2020 is life on hard mode

photo credit Jay Wennington on unsplash

On what should have been my second day of work, I woke up with a slight fever. Now, I was pretty sure it was nothing serious, but I didn’t want to lie to my manager so I told her when I got in. I ended up going home and scheduling a COVID-19 test for later in the day, and yesterday afternoon it came back negative, so I finally had my second day of work today.

Despite having two days off, I didn’t get ahead of my NaNoWriMo goals because I was still not feeling great. Still, I’m not super behind so I’d say I’m still doing okay.

Things are getting weird. I started writing from the middle of the story instead of the end. Each section/chapter has time stamps so I’m considering not going in order at all and just sorting them in editing. But we’ll see.

November 3rd word count: 3835
November 4th word count: 6426
November 5th word count: 8381

I haven’t done NaNoWriMo since college, I don’t think. And it was high school when I last finished and edited a NaNoWriMo novel. I forgot how much work this is. I was like “yeah, I did this before, no problem.” No, there is a problem. This is a lot to write. And I don’t really have a plan, other than send a bunch of people to hell. YOLO.

If you’re doing NaNoWriMo, are you on target or will you need this weekend to catch up?

Nanowrimo Day 1 and 2

If you don’t know, National Novel Writing Month kicked off today, starting the 30 day stretch to hit 50,000 words for a novel. The days are broken into smaller goals of 1,667 words.

I want to get back to writing. I want to get my projects finished. Even if they’re not perfect, I want to be proud of what I did. So I’m participating in NaNoWriMo with the hopes that focusing away from the projects I’ve been stuck on forever and getting used to writing on a schedule will help me move past this rut I’m in.

So my novel for this month is called House Party, Descensio. It’s a suspense/fantasy/comedy. Or so I’m planning. But as it’s for fun, I can do whatever I want.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is hpd.png

So I’ve spent about the same amount of time making the ridiculous cover as I did writing today, but hey, any progress is progress.

I also started a new job today. And the election is tomorrow, for us Americans. I must say, I CANNOT wait until this election is over and done with so I can stop seeing so many political ads. The worst is when I’m running at the gym and each TV has a different political attack ad on. Like, can someone who knows about the history of politics tell me if there was ever a time when presidents used their own merits as campaign points, not just the shortcomings of the opponents?

But I digress. Writing is going okay, but it’s only day two. Hopefully I can keep a steady habit for the next 28!

November 1st word count: 1694
November 2nd word count: 2993

Let me know in the comments if you’re also doing NaNoWriMo this month! What’s your motivation, and have you participated before?

Random Writing Prompts

Anyone out of ideas for a story? Anyone tired of their current project and want to get sidetracked for a few hundred words? Well I’ve got some writing prompts for y’all. (I’m trying out this whole y’all thing. I’m not from the south but it’s such an efficient way of saying “you guys.”)

  • Write a story in the POV of an inanimate object. (Alright so this is just because I wrote a story in the POV of a banana but whatever.)
  • Write a story with only dialogue.
  • Write about something that happens in the great outdoors.
  • Write about something that happens in a fast food restaurant.
  • Write about someone being in incredible pain. (Emotional or physical, whichever.)
  • Write a character who swears every time they talk. (This may be me. The other night at work I called a chicken sandwich a “son of a whore.” Don’t be afraid to get creative.)
  • Write a story that starts off angry and ends up happy.
  • Write a story featuring two people with sexual or gender orientations you’ve never written about before.
  • Write about an argument such as dogs vs. cats or Pepsi vs. Coke. Kill off the loser.
  • Write about a serial killer doing the things in his mundane life.

Go crazy, guys. Make sure you post to your story below if you end up writing one.

The Peelers

I was born for one purpose. My duty in life is to provide nourishment to the Peelers, to help fuel their lives by giving my own. My life was dark for some time, a flash of brightness before I and my brothers were taken away from our home. I don’t know how much time passed between then and now, but here I sit surrounded by my brothers waiting to be chosen, to be given my chance to live.

I am still a young creature, firm and green like my brothers. I know that now, in the Choosing Place, is a critical time for us. If we are allowed to age on these shelves, we will die uneaten. Our coats will rot and we will turn to slime and there will be only regret and despair until there is nothing more. Our lives will be a waste.

We are thrown carelessly into a basket by a Peeler, all of my brothers and I. I am filled with joy to know that we have passed this critical test. We circle the Choosing Place as distant cousins and foreign things are thrown into the basket next to us. We come to the Gates of Freedom in the Choosing Place and the Handler puts us in bags for the Peeler.

Continue reading

The Importance of Plot Bunnies

For those of you who don’t know what plot bunnies are, here is the official urban dictionary definition (can’t get more official than that).

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Alright, so ignore the fanfic thing. It can happen for any kind of story. Basically, you think of something or see something that is so inspirational you’re like OH MY GOD I HAVE TO WRITE THIS. I don’t know why it’s called a plot bunny. I was nine years old in 2003, so this has been around for a while.

Recently, I was attacked by plot bunnies. Or plot wolves, if you will. I had a super realistic dream (I don’t know if this is a thing all writers experience, because whenever I tell people about them they’re like “wtf”) about this land cursed by wolves. I woke up and I KNEW I had to write it. I started it right away and I’m at 12,000 words right now.

The strangest thing is that the story is coming together really well so far even though I’m pantsing (i.e., winging) it, though usually I plan a lot more. I’ve put aside the other project I wanted to work on this summer because the idea for this just completely consumes me.

BABY BUNNIES, BROWN, WHITE, GRAY

rawr

A lot of people will say to ignore your plot bunnies, to put them in a box and only take them out when you need them. However, in real life putting bunnies in a box without attending to them will kill them all. Ideas are a bit like that. Even if something is a good idea, the more you put it off and think about it without acting the duller it can become. If you have some kind of breathtakingly amazing idea you can’t get our of your head, act on it.

Just… don’t make that a pattern. If you keep abandoning your stories at 20,000 words because something new distracts you you’ll never get anything done.

Wildflower Crown too was started with a plot bunny. Though I’ve changed that bunny so much it probably looks more like a bird now, it’s still the same basic idea I started with. I’m excited that I’ll be sharing the story with you guys soon!

Crafting the Perfect Kiss

Pucker up!

Pucker up!

I write romance. I read romance. I watch romance. I live romance. One of the biggest deals in romance is the first kiss, yet for the life of me I am not satisfied with the quality of the kissing scene in Wildflower Crown. I want them to be better than my previous novel, to set the stage for the rest of my books. I want to make women swoon! And men too, I guess, but I’m pretty sure they don’t swoon all that often.

Bro, stop breaking the forth wall as she cleans your teeth.

Oh yeah baby clean those teeth.

My problem is that my scenes appear too mechanical. I struggle with balancing describing what is actually happening and not having it read as “insert Tab A into slot B.” Maybe I’m the only one who will notice it, in the end, but if I get it smooth enough that when the person who crafted (which would be me) it is absorbed into the scene then I know I will have done a good job.

"I'm so wet right now." "So am I."

“I’m so wet right now.” “So am I.”

However, when I try to veer away from the mechanical and go towards the metaphorical, I end up making it sound ridiculous. Maybe this would be a little more forgivable in modern romance, where at least you can say “Electricity shot through her,” but I find myself stuck on this one scene thinking, “What the hell do I write now?”

“He leaned in and kissed her. Their lips came together gently, like two pillows smashing together. Her lips were soft as if he was rubbing his face against one of the aforementioned pillows. Heat spread through him like someone had dropped boiling fondue on his chest then washed it off with very warm water.”

Om nom nom give me that wittle tongue.

Om nom nom give me that wittle tongue.

Needless to say, the scene above will not be in the final draft, but I’ll be damned if you don’t read Wildflower Crown and think, “Oh well that was a nice kiss.” I’ve decided that to accomplish this, I won’t actually use the word “kiss” during the action. It was one of the many tips I found while Googling about, the best of which can be found here.

How To Be Sarcastic

Those who care about the feelings of others need not apply.

Step One:

Start by adding comments like “Oh, really?” or “I never would have guessed!” after someone says something incredibly obvious. If the person does not realize that you are being sarcastic, continue making them explain whatever they have just told you while you listen with rapt attention.

Step Two:

Never give people a straight answer. If someone asks you how you feel after you broke your leg, for example, say something along the lines of “I feel spiffing! The doctors think that by next week I’ll be back on my feet and taming lions in no time!” The use of outdated language and over-the-top enthusiasm will ensure people that you are being completely sincere and are not at all insulting them.

Step Three:

Talk in a dead tone of voice. Never put any emphasis on a word unless issuing a direct insult. For example, “You wouldn’t believe how excited I am!” should be said in a flat voice, while “I can’t believe how interesting you are!” should have emphasis, so that even those with the thickest of skulls will realize that you are mocking them.

Step Four:

In the event of someone telling you that sarcasm is the lowest form of wit, tell them that stupidity is the highest form of entertainment.

Step Five:

Tell people absolutely random shit. End the sentence with, “What do you think?” For example, if someone asks about the weather, reply with something along the lines of “It may be cloudy now, but I sense that a giant tornado will come and carry us to Oz where we may frolic in the sun with members of the lollipop guild. It’s going to rain, what do you think?”

Step Six:

Always use sarcasm in the presence of authority figures. This includes teachers, parents, bosses, and the police. For example, when asked if you were the one involved in hit and run case, reply with “No, of course it wasn’t me! His brains were all over my car, there was a positive ID on my license plate, and four witnesses saw me drive away, but it couldn’t have been me! I’m sure it was just someone who I happened to have all the above things in common with.”

Step Seven:

Once you have mastered the art of sarcasm, use it on a daily basis. Eventually, you will become so good at it that no one will ever be able to tell whether or not you’re being serious. For example, when your friend asks you about the game last night, and you reply that it was very exciting, your friend will roll your eyes and tell you not to be so goddamn sarcastic. What they won’t know is that you actually were excited about the game, and that you are just such a master that they’ll never know what you’re truly thinking.

Olé.

Are you writing the right story?

Being part of a writing community is fantastic. Whether it be a writers’ group on Facebook (like I’m in) or a close group of friends, it’s nice to know that you can share your passion with someone who understands and get feedback on your work.

Lately, I’ve found myself asking a lot of questions.

“Would you hate this character if he did X?”

“Does this scene come off too creepy?”

“Is this typical for erotica, or should I take it out because it’s not really that sexy?”

While it’s great to have feedback, I realized that I was asking too much. If I asked a question every time I had a doubt about something in my novel, it’d be a list of questions as long as the novel itself. It’s nice to hear that yes, your character Bob does come off as being sensitive and edgy, as you wanted, but if you rely too much on what others say, you’re going to lose your writing voice.

On the same group I started asking too many question to, I see a girl who posts something almost every single day.

“Will this sell even though my character is a strong female who talks back?”

“Will people still buy this even though the romance happened a little too fast?”

“Would you buy a story about a prince and princess if the princess is really smart?”

Basically, this woman is obsessed with what will make her book marketable and what other people want her to write. You should write for your fans, yes, but you HAVE to write for yourself. If you’re not, then you’re going to be miserable.

When you ask yourself whether something is working out or not, you don’t need to ask someone else’s opinion. Analyze the scene in relation to the story at large. Go with your first instinct when writing it all in the first draft, then agonize over those little details in the second or third. The time for getting opinions is during editing, when you have an editor or beta readers looking over your work.

Sometimes you may ask yourself “Am I writing the right story?” If it’s a story you feel needs to be told about characters with strong voices that you’re proud of, then the answer is yes, and you don’t need anyone else’s confirmation to tell you that.

What have you written that you’re most proud of?

Grammar Tips for Editing

Now, I am not an English major. I’ve never really paid attention in English class. I have no formal editing training (or writing training, for that matter) but I consider myself a pretty good editor. (Better when editing something I haven’t written, but I believe that’s true for us all).

How did I get good? Practice, the same as anything else. Google is one of my best friends while editing, not only for fact-checking, but for grammar-checking. Here are some of the most common mistakes I make, listed in no particular order.

Farther verses Further

Farther refers to physical distance, like the car was farther away, while further refers to a more abstract concept, like her orgasm can’t be much further.

Lie verses Lay

You lie down next to your lover. You lay down a blanket first (if you wanna get laid). (More here, because I still mess this up.)

Faze verses Phase

Your two-year-old is going through a phase, but the phases of the moon do not faze him because he is not a werewolf. Phase is like a transition, faze means to be affected by something.

Effect verses Affect

The computer was affected by the lightening, though that had no effect on the student’s final essay because he was a fucking hipster who wrote it all out by candle-light. Affect is a verb and effect is a noun. Affect can be a noun, but very rarely, and I’ve only seen it used like that in a psychology journal, so typically you can ignore that exception.

Assent verses Ascent

The mother signed the permission slip as assent for her son’s ascent of Mount Everest. I think this is a mistake people make not realizing that it’s a mistake they could make. If that makes sense.

Wary verses Weary

The owner was weary of how wary the dog was of everyone. Weary is tired and wary is cautious. Again, I think this follows under the same category as the pairing above.

Rein verses Reign

The peasant pulled on the reins in the rain during the reign of King Charles the Butt. If you mess this up in a fantasy novel, your readers will notice. Probably. (A historical novel, too.)

Again, these are either mistakes I make or mistakes I am paranoid about and Google each time I use them. (I’m looking at you, lie verses lay.)

What mistakes do you most commonly make?

 

Love is Obsession?

I admit that at 20 years of age I am not worldly or experienced, nor have I read all the world of literature has to offer. However, it seems like recently, there is a new trend.

Obsession.

Now, obsession isn’t new. It’s been used before and I’ve read it portrayed accurately: as a character flaw.

I love my boyfriend. I am not obsessed with him. I don’t follow him around, go through his phone, or read through his emails. I don’t demand to be with him any second of the day or threaten bodily harm to anyone who touches him. That would not be sexy. That would be creepy.

Only… is it creepy? 50 Shades of Grey, Twilight, Apolonia, and Viper Game. These are all fairly new books that have not love, not romance, but obsession.

Christian Gray stalks Ana, buys her a new car without her permission, and doesn’t allow her to see her male friends.

Edward watches Bella while she sleeps in addition to all the creepy stuff E. L. James stole for 50 Shades.

In Apolonia, the main character is the interest of two boys, both of whom want to follow her around at all times.

Viper Games, a book I’m reading right now, has a main character who is genetically enhanced to be pretty and sexy, and the male lead threatens to kill his own best friends if they dare touch her. Literally, touch. As in, handshake. He tells her not to seduce another man or else she’ll be responsible for their deaths and he doesn’t want that.

*Sigh* Soooo romantic.

Do women want this? To be obsessed over? Is love no longer enough?

Obsession: an idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person’s mind

When a man obsessive over you, you are literally all he thinks about. There is no time for fun or games or work or personality, only you. That’s what the characters in these books are like and these books are flying off the shelves. What’s wrong with the market that this is what is selling? Is it something wrong with women? Have we been duped into believing that love isn’t enough, that we need fanatical devotion and obsession?

What are your thoughts on this? Is this a new trend, or just something I’m now picking up on?