Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Top Romantic Quotes

I love shipping characters, so, though I enjoy lots of genres, romance usually plays a role in my favorite stories. On Valentines Day today, I thought I'd share some of my favorite romance quotes.



Starting off with the most sizzling couple ever: Kaz and Inej from Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom. I've never read such an intensely romantic scene as the one in the bathroom where Kaz struggles to bandages Inej's arm--and she struggles to let him--with their past demons hovering all around.


I was literally gasping for breath by the end of this scene and all they did was touch. I remember holding the book away and thinking, 'what kind of sorcery is this, Leigh Bardugo?'

So, favorite romantic quotes of theirs! Definitely, but not limited too:

(click to enlarge quotes)








Yes, I'm fan-girling over this series again. Sister just finished reading them aloud to youngest sister, who is now Gen's biggest fan. She literally couldn't stop giggling every time he entered the scene. It was so cute. But in addition to being hilariously adorable, Gen is also quite the romancer...

So number two goes to Gen and Attolia from The Queen's Thief series:







Finally, we have Hal and Raisa from the Seven Realms. I swooned over this series for weeks. It's as near to perfection as a book series can be, with Han at the helm of that perfection. (I may or may not be blushing right now.)







So, those are my top three, but there are so many more!!! I've been reading a lot of fantastic books lately and I was tempted to fill this post with so many mushy quotes you'd all be gagging.

I considered finishing with one of my own (am I that brave? You'll never know!), but, to my horror, I realized I've not written a kissing scene in about 200,000 words (or four years... or two 2nd draft WIPs). Such an atrocity! Worry not, this will be rectified in my next WIP post haste. ;-P

Not that I have all that much experience....


Hope your winter's are going well. Mine is passing FAR to quickly. I need another three months at least, to finish my TBR pile and get books written!

Updates on goals and book hauls coming shortly.
Until then, write on!
Mary

Monday, January 15, 2018

Floating Head Syndrome


As I edit through my third act again, I was starting to feel an intuition. It took a few crits for other people, some comments from my brother and another two chapters to put my finger on it. When I did, I realized a harsh truth: 

I'd over edited the poor thing. 

Not that I'd necessarily taken out too much, but I didn't replace enough after my vicious trim (almost 30k!). My brother slammed the nail on the head with the comment: talking heads syndrome. And to paraphrase some advice I'd just handed off in a crit (because critting is the best way to reevaluate ones own work): the stage was empty, putting a strain on the character's ability to act or react.

I'm not very good at descriptive writing. Scenery and surroundings were things I always skimmed in my early reading. But what's left when your descriptive writing lacks is just that: talking heads syndrome. A lot of dialogue and internal dialogue. By focusing on cutting the WC in my last edit, I'd left my characters without enough stage props and their acting had become strained as a result. My brother said one scene started to look like movie script. It's amazing how much little things can breathe life into a scene. For example, a breeze. It can carry scents, throw hair into character's faces and plant sounds in the surrounding area. All sensory, descriptive things that can be easily overlooked in a first draft, when pelting off that all important snarky dialogue is a priority.

So, my 4th round of edits on Prince will be just that. I'm tucking back in to add sensory and description. And I'm excited about it, really. I realize I've rarely included mention of my character's clothes and other world building elements. I enjoy these kind of details, but I'm also weary of them. They're a strong spice, easily overdone. But in this case, less is not more. 

I am a mite concerned about seeing my beefy word count going up instead of down, so I will also be on the lookout for scenes, subplots or character's to chop (i.e. darlings to kill).



I still hope to have these edits done by the end of Jan. Though an optimistic goal, I find I do my most productive work at the end of the month when those deadlines are looming.

Until then scribblers!
Mary


Wednesday, January 10, 2018

2018 Goals


Ah, the belated new years rustytutions!

Writing related, of course, since I'm quite perfect in every other regard (...ya. right.).

Jan:


  • Finish draft 3 of Prince. 
  • Draft short story for swap
  • Read 10 books (yay!!!!)

Feb:



  • Send Prince to beta readers and grit my teeth.
  • Beta novels for two or three CPs
  • Edit short story
  • Beta other short stories (possibly).
  • Start rewrite of of Loyal to the Heart
  • Read!

March:



  • Draft 4 Prince 
  • Hopefully get to do more betaing for others (yippee!)
  • Send Prince to more readers.
  • Send Loyal to the Heart to CP
  • Read!

April:



  • Prepare sub package for Prince and start querying!




Beyond this first quarter, I can't be as thorough (who's that organized?). But I do have a few 

2018 goals: 

  • Send out a respectable amount of queries (as many as I can stomach).
  • Do Nano.
  • Beta for others, hopefully a few a month! 


I hope to be back in a few months to report on these goals and outline the next quarter. Like last year, 2018 is supposed to be a year to finish and polish and submit, but the plot bunnies have been attacking recently and I don't know if I'll make it to Nano before tucking into yet another brand new project... 

deviantart

(As an aside, I have to get my blog buttons updated, but please follow me on twitter and facebook, if you haven't already.)

And if you see me hanging out on those platforms too much, it's your responsibility to keep me accountable to my dreams, right?

Thanks!

Later gators.


Thursday, December 28, 2017

2017 Accomplishments



In the back of my mind, this was an unsuccessful year for writing. I'm still un-agented and un-published. But when I opened my thoughts to that notion, I realized the error of it. 

This blog post is to help set me straight.
Jan:
Entered a short story swap. Wrote Kill Curse, a 4750 word story that was beta'd by about ten talented and generous people. I was humbled by the amount of help and amazed by the little turbo boost the experience gave my writing abilities. 

Feb/March:
Finished my Nano draft from 2016, which topped out at a ridiculous 129,000. Joined twitter. Started doing a little critiquing for others. 

April/May:
Rewrote 2015's Nano draft. Managed 50k in April and about 25k in May, but spring work started to interfere. 

June/July:
No writing. Summer "break" (more like 'work'. My writerly winter's are my breaks.)

Aug/Sep:
Wrote a new ending for the 2015 Nano draft. Topped out at 110k. (Yes, I have a problem.) Kill Curse won an Honorable Mention by the Writers of the Future contest (I need to sub it to more places).



Oct:
Edited 2016 Nano draft down to 103,000. Peew! Then formatted it, wrote a query and synopsis for it (*shudder*) and submitted it to Author Mentor Match (big shudder!). (Spoiler: My project didn't find a match.) Again, totally blown away/humbled by the generosity of the writing community. Made new writing friends. I also printed it--yay!

Nov:
Gaaah, the writers month from hell! I love Nano, but this year was super hard. I only had 4 days to outline my idea for a new novel, which is not my normal practice. I was sick for the 2nd week and didn't get much writing done, which put me way behind. But In the end, I eeked past the finish line with a really messy mess of words and have hardly written since. 



Dec:
I realized I didn't read enough this year and fell headlong into my TBR pile on  goodreads. Sweet spaghetti, I forgot how much I love reading and how important it is for keeping the juices flowing! I critted some other projects, did a bit of outlining, as well as joined the same short story swap that generated Kill Curse. 


In total, I wrote over 200k, producing two 2nd drafts, 50k of a new one, and a short story. But I'm more excited by the writerly people I've met and the experiences I've gained and traded by critting for others and making friends. I hope to do a lot more of that in 2018 as I continue to work on these drafts.

Write on!
Mary

Sunday, May 7, 2017

I almost died

...but 3k/words/day for the last 10 days of April later, and I proudly earned myself a sasquatch sticker.


Here it is. 

See, see?

Pretty.



Final thoughts: 50k words in April is a lot harder than in Nov.

Write on,
Mary

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Writing Addictive Characters

In some recent feedback, I was told my protagonist wasn’t sympathetic. It was eye opening for me and, though I had a few ideas, I wasn’t sure what I was doing as I tried to remedy the problem.

In the past, I’ve gotten lucky with exactly two characters (in a few different drafts). Enough to make a couple of my close readers put up with pages (talking 600+) of blooming awful everything in order to follow that characters journey. Seriously, only redeemable quality about those early drafts, since every other mistake was made and that one was luck.

As a reader, I’m a firm believer in character first. As a writer, I’ve been studying what it is about certain characters that make you lose a night of sleep for them.

A good article I found recently helped me break down exactly what it is that gives a character that addictive quality. Read that article, but I’m also going to offer the pointers here with examples I’ve noticed.


1. Sympathy.


Humans are sympathetic creatures. If someone kicks a puppy, we instantly feel for the poor thing. Most books and movies start with a bullied character. It doesn’t matter if they’re late for work or had a slushy spill on their lap. The orphan trope is often overdone for this reason, whether he/she’s living under the stairs, with their evil Step Mother, or Aunt Mae, the victim character is a fast tug for the reader’s heartstrings.





2. Relate-ability.


The setting: broken family, oppressive society, crabby authoritative figures. We aren’t likely to relate with Harry Potter’s lightening scar or spell casting abilities, but obnoxious relatives? Getting homework done on time? (even if it’s cool homework). Totally relate-able.

 

3. Likability.


You can still root for an a**hole character. Exactly how? They’re funny, smart, or simply good at what they do. In Six of Crows, Kaz scared the bleepity out of me, but I couldn’t help rooting for him. I mean, the kid was an orphaned genius. Sympathy didn’t cut it, it was more like an 'I-can’t-look-away’ fascination. Obviously, a puppy-rescuing, goodhearted character is easily likable too. Right now, I’m reading my youngest sister the Ascendance trilogy and she’s completely in love with Jaron. He’s witty, good to a fault, and brilliant at what he does. All three attributes = instant likability.



4. The Arc.


Even the nicest human can experience growth. We can’t root for someone who isn’t being challenged at a personal level. Whether its the villain feeling love for the first time or the protagonist asked to give up their thirst for vengeance. A steady character is an uninteresting one, we want to see them challenged at the core beliefs that make-up their character.

 

5. Jeopardy.


This is a trick that beginner writers (*slowly raises hand*) often try to utilize too soon. Pacing is key. If the story opens with a character hanging off a cliff, while the bad guy shoots at him, with scorpions falling down his shirt, I won't care. The character is a total stranger. Unless other addictive traits are tactfully included (humorous voice, ingenious quick thinking, etc.) Overall, this is a tricky character hook to use right away and it's best saved for once the reader is already invested in the character.


 

6. Active.


Luke Skywalker didn’t just sit in that room and wait for Obi Wan to disable the Death Star’s magnetic field, or stay safely at the rebel base while the Xwing fighters went to blow up said Death Star. If he did, nobody would like him. Even if your character is mostly active, chances are you can find more ways to make their roles bigger. If your character escapes from jail, it should be more than the guard accidentally leaving the keys too close to the door. Your character should do whatever s/he does best, whether it's smooth talking, kung fu, being clever or being a jerk.
Again, learn from my mistakes: I promise a passive protagonist is positively poopy. 



Chances are, you’ve utilized some of these tricks intuitively. Perhaps you got lucky like I did, but the moral of this is: don’t be like me. Know what you’re doing. Go through your WIP and identify all the areas where your character is likable and why. Also identify where they aren’t likable. Make both intentional, and bigger. Use as many tricks as you can get away, but give them reason: maybe your character is funny because he’s burying a past hurt, or a kick-a** fighter because she was tired of getting bullied. Even (especially!) the villains need this dimensional quality.


Hope this was helpful. Good luck, and may the words be with you.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

NaNo Project Update

So I won NaNo. (Yippee me, another freakish mountain of words to untangle!*)

*I am happy to have won again.

Status: Still Untitled. 240 pages. 83,350 words. Entering the dreaded climax...


I paused over the holidays for a short story, which I signed up to do through my writing forum. I was impressed with my frazzled brain to have pantsed the whole thing in three days, and I may or may not have just tempted fate by trying to repeat the process (??? fate, I'm sorry!) when I really should just be working on this dreaded climax.

(%*D*A(&969*%#$$$D{:"(Where's my command: awesome epic climax button on this keyboard?))


Here's to getting something published in 2017!
(Yup, that's the resolution. And I'm so together that I just decided.)

Come on 2017, let's capture some words!
Mary Love