2014 - further up and further in

Friday, December 26, 2014

Lost Girls & The Saga of Impending Rewrites: Beautiful Books #3

Friday, December 26, 2014 2
Lost Girls & The Saga of Impending Rewrites: Beautiful Books #3
If you're just joining us, welcome! I'm participating in my meme with Cait, Beautiful Books. I'm talking about my novel Lost Girls, which I just finished on December 2nd after writing it during NaNoWriMo. I'm super excited. You can read more about Lost Girls in the previous installments here, and here.

And for the record, the people in the graphic are my three main characters: Jem, Evee, and Hal. In that order. And I love them all. 

1. On a scale of 1 (worst) to 10 (best), how well do you think this book turned out?

A 6? A 7? It's not all the way there, but I was actually pleasantly surprised with how it turned out. Well, the second half of it at least.

2. Have you ever rewritten or edited one of your books before? If so, what do you do to prepare yourself? If not, what’s your plan? 

Technically I'm rewriting for the first time with another novel, Because I'm Irish. But by the time I get to editing/rewriting Lost Girls, my n00b rewriter status will still stand.

To prepare myself... well, I'm planning to let Lost Girls sit until maybe January, or whenever I get done with Because I'm Irish rewrites. Then I'll probably cry a lot and then try to fix the sagging and confusing first half of it.

3. What’s your final word count? Do you plan to lengthen or trim your book? 
Final wordcount is 53,117. I'd hope to lengthen it, but I think the first round of edits may end up having the opposite effect, since there are some useless plot details I need to take out. Then again, I have to add some scenes so that I don't have a severe case of instalove. So we'll see. I don't think I'll know until I'm actually doing it.

I couldn't find a gif for this, but to quote The Incredibles, "WE'LL GET THERE WHEN WE GET THERE!"

4. What are you most proud of? Plot, characters, or pacing?
Characters. Jem, Evee, and Hal grew leaps and bounds throughout this novel, and now they're in perfect (albeit slightly unstable) emotional states for the sequel.

5. What’s your favorite bit of prose or line from this novel?
(Slightly edited to take out spoilers.)

"I pick up the hoodie, my hands shaking, and press it to my nose. It smells like the sea, infused deep into the fibers, but it also has the earthy smell of him. He was never one to fuss with fancy colognes. Instead it smells like a weird mix of tobacco, chemicals, and peppermint, but it’s [name redacted]; every stitch of it is.

... I will carry on for both of us. [name redacted] is a part of me now; we’re one. I’ll live the life he never got to have. I’ll cure cancer, I’ll help people, I’ll be kind, like he was. I’ll let his love for humanity seep into every portion of my being.

With my life, I will make him proud."

  6. What aspect of your book needs the most work? 
The first half. The Lost Girls plot kind of took backseat throughout the whole thing, so I need to figure out if I am keeping it in or leaving it out altogether. (Which is unfortunate, since that's the title and I'm rather proud of it. Do you think I can make it work? "Why did the Lost Girls go away halfway through the book?" "Well, because they're lost, of course. THE CLUE IS IN THE NAME.")

7. What aspect of your book is your favourite? 
All the plotlines regarding science and major corporations. It was very evil and diabolical and I loved it.

8. How are your characters? Well-rounded, or do they still need to be fleshed out? 
I think they still need to be fleshed out in the text, but as far as in my head, they've grown tons since I first came up with this novel idea, and even from the first Beautiful Books here.

9. If you had to do it over again, what would you change about the whole process? 
I'd put my character Cooper in even earlier, since he turned out to be a major character. I'd also maybe rethink the whole Lost Girls thing, since it wasn't a huge part of the novel, unfortunately. (Yet.)

10. Did anything happen in the book that completely surprised you? Have any scenes or characters turned out differently to what you planned? Good or bad?

Ha. Yes. It started out pleasantly with the appearance of Dr. Susannah Lovelace, my main character's boss. I was not expecting her. (She, along with everyone else, disappeared halfway through the novel--why me?!) Then there was a Barry Allen cameo that took shape and became Cooper Matthews, a character whom I love. Then there was Cooper's sister, Bryn, who helped Jem get out of a sticky situation and promptly disappeared. (And created her own novella centered around her family and her other brother, but more on that later.)

Then there were the lost girls themselves--Joie was unexpected, as were Daiyu and two lost boys, Scrapper and Freddy. And then there was that character I unexpectedly killed. Mm. Yes. Lots of unexpected things. Overall, I'm incredibly glad these things happened. They took my novel from drab to fab.

Oh, yeah. And then there's the fact that Lost Girls now has a sequel. More books to write. Ugh. But also yay.

11. What was the theme and message? Do you think they came across? If not, is there anything you could do to bring them out more? 
Hahaha. What theme? What message? Mostly this was a lot of people running (or wheeling) around and dealing with Bad Things and People Dying.

I kid. I think the theme and message will have to come out through later stages of editing, because right now I have no idea what it is. I think the main goal I had was that I wanted to show Jem coming to terms with the fact that she's in a wheelchair--embracing it, and actually even liking it. I wanted her to realize she wasn't broken like she thought. In some ways, that did come through, but I need to edit some of the scenes to make it more clear and distinct, I think. And, of course, it'll take even more shape in the sequel, I hope.

12. Do you like writing with a deadline (like NaNoWriMo) or do you prefer to write-as-it-comes? 
Both. If not for NaNo, this book wouldn't exist, much less be finished. But at the same time, I do like the freedom of being able to write what I want when I want. So... compromise between the two?

13. Comparative title time! What published books, movies, or TV shows are like your book? (Ex: Inkheart meets X-Men.) 
Well, first of all, Inkheart meets X-Men is something I want to see now. Write it, my fiends.

Secondly, I guess you could say this is Divergent meets X-Men meets Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. meets The Fault In Our Stars. Weird, yes? I know, I know. This novel is so weird.

14. How do you celebrate a finished novel?! 
I cry of relief and then go start the novels I wanted to write all during November. (Like Because I'm Irish and Metal and Bone.)

15. When people are done reading your book, what feeling do you want them to come away with?
I want them TO WEEP! I want their hearts to be simultaneously broken and cheering over the events that transpire. I want them to miss the characters we've lost, sympathize with the ones that are left living, and completely feel it with every fiber in their soul. (That sounded a bit toooo evil.)

If you want to join us, there's still time! Head over to the Beautiful Books linkup here.

plot details and excerpt copyrighted by sky walden, 2014.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

She Returns, Alive

Wednesday, December 17, 2014 4
She Returns, Alive

I know, I know. No post in 12 days. I'm ridiculous.

For some reason, December has been 10 times more busy than usual. I also keep meaning to put up my Beautiful Books post, but I can't decide on a main image to use. (I could never run a viral movie marketing campaign.) I also can't decide what my favorite line from that book is. (Again, I could never run a viral movie marketing campaign.)

So what exactly have I been doing, besides not writing my Lost Girls Beautiful Books post?

1. I have been working on Grafted Magazine. My end-of-year thoughts are in the pages of Issue 4--check it out!

2. I have been (trying) to rewrite Because I'm Irish, even though I'm currently at a wordcount standstill. The current goal is January 15th, 2015. We'll see how that goes.

3. I have been busy running The Fangirl Initiative. I love it. Being in the leadership position of a group project like this has been awesome. But for the record, I can't imagine running something bigger, like a super-secret-police-organization. I admire you, Fury and Coulson.

4. I have been taking a college course on the Psychology of Criminal Justice. The only problem is, it was an 8 week course and due to it being archived, I had to finish it in three days. Challenge accepted and completed. I finished it today and my brain is done. I loved it, but I will also not be attempting another bit of school for at least two weeks. (Sorry, Mom.) Hello, holidays! My first college class and this is the result. I'm an overachiever.

5. I have been babysitting a lot. My mom runs a home daycare and due to this we always have little ones around. There's one who is my little buddy and he's moving away this week. :(

6. I have been watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and crying over the mid-season finale. (And starting The 100.)

7. I have begun my addiction to Pentatonix and other a capella bands like Peter Hollens. I had knowledge of them before this, but now it's baaad. 

8. I have been eating yummy food, like potato chips as a treat. Well, that's just right now.

What's up with you guys? Hopefully, I'll be back to posting like normal soon. Unless I'm abducted by aliens, which could happen. And if I don't see you before Christmas, I hope you all have a peaceful holiday season!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Beautiful Books #3: Let’s Talk Editing

Friday, December 05, 2014 1
Beautiful Books #3: Let’s Talk Editing

Hello, writerlings! Welcome to the third round of Beautiful Books! Beautiful Books is hosted by myself and Cait from the newly-minted blog Paper Fury! Our goal is to help you get to know your novels better.

The Info

What is it? Beautiful Books is a three-month-long blog event link-up focusing on three different stages of writing: plotting, writing, and editing. (This month, December, is focused on editing.) This link-up was designed with NaNoWriMo in mind. NaNoWriMo is a writing event where you write a 50,000 word novel in a month. Because a lot of writers will be writing a novel this November, we decided to make it easier by helping get your juices flowing! We'll be focusing on plotting in October, writing in November, and editing in December. We also have the possibility of doing a bonus round at the end of the other three months, but we'll keep that mostly a surprise for now!

Do I have to be doing NaNo to participate? Absolutely not! While the general format is suited well to writers doing NaNo, we want this blog link-up to be for everyone! Just pick a work-in-progress and you'll be good to go. If you don't have a novel that works for the entirety of the blog event, you can feature different ones, but we'd prefer you focus on one WIP if at all possible. The point is, you absolutely don't have to do NaNoWriMo to participate, and we really want you to join! Come one, come all!

How does it work? The format is really similar to Beautiful People. Each month, we'll be posting 15 questions, except this time for you to answer about your WIP. These questions will correspond to either plotting, writing, or editing, and are designed to help you with each of these stages. Even if you aren't to the editing stage yet, they'll be designed to get you at least thinking about what you can do to make your book the best it can be--or, you know, the most beautiful book it can be. Either one. You'll take our 15 questions and answer them on your blog, then come back and link up here! And don't forget to go around and read the posts of the other participants--it could be a great way to make friends!

What about Beautiful People? We had hoped to do both concurrently. But, as it worked out, we haven't been doing BP, just Beautiful Books. Thankfully, you’ll consistently have Beautiful Books around to fulfill your blog link-up needs, and there’s always the archive if you get the itch to do BP as well. (We're aiming to start BP up again in January or February!)

So... what do I do? Sit tight and read the questions Cait and I post, then use them to help you think through one of your novels! Then link back, and overall, be your awesome self! Also, if you want to share this with your friends, we aren't at all opposed! Making this one big party would be really cool.

The Questions

  1. On a scale of 1 (worst) to 10 (best), how well do you think this book turned out?
  2. Have you ever rewritten or edited one of your books before? If so, what do you do to prepare yourself? If not, what’s your plan?
  3. What’s your final word count? Do you plan to lengthen or trim your book? 
  4. What are you most proud of? Plot, characters, or pacing?
  5. What’s your favorite bit of prose or line from this novel?
  6. What aspect of your book needs the most work? 
  7. What aspect of your book is your favourite?
  8. How are your characters? Well-rounded, or do they still need to be fleshed out?
  9. If you had to do it over again, what would you change about the whole process?
  10. Did anything happen in the book that completely surprised you? Have any scenes or characters turned out differently to what you planned? Good or bad?
  11. What was the theme and message? Do you think they came across? If not, is there anything you could do to bring them out more?
  12. Do you like writing with a deadline (like NaNoWriMo) or do you prefer to write-as-it-comes?
  13. Comparative title time! What published books, movies, or TV shows are like your book? (Ex: Inkheart meets X-Men.)
  14. How do you celebrate a finished novel?!
  15. When people are done reading your book, what feeling do you want them to come away with?

The Blog Buttons

When making your post, don't forget to add either one of these blog buttons so people can find the link-up! If you have trouble with the image code, linking back to us is an acceptable option, too!


The Linky

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

My First Rewrite

Wednesday, December 03, 2014 4
My First Rewrite

There's something you should know about me: in addition to usually not finishing NaNo novels, I also have not successfully completed edits, revisions, or changes of any kind. (I admitted this dastardly fact here.) The few first drafts I have finished continue to sit on my hard drive, stagnant, as I wring my hands over how I should edit them. (Hint: I never do.)

I titled the post this way because it's reminiscent of a baby--"my first steps", or "my first word." In some ways, though I've been writing for ages (as pictured above), I still feel like a baby in my writing journey. The reason for this is, obviously the lack of rewrites. I have good intentions, but I never actually do anything. This is probably due to the fact that I hate change with everything in me, and sometimes writing is my refuge from changes or difficult things in my life. So changing my writing?!? How ghastly! No can do.

Except, I pulled myself up by my bootstraps yesterday and said to myself, You will rewrite something. 

This "something" is Because I'm Irish, my novel of 3 years. It's my soul story, the one I come back to time and time again. The first draft was started in 2011 and finished in 2012. I was only fifteen and sixteen. I was little. (Comparatively.) And as such, my writing style has changed and grown so much now, at the age of eighteen. When I look back on Because I'm Irish, the writing needs an update to where I'm at now in my writing journey.

I've known this for a long while. I had good intentions of editing BCII as soon as I finished it. But fear stopped me. Time and time again, I was terrified. What if I mess up what made me love it in the first place? What if I make it too different? 

I wrote about this in Courage to Rewrite, where I asked you lovely blog readers to tell me how to rewrite something. (I'm clueless, I tell ya.) One comment in particular stood out to me, from my dear friend Lauriloth. She said,
I promise you, when you rewrite Because I'm Irish you're not going to lose the heart of it. Because rewriting isn't blowing away the magic, it's dusting off the grit to let that heart shine brighter than ever. After your rewrite, Because I'm Irish is going to be something even grander. You're probably going to get discouraged...a lot. Rewriting is overwhelming work. But just hold on to that love of your novel and keep trekking through. Because if you love something, you're going to want to make it beautiful. And that's just what rewrites are for. [read more]
These are the words I held onto when, yesterday, I finally started rewriting BCII. (!!!)

Yesterday, after finishing Lost Girls, I just kept writing. (I wrote a total of 6,045 words yesterday--say what?) I worked a bit on my story Metal and Bone, but at the back of my mind the whole time, I was thinking: I missed Fiona and my characters so much during NaNo. Maybe it's time? 

In the end, my friend Caroline gave me the advice I needed to hear: You literally just have to start writing.

After finishing Lost Girls yesterday, I'm starting to realize that half the difficulties writers face are related to our mental state. It takes a conscious decision: I am going to finish this novel. I am going to rewrite this novel. I will. I can.

Now, after all the mental stressing I did, I've realized: beginning to rewrite BCII wasn't so hard. All I had to do was choose to not listen to the tiny voice inside me telling me I couldn't do it. All I had to do was choose to rewrite, because I want to give this story my very best. All I had to do was just do it.

So here we go, with my first rewrite ever, on a story I love from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. It's been a long time coming, and I'm so excited. At first I was worried, but Lauriloth was right--dusting off the grit to let the heart shine better than before is worth it. I already see BCII shining clearly, and I have my vision. I know where I'm going now.

It probably won't always be that way, and I'm still terrified. But, as they say in The Princess Diaries, "Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear. The brave may not live forever, but the cautious do not live at all. From now on you'll be traveling the road between who you think you are and who you can be. The key is to allow yourself to make the journey."

I've allowed myself to make the journey, and it feels marvelous.

So if you're where I was for the past three years, don't worry. The fear you feel is normal, but you don't have to stay there. You can do this. Your story needs you, and together, you can make this journey from first draft to published novel.

As you rewrite, remember the saying, "Little by little, one travels far." (It's true, especially in rewrites.) Also remember the words from Galaxy Quest--"never give up. Never surrender."

But most of all, remember this simple slogan:


You can do it. I believe in you! And my growing second draft and I are with you in this together.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

In Which I Finally Finish a NaNo Novel (!!!)

Tuesday, December 02, 2014 7
In Which I Finally Finish a NaNo Novel (!!!)
I've never finished a NaNoWriMo novel. I always get to the point of 70k. Then I stop. Because I just can't figure out how something ends. 

Thus it is that for 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 I still have a bunch of unfinished first drafts. Sad, isn't it? Now, I got somewhat closer to finishing something with my 2013 novel, Petrichor. But despite my greatest efforts, my plan to finish it before November failed. (It will be finished soon, however. I promise.)

Thus it is that Lost Girls is the first NaNo novel I've ever finished.

I made it my goal to finish my novel this time. I was going to do it. I set my goal on myWriteClub for January 15th. 

But no, that is too small, I decided. Let us make it December 5th.

My dear friends challenged me to a word war today. After about three of them, I was realizing: this book could actually be finished today. During the word war, I had a stroke of inspiration on how it could end. 

I had come up with my ending. Now it was just a matter of writing it.

I put on a playlist on Spotify and right as Eye of the Tiger came on, I knew... this novel would be finished tonight. 

I wrote the very end of the climax, which was actually really violent and gross (and I still don't know how to feel about it). And then I wrote my last scene which wrapped everything up. Well, kind of. Because now I need a sequel (it's official). And in that sequel, things happen. Difficult things. It isn't unprecedented, though. In this book I separated my OTP, and there was lots of angst. (Which, I'll admit, made me happy. For a couple days, I wasn't sure how to end it. Then when I came up with the idea to separate my OTP, I knew that was the right ending. Call me sadistic; it's probably true.)

I couldn't decide what line to end it on, so I may have finished at 4:55, but I kept tweaking the end sentence. I decided I couldn't tweak it forever, so at 5:00 pm on-the-dot I decided to call it: Lost Girls was DONE at a grand total of 141 pages and 53,157 words.

It feels fantastic, really. I'm proud that I finished what I started. This is the fourth book under my belt, and overall, I'm really satisfied.

Now, we just have to survive revisions!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

November 2014: Recap

Sunday, November 30, 2014 2
November 2014: Recap
In many ways, this November wasn't quite what I expected. I'm not even sure what exactly to say about it--it's been quite the whirlwind.

The biggest thing that happened to me was saying goodbye to someone very close to me--a kiddo from our daycare that we babysat since he was 6 weeks old. He moved out of state on the 26th. It's incredibly difficult, but I know he's going to be so happy where he's moving to. I'm grateful we were able to have him in our lives. That said, goodbyes are never easy.

The highlight of my November was our mini-vacation. Over Thursday and Friday, for Thanksgiving, we took a trip to my aunt and uncle's house two hours away to spend time with family. We spent the night at a hotel and on Thanksgiving Day, my mom and I took a walk to a lake. I had an awesome time, and it was so nice to get away. I came home extremely refreshed and inspired. Writers need breaks like this every now and then. (But today I'm resenting that I have to get back to real work after vacation. Humph.)

If I had to pick a theme for November, it would be: new roads. (I wrote about New Horizons once, actually, which also fits.) One of the biggest things that happened to me was starting a new blog, which you'll read about later. But I also started a just-for-fun novel and got to know my novel for NaNoWriMo, both of which hold so much potential. Overall, I have a lot of things to be excited about and look forward to. Even though it's been a year full of loss, I do believe in happy endings--no matter how long they take to get here.

my new road

On the Blog

The majority of my writing time this month was spent on NaNoWriMo, and it showed due to lack of blog post. I did manage to post on the blog 8 times, however. I wrote about the beginning of NaNo, and how to figure your character's physical appearance. Cait and I posted round 2 of Beautiful Books, which was a smashing success. I answered the Beautiful Books questions for my own novel, which was incredibly fun--you can read that here. I killed a man in fiction and wrote about it. I did A Novel Idea twice, first here and then here. Then I posted about The Fangirl Initiative & Great Gatsby.

Other Blog-Related Writing 

Speaking of The Fangirl Initiative, that was a major project for me this November. I started it as a stress-outlet and it quickly exploded into a full-fledged blog with weekly columnists, seven days a week. I'm in awe. You can view it here. All of our weekly columns start this week! Thanks to those of you who offered to help!

On The Fangirl Initiative, I wrote the introductory post, as well as posts about The Great Gatsby, Tony Stark, and the new Star Wars movie. We also had R. Wiersema and Mirriam Neal start their columns! There are more to come this week.

On the Grafted blog, I wrote a post about the simple beauty of grace. I also helped put together Issue 4, which premieres tomorrow, December 1st! In it I'll have a piece about how my year went, and there's tons of other great content I'm super excited about. Check it out tomorrow by going to www.graftedmagazine.com.


As you probably already know, I participated in NaNoWriMo this month. I finished NaNo today at 2:42 pm, with a total of 50,048 words. The story isn't done yet, but I'm slowly bringing the novel to a close. I slid into a total of 50k with a first kiss, bribery, threats, and overall cuteness. It's been a fun ride. 

Due to stress over my NaNo novel, I started a random just-for-fun project about a bunch of kids starting their first year of college. I haven't written much yet, but it's really fun and I'm looking forward to see where it takes me.

Obviously, I wrote a total of 50,048 words this November, give or take.

I'm still trying to collect my thoughts about my NaNo novel--expect another blog post or two about that. In the meantime, just know it was one of the hardest yet most rewarding NaNos I've ever done. (And weird, due to the fact that I ended up writing a full paragraph in my sleep.) I've made a ton of new characters and come up with another novel series. While I'm not as excited as past years, my excitement is still tangible and I'm very, very satisfied.


This music playlist is one of the most extensive ones I've ever done for my monthly playlists to date. Most of my playlists have had 4 or 5 songs. This has 23. And you'd better believe it kept me sane this November, amidst goodbyes and heartache and writing up a major storm. It's been amazing, November playlist. You'll forever live in infamy. I love you.

On Instagram

first collage: random snapshots from the first half of november.
second collage: second half of november & our thanksgiving trip.
view the captions here.


My sister and I finished Once Upon a Time season 1, and are 2 episodes away from finishing episode 2. My TV watching suffered because of NaNo as well, so I halfheartedly tried to catch up on Agents of Shield and not much else. (My brother and I did start watching Modern Family though, which is hilarious, and we continued watching The Middle.) Other than that, my TV intake has been lacking. It's been pretty pitiful. But that's what December and January are for, right?

Other Entertainment

Over our two-day Thanksgiving vacation, I read The Help. It was incredible. I didn't want it to stop. Once I closed the book, I had all the classic symptoms of book withdrawal. What do I do with my life?

We also watched the movie "Life as We Know It" the other day. Josh Duhamel is awesome.

In Conclusion

November wasn't easy, I'm sure of that. But I'm excited to see what December and January hold. 2015 will bring a fresh start, and like I said, there are tons of new roads waiting for me.

Bring it on, December. I'm (sort of, not really, kind of) ready for you.

Friday, November 21, 2014

A Novel Idea: Kess & Cooper

Friday, November 21, 2014 1
A Novel Idea: Kess & Cooper
Today for A Novel Idea, I'm going to try my darndest to get my writing juices flowing again. I got ahead in NaNo and promptly ended up... not writing. I'm writing now, but inspiation is still low. This is obviously a problem, so here I go.

Despite the fact this doesn't actually have anything to have with my NaNo novel, maybe it will help to immerse myself in that world again.

cooper's eyebrow game: on point.

Today I'm focusing on Kess and Cooper. They're cousins. I've done a questionaire for Kess before, actually. You can read that here.

Kess has been around a lot longer than Cooper, and they weren't always related. Cooper was a character I wasn't planning on who cropped up in my NaNo novel (he was a Barry Allen CAMEO. Now he's a character. What?!?). For some reason, he had the same name as Kess, and my brain started thinking "what if..." so voila. Cousins were quite accidentally born. (And a novella about Cooper's siblings, but that's another story.) Cooper's arrival in my novel quickly spawned an entire series, including helping me with a more fleshed-out plot for the book Kess is in, Metal and Bone. Basically, Lost Girls, which was just a random project that I didn't think would go too far, has made itself into way more than just a standalone. I'm both thrilled and baffled by this.

I haven't been able to keep my mind off of the characters from these novels, like these two, even though I'm supposed to be focusing on other characters in my NaNo, Lost Girls. Nevertheless, they have been pestering me all week. I'm hoping A Novel Idea will help get them off my tail. Let's do it.

(A Novel Idea is a blog meme by Ashley @ Ashley Aspires. To participate, click here, or click the button at the end of this post.)

1. If they could choose to live in another decade, what would they choose and why?
Kess: The industrial revolution. She'd love to see all the gears and moving parts as they came into being.
Cooper: The 1700s. He'd want to run a printing press and aid the American Revolution efforts.

2. Do they want a job that helps people or a job that makes money? 
Kess: A job that makes money--she has her siblings to provide for. Ideally, she wants the jobs to be something she likes.
Cooper: A job that helps people and that he enjoys. He has enough money already. (He's doing forensics at a large lab corporation, which he both enjoys and believes helps people.)

3. If they were to come into a million dollars, what would be the first thing they would do? 
Kess: Buy a house for her siblings. 
Cooper: Give it away. He's stereotypically nice like that.

4. What do they do when they’re bored? 
Kess: Read magazines or tinker with her beater car.
Cooper: Read classic literature, mostly. Or go for a walk. 

5. And in honor of my birthday: What is their favorite kind of cake?
Kess: Cupcakes, hands down.
Cooper: chocolate, or cheesecake. Every time.

A Novel Idea

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Fangirl Initiative & The Great Gatsby

Monday, November 17, 2014 3
The Fangirl Initiative & The Great Gatsby
Fun fact time! You probably already know that I'm a huge fan of ... stuff. TV, mostly, but also movies and books and... you name it. I proudly claim the name of nerd and fangirl.

I've wanted a blog where I could talk about that for a long time. Not that this blog isn't great, I love it! But I also wanted to create a space where people could contribute and join the team, as it were.

I don't know what happened, honestly. It's not like I don't have enough to do in the blogging world. But I had a moment of crazy last night... and I made that blog.

It's called The Fangirl Initiative, and it's located here. Here's a snippet of the first post:

Nick Fury is such a cool dude, am I right?
So, you may be wondering what this random space in the blogosphere is. THIS... *waves wildly* is the product of my intense love for THINGS. Things like TV shows, movies, books, and everything else. Simply put, I'm a fan of storytelling, good characters, and hot actors. (Sorry, I had to admit it.)

I found an outlet for my fangirlishness on Tumblr for a while, but as great a place as it is, it can be chaotic. I'm also taking this an organized step further, with (semi-)coherent posts, reviews, and doses of fandom. I want to provide a place for fellow fangirls to connect and read about the things they love--and not feel ashamed for doing so. Hopefully, The Fangirl Initiative will do just that.

Here's the thing: I need your help. I'm accepting guest posts on your favorite TV show, book, movie, or comic of choice. (Or anything you can think of. If it's fiction or related to nerdiness, it counts.) You can also send me an email to apply to be on the team of regular writers. (I'm still trying to work on criteria for that, but hey, I'm open!)

If you want in, I'd love to have you. Seriously. I'm looking for guest posters, regular columnists, and staff members of all kinds. Things that would be fantastic are:

- Weekly reviews of each episode of a show as it airs
- Book reviews
- Posts with lists, like 5 Reasons Why I Love The Great Gatsby & character analysis posts

If you're interested, please send me an email at mountainfireflower[at]gmail[dot]com, or DM me at @skyofthetiger! (There's also a nifty contact form on the sidebar of The Fangirl Initiative blog.) Avengers Fangirls... assemble! Or something like that.

I ended up getting overeager, and I wrote my first post for TFI on one of my favorite books of all time, The Great Gatsby. Here's a snippet from that as well.

I have a confession: I'm not a huuuge fan of classic literature. (Please don't stone me.) However, last year I read The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and it quickly catapulted to my list of favorite books. Why is that? Some days, I still don't even know. It has everything I thought I wouldn't like in a book: it's a classic, it has a bad ending, and it's a rather bleak book. But regardless, I still adore The Great Gatsby. It's probably my favorite book ever, actually. And here is my attempt to put my incoherent ramblings about Gatsby into words: five reasons why I loved it.

And for the record, DON'T WORRY. This blog, Further Up and Further In, will not be going anywhere, and I will still be talking about all the things I love, both here... and there.

That's hopefully enough self-promotion for me for one day. But here's a question: what's one TV show, movie, book, or anything else you've been enjoying lately?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Novel Idea: Playing Catchup

Wednesday, November 12, 2014 2
A Novel Idea: Playing Catchup
I've missed out on the past two weeks of the A Novel Idea linkup due to being knocked down by dry socket. However, now that that's mostly vanquished, I wanted to play catchup by answering all the questions from past rounds, including this week's. That'll be three rounds of A Novel Idea, and fourteen questions.

(Sorry, I can't resist a well-timed cat gif.)

What is A Novel Idea, you may ask? A Novel Idea is a link-up for writers hosted by Ashley @ Ashley Aspires. Every week she posts questions related to writing, your characters, and your novels. Check it out by going here to this week's edition.

[Astrid is from my NaNo' 13 novel, Petrichor.]

1. What is their favorite hobby?
Shooting stuff.

2. Favorite color?

3. Favorite food?
Spaghetti, noodles, and ice cream.

4. Do they like to read? If not, why? If so, what is their favorite book?
Yes, Astrid does like to read. Her favorite book is 1984. (Her author hasn't read it.)

5. How do they usually spend their Saturday night?
Putting her brothers to bed and reading. On the rare occasion, Blade will drag her out of the house and they go "clubbing." (In a small town, it isn't really that great, but they try.)

[From my NaNo '14 novel, Lost Girls.]

1. Describe their daily routine. Does it change, or is it always the same?
It changes because Evee works 2 or 3 different part-time jobs, so her schedule shifts depending on what job she has that day. However, she always eats three square meals a day and tries to make time for her girls. She'll try go to bed around 9, though she also loves staying up reading, crafting, or watching movies.

2. If they knew they were going to die in 24 hours, what are 3 things they would do?
a.) Eat a lot of food. | b.) Write personalized messages for each of her girls and spend as much time with them as possible, | and c.) go to San Francisco so she can ride on the trolley.

3. If they could choose, how would they die?
Peacefully, of course, but if not, she'd like to know she died for a purpose.

4. What 3 words describe their personality?
Careful, motherly, striving.

[From my NaNo '13 novel, Petrichor.]

1. Are they a dog or cat person? Or neither?
Neither. Dangerous animals are more conducive to Cobie's search for the next big thrill. Wolves and snakes all the way, baby.

2. What is their favorite season?
Summer primarily, but also that space between fall and winter.

3. What music do they listen to?
Where Cobie lives there isn't a lot of music. However, she'd probably like classic rock.

4. If they’re old enough, do they drink alcohol?
She's not old enough, but she does. Ahem.

5. Do they have any bad habits? If so, what?
Rebellion for one. (Actually, I love that about her, so never mind.) Hiding and denying her emotions exist is another big one. Those are more flaws though. Actual bad habits: chipping off nail polish and not cleaning up her things.

Need a break from NaNoing, but want to get to know your characters better? 
Check out A Novel Idea!

A Novel Idea

P.S. I have no idea why the thumbnail for my last post isn't showing up on the main page. If you have any thoughts on this, let me know. (It's irking me.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

I killed a man. (IN FICTION.)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014 6
I killed a man. (IN FICTION.)

CALM DOWN. CALM DOWN. I DIDN'T ACTUALLY KILL ANYONE. Just a character. Good. Now that that's settled, let's continue.

As shocking as this may be, I haven't actually killed any characters in my past 13~ years of writing. (Don't worry, I was surprised by this too.) I've planned to, of course. I just haven't ... gotten around to it.

So yesterday on November 10th, you can imagine my shock when suddenly, BAM! A beloved character of mine was dead. (I'm not telling you who, but it's in my NaNo novel. You may now look at the faces in my Beautiful Books post and wonder who it was.) I had planned on killing this person, but planning and writing it out are two different things. I decided to just power through the scene, and I did. (And it hurt like heck, but I digress.) I know I wrote it, but I was so into the zone that when I realized what I had done, it was still jarring. Suddenly, one of my favorite characters who I had just started to fall in love with was dead. (And an OTP = broken. < / 3)

("But SKYYY! How can a post about death have such a pretty stock photo?" You may ask. Well, trust me. The other stock photos for "DEATH" were not that great. You can thank me later.)

Understandably, I am conflicted about what I have done. It's spawned a spin-off novel and added another dimension to a novel I've struggled to define all year. So that's fabulous. I got two new characters out of the death. From death is birthed life... Or something like that.

But at the same time, it's really frickin' sad. I know I'm taking a rather flippant tone in this post, but please know I don't take death lightly. In fact, it really sucks. And I especially want to be careful with my characters (since that's pretty much the only people's deaths I can control).

So here I sit, the day after killing my first character. And I'm wondering, should I have done that? I don't know. I think I'll leave it for now, at least until NaNo is over. But at what point is pain too much pain? What if I had kept him alive? What would the plot be then?

I'm mostly okay with what I have done, but my intensely loyal soul feels like I've just betrayed someone. (Ugh, I know, I know, it's not logical, but I'm not really ever logical.) And please don't misunderstand me, I do think there's a time and place for killing off characters. I just did not expect mine to be filled with these little tendrils of self-doubt.

What about you? Have you ever killed off a character? Did you regret it?
If you have never killed off a character, do you plan to? Why or why not?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Plot Thickens: Beautiful Books #2

Thursday, November 06, 2014 10
The Plot Thickens: Beautiful Books #2
NaNoWriMo is going gloriously, and by that, I mean it's been a glorious ROLLER COASTER. One day I hate my book, the next I don't. There have been many plot developments since I last spoke to you on the subject of Lost Girls, so prepare for the ride. (It will be a wild one, trust me.) And if you want to participate in Beautiful Books and answer these questions for yourself, check it out by going here!

1. Be honest: how is your writing going? 

It's been weird and a little hard. This novel is a tough nut to crack. We haven't quite gotten acquainted with each other yet. On the upside, I've seen the words "lost girls" so many times that they don't look like words anymore. Wait. That's not a benefit. Never mind. (I tried.)

2. What’s your first sentence/paragraph? 

When I was born, my spine was crooked, and it seems my life hasn’t straightened out since. I’ve always had a weird sense of vertigo, like my world is spinning and I’m not quite right on my feet. I don’t know what causes this. If I did, I would have put a stop to it long ago. It eats away at me and makes me angry. I deal in hard facts and cold logic. Not knowing where I’m going bothers me. 

Some of this vertigo eased off when I landed my internship at Starlight Labs. If you go through the town of Manchester, there it is--a high spire reaching into the sky. I wanted to be like that; I’ve always reached for the stars. It became a dream of mine, then. When I was seventeen, I applied. Two years in and I’m still an intern, but I know I’ll climb the rails. Leading the company is my goal, of course. World domination, all that. I don’t aim small. 

*Manchester is just a stand-in name because I don't know where the heck this is set.

3. Do you have a book cover, and/or pictures that reflect your book? Do you have pictures of each of your characters? If not, describe them for us! (Be as descriptive as you can.) 

Book cover:
(Do any of you guys have color schemes for your novels? Obviously LG's is purples and blues.)

Jem, my first pov character:

Evee, second main pov (and the most troublesome):

Hal, Jem's brother and Evee's future intended... (hehehe.)


Daiyu & Joie

Sienna & Malia

Lily & Amie

There's also Scrapper and Freddie, two brothers who have been welcomed to the Lost Girls under extenuating circumstances. They look like Nolan Gould (I suppose) and some other kid whose face I can't name?! I'll figure it out. I'm not putting them here because I haven't quite settled on their faces yet, but they are definitely major players.


Dr. Susannah Lovelace & Dr. Christian Maxwell

Some guy who started out as a Barry Allen cameo for fun but now will have a personality and name overhaul, and his sister, Bryn Matthews

4. What scene are you most excited to write? 
ANY SCENE WITH HAL because so far he's just been a punk who won't listen to his sister and I haven't gotten to write him actually interacting with anyone. But he's so CUTE.

Also, I thiiink I've gotten a little out of my slump by agreeing to kill someone. So that'll be fun.

I can't wait to write Hal/Evee romance later in the book.

This will also probably be a scene at some point. Because reasons.

5. Share a snippet or a scene that you really enjoyed writing. 
On the second day that Scrapper is here, he runs in frantically while we’re eating breakfast. 
 “Evee,” he says, out of breath. “I need to talk to you.” 
“Okay,” I say. 
 “Found this.” He hands me a crumpled piece of paper. 
I unroll it, greeted by a crudely drawn sketch. And this sketch looks just like me. Under it is “WANTED” printed in bold letters, as well as a cash reward of $2,000. 
“$2,000? You’re worth more than that,” Joie says, then goes back to eating her oatmeal. 
“This is odd,” I say. “I thought they gave up the manhunt for me.” 
“Womanhunt,” Joie supplements. 

6. Now that you're writing, have any of the plot details, or the process itself, turned out different from what you planned or imagined? 
Um, yes. For sure. Jem's boss was originally supposed to be a man, and then entered Dr. Susannah Lovelace, a kick-butt scientist who is rational, anti-social, and yet completely likable at the same time. Occasionally there will be cracks in her serious exterior, and those are so fun to write. Jem and I both love her. (Jem's other boss is the same man as previously planned, not to worry.)

In addition to that, the whole novel itself is just turning out more different than I imagined. I didn't imagine it to take such an Arrow-and-The-Flash-like quality in terms of the universe and setting. I also didn't expect to love the Lost Girls (as in the titular characters) quite this much. Also, there's a character I wasn't planning, who started out as a Barry Allen cameo, but whom will get a personality and name overhaul once I can get the brainpower and time. Until then, though, I remain in first draft mode and call him Barry, as well as dropping references to Peggy Carter, and calling my town Manchester even though it's probably not even close to there. This is what NaNo does to me.

7. Is there a character or aspect of your plot that's difficult to write? 
Yes. Surprisingly, the science-y aspect has been the easiest (but I'm just slapping down really random facts that are probably not true at all). The hardest has been writing Evee, who is bordering on a perfect Mary Sue like character due to lack of any moral ambiguity or tragic backstory. Howeeever, today I've decided she has some regrets and the illusion of perfection she presents is just that: an illusion. And there are beginning to be cracks in her illusion of perfect glass. (Whoa. Deep.) Anyway, I'm starting to love her again and I think this will be different than anything else I've written. Fun stuff.

8. What’s your favorite aspect of this novel so far? Favorite character? 
My favorite aspect is Jem's lab. It came to my almost fully fleshed out and it seems so open and inviting, but also conceals dark secrets. I love it so much. Writing about merges and inner-office politics and Jem working at her job is just so fun to me, I don't know why!

My favorite characters right now are Jem and Joie. Jem because I understand her more than I expected to and relate to her a great deal, as well as find her extremely lovable. Joie I love because she's witty and sarcastic and could not care less what other people think of her. She's extremely fun to write and the things she says make me laugh.

9. Have you drawn off of any life experiences or people you know to create your novel and characters? 
Yes. Life experiences: I'm disabled, like Jem. While I'm not in a wheelchair, I have gone through similar struggles while facing my chronic illness, fibromyalgia. I've drawn upon that to create Jem's character, and while there are some differences between us, I'm hoping that I can help portray disability in a more positive light. (As well as just portray it in general, since we need more characters like this in books.)

Like myself, Evee is also a perfectionist (which is helping me make her more real and relatable). Joie reminds me a lot of a friend of mine, as well.

10. Do you have a playlist or certain song for your novel and/or characters? 
Playlists are some of my favorite things. I haven't quite developed the one for LG yet, but here you go:

Photograph by Ed Sheeran
Tenerife Sea by Ed Sheeran
Home by Ingrid Michaelson
Abraham's Daughter by Arcade Fire
No Light, No Light by Florence + the Machine

So basically we go from cute to creepy in about three songs.

11. Let’s have some fun for a moment: imagine you are somehow transported into your book’s world. Which character are you most likely to be found hanging out with? 
I'd probably track down Hal and make him elope with me. (I'm sorry?) I'd also love to hang out with Joie. I'd love to visit Jem's lab, too.

12. How do you keep yourself motivated to finish your daily wordcount? (Pinterest? Internet breaks? Chocolate?) 
I think about how nice it will feel to update my wordcount bar on the NaNo site, and then I just write as much as I can. What helps is not looking at my wordcount for a while, and then I'm completely surprised when I see how much I've written. Come to think of it, I haven't used Pinterest as a motivator yet! I'm shocked.

13. What’s your favorite writing quote or piece of writing advice? 
Prepare for the spammage.

“Don't tell me that the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” --Anton Chekhov
(click to enlarge photos)

“We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.”
― Ray Bradbury

“Write hard and clear about what hurts.” ― Ernest Hemingway

"Write what disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open." ― Natalie Goldberg (quote found via my friend Annah)

“The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.” ― Neil Gaiman

“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.”
Ray Bradbury, Zen in the Art of Writing

I'm sure there are others that I'm forgetting, but here you are!

14. How does this book make you feel so far? Are you laughing? Crying? Frustrated?

This about sums it up.

*major props to Aimee @ To the Barricade whose gifs made me laugh out loud and inspired me to use gifs as some of my answers, as well as Allie @ Little Birdie Books and Cait @ Notebook Sisters for the inspiration to use gifs in general.
Gifspiration? Can we call it gifspiration? Can that be a thing?

What about you? How is NaNo going? 
Are you a mess like I am? Sound off in the comments!

And I'd love to read your answers, so go participate in Beautiful Books! You know you want to...

all novel information and excerpts are copyrighted to Sky Walden, 2014. if you steal it, i will come after you with a large stick. and possibly my wizard's wand.