Beautiful Books 2017

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If you don’t know what “Beautiful Books” is, click the above picture to find out! It’s a wonderful place, and if you’re a writer, it might just inspire you.

1. What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?
It has been a long time coming. The inspiration (which feels more like necessity than inspiration) came from the adaptation of some old fanfiction of mine to a new, from-scratch story world. Some of the things that made sense in the fanfiction couldn’t be explained naturally and organically in the closer-to-real-life story world, and so the need for a very powerful, over-arching villain came to be.

I have a vast, intricate plan of up to (so far) 7 books that all take place in the same story world, in a smallish period of time, and with some of the same characters. This story, which encompasses most of the others, was always out there, but I figured it’d be one of the last story arcs in my list that I would get to writing. I think that was simply because I was scared of it. Until I committed to writing this story, and outlined it, gave Vin a real life, I didn’t have to think about what he was actually up to. But the truth is, I should have done this story years ago, because some of the other books hinge on this one, and if something in another story that involves Vin doesn’t actually work in his story, that affects the other book. And what if I’ve published it, and it’s out there now? I’m not really interested in doing the whole ret-con thing.

So that’s why it’s time to write this story this year.

2. Describe what your novel is about!

Vin cover

Novel title: Vin

I haven’t done nearly enough planning yet (just decided to write this 2 days ago), so all of this is subject to change.

First, you should know that this story takes place approximately 2000 years in the future. That part is not subject to change.

The story will show the inner workings of an obsessed man as he tries to become perfect—just like his father always wanted him to be. In his quest for perfection, he stumbles across a way to become incredibly, dangerously, illegally powerful—more powerful than anyone in his country, his region, and presumably, the world.

Then he learns about two men who have joined together to defeat a beast that was thought unbeatable, and he realizes that as he pursues perfection in the form of ultimate power, these self-righteous men might decide to oppose him. He decides that the first thing he must do is find a way to keep that from happening.

A subplot (how sub this plot will be, I don’t know yet) involves a man who had just begun to find happiness in a life tinged with tragedy and loneliness, who suddenly finds that everything he cared about has been stripped away.

3. What is your book’s aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like!

Vin moodboard

4. Introduce us to each of your characters!
Vin – He’s not trying to take over the world; he only wants to find some peace. His father died before Vin could reach the level of perfection that the older man wanted from his son, but his continued striving quickly reaches the point of obsession.

Naolin – He never expected to find “normal” in his life, but since he did, he certainly hoped to keep it. Now that he’s lost it, the loneliness feels familiar…almost comfortable. But maybe…just maybe, it doesn’t have to last.

Missy – It turns out that being stalked by a madman, who she is just learning had his hand in more events in her life than she could have realized, was just the beginning of her problem. She’s still recovering from a recent upheaval in her life, and the last thing she needs is to have her first love show back up after five years and leave her feeling guilty about moving on with her life.

Drear – He is Naolin’s brother, and the narrator of the book. Though truthfully, he is not present for most of these events, he has compiled interviews, letters, journals, and anything else he can, to find the truth behind these events and to present them to the reader.

5. How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)
Things like this, for one thing. Until 2 days ago, I still didn’t know what I was going to write. When I started thinking about doing this story, I wasn’t sold right away. I had some free time while waiting for a meeting to start at work, and decided to delve a little into the mind of one of the primary characters (Vin) to see if I could come up with motives for what he ultimately does, other than, “Because he has to.”

By the time I had finished that mere 500-word exercise, I had his main motivation (his dad driving him to be perfect). But it’s still a very shallow understanding of this man who, most likely, will drive the plot.

So I’ve filled out this questionnaire in the hopes of discovering more about this story. I’ll do free writing with Vin and the overall story in mind. I will possibly answer other question lists like this one, even if I do end up skipping some questions because they just don’t make sense for my character(s).

Even though we’re only 3 weeks away from November 1st, I’m still very much in the discovery period of this story, which is not where I need to be when NaNo starts. But I will do freewriting and brainstorming, fill out my timeline, and just…discover.

And then sometime during the last week of October, I’ll make an outline.

6. What are you most looking forward to about this novel?
I am most looking forward to being able to work with Naolin again. He’s far too important of a character in my mind to have been in only one book so far.

7. List 3 things about your novel’s setting.
Graveyards, underground lair, city streets

8. What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in the way?
His goal is to reach perfection, and one single little girl stands in his way, albeit indirectly.

9. How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?
It doesn’t take long before “perfection” morphs into “power.” He then has to do away with any threats to his power, a goal that he is still able to justify. But by the end of the story, his obsession has turned into a pure hatred for his nemesis, and then the only thing he cares about is destroying her life.

10. What are your book’s themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?
There’s a major good vs. evil theme in my story. It is going to be a dark book in many ways. I want readers to feel shocked, amazed, maybe even confused?  (I’m really not good with themes, whether in my own writing or in others’.)


For anyone out there who is participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to check out my series of tips and tricks for the month, and also to add me as a writing buddy! (Let me know you came from here, and I’ll add you back!)

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Pithea, an excerpt

I have posted most of chapter 3 of “Pithea” over on my story blog . I’ll post a little of it here, but if you want to read more, follow the link at the bottom of the text.

If you want some information about the world to better understand some of what is going on here, check out some of the links on this page (Power and Madness would be the key ones for now). However, the excerpt could probably be read without a lot of prior knowledge and be understandable.

This is the first time I’m sharing this much of my novel with anyone outside of family or others who have been somewhat involved in the process. Any comments, questions, or constructive criticism are welcome.


By the time Naolin got back to the inn, it had finally stopped raining. It was dark out, but he wasn’t tired and didn’t want to spend the rest of the night holed up in his room. So instead, he sat down on a bench outside of the inn. He didn’t care that it was wet. He was wet too. A person or two walked by, but nothing interesting happened.

Then two people came flying around the corner of a nearby building, shattering the quiet of the street. Naolin was surprised to recognize his traveling companion as one of the two people, and he jumped to his feet when he saw the frightened look on their faces.

“Missy!” he yelped. “What’s going on?”

His question was answered when a tiger scrambled around the corner behind her. He didn’t know why there was a tiger loose in the city, nor did he care. He jumped up, drawing his sword, and ran to meet Missy and her friend. Blackthore had already turned back to attack the tiger as Naolin reached Missy. Naolin grabbed her arm and pulled her toward him, at the same time stepping past her.

“Ow! What are you doing?” she protested. She yanked her arm out of his grip, and he turned to face her.

As the tiger knocked Blackthore to the ground, Naolin insisted, “You can’t fight this thing. It’s probably maddened, and you only have common training.” Without waiting to see if she would listen to him, he ran over to the tiger and found a nice, open, fleshy spot to insert his sword.

The tiger didn’t like that very much, and it quickly turned around to swat at Naolin with its huge paw. Naolin dropped low to the ground, narrowly avoiding its attack, and then scrambled to the side of the beast. Meanwhile, Missy had gone to help Blackthore up, and then she drew her own dagger. Before she could rush at the tiger herself, Blackthore buried his blade into its rump. It roared in anger and lashed out at the first person it saw, which happened to be Missy. It knocked her down and stood over her.

Blackthore kicked the tiger in the face in an attempt to distract it. It wouldn’t take long for the beast to seriously injure or even kill Missy. Fortunately, Blackthore was successful in his attempt to refocus the tiger’s attention on him, giving Naolin the chance to come around and pull Missy out from under it.

“Just go and find us some help,” he demanded. He refrained from pointing out that he’d been right. Fortunately, she listened to him that time and ran toward the inn. He turned back to help the stranger, who was deftly avoiding the tiger’s paws and teeth while trying to find an opportunity to strike.

Missy reached the inn just as two teenagers, a boy and a girl, were coming out the door. Evidently they had heard what was happening outside because they were leaving the inn in a hurry. As soon as he stepped outside the door, the boy raised his hand toward the tiger. Looking back quickly, Missy saw the tiger struggling against what looked like rope wrapped around its feet.

Blackthore noticed that the tiger was stuck, and took the opportunity to attack from the side, out of the tiger’s reach. Naolin was oblivious to the new circumstances, and Missy saw that he was lying on the ground near the tiger’s front. His sword lay at his side, and blood pooled on the ground next to his head. The girl who had also come out of the inn took a wide berth around the ensnared tiger on her way to Naolin’s side. Missy followed closely behind her.

While Missy was going for help, Naolin had been caught in the side of the head by the tiger’s large paw. If the beast had not been stopped when it had, it likely would have finished the downed Naolin. As Missy approached her traveling companion, she almost had to look away. Long gashes ran down the side of his face, and blood was still streaming out of them. However, the girl who’d gotten there before Missy had already knelt next to the injured Swordsman. Missy was grateful to realize that she’d somehow managed to come across a Cleric right when she needed one.

read more…

Introducing Naolin

Finally posted something new over on my Made in Pithea blog, where I post more about the story and story world. This is an introduction to the secondary main character, Naolin Dark.

Made in Pithea

From the pen ofDrear

Naolin Dark is pretty much my favorite person ever. Maybe that’s not the most objective thing for me to say, since he’s just one of many people who I’ve researched and whose lives I’ve connected. But I do have a reason to be biased—he’s my brother.

Though Naolin and I lost seven years when we were growing up, when we reconnected, you’d never guess we’d been apart. The most fun I’ve ever had has been when I’m spending time with my brother. Training in the domes is definitely better when he’s with me. I don’t enjoy caving as much as he does, but I’ll go with him anytime he asks.

He’s smart, generous, fun to hang out with, and he cares a lot more than he lets on. On the other side, though, he is also one of the rudest people I know. Some…

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NaNoWriMo Day 29, “The End”

The Words: 5442 written today and finished my novel! I was on such a roll last night that I just had to keep going. I put the final words in just before 5 a.m. I started with @NaNoWordSprints on Twitter, but the closer I got to the end, the more I just wanted to write and didn’t need the push of the word sprints. I am exhausted in so many ways right now. (I am writing this at 5 am, though I won’t post it until later this evening.)

I’m planning to write one more NaNoWriMo post before going back to posting about my revision work. Tomorrow, on the last day of the month, I want to sum up my experiences with NaNo this month.

The Story: Before Lex went into the base on his own, he instructed the leader of the militia unit to make one final push toward the base the next day. They did that and succeeded both in getting inside the base finally and in getting their leader captured. They were able to find the building where prisoners were being held, though, and there was Lex, doing his best to stop Rusalki. It is very difficult to explain what that means without explaining details of my story world. The important factors are that he kept her from being able to do any more damage, but she did get away. Still, the battle was over, and now Lex and Leahna have to deal with the aftermath. Then there was a muchly summarized epilogue in which Lex gets some clues to get him back on track to solving the mystery of his father’s death.

Final word count: 107,234

day 29

NaNoWriMo Day 28

The Words: 4462 written today and broke 100,000! After yesterday’s low number, and anticipating a very busy next two days (the last two days of NaNo), I made sure to really buckle down to write tonight. I did want to hit 100k, but I am still mostly intent on finishing the book. I am SO close. So close, in fact, that I didn’t realize that midnight had passed until it was 1 a.m. So I had to stop for a break and to write this up. Then I plan to get back to it tonight and maybe finish finally.

The Story: The battle in the desert is heating up. Two weeks have passed and the militia units that Lex and Leahna are helping are gaining a tiny bit of ground. Not literal ground, but they are systematically lowering the numbers of the enemy. When the second-in-command is taken prisoner, though, the leader demands immediate action. He knows that his second will be in grave danger if they don’t find him soon. So Lex decides to go inside the base himself and find a way to stop Rusalki, the leader of the mercenary organization.

Total word count: 101,792

day 28

NaNoWriMo Day 27

The Words: 577 written today. My extended family isn’t having our official Thanksgiving get-together until Sunday, but we had an unofficial game night tonight. I didn’t know for sure if we were going to that until around 4, so I had expected to have some writing time in the afternoon. In an effort to avoid a zero day, I did get some words written while sitting at the table where people were playing games. My laptop died and I’d forgotten my charger, so I ended up having to switch to pencil and paper for half of it. I got very little done. But at least it’s not a 0.

The Story: The mercenaries sent a small raiding party to attack the militias after dark. Because of Alexander’s advanced abilities, he was able to stop them completely, which was a huge morale boost for the other militia members. He may have drawn more attention to himself than he’d meant to, but at least the mercenaries had been stopped quickly. It really is very difficult to be vague and not give details that might spoil any of the story. I don’t enjoy it.

Total word count: 97,330

day 27

NaNoWriMo Day 26

The Words: 2947 written today. I realized at the exact right time today that the weekly virtual write-in was starting. For the first few weeks, I was gone every Wednesday, and the weeks after that, I just kept forgetting. I got lucky today and joined in. I wrote 1900 during that, and the rest in the evening. I haven’t watched the videos for the other virtual write-ins, but I have to admit, the prompts weren’t the most helpful today. I know you don’t have to write with the prompts, but they intrigued me, so I did. Things like: What is your protaganist’s ideal ending? What would your antagonist be doing if they didn’t have anybody thwarting them, and if all their plans succeeded? I couldn’t help but want to explore those questions. But I’m close to the end of my novel, and just need to finish this battle scene!

The Story: Leahna had the rest of the wounded opponents who had been left on the battle field brought back to the militias’ camp so she could continue to try to mend their injuries. Back at the camp, she came across a familiar face standing guard on the edge of camp. His name is Drear Dark, and he is actually usually the narrator of my stories. However, as I have forgotten that part, I’ve been writing this one third person. That is something I will have to remember during my early revising. Him being there also brought to my mind that I forgot to incorporate a huge event that Leahna would have been involved with, that happened in last year’s novel. I don’t know how I forgot. It didn’t affect her directly, but it did affect a close friend of hers, so she would have been involved. Another note for the first revision.

Total word count: 96,753

day 26

NaNoWriMo Day 25

The Words: 2045 written today. I had to squeeze some in during the afternoon and then a bit more before we had another Skype meeting of the TCSTB (revising a novel I finished earlier this year). And I wanted to share this picture from the marathon meeting we had at the house of one of the TCSTB members on Saturday.

reptile Mikayla

We acted out some fighting scenes to make sure they made sense in the text. The bear represents a large reptilian creature. The blanket on the floor is its victim, and the red is a sweatshirt that has been laid across the body to symbolize blood. This is before we rushed in to attack the reptile.

The Story: Lex and Leahna went on their first push toward the mercenary base with the militias that have already been in the desert for months. They didn’t make it very far, and Leahna stayed behind to help the wounded or near-death after the rest had retreated. But she went on to do the same for the mercenaries who had been wounded and left behind. That led the man who had led the charge scrambling to find somewhere to take the unexpected prisoners after she restored them to health. Thus we meet Juris, the leader of one of the country’s militias. He is a key player in another story of mine. For now, though, he is second-in-command of the militias fighting in the desert. He has explained to Lex and Leahna that most of the militias did not choose to participate in the raid of the desert hideout because they discovered that the hideout was basically a town. And moving against a town in their own country could incite a civil war (especially since another, not secretive town nearby seems to have some connections to this band of mercenaries). So two militias stand alone against this “town.” It’s a good thing Lex and Leahna showed up when they did.

Total word count: 93,806

NaNoWriMo Day 24

The Words: 2063 written today. Today’s writing put me past my total from last year, which was 90,228. Before that, I’d always written 50k within a few days from the end and that was it.

The Story: I have now decided that the decision I made yesterday about being done with the novel was wrong. I did glance at the beginning of this big battle scene from the original version and realized that the main characters are not doing the right thing yet to merge with that original version. So I do need to write a bit more to get my current story to a place where it matches up with that scene. (And for all I know, it will never actually flow into the other version, and I’ll rewrite it all anyway.) I thought it would be quick, but I should have known better. Poor Leahna has realized the atrocities being committed on both sides of the fighting, and she is having a very difficult time dealing with it. Though in defense of the good guys, what they are doing is more of a necessity, because of what the other side is doing. But it’s still pretty appalling. And it’s stirring up some terrible memories for Leahna. Lex is trying to calm her back down so she can help.

Total word count: 91,761

day 24

NaNoWriMo Day 23

The Words: 1957 written today. I have a feeling the rest of the month will be smaller numbers like this, or at least most of it. That is partly due to the fact that a lot of the excitement of the month has worn off, partly because I’ve been having a lot less chances to find writing time outside of the few hours in the evening, and partly because I have run out of anything to write. A friend of mine told me recently that that shouldn’t matter. He said, “Think stuff up. That’s what authors do.” He has a point, but I’m terrible at pantsing. Even if I found something to write through the end of the month, I doubt I’d be able to get nearly as many words per day as I was getting before.

The Story: I have officially decided to stop the story at the part where Lex and Leahna show up to help with the fighting in the desert. I think. I have written that whole battle scene before. See, technically, Pursuit of Power is a rewrite. I wrote a story set in what I would call a stepping-stone world I created with a friend, before I created the one my stories take place in now. I like the new one loads better. But enough of it was different that I had to do a complete rewrite on Lex’s story. The same basic elements are there–Lex and Leahna working together and becoming friends, Lex’s dad’s mysterious death that Lex has been seeking answers to, and the band of mercenaries in the desert causing trouble for Lex. So this scene was written, and I thought it came out very well. Only minor elements that are different from one world to the next would need to be changed, and I’m not sure it’s worth a rewrite. So I feel that writing it again now will be difficult, frustrating, and simply unnecessary. When I go back and read through the already-written scene after the month is over (I won’t let myself do it now, I think it will only slow me down), I may realize I’m wrong, and if so, I’ll rewrite it then. For now, though, I’m moving on. So today’s writing largely consisted of writing some more personal bits of Leahna’s life–her family, her work, etc., in order to flesh her character out. It won’t be directly included as-is, but I will hopefully find places to insert tidbits about her, or use it to know what kind of things are going on in her life while Lex is going through his ordeal. And now I would say I am officially done writing this book. My tentative plan for the rest of the month is to start writing what comes after the battle at the end of this story. Because really, Lex’s story is not over yet. He hasn’t solved the mystery of his dad’s death or uncovered the secrets about the Power that were hinted at in the letter he found. Or figured out who the mysterious people are that were mentioned in the letter. And I have no idea how any of that will come to be. But I know what will happen directly after this book ends, so I’ll start there.

Total word count: 89,698

day 23