Beautiful Books November 2017 || Starting Strong, Names That Aren’t Names, and Advice

Beautiful Books

Beautiful books is a meme hosted by Cait @paper fury and Sky @further up and further in in which writers discuss their current writing projects.

This month I’m discussing my science fiction project tentatively titled Pigs Play Pork.

bb-redone

Disclaimer: Everything mentioned here is subject to change.

Bluejay Feather

Overall, how is your mental state, and how is your novel going?

My mental state is all right. My novel on the other hand. . . Well, it’s not much more edited than it was at the beginning of the month, but at least I’m forming a revision plan.

This is honestly not too surprising. I opted to focus on getting back into blogging over revisions this month. Hoping to not have to choose between the two next month when I should have more free time.

What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?

Okay, this line is even more subject to change than the rest of this, but as of right now it is:

“You play the pork,” Suzie says.

Who’s your current favourite character in your novel?

I never have gotten around to naming most of my characters, so that means I need to stick with the rather limited pool of characters that actually have names. Therefore, my choice is my main character, Lyle.

What do you love about your novel so far?

I love that I get to write from the perspective of someone who’s experience is radically different from my own and imagine what life would be like from this perspective.

Have you made any hilarious typos or other mistakes?

Most certainly, but it would take me forever to find something specific, so I’ll be general here. I use placeholder words for the characters I haven’t named yet. Sometimes I forget to put square brackets around these words and they can end up looking like they’re part of a sentence.

What is your favourite to write: beginning, middle, or end — and why?

The beginning, without a doubt. When I sit down to write a novel length work, the idea I’ve picked is that one I’ve had for ages and can’t stop thinking about. The ability to start writing about what I’ve been thinking about for ages is wonderful.

That said, when it comes to writing shorter works, starting is the hardest part. Once I’ve started, the words flow easier.

What are your writing habits? Is there a specific snack you eat? Do you listen to music? What time of day do you write best? Feel free to show us a picture of your writing space!

When I have time, I tend to write in the hour before I go to sleep. That is because in a typical day, that is my only free time, and it only happens around three to four days a week.

That said, I will sometimes squeeze in five minutes of writing time here or there, but this is harder when editing because I need to be more focused to make sure I’m making my WIP better and not worse.

I also write a lot throughout the day on things not related to my WIP, so I suppose you could say I spend about equal time in a day writing and not writing.

How private are you about your novel while you’re writing? Do you need a cheer squad or do you work alone (like, ahem, Batman)?

I tend to be very private during most stages. When I’m starting my revisions on my second draft I’ll show some people the first chapter or two to make sure my feelings about what I need to change are accurate.

That’s about it until I get to a point when I’m satisfied with my work. Which has not happened with anything longer than 6,000 words or so, but it will someday. I’m sure of it.

What keeps you writing even when it’s hard?

My seeming inability to give up on things once I’ve started. Seriously, I don’t know when to quit.

What are your top 3 pieces of writing advice?

  1. Use a schedule. You don’t need to write everyday, but writing tends to work best if you take time out of your schedule and make it a routine whether that be once a day, twice a week, or a few times a month.
  2. Set reasonable goals. Emphasis on reasonable here. Set goals that you have full control over, are plausible, and measurable. Instead of, for example, making it your goal to get an agent this year, consider making it your goal to get a certain number of rejections or just to send out a certain number of queries if that sounds too bleak. (I’m a personal fan of the rejection based goal. It makes every rejection something to celebrate.)
  3. Keep trying. Sometimes the unexpected happens and that reasonable goal you set becomes achievable. That’s okay. It happens to everyone.
    Sometimes someone close to you sees success and you don’t. This is okay too. It doesn’t make you any worse off. It doesn’t mean you’re a terrible writer. Their success has no reflection on you at all, no matter how difficult this can be to remember.

 

Bluejay Feather

Do you write, if so how would you answer these questions? If not, do you have any advice for accomplishing major goals? What reading habits do you have? 

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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Beautiful People July 2017

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Beautiful People is a monthly writing meme hosted by Cait @Paper Fury and Sky @Further up and Further in in which writers answer questions about their characters. Except this month, in which we’re answering questions about our writing process instead.

Bluejay Feather

How do you decide which project to work on?

It depends. Whenever I get an idea I write it down and record it in a folder on my computer. I’ll let the ideas sit in that folder for a couple months. If I’m still excited about that idea after the time I leave it sitting in that file it’ll probably become at least a short story.

I decide which one to work on next by going through my list of ideas. I choose the one I’ve done the most research for or am most excited about in that moment.

How long does it usually take you to finish a project?

That depends. In someways none of my projects are technically done. I’m always going back and revising. Since none of my fiction is published, this has never really stopped.

In terms of first drafts of my novel length works, they usually take about three months or so. Revising takes much longer.

Do you have any routines to put you in the writing mood?

Not really, no.

What time of day do you write best?

I write best in the morning, but rarely get to. Instead, I usually write at the end of the day as a reward for finishing everything else.

Are there any authors you think you have a similar style to?

I’m sure there are, but I don’t think I’d be the best judge of this fact. I’m too close to my work.

Why did you start writing, and why do you keep writing?

I’m not exactly sure when I started. I was slow to learn to read and write, but I’ve been telling myself stories for as long as I can remember. One day I started writing those stories down. I haven’t stopped since.

I keep writing because somewhere in the midst of writing to share stories, I came to love the words themselves.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve written?

I’m not sure. All of my projects are difficult in different ways. The hardest thing to finish was my first novel length work. That was because I was so filled with doubt.

Part of me wondered if I was capable of finishing something that long. It was a huge step for me to learn I am capable of writing something novel length.

My longest project, a 90,000 word long epic fantasy manuscript, was also difficult because long novels take even more focus than the 60,000-ish word ones I usually write.

Is there a project you want to tackle someday but you don’t feel ready yet?

There is, but I feel I’m getting close. I’ve always wanted to write a novel from the perspective of an intelligent non-human being that lives in an aquatic environment. Seriously, I tried to write a story like this for the first time when I was about 12. That story was abandoned after the first page, but the idea of writing from the perspective of intelligent sea life has never left my mind.

Trouble is that it’s really difficult to write from the perspective of a being whose perception of the world is so different from humans. This is why I haven’t attempted this idea for so long.

What writing goals did you make for 2017 and how are they going?

I was hoping to have something ready to send out to beta readers by the end of this year. This is looking unlikely, but not yet impossible. It’s something I’m working towards but hit a setback when I decided to abandon the epic fantasy project I mentioned earlier for my current one.

I came to the conclusion while revising my epic fantasy work in progress that I don’t think I can make it good enough that it’s worth people spending money on. If I’m going to make people pay to read something, I want it to feel it’s worth their time.

Describe your writing process in 3 words or a gif!

Writing is rewriting.

It’s cliche, but it’s true.

Bluejay Feather

Anything surprising about my writing process? Is anyone participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this month? Anyone have a similar process? 

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Beautiful People May 2017

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Beautiful People is a monthly writing meme hosted by Cait @Paper Fury and Sky @Further up and Further in in which writers answer a series of questions about one of their characters.

This month I’m talking about Lyle, a character from a science fiction short story I’ve written and am considering turning into a novel length manuscript.

Bluejay Feather

Overall, how good is their relationship with their parents?

Before the start of my story Lyle would have said his relationship with his parents was good, and in a way it was because they spent so much time together. However, most of this was because Lyle was sheltered and had nothing to compare his relationship with his parents to.

After the story starts Lyle’s relationship with his parents is terrible. Like, too terrible to say anything about without spoilers terrible.

Do they know both their biological parents? If not, how do they cope with this loss/absence and how has it affected their life?

Yes, Lyle knows both his biological human parents very well. Now, his biological nonhuman parents are another story entirely. Thankfully, for most of the story Lyle doesn’t know they exist, and I’m pretty sure they’re dead so . . .

How did their parents meet?

They met in college at a club for finance majors.

How would they feel if they were told “you’re turning out like your parent(s)”?

That would depend on the part of the story I’m at. At the very beginning Lyle would take that as a huge compliment. Throughout the rest of the story, Lyle would take that as a huge insult.

What were your character’s parents doing when they were your character’s age?

Lyle’s mother was being home schooled and helping take care of her five siblings. Lyle’s father was in high school.

Is there something they adamantly disagree on?

Lyle’s parents often disagree on the best way to raise Lyle and when Lyle is old enough to learn certain information.

What did the parent(s) find hardest about raising your character?

This is kind of spoilery but is answered within the equivalent of the first fifty pages, so I’ll answer anyway. The hardest part of raising Lyle is his untimely death, which forces Lyle’s parents to find a way to bring Lyle back to life.

What’s their most vivid memory with their parental figure(s)?

Before the story starts, this would be the time Lyle’s parents sneaked him into a mall in a baby carrier. They got found out and made to leave the store before long, but it was still a great day for Lyle because he’d never been inside a mall before.

What was your character like as a baby/toddler?

That depends. Is this referring to the first time Lyle was a baby or the second time? They were very different experiences. . . . or were these babies two different people? That is the question.

Why and how did the parents choose your character’s name?

Lyle’s parents chose his name because Kyle was a family name. Lyle’s parents thought this was too common but still wanted to be somewhat traditional, so they chose a similar sounding alternative.

Bluejay Feather

Do my answers to these questions make sense to anyone besides me? Is anyone interested in hearing more about this writing project?

What does everyone think of the feather? It’s new. 

What does everyone think of me asking questions at the end of posts? That’s new too. I’ve seen a lot of people doing it and thought I’d give it a try. 

Beautiful People: September 2016

Beautiful People for WritersBeautiful People is a monthly writing meme hosted by Cait @Paper Fury and Sky @Further up and Further in in which writers answer a series of questions about one of their characters.

This month I will be focusing on Yuliana, my protagonist. I’m thinking of changing the names of all my characters (I have a tendency to do this), but I’ll stick with the current name for the purpose of this post.

How did you come up with this character?

There was no one point at which I came up with Yuliana. She developed with time. In the very first version of this story, which never got past a chapter or two, she was a he with a personality almost exactly the opposite of her current one. In the second attempt, which got to around 20,000 words, she was female with her personality somewhere between that of the original male lead and her current one.

By the third attempt, the first I finished and what I consider to be my first draft, she had all the basics of her current personality, but wasn’t as well developed as she is in the second draft I am currently rewriting. I suppose the answer is that Yuliana developed through writing about her.

Have they ever been starving? Why? And what did they eat to break the fast?

She has been starving on several occasions for many different reasons. It would take way too long for me to go into all of these instances and give away too much. Generally, Yuliana has been starving because food is unavailable for some reason or another. She has eaten a lot of different things after being starving.

Do they have a talent or skill that they’re proud of?

Yuliana is proud of her ability to read and write. Literacy is not common for people of the serving class where she lives.

List 3 things that would make them lose their temper.

  1. Someone trying to blame a murder on her.
  2. Someone kidnapping her, a member of her family, or her friends.
  3. Her younger sister, Glenda, not listening to her when both their lives are in jeopardy.

What is their favourite type of weather? Least favourite?

Yuliana’s favorite type of weather is hot and humid. Her least favorite is freezing cold.

What is their Hogwarts house and/or MBTI personality?

Yuliana’s Hogwarts house is Ravenclaw.

Are they more likely to worry about present problems, or freak out about the unknown future?

Yuliana is more likely to worry about the present.

What is their favourite thing to drink?

tea

What is their favourite color? Least favorite?

Yuliana loves green, but hates violet.

What is a book that changed their life?

Well, in the first draft of this story I wrote to completion there was a book that changed Yuliana’s life significantly, but I’m not planing to include it in this draft as that book was basically a cheep plot device allowing Yuliana to learn everything with the least effort on my part. Other than that, Yuliana is too poor to own many books and doesn’t have much free time she could use for reading until the end of the novel. She hasn’t had much chance for a book to change her life.

Beautiful People: August 2016

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Beautiful People is a monthly writing meme hosted by Cait @Paper Fury and Sky @Further up and Further in in which writers answer a series of questions about one of their characters.

This month I will be focusing on Queen Cressida, the mother of my protagonist from my epic fantasy work in progress.

Give a brief overview of their looks. (Include a photo if you want!)

Queen Cressida

The avatar creator used to make this image is found here: http://www.dolldivine.com/rpg-heroine-creator.php

This isn’t exactly right as in the story itself Cressida isn’t nearly this thin and the clothing designed in this fictional word would have a different cut than the one shown here, but it’s the closest I could get in an avatar generator.

Share a snippet that involves description of their appearance.

I can’t say that I’ve ever described Cressida’s appearance in my story itself. I don’t tend to write a lot of description, and have a tendency of focusing on personality traits when I do. That is especially true of this story since the story is told from the first person point of view of a mind reader who cares far more about people’s thought patterns than how they look. Here are snippets describing the queen’s personality:

(Note: These exerts are from an unedited draft.)

From part one:

“I stand by my mother’s side pouring her wine with eyes down-turned. It’s a struggle not to acknowledge mother’s thoughts. To pour her wine and move along. Mother is a queen. She can’t afford to associate with servants. Not even the one who happens to be her daughter.”

From part four:

“Baby, she [Cressida] has never called me that before, or at least not that I can remember. Part of me wants to say that she should be sorry. That my mother should have stood up against the persecution of Sifters and recognized me as her daughter. Queens are supposed to make the rules after all, but right now, arm in arm, it’s hard to be mad at her. I want to forgive.”

What is the first thing people might notice about them?

They’d notice that the way Cressida carries herself is imposing.

What are their unique features? (Ex: freckles, big ears, birthmark, scars, etc.)

Queen Cressida has a scar on her upper arm from an assassination attempt.

How tall are they? What is their build? (Ex: stocky, slender, petite, etc.)

Cressida is slightly taller than average, though people in this time period are on average a little shorter than modern humans, so she might be short by modern standards. Cressida is slightly overweight, but this is considered attractive in her society.

What is their posture like? How do they usually carry themselves?

Cressida has very upright posture. She almost never slouches. Cressida carries herself in a way that suggests privilege and control.

Your character has been seen on a “lazy day” (free from usual routine/expectations): what are they wearing and how do they look?

I don’t think Cressida has had a day free from her usual routine since she was in her teens. She’d probably wear the same thing she does any other day because she’d expect to have something in need of her attention at any moment.

Do they wear glasses, accessories, or jewelry on a regular basis? Do they have any article of clothing or accessory that could be considered their trademark?

Cressida often wears a beaded crown similar to the one pictured above.

Have they ever been bullied or shamed because of their looks? Explain!

No, not to her face anyway. No one wants to bear the consequences of insulting the queen.

Are they happy with how they look? If they could change anything about their appearance, what would it be?

Cressida wishes she didn’t have wrinkles. She doesn’t like the signs of age that are starting to appear on her body. If she could change anything about her appearance she would get rid of these wrinkles.

Beautiful People: July 2016

Beautiful People for Writers

Beautiful People is a monthly writing meme hosted by Cait @Paper Fury and Sky @Further up and Further in in which writers answer a series of questions about one of their characters.

This month I will be focusing on Catrine, a major secondary character from my current epic fantasy work in progress that I’m about 75,000 words, or three fourths of the way through rewriting.

Do they want to get married and/or have children? Why or why not?

Yes, Catrine has already made a dress she planned to wear for her future wedding, though she no longer has it due to her constant movement between places. She has every intention of recreating that dress to the best of her abilities when the time comes for her wedding.

She wants to get married and have kids because she really likes the idea of having small children to make clothing for and pass down her trade to. She also likes the idea of being able to settle down somewhere, something she has a hard time imagining herself doing with all the places she has lived.

What is their weapon of choice? (It doesn’t necessarily have to be a physical weapon.)

A sewing needle. 🙂

What’s the nicest thing they’ve done for someone else, and why did they do it?

The nicest thing Catrine has done is help some of the poor people on the island where she lives at the start of the novel by giving them free clothing as she uses them to practice making clothes for her wealthy clients and lets them keep what she’s made for them at the end. Cloth is very expensive on this island, and most of the poor only own one pair of clothes.

Have they ever been physically violent with someone, and what instigated it?

Catrine is normally a non-violent person, but when she feels she, her brother, or her job as a tailor at the palace is threatened she can get violent. During the story there is an occasion when she feels threatened by the main character due to something the main character did that gave her good reason to suspect the main character was threatening her aforementioned values. I can’t go into specifics without spoilers.

Are they a rule-follower or a rebel?

rule-follower

Are they organized or messy?

organized

What makes them feel loved, and who was the last person to make them feel that way?

Having people show her kindness makes Catrine feel loved. The last person who made her feel that way was her brother.

What do they eat for breakfast?

It varies. Catrine has lived in a lot of places and has parents who were from two places she has never lived. She takes what is available based on the place she is living in at the time.

Have they ever lost someone close to them? What happened?

Yes, she has lost people she was fairly close to through disease, but she has also lost many people she cared about not because they died, but because they lost her trust.

What’s their treat of choice? (Or, if not food, how else do they reward themselves?)

By making a nice garment for herself.

Beautiful People: June 2016

Beautiful People for Writers

Beautiful People is a monthly meme hosted by Cait @Paper Fury and Sky @Further up and Further In in which writers answer questions about their characters.

This month I’ve chosen Glenda, a major side character in my current work in progress. Glenda is the half sister of the main character and a crown princess.

What is their first childhood memory?

Glenda’s first childhood memory is of being extremely dressed up for a holiday in her culture that celebrates the end of the rainy season. (Flooding is common there, and the people are happy to see the rain go.)

What were their best and worst childhood experiences?

Glenda’s best childhood experience was one time when she was alone in the palace gardens and many of the flowers were in full bloom and she fell asleep. Glenda loves flowers, and rarely gets to be alone. This particular time was one when she really needed a break from being royalty, and she was thrilled by the fact she’d managed to evade her guards for so long.

Glenda’s worst childhood experience that isn’t a spoiler is her father’s death in the first chapter. Sometimes the relationship between Glenda and her father could be tense, but she loved him and was devastated by his death.

What was their childhood home like?

Glenda lives in a palace. It is quite large and extravagant. She grew up being able to easily obtain almost anything she desired unless that thing was privacy.

What’s something that scared them as child?

The fact that she always knew her mother was hiding a huge secret, but wasn’t told for years. She was scared of what that secret might be and imagined something far worse than it actually was.

Who did they look up to most?

Glenda looked up to her mother because she respected her mother’s leadership skills. (Her mother is a queen.)

Favourite and least favourite childhood foods?

Glenda’s favorite food is a type of pastry that isn’t made in our world, but that exists in this one. Glenda really does not like tomatoes.

If they had their childhood again, would they change anything?

She’s only about twelve in the story, so still a child, but Glenda’d probably change the way she treated her half-sister, the main character, who she didn’t realize was related to her, and so treated poorly most of the time.

What kind of child were they? Curious? Wild? Quiet? Devious?

Glenda could be devious at times, but when it came time to look professional for her future subjects she would look professional.

What was their relationship to their parents and siblings like?

Glenda’s relationship with her half-sister Yuliana, the story’s protagonist, is a complicated one. Glenda didn’t know Yuliana was related to her for many years. Before then she’d only known Yuliana as a palace servant and had treated her as such.

Glenda’s relationship with her mother is much better than her relationship with her sister. She has great respect for the way her mother has led her country, but resents the fact that the queen keeps so much a secret from her.

Glenda loves her father as well, though she has some resentment for the fact that her mother was essentially forced to marry him to save her country. She’ll also occasionally get into some heated arguments with him, and rebel against his wishes significantly more often than those of her mother.

What did they want to be when they grew up, and what did they actually become?

This question cannot be answered due to major spoilers.