Summer Reading :)

Hey y’all!

So I know I’m supposed to be editing away Bombshell right now, but I made a decision today that I’m too excited not to share.

Every summer (June 1-August 31), I have a theme for my reading list, and while sometimes other random books get thrown in, I try to stick to that theme as much as possible.  Some past themes have been:

  • Star Trek books
  • Hugo Award winners
  • Fantasy books

There have been a couple more, too, but those have been some of the most memorable ones.

Well, I’m pleased to announce that I’ve (tentatively) decided that the summer of 2016 will be “Books I Own but Have Never Read” Summer!  This theme is unlike the others in that I’ll be reading from all genres.  I’m currently looking at a shelf in my living room, and here are a few that I can see that fit this category:

  • Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
  • The Double Helix series (Star Trek)
  • The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett

There are many more.  And it’s going to be even more fun now the books that my husband owns can be added to the list!

Anyway, I just wanted to give you a heads up about what reviews to be expecting this summer.  Now back to writing!

 

 

 

Short Story: The Shoes

This story was my entry in the Your Story 68 Competition on writersdigest.com.  We were given the following picture and asked to write a 750-word story.

Beach swim shoes drying on wood fence on Florida Beach

“The Shoes”

Enna raced along the concrete path as quickly as her new shoes would take her.  They were slightly too big; the merchant hadn’t had her size.  Even if they had, she didn’t know what her size would’ve been.  All she knew was that she’d never seen shoes that color.  

What would you call a color like that?  Brell?  Clariss?  Pellum?  Something that sounded bright and vibrant and happy.  She’d grabbed the ones that looked to be the right length and width, jammed them on her grimy feet, and quickly walked away.  She’d started running when she heard the shop owner shout after her.

Winding her way through the streets, Enna could hear the officials shouting behind her.  She knew they were running faster than she was; she knew they were gaining on her.  If she could just reach the fence, she might be able to get away.   The shoes weren’t worth enough for them to follow her to into Mitra.

She dipped and dodged through the crowd, ribbons anchored to the corner of tents dancing around her in the breeze.  Strings of beads of every color blurred in her vision as they hung from doorways.  Flowers spilled from pots along the street.

Suddenly, Enna nearly crashed into a woman as she rounded a corner, having hoped to lose the officials that were chasing her.  She swerved at the last moment, just grazing the woman’s red dress – the color of blood.  The fabric was softer than anything Enna had ever felt.  It she hadn’t been running for her safety, if she hadn’t been on the wrong side of the fence, she would have wanted to run her hands along the dress, to feel the smoothness of the fabric, to listen to it rustle.  If possible, she would have waited until after it rained so that she could wash the grime off her hands before handling it.  You didn’t want to soil fabric that beautiful.

“What in Kalat’s name??” the woman in the red dress exclaimed in a shrill voice.  She stumbled sidewides, more from being startled than from the actual force of the collision.  Enna stuttered-stepped but then continued on her way, determined to reach the fence with her new shoes.

Her momentum having slowed, she thought about taking them off and carrying them.  She hadn’t worn shoes since she was six years old.  The five pairs of shoes that her family of eight owned were either too small for her, or she was too small for them.  Some day, though.  She secretly hoped that her sister’s feet kept growing so that she could have hers once she was older.  She secretly felt guilty about that.

Enna reached the end of the concrete path; she was almost there!  It was just sand and grass between where she stood and the fence that separated Mitra and Tajil.  She ventured a peek behind her, seeing the brown hats of the officials bobbing through the crowd; they were about to reach the sand as well.

Having turned to look at her pursuers, she didn’t see the clump of grass in front of her.  One moment, she was flying in her new shoes, nearly to freedom.  The next moment, she had a mouth full of sand.

Stunned, she didn’t move for a few seconds.  Then Enna felt rough hands grab her arms, picking her clear off the ground with no effort.  “You little thief,” said those rough hands’ rough voice.  Enna looked up and could see the fence – only a few more seconds away!  All of the officials were behind her, one of them holding her by her upper arms,  another coming up and yanking the slightly over-sized shoes from her feet.

Then they were moving.  They got nearer and nearer to the fence, slowly making the walk through the sand.  “You Mitran scum.  You know better than to come over here.  Stay on your side,” the voice growled.

Enna was flying again, but this time in a much different way than before.  The man had thrown her over the fence, and down she came, landing hard on her shoulder and getting a mouthful of sand for a second time.  She laid there for a while, then turned to look back across the fence, back to where she’d just been.  The officials were already headed back toward Tajil.

Enna stood, dusted herself off, and walked slowly back toward the barren, dusty place that was her home.  Back to where she belonged.

Camp NaNo: April 2016 – Update #4

You guys!  I finally made some progress in editing Bombshell!  Now that the work crazy is over and it’s back to just work normal, I’ve been able to find some time to actually dive into editing.  Here’s what I’ve been up to:

  • Changing some major plot details, like where two of the fugitives go when they’re on the run from the cops or who’s car is used in the heist scene (which affects how the authorities respond).
  • Changing some worldbuilding stuff, like how the economic system of my world works, the intricacies of gang tattoos, and what the cops are like.
  • Making things bigger and more weighty.  My writer’s group told me that my character’s emotions were very wishy-washy.  They wanted to see more panic, more anger, more resentment – not just for her but for everyone.
  • Adding flashback scenes.  One of the big goals of my main character is to free someone she cares about from prison.  Again, my writer’s group said that they didn’t really care about him because they didn’t know him.  My main character tells us what she thinks about him, but they wanted to see him in action.  Cue some flashback dreams (which work perfectly with my main character’s insomnia!).

So those are the big things I’ve been up to.  I feel like the past 3 days I’ve actually hit my stride – I’m excited!  The month’s half over, and I’m encouraged by what I have done so far.  There’s a lot more work to do before I send it out to some beta readers.

Which reminds me: how do you choose beta readers?  What kind of person are you looking for?  What specific questions do you ask of them?

 

Stats (as of 4/15):

13,373 of 30,000

Camp NaNo: April 2016 – Update #3

Hey y’all!

We’re almost to the halfway mark of Camp NaNoWriMo, and let me just say.. it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster for me.  Actually, that might be too dramatic.  It’s been more like.. being in a small boat on a windy lake.  The up’s and down’s are mostly gentle, but you can definitely feel them.

Anyway, work has been CRAZY for me the past week, which from what I hear has been pretty par for the course for people lately.  My brand of work crazy involves two conferences organized and run by my places of employment.  I don’t know how they managed to be the same week, but they were.  NEVER AGAIN, PLEASE.

I DID manage to write every day, even if was just 95 words (yesterday).  The problem is, though, that I’m EDITING for Camp NaNo.  I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo three times in the past, and their thing is to write 50,000 words in a month – basically just pump out a first draft as quickly as possible, setting aside your inner editor.  The goal is just shy of 1,700 words per day, which for me is somewhere between an hour and.. well, um, that depends on how distracted I am.

IMG_20160412_111158_062Editing is a WHOLE different ballgame, though.  I can’t just sit down and type out a quick 800 words that will be edited later to keep my plot going.  This IS editing.  So while in the past, I was able to keep up with NaNoWriMo despite busy work days, I’m having problems finding big chunks of time needed to think through edits – especially the big plot edits.

That’s what’s on my mind today.  I’m hoping now that the conferences are over, I can set aside time to wrap my head around what’s going on.  Maybe even this afternoon!

How do YOU find time to edit?  (Sorry for the plethora of caps lock in this post.. KINDA.)

 

Stats (as of 4/11):

8,236 of 30,00

Camp NaNo: April 2016 – Update #2

I’m a week into Camp NaNo and revising Bombshell.  I’ve processed most of my writers’ groups comments and have been working the past few days to try to implement those that I think are a good idea, starting with the big world-building and plot issues.

As I re-read my first draft a few weeks ago, it felt like something was missing.  Or, well.. a lot of somethings.  But one particular something stood out to me – the big conflict between the Contention and the Assembly wasn’t really happening.  There was reference to the things that Bianca and others were involved in or heard about, but other than that, it seemed distant and unimportant.  I had the thought that adding a character – a higher up in the Contention that is in frequent contact with Bianca – could be a great window into the conflict at large.  The political conflict isn’t the center of the story by any means, but the characters care greatly about it, so I want the reader to as well.

I went to writers’ group the following Sunday, and one of the first things said to me was, “You need a handler.”  Not what I expected to hear – until my friend gave me context.  He had in mind exactly what I’d been thinking!  It was great to have that affirmation.

So, I’m working on adding 7-8 interactions between Bianca and her “handler” – he or she doesn’t have a name or gender yet, but he or she has been conveying some sweet information that’s making the other characters, myself, and hopefully future readers much more invested in the politically conflicted world that Bombshell is set in.  Yay!

 

Stats (as of 4/6):

4,799 of 30,000

In the Labyrinth of Drakes – EEEE!

Have you read A Natural History of Dragons?  No?  Then go do it right now!

Sorry for the lack of suave intro, but I have problems keeping it cool when talking about Marie Brennan’s Memoirs of Lady Trent.  (I might have problems keeping it cool most of the time.)

A Natural History of Dragons and the books that follow – The Tropic of Serpents and The Voyage of the Basilisk – are incredible.  They’re funny and fascinating and moving and so readable.  And they contains beautiful drawings of dragons.

These are the memoirs of the fictional Lady Trent on her journey of being a dragon naturalist.  Definitely not a profession I’d choose, but she’s so good at it.  Lady Trent is a feisty female in a time and place where that wasn’t a good thing.  She’s smart, independent, loving, and lovable.  I highly recommend these books to most people, which doesn’t happen often.  I more so prefer recommending certain books to certain people since everyone’s tastes are different.

Anyway, onward to the celebration because the fourth book, In the Labyrinth of the Drakes, comes out TODAY.  I’ve been waiting for this for months!

While I won’t get to read it for a while (due to Camp NaNo and not owning the book yet), you better believe I’m going to read it soon.  And of course, I’ll be reviewing it as well.

 

Love.

Camp NaNo: April 2016 – Update #1

Pfeww, that post title is long and unappealing.  But hey, it’s informative, right?  1 out of 3 is actually pretty good (baseball season is here!!!).

This is day 4 of Camp NaNoWriMo, and so far, it’s been going pretty.. bleh.  For the most part, I’ve gone over the notes from my writers’ group and categorized them.  That was actually really helpful – some of their feedback was about my world-building and some was about punctuation.  There were positive and negative plot comments.  There were super specific suggestions and incredibly vague suggestions.  They’ve given me a lot to think about.

IMG_20160401_135651_655As of last night, I feel like I have my head wrapped around most of the comments, and I was able to make a list of next steps – I’m going to tackle the biggest plot, world-building, and character issues first.  I furiously wrote notes about each of these things before my husband got home from work last night.

I feel like I have a lot of work ahead of me (because I do), and I’m both excited and anxious about these next steps.  I was disappointed when I re-read my first draft – which I hear is pretty common.  So now I’m seeking to turn this novel into what I thought I’d already written – or something even better!  I’ll have to re-write some scenes, delete some scenes, and add some scenes.  I’ll keep you updated on how that goes.

Sidenote: I’ve caused myself undue stress by worrying about how to track my progress for Camp.  Traditionally, progress is tracked by words written, but when you’re revising, it’s not that simple.  NaNoWriMo suggests counting revising time as 1 hour of revising=1000 words.  Another suggestion was counting words processed (if you revise chapter 4 and it has 1200 words, then count that many words – even if you delete some of those during revisions).  I’ve decided that every day will look different while revising this beast, so I may have to use a different metric each day.  When I’m revising and outlining, I’ll count time.  When I’m moving things around and re-reading and deleting and such, I’ll count words processed.  When I’m writing, I’ll count words written.  None of this matters too much, but I like to track my progress.  It encourages me and helps me to keep working.

My goal for Camp is 30,000 words.  I don’t plan on adding that many words to my first draft, but I figure 30 hours this month is a good goal.  I may re-adjust as the days go by.  So far, I haven’t actually written a single word, but I’ve spent almost 2.5 total hours working on my first draft.  Cool!  Progress!

Stats (as of 4/3):

2617 of 30,000