Isn’t Life Grand?

I’m currently across the Pond, making a study abroad trip in the stunning Ireland. So, the next few posts to this blog will be heavy in rolling landscapes, breath-taking beaches, and gorgeous castles. Ye’ve been warned, but can ya blame me? This place, it’s magical. And I know a thing or two about magic. The places the pictures show below include Woodstock Manor, Tramore Beaches, Tintern Abbey, and Hook Lighthouse.

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Intensity: Book Review

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Rating: 4/5

Horror; Thriller; Adult; Best-Selling Author 

This is my first time reading Dean Koontz, so let me start off this review by saying I will probably not read another book by him anytime soon. It’s not because he is a terrible writer, it’s obvious that is not the case by my 4 star rating on this book, but it’s because I was absolutely terrified every time I picked up this book: I didn’t want to read it. But I knew I had to. I needed to figure out what happened to Chyna, what happened to the crazed serial killer, what happened to the innocent girl trapped in a life of horror and gruesome schemes.

Yeah, if that last sentence didn’t hook you into the plot, I don’t know what else will. What else do you need in a horror book besides evil killers and people determined to bring justice into the world? What about car wrecks, spider eating men, german trained Doberman, California scenery, drugs, murder, sex, mayhem, and just overall INTENSITY?! …Sorry, I couldn’t help myself there with the pun.

There is a reason, however, the book didn’t get a full five stars. It’s because Dean Koontz isn’t the greatest writer out there. Sure, he is very talented with reeling readers in with his scary plots, keeping them hooked with his clear description and easy to follow action scenes. But, he often choses very wrong times to stick in long and personal interludes about the unfairness of life and why a certain character is completely devoid of hope. I found myself skipping whole pages, because I didn’t like being so jarred at the true action at the scene and sometimes characters were just down right annoying.

That being said, I really did enjoy it and I sure anyone else would enjoy the book as well.

I don’t want to give any of the plot away with my review, since so many twists and turns happen in this thriller. But just so you know, by the end of the first chapter, most of the characters will be dead and you will be thrown into a crazy world of evil people that you will not be able to leave until you see justice being delivered.

Book Review: All the Light We Cannot See

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Rating: 5/5

Historical Fiction; adult; best-seller 

When I first started reading this book, I thought “here comes another Holocaust book” (I’m sure my YA professor would be proud of me for thinking such a thing), but this book quickly proved that thought to be entirely wrong.

In fact, it’s a book about WWII that has little to do with the Holocaust. I think that made the book even more terrifying, in my opinion. What readers get is a full-rounded, complete diverse reading of WWII mostly through the German perspective. I loved that this book did that. To me, it seemed like nobody wanted to talk about the German side of this war. It was almost taboo. The Germans are terrible people! They killed so many innocent Jews! No one would dare question this stereotype, right? Wrong. All the Light We Cannot See completely shatters this idea and dives right into the uncomfortable idea that indeed not all Germans are monsters. In other words, this book would make an historical fiction fan drool with wonder and delight.

I might have been drooling a little bit too, but not for those reasons. I was completely astounded by the author’s talent to bring such a creative work to life. Readers get so much out of these pages: delightfully alive characters, intense moments, wonderfully developed plot, heartbreaking developments, cringe-worthy scenes, hope, a dash of disappointment, great character development, rich scenery and imagery, astounding writing style and language. On the deeper side of things, this is what the author throws at readers to consider: what makes a person evil, can you do anything to change the world, what holds a person back, can you survive when everyone is out to get you, what is hope, what is forgiveness, what is friendship, how do you respond when everything they are telling you to do you know is wrong, etc etc etc.

Is it long? YEP! Is it absolutely delightful and magical? Hell yes. Was I transported out of this world and directly into WWII? Yep; I was scared about how much I felt in the scene during this terrible war.

Basically, this book is pretty much perfect. I recommend for anyone, but especially those historical fiction fans. There is a reason this book has been dominating the reading charts. So, take a gander and see just how comfortable you feel after exploring so many aspects of WWII.

Top Ten Books I Read: 2014

Happy New Years!

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted on this blog, but this year my big New Year’s Resolution is to post a little more regularly. Don’t worry, I have a plan, but I thought a great place to start was to talk about the best books I’ve read this year. It’s been a long year, filled with many ups and downs for me, but consistently I’ve been reading and this year I read a lot of fantastic books. It was hard enough to narrow them down, but it would have been harder to rate them so below are the top ten books I’ve read this year in no particular order (except the first which I can say hands down was the best of the best):

The Knife of Never Letting Go 

Patrick Ness

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I love recommending this book to people, because I always have to give them a warning too. This book is NOT for the faint of heart. It is extremely stressful, tense, terrifying, and really freakin’ emotional. But, obviously it’s on the list, so it is one of my favorite books of this year. Probably ever. How to summarize this quickly…A boy living in a town where all of the girls/woman have died and where everyone can hear each other’s thoughts in their own minds. It’s called The Noise, and I’m not gonna lie the best part of the book is the talking dog. Not only was I completely blown away by the author’s beautiful beautiful writing style, I was also completely uprooted from my life and effortlessly thrown into this sci-fi and yet some how historical setting. Patrick Ness might have sold his soul to the devil to be that talented. He has created an action-packed story that anyone can blow through in a matter of days, but also Ness transports you right into his character’s head. The way he writes this story is something I admire greatly and hope that I can accomplish one day as a writer. He really nails the voice of a young boy, and it’s a reason that makes the book so special. It’s really hard to explain, but I am very attached to this book and everything about it. But, let’s just say I lost a few years of my life reading this book. Haven’t braved the sequel yet.

Stolen: A Letter to my Captor 

Lucy Christopher

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Wooow. Just wooow. I mean, whenever a book makes you go through a psychological phenomenon that’s a pretty good guarantee you’ve just read something special. I can 100% say that’s what happened to me, and it thoroughly freaked me out but also had me excited. But I won’t give it away. Anyway, the book follows the story of a teenager/young woman who is kidnapped and forced to live with her captor in the middle of the Australian Outback, with no hope for escape. This was recommended to me by a close friend, and I’m very glad I listened to her. It was an emotional ride to go through, but I read the book in maybe two sittings? So it’s quick, amazingly done (2nd person WHAAT?), and will be a book I remember for a very, very long time.

Maus 

Art Spiegelmen

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This book is one-of-a-kind. I won’t read another book like this. There are actually two, but it’s a graphic novel following the Holocaust. Except the people are animals, each depicted by their races. So, mice are Jewish. Cats are the Germans. Pigs are Polish, I think? Really most Holocaust stories are hard to go through, but this one is probably the best I’ve ever encountered. It makes you question a lot of things about history and life, and it’s probably the most accurate representation of what happens to people who go through the Holocaust.

Why We Broke Up

Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman

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I think this year was just a big hybrid text year for me. Not only was this a beautifully descripted story of a self-conscious girl who falls in love with the most popular boy in the school, it sounds very cliche but trust me it’s not, but it’s also a wonderful collection of art. Basically, you know right away the couple doesn’t make it because the girl is dropping off a box with stuff and a letter that explains why they broke up. Each thing included in the book you get to see beautifully drawn. It’s just a pretty book. There are a lot of quotable lines in there, and it’s such a good story for today’s age with girls becoming more and more self-conscious.

Between Shades of Gray 

Ruta Sepetys

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NO. THIS IS NOT FIFTY SHADES OF GRAY. Do you know how many times I’ve been asked this question? This book is very, very different. This is about a little girl and her family who are forced through the Russian work camps enforced by Stalin. It’s not true, but that doesn’t make the story any less emotional and awful. It’s a tough read, but it’s also quick because I got so attached to the characters and I had to see how everyone would fair. The author obviously did her research and very much cared for the book because I was honestly shocked this was not a true story. I also had the pleasure of meeting and talking with the author, which may have made me love the book more. She’s just a very bright lady that has done a very good thing in writing this book. More people need to know about these kinds of stories, because honestly I didn’t know those kind of work camps existed.

Fangirl 

Rainbow Rowell

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I’ll be the first to admit this. I did not like Eleanor and Park, another very popular work by this author. I won’t go into that, but I decided to give her another chance when I came across this book in a store. And I am very glad I did. I normally don’t read romances, I’m more of a fantasy and action girl myself, but this one was so sweet and so relatable. Pretty easy; romance between a freshmen in college who is an extremely popular fanfiction writer and a boy who you wouldn’t expect and I’m not going to say because of spoilers. But it’s also a story about her struggle with her twin and her very broken family. The characters were very realistic and the problems they went through were as well, which are problems I often find in your typical Nicholas Sparks romance books. Plus the characters are in college and the main character is a writer and struggled with things that I struggled with in my first year, so I loved seeing that in the perspective of someone else. It was just really refreshing, and it made my heart happy.

A Visit from the Goon Squad 

Jennifer Egan

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Yeah, I know. The title is a bit strange, but it fits. I promise. This was a book I was assigned for a class in college, and it’s been my favorite that I’ve read for a class ever. And I’ve had a lot of english classes in my years. I even wrote a massive paper about it for another class. This book is also hard to summarize because there’s not one certain plot, it follows all of this different character and their stories and how they happen to intertwine. Which is why I loved it so much. It’s like listening to an album, which is the goal, because music is such a pivotal part of this book. But each chapter is a different perspective, and sometimes the connection is clear and sometimes not so much. It’s a very beautiful story that just really shows the beauty and the hardships of life, which I always love. It’s the reason I read book sin the first time.

The Night Circus 

Erin Morgenstern

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All of my friends read this one. I might have been the last one to read it, actually. And I’ve never seen anything like this. It’s what it sounds like, it’s about a circus that comes in the middle of the night and the people who run the circus. Magic, treachery, villains, danger, romance, mystery. Kids, what else do you need? It’s so many genres packed into one, which made it such an interesting read. It did take me a long time to get through because it’s such a complicated book filled with many parts, but I loved reading every bit of it. I didn’t want it to end. It’s very well done, and I can tell this was not an easy project for the writer. There’s a lot of complicated plot twists and stories underlining each other. I was thoroughly impressed.

The Chronicles of Narnia

C.S Lewis

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Yes, I know. This is not just one book. There are seven, and maybe I am cheating a little bit, but technically the version I had contained all in one. And it took me just one week to read them all. Essentially, they’re stories that take place in a magical land called Narnia, ruled by a talking lion (who will always be my favorite character). It’s just a bunch of children getting into trouble at an awesome place that we all wish existed. Even though I love the movies and I love C.S Lewis, this has been my first time reading any of these books. I think a lot of my enjoyment came from the fact I am a Christian and I loved seeing all of the religious allegories. I also loved how they progressed, because the first one was pretty happy and carefree but the last one scared me a lot. It’s a classic, and I really think everyone needs to read these books.

Graceling 

Kristin Cashore

url-1This was an early year read for me, and I got very obsessed. I think I reread some of my favorite parts when I finished, which I was very upset about, and then I reblogged a lot of posts I found on the book on tumblr and pinterest. It’s just a great story. Action-packed, lovely romance, tense, dramatic, and there are some scenes in here that just…uuuuugh…gave me goosebumps. Graceling is about a spy/ assassin for a king of a kingdom in a medieval world where magical people exist. I am a sucker for any assassin/ spy book, but this has been one of the best I’ve ever read. I loved the main character within the first few sentences. I think the best part, though, was the romance. It’s terribly awkward and awful to get through at first, but I realized the author was a genius for doing that. It’s so realistic, because most couples when starting out aren’t perfect and they all have their mess-up and awkward first get-togethers. They’re probably my favorite book couple ever, which is a big deal.

Writing Tools: Those Tricky Names

As I find myself in the middle of writing New Project 2, I often reflect on where I would be without a lot of these fabulous writing tools. Sometimes these thoughts scare me, about how dependent I am on technology, but also they make me feel blessed about how fortunate I am to have these items at my disposal. Still, if my computer decided to die (and I don’t mean the recharge kinda die) I would be pretty screwed. There would be a lot of crying.

There’s a lot of things I use, ranging from complicated Scrivener to the basic pen and paper, and I’ll talk a lot about these over the next few blog posts. Today, though, I’m going to talk about one of the best and sometimes most frustrating processes.

Names.

Some people have a great time with this. I am included in that list. I love names. I may or may not have a list in a journal of mine about all of the names I have picked out for future kids and pets. Names fascinate me, and I love that time of the research stage where I get to pick out all of them.

Not the case with New Project 2. Ask any of my friends or critique partners. I can’t tell you how many times I texted or messaged someone, “Quick! Give me a name!” or “How does this sound?”. Once during lunch I read aloud a list of names and made everyone pick their favorites. Usually names take me a day, a few minutes of scoping. This time, it took me a few weeks to get it straight.

A part of it was the enormous cast of characters, but another part of it was the fact some of these names had to not only fit a character’s culture, they also had to have a specific meaning. I realize some writers are probably like WHAT YOU DON’T DO THAT ALREADY?!?! and the answer is no. Sometimes I pick a name because it just feels right. I tend to pick names that draw me forward, then I’ll do the whole name meaning and origin and see if it’s something way off or pretty darn close to the character. Most the times though, I don’t pay attention to the super particulars of names. Real life doesn’t work like that. Names don’t always match personalities and name meanings doesn’t make one person do a certain thing.

Still, I couldn’t just pick a shiny, new name out of a list of best names of America 2014. Not this time. The meaning, the origin, and the sound all had to match. It mattered to the plot this go around.

For instance, main character of New Project 2 hails from American. But she controls fire, and she’s a very soft-spoken and kind girl. Her name had to be of American origins (or something close), had to mean something related to fire, and needed to match her personality.

Do you know how hard it is to find an American name that means fire? Go ahead. Google that and see what you come up with. Trust me. I know.

But, she had to have a name. So, I turned to my trusty name resources.

Usually, my go to is babynames.com. Love that place. Not only can you search for any name you already know and get a bundle of information; like origin, meaning, people who have that name, and similar names (which can be saver sometimes). You can also do a detailed search using certain origins or meanings. The website also has handy dandy lists of favorite names ranging from all types of topics. They even have articles for writers looking for names of their characters. Great website.

This time, however, for naming this difficult character, I had to use another website. Behindthename.com. This one isn’t as modern as babynames.com, but there’s nothing wrong with that! You can search for names alphabetically or nationally. When you find a name you like, it tells you A LOT of stuff. Gender, usage, meaning and history, related names, popularity among several different nations, and even more. As I used babynames for back up meanings, I used behindthename for a more detailed search and for more detailed information.

After sitting down with my lovely CP Alyssa and bouncing around several names, we finally came up with one. Ellie. This name comes from several different names, but one of those happens to be Ellen. Which means light. Which can be attached to fire. Ellen may come from Greek origins, but it’s an American name. Don’t believe me? Look at our famous TV show hostess Ellen DeGeneres.

Boom. All items on the checklist DONE. I can’t tell you how happy I was about that.

Now there are tons of name websites out there. TOOONS. These are the major ones I use, but you can use any that your heart desires. You can also just use Google. That works too.

The important part is for you to enjoy the names. After all, they’re there to represent your beloved characters.

But, everyone names their characters differently. What about you? What certain tools do you use? Is it a hard or an easy process for you?

Carey

Working on Several Projects

Things have been super busy in my world lately (then again, when is it not?). Now that summer is here, I’ll have more time for writing, adventuring, and blog posts!

There’s a lot going on for me in the writing world. I’m trying to get Flint published (just waiting on some beta readers to finish and then she’ll be sent off WOO!), and I’m in the middle of writing New Project, the next book in the series. There’s always a lot to do, and I love it.

What better time to talk about working on different projects?

I think it’s important for writers to be working on several things at once. It’s a good challenge for the brain, and it help keeps us on our toes. Nothing is worse than getting so involved in one project you forget how to do everything else. It happened with me! I was so bent on editing Flint and getting it done as fast as possible that when I started to write New Project, I kinda forgot how to write altogether. It took me a long time to get back into the swing of things, and I hated all the time I wasted hesitating on what to write next.

Keep yourself organized. Plan your time well and accordingly, splitting it between all of your projects equally. Make sure you devote the right about time for every project, and a lot of planning while have to happen in order to do that.

It’s never good to get focused on one thing and one thing alone. Write a short story with different characters and worlds, focus on some poetry, maybe start another novel you’ve been dying to write, or focus on your blog!

Do keep in mind that you shouldn’t overwhelm yourself. Learn what your limits are, make sure you can say no, and work on what really gets you fired up. But, you also want to keep your mind refreshed and alive and ready to work on anything that comes your way. Because writing isn’t about one story or one book, is it? Writing is about writing, about all of the stories in your mind and what they mean to you and how it’s an escape from the real world and how words have the power to affect everyone. You should write several things, if God allows, during your lifetime. You want to make sure you don’t forget important aspects of writing when one project is over and it’s time to move onto the next.

What do you think? Are you a one project at a time person, or do you write some many different projects you can’t ever keep track?

Blog Hop

Hey guys! I hope everyone is having an amazing day. About a week ago, published author and good friend of mine Seabrooke Leckie (I know! Her name IS awesome!) invited me to join her in a blog hop. My last post was all about the invitation, but now it’s time to actually do the blog hopping. Just in time for Easter too.

Here is the blog post that started it all.

Now it’s my turn!

What am I working on? I am currently in the middle of two projects. The first one is Flint. It’s already been written, and it’s in the final stages of editing right now! One more week, and I’m handing it over to beta readers. I am also writing Spark, the sequel to Flint. Both books are apart of The Elementals series. Spark is still a baby, only about 40k words, and it will be a Camp NaNoWriMo novel. Flint is about Lottie, the head assassin of the Influence, and a mission she has to perform amidst a time of rebellion in her world and inside her mind. Spark, however, focuses on a girl named Ellie. The Influence, and the evil dictator named Ulrich that runs it, wants her dead. Because of her, the Revolution is rising up and threatening to destroy the Influence.

How does my work differ from others of its genre? Well, Spark is actually dual-perspective. It’s taking a lot of work right now, but it’s a ridiculous amount of fun playing around with my characters’ voices. Despite being another YA urban fantasy somewhat dystopian novel–that seems to be in high-fashion for some reason right now– Flint and Spark both deal with some pretty dark, but common, themes. Parent abuse, murder, guilt, redemption, forgiveness, and self-discovery. It’s not a always happy book, but not every book should be happy. Life isn’t that way, so why sugar coat anything?

Why do I write what I do? I feel like God called me to this. Not just the whole process of getting people to forget the outside world or the art of telling stories. I think it’s more of the lesson thing. Books, as I have talked about before, have such a wonderful opportunity of education- not in the school sense, but in life knowledge. It’s a way to teach morals, like the importance of family or what to do when the world comes crumbling around you or that you don’t need no man. Not only that, but writing is a connection point, a way to relate to others, to let everyone know they are not alone. That’s what I’m trying to do with this, alongside magic and intense action scenes. It’s incredibly important, especially when younger audiences are involved, and I feel so blessed to be a part of that. So yeah, that’s why I write. Also, young adult is awesome. I’m never gonna stop reading that stuff.

How does my writing process work? I have just now found the perfect writing process for me. Intense outline (one in which I write a detailed paragraph for every scene and chapter, so all I have to do when I actually write is remember which chapter is which), write, take a break, go back and fast read to look for plot issues, send it to CPs, slow edit, listen to it, and then send it to beta readers. Ta-da! Only takes about a year to do it! Hahahaha…I have some sanity left, I promise. As far as the actual writing goes, I force myself to sit down everyday and crank out 1.5k. Obviously, it doesn’t happen some days (I have to have room to do a good job at college). Music and lights help a lot though, plus having the right space to write.

Alright! That’s it for me, so now I pass the torch to the other writers I invited to join! They don’t all write novels, and they certainly don’t write novels in my genre. I’ve got all kinds of work for you guys to enjoy, incase what I do isn’t your cup of tea.

Here are the lovely people:

Michael Shaw

head shotMichael Shaw is a young author and college freshman in Rome, Georgia. His first novel was published during his senior year of high school, and he plans to have another published this year. He enjoys indulging in weird music and critiquing film.

Twitter: @MichaelRyanShaw

Website: http://themichaelshawblog.wordpress.com

Kaityln Spencer 

Headshot (1)“I am not perfect. Actually, I am nowhere near perfect. I leave the perfection up to God and His plans. This blog is dedicated to the workings and words of God through my life. I’m a freshman in college and sometimes, it gets to be a bit difficult to keep up my faith. There are many people who want to tear me down, but there are others who want to lift me up. God has been working in my life a lot recently and I feel like I should share the teachings that He places on my heart. I really just want to love others in the way that Christ has loved me. I have been given this life for a reason and what better way to live it than by praising God wherever I am? He has done so much for me and continues to provide for me daily. He is an all-powerful, indescribable, uncontainable God and yet, He still wants me for me. That’s pretty amazing.”

Website: http://omukisa.blogspot.com

Savanna Sturkie 

Savanna is a stuUntitleddent at the University of Georgia, majoring in Magazine Journalism and Art History. Her articles have been published in The Red & Black newspaper, and she will be applying to the Grady School of Journalism in the summer. She enjoys writing, traveling, archery, and photography. She dreams of one day combining her interests to become a travel writer.

Twitter: @Got2HaveSav

Website: savannasturkiephoto.wordpress.com

So check out their blogs in about a week, give or take a few days, and see their responses to these questions. Have a blessed day!

Carey

 

Writing Blog Hop: The Invitation

Yesterday, I was invited by a good writing friend of mine, Seabrooke, to join her in a writing blog hop adventure. Of course, with the word adventure in this sentence, how could I say no? Plus, this is actual writing business and I feel super official (hello, nerd alert). Check out the link below to see her wonderful blog and to see me get mentioned! Next Wednesday, I’ll shoot up a response post too so be on the look out for that!

Writing Process Blog Hop

Carey

Deleting 40,000 Words

Yep. I confess I did that, only last week actually.

I’ve been working on the sequel of the book I’m editing now. This New Project has already been written before once. My first book, containing a whole lot of awful crap and yucky words and a plot hole filled story. Lovely idea, one that I think about every day of my life, but I was still just a baby back then. Now that I’ve learned so much, it’s my time to try again. I was excited! Pumped! Ready to write, especially after spending so much time research and outlining.

In one week, I cranked out 40,000 words, finishing an entire part. I was super proud of myself, when I went back and edited for silly mistakes so I could read through it all before I started on the second part.

The more I read though, the more and more I squirmed, the more and more I disliked it, until I hated it.

And, after talking it over with many lovely, lovely people (Katie, Alyssa, and Phoebe- YOU GUYS ROCK), I deleted all of these chapters– thirteen to be exact. Bye bye 40,000 words.

Of course, I had to step away. I wanted to, itched to, write the next words but my brain was screaming in anger and upsetness and fear and blaaaaah. All of that wasted time, all of that wasted energy, all of the wasted words and stories!

But that was the right thing to do. The story wasn’t working, not in that way.

How did I know? As cheesy and as cliche as this may sound, I could feel it. Right down in my gut. I knew, as I read each line and word, this was not working. It wasn’t horrible writing, in fact I was happy with how this new character’s voice was coming up and forming.

But it just wasn’t right. It wasn’t the story I wanted to tell. It was almost there, super close, a lot better than when I first tried to tell it, but it still hadn’t gotten to the point I wanted it to be. I realized, in the craze of trying to get all of those words written, I had lost my passion and drive for the story. Guys, that’s NEVER good when you’re writing. I don’t know about you, but I write because I have a story to tell. These characters take up a lot of room in my brain, and I have to tell their story right. Otherwise, I am failing, and I just realized they were shouting at me, “You’re doing it wrong!”

So, I deleted the words, talked it out with those fabulous people, and I realized what it was missing– just like that. It didn’t take a lot of thinking after I knew I needed to start over again. It came to me. Main character wasn’t acting right, some plot points made no sense, and the tension just wasn’t there. I had grown too comfortable with the story, and I lost sight of what I was trying to achieve. So, I typed up a new battle plan on a google doc, got my lovely CPs to look it over, and everything seemed brilliant. In fact, I am now way more excited to write these new chapters than I was when I first started out.

It’s not a chore. Yes, I am a bit behind on schedule and dreading trying to catch myself up before the 1st draft deadline of June 1st, but now I’ve got the perfect story outlined and ready to go. I’m ready, more pumped, and excited to write.

Still, I don’t look as what I’ve deleted as a complete waste of resources. It actually taught me a lot. It’s going to help me to prevent this situation from happening again, because it is highly frustrating and something I hope doesn’t happen often. It also helped me tremendously with this character’s voice. It’s a new story, with a new perspective, and there’s a lot I have to perfect with main character’s dialect and way of thinking and lines. Because of those now deleted 40,000 words, I’ve discovered the formula and process of doing that. Which is great, because that could have been a huge, huge problem in later drafts.

Moral of the story, make sure you really love what you’re writing, not just writing for the sake of cranking out a story, and know that no matter what you do-no matter what you write- it is not a waste. It’s helping you to grow, helping you to become a better writer, and you’re already doing a lot better than those people who just want to be writers. Put your dreams to the paper and just try.

You got this.

Carey

Beginning of a Novel

Bonjour!

I have just finished preparing/ researching/ outlining/ whatever for my next project, which will, once again be deemed New Project. I have a name for this one, but it’s much more fun to call it New Project.

Anyway, I thought I’d write a blog post to share all of the crazy planning that went along with preparing myself, and the story, so I could sit down and write without making a huge mess. Here’s the deal, this New Project is bigger than I’ve ever done. Two parts, dual-perspective, and eleven major characters. Yes, eleven. Major means that they all grow/ change/ form in some matter, and this change/ growth follows some sort of map.

Since this is more than the usual novel project, I decided to do more planning than I’ve ever done. Maybe it’s not that much to a major author, but, to me, a young author who hasn’t even gotten a published novel yet, it is a lot. There’s also a bit of added pressure that mainly comes from myself. I’ve already written this project before, same novel/story/ideas/characters. But it was my first novel, so, therefore, it sucked. Even six drafts couldn’t fit it. Now that I’m a bit older and wiser, plus with all of this organized stuff, I’m ready to tackle it. I want to do this story justice, since I didn’t do such a swell  job the first time.

BUT I’M PUMPED.

Wanna know why? Sure you do!

I’ve planned it all out. Eleven character arcs, eleven character interviews, two color-coded charts of these character arcs, an interview with the characters whose perspectives tell the story, multiple and organized writing playlists, pictures, a detailed outline, tons of cultural research, and hours wasted looking for names- though, let’s be honest, looking for names is one of my favorite parts of the process.

I’m no fool, I promise you, half of this stuff probably won’t end up the way I have right now. I changed the ending of Flint three times- and it’s not even done yet. But, with all of the craziness of eleven characters and multiple perspectives, it’s exactly what I need to get started without making big enough mistakes that would warrant an entire rewrite. Like I said, enough to get me started, but not enough to write the entire novel for me. Who knows what might happen, but that’s one of the many beautiful parts about writing.

So, let’s get to the part where I tell you, in more detail, what I’ve done.

(Also, most of this came from my lovely CP, Alyssa Hollingsworth. You can also see some of her wonderful and awesome and crazy writing process on her blog:

http://alyssahollingsworth.com/

Check her out!)

First, I wrote brief Log Lines for each character. This is a one sentence kind of thing. It sums up your character, goals of theirs, or even the purpose of them being in your project. Here’s a few examples of my characters:

Amelia: Amelia is searching for a place where she belongs, outside of her family who she believes she has betrayed, while running away from her mistakes and the evil power inside of her though it is the key to survival and the Revolution. 

Lottie: Lottie, trapped by the violent memories of her mistakes and surrounded by people she loves but who struggle to forgive her for the things she has done to them, is fighting for freedom and her life, all the while slowly realizing she’s not the person she always thought she was and is afraid her powers won’t be enough.   

Okay,  maybe I cheated because there’s some run-on stuff going there, but you get the jest.

The second thing I did was write out character interviews/descriptions for all of my lovely cast. This was a bit tedious, but it’s worth it in the long run.  The interview asks very detailed or simple questions, things like name all the way to what this character cares most about in life. Plus, it was kinda fun, when I wasn’t trying to kill myself by doing five in one sitting. The interview format I used came from an eBook, called Crafting Unforgettable Character by K.M Weiland, which I believe is available for free downland, but you can find any kind of interviews all over the Internet.

Right after this I filled the lovely form below out for each character:

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This is from the lovely Connie Flynn and can be found from the link below:

http://www.connieflynn.com/char-plot-movmnt.pdf

This was also quite tedious but oh so necessary. If I’m going to have this many major characters within a constricted space, I’m need to make sure I get all of these different arcs in the right place at the right time, not allowing characters to do something stupid or wrong. I kept filling out the form simple by writing one or two sentences for each part, while the two characters telling the story got whole paragraphs. This story would be a hot mess without that.

So, after filling out that form for each character, I went and took two pieces of computer paper- craft time YES- and drew out the arcs on a timeline, as well as making each one it’s own line to visually see the progresses or falls of a character’s development. The beautiful, color-coded things looked like this:

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They’re so pretty, and I have them hanging above my desk. Do not judge me.

Next, and one of my favorite parts, I wrote out an interview between the two major characters whose perspectives tell the story. It was tons of fun, made me laugh, and got me to fall in love with this gals all over again. A snippet:

Q: When you walk into a party, what do you notice first?

 L: Okay well, I don’t go into parties that much, so I guess the people? They could be trying to kill me. Glares This is a stupid question. 

 A: I’m like Lottie. It’s the people, though I don’t just naturally assume they’re going to kill me—

 L: You should. That’s how people get killed; automatically assuming everyone is nice and happy. 

 A: presses lips together, waits a moment, but then goes on Um, yeah, anyway. It’s the people, to see if I know anyone so I can talk to them and avoid awkward situations. If I don’t see anyone I know, I’ll probably leave. I’m like Lottie. I don’t go to many parties, so I don’t think I’d belong in that scene laughs.  

Don’t judge me if there are any mistakes. It’s planning. It for me to see, not the world. Therefore, don’t stress on making these perfect.

Anyway, this interview can be found here:

http://www.aliciarasley.com/index.php/9-kick-ass-exercises-to-find-your-characters-voice-free/

Sooooo much fun.

Then came names! I had to change a few around that I used in the last attempt I made to write the novel, because they weren’t working. Okay, yeah, maybe I should have found the names before all of this, but the find and replace tool is a blessing. So ha. The names, however, are always extremely important to me. Not only do they need to match the personality of the person, for example the name Ellie is a bit feminine and soft just like the character, but they also have to have the right meaning. For instance, four of my character each control an element. Their names, in some form, each match the element they can control. As well, and this is the real kicker, they need to come from the proper culture. Normally, I may not pay too much attention to that, but, for this project, these characters come from different places. That’s a major part of the novel. You won’t believe the trouble I had finding an American name that meant fire. Go try and see what you come up with. Blah.

THEN! The motherload. Outline time. 

I’ve already written a pretty detailed post on my outlining process, and you can find it here:

https://fromthemindtothepaper.wordpress.com/2013/08/08/outlining/

That basically concludes all of the writing-planning stuff, but I also gotta get myself inspired. I do this in several ways. First, I ALWAYS have to have music to help me write. Music is super important, gets me in the right mood, gets the words flowing. This time, since there’s two perspectives, I made two writing playlists. It looks a little something like this:

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Awesome right? Then I made myself a laptop background to get myself in the writing mood every time I turned on my computer. Viola:

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Jealous? You should be. I found most of these pictures off of Pinterest or Tumblr, and I combined them onto a file on Photoshop- added the title of the book- and boom! I also have a corner in my dorm room with the same pictures so even when I’m not on my computer I can get inspired. It looks like this:

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I kinda love it. Can you tell I’m super into planning and organizing?

This concludes the post about all of crazy/fun/ meticulous planning stuff I did prior to beginning my New Project. Speaking of which, I probably should go write now.

What about you people? What kind of stuff do you do before starting a new project? Or do you do any planning at all? Feel free to comment and tell me! I love it when you do.

Carey