Wednesday, November 26, 2014

My Half-Assed NaNoWriMo

Dragon Bait: A MG Fantasy

I'd mentioned I'm re-writing Dragon Bait, and I'm sure you were just itching for an update. I'm closing in on the end of this re-write. I'm up to 59k, and I've probably got another 10k or so to go. That's too long, so I'll have to chop a bit, which kinda sucks since I've been editing as I go, but I'm sure it's for the best. Cutting really tightens my writing.


I set a self-goal of 30k for the month since I didn't want to just plow through the re-write like I would a first draft. Here is my book's NaNo page, but I'll give a run-down of the deets below.

As you can see from above, I didn't bother to input my numbers as I went. I finally updated yesterday, and got a big spike in my chart (which looks a little funny), but I'm falling well below the typical NaNo goal of 1,667 words/day.

I did manage 1,018 words/day, and since my personal goal was 1,000 words/day I'm going to go ahead and put a gold star on my chart. (If I actually still wanted to pull out the 50k goal of NaNo, I'd need to write 4,088 words/day for today the next 5 days. Ugh.)

Writing this much in addition to all the normal day-to-day chores hasn't left me with a lot of creativity for my blog, so I'll just finish up my post with this:

It's the gold star for my chart! And it's also quite festive.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Painting a Queen

As I'd mentioned, this month is National Novel Writing Month. I set a goal of 30,000 words b/c (I'm hoping) that's all it should take to finish re-writing my MG Fantasy, Dragon Bait.

Having a deadline always seems to bring out the worst in us, doesn't it? Instead of writing (okay, so I did a little bit of writing, but not as much as I should have) I spent my weekend creating a painting of Queen Levana from the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer for this contest.

The Lunar Chronicles are a very cool YA, futuristic, sci-fi version of the Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and Rapunzel stories (so far - there's Snow White and her step-mother Queen's story yet to come). It starts off with Cinder (I think you can guess which one that's supposed to be) as a cyborg in New Beijing where cyborgs are viewed as less than human. There's a plague and an evil queen (from the Moon!), and it's a pretty cool story.

Spaceship by Lucas.

Queen Levana is a Lunar who has a powerful, magic-like control over others. It's a moon person thing. She makes everyone see this very beautiful exterior, but we find out that this is just part of her glamour, not her true appearance at all.

Photo of Blood Moon by Brian Hammond.

The contest was about creating a portrait of the Queen, so I painted a cruelly beautiful queen out front in vivid color and the shadow of her true self, hidden behind.

**I cut out the image of my artwork b/c the contest rules say the image can't be publicly displayed anywhere. I'll post it back once I've lost the contest.

I chose to make the true appearance of the Queen as a somewhat plain woman. She's not truly ugly or disfigured, just not as beautiful as she wants people to think her. In my head, she was never as beautiful as her sister (who she may have killed) and her lack of beauty ate away at her, turning her into the tyrant she is today.

Or something.

But, wait, there's more: she's got a super cool spaceship army that is descending from the blood red moon. That's somewhat based on the books, although, of course, I added my own flair. I'm oddly proud of the spaceships. I think they're cool.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Writing Italy: Top Ten Italian Details

European Sarah
Here I am glamming it up in Rome.
Nigel and I tried to blend in with the natives.

So I said I'd have more to say about Italy, and I figured why not turn it into a writing post? Whenever you write about a place it's handy to either have been there or have some good intel on the little details of what makes a place unique. Just a few details can evoke the feeling of a foreign land or a diner down the street.

Here's my personal list of details that make Italy feel like Italy. I stuck to places, food, and things. The people of Italy are a whole post of their own, and I'm not entirely sure I can do them justice. But maybe later.

Bright arch in Rome

  1. Cigarettes. Even Italy keeps the smokers outside, but smoking just doesn't seem to have the same sort of stigma it's got in "the States." You can see smokers all over, and 7-11 type places have little cigarette vending machines, so you can get your fix no matter the time of day or night.
  2. No Washcloths. I do not get it. Italian hotels never had washcloths. I love washcloths for a quick wash after sweating to death in the hot Italian sun. But apparently these guys don't use them. Crazy sauce. (It drove me just a little bit crazy.)
  3. Bidets. Continuing on the bathroom theme, there was a small porcelain bidet in almost every hotel we stayed in. Some people swear by them. I gave it a try and wasn't impressed. If my butt's that dirty, I'll just take a shower, thank you very much. But I was thinking: adult baby wipes might not be a bad idea to get everything all fresh and clean.
  4. Stripes, Boots, and Tight Pants. There were a lot of these in Italian fashion. The boots kinda surprised me. All sorts of cool boots. If they weren't so expensive I might have bought myself a pair.
  5. Trains. You might already know this, but trains will get you everywhere in Italy. We didn't rent a car. We took local, regional, and fast trains.
  6. Two Hour Dinners. I'm not sure they actually took a full two hours, but, then again, I wouldn't be surprised if they lasted even longer in peoples' houses. Glasses of wine, evened out by small, continual servings of food, and tons of laughter and conversation. I could see everlasting dinners every now and again, but, honestly, these people took forever. My American sensibilities just couldn't handle it.
  7. Food and Drink: wine, gelato, pasta, and bitter water (a.k.a. mineral water). I am totally on board with these Italian food stuffs, but not that awful carbonated, bitter water. I did try some mineral water, but yeck.
  8. Virgin Marys. Everywhere. I swear, Italy has approximately 5 Virgin Mary’s per square foot.
  9. Insane Drivers. And crazier Bikers. Every single car had black marks on its bumper and probably a few dents. They go fast and they make ways for themselves where none exist. I'm not actually sure how any of the bikers are still alive.
  10. History Everywhere. Whether it's the Roman Empire, the Renaissance or yet another amazing church, almost everywhere you look has some artifact. They're so thick on the ground that they just get left out in the open air and people brush by them on a daily basis.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

My NaNoWriMo Semi-participation

What About Italy?

I've still got quite a few things to say about Italy, but as my husband pointed out, I don't want to overload you on Italy when this is actually a writing blog.

So I'm throwing in a writing post along with a cool picture of Italy. And maybe I'll throw in a pic of me and Nigel in Italy at the end. Just for funsies.

This is Sienna's Il Duomo at nighttime.
It was quite beautiful.

Last Year's NaNoWriMo

If you are my one dedicated blog follower (Hi, Camilla!), you might remember that last year I decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo, aka NaNo). Here was one of my posts about it.

If you're reading this and you don't happen to be Camilla: I participated in NaNo last year! It was fun. Really challenging, but it was pretty cool to realize that I could actually write 50,000 words in one month.

My NaNo Goal: Add More Dragons

This November, however, I am still in the process of re-writing my MG Fantasy, Dragon Bait. I'm working to amp up the action; eliminate any boring bits; and add in some additional description, world building, and character motivations. Rather than a normal edit, I've just decided to completely re-write the book because I really want this to be the best book it can be.

I've written about 34k, and I'm hoping that I'll be done around 65k. I've got it all outlined, and I'm hoping to actually be able to use some of the chapters I wrote in my last draft toward the end of the book since. The end was always fairly action packed.

Actually, in re-writing one of the main things I ended up doing was adding in a bunch of scenes with dragons, but since dragons are pretty darn cool I'm good with that. Nearly getting eaten by a dragon adds a certain amount of tension to my main character's life.

My personal NaNo writing goal is about 30k words - or whatever word count it takes to finish up this re-write. I'm actually editing as I write, so this is still pretty darn ambitious. I'm partially hoping that telling you, dear blog readers, about this goal will help keep me motivated and writing.

Wish me luck!

This is me up above The Forum in Rome.
I didn't lie. This is me & Nigel.
That tiny person wearing orange in the background is Nigel.
And aren't the Italian trees cool?