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A Weird April

So this is happening next month.
Camp-Participant-2015-Web-Banner

I know, I know, I have a ton of things on my to-edit list right now, including a YA Horror novel, a YA Fantasy novel and a werewolf novella, but the story ideas just keep coming. Plus there are some fabulous story prompts showing up on Duotrope lately. I'm limiting myself to 20,000 words this Camp, and am hoping to churn out 4 short stories at around 5,000 words each.

Here's a peek at what I'll be working on:

  • The Traveler

    • Detective Harris (from Mysterious Disappearance of Charlene Kerringer) investigates missing children in town. Police are coming up empty handed and since he's got a reputation for being particularly good at finding missing kids, parents come to him for help.

    • Upon investigating he learns that the kids are being used in some sort of ritual, and worse yet, it appears to be working. Things turn bizarre pretty quickly after that. It's a good thing Harris is getting used to that sort of thing.


  • TBD Weird Ales

    • Based on WEIRD ALES call for submission

    • I've got a few ideas bouncing around at the moment, some involving hair, some involving the psyche, but all of it is sure to be strange and unusual. Don't want to commit to anything quite yet though.


  • The Woodcutter

    • After dozing off in the woods, a woman seeks shelter from a downpour in a nearby Woodcutter's home.

    • Although the Woodcutter is out of the house, something old and angry is waiting for her to return. The woman is mistaken for the Woodcutter and has to think fast to survive.


  • TBD Wild Things

    • Based on WILD THINGS call for submission

    • What can I say? I really love their prompts for these anthologies! I need to steer clear of werewolves for this one, which is probably good for me. Leaning toward using a Deer Woman, but I'm still tossing ideas around for this one.



It looks like it's going to be a weird April for me, and I'm okay with that. I've never written so many short stories so quickly though, so I'm a bit anxious at the same time. Guess this means I need to sit down and do some planning & outlining in the next couple of weeks. I always feel better going in with a plan.

How Far We've Gone

The first draft of this novel was written back in April 2013 during Camp NaNoWriMo. After a few months of letting it sit and then doing a re-read I realized how the entire thing had to be scrapped and re-written. That's a pretty tough decision to make, but I realized too how much planning would be needed to write the story that I wanted to write.

I took months to plan. I read through the old draft and made notes about ideas on what I wanted to change, characters I might add, plot arcs that should be changed, themes I could pick up on. From these notes I made a detailed outline, at least for 2/3 of the story. The last section I wasn't entirely pleased with, but I thought I might have a better idea of what to do with it once I finished the next draft. I knew how I wanted to end it, I just wasn't sure how to get from the midpoint to the end. Sure enough, while I was writing this next draft it came to me around 5:00 or so in the morning during my pre-work writing time. I grabbed a notebook and sketched out the back and forth perspectives all the way to the end. I've been using that as my guide for these past few weeks as I grappled with the ending and what was going to happen to certain characters & plotlines. Is it set in stone now? Of course not, but it's a scaffolding I'm happy with.

This being a second draft, there's going to be a ton of cutting later on. Several scenes I wrote knowing that I wasn't going to keep them in the published version, so this is way longer than it will be after a visit to the cutting floor. Of course other scenes will likely need more detail, cause I'm bad about that. Still though, this draft is FINISHED. Time to put it on the back-burner and turn my attention to other writing projects!



Here’s the progress on my YA other-world fantasy novel about urban explorer Shaleigh Mallett who is whisked away to the Land of the Fae. Along the way she encounters living statues, friendly minotaurs, and a backstabbing ruler. When she gets tangled up in a love story that can’t possibly end well, Shaleigh finds herself forced to make a difficult choice that could change the future of this new land, and prevent her from ever getting home.



Project: Madam Cloom's Garden
FINAL Word Count: 108,151
New Words Written:
12/2/14 - 143
1/27/15 - 321
1/28 - 512
1/29 - 872
2/1 - 386
2/3 - 1,279
2/5 - 1,827

Commentary: Ending it on an adrenaline-pumping note. Some questions are answered, some closure is found, but the journey is hardly over.

Going the Distance

Last night I passed the finish line of 50,000 words. I validated my novel and picked up a couple of reward goodies. I've got to admit, there were plenty of times I didn't think I was going to make it this month, especially after such a difficult start.

nano_14_winnershirt_detail_closeup

Here's my progress chart. You can really see the hit I took that first week too, plus the lack of motivation that took place shortly afterwards. There were several times when I came oh so close to throwing my hands in the air.

stats_Nov2014

Instead I made myself be sociable and attended a few write-ins, and even though my word counts during those sessions weren't that high, it gave me the boost of confidence I needed to continue. I didn't expect that sort of thing to happen really. I kind of thought I would attend a few, then walk away from it; but the knowledge that I had to meet with folks who were working on the same deadline I was gave me some much needed peer pressure to finish.

So the novel isn't done, but I am in the climactic final scenes. With all of the setting notes and background scenes (which won't be included in the final novel), this beast is now over 100k. So I'm taking a guess that it's really only around 90kish. At least, I hope so. I'm pretty minimalist on my first drafts, so I'm sure there are areas that need buffing up.

The final scenes of the book took a DRASTIC change from what I had outlined too, which is why it's more difficult to put down words at this point. Lots of POV switches, lots of balancing out what character knows what, and lots of action going on. It's a tad bit difficult to keep it all straight, and I'm sure there are several knots that need to be worked out, but I'm much happier with how this is ending compared to what I had before. I just couldn't imagine Shaleigh getting dragged into a ball, nor could I imagine Madam Cloom throwing one after the craziness that happened in the scenes prior. But this unmarked path is freaking fun. Lovable (and not so lovable) side characters are getting the spot light and all their flaws are shining through. Colin, Mawr, Lieutenant Varg, and Captain Briar are all getting a lot more stuff to do; and more importantly, they're staying in character for the most part. The plots in the background make more sense and the villains are even seeing more exposure with this path. There's some tough work going on here, but it's keeping me highly entertained.



Here's the progress on my YA other-world fantasy novel about urban explorer Shaleigh Mallett who is whisked away to the Land of the Fae. Along the way she encounters living statues, friendly minotaurs, and a backstabbing ruler. When she gets tangled up in a love story that can't possibly end well, Shaleigh finds herself forced to make a difficult choice that could change the future of this new land, and prevent her from ever getting home.



Project: Madam Cloom's Garden
Current Word Count: 102,577
New Words Written:
11/19 - 2,843
11/20 - 490
11/23 - 4,174
11/24 - 2,416
11/25 - 3,000
11/26 - 3,742
11/28 - 1,517
11/29 - 4,595
11/30 - 1,800

NaNo Word Count: 51,319



Progress: Battle has broken out everywhere as an unexpected enemy makes a drastic move. Shaleigh is pivotal to what happens next, but she doesn't understand why, or what the consequences will be.

Next up: Bonds are broken, others are made, and some mistakes can never be forgotten.

Commentary: I caught up with my NaNo word count the day before Thanksgiving, which meant I could spend the day with family for the most part. Most of this catch-up time has been late at night to be honest. Quite happy with how this story is unfolding, and I'm excited to see all the pieces finally falling into place. Also getting some good ideas for Book 2.

Not What They Seem

So yesterday's write-in was really fun! There were only four of us total, but I really got a ton of writing in. And when you're as behind as I am, you look for all the inspiration you can find to get more words in. It's late but I wanted to do a quick update on the latest word count.



Here's the progress on my YA other-world fantasy novel about urban explorer Shaleigh Mallett who is whisked away to the Land of the Fae. Along the way she encounters living statues, friendly minotaurs, and a backstabbing ruler. When she gets tangled up in a love story that can't possibly end well, Shaleigh finds herself forced to make a difficult choice that could change the future of this new land, and prevent her from ever getting home.



Project: Madam Cloom's Garden
Current Word Count: 77,700
New Words Written:
11/17 - 2,972 (Mostly at the Write-In, with a very inspiring Word Sprint too!)
11/18 - 2,462

NaNo Word Count: 26,742



Progress: A surprising combat and dark secrets get revealed. People who Shaleigh had written off or thought she understood now have a very different side revealed to her.

Next up: A bloody backstory and getting Colin's help.

Commentary: I'm still not caught up yet, but at least NaNo is predicting I need under 2k words a day in order to reach my goals. And I hit the halfway mark! Only three days after the halfway point! *Sheepish grin*

A Weekend of Much Writing

I started this weekend almost 10,000 words short of where I ought to have been (to be exact, 9,733 words short), and it was difficult to find the motivation to keep writing. I was honestly the biggest de-motivator too. I couldn't really blame friends or family or even the kitties on that. I kept telling myself that I didn't really plan to catch up, and how much writing it would take to make up for that large of a word gap. You can really see it in the missing day and the low word counts below too at first. I think I have a mixture of resources to thank for keeping me going.

Mostly I think it was reading the Reddit Nanowrimo forums that helped. It's super inspiring to look through at the other people who are already hitting the 50k deadline, and hear their happy stories. It gave me just the nudge I needed to keep going. Especially hearing people who were making up for larger word shortages than what I had. In addition I remembered there was a Write-In I'm planning on attending tomorrow. I've never actually been to one before. I went to the meet and greet session back in October and really enjoyed it. It's funny how as an introverted writer you kind of dread meet-ups like that, but after you attend them you find they're actually a lot of fun and you get to meet some amazing people. I guess writing is like that though. You don't get a lot of time to be able to talk to real life writers in person very often, and it's inspiring to hear how other people have to juggle their lives with their writing goals and dealing with various setbacks along the way.

Anyway, that too is motivating me. I'm really looking forward to the meet up tomorrow. I couldn't go to the first Write-In because I was sick, and this is the only other one they're doing. Peer pressure is a powerful tool, folks. It's kind of cool to use it in a positive light.

I'm still behind. (5,358 words total actually, and by tomorrow it'll be 7,025 - oy!) However I'm still in this race, and I'm not about to give up. The NaNo site says I have to write 2k words a day to catch up... for today's word count at least. Looks like I have a busy half month ahead!



Here's the progress on my YA other-world fantasy novel about urban explorer Shaleigh Mallett who is whisked away to the Land of the Fae. Along the way she encounters living statues, friendly minotaurs, and a backstabbing ruler. When she gets tangled up in a love story that can't possibly end well, Shaleigh finds herself forced to make a difficult choice that could change the future of this new land, and prevent her from ever getting home.



Project: Madam Cloom's Garden
Current Word Count: 72,266
New Words Written:
11/12 - 0 Words. :(
11/13 - 783
11/14 - 1,704
11/15 - 2,940
11/16 - 4,768 (Aw yeah! :D )
NaNo Word Count: 21,308



Progress: Minotaurs too can catch you off guard. It's best not to underestimate them. Time to attend a party in the clouds, but one filled with much dizziness, nausea, and fear. The beautiful scenery makes up for it a little at least.

Next up: A backstage pass that shows a little more about how broken this society is, a terrible wound, and a dangerous test.

Commentary: In all, I've written 7,708 words this weekend. I'm super happy about that even though I haven't caught up yet. Even if I don't reach the deadline, this has been an incredible experience to see how many words I can push out when I have some motivation behind me. I've purposefully not been skimping on the grammar either, because this is going to be a more polished draft, so really I've just been putting more hours in. The house may not be in perfect shape, but this manuscript sure does look good!

NaNo: Day 11? Already?

You know that feeling when you get all your plans set and you're moving through them on a strong, steady pace? You feel amazing. You feel like you're making progress and that the finish line isn't some cloud in the sky, but is actually reachable. Heck, you might even treat yourself if you get it ahead of schedule!

You know that other feeling when life has other plans? When it slashes your tire and you're stuck trying to figure out where the road is again? That's how I feel right now. Heck, that's how I felt as soon as I got terribly sick last week. I'm not talking about a head cold either, where you feel like you could maybe write through the headaches and stuffy nose. I'm talking about getting so sick you can barely get out of bed for days. Trust me, it ain't fun. If I had enemies, I wouldn't even wish it on them.

So this week I've been playing catch-up, grabbing every tiny ounce of writing time I can, and getting the words in. My extremely detailed outline is helping me keep up too.

I'm still about 7,000 words short, but I think I'll still make it this month. Thank goodness there are so many weekends!



Here's the progress on my YA other-world fantasy novel about urban explorer Shaleigh Mallett who is whisked away to the Land of the Fae. Along the way she encounters living statues, friendly minotaurs, and a backstabbing ruler. When she gets tangled up in a love story that can't possibly end well, Shaleigh finds herself forced to make a difficult choice that could change the future of this new land, and prevent her from ever getting home.



Project: Madam Cloom's Garden
Current Word Count: 62,071 (since the weekend)
New Words Written: 5,249
NaNo Word Count: 11,113



Progress: An unexpected argument cropped up between my two main characters, but I'm already figuring out how it'll be good fuel for one of them to change over time.

Next up: Making up for some harsh words, failing at donning armor, and dealing with a rude minotaur.

Commentary: NaNo says that I need to write around 2,000 a day to reach my goal. Time to roll up those sleeves!

NaNo: Day 3

So the NaNoWriMo website isn't letting me update my word count, but that's okay. I'm still dragging from Daylight Savings Time. I know it's only now 9:00 but dang, I feel like it's closer to 10 PM. When you get up somewhere between 4 and 5 each morning, that extra hour goes a long way.

Anyway here's the progress so far. I'll try again in a few minutes to get the NaNo word count updated, but I did hit my 5k goal for the day.

Now this sleepy writer is off to bed. Is it really only Monday?

Here's the progress on my YA other-world fantasy novel about urban explorer Shaleigh Mallett who is whisked away to the Land of the Fae. Along the way she encounters living statues, friendly minotaurs, and a backstabbing ruler. When she gets tangled up in a love story that can't possibly end well, Shaleigh finds herself forced to make a difficult choice that could change the future of this new land, and prevent her from ever getting home.



Project: Madam Cloom's Garden
Current Word Count: 56,822
New Words Written: 2,079
NaNo Word Count: 5,864



Progress: Learned that people do some disturbing things in order to keep their position of power. Also learned that you can't judge someone's intent by their actions.

Next up: A sad story over lunch, a quick tour through the Marketplace, and running into an old friend.

Commentary: Yeah, that 56k isn't all storyline though. Some of those bits and pieces are scene descriptions, background scenes (ie. stuff that won't be making it into the final cut), and explanatory stuff to keep the plot on straight. I'm sorry to say that I have no idea what the real length of this piece is yet until I compile it and omit all those extra pieces. Still though, I'm pretty damn proud of this so far. This a complete rewrite of the first draft I fast drafted last year, after a very thorough outline that I finished earlier this year.

Tl;dr - Writing is tough, ya'll!

Preparing for November

For most people in the U.S., November is a time to look forward to holidays with the family, getting started on Christmas shopping, or bundling up for the winter weather. For writers, it's a time of deadlines, hammering out words, and counting down the days until the end of the month. Yes, I'm talking about NaNoWriMo, that once a year* event of full of writerly fury.
NaNo_2014_Header

One of the best things about NaNo is also all of the writing resources that are offered by various companies. That's how I picked up a copy of Hooked a while back on my Nook. It was one of the many books being offered for free, I think from Barnes and Noble. I'm pretty sure since this year their Free Friday is going to land on Halloween that we won't be seeing these writer-devoted freebies as much as normal, but you never know!

One group that's getting in on the fun early is Writer's Digest. In their newsletter, they not only talk about the free advice they're going to be giving out all through November, but they're also linking to last year's offers.

Writer's Digest 2012 Nanowrimo Tips
Here are a few that have caught my eye so far. Just we warned, you have to give your email address to download them, which means you too get signed up for the newsletter.

  • NaNoWriMo Giveaway (Day 16): How To Maintain Energy to Write (Even When Working Fulltime)

  • NaNoWriMo Giveaway (Day 12): How to Pace Your Novel

  • NaNoWriMo Giveaway (Day 8): Tips on How to Write Fast


Needing more resources? Try visiting the NaNoWriMo Reddit. From sharing covers, to encouragement, to tales of victory, it's a little more manageable to get through than the typical NaNo forums. Plus you get that awesome flair!

Still not enough? Take a look at the long list of Writing Resources section on my site. Specifically that Inspiration section on the bottom. Helps me every time.

 * Actually November is just the main NaNo event. They also do the same thing over at Camp NaNoWriMo over the summer. It's new, so I don't think they've nailed down which months they do it yet.

Watch out for Werewolves

The nights are getting longer, the temperature is dropping, and the air is crisp with dying leaves. That means Halloween is right around the corner, and you can bet I've been busy. Between craziness at work and throwing our annual Halloween bash last weekend, I'm afraid I've had little time for blogging. To make up for my prolonged departure, I thought I'd bring a few fun horrific, Halloween themed videos that have certainly give me a good laugh.

First we have a music video posted by a friend's favorite band. It's gory, it's over the top, and it's got a werewolf in it. What's not to love? Plus the song is quite catchy!




Next up we have a video that you'll probably be sharing with your friends, a Rob Cantor song performed with an ensemble, a chorus, and amazing dancers. Just don't be turned away by the title.



Finally here's a performance test for the creature in Mama, which I'm told is ten times more frightening here than it actually was in the film. I can't really say since I haven't seen it, but I don't recommend watching this in the dark.





On the writing front, I've been working on getting a werewolf novella completed. The goal is to have it done by the end of the month so I can focus my time in November on Nanowrimo. I'm going to use it as an excuse to get the second draft of my YA Fantasy novel completed.

Anyway here's the progress my dystopian YA werewolf novella featuring Mercy, who works with her father to trap werewolves, a mill that relies on cheap werewolf labor, and a crazy inventor with metallic arms. A simple werewolf capture leads to a violent escape, and suddenly the werewolves in the forest are the least of Mercy's worries.



Project: Survive for me
Current Word Count: 16,389
Word Count Goal: 20,000

Drabble: Captain, My Captain


Prompt: Discontent


Foam sprays up the belly of the ship as angry clouds move inward. This voyage was full of bad omens; Joe nearly fell from the crow's nest, a barrel of grain was full of maggots, and then there's the Captain to consider. With her fiery hair and great red coat, she could outmatch anyone on the ship with her blade.

She thinks we'll find the Darkness Dweller within those clouds, that shadow creature that lurks into our homes and saps our kinsmen dry. She says it's responsible for the storm that's sent our way, for the tumultuous waves, and starless skies each night. I say she's bit with madness; though we all know the best Captains are.

The rains come in heavy and within minutes I'm soaked through to my bones. My hands are raw as I double and triple check the knots on deck; the water in my eyes makes it hard to see.

"It's here!" She calls out like a shrieking banshee. Her red hair is bright against the dark clouds above and she's smiling. Madness indeed.

She's barely said the words when I see the shadows slink their way across the deck, like the feelers of an octopus, but harder to see. I call out to Old Finny, but he can't hear me over the heavy rain. Then the shadow touches his boot and shoots up his good leg. He grabs at his thigh with a shriek, but the shadow has him. Before it can reach his head, the Captain is upon him. She thrusts her blade through Finny's boot, and somehow the shadow too. Blood pours out and Finny screams, but the shadow retreats.

"Get him below," she says and I obey. She may be a mad banshee, but she's also one hell of a Captain.






Want to read more Drabbles? Click here.

I post a new Drabble (almost) every Wednesday at Noon ET. Click Follow on the right to get weekly updates.

Originally posted on Typetrigger. Fiction in 300 words or less. Please pardon typos or grammatical errors. See sidebar for copyright information.






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