2015 - further up and further in

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

My Year of Firsts: 2015 → 2016

Wednesday, December 30, 2015 13
My Year of Firsts: 2015 → 2016
I can't believe it's the end of another year, another chapter in my life. 2015 was so, so full. Full of tears, laughter, joy, adventures... and a whole lotta love. (Okay, I'll try to tone down the sap for this post.)

Here's a rundown of what went down. (See what I did there?)


January
  • I started watching The Walking Dead even though I swore I never would.
  • I detailed my writing process on the blog.
  • Sorry, I'm lame. I don't even remember what happened last January. Except it involved taking at least one selfie.
February
  • I grieved the death of Leonard Nimoy.
  • I saw Celtic Thunder's "best of" concert, which included my first time seeing Damian McGinty live. I've loved this band (and Damian) since I was thirteen or fourteen, so it was a big deal.
  • I reminisced about seeing Owl City live in concert.
  • Someone crashed their car through our fence. Everyone was okay, but it was eventful.
Mom & I at Celtic Thunder

March

April
  • We relaunched The Fangirl Initiative with a domain name, a new design, and a giveaway
  • I scouted more graduation party locations (and found one!)
  • I took my senior pictures in a giant field of grass (something that was an unspoken item on my bucket list).
  • I turned 19! I got an iPod to replace my slightly-broken one, and we watched Divergent.

May
  • I'm lame here, too. I don't remember what happened. But there was a lot of rain and graduation planning.

June
  • I graduated!
  • I got my permit (finally).
  • We had to hospitalize our cat, Tux, who was diagnosed with kidney failure. He was sent home to be on IV fluids, and we got a few more months with him.


July
  • Our desktop computer caught on fire. We were fine, but it was a wild day.
  • I tried to read more, with mixed results.
  • I did a glaze to turn my hair red, completing an item on my bucket list.
  • I finished Because I'm Irish's first rewrite
  • I finished Petrichor's first draft.

August
  • I bought my first flannel shirt, which was the best decision I ever made.
  • I began recapping Daredevil on The Fangirl Initiative.
  • I finally got Further Up and Further In a domain name after blogging since 2006

September
  • I got my second earlobe piercing.
  • I visited Oregon.
  • I saw the ocean for the first time.


October
  • I started recapping Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on The Fangirl Initiative.
  • I came up with the idea for Leo Andromedus
  • I met an old blogging friend, Gianna, who is lovely and amazing and truly a gift.
  • I got introduced to a whole new social atmosphere (aka I got a social life)
  • Started working with Libero Network
  • I said goodbye to my first pet and one of my best friends, Tuxedo Max.
  • I dressed up as Jemma Simmons for Halloween.

November

December
  • My grandpa Bob passed away unexpectedly. I still don't know what to say about this. I'm so sad but also so happy that he's where he's supposed to be. Bittersweet.
  • I saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens and IT WAS SO GOOD.
  • We had Christmas, which was sad but still really good.

Almost every month, I'd create a monthly playlist. This is the certain collection of songs that got me through 2015. Let it serve as a representation of what 2015 was like (and also how varied my music tastes are).

It's been a full year. One mostly full of firsts. I saw the ocean for the first time. I graduated high school. I drove a car for the first time. I lost my first pet. I lost my first grandfather. I tried rewriting a novel for the first time.

So many firsts. So many learning experiences. So much. Just... so much. That's how I'd describe 2015. (So much, such wow.)

How was your 2015?

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown

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Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown
Life is weird. I'm sure you already knew that.

I've been trying to think of what to post about today, since I'm aiming to post here every Wednesday. Several topics come to mind but recede just as soon as they appeared. So... I'm just going to write and try to explain why I don't have a cool post for today.

It's been a rough few weeks. Basically, my grandpa passed away on December 11th. It was sudden, though his health has been failing for a long time. I wanted to do a really poetic post about this to do him justice, but I'm not ready for that yet. Soon, though.

It's a roller coaster of emotions. One moment I'm happy and excited about Christmas. The next I'm just... not happy. 

"I think there must be something wrong with me, Linus. Christmas is coming, but I'm not happy. I don't feel the way I'm supposed to feel. I just don't understand Christmas, I guess. I like getting presents and sending Christmas cards and decorating trees and all that, but I'm still not happy. I always end up feeling depressed." - Charlie Brown

So, in the midst of all these weird emotions, I just want to say that I really hope you have an awesome Christmas. Amidst the sadness, I'm sure I'll find some things to be happy about. I hope you do too. ♥
 


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

My 2016 Writing Goals (As Told by Bilbo Baggins)

Wednesday, December 16, 2015 13
My 2016 Writing Goals (As Told by Bilbo Baggins)

2016 is just around the corner, and I can hardly believe it. Where did 2015 go?

As January approaches, I've been trying to get myself back into the swing of things, both with blogging and writing my novels. It can be easy for me to put things off (as you already know), but I'm starting off the new year with a fresh determination to stick to my goals. So without further ado, I wanted to share my writing goals for 2016.

I don't know why, but this post seems to want to use hobbit gifs. Can we just pretend I'm Bilbo Baggins for a bit? Okay, thanks.

Overall goals
  • Write more! (This one is kind of obvious.)
  •  I want to get in the habit of making writing a daily routine, which involves using 750words.com as much as possible.
  • Edit more. Years ago, my problem was that I never finished anything. Currently, my problem is that I never revise anything. I need to fix that.

The view I'm trying to have about my first drafts.

  • Let myself follow my inspiration. Sometimes I get so caught up in finishing something that I make myself stay on one project, While this is good at times, I need to be able to let go and be a bit more free with regards to what I choose to work on. I'm hoping to find the balance between staying focused but also letting myself pursue plot bunnies. (Because I have to admit, I kind of thrive on plot bunnies. And adventures. I think I actually am Bilbo Baggins...)
  • Basically? Just write my heart out. This goal trumps all the others. I don't really care what I get done this year, as long as I'm writing... because that is what will really help me grow. (It also helps me feel fulfilled and happy, so that's all the more reason to do it.)


Specific projects I want to work on
  • Because I'm Irish. Every December or January, I get the itch to work on my baby, Because I'm Irish. (Okay, I know it sounds weird to say "baby" with regards to novels, but you know that novel you come back to time and time again? That's what I mean.) Whether it's working on the first draft, which I started in December 2011, or rewriting it, which I started last December, I'm almost always working on BCII during the winter. I've also worked on its sequel. The weird thing is, it takes me usually about 6 months to a year to finish working on all the various BCII things I've done. So I always finish by June or July of the following year. So, to keep on track this year, I need to start now and finish this next summer. I'm thinking of editing both BCII and its sequel, Because We Can. Once those are both finished, I can start writing the third and final book in the series (something that I'm admittedly not ready for, but I'm trying to be).
  • Lost Girls. This has so much potential, I just need to edit it. 
  • Spaceboy. I started this randomly after NaNoWriMo. It involves space trips and space ships and cute people. It's going to be great.
(It's still Martin Freeman, so close enough.)

New things to try in 2016
  • Tentatively, I would like to try out having beta readers, or at least let more people read my work than I ever have before.
  • Working towards querying. Obviously, this was the goal all along, but I really want to make a point on polishing my writing so that I can get a move on.
  • Short stories. (Maybe?) Of course, every time I try to write a short story, it turns into a novel, so...
  • I want to write something where a girl spends the entire time pining over a guy and then absolutely nothing happens. Yes. It will suck. But it's quite realistic. (And perhaps a bit evil...)

These are by no means all of my writing goals, but these are some of them. I felt that writing them down might help me stay focused. Plus, it's always fun to share with you all. (And my third reason? I wanted to use all the Bilbo Baggins gifs.)

(What I will need while completing these goals.)

And now I want to hear from you! What are your writing goals for 2016?

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A Writer’s Guide to Not Writing

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A Writer’s Guide to Not Writing

As writers, I feel that most of us are very familiar with a little thing called not-writing. Another name for this is...

Procrastination.

I don't know about you, but here are the five things I use the most to aid me in the art of Not Writing.


1. Pinterest


This one is tricky because you can still sort of convince yourself that you’re writing. If you pin stuff related to your novels, it’s much easier to allow yourself to continue not-writing.

2. Netflix


It’s too easy to binge-watch. (Oh, I’m totally going to stop after this episode, said everyone ever. Oh, let me turn off the TV now, said no one ever.)


3. Tumblr (or your social media of choice)


I don't even think I need to elaborate.


4. Excuses


This can be anything from "Meh, you deserve a break," to, "You can write more later, just chill for right now."


5. The elusive "tomorrow."


I always believe I will start tomorrow, which is a bald-faced lie.


Spoiler alert: It never happens.



I feel like Shia LaBeouf has a very good point. Be right back, I'm going to go make my dreams come true.

How about you? What's your #1 favorite way to procrastinate?


Monday, December 7, 2015

What a Wild Ride (Beautiful Books #3)

Monday, December 07, 2015 3
What a Wild Ride (Beautiful Books #3)
NaNoWriMo 2015 is now over, and somehow I managed to make it to the finish line. In celebration of this, I'm here to participate in Beautiful Books, my blog link-up with Cait.

I'll be discussing Leo Andromedus Saves the World, the novel that took everything out of me.


1. On a scale of 1 (worst) to 10 (best), how did the book turn out? 

I'm going to say a 4. While I love my characters, this book needs some serious help. I did finish both NaNo and the novel, but it took a lot out of me to write it. I kind of rushed the ending and messed up some things. (*evil laughter*)

It needs heavy editing for sure, and writing it was nearly impossible. I got behind several times, and I didn't like my novel very much at all. 

Writing Leo A was a last minute plan, as you know, and I do think I rushed writing it. I didn't know enough about it in order to write it with confidence. So, I learned a few things. This NaNo, I realized that while I do like to fly by the seat of my pants, I do need to have basic plot points that I'm writing towards (like I did last year with Lost Girls). I do have to plot out at least a little bit--at least during NaNo. If I don't have at least a little plotted, then I waste time trying to figure out what happens next when I should be writing. So, that was a nice little lesson learned. 

Writing Leo Andromedus Saves the World was really super-duper hard. However, now that I'm done with it, I appreciate this book so much, and I am ultimately glad I wrote it. 

...Did anything defy your expectations?

Haha, yeah. Like... all of it. A murder plot happened, several deaths occurred, and my characters' vibrant personalities were a total surprise. They totally switched around many of my plans, which, surprisingly is fine by me. It was all a really wild, difficult adventure.

2. Comparative title time: what published books, movies, or TV shows are like your book? (Ex: Inkheart meets X-Men.)

This is absolutely Inkheart meets X-Men. Just kidding, I wish. (Cait and I still want someone to write Inkheart meets X-Men. Just saying.)

I would have to say this is like Once Upon a Time meets The Raven Boys meets NCIS. (I don't even know what I write anymore, guys.)

3. Do you enjoy working with deadlines and pressure (aka NaNoWriMo)? Or do you prefer to write-as-you’re-inspired?

Normally, NaNo gives me the much-needed boost to finish off my novels and to just write. However, this year, it was the direct opposite: writing was like pulling teeth. As soon as NaNo ended, I started a story (titled Spaceboy) where there was no pressure to make it good or to finish in a month. Writing this story is going so much better. Who knew?


4. How do you go about editing? Give us an insight into your editing process.

How do I go about editing?

I... just... don't. 

I've rewritten Because I'm Irish, so I think that counts. That was literally rewriting, though, and there wasn't as much actual editing involved. I'm hoping to work on that next year... but we'll talk about that during question #10.

5. What aspect of your story needs the most work?


The plot, as well as those teensy little details that end up being inconsistent. Leo and Emilie, one of the many friendships in the novel, ended up having like 5 different stories of how they met. So... yeah. Editing the plot, writing, and inconsistencies. AKA, fixing everything.

6. What aspect of your story did you love the most?


Okay, I'm kidding, I'm kidding. I loved the friendships. The interpersonal dynamics were so perfect. I loved the titular character, Leo, so much. He's so full of life. I also really enjoyed Allan's ability to read minds, which led to some really creepy-awesome scenes.

7. Give us a brief run down on your main characters and how you think they turned out. Do you think they'll need changes in edits?

Maybe. I think the bare bones for my characters are in tact, but they can always be fleshed out more.

Leo turned out so much better than I had planned, actually. He's British, with a quick wit and a penchant for slightly off-kilter ideas. His best friend, Allan, started out super moody, but by the end was one of the best companions my characters could ask for. Emilie was my unexpected narrator, who viewed things rationally and logically (and mostly skeptically). She had a connection with each character, which was so fun to write. The only one I think needs more development is Raven. She seemed kind of flat and dry since I was busy giving the other characters screen time. I'd also like to develop my secondary characters, Brooke and Declan, a lot more in future drafts.


8. What are your plans for this novel once you finish editing? More edits? Finding beta readers? Querying? Self-publishing? Hiding it in a dark hole forever?

WE'LL SEE HOW EDITS GO. IT COULD BE LEO A SPENDS SOME TIME IN A DARK HOLE. AKA, THE PIT.


Basically, though I love this novel, it burned me out so badly that it needs to take a time out for a little while. I know it has potential, but it needs to sit for a bit before we get there. So we shall see.

9. Share a favourite snippet!

This involved going into my document for the first time since NaNo, which was a terrifying prospect. 

“You’ve been gifted with this thing called Magic. Again, congratulations. It’s quite an honor. Most people live their life in a vanilla sort of complacency, never knowing there’s wonder lurking around every corner.”

That's my darling Leo Andromedus speaking, and this quote kind of sums up what the entire novel is about: magic, with a touch of witty sarcasm and British wit.

10. What are your writing goals and plans for 2016?

I'm currently working on a random new project called Spaceboy, which stars Stanley Tucci and Chris Pratt, among others. I really love where it's going.

In 2016, I would like to make writing a routine that I work on every single day (or close to it!). I'd also like to revise at least one draft, so that I can work towards my goal of publication.

How did NaNo go for you? Did you enter Beautiful Books? Let me know below!

(P.S. New blog design. I felt like it was time for a change. Let me know what you think!)

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Beautiful Books: The Editing Process

Sunday, December 06, 2015 0
Beautiful Books: The Editing Process
The busyness of NaNoWriMo is finally over. In the aftermath, Cait and I have the third and final round of Beautiful Books! This time, we're discussing the editing process. How did your NaNo novel turn out? How do you edit an average novel? Tell us all!

How does it work? We've assembled 10 questions for you to answer about your novel (and yourself). Open a blog post, answer them, and come back to add your link to the linky. Please feel free to check out the other linkers, too! We want this to be one big party.

OH! One last thing. While Beautiful Books is somewhat themed around NaNoWriMo, you absolutely don't have to be doing NaNo to participate. Pick a work-in-progress, grab a hot beverage, and enjoy. Above all, these link-ups are supposed to be fun!


So that people can find the link-up, please link back to Cait and I, either via a text link or this fancy blog button.




And now for the questions!
  1. On a scale of 1 (worst) to 10 (best), how did the book turn out? Did anything defy your expectations?
  2. Comparative title time: what published books, movies, or TV shows are like your book? (Ex: Inkheart meets X-Men.)
  3. Do you enjoy working with deadlines and pressure (aka NaNoWriMo)? Or do you prefer to write-as-you’re-inspired?
  4. How do you go about editing? Give us an insight into your editing process.
  5. What aspect of your story needs the most work?
  6. What aspect of your story did you love the most?
  7. Give us a brief run down on your main characters and how you think they turned out. Do you think they'll need changes in edits?
  8. What are your plans for this novel once you finish editing? More edits? Finding beta readers? Querying? Self-publishing? Hiding it in a dark hole forever?
  9. Share a favourite snippet!
  10. What are your writing goals and plans for 2016?

How's your writing going? What are you indulging in now that NaNo is over? (I've been indulging in watching a ton of Jessica Jones.) Sound off in the comments!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Saving the World... Among Other Things (Beautiful Books #2)

Sunday, November 22, 2015 4
Saving the World... Among Other Things (Beautiful Books #2)
Last time we spoke, I was torn between writing Metal and Bone and Leo Andromedus Saves the World. Well, Leo Andromedus Saves the World won. (Sometimes I fondly call it Leo A., or just Leo. Yeah, it's a weird title. You could also call it The-Book-That-Sky-Was-Barely-Managing-to-Write-But-Is-Now-Cooperating-for-the-Most-Part. Your call.)


1. Is the book turning out how you thought it would be, or is it defying your expectations?
Haha. Um. No.

If you'll recall, in Beautiful Books #1, I said that Emily and Allan were the wild ones, and Leo and Raven were the quiet ones?

No. It totally switched on me. Instead of a quiet, Steve Rogers type, Leo has become an energetic--almost manic--character. Emilie is his logical friend who focuses on facts and rationality. Allan is a flat-out enigma who never speaks and apparently reads minds (cool, bro, thanks for enlightening me on that). Raven is... well, she's a creator; lover of making things beautiful. But for what it's worth, she's wild like Leo, too.

They're perfect together... and they're quite the rebels. Obviously. Since they totally switched the plot on me. (Of course, that's been a trend since they appeared out of nowhere and sabotaged my NaNo plans.)

This is what my characters have to say about my best laid plans.
Other things are a surprise, like the fact that this book takes place in the Pacific Northwest and apparently involves murder.
I also have two new characters, Brooke and Declan, who made my plot 100% more complicated (but somehow, they are worth it).


I'm having trouble staying motivated, but on the whole, things are going really well. They weren't earlier this month, but now I'm starting to get a grasp on the story. There are so many different story threads, all of which were a total surprise to me (the Pantser). It's like I'm finding the story out as I write it, which is amazing. It's the best feeling.

2. What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?
I’m pretty sure Leo Kelly was convinced he was invincible. He feared nothing, and he inspired others to live the same way. If Leo was one thing, it was dangerous. He’d jump off a cliff and not care if he fell at the bottom of it.
And he had three of us who would jump off with him: Allan, Emilie, and me. Maybe that was the dangerous part.

Raven narrates the beginning. And it's a dang good beginning, too. Unfortunately, she doesn't even keep narrating the rest of the novel. Leo does. And then Emilie does. And we don't even know if Leo will narrate a chapter ever again. It's kind of a mess. I will edit it later.

This is pretty much 100% what NaNo is like.
3. Are you a plotter or a pantser? Have you ever tried both methods and how did it turn out?

I'm kind of a plotter, but I'm mostly a pantser. I do this weird kind of plotting called the Headlight Method. I come up with a plot point, then I plan the next one in my head. It seems to work for me.

I have outlined before, particularly in the past. I did this with my NaNo 2011 novel, Silver Tears. It worked fine (though I did never finish the book). However, some of my favorite projects have been unplotted and written as they came to me--Because I'm Irish is one of those, and it's one of my favorite novels of mine to date. So I'm okay with being a pantser. I absolutely love it, actually, because there's something amazing about discovering all the plot twists as they happen. It just can take a while to get into the swing of things, but once I do, I start finding out things I never dreamed would happen in the novel. And that's the way I like it.


4. What do you reward yourself with after meeting a goal?

Usually... Um. ...Nothing? Maybe I should change this.


5. What do you look for in a name? Do you have themes and where do you find your names?

Naming is weird for me. Usually I pick whatever comes to mind. Sometimes I'll see a name and I'll think, "Ooh. I'm using that." Sometimes there are characters that I can't name for years.

I can't even sum up my naming process. It's literally gut feelings, like, "I feel like this character's name starts with A." So I'll Google names that start with A. (One of my favorite sites for this is NameBerry.)

6. What is your favourite to write: beginning, middle, or end — and why?

All of them are cool in different ways... and all of them have their weak spots. I love the rush of starting a new project, but sometimes it's hard to know how to continue (or even begin). While middles are the worst to write since you don't know what's happening most of the time, some of the best character development and ~cool stuff~ can happen. And endings are amazing, because ohmygoshyoujustfinishedabook... but sometimes it's impossible to know how to end something.

Upsides and downsides to everything. I don't really have a favorite. I'm being too difficult and overanalyzing this question.


7. Who’s your current favourite character in your novel?

I think I'm going to go with Emilie, my POV character. She's pretty deadpan, logical, and sarcastic, so she's fun to right. (Especially since her opinion on magic is less than stellar.)


But Leo is pretty dang awesome too. It's his goal to save the world. (Obviously.) Okay, but Raven is sweet and compassionate and lovable and... feels. And Allan. He's like the rock of the group.

Then there are Brooke and Declan, whom I didn't expect to even exist. They're kind of both being antagonistic right now, but we're working through it.

Declan. What a goober.
8. What kind of things have you researched for this project, and how do you go about researching? (What’s the weirdest thing you’ve researched?!)

For Leo A, I've researched nothing. It's a weird book involving magic and murder, so there hasn't been a lot I've had to research. (I'm sure I'll find something later.) For right now, I'm making it up as I go (and probably wrecking it horribly, but whatever).

As for the weirdest thing I've researched, I've looked up how to gut a deer, as well as different ways to subtly poison people. (I promise it had a purpose. Also, the fruits of my research led me to a poisonous food called cassava. You're welcome.)

9. Do you write better alone or with others? Do you share your work or prefer to keep it to yourself?

I thrive on the motivation that word wars provide, so often I use that to help get myself to be productive. I also like writing alongside friends at the same time because there's a sense of camaraderie that can't be duplicated (and sometimes we even co-write books). I do okay as a solo writer, though, if I can get in the zone.

As for sharing my work... Nah. I have sent snippets and full books to some friends, but overall it's hard for me to share my work. I'm a perfectionist.



10. What are your writing habits? Is there a specific snack you eat? Do you listen to music? What time of day do you write best? Feel free to show us a picture of your writing space!

It's a lot easier for me to write with music. It's almost imperative. I can write about it, but it's really hard. It's background noise more than anything (helpful with a noisy house).

As for time of day, ideally I usually do best in short spurts throughout the day. It doesn't often work out like that because it takes me forever to get up the motivation to write, so by the time I'm writing, I'm cramming in 2,000 words at midnight (or later!).


My writing space is in the kitchen nook, in the middle of everything. So it can be quite the toss-up what will be found there.
What about you? How's NaNo going? Sound off in the comments, and don't forget to enter Beautiful Books!