This month … well, I’ve got a couple things to talk about so I’m recapping it today.
Books I’ve Read: Mark of Athena, by Rick Riordan (Three stars. I enjoyed it and Leo is awesome.)
Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods, by Rick Riordan (Three stars. Cool narration and lots of psycho gods.)
House of Hades, by (do I even have to say it?) Rick Riordan (Five stars. Love the character development.)
Days of Blood and Starlight, by Laini Taylor (Four stars. Everything about this book was amazing. The missing star is for a somewhat slow beginning, but the later part of the story … woah. I love Zuzana and Mik for their blessed naïveté, pamperedness, and humanity. The couple is adorable together. But Liraz wins for best character development. Liraz is compelling and I would love to read more about her.)
Dreams of Gods and Monsters, by Laini Taylor (Five stars. I do think there was too much going on in this book and too many new elements introduced but I’ll give it a pass since it is an absolutely beautiful and epic story.)
An Inspector Calls and Other Plays, by J. B. Priestley (Five stars. I didn’t like some of the weird/supernatural elements and the subtle sexism, but apart from that, I love these 4 plays about the human psyche. My personal favorite is “Time and the Conways”.)
Crown of Midnight, by Sarah J. Maas (Five stars. Woah. Those plot twists. Woah.)
(In other words, I love all the books I’ve read so far? :))
Movies I Watched: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Yes, I’m watching this a little “late”. It saves money, ya know? Anyway, it was a fun movie. Martin Freeman is the perfect Bilbo and the dwarves are adorably hilarious. And I always love Thorin. The Hunger Games It is an amazing movie. And I don’t know what else to say to do it justice.
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire I love this one even more than the first. The emotion is contagious and heartbreaking. I love Johanna
and Finnick. And Haymitch. And Effie. And everybody, really. The acting was perfect.
I rewrote about 20,000 words of my novel Grey Wars. And my characters refused to behave according to the plot and I’ll have to change the whole storyline, for the upteenth time. Other than that, it’s going well, really. I’m enjoying myself and that’s most important, right?
I took the ALS ice bucket challenge. It was fun but surprisingly easy.
I gave this blog a makeover. I never can stay away from the themes section!
So, last week I did a post on my World Warriors characters. Today, I’ve got a similar post for you but with the anime versions of my characters in place of their human counterparts. In case you don’t want to read the other post, I’ve copied and pasted the same text from last week.
I’ve been writing a novel currently called World Warriors. I’m kind of blah about the name but at least it’s easy to say. It’s a sort of “superhero” YA novel. I started it because I wanted to write something humorous and light hearted, instead of dark and tragic, for a change. I came up with a handful of characters who were sure to clash, then threw them on the page and let them do their thing.
Blurb: A shapeshifter kidnaps eight teenagers to help him save the world. They set off on journeys to five different foreign locations where they must find the enemy camps and thwart the enemy’s plans before the entire earth is destroyed.
Zevren is the shapeshifter who sets these events in motion. For years, he’s been upholding the world singlehandedly. The situation finally gets so bad, he drops seven (eight) children through the portals between underground and land. If things had been just a smidge better, he’d never have dreamt of it. He kind of hates humans.
Below are the original eight teenagers, plus the six other kids who join the team over the course of their adventures. (all pictures from Pinterest. My WW board is here.):
ALICE is a writer and something of a nerd. She’s the brains of the team. She’s also reserved and rather short. She’s the only one who wasn’t kidnapped because Zevren thought she was worth reasoning with. (She has short hair to her chin. Apart from that, the pic is spot on.)
LEVI is a Southerner. Farmer. One of ten kids. He especially hates Zevren, probably most of all the kids. He’s got no picture because no anime guy seems to go for close cropped hair! He and Alice go to New Zealand where they meet
MAIA. She’s cheerful and confident and a musician (singing, piano, classical knowledge …)
BEN and REBECCA (Becky) are two of Levi’s little siblings. They eventually get wind of what he’s doing and are determined to help him. They’re both pretty quiet, and a lot more sensitive than he is. I love these three siblings and their relationships so much.
DANIELA is fierce and spunky and I really want her hair. Um, okay, that’s kind of irrelevant.
JARED has a devil-may-care attitude. He and
SEAN, an orphan and mechanic, take on the most dangerous mission of all, in North Canada.
Will is a quiet unassuming guy, but he is an excellent baseball player and very clever. He singlehandedly designs a trap to capture the enemy’s forces. (He doesn’t usually wear glasses) He’s friends with
ISAAC. Isaac is definitely a people person. He’s easygoing, friendly, and loves anything to do with cars. He and
MELANIE tackle Los Angeles.
Isaac is unable to hide his mission from his friends
JOHNNY and KATIE. Johnny is a joker and a terrible driver. He definitely needs his sister to keep him on track. In other words, they make the best team.
Finally, we have ROSEMARY, a visionary and an artist whom they meet on the streets of Los Angeles.
And that’s about it. Now I’d better get to work finishing the novel.
Erin at The Upstairs Archives nominated me for the Authorly Bucket List Tag. I’ll copy her description of this tag, since she started it. 🙂
Basically, the idea is to list a few (authorly) things you’re not very good at, and a few things which you’d like to try. Three to seven of each should be a good number.
Things I’m Not Very Good At (oh, boy. Where to start?)
1. Pacing. Probably my problem Número Uno. I make things happen way to quickly. There’s no time to get invested in the characters. No time to do anything but say, “woah.” (I’m getting better, though. I think.)
2. Any genre except spec fic. That’s not to say I’m good at writing speculative fiction. But I’d say I’m best at it. My contemporaries are always very boring, even if I love my premises. My historicals are either terribly inaccurate or could take place in any place or time, what with the absence of description. I just don’t have the motivation to research properly.
3. Giving my characters a rounded diet. I got the inspiration for this answer from Erin, who says her character eat mostly soup. My characters … let’s see. They eat bread. One man ate cookies and two boys had hardtack.
4. Showing. You know the phrase “show, don’t tell”? That’s probably my biggest problem after pacing.
5. Romance. This is probably related to 1 & 4. Definitely 1. And then, I don’t show the growing love enough. At the same time, I don’t want to tell it, so it ends up coming out of nowhere. Basically, I don’t get the sparks. Sad.
6. First person POV. It just doesn’t work for me. It’s too close, too boxed in, too informal.
Things I Want to Try
1. A full on romance novel. Because … why not? I imagine it’d be contemporary but it doesn’t have to be. I like to read romance and I think it’d be fun to immerse myself in my own couple creation. (On a sidenote, almost all my favourite couples are side characters. Does that mean I prefer more subtle, less in-your-face romance?)
This month’s BeautifulPeople is about authors! Which means I’m going to be talking about … yes. Me. Brace yourselves.
1. How many years have you been writing? When did you officially consider yourself a ‘writer’?
I’ve written ever since I learned my letters, I think, but my first “novel” (I mean, I thought it was long enough at the time) I wrote at eleven. At the time, it was always “When I’m older, I want to be a writer.” When I was 15, I realised, “Why not call myself a writer now? After all, I write. Writers are people who write. I = writer.”
2. How/why did you start writing?
I’ve always had stories to tell, but it was my sister who inspired me to write them down. When I was eleven and she fifteen, she sat down to write a novel and I thought it looked fun. Five years later, I’m still writing. She is, sadly, not, but she still tells me her stories sometimes and they’re pretty awesome.
3. What’s your favorite part of writing?
I love being able to translate the stories in my head into something concrete. I love just spending time with my characters. But most of all, I love how they take over the story, having their own conversations and their own goals, often separate from what I imagined. When they grow a mind of their own … that’s the amazing part.
4. What’s your biggest writing struggle?
Procrastination. Always procrastination.
After that, it’s that I struggle to match my writing to the vision in my head. It always falls short. I guess it means I have to work harder at it and that means perseverance is another of my struggles.
Pacing is another of my problems. I make things happen way too quickly.
5. Do you write best at night or day?
I’m not allowed to stay up late but I do prefer to write in the evening (7-9 PM) or the early morning (5-8AM), because there’s less going on, making it easier to concentrate, and dimness helps me get into the writing mood.
6. What does your writing space look like? (Feel free to show us pictures!)
I either write at the computer desk or on my bed. Picture below. Feast your eyes.
7. How long does it typically take you to write a complete draft?
It depends how much I procrastinate or if I’ve got a deadline. I’d say, one month, because I do work best with a closer deadline, and NaNoWriMo is always good encouragement.
8. How many projects do you work on at once?
I usually just work on one. I need to really be immersed in my world/characters to write my novels so writing a few novels at once makes me feel split. Usually, I’ll be more invested in one and the other will suffer.
9. Do you prefer writing happy endings, sad ones, or somewhere in between?
Somewhere in between. I love a good cry and sad endings always touch me in a way happy endings can’t. At the same time, I don’t want to write something completely hopeless. I believe there’s always hope.
10. List a few authors who’ve influenced your writing journey.
Reading Louisa May Alcott and Lucy Maud Montgomery got me into writing historical “domestic” fiction (I was about 11-14) at this time. I also wrote more action oriented historical (like, war and stuff), inspired, I think, by all those American history books I was reading.
J. R. R. Tolkien (more specifically, The Lord of the Rings) gave me a massive book hangover and inspired me to write fantasy. Thus began a fantasy phase that continues to today. The beginnings of my novel Grey Wars date back to that time.
11. Do you let people read your writing? Why or why not?
Rarely, because my writing almost never matches up to my vision. I want to be sure if people read my writing, it’s the best I can make it.
12. What’s your ultimate writing goal or dream?
I want to write a book that matches the vision in my head. If I can do that, I will be … overjoyed. More than that. It’s definitely my writing dream.
(I would like to get traditionally published and have someone fall in love with my book. But that’s all secondary.)
13. If you didn’t write, what would you want to do?
Ha! If I didn’t write, I’d have a lot of extra time. I would 1. meet people (I’m very extroverted, if shy) 2. play, sing, and write music (am I still allowed to write music?) 3. practice the drums and the piano 4. study debate 5. read (of course)
I try to do these things anyway.
14. Do you have a book you’d like to write one day but don’t feel you’re ready to attempt it yet?
Definitely. There’s the story of my heart (see below). Also I want to someday write about people who are cursed to be unable to sense anyone else. It’d be interesting because everyone would have to try and break the curse by his/herself. The reason I’m not writing it? I have no idea how to break the curse.
15. Which story has your heart and won’t let go?
Definitely Grey Wars. I formed the idea when I was thirteen and have been working on it on and off ever since. It won’t go away. It won’t stop pestering me. I love it so much. If I could only choose one novel to write, this would be it, even though I’m currently so overwhelmed by the plot holes, I’ve put it on hold. I feel like it’s worth my time. It’s worth the blood, sweat, and tears. But it’s not really about being worth it. It’s that I never fail to find joy in writing this story. I still love spending time with these characters, even after all these months. It might not be a great story but it, or more specifically, the characters have my heart.
I might not even ever publish it. It might be a little too close to my heart for me to send it out into the world. But I’ll never stop chiseling away at it. I’ll never stop going on adventures with my characters.
Are you taking part in Beautiful People (Authors Edition)? Share your link in the comments! And what story has your heart?
I found these writing wishlists from here, here, and here (Kara started it! :)). I have so many writing ideas and it looked like a lot of fun, so voila! I made my own. A writing wishlist is like a Christmas wishlist but instead of dream presents, you write novels/stories you would like to write.
I’ve got a lot of wishes – too many to complete any time soon, but a girl can dream …
It’s about a woman who is (predictably) a shopaholic. It’s partially told by shopping lists.
I want to write from the point of view of an internet troll.
3. My Technological Lover
I wrote a little about this one for Beautiful Books #1. It’s about a girl who falls in love with Siri and has an annoying jock brother.
4. I Crashed My Friends
This is a very … reflective story? I don’t know how to call it. Martin crashes his three friends in his car and struggles to pick up the pieces, continue his life, and find reconciliation with his friends’ bereaved parents.
5. Mystery story
I’d love to write a good mystery, particularly with intense psychology. It would be cool to write where the main character/one of the main characters is the culprit.
I love a good romance and I’ve probably had the most reading experience with it. It would be fun to write one. 🙂 I have some ideas, such as one where a woman picks up a guy at the bar and havoc ensues and another where a girl asks a shy stranger on the bus out (and he’s kinda stuck to his phone, playing Dots). Hmm, I see a bit of a pattern.
A girl tries to match make all the students in her class but they end up choosing radically different boyfriends/girlfriends from who she pairs them with. This is a pretty fluffy, funny story and it’ll be a blast to write.
8. A pirate/sailor story
Because … the sea! Sailing! Water!
9. A music and teenagers contemporary
A group of teenagers meet through music, which is sort of the cohesive that bonds them together through hard times.
I know it’s a totally cliched idea but these three characters walked into my head and I LOVE them – a famous and fairly spoiled but adorable actress, her punk rock star brother, and the poor girl (who’s a classical musician) taking her place.
11. A horror story
Because I’m suddenly really interested in being scared.
12. Vampire/werewolf father
A vampire/werewolf poses as a benign, clumsy father, when he is really a cold and calculating man. It’ll be told from the POV of his “kids” or “wife”, maybe.
13. Button City
I have no reason to write this story (that doesn’t have a plot) except that I like the title Button City and I’ve got the idea that the protagonist is called Cyrus and I love the guy. He’s … introverted, insensitive, and very Cyrus.
14. Red Telephone
A man, newly released from prison, struggles to put his life back together and mend his relationship with his girlfriend and their child.
15. Winteria/Aestasia fantasy
This is MG and I love my world, divided by winter and summer. The romance is adorable and the mixed kids start autumn and spring, of course.
16. Mathbook fantasy
People fall into a mathbook and must keep all their wits about them to survive. They battle evil square roots and pair with the integers to save the world … stuff like that, you know …
17. New Singapore
Dystopian Singapore. Now that would be cool.
18. Twelve dancing princesses retelling
When I read twelve dancing princesses, I’m always struck by the mystery of the place the princesses go. Their secret is found out … then what? They just stop going? What’s that world they went to? Why is there a portal in their room? Surely they wouldn’t just abandon it once they were found and surely the king would be curious. There’s so much potential.
19. Shakespeare retelling
I might do King Lear (my fav Shakespeare play).
20. Crazy taxi driver
Inspired by B.D. Joe. Can you imagine?
So, hmm … twenty novels to write. I still have my three WIPs. I’d better get writing!
(I’m working on World Warriors now and it’s a blast to write. Everyone’s clashing delightfully with everyone else.)
This year was when I started writing seriously. (I had written my first
completed full length novel in late 2013.)
Jan – April: I wrote part one of a story about six siblings (about 10,000). I didn’t finish it because it was boring and had no plot but it would become the basis for my dystopian.
May: I wrote the first draft of my fantasy novel (which became Grey Wars). It had three viewpoints and a ton of plot lines and I clocked in at 20,000 words. So basically, it was bare. It was a very rough draft.
June: I rewrote about 10,000 words of it.
July: I rewrote the whole thing this time, for Camp NaNoWriMo, and finished at 51,000
August – September: I wrote a couple beginnings of stories – my dystopian (7000 words), I Crashed My Friends (1000), Cyrus White (1000). I’ve got writing ADHD.
October: I rewrote Grey Wars. I got … 30,000 words, maybe?
November: I won NaNoWriMo with 50,000 words of a Grey Wars rewrite, after editing.
December: I wrote the beginning of a romance (5000), Aluisce (3000) and World Warriors (10,000).
In all, I wrote about 200,000 words. That’s definitely a record for me! I finished two longish stories (at least, novellas) and I like to think I have advanced in my efforts with Grey Wars.
What did I learn? One, writing quickly and mindlessly actually does improve my writing skills. Basically, going for quantity over quality isn’t all that bad. Two, I just can’t stay away from spec fic. Three, I respect authors so much. I always admired anyone who could write my favorite books. But woah. Writing a good book feels nigh impossible sometimes. Four, I’ve got writing ADHD. But I already knew that. I just didn’t have a formal diagnosis.
I’m not sure if this is just a compulsive phase that will pass. Yesterday, I realised my writing, aside from a couple historicals I wrote as a young child, is speculative. And that’s okay, sure, but it does mean I need to do a ton of world building and my plots are naturally larger. And ever since my writing sprint the last week of Nano, I am brain tired. So tired. Maybe I’m tired of my novel too.
And that’s one reason I’m going to try something new and radical. I’m going to write short stories. Novellas. Contemporary dramas. Scripts. Poems. Mysteries. Romance. Heck, maybe something fluffy and sweet and happy. Or how about a pirate adventure? Or a thriller? Or a horror story? I never thought I’d consider horror but I seriously think I could handle it now.
Maybe I won’t do them all. I definitely won’t do them all at once. But it’ll be fun exploring new horizons.
Sometimes it feels like I will forever be writing this novel.
For three years, I have hounded at it and still, I am so far from my goal – my vision. And I know I can make it much better if I only keep on working and working and working.
When will the working end?
But I know I am improving.
It’s not the delusion of a desperate ego.
I know I have a long way to go before my writing is anything close to my vision. But I can see the improvement. I can see progress when I compare drafts. I can read over my paragraphs and pull out jokes and romance and little pieces of description and feel the inkling of a dream coming to life. Imagine, perhaps, my goal is 100. With every draft, I move one number closer to my goal. It’s slow going but it’s going all the same.
Getting better. I used to be quite a tennis fanatic and the number one piece of advice I read would have to be this: make your goal “get better”. Don’t vow to win matches. Don’t promise too many hours that you may not be able to get in. But aim always for better.
I do feel frustration and the going does get tough. But every word I write brings me one step – it’s little but it’s something! – closer to my goal. And that gives me hope.