Camp Nano Week 2 Progress Report – July 2018

My combined word count is sitting at 38,299 words, which is awesome. I’m nearing the end of the editing project and should have it completed by the end of next week. Which is exactly where I wanted to be.

For the YA fantasy novel, I’m a chapter behind. Sort of.

Which means that I deviated from the outline and am making up for it.

The second week of Nano is “make or break” time for me. The energy from the first week tapers off and it’s pure work instead of inspiration. If I don’t kick myself in the pants and get moving, the projects get left behind and I don’t get my cookie at the end of the month.

I hope anyone else participating this year managed to push forward. You got this!

As promised, below is a snippet of one of the projects. This one is from The Soul Between Us. A romance ghost story thing.

**

Cordon stiffened beside her, bending down to peer at the camcorder image. “What was that?”

“What?” She asked, blinking at the image too. “What was what?”

“Can you rewind it?” He asked, but his attention had switched to the doorway.

Tessa flipped through functions until she could play back the last two minutes. They both watched the screen, which had a view of the open doorway and several cots. At one minute and ten seconds, a form crossed in front of the doorway and every little hair Tessa had stood on end. Roughly 5’8” and with the general form of a person, it stepped from left to right, barely illuminated by the camcorder’s light.

She lowered the camera and glanced at Cordon, who released her waist and straightened.

“Who’s there?” He asked, shining his light at the door. “Marisol?”

“That was too tall to be Marisol, don’t you think?”

“Tyler?” Cordon tried again.

When there was no answer Tessa eyed the doorway, willing whoever it was to come back and present themselves. “It’s probably one of the others trying to freak us out,” she said.

“Yeah, or a transient.”

“You think a homeless person would want to come here?”

“Homeless is homeless, Tess. And there’s a storm coming on.”

“Awesome,” Tessa said. “Remind me to punch Marisol in the face.”

“Whoever it was seems to have moved off,” he said. “And I’m tired of being here already. Let’s head back.”

“God, yes,” she said, more relieved than she wanted to let on. She didn’t have to believe in ghosts to admit that seeing the video had been creepy, and now it felt like they were being watched or something. The spot between her shoulder blades tingled and gooseflesh kept racing up her arms and neck.

Shoving the camcorder into her jacket pocket, she walked behind Cordon, who led the way out of the room. He checked both ends of the hallway with his light, but as far as they could see no one was there. Which was good because Tessa might have hit whoever it was on sight, transient or not. Trying to relax, she fell into step with Cordon as they made their way out of the critical wing and back to the stairs.

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Progress Report – Camp Nano 2018 – Week 1

As of the end of the day yesterday, my Camp Nano Stats are at 12,927 words.

That’s spread over two projects – a young adult fantasy novel and a romance thriller. This isn’t the traditional way of doing a national novel writing month. Traditional national novel writing months focus on writing one novel, starting day 1 of the month.

However, because I do this multiple times during the year (November and April as well) I tend to take the summer camp to catch up anything flagging.

I’m actually over 40,000 words into the young adult novel, and the romantic thriller is undergoing the 3rd edit.

In the effort to get back to work, I’m going to slap a snippet of the young adult fantasy novel up here.

***

His arms burned from holding Isabo and he lifted her higher, forcing her face into the crook of his neck. She made a hiccup of pain but otherwise didn’t fight him. Corbin took the moment to secure his cape around her torso better, then froze, his gaze locked on something behind Kevin.

“What is it?” He asked, pivoting on his heel.

A hooded figure in white stood there, too transparent to be solid. A thick fog poured out from it, curling around their ankles and mixing with vines. The face was in shadow, if indeed there was a face, and it floated forward until it was close enough to touch. It smelled like summer rain and green things, but there was a chill that seemed to sink deep down into Kevin’s bones and for several seconds he couldn’t move.

“No,” Corbin whispered beside him.

“W-What is it?” Kevin asked again.

The figure leaned forward and Kevin could see that yes, there was a face. Not hideous or frightening, but smooth and young, with a full mouth that could only be feminine. An ethereal hand moved toward Isabo and paused, hovering just above the arrow in her back.

“It’s a Keeper,” Corbin said.

Kevin kept his gaze on the ghostly figure. “What?”

“The curse keeps everything in balance,” Corbin said, but his attention remained fixed on the Keeper too. “That includes how many people each House commands. If a person dies in House Dorne, then two others are claimed as well. One from Christof and one from Liir.”

It was getting harder to breathe but Kevin managed. “And this thing…”

“Keeper.”

“This Keeper thing… it kills people?”

“To maintain the balance, yes,” Corbin said. He seemed to shake himself from his momentary shock and concentrated on Kevin again. “They’re indiscriminate about it. They take young, old, healthy, sick, doesn’t matter. And this one is waiting to see if Isabo dies.”

Kevin took a step back. “But that’s just cruel.”

“That’s why it’s called a curse, Kevin. It isn’t meant to be pleasant.”

***

To anyone participating in this month’s Camp Nano, I hope you’re having fun! Keep writing and moving forward with your work.

 

Camp NaNo – July 2018

Camp NaNo started yesterday and I’m already ahead of the game. To those of you who may be participating this year, I wish you luck!

Put your headphones on, drown out the world, and create as only you can create.

For those of you who may not know what Camp Nano is, let me go ahead and tell you. This is an offshoot of National Novel Writing Month, but the concept is the same, you try to write 50,000 words in the month of July.

Or, if you’re like me, you take the month to challenge yourself into finishing multiple projects.

This year I am finishing up my young adult fantasy novel, Castle of Three Kings, and I intend to wrap up the 3rd edit of my romance thriller/ghost story, The Soul Between Us.

I’ll be posting end of the day snippets on Facebook, just for fun and to keep the energy/momentum going. Because it’s fun, I’ll be posting weekly progress reports every Saturday/Sunday that may or may not include longer snippets.

In any case, I’m off to work again. Happy writing, everyone!

 

Faking Originality – June Round Robin 2018

IMG_1806Slogging through the middle of my current work in progress I ran into a wall.

Not just a wall, but a fortress insurmountable complete with lichen-covered stones and drizzles of what is likely the dumpings of the privy pot. I think my Muse lives up in that tower and takes great pleasure in the fact that I keep smacking my nose into her waste.

The book that I have loved for twelve chapters suddenly feels bland, lacking all sense of originality, and it is a chore to sit down and open the document every day.

Wherein we come to the tragic but predictable plight of the author and I begin to wonder why I bother with this writing thing. What could I possibly have to offer the world by way of this story, or any story ever?

This is a normal thing and I thank every author who has revealed their own insecurities regarding the writing life. You give me hope.

I actually just got to spend some time with a local author (L.J. Cohen who writes amazing science fiction and you should totally check her out) and we discussed this very issue. Most authors hit this wall in the writing process and, for some of us, it only seems to get worse with each project.

So what do I do when I hit this wall?

Well, to be honest, this wall was different from the others. All the other walls I’ve hit have been about the language and the writing style and all those things I knew I could clean up in the next draft.

This one…

This refuse-drizzling, moldy fortress wall barring my path insists that medieval fantasy novels are so last century.

“Nobody wants to read another Kid in King Arthur’s Court. Ugh, everything is so grey and blah and already done, and there’s no amount of editing that’s going to cure this thing. ”

It is possibly the hardest wall I’ve ever come up against.

And the only way I have been able to barrel through is my outline.

That’s right, my outline saved my butt. Because I put my headphones on and pulled my manuscript up and read through the whole of my outline, start to finish, and it made me remember why I started writing this thing in the first place.

Because I love Kevin and I want him to survive. And I want him to come to that moment in the end where he confronts his own grief and learns how to live with it. Because the genre may be tired and maybe some people will groan at the idea of another medieval fantasy, but there’s enough new in it to breathe life into the setting.

And if, when I’m revising, I feel like it needs something more to set it apart, then yes, I can still do that.

Check out what my fellow authors do to keep moving forward in those tough moments…

Dr. Bob Rich https://wp.me/p3Xihq-1gQ
Marie Laval http://marielaval.blogspot.co.uk/
Connie Vines http://mizging.blogspot.com/
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Marci Baun  http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/
A.J. Maguire  https://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/ (YOU ARE HERE)
Helena Fairfax http://www.helenafairfax.com/blog
Anne Stenhouse  http://annestenhousenovelist.wordpress.com/
Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Margaret Fieland http://margaretfieland.wordpress.com
Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com

 

 

 

Confessions of a Northwesterner in New England

IMG_1675I meant to title this “Confessions of a New-New Englander” but since I’ve only been here for about two months I don’t think I qualify for the title. I’m pretty sure I need to survive at least one winter before I can even come close to that.

Since the move, I have been to Northhampton Beach and a couple others – and wandered through Purgatory Chasm. (No joke, it’s actually called that.)

I have also visited Boston and wandered through the Mount Auburn Cemetery in Watertown. And before you squint at me for visiting a cemetery, I will have you knowIMG_1699 that I saw Robert Gould Shaw’s gravestone along with Faulker’s – they’re pretty close together, actually.

The place is beautiful and respectful and full of history and I loved it. I look forward to future visits because it’s too large to take in one night.

Now then, I do have to complain about the state of the roads. They are simply too small for all the cars and the light systems are weird. Furthermore, particularly in the larger cities, people seem to have no sense of self-preservation.

By that I mean they don’t use crosswalks, they simply make their way across the road whenever they like and pay no mind to oncoming traffic. And the best part… If they make eye contact, they grin and wave at you like it’s no big thing that they were nearly your first ever manslaughter.

IMG_1701I lived in Hawaii for a time and not even Waikiki Beach was this bad.

That said… it rains a lot. And there are tree frogs every night because we live in a remote area. And it is so very, very green.

Which brings me to my writing, because as much as I might have said I pay attention to my worldbuilding and things, I can tell you that I missed a lot in my work. There’s something to be said about not hammering too many details into a reader, but there’s something else to be said about digging deeper and finding the details that matter.

Such as the feel of arid summers against humid summers. Or the prominent smell of IMG_1708wildflowers against localized gardens. Or desert bugs against verdant bugs – HINT: There are more of them here than I recall in Idaho.

Or even the light, which is different here. I’m still working on how to describe that, but the basis I think is in all the greenery and tall trees versus the wide open blue of Idaho.

Suffice to say, I am paying better attention to the right details for my settings now. And I challenge any writers out there to go somewhere and make a note of the differences you find.

The 3/4 Mark – May Round Robin

This month’s round robin is open for a bit of interpretation. The main thrust of the question is how you maintain continuity from start to finish in a novel. Which brings me to the title of the post – The 3/4 Mark.

Over the years, I’ve discovered that my personal writing process requires a break in the rough draft that comes about the 3/4 mark. This is the point where I stop writing and I go back and start revising from the start, making little notes along the way.

I know a lot of people will boo and hiss at this, saying I need to get the first draft done and then go back and edit lest I suffocate my creative muse.

However, I’ve found that this process fuels my muse more than hinders it. And to be fair, most of the naysayers are focused on writers who have yet to complete a novel because they continually go back and revise rather than completing a draft.

If you happen to be a writer who falls into this category – don’t do it my way. Finish a draft and then go back and revise. There is nothing like the feeling you get when you finish a book and you owe it to yourself to push through.

Now then, a lot of things happen at the 3/4 Mark Break, which isn’t really a break.

At this point in the book, I have a deeper understanding of the characters and know what the story is really about. This allows me to go through the beginning of the book and edit the character voices, sharpen the focus of each chapter, and move things around.

Which adds to the flow and sense of continuity for the book as a whole.

This also allows me to make notes in the margins, pinpointing subplots that I need to either remove or complete in the last quarter of the novel.

And then, when I go to write that last quarter, my brain has had a nice refresher of the novel as a whole. More often than not, the outlined ending is drastically changed because of this. Which is a GOOD thing because my first draft endings are always horrid.

Take a look at what some of my fellow authors do to keep continuity from start to finish in their works…

Skye Taylor http://www.skye-writer.com/blogging_by_the_sea
Marci Baun  http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/
Judith Copek http://lynx-sis.blogspot.com/
Margaret Fieland http://margaretfieland.wordpress.com
A.J. Maguire  https://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/ (YOU ARE HERE)
Beverley Bateman http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Rhobin L Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com

Anne de Gruchy  https://annedegruchy.co.uk/category/blog/

From Coast to Coast – With Cats

IMG_1466 (1)
Pest telling me how awful I am.

All right, so admittedly Idaho isn’t exactly on the coast, but it is close enough to the west coast that my move to Massachusetts was significant.

I suppose any move across state lines is significant but I’m sure you gather my meaning here. We spent 40 hours on the road, not counting pit stops and the necessary Motel stays.

I must take a moment to give my husband a shout of appreciation for doing all the driving. I’m 97% sure I would have had a heart attack trying to pull the UHaul on my own.

So! 40 hours on the road with one 10-year-old (who slept a great deal of the trip) and two very unimpressed cats. What could possibly go wrong?

IMG_1457 (1)
Nuisance hiding under the dinosaur’s butt.

Well, let’s go ahead and start with the obvious – Cats don’t like cars.

Like, at all.

My cat in particular (aptly named Pest) chose to pee on me before we even left my home town of Boise. Granted, I realize this was a direct reaction to never having traveled further than the vet’s office in his 9 years of living, but it was a sad portent of things to come.

IMG_1469
He is plotting my demise. I can feel it.

Pest spent the first hour and half of every day crying.

Every morning. No matter how early we chose to rise and get started, and we were getting up at 4AM to avoid traffic in the more populated cities.

After that first hour and a half, either because he ran out of kitty-voice to expound his displeasure or because he got used to the whole moving car thing, he quieted down and hid under my son’s feet to sleep.

We also had a big fluffy dinosaur thing that I put in the back seat for the kiddo to sleep on, but the cats decided that was a perfect-most-wonderful-spot to sleep UNDER. Not on top of, but UNDERNEATH, hidden from view, thus keeping the kiddo from being able to really use it.

The other kitty (named Nuisance or Funny Face or whatever the kiddo decides for the

IMG_1556
“I am ninja kitty!”

day) did much better. He didn’t cry or pee in the car at all.

Nooooo, not that cat.

Instead, Nuisance chose to find any hiding spot he could in the hotel rooms, leading us on a frantic hunt up and down the halls of the third hotel. (He was under one of the beds, pressed so tight against the foot board we couldn’t see him.)

Beyond the upset kitties, there are a couple of issues to take note of;

#1) The lady in Utah going 40MPH in a 70MPH zone. She really, really, really needs her license taken away. Or some loving family member to drive her around.

IMG_1503
…. Wyoming.

#2) Wyoming is full of nothing. SO MUCH NOTHING. Nebraska is a close second, but unless a cataclysm happens and the landscape cracks open or something, Wyoming will forever hold the title of Most Boring To Drive Through.

#3) The Motel 6 on the edge of Wyoming gave us a room that was already rented, leading to a super awkward moment. Also, that motel is so close to the train tracks there is really no sleep to be had there. Every twenty or thirty minutes there was a train rumbling by right outside the window.

#4) Omaha is the gateway to Hades. Or at least their roads look like it and I’m really surprised we made it out of there with our souls intact.

And there we have it. Suffice to say, the trip wasn’t awful.  Brendon and I did have some fun, we got through the first three Naomi Novik Temeraire audio books, and once the landscape turned there were interesting things to look at.

That being said, I’m glad we made it safely and look forward to more adventures in New England.