Sunday, November 30, 2014

NaNo '14: Day 30

I won. I validated. I ordered my winner's shirt. I may have found my modern girl's character conflict (finally) and holy crap, this draft is a mess.

But that's okay, because I squeaked by and won NaNo. As you can see from the screenshot of the NaNo word count calendar below, this was not an easy NaNo.

This yellow boxes were days where I put something down, but didn't hit the daily 1667 words. The orange days were days when I wrote something, but yeah, even less words than the yellow day ones. 

I've never done a NaNo where I was down to the very last day of the month to get it to 50K. But I did it. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

NaNo '14: Day 28/ I Survived Black Friday

Current Word Count: 47, 141 (Y'all, that's about 2800 words left, yay!!)

It's the last weekend of NaNo. I have completely given up trying to write connective narrative and have instead been writing scenes, dialogue runs, whatever comes to me. It keeps me chugging along, at least. I'll be writing tonight and definitely over Sunday to hit the 50K.

So close, so close...

Monday, November 24, 2014

The (Re)Discovery of the Printed Ongoing Saga

Current NaNo word count: 40,008. (That's 9,992 words until I hit 50K! Yay!)

As many of you know, I was a Writing major in college. What this essentially meant was that I spent my college years buried in paper--books, articles, pieces I needed to read for workshop, pieces I needed to revise, the various bits and pieces you end up writing as homework...

Yesterday, as I sat down to eat on my lunch hour at work, I received a text from Katie, aka The Eternal Roomie, my old college roommate. 

Katie: So I found this folder full of your stuff from college. I think it's a portfolio. Don't know why I have it. Do you want it? *sends me picture of stuff*
Me: Huh? What is it? *stuffing food into my mouth with one hand, enlarging picture with other*
Katie: It's from Emerson. It looks like pitch letters and essays...I have no idea why I have it.
Me: Not fiction? Is it good stuff?
Katie: Oh! Wait! I just turned it over! It's our saga!

I should probably explain. Before I fell into the rabbit hole of The Keegans of Banner's Edge, there was The Ongoing Saga. The oft-given advice to a budding novelist is to "write what you know." 

But in college--what did I know? For that matter, what do I know now? I know not to take "write what you know" so literally. 

What I knew in college was that a) I was a writer and b) Katie was this fascinating creature of song and dance who I lived with and therefore, observed quite often. Not to make you sound like an experiment, K. :-)

The stuff I'd written before college (and during college) included a lot of light, fluffy, endless fan fiction, in which I inserted a lot of my friends. This is back when I had issues writing original characters and like a lot of young writers, adapting a famous person's image or known facts, melding them with people I knew, and then writing them into a story seemed to be good practice. I "fictionalized" Katie and I into what I called The Ongoing Saga because...well...

I don't think I ever got past the first chapter. Anyway, I don't think I have a copy of the saga. Or at least, if I do, it's on a flash drive somewhere and I don't even know which version of the saga it would be. There was more than one, I think?

Katie says I printed it on the back of my homework and other bits and pieces of paper I was buried under in college. She said she'd read it sometime and tell me if it was at least funny because I know it wasn't good. 

The Ongoing Saga ended up becoming something of the basis for Book The First, by the way. Which seems like a really long time ago--and the writing style feels like a long time ago, too. 

You never know where your stuff will pop up, people. Also: don't fictionalize your friends.

Friday, November 21, 2014

NaNo '14: Day 21

Current Word Count: 35, 621

It's been a wee bit of a struggle this week, what with strange work hours and my body wanting to hibernate. Hello, Seasonal Affective! I already know that the Victorian half of the story is much stronger then the modern day one and I'm trying not to mind. After all, I don't know Nicole as well as I do Victoria because Victoria's been in my head longer.

At some point, I realized that I really, really wanted to write a scene that was out of sequence. Normally I wouldn't, being a linear-type writer. But because I'm all up in the Outlander books--it's gone to obsessive levels, people--in addition to YouTube stalking some events from when the TV show started airing, I was also doing a little reading and listening to the author, Diana Gabaldon, who apparently writes "with no outline and not in a straight line." Which is kind of amazing, considering how long the books are.

Anyway, I feel like it gave me permission to write whatever comes to mind. I did that and yesterday, found a way to connect some dialogue to a scene I was writing. So that's probably how I'll get through the rest of NaNo.

This week's excerpt is a pivotal Victoria scene:

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Cool (or Weird) Things about the Victorian Era: Post-Mortem Photography

Current NaNo word count: 29,441

So, today, the word count is coming in pretty smoothly. I think I may have found a way to preserve my modern MC-is-getting-a-fortune storyline and in 1894, Victoria is about to leave home and become an actress.

In reading news, I just started Drums of Autumn, book 4 in the Outlander series.

I think my characters are beginning to click for me. Cast in point, today's Cool (Or Just Plain Weird or Creepy) Thing About the Victorian Era.

Post-Mortem Photography.
A fireman posed as if still alive

Oh, yes.

In 1894, Victoria is recounting some family history (which, of course, is also part of Nicole's family history). Her grandfather was the Earl of Malden and when he died and her uncle became the next Earl, a photographer came before the funeral to photograph the dead Earl.

I read about this somewhere not long ago and since it was regurgitated into my story, here are some...interesting photos.

From what I've read about this, it started because of the high infant mortality rate. If the family could afford a photographer, they wanted to preserve their dead child's image in a much faster way than having a painting--which may or may not resemble the deceased. 

And then it just got creepier from there. In some of the photos, the dead are standing because they  have an apparatus propping them up. In others, the dead look asleep or are made to look lifelike. 

The Strangest Tradition of the Victorian Era: Post-Mortem Photography

Pinterest: Victorian Post-Mortem Pictures

17 Haunting Post-Mortem Photographs

Friday, November 14, 2014

NaNo '14: Day 14

Current Word Count: 24,401

I'm actually writing this on Day 13, so I may or may not come back to tell you how Day 14 actually goes. I expect to hit 25K though.

It is Week Two of NaNo, which is traditionally Hell Week for NaNo. The excitement of beginning the novel has worn off and you keep looking at the stats chart and calendar and go, "Oh, God, how many more days do I have to do this for?"

For me, it's been an interesting week in that I'm totally getting that Week Two vibe of seeing a lot of what's wrong with my story, namely that Nicole, my modern day MC, isn't as well-written as the Victoria chapters are. But maybe because I'm now into parts of the story I haven't spent as much time with as the beginning of the story, I find myself more summarizing a lot of narrative and scenes rather than really taking the care of getting really into them. I'm not too worried, knowing that this is all going to be revised and rewritten and better researched anyway.

But it's still not a great feeling to re-read parts that aren't your best work. Anyway, here's your excerpt of the week. To set the scene, this is Nicole meeting with an attorney about this strange letter she received:

Monday, November 10, 2014

7 Deadly Literary Sins Blog Hop!

Krystal tagged me in this blog hop. I like the graphic :-)

Greed--What is your most inexpensive book?
Either The Conquest by Elizabeth Chadwick, which I got at Brookline Booksmith for pretty cheap. Or one of the masses of mass market paperback romance novels I own, a few of which I've gotten for free. Or, you know, the $1.99 Kindle version of The Nazi Officer's Wife.

Wrath – Who’s the author with whom you have a love/hate relationship with?

Er...I don't know. I think in the past it might've been Philippa Gregory, but now, I'm not really sure.

Gluttony – What book have you devoured over and over again with no shame?

The Countess Below Stairs by Eva Ibbotson. A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith, too. Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase.
Sloth – Which book have you neglected reading due to laziness?
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. It's staring at me right now. 
Pride – What books do you talk about most in order to sound like an intellectual reader?
Well, there's Atonement by Ian McEwan, which IS genuinely my favorite novel, which blew my mind when I read it. For non-fiction, it's probably The Guns of August, which I read this year, but I can't say that I found that level of detail particularly stimulating. I genuinely couldn't keep all the various generals and government ministers straight after a while, but hey, I read it, so I've talked about it. 

Lust – What attributes do you find attractive in a male or female character?
At the moment, Jamie Fraser from the Outlander series is everything I find attractive in a male character. Whoo boy *fans self* But, in honesty, I like strong female characters ...but not of the too stupid to live variety. I like 'em clever. I like them to not quite fit in. I like an empathetic badass. I also like a good bit of angst and overcoming angst. I prefer the male characters to not be cave men and to be decent human beings. It depends on the story, to be honest. Attributes that annoy me in one story do not annoy me so much in a different one. 
Envy – What book would you like to receive most as a gift?
Any one of these books would do :-)

So, I'm supposed to tag some people. I think I'll tag Jacqueline Bach, Carolyn Brown, and Elizabeth Mueller. But if you're reading this, consider yourself tagged as well :-)

Friday, November 7, 2014

NaNo '14: Day 7

Current Word Count: 11, 670

Hey guys--Just a little update on my 2014 NaNo experience.

Last year, I was racing through the word count. This year, not so much. I'm ahead by about a day's worth of word count, but I'm not exactly galloping through. It felt rusty and awkward the first few chapters, but now that I've written some really cool stuff, I feel a little more relaxed with these characters and this plot.

I'm alternating chapters between my two timelines: odd chapters present day, narrated in first person by Nicole; even chapters in the 1890s, third person to Victoria. I'm not so worried about research, actually. Karla sent me a book called Daily Life in a Victorian House a while back (thank you so much!) and I've picked it up to spot-check stuff like "Did men wear top hats then?" and "What was a leg o' mutton sleeve?" and "What was meal time like?"

Also, I've outsourced a little bit of research--Nicole is a quasi-descendant of Victoria's and she inherits a load of money from the family, so I asked Meta the Beta how the heck an inheritance could be managed if it came from a distant relation in a different country. What happens, like, legally?

So, watch out, guys. This story might veer into fantastical elements of legalities if I don't like the real-life answers :-)

Here's an excerpt. This is June 1893 and it is a Victoria chapter. In which Conrad man-splains and makes an ass out of himself and Victoria wonders what she ever saw in her cousin to make him marriage material.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

IWSG: November

This post is for the November IWSG. We post every first Wednesday of the month! Thanks to Alex J. Cavanagh for creating the group. Check out the IWSG here. Super thanks to the co-hosts this month: LG Keltner, Donna Hole, Lisa Buie-Collard and SL Hennessy 

So, I'm doing NaNoWriMo. On the one hand, I'm getting back into the habit of writing everyday, after a month or so of querying and outlining and researching. I always feel rusty at the beginning of a new writing project and I have to tell myself to have patience. My first drafts have never, ever, ever come out perfect on the first writing and that's not going to change now.

But there is that pernicious voice in the back of my head that asks me if I think I'm a good writer, in general. Am I a good writer? Do I make people feel or think or relate to my work? I mean, I enjoy writing--it's beyond enjoyment now, it's downright compulsive. It's one of the few things I'm definitely good at. I've been told that I'm a "talented writer," whatever that means.

But does any of that mean that my writing is good? Does it even matter if it is good--what's good writing to one person won't seem that way to another, maybe.

So that's my insecurity for the month.

Crawling back into my NaNo cave from which I will update later this week,

Sunflower Michelle