Sunday, November 22, 2015

I Did The Thing

I finished NaNo, guys. o.o I have finished Clockwork Apprentice, coming in at 50,137 words. My word document's word counter would say more, but NaNoWriMo's website says this is the official count. But whatever. I win either way, right? ^_^

I'm really, really glad I finally did NaNo this year. I thought it would be fairly easy. I didn't have a busy schedule, and I thought I wrote a decent amount of words in one sitting when I'm not distracted.

Note the word distracted.

But I was able to get ahead of the average word goal NaNo suggests each day. I got super excited the first few days, and that got me ahead, but then I caught a nasty cold and writing slowed down a little. But I was still able to keep ahead, and some days pull even further. There was a day when I cut it pretty close to not updating the little counter on the website, so I was basically this late that night:

I was also that last night, trying to finish the plot of my novel and win then. But it got really late, and words and my brain said goodnight to each other and that was that.

But this adventure has been fantastic. I decided to do NaNo about a week before the month of November began, but it took me a while to settle on a story to pursue.

Writers are crazy. Just nod and smile. ;)

Then I began research. Clockwork Apprentice is a steampunk novel, and as I've never written steampunk I needed a bit of background information on all things 1800s. I stored up an impressive bank of resources, people. Even a site for clock parts, and temporarily regency period things because I debated doing regency steampunk.

But guess what I didn't do? Use any of it. I used none of the sources! November 1, I started writing and used no time to consult the sources. I'll probably go back and use them a little during editing, but I think it did give me a good idea what that time period was like, so I could transfer the atmosphere into my novel.

Then it began.

I began to write. I had my plot, I had a decent idea of characters, and I realized quickly how this novel was gonna need a LOT of editing afterward. Characters weren't developed, and that become evident quickly. My MCs are probably going to go from being amiable and getting along to starting out rough and rubbing each other in all the wrong ways. The plot, bless it, decided to return to the idea of being a mystery story too. This was decided when I was already well into the novel.

My first reaction.

So, it was back to the drawing board for a really fast plot development session.

But! I'm really glad it became what it did. It provided lots to write, filling out the middle and working to provide foreshadowing and little details to set things up for the mystery. I squealed with pleasure when I found ways to set up the mystery and foreshadow all the things.

Later I hit my first big snag. I wrote a scene, in which my villainess makes her first appearance and kidnaps my main character's friend as leverage to get her to stop investigating the murders. I liked the idea of the scene, because feels and the adorable character gets kidnapped, but then it started to not work. It was making the following scene not like I envisioned, and I really wanted that scene to have the mood it really was not having with the current situation.

I didn't want to delete it all and try to gain back the words, but I also felt like keeping it there and rewriting would be almost cheating (newbie NaNo-er, here!). But a friend told me to not touch backspace. In all caps. So I let the offending piece be and simply rewrote it. Everything was better, and I was happy. Plus more words.

Like a lot of my stories, things happened I didn't previously account for. Like the change of plot. Also, my villainess had a character shot. I hadn't planned that, but I rolled with it. It probably worked to help the plot in some way, I'm sure.

My characters are all darlings. I love them all, even if they're a bit of a mess in this first draft. My toymaker character is feelsy and I love him, and I love the kid that came along with the mystery plot package. As I wrote and got further into the story I learned more about them. Their roles and personalities developed as I went along, giving me a better idea of how everyone interacted.

This is me getting excited over characters interacting.

And then there was my villainess. People, let me tell you, I didn't expect her to become what she became. She was a woman with a plan for revenge against the man who jilted her on her wedding day. Simple enough. And then she became a truly insane person. For a long while we only hear about her as the MC investigates. She's mysterious, and quite possibly a murderer. But then when she made her first appearance, she was terrifying.

This is me writing my villainess and watching her manipulate my darling toymaker.

Then there was a scene I did from her POV. I got inside her head. It's a scary place, y'all. o.o I didn't realize how insane she was until I got up close. It was fascinating, but also scary that she's my creation. I get that feeling a lot with characters. <_>_>

Yes. Do that. It works.

Then things began to wind down. The climax came, and along with it the scene I had been looking forward to most, because hypnotism and violins and feels (I like feels). Unfortunately that scene didn't play out like it did in my mind, and the climax seemed a bit messy and everywhere. But I think part of that was me trying to finish quickly, so I was rushing.

The music that inspired the beginning of the climax. :3

But it began to come together at the end of the climax. Because why come together at the start when you can do it at the end? And I think, once I get it cleaned up and more like how I imagined (or at least not like it is now), it will be a lot better and lot more intense.

So I wrote the climax and the winding down scenes. That's when I realized the word counter on the doc and the word validation counter on NaNo's site disagree, so I had another 1500-some words to go. I was adding scenes here and there, embellishing a scene other there, and finally titling chapters to officially reach 50,000 words.

And then...

I won.

This is me displaying the chaos that is my climax/novel.

It's been really, really awesome doing NaNoWriMo. It was a lot of fun setting up a NaNo account, it was fun researching, it was fun anticipating scenes, writing scenes, and having feels when my babies were sad. I loved even the unexpected twists. I like how the villainess turned out, too. I've never had a villain as insane as she is. It was fascinating to write her, and hopefully she'll be even better when editing comes around. :D

But we won't talk about editing now because that is a scary thing and I don't want to look at it.

I'm glad I tried NaNo. It was a definitely a learning experience (I learned the importance of backing up your work. o.o).  God willing, I might have another go in 2016. I have lots more stories to try out. B)

Are you doing NaNo? How is it going for you? If not, what are you working on right now? Tell me the things!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Storyboard Party!

So Elisabeth over at The Second Sentence announced a Pinterest storyboard party a while ago, where writers share their storyboards and talk about all the awesome things about their stories, whether it be a published novel, a work-in-progress, or a story still in the early brainstorming stages. A day to showcase the inspiration we writers have accumulated for the stories running rampant in our minds.

I thought this sounded pretty fun, so I want to share with you four of my stories. Because I love them dearly, with all the drama they cause. They like to do that.

First up is my fantasy novel, which I'm hoping to self-publish. I completed (at last!) the first draft in September in the wee hours of a Saturday morning (because I could), and then I refused to look at the thing and let it sit. It currently has no title, but I'm in love with my little darling. I love everything about it, the characters, the countries, the worldbuilding. It's taken a few years to really come together, and it's still growing, but I'm happy with how it's turned out.

The novel is about two siblings who live on Earth, running away from their current foster home. But They get transported into a whole new world, a world of magic and half-elves and dragons. They become separated when the female MC's brother is kidnapped. She then meets a band of eight brothers who have set out to start a rebellion, and she joins them in order to find her brother.

I have several other boards for the major characters of the novel too, which is probably where you will find the most pins. One thing I've loved seeing in my novel as it has progressed and evolved, is that the theme of family, be it blood-relation or otherwise, runs everywhere, even into the villain territory, which makes it even more exciting. I've seen the theme of family in so many of my characters. The eight brothers have a very strong family bond in their united purpose even if they don't always get along. My main characters are driven by family, the need to find each other in this strange new world. My villains have the aspect too. My two main villains, while not brothers, have a friendship just as strong as brotherhood. One villain has a wife and two children, and the other has a sister who goes to great lengths to help him find a cure for the illness that is killing him. This theme is important to me, even in my own personal life. It comes up in nearly every story I write, and I love that it comes so naturally, and, in this novel, that it's so strong.

Also (small fangirling moment because I can). I love, love my half-elves. Again, they show the family theme almost stronger than anywhere else. They aren't liked by the elves, but the half-elves have refused to let that stop them from making a life for themselves. They offer shelter to anyone who needs it. Their home is yours, their family is yours. I have loved my half-elves since the day I created them. Another character I love is my assassin. He was created years ago, but he has really grown and developed since then. I had given him a name, but I knew it wasn't his real name. I didn't know what it was until just a year or so ago. But I've loved seeing him develop and grow, learning about his past, tragic as it is, and his future. He's my darling boy, even though I make him suffer. A lot. But I'm sure he doesn't mind.

My next storyboard is one I'm sure a lot of you probably are familiar with if you've followed my blog for a while (or even just browsed). Fence Jumpers is a finished manuscript, I suppose you could say. It's my blog's serial story, a dystopian about a gang of teen kids acting as delinquent vandals in order to expose a corrupted mayor.

It's set in Cincinnati, and I had a blast writing it. I started with the idea of kids who basically made it their profession to jump over fences with ease and a sort of grace, and it transformed into a dystopian adventure that thrilled me. I started this blog with the intent to start the story, and as it went on, the Pinterest board I began for it accumulated followers. I would get so excited as, slowly, people commented on pins about the story. I have loved, loved that people were reading, and that they were enjoying! I loved hearing from readers. It was an adventure writing this, and I'm glad there were people who hopped on board. I learned, however, that if I do any more serials, I need to write it from start to finish before posting. With Fence Jumpers I found myself nearing that Saturday morning deadline and having to write that day's installment that week, scrambling to keep up. After a couple breaks to give myself a nice cushion and to make sure things were smoothed out, we reached the finish line with a whole story.

The third storyboard is a WIP, and a novel I hope to make a series, called The Key and the Chest for now. It's also a novel I'm writing in notebooks, and I want to try to publish it someday traditionally. The plot started based on a dream I had, but it has since then evolved, but with the same elements. My main character, after his father is taken hostage by forces of darkness he didn't think existed, needs to find several items that will save his dad and stop the enemy. As I was essentially rebooting the story, I added elements of stories that I liked. I created a kind of secret society, but it's huge and spans the whole world (Earth), and some of its members are real life people. My MC learns he has the ability to summon and use fire. I'm not very far at all in this story, but I'm hopeful that it'll be a good one. Being a series will be an interesting adventure, too

My last storyboard is for a WIP I'm putting up on Wattpad. The Empire Thief is another fantasy novel, about a boy named Talyx who thieves to survive. When he and his friend are forced to steal something precious from the emperor himself, Tal learns that there are things more precious than his own life.

I'm really enjoying writing this, but really figuring out what it's all about is still kind of jumbled, or at least, it's hard to explain. I wanted a story I could write when I was out and about, away from home and access to the devices I usually used for my other writing. I wanted something I could write on my little iPod, so I formulated the Empire Thief. I love the main character, Talyx, because he's exceptionally cheeky and probably the biggest flirt I've written. He has a best friend, Ferret, and they watch each other's back as they fight to survive in the city, covering for their weaknesses (seeing the family theme again?).

But what's both fascinating me and really stumping me is that I really and truly don't know what's going to happen to Talyx. I have at least two or three outcomes for him, and I don't know which I want. There's also a girl involved in this story, and again I really and truly don't know who gets the girl. Not only do I not know, I don't even know who I want to get the girl! I don't know which boy I want to have find their true love. I've never had this problem before, and I really don't know how I'm going to solve it. I can see both boy being very happy with the girl, but I don't know which I want to get it. I tend to lean one way when I try thinking about it, but there's still a level of uncertainty. So for now, I'll be just as in the dark as readers! o.o How's that for writing by the seat of my pants? ;)

So those are some of my current WIPs. :D I hope you enjoyed, and I hope you enjoy reading them, when they're published or if you find FJs or Empire Thief on my blog or on Wattpad (link to Empire Thief is in the "My Writing" page. ;) ).

And because Elisabeth suggested it, I also want to share with you a storyboard from a friend of mine, whose novel she hopes to publish traditionally. I beta'ed her novel, and I have LOVED it. You will surely know when it has been published, because I certainly won't be keeping quiet. Her novel is about a boy named Alastair who lives in a world that worships false gods, and the worship of the one true God is forbidden. But when Alastair accepts the true God as his own, he loses everything. Then he goes, armed with only the strength of his God, to find his mother. Alastair faces many obstacles, but he learns that whatever he faces, he has nothing to fear with God on his side.

Again, I love, love, love her story. I love the characters, the worldbuilding, the themes. It's all so rich and colorful, and the theme isn't sugercoated. There are violent scenes, but it all shows that with God, we who follow Him need not fear even the pain the enemy inflicts.

So you should check out my friend's storyboard for her novel, and the character boards too. :3 And when her book is published you must read it. *nodnod* Read it and love it. ^_^

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Speed of Light vs. Vigilante of the Night

(Images found via Pinterest.)

Recently my siblings and I finished the latest complete season of Arrow, a TV show based on the DC comic hero. Arrow has been a sibling favorite for us as we eat lunch, and recently Netflix streaming has provided us season 3, which we've enjoyed.

But also Netflix has added The Flash, another television adaptation of a DC comic superhero. We had seen it on TV once or twice, and some of us were looking forward to watching it. Once Netflix added it, we had both Arrow and The Flash to watch during lunch.

We watched Arrow first, seeing that the majority of us enjoyed that, and only my little brother and I really enjoyed The Flash. But when Arrow was over, later on my sisters (fans of Arrow) and I debated which show was better. The debate ended with both sides unconvinced, but it got me thinking about both shows. After sifting through thoughts, I zeroed in on the two protagonists, Oliver Queen (the Arrow) and Barry Allen (the Flash).

Personally, I think Barry Allen is a more human character than Oliver Queen. Barry seems more realistic to me as a character than Oliver does. This post isn't meant to bash the Arrow TV show or the character or anything. These are simply my thoughts on the subject. Everyone has their own opinions. If you'd like to discuss/debate (in a civil and friendly way) these two characters, leave a comment! I'd love to discuss it, and maybe I'll learn something about the Arrow or the Flash I hadn't known before.

That said, however, know that I've only seen seasons 1-3 of Arrow and only some of season 1 of The Flash. So no spoilers, please. ;) I'm going on only what I know from the episodes I have watched.

Anyways. As I thought about the characters of Barry and Oliver, and why I like Barry more than Oliver, I realized that Barry's life, his personality, seems more healthy compared to Oliver's. Both men have experienced tragedy, and a certain level of trauma, I think. Oliver has witnessed loved ones die, and has endured torture. Barry has witnessed his mother's murder and seen his father falsely accused. But it's the way these two people handled their grief and the tragedy is what sets them apart.

Oliver tends to let his grief, his experiences, really define who he is and who the Arrow is. It envelops him, becoming part of him and in a way determining his actions. Barry doesn't tend to wallow in the pain inflicted on him. He doesn't let it consume him.

Barry keeps going in life. Granted, his life choices do revolve around solving his mom's murder, but he adds more to his life than that. He holds close the things and the people in his life that make life happy and worth living. He has people to fight for, but he doesn't do it by distancing himself from them. He surrounds himself with them instead. A smile is never far from his features. He lives.

In contrast, Oliver seems to hold on to every hardship in his life and lets it define who he is as a man. While at the end of season three he seems to finally let go of it all, he often denies himself the potentially healing qualities of actually living. Of surrounding himself with people that make him happy. While he does have people he cares about, Oliver tends to control his happiness levels and focuses instead on distancing himself and keeping them safe. While that's not necessarily a bad thing, denying yourself that kind of comforting happiness with loved ones might not be healthy.

But all this isn't to say Barry's perfect. He definitely has his weaknesses. His life has revolved around solving his mom's murder for 10+ years. While it doesn't completely obsess him to the point of being the only thing he can think of, Barry acknowledges that it's kind of trapped him, that he's kept himself from other great things. In an episode where the Arrow visits Barry's city, Barry has a temporary moment where a dark side of him bubbles up, which might suggest a bit of pride in his abilities when he accuses Oliver and Detective West of being jealous. Barry also struggles with having confidence in himself sometimes. But he's learning to be confident, and know that others have confidence in him too. Barry has his own shortcomings just like Oliver, but it's how he responds to them that makes him a little more healthy, in regards to his personality and thinking.

The focus of these two men when in hero uniform kind of helps show how Barry's lifestyle and personality is a more healthy model than Oliver's. In uniform, the Arrow's focus is on justice, punishing the baddies. While this isn't a bad thing, it's essentially the sole goal. The Arrow/Oliver, while upholding justice, is also not above killing or inflicting pain as punishment. If someone causes trouble in his city, you can be sure they'll have an arrow in their arm (or their heart, depending on how naughty they are), and anybody who stands in his way will too. The Arrow plays God in his work, deciding who will be punished. We can see how his rather dark experiences have turned his lifestyle dark when he puts on the hood.

While in contrast, the Flash/Barry focuses on helping and protecting people. This is the Arrow's goal, too, but it is the Flash's top priority, not bringing justice to the villains. He leaves that to the police. If he has to, he will hurt the bad guys because that's what it takes to stop them from hurting innocent people. And, if there is no alternative, death comes to the villain to stop him. The Flash doesn't seek justice, he seeks to help. In a way, Barry is reciprocating the kind of care he received. He was helped by Iris and her father when his mother was murdered and his father imprisoned. And now that he can run at superhuman speeds, he uses that to help others.

Oliver's and Barry's outlook on life and how they live it also shows how they handle the hardships thrown at them, and how Barry's responses seem healthier than Oliver's. With Oliver, we kind of get the feeling that life sucks, and you're just gonna with to live with it and do what you can to survive. But with Barry, we get the feeling that life can suck sometimes, but there's always hope. We just have to be determined enough to look for it, and then fight for it when we find it.

Another thing I noticed was the difference between Oliver Queen and the Arrow, and the seeming lack of difference between Barry Allen and the Flash. Again it kind of contributes to the healthier personality Barry seems to have compared to Oliver's. Oliver detaches himself from the identity of the Arrow, making Arrow and Oliver feel like two different people. But because he allows the dark experiences he's faced define him and become him, he loses Oliver to the more violent Arrow, becoming unaffected by the pain he inflicts. With Barry, you can see both identities in either. He doesn't change himself, at least not much, to become the Flash. Barry is more affected by others hurting. He's deeply affected when people die and he can't help them. He doesn't let it harden him against this dark reality like Oliver does. He expresses his struggles and his pain, and he lets people help him with it.

Barry and Oliver also have different ways of interacting with people, and it too suggests, to me, how Barry's lifestyle seems more healthy than Oliver's lifestyle. For instance, when others are dealing with their own struggles, Oliver comes across as kind of arrogant. If others seem to be becoming reckless when trying to deal with their grief, Oliver scolds, essentially saying “just stop. You don't know what you're doing. I know what this feels like because I've gone through it before, so just listen to me to know how to behave.” That to me came across as a superior arrogance.

In contrast, Barry gives of his time to listen to others when they're struggling. He listens to Iris when she's had a crappy day, and to Caitlin abut her grief. Barry doesn't try to instruct and direct how others should react to their grief. He listens to them, and tries to help. He might advise against a certain way of reacting, but he doesn't try to act superior. Barry takes time out of his own crazy life to help others, even when he's feeling down.

Can we talk about how absolutely amazing Barry was as a friend in this episode?

Between Oliver Queen and Barry Allen, I think Barry seems a little more realistic and human. He seems to show a healthier way to deal with the tragedies that strike. He and Oliver both have their own personal missions, but it's how they go about them that makes them different.

Oliver lets it become who he is, defining his actions and his overall personality and morals. He denies himself the ability to express emotion and keeps his struggles to himself most of the time.

Barry, while focusing hard on his mission, still finds reasons to really live. He makes time for others and keeps up the relationships he has, and surround himself with people he loves, going to them for help or just a shoulder to lean on. And most importantly, being open with the people who want to help him (without going too far and revealing his super speed identity). He doesn't hide his emotions, keeping them bottled up. He lets himself feel. He lets himself live.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Book Review: Peter and the Secret of Rundoon (Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson)

*****Warning: There will be spoilers.
In this final installment of the Starcatchers trilogy, Peter and his gang of Lost Boys must go up against the darkness that threatened them last time. Ombra is back, and they must go to Rundoon, a country where the Others are headquartered. But Peter's involvement in the plot for starstuff is greater than he or anyone expected. The fate of the world rests on the shoulders of a boy who never grows up.

Secret of Rundoon was full of action and suspense, again leaving little breathing room for the characters. Like with the two books before it, Mr. Barry and Mr. Pearson lay out the conflict, heroes, and villains immediately before pushing us into the adventure. The plot again splits between the events Mollusk Island and wherever the various hero POVs are at, but both storylines continue to incorporate the elements of the classic Peter Pan tale, bringing it all together. I liked learning more about Peter, the things he didn't even know about himself. It brought him closer to the conflict, giving more at stake to his ultimate success or failure.

Peter has matured in this book. While he hasn't grown physically, you can see his growth in other ways. His loyalty to his fellow mates and other friends is as strong as anything, and he will do anything to keep them safe, even at the cost of his own life. I liked seeing a little more of Peter's struggle to accept that he's not growing up too, and that everyone he knows and loves are going to grow up without him. It would have been interesting to see this a little more prominently in the story, but it came up often enough to not be entirely forgotten, and gave the ending a bittersweet touch.

The villains are again excellent. Ombra is back, and this time things happen on his own playing field. He and his kind are creepy, and their interactions among themselves dark and cold and always mysterious. I didn't really appreciate Ombra's backstory, in which he essentially infodumps to Lord Aster the origins of his kind and of starstuff. The monologue being there at all in the scene seemed unneeded, and the content itself was something I disagreed with, personally. But my personal beliefs aside, the scene itself does help to explain a few things.

King Zarboff of Rundoon, too, was an interesting villain. He didn't seem as developed in personality and mannerisms like Black Stache was, but he had the same cruel heart. You learn enough of Zarboff in book one to know what he's like, and meeting him in person we learn the reports from book one are no lie. One thing I find interesting is that Zarboff kind of defies a stereotype. Zarboff's physical appearance makes him out to be a fairly large man, and then with a dark and cunning villain like Ombra one might expect Zarboff to be a clutz of a king with a lot of bulk (a bit like Jasmine's father in Disney's Aladdin). But he's not. He's serious, and he's cruel. There are moments where he seems comical, but often it's with a dark sense of humor.

I liked seeing the final elements of Peter Pan come together in this book. I'm reading the classic for the first time, but I recognized many of the elements. The Lost Boys, the ticking crocodile. There were some parts I didn't see when I thought they might be there, but overall this trilogy did an awesome job of telling a fun and unique "behind the scenes" story of Peter Pan. There was an instance during the book where a character was shot in the arm, rendering it useless at the time, but I didn't feel that the character reacted accurately to the pain. If a bullet wound causes that much damage, the character probably would have been in much more pain. That reaction of pain would have made the action at the moment more intense, I think. But this was a minor issue. Overall, I enjoyed this trilogy a lot.

Violence/gore: A new band of island natives, the Scorpions, are vicious, and they  attack the Mollusks, with casualties on both sides. One character is grazed with a poison arrow, but left only weakened. A couple boys are shot, but not too seriously.

Profanity: If there was any, it was only referenced.

Sexual content: Peter and Molly share a kiss on the lips.

Other: Molly's tendency to disobey her father continues, and while it helps find answers, she continues to disobey him without any consequent punishment. A flying camel delivers dung bombs upon the Others. Ombra's abilities to steal shadows and manipulate and invade the minds of humans might be a little unnerving to some.
Have you read this trilogy? Or books one or two? What did you think? Tell me all! :D

Monday, November 9, 2015

Beautiful Books Linkup 2: Clockwork Apprentice Progress

So Cait at Paper Fury has put up another Beautiful Books Linkup. Last time it was to introduce to the people the novel we writers would be taking on in the crazy month of November during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).

This month's linkup is again NaNo related, but this time writers can report on their progress thus far. Cait herself is an inhuman speedster and finished her novel in four days. Four. Days. I'm not sure what condition she's in, so you should go over and make sure to give her chocolate and congratulations on such an incredible feat.

Currently, I'm ahead in Clockwork Angel with my word count sitting at present 21,345 words. I'm rather pleased I'm ahead, especially for my first time in NaNo. I've enjoyed writing this novel, exploring the plot and the characters. Although I hate the idea of editing this thing because it is so, so awful. For real, guys, I have no desire to see editing day soon. Clockwork Apprentice's first draftiness is milking the first draftiness for all it's worth and it terrifies me.

But I am starting to learn what things I could edit or change. I realize my two main characters' relationship could go as a "hard to get along" kind of path, which would definitely make things exciting (of course I realize this about where they would start to get along, but whatever).

Annnyways. This linkup contains questions, like the last one. It doesn't really consist of me rambling. Maybe.

1. Is the book turning out how you thought it would be, or is it defying your expectations?
Yes and no. The plot is still essentially the same, but the mystery aspect has returned. Pretty sure I've done a crappy job at implementing this, but hey, it's a first draft. So now my novel has mystery, and with it came a new character who is a darling boy.

2. What's your first sentence (or paragraph)?

Mariel followed her uncle Noah to the cozy little home on Tulbury Street, Number 15. It was much smaller than her uncle's home, but it had its own charm. Except there were no flowers in the boxes under the windows, and the windows themselves looked in need of a good cleaning.
Clockwork Apprentice, Chapter 1.

3. Are you a plotter or a pantser? Have you ever tried both methods and how did it turn out?
I think I'm a bit of both. I don't dive into a document with absolutely no plan whatsoever, but I also don't outline every detail. I'll outline enough to get me through, and if I need to (like for a climax) I'll maybe outline that a little closer just so I have it all organized in my head. But generally I lean a little more toward pantsing, I think. I like keeping my options open, and I like the surprises my characters or plot might throw at me.

4.  What do you reward yourself with after meeting a goal?
I don't really reward myself. I'll write, and when I'm done for the day, I'm done. I used to reward myself with working on formatting my fantasy novel into a document (because copy/paste killed the paragraph breaks), but I kind of went ahead and just plowed through that and finished formatting. So now, I just write.

5. What do you look for in a name? Do you have themes and where do you find your names?
It depends. Either I'll look for an appropriate name whose meaning fits the character and/or the charrie's role, or I'll just pick a favorite name or a name that strikes my fancy at the moment. In Clockwork Apprentice, I chose Mariel's name because it means "wished-for child," which played a little into her and Liam's relationship. And then for another character, Charlie, I chose the name simply because I liked it and it fit.

6. What is your favorite to write: beginning, middle, or end -- and why?
I think I like to write the middle for most stories, because that's where a lot of the scenes that I play in my head take place. But for Clockwork Angel, the end, the climax, will be my favorite. Because that's where things get awesome and Liam is feelsy and kind of hypnotized. And it was inspired by a really pretty violin instrumental cover of Andrew Lloyd Webber's "The Music of the Night." So there's that. It will be epic.

7. Who's your current favourite character in your novel?
Hmm. I think it's probably Charlie. He was part of the package that brought along the mystery to the novel, and he's a darling boy. I like his voice, which might not seem so different from the others (first draft glory, again), but how it sounds in my head is lovely. Liam is still a favorite, as he's my darling and the one who started it all.

8. What kind of things have you researched for this project, and how you do go about researching? (What's the weirdest thing you've researched?!)
I researched a boat ton of Victorian era etiquette and fashion. And because this is a first draft I seem to have completely left it all alone and don't consult the sources. But it's steampunk, so I have some liberties, okay?

I researched mainly in Pinterest for the fashion and some etiquette, but Google supplied the rest of the etiquette, and some fashion. I can't say there's anything weird I've researched, but the one thing that wasn't Victorian era-related was a site that had a kind of glossary of clock parts. Haven't consulted that either, though.

9. Do you write better alone or with others? Do you share your work or prefer to keep it to yourself?
I can write in both environments, but I might write a little better when I'm alone. I like to try writing in the morning, when I can pump out a lot.

I don't mind sharing my work, at least with people I know. When it comes to displaying it on the internet, I become a paranoid creature who is protective of original names. But with family and friends, I don't have any hesitation sharing my writing. I haven't really shared it because no one asks, or I don't want to make them feel obligated to say yes if I ask if they want to (yes, I'm weird).

10. 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!
I don't really have any particular habits. I suppose a habit would be that if I write during the day, it's usually downstairs among family where I can listen to conversation and such. If I snack, it's probably any candy I've acquired, or any yummy baked goods recently made.

I like listening to music that fits the mood of what I'm currently writing (for example, sad music for death scenes), but I've discovered that I can really focus on writing if I listen to Peter Hollens. I don't know why, but it works and I like his music, so win-win. I write best in the morning, I think. Nice and early before I shower and get ready for the day. Like this morning, I got a lot of words cranked out. I was up early and at my desk writing for an hour or so. It's lovely, and I get writing done early so I can do other things in the day.

* *  * * *

So there you go! That's how things are going for me in my NaNo venture, and a little bit about my writing quirks and such. :D Ya'll should do this linkup, even if you don't do NaNo, and tell me in the comments! Also link to it with Cait (click over to her blog to find all that).

How is NaNo faring for you if you're doing NaNo? Are you dreading editing as much as I am? If you're not doing NaNo, how's your current WIP going? Tell me all! :3

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Book Review: Peter and the Shadow Thieves (Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson)

***Warning: Possible spoilers ahead for the first book.

It's been a few months since Peter and his gang chased off the Others from the starstuff on Mollusk Island. Peter and the Lost Boys have made their home on the island, content and happy. On the other side of the island, Black Stache – now dubbed Captain Hook – and his pirate crew shelter behind their fortress from Peter lobbing mangoes and coconuts overhead, and Mr. Grin, the huge crocodile who has a taste for Hook.

But now there's a new threat. The Others have regrouped, and they're coming back for the starstuff. This time, they come with an ally with abilities no one has seen before.

Shadow Thieves was a long book, but it was suspenseful nearly all the way. We see Peter beginning to realize the consequences of being ageless, never growing older and having to watch his friends grow older without him. It worries him, but he focuses on the trouble at hand, and it doesn't become a very large part of the story.

The new villain is excellently creepy. Lord Ombra strikes fear into the hearts of everyone, and his abilities make him a thing to be even more feared. He might have been a little more ominously scary if he didn't have as much dialogue, or perhaps spoke in the minds of others, but he was still an interesting villain, very set and determined to get what he wants and quickly finds ways to recover himself or hide it when he's taken by surprise in situations.

I enjoyed the intense feel the book had throughout, especially in the climax. The race each side ran to beat the other, to outsmart the opposition. There were plenty of obstacles to be faced, leaving little breathing room for the characters. It was broken up a few times with a storyline on Mollusk Island between Hook and the Lost Boys, but I didn't see the point to it, unless it was to introduce a certain aspect that will come into play in the next book. It could have been dealt with before Peter leaves the island, so the Mollusk Island chapters don't seem lost and swallowed in the main plot.

Tinker Bell was awesome. She was incredibly sassy and sarcastic and provided a bit of amusement in between the intense scenes. Despite being small, she's a force to be reckoned with, with her own set of powers. She's jealous for Peter's sole attentions, and dislikes any other girl Peter is acquainted with. However, she cares for Peter. She will protect him with all her being, however small it is. And however grudgingly, she will protect the people Peter cares for, because they are people he cares about (and because he asks, but still). She's sassy to Peter, but she has a brave heart. Don't mess with this birdgirl.

Violence/gore: We're character had to kill and eat another in order to stay alive before the opening of this book. We're told Nerezza's nose was cut off, also before the book starts. Two characters are shot, and one character is killed by a tumble down some steps.

Profanity: Referenced swearing.

Sexual content: One character is kissed by a mermaid, to give him more air underwater.

Other: Again, the consumption of alcohol is a common habit among sailors. Peter threatens to throw a bucket of urine at an adversary. Ombra's ability to take the shadows of others and manipulate the victims might unsettle some. Molly, George, and Peter disobey Lord Aster's orders.