Hump Day Happiness

I started this list a few days ago in preparation, but forgot to finish it until today. At least it was easier to fill in the rest of the list! What makes you happy?

  1. Teeny tiny baby Velociraptor Lego that is so small I’ll probably lose it.
  2. Taking  nap and actually feeling refreshed afterward.
  3. Winnie-the-Pooh
  4. Rereading a favorite book and 1. still loving it and 2. involuntarily reacting to the story as if you haven’t already read it and don’t know what’s going to happen.
  5. Finishing something that makes you feel like you might actually be able to accomplish something
  6. duct tape
  7. a pile of new library books
  8. peanut butter
  9. Socks: fun socks, fancy socks, long socks, short socks, colorful socks. SOCKS!
  10. Going to the store with William and laughing and making dumb jokes about the most ridiculous things we find.
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Camp NaNoWriM July 2019 + Snippets

It’s been a bit quiet around this blog this year because I’ve taken great strides to focus on my novels and stories. Earlier this year, I spent months editing my library story so I could send it to a couple of writing friends for feedback. This summer I am participating in the 100 for 100 Challenge with GoTeen Writers with the goal to write at least 100 words per day for 100 days. I’ve gone above and beyond the 100 words, though some days are more of a struggle than others.

As I’ve shared before, the story I’m working on write now is the Airplane Novel, which is about a girl growing up in a world where airplanes are considered dangerous and it’s illegal for women to fly or ride in them. After her brother goes missing during an air force mission, Avis is determined to find him—even if it means she has to learn to fly an airplane and rescue him herself.

Airplane Novel 3

 

To keep myself motivated in July, I also participated in Camp NaNoWriMo. My original goal for the month was to write 5K, which is about 2K more than the 100 for 100 Challenge goal. But I knew I could do more since in June I wrote 18K, which to me is insane since June was such a busy month!

But as July happened and as I wrote, I had to change my word goal several times because my ideas for this story were spinning as fast as Avis’s airplane propellers. In all, I wrote a little over 16K for Camp NaNoWriMo.

The 100 for 100 Challenge only has a few more days to go (15!), and while there are days I struggle to find inspiration or end up writing a scene that doesn’t fit with the rest of the story, I’m pushing through. I don’t know if I’ll finish the story 100% at the end of the challenge, but I have the majority of a messy first draft written. I’m hoping to write the “major” scenes during the last few days of the challenge so whenever I decided to edit (after lots and lots of research), I’ll just write the “filler” or in between scenes that I missed.

I’m super excited about this story and how it’s coming together. It’s by no means perfect, but it’s a start. That’s all that matters.

Because of my excitement, I’d like to share a few snippets I wrote during July. Enjoy!

Airplane Novel 1

Although Avis had dreamed of flying in a plane most of her life, she still understood that planes were dangerous. There was a reason pilots were considered daredevils and only someone with a license was legally allowed to sit in the cockpit. Pilots died frequently from crashes and other malfunctions. Avis might love planes, but she also respected them for what they were—dangerous.

The propellers began to whir and the planet’s engine put, put, puttered to life. And then they moved.

With a jolt, Avis launched forward into Warner’s back. She grabbed hold of him with a scream of delight and wrapped her arms around her torso like she’d seen some of the girls from the school do when riding on the back of a motorcycle with their beau. Warner laughed, the rumbling echoing against her hands.

“Hold on!” he hollered.

The plane rattled across the field, bumping over every dip and lump in the grass. The wind rushed against Avis’s ears and cheeks, and if she wasn’t so caught up in the moment, she would have wanted a scarf to protect her skin.

“Here we go!” Warner called, and Avis felt her heart catapult toward the sky as the plane lifted from the ground.

She was flying.

♠♠♠

Avis rolled her eyes and ripped open the package to reveal a shiny, new sketchbook. Avis gasped and flipped through the pages. The paper was thick and smooth, better than the notebooks she bought for school, and crisper than her old sketchbook that fraying at the seams.

“Jules,” she whispered, running her palm over the cover. The black leather shined in the spring sunlight. “You shouldn’t have.”

Jules grinned and nudged her elbow again. “I noticed your other one was almost full and I thought you’d need a new one soon. I got a promotion recently, not much but a little more pay and less latrine duty. I thought it was worth splurging.”

Avis smiled and wrapped her brother in hug, the sketchbook pressed between them. “I love it.”

Jules laughed, his rumble trembling between them. “I knew you would. Congratulations on surviving another semester with Miss Emma.”

Avis rolled her eyes but squeezed her brother tighter, already imagining all the sketches that would fill the blank pages of the book.

♠♠♠

“I don’t want you to go,” he said. His forehead crinkled. “It’s too dangerous. If something happens to you, I can’t… I won’t be able to… I…” He shook his head, jaw clenching.

“It’s not your decision,” Avis said, crossing her arms over her chest. The dress pulled against her shoulders, and she wished she’d convinced to Diana to order her a size bigger.

“I know,” Warner said. “Which is why I can’t ask you to stay.”

He held out his hands toward her, and after a pause, Avis closed the gap between them. His fingers trembled as he squeezed her hands.

“I want to,” he continued, voice low. “I want to beg you to stay with me. To move on like everybody else. But I can’t do that to you.”

He stood, their hands clasped between them. When he looked down at Avis, her breath hitched in her throat again and it was as if they had never left the dance floor. As if Ethel hadn’t bombarded her way through their moment and almost ruined everything.

Warner cocked his head to the side and smirked. “There’s something different about you tonight, Avis.”

She pulled away from him, crossing her arms around her middle. “If you dare say it’s because I’m all dolled up, I will punch you in the nose. I’m quite tired of hearing, ‘Oh, Avis, you look so beautiful tonight’ just because I put on a nice dress and let Diana fix my hair.”

Warner’s smirk sparked into a real smile. Then in a mocking tone like the one she’d just used, he said, “Oh, Avis, you always look beautiful.”

♠♠♠

The plane jolted to a stop, and Avis fell forward, the seatbelt all but keeping her from smashing into the controls. She coughed and took a deep breath. She held still for a moment, then another. The only sound she could hear was the ringing of her heart in her ears and a soft blip coming from the control panel.

A dry wind whipped past her and Avis’s eyes lifted toward her surroundings. Crumbled rocks riddled the ground, sprouts of spindly bushes dotting the mud streaked canyon. The flat land went on for miles in either direction, no cliff walls to guide her direction.

Avis tugged off the seat belt and pulled herself out of the seat. She surveyed the land in either direction and saw nothing amiss. She climbed out of the cockpit, her feet dangling for a fraction of a second before they landed softly in the dirt.

She was in the Rift.

airplane novel 2

Hump Day Happiness

This week has been better than other ones. Maybe it’s because I actually have something to do at work or because I’m actually making decent progress on my WIP without straining my brain for ideas. Whatever the case, it wasn’t hard to come up with things that currently make me happy, though my list is shorter than last week.

  1. Books that sweep you away and leave you gasping for air because holy crow that was intense
  2. Animal Crossing: all the Animal Crossing games, even Pocket Camp, because it’s just so fun and light-hearted and relaxing to play. How can you not smile at the dumb animals shenanigans?
  3. ice cream because duh
  4. used book sales and actually finding a book you’ve been looking to buy for a while
  5. writing a scene that I actually like and helps me understand my characters better than before.
  6. the laughter of an eleven-year-old on his birthday as he opens presents and eats too much ice cream cake
  7. organizing things
  8. William

Happy Hump Day

In order to share more happiness with the world, a friend of mine is posting a list of things that currently make her happy on her blog on Wednesdays. I’ve been feeling really blah and frustrated lately, so I thought I would take the time to do the same in order to give myself perspective and remember the good things in life. Feel free to join us!

  1. Fireflies:  I don’t actually want the fireflies to touch me because I don’t like bugs at all, but fireflies look so lovely from afar when they’re lighting up a field or a wooded area.
  2. Cheese: I just love cheese, okay?
  3. Bats in blankets: If you haven’t watched a video of a bat being wrapped in a blanket or eating fruit, you should. Bats are adorable and one of my favorite animals.
  4. Nephews: I have two nephews, ages 4 years and 4 months. I love when I walk into a room and my 4 year-old nephew screams my name as he runs over to give me a hug, and I love the smiles my 4 month-old nephew makes when I tickle him.
  5. Playing D&D: Sometimes it can be exhausting to play for more than four hours, but when there are battles and exciting endeavors, it’s a fun game. Plus, my current character is so ridiculous. I love her.
  6. Middle grade books: I’m a huge fan of YA (if you couldn’t tell by my book blog), but there is just something about middle grade that is so much better. Less unnecessary drama and teenage angst, more curated themes and messages. Plus, the characters are usually so incredible.
  7. Stranger Things: I know it’s been almost a month since season three released, but I find myself still thinking about it. I’d rather rewatch the entire show than start something new.
  8. Milkshakes: My drinking diet is usually water and occasionally a glass of milk, but I love milkshakes too. It’s not quite ice cream, but it’s still cool and refreshing. You almost can’t go wrong with a milkshake.
  9. Bullet journaling: My bullet journal isn’t anything to crow about. It’s basically just my way of keeping my life organized and making sure I get stuff done. But I find it calming to make my lists and cross items off and keep track of habits and books I’ve read. There’s something fulfilling about checking off boxes and mapping out my month.
  10. My slimy frog: On my worst days, he can cheer me up just by being his silly self (don’t tell him I called him silly, though). On the best days, he makes life even better.

 

100 for 100 Challenge: Snippets Part One

May and June have been all kinds of crazy, but I did finish editing my library story and sent it off to a few writing friends for feedback. It was daunting to let it go so fast after editing, but I knew I had to eventually. Might as well get it over with, right?

I definitely saw an improvement between my first draft and editing. I know it’s far from perfect, but I’m so excited about Arthur and his bookish adventure. I’ve never truly edited something before, so it’s been a learning experience. But now I know it’s possible and I can do it again and again.

In the meantime, I’ve taken a sort of break from heavy writing because editing kicked my butt. I am participating in GoTeen Writers’ 100 for 100 Challenge, though. Basically, for 100 days, I am attempting to write at least 100 words towards a single story.

The story I’m working on is the Airplane Novel, about a girl who dreams of flying airplanes even though in her world it’s considered dangerous and illegal for women. It’s going fairly well. I’ve written more than the necessary 100 words, but some days are better than others. The first few weeks of the challenge were easy-peasy as I had ideas and momentum. The motivation has waned a bit, and there are days where I struggle to get the 100 in. But that happens and I’m finding I may not be someone who can write every day and be productive. (At least right now while also working a full-time job.)

I’m sticking with it, though, and just using this time to explore the story and characters. I’m just trying to get the story down because I know I’ll have to go back and do tons of research. But like I learned, editing is possible and that’s when the ideas become a story.

Since I’ve been writing a lot, I wanted to share a few snippets from the story as well. Enjoy! 🙂

airplane novel 2

When Avis Hart was eight years old, she said goodbye to her parents as they boarded the observation gondola of the Eastern United States’ newly crafted zeppelin tethered to the Empire State Building. The platform swelled and gasped with people waving to to those aboard, but Avis wasn’t looking at them or her parents’ retreating figures. She looked down at the busy New York City streets below. Automobiles the size of ants zigzagged through the streets and dots of people hurried along the sidewalks.

“Bye, bye, Avis!” Her mother called, lifting a white gloved hand in the air. “Bye, bye, Jules!”

“Have a safe trip!” Jules, Avis’ older brother, hollered back. He bumped her elbow, and Avis glanced up at the black and silver airship just in time to watch the hull burst into flames.

A choked scream swaddled Avis as heat blasted across her cheeks, sending tendrils of her blond hair flinging through the air. The crowd of spectators crowded away from the blaze, watching as loved ones and business partners, strangers and friends were consumed by fire and smoke.

But Avis did not move. She could not pry her fingers from the metal railing, even as the hysterical mass behind her roared in response to the billowing gray smoke that smothered the skyline.

Jules grabbed the sleeve of Avis’s velvet coat, a cry gurgling in his throat, and pulled her into the crowd. Bodies jostled one another, tripping and trampling to be away from the danger streaking New York’s skies. Avis fell backward, elbows and feet hitting the hard metal of the platform.

And that was when she saw them.

The airplanes.

Two aircrafts swooped across the blackened sky, elegant and graceful as a bird. The steady whip, whip, whip of the propellers spun through the air. Water streamed from the hoses and nozzles attached to the bottom of each plane, dampening the body of the airship.

But it was too late.

Black stains streaked across the damaged hull. Flames flicked through the translucent material, casting shadows of oranges and reds and yellows. The entire vessel tilted before crashing into the side of the mooring mast and shaking the port to its core. The vibrations rattled Avis’s head.

The lives inside were lost. Including her parents.

♠♠♠

Avis nodded, lowering her hands to her lap. “Of course. My best friend can do anything she wants.”

Diana fidgeted with the hem of her nightgown, the material soft against her brown skin. “And if I don’t want to be a Broadway Star?”

Avis shrugged. “I said you can do anything. You could even been Ms. Emma’s replacement, if the old hag ever dies that is.”

Diana snorted. “Really, Avis?”

“Oh, come on!” Avis rolled her eyes. “You would be splendid at nitpicking people’s skirt hems or shaking your finger in the air to prove a point.”

“Like this?” Diana got up from the bed and hunched her back, sticking her butt out. She waddled over to Avis, bobbing her head like a wide-eyed chicken, her dark curls bouncing around her face. “Now, Miss Hart, you can hardly”—her voice shrilled on the word as she stuck her finger in Avis’s face and waddled it round—“expect to catch the eye of a fine young gentleman wearing those defiled clothes.”

♠♠♠

From this distance, Avis couldn’t hear the rumble of the engine or hear the soft thwip of the propellers, but her heart jumped in her chest and the muscles in her hands clenched in her lap as if she were the one steering straight toward the sky. What she would give to sit in that cockpit and feel the plane thrum beneath her touch. To see the world from the sky.

She let out a slow breath as another plane started down the airstrip. Each plane sped down the track and soared into the morning cloud, headed west toward The Rift and what lay beyond.

♠♠♠

“I can at least find some answers,” Avis said slowly, her mind whirling with a plan. She’d visited Jules hundreds of times outside the gates of the airbase. And it had been so easy to convince someone to let her in to talk to Colonel Abrams. A quick flash of her lipstick-covered smile and brushing a strand of hair behind her ear.

“Answers?” Diana asked, her voice hollow.

Avis nodded and turned toward her friend, a smile creeping at the edges of her mouth. “Yes, answers. About where he was going and what he was doing. How I might find him.”

Diana’s eyes widened, her brown irises swirling with copper. “Find him?”

Avis jutted out her jaw, hands on her hips. “Yeah. If they won’t go look for Jules, then I will.”

“How?” Diana lifted her hands to her mouth as if in a prayer.

For a moment, Avis didn’t have an answer. Then, her eyes shifted from her friend to the open sketchbook on her bed. Diagrams of airplane propellers covered the page in various sizes and angles. Her pulse raced. She could hear the steady whir of a plane taking off in her heart and mind.

“Fly an airplane, if I must.”

♠♠♠

The man said nothing, just stared at her with his dark eyes for a long moment. Then he tipped back his head and barked out a short laugh.

Avis’s stomach clenched and she frowned. “What’s so—”

“There’s only one person named Warner on this airbase,” the man said.

Avis raised her eyebrows and folded her arms across her chest, mimicking his stance. “Is that so?”

The man nodded, a smirk hiking one side of his mouth higher than the other. “Yeah. Me.”

Avis stared at him. One second, two. Then she ducked under the wing of the plane and ran.

The man snaked out a hand and grabbed her wrist, pulling her back toward him. She dug her heels against the floor, but they just scraped against the concrete. She reached up one hand to do something—hit him, claw at him, she didn’t know—but he grabbed her other wrist as easily as the first. She tugged against him, but his grip was firm and unrelenting.

“Are you done?” he asked as she struggled against him, her breath coming in short gasps. She slammed her heel against his boot, but he didn’t even flinch.

Stupid steel-toed boots. How was a girl supposed to defend herself against a pilot?

“I’m going to ask you one more, and you better answer me honestly,” he said, staring down at her. All traces of humor were gone from his face. His dark eyes smoldered, his mouth a stoic line. “What are you doing here, Avis?”

Airplane Novel 1

 

Confessions of a (Former) Jealous Writer

Growing up, I was always creating stories. It wasn’t until I was nine or ten that I actually wrote down a story (or at least the first story I wrote and saved). Then I didn’t stop writing. I had so many started, half-finished stories. Stories that were two pages long. Stories that had potential to be longer but I easily grew bored of. Stories that can’t even be read because my handwriting was so illegible you would think a doctor wrote it. Eventually, I finished a long story. Like over 100 pages typed in 12 point Times New Roman font long. It was a complete rip-off of Eragon, but who’s counting?

At some point during those years, I started treating my writing and myself like it was a secret. I didn’t want to talk to people about what I was writing. I didn’t want to lose momentum or I feared someone would steal my ideas. (As if I wasn’t stealing ideas from other writers. Ha.) Along with that came this sense of superiority as well.

People would learn I was a writer and would be impressed. Someone would read my story and give me praise (despite it being a rip-off of Eragon and being so cliche that I can’t even look at it), and I would radiate with pride. I did a thing. I did the thing. And people liked it.

So I felt superior, and I would become jealous of other writers. Oh? A friend wanted to write a story, too? I wouldn’t outright criticize them, but I would harbor my own form of scoffing. As if she could write a novel. My sister had a blog post that resonated with but because I didn’t write it, I’d never admit it out loud.  I hated the people who were talented at everything because I often only felt at home writing—not singing or drawing or painting or playing sports or baking—and writing was my thing. I didn’t want someone else to be a writer in my circle of friends or in my family. I felt like I had to compete to be the better writer. That I deserved something for my half-baked, rip-offed stories.

And I hate to think I was ever like that. That I both didn’t want to talk about my writing without someone prompting and also feel that no one else could be a writer. Why should I determine who is a writer or a painter or a singer or a dancer? I don’t. No one determines what someone else should enjoy doing.

So sometime between finishing that first story and now, after spending three years in writing workshops that only infuriated me further and learning to write despite not having deadlines or due dates or any kind of motivation from a professor, I decided I didn’t want to have that jealous feeling about writing anymore. Because that was what it was: jealousy.

Jealous that someone else was creative. Someone else had characters clamoring and worlds spinning in their heads. Someone else had talent that might be better than mine.

Was this going to continue further? Would a friend of mind get a book deal or have her work published in a magazine and I would secretly harbor a superior scoffing because I didn’t have the courage to submit my own work for publication? Would I secretly think that their writing wasn’t good enough or that if I had more time, more energy, more this or that, I could be published also?

I didn’t want that. I didn’t want to be jealous of young people who were testing the writing waters by writing poetry or murder mysteries or Peter Pan retellings. Instead, I want to be the person that encourages them. Teaches them. Broadens their horizons and let them know that being a writer is fun but it’s also a lot of work. It takes time and effort. It takes thinking and creativity. And it takes perseverance.

Of the creative writing students I attended college with (I’d say around twenty, tops), I know of three that still write on a weekly basis. One of them is me. Three years and people have already given up, whether it’s because life is busy or personal motivation sucks or maybe writing is too hard, I don’t know. But that makes me sad. It makes me sad that people easily give up on writing because they aren’t getting the results they want. They aren’t being published or feeling creative

I don’t want people to become discouraged about writing because I give them the cold shoulder out of jealousy. I don’t want people to give up on writing because I silently scoff and roll my eyes when they say they are writing a book about werewolves. Instead, I want to encourage. I want to talk through with them their ideas—what kind of world do the werewolves live in? How do the werewolves change? What else do they do? What’s the plot? Who are the characters? Why werewolves?

So I’m taking off this unnecessary “jealous” shroud and tossing it to the wind. No more jealousy, no more scoffing, no more superiority. If you want to write, if you love to write, if you need help with writing, I am here. I will try to help guide you through this crazy, topsy-turvy thing called the writer’s journey. I will encourage you to keep working at it, to pick up a book about grammar and learn the rules of writing, to then break those rules, to take risks and write what you know and also what you don’t know and what you enjoy, to appreciate your writing and to push through when writing gets tough.

If you’re a writer, I am here for you. Jealousy free and ready to ride all the dragons we can write into existence.

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Year One

I’ve always heard that the first year of marriage is the hardest. It’s when the couple gets to really know who they’ve committed their life to. The annoying habits, the bad tempers, the awkward maneuvering around someone else in every aspect of their life.

But I don’t feel that way. The first year of marriage for me wasn’t hard. It was by no means perfect. There were moments where I was irritated or felt lonely or didn’t know how to approach this or that topic with William. But it wasn’t hard.

It was good.

I finally felt content with life.

I’m not a very independent person. I don’t like going places by myself. I don’t want to make phone calls for doctor’s appointments or to figure out car insurance. I don’t know how to do my taxes. I cling to those around me, finding shelter in their presence and help in their advice.

So getting married, being away from home for the first time in twenty-four years, was a huge step. I wasn’t sure if I was ready. I didn’t know if I could do everything without my mom or dad to help. I didn’t know if I wanted to do everything without them.

But getting married meant I wasn’t alone. It meant I had my best friend by my side to figure everything out. It was his encouragement that helped me make those awful “adulthood” calls for appointments and insurance changes. It was his support that helped me go places alone (or with him). It was the promise of coming home every day from work and knowing I would get to see him that gave me this calming peace about life.

I worry a lot. I’m easily upset and emotional. I’m bad at making decisions.

But all of those things didn’t matter during this first year. It wasn’t perfect. There are still things to learn and always to work on. But every single day, I knew I was blessed to be married to a man who understands me, who loves me, and who cares about me just as much as I care about him. And that overshadowed any frustrations or waves of loneliness, any hardships and disagreements. (It helps that he is the most laid-back person ever, so if anybody was angry, it was me.)

Year one wasn’t hard for me. But I don’t think it has to be hard. Instead, year one was good. It was fun. It was right.

Formals (19)

Hello… 2019?

Have you ever sat down to do something but then another task popped up and another and another until suddenly the thing you meant to do didn’t get done? Yeah, that’s me. I’ve been meaning to write a blog post since December and I should have written something at the beginning of January, but now it’s half way through February and I still don’t know what to post on this blog.

In the past, I’ve done yearly wrap ups and goals, highlighting the good that happened in the past year and what I hope to accomplish in the upcoming year. But I’m not going to do that. Not quite.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how I spend my time (and money) and I just came to a point that if I don’t write my stories, if I don’t edit and rewrite my stories, no one else will. Only I can do it. If I ever hope of being published someday, I need to stop slogging through the work and actually do something. And not just when I feel inspired.

(Because if I actually sit down and intend to write or edit, I do get stuff done. I feel inspired after I warm up for a bit and focus on what I’m doing. Imagine that.)

So my goal this year is to finish editing my library story and get other people to read it. I know what needs to be done to edit and rewrite. I’ve mapped out the scenes that need to be changed, the elements that need to be added (or to keep track of so they don’t get lost), and the general direction the story needs to go. I just need to do it.

At the beginning of January, I told myself if I edit five chapters each month, it’ll be finished by summer. I could get people to read it then and work on more edits next fall once I get feedback. Well, that didn’t exactly go as planned in January because I went to California for vacation and I didn’t decide to buckle down and edit until the last few days of January. But now? I’ve edited eight chapters. I’m hoping to finish ten total by the end of February, which will put me back on track for my original goal. I can do this.

I want to work on other writing projects as well. I want to keep this blog updated (at least once a month), to continue writing book reviews on Books and Waffles, to contribute to The Lit Nerds  (which you all should check out), and to maybe work on something I haven’t in a while or a new idea that’s been tugging at my arm to follow it into an adventure.

I know that I can’t sit down and write every day. For one, working a full-time job where I help people all day is exhausting. There are days where I don’t have the energy or time to sit down. So my attempt is to work on writing stuff at least every other day (or four times a week, depending on how the days fall). If I feel inspired to write something else or I need to get my Lit Nerds post drafted, I might write more.

Yes, I’m still going to read books and have actual adventures. But I know that I need to focus on my writing more. If that means setting aside a highly anticipated read for an hour while I write, so be it. If that means I don’t get to finish Kingdom Hearts III yet, so be it. So far, this has worked the past few weeks and, as I’ve stated, I’ve accomplished more than I hoped for.

So maybe 2019 will be the year I actually finish something. Maybe it’ll help stretch me as a writer. But I know that I want to work toward my goal because only I can do it. And I hope this small, random, on-a-whim post inspires you to work toward your goals and dreams. Remember, only you can make those happen. I can’t do it for you. Your mom can’t do it for you. But you can do it.

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Also can someone find me a cool typewriter like this because I want one.

NaNoWriMo 2018: Wrap Up + Snippets

I did the thing! I reached over 50K in November and completed NaNoWriMo. I actually finished a few days early, on the 27th, but I wanted to see if I could write more. I reached a total of 52,688 words, which is pretty crazy since the last few months have been a struggle for me to write.

While I hit my monthly goal, this story is far from over. I’m not sure how many more words it’ll take to complete it, but I feel as if I’ve only hit the tip of the iceberg. There is a lot yet to be explored both in regards to characters and the world-building, and right now, I’m just excited to see where the story takes me.

Scoundrels and Scallyways 7

As I have described it on the NaNo site, this story is about “pirates and magic and a whole lot of butt kicking and heart crushing adventure.” As of right now, I haven’t introduced any pirates, but there is a lot of magic. Originally, I thought one of the characters had the potential to break everybody’s heart, but now I think a second character is going to do that as well. It’s going to be so fun.

Because I’m so excited about this story right now, here are a few snippets I wrote during November. Enjoy!

◊◊◊

Once there was a boy who could create magic with his hands. He always helped others, no matter the cost to himself. No matter how much life energy or blood he spilled from his own veins. No matter the ache in his head and the pain in his chest.

Until one day, he gave too much.

◊◊◊

“Harvey,” she said, “What important piece of advice have I told you over and over?”
Harvey, whose dark eyes were as fathomless of the fathoms below, didn’t blink at her, but his eyes flicked to the apple core in her hand. “Don’t interrupt you while you eat?”
Rip rolled her eyes and tossed the core toward the waters below. Some lucky fish would have a nice meal tonight, she thought. At least something near this cursed iceberg would.
“Don’t sneak up on me,” Rip said, lazily looking away from Harvey toward the shore. They weren’t due to arrive in Northern Point until sunrise, so she’d ordered the ship anchored just outside the docking parameters. No need to make a fuss with the port patrol and have them search the ship, on a whim, for any smuggled goods. Not that she, Captain Rip of the Andromeda, would ever have smuggled goods hidden in the belly of her beast.
“Or you just might find a knife stuck in your gut.” She lifted the knife so the point was mere inches from his nose before twirling it around on her fingers and sticking it back in its sheath at her hip.

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◊◊◊

Ryker always found fire to be the easiest to manipulate. It was hot and full of anger, matching the rush of his blood, the thoughts churning in his mind, the emotion wriggling in his gut. But fire wasn’t the element he clung to like a small child clung to the hem of his mother. It didn’t soothe the breaking of his soul or beckon the magic to come forward. Instead, Ryker preferred water.
The steady ebb and flow of the tides against the shore. The softness as it lapped the sand and the strength as it swarmed during a storm. Water was versatile, flexible, always moving and changing. It was strong and steady and calm and soothing. It cleansed and quenched. It [something].
Ryker’s mother has always said he had one foot on land and one foot in the sea and that it called to his the very bones in his body and the blood in his veins. He never understood what that meant until he’d found himself landlocked on Gray’s sideshow for months on end as they traveled to the cities that lay inland. The moment they had reached a portside city, he had rushed away from the caravans and thrown himself into the harbor, relishing the way the water seeped into his skin and clothes, drowning his bones.
Water had always been his favorite element to manipulate.

 

◊◊◊

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She squeezed herself into a ball, cradling her knees against her chest. She was covered in layers of gray–cold, alone, smeared. She wished Ryker was with her, even if it meant he was caged too, so he could pull her into his sheltered arms and hold her near his frantically beating chest.
Unlike the monsters… whose hearts were hollow and silent.
A catacomb of stillness.
Wren shivered and buried her face between her knees. She felt like the princess in a story about an ogre without a heart. Only instead of being trapped in a mountain castle, she was on a boat. Instead of an ogre, her wardens were some other kind of monster. If she could use her magic, she could find their hearts and restore them. It would be a happier ending than for the ogres in the fable.
But she wasn’t a princess and she couldn’t use her magic.
The ship rocked suddenly, dumping her to the side. Northern Point’s mountains were getting smaller and smaller. And Ryker was disappearing too.
She found no will to sit back up, lying in a heap on the hardwood floors instead. She closed her eyes, silencing the empty colors and the hope that someone would come for her. She tried to calm the roaring in her blood, like Ryker taught her too.
“Whenever you’re scared, Wren,” he had said in his breath colored with purple and stars, “just lay down and close your eyes and make a list of all the pretty things in the world. Then you’ll remember that everything will be fair again in the end.”
Wren let out a slow breath–pink feathers brushing over her–and she thought of the prettiest things left in the world: plants.
Blood lilies from Taegan.
Palm trees from Barrak.
Forsythia from [place].
She listed all the flowers she could remember. The ones she had seen with her own eyes as Gray’s sideshow traveled from territory to territory, island to island, port to port. Others she had seen for sale at markets or overheard travelers describing in their extravagant stories. She had read about plants from [Southern Isles] that glimmered in the moonlight, and Ryker had told her about the shrubs that bloomed with fountain tulips along the trickling streams of Taegan. She wanted to see, more than anything else, all the flowers of the world together, all those colors blending in a splash of brilliance.
Frost jasmines from Northern Point.
Fire willows from [place].
Kalina from [another place].
The eternal kokia cookei rumored to grow on a mystical island in the center of the five seas.
Wren continued her list, growing it as a long as the viper vines from [place], until the frosted sea rolled her to sleep.

◊◊◊

“On Taegan, when a man loves a woman, he proposes to her in front of her whole family by offering a palm branch,” Ryker began, his voice soft. “If they accept, the man gives them a palm branch, which is then used in a palm oil that the woman bathes in the night before the wedding and weaves the stem into the crown of her hair on her wedding day. They both wear white to symbolize purity and walk upon the beach barefoot together as they approach where both families line the shoreline on either side of the Elder.
“Once there, the Elder binds their hands and they face the ocean, casting vows only the other can hear. Then they dip each other into the ocean waves, symbolizing a promise of dying to their old self and becoming new as one body.”
Rip said nothing, which surprised Ryker. He figured by now she would interrupt, but he allowed her to keep talking.
“Together, they sing a song with their families that talks of [god’s] love for the community. Last, they make a vow to honor the rituals and do their part for the island, putting community first and love second. The family sprinkles flower petals from the [plant] over the couple.”
Ryker paused, furrowing his brow and clenching his fist. “Only then can the man take his wife into their home and become one flesh. Ritual first, flesh second.”
He left his words to linger in the space between them. Not looking at her, not reaching for her, even though his fingers longed to hold her hand in his hands.

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NaNoWriMo 2018: Update

NaNoWriMo 2018 is more than halfway over, and I am sitting at a total of 32,157 words, which I think is crazy. I’m slightly ahead of my goal at the moment, and I’m hoping to keep it that way for the rest of November. (But with the holiday weekend, who knows?)

It seems crazy to me because at the start of November I wasn’t even committed to a single story idea. But now I have 32K of a story with characters and magic and pirate ships (hopefully) and possibly mermaids or sirens or some kind of thing like that. The story is tentatively called Scoundrels and Scallywags because doesn’t that just sound cool?

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A lot of what I have been writing is material originally used for the serial story I wrote with a few friends, Thieves of Bakkaj, that slowly died…

The four of us agreed to give up on the story and kindly take all the bits and pieces we created along the way to use in individual stories. Aka I was able to salvage all the characters I came up with and go from there. But it hasn’t been the most smooth transition.

The hard part about taking characters and ideas from an already established world and plot is that I had to figure out my own world and plot. Which hasn’t been easy, but it hasn’t been difficult either. I’m still playing with this world and figuring out how it works, what it looks like, etc. I’ve been leaving myself lots of notes to go back and change this or that or add something here and there.

The plot portion of the story has probably been the more difficult to nail down. I’m keeping similar events, such as Wren being kidnapped and Ryker chasing her down. But instead of him finding her right away, he learns she’s on a different ship going to a different destination and he has to track her down. He still meets Rip, but I’ve added a few more important characters to Rip’s crew (who, by the way, completely took me surprise when they showed up with names and faces and personalities). Locke has also shifted. He’s still searching for Wren because of her ability, but he isn’t the one who kidnaps her. That is someone else. And no, I have no idea who he is. I also don’t know the “big picture” plot. Why do they want Wren? How do Ryker and Rip fit into that narrative? Who else will show up along the way to help them?

In addition, I’m digging deeper into Ryker’s backstory and his relationship with his brothers, who I hope will both play a bigger part later on in the story. I’ve also already written my ending. It was actually the second thing I wrote during the entire month! Let’s just say that I’m probably going to break a few hearts with this one. (As if my other stories don’t?)

I hope to incorporate a lot of the ideas I started exploring while contributing to Thieves that didn’t quite match the world and plot we were aiming for. It’s kind of a mess right now, and I definitely won’t be finished with the entire thing after hitting 50K, but this is the most I’ve written in months and I’m glad to be writing again.

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I also lead a teen writing club at the library where I work, and I had the kids create a writing project and an attainable  word goal to reach during November (as opposed to 50K, which is daunting for newer writers). It’s been so great to see many of the students writing every single day and realizing they need to make their goals higher and also that they can write a story! There’s one girl who said a year ago she didn’t have the confidence to write the story she is writing, but now she’s more than halfway through her goal and her idea is expanding. I love it!

So basically, this is the first time in a long while that NaNo hasn’t been a struggle this far along in the month. I could be content with my 32K and not even reach 50K because the challenge has pushed me back into writing regularly and given me new ideas to play with. Of course, I’m going to try to surpass 50K, but I’m not stressing about it. I’m just writing.

Are you participating in NaNo? How is it going for you? Let me know what you are working on (NaNo or Not) in the comments!