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Friday, November 30, 2012

*happy dance, happy dance, collapses in a lack-of-sleep-stupor*

I won y'all!  Yay!


This past month has been AWESOME!  I am so happy I was able to do NaNo with my best friend, Ruth, who also won!  You can check it out at her blog here

Of the three and a half novels I have written, 'Hail Frost' is by FAR the one that deviated from my outline the most.  Instead of focusing on Hail, Ember, and Snow, the story mostly focused on Hail, Flake, and my would-be villain, Valin.  Valin made a really fun villain, but his character has so much more than can be developed.  Instead of dying in my showdown like I had planned, he lives and he is probably going to be the main villain of the next 'Leverage' novel also.  In 'Ember Flame' Flake seemed very...um...flaky for the few chapters she is in.  She is probably one of my more dynamic characters, and she is actually one of my favorites now!

Anyway, thanks to everyone who supported and prayed for me!  It was so much fun, and I really appreciate y'all thinking about me throughout this month.  Every time someone would come up and ask me how my novel is going, people I had no idea knew about my novel, I was so touched.  Y'all are awesome!

My novel is not finished yet, but as of right now the word count is 90,012 words!

Now, if you excuse me, I'm going to go take a shower in celebration.  Again, y'all are awesome!  Thank you so much!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Random NaNo Tips

Here are some random tips I have given on various topics to other young writers.  :)  They are from the forum, so they are answering specific questions from people.  To avoid any, I dunno, privacy infringement or whatever, I will write the gist of what they were asking, then put my actual answer.


How so I write a battle sequence?


Battle scenes do take a bit of practice, just like any form of writing. But I've found a few tips that really help me...
(This is for like, battle scenes. Like, with armies and stuff. Think Lord of the Rings, if you need help with more one-on-one type conflict I can help there too! :) ) Depending on what point of view you are writing in, it will work in different ways. Think of how your favorite movie with action battle scenes does it. I, for one, will be using Lord of the Rings as my example. In, say, the battle of Helms Deep, the camera switches between "point of views." For a little, we might watch Aragorn fight off two or three orcs, then the camera will switch and we see the whole mass of the armies charging and firing at each other. Then it will change again, and we'll see Legolas shooting at a few orcs, then it will switch yet again to show the inside of the caves with all the frightened people listening to the battle. Then it's back outside in the rain where we see ladders being placed on the wall.
It's interesting how the movie creators did these battle scenes. They switched with how they viewed it. They made it personal, and frightening, at the same time. They made it personal by showing the characters we know and love fighting for their lives. They made it dangerous by panning out and showing us what exactly they are up again. And then they threw in extra conflict and dread by showing how frightened everyone else is, and they can't even see the battle. This implies that we, the viewer, ought to be frightened too.
Books work in the same way. If you are writing in third person, this will be easiest. But you can still do this technique if you are writing in first person. Have your character involved in the conflict for a little. Describe his actions through his point of view. (personal) Then take him out of the fight for a moment. Say he slays his enemy then looks over the rest of the battlefield. This is when you describe the rest of the armies. (frightening)
How do I introduce another protagonist to the novel?
I introduce all of my character through definitive action. You said he was "one of your protagonist," implying that there are more than one. I'm assuming you have already introduce one of your protagonists. You could show him first through your other MC's point of view. Have him doing some action that instantly defines him, like fighting, or arguing with someone, or protecting a friend.
What is your favorite thing in a guy MC? (main character)
(My profound answer)
Me likey bad boys.  >:)
(lol...)
Anyway, next question...

How do I write a journey through a forest without it being boring?
You could summarize the trip with a few short sentences if nothing important happens on the trip. You could add some details to make the summary interesting, like, "After wondering through the emerald trees and briers for three days, they eventually managed to reach the other side without getting killed, eaten, or lost." Something like that.
Or, if you don't want it to be that short, you could use this time for character development. Maybe have two characters who are tense with each other have a chance to duke it out, or maybe they could have a deep heart-to-heart conversation around a campfire. If you choose not to summarize, remember the most important thing in any novel. Conflict. Conflict makes stories, without conflict, there is no story. And that is boring. So just add conflict!

How do I write a prophecy about my MC into my novel?
Turn an old cliche on it's head! Instead of your hero finding a scroll in an ancient library, have the hero find the scroll (or better yet, iPad on note app :P) in a completely unexpected place, like the grocery store, the museum, his chemistry textbook. Whatever you do, try not to be cliche. Take the first thing that comes to your mind and switch it around!
So yeah, that's just some of my insightful (lol) advice to other brave NaNoers.  I didn't have time for a normal post...
Happy Belated Thanksgiving everyone! 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Teenagers Writing Romance


On NaNoWriMo forum, there are many, many teenagers who are writing romance novels.  (You can tell by going to their profile and reading about their novel)  I was a bit surprised by this at first, I mean, of the three most popular book series for teenagers (Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Hunger Games) only one is an actual romance.  The other two are different forms of adventure novels.  I know Harry Potter does have a little romance in it, but from what I heard it is not the main focus of the story at all.  I don't even consider the "romance" in the Hunger Games to be applicable.  Katniss was faking most of the time, and when she wasn't faking, nothing felt real at all. 

All that to say, there are a lot of teenagers writing romance novels, and probably even more with romance in their novels.  Seriously, even I have a little...but more on that later. 

First, a disclaimer, I think the One Year Adventure Novel curriculum turned me against writing romance.  In one of the chapters, Mr. Schwabaur (aka Mr. S) was explaining the different types of characters and their roles in stories.  He basically said at one point: "The Love can be a good source of conflict and dilemmas for your hero.  But, I don't know how to say this lightly so I will be blunt, do you really know anything about love?  Outside from what you have read or seen in stories, do you personally really know anything?  I didn't until my mid-twenties.  And you can't write something-write something well-until you have experienced it for yourself." 

It was an interesting statement.  I was thirteen when I went through the curriculum, and I kid you not, I have read the textbook over twelve times, have watched all the videos at least twice, and have read all the classic novels he suggested reading.  Clearly, I take this curriculum very seriously.  So I took that, like everything else, to heart and vowed to never break it.  And I didn't.  "Shadow's Fire" has zero romance.  Zero, zip, nothing.  I even took Julia's dad out of the picture to eliminate the possibility of showing any affection at all between her mom and dad! 

So that might be a bit extreme.  But that's exactly what I did.  Life was good, nobody was falling in love, the pirates were being shot and killed, everything was perfect.

Then came along "Ember Flame."  Or, more specifically, Ember and Hail.  I was typing along in my story, everything was fantastic, one character was betraying another, one was getting tortured, another sold into slavery, I'm totally in my element.  Then BOOM.  All of a sudden, Hail decided to start liking Ember...and Ember was liking him back! 

I began to panic.  I immediately went back and erased the last couple paragraphs I had written.  I stared at the screen for awhile, trying to think of something to do.  I wrote...but it was flat.  I erased it and tried again.  Boring.  Erased.  Flat.  Erased. Flat.  And it went on and on.  Exasperated, I pulled out my trusty OYAN textbook, wondering if I had missed the section on how to get your characters to stop liking each other.  But no.  Instead I read the part where he says to let your characters come alive and do what they want to do.    Otherwise, they will feel flat.  So reluctantly, I let Ember and Hail start to like each other.

Yeah, it was awkward.  As the story went on, I kept hoping something would happen to make one angry at the other and they would start not liking each other.  But I guess love does not break that easy.  I turned Hail into a zombie and made him the cause of death to someone she loved more.  I made him an assassin.  I made him a drunk.  I had him chop someone's hand off in a drunken rage.  He is conflicted, emotionally unstable, and dark.  And don't even get me started on Ember.  Bratty, beaten, defensive, angry Ember.  And yet, Hail still liked her.  And Ember still liked him.  

So at the end I panicked.  I admit it, the reason why they can't be together, I made that only to get them apart.  I went back and added a bit of foreshadowing to make it seem more realistic.  I was ashamed of, well, writing a romance.  But I was also ashamed of eradicating it so fast. 

All in all, I am glad I did it.  It caused some extra conflict and one last dilemma at the end.  But it really was not fair of me to do that.  But hey, I'm human, and I'm new at this author thing.  I guess I'll learn from my mistakes. 

Anyway, I am a little surprised at how many kids are rushing in head-on to this romance thing.  Maybe it's cuz I am homeschooled and I am not around it in school all the time.  But even many of the homeschoolers are doing romance, and there is nothing wrong with it necessarily.  I'm just surprised. 

I'm going to try and face the romance a little more, um, courageously (for lack of a better word) this time around.  It will NOT be the main focus of my story.  Hail and Ember are going to be apart for most of the book, and I will give them time to mature and grow up a little.  Ember needs to learn to take responsibility for herself and her sister.  She needs to step in Coal's shoes.  Hail needs to forgive himself for his past and let Elethor take responsibility.  He needs to step out of Elethor's shoes.  So I'll give them both time to grow up, and, who knows, maybe I'll give the romance thing another shot.  Hopefully, nobody will notice that this author is petrified of writing romance.  ;)

I'm curious to see what y'all think of teens writing romance, particularly a book where the central theme is  romance. 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Symbolism

Anyone else do symbolism?  I <3 symbolism.  I love finding it in stories and figuring it out.  I put some symbolism in Hail Frost.  I can't tell you...but lets just say it involves....


A cute wittle fluffy baby wolf!  *giggles*

Me: I'm not sorry Hail.
Hail: <_<

Monday, November 12, 2012

Writing Tidbit #3

I have a few tips on keeping NaNoWriMo novels interesting and focused.  It is tempting to just write extremely long dialogue to kill your word count, but it doesn't usually make for a good novel.  (not that I know anything about that...)

Anyway, here are my tips...

Conflict.  If there is no conflict, there is no story.  Keep the conflict going in every scene.  It can be internal conflict, dialogue conflict, a sword fight, anything, as long as there is conflict.

Character.  Every scene ought to show something about some character.  If the scene involves a character, and most scenes do, it should show some insight into their character.  It can be as simple as their favorite color, or something deeper like a favorite childhood memory.

Quest.  Keep your character's quest in mind.  Not necessarily the principal plot, but make sure the characters are always pursuing something.  Don't show scenes where they go shopping in the market or scavenge for food unless it has some impact on the plot.

Happy NaNoing everyone!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Hail Frost: The Characters!

Here are my characters from "Hail Frost."  The pictures are actors who look kinda like how I imagined my characters.  Lets turn this into a game and see if you can guess who the actors are!  After all the guesses, I will tell in the comment section!  :)

(Oh yeah, and I could NOT find any actress who looked anything like Ember, so I made my own using the Mary Kay virtual makeover.  Soo...don't guess on her.  :P  If you want, you could say actresses who you think look like Ember. )


Hail Frost

Hail is a young warrior who is trying to redeem himself from his dark past.  He is cold, brooding, and is becoming increasingly distant.  He does not trust much, himself least of all.  As his brother begins to find out more about Hail's past, Hail begins to work harder to redeem himself.  

Ember Flame


Ember is an orphan brat turned hero, but she pretty much ditches that last part when she decides to try and find answers from her own past.  She is stubborn, headstrong, and fiery.  She struggles to find her place in the world, and to try and become sufficient guidance and family to her little sister.  

Commander Valin


Valin is the "new kid," the "rookie" in the government of the Pull.  He (quite literally) had to scratch his way to the top.  He has managed to keep his deadly record a secret and he hides behind a facade of charm and eloquent justice.  Deep inside though, he holds a grudge against the Leverage and he has no intention of letting them save Holdinus.


Snow Frost


Snow is finally fulfilling her destiny, but part of her is telling her it is to late to earn forgiveness with anyone, including Elethor.  It certainly does not help when her travelling companion begins to become disgusted with her past actions.  Snow is outwardly composed and calm, but she also still retains her old sneaky and manipulative abilities.   

Klina Rindil


Klina is the little sister of Ember.  She has spent most of her life tossed from place to place.  When she first met her new sister, she was inspired by her fiery spirit and bravery, but Klina soon realizes that Ember is a far cry from the perfect sister.  Klina is both spunky and serious, and she really wants the world to be peaceful again so they can settle to a normal life.

Rime Frost


Rime is the younger brother of Hail.  He can be a tad demanding and whiny, but he really wants to be like his older brother.  Hail is often disgusted with Rime's lack of seemingly lack of fortitude and courage...but perhaps he will discover that maybe Rime is not the cowardly one...

Flake Frost



Of all the Leverage, Flake prides herself on being the only one to have maturity and a "decent" background.  She tends to look at the world, and herself, with rose colored spectacles.  But when Flake realizes that maybe she is not so perfect, in fact, that she might have caused the most damage of all of them, she begins to see the world a little differently.  

Dray


Dray is an ever-mysterious and cocky enigma that touches paths with Ember, Hail, and Valin.  He is often underestimated...and no one is really sure who he is or he works for.  The only person more mysterious than him is his older brother, Jess.  But that's another story.  ;)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Count of Monte Cristo: Review

I was going to do a review on Lord of the Rings, but come on, we all know how that would go.

"Lord of the Rings is the best trilogy and books and everything EVER!  Read them!!!  Tolkien was the best writer ever!!  AHHH!!!!  Aragorn is so awesome and Eowyn and everyone read the BOOOOOKS!!!!"

Ahem.  Yeeah...soo I'm doing Count of Monte Cristo instead!


"Count of Monte Cristo" was written kinda like a TV show back in the early days following the French revolution.  Every week, a new "episode" would be posted in the newspapers and periodicals.  So reading "Count of Monte Cristo" is kind of like starting to watch "Once Upon a Time" on DVD.  You just can't stop at one episode!  Or two...or three...or seventeen...

Not that I know anything about that.

Anyway, "Count of Monte Cristo" is a rather long book, the unabridged version being over 1,200 pages long.  If you do decide to read this book, read the unabridged version, NOT the abridged version.  The abridged version is 600 pages.  It was made to be a bit more "family friendly" than the unabridged version.  It's still good, I read it first actually.  But its kinda like watching Once Upon a Time with little siblings and constantly fastforwarding or muting or whatever.  Still enjoyable, but leaves you kinda confused on some parts.

Not that I know anything about that either.

"Count of Monte Cristo" is the story of young Edmund Dantes, a sailor with a wonderful life ahead of him.  He is about to become a captain at the age of nineteen, he's engaged to a girl who he loves and who loves him back, he's making a decent amount of money, and people like him.  Well, most people anyway.  There are four men who could like him a bit more.  These four men scheme and plan and manage to get Dantes thrown in the Chateau D'if, a prison that nobody ever leaves unless they are dead.  There, Dantes secretly meets a fellow prisoner, Abbot Faria, who educates and teaches him.  The Abbot and Dantes plan an escape attempt that would have worked, except that Abbot Faria dies before they can do it.  Before he dies, he tells Dantes of a hidden treasure on the isle of Monte Cristo.  He tells Dantes to start again and make a new life.

Dantes has other plans.

He takes the mass treasure and begins to weave together an elaborate tapestry of mystery and intrigue.  He portrays himself as the mysterious "Count of Monte Cristo" and he lives by several other pseudonyms too.  For over twenty years he plots and plans his revenge on the four men who ruined his life.  And when he finally gets it, he discovers that it is not everything he wanted.

"Count of Monte Cristo" is an incredible story, with an action-packed and intricate plot that leaves you turning pages.  Dantes' revenge is so perfect and so wicked you can't help but root for him, but he still leaves uncertainty because there are some people, some really good people, who are caught in the middle of his revenge.  No matter who wins, something is going to lose, leaving the reader filling dread and tension at every page.  The characters always have a lot of depth to them, and you even get to see a hint of goodness in the villains, and a hint of badness in the good characters.

The book has many Christian themes in it too.  Taking care of family and friends, the dangers of revenge, sacrifice, love, forgiveness, and redemption.  It has just enough humor to keep from becoming too tense or depressing, and just enough tension to keep your knuckles white and teeth chattering.

But probably the reason why I truly love this book is this; I adore anti-heroes.  An anti-hero is someone who acts as the villain for most of the book, then becomes good and finally becomes the hero.  Alexandre Dumas succeeds with this flawlessly.

This book is probably not a little kid book though.  His revenge involves poison, manipulation, killing, and lying.  Premature burials, drugging, executions, and guillotining also play a role.  Everything is carried out in a very conservative way though, and I can't really complain about anything in this book.

...

You know, I guess I could have gone all Lord of the Rings nerd with this too.  "AHHH!!! DANTES is SOOO incredible!  This book is sooo cool!  READ IT!!!"


Thursday, November 1, 2012

YESS!

I've survived!  I have officially written the first 3,235 words of Hail Frost.  I thought I'd share the very first scene, and I apologize because I have obviously not editted yet.  But hey, it's always nice to see someone else's rough draft right?  :P


(This is just a cool picture I found because I have this weird aversion to writing a blog post without pictures.  I don't care about reading one with or without pictures, I just can't make one myself.  Funky, right?)

Hail Frost: The first scene from chapter 1.  (Which I am thinking of calling "Daylight."  Named chapters will possibly be an added thing in the editted Ember Flame.)  This might seem kind of pointless, but it is major foreshadowing and it sets up the theme and premise for the rest of the novel.

*********************************


Hail thrusts his hands into the crusty dirt. His dark hair was matted to his furrowed brow as he tugged at the stubborn ground.

“Is this really necessary?” He grunted at a nearby youth, who was standing with his arms crossed. The boy nodded and wiped his eyes.

Hail rolled his eyes and glared towards the sun. He threw the dirt on the nearby grave and decidedly wiped his hands on his cloak. “There,” he snapped, “That good enough, your highness?”

The youth glared at him, “You're a jerk.”

Hail sneered at him, “Rime, it was a mule. And we're losing daylight. Come on.” He tossed a saddlebag over his shoulder and began walking down the grassy incline. The grass was silky and smooth under his feet, but Hail couldn't help but wish it were the crunch and chill of snow. The sun was lowering over the sea. The light sapphires of the sky began to turn to rugged rubies hidden beneath a lacy veil. Hail turned and glanced back. Rime was still on top of the hill, moaning like a baby over the newly dug grave.

Hail stormed back up the hill, “Did you not hear me? We need to go. Now.”

“You didn't even mark it,” Rime remarked dully.

Hail stifled a curse. He gestured at the ground, “It is a huge mound of dirt in the middle of this once-beautiful meadow. I think it is obvious enough.”

Rime's green eyes snapped through his tears. He turned and began trudging down the hill, never looking at Hail, and never looking at the grave. Hail grimaced to himself and at Rime's retreating back. I was so much more mature at his age, he though ruefully, the brat can't even lift a sword. I could lift a sword at thirteen.

He stopped his thoughts before they could continue on to what he had done with that sword. At thirteen.

Hail sighed, yes, it was better for Rime this way. It was better to be a coward than a warrior. He jogged down the hill to Rime and placed his hand on his shoulder, “I'm sorry, brother.”

Rime flinched and looked away, “No you're not. You're not sorry she's dead.”

“I admit, she was just an animal to me,” Hail replied, trying to fight back the irritation rising in his throat, “But I am sorry for you.”

“Yeah, you're sorry I'm not brave, strong, incredible you,” Rime flung at him, pulling out of Hail's grasp.

“Believe me, I'm not sorry for that at all. You have no idea the price I had to pay to become...”

“You? To become you?” Rime replied, he turned and glared up at his brother, “You betrayed the Leverage. You were a drunk. You have done countless sins in your life. You even betrayed Elethor. And what price have you paid? You survive while others die in your place. Ember's in love with you. Even God has forgiven you.” Rime shook his head with disgust, “And you have not changed. You don't care when death happens. You don't even pretend to be upset! Instead you become angry with me because I am apparently not as strong as you.”

Hail stared at him for a few moments, his face void of emotion. He turned and stared over the sea again. Jagged and broken rocks stuck out like thorns in the water near the cliff. They were a more welcome sight than his brother. Hail pushed forward, “Come on,” he mumbled over his shoulder, “We are losing daylight.”

**************************

Hope y'all liked it!  Happy Noveling! 

NaNoWriMo is here!

As November progresses, I hope to do at least one post a week to keep y'all updated on my novel, and to retain my sanity.  Hopefully, I will be able to do more quick, encouraging posts just in case there are any other NaNoers or Wrimos reading my blog!  :)


So I've set my word count goal to 90,000.  It was 90,000 last year.  I considered doing 100,000, but decided against it.  True, I feel like my writing skill has improved in the past year, but my school work has also increased.  And unfortunately, schoolwork does not magically disappear when November comes.  Soooo....yeah, 90,000 again.  My mom is being super nice and taking away my literature for the month so I can focus on NaNoWriMo, which she counts as an elective in project management.  (I already have four English credits, and I will be getting at LEAST two more, so she counts it as project management.)  Although, I still have to finish my literature, I just go a month into the summer to do so.  I don't mind.  I love literature, and NaNoWriMo is worth it.

ANYWAY, enough about me.  How bout some Ember Flame and Midnight Warrior updates?

Ember Flame is about to go through another round of editting.  There are a ton of typos, grammar, and writing issues throughout the entire book.  So I am going to get it editted and then re-publish it on Amazon afterwards.  We will also be adding a copyright page (hehe...kind of overlooked that last time.  Even though it IS technically copyrighted, it is always good to have a page saying so), a table of contents, and hopefully an excerpt from Hail Frost.  Pretty exciting stuff!

Midnight Warrior is on hold until NaNoWriMo is over.  I do plan to help keep it in mind throughout the month by doing a few posts on the characters and such from it.

If y'all could pray for me thoughout the month that would be awesome!  Last year, I did not (ahem) understand time management and I got behind on my school and wrote myself sick.  Literally.  I think I caught a mild case of the flu, and it was not going away because I would stay up late writing.  On top of that, I ended up doing school all summer because of my lack of foresight.  I am better at managing my time now, but I still struggle with procrastination so prayer would be awesome. 

Also, could y'all pray for my best friend Tori?  She is doing NaNoWriMo for the first time this year, and she is going for 50,500 words!  (Adults do at least 50,000)  She is two years younger than me, and she is also finishing up her first novel that she wrote over the past year using the One Year Adventure Novel.  (That will be TWO rough drafts of TWO different novels written in ONE year y'all!!!)  She's really talented and I don't want either of us to get discouraged throughout the month.

Thanks!  NaNoWriMo ahoy!