Writing Should Be About Sweets

… and spice and everything nice and lovely. But sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes it’s about gruelling hard work on something that you currently hate for what might possibly be no recognition and nothing to show for it, when there are easier, shinier and nicer things to write. Sometimes it’s about persevering when you really, really don’t want to, or see the point of persevering.

The past few weeks have been one of those times for me.

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July 2013 Blog Chain

A lovely blog, a lovely chain, and a lovely idea. Sign up, everyone!

Teens Can Write, Too!

ETA: 3/31/14: *If you’re one of the awesome people who finds these past blog chain posts through search terms, you can go here to find more recent topics and to sign up for a current chain.*

I’ll get right to it: the topic for next month’s blog chain is:

“Take any character from one of your books and put them in a therapy session. Write a short scene about what happens.”

You guys are welcome to go crazy with this topic. You can stage it as you want, write it as you want, add in as many realistic (or unrealistic elements) as you want. (You can even include multiple characters to make it a group therapy session.) I think we all can agree that our characters need major professional help, so don’t hesitate to bring on the weird. 😉

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Warning: This Post May Contain Flailing

Those of you that know me will probably be aware of my love of a certain type of character in a certain type of television show. For those of you that don’t know, I have a love of crime dramas with a maverick MC.

A maverick, you might possibly be saying as you tap your chin thoughtfully in the hopes that you look clever if not knowledgeable. What’s a maverick?

A maverick, according to the Free Online Dictionary, is:

1. An unbranded range animal, especially a calf that has become separated from its mother, traditionally considered the property of the first person who brands it.
2. One that refuses to abide by the dictates of or resists adherence to a group; a dissenter.
As a writer and TV lover, I am not, as you’ve hopefully assumed, talking about a calf wandering the open range. It would be difficult to make a crime drama from that.
Nope. We’re talking about a dissenter. Someone who couldn’t care less about the status quo. In crime dramas, the maverick also tends to see things that the police don’t see, and doesn’t much care if they’re doing something a teensy bit illegal to get the information they need.
 If you’re a lover of your crime dramas as well, you’re probably shouting out the name of the most well-known maverick in the entire history of the world: the immortal Sherlock Holmes.
(The current British Sherlock Holmes.)
(The current US Sherlock Holmes… who is also British.)
But Sherlock Holmes, though he might be the first maverick of pop culture, isn’t the only maverick. These are a few of my absolute faves:
(My personal obsession is this show and this character.)
(A cool dude who… sort of… solves crimes.)
(Damon counts. This is my post, so Damon Salvatore gets included. Fact.)
Okay. Enough of the YouTubing. You want to know more about these maverick types, right? I hope you do, since that’s what this post is about.
 Well, the maverick is a good type of character to have in TV, film, or your own writing. Stick a maverick in there and already you have Wholockians, and other maverick-lovers, all over you, begging to find out what happens to the person who just doesn’t fit in.
Which brings me onto a little tangent. You might notice that all my mavericks are men. I have found that, in the world of telly, you don’t really have female mavericks (although if anyone finds one, be my guest to prove me wrong). I won’t go on a rant about it, though, but just mention that the female equivalent of the male maverick tends to be the kick-ass chick. From this point on, kick-ass chicks will be included in this post under the umbrella of ‘mavericks’.
The reason there are so many maverick fandoms in the world is because a strange part of our culture is that we enjoy rooting for the underdog. Your average maverick tends to have some sort of fatal flaw. This could be arrogance, as in BBC Sherlock and Damen’s cases; an addictive personality, as in Elementary Sherlock’s case; or just being too awesome, as in the Doctor’s case.
We enjoy rooting for underdogs… but only when they win. This is why a maverick is great as a protagonist, and may perhaps be because we’re all teen rebels at heart, and love to see people beat the status quo.
Which brings us back to the definition of a maverick that we looked at oh so long ago. It’s as if I plan these things or something (I don’t).
So now you know that a maverick (done properly, of course, as all characters must be done) can be the best thing that happens to your novel.
Now, I must inform you of the reason that mavericks are a terrible idea. People tend to do this:
You must be wary of the power of the maverick.

Book Review: Bloodfire (Blood Destiny 1) by Helen Harper

Blurb from Goodreads:

Mack might be, to all intents and purposes, a normal looking human, but she lives with a pack of shapeshifters in Cornwall in rural England after being dumped there by her mother when she was just a young child. She desperately wants to be accepted by her surrogate family, not least because a lot of them hate her for merely being human, but for some reason her blood just won’t allow the transformation to occur.

With a terrible temper to match her fiery red hair, Mack is extraordinarily useful in a fight, and when her pack alpha is brutally and abruptly murdered, she swears vengeance. Unfortunately, his murder also draws in the Brethren – the leaders of the shapeshifter world – who will slaughter everyone in Mack’s small rural pack if they discover her true identity. Unfortunately Corrigan, the green-eyed muscle-bound Lord Alpha of the Brethren, doesn’t let much slip by him.

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Losing Your Mind and Your Story Along With It

I had to make a tough decision today (by which I mean Monday, as I schedule these posts), and I have a bad feeling that the title of this post is about to happen to me (before you say anything, I realise that this sentence is grammatically questionable; it’s that kind of day).

You see, I have been re-plotting my current work in progress, Lantern’s Fall (Perspectives), as the original plot for it went something like this: ‘Blah de blah blah… or everything could go completely differently’, and I was writing the novel during NaNoWriMo — there is absolutely nothing that could have gone wrong with that, no?

Unfortunately and, I’m sure, surprisingly, a lot of things did go wrong. I ended up enjoying writing the POV of my MC so much more than that of her boyfriend. It’s not completely surprising — I had set her boyfriend up as a simpering goody-two-shoes and then realised that I couldn’t cope with a character so lame — but the biggest reason behind it was that I was shipping my MC with another character.

The horror, no? My MC’s POV became this wimpy, pander-to-the-girl-because-she’s-hurt-and-broken-and-cute kind of scenario that didn’t fit the MC. The plotline dissolved into a mushy mess, and I didn’t realise it until I decided to seriously revise it in the hopes of self-publication.

Oh, and this is after I added it to book one, of course, which was half the size and had an even crappier plotline.

But I am going off-topic, and you don’t need to know how shitty the book currently is (I don’t want to put you off, after all), and neither do you need to hear my moaning which I imagine is equally shitty. Let’s get back to the actual point of this post: the title.

I was re-plotting this morning (as I mentioned before), and I got to the transition between the NaNo novels I’d shoved into one and realised that I couldn’t leave a few months’ worth of time between parts if they were going to become a novel rather than ‘parts’. I had to get rid of those ‘few months’. I had to get rid of what happened in them.

At which point my heart rebelled. During those few months, my MC helps out in the series she is a spin-off from (which hasn’t particularly been written, due to my writing ADHD).

Now, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but my MC might just be my favourite character. I’m not supposed to have favourites, I know, but she’s one of two that most certainly are. Which made it hard to think that I would have to take her out of the series. It was hard to know that we’d hardly see any of her outside of her own little world. Lantern’s Fall is currently a stand-alone, but even if I add the prequel that I might want to add, it won’t be the same. My MC won’t be the MC, and she won’t be… herself.

In shorthand, taking that few months out meant killing one of my darlings, and I have been wondering whether I can deal with that, along with everything else. Re-writing the entire novel before September’s NaNoCritMo that I shall be taking part in was scary enough when I realised that I was doing CampNaNoWriMo next month, let alone knowing that I’m now killing off the chance of ever writing my MC again while I do it, as I don’t feel as if there will be a sequel to her story. I feel as if my brain will explode at the sheer daunting, horrid task before me. Which is why I am losing my mind, and possibly my story along with it, if I don’t buck my ideas up and come to terms with the fact that my MC’s story can’t go on forever. At some point, I’m going to have to take the fact that my characters will live on without me or die. I’m going to have to learn to live with the fact that I won’t be a part of every moment of their lives (especially as many of them are immortal or unchanging). Just like when I’m writing them, I’m going to have to let them wrest control of the reins — except this time, I won’t be on the horse with them.

My characters are like family, or like parts of me, that will never get the chance to fully live and flourish, and that idea saddens me greatly. But good things have to end at some point, and it seems like, for my MC, Lantern — the kick-ass, insecure, ruthless, beautiful creature that sashayed her way into my life in November 2011 — that point is rushing up to meet us. And I don’t know if I can deal with that.

And on that happy little note, I shall leave you. Perhaps the next time you hear from me I will have broken out of my depression cave. I sure hope so.

Mind Your Pros and Quos

If you’re like me, you love your mildly-crappy lawyer TV dramas. And, if you’re also like me, you don’t understand a word they say because it’s all in Latin. More importantly than that, writing ‘Body of Christ’ in your novel when you really meant ‘Seize the day’ will make you look silly. So I have created a list of Latin words and phrases that are still used to this day. Continue reading

Book Review: Lark by Erica Cope

*I shall just mention that this is not the book that I mentioned in an earlier post*

Well, now we’ve got that little discalimer out of the way, let’s talk about the book I am actually reviewing, Lark. This is the blurb from Goodreads:

The last time she checked, Mia Carrington was pretty sure that she was a normal girl with a completely ordinary life.

She goes to high school, has a crush on the gorgeous and mysterious new boy in town, and has strange dreams that she can’t help but feel are real somehow.

Okay, so maybe she’s not all that normal after all.

A freak accident changes Mia’s life forever when she is thrown into another world and left to deal with the revelation that she is the daughter of the King of the Light Elves. Throw in an ominous prophecy predicting that Mia will break a curse unleashing the Dark Elves on the world and well, things don’t look too good.

There is danger lurking at every corner in this strange world and Mia isn’t sure who she can trust…
The only thing she is certain of is that the Dark Elves know about her, and they will stop at nothing until they have her.

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Everybody’s favourite boy toy is in the YA Crush Tourney

Indeed he is!

He’s so hot he can breathe underwater if he wants to!

Noah Shaw, everybody’s favourite Londoner, is the hot, mysterious crush in The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer and The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin. Today, he is going against some guy, Augustus Waters, in the YA Crush Tourney over at ya-sisterhood.blogspot.com and he needs your help… not that Noah ever needs help, of course. He just needs you to vote for him and his insanely caring, sexy, arrogant self because he doesn’t have time to charm all the possible voters himself. He has more important things to do, like look after Mara and his dogs, Mabel and Ruby — they all get in a tizz when he’s not there to break up the fights.

I will love you forever if you vote for Noah. Noah might love you forever too, if you’re lucky.

(And, yes, there is a direct correlation between my name and favourite ever book and crush ever.)

Oh, and — lucky you guys — around 5pm EST, Noah’s advocate, Sara the Page Sage, will be holding a giveaway of Noah bookmarks! All you’ll need to do is vote for Noah (of course) and answer a trivia question correctly with the hashtag #VoteNoahShaw. Exciting, no?

Show, Don’t Tell…

…And don’t let your head hit the desk out of exasperation! No, really, don’t. There’s glue on there.

I am not about to tell you that you should ‘show’ someone with clenched fists rather than ‘tell’ your readers that the character is angry. Nuh-uh. No sirree. I figure that, when you’ve heard it once, you don’t need to hear it again. It’ll work its way into your brain at some point or other.

Instead, I am here to tell you when you shouldn’t do either of those things, because sometimes, when you show your readers, you’re really telling them. (Shock horror, right?) Continue reading