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23 Nov 2011

RTW: Giving Thanks

Road Trip Wednesday is a "Blog Carnival," where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.
We'd love for you to participate! Just answer the prompt on your own blog and leave a link -- or, if you prefer, you can include your answer in the comments.
 
This week's topic:
What writing or publishing-related thing(s) are you most thankful for?

A BIG thank you to three things:

My creative writing tutors
They were awesome.  Just pure awesome.  One I turned to for feedback on all stories because he was a prose guy and his suggestions always helped, letting me know when it was good to go for submitting for assessment.  He showed where my strengths and weaknesses lie, encouraging me to try styles and narratives that I was dead set on avoiding because it wasn't my comfort zone.  My other tutor actually introduced me to experimental writing, which I hated at first but then had fun with when I found out that alternate histories could be seen as experimental.  I was also introduced to ficto-criticism which I had loved and thanks to his suggestions, encouragement, and interest I have a story mapped out that I'll go back to one day and develop.  They taught me so much about writing and got me out of my comfort zone for assignments and class preparation pieces that I found other styles/genres I'd love to write in/for.  I haven't regretted choosing to study creative writing with English. 

Books
I have to thank books! They're the reason I write to begin with.  Since I was little I've read stories that I've enjoyed and left constantly thinking about in my head.  I would finish a book and think: 'I want to write something like that'.  I loved telling stories when I was little, mostly in my head where I would go off into a fantasy land and think of adventures to have.  They introduced me to amazing characters like Inigo Montoya, Granny Weatherwax, and Larten Crepsley and I just wanted to do the same.  Someday... hopefully. :)

Darren Shan, R.L.Stine, and Stephen King
When I was younger I loved the twist endings and creepy tales of R.L.Stine.  In my teenage years I was introduced to Darren Shan and I told myself that I want to write Young Adult supernatural horror just like he did.  Moving on into my late teens and present day it's Stephen King that takes up most of my bookshelves and Salem's Lot is constantly take on and skimmed through, again telling myself that this is the genre I want to write for most of all.  These three authors inspired my love for spooky tales. 

To everyone who celebrates Happy Thanksgiving, have a great holiday and enjoy it!

20 Nov 2011

NaNo Week 3 - Targets, Juggling, and Publication on the side

Word Count: 21,326

I said last Sunday that my target was to reach 20,000.  I did it! Last night, I achieved my target and today I'm hoping to get up 25000.  Hopefully some time in a coffee shop away from internet distractions will help write faster and get more done. 

It's getting easier to just write and build up the word count, especially that I'm far into the story now and moving into the middle.  I don't think I'll finish the story in 50,000 words - may need to carry on but the important thing at the moment is meeting that 50,000 word count.  What I wish I had done in the beginning was do 2000 words each day rather than 1000.  It meant I was really behind, especially when I had days where my cold made me feel awful and extremely weak so I avoided doing anything, even writing.  There's a nasty bug going around my school at the moment.  It left me with a sinus infection, the class teacher I work with had to take a day off feeling sick and a student teacher who is currently doing a placement in our class has been sick on and off for a week.  So that's been in the way of NaNo on a few occasions.

But to reach 20,000 this week I allowed myself to have a target of at least 2000 words that I would write each night after coming home from work and getting everything else ready for the next day like lunch and clothes etc.  2000 words meant I would have reached 20,000 by Friday.  It's not much and if you just sit down and write, the word count flies by.  I had one naughty day on Friday - lazy night in with the boyfriend with take-away and watching our favourite programmes together.  I'm trying not to feel guilty for that because I think it's good and healthy for people to just take a day or a night to rest up without having to worry about the cleaning, cooking, and writing.  Just one night to refresh your mind and relax.  Take-away is my hero for that, along with a bubble bath, candles and incense.   It meant the next day I went back to the writing and got those 4000 words onto the document and target was reached.  So if there's anyone out there doing NaNo who is feeling the pressure... try not to worry.  :) Just sit down whenever you have the time and write lots without thinking about it and when you feel you need to... relax for a night and take away the stress.  Everyone needs a break now and again.  All work and no play...

The anthology I contributed to has turned up on Amazon Kindle stores a day early! :D I have a few links for you...

First, a teaser to download if you want to check it out.

And the links to Amazon kindle stores for different countries:

UK Kindle Store: http://amzn.to/ReKindle
US Kindle Store: http://amzn.to/ReKindle-US
DE Kindle Store: http://amzn.to/ReKindle-DE
FR Kindle Store: http://amzn.to/ReKindle-FR

On iTunes: http://bit.ly/Re-iTunes

16 Nov 2011

RTW: Required Reading

Road Trip Wednesday is a "Blog Carnival," where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

We'd love for you to participate! Just answer the prompt on your own blog and leave a link -- or, if you prefer, you can include your answer in the comments.

This week's topic:
In high school, teens are made to read the classics - Shakespeare, Hawthorne, Bronte, Dickens - but there are a lot of books out there never taught in schools. So if you had the power to change school curriculums, which books would you be sure high school students were required to read?

Since year nine I studied at least one Shakespeare play all the way until my second year at university  I think I studied about eight of them throughout my first two years there.  There were quite a few occasions where I studied a book two or three times in my education.  While it meant I knew the book quite well it was also a little boring re-studying a book again and wished there was more variety and definitely a little less Shakespeare. 

Maybe High School English could do with more classics aimed at a younger audience? When I was doing my GCSEs and A*Levels I would have loved to study a book where the characters were around my age or younger. At university we had a module based entirely around children's literature where we read Alice in Wonderland, What Katy Did, Peter Rabbit etc.  And it was fascinating - the issues and context explored were interesting.  My first essay on the module discussed how Alice in Wonderland and What Katy Did presented authority and the second essay talked about what the choice of colour, frame, and character position in picture books show the reader.My education just seemed to full of Shakespeare. So I'm not really rushing to read more Shakespeare at the moment.

So my suggestions?

 

Well, for a teenage audience I think S.E Hinton's The Outsiders would be an excellent addition to a reading list.  It discusses social divide between young people through subcultures and wealth - something that still goes on in high school today.  In The Outsiders it was greasers and socs.  At my high school I saw it was between the chavs and grungers/goths. 


Anything by Terry Pratchett in his Discworld Series.  Just to study the art of comic intertextuality and how Pratchett uses folklore, television, and social issues to satirise and create his own little world.  If there was an arc I had to choose for reading in school it would have to be the witches.  Agnes Nitt, Nanny Ogg, Magrat Garlick, and Granny Weatherwax.  Their story-arcs are my favourite.

And finally The Princess Bride by William Goldman.  I love my satire, I can't help it. :) And the narration is quite interesting and experimental, jumping from the story to the author interrupting and we, as readers, learning we're reading an abridgment of the actual novel by S.Morgenstern in the beginning. Very meta.  Teachers, go wild studying the metanarrative aspect of the novel!

13 Nov 2011

NaNo: Second Week

Word count so far: 10,369

What I'm learning from the story so far...

1) Some characters may need a personality transplant.  My three MCs do come across as jerks a little.  I kinda wanted to punch them in the face when I was writing their dialogue.  What was supposed to come off as sibling and friend bantering just came off as arrogant and annoying.  So I need to work on how I present Josh, Caleb, and Luca in the beginning when the editing begins. 

2) Caleb is also a complete and utter wimp.  But I kind of like that he's come across as a character who cannot watch a horror film without letting it get to his head.  Might keep that trait and work on it for the edits.  I like a character who shows that they do get scared. :)

3) Haven't quite got the horror atmosphere right.  It's not really scaring me so in the editing I'll need to really look at the writing and put in some notes on what to change/take out/add and how to creepify it more.

I'm honestly trying to hold the inner editor back and it is working.  I've learnt to just write and let the story come out first but I am keeping mental notes of what I can focus on to begin with when it is time to let the inner editor out.  Keep the little monster happy for now.

Made it to the 10,000 mark at last! And I've seen some people have already reached the 50,000 word target.  Congrats to anyone who has done that! I'm very much in awe! I still feel so slow but I know writing huge word counts in a day isn't my writing style so I don't feel too bad about it.  Everyone writes differently - fast or slow, around noise or in need of silence, at home or in a coffee shop - and I think NaNo can play a huge part in helping us realise what our style is.  I'm really enjoying the experience of it and learning a bit more of how I write and what I'm comfortable with and not. :)

So.... perhaps I can reach 20,000 by next Sunday? Challenge accepted! Let's see how well I can discipline myself and see if I can keep this 'just write and get it typed on that bloody word document already!' attitude.

To add to this blog, I put a link up for the short story coming out soon.  Not shamelessly promoting it and obsessively talking about it I swear... *whistles innocently*

6 Nov 2011

NaNo: The First Week

Word count so far: 4,046

Okay, not bad :) Haven't done as much as I thought I would, which I'm a little disappointed in myself for, but so far I'm succeeding in tucking away my inner editor and just focusing on writing the story.  That would have to be one of my writing flaws.  I let the editor work alongside me as I write but rather than being nice and offering constructive criticism it's mainly there hanging next to my ear snapping "This is rubbish.  Where did you get this character from? That dialogue is awful!"

Yeah, I'm my own worst enemy at times.  It gets in the way of writing and slowly I lose motivation to write because I've convinced myself it's terrible.  I'm spending so much time thinking about what will need some serious editing that the excitement and enthusiasm for just writing that first draft disappears.

NaNo is actually helping here.  Occasionally the editor pops out to tut and whisper 'I don't like that part' but I just keep going and focus on what's next in the story to write.  My determination to reach 50,000 is stronger than the editor, thank goodness.  Now all I need to work on is writing more each day.  So far I've made sure I've written at least a thousand words each day.  The only days I didn't go near the W.I.P were Friday and Saturday - I came home from work with a stinking cold and complete exhaustion from supporting 4 and 5 years old in class.  I just needed to rest and make sure I got better for Monday.  I've been at my new job a week so hopefully I'm now used to the routines.  I'm hoping I won't be as tired next week and my cold seems to be disappearing quickly so maybe I'll feel 100% better tomorrow.

Roll on 10,000 words! I will reach that target this week.

I hope everyone else is doing well! :)

In other writing news, I've just seen the cover and web page for the short story anthology I've contributed a story to.  I've signed my contract, done my edits and submitted my bio for the publisher's website which should be on soon.  I'm going to have my first writing piece published! Yay! It'll be published in a digital edition first and then in March 2012 as paperback.  I think for the electronic version they're going for the 25th November as a publishing date. 

Lookie here! http://www.elsewhen.co.uk/

I'm so excited for this! I'll give you more info on the story I've submitted for it next time!

Good luck for the next week, fellow NaNo-ers!