Week 3 Camp Nano – July 2018

As I mentioned earlier, I’m doing two projects this year for Camp Nano. The editing project – The Soul Between Us – is nearly finished. I will likely have the completed third draft by Sunday afternoon.

The first draft of Castle of Three Kings has taken a turn I did not expect. The outline has to be completely reworked (or tossed out the window) and while I believe this is a good thing, it also means I will likely not get the draft done by the end of the month.

I’m still going to try.

I mean, after Sunday I will only have the one project to work on. If I bust my butt, I should be able to do it.

As always, if you’re participating this year, then I wish you the best of luck. Keep writing! Keep drowning in caffeine. Keep snacking on unhealthy things because you don’t have time to cook.

Your family will forgive you next month.

** Snippet – The Soul Between Us **

He swept the back of the room twice with his light, finding nothing but old chairs and a cabinet. Tessa went still beside him, her light trained on the corner by the door. Cordon directed his light there too, stiffening as he took in the familiar shape of the soldier standing there.

Unease roiled in his gut. The man looked more solid this time, the shades of his uniform clearer. Desert shades, if Cordon wasn’t mistaken. He’d seen enough news reports to recognize it. There was blood on his chest that looked fresh and Cordon took a protective step in front of Tessa.

Reaching for the first words he could think of Cordon said; “We don’t want any trouble.”

“You mean you see him too?” Tessa whispered.

“Yeah, I see him,” Cordon said. “Last time he ran before I could ask him anything.”

That wasn’t quite right. The soldier hadn’t run anywhere, he’d just disappeared.

“But Cordon…”

Not liking the way the soldier continued to stare at them, unmoving in his bloody uniform, Cordon ignored Tessa and spoke again. “Are you hurt or something?”

Tessa tugged on his jacket sleeve but he wouldn’t turn away from the threat.

“Cordon, that’s Cabby.”

The name struck him in the chest and Cordon gripped his flashlight harder. “That’s not possible, Tessa. Cabby has nothing to do with this place. There’s no reason he would be here, ghost or not.”

Good God, they needed to get out of this place.

The soldier took a step forward, his movements just as unsteady as before, only now Cordon could see why. It was a limp; a staggering, uneven limp as the soldier was forced to drag his left foot forward. He reached out a burnt and gnarled hand and the wind began to pick up.

Only it was a wind coming from the doorway, from the soldier and not from the window. It howled at them, creating little dervishes in the corners and whipping up dirt to fling into their faces. Cursing, Cordon ducked his head, trying to shield his eyes from the worst of it. He could feel Tessa gripping his arm but through the haze of watery eyes and dust he couldn’t see her face. She seemed to be ducking her head as well because he thought he could make out her ear.

An ache settled in his chest and for a second he feared he was having a heart attack.

But he was only thirty. Thirty-year-old men did not have heart attacks.

There were no such things as ghosts either but when he lifted his head, intent on checking the soldier’s position, he found the man a foot away and looking far more apparition-like than before. His skin was translucent gray, like all the color had been leached out of him, and as Cordon continued to stare he could see the wall behind him. It was as if he’d been transposed in a photograph – there but not quite there – and Cordon’s chest ached all the more.

The eyes were the worst; two horrible shadowed holes with no color to speak of.

“Oh, Cabby,” Tessa’s voice managed to reach him over the wind and Cordon tensed.

There’s no such thing as ghosts. And then, because he needed to say it out loud; “There’s no such thing as ghosts.”

In response, the soldier took a jerky step forward, crowding into Cordon, arms wrapping around him as though in a grab or a hug. But instead of a solid grip, Cordon felt icy tendrils sink into his skin, burrowing down and coiling around his bones. The ache in his chest intensified and a sensation like having his veins frost over began slithering its way up his arms and over his shoulders. He heard Tessa’s voice but couldn’t make out what she was saying.

 

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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.

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/