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“The Price” Set To Release Wed. July 15th!

I am so incredibly excited to announce that The Price will be available on Amazon Kindle this Wednesday, July 15th, for only $.99!

Hagador has made a deadly mistake in the pursuit of knowledge. In a country that has outlawed the study of The Few, an ancient, lost civilization that disappeared 7,000 years ago, there are some still searching for answers and paying heavy prices for them. Now labeled a heretic for his pursuit, Hagador must leave his entire life behind and travel across a country prejudice against him and his kind to a secret safe-haven wedged between what is known and what is forbidden. Ahead of him lies uncertainty. Behind him lies only death.

The Price is the first of three short stories that follow Hagador in The One-Horned Heretic Series. This series will act as an intro to a fantasy/sci-fi world that multiple short stories and future novels will take place in.

I started this series mid-pandemic and it was everything I needed to give me the confidence to continue writing. I am a notorious over-thinker, planner, excuse-maker, and pessimist when it comes to my writing. While writing this story, I realized that I don’t need to meticulously plan every detail. I just started writing and it poured out of me.

Another thing that helped immensely was getting a taste of the editing and rewrite process. My incredible editor and good friend Christie Stratos from Proof Positive Pro made the process so easy and positive (no pun intended). I always dreaded rewriting, with negative thoughts stopping me from even getting started. Now that I made it through, I feel so much better about it!

I am really excited and proud of this piece; I can’t wait to share it with you! Sign up for my newsletter to get notified when it is available. You can also follow me on Instagram where I will be shouting it from the rooftops.

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How I Always Stay “In the Zone” as a Fantasy/Sci-Fi Writer

As a writer, I make my best work when I am absolutely saturated in content. I need to be in a mood, in a feeling, in the right state of mind. If I am consistently in that place, I can always come up with ideas! I am not one of those writers who can sit down for just a few minutes before going out and write a little, by any means. So here are a few things I do that help me stay “in the zone” as a writer!

Create or find a writing playlist.

Nothing puts me in the right mood to write like music does. I have songs for everything I’m writing, down to the character I’m writing about. I listen to them whenever I am writing, outlining, or even brainstorming, and I highly recommend doing the same. You won’t believe where a song can transport you. Here are some examples:

Joe Hisaishi is an absolute wonder. He composed most the majority of Hayao Miyazaki’s movies. They can set moods like nothing else. I love putting the soundtrack to Princess Mononoke on when I write or think about scenes with Hagador or general battle scenes. I also listen to The HU when I write about Hagador and his people, called Ovis, who live in advanced tribes in the very cold northern tundra of Bovidae. They are a Mongolian band who sing using the traditional throat singing technique. Listen to my favorite of theirs Yuve Yuve Yu here.

I have my own writing playlist that I’ve been adding to over the past year. I promise it is not just Ramin Djawadi. There is everything from the Outlander Theme Song to songs from Sea of Thieves, Hans Zimmer, John Williams, Howard Shore, The Witcher Soundtrack, and even Korn! Check it out below:

Go outside and be an observer.

I once read that no one ever wanted to go on walks with J.R.R. Tolkien because he would stop and look at a tree for 20 minutes. Be Tolkien! Go outside and observe how the sun looks different on certain leaves at certain times of the day. How does the air smell in the morning versus at night? Watch people and their mannerisms; are they like your characters? How would you describe them?

If you’re writing a lengthy series and large world like I am and like so many before us (Tolkien, Martin, etc.) you are absolutely going to need different and unique ways to describe every day items and occurrences; the weather, food, common facial expressions, the sound of voices, etc. This will help!

Watch nature and travel shows.

This is the way I see it: we are trying to create worlds that don’t exist with only a world that we barely scratched the surface of as reference. A unique, sometimes alien world with religions, races, traditions, policies, food, culture, and more.

My favorite way to brainstorm culture and world building, basically anything that doesn’t have to do with plot and character development, is to watch Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown, which is finally available in it’s entirety on HBO Max!

This show, if you haven’t seen it, touches on not just what you’d find in a history book or a quick search on the internet. It shows the struggles of war torn nations, the architecture of cities once under British rule, the traditions of tribes who have never been on camera before.

While I watch, I take mental notes (because I’m usually cuddled up in bed and don’t want to take actual notes) about what aspects I liked and ideas I have.

I do these things every day! Sometimes I just leave my writing playlists on in the background through the whole day and find myself drifting off into an inspiration. I obviously also read and play video games every day, but I try not to do those when I am really struggling to figure out my story. I think that I run the risk of inadvertently pulling elements into my own story! So instead, I go outside, listen to music, or watch non-narrative shows for inspiration and stay “in the zone” as a writer!

If you haven’t already, sign up for my newsletter to stay up to date on my blog, my writing, and more content!

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Houses for Fairies

I had never written anything short before so I decided to dive in and do a 500-word contest based on a prompt. I finished it, I was so excited to submit, and then it turns out the contest is only twice a year and they didn’t update the website! So here it is, my first piece of flash fiction, which I also published it on Wattpad if you’d like to comment on it there.

Of the many things Marie’s mother taught her, making houses for fairies was her favorite.

Yes, she knew how to tell how far away thunderstorms were. She knew not to track mud in the house, although she needed reminding sometimes to take her shoes off after playing in the heather field. Marie knew how to tell when horses were mad just be their fuzzy ears. Houses for fairies though; that was special.

“You must use the most beautiful paper because fairies have high standards,” her mother would say, as she laid out sheets of Creamsicle orange, buttercup yellow, and dazzling bright blue. They’d sit in their secret spot, under a giant, old willow tree that fell over between the edge of their property and the wild, dark forest beyond. Ivy spread over the canopy, making little shards of light filter through and dance on their crossed legs as they sat on a soft bed of pine needles and dried leaves.

“You have to think only happy thoughts because your body radiates your mood and they won’t come out if you’re in a bad one,” she said with a smile, poking her nose, making Marie giggle. Her mother’s long, elegant fingers would then begin folding the paper with perfectly crisp edges as Marie watched wide-eyed and eager.

When they were done, it was Marie’s job to place the bright paper houses along the fence and decorate them with little strips of bark, berries, and flowers because according to her mother, fairies won’t move in to unfurnished houses. There they sat, day in and day out. Sometimes the rain would turn them to mush, and they would rebuild, waiting for the day the fairies moved in.

As Marie grew older and her mother grew sicker, their secret spot over grew with ivy. Marie needed be taught other things, like how to cook for herself and get ready for school on her own. On the day that felt like the end, she ran crying through the field of heather to the fallen down tree. Taller now, Marie had to bend down and pull away ivy and branches to reach their secret spot.

Marie tore open the metal lock box stashed there from years ago, revealing two sheets of cherry red paper. She set to work folding and creasing the sheets just like her mother did. Once finished, she gathered some strips of birch bark and buttercups for decoration, placing it all at the edge of the forest. Marie took a deep breath and closed her eyes. She thought about the smell of her mother’s hair, the warmth and firmness of her fingers on Marie’s while she led her up the bus steps, she sweet sound of her laughter, and the tightness and pain left her chest. When she opened her eyes, Marie could just see through the tears blurring her vision, a small set of bright, clear eyes looking at her from around the cherry red fairy house.

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5 Things I Learned Writing a Short Story

I finished the first draft of my short story! I am extremely excited and I am sending it to my dear friend who is a brilliant editor this week. Since it’s done, and I’m taking a breather before I dive back into it, and working on some things like building out my Patreon! Here are some things I learned during this first draft.

Your story develops as you go.

I am a notorious planner. George RR Martin can have his garden and he can do his “pantsing” to his heart’s delight. I, on the other hand, need to know where my story is going while I write it. I have been plotting out my novels but for this story, I went completely by the seat of my pants and it was so freeing!

I knew what I wanted this story to be about from the get go. It’s the origin story of one of my characters in the second book, Hagador. He experienced something extremely traumatic that made him who he was, so I wanted to tell that story. I didn’t know where I wanted to start and finish it though, so I just chose a moment and went from there. It worked out very well and I surprised even myself.

I will continue planning my novels, thank you very much.

It took significantly shorter than I expected…

Honestly, I didn’t expect to have this done till the end of the summer. It came in at 5,771 words and I wrote it over the course of around four days. I shocked even myself! I have two more parts to go over the same length, so we’ll see if I agree with this after those are done.

…but story takes up more words than I expected!

The length it took to tell my story, on the other hand, is much, much longer than I expected. I’m telling a character-driven journey story where Hagador starts in one place, has a perilous journey, and ends at another place where he will stay. I thought I’d be able to tell the beginning, middle, and end of that whole journey in one go. I was mistaken.

I do think it’s better now, considering I want to publish it on Amazon KDP and I know there are many series’ on there. So I am breaking it up into three parts and it will be a short story series!

Middles are brutal.

It is such a trudge. I had to get my character from point A, a very exciting, mysterious, inciting incident, to point B, a tense, fun conversation with a very interesting character. In the middle, he had to sneak and run from point A to point B and it became a balancing act between being too descriptive of his surroundings in order to set the scene, and keeping the tension high and the length short to propel the story and the reader forward.

It was very hard! Harder than I expected.

People need fewer visual descriptions than you would expect.

I tend to over describe elements in my story. I can see them so vividly in my head, I want to make sure that everyone sees the same thing I do. I am slowly starting to learn to say a lot with fewer words, using metaphors and similes, as well as clever descriptions. So instead of listing out all of someone’s features in one go, pepper them through a scene and use actions the help. For example, “sweat dripped down across his wide forehead, mingling in his bushy brow.”

Have you written a short story? Tell me what you learned!

If you want to stay up to date with my short story and when it’s being published, subscribe to my newsletter! Thanks for reading.

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An intro to my books.

So what is this world I’m building?

I love being held in suspense. I love cliffhangers, I love ambiguity, and boy howdy, do I love foreshadowing. It’s why I love still not knowing what goes on in Asshai in A Song of Ice and Fire. It’s why I cried my eyes out (I’m not kidding, I cried excited, elated tears) at John Snow’s parents reveal. The slow burn, long con stories that give you small hints, so small you might miss them, all along the way, are the stories that pull me in and keep me begging for more.

This is the kind of story I’m working on.

Therefore, I can’t give away a lot of the plot or history of my world, which I’m calling tentatively Darkwerks, but I can introduce you to some elements to get you enticed.

Diana, The God Queen

Usually I would introduce the setting first, but my main character has defined the setting because she has never died and she is the only human on the entire planet that has never died. Her name is Diana and because of her immortality, she has been elevated to the role of a permanent Queen and permanent head of the religion. It’s been 7,000 years since she began her rule when the story takes place!

I’m approaching her character not from a “magical” stand point. I really want to dissect what immortality would do to a human. For 7,000 years she has started a family every thousand of those years and she has watched all of them die. She goes to war and can’t be killed. Anyone Diana ever knew is gone and knows that anyone else she meets and grows close to will die. The mental toll has reached a breaking point for her.

I’m also posing the question; how would an immortal female ruler change society? How is the government structured? How are families structured if she has had more than one husband over and over again? Is polygamy legal? Are women heads of household? How has she handled the boredom that comes with doing and seeing everything in the world? I love asking these questions and it makes writing incredibly fun.

The Mountains and Steppe of Dansayu

What I am calling Darkwerks is the realm that Diana rules over. It started as everything, but over the 7,000 years she has ruled, some territories and countries have pulled away from her reign. Some because of religious conflict, some because of war, etc. One country (one of my favorites but don’t tell the others) has stayed loyal for as long as it’s been a country. It’s called Dansayu and it is split into two regions; the mountains and the steppe.

The people of Dansayu as a whole have white hair and pale skin, from the minute they’re born till they die. The capital and all major cities are in the mountain region, so they tend to be more wealthy and high born, whereas the steppe is full of tribes that move with the weather, the seasons, the herds they tend to, etc.

Aesthetically I would say Dansayu is a mix between Japan and Mongolia. The mountain region architecture is elegant and ornate, reds and greens against the snow and stone of the mountains. The steppe is endless rolling hills of mustard colored grass, with low-lying wigwams and thatched-roof huts to protect against the ceaseless wind.

My favorite thing about them is that they have tamed the giant birds of the region. They ride them all over Darkwerks and work as messengers. Think of it like if pigeons and crows as message carriers were replaced by actual people riding birds; you can send a lot more messages and larger packages faster and more reliably! They also ride them into battle and the people of the steppe use the smaller birds of the lower regions as companions and in war.

The Plot

As much as I want to talk for hours about what my story is about, I don’t want to give everything away.

Diana Durovernan has been alive for 7,000 years, and quite frankly she's sick of it.
Kept alive by the Gods who saved her life in a violent and ancient war no one remembers but her, she sits permanently on the Throne of Paran, the Capital of Darkwerks. Beholden to that debt, she returns to the Gods' forbidden valley every 100 years to bring back gifts of knowledge to humanity as well as the irrefutable reminder that her Gods are the reason they are all still alive. For Diana, it is a reminder that her life is not her own, and the loop will never end.
Diana has just returned from her 70th pilgrimage, bringing back news and orders that are so outrageous, she doesn't think she can go through with them; a law that will divide her people, a life that has to end, and a loyal empire she must cut ties with.
Meanwhile, a research team departs on an illegal expedition into the West, to a zone forbidden by law and religion, to learn more about The Few, a mysterious lost civilization that ruled Darkwerks 2,000 years before Diana. Advanced beyond their years, the secrets of their engineering and strange powers were lost to time. Banished by the Gods for the war they raged against humanity that nearly wiped them both out, their cities were ripped from the ground and hurled into the sky, never to set foot on the earth again. Some believe it is just a story told by religious zealots to keep Diana's followers in line, preaching that their return is inevitable. Some say their ruins scattered around Darkwerks are proof that they were real, and proof of their downfall at their own hands.  

This is what I have so far, and the plot and more characters will fill in as I flesh it out more.

Thank you for reading! I hope this has enticed you even a little to stick around and see where my stories go in this world.

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Quarantine, Outlines, Short Stories, Oh My!

Hello!

Quarantine, am I right? It’s a very strange thing. I haven’t left my house for anything other than something absolutely necessary in almost three months. I honestly don’t remember what day it was! I started a new job from home. I haven’t met any of my coworkers in person yet! However, there is a bright side, at least on my end.

I have been making time for learning and practice. I read, write, and play music constantly. They are the only things keeping me sane and preventing me from eating everything in sight and turning into Jabba The Hutt. That being said, I have writing updates!

Another book? ANOTHER BOOK!

Previously I had in mind that I was writing three books in this series and the end of the third would open up a thousand story possibilities afterward. Kind of like the Marvel Universe or the DC Universe. Since November I was working on that first one, mostly outlining (because I am a planner as well as a pantser) and working on character. I had a revelation the other day because the story felt like it wasn’t beginning at the right place. I felt like we were seeing characters already in the middle of their story, or at least my main character. I spent the better part of a Saturday drinking many, many chai’s, and working on a new plan while my cats screamed at me for food; I added a book before the one I was working on which enriches the story of my main character, the 7,000 year old Queen, who’s story felt incredibly flat through Book Two, which was previously Book One.

It was crazy of me to do and I doubted it at first, but the story just poured out of me into a very concise outline, as well as characters. The verdict: I’m excited!

A short story too, are you nuts?

Yes…so…I’m also writing a short story! It is for a very good reason, let me explain.

I work a very demanding job in the music industry, building communities and marketing on social media. I spend all of my professional time building communities for other people and never have time to focus on my own, which I want to do. I really want to build a community surrounding my work so that when I do publish, I already have people excited for my work.

This is why I have this blog and newsletter, but I want to try to do more. I’m going to experiment with publishing a short story that has to do with my world I’m building, publish it on Wattpad and/or Amazon Short Story, and then create a Patreon at the same time.

I’m not forcing the story, though. It is actually the backstory of one of my favorite characters; The One Horned Magi, Hagador! I hope to publish it by the end of the summer. You can follow my Wattpad here and sign up for my newsletter for updates!

Writing Tools Switcharoo

This past year, my laptop broke. Very sad news for a writer. I also have a very small space to write in and am a minimalist so I didn’t want to shove my Mac Pro and a monitor on the edge of my desk/vanity, but I did anyway. I’m actually glad! I have a huge screen again and can sit up properly and not fall asleep with my laptop on my face.

I also got myself a new chair and this amazing Dwight Schrute pillow.

I have other updates about my technique that have evolved over the last few months, but I will save it for next time! I’d love it if you signed up for my newsletter so we can connect. I plan to (from now)(hopefully)(I’ll try my best) post a new blog post every Saturday and send a newsletter every Wednesday. My blog will continue to be updates but more about character, writing techniques, my adventures, and more on the world of my books. My newsletter will link to these posts and give you different updates, like what books and music I’m listening to and what my dopey cats are doing in quarantine. I hope you join me.

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Writing Update: Quarantine, Outlines, Short Stories, Oh My!

Hello!

Quarantine, am I right? It’s a very strange thing. I haven’t left my house for anything other than something absolutely necessary in almost three months. I honestly don’t remember what day it was! I started a new job from home. I haven’t met any of my coworkers in person yet! However, there is a bright side, at least on my end.

I have been making time for learning and practice. I read, write, and play music constantly. They are the only things keeping me sane and preventing me from eating everything in sight and turning into Jabba The Hutt. That being said, I have writing updates!

Another book? ANOTHER BOOK!

Previously I had in mind that I was writing three books in this series and the end of the third would open up a thousand story possibilities afterward. Kind of like the Marvel Universe or the DC Universe. Since November I was working on that first one, mostly outlining (because I am a planner as well as a pantser) and working on character. I had a revelation the other day because the story felt like it wasn’t beginning at the right place. I felt like we were seeing characters already in the middle of their story, or at least my main character. I spent the better part of a Saturday drinking many, many chai’s, and working on a new plan while my cats screamed at me for food; I added a book before the one I was working on which enriches the story of my main character, the 7,000 year old Queen, who’s story felt incredibly flat through Book Two, which was previously Book One.

It was crazy of me to do and I doubted it at first, but the story just poured out of me into a very concise outline, as well as characters. The verdict: I’m excited!

A short story too, are you nuts?

Yes…so…I’m also writing a short story! It is for a very good reason, let me explain.

I work a very demanding job in the music industry, building communities and marketing on social media. I spend all of my professional time building communities for other people and never have time to focus on my own, which I want to do. I really want to build a community surrounding my work so that when I do publish, I already have people excited for my work.

This is why I have this blog and newsletter, but I want to try to do more. I’m going to experiment with publishing a short story that has to do with my world I’m building, publish it on Wattpad and/or Amazon Short Story, and then create a Patreon at the same time.

I’m not forcing the story, though. It is actually the backstory of one of my favorite characters; The One Horned Magi, Hagador! I hope to publish it by the end of the summer. You can follow my Wattpad here and sign up for my newsletter for updates!

Writing Tools Switcharoo

This past year, my laptop broke. Very sad news for a writer. I also have a very small space to write in and am a minimalist so I didn’t want to shove my Mac Pro and a monitor on the edge of my desk/vanity, but I did anyway. I’m actually glad! I have a huge screen again and can sit up properly and not fall asleep with my laptop on my face.

I also got myself a new chair and this amazing Dwight Schrute pillow.

I have other updates about my technique that have evolved over the last few months, but I will save it for next time! I’d love it if you signed up for my newsletter so we can connect. I plan to (from now)(hopefully)(I’ll try my best) post a new blog post every Saturday and send a newsletter every Wednesday. My blog will continue to be updates but more about character, writing techniques, my adventures, and more on the world of my books. My newsletter will link to these posts and give you different updates, like what books and music I’m listening to and what my dopey cats are doing in quarantine. I hope you join me.

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My Personal Character Development Process

I have done most of the things in my life because of stories. I went to film school to tell stories, I take photos and write to tell stories. I also read, watch movies, and play video games to enjoy stories told in different mediums! So when I set out to write my novels, I of course wanted to tell a complete story, but what are stories without extraordinary characters?

All writers have different approaches to writing. There are “seat of your pants”, “architects”, “gardeners”, “plotters”. For me personally, I would like to think I’m more of a gardener where I tend to my story daily and watch it grow naturally instead of forcing it or smothering it. I don’t plot out my entire story start to finish, but what I do outline meticulously are my characters. Here is my process pre-long form writing, however it certainly continues well after I’ve started:

Step One: Characteristics and Backstory

Before I do anything, I write out every single detail about my character. I use 32 points which include the basics like name, age, height, hair color, etc. but also deeper aspects like speaking style, fondest memory, phobias, favorite clothing, etc. It may not seem it at first but they are super important and they all contribute to what makes a person, any person, unique and it will make your characters believable, relatable, and extraordinary.

These are also indirect ways of developing backstory. Instead of just having a section labeled “Backstory”, you can answer questions such as “What is their fondest childhood memory?”, “What is the worst thing that ever happened to this character?”, and “Have they ever been in love?”.

Step Two: The Big Three

I don’t remember where I heard it called “The Big Three”, but this is what I have always called it! These are some of the most important pieces of info for your character:

  1. What does your character want more than anything?
  2. What do they need to grow?
  3. What internal problems (flaws) and external problems (obstacles)?

I won’t go into it, but it is also important to distinguish your characters WANT and NEED, because what your characters needs to grow may not always be what they want! Here is a resource for that.

In truth it’s these factors that drive and define your character above all else and helps them move through the story and CHANGE, which brings me to Step 3!

Side note; The Hound’s story arc is my favorite character transformation in all of Game of Thrones, maybe in all of fantasy fiction I’ve read.

Step Three: Their Journey(s)

Joseph Campbell’s Hero Journey is something I have studied for a long time, reading example after example from popular movies; Frodo in Lord of the Rings, Neo in The Matrix, Luke Skywalker in Star Wars. Characters that go from the Known World into the Unknown, and tested and changed, and go full circle having found maybe not what they want but what they need, are the ones we remember and love.

Here is a link to a great explanation of The Hero’s Journey, I won’t start explaining it as it can get complicated…the good kind! However, I recently discovered a simplified, somewhat updated version that Dan Harmon, the writer and creator of Rick & Morty, uses and I love it so much more!

He calls it the Story Circle and even though it is the same journey of a hero, it’s worded differently and for whatever reason it just clicked better in my brain and I was able to finalize all of my characters steps. For example, he explains “NEED” as “something isn’t quite right”, and I loved that because it really made me think about how I could disrupt my characters in the “Known World” so much that it would make them leave into the “Unknown World” to search for what they want and discover what they need.

At the bottom of this page that explains The Story Circle, there is a way to download a blank worksheet with black story circles. I printed out one for each character and I completed each of their Story Circles. I can’t begin to explain how much it helped me. Not to mention, it’s actually really fun to outline in a simple, concise way the story of each character start to finish.

Step Four: Vision boarding (a.k.a pinning on Pinterest)

I greatly enjoy doing this because it helps me visualize the smallest of details that you wouldn’t think are necessary but are highly welcome in stories. I love reading description of people or places and the author is able to describe the texture of their hair or the shape of their face and I can picture them perfectly in my head. I struggle with describing defining features of characters that I have a solid picture of in my head sometimes and doing it accurately so that 1. readers see the same character that I am seeing and 2. every character is unique, different and not necessarily “ideal”…I admit, I have a tendency to make all of my characters very attractive right off the bat! Maybe that’s okay, but it’s something that I am trying to avoid.

The above board I did for a character named Nuriel and yes, she obviously has red hair, but I also add pictures that have a certain presence or feeling, or maybe a picture that has the lips I want Nuriel to have and another with the nose I see her having. It helps me paint a super clear image in my head of what she looks like!

Step Five: WRITE!

These aren’t definitive steps, and they certainly don’t each need to be completed fully before diving into writing. I still add to my Pinterest Board while I’m writing, and I love to keep it open when I’m writing about a certain character or place. I also still go back to my character description and Story Circle Outlines months later and add or change things that may have developed while I was writing. I will say that I find writing so much easier and more enjoying when I have these reference points laid out for myself!


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NaNoWriMo is over! What now?

NaNoWriMo has officially ended and now I have to answer the question; did I “finish” National Novel Writing Month?

If you aren’t competing and are just following the guidelines to work on your own material, then the goal of NaNoWriMo is to come out of it with a 50,000 word manuscript. That means you have to hit at least 1670 words a day if you break it down to a word goal per day, which is more manageable.

I did not hit 50,000, in fact I didn’t come close. I clocked in at 17,816 words. HOWEVER. I consider my Novel Writing Month a great success, and here is why:

  • I have a full time job AND a freelance job and spend 60-90 minutes commuting each way, so about 11 of my daily hours are spent on work.
  • After work every day of the week I do extra-curricular stuff; I practice Krav Maga and I take dance and drum lessons.
  • For the majority of the month of November, I worked on one of my two days off each week.
  • My laptop broke!

Given all of that, I have 17,816 of a novel I have been trying to get onto paper for about 10 years. I am very happy with this, and my story has changed for the better in the last couple of months than it has in the last decade.

Now that it’s over, I plan to continue with the same principle of writing every day and always keeping my story on my mind. I find that if I have a day where I am incredibly busy and can’t even think about my story, it starts to get hazy and I lose track of where I was heading. Because of this I’ve made it a habit of carrying my notebook around everywhere I go. You never know when inspiration will strike!

Speaking of inspiration, I am also going to be doing things that will peak my inspiration. The other day I went to The Metropolitan Museum of Art which I have always adored, and wandered around the exhibits about the Bronze Age, Byzantium, anything that had to do with Jesus Christ and religious art, and I spent a good long time in the rifle exhibit.

I love doing this because it inspires me to come up with the tiniest of details for buildings, items, jewelry, clothing, etc that help the story and characters come more alive! For instance, I saw this Architectural Model of King Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. I had been struggling to accurately describe the sheer scale and detail of a temple in my story dedicated to one of the main characters. Seeing this, the dome, how high the entry way is, how many steps the pyre in the middle had, how large the grounds were, it was just what I needed to see.

What do you do for inspiration? I’d love to know!


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NaNoWriMo Check-In!

It’s a little over halfway through November and on top of it being NaNoWriMo, my job kicked it into high gear with the announcement of an expansion, I practice Krav Maga three times a week, take dance lessons, and drum lessons! Needless to say, NaNoWriMo has been a hard but incredibly enjoyable task.

Twenty-two days in I’ve written 14,000 words. Ideally I would have been at 22,000, but seeing as I’ve got so much else going on, and I haven’t written each day but still met that count, I’d say I’m proud of that number and could easily catch up. For me though, I’m not trying to aim for a specific number, but for consistency. I wanted to write each day and if I couldn’t write long form, at list work on notes, sketches, or my mood board each day. In that case, my goal is on track!

Things I have realized:

One turn of events that shocked and appalled me was that after changing my font to the dreaded Comic Sans, the words started flying out of my brain onto paper. I had read that improved speed and creativity greatly and, indeed it has. I take back my almost twenty years of ripping on that font. If you want to read a hilarious monologue written from the perspective of the most hated font, you should read this! Bonus: it’s written in Comic Sans too.

Another thing I’ve learned is that no matter how much outlining you do, and how much you think you know your character, once you start writing the story can take on a mind of its own and sometimes your character morphs into someone you didn’t expect. For example, I had a character who was sworn to my Queen who in my mind was incredibly noble and duty bound, someone like Aragorn. However as I wrote the story, wrote more of the political climate, and learned more about the Queen he’d be protecting, he turned out to be a mischievous former criminal, someone whom she would have to grow to respect and trust. It wouldn’t be automatic. I went back to the outline I made of him months prior and it was so different from what he changed into it was almost like they were separate characters.

Inspiration in unlikely places

It’s funny how when you sit down to write and think to yourself, “Okay, creativity, let’s go!” your creativity doesn’t, in fact, go. It’s when you least expect it that creativity and inspiration strike. I have no idea how but listening to Kashmir by Led Zeppelin the other day led me to change a part of the ending of my story which I am no where even close to getting to. I have been listening to audio books while I drive to work and sometimes the author will use a word I don’t normally use, or a turn of phrase that I really like, and while I’m mulling that over in my head on the drive something will change for me in a story or character.

I’m also constantly thinking in terms of my story, so when I watch TV (I am right now obsessed with The Mandalorian, Watchmen, and The Crown Season 3!) I will be constantly keeping my story and characters in the back of my head and little tid-bits from these shows would inspire me. For example, royal etiquette on The Crown gave me inspiration for how the Queen in my story should act. The mystery surrounded The Mandalorian made me think of other ways to pace out reveals about my own characters.

I wanted to do more of these updates, but writing a novel is enough work let alone writing a blog post about writing a novel on top of it. I will write another update at the end of NaNoWriMo and maybe some character intros in between!

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Introducing myself, my book, and my world!

I’m kind of a nerd.

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

— J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring.

I grew up reading the greats. I can still remember the smell of the original version of The Hobbit that my mom gave to me, it’s pages yellowed, it’s classic 70’s style black framed cover (because that’s when my mom first bought it) starting to crack away to white. The Lord of the Rings I read when I was ten, all three books combined into one large tome that made my hands ache when I read it laying on my back, trying hard to balance it’s weight on my chest. I made it all the way through (even the Entmoot!) at the age of ten. I then discovered Terry Brooks and his epic Shannara series, opening my mind to the possibility of endless stories told within a fantasy world. Harry Potter, Eragon, Dragon Riders of Pern soon after. The list goes on.

By the time I was in High School, during a time where creativity is usually shoved aside for algebra and history, I was already fully entrenched in the science fiction and fantasy culture, having also been brought up on Star Wars, Star Trek, The Dark Crystal, C.S. Lewis, Steven King, and more. So while I sat through US History 1, I would stare out the window into the woods across the street and imagine what world awaited me on the other side.

It was right there in that classroom that I decided to write a book with my own world, my own characters, and my own stories. That was in 2004. It is now 2019 and Darkwerks, which was my original title/place holder until another title reveals itself, has grown, and grown, and grown. However, it has grown solely inside my head and I couldn’t contain it in my head. I need to get it out on paper.

I have tried over the years to in different ways. I never landed on a format that really worked for me until finally, this year, I must have cracked the code. I’ve been outlining and writing with wild abandon and I feel I am heading in a great direction.

Professionally, I am a Community Manager (among many other things!) and I’ve been doing this for 5 years. I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but *toot toot* I’m pretty good at it. I figured now is the time to build up a community around my writing so when I do eventually release it, I won’t be releasing it to zero people. This may work, this may not! It’s worth a shot.

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So what is Darkwerks?

Right now that is just the working title but Darkwerks itself is the world where my story takes place. The people of Darkwerks are of a few different races, some you may be familiar with, some not. For example elves exist but are not the magical Tolkien creatures you might associate Elves with. They are in fact very selfish and reclusive. The humans have expanded through most of the planet with the gentle Ovis, a human-like race with horns, staying in the North.

The main story follows a few characters, a rich 7,000 year history of warring nations, a threat shrouded in legend that many disbelieve, and in the end a reveal that rocks everyone’s world, no matter who you are in Darkwerks. Religion, war, and self identity are important themes in this series, including a Queen who has lived for 7,000 years, the only human to ever live that long. As Queen of Greater Darkwerks she must grapple with ruling, being the prophet of their main religion and mouth piece of “The Gods” who granted her this immortality, as well as her own fatigue of living for so long. Wouldn’t you be tired of seeing everyone around you die for 1,000s of years while you live on? Would you find a way to die, or keep on keepin’ on?

There is so much more to this world and story and I will absolutely share more as this blog evolves! I can say though that my goal is to create another “universe” i.e. the Marvel Universe, the Star Wars Universe, the DCEU, etc. I want to create a connected universe where endless stories can be told.

What will I be on this site, exactly?

A few things, a plethora, a platter of things, if you will:

  • Blog posts about my progress which will include NaNoWriMo, write-ins, roadblocks and how I got through them, tips that I have found really helped me, etc.
  • Excerpts and peeks at the world. I do a lot of side-writing to help build my world and I will probably be posting a lot of that here. It won’t give away any plot or secrets, but it will help you understand the world and it’s characters!
  • Practice writing. I love to talk about movies, books, and TV shows, and I love to review them. I will probably be posting a lot of that which will include story and character analyses. Plus any little things I write in between!
  • Cats. I have two tabby cats who are brothers, Shea and Grandy. They keep me sane and cuddle with me while I write in bed so they will undoubtedly make an appearance. Plus they are the most adorable so there is no reason they wouldn’t make frequent appearances here!

Who will like this world and story?

  • Fans of science-fiction and fantasy.
  • Fans of “magic at a cost”, meaning magical elements that aren’t rampant, common, or easy to use.
  • Readers who enjoy dark elements and “no one is safe” writing.
  • Map fanatics! Darkwerks map coming soon.
  • People who think that people aren’t just “good or evil”, that characters can change, be fluid, and sometimes be both.

How often will you post?

As of right now I am planning to post once a week, but I want to make my writing and my writing progress more present on my social media, which I update daily. You can follow me there below!

I’m very excited for this venture! I hope you will join me on it.

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