Sunday, December 23, 2012

Character Arcs (And How I've Been Plotting My Novel)

Recently, I read Wither by Lauren Destefano and I was struck by how beautifully done the character arcs were. Well, okay, it wasn't recently. It was more like a couple of months ago. But anyway, I've been struggling for a while, trying to figure out how to keep so much focus on the development of my characters. I don't know why it took me so long to figure it out, though. The answer was so simple (and yet oh-so complicated.) Why don't I just plot the character arcs along with my novel? Duh.
Still, when I though of that, I was still in a pickle. How would I set up my plot in a way that I could keep track of both the plot arc and the character arcs? I'm not the most organized person, as you'll see below.
Sorry for the bad quality of these pictures. I can't find the charger for my I had to use my phone. (Yet another example of how I'm an unorganized person.)

Anyway, these are pages in the sketchbook that I use to plot and brainstorm for my WIP.

I'm kind of glad that you can't read any of it. ;P

Look at all of those notes, squeezed into the tiniest of places. How am I supposed to build a novel off of this?

Okay, so this one's slightly more structured, but still. You get the point. 

So, I took all of that and turned it into this:
That's right. I took every single note from my sketchbook and put it on loose-leaf paper, all organized by category.
Then I made a list of the story arcs I had to follow. There were, like, six. I don't know if that's a lot for you, but it's a lot for me. In the first draft of this novel, I had, like, two and a half. And I didn't even know what I was doing.
THEN, I came up with an AWESOME system. For each scene, I'll ask five questions.
Who (who is in the scene?)
What (what is happening in the scene?)
Where (where is the scene taking place?)
When (when is the scene taking place?)
How (how does this move the story forward? How does this effect each plot line? How does this change or affect the characters? and etc.)

So then I have something that looks along the lines of this:

Who: Fraud, Lauren, Iri, Warriors, and a couple of Ashrays
What: Fraud wakes up to screaming. Everyone runs out to find nearly all of the Ashrays have been slaughtered. (ashrays are out during night because they’re nocturnal) Like 3 are left alive, screaming. Warrior says something stupid like, “At least we’re safe.” Then he dies. Everyone starts running for the exits. One Ashray dies b/c it’s daylight now. Others are left inside, trapped. They die. Start running. Wait, where’s Devlin? Have to leave him, can’t go back.
When: Day 3
Where: Ashray Lair
How: Lauren sees Eolande and no one else does (which is pretty scarring) She doesn't realize no one else saw her, though. Devlin left over the night to go to castle. Eolande made a slight mistake drinking all their blood, she knows. But she couldn’t help it. She’ll just get them another time.

It took a while to do, but now that I've done it fifty billion times, I have a (nearly) finished plot and a clear picture in my head of how the characters develop! I still have some polishing to do. Add some scene notes here and there, decide what information I want to reveal in each scene, and decide what POV each scene will be in. Oh, and I have to type the entire thing up on my computer still. But, other than that, my plot is basically done.(:

You're welcome to try out this method if you want. However, if you don't like plotting very much or if you're a pantser who's decided to try out plotting for the first time, DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT USE THIS METHOD. This was tedious for me, a plotoholic. If you've never tried plotting before, doing this will probably make you hate it. And, quite possibly, it may even make you hate your own story. I don't want to be responsible for that. You should start small, build up your own method and ways. (:

How do you keep track of character arcs? What's your method of plotting?

Saturday, December 22, 2012

My Love-hate Relationship with My Kindle

I own the Kindle Touch. It's light, it's small (it fits in my tiny purse!) and books are generally cheaper on it. Not to mention all of the Indie books that you can find for, say, 99 cents or less. For example, one book I'm really pining for is The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. At Walmart (basically the only place in my city that sells books, besides one Indie bookstore that is scarily expensive) the book is $16.99. On my Kindle, it's $9.50. That's a big difference, especially for me, someone who hates spending money.
Yet, I refuse to buy the book on my Kindle.
Why? I'll get to that soon enough. First, I'm going to list all of the pro's and cons of my Kindle Touch.

The Kindle

  • It's cute. 
  • It's portable. 
  • Books are more affordable. 
  • No one can judge what you're reading.
  • You can look up the definitions of words within seconds. 
  • It's easier to hold when you're trying to read in bed. 
  • You can make the fonts bigger so you don't have to read with your glasses on. 
  • You can put music on it. 
  • You can buy a book from anywhere and be able to start reading it within seconds. 
  • You can read samples of books.
  • You can take your entire library with you wherever you go. 
  • You can buy writing books without people asking you about your writing. 
  • It connects to Wi-Fi, so yes, you can use the internet on it. 
  • You can play word games on it (for free!)
  • You can highlight and make notes whenever you want and they don't harm the book. 
  • The e-ink stuff is really cool. 
  • It moves really slowly. 
  • The notes and highlights you make? Yeah, they all go into one gigantic confusing file. 
  • It's really easy to lose your place if you just accidently touch the screen.
  • It takes forever to get back to whatever place you were at. 
  • You have to charge it. (Not very often, which kind of makes it worse because it runs out of charge when you want it most.)
  • It's not a book. 
  • You can't look at the pretty covers. 
  • You can't stroke the pretty covers. 
  • You can't admire how many pages the book has. 
  • You can make notes, but you can't find exactly where you made those notes so it's kind of hard to understand what you were talking about. 
  • It's cold, hard technology. 
  • There's no paper. 
  • No ink (that you can feel). 
  • No new-book-smell. 
Overall, if you like reading, I'd suggest getting a Kindle. It's a good investment. If you're a writer, however--or just a bibliophile--owning a Kindle can be quite dangerous. You can own every book EVER with just a few swipes of your finger. You don't feel the cash leaving your pocket because it's all electronic. If you're not careful, you could go into some serious book-debt. 
You can also get tricked into buying some really awesome books electronically rather than physically. You've been wanting to read this book forever. It's cheaper and easier to you press buy. You devour the book in a day. It's even more awesome than you'd thought it would be. 
But then what?
You can't admire the cover. You can't add the book to your shelf. You can't open it up and easily go to your favorite parts. It's difficult to study the pages if you're a writer trying to learn from the book. The book on your Kindle does not physically exist. 
I don't know. Being a person who collects books like trophies (because I'm not really the athletic type), this can be really distressing. There are several books that I bought on my Kindle that I really wish I hadn't. 
Too name a few:
The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins
Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Across the Universe and A Million Suns by Beth Revis
Graceling by Kristen Cashore

I regret purchasing all of those books digitally because they were too amazing not to have a physical copy. I love my Kindle, but that is why I hate my Kindle. I love being able to look at the samples of all the amazing books, and to be able to buy the books that are still good, but I can live without seeing them on my shelves. However, if I read a sample to a book that looks like it's going to be another Best Book Ever, I won't buy it. I'd rather wait and go crazy over it until I finally get to get it at a bookstore than not have a physical copy of it. 

What about you? Do you have a Kindle? If so, do you like it better than the physical book? If you don't have a Kindle, are you considering purchasing one?

Okay, I know. I know. I know. I used the word "awesome" at least a gazillion times in this post. Sorry.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Scary Business

Well, the world didn't end, so I guess I have to keep up this whole blogging resolution I made. ;D
Since I'm sure many people were scared yesterday, despite NASA's reassurances that the world is, in fact, in no danger of ending any time soon, today I'm going to talk about fear and how it relates to writing. Yeah, I know, so appropriate for the holidays, huh?
When you're starting a new novel, you're starting from scratch. Always. And that can feel like you're looking up at the longest flight of stairs in the world.

Daunting, huh?
It feels like you're never going to make it to the top. But then, you start climbing (in this case, writing--or plotting) and you stare at your feet the entire time until you finally look up and you're already half way there!

But being halfway there doesn't always feel like a good thing. You're at the point of no return. It's either do or die. You have to convince yourself not to look down because if you do, you'll get intimidated by how far you've come. You don't want to be that far off the ground. You want to go back, retrace your steps, make it better. But you can't, because you're dangling. And you can't look up, either, because then you'll realize how much farther you still have to go. You're tired, you're scared, and you're kind of regretting your decision to do this. 
Then, after a couple of scary slips and a few tears, you make it to the top.

You're a god. You actually did it. You can do anything now. You look back at all you've accomplished--and it still scares you--but that fear is mixed with huge senses of pride and relief. You walk around, telling everyone you know, "I climbed a mountain!" ("I wrote a novel!")

And then you slip. 
You fall all the way down to where you started. The mountain, or flight of stairs, is no longer a beautiful thing that you've accomplished, but just a big old jagged rock. You're bruised and battered, your confidence is shattered. How could you make the mistake of slipping? Now you have to start all over. You cry a bit. You cry a lot. You research better ways to climb the mountain. You look at all of the mishaps you made before and figure out how to avoid them this time around. You start climbing again, and the mountain isn't as bad as it was the first time. You know what to expect, you're even more determined, and you make it back to the top in no time. 

Your climb still wasn't perfect, but it was better. You know you can do this now--it wasn't just luck the first time. You go back to the bottom and start climbing again, and again, and again until you're like freaking Spiderman. 

Writing is a long, treachorous journey that no one but a writer can experience. All of this climbing, these accomplishments--they're all inside of your head. No one else notices but you. We writers are alone in our long battle with our manuscripts. Being alone and not knowing what you're doing is scary. Sometimes it can scare you out of doing it. Sometimes it can destroy you. But, if you start and you're stupid enough to fall in love with it, you'll get better over time. It's a long uphill battle and we don't have anyone behind us to catch us if we fall. We are alone, but we are strong. We can do this: we're writers. It's what we're made for. 

Do you get scared when you're writing? What are the scariest parts of writing for you?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Beginning at the End

So. I can't help but to notice that it's been a while since I've blogged. You've noticed this too, yeah? Liar. You forgot all about me and my silly little blog. WELL. That won't happen again. Starting now (the last day of the world), long as I can keep it up, I'm going to be blogging EVERY DAY. Therefore, I'm beginning at the end. And then, when I'm done blogging everyday, I'm going to gauge how much I can handle and create a weekly blog schedule. That way, if you want, you can bug me about not blogging. Or I can just feel guilty all on my own. (:
A few weeks ago (it may have been days, I have no sense of time)  my lovely friend Megan Paasch tagged me in The Next Best Thing Blog Hop. I'm finally going to do it. As you may know, I've recently begun rewriting my novel and there's so much new stuff than before that I only hope I can sum it all up below.
-WARNING: terrible writing may ensue.-

What is the working title of your book?
The working title at the moment is "Everlae", which is the name of the world it takes place in. I don't know if this will stay the title for very long. I'm not good at naming things.

Where did the idea come from for your book?
Oh, gosh, I don't remember. I got the title of the world from a song that I misheard, I think. It said, "of L.A." and I heard, "Everlae." But it was, like, a year after that when I really sat down and started brainstorming. I really liked the idea of having faeries hate humans for whatever reason.

What genre does your book fall under?
Uh. I don't know.  YA Fantasy, I think?

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
Ha. Well, here goes:

When Lauren inexplicably finds herself trapped in Everlae, a world where humans are enslaved by faeries, she’ll do anything to get home…even if means inciting a war with devastating effects. 

Thanks so much to Chynna-Blue for helping me with this!

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Neither, at the moment, although one day, maybe, I'll start querying for it.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Well. I started the first first first draft four years ago. But I really didn't start working on the current version of the story until last year. Basically, all I'd had to show for three years of working on it (occasionally, when I was in the mood or during the summer holidays) was 20,000 words. At an early part of last year, I sat down, plotted out everything with excruciating detail, tried (and failed) NaNoWriMo, got the manuscript to 40k, and then I finished writing it around the last day of school last year. It was 78k.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Um, I don't know. I don't have anything to compare it to. Not yet, at least.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Wow. I don't really see the faces of my characters, so this will be difficult. I'll only do the two main characters.
Um. I kind of like Alexander Ludwig from the Hunger Games as my male protagonist, Fraud Ghriaura.
And I don't know, maybe Lucy Hale as my female protagonist, Lauren Fischer.
But if there ever were to be a movie (highly HIGHLY unlikely) I'd like whoever could play the character best, even if it means they're a new face.(:

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
There are many things that inspire me to keep working on this book to this very day. Right now, I'm really interested by the American Civil War because there's going to be a war in my story and it's caused by racial issues. But, other things that inspired me were Celtic mythology (I love it), Irish history, the summer, Also, every single book I've ever read, all of the writing advice I read, and the support of my fellow writers.(:

What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
It's not a love story. Not really. Oh, and humans are stronger than faeries. The Faeries are actually afraid of the humans.

I tag:
Ayssa Sherlock
Skye Fairwin
Ashtyn Stann
Lupus Amator
David Patterson
Chynna-Blue Scott

I want to hear about your guys' stories.


Saturday, November 24, 2012

I Love YA

That's supposed to have two meanings: "I love yah," and "I love Young Adult." I don't know if it came across that way, but whatever. Both are true.
When I was younger, I read a mixture of Middle Grade and Adult books. The Middle Grade books I checked out of my elementary school's library and the Adult books I stole from my mother's library. So...yeah, let's just say little kid me read some stuff she shouldn't have. My favorites were the Maximum Ride Series* by James Patterson, the Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins, When the Wind Blows by James Patterson, The Tenth Kingdom by Kathryn Wesley (when I discovered this was actually a mini TV series, I spent an entire day watching it on You Tube), Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas by James Patterson, Ida B by Katherine Hannigan,  From the Files of Madison Finn by Laura Dower, and Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine.*
 I also used to write back then. Granted, I didn't know anything about writing. I basically took ideas from a bunch of books I read and mushed them all together in a 5th grader's handwritten (unfinished) novel. The story was all over the place. It featured a main character only slightly older than I was, side characters based on people I knew, an adult theme of murder and mystery, and a touch of magic here and there. It was a train wreck of genres.
And then: Twilight. In 6th grade, my teacher lent me the book that changed my reading interests forever. It introduced me to YA, the genre I'd been looking for. It wasn't too adult for me to comprehend, and it wasn't too juvenile for me to wrinkle my nose at. It was beautiful. It is beautiful. Reading transformed from a hobby to an addiction. I started writing again, this time with the knowledge of what a specific genre included and with the absolute freedom that comes with YA.
It's hard for me to express in words how much I love Young Adult. Some emotions just can't be described accurately. I will say that I doubt I'll ever grow out of YA. It's perfect. It's growing up without actually having to grow up. I am forever Young Adult.

*I know that Maximum Ride is technically classified as YA, but I consider it aimed for a younger audience than most YA's.
*I'd add Harry Potter, but I actually didn't read the entire series until last year. I started reading it in 3rd grade (mostly because the librarian kept the big books off limits to most kids and I wanted to rub it in her face that I could read them, and it was worth A LOT of A.R. points) and I got the first two for Christmas, but then I had trouble getting the rest of them and I lost interest in checking books out of the library (I like to buy my books and collect them like trophies)...and I just stopped reading them. Which sucks.

This graphic has me drooling.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

10 Awesome Jobs for Writer-ish People

So I've been trying to come up with a topic for a while now. I haven't been neglecting my blog, I just haven't been able to finish a post. I've got about ten unfinished drafts waiting for me. I'm new at this, I guess. It's like when I first started writing novels and I'd begin five at once and then not even finish them halfway before giving up and starting on another round of ideas. Although, I do plan to finish the other topics at some point. Anyway, I'm coming back with an easy list post.
I was looking into getting a job at Starbucks (even though I barely have time to do my homework as of right now) and started thinking about other awesome jobs. With the help of Ashtyn at, I've put together a list. Note: these are jobs that I, a naive sixteen year old who's never worked a day in her life, think would be somewhat amazing.

1. Author (duh)

2. Barnes and Noble (50% off cafe items, 30% off books and other miscellaneous items, and 20% of music and technology items. Also, BOOKS.) (Working at an Indie Bookstore would be pretty cool too.)
3. Literary Agent (being a part of the crafting of masterpieces, reading for a living, meeting and encouraging other writers, etc.)

4. Starbucks (Free pound of coffee every week, unlimited free beverages on the job, 30% discount when not on the job, learn how to make awesome coffee drinks for yourself) (Don't forget about Indie Coffee Houses)

5. A Job in Publishing (I don't know very much about it, but it sounds nice)

6. Food Critic (Get to be in disguise, eat food, and there's some writing involved)

7. Animator (drawing, making stories, etc, and I just really love animated movies)

8. Script Writer (writing and story-telling, watching your story come to life)

9. Fashion Buyer (shopping for a living, travel with no cost to you)

10. Artist (I  just love creating art)

What about you? Any jobs that you think would be awesome?(:

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Feeling Awful

untitled by Maggie Lochtenberg on Flickr

Hi. I am somewhat still alive, although I do find myself struggling to breathe under these mountains of homework. I also have a fairly annoying cold. I'm probably overworking myself. Compared to everyone else, though, I feel like I'm hardly working at all. My motivation is a bit lacking. That, and some of my homework assignments are, well, stupid.
My English class this year is focused a lot around writing. It's a fabulous idea. We have a writing assignment nearly every night. We learn different techniques to improve our writing, like parallelism and verb play. We even get "writing buddies", which is basically the same concept of a critique partner except sometimes we actually have to actually write things together. The creative writing assignments are, in my opinion, horrible.
I'm not sure if I'm the only one (I seem to be at my school) but I have a great deal of trouble writing about myself (writing a blog post about myself is totally different).
Here is a list of some of the assignments I've had recently:
-Write about an ideal dream you have
-Write about a scary experience you've had
-Write about a person you admire get the picture. Writing these essays is doing a toll on my confidence as a writer. I don't think that I'm anywhere near being an excellent writer and I'm not looking for people to reassure me. It's just...I've written hundreds of thousands more words than my friends have and hell, I do it all for fun. Why would these 500 and less word essays stress me out? Why does everything I turn in feel like absolute rubbish? I want to cry. I want to lay down in my bed and wrap myself in my blankets so tightly that all of the negative feelings are squeezed out. Earlier this summer, I came to peace with the decision that I want to be a writer. There's nothing I love doing more, nothing else that I feel I invest the rest of my life in. Some might say these assignments are good for me. I'm learning how to deal with self doubt. I'm learning to write stuff I don't care about. I'm learning new techniques. Bla bla bla.
I tried looking at it that way but I still feel awful.
Some of my sadness could be from not being able to work on my MS for what feels like months. I'm running very behind on my schedule, and the guilt of not working on it is breaking me, but the guilt of working on it instead of my homework would be even worse. It's getting to the point where I've forgotten how really writing makes me feel. I'm gaining all sorts of negative connotations toward it because of these exercises. And that is killing me.
Also, it's been a long time since I've read a good book (or any book, for that matter). I always get a bit fuzzy around the edges when I'm not able to read.
Have you ever had to deal with something like this? What do you think? Is it a sign that maybe I'm not as cut out for writing as I initially thought? (I'm never going to give up, I promise.)
Anyway, that is what is up with me. Hope everyone else is doing well. And if you're not, hang in there. I have this immortal belief that things will always get better if you wait long enough. Some call it hope.

"Read books. Care about things. Get excited. Try not to be too down on yourself. Enjoy the ever present game of knowing." --Hank Green

"Don't feel stupid if you don't like what everyone else pretends to love." --Emma Watson

An adorable cat picture to make up for this somber and whiny post:

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Time is a Tortoise...

...and I'm the hare. Or, slightly more accurately, the jill.
My point is that at the beginning of the summer, I--like any other self-respecting teenager--I underestimated my time. I expected to be much farther along with my writing projects, done with my summer reading and homework (I still don't even know what the assignment is), and--I don't know--more tan? In better shape? I was going to go running. I did go running. Once. But then I was told not to because some girl was attacked or something at the park I went to.
Anyway, even up until yesterday I hardly expected I'd be here already. My last day of summer break. It has a morose ring to it, doesn't it?
I'm trying to get as much writing/revising/plotting done as I can today, because I have no idea when I'll get to work again.
My school is requiring everyone to be there from 8:30 am 8:30 pm everyday next week...and we don't even start classes until Friday. Hope I don't die of boredom. Enjoy the rest of your summer everyone! And have a nice school year! (That is, if you're still in school.)
(Oh, and yes--I do have to go tomorrow, a Sunday.)

Monday, August 6, 2012

My Dear Sweet Dilemma

I officially decided to completely throw out 20K of my novel the other day. It was all rubbish. Now I have to figure out how to get from point A to point B. I've made several story lines that have huge gaps in the center now (a couple of them had gaps even before the deletion - which is a sliver of the reason it had to go) and that is the dilemma. I can't simply rewrite the scenes that were there before - they had no right being there in the first place. So it's a matter of unearthing what the story needs and wants and separating it from what I need and want.
My subconscious is screaming Tension! Tension! Tension! Bad stuff! (Because the word "tension" is beginning to look weird to me.) I've seen several blog posts about how you need to have a fake climax before your real climax. Let your character fail at something. Keep the threat constant. Make it a roller coaster. Surprise yourself and therefore everyone else. Keeping all of these tips in mind, I've listed several maybes as to what can happen in that huge gap. While they're all alright ideas, I can't use all of them; however, I'm beginning to worry that I can't use any of them. 
It's hard to determine how much space each idea could take to write; each could vary from a couple of pages to tens of thousands of words. I don't want to put too much work into developing a thought and making it fit in with the rest of the story and it end up being much too short. Then again, I don't want to become so focused on the new idea and have it turn into a story entirely on its own...because not-so-technically, that would mean the cancer (I refer to the original 20K as the "tumor") has returned. How do I keep my manuscript healthy?
There are ideas I quite like and seem to fit well with everything else, but they're incomplete. They're like unfinished sentences because I'm stuck on a certain word and can't move forward. I can almost taste the rest of the ideas...but as soon as they start take shape, a breeze blows by and they disperse again. I've been told to give it time - the epiphany will happen when I least expect it (or want it). And -sigh- I will. I have no choice. 
This novel is SUCH a teenager though. I've already given it three years, put in the time and tears to mold it into a thing, and now it wants to tear itself apart word by word. It's all needy and messy, like a baby. I just want to smack it and scream, "Stop acting like a WIP!Be done already!" But I'm afraid I'll get arrested for novel abuse. Besides, it'll probably just rebel even more or something. I just wish it would be more considerate; I have other WIPs, you know! Anyway, I'm going to be lenient for now. Whatever. 
The clock is ticking, though. I have five more months until my deadline, but school starts in a week. School, as it likes to believe, trumps writing as much as I can help it. My novel had better not try to pull anything else. 

(Yeah, I am talking about my unpublished, unreadable piece of writing as if its a real thing. This is a no-judging zone.)


Friday, August 3, 2012

The Great City of Hands and Teeth

So, I know there's been a LOT of things happening in the news lately, what with the Chik-Fil-A debate, the Aurora shooting, the Olympics, and crop circles and that I should probably blog about one of them, but I feel like what I would say on these subjects has already been said (more fervently) by other people. I wouldn't be able to do them justice. Besides, I've only ever been to Chik-Fil-A once and I didn't think their chicken (s'cuse me, chikin) was that great, and because the nearest one is over a half hour away from me I don't think the cost of the drive out there to protest is worth it (no matter how wrong I think they are) so I'm just going to keep not giving them my money. I'm very sad and stricken about the shooting and my heart goes out to all those closely effected by it. I'm one of those persons who forgets to watch the Olympics year after year, no matter how much news I see, so I wouldn't know what to say about it even if I wanted to.  And, frankly, I don't care about alien shenanigans. (Bother me when they decide to stop doodling and take over the world.)
However, I've been struggling with a blog topic for a little while now. I've started several different posts and then abandoned them halfway through because I lost inspiration in one way or another. Sounds familiar, huh? I could tell you about how I went on vacation last week; but all that amounted to, really, was several layers of sunburn, new clothes, and broken sea shells. I could tell you about how my editing is going...but not much has changed since my last update. Instead, I've decided to do a couple of reviews on the books I've read recently! :D (The smiley, along with the exclamation point, is an aesthetic to get you excited about this so you'll keep reading. Did it work?)

The City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare (****_)

I was really hesitant about buying this one. "But you've read the first three books in the series at least three times," you say. "Why ON EARTH would you not be excited about the fifth installment?" Well, dear friend, it's because of the matter of the fourth book. Clare had originally only planned three books for the series, but when the last book came out she magically had the idea to write three more. This is why I cringe when dedicated readers beg an author to write another book in a series (like with Harry Potter) after the story is over. Voldemort's dead, Harry's a father. Wouldn't you be quite irritated if Voldemort suddenly rose from the dead? I would. I think Harry would too. Well... I just couldn't get over this in CoFA. The characters seemed different, the plot was too suspenseful, and then at the end she resurrects one of her dead antagonists. Wow, was I angry. That book was expensive and it changed my feelings on the entire series. (I no longer list it as one of my favorites.)Yet, I went ahead and paid the same price for the next one. I think it was hope that made me do it. Hope and my history with the first story in that world. Oh, and because I was feeling unmotivated to finish reading any books I picked up all summer and I knew that, no matter how angry/disappointed I was/am, Clare would keep me glued to it until the very end. I wasn't wrong.
In the City of Fallen Angels, Clary and the rest of the crew are freaking out over the sudden disappearance of their beloved Jace and the was-dead Sebastian (sadly, he's not a crab). Alec and Magnus, Isabella and Simon, and Jordan and Maia continue to have relationship struggles. Clary gets taken into this place that's not a place by a Jace who's not Jace that is all controlled by her fugitive brother. During the time that she spends with them, Clary begins to question whose side she's on. Jace isn't that different and Sebastian seems...nicer, and they certainly seem to get along with each other. But, alas, the Morgenstern son has fooled her before, and in the end he is still a demon.
It touched on some pretty dark subjects...but it wasn't too hard to read through. I did cringe a bit. Overall, though, I was blissfully surprised. It still wasn't as good as the first three, but I was able to forget the fourth book almost entirely. I managed to pretend that Sebastian had never died in the first place. The characters seemed more like themselves (Jace's character was kind of over-emphasized from time to time) and the plot was unpredictable. I think. (I always read the endings of the books before I'm even a third of the way through.) I enjoyed reading it on the 24 hour car ride to my vacation destination (Florida. I just wanted to rhyme.) It's a good noncommittal read. I'm no longer under a reader's block. (:
PS, what are all of these cities in the titles? I understand that in the first three, the titles represent the cities that are essential for the setting of the story. But in CoFA? It takes place in NYC. Again. CoLS? Takes place in about ten different cities, but none of them seemed quite so significant. I kind of think they're just making up stuff now.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth Carrie Ryan (***__)

The Forest of Hands and Teeth is the story of Mary, who, growing up in a strictly religious town surrounded by a thick zombie-infested forest, dreams of going to the ocean. There, marriage is a duty, not a privilege; they must keep the minuscule population growing.  So after her mom dies from a zombie bite the same day that she rejects a marriage proposal, Mary has no other choice but to join the Sisterhood. The Sisters (picture nuns) keep the village in order, so naturally they have secrets. Just when Mary begins to unearth some of them, the fences that protect her village fail. She escapes with her closest friends and family in a wild goose hunt for a couple of roman numerals and the sea.
This novel is very hard to like. It's different. Try as I might, I couldn't make myself like the protagonist. She was outstandingly selfish, impulsive, whiny, and...ugh, just so selfish! She's willing to let everyone she loves dies so she can get what she wants, and doesn't even look back. BUT, in the same sense that you shouldn't kill the messenger, you can't doom a book over its character. We all like to believe that the people in books are better than the people in real life, and they usually are. That's why we call them heros and heroines.


  1. A person, typically a man, who is admired for courage or noble qualities.
  2. The chief male character in a book, play, or movie, who is typically identified with good qualities.

But Mary wasn't a heroine. She was just a girl in a place who wanted something. It's not as if everyone in the novel were without sense; the other characters weren't afraid to tell her how wrong and self-absorbed she was (some of them still managed to fall in love with her...but that's a different point). This was her story, not theirs. There are questions that are posed in the beginning that never get answered because the character never discovers why there are zombies, why there are trails and villages in the woods, why some zombies are faster than others. Don't hate the player; hate the game (meaning the situation she's in, not the book).
The writing was chilling and sharp and entirely unlike much else out there. Well, unlike much else that I've read... I don't read very many, if any, zombie/horror stories so I may not be the best candidate to review this or whatever. Anyway, my point is that if you're looking for another goopy paranormal romance full of noble heroes and happy endings, don't read this.
But if you want to embrace something different than the average YA, I highly recommend it.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (****_)
Tobey Maguire AND Leonardo? My younger self is fainting right now. If only Cary Elwes was in it too...

First off, I'm in love with the trailer. This was a summer reading requirement for me. I'm a little burned out by the other two reviews, so this one will be short and sweet. Besides, I doubt upon skimming over my review you'll rush out to read it. You've likely already read it in school or you will be forced to read it in school at one point. My point in mentioning it at all is to reassure any students who may have to read it that it's definitely not the worst thing you can be assigned to. It's sarcastic, lonely, entertaining and short. Did I mention short? It's only about 150 pages (Barnes and Noble still managed to charge me $15 for the paperback, though) and the prose are pretty. The narrator even made me laugh a few times. Another renowned novel with pretty prose that you might have to read at one point (and if not, I actually think you should read it anyway) is Frankenstein, although it's not quite as short. Fun fact for all the teen writers reading this: Mary Shelley published Frankenstein when she was 19. How about that?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Surgery Part 1

I read somewhere once that writing is like surgery, but I think they meant revising is like surgery.
My post about my Revision Plan was very broad; it didn't include the steps I would take to actually revise it. I'm kind of playing it by ear, charting the land as I get to it. I have a couple of steps in my head so I'll know where to go next, but I'm not quite sure beyond that. Right now I'm in between Steps 1 and 2.
Because I didn't quite know what I was doing when I started this novel and because I started it so long ago, I'm starting out with, so to say, mapping out my novel into parts. I would do scenes, but I didn't necessarily plan it in scenes so the lines are fuzzy. I've picked up my scalpel and sliced where I thought necessary, cutting my novel into 106 parts. 
Now I'm going to go through and make notes on each individual part, decide what I think should be rewritten/deleted/etc. I've already labeled 78 pages of cancerous writing. The tumor. I'm thinking that it will all have to go and be replaced with viable parts.
So that's what I'm doing now. I'll let you know how that works out for me when I get to the next step. This is all new for me.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

My Revision Plan (How to be my Critique Partner)

So, I'm about to begin revising my first novel. I've been doing a lot of research on revising, and have compiled a list of how I plan on doing this. This is my plan, but feel free to follow any steps you wish on revising your own novel. Also, if you are a potential critique reader, I may be sending you to this post. So read carefully. I may even copy and paste it in an email for you, along with a bunch of other stuff. Be warned. Have a nice day. Good luck with revisions.(:
P.S. If you are interested in being my critique partner, please do leave a comment below or send me an email at

My due date: I made a vow to myself a little while back (right before last November, I think) that I would have this novel finished and polished and ready for whatever comes after by January 1st, 2013. So that is my goal for when I want my revisions to be finished. That gives me...six months? Does that sound plausible?

Step 1: Send out complete rough draft to a trusted and smart critique partner(s). Ask he/she/them to read over the entire MS and look at big picture things, i.e. pacing, character development, irrelevant scenes, plot, etc. Beg them not to bother with grammar and sentence structure just yet unless it's super distracting or they're afraid it may be missed later; that part will come soon enough. Ask them to send comments that include their emotional reactions to the scenes. Do they like them? Do they not like them? What don't they like about them? Also, include their overall reaction to the story and anything else they feel necessary in their critique. Beg them to be nice even when they have to be tough. Beg them to BE TOUGH.

Step 2: While waiting for critique(s) from partner(s), start looking at MS. Make notes of what you think should be changed. Scenes that should be deleted or moved or changed. Characters that are irrelevant. Pacing issues. Plot development. Character development. Voice. etc.

Step 3: Receive critique(s) from partner(s). Look at their notes. Look at my notes. Compare. Contrast. Merge.

Step 4: Fix stuff.

Step 5: Send fixed MS to critique partner(s). Say sorry for taking up so much of their time. Ask them if they approve.

Step 6: If they don't approve, fix stuff (maybe). If they do approve, start looking at sentence structure and grammar and word choice and metaphors and cliches and edges and go crazy while hopefully fixing them.

Step 7: Once everything you can do is done, send it to back to your poor, poor critique partner(s). Ask them to look at the smaller things too because hopefully they are better at grammar than you.

Step 8: Receive line-edited MS. Read it over. Make more corrections if necessary.

Step 9: Go to and pay a small fee to have novel (privately) printed and bound in paperback style. Read it. Get another one. Start distributing to beta readers (i.e. mother, friends, cats...)

Step 10: Take in suggestions from beta readers and maybe fix more stuff.

Step 11: Read it over again.

Step 12: Maybe fix one more thing.

Step 13: Write a blurb because maybe you haven't done that yet.

Step 14: Get out of house. Do something crazy. Have fun. Eat chocolate. Bake brownies. Watch
movies. Read books. Write other novel.

Step 15: Decide what to do next.

Here are some more articulate revision plans and how to's.

Hospital Life

Today is July 1st, 2012, officially marking the end of Camp NaNoWriMo. I did win, in case you were wondering. It was close, but I did it. (Much thanks to the support of my cabin mates.) So tomorrow, I shall begin my revisions on my first novel. A couple minutes after I post this, I will be posting my revision checklist of sorts. It's also a guideline on how to be my critique partner.
You can expect regular posts about my journey through editing my first novel. I'm pretty nervous about this. I put the manuscript on a shelf in my room that I can't reach without a step ladder and I've been staring at it all month long. Tomorrow I finally get to take it down.(Eek!)
Since Camp ended last night, I've spent my time developing a rather critical Grey's Anatomy. I'm not kidding. So far, I've watched the entire first season and half of the second one. I've barely slept. I keep saying that each episode will be my last for the day, but then it ends and I find myself starting the next one. They're all just right there. I can't help myself. I need to check myself into rehab.
Or go to Seattle Grace Hospital and have them call for a psych consult. D;

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Foible

I've run into a problem with my writing that I foresaw earlier, but hoped it wouldn't be too much of an issue. I'm writing Summer Story in the POV of two different characters (first person present tense, which is brand new to me...I think) and although I have a rough story arc for each character, I haven't planned enough scenes in one of the MC's view. Seriously, I have about 40 scenes sketched out...and about seven or eight of them are in his POV. I need many more scenes for him, and I believe I could plan some if I weren't so pressed for time. As it is, I'm having trouble moving past the parts where I need to put a scene about him in.
I mean, I don't want to just have a couple of scenes for him. I have a lot of info for him and I want to include his, it adds tension if I end a chapter in the POV of the other MC in a cliffhanger and then go to the problematic MC's view and write another chapter with another cliffhanger but in a different scenario, and so on.
Right now, I have three separate pages in my WIP that say, "CHAPTER #--CHARACTER NAME" and nothing else.'s bothersome. I'm afraid I'll reach the end of my scenes and not have 50K. And then I won't know what to do until I'm able to plan more.  I am not good a planning under pressure.
Have you ever had a problem like this? Any advice on how to deal with it?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Why a Baby is like a Main Character

1. You created it/him/her (unless you're baby-sitting. In that case, DO NOT CLAIM THIS BABY AS YOUR OWN, ESPECIALLY IF YOU'RE A TEENAGER LIKE I AM BECAUSE THAT GIVES PEOPLE A HORRIBLE IMPRESSION. And it's pretty darn weird. And mean. And okay. Just don't plagiarize.)
2. It revels in destruction.
3. It laughs, you laugh. Unless it makes bad jokes. Babies don't usually make jokes, though. Well, I don't know, maybe they do in their own language. If you have a baby making jokes that you can understand, call a scientist. And maybe Good Morning America.
4. If you don't give it any toys to play with (for a character's sake, say, a plot or a conflict) it will become very bored and then proceed to frustrate you.
5. It doesn't always understand the meaning of danger. "No, don't bite that electrical cord." "No, don't date a hungry vampire." "A staircase and slide are two entirely different things!"
6. It can't be all by itself for an extended period of time. Give it a sidekick or a pet or an enemy.
7. It can make you gain weight. Even if you aren't pregnant, you may often find yourself reverting to chocolate as a form of stress reliever to all things MC/evil child.
8. You want some quiet time? Too bad.
9. It may not always obey your every command. It may never obey your commands. It may even do the exact opposite of what you command.
10. It likes to break things, be it your mother's favorite vase or another character's heart.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Pain, Boredom, and Rent

Just an update about what I'm doing right now, since I haven't been online in several days and it feels like a month. In reality, it was probably less than a week. Yeah, this will probably bore you.
I have tendonitis (so gross, sorry) in my right hand, which, incidentally, is my writing hand. It kind of hurts. 
I've fallen far behind on my Camp NaNoWriMo goal. This is for the same reason that I've been MIA: computers suck. 
Wow, my hand really hurts. 
Right now it's pretty early. Actually, not anymore, but I've been up for a while and that makes me happy. It's been a while since I've been able to get up this early and I'm hoping to get into the habit. I'm trying to figure out what to do today. I want to go for a run, but I've never actually gone running around my neighborhood before. Is that something people still do? I never see runners outside. 
I'm also going to write today, of course. I (briefly) considered trying another 10K day, because that's pretty much how far behind I am, but then I realized that is a terrible idea (see my rant here). NaNo says I need 2,106 words written each day to make my goal, so that's what I'll try. Who knows, maybe I'll even get 3,000.
I'm a little worried about inspiration/motivation, though. A lot of my inspiration comes from movies. I'm a movie junkie. I've been watching the Pirates of the Caribbean movies so far, and they're fitting in well, but they're getting kind of old. (That reminds me: I have to go buy the most recent POC. Especially because it has mermaids and that's kind of a prime component of Summer Story.) Do you guys have any ocean-y mermaid-y movies to suggest? No Aquamarine or Little Mermaid* please. Is there anything good in the theaters? I've seen MIB 3 (good) and Dark Shadows (not so good) so far. I plan on seeing the Avengers soon, so don't scold me. I wanted to see Snow White and the Huntsman, but I've heard some negative reviews on that, so I don't know if it's worth the money right now. Any suggestions?
OMG (squeal) Rent is on tv. Must go now. Talk to me about writing goals and movies and anything really below. TTFN. 
*I love the Little Mermaid. It's my favorite Disney princess movie, which is a big deal because I'm a huge fan of the Disney princess movies. Actually, I love most of the animated Disney movies besides Toy Story, A Bug's Life, and Cars. I've seen the Little Mermaid, though, and I'm looking for something new.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Don't Try This at Home, Kids

Camp NaNoWriMo, Day 6
Yesterday, obviously, was Day 5
Yesterday I tried to do a 10K day to catch up. I didn't succeed, but I didn't fail miserably. I wrote a little over 7K words. The last and only other  time I tried a 10K day, I wrote about 8K words in a day.
I didn't like that day--when I wrote 8K words in less than 24 hours--and I remembered yesterday just why I didn't enjoy it.
1. It burns you out. The first time I tried it, which was during NaNoWriMo, I got writer's block for five days. I don't have writer's block now, but I'm not on top of things. My brain still feels a little bit like a slushy, so I have to take a break.
2. You write wrong. I know the whole point of NaNo is to get the words down, don't censor yourself, just put the bones down. I think there should be some excitement left, even if you know you're doing it all wrong, but there isn't for me when I try to write that much in one day. I just feel really crappy. I'm overwhelmed by my wrong words because I've written so many of them.
3. You move too fast. For me, a writer who takes three years to write her first novel, moving at such a rapid speed is terrifying. I feel like my pacing is all wrong, like my scenes are too short. Should I really be here already? Am I forgetting something? (Yes, even though I've got it all planned out, I still feel like I'm forgetting something. I probably am, because I didn't pause to contemplate it. I forgot some piece of vital information.) I don't like it.

10K days are obviously not for me. This is probably not the last time that I'll attempt one. I'll forget one day just how terrible they are to me, and try it again. I mean, hey, there are people who can write 20K words in a day. 10K shouldn't be that hard, then.

Someone please smack me if they catch me considering to put myself through this again.

There are a few good things about 10K days. Your word count goes way up. You get to those juicy scenes that you've been just dying to write. You learn discipline. On my first 10K day, I remember relying heavily on Write or Die, and ending up with a bunch of incorrect sentences or fragments full of typos. I don't know how many typos I made yesterday, but I didn't have to open Write or Die, as much of a wonderful program it is, once. That's something.

So today, campers are supposed to be at 10K. That puts 3K on my agenda for tonight. I'm not the best at math, but I think that's significantly less than 7K, so I'll probably be okay. How are you doing with your goals?

Monday, June 4, 2012

I Mean Business

I have the entire beginning of my novel planned and the entire end. There's just a few scenes in the middle that aren't written yet. So I'm thinking that I should just start writing. Sure, I'll be stumped when I get to those scenes, but I'm hoping that what I have before then will provide me with enough words to complete my NaNoWriMo goal. If not, I could skip ahead and write the ending.
-Deep breath.-
Okay. Tonight, I shall force myself into bed at the wee hour of eight o'clock. Tomorrow, I'm going to get up at dawn. I hope this works, because today I slept in for an outrageously long time. I think I dozed for fifteen hours. Crazy, huh? And it was just because I was having an interesting dream.
Back to the point: According to the NaNo progress chart, I should already be at almost 7,000 words. So, I'm going to set my goals high and write until my brain melts. A 10K day sounds plausible, yeah?

The Raven Boys

Maggie Stiefvater's next book will be released soon, as evidence of this new trailer. Watch it. It's pretty, isn't it? And the book looks so unique, unlike anything I've ever read, and very Maggie-esque. I'm pretty excited. The first couple of chapters are up somewhere, too. I haven't read them yet because the anticipation would quite literally kill me, but if you are the patient type (or impatient, either works) you should definitely check it out!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Character Troubles and Abnormal Writing Techniques

So my June word count is still zero, and my novel is still about ten to twenty scenes short. I'm hoping that maybe later tonight or early tomorrow I will finish my plot.
Anyway, I'm going to share with you a part of my process. It's weird, okay? Don't judge. When I'm trying to figure out something, be it a plot twist, a character's life, etc, I like to do it on paper. When I have a question, I don't sit and ponder it. Instead, I write it down on paper and look at it later, and then I'm usually able to have an epiphany and answer it.
My characters for my new novel have been annoying me. They grow silent when I need them the most. So I've taken to yelling at them. Here's what is looks like on paper (literally):
To my first main character, Tara.

And that was me trying to figure out character motivation. And here's me trying to figure out how my other main character, Than, handles life.


Okay, so obviously, Than Owens is much harder for me to pinpoint than Tara O'Sullivan. I did figure some information out from doing this, though: a couple of scenes, some of the character's thoughts, reactions.
This probably doesn't make sense to the world completely outside of my head. I probably seem crazy. I'm not. I'm just a writer who is seriously pressed on time and can't get straight answers from her characters. Yeah, I'm kind of harsh on my MCs. Squeezing lemon juice into their wounds...torture shouldn't always be the answer, unless you're in as much of a pickle that I'm in.
NaNoWriMo has begun. Still no progress.

Friday, June 1, 2012

I, uh, forgot to pack my...

Plot. I forgot to pack my plot.
"Huh?" You ask, scratching the side of your head.
Well, today is June 1st--otherwise known as the beginning of Camp NaNoWriMo. It's like the normal NaNoWriMo, but in the summer and with cabins full of other writers.
The writers in my cabin are probably happily building their word counts and chatting with each other right now. Well, okay, they're probably in their beds, deeply asleep, dreaming about words and stories. It's nearly 3 am as I write this, and since I have an abnormal fear of the hour 3 am, I refuse to go to bed until 4. I'm thinking, though, that I'll just pull an all-nighter. It's summer.
I'm not writing though. I'm hiding out behind the dining hall at camp, biting my nails.
What's my problem?
My cat, Christopher Robin, trying not to laugh at me as he lounges on all there is of my WIP. 

So. I recently finished my first manuscript, and immediately began planning my next novel because Camp was just a couple of days away. It seems it takes me slightly longer than a couple of days to plan a novel. I am definitely NOT a pantser. Not even slightly.
I must have every single scene plotted before I can write the novel, or I get terrible writer's block mixed with the anxiety that this idea might not be novel worthy. This is part of the reason why it took me three years to finish my first manuscript. I had the beginning, the climax, the end, and a bunch of scenes in between that I wanted to get to. I even made lists (especially when I had writer's block) of the sequence of events. I really didn't get very far in my novel until I realized that my problem was I had events, but I didn't have a detailed enough outline. So I wrote a summary of each day that the novel took place over, including all of the scenes.
I'm approaching my SummerStory slightly differently, but it's fundamentally the same. Right now, it's twenty scenes scribbled on twenty note cards, chronologically placed on my floor while I try to fill in the large gaps in between.
It's not quite ready to be written yet. Getting there. Just, not yet.
I never imagined planning a new novel would be so scary. How did I ever do this before?
Okay, I'm going to quite literally crack my knuckles and get back to plotting now. It's raining. Maybe that'll inspire me.

So how about you? How do you plan for a novel? Are you doing Camp NaNoWriMo? (:

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

With Every Ending, there is a New Beginning

Firstly: I hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day.(:

Secondly: from the title of this post, you might assume that I have just finished something very important. Something huge. Something like a manuscript, maybe.
Well, I'm sad to inform you that


On May 27th, 2012, I finished my first draft of a long-worked on novel. And I mean long. The story isn't that big, only slightly more than 78K words, but it took me over three years to complete. I confess that I didn't spend every moment of free time on the novel. There were probably months at a time where I didn't write at all. (This is the only story that I've worked on in the past couple of years, mind you.) However, it's a story that's, in a way, grown up with me and that I've come to love. So I'm both happy and heartbroken to be finished writing it.

I'm happy because, well, I finished a novel!

I'm heartbroken because it's over. Kind of feels like my best friend just died. Well, okay, not died. I still have to revise/rewrite/go crazy in a month or so. So it's more like my best friend has been diagnosed with terminal stomach cancer.

ANYway, good news! I get to start planning my novel for Camp NaNoWriMo!

Unfortunately, with every good news, there is bad news.

Camp starts in, what, two days? All I have so far is an idea, a setting, and my main characters. Oh, and three scenes. Three. What am I going to do with that? Every time I try to ask my characters for help, they grow silent and cross their arms. They have secrets. They're hiding something, and I'm going to find out what it is. I just don't know if I'll figure it out in two days.

So...I'm going to go rent a couple of movies, buy a new book, go to the beach, go on a couple of walks, and maybe coax them into spilling.

I am really excited about this new story, though. It's...refreshing to finally work on something new.

Okay, so I know you don't really care about all I've just said, so I'll get down to the point of this post:

When you finish something, be it writing a novel, graduating from school, running a marathon, or killing your best friend, don't pause and dwell on it. Walk outside, take a breath of sweet, sweet air, and start again. Move on. Life keeps going, so you must keep writing. Or killing. (Serial killers: please don't use me as a reference. I'm not being serious. It's just an over-used metaphor. Please get some help with your blood lust.)

TTFN. (;

Friday, May 25, 2012

Writer's Block, and How I Overcome it

Writer's block.
It sucks. It's common. It's scary.
It shouldn't happen.
But it does.

I'll give you an example.

So last night, I was happily typing away the end of my story, watching my word count grow and trying to keep a somber mood to match the story's current tone. I was very absorbed in my world; I didn't care that my AC was broken, it was 95 degrees, and I was sitting on a leather couch. I had a fan. My mom told me to open a window, and I mumbled, "Why don't you?" Which, of course, made her turn off my fan and leave. Did I jump up and turn it back on? Nope. I just kept typing while I slowly suffocated/dehydrated.
...Until something bad happened. Not in my story, but with my story. I came to the realization that while I had been making my very detailed plot, I had kind of skimmed the ending and didn't take in to account a few very important matters. Which led my characters to neighborhood I didn't know existed and to a building I haven't designed.(I make floor plans for all of my buildings.)
 As soon as they stepped inside the mystery building, my imagination flat-lined. I couldn't figure out how it was supposed to look to be productive in the story. They were supposed to meet a character in there, but I didn't know where she was. I didn't know where anything was. I couldn't even finish a sentence.
So, I calmly stepped away from the story with my hands on my head. No harm, no foul.
I stopped thinking about it, took out a book, and went to bed.

Today, I opened my manuscript up and didn't try to finish that sentence. I didn't even waste a second looking at it. I scrolled back up to where I had been before I'd gotten lost and pulled out my map (AKA plot). I drew a floor plan. I re-read my plot and added the details I'd forgotten and changed the stuff that needed innovation. (Sometimes the problem that has you stuck could be in what you've already done.) Once that was finished, though, I didn't continue writing immediately. I took a walk. I started a new book and payed extra attention to how the author described things. I put in an awesome movie with great dialogue and an epic story. (Pirates of the Caribbean, of course.) I soaked in new wisdom and doodled a bit. I let other people do the thinking for me for a little while.
Then I looked at my story and deleted the evil sentence, ready to finish the scene with a refreshed mind.
Well, okay, then I made a cup of coffee because my eyelids are feeling heavy for some reason and wrote this blog post. (Sorry for any typos--the caffeine hasn't kicked in yet.)
My life motto is stuff happens. I don't dwell on the small things that have no solutions. I don't let myself freak out. Stress makes everything worse. I stay calm, take a break. If I can't think of something at that moment, I shouldn't keep trying think about it. I distract myself with different activity. It always comes to me in due time. The world won't end. Not when I have an unfinished manuscript. The sun will come out tomorrow.

So what about you? How do you deal with writer's block?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Everyday Mysteries

Six score and two years ago, a young boy sat in a sweltering, crowded, and musty classroom, doodling in his grammar book and paying no mind to his struggling teacher. For why should he care about grammar and the rules of English? He had no plans of writing anything other than his name on his future paycheck after he graduated from school--if he graduated from school. The farm was his dream, not the fading words in a book. 
A few weeks ago, a young girl with high dreams of writing something publishable one day was wandering through a dim flea market. As she passed by an overbearing bookcase, she paused, running her fingers over the spines. She wasn't exactly sure why she paused-- she had no interest in these yellowing pieces of nonfiction-- until her fingers stopped on a brown cover. She pulled out the fading tome and flipped through it curiously, stopping on the second page where the copyright information was printed. It read: "Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1869, by WILSON, HINKLE & CO." Suddenly intrigued, the girl payed for her find and took it home. 
That girl was me. 
And this is the book:

It's beautiful, isn't it? Just look at the swirling design, the faded edges, the ancient font. 
That's not why I'm making a post about it, though. I want to share what I found on a page inside the book.

It says: "Don't steal this book for fear of shame, for in this book is the owner's name."
Well, I have no shame. I payed for this book fare and square -- a whole ten dollars. The original asking price was $20, but I convinced the man to give it to me for less. It wasn't difficult. He was slightly wary of me. I can't imagine the impression I gave him, a teenage girl bartering for some old book. 
Anyway, that doesn't mean that someone hasn't stolen this book in the past. Maybe the man I bought it from even stole it. Maybe I'm under a curse at this very moment because I bought stolen property. 
That could explain all of the people dying in strange ways around me. 
Kidding, just kidding. This isn't going to be that kind of blog, remember?

Well, I've searched the entire book a couple times, and I've found no legible name. I did find a couple of pages where the kid filled in every "o" with blue pen (or pencil-- can't tell). Which I find amusing to no end. There's also this page, which is probably my best bet for the name:

There seems to be a name scrawled near the top, along with the poem again. And what looks like the words, "Holmcock Co." Don't Google it. The results weren't pleasing. There's also something that might make it say, "greenfield, I'm of Holmcock Co." I'm afraid I don't understand what that means. This person has very swirly cursive. I have no clue what the first letter in the name is supposed to be. It looks like it could be a backwards J. Or maybe an I? Or a B? I don't know. 
My first guess was Isaiah Griffin, but it's definitely not that. There are two s's and no i's. To me, it looks like Jsso H Joffin. Or whatever that first letter is. Seriously; I'm doubting it's even a real letter. He made it up, just to spite me, a girl 122 years into the future. 
Oh, I forgot to mention the second date, didn't I? This page also says he had it on November 14,1890 (over twenty years after it was published). 

Remarkable how it survived this long. The pages are in relatively good shape and his handwriting is still (mostly) visible. Whoever wrote it is either dead now or immortal. This would make for a lovely novel or short story, huh? I may write something about it one day. Feel free to use it for inspiration if you wish (don't copy my words at the top, please). 

This doesn't have much to do with writing. I just am really interested in it, and thought someone else might be as well. I really want to know what his name is. (Or her? Who knows?)