Category Archives: Let Go

Character Monday: Chloe Dennison (LET GO)

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

Age: 22

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?

Want to participate in Character Monday? Write a blog post describing your character and then link up below so other people can find you!

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Character Monday: Samantha Carson (LET GO)

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).

Samantha’s Playlist:
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
Unbearbly empty
And if this ground gives way
I just hope that you’ll catch me…

If you want to join in on Character Monday, feel free! Just click on the link below and add your name and/or the name of your blog, plus a link to your post so everyone else can check it out, too! 

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. 🙂

A Brief History of NaNo

I’ve seen a few posts about people’s NaNo histories, and it’s inspired me to write my own. Besides, I really have nothing to do for the next few hours. I have a meeting with my adviser at 4:15 (she forgot about our last appointment on Monday). After that, the plan is to come home and nap for a few hours so that I’m well rested for when NaNo starts at midnight. Somewhere in the next three hours I should also make chili so that I have something to eat tomorrow while I’m supposed to be writing. I can’t afford to waste any time cooking tomorrow. But more on that later.

I signed up for NaNoWriMo October 31, 2007. I had heard about NaNo several months before. I read a lot of Harry Potter fan fiction at the time, and many of my favorite authors were warning their readers that they weren’t going to be updating for a while because they were going to be busy with this strange thing called National Novel Writing Month. I looked it up to see what they were talking about, and I thought it sounded stupid. You didn’t get anything for it if you won, and it seemed like a huge waste of time. I rolled my eyes and moved on to other things. (For the record, I thought Harry Potter sounded stupid when I first heard about it, too. Then I read the first book and became obsessed for the next ten years. So you can probably see where this is going.)

Flash forward a few months to Halloween 2007. It was my first Halloween in college. I was coming back from the dining hall when I saw a huge poster on the wall near the elevators advertising NaNoWriMo. I had seen it before but never really given it much thought, as I remembered thinking it was stupid the last time I looked at it. I’m not sure what made this time different. Perhaps I was feeling board and lonely. After all, it was Halloween, and I was preparing to spend the rest of my night alone in my room. Perhaps I just needed something to do.

Whatever the reason, I decided to check out the NaNo site again. This time, it sounded like something that would be a lot of fun. I registered that night and then came up with something to write. I had been reading a lot of personal essay collections at the time, and it seemed like fun. (Apparently I hadn’t read the rules closely enough to know that it was supposed to be fiction, but that’s okay.) That’s the only reason I was able to finish my first year, I think – whenever I got bored with one topic, I could move on to another. I ended up finishing my 50k a few days early, and it was a lot of fun. I absolutely hated the novel I wrote, but that’s okay. I learned a lot. For instance, I learned that I should never try to write a humor book again. Exclamation marks should be used very sparsely. Parenthetical asides are not as entertaining when I write them (although I obviously haven’t gotten over using them completely).

The next year, my roommate and our friend who lived next door all tried to do NaNo. I was going to try to pants that novel. I wanted to start with several characters but not plot. I somehow ended up with an overarching plot before I started writing. I had three characters in college who were going to learn things about themselves and each other. I got 10,000 words in and then stopped. This is the same novel that I started writing during the August Camp NaNo. I’m also going to try to finish it this year, but we’ll see how that goes.

In 2009, I got about 5,000 words in before I stopped. I was writing a fictional account of me and my boyfriend. A horrible idea in hindsight, but that’s what I was going to write. It was going to be a gift for my boyfriend. And then I realized that he wasn’t going to read it, and I lost interest. Lesson learned that year: you have to write the novel for yourself, first and foremost. If you don’t want to read it, you probably shouldn’t be writing it.

By NaNo 2010, I had graduated college and moved back home to Georgia. That’s when I joined the NanoLanta region and started attending write-ins and hanging out in the chat room. I found a novel idea that I really liked (Learning to Lie), and I wrote 68k that year. I still don’t have that novel where I want it, even after two drafts (it’s part of a trilogy, and it’s hard to write the first if you have absolutely no idea what will happen in books 2 and 3, or at least it is for me).

Last year was my first year joining the Overachievers thread. My goal was to finish an entire novel in a month. At first I was aiming for 75k. Then I upped it to 100k. Then 150k. I ended up writing 222,545 words. I finished Tilt Your Head and Smile (103k), finished writing my second draft of Learning to Lie (about 51k), started The Story of Em (54k), and started a fan fiction story (14k) because I needed something to write when I was stuck on the other ones. It was amazing.

This year, I have already upped my goal to 300k, and that is because I’m joining a small group of insane wrimos who are going for 50k on day one. You can follow us on Twitter if you search #50kDayOne or #50kkillmenow. This is my first year attempting this, and I’m not sure if I can do it, but I have the entire day off, so we’ll see. That’s why I want to have food already made for tomorrow and why I’m going to take a nap when I get home this evening – I won’t have much time for sleep tomorrow. I know I can do 50k in three days, as I did it for #50kweekend last year. One day might be pushing it, but we’ll see. If nothing else, I’ll start the month off with a big lead, and that would be exciting, too.

Now, the novels that I plan to write this month – in case anyone’s curious.

1. Zombies (working title)
Bath salts + flesh eating virus = zombies
Follows a group of six 20-somethings and two children as they struggle to survive a zombie outbreak. Not my usual genre at all, but it seemed like fun when I thought of it. There was a dare on our regional forum/chat (no longer recall which) to take “a man goes to the store” and make it into a tragedy. That’s basically what I’m doing. I also partly want to show that you can turn anything into Lit Fic – even zombies. 🙂

This will be the project I start with tomorrow, as it’s only half serious, and I won’t feel horrible if it ends up being horrible tomorrow. I mean, I want it to be good, and I have higher hopes for it than I should given the nature of it, but I don’t care about it as much as I do the others.

2. For Real This Time
After a traumatizing event at the end of eighth grade, Maggie Fitts , less affectionately referred to by her classmates as “Maggie Doesn’t Fitts,” is determined to lose weight – for real this time. When she meets Parker Williams, she’s even more determined to lose the weight. If she can pull this off, just maybe she can start high school with a new body and a new boyfriend.

But then Maggie’s parents give her news that threatens to destroy not only her diet but also her way of life. Will she find the strength to deal with her problems and stick with her diet, or will she succumb to the sadness that threatens to overwhelm her? And is losing weight even that important anymore?

3. Alone (working title)
In 2018, Congress passed what have come to be known as the Family Values amendments. The Personhood Amendment declares that life begins at conception and ends at natural death. The Marriage Amendment declares that marriage is between a man and a woman. It further states that only married couples can adopt children. As a result, half of all children are raised in overcrowded orphanages, anxiously awaiting the day they turn 18 and are released on their own without anyway to go.

Lucy Higgins has one year before she turns 18 and becomes yet another homeless orphan. Her only hope of salvation is the Exxmart Motors Lottery. Eligible students get to enter the Lottery, and four lucky winners – one from each of the four schools in the Atlanta region – get to go Etherton Academy, the prestigious private school uptown. Students at Etherton get a full scholarship to college, and Lucy knows that if she can just get in, she will have a chance at a real life.

But life’s not that simple. Just when things are finally starting to turn around for her, she gets news that threatens to undo everything she’s worked for the past seventeen years. Can she find a way out of the situation, or will she end up like every other teenage girl she’s ever know – cold and alone?

I’m not sure how successful I’ll actually be this month, but I’m hoping to get first drafts written for each of these novels. My plan is to finish these drafts and then spend a good portion of next year editing them. I think that was part of my problem this year – I was so focused on getting first drafts finished that I never finished editing anything. That’s going to change next year.

Less than eleven hours until NaNo starts!

Camp NaNo wrap-up and goals

I kept putting off writing another post about writing until I, you know, wrote something worth talking about. Since I haven’t written about writing in a while, though, you can probably guess that I haven’t been that successful. In fact, Camp NaNo-August was a spectacular failure. I wrote 26k, and I only finished seven chapters, including the prologue. That said, I’m still further than I’ve ever been with this story before, so I’ll try to focus on the positives. My new goal is to finish this draft this month. I’m going to try to write a chapter a day, regardless of how tired I might be after work or how much homework I may have to do. I really want to finish this draft.

I’m also trying to work on outlining the novel I plan on writing for NaNoWriMo. I wrote a short story on this topic for my thesis in college, and I’ve been coming up with more ideas for how to make it a novel. I have several notebook pages filled up with notes, and I’m starting to get more of a feel for the characters. It’s highly political in nature, so I’m not going to go into too much detail about the project. I’ll just say that it’s a young adult dystopian novel set in the United States around the year 2070 – and, no, I’m not trying to write the next Hunger Games or anything like that. I’ve just always liked dystopian novels, and the story line would work best if the main character was still in high school.

While we’re on the topic of NaNoWriMo, the 2012 merchandise is in stock. I’m really tempted to buy the thermos and the new t-shirt, but I’m going to wait and use them for motivation. If I hit 50k in November, I get the shirt. If I hit 100k, I get the thermos and the shirt. It seems a bit unrealistic to think about writing 100k when I haven’t managed to write that much in a month since January, but I can always write more during NaNo than I can during other months, so its’ not completely unrealistic. After all, I did write 222k last November. I can probably write at least 100k this November, even though I’ll still have class in November.

I’m actually not as concerned about grad school as I was. My classes are a lot of fun, and one of them seems like it’ll be really easy. I have to research a bunch of different things, but there are really only like two papers to turn in, and neither will be that long or difficult to write. It’s mostly a giant discussion on the reading of the foundations of education, and it’s been interesting so far. My other class requires more work but still doesn’t seem that difficult. The reading is interesting, and most of the assignments are very informal – such as write a two page paper on the pros and cons of technology in the classroom. I’m looking forward to continuing both classes, and I’m already trying to create a work schedule that allows me to do most of the work in October so that I can focus more on writing once November hits.

I really do love my region in November. Normally I hate living in the South, but November is the one time of the year when I’m thankful that I do. Our NaNo region is awesome. The OLL actually wrote about our region recently – The ML’s Guide to Writing in Atlanta: Writing on Their Minds . As mentioned in the article, we averaged 5 events per day in November, and there was almost always at least one other person in the NaNoLanta chat room, ready to start a word war and offer other encouragement. It’s hard not to feel encouraged to write more. I just wish I had that sort of motivation on my own. It would help if I weren’t always so tired all the time.

Today’s objectives are to finish writing chapter 7 of Let Go (the new title for Keep Going), find a teaching standard that I would like to eventually write a lesson plan for, and read chapters 9 and 14 for my foundations of education class. I’m excited for the start of a three-day weekend. Hopefully I can finish writing the next three chapters of my novel this weekend, at the very least.