What Am I Getting Myself Into?

My very first blog post had this title, but it’s been a long day, my creativity is spent, and that’s exactly what I’m feeling right now.

I’ve heard so much about NaNoWriMo, for years now, even before I jumped into this whole thing. I just never thought it would be possible for me. First of all, being in school full-time, I would never have time in November. Plus, before a couple months ago, I’d  never tried a monthly word goal. So, 60,000 words in a month?? Impossible.

Now I am signed up for CampNaNoWriMo, with one day left before it starts.

Cue panic mode? Check.

At the time I didn’t know that you could aim for anything less than the 60k, but you can. So, I am aiming for the much more manageable 20,000. After all, this will only be my second monthly word goal ever, and I do have an actual life too. 🙂

I’ve only been signed up for a few days, but am already finding all kinds of lovely people. Once again, the writing community is amazing! I’m all snuggly in a cabin with a few awesome bloggers, and have taken a break the past few days to rest my creative juices.

To get ready, I’ve outlined the next 20 chapters or so on notecards, as a general guide for where to go. This is new for me, since I really don’t plan before I write, outside of major concepts and arcs. But, I know that with no direction, and pressure to write everyday, I would find myself coming up blank too often. Here’s the first half of my notecards ready:

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The organization and planning help to lessen the panic, but also make me feel a little stuck and forced. I’m not used to so much planning! Campers, how are you getting ready? Are you meticulously planning every detail out ahead of time, or are you ready to fly by the seat of your pants? If you’re not a camper, then you really should look into it. It’s not as scary as it seems, I promise.

With one day left, I’m feeling nervous, but I’m looking forward to this. I’ll tag all posts under both To Build A Story and CampNano, and I will keep you updated on my progress and my journey as I go through this 🙂

Good luck!

 

Weekend Writing Warriors #8

I had such great feedback and responses last week, thanks so much for everyone who stopped by! (You can read all previous posts under the category Weekend Writing Warriors) This week, I am sharing the very first snippet from my new WIP, Nightfire. I am very excited, I hope y’all enjoy 🙂

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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In this scene, Kera and her mother are searching for a new den to shelter for the winter, after Kera and Hana’s encounter with a Shadow left their mother spooked. They argued the night before over the risks of moving so late in the season, as well as the familiar topic of the enigmatic radio her mother carries, listens to obsessively, and refuses to explain. Kera brings it up in the heat of argument, and tempers flare:

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I close the distance between us, turning her around to face me–her body has gone to stone, but her eyes are breaking. “I don’t know what you’re listening for, but do you ever think about letting it go? Whatever it is, isn’t there–But I am; I’m here, Hana’s here. We are real–Whatever you think is on the other side of that radio isn’t.”

A strangled sound escapes from her throat, and her hand flies to her mouth, as if to hold the sadness in. Tears well in her eyes, and for a moment I see a glimpse into a dark and shattered heart–Mother is supposed to be strong, not broken; the thought terrifies me.

Then she gathers herself up and retreats back into her armor of granite, a smile replacing her tears; she reaches a hand up to my cheek, “You are so incredibly smart, Kera; your instincts, and your heart, are strong–but there are some things you could never understand. We have a lot of ground to cover, and not enough time.”

With that, she drops her hand to her side, and continues on ahead into the woods in search of home—and possibly, something that doesn’t exist.

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There it is! I felt this snippet was necessary to set up the next scene, which is the inciting incident of the story. I really look forward to reading all of your great posts this week! Thanks for stopping by, and happy 8sunday 🙂

 

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

Worthy of the Week

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Hey all! Thanks so much for stopping by, here is this Friday’s Worthy of the Week, a weekly breakdown of things worth sharing. If you like what you see, feel free to join in! Just post your link in the comments, and I’ll stop by 🙂 Check out the others here

Inspiration

Art, as always. I think these pieces speak for themselves.

Breathless,Fine Artist Portrait Painting, Artist Study with thanks to Artist Danny O' Connor, Resources for Art Students, CAPI ::: Create Art Portfolio Ideas at milliande.com , Inspiration for Art School Portfolio Work, Portrait, Painting, Figure, FacesPassions- twilight 7005  Rikka AyasakiSaatchi Online Artist: Yuliya Vladkovska; Mixed Media, 2012, Painting "One sweet goodbye"  Want this for my home!

Issues

This week, I watched Lee Thompson Young’s funeral tribute on Rizzoli and Isles. It’s been a while since he passed, and he was in the rest of last season, so this was the first time being confronted with it. Wow. I was surprised by how much emotion I had for someone I had never met. Even worse, it was so hard to understand. For those of you who don’t know, he committed suicide. He was clearly successful and had a bright future ahead of him, and was much loved by his costars and everyone around him. But that’s the thing: suicide doesn’t make sense. Depression and mental illness don’t make sense. They are a chemical imbalance–there is no logic. And sadly, I think there’s still so much stigma. Hopefully, his death will show people that they are not alone in their struggle, that it is okay to not be okay, even when it seems like you should, and that there is always help and people who care.

Words of Wisdom

This week I’ve spent some more time sick and in bed, more time with emotions and feelings that I don’t know what to do with–and as always, I can escape to my writing. There is something almost magical about how healing books can be.

Reserved Item for butterflywishesllc by farmnflea on Etsy, $15.00

Book Review: FROI OF THE EXILES

So I’ve been reading this one for a while (it is a long book, give me some credit) but I’m finally done! Here it is, for those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, or need a reminder:

Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta is the second in the Lumatere Chronicles series (which I didn’t know when I bought it, and didn’t realize until I was about halfway through reading it, haha). I’ve said before that I have a love/hate relationship with this book, and after finishing it, I still do.

The Jist: An ex-street thief (Froi) is sent on a mission to a rival kingdom (and his homeland), impersonating someone who is supposed to break the curse with the half-mad princess, while he discovers ties to his past and plots to kill the king.

The Good: Wow, Melina Marchetta is a master with emotions. Some scenes were so raw and believable that it just struck me. She created some complex, dark, tortured characters that made me feel for them. I mean the feels. Even with the strange world and characters, she managed to make some realistic, relatable emotions and relationships. I think the emotions and the dynamics of the different, complex relationships were my favorite part. Unfortunately, some of the most interesting characters were side characters rather than main, and I would have liked to see more from them.

The Not-So-Good: While she’s good with emotions, I didn’t feel the same about her storytelling. Besides the overwhelming, confusing cast of characters which make things hard to keep track of (half the time I couldn’t remember who they were, so I didn’t really care) the pace is incredibly slow. Honestly, I ended up skimming a lot (blasphemy, I know). Even in the supposedly climactic scenes, or scenes with huge revelations, it would take so long to get to the point that I was just lost and bored by that time, and then sometimes would miss the huge moment. Other times felt like a huge info dump, and there was a lot of backstory that felt kind of unnecessary, confusing, and for characters I didn’t entirely care about.

Favorite Part: Definitely Froi and Quintana’s (the half-mad princess) relationship. Probably the most interesting, bizarre, but endearing love story I’ve ever read. I didn’t even find Froi particularly interesting or likeable, but every single scene with them was just brilliant. I would have loved more time with Quintana’s character period, as she was by far my favorite.

The Verdict: I don’t know what to say, honestly. The moments of brilliance were brilliant and will stay with me for a while. But I feel like I had to work so hard to get to those moments. So, for now, I will likely hold off on the next and final book until I am ready again. But these were definitely some characters that won’t leave me anytime soon. If you are a fan of epic fantasies, and don’t mind a long read or keeping track of characters, then those moments of raw, stark brilliance are absolutely worth it.

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

Still reading Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta, and still have kind of a love/hate relationship with it. Almost done, so expect a full review to follow 🙂 The Park Service is still on the back burner for now, but I haven’t forgotten about it! Just haven’t had much time to read lately, and Froi is a long one.

What I’m Writing

Working on my WIP, Nightfire! The words have literally been flying by, with writing every day last week, I’m now almost to the 20k mark overall, and feeling great 🙂 Sprints have been very helpful so far, and I encourage you to try them if you’re having issues getting words down. Sometimes I don’t even mean to, or know what to write, but when I sit down for the sprint, the words just come out anyways.

What Inspires Me

Other writers! The writing community has been great as always. Not only for support, but I love seeing what other people are doing, where they’re at, and getting to share this journey with them. Plus, like in my last WeWriWa snippet, a comment inspired me with a whole new idea I’d never thought of before! Y’all are great 🙂

What Else I’m Up To

Wow, life is crazy right now! I am getting ready to be a first time aunt in the fall (we just found out it’s a girl! 🙂 ) I am transferring to a university in the fall, moving to my first apartment in a month, helping boyfriend through his summer classes, working full days for my nannying family, planning for a trip next week, and trying to manage my health. I am trying my best to keep up with Twitter and blogging, but with everything else going on, I am getting behind, so don’t feel that I am ignoring you! I will get to all my comments and tweets eventually 🙂

Have a great week!

The Voices in My Head

Character is what drives the story. Not fantastic world-building, creativity, or exciting plot. A book can have the most beautiful, unique world, with a great concept and cinematic plot–but it is nothing, without character.

What books do you remember most? Which are the ones that stick with you?

Maybe it’s the one that kept you on the edge of your seat. But more often, it’s the book with the voice that stuck in your head, and wouldn’t go away. It’s the one with a person you lived inside, for the hours or days it took you to read that book, and forgot who you were. You felt them. You became them.

As a reader, I love that. Isn’t that one of the biggest draws of books, stories? That we can escape into this world of ink and paper, and forget who we are, and let our world, our reality, fall away?

As writers, how do we create that?

I’ve been writing stories my entire life–meaningless stories. Stories where the plot drove the characters, not the other way around. A few years ago, I finally recognized this, and set out to create the perfect character.

I did my research, I read the articles and the books, I did the character sheets, and inspirations, and trait lists. I could tell you about the tattoo on their ankle, what their middle name was (and whether they hated it), and which side of the bed they slept on. I came up with quirks and flaws and strengths.

And what did I have? Paper.

I had filled them full of things meant to make them feel real, but they still felt flat, hollow. They were real, but they weren’t alive. Characters are not devices, or plot points, or vessels for your wit. Characters are people.

I am not discouraging anyone from studying the craft, and doing character exercises. They were critical in starting to learn who my characters were. It got me to stop thinking about them as characters, and start thinking of them as people. That, I think, is when they started to take shape on their own.

I stopped worrying about adjectives and quirks and fears. I stopped seeing them as words, and started seeing them as people. I don’t know when exactly it happened, but something shifted. First, it was Falcon. I could see her reacting, to every situation I was faced with. I could feel how she would, what she would think, what she would do, right in that moment. Sometimes she even reacted to me. All of the sudden, it was like there was this person inside my head.

I know, that sounds absolutely crazy. Like, I should be checking myself into a mental hospital crazy.

But I’m completely serious. That was the moment she became real, and my story came alive. She was the first of many voices (some of which you’ve seen glimpses of, in snippets or yesterday’s character hop). They peeled themselves up off the page and started talking and walking, and erasing things and rewriting their own story. Sometimes, when I’m writing, it’s like my hands are not my own. I can go in with one intention, and end up with something completely different.

I’m discovering this all over again while writing Nightfire. I started with literal, flat concepts of characters–a wild, fur-wearing girl with beads in her hair, a monstrous bear-wolf hybrid with humanly amber eyes, a skilled hunter with a shaved head and criss-crossed swords at his back. I started with the concepts, and as I wrote, they started to emerge. The hunter boy wasn’t cold and calculated–he was skilled, but also surprisingly soft, and loved to talk whether anyone listened or not. And though they’re still not entirely whole, I’m discovering more of them everyday. It’s kind of exciting, like getting to know a new friend, or even falling in love, bit by bit.

Maybe I’m taking this too literally. But it frustrates and even saddens me when I see so many writers in the blog-o-sphere so caught up in technique and development and word count, that they forget the story. Not the plot, the story. The one our characters are screaming at us, we’re just too blinded by ourselves to listen. I’m not trying to preach this, or say that my method is better, or anything. Maybe it’s not, for you. Maybe you haven’t really tried.

I realize there’s no way to guarantee this will happen. There’s no magic spell or incantation or rain dance to make them come alive (what do you think I am, crazy?) Don’t be worried if it doesn’t happen. It didn’t happen for me, for years–most of the time that I’ve been writing. But we have to stop being so caught up in ourselves, that we don’t see our characters right in front of us. We have to stop worrying about how to make them unique or interesting or whether they would really do that, and just let go. You have to give them room to grow.

Even when I set out to create the perfect character, I didn’t realize they were already there, in my own writing. I just had to get to know them. Spend time with them, feel them, laugh and cry and talk with them. The same way you get to know a person, sit down and get to know your characters. Because they really are people, just made of ink and paper instead of flesh and blood.

Make friends with the voices in your head. You’ll thank me, I promise. 😉

 

 

 

Character Blog Hop

I know I am behind on blog hops and awards (sorry, those of you that have tagged me, I appreciate it, and I will get around to it, I promise!)  but this one really caught my eye. I was tagged by the lovely Sierra of PERMASHIFT, so y’all should go show her some love 🙂 I debated which character to choose, since I love them all so much, and I finally decided to do my favorite from each of my manuscripts. If you think that’s cheating, I don’t really care 😉

The Character Blog Hop

Manuscript: EMBER

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(minus the sword, he uses knives, fletched with black feathers)

What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person? Crow, definitely fictional.

When and where is the story set? In a different realm, with four empires: Altum, Otium, Potentia, and Aurata. It is sort of a combination of fantasy and futuristic. The story takes place in the Dregs, the slums of Aurata, where the rebels have been sentenced to exile for two generations. There are two non-human races: Amaranthines, who are descended from the gods and have healing magic in their veins, and Ephemerals, a dying breed who are the complete opposite of Amaranthines, and are devout servants of their god Aides, often violent. Humans harvest Amaranthine magic (killing the host) as both medicine and a drug, to prolong their lives.

What should we know about him/her? Crow begins as an assassin for the most powerful drug lord in the Dregs, who is also his 12-year-old sister. He, his sister, and their gang, are the last of the Ephemerals. They venom in their veins slowly kills them, every day, and when their “divine purpose” is served, they will die. He spends his life culling the Dregs of corrupt, violent men like his father. He is very black and white, skilled, and almost never speaks, though he is constantly observing and reflecting on his surroundings. He is deeply devout to their god, Aides, the god of balance, life and death. He is haunted by the memories of those he has killed–he remembers each of their eyes, and carves a line into his skin for each target he has killed.

What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life? His life is disrupted when his sister begins sending him after innocent targets, which conflicts with his black and white personality. He is sent to kill Falcon (the protagonist) and realizes she is essentially a mother, taking care of 8 little toddlers along with the rest of her pack of kids, and hesitates. He confronts his sister, and ultimately decides to leave everything he knows, and turns to Falcon. She ends up taking him in, and he becomes part of the pack.

What is the personal goal of the character? He wants to atone for his sins, and redeem himself. He is fiercely protective of Falcon and the pack. He comes to believe this is his “divine purpose” determined by Aides, and makes him no longer feel worthless. He vows never to kill the innocent again, or to kill needlessly, though he is willing to kill (as he does several times) in order to protect them. He views this as justified.

Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it? The title is Ember, and you can check out a full description here.

When can we expect the book to be published? I am currently querying this manuscript, so unfortunately, not anytime soon. But hopefully eventually 🙂

 

Manuscript: NIGHTFIRE

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(The second picture is of her younger sister, Hana, but I thought it gave a clearer image of her as well)

What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person? Kera. She is also fictional.

When and where is the story set? In a fantasy world, with a lot of futuristic and post-apocalyptic elements. The world is ravaged by shape-shifting monsters called Shadows, who rip their victims and essentially steal their souls, leaving them shells. All surviving humans have retreated into safehouses, fortresses suspended above the ground. Kera, her mother, and her sister Hana, live in the far north of the wilds, and have survived their entire lives on their own, believing humans are more dangerous than the Shadows. They live with a bewolf (bear-wolf) named Thunder, who was orphaned and has become their fourth family member and protector.

What should we know about him/her? Kera is an expert hunter and survivalist. She is training her younger sister Hana to survive on her own. She has an injury from a bewolf attack, which acts up occasionally. She doesn’t talk much, but is very observant, and tends to worry, though she is careful to never let Hana see her unsettled. She is straightforward, practical, quietly strong, and fierce.

What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life? The story begins when Kera and her mother search for a new den to call home, and encounter a pack of hunters (human soldiers, who protect the safehouses) who are being attacked by Shadows. Kera steps in to help, and she is nearly ripped by a Shadow. The contact leaves her with fragmented visions she can’t make sense of. At the same time, her mother is ripped, leaving her a mindless shell. When the Shadows are dead, the hunters approach her. She is terrified of humans, but when she discovers her sister is missing, and winter is quickly approaching, she must turn to them for help.

What is the personal goal of the character? Kera’s purpose is to keep her family together and safe. The attack leaves her with visions and a new sense of the world which indirectly lead her to her sister. She wants to find her sister, and get her mother back. This involves discovering family ties to the hunters, becoming a hunter herself, and finding the source and meaning of her visions.

Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it? The working title is Nightfire, and you can follow my posts under To Build A Story to track my progress, share my journey, and find out more.

When can we expect the book to be published? As you can see from the progress bar, I am nearly one-third of the way through the first draft, so it is a long way from being published, but I hope it will be one day 🙂

 

I know this is a long post, but I hope you enjoyed 🙂

For this post, I tag:

1. Sabrina from the Books and Bark blog: She is a very sweet and talented girl, and I’d love to see more from her 🙂

2. Cate Russell-Cole: She always posts such helpful advice, but I’d love to see some of her own writing!

3. Julius from Writing Smarter: He has a great series called Creating Characters, and I’d like to see some more about his own characters!

Look forward to seeing y’all posts 🙂 There are many fabulous blog and writers I can’t tag, so if you enjoyed this, feel free to tag yourself! I’m always interested to see what other writers are up to.