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The Truth about August Blackstone

My main character’s name is August Blackstone, at least that’s what I think her name is (she’s named after her grandfather Augustus “Gus” Blackstone). She’s bisexual, in her early thirties, a journalist, and she’s in that phase of life where she’s contemplating what to do next because her grandfather just died and left her a cottage in Black River, SC… Out in the middle of nowhere, but it’s on a lake and it’s gorgeous. Her girlfriend Stacy tells her that going to the funeral is one thing but leaving for a week is irresponsible… Stacy is selfish, controlling, and uses August as a babysitter for her six year old daughter Colby…She tells August if she leaves for more than a week then not to bother coming back.. She changes her mind quickly after she finds out that August has inherited a historic cottage on seventeen acres of riverfront property, and a little over a million and a half. But August came to her senses where Stacy was concerned before she found out about the property or the money, especially after she finds out that her family is cursed. She also meets Dylan Thomas, the sweet, talented and hot, musician who is taking a break from music and being on the road, and working at his father’s hardware store until he figures out what he wants to do.

Quotation-Armistead-Maupin-equality-gay-family-Meetville-Quotes-158896

She and Dylan fall in love. People, some of whom are friends and family, ask her if she’s past the lesbian phase, if she’s switched sides, if Dylan is alright with her being a bisexual hinting at whether or not he’s okay with threesomes or if maybe he’ll “allow” her to have a girlfriend on the side… BUT August is monogamous. She tries to explain that being a bisexual doesn’t equate infidelity, or having your cake and eating it too,  nor is it a phase. She’s not any more or less bisexual now that she’s with a man than she was when she was with a woman.

It matters not who you love

Dylan’s friends tease him. They give him high fives because he “converted” the lesbian…or “man, you’re the luckiest guy on Earth, what I wouldn’t give for my girlfriend to be bi,” or the “will you be watching or participating or both?” Dylan isn’t into sharing, and is monogamous as well, and though he accepts August the way she is, he wishes other people weren’t stupid and didn’t have to attach labels to everything.

I am human

The fact that they live in a small town in the South doesn’t help matters much, but they learn to deal with things, even the family curse and idiocy of people, as they pursue a way to undo the Blackstone Curse…

dequeered me

For a while I contemplated on whether or not to ignore the sexuality question when writing the book. Just make the book about the family curse and leave the whole sexuality thing out of it.. or perhaps the main character’s cousin Micah could be bisexual and the issues would be hers, not the MC’s, which wouldn’t make the book so much about the issue of sexuality, or bisexuality specifically, but more as a subplot. Would it put it in a specific genre if I continue with the MC being bisexual if her sexuality is only a small part of the book? Not sure about that part… The book itself is more about paranormal, romance, family, friendship, love, honor, obligation, and trust. August is psychic, she has visions in her dreams, and on occasion when she’s awake, of the future or the past (when she touches something). The curse came from a voodoo witch more than a hundred and fifty years ago.

Pondering plot, subplots, theme, and issues… Hmmm…

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Posted by on August 26, 2014 in Life, Outlining, Writing

 

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Finally something I can feel really good about

I finished April’s Camp with my required word count, but didn’t feel good about the novel at all. It was forced. Headed in a completely different direction, the characters were trite, the words weren’t meshing with the concept I had. I wasn’t happy with it, not at all. But I learned a great deal from the process. I learned that I’m truly a plotster. I need to plot the main ideas, and let the rest flow, otherwise I’m trying too hard and the words don’t flow. No matter which way I’ve tried, I’m mostly a panster who needs the basics to stay on track but plotting makes my skin crawl and my brain freeze.

pantser quote

Cut twenty-five. Take one hundred and seven. Just Kidding. I have no idea of how many starts and stops, beginnings I’ve trashed, or WIP’s I’ve put in the back of the computer closet in order to get to a place where I feel really good about what I’m working on. What feels like the ONE, Just call me NEO. Seriously though, I’ve got at least thirty folders pushed to the side on my computer that were the beginning of a novel, only to find it just didn’t feel right. Maybe it’s because I was trying to be the kind of writer I thought I should be instead of the kind of writer I am.

Current Work in Progress

Current Work in Progress

Now I am finally at a place where I feel really good about what I’m working on. The first idea that came to me over two years ago, when my then fiance was telling me I could do it, that he believe in me, and there was no reason why I couldn’t write a novel (he’s read my poetry, I’d told him about my short stories and how I used to write but put writing on the back burner because of …well various reasons, but mostly because I allowed what others said to influence me, to negate my own feelings of self-worth and my dreams). That idea stayed in the back of my mind, with each and every WIP I started and tossed it was right there poking and prodding its way to the surface of my conscience saying, “Excuse me! You’re on to something here…Go with it! Find your way!… Excuse me! It doesn’t matter what others think or do, it only matters what you can do and are willing to do…”

Writing on a bad day

I stopped second guessing myself halfway through April’s Camp and started writing so I could figure out what worked best for me. I’d found myself reading books like “The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing,” or “Save the Cat,” along with various other writing books, and I realized that I’d backed myself into a corner of starting but not finishing because I didn’t have the right kind of plan, because I was so focused on the outline or the plan or the process or the genre or the rules or the structure…that I’d lost my great idea. I lost my way because I was constantly second guessing myself as a writer.

Happiness

I’ve written about this before. I’ve written about the differences between plotting, pantsing, and somewhere in between. I’ve written about my ideas, my inspiration…I took a break from blogging, writing, etc after Camp. I needed a break. I needed to figure out where I was as a writer, what I really wanted to do, what kind of writer I wanted to be, and whether or not it was something that was a pipe dream, a hobby, or something I truly felt called to do.

untold story

I am a writer. Whether I ever publish a novel or not, I’m a writer. I’m not a plotter/planner/outliner, though I wish like hell I was. I’m not a full blown pantser either. I need some organization, some planning, or I’ll go off on tangents, which is par for the course with ADHD, and I’ll never finish or if I do it will need more than a shovel for editing, but a bulldozer.

After much thought, inspiration, and soul searching I’ve finally found that sweet spot in my writing. My happy place as a writer. At least, I’ve found what works for me. Maybe this time it will work, and I’ll manage to write my way through to the end with a novel that I don’t feel is forced, drivel, or not worth the ink and paper to print to edit.

 
 

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Structure, plotting, and beats oh my

What was I thinking when I signed up for April’s Camp NaNoWriMo? I was already working on a novel. I had already plotted the beginning, middle, and end…Along with the catalyst, the midpoint, the darkest moment, and the B-Story. I know, I lost my ever loving mind. I just lost it! So I decide to plot a completely different novel for Camp NaNo (April) and get most of it in my project in Scrivener, and at the last minute an idea hits me like a ton of bricks! WHOA!

Stop! So I’m working on the structure for that one. Plotting. Reading about plotting, structure, Saving the Cat, and beats…WHAT!?! Somebody has to save a cat? No, no…that’s just the hook…Oh, okay. I got it now. Back to plotting. Back to the dreaded outline. And outlines are not my cup of coffee, they never have been. I spent my first NaNo as a pantster. Then I became a plotster. I tried so hard to be a plotter, but I just get bored with that much detail being put into an outline–I’m long-winded, my outlines don’t look like outlines–No, they look like condensed essays or summaries, a few even look like short stories. And I’ve went through stacks upon stacks of index cards because there just isn’t enough room on one to write it all down.

CUT! Cut! I said cut! Okay, so that type of outlining doesn’t work for me. I wish like hell it did, but it doesn’t. So I condense my index cards to three-four word sentences, or phrases. And the whole while my inner editor, bitch that she is, is screaming. I can hear her as I write those short sentences or phrases. I finally yell back, “It’s just a friggin’ outline!” Okay, I feel better now.

I’ve looked at way too many beat sheets. One too many writing resources about structure. It’s all starting to run together. I go back to the Cat. 15 beats. Only when I look at the list I automatically want to convert the pages for the screenplay into novel pages. Where does the inciting incident go in a novel? Where is that rascally rabbit called the First Plot Point and where does he go? My goodness, don’t forget about the Set Up. So I read some more. Found examples. And wouldn’t you know I found this great post about Harry Potter and structure. Complete with diagrams, percentages, and examples that my overloaded plotster brain can comprehend. If you want to check it out here’s the link. Hell, I even printed out one of the diagrams so I could compare it to the book, which meant I could read the Harry Potter series all over again. (Yes, I realize I’m 46 years old and a grandmother and a wife and a mother and…Reading Harry Potter gave me the same feeling I got the first time I read C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia–yes, I’ve reread the series as an adult but  alas my big book is gone and I need to get another–insert extremely sad face here). So on top of trying to write 50K for Camp NaNo, reading several books on structure, along with writing in general, I am also rereading the Harry Potter series. And to be honest, each time I reach my goal I give myself permission to read two-three chapters from Harry Potter, otherwise I’d be curled up on my couch all day reading about Harry’s adventures and my novel for Camp NaNo would develop virtual cobwebs. Last NaNo I rewarded myself with an episode of Supernatural (I was catching up on missed episodes), along with copious amounts of dark chocolate. I’ve done better this time about limiting my amount of chocolate, but I can’t say the same about my reading for pleasure.

 

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Writing, Day 5/30, and new keyboard

My new keyboard

My new keyboard

First let me start off by saying I just got the Adesso True Form Media Ergonomic Keyboard (delivered by FedEx). I love it. It’s taking a bit of getting used to. The reviews were right… It feels more plastic than rubbery, it’s loud when you type–click, click, click (which is fine with me because now I sound like I’m writing–I love that sound. The click of keys. It’s one of the things I miss about using a typewriter). And if you don’t know where your keys are without looking at them it wouldn’t be the keyboard for you, not really. I had been using my son’s keyboard because mine had keys that stuck, the labels were worn off of half the keys, and one of the keys was broken…Once my son came back I had to get another keyboard. I decided to go with one that would reduce the chance of carpal tunnel. Now that I’m writing full-time I’ve noticed that either my neck and shoulders hurt from hunching over the keyboard or my wrists hurt… Now that I’m typing the way you’re supposed to, with my hands in the correct position (which I should have been doing all along but with the flatter keyboards it wasn’t comfortable even with the little foamy thing I bought to help)…I find that I actually sit up straight while using the keyboard, I guess it’s because of the position my hands and wrists are in, the fact that I no longer have to lean over, but it’s much more comfortable. Happy writer over here!

My word count on the left; my cabin's word count on the right.

My word count on the left; my cabin’s word count on the right.

This is the next thing on my list of things that make me happy. Word Count… Wooo Hooo! I’d gotten a little behind schedule Thursday and Friday because I was finishing Save the Cat and filling up my corkboard with index cards, some of which I’ve now color coded. I’ve got the literal corkboard with index cards to use when I’m tired of being at the computer but I want to look over things for my novel, or I just need a different perspective. Sometimes the physical act of writing out things with a pen, color coding the index cards, or going through the index cards themselves helps me figure out something I’m missing or just not seeing when I’m at the computer. Don’t get me wrong, I use the hell out of Scrivener’s corkboard. It’s one of my favorite parts of the software, but I grew up writing with a typewriter, a pad and pen or pencil, and index cards. Sometimes when I get stuck I go back to “old school” stuff. But today I kicked ass, and I’m not done yet. Right now my total word count is 9,666 (don’t freak out because of the number, I’ll be adding words soon enough), and out of that total I wrote 2,208 words today. Kicking ass and taking names. I’m also working on a few of the minor character’s sketch sheets because those characters will be introduced soon. I’ve already introduced her mentor and her sidekick, though that’s just in passing reference because the sidekick is her mentor’s daughter. MC is just now finding out about her heritage, powers, and her destiny… One of the major themes of the novel is the whole Predestination versus Free Will thing. Since she’s a Nephilim she has the powers of an angel, and the soul/free will of man. She has to choose to fulfill the prophecy. She has to choose to be the Peace Bringer. (I love all these trope terms… They really help me flush out the beats I need to go through in order for her to fulfill her role as a hero, as well as the prophecy).  I’m not one to follow the rules though, so my MC, the (unwilling) hero of my story is a female. One of the Watchers is a female angel. The secondary antagonist is a red haired, green eyed male Nephilim who has chosen the side of the Fallen. The mentor is a Southern woman, a psychic, and is educated but has the Southern drawl/slang…She knows who she is, where she came from, and unlike the unwilling hero/MC she doesn’t feel stuck in a small town in the South or ashamed of being from the South. The MC has a long bumpy road ahead of her, but she’ll get over her fear of being stuck in a small town in the South, learn to appreciate the camaraderie that comes from being part of a small town along with the pitfalls–everybody knows everybody and their business (but the helps her because when someone new comes to town everyone knows it–grapevine of gossip).

small town quote

One of the things I really liked about the Beautiful Creatures was that the author’s nailed what it’s like living in a small town. Where I live is a rather small city/town and the natives often call it the pit because once it sucks you in you never get out. I grew up in Charleston though, which is large city compared to where I live now, but still growing up in the same place, with all the same people, means everybody knows you, who you’re related to, where you live or at least the neighborhood you live in… Sure there were people I didn’t know by name in the back of my neighborhood, or who had just moved in, or who didn’t have children…but for the most part I knew my neighbors and I felt like I was part of a community. The MC wants to be anonymous. She wants to get out of her small town, move to the city, experience life without being judged or labeled a black sheep or feeling ostracized because she’s different. What she doesn’t realize is that you can be alone in a room full of people, just as well as be alone in city full of people. She’s always known she was different, always felt like she didn’t fit in, she’s finding out why that is, and it’s not just an internal thing. She is different. (Hell, we’re all different, but that’s a topic for another day.)

So I’m off to finish the chapter I’m working on. which is my CATALYST chapter. Happy writing! And have a great weekend.

 

 

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Cover for Camp NaNo Book and other stuff

I am so excited….A fellow NaNoer made the cover for my book for April’s Camp NaNoWriMo which starts tonight at midnight (only 1 hour and 15 minutes away for me)… And I love it!!!!!

My cover… I saw this pic while looking through Deviant Art and she got permission from the artist to use it. Isn’t it amazing! How it turned out! The pic itself! I love all of it! It looks like a real book cover. I am just so excited!!!!!  (Makes me feel like a bonafide writer!!! Once again I’ve changed everything at the last minute! SIGH!!!

bonafide writer mug

I can’t seem to help myself. I’m using almost the same premise. I’ve changed the character’s names, and the title of the series but not the title of the book. I’m in the process of changing the whole outline to fit the revamped premise and characters… Double work, maybe, but I was reading Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat and realized what I had wasn’t going to work, not the way I wanted it to. Thus the changes. I’m okay with that. It means working on my outline at the last minute, but I’d have been doing that anyway, at least now it will be the right concept, theme, etc for what I want. I’m happier with it now, even though it means more work. But I found a great outlining video over a year ago from Katytastic that if you’re interested in learning more about outlining using the 3 act structure from Snyder’s Save the Cat, or outlining with Scrivener in general, it’s a great start.

Isn’t that the great thing about WriMo though?… You sort of need just a little pantsing to make it fun… At least for me I do. I’ve gone from a pantser to a plotster so I guess I have to throw some pantsing in there somewhere or it’s not fun for me.

I’m in a cabin now, with people near my age bracket (last time I ended up in a cabin with a group of NaNoer’s around my children’s age, which wasn’t really a good thing for me since they are between the ages of 25-14)…I’m happy about that. And our living room is finally finished… YAY! I no longer have my writing room… BOO!! But my son has his room back. He was injured while at bootcamp. He’ll be able to recycle in the next 6 mths, but he has to heal. While he’s healing he’ll be going back to college and is thinking about going in the reserves (Navy or Air Force) instead of going in the Army full time (Can’t say I’m unhappy about that–I’m all for serving our country, but I believe in working smarter not harder and the Army and Marines are definitely in the work harder category).

The pillows on our couch match my writing space...

The pillows on our couch match my writing space…

Red bookcases and desk go well with our updated look.

Red bookcases and desk go well with our updated look.

So here are the pics of my new writing space… Instead of being in the dining room we decided to completely rearrange our living room so that I could have my own little space. We painted the walls, moved everything around, and put our pictures in completely different places so that I could have this space. My husband ROCKS!!!! (Now I just need to paint the hallway and we’re done with the khaki/taupe color and it’s off to figure out what color to paint our dining room and kitchen. I love how our new living room looks.

Ok, I have less than 1 hour so let me get back to outlining. Happy NaNoing and have a great night.

 

 

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Another day in the life of a writer

“Thanks Mom. It was delicious,” my son said after dinner.  My daughter reiterated my son’s comment with her own version…
“Yeah, it was friggin’ awesome…I’m going to get some more” or something like that. Right after she finished putting the last bit of food on her plate the little man fell from his Lightening MacQueen car and busted his lip open, a big gash, so he must have bit down on his lip when he fell…Blood every where. My daughter panicking… “Mom! What is it?” while I’m rinsing his mouth out with cold water so I can see where the bleeding is actually coming from because all I can see is his little mouth filled with blood and a piece of garlic bread which is now a dark reddish color. I manage to run cold water over a washcloth to try to…and but my daughter is in panic mode. She’s a first time mother. She’s making me more and more anxious. I’m trying not to panic. Why is it so much different once you’re a grandparent? Why?

crying baby

I’ve cooked dinner. Baked cookies. Washed dishes. Done laundry. Tried to fix the damn vacuum cleaner that has gone through 3 belts, 2 of which were brand new–in the past 48 hours, and I’m already at that point where all I want to do is punt it across the room. Better yet, perhaps I shouldn’t but that is exactly what I want to do. I don’t. But I do however lose my patience with my daughter who has snapped at me several times over the course of the day, and has now snapped at me several more times as I am trying to see if my grandson actually needs to go to the ER. Nevertheless, I tell her to go ahead and take him. A couple hours later she comes back and tells us that he is fine, his lip is just busted and that the DR said he didn’t need to be seen to take him home and give him some Moltrin/Tylenol.

His lip is swollen. Both his shirt and my daughter’s shirt are in the washing machine on the second wash and I used Shout… his little mouth bleed like you wouldn’t believe. I was so worried. Not just because of him, but because of my daughter. Being a first time parent is hard enough, but being a single parent makes it harder. I worry about her all the time. I worry about the both of them.

I’ve been thinking about making one of my character’s a single parent. Full-time college student. Depressed over the break up with the baby’s father, who she was with for 5 years. Based on my daughter. She is one brave cookie. Strong. Independent. Creative. Talented. I’m such a proud mother. The rest of the details will come from my imagination, and not from my daughter, but she is definitely the inspiration for the character.

Now it’s time to get out my notebook and take some notes for the character. I’m still in outlining mode. Camp NaNoWriMo doesn’t officially start until April 1st so I have plenty of time. I think I’ll call her Raven.

 
 

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Outlining for Camp

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As April approaches I am busy outlining my novel for Camp. It’s called Revelations: Book 1 of the Elioud Legacy. It’s a working title. I’m not sure I like the word Legacy,  (And I need a different picture but that was courtesy of a fellow Nanoer and II’m grateful I have a bookcover. It’s all a work-in-progress.) I’ve been thinking of something else… But we’ll see. I like color coding. I also like the way that you can use the outliner mode in Scrivener. For the first time I am actually putting word count targets for each chapter scene, and section (Part). I know I’ll need to edit, and things will change, but it gives me an idea of what scenes and chapters I’ll need to work on more later down the road.

OutlineI would love to have the majority of it planned out by March 31st. One of my favorite things about Scrivener, is that in the inspector you can put a synopsis for each part, chapter, scene… and it shows up in the corkboard, as well as in the ouline mode. There’s also the project and document notes, which come in handy when there’s an age, date, fact, etc that I need to remember.

Don’t get me wrong, Scrivener doesn’t write the novel for you, but it is magical in a sense. At least to me it is. It allows me to put all of my research notes within my project or I can create a story bible, which I have for the actual Elioud Legacy series. I’ve often thought about how I’d love to switch to Mac, when I can afford to, but honestly, by the time I can afford to I’m pretty sure the Windows version of Scrivener will have hopefully caught up with the Mac version by then.

On a side note…My husband had an interview this morning and got the job. It’s local, so  no more OTR (over the road) anymore. He’ll still be driving a truck, but this one won’t have a 53 foot trailer, but is a roll-back, which is a form of tri-axle (like a big dump truck). Those trucks remind me of the huge yellow Tonka truck my brother and I had as children. GI Barbie often used it to rescue GI Joe and Ken, along with a few other barbies, when I was a child. (As you’ve guessed, my brother and I often played together, and I was determined that Barbie be independent so poor GI Joe was often captured just as much as Barbie was, and they both war camo.) Anyway, at least now my husband will be at home at night and on the weekends and get back into playing his guitar and singing. Perhaps he’ll learn enough new music to start playing acoustic shows again–Rock on!.

Hope everyone had and continues to have a great Monday! I’m going to enjoy my cup of coffee and do some more outlining now that we’ve finished cutting the grass, the yard is clean, dinner’s out of the way, and the laundry is in the washer.

 

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2014 in Home, Life, NaNoWriMo, Outlining, Scrivener, Writing

 

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