Writing Updates + Camp NaNo Plans

Hello! It’s been way too long since I last blogged, but if you’re still reading this blog, thank you!

With the school year mostly done, I’ve actually had some time to write. At the end of June, I managed to finish up a WIP of almost four years, A Ticket to Yonder (if you’ve been following this blog for a while, you maybe remember I’ve posted some snippets/Beautiful People/other stuff like that about ATtY.) A nonsensical children’s book sort of novel, ATtY finished up at about 39,000 words. I wouldn’t mind it being longer, but I’m confident I can beef up the first draft during edits. And, unlike my NaNo first draft, I actually think I can come back and polish A Ticket to Yonder into a decent book. Hooray!

But for now I’m taking a break from that novel and preparing for my next adventure: Camp NaNoWriMo in July. I had a really hard time settling on what to write, but I finally decided to a Little Mermaid spoof/retelling I’ve been brainstorming for the past year or so. Originally the story was going to be a novella, like Broken Glass and Corroded Thorns, and set in the same universe; but then I liked the story so much I wanted it to be a full novel. Ever since I read Howl’s Moving Castle back in February, I’ve been revisiting some old characters and ideas and reincorporating them into one big fantasy world.

My working title for the story is The Fish Prince; it might change, since it’s a little too close to the title of Suzannah Rowntree’s Prince of Fishes…but we’ll see. Anyhoo, here’s the back cover blurb I wrote:

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Prince Aurelian’s life is horrible.
All he wants to do is marry the love of his life, Celeste; but his cruel parents, the rulers of the Southern Seas, forbid the match. They claim that 19-year-old Aurelian has done nothing to show maturity or selflessness. (There’s also the small fact that he met Celeste only three months before.) But true love can happen faster than that!
By chance while moping on the surface one stormy night, Aurelian rescues a young human boy and his governess from a shipwreck. However, this act of bravery gets him no credit from his parents, because they don’t believe he’s telling the truth. Determined to convince his parents of his maturity, Aurelian strikes a deal with a dangerous sea wizard to go to shore and find the governess, as a witness to his brave act. But his plans go awry when he discovers that the young woman firmly denies the existence of merfolk.
Back underwater, Aurelian’s beloved Celeste is left searching her missing prince; she makes a bargain with the sea wizard too, and must reconsider the genuineness of her feelings for Aurelian.
Both above and below the water, chaos ensues; phantoms, magicians, and dangerous spells threaten humans and merfolk alike as Aurelian and Celeste dive deeper into their quests.

//

I’m already almost 6,000 words into the first draft, and I hope to knock out at least 10,000 words before NaNo starts. The more I write this month, the more relaxed my Camp NaNo experience can be next month. So far, I’m really happy with what I’ve written and feel like I’ve got a good grasp on my characters’ voices (at least the ones I’ve introduced so far).

So what do you think of The Fish Prince? Are you participating in Camp NaNo this year? If so, what you are doing for it? And if you’re not doing Camp NaNo, what other writing adventures do you have planned? I’d love to hear about them!

Interview with Mirriam Neal

Hello!  Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Mirriam Neal, author of the just-released novel Paper Crowns.  Mirriam has a been a huge inspiration for me over the past few years and ever since I beta-read Paper Crowns a few years ago, I was hoping it would be published. Now I can finally reread it in all its published glory!  The cover is gorgeous and the writing inside is even more so.  So, if you haven’t checked out Paper Crowns on Goodreads yet, you should!

Without further ado, I give you the lovely Mirriam Neal.

  1. What inspired you to write Paper Crowns? My inspiration process usually resembles some kind of brew. I’ll toss in one ingredient, then another two weeks later, then another a month after that. The first ingredient for Paper Crowns was Julie Kagawa’s ‘Iron Fae’ series – which I disliked, but in a way that made me want to play with the idea myself. Another piece of inspiration was John Howe’s quote, ‘The world of faerie is a dangerous place,’ as well as my good friend Hannah George asking me if I believed in faeries. I gave her my answer in the dedication.
  2. When you’re not writing, what do you like to do? When I’m not writing, I’m usually trying to write anyway, or illustrating a client’s art commission. Art is my second great love.
  3. What was the most fun part about writing/publishing Paper Crowns? Finishing, and realizing I had written it in a month. And it wasn’t even NaNoWriMo! The entire process was a huge blast, though. It was completely delightful. Usually novels are as trying as they are enjoyable, but not this one. It behaved so well it was almost eerie.
  4. Were there any particular songs/albums/soundtracks you liked to listen to while writing Paper Crowns? I listened to a lot of Novelette and Soley, as well as the soundtrack for ‘The Mortal Instruments’ (the movie, not the show). Anything with a simple but haunting sound worked well for me.
  5. The whole cast of Paper Crowns is delightful (especially a certain wysling) but who are your favorite/favorites? (I know it can be hard to choose.) I’m going to have to say Azrael – which is probably obvious, since he snatched is own sequel right from under my nose.
  6. What are you currently working on, and what do you hope to publish next? I’m currently writing The Dying of the Light ( a futuristic samurai retelling of Robin Hood ) and editing Dark is the Night ( a novel about humans, vampires, and werewolves set in modern South Carolina ). I’m trying to convince my other novel ideas to stick around until I have time to put them to paper. I’d like to find a traditional publisher for Dark is the Night next, but we’ll see – it’s a tricky genre to fit.
  7. And finally, do you have any parting advice for fellow writers?  Keep writing fun. Don’t view it as a career – that makes it stressful. It’s what you love, not a chore.

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Ginger has lived in seclusion, with only her aunt Malgarel and her blue cat, Halcyon, to keep her company. Her sheltered, idyllic life is turned upside-down when her home is attacked by messengers from the world of fae. Accompanied by Halcyon (who may or may not be more than just a cat), an irascible wysling named Azrael, and a loyal fire elemental named Salazar, Ginger ventures into the world of fae to bring a ruthless Queen to justice.

Goodreads // Amazon // Barnes and Noble // Publisher Page

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Mirriam Neal is a twenty-two-year-old Northwestern hipster living in Atlanta. She writes hard-to-describe books in hard-to-describe genres, and illustrates things whenever she finds the time. She aspires to live as faithfully and creatively as she can and she hopes you do, too.

Blog // Contact Mirriam: the-shieldmaiden@hotmail.com

 

Christmas Tag Fun

‘Twas the night before Christmas…and the lovely Deborah tagged me with some Christmas-y fun!

What is your favourite Christmas treat?

My favorite food during any holiday is a dish my family calls green jell-o. It’s a lime/pear jello with whipped cream in it and it’s so fluffy and light and yummy.  😛  Basically, I’m in heaven whenever I’m eating it.

Are there any special traditions that your family has to celebrate Christmas?

For a few years now we’ve had the tradition of going to the movies on Christmas evening with friends.

How do you normally celebrate Christmas?

With my parents and my sister; we sleep in and then have a lazy morning of opening presents and snacking on various sweet things. Before breakfast, we open stockings; then we eat.  After breakfast we break into all the presents.  The rest of the day is spent lounging around the house, until we go watch a movie in the evening.

Do you enjoy getting presents for your friends and family? Do you buy your gifts or go the homemade route?

Yes; I love gift giving! Sometimes I do homemade, sometimes store-bought. Most of my homemade stuff is in the form of a plushie, usually from a favorite book/tv show/movie/etc.

Is it cold where you live? Have you ever had a white Christmas?

This year we’re having a strangely warm Christmas. Very rarely do we get a white Christmas—the snow likes to hold off until the middle of January and February, when it’s most inconvenient.

What’s on your Christmas list this year?

Volumes from the Fullmetal Alchemist series, a Pusheen wall calendar, a couple movies and some other stuff; I actually scrounged up a list this year.  😛  In the past I’ve had a very hard time coming up with a Christmas list.

What’s your favourite Christmas song?

GAAAAH this is hard. I love Home for the Holidays (it’s a Thanksgiving-y song, too), Holy Night, Mele Kalikimaka, Dominic the Donkey (if you haven’t heard this one, you should go look it up).

What does your Christmas Tree look like?

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What are you reading in December? (Anything festive?)

I’m currently reading Winter (going slow, but not because it’s boring; I’ve been busy and lazy).  I’ve also started the manga Bleach.  Neither are very festive.  😛

How early do you start to get into the Christmas spirit?

As soon as the Christmas music starts on the radio! The season passes by so fast I enjoy as much of it as I can.

What Christmas movies do you like to watch this time of year or what’s your favorite?

White Christmas is my favorite Christmas movie. It’s just the right amount of fluff, funny, and happiness; also, I love the dance scenes.

What’s your favorite Christmasy book or book with a favorite Christmasy part?

I read The Harry Potter series around Christmas, so those books will always feel Christmas-y to me. It’s so cute when Mrs. Weasley makes all her kids ugly sweaters.  And then gives Harry a nice sweater.  😛

As I finish writing this post, Christmas is only a couple hours away…eep, I can’t wait! I wish you all a very merry Christmas!  How will you be celebrating tomorrow?

 

Emma’s Adventures in NaNo Land

 

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Last month, I did something I’d never done before: I wrote more than 50,000 words.

I finished NaNoWriMo on Thanksgiving morning–then collapsed into a happy little heap and ate Thanksgiving, went Black Friday shopping, and began gobbling up the books I had accumulated during the month.

I was under the impression that NaNoWriMo would easy and breezy and no one would be able to tear me away from my story.  “Pep talks?” I scoffed as I perused the NaNo website. “I don’t need pep talks.  Psh, I got this.”

I had no idea what I was getting into.

Day 2 of NaNo I almost quit.  I hadn’t actually written a new story in over a year; my first drafts are very rough.  It was painful watching myself murder the beautiful plot I had come up with.  “This scene is supposed to cool and epic!” I would tell myself.  “Why can’t you make it so?”  All my writing buddies on the NaNo website were doing so much better than me.

The second night of November, my dad cheered me on just as I was about to quit.  And then I made my decision: I was going to finish this book.

So I slogged through.  And guess what?  I really enjoyed the experience!  Sure, writing is hard work.  Most of the time the story didn’t just flow from my fingers onto the page.  Some days I felt like I was writing the same 10 words over and over and again.  There was a lot of staring blankly  at my computer screen.  I gobbled up those pep talks and tried to tune out my inner editor.

I think Stephanie Perkins described my experience best in her pep talk:

“There will be a time when your journey grows tough. The idea that seemed so shiny and cool in your head… doesn’t seem so shiny and cool on the page. It’s not quite what you had in mind. The rush and thrill of the adventure is fading, and reality—the time and work it’ll take to reach those 50,000 words—is sinking in.”

Her pep talk was my favorite.

My cheering squad helped a lot, of course: stuffed tempura and a derpy walrus.

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Also, I had some pretty awesome writing buddies cheering me on.  🙂  Thanks, Caroline and Deborah!

Most of my writing happened at night (because I still had school and life and more school during the daytime); I discovered that I can comfortably churn out 1,000 words an hour.  I also learned that fight scenes are hard to write…which became a problem since my book was a superhero story.  Another thing I learned was that I hadn’t really developed my world.  “Scifi should be fun, right?” I told myself.  Um, no.  It became to struggle to come up with something creative while not ripping off the Lunar Chronicles.

Did my story turn out like I thought it would?  Yes, for the most part.  The writing is a lot more rough than I though it would be, but I followed my plot.  The world needs a LOT more development.  At the beginning, I couldn’t decide if I would write in the present or past tense and kept flopping back and forth.  So there’s definitely editing to do.

But I’m so happy I stuck with NaNoWriMo.  Now I stand victorious on the other side of November, with a first draft actually written.  It’s given me a creative boost.  And despite how hard it was to eek out 1,666 words some days, I’m not fed up with writing.  I actually miss it now; my evenings feel empty.

So if you’re thinking about doing NaNo next year, but aren’t sure, you should go for it.  You CAN do NaNo and school and other stuff at the same time.  Sure, I had to sacrifice some things, like skipping Agents of SHIELD and waiting to read books I had preordered.   BUT IT WAS SO WORTH IT.  November was an awesome month.

How about you guys?  Did any of you do NaNo?  How did it go?  I’d love to hear all about it! 

 

 

Beautiful Books: Shadow Fighter

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IIIIIIT’S BEAUTIFUL BOOKS TIME!!!  Woohoo!

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      (My thoughts exactly, Kermit)

 

You can find all the linky stuffses and information at Cait’s blog or Sky’s blog.

How did you come up with the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?

I’ve had the idea for a Peter Pan retelling for a couple years now, ever since I found out the book isn’t copyrighted anymore; my original idea was a mash-up of Peter Pan and Jack Frost, but then I had the fleeting thought of “what if Peter Pan was a superhero?” This idea eventually became too tempting to resist. I overhauled most of my original idea, and so far, I’m really happy with how it’s turning out.

 

Why are you excited to write this novel?

I finally get to write a book about superheroes! And it’s a Peter Pan retelling!  Disney’s Peter Pan has always been one of my favorite movies.  Obviously I can’t base my story off the Disney version…it’s quite interesting the differences I’ve discovered.  Barrie never refers to pixies in the Peter Pan novel; he calls them fairies.  I almost freaked out the other day when I wondered if Tinker Bell was even called Tink in the book…but she is.  *sigh of relief*  Anyhoo…I’m really liking all the ideas I’ve come up for this story and how well it has come together. I actually have a decent plot…for the whole series! (I still need to work out the nitty gritty details of the later books, but I know the general direction of the plot)

 

What is your novel about, and what is the title?

Titles. Bleh. I have such a hard time coming up with them. For now, I’m calling my book Shadow Fighter until I come up with something better (because before that I was calling it my Superhero Peter Pan story. Sadly, that doesn’t work as a title…) Here’s a back-of-the-cover blurb.

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Londinium was once a failed colony of humans struggling to survive on a barren planet. Now, thanks to advances in technology, the colony has evolved into a thriving metropolis.

Peter North promised his mother he would never grow up and he’s doing his best to keep that promise, despite his ever-nearing 18th birthday. He and his best friend Tiffany “Tink” Bell are often out looking for adventure and are always running into danger. One fateful night, they find themselves at the scene of a deadly spaceship crash that will forever transform them and their planet. Now they may be the only ones powerful enough to save Londinium from the terrible shadow monsters—and the dangerous criminal who controls them. Peter may have finally found the adventure and freedom that he has always dreamed of—but at what cost to his family?

———————–

Sum up your characters in one word each. (Feel free to add pictures!)

The main characters: Peter: immature// Tink: loyal// Hook: vengeful//

The families: Peter’s mom: loving// Peter’s stepdad: down-to-earth// Tink’s parents: eccentric//

The lost boys (well, some of them are girls, so I need a different name…): Tomo: overlooked// Nikolai: carefree// Sloane: snobby// Curtis: incompetent// The twins: terrifying

 

Which character(s) do you think will be your favourite to write? Tell us about them!

GOSH THIS IS A HARD QUESTION. I’m really excited to write my two POV characters, Peter and Tink. But I’m also really excited about my lost boys (or lost boys and girls??? I need a better collective name…). I’ve based their characters off the lost boys in original book (ah, the joys of retellings…) I’m taking some creative license with the twins, because the book doesn’t say much about them. I don’t think I’ve ever become so attached to minor characters in one of my stories; they’re going to be so much fun to write!

 

What is your protagonist’s goal, and what stands in the way?

Peter’s goal is to escape the responsibilities of young adulthood and find adventure. Eventually, his goal shifts to fighting the evil that has invaded his city. Tink—well, she gets dragged along for the ride. She wants to be a good friend to Peter, but she is also dealing with her own goals in her life. What stands in the way? Sooner or later, Peter is going to have to grow up. He can’t just bum around his parents’ house forever and that terrifies him. Also, there’s the whole shadow monsters and vengeful criminal invading the city.  That’s kind of a problem.

 

Where is your novel set? (Show us pictures if you have them!)

On a different planet, many years into the future. The human colony has transformed into a sprawling, enormous city. I’m still working on the name of the planet; the name of the city, Londinium might change…ugh, I’m just not very quick at coming up with names.

 

What is the most important relationship your character has?

Peter’s most important relationship is with his mom. He doesn’t want to disappoint her, but he also doesn’t want to accept the responsibilities of growing up. His biological father left when Peter was five, and now Peter’s worst fear is turning out his father.

Tink’s most important relationship is with Peter. They’ve been friends for a long time and now Tink has started developing feelings for Peter…that he is totally oblivious to. She doesn’t want ruin their friendship by making it awkward.

 

How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?

Peter realizes that his selfishness in refusing to grow up will only cause pain for the people around him. He also realizes that the danger to his planet is much greater and may be bigger than he can handle. By the end of novel, Tink’s feelings have begun to change and she becomes more of her own person, instead of just being Peter’s friend.

 

What themes are in your book? How do you want your readers to feel when the story is over?

Maturity is a big theme of this book (and the overall series). Also, the importance of family and parents.

I hope readers will love the characters as much as I do.   This story actually has a bit of a sad ending…which is unusual for me. I’m a happy endings sort of person. However, I see this story as a part of a larger story which will have a happy ending. So readers will probably walk away from this book a little sad; however, there is hope at the end! And the story continues!

 

NaNoWriMo BONUS: Tell us your 3 best pieces of advice for others trying to write a book in a month.

Erm…considering I’ve never written a book in a month before, I don’t feel qualified to answer this question. 😛 Do any of you veteran NaNoers have advice? Do share!

Are you doing working on a book right now, or planning to do NaNoWriMo?  If so, I’d love to hear about it!

Beautiful People: Peter

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It’s Beautiful People time! If you’ve never heard of Beautiful People, it’s a monthly blog meme hosted by Cait and Sky so you can get to know your characters better. In preparation for November, I did one of my characters from my NaNoWriMo novel for this year. My story is Peter Pan retelling where Peter and Tink are superheroes—that’s all I’ll say for now. 😉 Without further ado, here is Peter!

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(my current face for Peter)

 

  1. They’re in a crisis: who would they really like to see right now?

Either his mom or his best friend, Tink. If the crisis involved getting in trouble with his mom or step-dad, he’d probably go to Tink first.

  1. Are they easy to get along with?

Yes; Peter is very easy-going and fun and to be around. Sometimes he can be a little bossy. But if you’re trying to get him to act responsibly, you’ll have some problems.

  1. Who was the last person they had a deep conversation with?

With his mom when he was five. His father had just walked out on the family, and so Peter told his mom he’d never grow up so that he’d never be like his father. His mother tried to tell him that everyone grows up, but Peter remained determined to keep his promise.

  1. They’re in the middle of a huge crowd of people: how do they feel?

Peter is good in almost any setting, as long as he doesn’t have to act responsibility. He tries to look for the adventure in everything. Thus, crowds don’t really bother him.

  1. Do they believe in luck or miracles?

Peter vaguely believes in miracles, but he doesn’t think much about his beliefs. It sounds like a very “adult” thing to do.

  1. Do they like and get along with their neighbours?

Peter doesn’t pay much attention to his neighbors, but yes, he does get along his neighbors.

  1. If they could travel anywhere in the world, where would they go?

Peter wants to go anywhere adventure can be found. His planet, Neverland, is inhabited by humans and pixies, a humanoid race from another planet. He wants to go to the pixies’ home planet someday, especially since it’s rumored to be very dangerous.

  1. How do they feel about their body?

Peter is short-ish and rather scrawny, which sometimes bothers him—but mostly not. Even if he’s not strong in a fight, he’s very fast.

  1. What is the cruelest thing someone has ever said to them? How did they react?

The worst thing you can say to Peter is that he’s like his dad—his dad who left his family when he was five. Peter’s one life goal is not be like his dad. If you tell Peter he’s like his dad, he’ll probably just get depressed and moody.

  1. What’s the kindest thing someone has ever said to them? How did they react?

His mom once told him no matter what choices he makes in life, she’ll always love him. That made him very happy.

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What about you?  Are any of you doing NaNoWriMo?  If so, do you know what your novel will be?  I’d love to hear about it!

Let’s Talk Comments

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I like commenting on blogs.  As a blogger, I understand how meaningful even the smallest of comments are.  Commenting is a way to show appreciation!  And I want to show my appreciation for the awesome, inspiring blogs I read.

Some blog posts are really easy to comment on.  Like, ones that end with questions.  “What have you read lately?”  “What’s your opinion on this topic?”  It’s fairly easy to write comments about myself.

But sometimes I read a blog post that I really enjoy.  I want to comment!  However, the post doesn’t leave a lot of room for a comment.  Or the post will be on a really serious topic, and I have no idea how to express my feelings.  Anything I write sounds stupid or fake or just “meh.”  And so I sadly wander off, hoping the blogger will get my telepathic brainwaves that I liked their post.

Or sometimes, if I’ve been reading a blog for a while but have never commented, I feel kind of weird randomly commenting.  How do you introduce yourself?  “Oh hi I’ve been silently stalking–I mean reading your blog for awhile.  You’re pretty cool. Okay  bye.”

This isn’t a how-to post.  This is me, asking you all, how do you like to comment?  If you’re a blogger, how can I best show my appreciation for your post?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!  Do you any of you all ever struggle with leaving comments?image