else wrote 50k in the first week and I’m not even halfway yet sort of thing that’ll inevitably go through your head. This happens. NaNo is a big deal. But at the same time…what’s the point? To win?
You’ll get a big NO from me because I do what I want.
NaNo is about fun. NaNo is about putting words on the page. In fact, NaNo is about putting quickly-written, completely imperfect words and sentences on the page. Spewing out all your random thoughts even if they don’t have anything to do with the plot. Random plot twists. Brand-new characters you didn’t anticipate. NaNo is about writing what comes into your brain.
It’s also about writing with people. Word wars! Support! Discussing how best to murder characters! People — other writers — are the very best part of NaNo, and as someone who’s ultra-competitive believe me when I say that it’s no fun at all the moment you start comparing.
It’s not about writing a whole entire novel.
It’s not even about writing the full 50k.
It’s not about writing faster than someone else unless you’re warring and it motivates you and then yeah, I guess it could be.



It’s not about writing better than everyone else.
Or writing to get published.
It’s about writing. Writing with people. Writing a story you love and hopefully one that’s fun for you. It’s about creating a first draft that definitely sucks, and loving it anyway. It’s a wild ride the whole way through, and there will definitely be stressful moments along the way. But don’t let that get to your head.
Take a breather.


Enjoy NaNoWriMo.




   Aimee Meester is a reader, writer, watcher, and lover of all things weird and/or sci-fi. When she's not busy reading, writing, watching, or otherwise procrastinating she's a homeschooled extrovert who happened to find the internet and build up a bizarre little blog of her own. Her love for Les Mis knows no bounds.


Go check her out, guys, she's the coolest. Are you ready for NaNo? Shoot me a comment below so we can scream in terror together. Also, what do you think of the new blog design?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Beautiful Books #1 - In which I flail uncontrollably about my book

   One of my favorite linkups of all times is Beautiful People, run by Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further In. In November, they switch it up a little and change it to Beautiful Books, so we get to flail about our books instead of our characters. I'm very excited about this, because I don't think I've told you guys very much about my book(that's not a good excuse though I could talk about my book for forever and not be bored).




1. How did you come up with the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?

   I got the idea in February(I think) of 2014, while I was doing math. I was listening to samples of Audiomachine songs on iTunes(because I was an uneducated child and knew nothing of the joys of Spotify and Pandora), when, due to my overactive imagination and strong inclination to getting distracted, I started imagining a scene to go along with the song. That scene became the prologue, and the song title, Nameless Heroes, inspired the whole premise of the story.

2. Why are you excited to write this novel?

    So, sooooo many reasons. This is the first story I've written where I've gotten past the first chapter. I've put so much of my heart and soul into it already, and it means so much to me, and to other people already as well(*glances at Emily*). I love the characters so much, and they mean so much to me, and I'm so excited to see them grow(and to have them kiss). This is the first story where I really feel capable of writing the whole thing.

3. What is your novel about, and what is the title?

   The title is Children of the Nameless, and I actually wrote a little back cover thing a while back.

   Mum tilted her head back, closed her eyes, and sighed.
   "You've heard the stories of the Nameless? The mysterious heroes who worked so hard to stop the war, and then disappeared?"
   "Of course." What was she saying?
   Years of loneliness filled her eyes when she looked at him.
   "Your father was one of the Nameless."


   Every child knows the stories of the Nameless, a legendary group of young men and women who rescued those in need, only to disappear without a trace, never giving their name. Kaleth has heard the stories all his life, one of the only rays of hope as war threatens to destroy his country and the whole world.
   But he never expected to learn that one of them was his father. Or that the other five Nameless had children as well.
   And so, with their world teetering on the brink of destruction, the six children of the Nameless team up to try to continue the legend their parents left for them. But when tempers flare, hearts are broken, and destruction threatens everything, is there any hope?



   This first book(it's a trilogy) is about friendships and being brave and doing the right thing no matter the cost and I have so many feelings over it.

4. Sum up your characters in one word each. (Feel free to add pictures!)

   Oooooh boy. I could talk about my characters for hours but I will condense them to one word if I must. And I included links because some of the words are weird.


Kaleth: Leader


Danica: Oracular





Allorie: selfless


Katria: Liberosis


Egin: Aesthete



5. Which character(s) do you think will be your favorite to write? Tell us about them!

   Really, I'm excited to right about all of my babies, but so far, I think I like Egin the best. I get to play around with formatting the words, which I  l o v e. Also, he is a precious child and I love anything that has to do with him, so.

6. What is your protagonist’s goal, and what stands in the way?

   Their main goal is to end the war, although all six of them have more personal, emotional goals as well. Their main obstacle is the Feor, the people who started the war, and the fact that no one really wants to listen to a bunch of teenagers, no matter who their parents were.

7. Where is your novel set? (Show us pictures if you have them!)

   There's a lot of traveling. And a lot of forests. And a city inspired by 1800s steampunk London with some Asian influences. There's also a country based on Japan/China who owns provinces like England used to. And an Irish Viking city. And torture chambers. And lots and lots of forests.

8. What is the most important relationship your character has?

   Barrow's most important relationship is with Danica. Egin's is with his cousin/adopted little sister Lisbet. Kaleth and Allorie's is with each other. And Katria's is with her best friend(*cough*totally just friends*cough*), Conryn.

9. How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?

   For Barrow, things are getting better and he's happier. Egin is becoming a lot braver. Allorie is finally learning to stand up for herself and isn't letting herself get pushed around. Danica is becoming more confident and is learning to trust herself more. Katria really cares about the cause, and her new friends(although she never stops missing *cough*a certain someone*cough*). And Kaleth...is getting more prideful.

10. What themes are in your book? How do you want your readers to feel when the story is over?

  Heh. What do you mean, themes? I can barely write; I can't think of themes. That's for later drafts. But as for how my readers feel... *evil laugh* I want them to be panicked/angry, since I'm kinda going to leave them on a terrible cliffhanger. And I really want them to care about the characters. That's pretty much the most important thing to me.

11. BONUS! Tell us your 3 best pieces of advice for others trying to write a book in a month.

1. Don't listen to me I don't know what I'm doing
2. Find a way to motivate yourself
3. Write. A lot.


So, what do you think of my baby? I'm super excited to keep writing it. Did you do Beautiful Books too? Drop the link below and we can flail about our books together.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

In which the lovely Nessie talks to us about NaNo

   Hello blogglings! In preparation for NaNoWriMo next month, I've asked a few seasoned veterans to give us some advice about it. Today's post is from my lovely friend Lily. Show her some appreciation! 






   For some, November means warm scarves, pretty leaves, and pumpkin spice lattes. For those of us with over active imaginations and ink for blood, November means National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. Thirty days of mad scribbling, brainstorming, word wars, and caffeine. 
   This year will be my fifth year participating in NaNoWriMo, and my seventh NaNoWriMo event, as I’ve participated in Camp NaNo twice. Over the last five years, I’ve learned a lot about NaNo and writing. Today I’m going to share some of those things with you, things that (I hope) will both encourage you and help you get through any mid-NaNo blues.
  • You’re going to learn something.
       You can’t spend 30 days writing your inky heart out without learning something. Maybe it’ll be that you really hate plotting, or that you need to plot more, or that murder mysteries are a lot more fun than you thought. You will learn how much you love writing, how many words you can write in an hour, and how to plow through writing slumps when you have no idea what to write but need 500 more words. These lessons are every bit as valuable as the novel you end up writing.
       Also, your typing skills are about to get 10x better. 

  • Sometimes what you write really sucks, and that’s okay.
       One of the goals of NaNo is to just get the story on the page, no matter how stilted your dialogue is or how many inconsistencies there are. You may be questioning this line of reasoning, thinking “Why would I do that? Don’t I want to make it as perfect as possible on the first try?” And yeah, I can see why you would think that, but this exercise is about letting go of the need for perfection. It’s about not letting the need for perfection hold you back from writing the story in your heart. You can always fix problems later. It doesn’t need to be perfect on the first draft. And, sometimes writing with that reckless abandonment that allows the dumbest puns ever and cringe-worthy romancing yields some story gold, like a new character who shows up out of nowhere and becomes one of the best people you’ve ever created (true story, this has happened to me a couple of times).
       There’s a really great quote from Shannon Hale that I want to share here: “I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shoveling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.”
       Building sand castles is messy. Writing first drafts is messy. That’s okay. You’ll fix it later. “But Lily!” you wail. “Second drafts are scary! I’ll be eaten by a scary editing monster! They have big teeth and eat authors for dessert!”
       Yes, second drafts are scary. But so are first drafts. They’re just scary in different ways. If you can conquer a first draft, you can do a second draft. And, in my experience, second and third drafts are where the magic starts to happen, when things start to come together and you make yourself and your best friend cry with your literary genius (true story).
       So don’t let the fear of writing something that will need editing scare you into a case of Perfectionismitis. Perfectionismitis and its evil sidekick Doubt are known story killers.  

  • You may decide halfway through that for you to make this TOTALLY AWESOME SHINY NEW IDEA work, you’re going to have to change EVERYTHING. Or, you know, not EVERYTHING, but VERY NEARLY EVERYTHING. This is also okay.
       Here’s something you learn about writing after you’ve written a couple novels: as you’re writing you have cool new ideas that are even cooler than the cool ideas you started out with. And implementing these cool new ideas means changing things. Changing things is okay. You can totes change things. CASE IN POINT: way back in 2012, I started out writing my NaNoNovel in first person. A couple months later and 60K in, I decided it needed to be in third person. So, I went back and changed the whole thing to third person. Was it a pain? Yeah, a bit. Was it worth it? Oh yes. CASE IN POINT #2: I had this one character, Aunt Trevina. Aunt Trevina was awesome. Aunt Trevina did not belong in the story. So, I had to cut her out of the story. That was not fun. Was the story better off for it, and am I totally going to save her for another story later? Yes. Sometimes the changes you have to make are painful, but they’re worth the feeling of watching this story that’s a part of your soul come together into something even cooler than you first imagined. 

  • The NaNoWriMo community is great.
       The NaNoWriMo forums are lots of fun, and a great place to find cool writer friends (true story, I met some of my best friends through NaNoWriMo). They’re chock full of people dealing with the same problems as you are, who you can complain about hard-to-write spots and characters who won’t behave with, and who can offer advice when you need help.
       Also, the NaNoisms (typos) forum is one of the funniest things ever. 

  • There’s a good chance that your characters will take over at some point and do their own thing despite the fact that you’ve told them (repeatedly) that they need to follow the plot line.
       There are a couple things you can do in this situation: roll with it (maybe the characters have better ideas than you do), try to fix it (maybe they’re just mischievous idiots and need to be brought back in line), or skip to the next scene and move on.
       And get used to it, because this happens, and sometimes it doesn’t matter how many novels you’ve written or how well you plotted, the characters still take over. If the characters are smarter than you are and have handed you a cool new plot, please refer back to #3 and what I said about cool new ideas.

  • There is no “right” way to write a novel.
       I like plotting and talking about my novels with other people because it makes me excited about the story. My best friend is not a plotter and doesn’t talk about her stories with other people because it takes away from her excitement of writing the story. Each person has their own method of writing novels. By participating in NaNo, you’re going to learn what your process is. Maybe you’ll learn because your plotting failed spectacularly. Maybe you’ll learn because your plotting went incredibly well. Whether you learn because something was successful or because it failed, that lesson is still as important as the novel you’re writing. Some techniques or tips or tools will work for you, and others won’t. Thomas Edison learned 10,000 ways not to make a lightbulb. You may learn that two or three tools don’t work for you.  Figuring out how writing novels works for you is an important part of becoming Super Writer Person, and will make the next novel you write easier and better. 

  • Try new stuff!
       Has there been a plotting method you want to try out? Or maybe a new genre? Give it a shot! NaNo is a great place to try new ideas and genres out. I’m going to be trying first person again for the first time in years, and I’ll be writing my first true fantasy. 

  • It’s okay if you don’t reach the word count goal.
       Yes, you can’t “win” NaNo unless you hit the 50k mark (unless you’re participating in the Young Writers Program, which allows you to set your own goal). But here’s a thing: You’re a winner if you wrote anything at all. Maybe you learned that NaNo isn’t a tool that works for you. That’s okay. I myself will not be shooting for 50k this year because I just don’t have time. But I’m still going to participate and write what I can. The point is that I will have written something.  

   Before I finish off this post, a couple of cool resources you might want to know about:
  • The official NaNo wordsprints Twitter (https://twitter.com/NaNoWordSprints) has word wars throughout the day, which can be super fun. (word war (n): an event in which two or more writers write for a specified amount of time and compare word counts afterwards to see who wrote the most. Can be good for the competition, or for just an intense writing sprint.)
  • Written? Kitten! http://writtenkitten.net/ This website gives you a new picture of a kitten for every 100/500/whatever-number-you-decide words you write.
  • Having a support group of people who are also participating in NaNo is great. 

   And there you have it! Stuff I’ve learned from NaNo. Now, go forth, write, and be awesome!

EDIT:

ANOTHER HELPFUL THING THAT I JUST RECENTLY THOUGHT OF (thanks to the wonderful Maggie Stiefvater) AND WISH I HAD INCLUDED IN THIS POST:

It is okay if you write toward the story instead of the word count. Stiefvater does not like NaNo because it pressures her to write toward a word count goal, and not the story, and that drives her nuts. SO. It is totally okay if you write less than the word count goal because you took the time to think through a scene that will actually benefit the story, instead of writing an extra 500-word scene full of bad puns that you wrote just to reach the word count goal and that you'll end up cutting anyway.

I refer back now to what I said about sucky prose. Sometimes you need to write sucky prose to get through a scene, sometimes you need to write sucky prose just to get writing at all, and sometimes you don't realize your prose is sucky until later, but you don't need to pressure yourself into writing something that is both sucky and also totally pointless just to reach a word count goal. If you're like Stiefvater, that will drive you nuts.

Above all else, have fun. If writing the totally pointless word-count-adding stuff is fun (or you've noticed that sometimes it shakes loose new ideas), then go for it because you totally deserve to have a blast while you write, even if you cut that stuff later. But unless you want the motivation, you don't need to put extra pressure on yourself, especially if extra pressure will result in anxiety that will screw with your productivity.

I guess my final point is this: write the way that works for you. If the basic set up of NaNo works for you, great! If it doesn't but you still want to participate, be a NaNoRebel and do what you want! You have an amazing story waiting inside of you. Tell it the way that works best for you.


   About the author: Lily J. (aka Nessie aka the Lady of Ashes and Ink aka Lily the Ever Morbid) wrote her first story at the age of twelve in an unfruitful attempt at getting out of writing a book report. Despite that plan’s failure, she kept writing the story anyway, and has been writing ever since. You can find her on the interwebs on her (woefully sporadic) blog, Pinterest, Twitter, Tumblr, and NaNoWriMo.  

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday - Ten Fairytale Retellings I’ve Read/Want To Read

   Oh hey look I'm posting again. Yay me!
   And I'm breaking the rules by doing a Top Ten Tuesday from months ago, and doing ten books/series plus some honorable mentions. Because I can. And in no particular order, because favoritism.





1. The Lunar Chronicles
   Okay so I've only read Cinder and part of Scarlet, but how could I not love this series? I mean, sci-fi fairy tales? Cyborg Cinderella? Really cool cultures? Flail-worthy romance? Sign me up!

2. Wildwood Dancing


   Okay so THIS BOOK. It's Twelve Dancing Princesses meets The Frog Prince IN ROMANIA.  It's glorious and I command you all to read this thing. The sisters are lovely and the whole setting is very mysterious and intriguing and wonderful.


3. Ella Enchanted and Fairest



   Everyone knows Ella Enchanted, but no one knows Fairest, and this saddens my soul. Ella Enchanted is a Cinderella retelling, and Fairest is a Snow White retelling about Ella's best friend's older sister. There's magic singing! And gnomes! And body image issues handled very well! Like yes!!

4. Sisters Grimm series


   These books and I have a very complicated relationship. Granted, I haven't finished the series, and it is geared toward younger children, so that might influence it, but still. There are quite a few "stupid/eccentric beyond believability for comedic effect but intelligent when needed" characters, which I hate. Also there's the whole "unbelievably bad foster homes" thing. Everything was just wildly improbable. The basic plot idea(fairy tale characters transported by the Grimm brothers from Europe to America for protection) is really cool, though.


5. Hawksmaid



   THIS STUPID BOOK OKAY. It's the story of Maid Marian and Robin Hood, their childhood, and how they became the "criminals" we know today. Marian is a female hawker in the 12th century with an almost-magical connection to her birds. I love this thing okay??!? (Just look at the precious children.)

6. Twice Upon a Time series


 
   These books are adorable. They take traditional fairy tales, twist them a little, and then tell it form the point of view of both the princess and the prince! They're pretty darn adorable and I highly recommend them(there's also a Beauty and the Beast one, which I haven't read, so I might no promises for that one).

7. Rapunzel's Revenge/Calamity Jack


   So, imagine if you took the story of Rapunzel, gave her a Southern accent, and stuck her in a magical and vaguely-steampunk version of the American Wild West, you would have this series. And they're graphic novels.

8. Bella at Midnight



   My mom and sister and I have read this so many times it's mildly ridiculous. It's obviously a Cinderella retelling, but there's so much wonderful backstory(and Bella and the prince are the cutest ever okay) and politics and explanations, and all the characters(even the stepfamily) are so deep and it's a beautiful beautiful story and I demand everyone read it right now.


9. Just Ella



   And here's...another Cinderella retelling. This one is different. Like, really different. What retelling have you read where the princess falls out of love with the prince? Actually don't answer that; it might make me look stupid. Ella is such a sassy child and the royalty are idiots and Jeb is just *heart eyes*. Also, the sort-of sequel, Palace of Mirrors, isn't a retelling but is very lovely as well. It's one of my favorite books by one of my favorite authors.

10. Book of a Thousand Days


   Can't guess what fairytale this is based on? Not surprised. It's based on a little-known fairytale, that Shannon Hale took, expanded, and set in a fantasy Mongolia. Yay for non-European fantasy! I have so many feelings over this I don't know how I managed to stay coherent that long. Ack. It's told in journal entries(with occasional doodles) and is the story of a maid who is locked in a tower with her lady for seven years when the lady refuses to marry her suitor. Dashti is so optimistic and loyal and inspiring, and Lady Saren(who I'm guessing has some mental disability?) is hard to handle at the beginning, but she grows so much and just ahh. Also, if anyone can find a Khan Tegis for me, that would be greatly appreciated.

   Other books/series that I enjoy are Frog Princess series(princess turns into a frog instead of the prince), Princess Ben(all sorts of fairy tales woven in), Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow(East o' the Sun, West o' the Moon), Princess of the Midnight Ball(Twelve dancing princesses), The Princess School series(little girl princesses at princess school), The Wide-Awake Princess series(Sleeping Beauty's little sister), and Twisted Tales series(princesses + fighting skills + Choose Your Own Adventure).

   Go read all the things, guys.

   Also, just in case anyone was wondering, my birthday is tomorrow. *throws confetti*

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

In which I return and ramble about several Important Things

   Hi. It's me, your local-ish almost-nonexistent blogger.
   I'm back.
   Lots of things have happened while I was gone.


  • I went on a month-long vacation to California by myself. More on that later probably.
  • There's been a lot of friend drama in my life. Which isn't normally something I'd talk about on here, but it's been kinda detrimental to my writing time/ability and my mental health. So.
  • I've discovered I probably have ADHD? Which is probably why I have such a hard time blogging. And why I thought this list was gonna be a lot longer. Huh.

   Oh, that was the other thing. I decided to do NaNo this year.

*internally screaming*
   Now, this is a very scary thing for me. See, my max word count in one day is about 700 words? And apparently for NaNo you have to write 1667 words a day to win?
   Which is why I'm cheating. Wildly.
   I'm aiming for 25k instead of 50k, and I'm writing a story I've already started.
   I'd heard that NaNo frowned upon cheaters, so I was very hesitant to do this, but my friend and more reading have assured me that it's okay. After all, NaNo is about pushing yourself, learning how to turn off your inner editor and just write, not about writing 50k or else. So, I'm super nervous about this, but also excited.
   Which kinda brings me to my next point (see I can be organized on occasion). It's something that I've needed to say for a long time, and it's as much for me as for someone else who might need it.
   *deep breath*

   There's always That One. That one writer whose brain the muses seem to have chosen as their permanent abode. Sure, the stuff they write might not be perfect (hahaha who am i kidding they're practically perfect), but it's beautiful. And emotional. Their blog posts are perfect and always go up on time. Their plotholes, when they exist, are practically invisible. Their characters are so alive, you're afraid they'll jump off the page and punch you in the face (this is a very legitimate fear). Their settings and descriptions are tangible. And basically you just look at them like

This isn't even an exaggeration.


   And you know what? It's hard. It's hard when you look at them and see perfection, and then you look at your own writing and just...ew. No. What even is this mess. Why do I bother. This sucks. I can't believe I let this see the light of day. I should just stop. Yeah. That sounds good. I'll stop writing.
   No.
   Don't do that.
   Your writing is valid. Just because someone else is good, it doesn't mean you aren't. I bet if you asked that person, they'd point out all the flaws in their writing that you never noticed. They see backstage. They see those nights when the words don't flow and giving up seems like the better option. They see the panicked nights when they have a half-written blog post to publish the next day. They see the image on the page, and it doesn't match up to the vision in their head. They see the potential, and to them, their writing doesn't match up.
   Just like what happens to you.
   You know what? To someone, you might be That One Perfect Writer. Or maybe not. It doesn't matter. Because you are valid. Your writing is valid. The things you write, the things you feel, they are important. Your writing could inspire someone. It could motivate them. It could save their life. Or maybe, it'll just be important to you. It doesn't matter who it matters to. But I promise you. It matters.

   I leave you now with these wise words of Tyler Joseph. Don't give up. Keep writing. Keep fighting. You matter.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Music + MBTI Part One - Fall Out Boy

   Today is the first Music + MBTI post! I love music, lyrics, and MBTI, so i'm combining them into a series where I relate song lyrics to each type.
   Note: Just because I relate some lyrics to a type does not mean I relate the entire song to that type.


ISTJ - Uma Thurman



ISFJ - Just One Yesterday



ESTJ - You're Crashing, But You're No Wave



ESFJ - Miss Missing You



ISTP - Immortals



ISFP - Dance, Dance



ESTP - The Phoenix



ESFP - Uma Thurman



INTJ - Jet Pack Blues



INTP - This Ain't a Scene It's an Arms Race



ENTJ - Centuries



ENTP - Immortals



INFJ - The Phoenix



INFP - My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark



ENFJ - Fourth of July



ENFP - Young Volcanoes