Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Writing Lessons of 2013


2014 comes upon us in a few hours.

. . .Wait.

WHAT.

2014 isn’t even a day away?!?!?!

2013 has broken the “fastest year of my life” record, hands down. These past few years have been turned up to hyperdrive, but 2013 broke the scale. In fact, every time I write down the date I have to peek at a calendar to make absolute sure it really is 2013, because my hands are always trying to put 2012. Are we sure it’s not 2012 still? How can I possibly adjust to 2014 when I haven’t even gotten used to it being 2013 yet?

I suppose 2013 must have happened in some form or another, because many lovely things have happened since January 1st showed itself.

I got my first car in the beginning of the year, in early summer my best friend had the cutest baby in the world, I discovered Pinterest (yes, that one is important *wink*), I had one of THE best NaNos ever in November, and Christmas was lovely. I’ll admit, the couple of years before this one haven’t been the easiest, but I can honestly say I’ve really enjoyed 2013.

My main goal for this year was to work seriously on my writing. In January I decided to label this year the “Writing Year” and I stuck to that. For the majority of this year my family found me tapping madly on my keyboard, sweating over the editing process, or poring over writing blogs. You’ve probably noticed almost every post I made this year was about writing. I’ve barely been able to think about anything else since the year started.

I’ve always wanted to get published, but this year I decided to work on making that dream a reality. I still have a LONG way to go, but I’ve taken some huge steps this year that will stick with me for the rest of my life. The most important one: I realized writing really is what I want to do with my life. I’ve loved it since I was 9, but I never made it a focal point of my life. It was just something I loved doing and dreamed of being published. Now though, thanks to this year, I’m taking it very seriously. I’ve learned SO many lessons of writing this year, I’d like to share some with you to end the year off with.

Writing Lessons of 2013

-Something I just recently learned was that if you really do want to take your writing seriously you’re going to have to make sacrifices. Writing is a LOT of work and takes some crazy chunks of time to do if you’re serious about it. But if you love it, it’s all worth it. Oh, it’s so worth it! Maybe you have to stay home more often than you like to finish that manuscript. Perhaps people think you’re crazy for spending so much time on the computer writing. But if God put that passion in you to build fantastical worlds, create unforgettable characters, put words on to paper that etch truths into the hearts of your readers, then any sacrifices you make for those stories are worth it.

-First drafts aren’t supposed to be perfect. Oh, how often I have to remind myself of this! Not a lesson I learn well, but trying. The first draft is the discovery, not the conclusion. It’s where you look off the precipice, staring out at all the possibilities, throwing them all together, experimenting. It’s AFTER the first draft that you make all those discoveries tangible. Write your first draft as fast as possibility, let the story take you in, not the perfection. Then form it into something beautiful.

Writing First Drafts

-Now that brings me to my other lesson this year. For years upon years the idea of editing and *shudders* rewriting have induced into me an inconsolable fear. How can I take my tangled mess of a novel and turn it into something worth reading? How can I delete whole paragraphs? Change entire plots? No! I can’t! Guess what? Editing/Rewriting is lots of work but it IS possible. This year I decided to stand up to my fear. I got a story and started rewriting it. And, to my greatest surprise, it wasn’t so bad! Yes, it was a lot of work, but it wasn’t this horrifying chore I always thought it was. A lot of the time it was actually fun. It was neat going back to my old characters and reshaping their tale into something bigger and better. It was like redoing my room into a prettier d├ęcor. Lots of work— moving around furniture and painting is not an easy task—but somehow it can be fun and, in the end, very well worth it! Now, I’ll be honest, editing still daunts me a bit, and the book I did this year still needs another rewrite. . .or two. But what matters is that it IS possible, and even rather enjoyable. Never thought I’d say THAT.

Snoopy Editing

-This might only apply to me because I’m a pantser all the way and don’t do very well trying to plan out a story, but I think letting your story loose and not keeping to the plan can end up with a better result. I know it can be very tempting to try to force a story to go a certain way or a character to be a certain person. But sometimes stories take turns that you never expected. Sometimes a character you had all planned to be shy and submissive forms himself into a loud, rebellious jokester. It can be frustrating. Why is this character suddenly making friends with this person when they supposed to be mortal enemies? Why is there a castle beyond this forest when I planned for it to be a wasteland? How did that even happen? Writing is a weird, mysterious thing. I know non-writers cock their heads when we writers say our stories are constantly surprising us. But somehow it just happens. While writing, sometimes there are just going to be moments where the story begins unfolding into something you never had on your outline. I say, go with it. This is actually something I’ve discovered throughout all my years of writing, but this year I really tried to apply it. When you force a character into someone they’re not, they’re going to end up flat and inconsistent. It’s hardly any different from trying to force a real person into somebody else. Let your character embrace the personality they are trying to be. I declare, they all really do have minds of their own. And, oddly, the very novel seems to have its own brain as well. One minute you might be thinking you’re writing a medieval fantasy when suddenly your character looks up to see an alien spaceship soaring in the sky. “Surprise! I’m actually a sci-fi, steampunk, thriller!” exclaims your novel. What? Yep, it can happen. But don’t despair. Just roll with it. I have no doubt you’ll find some amazing, delightful surprises if you do. If there is anything I’ve learned over my years of writing is that my characters and novel seem to know better than I do. (I know, I sound crazy, but I’m a writer.) When they take a turn I wasn’t expecting, it always ends up a lot cooler than my silly little plans. Let loose, allow the story to tell itself if it insists on it.

Write Bravely-Write bravely. This is something I’ve failed at until just recently (and it’s still a work-in-progress). For a very long time I wrote what I like to call “fluffy fiction”. I was always scared of making my characters suffer too much, or make the villain really, really despicable, or simply putting some intense scenes in my writing. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for writing clean fiction. I want all my writing to glorify God. Of course it needs to be clean, but that does not mean it has to be fluffy. Let’s face it, life isn’t fluffy. If everything was sunshine and rainbows, we’d never learn anything. It’s the clouds that cover the sun, the storms that bring on the rainbows, that shapes our character and brings us closer to our Creator. Think about the books you’ve read. Was it the happy, light reads that really made you think, or the deeper, intense ones? It’s the stories that pull on our heartstrings that make an impact on our lives. Now sometimes I need a good light read. I love happy fairytales or fun, humorous books. I think the world needs plenty of those, too. But if you do have an intense story to tell, don’t let fear stop you. My NaNo for this year was the first time I really wrote bravely. My characters suffered unimaginably, but it made their hope in the end mean all the more. It’s some of my favorite writing I’ve ever done. I didn’t let fear stop me. I made sacrifices, didn’t worry about perfection, let my story and characters loose, and wrote bravely. The result was far better than any of my previous novels. But that brings me up to my next lesson. . .

-There’s always room for improvement. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve written, how many books you have published, you can ALWAYS improve. Writing is infinite. There is no ending line when it comes with writing. Me. . .I have a very, very, very, VERY wide space to improve on. I still shudder at some of the things I write (or most of the things). BUT. . .

-NEVER DESPAIR. I struggle with this almost every day of my life. Writing is HARD. As I said, there’s always room for improvement. It’s a constant learning experience. Despair is going to rear its ugly head some time or another. But don’t let it! When it starts to pop up, stuff it back down. If you love to write, then that’s all that matters. Even if I never publish a single thing, I’m still going to write. You know why? Because I LOVE it! I couldn’t function if I couldn’t write. Just keep writing, no matter what. Don’t let doubt, fear, or despair ever stop you. The love to create words is a beautiful thing. You can’t let anything take that gift from you. I have to remind myself this over and over and over. I’ve had a great year of writing, yet despair has consumed me a number of times. But you know what? Despair just takes up time, time that you could be writing, right? *grins*

Writer's Payoff

I still have millions of writing lessons to learn, but 2013 has truly helped me take great leaps in my writing. Now I’m going to take all these lessons and apply them to my 2014 adventures, or stumble atrociously. But writing is all about trial and error, isn’t it?

What has 2013 taught you? I’d love to hear about it! And I want to thank every single one of you for being here with me this year on my wild ride of writing. I love all you dear people!

So here’s to a new year, 2014, full of lessons, growth, storms, and rainbows. Happy New Year, everyone!!! I’ll see you next year!

Books and Quill

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Better than Cookies


I love Christmas! The time together, the cheer, the music, the gifts, the cookies. . .and cookies. . .and also the cookies (what’s better than a holiday that allows you to fill yourself with cookies all season? I mean, really!).

But you know what’s the very best thing about this day? The reminder that our Savior came down on this earth as a humble baby to die for us so that we can be with Him for eternity. I’d say that’s a lot better than cookies!

Happy Birthday, Jesus!

Nativity Scene

And a very Merry and Blessed Christmas to all of you!

Gingerbread Cookie Graphic

Friday, December 20, 2013

In Which Christine’s Sanity Has Yet to Return


There are four moments in life that spark the most inspiration: Showering, brushing your teeth, washing dishes, and trying to get to sleep. These are the moments where your head is vrooming like an eight-lane interstate with ideas flying by so fast and so many you can hardly reach them quick enough before the next one is zooming across your brain. Or is that just me?

Such a moment occurred a week ago while I was brushing my teeth before bed. An idea sparked, and I foolishly snagged it. Now I can’t seem to shake it.Journals

You see, ever since NaNo was nearing its end one question kept overtaking me: What’s next? I had plans to take a bit of a writing break throughout December, but I wanted a plan for 2014. I kept thinking I’d like to write something new, all my other projects kind of need a rest for a while. I needed something fresh and new that I could maybe turn into something worth reading since, ultimately, I’d like to pursue publishing soon. I’m just not sure anything I have right now is publish worthy. So that’s what I wanted to do for 2014, I wanted to really get serious about publishing and work hard on trying to create a book that might make it. Not sure I’ll ever be good enough for that, to be truthful, but I’m not giving up my dream either.

For a few weeks I was in a bit of agony over this. Usually I have hundreds of story ideas, just never enough time to write them all. But suddenly my mind was dry. I could not think of anything to write that would be worth reading. I looked over the projects I already have that need rewriting or finishing or sequels to be written, but none of them looked too promising. Not yet, anyway. I’m just not ready to tackle those.

Then, one day, two or three weeks ago, I had a thought. There’s this old story called Orthadia I have that I started when I was 16 but never finished. Back then my writing was, well, atrocious but besides the state of that book, it has always held a special place in my heart. It was the first real big fantasy story I ever wrote, the first novel at all that I thought might could become something. Everything written before that were just silly little stories that I like to go back and laugh at now. But we all have to start somewhere, right? Orthadia was different though. It was a big medieval fantasy story that, though written atrociously, had a good enough plot I’ve always thought. That story was the beginning of the writer I am now. For years now I’ve told myself that one day I’m going to go back and rewrite that story and make it into something. I think it deserves it.

That’s when it hit me. This is the time. I’m trying to find something to work on for 2014, so why not Orthadia?

Orthadia Banner

The idea excited me. I haven’t even touched that thing since I was 18. It would be so great going back to that story, that world, those characters, and making it all bigger and better. I got so excited I decided maybe I could at least do a little plotting here in December even though I was supposed to be taking a writing break. So dragging that poor, abandoned story out from under the dust in the dark corner of my laptop, I started reading back through it to get ideas for what all I was going to change, keep, etc. I had read the first two chapters when. . .

VROOOOM!

All my plans, my decisions, everything I had finally decided on got run over by a big eighteen-wheeler, crushed into tiny pieces, and lost in the wind. And there I was, staring blankly at the eighteen-wheeler wondering where in all the earth did it come from?

Okay, so really I was brushing my teeth and an idea sparked, but it felt like an eighteen-wheeler destroying my plans.

Whilst brushing my teeth the words I’m falling popped in my head. And I thought, “Hm, that sounds interesting.” Next thing I knew, more words were streaming in until I had this whole mysterious paragraph about a girl falling through a dark void and not knowing why. I thought it sounded pretty cool, so right after brushing my teeth I jotted the paragraph down in my Author’s Journal, a notebook I use to write out random ideas for stories and whatnot such as this. I thought this paragraph would make a cool prologue for the beginning of a story someday. I figured once I wrote it that would be that. I’m always thinking up totally random sentences or scenes that might work in a story at some point or another, but I never linger on them too much. But this one was different.

After writing it down, my mind kept going. Who was falling? Why were they falling? What if they were just in a coma or something? Do they wake up? What if they do and have no memory? Where do they wake up? The questions went on and on until my mind couldn’t help but form up some answers to them. Next thing I knew, I had the very beginning scene of a story.

Do you know how sometimes there are just some stories that demand to be written immediately? You feel as though you might explode if you don’t start it right away? That’s what this one did. It snagged me in a tight grip and wouldn’t let loose. I had no choice. I had to start it.

Not only did my plans to redo Orthadia get crumpled, so did my much needed break from writing for this month. This story would not go away. So I sat down, and started writing.

Now, I’ve always been a pantser, a writer that doesn’t plan, just writes and lets the story unfold itself. That’s my favorite method of writing. But even us pantsers usually have at least a smidgeon of an idea on what we’re writing. I mean, most people at least know what genre they’re working on, right?

Boromir Meme

When I randomly started this story, it felt like I was trailing through that eight-lane interstate blindfolded. I did have a beginning scene thought out, sort of, but not a whole beginning, basically only 1k words worth of a beginning, and even then I had NO idea what was happening. And yet my fingers kept typing. But what was going on? I had no idea! I suppose it’s a good thing my main character woke up without a lick of memory to speak of. It’s easy to write a scene where your POV character has absolutely no idea what’s going on when you’re just as lost as them.

It might be easier if it was in a familiar setting. If my MC woke up in a little medieval cottage or a grand fantasy castle, I could work with that. But no. Instead she woke up in a futuristic hospital-type place. And that’s not even the worst of it. In this odd hospital place, she’s already come across a girl that exploded a hallway with fire coming out of her hands, another girl who killed five people just by looking at them, and then a boy with WINGS. Why, this hospital has people with superpowers! WHAT.

I think most of you realize by now that medieval fantasy is my comfort zone. That’s what I write. That’s what I’ve always written. Only this year have I tried a couple of different genres, but that one will always be mine. I always go back to it, I can never stray from it too far. Even with the books I read, I’m not one to read too many stories away from fantasy.

Sci-fi has never been my thing, at all. I’ve never even liked the whole superpower thing. Now, I do love me some Marvel movies, but it’s impossible to not like those. Still, superpower movies are fun, but it’s just not a genre I would ever explore. But you know what? I think I’m writing a superpower story. *blinks* I didn’t even know it was going to be that until suddenly people are exploding hallways with fire from their hands!

The Hunger Games CoverLet’s not stop there. It gets far worse. Not only is this apparently a superpower story, it also is looking like a dystopian story? A DYSTOPIAN STORY? Like the world needs another one of those. *rolls eyes* I’ll admit, I’m kind of enjoying this dystopian stuff. I shamefully got myself all caught up in The Hunger Games craze, and am very much throwing around the idea of trying Divergent. But I would never even give thought to trying to write my own. I’m not one to jump into fads. Usually I try to avoid them like the plague. And now look at me? I didn’t mean to start a dystopian story! I didn’t even know it was one. Actually, I’m still not 100% sure. I don’t know what is going on in this story! I have no plot, I have nothing!

And I’m not even finished yet. Not only am I apparently writing some sort of sci-fi, superpower, dystopian novel, which any one of those things is insane enough for me, but it’s also in first person. That might not sound crazy unless you knew me. I detest first person. Sometimes I will pick up an interesting looking book, then see it’s in first person and put it right back down. Now, there’s exceptions. I’ve read some books that I thought were a lot better in first person. Some stories just call for it, and if it’s done well I will enjoy it. But in general I far prefer third person. So, naturally, I would never write anything in first person myself. I thought it would be more likely for me to grow tentacles before I did something like that. Well, I see no tentacles and I’m already two chapters into a book in first person. . .

The very worst part of this entire mess is the fact that I’m ENJOYING IT. It goes against my entire personality to enjoy writing a superpower, dystopian novel set in first person. But it has me in its grip and won’t let go. I’m literally living and breathing this novel. All I can do is think about it. Every time I try to think about something else, my brain somehow gets back to this novel. I get so hyped when I find a chance to write in it. It has taken over my life!!! I declare I’m more excited about this book than anything else I’ve ever written. That’s just not right.

Remember how during NaNo I said I threw my sanity off a cliff? I had every intention of it returning come December. It seems to have decided to crawl farther away from me instead. Very, very far away.

I wish I could tell you more about this novel, but despite it invading every waking (and sometimes even sleeping) hours, I’m still totally in the dark. I can’t for the life of me figure out the overall plot. Or. . .anything really. I know this facility place is giving teenagers superpowers, but that’s literally all I know. I don’t know if this is a future version of our world, a different world, why they’re giving teens these abilities, who my MC is, nothing. Yet I still keep writing in it because I can’t seem to help it. Who knows, maybe I’ll be hit by another eighteen-wheeler that will give me some great idea for it, but for now I’m completely lost.

I’ve decided to call it Fallen Matter, but that’s very much subject to change. Absolutely every thing about this novel can change at any second. It’s all so up in the air and confusing. My MC has already had a name change and I’m still not sure I like her name. There’s absolutely nothing concrete about this thing right now.

Fallen Matter Cover

As far as my plans for writing Orthadia for 2014. Well, those plans got crushed after all. I’ve still sort of thrown around the idea of trying it, but this current novel has taken over my life so much that I can’t even consider Orthadia right now. I guess I’ll just keep writing and see what happens.

And I sure can ramble! To sum all this up: Christine lost her mind.

But sometimes those insane, sporadic moments in life turn out to be the best ones. We’ll see.

Hope you guys didn’t mind quite a bit of insane, Christine rambleness. And I hope you have a WONDERFUL weekend! Can you believe Christmas is Wednesday? O.o

Monday, December 9, 2013

More Green than Envy Snippets


How has everyone’s December been so far? Don’t you just love December!

I thought since basically for two months or so now I’ve been rattling on about nothing but NaNoWriMo and More Green than Envy, the novel I wrote for it, I should post some snippets from it now. Maybe. . .

Oh, sure! Why not?

More Green than Envy Book Cover

So, without further ado. . .

Snippets!

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Leiden began pacing back and forth. His chains clattered loudly as they rubbed across the rough stone ground.
Darven clenched his teeth together. "Will you just sit down?" he snapped. "Is it possible for you to be quiet even for half a second? Perhaps I should have let Reziq cut out your tongue."
"I'm sorry," the elf muttered. He returned to the back wall and plopped down near Darven. He looked over at him. "Are you mad at me?"
"Is the sun bright?"
Leiden's gaze dropped. "I didn't mean to get caught again," he practically whispered.
"You wouldn't have if you had just stuck to the plan. What were you thinking?"
"I was just trying to help."
"Help?" Darven's voice spiked. He had no more patience for this elf. "Well, good job on that. I wasn't going to abandon Gaelasil, you know."
Leiden turned his head to face him again. "What?"
Darven narrowed his eyes. "I had every intention of going back for her. That's why you left, isn't it? You thought I'd leave her so decided to take matters into your own hands."
"No!" The elf sounded appalled. "That's not why I left at all. It was for you! I knew your arm needed tending to and that we had to have supplies, so I went looking for some. I didn't tell you or Barveris because I knew you needed to sleep. I was scared you were going to push yourself and get hurt even more."
"Look at me, Leiden!" He spread out his arms. "Do I look any less hurt to you? How could you have been so stupid to get captured again?"
Leiden's eyes flamed. "I was caught trying to steal from an apothecary shop so I could heal you! You got captured, too!"
"Looking for you!"
"Oh." The elf dropped his gaze, his body slumping.
Darven sighed. "Since when do you break into shops anyway?"
Leiden shook his head, a hint of smile at the corner of his mouth. "It was definitely a first. I didn't have any money so..." He took a deep breath and let it out slowly, turning to face Darven. "I really was just trying to help, but you're right. I acted stupidly. And now look what Reziq has done to you because of my foolish mistake. Why would he even do that? All that just to find out why we're here?"
Darven snorted. "It was mostly because he hates me. The feeling's mutual."

~~~

"It's not that," Darven responded to the concerned elf. "I just saw Hogart in the halls."
Leiden frowned. "The dwarf you apprenticed under?"
He nodded. "I didn't even know he was still alive."
"Do you know what he's doing in the castle?"
"That's what's bothering me. He's always lived in the lower town. He never had anything to do with the King. So why is he roaming in the castle halls?"
"Did he say anything?"
"No. We just had a passing glance. He looked pretty surprised to see me."
"Well, no offense or anything, but you're not exactly looking your spiffiest right now."
Darven sniggered. "I guess it probably was a sight, seeing his old apprentice being dragged down to the dungeon, beaten and bruised."
Leiden didn't seem amused at all. Darven rolled his eyes. The elf had been driving him mad with all his fussing over his wounds. He was practically mothering Darven. Darven realized he should have known better than to bring up his condition.
"Did Reziq hurt you a lot this time?" came the inevitable concern.
"No more than usual."
The elf balled up a fist and shook it in the air. "The minute I get out of here that dark elf is going to be sorry."
Darven tried to imagine Leiden's bony frame standing up to the tall build of Reziq. He smiled at the thought.
"Something amusing you?"
Darven shrugged. "The thought of Reziq getting a punch in the face always brings a smile to my own."
"Well, at least something makes you smile. Sometimes I forget you're even capable of it."
"I just like saving it for special occasions."

~~~

Darven started pounding at the sword's blade, allowing for no more conversation, but his arm ached with pain after the first few swings. Hissing between clenched teeth, he lowered the hammer, shaking his arm to ward off the throbbing.
Hogart turned and squinted an eye, studying Darven's scar. "See? That's what happens when you try to play the hero."
"Present from Reziq," Darven muttered, setting the hammer down and rubbing the wound. It had started to close, but it still stung when he put too much strain on it.
The dwarf cackled. Pushing back a knot of his grizzly hair, he rubbed a white scar running from under his temple down to near his earlobe. "Got this when I called 'im a snake skinned, worm eaten, ogre smellin' beetle that doesn't know which end of his blade is up. Guess he decided to show me he did, but I don't regret it. Someone needs to tell 'im he's got as much brains as a drunken goblin."
A corner of Darven's lips curved up. At least this dwarf still had a little of his old fight in him.

~~~

Darven stepped out into the hall and strode forward to the door. The sledge hammer slowed his pace, but he knew it would soon be necessary. Leaning it against the wall, he pulled the hefty metal door open and motioned for Layra to go first. This way he could watch their backs...and keep an eye on her.
Closing the door behind him, he followed her down to the dungeon. As they entered, he could hear the clattering of chains.
"Layra!"
Darven stepped up to the cell. "No greeting for me?"
Leiden shot across the cell as far as his chains would allow. "Darven? I feared you were dead!"
"Glad you have so much faith in my ability to survive. Step back, I'm going to break this gate."
Leiden did as he was told, but a plethora of questions poured out as he did. "Where have you been? What have you been doing? Did they hurt you? How did you get here? And what in all of Aerigethel are you doing with a sledge hammer?"
Darven's only response was a might swing at the lock of the cell. The iron slamming into iron sent a thundering clang echoing off the walls. The bars over and below the lock bent, but the gate was still shut tight. Darven gave it another slam. This time the lock ruptured and the gate hurled open, swinging around and banging on the bars on the other side.

~~~

"I don't want to be worthless."
Leiden swallowed. "You're not."
He sucked in a deep breath. "I'm trying not to be."
"You never have been. Layra, the children, Gaelasil, and I would not be here if it wasn't for you."
"And I would be in a very dark place if your wagging tongue hadn't kept pulling me out." The corner of his mouth quirked as he finally looked up at Leiden.
Leiden smiled. "Then let's hope my sword works as well as my tongue."
Darven burst into laughter. "If it does, we have no need for an entire army. You would suffice singlehandedly!"
He chuckled. "I don't think I want to fight in a war by myself."
"Then let's attempt some of that teamwork for this battle dragon riders supposed to have. I could use the practice."
Leiden grinned. "Together?"
"At least until one of us does something foolish, like we're so prone to do."
"Mostly me though, right?"
"I'm glad you understand."

~~~

"Darven?"
Darven sighed. "Yes, Leiden?"
"Do you think we'll win?"
He walked on quietly for a moment before responding. "I don't have an answer to that."
"What if we don't? What if Ordeth overpowers us?" The fear in the elf's voice was evident.
"Since when have you become the pessimist?"
"I've just seen so much here. I witnessed all sorts of horrors in Velnoroth, but that was expected in that land. Not here though, not so close to home. What if all of Aerigethel ends up this way?"
"I don't think it will. If the dark elves really attack, the other regions aren't just going to sit by. Sivral is pretty weak compared to plenty of the others. I think victory is in our favor against the dark elves."
"But the war here?"
"But here...we'll just keep fighting until we've either won or all died."
"That's not very reassuring."
"I'm really not good at being a comforter, you know."
The elf laughed. "True enough.”

~~~

Leiden hurried down the steps and examined every cell on each side. "It's empty!"
Darven slowly followed, glancing between the bars. As the elf said, not a soul was in sight. His own chains in their old cell lay unoccupied on the floor.
"Perhaps they're keeping the Duke somewhere else," he suggested, "if he even has him. This may be a pointless endeavor."
Leiden turned to face him from the end of the dungeon. "Do you think Reziq has him? Or Devrot? You know, there was no sign of either of them in the battle."
"They're probably too cowardly to risk their own skins."
"Or planning something."
Darven considered this for a moment. The quickest way to end all of this was to murder that snake Reziq. He was obviously a great tool for Velnoroth. Maybe now was the time to do just that. The fool probably thought everyone was too busy outside in the battle to even consider him.
"Darven, don't be alarmed, but you're actually smiling."
He snapped out of his thoughts, but the smile did not leave his face. He eyed the tip of his blade. "I think now would be a good time to visit our old friend Reziq, don't you?"
At first the elf looked perplexed, but it did not take long for a smile to cross his own face. "I think you're right."

~~~

Leiden snagged his arm. "I hear something," he breathed.
Darven stopped and listened. The elf was right. There was a scuffling sound coming from the hall just around the corner. Pulling up his sword, he crept silently forward. His alarm began to deflate as he took note of his surroundings. He knew this passage. Just as he suspected, the corner turned into the room where the blacksmith area lay. The door was swung open and Hogart was walking backwards through it with a pile of tools in his arms. Darven dropped his sword to his side.
"Where you planning on taking those, you old goat?"
The dwarf's load nearly tumbled to the ground he had such a start. "Why you rotten, troll breath! Tryin' to make an old man drop dead, are ye? Unless I am dead, because, frankly, I wasn't expectin' to see you alive anymore."
"I'm very much alive and seemed to have started a war."
"Hmph. Yes. So I've heard."
"Is this Hogart?" Leiden whispered to Darven.
"I might be old but my hearing sure hasn't gone and died yet!" the dwarf bellowed. He eyed Leiden up and down. "This your elf friend?"
Darven nodded. "Leiden."
Leiden inclined his head. "It's a pleasure to meet you, sir. Darven has told me much about you."
The dwarf burst into laughter. "Probably nothin' good!"
Leiden did not respond to this.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

More Green than Envy Signature

Thanks for reading! I know you are all probably sick of hearing about NaNoWriMo by now. Maybe I’ll actually start talking about something else for while. One could only hope, right?

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Escapades of NaNo 2013


It’s December.

IT’S DECEMBER!!!

Can you believe it? Because, frankly, I can’t. I’m kind of in shock that we’re here at the last month of the year.

I love December though. Cool days, the thrill of one year ending and another soon to begin, CHRISTMAS—December has all sorts of exciting things revolving around it. Including. . .

THE END OF NANOWRIMO.

NaNo 2013 Banner

That’s right, NaNoWrioMo 2013 has officially ENDED. This has to be the fastest NaNo in history. Although, this whole year has been zooming by like a ninja!

To choose one word for this NaNo I think I’d have to say: FANTASTIC. This Nano was simply wonderful! I think my first NaNo still wins as my first favorite, you just don’t forget that magical first NaNo, but this one definitely comes in second. I honestly had the time of my life!

More Green than Envy Book CoverBefore this NaNo even began I was in great anticipation for it. I just had a feeling it was going to be a great one. Except one thing worried me, I was a bit lost on what was to happen in this particular book. As I’ve mentioned before, for each NaNo I write the next book of my Colors of a Dragon Scale series, and each book follows different characters. So, even though it is one series, every book has completely different characters and locations, making it feel like new each time. When I first came up with this series to start for my first NaNo back in 2010, I spent that September and October doing some serious plotting. I wrote bios for every character that would be in each book, made a map, did quite a bit of world building in general—that was the first time I ever actually plotted out anything so thoroughly. As a result, I had a general idea of what each book would be like. Every year before NaNo I outline whatever book I’m doing that year. So, even though for my first NaNo I did all sorts of planning, I only outlined the first book. Then for the next NaNo I outlined the second book that October and so on. For the most part, though, I kind of at least have a vague idea of what events will play out in each book. Except More Green than Envy, this year’s. For some reason, even though I did technically have bios for Darven and Leiden, I never knew much about these two dragon riders, all the other dragon rider pairs were more dominant in my mind. How these two got pushed so far back, I really have no idea. I guess they just weren’t ready to tell me their stories yet.

So even though I was greatly excited about this NaNo, I was a little nervous, because it was Darven and Leiden’s turn this year, and I was at a loss on who they were or what kind of adventure they would be having. But NaNo was coming up and I had to be ready. On October 1st, I sat down and started messing with their bios, which needed some serious help being as how I wrote them three years ago. Once I began redoing their bios, I started getting to know these fellows, and, slowly but surely, their story was piecing together.

By the second week of October, I was ready to start an outline for the story. That’s when things really began to burst forth. Usually it takes me a bit of time to put an outline together (being a natural pantser, thoroughly planning out stories like that is difficult for me) but in just one week I had the entire thing finished. Ideas soared, secrets were revealed, drama unfolded, and next thing I knew I had a whole story ready to be written.

Once November 1st finally came around, I was about to explode. My fingers were ready to fly across the keyboard and get this story written. And, oh, what fun I had! I already suspected I was going to enjoy it, but I had no idea how much. When I first started writing once midnight hit on October 31st, I knew, after just a couple of paragraphs, that this story was going to take me on quite a ride!

Darven and Leiden, my two main characters, proved to be two of my favorite people I’ve ever made. After tweaking their bios, writing the outline, and making a couple of blog posts about them, they had already wormed their way into my heart, but I never get to really know my characters until I’ve genuinely written them, seen them in action, read their thoughts, felt their emotions. Writing out a bio just with facts about them doesn’t reveal their true being to me. But after writing the first page of More Green than Envy I knew, these two would forever have a special place in my heart. Once I stopped writing that first night and went to bed, I couldn’t wait until morning to really delve into their story.

More Green than Envy Signature

The first day wasn’t quite as magical as I had hoped. I got in the most words out of any day of the month on that first day, but it wasn’t entirely easy. I kept having to push myself to keep writing. I think it’s hard for me to write beginnings. Trying to find the “voice” of my characters, describe everything that’s happening, open up the story—it just feels like a lot more work than when I’m farther into the story and have my characters figured out and the story into the more exciting bits. So the first day of NaNo, though nice, was a bit tiring. But by the second day I was past the very beginning and really starting to get into things. That’s when everything really took off.

From there things just got better and better. With every passing day, I became to love Darven and Leiden more and more, to the point where I started referring to them as “my boys”. Every day I woke up itching to begin writing their story that day. I loved spending the majority of every day with them. Darven and his quiet, elusive ways and Leiden’s perky, talkative self were just too much fun.

It wasn’t just the characters that kept my writing though. The story itself kept me on my toes. This honestly is the most intense story I’ve ever written. I don’t know why, but I tend to enjoy writing the more dramatic, heartbreaking scenes than anything else (what does that say about me?), and this story hardly had a chapter without something traumatic happening. One would think I didn’t love my characters at all due to all the things I put them through. Whoo. It was a pretty emotional book. But it kept me interested from beginning to end, even if I may have shed a tear or two. *cough*

As a result, I fled through it. In fact, I did something I never ever thought I’d manage to do in one month. I finished it.

All my other NaNos always ended up with me still having quite a good chunk of the story left to write by the end of the month. I always have to spend a fair amount of December and sometimes even through January trying to make it to “The End”. But somehow this one was shorter than the previous books, and on Monday, November 25th I hit 113,868 words and “The End”. I was a bit in shock. Never have I finished a book so fast. I did not suspect I’d finish it before NaNo even ended! At some point I did sort of kinda wonder if it would be possible to finish it by the end of NaNo. I saw it was going faster than the others books, so just wondered, but I figured I wouldn’t actually manage it. But I did. And I was so excited!

But then I had a problem. Before NaNo even started I promised myself I’d write at least 2k words every day of November. I did this during the last two NaNos and wanted to keep it up for this one. But. . .my story was done! I had five days of NaNo left with nothing to write. The logical thing to do was to stop there. Thanksgiving was coming up, I had a busy week ahead of me, there were a million and one things I’d abandoned for NaNo that needed tending to, it would be a good thing to just stop there. I mean, I finished my story. Of course I should end NaNo.

Nah!You Should be Writing 10th Doctor

The OCD in me refuses to let me back down on my goals. I made a goal to write 2k every day in November no matter what, and if I didn’t fulfill that goal my OCD self would get extremely upset, even though I finished my story. So on Tuesday, I sat down and spontaneously started a short story. I did have a very busy week, so I just barely got in that minimum of 2k every day instead of pounding on the keyboard every day like a mad monkey like I had for the other parts of the month. But I was still having fun, except a part of me was kind of sad I wasn’t writing about Darven and Leiden anymore. After spending 25 consecutive days with them, it was a bit difficult switching over to something different.

It was all going well though, until Saturday, the last day of NaNo, when I write 1,052 words and next thing I knew I was at the end of my short story. But I still had 1k more words I needed to write that day! Just 1k more and I could be done with NaNo. So there I was again, with another finished story, and still needed words.

Thus I pulled out The Sign of the Shy're, which I only had the first chapter written in, and so started the second chapter, getting in another 1,623 words that day, and thus ending NaNo with a nice 125,075 words.

NaNoWriMo 2013 Wordcounter (125k)

That was a first. Writing three entirely different things all for one NaNo. The last week of NaNo was quite an adventurous one. It was a very weird week for me. But I enjoyed it, even if I did go a little mad. Heh. Actually, I had a lot of “firsts” this NaNo. I broke all my previous NaNo records.

-I hit 50k in 8 days.
-I made it to 100k in 21.
-I finished my novel before the month was even over.
-I ended with 125k words for the whole of NaNo.

All of which are things that have never happened in my previous NaNos. My 4th NaNo was a success!

NaNoWriMo 2013 CalendarI always put together a calendar for each NaNo to keep up with how many words I write each day.

I might go a bit easier next year though. . . o_O

I mean, I do always tend to go a bit insane during NaNo, but this year even broke records of insanity for me. I was literally living and breathing my NaNo. Every minute of every day. Even sometimes in my sleep. It was all NaNo! And you know what? I had FUN. So much fun! What a ride!

This NaNo will forever hold some of the dearest memories for me. Although there’s always something special about every NaNo. That’s why I love NaNo. Sure, it’s hard and tiring and stressful, but it’s an adventures. Every adventure has its hardships, but isn’t it worth it? Going on that journey, finding new things, beautiful and terrible, and making it to the end where we learn even the hardest of times were all worth it. That’s what NaNo is, a journey. With each NaNo, I discover something new, learn more about writing, and go on a journey I’ll never forget. Even if it is hard, it’s so, so worth it!

So here’s to NaNoWriMo 2013 for taking me on an adventure I’ll never forget!

NaNo 2013 Winner Badge


P.S.
If anyone has seen my sanity, could you bring it to me? I’m not sure it ever returned after I threw it off a cliff on November 1st.

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