Notebook Sisters Blog Hop – For The Writers

*I know this looks like a long post, but stay with me. I really enjoyed writing about my writing and there’s some exclusive stuff from first drafts and new projects, so [well of course I think so] it’s worth a read. I’ll put the questions in blue, so you can skip around, if you like. And pictures – I’ll keep you entertained with pictures ;)* 

Over at the Notebook Sisters blog, they’re holding a linkup and giveaway, so check it out 🙂 In the meanwhile, I felt it a great way to summarise my reading and writing over the course of this year – and you know I love to talk about what I’ve been up to 😉 Without further ado:

Wow, looking back, I have to see it has actually been a long year. Short in how it has passed, and how much I have moved, but long in what I have done. Seriously, I started university and that’s fantastic/scary. However, this is about my writing (the reading bloghop is here).  Surprisingly – if you consider that I’ve been editing the most/more than ever this year – I have much to say.

How many books/stories did you write this year? (Estimate your overall wordcount for us!)

TRIANGLE, finished March ’13. Contemporary romance standalone, first draft, at 105,000 – wrote the last 45,000 of it this year. *That’s almost an entire novel :O*

DON’T MESS WITH TIME (DMWT), July ’13. NA sequel fantasy/sci-fi/genre unclassified, first/second draft. Still typing it up, but current wordcount is about 40-thousand, so I believe I completed NaNo, woop! Judging by my estimates, I may still have another 20,000 to type up!

REVELATION, July/August ’13. NA dystopian short, about 5,000. Published Dec ‘13/Jan ‘14.

LYSANDER YAKINOS, Sept ’13, first draft, currently at 15,000. M/M mature Romance novella.

ESSAYS, TURQUOISE WINGS AND ME, Oct/Nov ’13. NA urban fantasy short. 7,500. Edited, currently out with beta.

Across the year, I also started The Continental Almanac supplemental; and various commentaries and essays like the ‘literary cross-examinations of the Costello brothers’. Varying amounts, non-fiction/fiction supplemental, second draft and in-progress addition as the novels progress.

Overall wordcount about 133,000 (rounding up).

Which was your favourite to write?

The chapters, first draft, on a writing site
The later chapters, first draft, on a writing site

TRIANGLE always has a place in my heart, being the longest of my books and my only successful co-authored book (I say that, but those last words logged were all me when my co-author had to pull out). I think it’s mostly because of the contemporary romance between the characters. It’s so hard to explain, but I love their love. It’s also a book that touches on family and religion, so, whilst it’s going to be a pain to eventually edit, I like to think that the final product will be more than simply a romance in three parts from three pairs of eyes.

Which was the hardest to write?

ESSAYS, TURQUOISE WINGS AND ME was a challenge – even beyond choosing its title! This was probably because of its rather abstract genre – I guess ‘NA urban fantasy’ – with a university student finding out that fairies exist, just not in the way we expect of them. I was working to a contest prompt, so my wordcount was perhaps stifled, though I found it just right for the idea. I found it difficult to fully encompass all the ideas in the general short story, though I suppose this is part of the writing discipline to hold back some ideas.

DON’T MESS WITH TIME, in a way, troubled me, as it is completely different (apart from characters and ideas) than its predecessor, and I have to find a way to edit in all the clever themes and metaphors that make WHEN THE CLOCK BROKE my favourite piece of writing.

Tell us about your favourite Male Character you wrote this year!

Lucas Gorge from Triangle. I have so many interpretations of him on my computer. I made this my background one day, and must have deleted the source photo, for I have no idea where I found it now. He is my character crush. *drools* In addition, I love his quirks, which are also his faults. I can’t say much without including spoilers, but he is, at first, very cold and slowly comes to appreciate the help that Andrea gives him.

sa17

And how about your favourite Female Character?

lucy_hale_wallpaper_6Reading back through DMWT for quotes, I realise how much I love MC Zara still. In the first book, she was a SC and younger; here, she even recognises that she was weaker as a person, more “I hate the world” teenagery. She’s about twenty in DMWT, so she’s changed a lot. What I love about how I have written her is her kick-a$$ attitude that doesn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. She knows she’s wrong at times, but still goes with her guns. She could be called ‘selfish’ and I think she’d take that.

(I’ve just realised – the first draft of Lysander has practically or literally no female characters!)

Can you introduce us to some awesome sidekick(s)?

Léa Gorge, whilst not being a sidekick in the sense of superhero-y type attack the word conjures in me, is a companion and non-POV character I’ve come to enjoy seeing alive. Her sense of breezy humour, reminding me of her sundresses, means she lights up a scene. She obviously adores and wants to protect her ‘baby’ brother, but sometimes she has to turn to her own needs. Behind her jovial exterior, it’s clear that she herself wants romance to succeed.

In addition, I learnt a lot about her in her short screen time. I love that, being fluent in French, her job is as a translator of books. Although she’s freelance, I can see her working as the international rep. of a literary agency. Also, she makes coffee weirdly. ^.^

Any romances in your writing? Which couple didn’t go together as expected?

My writing always has at least some romance in it. I can’t help it! I’ve always been enamoured by Lucas and Andrea from TRIANGLE, so that one goes without saying. My betas gave me a lot of support for that plot. Team Landrea all the way!

I set out at the beginning of DMWT with the aim of making a strong romantic subplot between MC Zara and SC Max (considering that its predecessor I still categorise as Fantasy Romance). However things didn’t quite go to plan, because 1) Max didn’t turn out to mesh at first meeting with Zara as I expected he would. He laughs at her ideas, and even in the last book treats her as an inferior.

2) Max had a crush on the antagonist, Zoey

3) Zara found herself more attracted to another, even though we all knew it would end badly. So, the romance is there, even if not the ‘right’ one – I’m still aiming for the couple to find their way to each other in the final finale.

I also keep coming back to that M/M romance of a couple of characters from the Time, Stopped trilogy (the story, minus its above title, of which I’m keeping under lock-and-key for now 😉 ), so I guess I’m not done writing their past vignettes and tales. I don’t know what it is, but I find gay snogging so easy to write. Seriously.

What’s your favourite Pinterest Board for one of your books? Can we see some pics for the book they inspire?

I don’t have Pinterest (can’t afford to lose myself in another online site) so I’m not sure how to answer this. However, that’s not to say that I don’t have a few folders on my laptop. Although, WTCB doesn’t count as it’s in editing not writing, I even have an entire family tree for the main characters and have been finding faces for them. Looking through, I probably should have a general bookish Pinterest, even for just posting romance pics like Anna and Bates as Ale and Chris (A Game of Murder).

AnnaandBatesGoogle

For this year, my big project was the first draft of DMWT, so I was kept an eye out for neovictorian and steampunk-style machines (I had to devise a bunch of new machinery, so I needed all the inspiration I could get) and décor. For instance, this record player one of the guys down my corridor has, and this first model T Ford car.

RecordPlayer_AlexB

FordT_AlexB

What challenges did you compete in this year? (NaNos? Personal goals? Challenges run by other blogs?) And how did you go?

CampNaNoWriMo! I was in Uganda for July, so I took that opportunity of no internet, phone or anything else access to speed handwrite my ideas. I took my notepad everywhere, and, as a result, a full of the pages are almost orange with the dust. I’ve not yet typed up the entire thing, so I don’t know if I passed the challenge, but it felt as if I completed it. I did, after all, fulfil my personal challenge of finishing the first draft of DMWT in a month.

In addition, I did set myself the challenge of finishing TRIANGLE before I turned eighteen, just so I could say I’d written an adult romance without being an adult myself. Foolishly – at least, I’ll lament when I have to edit! – I also set and completed the challenge of getting the wordcount over 100K. At 105,000, I succeeded.

Show us the full cast in pictures from one of your books.

I do this a lot already. Only in November did I talk about my ideas for the main cast of DMWT – the entire cast is too diverse to include, and even the speaking cast is extensive. The three shorter stories are hardly worth listing the characters of. REVELATION has one MC and the people she meets before and after she thinks she’ll die; and Turquoise Wings has four characters in its entirety. TRIANGLE, however, has enough to make a proper list. I’ve not, however, cast those characters who appear in less than three scenes or who don’t have substantial speaking parts (for instance, the vicar with whom Andrea has a conversation in the first chapter never turns up again, though he has history with her family).

I’m going to use the Sims2 versions of Lucas and Andrea because I love how they look so much. 😛

Lucas Gorge and Andrea Ford

LucasAndreahappy

Although he wouldn’t call himself a player, Lucas moves through relationships quickly. No woman has been right for him. He can only guess that it’s due to his religiosity or his perpetual neatness. Andrea gave up on men when she gave up on her art degree. That was no Artemis pact; she simply failed to find the men in her life attractive. But her thirtieth birthday creeps ever along with the thought she’s wasting her life alone. It’s worth newspaper dating, yes? What Andrea didn’t bargain for, though, was the guy who blanked her call turning up as the new Head of Religious Studies at her alma mater.

*I have so many different hooks for this story; that one entertained me a lot as I wrote it.*

Keith Malone

Yes, I realise it’s Mika…but I’m having trouble really envisioning the best person who looks like Keith

Working as a bank teller with his best friend Harry wasn’t exactly where Keith has envisioned his life, especially after the love of his life threw her ring in the rubbish. However, a chance encounter leads his vulnerable heart back to life. He may not be able to forgive Andrea yet, but Keith ought to open his eyes – his perfect match might be where he least expects her.

Léa Gorge

IMAG6238

Léa journeyed to Lansdale at her brother’s request, and, somehow, never left. The power of being freelance! When Lucas stranded her – it’s a three-hour drive back to their family home, after all – Léa took up residence in Keith’s recently-vacated spare room. The one problem? His grudge against Lucas is a grudge against her, too.

Christine Taunton

Keith is dull, and, whilst Christine isn’t exactly on a mission to let the whole of Lansdale know that, she’s determined to stop her mother’s Alzheimer’s nurse, Andrea, making the same mistake as she did, when they could both have fur coats and three-diamond rings.

Alexia Acker

Hard-working Alexia is a divorcee, who likes to pretend to be the queen of casual relationships, when, actually, she has a massive crush on her boss. It’s only when Andrea’s relationships fall to pieces that her distant-minded colleague reveals the soft side of her meant for love. And she’s got the best advice: fight for your goals.

Mark Morrison

Mark wasn’t impressed when Andrea applied for a post at Swinford Clinic. Sure, she had the 2:1 to prove her intelligence, but her heart wasn’t in the hospital life. When one of Andrea’s lovers goes to Mark for help, will he reconsider his offer?

Ryan Garner

Arguably Lucas’ best friend – though it’s clear that four months has not been enough for the absent-minded HOD – Ryan teaches chemistry and is the first to see that Lucas goes weak at the knees at Andrea’s entrance. *somehow, I managed to marry Ryan twice in the novel. I mean: to the same woman*

Harry Brook

Always inviting Keith to the pub, Harry talks about his ex-wife a lot when warning Keith off being in a serious relationship. It’s clear he’s not confronted his divorce properly, and he is given the chance to do this, once and for all.

Epic quote(s) you wrote?

All of the quotes! *I wish* I’ve put the titles of the projects by the last quote of their section.

“We are not heroes, only pawns in a game, losers, like the rest. To hold and conquer time is to make us the lords of this new society.”

Quaint emotions bloomed from the teenager and into the adult, an attraction curling the eyelashes and stilling the mind.

Weaving against each other, they kissed for the sake of kissing. DMWT

Solace, it seemed, emerged from distraction and power. They had a war to compile.

The last thought still hummed in his brain when he jumped up and shut the window: had losing this fight been worth seeing his portrait in the hall alongside his father’s?

“A letter,” Lysander said. He thrust the letterhead into the air. Not as if it was going to stay there. Lysander didn’t care. The envelope poured to the floor, along with the last button of his shirt; hands were needed for a better activity.

Lysander raised his eyebrows slowly. He said nothing – he had no need to. Blue eyes, coloured like rain, howled into his own. The searing image of his own sight scraped him. Raw, clean.

“I am a violent person. Where are the virtues Aristotle decreed? Where have I left them? In what dungeon did I throw offending justice?” Lysander Yakinos

A society of sceptics eyeing the external world together made for an apt post-non-apocalyptic society. Revelation

Show us your favourite funny scene!

Humour is not a strong suit of mine, especially in this year’s pieces (my other trilogy is more devoted to the black humour tone), but here’s a cringe-worthy scene I was particularly proud of writing:

Placing her teeth into her bottom lip, she turned on the shower once more until she heard not even her thoughts, only the melodic patter of the water as it hit the porcelain tray below. Washing the grapefruit-gel through her dark locks, she hummed again. The day was all right, even counting the lack of sleep. Maybe she would ask Linacre to cover for her once her family had infiltrated The Institute, and she would go and nap and dream about being her past self with nothing to care about but getting into the Physics—

“Zara?” called a voice – about two metres from her.

Zara jumped. She shrieked. She cut the water off with one hand, and threw the other over her naked body. A man stood a little out of sight when she looked over her left shoulder. The steam drifted off her body and evaporated and condensed on its surroundings. In her clearer sight, Zara stared at the man in her bathroom. Maximillian Folster.

“Max!” she screeched. “Get out. Get out!”

“Oh, my!” he exclaimed, face burning from beige to a deep red. Yet, despite her protests, Max made no move. Idiot.

“Max!” Zara didn’t have enough hands when his gaze grew octopus tentacles, pulling her apart. She lunged for the towel on the rack a metre away, and untidily draped herself in it.

“What do you damn well want?” she asked. Her face burnt, but she stepped once to the side and tilted her body upwards to be about level with Max’s own. “What do you mean by coming in here?”

“I— also I—” Not only had his cheeks boiled into rosy lumps, embarrassment had painted his entire face a healthy glow. “You see, I—” Max didn’t know what to say when he had no idea where to look. From studying the ground, he flexed his own fingers, pushing them to breaking point. This must have caused frustration for him, as he looked up immediately after doing so.

And then, as if he had forgotten how her naked flesh rippled under the prison of the towel, he blushed dark again, and the whole circle of awkwardness repeated.

Zara grew sick of the game – and she was getting cold. “I need to get dressed. Whatever you have to say to me, say it now or say it later, I don’t care. Shoo, Max, shoo.”

Show us a snippet of dialogue you’re proud of.

I love dialogue. DMWT had a particular good selection, because of the dynamics between the four central characters. This piece is between the protagonist and antagonist.

“Please, you don’t see how much my family matters to me. If I’m stuck here, who can tell them not to make the same mistakes as I have done?”

Zoey’s smile snapped wide, eagerly mocking. “Poor, little Zara, who suffers from the Cassandra complex. Don’t mess with time.”

Cinema Sins - "Hey, that's the title!"
Cinema Sins – “Hey, that’s the title!”

“Look,” Zara said. She spread her hands wide. “If I could have helped Tia back then, I would have. If I had known she was here… Anybody else and I would have done the same. Don’t you see that?”

Zoey snorted. “I see only you, Costello.”

Zara retracted her hands – the fierce heat radiating from Zoey already burnt her face, and she wouldn’t risk her hands getting the same treatment.

“We’re all going to vanish like her anyway.” Zoey shrugged one hand onto her hip, whilst the other swiped her hair from roots to tips. “The paths of time converge – they’ve seen that we don’t belong and they’re trying to eradicate us, one body at a time. People die everyday and we can’t stop that happening. Costello – you’ve been the war with your well-blooded family; they lost so arbitrarily. Well, I tell you this: time’s gonna suck away some people. If they escape into this hell, time’s gonna find them eventually.”

I also enjoyed looking back on this snippet between Max and Zara:

Finally, his seriousness was too much for Zara. “Max, be quiet! I know you can sound like me so stop pretending that you’re from another century.”

“But I am from another century,” he murmured, cooling the tips of his words, but keeping a pronounced difference from her. “I saw the way you reacted when you found out that Linacre came here from 1991. I may have not travelled as far as him – if we think of this place as a definite spot, not some slipped-between-the-crack hostel, as now it really is – but I was still born in the a different century from your hear— from you.”

Zara shook her head. She lounged against the scannerboard until Max’s raised eyebrow pulled her away. “But you’re not Linacre. Not in skin, no, not in personality or smile. Forget your crusty upbringing and embrace this improbable present day. You’re my friend, so be my friend, not this transformed stranger.”

Tell us about some funny typos or writer-bloopers you’ve had this year!

Sadly, I’ve not had many funny too-fast-writing mistakes. I get perfect-imperfect tense shifts, possessives coming out of nowhere or failing to make it to work on time, and characters trailing off literally mid-sentence (where, I suppose, I told myself I’d add later).

‘Zara scuffed your feet’ somehow ended up in my recent editing of a third-person novel.

What has writing taught you about yourself this year?

I can pitch better than I thought I could. Also, though it’s more about my manuscript than me, that my first pages/chapter drags way too much. I’ve rewritten it three times this year.

To sum up this year, my pitches can intrigue, but my first pages let me down. Oh, and I can speed-write and speed-edit if I set my goals correctly.

Best piece of writing advice you learnt this year?

Don’t submit to agents and small press editors simultaneously.

Last word from your manuscript(s)! Go!

*These are so odd out of content*

DON’T MESS WITH TIME: Institute

TRIANGLE: loveheart

REVELATION: forever

LYSANDER YAKINOS: year

ESSAYS, TURQUOISE WINGS AND ME: cheeks

First sentences from your manuscript(s)!

DMWT: Physics was confusing enough without adding a fifth dimension that Zara didn’t even believe in.

TRIANGLE: Swinford was more of a hospital than a clinic, and that fact alone annoyed Andrea.

REVELATION: I’d not thought about believing in God before the apocalypse.

LYSANDER YAKINOS: He was an odd man, was Lysander Yakinos Archer. *straight to the point, wahey!*

TURQUOISE WINGS: Autumn leaves hugged the road in a blanket of amber.

DMWT first draft
DMWT first draft

Anything big on the horizons for next year? Plans to query? Publish? Edit?

Oohoo, you tease me.

REVELATION has literally just been published in the Fauxpocalypse anthology; expect print book release time early-mid January.

The editing for WHEN THE CLOCK BROKE goes on. I’m hoping to do most of my rewriting (to make it more interesting) of chapter one over the Christmas holiday. Actually, chapter one has killed me. I am secretly a ghost, given up on writing. On a more serious note, yes, this rewriting is for querying. I said I’d do so by the end of this year, but university altered my plans.

Tell us a bit about a book you’re super excited to write in 2014!

I’ll be typing up the remainder of DON’T MESS WITH TIME, but I’m more excited about getting started on one of the new projects swarming my mind. I’m ready to get writing again! I doubt I’ll start the NA uni romance I’m planning (leave that for CampNaNo!), and whilst I’d like to begin on the final of the Time, Stopped trilogy – I started one-step planning it on urge this afternoon – I’m hoping to get more of OF ONE LONDON EYE written properly, instead of in starts and spurts as I am currently. It’s about time I completed Aggie’s YA mystery trilogy.

Basically: Agnetha’s thrilled to start her paid training at Oxford Met policestation, but paperwork and lost boys wasn’t exactly what she signed her murder-solving mind up for. Luckily, a familiar toothbrush-moustached detective trusts her enough to let her shadow a team to London. When the mystery of a missing child reveals a crime aimed at Agnetha herself, she is running for her life in a strange city. It’s time for the eighteen-year-old to doubt what she’s always trusted – her wits – and, as the trilogy comes to a close, she may well lose more than her job…

Here’s a snippet from one of the first chapters:

“Yes, Agnetha,” Wallis said, “criminology is dull. We don’t live in a TV land. We aim to reduce the risk of the propensity of crime, not slip on sunglasses whenever we find a mystery.”

I raised a slender eyebrow at her.

“Be happy you’re not a forensic. Police-people get the better job.”

“Oh, yes,” I remarked absently. “I have a B in A Level Psychology, remember.”

PC Wallis’ lips twitched. Wordless, she slid off the desk and, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear, stalked over to her wedged computer.

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7 thoughts on “Notebook Sisters Blog Hop – For The Writers

  1. All your projects sound fantastic! I’ve been meaning to ask how When The Clock Broke is going! (I ended up pulling out of that contest. >_< Which, I guess is just as well.) Good luck with your goals next year! (And congrats for doing that NaNo. Woot! I can't do that. XD)

    1. I didn’t realise I’d written so much this year!
      The Pitcharama contest? It definitely helped, and I’ve been trying to make my first chapters snappier. I got a couple of editors’ interest on pitchmas this year; the one who rejected me today said it was more of a marketing/fit with the press issue. They liked my voice, which is something the pitcharama editors said I should work on.
      So, I’m more hopeful, but I’ve just got to make sure this query makes sense to everyone.
      I probably wouldn’t have succeeded NaNo normally, but it helped not being distracted by the internet 😉

  2. Woop! Beautiful post. It must feel really good to sum it all up and see how much you really have achieved this year. One year + you = the bringing to life of so many stories and characters that didn’t exist before.
    The best thing about G+M must be the cast, without a doubt. Just looking over these characters brings back a warmth I’d temporarily forgotten.
    I think I visualise Keith as a bearded and slightly rugged-looking Keanu Reeves 😉
    CONGRATS FOR THE PUBLICATION!!!
    I laughed at the Max-Zara shower incident. One of those hilariously awkward situations that probably wouldn’t have much trouble cropping up in real life. I read a similar scene recently where there were no towels, and upon rootling in a closet the lady’s male host returned. Deciding offence was her best defence, she came out the closet ‘in all her glory’; and then he ruined it by not noticing she was naked, he was so intent upon something else.
    I don’t know; I could comment on everything. Nice post, by the way 😉

    1. I seriously couldn’t believe I’d written so much. On G+M alone. I knew it was loads, but not LOADS!
      Ah, well, it wouldn’t be a romance without them (well, it would, but we wouldn’t like it!). I couldn’t find many guys with goatee, sadly. *Googles* Ooh, I actually watched The Matrix for the first time last week. I think a cross between Mika and Keanu Reeves, with a goatee. Facial features of Reeves (though they actually have pretty similar bone structure); hair of Mika.
      By the way, did the picture of Alexia show up? It did the first time I posted, but now it seems to have come up blank. I didn’t specifically choose her to be Asian, but I wan’t something different from all the white-middle-class people.
      Also, it was so great to revisit G+M. I loved writing the mini summaries for each character.
      THANK YOU! I TRUST YOU WILL SUPPORT THE AUTHORS BY BUYING A COPY WHEN IT’S IN PRINT, YES?
      Yay! Humorous scene is humorous! Actually, DMWT wins for being the most realistic, character-wise, of my MSs, I believe. Reading back the bits I’ve typed up, I found myself rooting for Zara and Max and, sadly to a lesser extent, Linacre, and, whilst not hating her, sticking my tongue out at Zoey.
      Surely saying ‘nice post’ at the end of a compliment is redundancy? 😛 Thank you. I could comment on everything, too. I mean, I do, but, still, I could add more.

  3. Ooh, how did you like The Matrix?
    No, it doesn’t show up for me 😦
    Absolutely, though. Alexia is the kind of character who could pull off any ethnicity. I hadn’t visualised her as Asian, either, but now you say so, it seems to make perfect sense for no apparent reason.
    I SHALL INDEED. AND I SHALL TELL EVERYONE WHO’LL LISTEN TO DO THE SAME.
    Just to make it clear 😉

    1. I loved it. Soo fascinating.
      Ah, well then, I don’t know. I might have to do a find-and-replace on the picture.
      *laughs* No apparent reason, indeed, since she’s meant to be of German descent.
      YAY. POWER TO THE VOX POPULII!

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