Friday, December 19, 2014

Writing Tips #2: Contractions

The author I mentioned in Writing Tips #1 (yeah I know this is old, sorry. I suck at keeping track of things sometimes) had this thing with contractions. Taken out of writing context that sounds weird. Oh English, how I love you and your homonyms....

Anyway, in her prose there wasn't a single contraction to be found. Even her characters did not use many (if any) contractions. That's a feat in any kind of fiction.

This tip kind of expands on the first because if you don't use contractions in dialogue your characters will come off as too formal, arrogant or downright rude. Perfectly fine if you want this to happen but not so good if it's not what you're aiming for.

Some examples: in Tale of the Twins, Lysandra never contracts her words. Why is this important? My friend said to me the other day Lysandra comes off as a bit arrogant where Leopold is the more personable (and crazy) of the two. I explained that's how they're supposed to work: Lysandra being the super-organized, highly intelligent twin with Leopold being the complete nutcase. They balance each other out.

Xeros, Tashira, Ayla and Kien from The Cara Series all speak without using a single contraction and when they do use one, people around them know they're really angry or under a lot of stress. Why don't they? Well: Xeros and Tashira are both 10,000+ year old Mages who grew up in a time where being formal as a Mage was looked well upon. It was schooled into them. Ayla is the last remaining member of her family so she wants to come across as more capable (to rule), and highly intelligent. Kien because he's a prince born out of wedlock and wants to come across as capable of being King.

In Seer/Seeker Ice doesn't contract his words either. Why? Because he's cold, emotionless and arrogant. Sometimes he's downright rude, especially to his four-hour younger brother Dawn. Furthering that, one of the 'bad guys' avoids words that could contract at all making him seem a bit insane and arrogant. The vampire Magnus doesn't contract his words and comes across as arrogant and powerful.

How a person talks tells you a lot about that person. It's an especially effective way to get a character's personally to flow into their words in fiction. Accents, contractions, emphasizing certain words all tell reader's stories of what your character is like.

Listen to how people speak. Do most people use do not, cannot, did not, will not, I will? No? Then don't use them in character dialogue. If you know someone who doesn't use a lot of contractions then ask yourself why. Is it their upbringing? Their education? How do they speak? What's their candor and tone? How does their way of speaking make you feel?

You can use contractions in prose, especially if your prose is from the first person point of view because no one thinks that formally either. In third person it's touch and go. It depends completely on what is going on in the scene, what the POV character is like/how they talk, the tone of your book and your intended audience. I've used contractions in most of my novels and they're especially helpful if you want your writing to feel more "real." A quick Google search will tell you that contractions are accepted in prose but like everything else: it depends what is going on at the time.

I'll try to keep up numbered writing tips but no promises. I tend to get distracted by shiny things, writing, kittens, TV shows, and life in general. I'll eventually delve into showing vs telling, and Point of View. Probably a few other things. And if you missed it I'm trying to do a numbered writing series because hey, after writing 3 million words I must have learned something...right? RIGHT? Ahaha...

Until next time: thoughts, comments, rages, rants, questions, and out-right insults can be directed to the comments section.

Friday, December 12, 2014

2014 Novel Series #11: Zombies

Dealing with the fact you KNOW you're going to kill off a character and the death scene is coming is difficult. Adding dealing with crazy killers, gore, morbid deaths, a character with a form of DID/Multiple Personality Disorder, and a lot of emotional baggage from basically every main character and you tend to get a bit loopy.

So, how did I deal with all these horrible, upsetting emotions that would eventually lead to a main character dying? Why, I threw all my main characters into some kind of zombie apocalypse alternate dimension of course! What better way to deal with character death than to KILL THEM ALL OFF!

No seriously. I wrote the characters (major and minor) of the Detective Series into a zombie apocalypse. Then I killed EVERY. SINGLE. ONE...except one. Technically she died too. Kind of. It's complicated. Anyway, here's the summary:

Genre: Alternate Reality/End of World/Zombies

Word Count: 103,746

Prompt: There was this scene in Senses where McGregor and Sable are dissecting a cabin in the woods and Sable's thinking about Walkers/The Walking Dead and yeah...

Main Characters: James Reeves, Mia Liu, Lucy McGregor, Michael Brown, David Jones, Andy Smith (his boyfriend), Gavriila (Michael's girlfriend), and Ashley Reeves.

Minor Characters of note: Patterson, Cade Golding, Jasmine McGregor, Dominique, Lee, Sheryl, Harry, Katherine, Joey, John...too many to name...

Summation: Zombies. Nuff said.

High Points: I...huh. I basically went on a killing

Low Points: I basically went on a killing spree so...

The World: Ours but with zombies.

Memorable Lines:

"So, you're all seeing zombies on screen, right?"

James had a feeling McGregor had been planning this since she had first heard the word "zombie." When in doubt: trust the friend with the darkest mindset when the world ended.

"I'm prepared to die up here if I can give you guys an advantage." Michael said. (He's the tech who sees all.)

McGregor wondered if she could get her hands on a sword. Bludgeoning someone to death, second dead, took too damned long.

He had a backpack and a freaking broom. A broom. Who the Hell brought a broom to a zombie apocalypse?...The things (zombies) couldn't climb and they both (Mia and Lucy) had four magazines on them. And Andy had his fucking broom. (LOL, she can't get over the broom.)

"Um, time delay. There's a horde out back, was a horde, it's moving in." Michael said.

"How big a horde?" McGregor questioned.
Six were coming down the produce section.
"Run." Michael said.
That was a big motherfucking horde.

She couldn't afford to crack. People needed her.

"Better to be paranoid than dead."

"You don't have a magical penis that will make me straight." McGregor told him. (Yes, she's a lesbian.)

"You know how to use that?" McGregor asked (about a sword).
"Stick them with the pointy end." Ashley answered.
It was the first time since 10AM that McGregor smirked in amusement. She frowned a second later.
"We'll never know how A Song of Ice and Fire end. Damn George Martin." McGregor said.

"I didn't notice the scratch until a few minutes ago. I'm sorry."

"I'm thinking logically, not optimistically. Logic wins over optimism every fucking time."

"You were just like "Oh, we're dealing with zombies now? Cool, let's do it." Then did it like it was nothing."

"I'm glad I was an orphaned only child."
"Poor, poor, Batman."

"You know what's ironic?" McGregor asked.
"What?" James questioned.
"I'm pissed that I have no idea what happened on The Walking Dead."

Saturday, December 6, 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014: The End

I'm about a week late on this for various reasons. I went to a concert on Sunday so I didn't get to sleep till about 2:30AM, worked the next day for 9AM then couldn't concentrate on anything Monday night. The past week has been crap work wise, writing wise, and everything in between wise. Yes. But hey, better late than never, right?

Final Word Count: 251,956. My NaNo board count is 252K and change but I'm not entirely sure why there's such a difference. I'm fairly sure I beat last year's 250K WC by about 1000 words. This is with missing two weeknights, and a weekend. Yeah...

Novels: Mists of Time Book 1: Discovery, Mists of Time Book 2: Seeking, and Mists of Time Book 3: Finale. Book 3 still has four chapters left in it though so the series isn't over.

Plot so far: The Mist Watcher started going crazy on the worlds he wants to destroy which means Blair, the Ala'gan I mentioned in the last NaNo Blog, Tenkondin, and a few other characters end up world hoping. They visit 8 other planets, one of which happens to be Cara, the world that has a four book series about it. The other is Ambrosia which not only got two chapters but is about the characters and world I've been fiddling with for almost my entire writing career. For those that don't know: almost 20 years. Yeah.

Final Thoughts: The last week was pretty stressful and reminded me why I had originally decided NOT to go for 250,000 words. But I hit 200K by day 24 (or so) and decided "why the heck not? Let's go for 250K again!" The fun part was I ended up getting 10K every night on the 27, 28, and 29 which gave me the final push. I didn't write Sunday (the 30th), didn't even turn on my computer actually, and worked two Saturdays which I normally don't do. Basically even with the few days I missed I beat last year's WC by 1000 words. I didn't think I could do it. I'm glad I did.

I don't regret being less active in the forums. Last year I spent at least an hour a day in there and with my writing speeds I lost about 60K words. I didn't have to be as stressed as I was last year if I hadn't been in the forums so long. I learned it this year. I also learned no matter what, there will always be someone who's faster than you who you will (no matter what) be jealous of. There will also be A LOT of people (more so if you're an over-achiever) who are way behind you and are angry/jealous/hateful towards you.

There was a thread made in one of the forums where people accused those with high word counts of cheating, bragging, arrogance, disrespect, and a slew of other things that frankly, is what makes people like me so self-conscious about saying how far I am. One person even went as far as to say it was going to be their last NaNo in part to the over-achievers. Another implied that OA-ers implied to others those others didn't have the determination of over-achievers.

The hatred is the main reason I decided to say "screw it" to the forums this year. When the event isn't actually happening the forums are a great place but when November and the camps come around, so do all those negative people that have driven OA-ers out of their regions, and out of the forums. I SHOULD NOT be afraid to enter the "NaNo Ate My Soul" forum with a high word count because I'll be accused of cheating or lying or whatever.

People seem to forget NaNo is a PERSONAL challenge. If I can hit 250K words in a month and you can't, it doesn't make you any less of a writer. It just means I write faster and (maybe) have been doing this for much longer. And yes, sometimes it DOES mean I'm more motivated, self-disciplined, and determined to get the extreme word goal. It still doesn't make you less of a writer.

The problem is I (and everyone else) can say it doesn't make you any less of a writer all I want but humans are a naturally competitive bunch so when someone sees someone else succeeding so (seemingly) effortlessly they'll get jealous and angry. Occasionally the success will motivate a person but it's rare.

But writing (playing sports, working out, singing, playing an instrument, dance, etc. etc, etc) relies on practice and experience. The more you write the faster you'll write and the more you'll learn about you as a writer which means the quicker you'll come up with GOOD ideas and BETTER first drafts.

I didn't wake up 20-ish years ago with the ability to write like I do today. My first drafts are solid (minus grammar and spelling cuz I'm not a pro) enough they don't read like a first draft. Re-write isn't in my vocabulary but YES, it used to be before. In fact, everything I wrote prior to 2009 has to be re-written. Hell, even some of the things I wrote from 2010 till now have to be re-worked. Not fully scrapped-start-from-scratch, but re-worked.

But after writing on and off for 20 years, learning about myself as a writer, PRACTICING THE CRAFT, reading, and having the decades of experience: I feel confident in giving a FIRST DRAFT to someone to read. And those someone's usually come back with "I want to keep reading your writing," "THIS IS AWESOME!" "I can't wait for the rest!"

So yes, I can pump out 250K words of quality writing in a month. Maybe you can't but I'm not any better than you. Anyone, ANYONE who takes on the task of writing a NOVEL is a winner in my book. And even if you didn't get the 50K in a month: you're still a winner because YOU WROTE SOMETHING. Even if it was 1,000 words, it was 1,000 words more than what you had on Oct 31. The simple fact is YOU WROTE SOMETHING. Now all you have to do is keep writing something.

Until next time, rants, rage, questions and everything in between can be directed to the comments.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Character Interview: Ryker and Olivia from "Burnt"

Ryker and Olivia are the King and Queen of Seiovania, father and mother to Darius and Rowan.

This is the final interview for Burnt: The Story of the Fire King, well so far. I might change my mind at a later date. Again: I am the interviewer and I'm going to try not to reveal too much. Yes this is a duel interview so "R" is Ryker and "O" is Olivia. Onward!

Basic Information: Ryker Lupine
Age: 28 and up over the course of the book
Occupation: King of Seiovania
Parents: Both are dead and he never really told me their names.
Siblings: Four year younger brother Ryden
Children: Darius and Rowan

Basic Information: Olivia Lupine
Age: 24 and up over the course of the book
Occupation: Queen of Seiovania
Country: Seiovania, originally whatever country was almost destroyed by an Ice Mage centuries ago.
Parents: Dead

Siblings: None, that she told me of.
Children: Darius and Rowan

Physical Description: Ryker Lupine
Height: Six feet and seven inches or so
Weight: 300lbs of muscle
Hair color: Black, thick, and to the shoulders. Starts graying at the temples
Eye color: Black
Skin tone: Pale
Other: Thick bushy beard...and if this sounds a lot like Darius you know why.

Height: five feet and seven inches
Weight: 135 pounds, slender
Hair color: Golden/blonde
Eye color: blue
Skin tone: tanned (think a bit lighter than Spanish decent)
Other: Huh. None.

The Questions
What is your idea of perfect happiness? R: My people's happiness. O: My children's happiness. *Look at each other*

Um, okay. What about your own happiness? R: A king is not a king if he does not have people. If I do not try and make my people happy then I have no people. O: I agree with my husband, of course, but I would prefer our children to have some form of happiness before taking on the responsibility of the throne, especially Darius. *sighs* And Rowan is such a sensitive child.

What's the major differences between your children? Physical differences aside of course. R: Darius is powerful, serious, and thoughtful. Not to say that Rowan is incapable of deep thought but Rowan would rather play than take lessons. I know Rowan pays attention to the lessons though. Rowan is stubborn, sensitive, and a bit emotional at times. O: I agree with that but I do not think Darius is as strong as everyone thinks. Physically, yes, but he is going through overmuch and it is difficult for him. Rowan, so, *sighs* is not meant for Kingship.

Really? Why not? R: *looks at Olivia but nods* Rowan would come to resent the throne because of certain circumstances and would destroy Seiovania, though not intentionally. Darius, he can learn to control everything in his life and take the burdens necessary when he becomes King. Rowan cannot. O: *nods, wipes a tear from one eye and Ryker takes her hand.*

It must be difficult to raise two exceptionally different children and be proper rulers. R: It is and we cannot get into it much as it would give overmuch away. *grins* But the Kingship always comes first then everything else. It is difficult to be a parent when you are not there. O: But it cannot be helped. We all have duties that we sacrificed ourselves for and those duties are important. We would let down many people if we did not do as we are supposed to.

If you could do something differently, what would it be? R: *thinks* I do not think I would do anything differently. It would all lead to the same circumstances and there was no better way to handle certain things as they came. O: You would not take back certain things at your coronation? *grins slyly* R: *flushes then smirks* No, not even that. I would do that twice over. O: *giggles*

Ah, yes, that. *laughs* One last question: What is your motto? R: Strength, integrity, and love: the Lupine motto. O: *grins* They are good words to live by.

*stares then smirks* Right. Thanks. R: You are most welcome. O: And to you.

The King and Queen of Seiovania, parents of Darius and Rowan the main characters in Burnt: The Story of the Fire King. If you really want to know what happened at Ryker's coronation, well, you're going to have to help me get this thing published.

Until next time: questions, comments, rage, rants, and whatever else can be directed to the comments. Don't forget to check out my Kickstarter and help a writer out.

Friday, November 21, 2014

NaNoWriMo2014: Day 21

Traditiona, blah, blah, weekly update on NaNo-ing. Let's get things moving, shall we?

Word Count: 165,062. So, I technically only need 84K in order to hit last year's goal of 250K. Which would be entirely doable if I still had two full weekends of writing, which I don't. I only have one weekend of writing which if I'm lucky will give me 40K. If I'm lucky. Yeah. I likely won't get the 250K this year but I'm going to keep writing like a mad woman to see how much I get. Cuz. NaNo.

Words Needed: For the 250K: 84,938. For my official goal of 200K: 34,938 which is way more manageable. Also, fun fact, I'm 1200 words away from hitting last year's Milwordy finishing WC which means by the end of November I'll be at least 33K over last years MilWordy ending WC. Yes I am insane. I think it's been established, no?

Novels: Mists of Time Book 1: Discovery and Mists of Time Book 2: Seeking. I'll start MoT Book 3: Finale sometime next week I'm sure.

Plot so far: We now know why the Mist Watcher isn't acting so kindly towards you know, guarding the Mists. And we know why Blair is the only Mist Watcher from earth and what it means to the Mists to have a planet like earth existing. Oh and Blair's moved into an apartment with xer boyfriend. Last night Blair lost xer virginity which is kind of a big deal. Blair also realized xe can't live without said BF which means I might kill off said BF. Oops?

Thoughts: I'm perfectly happy having sacrificed the forums to write. It's not that I don't miss the forums, I do, but finding if someone's responded to me directly and seeing so many new threads a day is exhausting when I know I have to pump out words, work out, make jewelry and still try to get an episode of House MD in before midnight.

I've also sacrificed on the making jewelry and working out this week. Tomorrow I won't be going to the gym but I will be working most or all day which I'm not pleased about. I never signed up for working weekends but we're moving so crap has to be cleared out of the new building, etc.

Anyway, the novel is progressing smoothly but all of the final book will have to be reworked as I compensate for the bad guy's motivation, subplots and other odds and ends that have popped up.

I also played up the book-ception some more by making some minor supporting characters races from the World of Cara, more specifically an Ala'gan and a Tal'kan woman. I've a feeling they're going to appear in Book 3 somewhere. Thankfully they're not in the Cara series or it would get all kinds of messed up.

Dyns' character isn't as fun as I thought he would be. He and Blair were supposed to have a closer relationship but Blair ended up becoming better friends with Tenkondin who's about to be kicked out of the plot for a short time. The good news is Dyns is foreshadowing his last line in Book 3 which is great because now that last line won't come out of nowhere.

In short: everything's tightening up better than I expected.

Until next time, rants, rage, questions and everything in between can be directed to the comments. Don't forget about the Kickstarter Campaign for Burnt: The Story of the Fire King. Eighteen days to go and I need help. Mental help, I'm sure. ;)

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

To be a Writer

There is a question that normally pops up around NaNoWriMo time that always makes me think. It's usually something along the lines of: "Are you a real writer?" or "You know you're a writer when..."

I all ready know I'm a writer and I believe that the reason is different for every writer out there. It's just like how the way I write won't work for everyone else, the reason I write or how I know I'm a writer will be different for everyone else.

Despite this I think there are a few things that every writer has in common.

Perseverance: You can also call it determination. It's the simple fact that even if we're rejected or we fail that we'll keep trying no matter what. We'll plaster our walls with rejection letters before giving up on getting a book published and if we can't get it traditionally published we'll work on being the best damned self-published author we can be. And if we fail at that, Hell, we'll STILL keep writing because at some point we will write a book that someone will take a chance on. It could also be called sheer madness. (I jest)

Ambition: This is the WILL to succeed and goes hand in hand with perseverance. It's the desire to succeed and sometimes it's the only thing that will keep you going.

Tough Skin: I don't mean this literally. I mean that most of writers either have or develop (or have to develop) a hard outer shell so they can take criticism without spiraling into depression or whatever. It takes a strong person to keep coming back after negative feedback and trying again.

Imagination: I think this is pretty self-explanatory. If you don't have a creative mind it's going to be difficult to get into something that begs for originality and creativity. Writers are constantly asking: "What if?"

Courage: You think it's easy to put your work, something you slaved over for months or years out there and not be nervous? It doesn't matter if it's the first time or the 50th time there is still that little voice in the back of an author's head that says: "What do I do if they don't like it?"

Always writing: If you say "I think I've written my last book" then you're probably not cut out for being a writer. We never stop and when we try to stop we come back. Stephen King tried to retire once (maybe twice) and it never happened. Writing isn't a job. It's something that is a part of you that you physically cannot stop. You know those withdrawal symptoms drug abusers get when they come off the drug? It's the same thing that happens to writers when they try to stop writing. It just doesn't work. The only reason a writer stops writing is because they physically can no longer write.

A touch of insanity: Really, how sane are you when you become different people on occasion to get into the mind of your new MC? And how sane are you when you've got an "Inner Editor" otherwise known as this person in your head who keeps telling you how to write or what to write and that you suck?

Blood, Sweat and Tears: Sometimes literally. You will cry at rejection letters or horrible critics. You will sweat your ass off when you send your book to an editor wondering if it's good enough. You might even bleed from stress inducted hernias. Doesn't that sound like fun? But, it's all part of that desire (ambition), determination (perseverance), and daring (courage).

When you think about it, all writers are the same. We all have this drive to keep going, we take insults, we bring to life strange worlds, we put ourselves out there, we don't stop and we're a bit nuts. Most of us are also sleep deprived, caffeine addicted, have an animal as a best friend, and like to be alone with our words. But that makes us sane.

Until next time rants, rage, questions, and everything in between can be directed to the comments. Don't forget to check out my Kickstarter Campaign to get Burnt: The Story of the Fire King out there.

Friday, November 14, 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014: Day 14

And keeping with tradition, here's my weekly update on how the NaNo-ing is going. Remember, I've got a campaign to get Burnt: The Story of the Fire King out and into the world so eventually the things I've written for NaNo (and between NaNo events) will be published as well. Eventually. Anyway, check the campaign out here.

Word Count: 104, 771. Last year I tried (and got) 250K. My official goal this year is 200K...though I've been seriously considering trying for 250K again. I could get to the halfway point on it by tomorrow. I'm only 16K off...

Words Needed: 95,229 for 200K, 145,229 for the 250K if I decide to do it. We'll see how it goes this weekend.

Novels: Mists of Time Book 1: Discovery was completed on Day 9 and clocks in at 91,771 words. I started Mists of Time Book 1: Seeking on Day12 but planned 5K towards it on Day 11. And yes I counted the planning because I will be replacing said planning with actual story right in the Word Doc for the novel. So there. :P

Plot so far: Blair has a boyfriend, xe's come to terms with being a Time Knight/saving the world but now there's someone trying to destroy the Mists. The Mists is the plane that separates all the worlds from other worlds and all the worlds from the Mist Beasts which are out to destroy everything. So, someone destroying the Mists puts the entire universe in danger. Blair, Dyns (Blair's tutor), and Tenkondin (the perverted tentacle being) talked to a Keeper (one of the 12 council members in the Mists) who referred them to the Mist Watcher (the leader of the Mists) but the Mist Watcher doesn't seem interested in doing anything about said person destroying the Mists. This is weird because it's the Mist Watcher's job to, you know, watch the Mists and make sure no one's breaking them.

Thoughts: The series has become a real life drama about growing up in combination of "hero must save the world" story since Blair is living a double life: one on earth and one in the Mists. We'll get to see how Blair deals with xer broken family, xer budding love life, xer BFF getting dumped and emotional trauma there as well as figuring out why someone is destroying the Mists and why the Mist Watcher doesn't seem to care. Oh and beating all the Mists Beast. Then there's the whole applying to university issue. Blair has a lot on xer plate...

I've fallen in love with Tenkondin's character. He was supposed to be a minor, comic relief type but now he's become a third main character. Also, two other characters have decided to be important main characters, one who wasn't planned at all and the other who was supposed to do some snooping around then die.

Funnily enough, I did a kind of book-inception in which I mention races and people I wrote about in a different series in this one. The series in question is the Cara series which I wrote back in 2012. The races are the elemental races of the Ala'gan, Tal'kan, Mil'nee, and Nil'shay. I also mentioned the Female Main Character in passing thanks to an Ala'gan. I also mentioned the world of Ambrosia which is a story I've had in my head for about 15 years now and haven't started. It'll be the last thing I write. ;)

I find it funny this book can become a kind of connector book between everything I've written. But, most of my stories occur on earth so, yeah. Though with all the different races I'm making up I may decide to write a few novels based on the various different beings mentioned in this series. It'll be fun.

I've also noticed I'm not participating in forums so much. I know why though. Basically I'm using every ounce of my time to write, go to the gym, make jewellery, watch House, bug my cat, make dinner, and relax. I'm not sacrificing as much as I did last year to participate in the forums and write. In fact, I sacrificed participating in the forums so much. I'm not sure how to feel about it yet.

Now? I'm off to write the next chapter. I'm planning on getting to 110K before midnight tonight so we'll see how it goes. Until next time: rants, rage, questions, comments, and everything else can be directed to the comments.