90 Days Week 5

By week 5 of this book, I expected to be writing. 90 days is approximately 3 months. There are four weeks in each month. Thus by the end of week five, over a third of the novel writing time is gone.  I’m nervous.

Captured from recruitmentbuzz.co.uk. Click the image for link back to the original website.

It seems like there is a running clock, and I’m not actively trying to meet the deadline.

To be fair, Ms. Domet is not asking me to sit around doing nothing. She has me writing every day for a few hours. I am writing scenes. The scenes are out of order, and I can’t check them for continuity or consistency, but there are scenes being written.

To be determined later: will the actual writing be less than 30 days and thus a guide to winning Nano? Only time will tell.

As a random tidbit, this morning I was working on the second assignment of week 2 and wrote: His ability to lie had the refinement of forty grit sandpaper, and when he did lie, it felt like he used that sandpaper instead on a washcloth to bathe.

I may have been feeling slightly dramatic at the time. 🙂

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Fantasy or Real Life

Here is my dilemma. Should I be writing young adult fantasy?

Before answering yes or no, this is not just a question about what works best for a story, my vision, or altering my writing to fill a niche.

I was raised on fantasy books. I think many children in my generation read the classic fantasy books. If not The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, they possibly read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. I had to read both as school assignments.

So now that I am writing, fantasy has a homey feel. It’s the windows open, the ceiling fan humming, baked potatoes in the oven, and the dog sunbathing. Fantasy is my comfort food.

As a comfort food, I pick fantasy books up first. When in Barnes and Noble, I drift to the fantasy section first. Fantasy book covers catch my attention and leave me wondering. Magical realms let me escape.

I’ve recently joined a few query contests. In these contests, aspiring writers like myself pitch our manuscripts. I have diligently read each query posted by the other contestants, and I have come to a few conclusions.

One, I need to learn how to tighten my query. I’ll learn. Just give me time and guidance. Two, lots of people write young adult and/or fantasy books.  Three, agents seem to be looking for middle grade or adult books.

Taken from Elsa Mora’s blog. Click the image to link to the blog.

Now, I have two works in progress.  My critique circles are working through the story of Nik the alchemist/drug dealer/prostitute on the run from a bounty set by his brother. For the book 90 Days to your Novel, I am drafting a story about Joe who finds a bag jewels in a wreck from a flying car.

Here is my dilemma: Neither book is a true fantasy. By that I mean, the magic system does not play a crucial role in the plot.

Joe could easily find the jewels in a car abandoned on the road side and be obsessed with NASCAR instead of Sky Races. Nik’s brother could hate him for being his father’s favorite and good at chemistry instead of a genius at alchemy.

While I call my stories fantasy, generally they are closer to magical realism in that the magic is germaine to the community and not a plot issue. Because the changes are minor and I am still in the drafting phase, should I give up the fantasy element because it is me choosing meatloaf instead of trying the sushi, or do I stick with what I know?

The Writer’s Voice

The Writer’s Voice is a query competition hosted in part by Monica B.W. The premise is much like The Voice where four coaches (Brenda Drake, Elizabeth Briggs, Kimberly P. Chase, and Monica B.W.) pick teams from a list of 150 queries.

I have entered my story Hidden Hills. Here it is:

 

Query:

Tiny is a troll – the dumb and ugly kind. Except if someone called her dumb and ugly, she would roll up her socks and hit them.

Four years after running away from the troll community, her brother’s girlfriend is missing. He searches out Tiny and gives an ultimatum, either help or be physically forced back into the troll world with no hope of returning to her human friends. Problem is family and friends don’t know about the disappearance and Tiny’s ex-boyfriend wants to assist in order to rekindle their relationship.

As she falls further into troll culture, troubles appear in her human life. She loses her job, misses critical tests, and might lose her scholarships. Tiny must balance her troll life with her human life.

HIDDEN HILLS is a 52,000 word young adult fantasy.

First 250 words:

“Damn and don’t I look sexy.” Jay turned in a circle with his arms out showing off his new tan.

“Yes. As pretty as a peach,” I agreed. I kicked out the chair across from me. He flipped it around and straddled the back. The Union noise ebbed around us with students buying food, doing homework or wasting time.

“Hey, Tiny. Do you want to hear about the peaches?” He held his hand over his mouth and gave me wide, cartoon eyes. “I mean, beaches.”

A guy one table over stole a glance. With all the grace of a star, Jay ignored the look while grinning at the attention. He crossed his arms and leaned on the table.

“So which will you tell me about.” I slouched back in my chair. “Let me think, the bikinis were tiny, and the waves were righteous.”

Jay rolled his eyes at me. “Righteous? Really? No. Besides what fun is righteous anything.” He blew on his nails and buffed them against his shirt.

I grinned. He’d never been to a troll mating ceremony. He’d love being one of the men on display for a first time match.

“And I don’t surf,” he added. “It was family vacation. You know, mom nagging that we never get along. Dad ignoring everything. My brother bragging about his newest string of girlfriends and the car he’s going to buy next year.”

I smiled at him. I had no idea what family vacations were like.

90 Days and counting

Day 21, done. I’m working my ways through 90 Days To Your Novel by Sarah Domet. The first 21 days is all about outlining. As a believer in outlining, I loved the built in outlining time.

IMG_0102[1]Day 22 is the start of the novel draft. I’m bouncing up and down in excitement to start. (Literally, here is a picture of the exercise ball I am now sitting on  while I write.)

In honor of the drafting, I am giving you the 250ish word synopsis/summary of the story I am working on. Here it is:

Joe is nobody with empiric dreams. But that changes when he finds a bag of jewels. Like a thief in daylight, Joe pockets the prize. His dreams are only a sale away.

The local auction house tells him selling stolen goods is illegal and will get him arrested.

Dive bars are the movie solution. Instead of a sale, he is trampled by a pig. The nurse listens to his pain-killer induced story and offers to help him.

He meets the nurses’ connection, a pawn broker, who wants a new thug not a jewel sale. The nurse arranges a second buyer.

Joe meets her outside the La Fata mansion. The mob head finds Joe suspicious, and the nurse’s mother wants him as a son-in-law. Joe could live without a cloud with a La Fata-lining.

Joe peddles home to find his house trashed. At work, the nurse calls with the zeal of charity solicitor at Christmas. His co-worker suspects he connected to the mob. Between the mob and a pushy nurse, Joe agrees to a date.

The nurse takes him on a race-fan dream. The pawn broker finds Joe and agrees to the jewel sale if Joe will stay away from the nurse.

By the glow of the pawn shop lights, Joe meets the pawn broker who heard Joe was engaged to the nurse. He takes Joe’s jewels and leaves him beaten on the street.

Beaten and without jewels, Joe must figure out what he truly wants in life.

90 Days and Crafting

Amazing how plans always change. I intended to post evenly about crafting and writing. Turns out, I binge hobby, spending weeks on one thing and completely ignoring the rest.

Easter Church Display 2014
Easter Church Display 2014

My sister and I do most of the big displays at our church. It’s not that impressive because the church is small and we fall into the age bracket that can still climb ladders. In preparation for Easter, I experimented with making homemade glue and the best ways to soak yarn in glue

Easter Alter 2014
Easter Alter 2014

and then pull it out without creating knots. The result are the cute Easter eggs lining the aisles.

The alter is mostly fake flowers we already had at the church and table cloths attached to the ceiling.

Easter down, only 6 weeks to Bible School decorations. 🙂

On the writing front, I am falling behind. I wanted to be done with day 16 today. That would have kept me on target for a 45 day novel. I never realistically expected to keep that schedule, but a girl can hope. Between critiquing, editing, participating in my first query contest (which left me hitting the refresh button hoping for pointers on my submission), and Easter, I finished Day 14 and started Day 15.

As ever, Ms. Domet is cleverly having me pre-write the whole novel. Days 14-16 are particularly interesting to me. I’m a checklist kind of person. Ms. Domet has given me a checklist for what each section of the novel should do, the questions it should answer, and the goals it should obtain.

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday are taken by real world activities, but I’m lifting a cup of tea to getting back on track next Monday.

The Sly Brilliance of 90 Days

I am working through a writing craft book called 90 Days to Your Novel.

Being the diligent student, I began at the beginning. Each time the author gives an assignment, I do it. No cheating.

From Clipart Guide: Images by Pamela Perry

At first, the assignments were too basic, but I did them anyway. Then I decided to apply an existing story line to the assignments. Suddenly, even the super basic instruction have become brilliant. Because I already have a plan I am working toward, each exercise is pre-writing part of my novel.

Day 9 was all about picking 1st or 3rd person to write in. Again, the assignment was to choose a scene and write it in both 1st and 3rd person and choose which fit the story better. I switch pretty regularly between the two styles. I chose 3rd this time because I am hoping to add some comedy to this manuscript. Not being a funny person, I may fail horribly, but I’d like to try just once.

Day 10 wants me to flesh out the main characters. It involves free writing about the main characters to learn more than just a character sheet about their personality, physical description, and motives. Then, the second part of the assignment is to write a scene introducing the main character. Sound like an opening scene to anyone else?

By the time this book tells me to write my first chapter, I will have a snippet from almost every scene in the book. Very sly Ms. Domet. I’m on to your tricks. 😉

90 Days – Days 7 and 8

Alright. I’m still trucking through these days, but they are getting harder and longer. I might be giving up and taking them one day at a time for a while. We’ll see.

Day 7 is a discussion of dialog. I’ve never had too many problems with dialog, and the examples of what not to do are atrocious. That being said, Ms. Domet tells me I shouldn’t start a scene with dialog because the reader has no background, setting, or base characters to provide their footing. Oops. My last novel starts with dialog. My high school creative writing teacher liked dialog as an opener if it included a hook.

So now I am going to be dialog conscious. In the next few books I pick up, I’m going to see if they start with narrative or dialog. Here’s a fun game. Go to the library. Pick a stack of fiction and open to the first page of every tenth book you see. Read just the first paragraph. The first, first paragraph, not a random opening to chapter 9. It’s how I started to learn about hooks. I’m not sure I have them right, but I’ve read more hooks than middles or ends of books.

Recently I have started doing the same game but with last paragraphs. I really need to learn how to end a story better.

Day 8 focuses on point of view. — The pesky shifting point of view. My current WIP (work in progress) has three POV’s , but I am debating on the need. Someone once told me, the mark of a good story teller is being able to make the story happen from one POV. I don’t believe it, and I do believe it. When one POV leads to a person randomly showing up conveniently outside a diner door to hear the pivotal conversation between two side characters, it feels weak to stick to the one POV, but when there are interesting hooks and hints throughout the book to reveal what happened off page or when the character actions really would have lead to spying outside that diner, single POVs are more interesting to me. Most of my favorite authors write from a single POV. — Now that I’ve written all this, Day 8 is not about single versus multiple POVs. It is about choosing the right POV. The interesting, reliable, relevant one.

The Kiss – Gustav Klimt

For the novel I plan to do on the 90 day schedule, I think I’ll use 2 POVs. There is a romance to the story that would lend itself to 2 POVs, but the way it is currently outlined I could do it in one. It will be interesting to see what happens.