Worthy of the Week

Last week was the very first Worthy of the Week (check it out here) and I am going to try it again. I am going to keep doing it, until it becomes a thing (it will become a thing, dang it) Feel free to join in, and if you leave a link in the comments, I’ll be sure to stop by! 🙂

Inspiration

As I said in this week’s What’s Up Wednesday, boyfriend and I are looking into mission trips, especially to Nepal or India. I have my heart set on India. I think it is such a beautiful, vibrant place with a rich history, culture, and people. And, elephants! Here are three India-inspired art pieces that caught my eye this week.

Elephants loupgarouMixed Media Portraits by Stéphanie LedouxCS Lawrence: blue eyes - collage -mixed media portrait

Issues

If you haven’t heard of the #YesAllWomen hashtag by now, I don’t even know what to say to you. You need to go look at it right now, especially if you are a man, and spend some time reading through the posts. Though it has received some criticism, I think it is powerful, and beautiful. It has allowed women all over the world to unite, to find the courage to speak up, and to share their stories. It has started a conversation that is long overdue, and I hope all the attention it has gotten will mean some real changes ahead. The recent response tag, #AllMenCan, is also worth checking out. The genders need to work together if change is going to happen.

Words of Wisdom

Maya Angelou was a woman larger than life. She was an inspiration, a role model, and a world changer. The world would be a better place if we could all try to be a little more like her. Out of all her beautiful, wise words, these are some of my favorites:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

Maya Angelou

RIP Maya Angelou 1928 – 2014

What’s Up Wednesday

What’s Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop created by Jaime Morrowand Erin Funk, to help connect writers on this writing journey. If you’d like to join us, check out the blogs each week, get to know some of the other writers taking part, and spread some writerly love! 

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What I’m Reading

I’m still reading The Park Service by Ryan Winfield. As much as I’m still loving it, I just haven’t had much time to read lately. But if you haven’t yet, it really is worth buying (I mean, 3 bucks on Kindle? It doesn’t get better than that) He’s a great storyteller and world builder, and I’m taking notes as I go along 🙂

What I’m Writing

Well, I finally broke 80,000 on my manuscript! It sort of felt like there should have been fireworks and cupcakes, but sadly there were neither. When I started writing this book, 50,000 seemed massive and impossible, and I was struggling for word count. But now I’ve done over 80,000 and it feels pretty great 🙂 I finished this round of revisions, and printed the first 100 out for a read-through.

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Isn’t she beautiful?? So far, I’ve tackled the first 25, and I have notes for every single page. It’s amazing how much of a difference it makes reading through it printed. I mean, I’m noticing typos and missing words, even though I’ve read through it 500 times. And reading it like this makes it feel fresh, so I’ve noticed some questions readers might have or things I never saw before.

What Inspires Me

Right now, I’m really inspired by others. Like I said, Ryan Winfield is a great storyteller, and reading his book has given me a lot of ideas and notes. I also love meeting with my writing group and bouncing ideas off each other, even if it’s not for my own manuscript. I love seeing the process, and that moment when the lightbulb goes off and everything comes together. 🙂

What Else I’m Up To

The Bucket List is still going strong, and has made for some great laughs and memories 🙂 Boyfriend and I are starting to seriously look into some mission trips for either later this year during winter break, or next summer. We’ve more or less narrowed it down to two trips, India and Nepal–though the Nepal trip is physically demanding, and I would have to consult my doctors and create a conditioning plan in order to go. But I’ve been taking it into my own hands and exercising (little bits at a time) and hopefully that will make a difference.

I have been lucky enough to be in good health lately, but I can’t take anything for granted. But we just found out that there is a new prescription for POTS, just approved by the FDA. I don’t want to get my hopes up, but the idea that there might actually be a treatment that works would be a dream come true! In the mean time though, I’m just trying to stay healthy and enjoying it while I can 🙂

Happy Wednesday!

Breaking the Rules

Recently I wrote a post on pushing the boundaries, and being a fearless writer who embraces their inner crazy. Well, consider this part two, or me beating a dead horse, whichever you prefer. 🙂

I’ve learned a lot through the writing community the past couple months. I’ve received advice and wisdom which has been extremely helpful, but  sometimes this can be overwhelming. There’s countless tidbits, do’s and don’ts, and rules. I mean, there’s hundreds and thousands of books filled with this stuff! Before I dove into this process, I’d more or less just figured everything out on my own. I didn’t have any resources or guidance, so I had to learn through trial and error. Which was great, but time-consuming (think 19 years of writing time-consuming). But coming from that, I think it has given me a unique point of view on writer advice.

First of all, it depends who you are and where you’re at in the process. You might be like a friend of mine, who is writing her very first book, and seeks out every single bit of information and advice there is to be found on the craft of writing with the appetite of a teenage boy. Or you might be like me, and you’ve been writing your entire life and things sort of come naturally. You might be somewhere in the middle.

Rules are more like guidelines, than laws. They are like a trail, leading you through the forest so you don’t get lost and starve to death, but you’re not surrounded by a stone wall. You can veer off the path a little bit, and maybe find some pretty awesome things along the way.

For example, two of the major rules I learned when I started this was A: prologues are a sin. And B: Opening a book with a character waking up is also a sin. But, how does Hunger Games start? With Katniss waking up the day of the reaping. And the book I am currently reading, The Park Service by Ryan Winfield, begins with both of these. But it was done so well that by the end of the (short) prologue I was hooked to the point of no return.

I was guilty of A in my current manuscript, and held onto that prologue for dear life, refusing to believe that rules applied to me. But my prologue was amazing so it didn’t matter, right? Well, yes, there were some pretty awesome moments, and some great worldbuilding (if I do say so myself) but ultimately, I realized it wasn’t necessary. I took the choice bits and dispersed them later on, and eventually wrote an entirely new beginning altogether (which you can read under my Weekend Writing Warrior posts). In hindsight, I realized the prologue was only extra words between my reader and my hook, which is something you never want.

So, what’s the moral of the story? Rules are there for a reason, but don’t be afraid to break them. But if you do break the rules, make sure it’s for a reason.

Make sure it serves a purpose, and makes your story better for it (not just because you worked really hard on that prologue and it’s beautiful, dang it) As I said in my last post, jump off the ledge first, and worry about reeling yourself in later. Don’t get caught up in the ten thousand do’s and don’ts and end up trying to navigate a minefield. It’s good to listen to others who are more knowledgeable and experienced than you (read: experienced, not just “experts”) but don’t treat it like gold.

Because really, there is no one way. Whether you’re brand new or a NYT bestseller, writing isn’t an exact science. There’s no secret formula, no How to Write for Dummies guide to becoming the next JK Rowling or Suzanne Collins.

Don’t be afraid to take risks, and take every bit of advice with a grain of salt (even mine). Because at the end of the day, none of us really know what we’re doing, we’re just all trying to figure it out, one word at a time.

Writing, like all art, is messy. Sometimes, the mistakes are the most beautiful part. 🙂

Weekend Writing Warriors #3

This is a continuation of my first chapter, so if you haven’t read the previous posts (or need a reminder) check out the first here and the most recent here. To meet some new authors, read some great writing, or join in the 8-sentence fun, stop by at Weekend Writing Warriors!Image

Asa pressed his lips into a thin line, but turned back to the table, where one of his beloved plants sat in the center. Sludge spores had begun to creep up its stem, its edges browning and tainted with rot. “First, you need to focus, steady your breathing, center your energy.”

He closed his eyes, and both hands reached out for the defiant blot of green. “Find your core, then the sickness–you’ll be able to feel it, reach out for that.”

As I watched, the silver-blue glow of Amaranthine radiated out from his chest, weaving down his arms and into his fingertips. It ventured from his fingertips onto the leaves, enveloping them in blue.

The sludge began to evaporate, wiped clean without a single touch–the plant straightened, and stretched as if waking from a long sleep.

——–

Now we’re finally starting to get somewhere 🙂 This is the first introduction to the world’s magic, and in the next post, you will see what makes magic a conflict for Falcon. With such short snippets, getting through the first chapter is taking longer than I expected, but I do hope you’ll stick around to find out what’s next. Thanks for stopping by, looking forward to all your posts, and Happy 8sunday!

 

Blog Post and Novel Excerpt © Victoria Davenport & the Coffee.Write.Repeat. blog

Worthy of the Week

Hey all, so I have been playing around with this idea for some time, but haven’t figured out quite how to execute it. So, this may fail miserably, but I thought I’d try it out 🙂 I didn’t want this blog to be just about writing, but also life and inspiration, and I wanted to be able to share some of the things that matter.

I decided I’d try sharing a quick breakdown of some things I found during the week, in three categories: Inspiration, Issues, and Words of Wisdom. With so much plain crap on the internet these days, I’d like to take a moment to share some things that are worthy of sharing. And if you like this idea, feel free to join in! Just post your link in the comments, and I’ll stop by 🙂 So here it is, the very first Worthy of the Week!

Inspiration: I am constantly inspired by art, whether for writing or art of my own. I could easily post a hundred different photos for this, but here are three beautifully haunting pieces that stood out to me this week.

collage by Carme Magem,Saatchi Online Artist: Jaeyeol Han; Mixed Media, 2012, Painting "Hidden Violence, Notting hill, London 2011" #artundercover guru.....by M.A. Wakeley ......mixed media on canvas

Issues: You will find that I am mostly passionate about women’s issues (which arguably, are not issues for any gender, but humans as a whole). I will try to switch things up, but I wanted to start with something that really matters to me.

There is undeniable a gender gap in our own country (the US) but it is shocking to realize just how horribly women and girls are treated around the world. They are garbage–less than garbage, less than animals, less than dirt. I had always been aware of this, but it was on the edges of my awareness, distant and far away and it didn’t really affect me. Then I watched the documentary Half the Sky, based on the book of the same name, which highlights major women’s issues around the world, intelligently using celebrities to raise attention. If you haven’t seen it, it is free on Netflix, and you should go watch it. Right now. Seriously, it will change your life, whether you are a woman or not.

Girl Rising 39 (2)              Half the Sky movie poster (2012) poster MOV_da079446

Words of Wisdom: These words really struck me, as I have been trying to live more intentionally, and make the most of my good health. I find myself using my health as an excuse pretty often, instead of challenging and putting myself to go out there and do more. In addition to the Summer Bucket List I mentioned last week (which we’ve already crossed off four things, and had a blast!) I am planning trips this summer (camping in Hill Country, then Huntington Beach to visit cousins) as well as possible mission trips for next year (my heart is set on India).

So I leave you with these two nuggets, from none other than Rumi.

“Run from what’s comfortable. Forget Safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious.”

Rumi Said...

“Set your life on fire. Seek those who fan your flames.”

What’s Up Wednesday

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What’s Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop created by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk, to help connect writers on this writing journey. If you’d like to join us, check out the blogs each week, get to know some of the other writers taking part, and spread some writerly love! 

What I’m Reading

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The Park Service by Ryan Winfield (Park Service Trilogy #1). I totally happened on this book by accident, I was actually reading another book when I found it and downloaded a sample on my kindle. This book is a perfect example of two things you’re normally not supposed to do (prologue, and opening with MC waking up) and doing them so well it blew my mind (a further blog post to follow regarding rules and how to break them). I was so hooked by the end of the prologue, I put away the other book and haven’t been able to put down this one since. Winfield has created such a vivid, resonating, creative, and yet realistic world. He has done post-apocalyptic society in a unique way that is also entirely believable. I can’t wait to see what’s next 🙂

What I’m Writing

Well, I thought I was done with my MS. Seriously, I had started printing it out for a read-through. But of course my characters wouldn’t let me get off that easily. I already knew I had to change my climax and pacing, but wanted to find that out in the read-through. As part of the pacing, I counted how many scenes each POV had, and found an overwhelming gap. So I went to even that gap, and Crow (one POV) yanked the pen out of my hands and started writing his own story. I’m serious. I’ve added over 6k of purely his POV so far, with more scenes planned. He is even fighting to become the ultimate love interest, instead of the guy I’ve had planned all along. It’s kind of frustrating but amazing all at the same time. As I also talked about in this post, I’ve unbound his restraints, and he’s shown me all new depths of darkness and depravity, but it’s kind of brilliant and exciting 🙂

What Inspires Me

This week I’ve been kind of overwhelmed by support from the writing community. I’ve been a little out of touch with my online presence lately, with so much else going on, that it seemed a lot like a chore. Then I came back, and I remembered why writers and book people are the best people in the world 🙂 It is amazing to me that I can connect to people I’ve never met before, some who are across oceans and continents from me. And I love when I see bookish things trending on twitter, hashtags we created, because it reminds me of the impact and influence we can have when we put our minds to it. I kind of picture us like a little nerd army, wielding books and laptops as weapons 😉

What Else I’m Up To

SUMMER! Sorry, this has been a crazy semester and I am so glad to be done with it. I’ve been enjoying the time off with much needed naps, binge-watching Netflix, and pool time. This summer, boyfriend and I decided to try something different, since we’ve kind of gotten into the lull of just spending time at each others houses, watching Netflix or movies, usually in our PJs. Boyfriend actually came up with the idea, and I was inspired by many similar lists we found on Pinterest.

So, we made our very own Summer Bucket List! The idea is to (at least) once a week do something new or different than our usual. It includes everything from roadtrips to frisby golf to reading a book together, and we have 75 on the list so far. Boyfriend even had the added idea of writing them down, sorting into categories, and drawing randomly (ie places to go, museums, free, restaurants, and whichever we pick, we have to do). What do you think? Do you have any awesome summer ideas for us?

Happy Wednesday! 🙂

On Writing a Novel: Revision is not a Four Letter Word

This post (from my lovely friend Rebekah Faubion) is perfect. For those of you in the revision trenches, read this, and keep fighting!

Rebekah Faubion

revision

Revision is a bloodbath. It is an assault on words you vomited — eked, spit, sweat — onto the page during drafting. It is where you get to the heart of your story. It sometimes involves massive cuts, sometimes surgical edits. Sometimes it is about character, and others about prose. It is a process, and while there is no one infallible way to revise, there are some truths universally acknowledged.

Write Tip #1: You must read your entire manuscript, from start to finish. There are no exceptions.

As you begin to read your manuscript, you will consider carving out your eyes with a melon baller as an alternative to reading anymore. Push past that and separate yourself from the hope that your first draft isn’t total shit. Even if you are a seasoned and stupendous writer, your first draft will have cringeworthy moments.

This read through is to identify the Global Problems

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Weekend Writing Warriors #2

Hey y’all! So since I had such a great experience with Weekend Writing Warriors last weekend, I decided to do it again 🙂 This is a continuation of last week’s post, so if you haven’t already, read it here. To meet some new authors, read some great writing, or join in the 8-sentence fun, stop by at Weekend Writing Warriors!

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His brow furrowed–his face was ageless, but somehow the expression made him look paternal. “How long has it been?”

I nearly gagged at the thought of the oddly-colored concoction he claimed helped my breathing. It only made me feel like I was trapped in a fog–having dull senses was as good as being helpless. Naked.

“I took it this morning,” I lied, shifting my weight.

His frown deepened–I was a terrible liar. “Falcon,” he chided.

“Don’t worry about me, Asa,” I said in defense. “Let’s finish this–a shipment was supposed to come in today. I need to stop by Grandfather’s shop, the Littles haven’t had fruit or vegetables in months, and they’re going to get sick soon.”

I looked over to where they played idly. One raised a pudgy fist and rubbed her eye wearily, another had a trail of snot running from his nose to his chin. Eight little faces so engrained in my heart, though it went against every survival instinct I had.

——-

I cheated a little bit with punctuation and rearranging, but I hope you won’t tell 🙂 So far it still doesn’t make much sense, but I hope you’ll stick around for the rest of the chapter. When I finish posting the rest of the first chapter, I plan to start with some excerpts from the other two POVs. Looking forward to reading all of your great posts, and thank you for stopping by!

 

Blog Post and Novel Excerpt © Victoria Davenport & the Coffee.Write.Repeat. blog

Pushing the Boundaries

As writers, we constantly ride that line between being creative and just plain crazy. We want to be fresh enough that we stand out on the shelves, but not alienate readers – we want them to think WOW, not WTF. And the gatekeepers say on one hand they’re looking for something different, but then some things are so different they don’t have a market.

It’s easy to get sucked into this. I know, I’m always over-analyzing my writing now that I’m looking at it from an industry/publishing perspective. At first, I only wrote for myself. I wasn’t scared of what people would think, because I was the only one who would read it. Now I find myself constantly second guessing, and cutting lines or scenes that might turn people away. I’m embarrassed before anyone even reads it.

And then I think,  what am I doing?

It is our job to be crazy. It is our job to push the boundaries and try new things and turn the world inside out just to see what shape it will take. I love that about writing. Sometimes I worry so much about stepping too far outside the lines into crazy-land, that I forget. Writing doesn’t have boundaries. With only 26 letters, somehow the possibilities are limitless.

Exhibit A: from DFWCON. In the query gong show (which is basically a roast of people’s queries) there was a query so outlandish that everyone, including the agents, laughed through the whole thing. Like 80-year-old grandma and aliens in her backyard crazy. But guess what? It was one of only two queries that made it, and got requests. The crazy characters are the ones we remember. Donald Maas said in his character workshop, “Don’t be afraid to push your protagonist over the edge.” I love that.

And that’s something I’d really struggled with. I’d tried to reign in the really dark and twisted bits of my story to keep it marketable to a wide audience. But that’s the problem: it is dark and twisted. One of my main characters, Crow, is really dark and twisted. But he’s an assassin for the most ruthless drug lord in the city, with a background of torture and abuse. In other words, he has some serious issues. Watering his character and his scenes down to make it a pill easier to swallow just didn’t work. He ended up feeling flat.

Now, I’ve opened the cage door, taken the chains off, and explored where he can go. It’s taken me by surprise how much he’s come to life. It’s messed up, it’s dark, it’s disturbed, but it’s raw and emotional and powerful. I got chills while writing some parts, and cried while writing others. It’s real, and it’s him. He’s become my most vivid and dynamic character. It wasn’t fair to him, or my readers, to lock him away just because he might be a little too much crazy for some people. You know what? Those people are just dumb and boring. 😉

We’re self-conscious creatures, writers. Especially when we open up our writing to the world, with the possibility of it being picked apart. But don’t be scared of that, don’t even think about it. Write what is genuine. Write for yourself, and for your story, and for your characters.

It is ten thousand times better to be too much, than not enough. Don’t tiptoe up to the edge of crazy, dive off of it. Even if you don’t keep the crazy, you’ll find a whole new world of depth to your story in the process. Your characters and your readers will thank you.

 

 

Book Review: BATTLE MAGIC

Alright, so I know I’ve been reading this one forever, but things have been a little crazy around here, and I just finished it. Here it is, for those of you who aren’t familiar or have forgotten:

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As I’ve said before, Tamora Pierce was basically my author idol growing up. She was a huge inspiration for me to start writing novels, and a motivation to keep going. It’s been a long time since I’ve read any of her books, so when my dad gave me this book for my birthday, I was more than ecstatic. I started reading, and I was hooked. I would have read it in one sitting, if my life didn’t have different plans. Here’s the breakdown:

The Jist: Briar, Rosethorn, and Evvy (of previous Winding Circle books) are halfway across the world from their home, and must use their magic, massive epic armies, and super awesome gods, to fight back the bad emperor and keep him from destroying the peaceful kingdom of Gyongxe.

The Good: Her world-building and storytelling are amazing. It is such a rich and vivid world, complete with culture, history, religions, and politics. I can tell a lot of research went into this one, since it is clearly based on Chinese culture. I love her characterization too. So many unique people and voices, even the side characters are memorable.

The Not-So-Good: This one is hard. For me, I think that some parts can seem more juvenile or middle grade, and I think because it is geared towards a younger audience. That’s not necessarily a bad thing though, just not for me. I would also say that with the vast cast of characters and rich history, though all very interesting, sometimes it can get confusing (especially with the oriental names).

Favorite Part: Evvy is such a sharp, endearing, and memorable character. She’s a little girl who grew up in the slums, is very brave and spunky, with a huge appetite and seven cats. I loved her sections, especially when (minor spoiler) she journeys into the mountains and meets the gods that live there, and befriends them. Her and Luvo’s (the “heart” of the mountain, a colorful stone bear, and I can’t get rid of the image of a talking gummy bear) dynamic and relationship is brilliant. This ancient mountain god who is very distant about humans grows to love and be fiercely protective of this brave little girl, and they become like best friends.

The Verdict: Anyone who is a fan of Tamora Pierce, or YA fantasy in general, should go read this. Even after twenty-something books, she still manages to create a unique and intriguing world full of vivid characters that won’t leave you anytime soon.