Category Archives: alone

Camp NaNo – complete

Another Camp NaNo has come to an end. My goal this month was to finish draft 3 of Tilt Your Head and Smile, my NA novel about a young woman who graduates college, can’t find a job, and struggles to figure out what she wants to do with her life.

Slightly before four o’clock this morning, I wrote the last sentence of the manuscript. I was four hours late finishing, but I still finished before I went to bed, so I’m counting this as a win. Here are some statistics:

Word Count: 105,897
Chapters: 25
Hours Spent Writing:48.5
Average Words per Chapter: 4,236
Average Words per Hour: 2,183

Now, the hours spent writing number is only the time spent actively writing, not the time I spent staring at the screen doing nothing or reading Twitter or playing stupid Facebook games. But I’m still happy with what I accomplished this month. This is the first NaNo I’ve done in grad school when I actually had a bunch of homework to do, so I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t have enough time to write. I’m glad to say that my fears were unfounded. Of course, it helps that I only had school for half the month – although it was an intense half a month.

This morning was the first day in a long time that I didn’t wake up feeling like I was supposed to be doing something. It was nice, but now I’m just sort of sitting on the couch wondering what I’m supposed to be doing. I’ll probably end up spending the day reading. I’ve started reading a non-fiction book that I feel will help me plan the next book I’ll be working on – my political dystopian novel.

Right now, my plan is to spend the month preparing for the next draft of Alone (the aforementioned dystopia). I’m not sure what I’ll do after that. I have three different novels that I want to edit (not counting the one I just finished). I also have several other novels that I’ve never actually managed to finish. I guess I’ll just take this one step at a time and see what I want to do after I figure out Alone.

Anyone else participate in Camp NaNo? If so, how’d you do? If not, did you accomplish anything else fun this past month?

Character Monday: Lucy Higgins (ALONE)

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!

I might have forgotten to do this last Monday (okay, fine – I really did forget), but I’m not going to forget this week! I figured I’d share with you all the main character from the dystopian trilogy I was talking about last time.

Name: Lucy Higgins

Novel: Alone (working title) trilogy

Age: 18

Appearance: Average height. Medium brown hair that comes down to her shoulders. Blue eyes. Chubby but undernourished.

Background: Lucy was raised by her grandmother for the first 10 years of her life. When her grandmother died, Lucy was fortunate enough to get a spot in one of the region’s orphanages. There, she befriends Heather, Max, and Max’s little sister Rosalie. Lucy’s the only one who experienced the love of an adult, and it’s that love and encouragement that gives her the will to keep fighting – though she doesn’t realize just how beneficial that was just yet.

Personality: Lucy’s not usually one to cause trouble. She’s too focused on doing well in school and earning a slot in the Exxmart Motors Lottery. If she can win that, she can get a spot at one of the colleges, which is the only way she has a chance at living a decent life. She’s also very caring and loving, though. She worries about her friends. She just can’t let that love and worry override her own will to live and succeed. If she can help everyone, great. If not, she has to find a way to save herself.

Why you should want to read her story: Lucy was born into a horrible world. Thousands of people die from heat stroke and disease each year. Women wear ID bracelets that light up the minute they become pregnant, after which point they’re not allowed to eat or do anything that might cause a miscarriage – because if they do have a miscarriage, they’re going to jail for involuntary manslaughter. The poor have two options: enter an apprenticeship program where you get a job and college but will be lucky to make ends meet for the rest of your life or join the military, which pays more money upfront but will quite possibly get you killed. And Lucy’s going to try to change all of that…eventually.

Goals for Book 1:
1. Earn a spot in the Lottery.
2. Win the Lottery and earn a spot at the prestigious Etherton Heights University.
3. Make sure Max, Heather, and Rosalie survive.
4. Don’t get kicked out of Etherton Heights, assuming she makes it that far.
5. Don’t get pregnant.

1. “We Are” by Ana Johnsson
See the devil on the doorstep now (my oh my)
Telling everybody oh just how to live their lives
Sliding down the information highway
Buying in just like a bunch of fools
Time is ticking and we can’t go back (my oh my)

2. “Let Them Eat War” by Bad Religion
From the force to the union shops
The war economy is making new jobs
But the people who benefit most
Are breaking bread with their benevolent hosts
Who never stole from the rich to give to the poor
All they ever gave to them was a war
And a foreign enemy to deplore

3. “Is It Any Wonder?” by Keane
Oh, these days
After all the misery you made
Is it any wonder that I feel afraid?
Is it any wonder that I feel betrayed?

4. “911 for Peace” by Anti-Flag
This is a plea for peace (world peace)
To the oppressors of the world and to
To the leaders of nations, corporate profit takers,
to the every day citizen
Greed, envy, fear, hate – the competition has to stop.

5. “God Thinks” by Voltaire
God thinks all people like you are evil
God thinks all people like you are an embarrassment to creation
Self-righteous, judgmental, first to throw the stone
And use His name for your own agenda

I’m still in the process of figuring out more about Lucy and the world she lives in, but I think this is a good representation of what I have so far.

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!

A “series” of problems

When I hear the word “dystopia,” my mind immediately jumps to the novels I loved in high school: Brave New World. 1984. Animal Farm. I think that’s part of the reason I’ve been so critical of the YA dystopias that are so popular today – I’m always comparing them to what I consider the classics, and they never stack up. I want novels that critique society, not stories about girls who are trying to decide which guy she most wants to date. That’s not to say that there can’t be romance also, but I don’t want that to be the main focus (at least not without a good reason).

I would consider my current WIP a New Adult dystopian series. It does have romance, but the romance is necessary for the plot to work. It’s definitely more social commentary than romance. I’m not saying it’s as good as the classics, as it’s definitely not, but those are the novels that I’m using for inspiration. And there’s where we start to run into a problem. The classic dystopian novels all ended in a particular way. They weren’t happy. They weren’t even hopeful. Yet they were appropriate for the novel.

When I first came up with the idea for ALONE, it was a short story, and it had a very unhappy ending, the sort of ending I was used to reading about in high school. This was actually the short story I wrote for my final project in college. It went through so many drafts before I finally settled one, and I still can’t quite remember if it had a happy, sad, or hopeful ending.

Now that I’m writing it as a novel, I’ve had to reconsider the entire plot. I made the main character younger, and I’m focusing a lot more on other aspects of the world, not just the way women are treated (which was what sparked the idea for this novel). Suddenly, I realized that this story would work best as a trilogy, as there was much more to the story than I originally though. My original ending was a cop-out so I didn’t have to worry about what would happen after a particular series of events transpired.

So now I’m trying to figure out what will happen next, and I’m running into a problem. The classic novels all had pretty realistic yet grim endings. The current novels all feature an eventual overthrow of the oppressive government. The latter idea is so much more fun, but it requires the characters to stand up and act in a way that I don’t think would ever really happen.

I guess I’m just a pessimist at heart. I think humankind in general (or at least in America) is pretty horrible. I think corporations are taking over the country, and I don’t think regular people will ever win, partly because they’re not powerful enough but largely because I just don’t think people care about anything, at least not enough to really do anything about it.

This is the same problem I had when I was trying to plan my “fantasy” (read: medieval-ish setting without magic or any other fantasy elements) series. The government was evil and needed to be stopped, but I couldn’t imagine a realistic scenario when that would actually happen.

Maybe I’m overthinking this. I do that a lot. Maybe I need to have more faith in my imaginary people. After all, if you push people far enough, they’ll eventually break and fight back. Right?

What about you? Ever had conflicting emotions about the believability of your work?

Letting go of LET GO (for now)

It’s been a ridiculously long time since I wrote about what I was writing. That’s mostly because it’s been a long time since I actually wrote anything. I started to write the first draft of 2000 MILES in April, but I stopped after 15k. I was just sort of making it up as I went, and it wasn’t working for me. Some people can write entire first drafts on the fly, but I’m not one of them. I think I underestimated my ability to write without any real outline. After several weeks of barely making any progress, I stopped.

Part of the reason I stopped, though, was also because I turned to editing LET GO. I got some CP notes back for that one, and I went through and reread that manuscript. I still really love those characters, all of whom you can read about here. There were also parts of the novel that made me laugh, and I figure that’s always a good sign. The feedback was generally positive. I got some great tips on how to tighten up my writing.

I did, however, get some notes that addressed issues that I probably should have dealt with before I sent it out to people. Natalie’s storyline doesn’t really make that much sense, and her storyline doesn’t really go with Chloe’s and Samantha’s. While that part doesn’t really bother me (since Samantha and Chloe start spending time together partly because Natalie is gone so often), I do wish that her storyline made more sense. There’s a bit at the end that I sort of threw in there while I was writing, and it doesn’t really work.

I’ve also realized that Samantha, the MAIN main character, has no real storyline, at least not until most of the way through the novel. Until then she sort of reacts to those around her and gets to know Chloe. That part of the novel I like, but she definitely needs more going on in her life. Sadly, I don’t have any real idea how to fix my Samantha problem right now. I know how to fix Natalie’s story line, and Chloe’s story line doesn’t really need that much work, but I’m completely stuck on Samantha.

That’s why I’ve decided to put this novel on hold for a little while. It’s stupid to spend this much time and energy trying to fix a novel that I have no idea how to fix when I have so many other novels to work on, novels that I do know how to fix.

Of course, that brings me to my most recent conundrum: which novel do I work on now?

I have two novels that I want to work on right now. The first is ALONE, a YA/NA political dystopian that I wrote for NaNo last year. I have the first draft completed and have started the first draft of the sequel. It needs to be completely rewritten, but I’m much more hopeful about it now. I know people are sort of over dystopian novels right now, but I need to write this novel. Plus, it’s different from the other dystopian novels I’ve seen, as this is a very political novel.

The other novel I really want to write is TILT YOUR HEAD AND SMILE, which I first wrote for NaNo 2011. That was the first manuscript I ever completed, though I have like three different versions that I started and then stopped. That was back before I had never heard of “contemporary New Adult,” back when I thought this novel would fall under the “literary fiction” category. I still love lit fic, and there are definitely still elements of it that will be in this novel, but I have a new understanding of what this novel is going now.

I love both of these projects. ALONE is important to me because it deals with several political issues that I care deeply about. TILT is important because it deals with unemployment and helplessness, which I think is something that a lot of people can relate to these days. TILT is one novel, which I would not take me that long to plot. ALONE is the first in a trilogy, and I don’t quite know how books 2 and 3 end yet, although I’m much closer to figuring that out than I was when I finished the first draft.

Right now, I think I’m leaning toward TILT YOUR HEAD AND SMILE, as it’ll be easier to write. I’ll probably end up sleeping on it and deciding in the morning. I’ve been doing school work all day, and I need a break from thinking right now.

NaNo Wrap-up

I meant to write this yesterday, but I ended up going to the regional TGIO party and helping my boyfriend’s family set up Christmas decorations and stuff of that nature, so I didn’t really get around to it. So, here we are. December. For the first time, I’m actually glad that NaNo’s finished. I sort of lost interest in writing during the last few days of the month. I learned about this Pitch Wars contest, and since November 26, I’ve been more interested in editing one of my manuscripts to prepare it for that contest than I have been about writing more first drafts. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Now for some numbers from the past month.

Total number of words written: 243,374

That’s not the 250k that I was aiming for, but it’s still 20k more than I wrote last year, so I’m still pleased with it. At least it’s an improvement. And I know that I could have reached my goal if I hadn’t gotten distracted those last couple of days. And if I had prepared more ahead of time. I had planned on working on three novels. I was going to write drafts one of Alone and For Real This Time, both of which I thought about be about 100k. Then I was going to finish up draft one of Let Go for 50k weekend. I wrote about 45k of it for Camp NaNo, and I wasn’t even halfway through with what I was going to write for it, so it seemed like a good plan.

The only problem with my plan was that none of those novels turned out as long as I thought they were going to be. I’ve never written short novels before, but this time I ended up doing just that. I think they’re going to get longer during the second drafts, as I’m sure there are things that sounded good on paper but didn’t end up working in actuality. The fact remains, however, that even after I added another novella for my Day One project, I still didn’t hit my goal. But let’s focus on what I actually did manage to write:

Choices – 30,531
For Real This Time – 72,000
Alone – 70,000
Let Go – 35,000 (total novel 79,970)
Together (sequel to Alone) – 23,199
Other (short stories and new novel attempts) – 12,644

So I now have 3 finished novel drafts, 1 finished novella draft, 2 complete short stories, 1 incomplete draft, and 3 more novel/short story attempts that ultimately went nowhere. Still, I’m pretty happy with what I did manage to write. True, I should have finished Together, but I really didn’t think that I would get that far. Alone was just supposed to be one book originally. Then I realized that there was too much going on to be just one book, so I broke it into two books. I didn’t really think that I would get to book two, so I didn’t really plan it out much. I have a general idea of what the plot is, but I didn’t break it down into chapters like I had with book one, so I had trouble trying to write it. I don’t need to have every line of dialogue planned out before I write, but it’s helpful for me to have more than just the overall storyline.

Still, I’m quite pleased with most of what I wrote. Choices was my Day One project. It didn’t quite make 50,000 words, but I still managed to write the whole thing in a day, and that makes me happy. I still like the storyline, just maybe not the exact words that I wrote. I’m still glad that I wrote it, and I definitely learned some things about that story that I wouldn’t have if I had planned it out ahead of time. In fact, the title of that story was taken from a few scenes that I thought of at four o’clock in the morning, when I was half asleep, and it tied the entire story together. So I’m actually pretty happy with that one.

I’m also happy with the other novels that I finished. I like the short stories that I wrote. I’m not so happy with the stuff that I wrote during that last week, but I kept writing, and that’s what matters. I wrote more this month than I ever have in a month before, and I’m going to try to focus on that instead of the 6.7k that I didn’t write that would have taken me to my goal. This has still been a great month for writing. There wasn’t a single day that I didn’t write, so I’m happy with that. And now for some other numbers:

Most words written in a single day: 30,531 (Day 1)
Least words written in a single day: 1,468 (Day 29)
Average words written per day: 8,112
Most words written in an hour: 4,306
Number of days it took me to hit 50k: 4

Those are good numbers. I’m going to be happy with those. I hit 50k two days sooner than I did last year. I completed 50k weekend two years in a row. I wrote more words in a single day than I did last year. I managed to write 4k an hour twice. I managed to write some first drafts that I actually like. I mean, sure, they need major editing, but I might not have to completely rewrite them all. Of course, I thought that last year and I ended up rewriting that one, but I’m hoping that’s not the case this year. Of course, I guess I’ll find that out when I read over my other drafts. 🙂