Sunday, 2 December 2012

RoW80 Sunday Check In

So that’s it, NaNoWriMo is done and over with for another year. That’s not to say I’ll stop writing though. I’ll never stop writing, you’d have to cut off my arms to make me do that and then I’m sure I’d find some form of dictation machine thing to do the writing for me (as you can tell I’m not the most technologically savvy person on the web). What it is today though, is the first RoW80 Check In for December. There really isn’t long left for this and now that I’m not completely focused on NaNo anymore I’m hoping to make more a dent in my goals. This week it’s been much the same as it has throughout November. I’m just going to focus on the bits that I did do as you don’t need me waxing poetical about my failures, yet again.

1) Write NaNo
5) Convert o.S.a.M to novel format.
That was my NaNo. As shown by the post I made on Friday I managed to reach a massive 82,000 words, much better than I expected. What I didn’t expect when I started writing on the first day of NaNo was that I’d begin to write o.S.a.M as a novel. It works well though. I can get inside the minds of my characters, they reveal things about themselves of which I had no idea and their relationships with each other change and alter as I go. I didn’t finish it though, not by a long shot, but I won’t be stopping now that November is over. I’m going to carry on writing after I take a brief break for actual planning. Overall these two goals have been a resounding success.

2) Darkling Watch
I’ve not done any editing, I won’t lie. I’ve been thinking about the story as ever and working out what I’ll do with it but no actual editing has taken place. What I have done though is set out a preliminary release date; September 2013. So I’ve got a deadline and a timeframe for when I need to have stuff finished. I’m planning on recruiting beta readers, I have no idea how but I will find some. I need to get a cover drawn up and most importantly I need to get the editing done, several times over.  So I’ll say that this week, I’ve had some success on this goal.

6) Blog at least 3 times a week
This one has been a bit spotty. I’ve had some blogs some days and completely missed others. The promised second part of my Life of a Novel article still hasn’t been written but don’t worry, it will be and it will soon be up tomorrow. Now that NaNo is over I’m going to have to change the focus of my Wednesday posts. Last year, after I started blogging properly I believe I started doing something called Progress Wednesdays. I’m going back to that. On my Wednesday posts I’ll be talking about all the lovely progress I’ve made on my Works In Progress as well as putting the information in the page for it at the top. Hopefully this will keep people entertained and also give me an extra little bit of motivation to get my writing done. Hopefully... So essentially I’m going to say that I’ve succeeded at this goal. More or less.

So that’s it, the little bit of success that I’ve had this week. If you’re participating in RoW80 how are you doing? IF you want to know more about what RoW80 is, click the link in my sidebar. If you don’t take part in RoW80 but want to tell me how your writing is going feel free.
Keep Writing!

Friday, 30 November 2012

NaNo Wrap Up: 4 Things I learnt About Myself Through NaNo

So it is the end of NaNo. I didn’t manage to hit 100,000 words like I wanted to but I’m proud of myself anyway. Several days in a row I managed to hit 6,000 words and one day I even had a 10,000 word day. I tried for another one yesterday but sadly it was not meant to be. This month I began three different novels, I learnt to knit again, I gained some valuable work experience and I made some very important life choices. I also learnt some very important things about myself and my writing process;

1) I’m part plotter and part pantser
I like some detail before I start writing. I like to know, roughly what each chapter will involve and how the story will develop within it. A brief description of each chapter and various scenes is all I need to be able to start writing a story and have it go the way that I want. I cannot work off a vague idea, it’s fine for a couple of chapters but after that I need some clue as to where it’s going, even if it’s a general thing. But I can work best off a partially plotted storyline.

2) Too much detail kills my writing
My first idea for NaNo was very planned. Each scene was written in meticulous detail, ridiculously so, and once I started writing I started to hate it. My writing had nowhere to go, the characters had no room to develop and I just started to hate the story. I don’t want to hate my writing but I need to be able to have fun with it, to let it go off-track and wander in its own direction before I brought it back to the main storyline. So clearly over-detailed plotting is not for me.

3) My characters develop as I write.
My characters in o.S.a.M (which still needs a new name) were quite well detailed; I knew what they looked like, some of their history and a rough idea of their personalities. This was all before I started writing it. Once I started writing the novel though my characters grew, they developed bigger personalities and odd quirks (such as Will and Gabe’s friendship being reminiscent of Turk and JD in Scrubs) and their back-stories shifted into something that I didn’t even think of in the beginning (who knew Gabe was a prince of Labolai?!). The same happened for a contemporary fantasy police novel I started writing on Monday. I knew roughly what the characters were like but as I wrote they too developed and one even revealed that he had multiple personalities.

4) I start to go off track towards the end
For the last few days I’ve been reluctant to actually write anything even though I’ve not finished the novels. I think it may be because I’m focused on writing and not doing much else but now that I know November is almost over I’ve started planning what I plan to do once I’m free of writing each day.  Having to focus on just one thing at the expense of everything else is clearly not for me, I like the freedom of being able to work on what I want, when I want.

So there we go, 4 things I learnt about how I work when I was doing NaNo.
Oh and incidentally, right now I’m at 80,339 words and I still have 3 hours left of November 30th. Maybe I’ll manage to up that, maybe not.
Keep Writing!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

NaNoWriMo #28: Winning and Aiming Higher

This is just a quick check up post today. I won NaNoWriMo on Sunday night and got fully validated. Now I’m desperately trying to reach 100,000 words by Friday. I managed a 10,000 day yesterday and I’m aiming for the same again today.

The novel write of o.S.a.M is coming along well. I’m getting down important parts and a fair bit of dialogue but I’m a little worried that I’ve gotten too exposition-y. I’m working out stuff about Labolai and the world it’s set in as well as the magic system as I go so I tend to write down every little thing that I can think of. Actual world building is something that I plan to work on once NaNo is over. For now I’m hopping between stories and different chapter, starting a new one when I finally figure out how to start a new story and going back to others when I figure out where it’s going.

I’ve also started a new novel, one that I just make up as I go along. It’s an idea I got from watching too much Death Valley and I’m not really sure if it’s actually going anywhere. I have fun, lots of fun with it, just typing in any strange situation thing that I can think of and it fits because the world it’s set in is crazy enough for it.

I’ve completely left the first story behind, just leaving it sitting there on my hard drive. Sure I might go back to it at another point but for now I’m just including it as a failed experiment. I’d need to go back and take out the parts that are dares and work on the description and dialogue but the bare bones are there. It helps that I didn’t keep working on it even after I began to hate it. If I had done that there’s a good chance I would have failed to win NaNo at all.

As it stands I am currently at 67,152 words. By the end of tonight I hope to be at 77,000 or even possibly 80,000. How’s your NaNo going?

Keep Writing.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

RoW80 - Sunday Check In and problems with titles

So it’s that time of the week again. That’s right it is my RoW80 check-in. I don’t have much to report if I’m honest. I’ve been so focused on building up my NaNo word-count and feeling under the weather that I haven’t gotten much else done. Am I disappointed? Sure. Am I going to let it bother me? Nope.
I know what I want to do. I want to write and sell my books. I don’t want to do it for money, I just want to get my stories out there. The money is just a shiny extra in my mind and that little incentive I need to encourage me to work harder and faster.

I have been thinking about my current novels, the ones that are finished and the ones that are still on-going in my mind, while I’ve been at work this week and it has helped me a little with my goals.

1) Write NaNo every day; success.
4) Figure out how to convert o.S.a.M to novel format; ongoing
Some days the word count may not have been as high as I wanted and I am ridiculously behind on my intended word-count if I were aiming for 100k. But I have several days of uninterrupted writing time and I’m hoping that I’ll be able to make it up with those. In fact I managed to write 4k last night. Granted it took me like 5 hours but that was with lots of distractions going on such as tv and films. Tonight I’m aiming at a little over 8k by midnight. I don’t know if I’ll hit that target but I’m hopeful. Incidentally I’m still struggling on the rename but more on that in a little while. What is most important is that I’m finally managing to tell this story that has been bubbling away in my mind for the last 6 months. It’s coming along, gradually, but it is coming along.

2) Edit Darkling Watch once a week; fail.
So I’ve done no editing this week. Again. I’m a little down about it but there’s not really much I can do other than put my NaNo to one side and concentrate on the read-through. That isn’t something I want to do. Darkling Watch is not going anywhere and were I to try and edit it now the story would just end up suffering. I have found at least one, possibly two, beta readers for The Darkling Watch once I finish those edits though and I’ve even set myself a cursory release date for the first book; September 2013. There’s quite a lot I plan to do with Darkling Watch and the Darkling series but more about that another day.

3) Write one Feral Diaries entry a week; fail
I haven’t written anything for Feral Diaries again this week. It’s in the same situation as The Darkling Watch. I’ve been thinking about it though, considering how I would write it when I’m done with NaNo and how I’m going to go about editing it and that’s all good progress.  I’ve even managed to make a few contacts for certain areas of it and get a bit of research done. So although I haven’t actually written anything for it there is progress being made. It just isn’t tangible.

5) Blog at least 3 times a week; success
Despite last week’s failure to get any posts written I’ve done a lot better this week. I managed to keep to my set schedule and I’ve even ended up with a two part Monday post that I personally think is a pretty good read, but that’s just me. I haven’t seen any particular growth in readership or people favouriting my blog for quick reading but that doesn’t really bother me. What matters is that I’m managing to make regular blog posts that stick to set schedule. I’m overcoming a massive weakness of mine and in the long run it can only prove helpful.

 I’m still trying desperately to come up with a new name for o.S.a.M as Of Swords and Magic sounds like a really boring dissertation title for a literature degree. With this problem in my mind I thought I’d give a little synopsis of the story and then let you, dear readers offer possible suggestions.
It’s about a witch and two knights, travelling the country of Labolai, tracing curses with a similar magical signature and trying to find out exactly who destroyed the magical school/city of Magewick (dodgy name I know, I’m working on it). They have several adventures and it is more a collection of short stories joined by an overarching plotline, sort of like tv programs are. I want to include the name of the country Labolai in the title and I’ve been considering Tales of Labolai but it seems a bit... trite and doesn’t really explain what happens in the story. So... does anyone have any suggestions?

Keep Writing.

Friday, 23 November 2012

A Tough One Today

Today has been a hard one to write for me. I don’t really know what to say. I did plan to write something about how much I love to do lists then I realise that I’ve written about to do lists before. It’s difficult to come up with something personal and writer based to talk about this week.

Well almost. I may be doing some ghost writing of a gentleman’s life story. That should be interesting and a good experience in terms of writing. I’m not sure what his story is but he was so excited to have finally found a writer to write it for him that I don’t mind. There may be a chance to make some money from it but that really isn’t important to me. It’ll give me the chance to learn to write from someone else’s direction and to just write in a different genre. Now I just need to figure out how I’m going to actually do this.
If anyone actually knows anything about ghost writing please let me know.

Keep Writing!

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

NaNoWriMo: Day 21 - Slowing to a crawl

Well what to say this week. It’s really been the same as ever. I’ve been writing every day. Some days the words come easier than others but for the last few days, for the last week even, I’ve hit the NaNo daily target of 1667 and often going a small bit past it. I am not however, where I wanted to be at this point, both in the story and in terms of word-count. I’ve been consecutively 30,000+ words behind every day. I could put that down to my illness last week but that’s still on going and I’m managing to write a fair amount each day. I could put it down to hating my story at the start and having to change it.

Those excuses are too easy, too cliché, too... not enough. A lot of it is sheer laziness, on days where I have nothing to do at all, few and far between though they may be, I’ve not written much. In fact, when I think about it I’ve written less on those days then i have on the days where I have to squeeze in my writing time. Who knows what is going on in my head though, even I don’t have a clue.
For now I’m going to plow through and keep writing.

I’m also still seriously consider including the word-count for my blog posts on the NaNo site, as they have all been written in November. Should I?

Keep Writing!

Monday, 19 November 2012

The Life of a Novel (REMOVED. Read post for details)

Writers often call their novels their babies. We nurse them into life before we set them free into the world, just like a person. The life of a novel is, when you think about it alot, much like that of a living person. It goes through stages, gradually developing more and more. Except unlike a person, a novel doesn’t die. Sure it can fade into the background of Amazon and delve into the depths of obscurity but it is always there. If someone wants to find it they can. Unless every single copy ever created is destroyed. Then it’s definitely dead. Really most sincerely dead (yes I just quoted Wizard of Oz, ‘cause that’s how I roll). But you probably don’t care about that. You’re probably wondering how much it is that I came to imagine the life of a novel and the life of a human being are in any way similar. Well, I’ll tell you.

A novel, goes through many stages;
Conception/ Birth
Troubled Teens
Middle age

Yes I’m ignoring death; in my mind novels never die despite what many may think.

Edit (23/12/2012): I've taken most of  this post down for now as I plan on working on this again in the New Year and then uploading it in more detail. I'm hoping to make it into a short series of small articles on the subject as I feel like I rushed it all and didn't really take the time to explain my thoughts properly. Plus it was really really boring... A link will be included to its new location once I've edited and rewritten it.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Day #14 of NaNoWriMo: Back on Track but still a little behind

I know, I know, I’m a very bad blogger. I said that I would update every Monday with a writerly post and I missed this week. Actually it was less that I missed it and more that I came home from work, wrote a few thousand words and then promptly passed out in bed. I’m a bit poorly sick basically. But I have been working on a post that I find very interesting and I may actually split it into two parts and put it up on two consecutive Mondays. Who knows?!

Anyway, it is Day 14 of NaNoWriMo and if I were sticking to the word goal of 3334 words a day that I originally aimed for I would be trying to hit 46,676 words today. Unfortunately my stalling last week and a deeply unproductive weekend has put me behind by about 10,000 words. Instead of being in the 40,000s I am currently sitting pretty on top of 27, 569 words. It’s a fair bit more than the count given by the NaNo site is and I’m happy with it.

My novel is developing well, the switch to turning Of Swords and Magic into a novel seems to have paid off and the words are flowing. I’m actually hitting about 2,000+ words a night, not bad considering I’m mostly making it up as I go along and I’ve spent the last two nights exhausted. My biggest hope is that I can keep this up, get in a couple of good writing days over the weekend and as a result bump up my word count. I might even manage to hit par for 100,000 words at some point next weekend. I’m 19,107 words behind at the moment and all I really need is a few really good writing days to get me up there.

Or I could be a bit cheaty and include my blog post counts in there.  That would certainly bump up the count a little. Actually it would bump it up quite a lot. What do you think?

How is everyone else handling NaNoWriMo?

Keep Writing

Sunday, 11 November 2012

RoW80 Check in

Before I start writing today I’m going to do the check in for RoW. It’s been a good week, for the most part. So, let’s get on with the show.

Write 3334 words a day for NaNo – semi-success
I stopped writing as many words in the last week. I had to change which novel I was focusing on after I started to hate the story and was only writing 300 or so words a day. Once I changed which story I was writing things started to go much better and my word count began to climb once more. Although I’m not hitting 3334 words like I was at the beginning of the month I’m still writing everyday and that’s what counts right now.

Edit Darkling Watch once a week – fail (at the moment)
I’ve not even looked at DW this week. I’ve thought about it, on the bus and while I’ve been trying to get to sleep but I’ve not actually opened the document it’s in and looked at it properly. I’m not overly disappointed but I still feel like a bit of a failure. Then again the day is still (fairly) young and there’s time yet for me to actually do some editing.

Write one Feral Diaries entry a week – fail (for now)
This one has gone much the same as The Darkling Watch has gone; poorly. I’ve not even thought about this novel set. I might do some more writing of it tonight, then again I might not. I shall have to wait and see.

o.S.a.M. – Success
This one has gone really well this week. In fact I’ve changed which novel I’m working on to focus on o.S.a.M and I’ve already started writing it as a novel. It’s going slowly but I’m finding it much more inspiring. It’s slow going as I don’t have much of the later stories worked out but it’s gradually coming together.

Write 3 blogs a week – Success
I managed to keep to my newly suggested schedule and I’ve put forth three whole blogs, just as I said I would. So this one was a definite success.

Overall, I’ve got a success in 3 out of my 5 goals met. I’m quite happy with how it’s going but I know that I should do more, focus more if I want to meet all of them. First thing tomorrow.

Keep Writing.

Friday, 9 November 2012

In which I ramble about my writing and making the time to write

As I sit here, taking a break from my usual NaNo writing (which is going better than it was earlier this week incidentally) I tried to figure out what to talk about. Fridays are the day that I talk about my writing or thoughts about writing that relate directly to my experience. Then I thought ‘hey, I’m working and writing during NaNo at the same time for the first time, I’m working and writing at the same time for the first time full stop. Why not focus on that?’ So I am.

Writing is one of the most important things in my life. I think about writing and my ideas most of the time, even when I’m watching brain-numbing TV. I read about it a lot, I’ve got close to 20 books about writing on my Kindle alone, with a couple more physical books in my room somewhere. I searched for and downloaded podcasts about writing. Hearing about other people’s experience in doing what I do and learning from the mistakes they may have made or adapting ideas that they use is something that interests me, it inspires me. So I want to try to inspire you dear readers as others have inspired me.

If I don’t write I get grouchy. If I have no access to paper or pen, if I can’t get hold of anything to put down my ideas I get grouchy. If the words just won’t come out I get grouchy. This grouchiness, for me tends to lead towards the beginnings of depression (something that both sides of my family are genetically inclined towards, I don’t know why). This is something I’ve experienced at least twice before, once earlier this year when I was doing mind-numbing clerical work for 7 hours a day and once earlier this week. Thankfully I caught the shift in my mood quick enough and made changes to what I was doing so that I felt fulfilled and happy. The bad mood shifted away pretty rapidly after that and now I don’t feel like I’m going to break down in tears at any moment. That’s how much I love writing. Not being able to write or not feeling like I’m writing the right thing gets me down and has that much of an effect on my mood and mentality.

Working full time for the last couple of weeks and the next couple of weeks to come I need to make time for myself to write. Thankfully I have few obligations to family and friends which means that I generally get left alone. A pair of supportive parents who understand how much I love writing has certainly helped. They let me lock myself away in my room to hammer out a few thousand words and only interrupt me with important stuff, the news that dinner is ready or, my favourite, to bring me a cup of tea. They ask me how it’s going; they want to read my work and let me mumble about misbehaving characters. They don’t complain that they don’t see me for hours. In fact they remembered that come November I’d be out most of Saturday every single week. They encourage me and drive me onwards. In fact my mum gave me an idea on how to get more time for my writing once I get back from work this week. She said I should do it as soon as I’m home, when I’m still in a mildly professional zone and before I veg out with a computer game or book. And she was right. The first few days of NaNo I’d come home from work, play a game and then try to write. The words wouldn’t come. I’d gotten out of that zone and lost my focus. So I tried doing what she suggested and I found it amazing, a real improvement. The time it took me to get out a certain number of words was less and the words were all better quality. For a woman who doesn’t write that was some pretty savvy advice.

Originally I intended to take some time to write in the mornings, just to get a few words out before I got sucked into spreadsheets and attendance lists. That didn’t really happen as the buses to work are too uneven in when they arrive at the bus stop. I couldn’t write on the bus either as I get travel sick. Instead I’d listen to podcasts on writing and think about my characters and my plot. I also planned to write in my lunch break, to take a quiet 20 minutes or so to just get some ideas down. I even bought a notebook with just that purpose in mind. That didn’t happen either. My work colleagues are too fun to chat to (conspiracy theories and existential conversations abound in the canteen) and I tend to lose track of the time during lunch. Plus I didn’t want to become that odd work experience girl who sits in the break room covered in paper. 

As it turned out though I didn’t need to do any of this; my word-count is healthy (about 20k+ at last count) and I’ve got plenty of time to write in the evenings. I may not be getting as much written each day as I could hope for but that has less to do with me having no time and more to do with the number of distractions I allow myself; namely surfing the NaNo site, sitting on Facebook and looking at blogs. So I decided to give myself some incentives. I bought a new game on Saturday and began to play it. I had to stop quite early as it was bedtime but I was really into it. SO I’ve decided that I can’t play it again until I hit 45, 000 words. I also use chocolate bars as an incentive, giving myself one entire row every time I hit the daily word goal. I ate the entire bar by the end of Saturday. I need to buy a new one tomorrow. I have also got plans to buy a new notebook. Which one that will be I don’t yet know but what I do know is that I can’t have it until the end of the month or when I hit the 100k+ that I’m aiming for, whichever one comes first. I make myself write for an hour with the internet turned off and I refuse to move my butt from my chair until I’ve got 1k down, even if I really need to pee.

Incidentally withholding that kind of thing (peeing or cigarettes) from myself actually gets me writing more than I plan to; I did it earlier to get to 2000 words. When I added it up and topped up my word count on NaNoWriMo site I found I’d written 200 words past that goal. That little extra incentive to write lots and to write quickly really spurred me on.

What about you dear readers? If you’re taking part in NaNoWriMo this month;
what do you do to encourage yourself to write?
How are you making time to write if you have a busy schedule?

With those questions I leave you, to continue writing and to see what it is that’s making that loud banging noise I keep hearing.
Keep Writing.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

NaNoWriMo: Day #7 - Stalling and downers

NaNoWriMo has... stalled a bit for me. That’s really the only way I can describe it. I’m making sure I write daily, don’t get me wrong but it feels like the words are forced and I hate the story. No, actually it doesn’t feel like I hate the story. I actually hate the story. I don’t know why as I was really jazzed about it last week, I got loads of writing done, hitting 13,000 by the end of the first weekend. I think that may be the problem though, I’ve burnt out before I’ve barely begun. I’m trying to balance working 5/6 hours a day with an hour’s travelling time each day, the need for at least 8 hours sleep and writing an word count goal of 3000+ words a day. It’s too much. I can’t do it right now, not when I hate the story and would rather be doing other things.

I knew the story wasn’t quite right, particularly once I started adding all the dares. Some of them, are cool and have helped develop the plot some more, some are just fun inserts to right. If I’m brutally honest though I think they’re making the story suck. Suck so much that I think I’ll just leave them out from here onwards. Apart from the ones that really appeal to me. Despite feeling all this though I’ve kept going and this feeling of hatred towards that story is slowly creeping over me. I don’t want to hate the story, it actually seems like quite a good one but all these dares that I’ve added have just made it seem silly. The only answer is to take out the dares.

It probably doesn’t help that I’m getting all these ideas for The Darkling Watch, how I’m going to edit it and then a bunch of ideas for the o.S.a.M rework and other novels set in that world. I jot them down with the intent of coming back to them later but really all I want to do is write them now. I’m actually thinking about being a bit of a rebel, using The Death of Yggdrasill as practice and warm up each day before I start editing or rewriting The Darkling Watch. But I’m not ready to do that. I know The Darkling Watch isn’t finished in the first round of read-throughs. It’s not properly planned out. So there isn’t much I can really do except for hit each day’s word-goal and keep writing but ignore the silly parts of the story.

Maybe it is hormones, maybe it’s burn out or maybe it’s a completely other reason that I don’t know about. All I do know is that I refuse to let myself burn out or hate my novel, hate any of my novels. SO I’m just going to write the bare minimum I want to write until this weird mood lifts or I hit 50k. Whichever comes first.

Keep Writing.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Thoughts of Fantasy

I didn’t quite explain myself very well yesterday when I mentioned the new schedule. Mondays are about writer/novel based thoughts while Wednesdays are all about progress. Finally, Fridays are focused on my experiences of writing. Today I’m going to focus on the Fantasy genre and my thoughts on this. But first I just want to tell you all that this post almost didn’t get written. Not because I don’t know what to talk about but because I’m exhausted. I’ve proved to myself and the people that I work with that I need to get at least 8 hours sleep if I’m going to be a functioning person. Not falling asleep until half past 12 at night and then being woken up at 4 before getting up at 7 does not make me an awake girl. So if this post seems a little weird and rambling, completely lacking in coherence that’s why. Anyway, on with the post.

I’ve always loved fantasy. It was the first kind of story that I read. How could it not be when my childhood readings consisted of fairytales and Enid Blyton stories. Yes, many of her short stories, aimed at the younger children were fantasy. How could they not be when they featured princesses and elves and magic, all set in a far away kingdom long ago. I loved them all. They just gave me this chance to escape into a land of make believe and that need for escapism has stayed with me, even today.

When I got older I started to read The Hobbit, before taking a brief foray into the world of R.L.Stine and other horror writers. I was always drawn back to fantasy though. And I’m talking old school epic fantasy here; The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of the Rings, Shannara. That last one is one I know I’ve mentioned before, in particular here and here, and there’s a reason. I started reading the series when I was about 12 and since then have continued to read it. I like seeing how Brook’s writing has developed and how, as he’s grown more confident in his writings he’s moved away from common fantasy tropes and instead worked with some very original material of his own.

The one thing all epic fantasy shares though is that fight for survival. The characters are always striving to combat and beat a foe that is much stronger than them, a foe that threatens to destroy the world the good, and not so good, guys live in. Always though, the author manages to make this epic idea a lot more personal for the characters, showing their families and homes, essentially the things that the protagonists are fighting to protect. It’s a nice thing really, showing what it is that these characters that you follow, for almost 500 pages, are willing to risk their lives to protect. Often they die and that makes their sacrifice bitter sweet. The thought that the authors have so much skill that they can make a huge analogy about the battle between good and evil and bring it down to the bare bones, personal level is humbling. It’s the mark of a good fantasy writer in my book.

The inability to do this, is in turn, the sign of a bad one. If there’s no real threat to the world, if the challenge isn’t dire enough, if there just isn’t enough motivation, personal motivation for the characters to battle on then the words seem wooden and the characters lacking. I rarely see this in the books I read. I don’t know if I’m just lucky or the writers of fantasy are just that good. There’s also the struggle with creating a good antagonist faced by many authors. It’s too easy to create a villain that’s just hammy or just plain rubbish. Occasionally too much is revealed too soon and the tension goes; particularly if the villain is so laughably one dimensional that you’re left wondering how on earth they got to be such a threat in the first place.

Most appealing for me about fantasy is the Worlds they are set in. Vast tracts of land with centuries of history and culture created for these stories to unfold in. It amazes me that one person can keep all of this on track and under control, particularly when I can barely remember what I did last week. The art of world-building is an interesting one, it has dozens of websites devoted to it, but many of the great fantasy authors created their worlds before the advent of the internet. They created them when resources and books were hard to come by or lugging a 700 page book on human anthropology back from the library was painful and inconvenient. I have the greatest respect for those authors, particularly as I work on building my own world.

I could go on for many more words but they would more than likely be hopeless fan-girling and gradually lose all meaning. Or I’d start repeating myself. So, before I get any more incoherent than I may already be I will end with this;

I have moved away from epic fantasy in my reading, and my writing, particularly in the last year or so. This is quite sad for me really as it’s a genre I love. Now though I’m turning back to it, particularly once NaNoWriMo is over. Ideas have started to form, I’ve gotten some amazing sounding epic fantasy novels lined up for reading and the stories are coming together. I see bright things for fantasy in my future; once NaNo is over. I see bright things, new and interesting things that I plan to share with you all once I’ve got them straight in my head.

Keep Writing.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

A Mixed Week - RoW80 Check In

It’s that time of the week again, the day I talk about how well I’ve succeeded in reaching my RoW80 goals or how thoroughly I’ve failed. It’s a bit of both again this week. But that’s not what I’m focusing on. I’m tweaking my goals a little.

1) NaNoWriMo – very good
Originally I planned to just aim for the daily word goal from the site of 1,667 words. Then I decided I wanted to beat my word-count from last year and aimed for a total of 100,000 words by the end of November. That means I need to write 3,334 words everyday. So far I’ve been beating that. On Friday in fact I wrote over 4,000 words. I’m very pleased with myself and i think I am well on track to reach the 100k goal I set myself, possibly before the end of November if I keep this up. I was a little disappointed though that this writing took me about 5 or 6 hours to complete. I tend to have conversations going when I’m writing and keep my internet browser open as well. Next week I plan on trying to write without the internet going, hopefully it will speed up how long it takes me to write and I can cut some of the time and boost my daily word count. Overall though things have been going really really well for me with this goal.

2) The Darkling Watch – disappointing
I’ve not managed to do any editing of this, simply because it’s been taking me so long to write my daily word-goal. This may change next week though once I start writing without the internet going. I did have some thoughts about the book though, and the series and once I have some more time I plan to put a couple of these ideas into play. Hopefully they will have some promising results.

3/4) The Feral Diaries Book 1 and Book 2 – failure
This week I’ve done nothing for these two goals. And I mean nothing, I’ve not even had any ideas about it or made any notes as I did with The Darkling Watch. I’m quite disappointed but again it’s not that surprising considering the time I take to write my NaNo daily goal. Again, like with The Darkling Watch, things may alter slightly once I turn off my internet.

5) o.S.a.M – a difference
While I have had a couple of ideas for scenes and the details of some of the plotline for o.S.a.M I came to a decision about it yesterday. I love the characters, I love the storylines, I even love the settings. It’s a story that I don’t really want to let go of. But I know that I don’t have the necessary skills in my artwork to tell it. It may be the case that I never will. But what I can do is write. So I decided I would turn the comic into a novel. It’s early days and there may be one or two tweaks to storylines but overall it should stay the same. In fact it may actually be better as I can give more depth to the characters by getting inside their heads. I love writing fantasy and I’ve been trying to find a story to write that is set within my fantasy world of Geniania (Yes the name and the world needs some work) and I really think that o.S.a.M would fit well within it. So there, a decision at last on that story.

6) Blogging twice a week – success
This one has been one of my bigger wins this week, and for the last few weeks. Granted Wednesday’s post wasn’t too coherent but I still wrote it and managed to say what I wanted to say. More importantly I’ve decided on a set schedule for posts, one that gives me more posts in a week and lets me have the chance to say what I want to say. It’s probably going to be the case that I write some of these posts in downtime at work and copy them up later but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that there will be more posts and they will be regular.
  • Sundays – RoW80 updates
  • Monday – writing based 
  • Wednesday – NaNo progress (novel progress once November is over)
  • Friday – personal thoughts
  • The contents may wiggle a little but those are the days that I’ll be posting.

Overall it’s been a mixed week. I’ve had a variety of success and the usual failures. I’m starting to see a pattern though. That means I need to alter my goals. AGAIN. So here are the altered goals. I’m sure from reading previous posts, as well as this one you will be able to work out why I’ve changed certain goals and targets.

2) Edit Darkling Watch at least once a week
3) Write or edit one Feral Diaries entry a week
4) Wait until Book 1 is done before planning Book 2 of The Feral Diaries
5) Work out how to convert o.S.a.M from a comic to a novel/novel series.
And now I shall return to my NaNo and try to get some more words down before bedtime.

Keep Writing!

Friday, 2 November 2012

NaNoWriMo: Day 2

NaNoWriMo is upon us once more. Writers everywhere are desperately scribbling words however they can, trying and praying that they reach the 50k word goal by midnight on November 30th. Parents go ignored, spouses go neglected, children are left to turn into feral Lord of the Flies style wild children, hamsters escape and hide under the fridge.

Me though... I’m somehow not neglecting my life. It’s already two days in and I’m at over 6,000 words. I’ve been spending quality time with my family, working full time and I even did a little bit of shopping today now that my money situation has been sorted out by the nice people at the Job Centre. I’m as shocked as you. I work all day and still manage to write roughly 3000 words a day, give or take. The night is still young too which means that this word-count may go up even more by the time you read this. I can’t figure out how I’m managing this. Although that may have a little something to do with the fact that my narrator has become a character in his own right.

Yup that’s right. I have a narrator that is not omniscient and is now a character. He has no name, a paranoid, bonkers personality and a tendency to go wildly off topic. I also struggle to get him to describe anything happening properly. Oh and let’s not mention the fact that there are apparently two people in his brain, him and someone called Cecil. I’m only halfway through the first chapter! I’m getting the feeling that this novel may actually kill me if I ever finish it and get to the stage of editing.

I think one of the biggest influences in my success so far is the CD I got sent by a fellow NaNo-er (I would include a link to the forum thread this spawns from here but the site is down AGAIN). It’s full of a variety of music and most of it is really inspirational. I pop it on as I start writing and it really helps me to get into the flow. It’s about an hour long and once I reach the end I know that I’ve finished an hour of writing, (with a few distractions). If I’m still in the writing zone, which I usually am I’ll pop on my own playlist that I plan to burn onto some blank CDs in the next few days to send off. That’s just over an hour long as well so I know that once it’s finished I’ve been writing for at least an hour (again with a few distractions). Within the next couple of weeks I should hopefully have another two CDs with lots of interesting music to inspire my writing.
I had planned to do an inspiration filled post tonight about how I love the NaNo spirit at the minute but I’m just too tired. Personal problems made sleep an issue last night and it’s almost my bedtime now so I’m flagging a bit. Before I go though I thought I’d share a big bloggy decision with you all.

As of Sunday I will have a regular update schedule. Well, sort of. On Sundays I will be doing my usual RoW80 post as I try to fulfil more of my goals there. On Wednesdays I’ll be making posts specifically about how I’m finding NaNo and some of the tricks I’m employing to get through it all; including a day of my schedule, inspired by this series of blogs. Any other day is fair game with a possible post about basic writer related things and links to other blogs and articles that I’ve found very interesting.

Keep Writing!

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Looking Back and Looking Forward

Tonight has a lot of significance for many different people. For most of us it’s Halloween, a night to dress up, eat candy and scare ourselves silly. For others it’s the Pagan New Year, when the veils between the worlds are thin (and yes, that is now a plot bunny in my head). Others still have it as the Day of the Dead, a night to remember and commemorate those we have lost. For me though it’s NaNoWriMo’s Eve. Tonight, right now, people all over the world are setting out to write 50,000 words in 30 days.

I’m not going to talk about NaNo tonight though. I’m looking back at the last month, at how much I’ve accomplished and how much I failed to do. I was looking at my monthly plan for October today. I got the most important bits of what I wanted to do, done. I managed to get my NaNo outline all done, a lot more of The Darkling Watch edited and a few more entries of The Feral Diaries written.
What I didn’t get done was as much on o.S.a.M as I had hoped. In fact I barely got anything done. That was the major disappointment of October.

So I decided something. Obviously, with NaNo and work, I’m having to cut down on what I’ve set myself as goals for RoW80 and my own November goals. I’m focusing entirely on NaNo with a little bit of a focus on the Darkling Watch read-through as well as more blog posts about NaNo, RoW80 and another post each week about something else. Maybe when I’ve got time I’ll do a bit of work on Feral Diaries and o.S.a.M.

My post is short tonight, I’m focusing on finishing the plans for NaNo and getting enough sleep for work and doing some writing. I’m a little disappointed that I won’t be able to take part in the midnight kick-off but I’m still looking forward to it. Hopefully once my money problems are sorted out I’ll be able to put together a bunch of incentives for myself as well.

Keep Writing!

Monday, 29 October 2012

A Very Late RoW80 Check-In

I’m a little late posting this, I know, I know. I’m very bad. Real life caught up with me in the form of vodka. A lot of vodka. But it’s alright. I needed it. I needed to unwind and relax and spend a day doing nothing involving my novels or my blog or my comic. Every day, no matter how minor it is, I end up doing something involving them. Except for Sunday. Instead I spent it lying in a nest of quilts on my living room floor watching Grey’s Anatomy. Yeah, that was my hangover day and it freaking rocked!

Now though it’s over. I had my first day at work (an unpaid work placement) and I’m tired. I’m so very tired. But I want to make this post. I’m driven to make this post. I suppose it’s truly become a habit for me. All day at work I was thinking about what to say, what to talk about. I’m going to start with my progress on RoW80.

Work on o.S.a.M once a week  -  I actually did some of this last week. I wrote a few detailed scene outlines of the first chapter. I may not have gotten loads done but I got enough done to be happy with it.

Edit The Darkling Watch – I did quite well with this one as well. I managed to separate out 3 more chapters and made notes on what I need to expand with them. I’m happy with it. While I may be taking a break from editing during NaNo I’m not going to stop thinking about it, working out how I’m going to attack it again once my placement is up and figuring out where my plot needs to go to get two books out of it.

Write The Feral Diaries – I was a bit disappointed with this last week. I got nothing done. And when I say nothing I mean diddly squat. I wrote one entry and that was it. Not good. I won’t lie, it bothers me a little but that’s just because I feel like I let myself down and disappointed myself. I am putting this to one side as well while I take part in NaNo.

Post twice a week – I did good with this one. I know I did. I managed to blog about NaNo and about my crazy organisation thing. I’m planning to do the same this week, even with NaNo starting properly and the fact I’m going to be working full time. I can’t guarantee that my posts will always be readable or that they’ll make normal person sense but I will try. I have to. I already know what I’m going to be posting about. I hate to admit it but it will be mostly about NaNo.

Plan/Write NaNo – My planning went really well last week. I got my entire plot twisted out, the first few chapters detailed in scenes and I’m tracking which dares I use where. I have lists again. I really like lists. I’ve even decided how I’m going to manage to write and work at the same time, a new experience for me. That will come on Wednesday, Halloween. I won’t be taking part in the midnight kick off like so many of my fellow NaNoers will be, simply because I’m useless without 8 hours sleep.

For now though I’m going to work on my outline a little more, get changed into my PJs and snuggle into my comfy bed for a good nights sleep. Look out for my post all about NaNoWriMo on Wednesday.

Keep Writing!

Thursday, 25 October 2012

My Thoughts on NaNoWriMo

There’s 6 days to go until NaNoWriMo kicks off. I think that by this time last year I’d made 2 or 3 posts about it already. Part of this was just the sheer excitement of having found such a new challenging thing. Another part was that I never really thought about what I’d post each week. This year not so much, I’ve been focused on outlining and editing and writing The Feral Diaries and RoW80. As a result I’ve barely thought about blogging about NaNo.

I thought I’d talk about it at last. I learnt this week that I’m being put on Work Placement with the JobCentre. This means that for the first time I’ll be really learning whether I can handle writing and working full time. The last time I worked I’d just finished writing The Darkling Watch and was taking a break after the intensity of NaNoWriMo. It will be a new experience for me, writing with NaNo at the same time as working 6 hours a day, 5 days a week. I’m considering it an experiment at living in the real world.

My NaNo this year is again drawing on Norse mythology but it’s focused more on the Young Adult market. I’m considering putting it up on Amazon once it’s finished and edited to the point I’m happy with it but if I don’t it won’t be the end of the world. I have ended up spending too much time on the NaNo forums, particularly in the dares thread. As a result my outline is now full of strange events and quirky characters. There is a chance I’ll have to take them out once I’m editing but there’s also a chance those dares will make it funnier and more interesting than I could ever hope.

My outlining has been very in-depth. It’s overly complicated but it works for me. First I outlined the novel as a whole. Then I went through the outline, breaking it up chapter by chapter. Then I outlined each chapter in more depth before separating out each scene. I’ve got a whole 31 chapters and an epilogue done like this so far. Now I’m going through with each scene and going into detail with each of them. I’ve also tried to get a better grip on my characters by interviewing them as well as doing character sheets. It seems to be working actually.

With so much detail going into my planning process and the fact I’ve only got 6 days left means I’m going to have to work my backside off to get this all done before November 1st rolls around. Here’s hoping I manage it. Last year when I went into NaNo I only had half of my novel detailed properly. The rest was only vaguely outlined and detailed and The Darkling Watch came out crazy towards the end.

I'll let you know how it's going over the month, making sure to have at least one post a week detailing my progress throughout the month. This will be on top of my RoW80 posts and another independent post. Hopefully I can juggle all this stuff. If you don't hear from me assume I've gone a little bonkers and had to be locked away. Or at the least that my parents have taken my laptop away from me.

Keep writing.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Crazy List Lady

Today I want to talk about organisation and some of the methods I use. These personally work for me, but they may not work for everyone. If it does, great! Let me know. If it doesn’t then fair enough, I hope you find one that does soon. Essentially what I’m trying to say is that there’s no right or wrong way to organise for everyone, it’s about finding what organisation methods fit you. Anyway, on with the post;

With so many projects going on in my head and in my writing I’ve found that being organised is key. I tried many different things; list making, using files on my computer, daily to do lists and self timetabling. Nothing really work though. Then I saw an amazing video made by a woman who’s also a writer and artist, Amy Brucker. Now her organisation tips are more directed to small business owners and the self-employed but I’ve found that with a bit of tweaking they are also a good base for writers.

I watched it, I made notes and I decided to give it a go. At first I was trying to do too much in one day, not really thinking about how long it took me to do each activity. Then I began to look and notice the patterns that were emerging in what I was and wasn’t doing. I realised that I was happily getting more done for the stuff that I wanted to do but the things I didn’t want to do I wasn’t really doing or I’d half-arse it. So I cut down on how much I tasked myself with each day and forced myself to do the things I really didn’t want to do or that I was feeling less enthusiastic about first. I also kept things new and interesting by making sure that no two days had exactly the same activities. The idea of doing exactly the same things two days in a row really seemed to get me unmotivated. So far it seems to be working. Granted my lists aren’t as colourful or highly decorated as hers, I prefer to focus more on the activities I’m setting myself than drawing pictures but it’s bright enough and eye catching enough that I notice it.

I also do a monthly to-do-list. This is basically an A4 sheet of plain paper with the month at the top. I’ll then write down each project I’m working on that month and leave plenty of space around it to set myself tasks. For instance in October I’m focusing on The Darkling Watch, The Feral Diaries, o.S.a.M and NaNo. Beneath each little title I’ll write three or four overarching tasks such as plan Book 2 of The Feral Diaries, get a complete NaNo idea written down. I’ll draw a little check box next to it and then I let myself loose with my Copic markers and decorate it. As the month’s gone on I’ve written little post-it notes to myself about other things that I didn’t even think about, mostly related to research and little ideas I’ve had.

Both of these pages are on separate doors of my wardrobe which is right beside me as I sit writing. That means I can look to the right and see what I’ve accomplished each day and what I’ve managed to do for each month. Once the month or week is over I switch it round, usually on Sunday night which is a slow day for me. I’ll put the old sheet in the back of my planning folder and put the new one up.
Then I found Amy Brucker had made another organisation video, focusing on something she’d mentioned earlier, the ideas journal.

I started making notes on the parts of her ideas journal that interested me. At first I was just writing on a single sheet of paper in a small folder where I kept my lined paper and notes on research I was doing. Then, as more and more ideas started coming to me, as I started writing a list of potential blog post ideas and The Feral Diaries pages started raking up I realised I needed to expand. So I bought a lever-arch folder and transferred it all to there. I used the larger cardboard dividers to separate out different sections; Darklings, The Feral Diaries, o.S.a.M, the blog, my research, NaNoWriMo, ToDo lists.

Then I divided each section down into what I needed from it. For Feral Diaries it’s outlines, Book 1 and Book 2. For the blog section its ideas, outlined ideas and published ideas. I could go on and on but I figure you’ve got the idea by now; I split each larger section into small bits focusing on different parts of the project. Even the weekly to-do list sheets get their own section at the very back (but that isn't split). At the start of each large section I’ve created individual to-do lists for those areas, just so that I can look at those when I’m working on the to-do lists each week and so that I can see how far I’ve come.

I like working on paper. It gives me freedom. I can go nestle in the living room with a trashy film on and slowly write out random bits and pieces for my writing. I can jot down a random idea about ninja parrots or something if I’m in the middle of town. I usually get struck by random ideas when I’ve not got my laptop on or I’m on the middle of the bus so can’t really dictate a note to myself without looking crazy. Basically the plot bunnies attack when I least expect it.
But I’m not unprepared. I make sure that I have a little notebook with me at all times. It’s a little bruised, a little battered but it’s mine. When I get an idea I write it on top of a fresh page and continue to develop it onto the other side of that page if it stays with me. If it’s got to that point I know it might be a keeper. Sometimes I don’t or can’t go any further with it but if it’s a random scene or character I’ll pop in a post-it just in case I can use it for some other story.
When an idea’s gotten to the point where it’s stuck in my head and begging to be planned I’ll copy it into the pages of another book I have, a notebook that was a birthday present this year from a fellow writer. It’s actually one of the notebooks that NaNoWriMo sells and has “There’s a book in you that only you can write” on the front. I think this is quite fitting really as this is where I put my bigger ideas as they develop. Yes I’ve split it into separate sections as well. I leave enough room for 3 double sides of writing per idea, 6 sides of paper in total. If an idea covers those 6 pages and especially if I’ve started to add in little post-its with notes on them I know it’s time to start planning it properly.

This all might seem really complicated to you but for me it works. If I need to take a break from something  that I’m currently working on or I’ve got a block on that project I can put it aside and do a little planning for something else. I love lists so they feature heavily in how I organise myself. I like to work on paper more than on the computer for the initial planning stages of a story. I like to keep all my ideas in one easy to reach place. 

If you want to give my methods a try and they work for you I’d love to hear it. If you try them and they don’t I’d still like to hear about it and why they didn’t work for you. If you have your own method that really works then please, share it. I like hearing about this sort of stuff, and who knows, it really might help other people too. There’s no right or wrong method for everyone, it’s an individual thing.

Keep Writing.

Also a big thank you to Christina who left a comment on Sunday's blog post and explained to me how to add those web-badges I was on about. As you can see her instructions worked and I'm one step closer to getting the blog looking the way I want it to. So thank you Christina, big hugs to you.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

RoW80 Check In

So it’s another week down and yet more failures on my part. Except... I’m not classing them as failures. I may not have done as much editing or writing as I planned to but I’ve been doing things related, however distantly, to my goals.

I didn’t write any new entries for The Feral Diaries but I did do the long promised blog post about it yesterday. And I received some positive feedback about it. I also did some planning about the storylines and figured out a rough idea of what happens when. So although I didn’t meet the specific goal of writing and editing I made progress, even if it was in a different direction than I planned.

The same is true of Darkling Watch. I’ve done very little editing of it. Barely any of my read-through in fact but the stuff I did do on Monday led to three whole chapters being separated. That’s quite a lot for only three hours work. And I had Jeremy Kyle on in the background, which surprisingly helped with the arguements. Not to mention that I started roughly planning the novel about one of my favourite characters in the book. I plan on plotting that one out properly next year in fact and may share something about it at a later date.

I didn’t do anything related to o.S.a.M this week but I’m not actually bothered by that fact. It’s a series of short story web-comics connected by one long theme. I’m still trying to think of a new name for it as Of Swords And Magic does, as a friend told me, sound like a dissertation title for fantasy literature. I’m thinking something to do with curses. It still needs work. Anywho, the reason I’m not too bothered is that with the new storylines roughly plotted out for the most part I’ve got to let them settle. I need them to come together in my head, not just on the paper. For a good three or four months the story was one direction, not a direction I was really happy with, but it was a certain way. Now that I’ve started again from scratch with a bunch of different genres I’m happier with it. I’ve still got to get used to it in my head.

As for NaNoWriMo... well. It’s going splendidly. I’ve got a rough idea of my characters, the events and a couple of the subplots. The subplots aren’t as clear as the primary plotline but they’re getting there. I’ve also stepped a bit away from the Young Adult genre and into the realms of the completely ridiculous. I spent too much time in the Dares thread of the NaNoWriMo forums and so I’ve got a bunch of small events that I’m planning to put in to the story somewhere. The outlines right now are so rough that I can. For instance I’ve got a very basic scene of someone telling my MCs what’s happening. I don’t know how, I don’t know what’s said or what the characters are all doing. Thanks to the dares though I can expand on it a little, make it funnier. Maybe it won’t work and I’ll have to take those weird sections out but who cares! I’ll have fun doing it. Last year I took NaNoWriMo very seriously, not including any dares or experiencing much of the fun of NaNo that people talk about. Now though, with one whole novel under my belt and another one well on its way to reaching the editing stage I feel happy enough in my abilities to put weird events in and make them work. Who knows, maybe I’ll have a hit on my hands.

And finally, the last goal of blogging more than once a week about topics other than RoW...I nailed it. Not only did I write the promised posts about The Darkling Watch and The Feral Diaries but I also did one more than intended, specifically the Liebster Award entry. I’m still trying to figure out how to get that badge on the site incidentally. I want to put it in one of my sidebars, along with a NaNoWriMo badge/link and a RoW80 badge/link but I don’t have a clue. If you know how let me know.

So it’s been a successful week for me. Not as productive on the writing front as I’d hoped and I didn’t exactly reach my specific goals but I did work around each other them and that makes me happy. Now though I return to my NaNo planning and trawling the NaNo Dare thread for more insanity to put in my novels.

Keep writing!

Saturday, 20 October 2012

It's all about the ferals

I know I promised the low-down on The Feral Diaries yesterday but I got completely enfolded in planning for NaNo. I literally spent the entire day working on my outline and character notes. Now though I’ve decided to write the promised post all about the Feral Diaries.

As the name suggests The Feral Diaries is a series of diary entries about the creatures known by my characters as Ferals. It’s kind of like a zombie novel and does in fact draw inspiration from Living with the Dead, a blog diary that I’ve mentioned before here. I was originally going to write it in novel form, with each chapter being a weekly entry and other bits and pieces such as emails and lab reports inserted at seemingly random points. After thinking about it though I’m planning to put The Feral Diaries online, at least three posts a week, done in real time. It’s going to take some work, particularly in explaining how the internet is still working in a country that’s lost much of its infrastructure (I’m thinking dongles but if anyone’s got a better idea let me know in the comments).

You’re probably wondering what the Ferals are exactly. I’ll tell you. They’re people, or at least they used to be, mutated by a contaminated vaccine that’s offered all over the country. They’re vicious, bloody thirsty and look a bit like a werewolf mid-change. All this is told from the point of view of an alternate me in a little village that fights to survive. There’s rebellions, famine and attacks from deeply unpleasant people as well that they have to deal with.

Planning the thing is a bit of a task. In my original outline I used prompts from a LiveJournal group called RunAwayTales. I still am as I work on my first draft in fact. I’m getting all the important points covered and reading back every 10 entries or so, figuring out how to separate all the stuff up. I’m also having to juggle the realistic side of how long it would take to build a wall, collect supplies and the like. I’ve had a lot of help with this aspect actually and it’s quite good. My assistant as I shall call her (she’s shy and doesn’t want to be named) seems to have a crazy amount of experience in the things I’m working on and she’s got an incredible mind for figuring this sort of stuff out.

The outlines have been done in 6 month groupings and I’m still on the first group. I’m almost at the end though and it’s coming along well. Now I just need to make the adjustments, copy it all up and expand on some of the entries. I’m planning to leave some leeway so that I can allow for real-time events of the natural kind (floods etc) that might be big news outside of the UK. I don’t know when I’ll be ready to start posting but I hope to have at least a month’s worth of entries all ready to go, maybe more.
I’ll let you know when I do get around to putting it online. It’ll be on a different blog site though. I’m also still iffy about the name The Feral Diaries.

In the meantime I’m gearing up for NaNo and working on my RoW80 goals so expect a post about RoW80 tomorrow and one about NaNo on Tuesday.

Keep writing.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Liebster Award

I was originally going to do an entry about The Feral Diaries today and tell you all about those. But I got some interesting news today and thought I better follow through on sharing it. The amazing J. E. Blackworth from J.E. Blackworth’s Shifting Thoughts, the inspiration behind my A to Z post last week, informed me on my last entry that she’d nominated me for the Liebster Blog Award.
Before I even think about responding to J.E’s questions I’ll give a bit of information about the Awards as I really wanted to know what it’s about. And you know, I’m weird like that. It’s essentially a chain letter but one of the fun ones. There’s no horrible threats of supernatural repercussions if you don’t follow through and it’s a great way to get some new readers. What it boils down to is that you get tagged by someone who admires or enjoys your blog who asks you 11 questions. You then make a post and answer those questions. At the end of your post you ask 11 new questions of 11 of your favourite bloggers who have less than 200 followers and tell them. It’s almost impossible to find out where the Liebster Blog Award began, some of the older entries that came up in my google search actually mention it’s 4 to 5 bloggers with less than 3000 followers that you ask and that you have to post 11 things about yourself. I’m not sure how it’s gotten so much smaller but I think it may have something to do with the expansion of the blogger-sphere and the fact it’s now quite easy for people to get 3000 followers. I wouldn’t know, I’m still stuck on 5 :P
Here’s what I found from this blog when I looked up the Leibster Award on Google.
The Liebster Award is given by bloggers to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers.
What is a Liebster? The meaning: Liebster is German and means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome.Here are the rules for receiving this award: 1. Each person must post 11 things about themselves.  2. Answer the questions that the nominator set for you plus create 11 questions for the people you’ve nominated to answer. 3. Choose 11 people and link them in your post. 4. Go to their page and tell them. 5. No tag backs!

So I’ll start with the 11 things about myself;
  1. I enjoy organising my work
  2. I’ve got a thing about making lists, they’re the funnest thing I know how to do
  3. I’ve never had a serious relationship.
  4. I can climb up a tree branch with just my thighs supporting me.
  5. I get on better with boys than girls
  6. I have a thing for the delectable and dashing Henry Cavill.
  7. I’m appallingly bad at HTML so I’m struggling to figure out how to put those buttony things on the sidebars of my blog.
  8. I used to want to be a horse when I grew up.
  9. I accidentally got my dad into zombie fiction when I threw World War Z at his head.
  10. I have very poor willpower, hence why I’m still smoking despite wanting to quit.
  11. I secretly worry I’m going to end up alone except for my 20 cats (I’ve only got one at the minute)

There’s a bit about me and now I’ll answer the questions from the delightful J. E.

1. What actor would you hire to play you in your TV movie biography, and why?
I would hire... Kate Beckinsale to play me. Not because I’m gorgeous (I’m only mildly pretty on a good day when I try) or slim as a rake. It’s because she’s got an incredible range of emotions and this beautiful elegance and grace that I wish I could have at least half of.

2. If you could take home any animal from the zoo, which would it be, and what would you do with it?
I would take home a snow leopard and I’d cuddle it. Or set it on people if they started bothering the house again. I love cats and big cats. They’re pretty.

3. What book setting would you like to visit, if you could?
I’d love to visit Discworld. Terry Pratchett makes his writing so vivid and the world so interesting and amazing that I’d just love to see it in reality.

4. What is your favorite thing to do outdoors? Why?
I like to walk outdoors, especially in autumn. I just love the colours in the trees and fields and I like to feel all the space around me and listen to the birds. I love to walk outdoors because I can go as fast or as slow as I like and there’s this incredible sense of freedom when I’m walking. I can get lost in my own thoughts and work out problems with my writing or my life.

5. Who was the best teacher you ever had, and why? Can be related to formal education, or not.
The best teacher I’ve ever had is my dad. He taught me how to cook and to love cooking. He taught me how to do DIY, or at least tried to as I’m not very good with a power drill. He’s just taught me how to care for myself and look after my own life. He’s taught me to be independent but the most wonderful thing he’s taught me is that even though I can look after myself and make something of my life he’s always there and will be there for me whenever I call him.

6. What makes your favourite song so special? How do you personally relate to it?
I don’t actually have a favourite song. It really depends on my mood and the place that my head is at when I’m listening to music. There are several that I like to listen to though. 
One in particular that I’m really into right now is Rita Ora’s R.I.P. featuring Tinie Tempah. It just resonates with me because I am so different to how I used to be at school. I have self-confidence, I don’t rely on other people to make me feel important, I am the person I am and I embrace my weirdness. The girl I used to be at school is gone and I’m me.

7. If you could learn any new language, which one would you choose and why?
I really don’t know. There are several I’d love to learn; Latin, French, German, Mandarin, Japanese. I just want to try to speak more than just English, learn more than just the English language structure. I think the first one I’d most like to learn would be Latin. It’s the root of so many different languages in our modern world and sounds a beautiful and fascinating language.

8. Using all of your 5 senses, describe your favorite food.
My favourite food is a Mr Kipling’s Angel Cake. I could eat a whole box of 6 of those delicious things.
Sound- rustling scratching as the plastic wrapping is taken off, the crunch sound as the cake is pulled from the plastic tray. A moist, barely there squishing sound and sucking as the icing gets stuck to my fingers.
Sight - Two slices of light fluffy sponge, one pale yellow and the other the pastel pink of a sunset, with a shining layer of white glaze and swirling pattern of bright pink icing. Just the sight makes my mouth water.
Smell – almost too sweet, slight hints of vanilla and something indescribable that makes me know that it’s going to be delicious.
Touch – light and springy, barely any weight in my hand. My finger is moist on the bottom where it presses against the sponge, my other finger slides in the icing on the top, covered in the sticky sweetness. It’s so easy to get my teeth through.
Taste – the rush of vanilla and flour and sugar. The intense sweetness of the icing that momentarily overwhelms the taste of the cake. It’s just too delicious to describe.

9. If you found a suitcase full of money in the middle of the street, what would you do?
I’m not sure. I’d like to imagine that I’d report it to the police and hand it in but I’m more sure that I’d probably not mention it and keep the money for myself. It’s selfish and I’d love to be sure that I’d take the high road and be a good Samaritan but I know there would be the chance that I wouldn’t. A very good chance.

10. What are you most grateful for?
I’m most grateful for my family and home. I don’t have a job, I don’t own my own home. My parents are kind enough to let me live with them still, to provide me with heat and food and running water. They don’t have to do this, I’m 22, I have a degree, I should be living my life with my friends and a job according to society. They’ve chosen to let me stay with them, I think my mum loves the fact that I’m home still. They’ve made no mention of me moving out apart from the obvious bi-weekly ‘How’s the job hunt going?’. They just want me to be happy and make something of myself and they’ll help me until I can support myself. For this I’m grateful.

11. Tell about an article or book you read recently.
I recently finished reading Sun God seeks...Surrogate? by the amazing Mimi Jean Pamfiloff. Her writing is incredible. She draws on all kinds of ancient mythologys, supernatural mythology and the modern world. She deals and writes about the kinds of things that are similar to my Darkling series but she focuses on a bigger picture while weaving together all of these stories. She has an insane seer goddess that just keeps making pop culture references and is just plain hilarious to read. She manages to balance action, romance, drama and tension while still being able to find the way to make all the sex she writes seem natural and fun without seeming like it’s been forced in there to make the wordcount.

Right, time for my tagging of other bloggers. I don’t actually know many bloggers who have less than 200 followers but there’s a few. I don’t think I’ll be able to tag 11 though. If they’ve got over 200 followers my bad :s 
So, my tags are;
  • Erin over on La Bella Ironia – an amazing artist and a funner blogger.
  • Polly over on Polway – the woman is awesome and one of my best friends. We may not like all the same things but she’s been there at some of my worst moments.
  • Emmy on Bittersweet Enmi – she seems such a strong woman, despite all that she’s been struggling with lately. I admire the strength she has and her bravery in talking about her problems and her thoughts.

Yeah, that’s right, I’ve only got 3 blogs I read that may or may not have less than 200 followers.
But... here’s the fun part, here are my questions;

1. What made you first get into blogging?
2. What’s the most embarrassing thing that you’ve ever had happen to you?
3. Who’s the most important person in your life?
4. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be? And why?
5. What would you say is your number one flaw?
6. What’s your favourite genre of book to read? Why?
7. Tell us about the most interesting book you’ve read recently?
8. What would your dream job be and why?
9. What is the bravest thing you’ve ever done?
10. What language do you most wish you could speak? Why?
11. Describe your dream holiday and tell us why you want it.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Finally I give the low-down on The Darkling Watch

At last it’s the long awaited, long promised post about The Darkling Watch. The entry that I’ve been promising for a while, many, many weeks in fact. I’m struggling to think about where to start. I suppose at the beginning is the best place to start.

The Darkling Watch is part of a series. The series itself focuses on the beings known as the Darklings. The Darklings is the collective name for the supernatural beings that live within our worlds, the vampires, werewolves, shape-shifters and witches, staying hidden from human eyes. The Watch is the police force of this world, comprised of different Darklings and their human helpers who call themselves the Admin. The Darkling Watch is actually probably the end book(s) given that I’ve now reworked the ending (more on that later) and it’s not completely happy. I’ve got other novels vaguely planned that feature characters from this part of the series but they come before the novel starts. So basically I’m working from the back to the beginning. I think. The Darkling Watch is about a girl who is killed, basically at the very beginning, but who is brought back to life and thrown into the world of the Darklings. It’s slowly revealed that what happens to Nadia (our Main Character) wasn’t an accident but that a deranged god has been pulling her strings for many years. Who? Loki, the prankster god of Norse mythology, with a twist. Why? To bring about Ragnarok and end the world.

This novel was a NaNo novel, written for NaNoWriMo, and I only decided to take part about halfway through October. The planning was rushed, the characters were only vaguely described and I had no idea about chapters or anything like that. I had written before but I’d never managed to finish an entire novel. I managed to plan about halfway through, making detailed notes on scenes etc. After that things got a little foggy and I only had vague outlines for each scene. So after I hit the end of my detailed notes I started pantsing. That led to some interesting developments to say the least. Something about writing late at night leads to weird things happening in my mind. Granted, some of these developments were pretty awesome and I couldn’t have thought of them while I was just sat there thinking and planning. It has led to things being quite complicated and the completed novel now needs a lot of work.
The biggest piece of work I’m having to do, before I even think about editing phrasing of sentences and fixing all the little details, is reading through the novel and separating it up into chapters. As I’ve gone through I’ve spotted missing scenes and the fact is that these have made the story even bigger. So it’s ended up with me having to split the manuscript into two, possibly three separate books. I don’t actually have a problem with this, it gives me a chance to explore my characters and their emotions more, building on things that are only briefly touched up but need more attention to them. To put it shortly, the editing I’m doing is making it even bigger. And I like it. Much of my writing right now, as it stands is mostly telling, not showing as writers are encouraged to do. Not worrying about making the novel bigger means I get to hone these skills and get my characters showing how they feel, focusing on emotions and thoughts rather than just ‘he felt sad’, ‘she wanted to kiss his mouth’ and so on. Also I need to add in a timeline in my notes. Right now everything in the story happens very quickly. Nadia falls in love with a shifter too quickly for it to be authentic. Everything gets very rushed along and I need to stretch the time that the novel covers. Making it even longer.

Now... another thing that makes it even longer, possibly into a third book, making The Darkling Watch a trilogy is the research I’ve been doing. Early on in the writing stage I decided that Loki, Norse god of mischief and general iffy character, would be my antagonist. Thing was I didn’t know much about Norse mythology. So, once the novel was finished, I tracked down a few books on Norse mythology. As I worked on it I began to develop new ideas for both The Darkling Watch and my NaNo novel. What struck me most was the myth about Ragnorok, signalled by the freeing of Loki from his chains. In my novel Loki gets free and tries to end the world. With my research though I’m starting to think that maybe the end of the world should get closer to actually happening by the end and they all live happily ever after. The idea of shoving my characters through 3 years of winter is appealing, I do admit.

Yes I’m evil.

Why am I so relaxed about the time I’m taking to edit The Darkling Watch? Why do I not mind the fact that my novel has now turned into two, possibly three, books? Simply put... I’m self-publishing; on Amazon kindle and possibly in paperback. First though I need to finish the story and then I’ve got to find someone who can help with my cover. I have got a few ideas about that actually but more on the topic of book covers at a later date. But before all that I need to find a group of beta readers, something I’m not sure how to do, after the edits are done of course. For now though I’m enjoying the work and taking my time. I’m young and there’s nothing rushing me right now.