Category Archives: Writing
Character Monday is something I came up with one night when I was supposed to be editing. Each Monday, we share one of our characters with the world. This character can be from any of your stories – past, present future – as long as it’s an original character. You can share as much or as little about your character as you’d like!
Today, I’m sharing the last of my main characters from my New Adult novel LET GO.
Name: Natalie Hurst
Appearance: 5’8 and chubby, with green eyes and light brown hair. She usually wears jeans and a sweater, which is why she freaks out whenever she has to wear something else.
Background: Her parents are lawyers who hate the fact that she’s wasting time on a sociology degree. Natalie plans on spending the rest of her life helping troubled youth – if only she could find a way to help her own brother, Lewis, who is constantly getting into trouble.
Personality: Natalie’s a very mild-mannered type of person. She wants everyone to get along and hates confrontation. She freaks out about things outside of her control and tends to throw herself into whatever she’s working on.
Why you should want to read her story: Natalie has spent her whole life trying to take care of other people. For the first time in her life, she’s taking some time to focus on herself and her new relationship with a cute guy she met who shares all of her beliefs. But is she slowly becoming the sort of girl she used to hate, the sort of girl who stopped caring about everything else once she got a boyfriend? Can she juggle having a boyfriend with taking care of her family, or will she have to choose?
Want to participate in Character Monday? Just write a post on your own blog and then click on the linky below and share the link to the post so the rest of us can learn about your awesome character!
Welcome to the second Character Monday, where writers introduce their characters to the world. Today I’ll be introduction the second main character from my New Adult manuscript LET GO, which I am currently revising.
Name: Chloe Dennison
Appearance: Relatively short and skinny, with long reddish hair and blue eyes. She usually wears skirts and almost always has a huge smile on her face.
Background: She never knew her biological father. She and her mother have lived all over Minneapolis, so she knows the city like the back of her hand. She doesn’t eat meat, and she wants to be a stage actress when she grows up. She’s dated both boys and girls but has yet to find anyone who makes her heart jump or her breathing difficult. She currently lives with her roommates Samantha Carson and Natalie Hurst (coming next week).
Personality: She always tries to see the best in people. If she focuses on the positives in life, the negatives won’t hurt so much. If you’re ever having a bad day, Chloe will do everything she can to make it better.
Why you should want to read her story: Chloe is making it her life’s work to make the eternally grumpy Samantha more happy. At the same time, though, her mother has started getting serious with a salesman who’s turning her mother into a stranger, and Chloe’s happy façade seems to be slipping. Will Chloe manage to make Samantha happier, or will Samantha’s sarcasm start rubbing off on Chloe? And will Chloe find that that special person is closer than she thinks?
Aside from my Writer’s Voice entry, I haven’t written that much about writing lately, and I’ve decided that that needs to change. One of my favorite things about reading other writers’ blogs is learning about their characters and imagining how fun it will be to finally be able to read those characters’ stories once their book is published. Plus, it’s always fun to see what other people are working on.
That’s why I’ve decided to make Mondays “Character Mondays.” Each Monday, I’m going to share a bit about one of the characters I’m working with. This should be helpful for me because it will force me to make sure that I really understand all of my characters, and I’m hoping it’ll make my blog more interesting for those of you who are tired of having most of my posts be book reviews.
Since I’m currently reading through CP notes for my novel LET GO, I’m going to start with the main character from that one.
Name: Samantha Carson
Age:22, turns 23 halfway through the novel
Appearance: Tall, medium build with black hair that’s cut to her shoulders. Always dresses in business attire.
Background: Samantha was born in New York. Her dad died when she was little, and her mother dated a string of losers after that. Samantha left as soon as she could and never looked back. She’s currently in her last year at the University of Minnesota, where she’s studying to become an accountant.
Personality: Samantha generally has a scowl on her face, and the world at large annoys her. She doesn’t like to waste time, and she hates smiling/happy people. She has a good heart, though, and her roommates are doing their best to make sure that that part of her shines through.
Why you should want to read her story:
Samantha’s “I hate the world” façade is starting to break. She’s forced to interact with Chloe, her incessantly happy new roommate, and she finds herself confronted with feelings that she’s tried her best to suppress for the last decade. If she’s ever going to be able to live a happy, normal life, she’s going to have to learn how to let go of the past. If only that were as easy as it sounds.
And, because I always make playlists for my characters, I’ve decided to share the five songs that best fit Samantha (even though she would probably never listen to most of them).
1. This Grudge by Alanis Morissette
Who’s it hurting now?
Who’s the one left stuck?
Who’s it torturing now…
2. Leave Home by Driveblind
We save ourselves
because no one else will…
3. Stand My Ground by Within Temptation
Stand my ground
I won’t give in
No more denying
I’ve got to face it…
4. Never Too Late by Three Days Grace
The world we knew
Won’t come back
The time we’ve lost
Can’t get back…
5. Saved by The Spill Canvas
I am unraveling
And if this ground gives way
I just hope that you’ll catch me…
The Writer’s Voice is a fantastic contest based on the NBC show The Voice. I was lucky enough to have my name drawn as one of the 150 participants, and I couldn’t be more excited!
Dear amazing Writer’s Voice coaches,
Maggie Fitts, known less affectionately by some of her classmates as Maggie “Doesn’t” Fitts, is sick of being the fattest girl in class. After a series of embarrassing events at the end of eighth grade, Maggie is determined to lose weight. When a cute guy moves in across the street, Maggie’s determination grows stronger. If she can pull this off, she just might be able to start high school with a new body and a new boyfriend.
But when Maggie’s parents announce they’re getting divorced, her whole world is thrown upside down. Now she must find the balance between having fun with her friends, getting her crush to like her, shuffling between her parents, and trying to lose weight. Her best friend keeps telling her that losing weight won’t make her happy, but Maggie refuses to listen. If she fails, she’ll begin another year as “the fat girl,” and she can’t let that happen. When her uncle suffers a heart attack, however, Maggie is forced to reconsider everything she thought she knew about health and happiness.
FOR REAL THIS TIME, complete at 49,000 words, is a contemporary young adult novel. It should appeal to fans of Carolyn Mackler and Sarah Dessen.
Thank you so much for your time and consideration.
First 250 words:
If there’s anything worse than being a fat girl going bathing suit shopping, it’s being a fat girl going bathing suit shopping while your skinny friend complains about how fat she is.
“This would be so cute on me if I wasn’t so fat,” Hannah complains, holding up a pink bikini. She turns to face us, holding it up to her chest. “Wouldn’t this be cute on me?”
Brilee and I exchange eye rolls. Brilee’s not nearly as fat as I am, but at least she’s not skinny like Hannah.
“It’s adorable,” says Brilee, moving onto the next rack of bathing suits. “Why don’t you just try it on and see?”
“I can’t,” says Hannah. “I’ve put on so much weight this year! I can’t believe there’s only three more weeks of school. I should have been dieting. That’s it. I’m going on a diet tonight. I think I’ve gained like twenty pounds this year.”
If she thinks she’s fat, I can’t even begin to imagine how fat she must think I am. I keep my mouth shut and my head down, trying not to draw attention to myself until the topic changes. Instead, I flip through a rack of bathing suits that are way too small for me. The largest size here is a twelve. I wear a twenty. I glance over at the junior plus section, but that’s all the way on the other side of the aisle.
Yesterday was the most productive I’ve been all year. I wrote 5,342 words and finally finished chapter 1 of 2,000 Miles. Annelise has decided to hike the Appalachian Trail, and she’s made it to the last shelter in Georgia. She’s also just met her future love interest, though she doesn’t know it yet. She’s also met a couple named Bug and Ladybug. They’re not supposed to be a big part of the novel, but they amuse me, so they might stick around a bit longer.
I wouldn’t have been able to write this much without the help of Julie, who was running the #writeclub sprints last night. You can find out more about #writeclub at both of these posts: post 1, post 2. Basically, though, you sprint for 30 minutes and then break for 15 minutes. It goes on all night. I participated in several of the sprints last night and managed to write about 1k each time I actually participated in the whole 30 minutes – well, except for the first sprint, when I was trying to figure out what I was writing still.
I had a lot of fun last night, and I will be participating in a lot more sprints now. Starting a novel is always the hardest part for me, especially when I have no idea where I want the novel to start. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to start on the trail or with her at home deciding to walk it. I finally found a decent compromise that works well with the direction I hoped to take with this novel. I had a bit of the present and a bit of the past mixed together. I can already think of a scene I probably should have added, but I’m going to try not to go back anymore. I’m just going to write a note to remember the idea and then decide later if it’s still a good idea.
I have this problem where I can only seem to concentrate on one thing at a time. For the past few weeks, that has mainly switched between reading vegan blogs and books and playing Borderlands. Neither is all that conducive to writing, and I was really hoping to use April to get back on track with my writing.
What I’m going to do is try using Borderlands as a reward for writing. I participated in one #writeclub sprint on Friday, and I wrote about 780 words in half an hour. That’s nowhere near what I was able to write for NaNo, but that’s pretty good considering I had no real idea what I was writing. That said, I definitely learned during that 30 minutes that I need an outline of some sort. I already have a feeling I need to completely rewrite that opening, and it’s just going to get worse from there.
My goal for tonight and tomorrow is to come up with at least a basic outline. I’ve been waiting for the story to come to me, but I think I need to be a bit more active now. I figured out the backstory for Annelise, and I have a general idea of where the plot is going to go. Now I just need to figure out what the main scenes will be for each state that she travels through. No Borderlands until I come up with an outline. That’s the plan, and I’m sticking to it!
I’ve been a very bad blogger lately. Actually, I’ve been a bad writer in general. I was supposed to be working on the second draft of DEGENERATION and planning my camp project, which I’ve been calling 2,000 MILES, even though I’m not sure if that will be the title I go with. I was also invited to join a Facebook critique group, so I should have been reading those works and posting my critiques.
Instead, I’ve been doing nothing. Well, nothing writing-related. I had a big project for school that was worth 25-40 percent of my grade that I had to do. That was due on Tuesday, and I’m glad that that’s out of the way, but it still took up a lot of time. I’ve also been sick all month, so I haven’t really felt like doing anything. I get up between 4 and 5 most mornings and go to work. I generally get done between 2 and 3 and then have class from 5 to 8 Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays. Thursdays I go and observe a middle school class from 8 am to 4 pm. Fridays I go to my boyfriend’s house and hang out with his parents. And then on the weekends I’m just so tired.
I’m going to be better now, though. Starting next week, work decreases drastically, so I’ll have a lot more time and energy. There’s a week before Camp NaNo starts, and I’m going to do my best to come up with an outline before then. If it doesn’t happen, I’m not going to rush it. I know a lot about my main character and love interest, but I don’t really know what the actual plot is going to be. I definitely need to work on that. I think this weekend I’m going to watch a documentary on the Appalachian Trail. I also have a fellow NaNo friend who recently set off to walk the trail, so I should really catch up on his blog. I can read about what he’s doing on the trail and steal the most interesting parts for my novel.
This weekend I also need to write up some book reviews. I finished two novels this week, and I should really review them before I forget what I wanted to say about them. One I really enjoyed, and one had a lot of potential but just ended up annoying me. I’ll get to those later on, though.
I have so many things I should be doing. Yet here I am, watching Miss Congeniality instead. Maybe I’ll be productive afterwards.
I’ve seen a lot of people participating in this blog hop, but this is the first time that I’ve been asked to participate. For those who don’t know what this is, it’s a way for writers to talk about the project they’re currently working on. It gives them the chance to share why they’re excited about their project, and it also gives them the chance to talk about their awesome fellow bloggers/authors.
I was nominated for this by the wonderful J. Elizabeth Hill, author of the novel Bound, which can be purchased from Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo Books, and Barnes and Noble – click here for links to purchase. If you enjoy fantasy novels and/or books with great character development, I highly recommend picking up a copy of her book. If you’re not already following her on her blog and Twitter, you should definitely start now:
And now for the blog hop.
1. What is the working title of your next book?
For Real This Time
2. Where did the idea for your book come from?
There’s so much talk about the “obesity epidemic” in this country, and so much emphasis being placed on childhood obesity in particular, and I’ve gotten sick of it. I’m sick of this society telling fat people that they’re worth less than their thin counterparts. I’m sick of watching women put their lives on hold while they try to get the perfect body. I wanted to write a novel a girl who buys into this idea and show her transformation as she realizes that she’s fine the way she is.
3. What genre does your book fall under?
This definitely falls under the genre of contemporary young adult.
4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
I don’t generally picture my characters as actors, though in this case I couldn’t even if I wanted to. I can’t think of a single young, fat actress, so I can’t really picture anyone who looks like Maggie.
5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
The summer before high school starts, a fat teenager struggles to lose weight and eventually realizes that health is more than just a number on the scale.
6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
My current plan is to try to find an agent, although I have not completely ruled out self-publishing, either.
7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
It took me two weeks to write the first draft.
8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
There are two books that I think are quite similar to mine as far as style and subject matter: The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler, and Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen.
9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I was inspired by every nasty remark I ever heard directed at me or other fat people, as well as by my feminist film study teacher, who first introduced me to the Fat Positive movement and helped me realize that no one should apologize for her size.
10. What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
There are a few things going for this book that I don’t feel are always true for similar books. First, the fat girl that the story focuses around is actually fat. She’s not freaking out because she’s 5-10 pounds overweight. She’s 5’6, weighs 220 pounds, and wears a size 20. Plus, Maggie and her love interest actually speak to each other. There is no love at first sight, and no love triangles. It’s just a simple story about the complicated life of a fat teenager.
And now for the people I’m going to nominate. The people listed below enjoy writing and are people whose blogs I enjoy reading. If I tagged you and you’re not interested, either because you’ve just done one of these or because you’re not currently working on anything, please don’t feel obligated to participate. On the flip side, if I didn’t tag you but you are interested in participating, please do so anyway and let me know that you’ve done it.
I finally finished the second draft of my zombie novella, CHOICES. I added 6,756 words to this draft, and the total word count still dropped from 30,531 words to 23,586 words. I’d be more upset by this if this didn’t happen every time I tried to work on a second draft. Some people’s word counts increase with the second draft. Mine always seems to decrease.
As a reminder, this is the novel that I wrote for the first day of NaNo. I’ve never written about zombies before, and I never see myself writing about them again, but it was actually fun writing this one. This was the least amount of preparation I’ve done for a novel. I knew the characters’ names, and I knew the overall plot line. That was it. I had a lot of fun learning about the characters as I went.
I meant to finish this draft in February. Then I was separated from my computer for the last few days of the month, and that didn’t happen. I finished it today instead. I’m quite pleased with how this draft worked out. It flows better. The chapter lengths are a bit more consistent. These chapters mostly range from 2k to 3k. In the last draft, one of the chapters was 12k.
My next step with this one is to show it to my sister and see what she thinks. She normally doesn’t care about the stuff that I write, but she was really excited for me to finish this one.
Before this moment, I hadn’t really given a lot of thought to what I was going to work on for my March project. Last year, I had all of my months planned out before the year even started, and then I didn’t follow through with any of those plans. This time I’m just making it up as I go along. I had been hoping to start working on my new novel this month, but I’m nowhere near ready to work on that yet. Hopefully I’ll be ready to work on that for Camp NaNoWriMo next month, assuming I actually participate in that.
What I’m going to do instead is work on the second draft of DEGENERATION. This is the novel that I originally wrote as a screenplay during my very first Script Frenzy. I wrote the second draft of the screenplay for the final Script Frenzy, too. Then I wrote the first draft for Camp NaNo last June. I was half happy with what I wrote last year, but I feel like there was a bit of the story that I was missing. Most of the story took place over three days in this draft. I’m thinking that it will be a week in the second draft. I’ve been thinking of ways to improve it ever since I finished the first draft, and I’m looking forward to writing the second draft.
There was a brief conversation on Twitter tonight about novels that use body size as the main plotline, and how that’s horrible and shouldn’t happen. I respect both of the people who were having this conversation, and I know one of them reads my blog, so I hope she doesn’t read this as an attack or anything, because that’s not at all what this is. I fully respect people’s right to disagree with me. I just thought I’d share my thoughts on the subject. I was going to respond on Twitter, but there was no way that I could share my feelings in 140 characters. Thus, I decided to write a blog post on it.
The novel that I just finished writing is called “For Real This Time,” and it is about a fourteen-year-old girl who’s trying to lose a bunch of weight before high school starts. There are several subplots – there are issues with her parents, there’s a cute guy who moves in across the street that she really likes, and she has to deal with unpleasant interactions with her friends and classmates – but the main plotline is her attempt to lose as much weight over the summer as possible. She starts the novel at 223 pounds, and she wants to get to a “healthy” BMI, which would put her weight around 155.
Now, the people on Twitter were partly complaining because the “fat person” in the novel was her size, and I can agree with them that that’s ridiculous. I’ve seen one novel out there about someone who’s struggling to accept herself, and she starts the book weighing 168 pounds or something like that. I can completely agree that it’s annoying to see thin people complain about being fat. Of course, fat is always a matter of perspective. For instance, if your weight starts with the number 1, I don’t think you should complain about your weight. Of course, that’s coming from someone who hasn’t weighed less than 200 pounds since ninth grade.
And that’s where my novel comes in. There’s a huge number of overweight children in the United States, and they’re constantly demonized as stupid and lazy and gluttonous. People act as if losing weight is easy and that anyone who can’t lose weight must not be trying very hard. Young girls especially are treated like crap if they don’t look like society wants them to look. Looks and body image are such an important part of today’s society. They shouldn’t be, but they are. It’s ridiculous to try to pretend that they’re not.
And that’s part of why I wrote this novel. I wanted to write a novel about a young girl who hates what she looks like and show how she eventually realizes she’s just fine the way she is. I’m sure a lot of people have no interest in reading this sort of book, and that’s fine. But I would have wanted to read a book like that. I still want to read books like that. I think this is especially important since everyone’s currently so worried about childhood obesity. Everyone’s so concerned about the number on the scale, not what they’re putting in their bodies or how much exercise they get. I want to read stories about fat people who feel out of place but eventually learn to be comfortable with who they are. It’s easy to look at someone who’s ten pounds “overweight” and say that of course they should be happy with who they are. It’s harder to look at someone who’s seventy pounds “overweight” and say the same thing.
I’ve always tried to what the sorts of stories that I would like to read but that no one else seems to write. Maybe I just haven’t found the books for me. Maybe I’ll never find an agent because most people don’t want to read the same sorts of books I’ve always wanted to read. But I have to write them anyway. I’m used to being the minority opinion on most topics. This is one of them.
Body image plays a huge role in people’s lives – even if they don’t realize it. If you’re happy with yourself, you have so much more confidence than someone who hates what they look like. There are tons of stories out there about “plain looking” people, or “fat” people who wear a size 8. I want to read about a high school student who wears a size 18/20. That’s where I was in high school, and I hated what I looked like. Now I wish I had just stopped worrying about it then, because now I’m even bigger. I wish I had realized back then that dieting doesn’t work.
I know that it’s important to show fat people as main characters without having their weight be an issue at all. Just like it’s important to show gay characters without making their being gay be the main focus of the novel, or minority characters without their race being the main issue. I understand, and I agree. But I think it’s also important to have some novels address issues that those people face. Some novels should show the struggles gay people face coming out, or the struggles that black or Hispanic people have in a society that’s not always quite as progressive as we seem to think that it is. And some novels should show the struggles that fat people face in a world that only seems to value thin people. Should all novels with fat characters be like that? Of course not. But I still think some should.
Hopefully my novel is a lot less preachy than this blog post is, but I’m not really trying to be subtle in this post. I just wanted to share my views on the subject. If you disagree, I’m open to discussion. And, again, I hope no one took offense to this post. That certainly wasn’t my intention.