Tag Archives: writing

The Writing Life: Coffee! Heroes, and more coffee.

coffee cantataThis weekend I went to a delightful performance of the Coffee Cantata.  Despite growing up in a family with plenty of classical music, I had no idea that Bach wrote music about coffee of all things.  I didn’t even know Bach had coffee, although thinking it through, it does make sense with the dates. It just never occurred to me.

The humorous cantata follows a concerned father, complaining his daughter thinks of nothing but coffee and keeps lying to him about giving it up.  The daughter then sings, “Coffee! Coffee!” in beautiful baroque music.  The actors did a marvelous job of catching the humor as well as performing the difficult music.

Since the whole performance was in a coffee shop, I had planned to write, but just ended up drinking a lot of coffee and watching.  I can’t find anything to regret though.

camp 2013I’ve decided to do Camp Nanowrimo, at the urging of Zoe, my writing group partner from last November.  This year camp is in April, (also July for anyone interested in doing it) so next week I’ll be diving into drafting again. Looking over MAAV, I’ve discovered most of last November’s drafting is useless, sigh. But at least in writing out plot points on cards and moving them around, I think I have a new and improved outline.  I’m excited to try doing Nano over again and hopefully end up with a workable draft this time.

To help firm up my outline and hash out a book I feel good about, I’ve started in using the Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook, that my husband got my for Christmas.  The first exercise is on heroes.  What I realized after doing it for MAAV, was that I picked a completely different hero to list than when I did the same exercise for DB in December right after getting the book.  At the time I didn’t think about it, but comparing the exercises afterwards I was fascinated and impressed.  The hero I’d picked this time (my great grandmother) had the perfect qualities for Danny, the MC, while last time (Ursula LeGuin) had a completely different set of qualities that I admired that worked much better for Dragon Boy.

I guess coming to the exercise with the book in mind gave me a whole different mindset thinking about the same idea.  In both cases, the exercise helped me flesh out heroic qualities to build on in the opening scenes of my book and I hope to avoid ever having the same likability issues with my MCs that I had on a different project.

I’m hoping to return to wonderful coffee, and this Thursday at writer’s group with Zoe, this time actually work and dive into the next couple character exercises in the workbook.  After all, everything is better with coffee!

A Thousand Words… or could be

I’ve been sorting through papers to prepare for the move (can I just say I hate moving?) with hopes of recycling what I can rather than hauling it around.  Today I discovered a box of pictures and cards I’d saved.  In the days before google plus and flicker, I’d use cards either people had sent me or ones I’d bought like writing prompts or to inspire my imagination. I still like to collage them on the wall, but over the years I’ve end up with a lot of them and the ones I found were ones I’d not seen in a long time.  I hope I’ll have somewhere to hang them soon.

Until then, since a picture is about a thousand words, according to the usual cliche, I’ve taken a photo of several of them and perhaps I’ll try to sneak in some writing exercises using them in between all the sorting and packing.  I sort of like the idea of trying to write a thousand words for each one, it’d certainly keep me in shape for the next Nanowrimo, or when I have the focus to get back to the villain sequel.

Here’s an assortment:

How Can Reading About Housework be so Fun?

Between my vacation and the sad news I’m soon to be moving, I have piles and piles of housework and packing to do in the next month.  Naturally the first thing I did was grab a book to sit on the couch with and read.  In the stack of books from my aunt, were two very pleasant books I’d seen before at the library in junior high, but never gotten around to read, “Wise Child” and its prequel “Juniper” both by Monica furlong.

One fascinating thing about both books, is how much house and yardwork the characters do.  Living in medieval times in the English and French countryside I’m sure did involve hours and hours of labor collecting and preparing food and medicines.  And yet, reading about it, the most incredible thing is it’s not boring.  Instead I feel almost live I’ve been productive myself, hearing about the toiling and exhausted characters surveying their now clean houses and stocked larders.  I feel energized and gratified… the only downside, is my kitchen is still a horrible mess.

It’s something I’ve noticed before, much to my surprise.  Daily work in a novel can be quite enjoyable and draw a person into the world and story.  In several novels, I’ve noticed some of my favorite parts are where the character is toiling day after day at some kind of hard or boring labor.  It would see a contradiction… I really hate housework, so why is it so fun to read about?

I’m not really sure I even have the answer to that.  I think it must lie in the skill and craft of the authors and their narration.  First, it seems detail and specifics are key here.  I have no idea if Furlong was at any point an housewife, but she certainly knows her material when it comes to cleaning houses and collecting and processing plants.  As a reader, it’s fascinating to hear how people did tasks in older times.  The flowing narration is able to both teach and spark the imagination so that I’m not bored.

Second, in both books the main character complains, while a more experienced mother/teacher figure offers a perspective on how daily work is part of our existence and important to the rhythm of life.  This resignates both with my inner complaining child (No! Don’t make me do the dishes!) and my older practical adult (I need these washed now so I won’t have to do it right before dinner when I’m busy cooking.)  It also keeps up a strong character dynamic through the scenes, and gives a sense of satisfaction when the main character grows and realizes she’s equal to the work, that it her mentor is right about it being part of the flow of life, and that she’s stronger than she thought she was.

Still, even picking out the elements, it takes a good deal of skill to have quite so much description of work as in “Wise Child” and never bore the reader. I’ve only read one other book with quite that much housework: Cynthia Voigt’s “On Fortune’s Wheel.” I liked that book just as much, the housework scenes being the best part.  Similar to “Wise Child” we have a character who doesn’t like work, realizing it’s place in her life and growing and changing as she discovers how to do the housework, and every page is fascinating.

And the longer I think about, the more intriguing the whole thing is, the more books I can think of that use this devise, and the more interested I am in trying it out in my own writing.  Here’s some other books that use this tactic to great effect:

“Jackaroo” (also by Cynthia Voigt) which has nearly as much work, but with a different character dynamic, the MC is industrious, while other characters around her are lazy.  She also uses it to handle her emotions when dealing with things, both which keeps interesting tensions and character growth during the scenes.  To a lesser extent the other books in the series will show work too.

“The Wise Woman” (George McDonald) which follows a very similar story of an older woman trying to apprentice (in this case two) young girls to teach them about the world and make them face their inner life.  One girl is lazy, the other industrious but narcissist, making for a fascinating comparison as we watch both girls struggle.

“Alanna the First Adventure” (Tamora Pierce) and to a larger extent “Protector of the Small” Pierce’s series about Kelardy, since there’s more physical work and far less magic in those books.  A lot of daily life in training for knighthood features in these books, exercises, tests, trials, making you feel sore, exhausted, but also exhilarated with the main character as her skills improve.

“A Conspiracy of Kings” (Megan Whalen Turner) has a section in the first third of the book, and incidentally my favorite part, where the MC is working hard and long days as a field laborer. Character development and his slowly developing relationship with the community keep the tension humming.

“Holes” (Louis Sachar) which makes having to dig a hole ever day actually interesting.  More humorous than the others, it still cleverly uses lots of hard work to define character development.

I’m sure there’s more that I haven’t thought of that I’ve enjoyed… reading about all this works makes me want to try writing about some.  Too bad what I’m actually supposed to be doing is vacuuming, my floor is disgusting. Sigh.

 

An Attack of “The Next Big Thing”

One interesting part of being part of an active critique group is when there’s a blog hop, sometimes everyone around me ends up doing it.  My friend  Michele Shriver first tagged me with “The Next Big Thing” last month (11/7), only Nanowrimo combined with the actor question in this blog hop meant that I never finished it.  She was really low key about it, so afterwards I just said to myself, oh well, and kept typing.

Well…

On 12/12, another friend, Katie Stewart also tagged me with the same blog hop. I was going to get it together… but didn’t. And then, right before Christmas, what do I find but that Kelly Walker has also tagged me with this.  So, taking a deep breath, I decided to actually look up child actors and finally do this.  Here goes:

What is the working title of Your Book?

Much Ado About Villains

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Shakespeare.  Which ought to be obvious from the title.  But to be fair, there’s also a healthy dose of JK Rowling and JRR Tolkien involved as well.  This is a Harry Potter spoof that draws on high fantasy cliches and popular culture as well, and I can’t think of a better thing to meld that with than Shakespeare, honestly.

What genre does your book fall under?

Comic fantasy or satire.  It’s upper middle grade or younger YA too, I suppose, but I always take that for granted in a book. The book has it’s own full story, so it’s not a strict satire, but can come close at times.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie?

This is the question that tripped me up most, because I have no idea what child actors are around anymore.  All my former choices are far too old now. But after some net searching, I have decided on Dakota Goyo for my lead MC, Danny.  For his supporting friend, Daisy, I discovered a huge shortage of 13 year old black female actors.  This saddens me, although Willow Smith, daughter of the famous Will Smith is happily the perfect age.  Even harder was finding an Asian actor at 13 for Aun, Danny’s best friend and sometimes rival. After searching google images to find someone current and not a former child actor, I found Korean Seo Yeong-joo-I who looks the part.

At least the older students were easier to pick, I decided Sarah Hyland for Queleria, the beautiful girl Danny and Aun fall in love with, and Kenton Duty for Demigorth the popular boy who steals her attention.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I’ve just written 50K this past Nanowrimo, but I’m still not done with my first draft.  I think I need to rework the outline and then fit the scenes together in a different order and rework them also.  The novel is being difficult, sigh.  I’m hoping to hash it out though over the next couple of months.  My goal is to have a full first draft by the beginning of March.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Book one started as a mix between the play “A School for Scandal,” “Harry Potter,” and “A Series of Unfortunate Events.”  I wanted to bring in some new elements, although Harry Potter satire will be a major part of the series as a whole, and the style of the sequel will be the same as book one (A School for Villains).

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

“Dark Lord Academy” started as a series because of talking about Harry Potter with my brother Jonathan. I’ve always enjoyed doing satires, and writing about an evil magic school, where everyone becomes villains sounded like hilarious fun. I wrote the first novel for my brother as a Christmas present, and somehow along the way during revisions, it turned into a six book series. I suppose it was villainous that way.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Well, let’s see… it’s got demon horses that breathe fire and like eating coal as a treat and run gymkhana courses, a teenage demon boy who secretly listens to chant and drinks holy water, and true love Shakespeare style (yes, death is definitely included).

As so many people have tagged me with this, I don’t have anyone to tag back, and figure it’s run its course by now anyway… but if you read this and want to adopt it, drop me a note and I will next Wednesday promote your blog as if I tagged you.

A Busy Christmas, Goals for the New Year, and Nayu’s review

I’ve naturally fallen behind on the blogging again with all the holiday fanfare, but I had a lovely Christmas yesterday.  It’s been great to see both families.  This year Ben’s family had their Christmas celebration on Sunday, which meant we got to spend longer with both families.  While that means it took more days out of my schedule and regular things like writing and blogging, I found I preferred it for getting to spend more time with each family.  We didn’t have to rush anywhere on Christmas itself and could pace ourselves better.

It’s not even quite over, since I still have one sister who couldn’t make it until today, so I get one more day of festivities.  There’s talk of going to the Hobbit, which I haven’t seen and hope to soon, and I wouldn’t mind some shopping while we’re in Portland either.  So I may just take off the whole week, really.

Then I’ll be able to gear up for this next year. At least I have clear goals.  My first and main one is marketing.  I’m going to get serious about learning how. I have several pages of advice and a list of review sites from my editor, and one of my friends has promised to give me lessons for the rest of it.  What I hope to achieve is a whole attitude make-over.  By the end of next year, I want to from being one of those “I hate marketing” people to a “I just love telling people about my book and marketing is easy and fun” people.

Is that possible? I don’t really know… but it’s worth a try, right?  There’s much debate on how much our likes and dislikes are chosen vs just happening.  I have a pretty steep challenge here, since I tend to get anxious in social situations, but in the end, if I can change it, I’ll enjoy myself a whole lot more.  It’s the one part of being an author I don’t enjoy right now.  Even line edits or formatting I can get into once I get going, so it’d definitely be a step in the right direction of my larger goal of being the happiest person I know. (Honestly, life is too short to waste it being miserable, right? And since I can’t make anyone else happy, I might as well work on myself.)

I have several writing focused goals.  The first is to rewrite “Dragon Boy.”  This book is close to my heart and I feel I’m finally ready to do it justice and write the definitive version.  I’ve received for Christmas “The Breakout Novel Workbook” which I plan to use to go over the novel and look for ways to improve it.  I’ve made that a two year goal though, because I want to take my time and because I still want to finish and release “Much Ado About Villains” as well.  That’s my second writing goal.  I’ll also need to earn the money for the art for that… I’d like to get it fully illustrated like book one.  But I think that’ll be doable in the coming year.

Then, I’d like to submit “Revenge of the Voiceless” first to Amazon’s contest, and then to a few other publishers until I find a publisher.  As it’s a full-length adult novel, I feel I need the support of a publisher for that one, and I’m willing to take the time it needs to find the right one.

And, best of all, Nayu’s Reading Corner has my first review of “A Recipe for Disaster” up!  Check it out.

Nanowrimo Fallout, Umbrellas, and Disaster

Well, it was a rather harrowing Nanowrimo.  I struggled every day of the month to keep up on the word count.  Usually I don’t have much trouble with Nanowrimo, but MAAV apparently decided it was going to challenge me for every word.  I’ve hit 50K, and I’m pleased to be a Nanowrimo winner, but the novel is a mess.  It’s going to take a couple of months to sort out, but I’m still hopeful of making a June release date for the book.  At least I can be proud of myself for sticking it out this year instead of switching novels when it get hard.

One thing that might change that is ironically if I find my muse for the books.  I’ve decided if I ever find my groove while writing MAAV, I’ve decided I plan to ride it as long as I can and draft OHAV (book 3) until it floats away again.  So I hope for that, and I believe Nanowrimo even has a camp in March, which I might try redrafting whatever I need for that.

In a moment of un-Oregonian-ness I bought myself a new umbrella.  In general, the “real” Oregonians don’t use them.  Usually the rain is more mist or drizzle on and off, plus they’re awkward and annoying.  Umbrellas are for foreigners, and by foreigners, I mean people who are not from Oregon or Washington (the state).  You wear a waterproof coat and just dash from the car to the store and back again.  If hiking, you button up your coat and put up the hood and get only reasonably damp.

But, I want to keep up with my walk all winter long, and I hate having my head all bundled up in my waterproof coat, it makes me itchy.  Plus, despite being out in the middle of nowhere, my walk is wide and paved, keeping my feet dry (if it were an actual mountain trail, I wouldn’t bother and plan to just get wet feet as well as the rest of me). So, not getting soaked on my walk won out over my Oregon pride.

I’m the one crazy lady for miles, just me and my umbrella in the middle of nowhere… I haven’t yet run into a park ranger for a while, but they’re the only people I ever see out there, with their hoods of their waterproof jackets up like true Oregonians, as they ride their small cart/car thingy through the drizzle to pick up the trash at Starvation Creek.   I can hardly wait to bump into them, while I walk along twirling my splendid, and very large umbrella.

Now that Nano is over, I’m taking a short break from MAAV and focusing on getting Disaster out!  I’m hoping to release on December 12th, in both hard copy and kindle. I’m going to try out select for a couple months so I can try out the free promotion feature, but when I do giveaways I’ll have epub versions available too, as soon as I figure out my formatting.  I’ve gotten a bit rusty in the year since I did ASFV, and so I have to relearn my html all over again.  Ah well.

I’m really excited to be getting Disaster out before Christmas!  Both my illustrator (Leo DeBruyn) and my editor (Word Vagabond Editing) have been fantastic.

From the Dreaded One’s Desk: Evil Consequences of the Writing Life

“What is this?” roared the Most Evil Dreaded one, poking the sloppy gray substance in her bowl.  “I asked for breakfast, not the latest kitchen mold experiment.”

“Bran-wonder Surprise,” the serving minion said with a smirk.

“I didn’t ask for this!”

“Eh, hem.”  The Second-in-command Minion (SICM for short) marched into the room.  “I’m afraid there’s been a change of menu, my Dread Lord.  As you were over twenty pounds overweight on your physical exam the other day, we’re instituting evil weight loss measures.”

“What?”  The Dreaded One swiped the Bran-wonder Surprise off the desk with a swipe of the back of her hand.  The serving minion’s swift jump backwards saved him from getting hit, but it slopped all over the SICM.

With a grunt, the SICM wiped bran cereal off his face.  “I meant you must lose weight, Your Dreadfulness,” muttered the SICM.  “Your doctor says–”

“Time to go gut the doctor.”  The Dreaded One growled, propping her feet up on her desk.  “I need to get some writing done.  Hurry up with this nonsense and go remove that doctor.”

“You already did that, Your Awfulness… several times.”  The SICM sighed.  “Listen, you can’t just keep gutting doctors, it won’t solve the problem.  If you want to succeed in world domination, you need to be in good health.  That means less ice cream, more whole grains and living a more active lifestyle.”

“My muse can’t function without ice cream.”

“I’m afraid it’ll have to learn to make do, Evil One.  Ice cream will now be reserved for birthday parties only.  The kitchen will be setting up a nutritious new diet that will help feel your muse without layering on the pounds.”

“Somehow I’m skeptical.”  The Dreaded One gave the smirking serving minion a glare as he picked up the empty cereal bowl and beat a quick retreat.

“Most importantly, Evil One, you need to live a more active lifestyle, more action, less sitting.”  The minion gestured at the desk and computer with his spear.

“Fiiiiine,” the Most Dreaded One snarled.  “I’ll shelve my current plans and write an action scene today.  Perhaps a battle or two.”

The SICM sighed. “Um, that’s not exactly what I meant, Your Awfulness.”

“Oh, I see.  Right.”  The Dreaded One rubbed her face with a hand.  “Active, not action.  Well, I’ll highlight all my be verbs and work on eliminating boring ones like look and seen as well.  It’ll be a hassle but considering my health is at stake, it’ll be worth it.

“No, no.”  The SICM flushed and held up a claw. “You misunderstand.  You need to  exercise.”

“Well why didn’t you just say so!”  Snarling the Dreaded One swung her feet down from the desk, and pulled open the drawer to yank out several books. “I’ve got loads of exercises I can do.  On voice, characterization, description, even plot. I’ll just make sure I slip in what… 40 minutes of exercises three days a week and–”

“Em, excuse me.”  The SICM grabbed the writing exercise book off the table.  “I meant physical exercise.  As in: MOVING your body.”

“What?” The Dreaded One gave him a blank stare.

“Like a sport.”

“Writing is a sport.”

“An active sport.”

“I told you, I can add active verbs and more battles.”

“Listen!”  The SICM slammed his spear down on top of the desk, sending papers everywhere.  “You need to do something that evelvates your heartrate, moves your muscles, and challenges your body physically in order to lose weight. Nothing involving  writing counts.”

The Dreaded One narrowed her eyes at the SICM, going deathly still, but he held her gaze.

“Is that so?”

“Yes.”  The SICM bared his fangs.

The serving minion had taken this moment to return with a plate of boiled broccoli as a breakfast alternative.  It sniggered as it shoved it down on the desk.  The Dreaded One glanced at the green mush, then at the minion’s gloating expression.  A twitch of her tail was the only warning.  The serving minion tried to spring back, but was too slow.  The Dreaded One grabbed him by the throat, hauling him up.

“Um… just what do you think–” The SICM was cut off as Dreaded One grabbed him by the shirt with her other hand, lifting him off his feet and making him drop his spear with a clatter.  “What are you doing?”

“Urrrgl.” The serving minion struggled scream but couldn’t manage it with the Dreaded One’s grip on his neck.

“I’ve picked a form of non-writing exercise,” snarled the Dreaded One, sweeping both minions over towards the window.

“Dare I ask what, Your Awfulness?”

“Weight lifting.”  The Dreaded One hurled him out the window.  “With a mind towards shot put!” she shouted before throwing the serving minion after him.

Turning around and wiping her hands off on her pants, ignoring their screams all the way down to the distant thud as they hit the ground, the Dreaded One looked around for the nearest minion cowering near the door.  “You!  You’re my new SICM.”  She tossed the plate of broccoli at him, and he ducked, letting green goop and ceramic shards splatter across the pillar by the door.  “Get that cleaned up, and bring up a big bowl of ice cream.  I’ve got an  active writing exercise to write.”

The Writing Life: Thoughts on Genre

Since I’m between novel projects this month, I decided to check out the writing section of my new local library and finally get myself a card.  There wasn’t much, but stacking my few finds with the writing books I own, I decided now would be a good time to brush up on some basic research on the craft and process of writing, especially since we were driving to Portland to visit friends and my husband will often read to me in the car on long drives.

Well, he sampled a few of the books, some which sounded better aloud than others.  One was obviously more like a workbook, asking questions about your idea/manuscript, and not easy to read in the car, another was written by some college professor who after fifteen minuets of reading chapter one, we still weren’t sure what the book was about.  There was a scholarly but promising book on voice in writing that we figured we’d probably come back to, but when he tried the first chapter of “How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy” by Orson Scott Card, there was a definite shift.

The other book might have been about voice, but Card’s book has voice.  Suddenly it felt like an old friend was telling us hilarious stories and tips about writing, and since the traffic was stressful we decided to stick with it.

Card’s book, published in 1990, starts off with talking about genre and publishing categories.  His thoughts are hardly current 22 years later, but are the still relevant?  We got into a fascinating debate over the state of publishing.  Card talks about how those publishing categories lock authors into a genre, and both publisher and readers expect more of that, not something completely different:

The result is that today, while readers are very free, passing easily from one community to another, the publishing categories clamp down like a vise on the authors themselves.  You must keep this in mind as you begin to publish.  Do you wish to be known forever as a science fiction or fantasy writer?

At first I was inclined to think that in indie publishing this has at least changed.  There’s no one to stop me publishing what I want, right?  Well, my husband had some interesting points.  Maybe no one can stop you, but your books are still shelved in different sections of the bookstore, even if it’s the online bookstore.  You basically are pitching yourself to a whole new audience all over again, as a fresh name.  Also, your “brand” on your website… which genre or category of reader are you trying to attract?

The marketing challenge of crossing genres is still there.  And in some respects, publishing category will become even more important.  It’s the major way on amazon to browse books, which means which categories you pick for it is crucial.  Which readers sample your book hangs on it.  Perhaps starting over as a new name is slightly easier, but the pressure to write another book just like your last one is still there.

 

 

From the Dreaded One’s Desk — What to Write Today

The Most Evil Dreaded Author sat down at her desk. It was a bright fresh morning, with a nice cool breeze coming in over the moat of green slime, a perfect day to get some writing done. With a sigh she settled back into her comfortable chair, stretched her claws and grinned evilly, showing off her many teeth.

“All right, what’s next up on my evil author agenda?”

“I am, your dreadfulness.” The snot-nosed novella crept forward.

The Evil Author narrowed her eyes at it. “Wait a minute… aren’t you rather large to be the novella? You’re supposed to be short.”

“But I had to add some extra character development,” the novella wiped its nose on its sleeve. “You need character development, right?

“That shouldn’t make you that much longer.” The Dreaded One frowned.

“Well… but we needed some ninjas… and pirates! They’re pretty cool. And a whole extra point of view character to fix the tensions, and then—”

“Arg! Enough. Fine, so you’re longer, I’ll write you later, what else do I have around here? Guards! Next idea!”

“But your evilness… if we could just add some gladiators as well—”

“Guards!” roared the Dreaded One, drowning out the novella’s bid for even more additions. The minions hurried in to drag it out.

The next novel idea was a rather handsome looking main character with a charming grin. “Greetings, Your Evilness.” The novel gave a sweeping bow.

“Wait, who are you? I don’t remember you.” The Dreaded One rubbed her face.

“I’m your romance novel idea.” The novel beamed. “I’m charming, romantic, and I have a great happy ending!”

“I’m an evil author. I don’t do romance. I don’t even remember creating you—hardly.” The Dreaded One blushed, as the idea was starting to look familiar, actually.

“But romance is selling so well! I’m timely! Plus,” the novel idea leaned forward and winked. “I have angels and demons, knights and wizards, I’m a classic in the making!”

“I suppose…” The Dreaded One could help thinking he looked like a rather handsome idea.

“Wait!” Villain student Aun from “A School for Villains” came dashing into the room, waving a burning sword. “Do you dare! You promised to write my novel next!”

The Dreaded One narrowed her eyes at him. “Your novel? I seem to recall Danny is the main character, not you.”

“Bah. The sequel centers around me though. I’m the key character, and I’m going to get the girl. We’re evil, savvy, and have romance, so this idiot can just go jump in the moat!” Aun waved the flaming sword at the romance novel.

“I’m far more attractive than you, villain brat,” the romance novel said, drawing his own sword. “And I’m a better swordsman than you are, because I am knight!”

The two closed in on each other. The Dreaded Author took a step back to avoid getting slashed as Aun accidentally set fire to her desk. “Minions!”

The minions however, were rather slow in arriving.

“Hey, author!” A small voice behind the Dreaded One made her whirl around, cloak flapping, claws out, but at first she saw no one, then she though to look down. A small furry and bright orange troll flashed fangs at her. “My novel has readers on your critique group begging for another chapter. You should write about me!”

“I’m not sure your book is publishable,” the Dreaded One said, giving him a long look.

“But I have readers! What, you only care about money? What about art?”

“I’m evil!”

“Which means you get to do whatever you want, right?” Kest beamed up, looking far too sickeningly cute to be the Evil Author’s creation. “Like write my novel.”

“No, she wants to write my novel.” The historical fiction novel, also wielding a sword swung in through the window. I’m in final revision stages! You need to get me out to agents!”

“The author is going to write about me,” Kest growled, clawing at the historical novel. However, at the same time, the romance novel’s sword crashed down on the burning desk on the Dreaded One’s other side, breaking it in two. The Dreaded One jumped back against the windows, but was forced to side step to avoid the historical novel’s return attack on the troll.

“Guards!” bellowed the Dreaded Author.

Minions poured in, but were forced to block sword blows from the attacking novels and Kest’s claws, turning the office into a battlefield. The Dreaded One decided it was time for a strategic retreat, and so slipped out the side door.

The Marketing Minion was waiting for her. “Oh, your dreadfulness! Excellent! I just wanted to talk to you about how you’re falling off your social media campaign, and that you need to submit to some more book review blogs. We’re letting marketing fall behind this summer.”

“I want to write!” roared the Dreaded One, starting to feel a bit trapped.

“Of course, of course, just after you complete this marketing packet!” The Marketing Minion waved a large packet of papers. The Dreaded One backed up again, and right into another minion dashing through the door.

“What now!” The Dreaded One sent the poor minion flying across the room with a heavy whack.

“D-dreaded one! We’re under attack! An army of new ideas is storming the castle!”

“I see.” The Dreaded One folded her arms so no one would notice her claws shaking. “Well, get out the boiling oil and take care of them. Go on, both of you.”

The Marketing Minion grimaced. “But if you could just tweet about what you’re doing right now first…”

“Now!” roared the Dreaded One, jumping up on the windowsill. It was time to escape. She swung up, digging her claws into the stones of the Dreaded Castle, up and over the top of the tower to the roof. There, hidden between a couple of towers was the Dreaded Glider.

From the room the Evil Author also got her first good look at the invasion. Hundreds of new ideas were storming the castle. She shook her head, definitely past time to get out. The fresh morning breeze tugged at the glider as she got it out.

“Muahahahahaha!” the Dreaded One roared over their heads as she took off. The wind carried her up and over, soaring high above the army of new ideas, across the countryside, before landing in the middle of a remote swamp.

“Perfect,” muttered the Dreaded One. “Now I might be able to get something done.”

A rustling made her whirl around. Ideas popped up in camouflage all around her in the swamp, grinning. “Write us, now!”

“Aaaaaaaah!” the Dreaded One’s scream was drowned out as the new ideas dragged her below the murky waters of the swamp.

Nanowrimo fireworks and Sylvanian Elephants

Well, despite the chaos, I hit my 50K goal for “A Recipe for Disaster” making it an official Camp Nanowrimo winner.  What does this mean for a novella whose target word count was 25-30K?  Frankly, that I have another actual novel on my hands.  Sigh.  This unexpected novel is also by far the most bizarre one I’ve written, but I’ve decided to just wait and see how revisions go and let it be however long or short it insists on.  Granted, I’m hoping to lose at least 10K cutting out the stream of consciousness notes and there’s a random scene from “The Claypit Banti” at the end of it to fill it out (hold out hope for a new chapters soon my Holy Worlds readers) but I still think this will end up pretty much a chapter book/middle grade novel.  I’m still hoping to release it this fall.

I’ve really enjoyed drafting again and this has been a positive experience, so I’m planning to do this all over again in August.  At the beginning of the year, I took part in the Taleist Self-publishing survey and have been enjoying reading the results.  One of the things I learned was statistically how much better Romance does selling on kindle than Fantasy as a genre.  Basically, on average Romance writers made well above average, while Fantasy writers well below.

Like every author, I have a variety of brand new story ideas of many different sorts, but this got me thinking.  I’m not the sort of person to pick a genre purely for the sake of sales, but picking which ideas to draft or edit first has always been a challenge for me.  If indie publishing and kindle books are favoring Romance stories, did I have any ideas that featured a romance sitting around?  Could I use this statistical information to inspire myself to finish sooner in hopes the book would sell particularly well?  Looking through my lists of previous ideas, I found four that I could categorize as YA Romance, and after rereading those and glancing over the notes and scenes I had for each, I picked one to draft for August Camp Nanowrimo and possibly future indie publication.

I’m hoping to report in next years survey all my success.

But until the month of August, I hope to manage to get some other stuff done first.  Like working on Sylvania.  The Sylvanian housing crisis is still a hard reality of life and all this summer Nanowrimo chaos hasn’t been good for the Sylvania.  All I’ve had time to do is stack cardboard boxes up on each other for temporary housing for a little over half the animals.  I did get a small green shelf second hand to make into a couple homes as well.

The trouble is the upstairs is short on shelving in general.  I have books stacked on the floor and stacks of boxes.  Fortunately, I got a couple of old bedrails to turn into shelves from my parents, but I need to buy cinder blocks to set them up before I can finally get the books off the floor.  I’m hoping after that I can perhaps manage something similar for the rest of Sylvania.

However, despite all logic to the contrary, I just couldn’t resist using my birthday money for this exceedingly cute elephant family.  As a child, my brother and had two elephant children we’d often pretend to be, Timbo and Blotto.  I think we might have gotten the idea of being elephant children from the Babar books.  So, letting other residents wait, I have excited settled the Elephant family into their new quarters.

The boy and girl are of course Timbo and Blotto, and the father’s green jacket makes him a perfect Babar, the mother Celeste (I think that’s the right name).  I haven’t named the three babies yet.  The youngest is just a flocked animal that isn’t a Sylvanian, but fits too nicely for me not to include him.

Also, because cats are awesome, here is Caramel who thinks she lives here.  She’s the landlord’s cat next door (no idea what they call her, but I name all cats I see regularly), but since their relatives used to live here, I think she used to be allowed indoors.  Every time I go out to work on the yard she thinks I’ve arrived to pet her.