Monday, February 28, 2011

Do you want a Knight in Shining Armor?

I have thought about the knight in shining armor question ever since a good friend told me that she believes all women secretly want a knight in shining armor. At first I was ready to agree with her, but since she mentioned it, I've been thinking. And I disagree. What I really wanted to tell her is that I don't want a knight in shining armor. I want to be the knight in shining armor! To elaborate, I feel like the hero myself. Maybe not the armor type, but the type to try and save all those who come into my path. I've been doing it since high school, and maybe even earlier. I consider some traits I have as 'masculine' go-getter traits, the kind of qualities that would make a person scale ten foot walls bare-handed and rescue a helpless person. I have never thought of myself as a helpless person, except when people remind me that I am short in stature, and female. That kind of attitude robs me of my hero spirit and can totally deflate me if I let it. So I try not to let it.

As far as what type of man I would cuddle up to, since it wouldn't be a knight, I'd say wandering minstrel. Perhaps instead of songs, he writes poetry, or draws pictures. It's basically the same.

This guy is the type that sings, writes, draws, or something that expresses himself. And he expresses himself very well. He's very gregarious, and considers others before himself. He's got a big, open heart. He's clever and curious about life and has a hunger and a passion for it. He doesn't feel like he has to save the world, but just putting a smile on a person's face makes him feel he's done it just the same.

It would be nice after a day of swinging my sword and being the avenging angel of doom, to come home to that. Someone who makes me laugh and smile and just enjoy life. No armor, no horse. Just tea and patchwork blankets, and maybe his mandolin by the fire.

So, when it comes to men, ladies, what would it be? The knight, the minstrel, the mayor of the town?

And gentlemen, what about you? The princess, the seamstress, the wild witch who lives in the wood?

It's very interesting what people's types are. It tells you a lot about them.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Strawman's latest version

Here's my newest Strawman concept. He came about when I stopped trying and just drew. I finally got his hair the way I wanted it, and his mad, mad eyes. They draw me in in a wonderful, charismatic way.

I imagine his voice to have a soft, prowling, somewhat high-pitched tone. No deep, overly masculine voice for this villain.

The next image I draw should show the teeth, since I haven't decided if they should be sharp or not. I'll have a lot of fun designing the Boogeyman-style ribcage for him. It will be made out of metal to protect others from his devouring heart.

Full Steam Ahead!

It's amazing how things can change in two days. My last entry spoke of all that had held me back from writing, and the rough patches that come up, but today is new and last night I finished my 29th chapter! I tentatively call it "Goodbyes" and it's the beginning of the end - of the first book, that is. After over 70,000 words and a year later, I'm nearly finished with it. I haven't worked on it full-time, and I haven't worked strictly on writing. (I've also done research and character design.) But I've kept at it, and encouraged myself even when I was tempted to throw in the towel.

I'm excited to be coming to the end of it, but the way it's setting up, I'll be diving right into the second book within a couple months of finishing the first. I have to sketch illustrations, ink illustrations, and consider cover art. I have to do a mockup of how I want the layout of the first few pages to look. But then it's ready to be sent off to an agent, and I'm crossing my fingers that Ms. Andelman and I will be a good match.

I'm just so thrilled that I am on the precipice of a lifelong dream coming true! Honestly, I didn't expect this to be happening for years, but here it's landed in my lap and I'm only two years out of grad school! Since I was in junior high I told people casually, "I want to write and illustrate my own stories," not really knowing if I would be able to get them published. But one thing I've learned through living, and watching other dreams come true along the way, is that the very deepest, most desired of your dreams will come true because they are the most desired. Anyone, anywhere can have it happen. You only have to set the wheels in motion and keep driving.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Death, Sickness, and Other Distractions

I've been dealing with a lot of distractions lately, so I haven't been writing, and it's made me feel like a terrible slacker. This past week there was a death in my church family, and I suffered a throat infection. The death of this lovely woman has been hard on my family and those I attend church with. She was one of our 'pillars', and has been at that church since I can remember. Though she's gone on to a better place, this kind of a shaking in the foundation isn't easy to deal with. This year and the past couple of years, it seems like we've been losing people who are either special to us as individuals or us as a culture of Americans. The things that can be shaken are being shaken.

As I write, I understand that death and sickness are valid reasons to get behind on creative things. I still have to go to my day job, regardless the state of my health, but something I choose to do, such as writing, gets put to the side. If I want to be a full-time writer, it shouldn't be like that, but right now it is.

Even though I understand the reasons, I still can't completely excuse myself from not writing. I just can't do it. I feel like every day that I don't write, that's one day short of my goal to publish. I feel like I should be a lot further than I am, even though I am on Chapter 28 and nearing the end of the book. But putting myself under pressure only increased my tendency to procrastinate.

It's an awful feeling to have something hanging over your head that you know you should do, but you keep putting off. It's particularly difficult for me at scene changes and chapter breaks, which I'm now at in the book. When I reach them, I often re-evaluate what I've written and make sure I am progressing like I should. I take stock of the information I have to remember to move forward, and I consider how I need to approach the next part of the story. I think that's also part of the reason that I get distracted. I can't let the stock taking slow down the progress I'm making. I need to speed up and plow through. I need to focus on the new juncture like I should and not avoid facing it. It won't go away. I just have to push through it until I'm rolling again.

In the highlights of this past weekend, I watched the movie Megamind, and immediately fell in love with the main character. It was an awesome and fun distraction, but it's compelling the fangirl in me. When I have made more progress in my novel, I'll allow myself to fangirl, but not now.

As a writer, I'm noticing more than I used to about characters in movies and books. I now ask myself, why was this character so compelling? What was it about him that made the audience root for him no matter what side he was on? (Well, besides him being blue with big, green eyes.)

The good that came from watching the movie and letting myself be influenced by it is that I finally drew a version of the Strawman that I like - a lot! He's beautiful, with the right hair for the look I was going for, the scars I wanted, and the mad, mad eyes. He's also dressed pretty formal, save for the loose collar and tie - Victorian style, of course. I'm very happy with him!

So, in the midst of this loss, this health hiccup, this uncomfortable procrastination, I produced a jewel of a character, polished up and ready to be moved to the next level of development!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Little Victories

Today I got sick - sore throat, aches and pains, congestion. But! I'm thankful that we're coming up on a weekend where I can recover. I'm thankful my workload tomorrow will be light, and I'm thankful that yesterday I wrote halfway through Chapter 28!

It's a good time to be sick when you feel a little accomplished. Good time to be sick? Did I really write that? Well, we all get sick sooner or later, and we can't choose when it will happen. I'm just glad this time it seems to have worked out for me.

Also, in my tips and encouragements for people who are also writing, I'd say don't discount every little step you make toward your goal. Christine Fonseca said it better in her entry at the Blood Red Pencil blog. It's a great blog for anyone who writes and likes to hob-nob with other writers. You might just find your next best friend in the commenters on there!

Sometimes I feel my writing is moving very slowly, that I haven't gotten enough done. Then I beat myself up over it and tell myself that tomorrow I will do better. That does me no good in the long run, and only makes me feel worse short-term. My story needs to breathe, and so do I. I can't spend every waking moment on it, even if I wanted to.

I work at a daycare/preschool, and when I come home I need to unwind. I can't launch directly into writing. However, some of the things that get me stirred up and inspired to write are reading the articles in Writers Digest - which is the best subscription I've ever had - and talking about my story with my family and friends. I get their input, I ask for suggestions, I tell them to go ahead and tell me if something sounds ridiculous or like it just won't work. I even have a small group of trusted test-subjects who I send my first drafts to to help me shake out the bugs. They also catch typos and other discrepancies that I don't.

This novel series is going to be a big project, and I am in it for the long haul, as I told someone recently. It's security in knowing what my goal is, it's comfort in being in a genre and a subject that I love and understand well, it's excitement that what I produce has the potential to turn into something great! I don't even consider other possibilities at this stage, because I'm so in love with what I'm doing. After it's gone through my agent, editor, and publisher, then we'll talk about where it's headed. Right now I just soak in the potential, and bask in the glow of creating.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Writing Yourself Into Another World

Recently, my older sis and I were talking about the odd methods and techniques writers use to get inspired. I also read a few strange ones in Writers Digest (I think it was the January 2011 issue). For me, I get into the mood to write by talking about my story - to anyone, really. And it can be online, on the phone, or in person. Hearing myself, or seeing it in print, gets the ideas churning. Then, to keep the mood, I listen to mood music. The Lividia story requires haunting, childlike, beautiful, otherworldly music. So, I've been listening to Delerium and Nox Arcana.

Fallen is a great song by Delerium

Labyrinth of Dreams by Nox Arcana is beautiful and haunting.

as is Lullaby.

The only trouble about talking about a book with your friends that you want to publish is that you get eager to share spoilers. I have a horrible time with it! It's difficult to pick their brains for an idea when you have to be so vague telling them about your story.

You never hear from the friend's of authors such as J.K. Rowling or Stephenie Meyer to find out if they had a similar predicament. I, for one, am terribly curious how Ms. Rowling managed to not spill everything - especially if people asked her. And you know they had to.

If I don't publish soon, I'm going to have a hard time not blurting out spoilers about this first book. I hope I get better at it. I have a whole series to hold my tongue!

From 7,000 words to 70,000!

It's been almost a year since my last post, and I'd begun to feel like there wasn't much point, since I'd be writing to myself. However, things are going to change this year. I'm not just writing to myself, and I feel like sharing with the like-minded.

Last chapter count mentioned in this blog was 3, which averaged out to perhaps 7,000 words. Since then, I have divided my first chapter into chapter and prologue, which helps the flow of the story immensely. My chapter tally is 27 since two days ago, and the word count is up to a whopping 70,000 words! I can see the end in sight, as I keep telling everyone. But I still have to get Lividia there.

In case anyone doesn't know, Lividia Blackwell is the main character of my young adult (YA) novel. It's the first in a series I plan to write about Lividia and her strange and beautiful world. It's a world she inherited, but I won't elaborate on that. You'll just have to wait for the book!

I've been polishing my synopsis, but it still needs work. I've found that, depending upon who I'm talking to, my synopsis can change. Yes, it's about an imaginary friend. Yes, it's about a girl in an arranged engagement. But depending who I talk to, it always sounds different. Here's the synopsis I posted on Facebook the other night:

It is Victorian Boston, 1889. Lividia Blackwell is 17 and an only child. Since she was 5 years old, the only mother she knew was the housekeeper Mabel. Lividia never fit - in her society, in her family, or in her life. Old mysteries shroud her past, keeping a wall between her and her father. An arranged marriage clouds her future, quenching out what little hope she has... until the dreams start. An enigmatic figure watches her, and she begins seeing moving shadows even when she's awake. When dreams and reality cross, Lividia's eyes open to the truth, and a world she hasn't seen since she was a child. She discovers a friend, a foe, and a fate that surpasses anything she could have possibly imagined.

Yes, it's quite a bit vague, but I'm hoping it also piques your interest to see what might happen to Lividia. This story involves the supernatural, faeries, and humans who have almost as many secrets as the fae themselves. Feel free to follow along with me as I finish up the last part of my journey writing the first novel in this series. I'll try to update this blog more regularly as I see my publication date approaching.

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