Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Dreams and Starting Over

It's been a really long time since my last post, but life sometimes gets in the way of things. I have, in no way, stopped writing and have a few projects under my belt. Some are write-y, some are world-y. I'll be starting a new job at the end of the month (conducting middle school orchestra!) and will be spending way more time than any normal human should surrounded by scores to pick out the music for next year.

Ultimately, I am beyond ecstatic at this change of events. It will just be a lot of work.

Anyways - writing. How do you feel about dreams?

The other month I had a pretty intense dream about shadows and death (I know, morbid) but the dream wasn't entirely my fault. I traveled to Haiti on a service trip and was taking Mefloquine - an anti-malaria medication with side effects including "Vivid nightmares". Fun, right?

Well, this dream was so vivid that it left me daydreaming about it for weeks after having it. Almost like when you finish a really good book and you have that month waiting period before starting another because you're finding some way of immersing yourself into it in your head. You might think I'm crazy, but think about it really - I know I'm not alone in this. And if you're not getting that feeling, you need to read better books.

Anyway, this dream. I realized after a few weeks that this could really be a great baseline for a novel so I've started writing it. This doesn't follow my usual steps - writing a full outline and crossing off events as I write them - but the story was just so.....right.

Maybe some stories just need to be told.

I'll be updating my word count to reflect this new project :)

Along the same vein, I've realized that a lot of my old stories have dream sequences in them. As I've gotten older and read more I've come to hate them. Dream sequences are....boring. Unless, of course, they have a specific meaning behind them like...A Nightmare on Elm Street where your dream is actually a creepy-scar-faced guy murdering you and your friends. Obviously sleeping and dreaming are integral to that plot.

Regardless, dreams are pretty powerful and I think some could really work out well in the novel world. (Please don't take this post as liberty to start trying to publish stories about forgetting your homework or showing up to school in your underwear!)

Until next time!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Pet Peeve

Maybe I'm crazy. Maybe I'm the only person in the world who obsesses over this. Maybe you're going to roll you eyes and never listen to a word I say again but one of my biggest pet peeves when reading or writing a story is the author's use of:


What do I mean by names you might ask? I mean: is the author conscious about matching ethnicity in names when a group of people are: from the same family; from the same clan; from the same country? Does the author consistently: make up his/her own names; use French names for one group and...say....Slavic for another?

Does it really matter?


Nothing irks me more than reading a book with a family who has names from 5 different nationalities. Like, right now, I'm in the process of reading Maria V. Snyder's new Glassmaker series. I enjoyed her first series (set in the same world) enough that I was interested in reading these but I forgot just how much the names BUG me! Of course the names don't detract from the story really, so don't let it deter you from reading if you're interested...but man...

The main character is Opal, she has an older sister named Mara (Ok, I can take those two together) but wait! Her brother's name is...Ahir? Really? And then her father's name is Jaymes and her mother's is....*drumroll* Vyncenza. Is there really any connection between these names at all? Especially considering all of them are from the same clan? Opal, Mara, Ahir, Jaymes, Vyncenza...

Seems really disconnected to me.

Again, I am a super stickler for names....I probably spend more time then most agonizing over finding the right name for a character in any story I write. For me, names give my characters power, they give them a life, a history...without the perfect name everything just sort of....crumbles.

Names are super important.

But, of course, feel free to disagree!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Monthly Update

Wow...has it really been a month since my last post? I suppose the date stamp doesn't lie, but just wow! Time really does fly!

If it would only just fly to May I'd be super ecstatic!

This past month has been the epitome of crazy. Crazy for breakfast, crazy for lunch, crazy for dinner, crazy day by day. I'm currently in a Masters of Arts in Teaching program and, as professors are wont to do, have had about five different huge projects all due in the same week. Some I was able to get an extension on, others I've been forced to write over 50 pages worth of work. Unfortunately that writing wasn't designated to my current writing project. I can't wait until I'm able to get back into that.

So much to do...

However, 6,000+ words into the novel is a great start! I'm working on chapter 4 at the moment and, thankfully, have managed to work my way through the drudgery that is exposition. Introducing characters and settings without being absolutely dull is difficult at best! For a first draft, though, I feel as if I've done a pretty good job. Hopefully that means that during re-write and editing I'll be able to make it "freaking awesome," hahaha.

Speaking of exposition, my 6th graders are currently learning about Point of View and the Stages of Plot. Because of this, I've gone through my story outline and added labels to when each stage begins and end. I've labeled the exposition (introduction of setting and characters), rising action (introduction and evolution of the conflict), climax (most exciting part of the conflict, usually right before the problem is solved), falling action (coming down from the climax), and the resolution (the end! Conflict solved!). I know, I know, who does that?

I do!

Maybe I'll be able to make my work into a teachable moment in the classroom :)

Now, although school is very time consuming, you might be thinking that it's not nearly a big enough issue to warrant little to no writing of the novel! Well, you are absolutely right! To be completely honest, I've been doing other things as well that have taken up a nice chunk of my time!

What, you might ask?

The Baltimore Half-Marathon!

Thanks right, folks! I am a 13.1 finisher as of October 16th, 2010! I've been training for this race since about May of this year (I've been running for a few years now, but never anything much more than a 5k) and finally was able to go out and defeat it! I finished in 2 hours, 31 minutes, and 40 seconds and now I'm hoping to run another this coming summer in Seattle, Washington with a close friend! I've become addicted! I have a few pictures of the race, but this one is by far my favorite! It's the last half mile of the race on Eutaw Street through Camden Yards. Absolutely amazing :)

Now, of course, I don't have a race anytime soon to take up my time so hopefully I'll get back to writing. Ha! What am I saying? Of course I'll write!

Maybe I'll post up the first chapter. I'd love the feedback!

Until next time!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Making a Come Back

One thing I should probably emphasize is my inability to stay on task. That, coupled with my desire to always be too busy to think, leads to a large bout of complete and utter absentmindedness.

Of course, I've always considered it a good thing for potential, and current, writers/authors to be quirky. I feel as if that makes them more accessible to the public. And isn't that really what we all want? To see ourselves in our role models?

Unfortunately, and possible fortunately, with my absentminded nature comes the ability to sit on a work-in-progress for a long time and then go back and read it. The fortunate part is getting a completely new perspective on it, the unfortunate is that it's not always a good one. In fact, the story that I was all excited about nearly a year ago...well....turns out I feel as if I was a smidgen too ambitious with it. At a whomping 55,000 words I realized that I hadn't even reached a half-way point and, often unless you're a) very luck b) a freaking genius, ridiculously long epic-fantasy novels don't get published.

And that's what I'm hoping for right?

So, alas, my 55,000 words have been placed into my ever-growing pile of "hopefuls" and "wishful thinkings" (this particular one falling into the latter category).

It's not all bad though! It actually got me to thinking.

Why does a novel need to be complex? And I mean complex as in main plot + sub plot + sub plot of the sub plot +sub sub sub SUB plot all just becomes a jumbled mush and instead of being innovated and awesome it just sucks. No other words for it. So yes, I admit, my last attempt sucked. Maybe only to me, maybe someone out there really would enjoy it, but I didn't and thus couldn't really continue writing it.

I also realized that I kept trying to force myself into a writing style that was uncomfortable to me. I love reading young adult and juvenile literature. I love how the simplicity of the plot makes way for such complex and unforgettable characters and I thought, "Self, stop trying to write adult fantasy novels. It's not your thing!"

And thus was born my next "great idea."

This time, I approached things quite a bit differently. The entire novel is planned. I have a three page outline of all the events that are going to take place, a two page list of characters and places (which are ever changing. I'm a stickler for character names and tend to change them at least once every few weeks) and even a simple sketch of the world map. I have built societies, cities, keeps, wildernesses, castles and thrown my characters into this new world. "O brave new world that has such people in it!"

A simple plot that gives-way to a complex world.

I like this new idea. Let's roll with it.

Oh! And did I mention? Guild Wars. Yes. When I should be writing I'm usually blowing off steam from the day running around on Guild Wars. It keeps me sane, really! And probably keeps me securely in the "big dork" life category as well.

I've also decided to end each post from now on with a word count :)

Word Count: 4,047

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Helpful Information

I feel so grateful that my friend Rachel has interned at big (as well as small) publishing companies, and for her insight into the publishing business. After all, it is a business right? And that means they'll have some rules.

What are these rules? I've come to realize that finding that out is rather difficult if you don't know where to look! What genre is big? How many words is acceptable? How should your manuscript look before you send it in? What is the protocol for slush? Should I try to find an agent? Does it really matter if I have one or not? How often should I ship out my manuscript? How many trees do I have to kill to get published?

There are a ton! I could keep going but I think my brain might just explode.

Thanks to her, I have a few blogs that might just interest the starving author!

This blog is amazing. Period. You can do searches and really find ANY questions you might have on the subject of publishing! I have it bookmarked as a favorite and am definitely going to utilize this fantastic resource! If you're serious about publishing, I highly recommend it! ( here is a specific link from this blog regarding word count! a MUST READ!)

This is a blog my friend Rachel has created. It has some good insights into the questions, "What should I write?" and many others that you might be thinking!

That out of the way, you might be wondering "Where are you in your journey towards publishing?"

The past few days have been incredibly difficult to be in the writing mood. I sit in front of my computer and wonder, "What now?" and I still wait for one of these days five chapters of amazing content to just POOF onto my document magically. Why can't a fantasy novel have magical chapters that show up? It certainly would make things easier!

I've realized that the reason it's gotten so much harder to write is that I just hit the climax of a very, VERY tense scene that even had me nervous for my characters! (I know, crazy right? After all, I KNOW what's going to happen to them! I shouldn't be nervous! but I was!) Now I'm stuck in the "aftermath" stage and it's no where near as exciting as the previous scenes. People who have tried writing before know and love these stages. And in this case "love" means "hate with a passion that rivals the nine levels of Dante's hell."

In fact, I've been writing a chapter for the majority of the day that I know is going to get cut once I start editing. It's terrible, I'll be the first to admit it! Absolutely terrible. But I need to keep going. That's what editing is for!

I am at 42,000 words and know that soon I'll be out of this awkward transition phase. It's like going through a terrible break need to keep facing him down until he realizes that you're going to keep beating on him until you're friends again.


Ok, maybe not.

I've also been working on my synopsis. It is probably more difficult than writing the actual novel, but I've been told that it's something I need to be able to write in my sleep! it is:

"Raena is on the run from the government because of her abilities as an Emotional - a human who can Sense others Emotions. For years she has stayed well hidden until a mysterious man, Soren, comes into her life and sends her into a downward spiral of misfortune. After being capture by the Magister Raena must find a way to escape and find Soren who is the only person in the world with the knowledge that can cure her from an unknown poison slowly killing her. But that is not the only issue. While she fights for her life, Raena and Soren's twin, Aeniel, must also find a way to end the Tyrannical reign of the Magister and stop a war decades old."

Anyways, back to writing I go!

Until next time!

Monday, November 16, 2009

An Introduction


As a single word it is not a very daunting task. Everyday the average person writes something, whether a grocery list, a resume, a letter to a dear friend across the world, one of those break-up letters so popular in middle and high school.....

Whatever the reason, writing is a crucial part of life! But it begs the question, do these little projects make us "writers"? Most people would say writing a grocery list hardly constitutes being a writer. After all, who wants to go to Barnes & Noble and purchase book entitled "Grocery Lists of the 21st Century"? Even though I'm sure there might be some interesting items; 300 packages of Ramen (courtesy of college students no doubt), Sushi grade salmon, morningstar veggie burgers, a full gutted boar (I've seen them, but can you even buy that in a normal chain grocery story??).

Anyways, I digress.

What makes you a writer? We've already nixed grocery list connoisseurs, and I think I'm a bit tired beating around the bush. Writers are people who love to do what? If you guess write you're "write" on! (C'mon now, I never said my jokes were funny). Anything from fantasy, to historical fiction, to non-fiction documentaries about penguins, if it is your passion to whip out your pad and pencil, or even your laptop, you are a writer! Congratulations!

So now you're thinking, "Great! I'm a writer! Now what?" well, that's what I'm here to explore! I want to figure out how to transition from "writer" to "author." I wish it was as easy as saying, "Well get published silly!" but it seems a lot more work goes into this transition. I don't expect it to be easy, in fact I've talked to a friend who knows more about publishing than the average human being, but walking into Barnes & Noble and seeing that author who got famous off of grocery lists gives me hope that it isn't hopeless. In this blog I'm going to keep a detailed documentary of the day-to-day struggles of a writer trying to go author. Maybe through this I'll be able to inspire others to keep their hopes up as they see me get rejected publisher after publisher, and maybe they'll feel better about their own predicaments (Shadenfreude is alive and well!).

Learn from my mistakes, I promise I'll make many, follow my journey and watch a story unfold! I'll write about where I am in the writing process (which is long and tedious!) and eventually have a working draft to send for publishing.

Should be interesting, right?

For now, I'm still writing, and I figure I'll post chapters here and there so you can follow me as I work, give me advice of your own, and even just voice an opinion! I'm about 40,000 words into a first draft (I'm not even considering going back and revising until I have an entire story written) and some days are a struggle, others are like cutting through warm butter.

Which brings me to this question that's probably on your mind, "Who are you?"

I have a simple answer. My name is Katie, I have a Bachelors Degree in English Literature and Music, but really, I'm just like you. I've had a dream for years but have never really taken the initiative to make it reality. Just like you I've started and stopped projects and always thought, "One day...." but now I'm changing it to "today." It won't be easy, I know this, but I'm ready for the fight and I hope you come along with me!

Until next time!