Monday, November 27, 2017

Story Beats

It's no secret that I have problems plotting a novel out. I attributed this to being the kind of writer who usually thinks in characters rather than story events.

Well, frankly, I'm tired of stalling on my projects/being a slow writer/not getting how to plot/or how to pace out a plot.

I mean, it's weird. I recognize a plot when I'm reading. I can see the steps the story takes as the tension builds toward the climax. I've just always had a hard time replicating your basic plotting pyramid thing in a longer piece of writing (over 30, 000 words). I'm horrible at mathematics and I'm not strategically-brained; to some extent, plotting a novel and pacing it well is organization, applying a formula, a pattern, strategizing how and where things will happen.

For some reason, I feel like I flail around a lot while trying to plot.

Plot: definiton: the events that happen in your story.

First of all, I don't think the plotting pyramid is accurate. You know the one. You've seen it in high school English class:
Freytag's Dramatic Structure
If the climax happens in the middle of the novel, what am I reading the back half of the book for?

Monday, November 20, 2017

Winter's Siren: Author Krystal Jane Ruin on her new book

The last novel I finished reading was my writing friend Krystal Jane Ruin's second novel Winter's Siren.

Upholding blog tradition, I bugged Krystal this weekend with some questions about her book and she was gracious enough to answer them!

Winter's Siren was released on November 1, 2017, and is currently enrolled in the Kindle Unlimited program.

In Fairy Tales, The Monsters Are Always Slain...

For the last five years, Fawn has been the star soprano of a secluded opera house, forced to sing for her kidnapper.

His daughter, Devi, waits patiently in the shadows, hiding a face so horrible that no one who’s seen it will look at it again.

As Fawn plots her escape, whispers spread through the shaded corridors of dark sorcery, warning her that she must flee by the next opening night.

But when Fawn draws close to the exit, it’s Devi who’s standing in her way, leading Fawn to suspect that Devi has something to gain if she fails.

(a dark reimagining of Swan Lake)

Now available at Amazon!

Sunflower: Winter's Siren is a retelling of Swan Lake. What made you want to retell Swan Lake in this dark fairytale style?

Krystal: I'd been dying to do something in a fairytale stye and had been trying for a couple of years. But I didn't think about retelling Swan Lake specifically until I saw the ballet for the second time after seeing the movie Black Swan. I just thought, "I HAVE to do something with this." The story is so mystical and fascinating, and the movie helped me see that I wasn't giving myself enough freedom in my other retelling ideas. Those had all fallen apart because I kept being too literal, and that just wasn't working for my brain.

Winter's Siren is really different compared to your first book--not only in subject matter and tone, but with two first person POVs! I thought it was really effective in showing the reader what was going on as the story flowed, but also in tugging at the reader as to who they were rooting for. Did that POV come about from the beginning?

Thank you! It did actually! I'm not sure I ever thought about telling it from a single POV. I hadn't done dual first person in a very long time, but I couldn't see this story any other way. They were both talking and poking at me, so I had to go with it.

Poor, poor, poor Devi, born with that cursed face. And poor Fawn, too, kidnapped and taken to this remote and creepy but magical opera house. Did both of the girls come to you fully formed or develop as the process went on? Is one an antagonist in your view or are they both (I think) equally protagonists and antagonists?

Excellent! ^_^ Neither one of them showed me too many layers until I got in their heads. I wrote the first chapter and part of the second chapter several months before I actually sat down to write the story. By then, I knew them pretty well. I'm definitely on the side of them being equals. Even from early on. :) 

There were elements in this book that totally reminded of Phantom of the Opera (I know you're a fan) and even of Wicked. This isn't really a question lol 

I know right! That was totally accidental, but also totally unsurprising. I'm crazy obsessed with The Phantom, and I love the music to Wicked so much I rewrote a large portion of the plot in my head. Haha. I didn't notice the Wicked aspects until you said something. But I did notice the Phantom elements pretty early on. 

The cover is amazing! You said on your blog that you went through a few concepts, right? How did you settle on this one?

Yep! The other cover ideas matched my personal style more, and would also match my other book more, but as soon as I saw this one, I had to have it. The first concept was darker overall and had these gorgeous teals. It was also really good, because my designer is the best, but I just felt like I couldn't live without this one. I literally thought, "I must have that or I'll die!" LOL! And like you pointed out, the tone is so different, so I figured the cover could also be vastly different than what I would normally go for. 

Thank you to Krystal for answering my questions! 

Krystal Jane Ruin is the author supernatural & paranormal fiction and a rabid fan of hourglasses, daggers, and all things Titanic. You can find her on her YouTube channel or on her blog, The Narcissistic Rose. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

30 Books Read!

Whoops. I got all caught up in the novel I'm currently reading--Winter's Siren by Krystal Jane Ruin-- that I finished book 30 and forgot to document it on ze blog.

Also, one other book-related thing: the first time my name is printed in a paperback, y'all. I bought the Full Dark paperback on Amazon and it arrived on Wednesday.

And now, on with the reading challenge: 30 down, 5 to go.

21. Asians in Britain: 400 Years of History by Rozina Visram. Nonfiction/History/Indian history/British history. 3 stars.

24. Pursue the Unknown End (The Antiquities Series #2) by Emily Steers. Fiction/Mystery/Adventure/Action/Contemporary/American/Boston. 5 stars.

27. Love and Other Consolation Prizes by Jamie Ford. Fiction/Historical Fiction/Twentieth Century/Seattle. 3 stars.

Monday, November 6, 2017

5 Things About "Haunted Lake"

"Haunted Lake" is the title of my paranormal short story in the anthology FULL DARK, now available on Amazon and B&N.

Haunted Lake is also a real place--and the region around it is real as well. I don't think it's haunted in real life, though. At least it wasn't the one time I've been there.

1. Haunted Lake is a lake in Francestown, New Hampshire. Real name: Scobie Pond. This is what Haunted Lake looks like. Apparently, there's another Haunted Lake in Londonderry, New Hampshire, which is nearby.

It's a beautiful place and it is not creepy at all. It's natural beauty. But being a city kid, I generally associate rural countryside with creepiness.

2. There has to be a reason why a lake is known as "Haunted Lake," no? I quizzed my college roommmate and her sister (who grew up along the shores of said lake) about how and why it might've gotten its name. There were a few stories; some of them ended up in a mish-mash in my story. 

3. Matthew Patten was a real person. A secondary character in my story, the real Matthew Patten was a resident of Bedford, NH, and was hired in 1753 to survey the boundaries of the town of New London.  His diary of this period provides a lot of information about early New Hampshire. I stole him and his surveying for this story. His two surveying associates are fictional.

4. The "misshapen mountain" that the surveyors talk about in the story is Crotched Mountain, now partially a ski resort.

5. The unusual tomb/memorial rock Kimiko runs across in the graveyard is not in New Hampshire. When I was a kid and forced to take violin lessons, the lessons were held in the church basement of the Zion Episcopal Church in Douglaston, Queens. The church is on a hill and has a substantial graveyard, which my dad and I were exploring one afternoon because we like cemeteries. We came across a huge stone. 

Source: Peter Greenberg, Wikimedia Commons
Here lies the last of the Matinecoc, is the inscription. The Matinecock were a Native American tribe who lived on Long Island--they were part of the Lenape tribe. 

Friday, November 3, 2017

Winter's Siren by Krystal Jane Ruin! Book Blitz!

Winter’s Siren
Krystal Jane Ruin
Publication date: November 1st 2017
Genres: Paranormal, Young Adult
For the last five years, Fawn has been the star soprano of a secluded opera house, forced to sing for her kidnapper.
His daughter, Devi, waits patiently in the shadows, hiding a face so horrible that no one who’s seen it will look at it again.
As Fawn plots her escape, whispers spread through the shaded corridors of dark sorcery, warning her that she must flee by the next opening night.
But when Fawn draws close to the exit, it’s Devi who’s standing in her way, leading Fawn to suspect that Devi has something to gain if she fails.
(a dark reimagining of Swan Lake)

Frosty air nips at my nose. I stand almost knee deep in fresh fallen snow, letting the diffused sunlight hit my face. There is no sound. Peace settles over me. In this moment, I truly feel like I’m in the middle of nowhere.

Something cold and wet explodes on the back of my neck. For a moment, I fear the worst. A boil. Pus. My father’s description of my mother’s face plays out in my mind.

But then I hear Andrew laughing behind me. I touch the rough skin on my neck and bring a shaky and damp glove to my face. Snow. It’s just snow.

It’s the middle of the day, and my face is uncovered. To make everything worse, it’s bright outside. Freezing and overcast, but bright.

My hands fly to my face automatically.

“Are you going to let me get away with that?” Andrew laughs again.

I twist around and peek at him through my fingers.

He stands before me, his arms spread wide. A thick coat covers his arms, and in his gloved hands, he holds another snowball. “You have two seconds to stop me!”

I flip my hood over my head and drop down to gather snow in my hands.

Another snowball bursts against my head. The wetness plasters my hair to my face. I hurl my deformed ball in his direction. It misses him completely.

Another wad of snow lands on my neck while I gather a larger, rounder ball of snow. “Cheating!” I throw my handful at him. It lands weakly by his knees.

“Here, let me help you.” He climbs towards me and gathers a nice, solid ball in his fist. He hands this to me, and then stands back and spreads his arms wide again. “Try again.”

I throw it square at his nose.

“Ow!” He covers his face and cries out dramatically. “It’s in my eyes!”

“Stop it! Are you serious?” I navigate closer to him, and he falls back into the snow. I run to his side and hear laughter bubbling out from behind his hands. “Jerk!” I shovel snow over his body, and he laughs all the while.

Then he goes still. I stop.

“Andrew?” I lean in close. “Andrew?”

He lunges out of his shallow grave and tackles me to the ground.

A panicked scream leaves my body as he lands on top of me, heavy and warm. Then a strange sound comes out of my mouth. Something that’s never come out of it before. Laughter.

His braid hangs down, inches from my sunken cheek. Suddenly aware of how close his head is to mine, the laughter dies in my throat, and I slap my gloves to my cheeks.

“You have such beautiful eyes,” he says.

My breath is trapped in my chest. It hurts. I don’t know how much he can see of my face—my hood is pulled low and my hair and hands cover everything else—but I fear it’s too much.

“Andrew . . .”

Author Bio:
Krystal is the author of supernatural and paranormal fiction, living in the Tennessee Valley with a collection of swords and daggers. When she's not hoarding stuffed pandas, hourglasses, and Hello Kitty replicas, she can be found in YouTube hole or blogging about books, writing, and random things at


Wednesday, November 1, 2017

IWSG November

It's Wednesday, November 1st and it's time for IWSG! The IWSG is a large network and we post our writerly insecurities on the first Wednesday of every month.

I've had a busy last week or so.

One: I am a contributor to FULL DARK: An Anthology, available now on Amazon and B&N. It's an anthology of dark short stories, benefitting the Gary Sinise Foundation, which has a bevy of programs and initiatives supporting first responders and active and former military.

With everything going in the world--including the truck incident in Manhattan yesterday afternoon, which killed 8 people--I'm fine, everyone I know is fine, New York City is fine (we're a hardy bunch)--it's important to remember all the people who do so much to keep the rest of us safe.

My short story is "Haunted Lake." There will be a blog post with some background on the story up in a few days.

Two: My friend Krystal Jane Ruin is releasing her second novel, Winter's Siren, today! Can't wait to go on another thrill ride by Krystal.

Three: I've been noodling around with a new creepy short story. A friend had floated the idea on Twitter of an anthology of stories about maligned women, some of them real, some of them myth. I don't know if this idea of hers will come together, but I had an idea, so I've started writing the thing slowly.

Four: I've begun outlining my next longer writing project. I'm basically a pantser, but this new idea is a four-book series. Some of the stories overlap, time-wise. Also, I'm tired of having my typical mid-project meltdown where my characters don't listen, I don't know what I'm doing or where I'm going, it's frustrating, and I start asking that vital question: "Why am I putting myself through all this torture to write fictional characters?"

And so, I am outlining. I'm going to make sure these outlines are fairly detailed, that there's a decent amount of conflict, that the plot moves before I actually start writing the stories.

I'm tired of this defective part of my writing process. It's time for a change.

Also, best of luck to anyone doing NaNoWriMo this month!