Weekly Writing Update: July pt. 2

Sunday: 1 hour, 30 minutes revising “Outcast.”
Monday: 1 hour, 34 minutes revising “Outcast.”
Tuesday: 2 hours revising “Outcast.”
Wednesday: none
Thursday: 1 hour, 41 minutes revising “Outcast.”
Friday: 1 hour, 38 minutes revising “Outcast.”
Saturday: 3 hours, 40 minutes revising “Outcast.”

I’m just past 1/3 of the way through this revision of “Outcast,” based solely on page count. This week contained a lot of writing new scenes, so I didn’t go through pages as quickly, but made a lot more progress than it appears.

I am just about caught up to where I should be for Camp NaNoWriMo , only 13 minutes behind. I worked extra on Tuesday, since I was already behind, and then couldn’t work on Wednesday, due to feeling utterly terrible and going to bed really early. Saturday I worked off and on whenever I could throughout the day to try to catch back up.

And more importantly than anything else, I am really enjoying how this story is shaping up! It has long been one of my favorite completed works of mine, and it is only getting better and stronger as I revise.2019-camp

Book Review: Weave a Circle Round

Finished Reading: Weave a Circle Round by Kari Maaren
My rating: 3.5 / 5
Genre: YA Fantasy

WaCR

Freddy doesn’t have the most pleasant life–she doesn’t get along with her siblings very well, her parents are basically non-existent, and her friendships are fragile at best. When Cuerva Lachance and Josiah move in next door, and Josiah starts going to her school, I’d imagine she longs for the simpler days when those relationships were her only problems. The new neighbors just don’t seem to obey the laws of physics, and worse yet, they end up sucking Freddy into their bizarre lives, which just happen to involve time travel.

I enjoyed most of this book. Though I didn’t connect with the main character or her family in the first section of the book, the mystery presented in the second section had me coming back to it every chance I got. I also enjoyed the way the author looped the time traveling, especially when it related to “present time.” My sense of foreboding grew along with the main character, as the time travel played itself out. However, the ending of the book didn’t deliver quite the punch I was expecting. I didn’t follow some of it, and for the rest of it, I was a little out of my element regarding the fantasy elements. There was one moment that I really liked, that called back to the very beginning, but I can’t say more than that. I appreciate Kari’s mind toward continuity within a story.

Overall, I’d say this book is worth a read, especially if you enjoy fantasy, fairy tales, and mythology.

I also want to again mention Kari’s web comics, West of Bathurst and It Never Rains. The former has some fantasy/fairy tale elements, and the latter is more sci-fi. Both have long-running plots (as opposed to a gag-a-day type format).

Find out more about Kari Maaren and Weave a Circle Round

Up next: The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

If you’ve read this book, or read it in the future, feel free to let me know what you think!

Writing Wednesday: Prompt

WW Prompt

Here’s today’s Writing Wednesday Prompt:

Include all of the following words in a scene:
news
argument
silence
stop
neighbors

bonus: pineapple

If you write something from this prompt, by all means let me know! Feel free to share what you wrote, if you want!

**If you’re looking for more like this, you might want to check out the story seeds posts I wrote for NaNoPrep a few years ago. They are not specific to NaNoWriMo, and each contains a list of several different types of prompts or ways to generate story ideas. You can find them here: Story Seeds 1, Story Seeds 2, Story Seeds 3, Story Seeds 4**

A Monday Moment: Footprints

Monday Moment - Footprints

I didn’t know where the footprints would lead, but I followed them anyway. I didn’t call out to the rest of my group, because I didn’t want to alert the boy, if he was indeed on the other end of the footprints. Leaving the fence and walking back the way we’d come, I was too focused on the prints.

Suddenly, I was knocked down from the side.

“Oof! Get off me!” I whispered harshly.

After we’d untangled and backed up, I saw that it was a boy. Maybe THE boy, but I couldn’t tell in the darkness and fog.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

“I didn’t…I don’t…why are you here?” he asked me. His eyes were wide and he glanced in all directions constantly. He barely looked at me for more than a second at a time.

“We’re looking for someone.” I stayed as still as I could so I wouldn’t frighten him further.

“Who?”

“Well…a boy.”

“Me?”

“I don’t know. Are you lost?”

“No. I’m not lost. I want to be left alone.”

“Are you Dylan?”

He flinched at the name, but answered, “No. That’s not me. You have the wrong person. Maybe there’s some other kid in these woods.”

“Okay. Well, how old are you?”

He finally looked me in the eye, but shut his mouth.

“Okay… Aren’t you too young to be out here alone?”

He shook his head.

“I hate to disagree with you,” I said, shifting my legs so that I could sit on the ground more comfortably, “but I think you are. There’s a curfew in this county, and it’s way past it. If you’re younger than seventeen—and I can tell that you are—you should be home right now.”

He only shook his head and looked away.

“Dylan, why don’t you want to go home?” I asked gently.

“I’m not Dylan!” he insisted, immediately looking around to see if he’d drawn any further attention. “My name is Samuel.”

“Okay, Samuel. Why don’t you want to go home?”

He shrugged. “I just don’t. Why does it matter to you? What are you going to do, make me go home?”

“Well, no. I don’t know where you live, Samuel. But I should probably take you to the police station—”

“No!” He jumped to his feet in one swift movement.

“Wait! I won’t take you to the police station!” I assured him quickly. I didn’t want him to take off running.

“I don’t believe you!” Moonlight filtering through the trees reflected off the tears in his eyes.

“I promise you I won’t. Please, sit back down.”

He looked at me for a few seconds, deciding what to do. Then he slowly sat back on the ground.

“I won’t take you to the police station, and I can’t take you home. But can you do something for me?”

He shrugged.

“Can you show me where you plan to sleep tonight? If I saw that you had a warm, comfortable spot, I might not feel so bad about leaving you out here in the woods.”

The boy looked around us for a bit. “I don’t…I don’t know. I guess I’ll sleep here.”

“No, no, that won’t do.”


Prompt used: You weren’t sure where the footprints would lead, but you followed them anyway.

Sorry about the abrupt ending.

Weekly Writing Update: July pt. 1

Tuesday: 1 hour, 30 minutes revising “Outcast.”
Wednesday: 1 hour, 33 minutes revising “Outcast.”
Thursday: 2 hours, 30 minutes revising “Outcast.”
Friday: none
Saturday: none

This week’s update is a bit shorter than they’ll be in the future, since I started tracking it on Tuesday, and normally it’ll start on Sunday. I’m about 1/4 of the way through this revision of “Outcast,” based solely on page count.

I set my average daily goal for Camp NaNoWriMo at 90 minutes. Because my husband and I were gone Friday & Saturday to celebrate our anniversary, I worked extra on Thursday to get ahead. I thought I might still do a little work through the weekend, but I didn’t. So I’m a little behind now, and probably won’t work any extra today, because I’m tired from the weekend. (I’ll be happy if I hit 90 minutes tonight.)

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Book Preview: Weave a Circle Round (currently reading)

Following my shameful admission earlier this week, I’ll add this one: a friend of mine published a book a year and a half ago, and I’ve owned it for much of that time, but I hadn’t even read the first page until this week.

I am very quickly remedying this, though, as I have already finished over half of Kari Maaren’s Weave a Circle Round since I started into it on Monday. It is a fantasy novel in the YA range. I have been enjoying it so far, but that’s all I’ll say in that regard until I finish it.

I will at least say that I strongly identify with the main character, 14-year-old Freddy Duchamp, at least when it comes to her introverted tendencies. One particular line in the 1st chapter jumped out at me, explaining my own desire to avoid confrontation in a way I had never consciously thought of it: “Confronting people was just another way of drawing attention to yourself, which wasn’t the best thing to do when you weren’t even sure you were right about anything.” This is me to a T.

I will have more to say on this book next week, as I expect to have finished reading it by then, but for now, let me point you in the direction of Kari’s other works of fiction. I have been a reader of her web comics for 5 years now, reading West of Bathurst from the start right after it ended. I enjoyed it immensely, despite being a bit lost about things specifically related to the setting. Then she began a new web comic, which is still going on now, called It Never Rains. I recommend both of them, especially if you’re a fan of fantasy or sci-fi. (Also, I’m sort of in It Never Rains, which I forgot about until right now.)

Find out more about Kari Maaren and Weave a Circle Round

Happy Stranger Things Day!

ST notebook

Whether you’ve already watched all of season 3, or are saving it for later (or are somewhere in between), I just wanted to give a shout out to my fellow Stranger Things fans! My husband and I might watch some of it tonight, but we’re saving most of it for our mini vacation this weekend while we celebrate our 19th anniversary (which was Monday).

Also, happy Independence Day to those of you who are in the States!

**The above image is the cover a notebook my husband bought me a few days ago. I’m a bit of a notebook collector, and was just thinking to myself that I haven’t gained any new notebooks since my last post updating my collection. Though now I’ve realized I have added at least 2 before this one. Still not enough for a new post.

Who’s watched it? Who’s planning to? Who hasn’t watched season 1 yet?

Writing Wednesday: Joy of Discovery (or A Cure for Writer’s Block)

WW Joy of Discovery

Some time in the last couple of years, even as I struggled to maintain a writing habit (and for a while, failed completely), I have realize something that I didn’t know in my first 10 years of writing–at least not consciously: the joy of discovery is my absolute favorite thing about writing. I’ve also found discovery in writing to be the exact opposite, and in some ways the cure, for writer’s block.

Discovery, at least to me, is when things click or become more clear. A character pops up that wasn’t planned, but is clearly the answer to everything. You come up with a backstory that actually makes the character’s current actions make sense. You figure out how to fill in the saggy middle with actual, interesting plot. These are just some examples of those moments that can be exhilarating, exciting, and can even cause a rush of adrenaline.

Some people call this a “Eureka moment” or an “‘Aha!’ moment.” I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t bring up NaNoWriMo and mention that they have a badge that participants can award themselves if this happens during their writing in November.

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This is my favorite badge…

Why is this my favorite thing about writing? Probably because of how often it comes when I’m at a particularly low point in my writing. This is not always the case, but more often than not, the biggest, or at least most exhilarating moments of discovery come when I’m experiencing what most would consider “writer’s block.”

I have discovered that writer’s block most often happens when I’m struggling to break through a confusing, uncertain, or even boring section of a story. This can happen during any stage of writing–dreaming, planning, writing, or even revising. When that happens, I turn to a variety of tricks to try to figure out what I’m missing. Sometimes it leads to an “Aha!” moment, sometimes just a calmer, more basic answer to my question so I can move on. And to be clear, the joy of discovery is not only relegated to the exciting moments. Though discovery is almost always at least a little exciting to me.

Before I close, I’ll mention a few tricks that I use to try to coax those moments of discovery. I’ll address some more in-depth in future Writing Wednesday posts, but here are a few that don’t require as much explanation:

  • freewrite (especially with a prompt)
  • change your writing medium (for example, from computer/device to handwriting, or vice versa)
  • change your writing environment
  • listen to some music that reminds you of what you’re writing
  • read
  • keep asking yourself the questions you need to answer while going about the rest of your day
  • don’t decide to give up and come back when “inspiration strikes”

What about you? What tricks do you use to break through when you’re stuck? Have you had your own “Aha!” moments? What is your favorite thing about writing?

For Fellow Readers

Continuing with changes to my blog that started with no longer posting daily check-ins to report on writing work I’ve done, I am adding a new feature. This is oddly in a similar vein to my writing updates, because in a way it will help me hold myself accountable to a habit I want to develop (or in this case, re-develop), but hopefully will also prove considerably more interesting to readers of the blog than my writing check-ins.

Shameful admission time: I have read less books in the last 10 years than I care to say. I used to be an avid reader. Up through high school, I was one of those kids whose moms had to kick them out of the house to get some fresh air, because I’d rather spend my free time reading. I still read a lot for the next several years, until my own kids started to eat up my free time. Then stress and difficult-to-deal-with jobs, and the abundance of technological entertainment made it easier (and at the time I thought better) to play games or watch something in my free time.

Now it’s time to remedy that. I have started reading a new book, one which I’ve had for about a year and a half, and seemed to be a good place to start. And I’ve already realized how much I miss reading.

Because I’m me, I decided that it was fitting to share my rekindling of this joy here on my blog. I’ll be starting up a new segment later this week. On Fridays, I’ll share something about books–whether about what I’m reading right now or have recently finished reading, books or series I’ve enjoyed in the past, or maybe books that are on my “to be read” list (or even just an “I’m curious about this” list).

I don’t know how quickly I’ll make it through any books, and my preference for books may be more selective, eclectic, or just very different, from others. But I’m open to suggestions for books to consider, especially as I start to make known what types of books I do read.

For now, I will leave you with this: What genre of books do you read most? Who are your favorite authors? What books would you most recommend to others?

Daily Writing Check-in: July 1, 2019

Words/Time:  1 hour, 40 minutes revising “Outcast.”

I have spent much of the last week dealing with a major sinus headache, so I have done no writing work, and neither have I worked on publication submissions for “Pithea.”

Camp NaNoWriMo started today, and fortunately, I am headache-free this evening. I have set my goal at a lofty 90 minutes per day of revision on “Outcast.” I also have plans to continue working on publication for “Pithea” outside of that.

And here’s a big announcement–this will be my last daily writing check-in. I started this blog in 2014 solely as a place to keep track of my writing work, so I could hold myself accountable in a semi-public location–silly reason, maybe, but it really helped for a while. In the time since then, I have enjoyed adding content to my blog that is actually worth reading (by people other than me), and I want to start to focus more on that.

From this point forward, I will post a brief update on what I did over the last 7 days only once a week, because I don’t want to drop that completely. But I don’t want to focus on it anymore.

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