nanowrimo

Day 10 of Camp Nano

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It’s Day 10 of Camp NaNoWriMo! And I’m way above my daily target, which is awesome, as well as past my halfway point. My real deadline is actually the 25th rather than the 31, because I’ll be at camp the last week of July, but I think I’m doing all right on that front as well. The last few days I was losing it a bit, but I think I regained my stride this morning. I decided to take a break from my struggling middle of the plot, and write some of the backstory. During the process of writing that, I not only captured the origin of a particular character, but also came up with more detail for his sister’s story, which enabled me to go back to a scene later on and add in more there.

The following is the beginning of the scene, a rough draft that’s been only slightly edited to give the fruit a name and so it makes grammatical sense. I chose not to post the whole thing because … well, it ended on an even bigger cliffhanger.


 

“Come on, Mirry, keep up!”

Maxie didn’t wait for his sister to answer, but plunged further into the woods. He loved Mirady, she was his best friend in the whole wide world, but little sisters were so slow.

“Maxie, wait for me!”

“We’ll never get there if you don’t keep up!” he said, irritated. “I want to see a Quinya tree!”

“You’re too fast!”

Maxie stopped with a heavy sigh. “All right, all right! We’ll never get back in time at this rate. Come on, I’ll give you a lift.”

Rustling undergrowth and panting breath announced her getting closer to him. Once Mirady reached Maxie, he lifted her up on his back, giving her a piggy back ride.

“Oof! You’re heavy!”

“I am not!”

“Let’s just go. I don’t want Father finding out where we went or he’ll be livid. Hold tight. No, not that tight! I still need to breathe!”

He jogged off into the wilderness, as fast as he could with an eight-year-old hanging on his back, arms clinging around his neck. It slowed him down, but hopefully without having to stop for her shorter legs to catch up all the time, they would get there quickly enough to be able to return before Father’s important meeting ended and he realised they were no longer playing in the street.

He panted, his ribs and back starting to ache. At eleven years old, he was much bigger than his little sister, but she was still practically a dead weight. Father would not approve; he would say Maxie needed to practice at being a man, meaning, among other things, being able to carry heavy loads. Except he wouldn’t say ‘Maxie’—only Mirady ever called him that nowadays, ever since their mother had died. Now everyone save his sister called him by his full name, Maximilian. He didn’t like it, he much preferred Maxie.

“Are we nearly there yet?” Mirady asked from somewhere above his shoulder.

“Yes, nearly!” That was a guess; in truth Maxie thought he might be lost. The conversation they had eavesdropped on (not on purpose, of course; well behaved children should never listen in on adults’ conversations), Father’s colleague had told him where he could find the Quinya tree, and she had said to leave the path at the lightning struck oak and head north. Since Maxie had no compass, he had had to work out the direction from what he could see of the sun’s position, which was not easy and he was not positive he had got it absolutely correct.

But on the plus side, at least Quinya glowed when it was still attached to the tree, so hopefully if their direction was a bit off, they would be able to see it anyway.

Maxie was excited. He had only ever seen Quinya before when it had been processed into Quops, small drops of golden jelly, and then it had been the most fascinating moment of his life. He had had trouble believing that such a tiny thing could be overflowing with magic, and that anyone who ate one would be able to pull off the most complex and powerful spells. Quinya was the most powerful magic source, and the rarest, and he had only ever seen one single Quop. Father dealt in magic sources, but most of the time he kept his goods to himself.

Magic had always fascinated Maxie, even more than it fascinated any child. He wanted to be a magician when he was grown up, but only the luckiest people got the training for it. Father wanted him to follow his footsteps into dealing in magic sources, not using them himself.

As Maxie hunted for the tree, a crazy thought came to him. Maybe if he could prove he was cut out to be a magician, Father would reconsider. If Father was on his side, and approved his dreams, he could get him the training he needed to achieve them. But to do that, he needed a magic source to begin with.

Maybe if he picked one of the Quinya …

“There!” Mirady squealed suddenly, almost deafening Maxie. He couldn’t believe she had seen the tree first—he had been too engrossed in his daydreams to realise they had reached the end of their quest.

The tree stood alone in the centre of a clearing, and gave off a kind of aura. It wasn’t the fruit alone—although the Quinya were indeed glowing a yellow-pink colour, Maxie could feel the power radiating from the tree from about twenty feet away.

He dropped Mirady, who yelled, “Ouch!”

“Sorry,” he said, but his eyes and thoughts were fixed firmly on the fruit. He stared, entranced.

“They’re amazing,” Mirady said, but she didn’t seem keen on getting any nearer. Maxie, on the other hand, was all too keen on it.

“Maxie?” she asked hesitantly and he began walking forwards. “I don’t think we should get too close. Father says they’re dangerous.”

He barely heard her, too intent on getting one of them. Deep down, he knew she was right, but he didn’t care. He felt drawn to the fruit, as if it were deliberately pulling him in, whispering promises that it could help him achieve his dreams.

“Maxie!” Now Mirady sounded frightened. She also sounded very far away.

Maxie reached the tree, and reached out a hand, brushing the skin of one of the Quinya. It was soft as a peach and sent tingles all through his body, as if he had been struck by lightning.

Someone ran up to him and grabbed his arm, trying to pull him away. “Maxie, come on, let’s go!”

“Not yet,” he grunted, shaking his sister off of him. He grasped a Quinya and pulled.

“What are you doing? No!” Mirady cried as he lifted it to his lips. “You can’t! It’s too strong, it has to be processed! MAXIE!” She tried to pull it out of his grip, she tried stamping on his feet, even punching him, but he pushed her away so hard she fell down hard with a crack. She began sobbing.

Maxie ignored her and bit into the Quinya.

From the moment a single drop of juice touched his tongue, his mind exploded.


 

In addition to the above scene, I also have a new scene posted on my NaNo profile.

Outsider’s Crown

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Would anyone like an update?

I confess it has been a while. Again. But with my coursework finally finished and out of the way, and I think I might have grasped the concept of a target audience now (hopefully), not to mention a new project that I am very excited about, I think updates should be more frequent from now on!

(Feel free to quote me on that later 🙂 )

What new project, I hear you ask? A new novel series!

But wait–what about the ones I have had on my website for ages, the ones I’ve been talking about since I began this blog?

Well, there are several reasons. The first being, after five years of exhausting myself over coursework, I need to work on something fresh, something new for a while.

The second being, the idea I am now working on which sprung into my head when I finished my degree, is a self-contained series. That is, I shall be writing four books and no more. My other fantasy novels are all set in a universe which requires extra-extremely careful planning because I intend to explore many parts of it in several different series.

The third being, time. I intend to create new languages for my science fiction universe, something that I am not able to pursue right now. And I want to focus on something that I can complete now.

There is a fourth reason, though it is closely related to the third reason. I have come to the conclusion that I am not a natural screenwriter and have chosen my path as a full-time novelist. Since I learned the hard way through fan fiction not to make the beginning of a story/series publicly available until I had actually completed the entire project, this means it could be a while before I see any income from my work. I am very fortunate, and grateful, to have family support, but of course the larger the first project, the more likely I am to bankrupt my parents …

Why try and write a whole series then, you ask? Well, don’t blame me. That’s just how my ideas come.

So after all that, I’m sure you’d like to hear something about my novel. A genre at least. Well, it’s a portal fantasy, probably going to be for young adults though I don’t get hung up about audiences when I’m writing.

The working title for the first novel is Outsider’s Crown. I have been planning it since May and am intending to write a full first draft for Camp Nanowrimo in July. This is my profile and more info on the novel. The plan is to write the second book for NaNoWriMo in November, then the third and fourth in next year’s Camps in April and July.

Wish me luck!

It’s Not the End of the World

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So, it’s been a while, flash fic notwithstanding. Once again my poor blog’s been neglected. But, the bright side is, I have things to report.

My script’s been making progress in leaps and bounds. There are still a lot of edits to make, but my word count is much more healthy. I may or may not post a short preview–I would like to, but would have to check whether any form of publishing even part of it would spoil my chances of having it accepted by a television company. So, we’ll see.

I have entered another fiction piece into a competition–this time, written specifically for it. The plot is a mesh of ideas I’d already had, so it wasn’t too hard to whip up in an hour or two, and I’m quite pleased with the result. The judging is ongoing, so as yet I have no idea how it’s fared; but I’m mentioning it because the writing process made me explore a different part of one of my ‘verses that I might not otherwise have written.

The short story will, I think, be set in the same universe as my one-day ficblog, although with different characters. It’s posted on IdeasTap, for the prompt ‘Apocalypse‘.

Well, the brief never said it had to be the end of THIS world.

As far as I am aware, my portfolio is visible to non-members. If you can’t view it, let me know. I’m not sure if I could post it elsewhere until the competition is over but I’ll bear it in mind.

With regard to the ficblog itself–I have written a few chapters, but it needs a lot more planning before I would feel comfortable beginning to post. So it may be a while. Especially since I want it to tie into (be the prequel to) a novel, which is still only vaguely plotted. It’s not in diary/email format, as I originally intended; I realised I could get a lot more out of the story if I wasn’t always in first person addressing the protagonist’s parents. So I suppose it’s more like a series of flash fiction, than a fictional blog.

My plan is to write the novel this November for NaNoWriMo–since I’ll have finally finished my degree by then, praise the Lord!–so hopefully I’ll have got something for you by the new year.

Fiery Villains, Yearbook Dilemma, Anthologies

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I’m currently agonising over the last question for my yearbook profile. “What experience at uni will you always remember?” Well to be honest, most of my good experiences over the last three and a bit years have nothing to do directly with my uni. Most of the friends I’ve made during that time are through outside things–NaNoWriMo and church. The friends I made in Fresher’s Week I had a great time with then, but lost somewhere down the line. Because I’ve never done much social stuff at uni, I was out of mind.

Okay, I’m going to stop this here before it turns into a poor-little-me routine. That’s not the intention. I’m just expressing my dilemma. I will probably end up saying something about Fresher’s Week, but I wish I knew what to write.

Anyway, moving on, I spent an interesting Monday morning plotting one of my villains for Aquila. It’s the second time I’ve used my giant whiteboard, which is a great tool as long as I write it all down somewhere permanent and wipe it off fairly quickly. I took a photo this time, although I’ve had to black a few points out to avoid spoiling too badly. OK, half the points.

Here’s a little taster:

blackedoutversion

I’m getting there with the first draft. I reached the end of my plan with 2,000 words to go, but since plotting my villain(?s) out I’m making progress with filling the gaps. It still reads a bit stilted to me, but maybe I’m being a bit hard on myself. I need to print out the whole thing and scribble on it. That always helps. I might even post an extract.

One last thing. I’m considering submitting the Aquila original short story in a competition to be published in a YA anthology. Maybe one of my other stories as well (it accepts multiple submissions). Watch this space! Unfortunately one of my poems, Reasons to Sing, might not now be published due to the anthology not receiving adequate funding. This is the donation link.

 

Call For (Constructive) Criticism, Aquila Extract

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My Aquila project has officially begun. I have drafted a plan of the pilot and begun researching the genre and other things. You may find I am talking about superheroes a lot for the coming months! I’ve invested in plenty of books on writing for television, as well as a few box sets to work my way through. I need to be a superhero expert by the time I come to write my critical essay, so that seems like a good place to start.

I began writing the plan out in script form, and feel it’s falling rather flat–it’s also turning out a lot shorter than it needs to be, which is worrying.

Extract:

Hospital Waiting Room

(DAD is staring at a magazine without reading it. FIONA comes rushing in.)

DAD: Fiona! (stands up quickly) Well?

FIONA: I’m fine. Just a bit of a bump, nothing to worry about.

DAD: Sweetheart, you have amnesia. I’d say that’s something to worry about.

FIONA: Dad, I’m fine. Look, they’re letting me go, see? And if my memories come back, they come back; if they don’t, well, I can live with that. Come on, let’s get out of here. Please.

Fiona’s Bedroom, Night

(FIONA is in her own bed, asleep but fitful. The flashes continue.)

DAD (v.o.): Sweetheart, you have amnesia. I’d say that’s something to worry about.

NURSE #1 (v.o.): I can’t make out what this is–it looks like some kind of implant …

(The words BEWARE REDTHORN is superimposed over her.)

GEORGIA REDTHORN (V.o.): Come on in my dear, let’s get you dried off and warm, and then something to eat …

(FIONA sits up with a gasp.)

Major’s Kitchen, Morning

DAD is brewing coffee. ALFIE is in school uniform eating breakfast, wide awake. MUM is on the phone, holding a list.

MUM: … I know we should have called, but it was the early hours and our primary concern was getting her to bed safely. … Of course, I’ll give her your love. Bye, Dad.

(Phone is replaced. MUM crosses a name off her list.)

MUM: So that’s Grandad notified …

FIONA enters in her dressing-gown. The room stills as they all look at her.

FIONA: Um, morning.

MUM: Morning, love. What do you want for breakfast?

DAD: Do you want some coffee? Or tea, I could put the kettle back on.

MUM: You could let her answer, Doug.

ALFIE: Mm, Daddy’s being rude.

DAD: Alfie!

FIONA: Do we have any bacon?

MUM and DAD look at each other.

MUM: No, but I could pick some up when I drop Alfie off at school. Come on, Alfie, you’ll be late.

(ALFIE finishes his breakfast speedily while DAD proffers the cafetiere at FIONA.)

FIONA: Coffee, please, Dad.

(FIONA sits down while DAD pours her a coffee. MUM ushers ALFIE out into the hall.)

ALFIE: (from hall) Fiona, you’ll still be here when I come home, right?

FIONA: Of course I will.

(Sounds of MUM and ALFIE leaving house.)

DAD: Are you all right, sweetheart?

FIONA: You’re all acting so weird.

DAD: You can hardly blame us, it hasn’t exactly been a normal few weeks.

FIONA: No, it hasn’t.

DAD: We all want things to go back to normal as soon as possible.

FIONA: I know, Dad. I just wish it were that easy.

Fiona’s Bedroom, Morning

(FIONA is alone with her laptop, and searches REDTHORN online. Too many results. She tries REDTHORN SUPER EYESIGHT and REDTHORN IMPLANTS but also gets nowhere. Tries variants with RED THORN, still nothing useful.)

School Gates, Morning

(FIONA stands in a milling crowd of students, nervous. She looks around, noticing minute details. She looks behind her and reads the menu of a cafe the other end of the road. Swallows, but with great reluctance joins the crowds.)

VICTORIA: Fiona?

(FIONA turns and sees VICTORIA and EMMA standing behind her.)

FIONA: Vicks! Emma!

FIONA goes to hug them both but they don’t respond.

EMMA: Where’ve you been?

FIONA: I … I’m not sure. Amnesia.

VICTORIA: That’s not what I heard. Everyone’s saying you ran out on us for the Gymnastics Championships.

FIONA: What? They’re not! That’s not what–

EMMA: No, you just chose then to do a disappearing act on us, your teammates. We always said you were a drama queen.

FIONA: But–I didn’t–really–

VICTORIA: Have a nice life, Fiona.

(VICTORIA and EMMA walk off, arm in arm. FIONA stands there, stunned. The bell goes and she runs into school.)

I’m looking for some constructive criticism (not about the format, I had to do some jiggling to get it to be readable as a blog post). This is the first time I’ve posted something on this blog specifically for feedback, I’m hoping to do it  more in future. I’m very very sorry for neglecting my blog, but the stress has I’m afraid been getting to me.

Funny-Pictures-Anti-stress

Blog Hop!

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Thank you to MissTiffany for tagging me in the blog hop. I think I’ve figured out what I do now!

What is the (working) title of your book?

Conturbus Chronicles (1): Crossfire

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Good question. It was conceived about a week into NaNoWrimo 2011. I had almost given up participating that year, but then two plot twists came at me suddenly, which gave me a starting point and an end. The rest was pretty much improvised; I took a couple of days to brainstorm some characters, and the rest is history.

What genre does your book fall under?

YA urban fantasy adventure

Which actors and/or actresses would you choose to play your characters in the movie rendition?

I don’t know … I picture Justin as a bit like how Alex Pettyfer was in Stormbreaker, but he’s a bit older now! As for the others, I can’t think of anyone specific. I know I’d want to do as JK Rowling did, and insist on British actors, except the characters who are supposed to have an accent. I could live with Tam being played by an American since she has roots there, though I’d prefer a Brit.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Justin’s quest to find the Conturbus key before the evil Marotte takes him through a world of cape-wearing villains, dragons and vampires*, and magic that’s fully compatible with the latest smartphone.

*Not the sparkly kind!

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Too early to say. I read ebooks but I would want my book in print as well, and I can’t see that being financed myself.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

If by first draft that includes the occasional scene in note form and great stretches lacking punctuation or speech tags … about three weeks. However re-reading it, about 60% needs cutting. At present I have a chapter plan, notes for future books in the series, a synopsis and the first chapter in full–so don’t hold your breath.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Hmm, tricky one. I did tackle this task as part of my writing course–my first chapter and synopsis formed part of my Fiction module–and found it difficult to find something quite in the same vein. The plot’s perhaps closest to the Percy Jackson series, but for older readers and without all the Greek gods.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

I have to hand it to JK Rowling, if it weren’t for her I would not be a writer–or to be more precise, I would not be attempting it as a profession. And that’s nothing to do with fame and fortune, I mean her books inspired me, more than I can describe in a few sentences! I’ve been inspired by too many things (more than books) to name–television shows, photographs …

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Psychic scorpions, dragons who don’t look like dragons, a wizard hermit called Hobble, magic carpets and a smartphone app to help you find one … that enough to whet your appetite? And of course it wouldn’t be a London-based fantasy without something wacky happening on the Underground …

Now I pass this Blog Hop along to:

Thank you for reading! I’m sorry to say my novel will be some time in coming, but I’ve heard it said you can’t start talking about it too early …

Alienated Talking Bricks (in Bubbles …?)

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Had a good week. A very good week! My Genre coursework is AT LAST completed and submitted, now I can take a nice long break from unicorns and superheroes. Unfortunately I still have work to do–meh–but the big one’s done. Done! Hooray! I was beginning to think I’d never finish it.

And I’ve finished the second song to submit for Lyrics. Well, I think I have. I’m going to wait a while and have another look at the second verse, see if it does need another tweak, but I think it’s finished or at least virtually finished, which means I’m up to my quota on lyrics to submit for marking–just the critique to go, which while trickier than I anticipated is still looking to be much easier than the Genre critique was.

I also finished another song–not one I’m submitting, as it’s based on Shadow Charge and harder to appreciate without knowledge of the story. I had planned for it to be my second song for coursework, but wasn’t sure when it was finished and showed it to a third party with no knowledge of my novel, who agreed it didn’t really stand alone. But in the context of the story, I’m happy with it, so it wasn’t a waste.

Extract from ‘Leave Me Alone’:

Leave me alone! Let me go!
I can’t take the past’s torment
If bricks couldn’t talk I would be all right
But they can and they whisper through the night
Haunted by what I never wanted
I was only trying to make things right

Posting more would spoil the novel plot, so that’s all you get!

A while ago, one afternoon over coffee dregs, I drafted a couple of Trock songs, something I’d wanted to do for ages but didn’t actually plan on trying before I’d finished all my coursework. But my brain had given up on everything else and I thought, why not? Probably because my brain had given up on everything else, only one chorus is actually more than note form. I quite like it though I wish I had more than that. Still, one day …

On the subject of geeky writing, I surprised myself by making progress on two fan fictions in the last couple of afternoons that hadn’t changed a jot in months. Both Doctor Who, well, that shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. Still neither are at a point in which I’d feel comfortable making them public, alas, but still, progress is progress.

I know what you’re thinking, but fan fiction falls into the same category as fan songs, or anything fan-based really: only when my brain has exhausted everything else. Which is sadly why most afternoons you will find me watching the telly, too knackered to finish all the one-chapter wonders I started posting online prematurely over the last seven years (wow, has it been that long?). Which is why I’m being a lot more careful with the newer ideas, i.e. the Doctor Who ones.

I’ll stop talking geek now, not that I’m apologising for being one (never!), but just not to alienate (pun not intended) too much anyone just stumbled on this blog. I promise I don’t only write about geeky things.

I also write about … stars! I like stars. I’m still learning the constellations, I’m quite a newbie to astronomy, but loving it. And I write about other things too, can’t think of specifics off the top of my head but I do.

I’m coming close to leaving home. As in, for good as opposed to during term time. It’s a scary thought. Not in one go, I’m moving into a flat in a town near my parents, so the idea is over time I’ll gradually clear out my old bedroom so one of my brothers can have it. Might take a while, living in two places basically means having two of everything–or it does for me anyway. I’ve been lacking the energy for a real clear-out for years, but being closer to home is looking to be the time to do it.

I’m going to miss London, but I’ll still be going to Neo Writers and astronomy meets (not all of them every month). In the probably naive hope that one day I’ll be able to afford to move back there on a permanent basis. (Don’t burst my bubble, people.) And my friends had better visit or else …