We Need More Lesbian Knights

In the wake of being made redundant, hopefully scoring a new job with greater prospects, and forever waiting to hear back from my agent (I’ve bought Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook 2018 because I’m beginning to worry he doesn’t have time to take me on – I also need to brush up on knowledge of publishing contracts), I am desperate to feel the all-encompassing joy and frustration of writing a new novel.

So as life throws its curve-balls and persistent hurdles, one challenge above them all is drawing near: NaNoWriMo.  NOT ANOTHER POST ABOUT NANOWRIMO!

If the title didn’t give it away, well, surprise! I’m writing about lesbian knights, and the setting is Fantasy-Middle-East and Fantasy-Scandinavia. I love romance, I love magic, I adore knights, and I want to read more f/f stories that focus on a plot instead of totally on the protagonist’s sexuality.

I was inspired by author Bridget Essex who writes f/f novels that cater to everything I ever wanted. Lesbian knights in exciting plots resulting in a wholesome, healthy, sustainable relationships where the drama doesn’t come from people trying to specifically sabotage the main love affair. But the focus of A Knight to Remember is very heavily on “getting the girl”, rather than about the beast that’s come to destroy Boston. I was blown away by how well it tied the threads together, but I wanted more…

After reading both A Knight to Remember and Date KnightI felt: I love this kind of story but want 10x more world building and double the layer of subplots. Basically, I wanted an epic fantasy that was about the epic fantasy, featuring knights who are also, btw, gay and transgender.

I’m looking forward to reading The Second Mango next by Shira Glassman, which seems to be exactly the kind of angle I’m craving.

Do you love knights, too? What would you want to see done differently with the classic, wrongly dishonoured knight story?

And are you doing NaNo? Let’s be buddies! And you’ve gotta tell me your elevator pitch in the comments! What’s your story about? Do you plan for NaNo? I’m planning the house down. What or who has inspired you to write your NaNo novel?

Here’s my synopsis: 

When an honourable knight is accused of murdering a foreign princess and sentenced to death, a witch swoops in to rescue her, on one condition: Nazirah must give the witch her first born child.

But Nazirah is a lesbian and likes the odds of never having to make that sacrifice, or so she thought. With the deal struck, she has one year to fall pregnant, or she will still die.

In a terrible world of demons, warring royals, and the unsolved murder of Princess Galiana, Nazirah is running out of time to either fall pregnant to save herself, to uncover the lies of a court she once loved, or to hunt the monster that could break her curse.

The #NaNoWriMo Week One Quizz!

Hello, buccaneers! By tomorrow morning, week one of NaNoWriMo will be trailing in the dust behind us and then begins the week two push. But let’s take a five minute break. I mean, well freaking done for all the words you’ve written. Phew, imagine if you’d never started? You’d really be nowhere. So let’s stop and appreciate what we’ve done so far…

Bitch, I'm fabulous1) First thing’s first: how’s your wordcount?
I’m at 15,061 words. I’m just throwin’ them down, bitches.

2) What’s your story about, in one sentence?
A woman rescues coma patients by entering their dreams.

3) Did you plan?
I plan my bedtime, my day to day routine—you bet your ass I planned. I’ve got six key points in the story that are driving me forward, like exciting bits of chocolate I can’t wait to smear all over my face. Uh…

4) Has a side character spiralled into the plot and started to become more permanent that expected?
Dude, apparently Tomoya is childhood friend’s with my main character. They kept that one DOWN LOW. It all came out the woodwork in chapter six, I tell ya. He’s kinda cute though, so I don’t mind.

5) Is there a type of character or little thing that you always write?
I always have (what I’ve started to call) a “pink character”. They’re not a giant marshmallow, but something about their personality, their spirit, their likes, or on their person is pink. And they’re probably cute but stubborn. This year, one of the characters has pink hair-tips.

6) Has anyone died yet?
Haahahahahahahahahahaha. I killed the MC’s husband on page one. Does that even count? I’m debating whether or not to kill off Tomoya next…

7) Are any side characters flirting with each other?
I can’t make them STOP. Down, Bessies. This ain’t about you.

Tell me your answers in the comments, and then stop procrastinating. Get back to writing. GO, GO, GO!

i can't do it

I Can’t Believe It’s NaNo-Freakin-WriMo Again

Excuse me while I just sit here in stunned fear. That’s right, NaNoWriMo begins in six hours and I’m cacking myself. Why, Willow? You’ve done this five years in a row now? Yes, little minion voice, I have. But previously I didn’t have to grow up and do Shitty Adult Things, all whilst drowning under social/family expectations.

Has it be stated how fucking ridiculous it is that you can’t get a job without super-duper-angel-cum-10-years worth of experience, but you can’t get experience without the fucking job? I’m just throwing that out there again.

die die died ide ideSo, aside from feeling utterly miserable and pointless about my futile, unappreciated existance, I’m ready for NaNoWriMo. I’ve made the plans, I’ve got key moments, I’ve collected inspiring images—we’re all set, Theodore. Who doesn’t need extra self-imposed pressures? I’m kidding. It’ll be great. It’ll be so great.

BUT HEY, HERE’S SOME ACTUAL GOOD NEWS!
Next Wednesday, October 6th, Mitch Allan and I have a brand new science-fiction/fantasy series airing on Big World Network. That’ll be great. I’ll give more details closer to the time once the cover art is finalised. Yes cover art. Oooo~

HELPFUL THINGS FOR NANOWRIMO:
— Write down key scenes. They are good mile stones and motivators. They are not permanent, either, so you are not bound to these ideas.

— Use Write Or Die when you’d rather bury your head into a tar pit than meet the daily word count. Don’t do the tar pit. Use “Write Or Die”.

— When you’re sparring with your inner editor, change your font colour to white. Ignore any red-squiggly lines that may occur until you’ve finished at least a paragraph; unless, when you right click, you know that it’s offering a correct…correction.

— Getting bored with the scene/plot? Kill someone. One of your characters, obviously. Bonus points if it’s a main character.

— Remember that you can take a ten minute break and think about absolutely nothing. Designate ten minutes for ‘doing nothing’, especially when you’re ready to burn down the house. Then get back to writing.

NaNoWriMo Prep: THREE ways to load your characters into the NaNo-launch-day cannon

“Dive right in!” they said. “It’ll be fun!” they said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m talking about the word-cannon of inspiration. Getting to know your characters. If you’ve done much writing in your life before, you’ll know that starting anything can be one of the hardest things. NaNoWriMo is no exception. It’s midnight! Your friends have gathered, the room is silent with concentration, it’s time to flay the page with words…

But what words? Where do I begin? Does my character even like ice cream, I don’t know? Should I talk about the room or who McMary is looking at? Would McMary even be in the same room as her enemy yet?

There are only four days left, so, to lessen your nerves and make you feel more confident about who you’re writing about, try these three very simple exercises.

1. Monologue
Write one of your character’s talking. Just talking. No action description. A monologue. They have committed murder. This does not have to be relevant to your plot (unless you want it to be). This is a fun prompt.

2. Other Person Monologue
I’ll bet you all the money in the world that your character mentioned another person during their monologue. We’ll call him McJobe. Now, write another monologue from McJobe’s perspective.

3. Duologue
Finally, put McJobe and McMary in the same room and let them have a conversation. There should be conflict, either physically, verbally or internally.

From these, you might discover a plot idea that you’ll want to come back to during the downer-period that always comes with NaNoWriMo; when you’re lacking inspiration. It’ll also tell you how certain characters think, feel and react to various circumstances. What have you got to lose? Have fun!

Post-#NaNoWriMo Blues? I don’t have time for that!

…I won. I’m still waiting for the joy to flood over me. In the course of four days and with only (accumulatively) 15 hours sleep I bleed out 18,500 words. Needless to say, it will take some time for me to recover. I almost killed my housemates for keeping me up on the night I won (I’d immediately crashed into bed once I validated – that lasted two hours) but they were lovely the next day and crept around like church mice. I’ve regained ten hours sleep but I’ll need a lot more; time to go back home to the countryside! Besides, it wouldn’t be fair to make my housemates creep around and worry if I’m OK. They’re all such lovely people. It’s heartwarming to know they care *dewy-appreciative-eyes*

My statistics graph looks fucking amazing though. Look at it:

I found that the best way to keep myself going was to (a) host fantasy related sprints on [my twitter] account and (b) skip to various plot points. I didn’t linger for too long in different locations or concern myself with the passing of time in my novel. If it didn’t need to happen, if it was a minor display of character or if all necessary information had been delivered, the plot moved on.

There was one scene where a character adamantly wanted to scale the side of a building to seek revenge on her father. Neither myself or the main character had energy for such a stupid escapade; especially one that had no impact on the plot. Realising this, Isandro (main character) threw Jacqueline over his shoulder and marched them straight home. And plot continued.

This could possibly be the shortest novel I’ve ever written. I didn’t complete the story in one month (who ever does?) but it might end up being 70 – 80,000 words. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s just strange. My average novel tends to be 100,000 words (and my longest ever was 200,000 – it’s been in the process of getting cleaved with a butchers knife since 2007). In a way, I’m pleased it’s a mini-novel. I’ve always wanted to write one. It’s probably because I avoided political implications like the plague.

But November is over and NaNoWriMo no longer leers over me, for I hate the shame of not reaching the winner’s circle. I’ve no time to let the deadline-stress dissipate, however. I’ve got two weeks in which to write two scripts for my Screenwriting course. On the bright side: I won’t experience the NaNoWriMo Blues this year.

If you are experiencing the blues, as many other WriMos are, you should check out the [December and Beyond] forums.

Tell me the last sentence of your novel that pushed you over the 50K mark! 😀

EXTRACT:

We need something to draw him away,” she said, pulling her mask onto the top of her head. “Perhaps if we…” With each word Jacqueline said the more Isandro knew that this was a foolish mission. He peered up at the comtes Descartes’ window, five miles off the ground. Did she really believe they had enough endurance? Isandro understood why Jacqueline would leap at the chance to injure her father in some manner, and his status should not protect him of his cruel decisions, but this was stupid.

“…so when you hear me make the sound-”

Jacq, Jacq, Jacq. Stop.” Isandro held up his hand, almost covered her lips with his fingers. “This isn’t happening.”

Her eyes flashed with anger and she laughed. “You’re joking. Right now?”

I’m taking you home, and I will strap you into a chair if I have to.”

Go by yourself.” Jacqueline turned on him. In the distance a verbacious female laughed and spoke to her friends with enough volume for everyone in Tucapon to hear. “Go, you’re of no help. I thought you’d be fun.”

Her body began to unfurl, ready to run at the guardsman opposite them, and Isandro’s heart leapt into his throat. He grabbed Jacqueline around the middle, making her yelp. In a few gruff, powerful swings, Isandro threw her over his shoulder. “Put me down!” she spat, punching into his back and kneeing against his chest. Isandro trembled, his crusty wounds protesting at the assault.

Hello?” called the guardsman, trying to peer into the shadows.

Now look what you’ve done.”

Seeking all the courage he could, Isandro faked a smile and laughed. “Hello!” he cheered and staggered forward. He swept his hand out as a substitute for a bow and the guardsman eyed them from head-to-toe. Jacqueline struggled with much firmer movements, digging her nails into the back of his neck. He managed to turn a pained squeak into a drunken-sounding laugh.

What are you doing?” asked the guardsman.

Isandro stumbled a little, trying to keep up his smile and lax behaviour. “Well, we were at a masquerade, but I think we wandered too far. Thought I’d take her for a laugh – a walk!” He gave a hideous, dirty laugh and the guardsman rolled his eyes.

Be on your way,” he said.

Yes, she’s a little drunk.” Isandro pointed to Jacqueline’s bum stuck in the air and she kneed him in the stomach. He gasped, smile vanishing and vomit surged in his throat. By sheer force of will Isandro kept hold of Jacqueline and remained on his feet. “We’ll be going,” he said and left.

NaNoWriMo Day 23: Quick Slap

I’m not sure how to explain it but I feel like Severus Snape (note Snape’s placid swingng action) and Ron Weasley (note Ron’s face) at the SAME TIME:

I’m trying to tell myself that I haven’t given up with NaNoWriMo, but I think I have taken on too much this year. I’m losing site of the finish line and am pushing forward whenever I can. I don’t think I’ll make it but I’ll keep writing when I have time and energy to spare.

Useful tip I picked up from NaNoWordSprints: write in white. When the text is white you cannot stop to correct typos, agonise over grammar or improve imagery. I actually found I crafted a pleasant and aesthetic scene doing this – possibly the best I’ve splurged out in the past few days.

Writer’s stress: ‘Is my character developed enough’? ‘Is the plot coherent’? ‘Should I kill off character B even though I really like zem’? If these are the only thing getting you down, plaguing your dreams and pissing you off: it’s a good life. You’re doing OK. Keep going and don’t let your inhibitions get you down. I swear, these are great questions to be asking yourself and if you’re novel isn’t on your mind most of the time, then it probably won’t be on the reader’s mind, either.

If you’re stress is making you ill and is caused by a combination of factors then it’s OK to put the pen down. I know there are hundreds of pep-talks telling you to keep pacing on, don’t worry about the world trying to bug you for attention, but they aren’t law. Don’t make yourself ill, like I did. I’ve acknowledged that I can’t flog myself into achieving everything and NaNoWriMo is the thing that should take least priority. Writing a novel is a huge task and should be enjoyed, especially if you plan on making it your career, like I do.

Do your best, write in white, love your novel for all its current flaws and stay happy. ❤

#NaNoWriMo Day 17, Dwarves deserve love too, y’know, and the stabbing finally happened

That awful moment when your writing programme freezes and you know you’re about to loose a whole paragraph of beautiful words:

*le sigh* The trials of life. Well, I’ve personally found this week to be an up hill (mountain) struggle. I had such a mental break down at one point that I was actually convinced my bedroom was an illusion. Crying to laughing, crying to laughing, to inane giggling. But I’m OK now. Despite my ‘professor’ changing the specifications of this months essay (again) he’s at least made up his fucking mind. There are fixed deadlines, there is an outline and I can plan and prepare.

Elijah Gill and myself attempted to bash out some of our scripts in the library this week. After I’d been staring at the end of scene six for ten minutes, Elijah leant over and typed in a new scene heading for me. I’d like to share it with you:

As you can see it’s all very productive over here.

So aside from barraging you with moving pictures (GIFs) and screen captions, what am I bringing to the metaphorical table? For the most part: dwarves. They are a seriously underrated fantasy race. What actually bothers me, though, is how role-playing games tend treat dwarves as undesirable lovers. My main example shall be Dragon Age II. Now, Dragon Age is an epic fantasy role-playing game that leaves me little to complain about. The companions (people in your party) are without doubt the main attraction, especially as far as romantic allure is involved. But why, oh why, are you never able to woo the dwarves? In Dragon Age II I think the one character (aside from Anders) who really holds great appeal for me is the dwarf, Varric. He is the one companion you cannot have a relationship with. Not even a fling. It’s the same with Oghren in Dragon Age: Origins. Is it because they’re dwarves and it’s seen as unlikely they’ll have sex-appeal to some people? It certainly doesn’t seem like a plot problem to hook-up with either of these characters. I know Varric is a free range chicken, it’s cool. He can move on and we go our separate ways at the end of the story. So why can’t we have an interesting relationship for the nine years he chooses to stay by my side?

But why am I talking about dwarves and their sex-appeal to begin with? At the start of the week I posed a question on my twitter: ‘What kind of city would you expect Southsunder to be?’ Mick Deak replied with, “Dwarven!” In the spirit of things, I agreed. Now my city is occupied by short people who are blatantly dwarves. My main character has a liking for the inn helper and she is head-over-heels for him. It’s very cute. I’m trying to get them alone in the same room for more than ten seconds but it’s proving difficult (almost wrote ‘probing’ – cripes). These people are short, stocky, broad and beerful and just as gorgeous as elves. I don’t understand why they are shunned so much. Look at Varric. Seriously, you couldn’t be more charismatic than this man:

As far as NaNoWriMo goes, it’s not too bad. I’ve been making notes in a tiny note book each morning to help spur me along, but I’m afraid there is now a scene involving stabbing and human blood. I felt defeated for a day. I’d done so well not to include anything nasty this year, but it couldn’t be avoided. I felt I was doing the reader a disservice if I tried to write around the truth. Saying this, it’s not a gory scene and it’s not written to make the reader squirm. Cringe, yes. Worry, definitely. Feel ambivalent, of course. Want to run away in terror, no. It’ll need improving but I think I’ve done alright.

Last but not least, my mood board is finally printed and arranged on my wall – hooray! The picture of the girl with red paint/wings/blood/an explosion of emotion coming out of her back inspired the ENTIRE story. Click [here] to see the artist’s page.

EXTRACT (Screen printing was the only way to avoid the text being tiny again. I don’t understand it. Oh well)


#NaNoWriMo day 9 and we’re still hunting a fucking snake

There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Somewhere, I know there is a light. A light I might not be able to see at the moment, but a blazing olympic torch nonetheless. My ‘professor’ has decided to bring forward a few script deadlines to give us a ‘taste of the working world’. This would be fine if he wasn’t asking for an hour long pilot episode and a film. Bastard. But I’m not here to talk about that. I’m sure WriMos everywhere are feeling the heat as the real world demands their attention.

My main character is a hunter – in a fantastical, dark fantasy sense of the word (no magic though) – and he and his buddy have been hunting a ‘tornado snake’ for the past three pages. There’s lots of rain and wind and grass. It’s also turned out quite phallic but what isn’t these days? Or any day. I don’t even. It was rainy, it was windy and damn was it wet. I’ve found there are plenty of ways to describe just how intense this scenario can be.

Do you know what is OK though (aside from describing the rain a lot)? Skipping stuff. Especially the bits that bore you. My friend will sometimes turn to me and say, “I would write the next bit but it’s the boring bit.” What boring bit? There (idly) shouldn’t be any boring bits. If a section of the story bores you then it’s bound to bore the reader too. The reader knows. Always knows. If the next scene is boring, then perhaps it’s not necessary. You simply cut it out. See how well the story continues without that ‘boring’ bit there. I’ll bet you 9/10 you’ve made the right call. If that ‘boring scene’ is integral though MAKE  IT  INTERESTING. You’re a writer, be creative or something. It’s what you do best.

Of course, NaNoWriMo prohibits cutting. That’s for December. I tend to colour the bits I don’t like in white so I don’t have to read them.

It’s time to carry on writing and stop procrastinating. I’ve got my coffee, my movie soundtrack playlist, unfortunately no popcorn but plenty of duvets. I love writing. I’m beginning to feel squashed by NaNo + Work but I’m a determined person. There’s nothing more satisfying that sitting on the finish line and knowing I managed to keep going. Through all the extra deadlines, scripts, rap gigs, XBox fright nights, extra curricular activities, research on top of research – I survived and wrote a freakin’ novel on top of it all. By choice. I could choose to give up but I won’t. Writing is wonderful and anyone who’s got what it takes to not give up is awesome, if you ask me. Tally-ho! Sit your butt down and let’s get back on target together.

EXTRACT
Isandro saw something out the corner of his eye and took a deep breath as the snake reared high above Patetico’s head. It’s usually bright orange stomach was slick with mud. “THERE!” he shouted. With a flourish of his vicious pole, Patetico danced aside. The snake snapped out at him and launched a few meters through the air. Its long, thick, beastly body weighed it down and it landed with a thud.

Before it could streak out of sight Isandro sprinted to where he could see the beaded tail. It was beginning to spin like a club. The spinning tail picked up speed in seconds and Isandro could feel a surge of wind around him. The rain lashed against his face like blades and he gritted his teeth. Isandro imaged the snake’s venom-covered fangs and wondered how painful it might be to feel them sink into his arm.

Crying out, Isandro swung his axe around and plunged in into the snake’s lashing tail. The winds around him spread out and his breath was easier to catch. Redirecting his energy, Isandro tensed and sized the snake’s thick body with two hands. It slid beneath his fingers and thrashed to escape. He clambered up the hissing beast, applying more of his weight to flatten it to the floor, until Isandro was able to force down its head.

Without fail, Patetico appeared and held his spiked pole high -ready to attack. “Careful!” he cried and skewered the tornado snake through the head. It stopped moving and Isandro slumped on top of it, out of breath. Wind whistled through the grass and rain roared in his ears, thundering over the marshy field.

#NaNoWriMo Day 7: lala mentality reached, Nouns everywhere, and no one’s been stabbed yet

Phew! What an intensive weekend. 10k Sunday, I nearly choked a lung trying to reach the word count on Saturday, never mind the overall weekend target. But I made it. Elijah Gill did question my mental health at one point and made me go to bed at a sensible hour, but other than that I’m on track, baby!

How are you doing? Have you started to feel despair and begun taking it out on your characters? Has anyone lost a limb? Has anyone died? By Day Two last year my supporting character had been stabbed, my main character’s skin had almost melted off, the lead female was masturbating in the forest and lives were saved by eating raw meat.

This Thursday I reached ‘lala mentality’, also known as, ‘if it’s shit I don’t care anymore’. It’s gone pretty well. The only child in the novel has had her voice sucked out and it turns out that Main Character has a brother who also lost his voice as a child. There’s romance blooming, stars have names, people almost have back-stories… I’m into my novel now that the WRITE OR DIE mentality has returned. It’s like running naked down the street and feeling no shame. I hope you’re enjoying the writing process too.

If you’ve not read Erin Morgenstern’s pep talk for this weekend, get on that. My inner marmot felt motivated again.

Good luck, keep writing and tell me the name of your main character!
Favourites so far:
Marcella – lorna_librarian
Kyrah – wrimosftw
Daffy Daphne – tinknevertalks

EXTRACT
(I don’t know why the text is irrechangably tiny. I take no responsibility for those who bust an eye trying to read it. Proceed with monocles.)

What’s the commission?” he asked. Marian thrust her notebook at him before Patetico could answer. Her letters were still messy and slanting up the page at a severe right angle, some of the letters floating out of their word. “Kill the…tomato…” Marian slapped his arm and gave him a pleading look. “Don’t give me that. I’m trying, I’m trying,” Isandro said. “Ahem, so, kill the tornado snake in the…ice basket? Rice market?”

Marian kicked him in the shin and he scuttled back, laughing. Cecilio smacked him on the shoulder and Isandro raised his arms. “What, you’re siding with her now? I’ve not even introduced you.” He waved the book at his brother. “Look at this, come on, what does it say to you?”

Cecilio peered over, expecting to contradict him, and then took the book to inspect the page closer. “See, I’m not just teasing her.” Marian sighed and glanced at Patetico, waiting for him to say that she needed more lessons and practice.

“You’ll get the hang of it,” Patetico said instead. She smiled at him.

Cecilio handed back the notebook and she waved at him, asking him to introduce himself. Bowing his head, Cecilio spelt out his name with his fingers and then made the symbol he used as an abbreviation. Marian’s eyes lit up and she looked at Isandro for an explanation.

“This is my brother, Cecilio. He was chosen at your age, too.” Her mouth fell open and she regarded him with awe and hope. “Cecilio, this is Marian.” She slid off the bench and shook Cecilio’s hand. Holding her hand he intertwined their fingers and then stroked a circle around her wrist. “Behave, brother, you’re here to help.” Cecilio stuck out his tongue.

“What did he say?” asked Patetico.

“Nothing appropriate for a first greeting.” Marian blushed and pulled her hand away. “My brother should be able to teach you a few things. I thought it might help. Plus, when we tell you how the Mist thanked him for his voice, you might not feel so bad.” The girl chewed her lips thoughtfully and Isandro couldn’t hold her gaze. “Let’s not make a big deal. Shall we go?”


NaNo, you poor weeping people with broken fingers (I guess that includes me, don’t it?)

The following was written by pathwaytomars over at the Flat Flops blog.

It’s NaNoWriMo folks and we know what that means! It means a flat full of people (who don’t actually share a flat anymore) are holding each other close as they weep because they now have to an extra 1,667 words a day  and have only themselves to blame. Soon the smells of tea and coffee will be wafting through the streets of Southampton and random strangers will be accosted at bus stops and asked “Why? Why did i kill him?” and then shocked policemen will discover that the victim in question was fictional. Poor sweet flat floots, poor naive writers, poor over worked keyboards! We think of you only with love and a small amount of pity.

NaNoWriMo Day #1: ribbons, cloaks and unexplained drivel. Mostly grunge. Lots of grunge.

OMG IT’S NANOWRIMO 2011!

HOW WE DOING? You keeping up with NaNo? Did you meet today’s word count? I certainly didn’t. I’m 300 words behind but do you see me in despair (yet)? Bwaha, nooo. It’s good to see a cluster of my friends working and fretting to meet the daily target. You’re all excellent for partaking in such a mammoth task, especially for starting something so daunting.

I began my chapter at midnight, on the dot. Hypothetically. After staring at a blank page for more than three minutes my housemates told me that I had to name every chapter after a 60s Psychedelic Song, which gave me instant inspiration. Thank you, Dexter Child. Perhaps I should state that by this point I was tipsy after a Halloween gathering the pub called The Hobbit (where cocktails are named after characters. I had a Bilbo).

Words began to flow! The city was grungy, it was grimy, it was dirty, and you know what it stank but the protagonist loved it anyway. Exciting though it was to settle into the mentality of  ‘write or die’, within the hour it began to turn into repetitive drivel. Like I said, it was a grungy city.

Today was not as productive. After rolling out of bed Mikey Wyatt flounced over to my house. We shut ourselves away with mugs of tea and commenced project ‘DAY 1, SRS BZNESS’. Serious business frazzled away rather quickly… I even took time out to make hot apple cake and ice cream for five people. I even volunteered to be tea-monkey. My willingness to procrastinate and make everyone else write has come from having my NaNo idea for over a year, I think. I love the idea but truly must make myself write it. My biggest problem at the moment is having two characters whose name begin with ‘Mar’. Gosh darn it. I’ll have to change one of them…

But that is just this day. Tomorrow (so technically once I finish this post – it’s now midnight) I shall continue with fresh gusto. Once I’ve been forced to stop and attend dull lectures, I’ll race home full of inspiration. The coffee pot will stew and the cat will eat the goldfish. Best of all, guess who has not gone back and edited at all today?

-Willow //end scatter-brain spew. It’s midnight. I’ve had a bucket of coffee. Just go be awesome and write more novel already.

EXTRACT
Arcatera was a grey city. The streets were narrow and the buildings crooked. The pavements were cobbled and the most important buildings were made of green, worn metal. Having grown up there all his life, Marziale did not see anything wrong with the dull, dirty city. In fact, Marziale loved Arcatera.

“Come on, Marzie!” cried Marian. “We’re going to miss the play at this rate!” Marziale gave her a withering look.

Marian was a small girl of about thirteen years old. She had brown eyes, short brown hair, tanned brown skin and an average, healthy shape of any young female. Resisting the urge to flick her tomato-nose, Marziale went back to sharpening his axe. Whoever let a child join their Clan was an idiot, he thought.

“Oh Marziale, pleeeease,” she whined, “I really want to go.”

“You’re a big girl, go by yourself.”

Marian chewed her lip, her eyebrows touching in a look of distress. “I don’t want to go by myself.”

“Then you should have woken up early this morning and left with the others.”

She grumbled and stropped over the Marziale’s bedroom doorway, then stropped back and crossed her arms, snarling at him when he did not budge from his bed.

“Go away, Marian,” he said.

“You’re so mean! Why don’t you want to go with me? You said you like Mist Plays.”

“I do.”

“Then why won’t you go?”

“Because I like them best in tomorrow’s newpaper. Look, I can’t be bothered.”

Marian gasped and he peered up at her. She looked as if he had just spat in Father Aksel’s face. “What do you mean you can’t be bothered? This is the most important Mist Play of the year!”

“Marian, I won’t say it again. Go away.” Marziale gripped his hefty axe in both hands and stood up. As he carried it past Marian and hooked it onto the wall beside his bed, the girl made an angry noise before storming off; her boots thudding on the wooden floorboards. “I probably should go…” he mumbled to himself. It was his last chance to find work before the Clan moved on.

NaNoWriMo approachs. I might be a little terrified.

First off, before I ramble on about NaNoWriMo, do you like my new banner? I’m in love with this picture, created by Marta Dahlig. I wish I could have it framed on my wall. I’ve got a thing for fish that float through the air. And ginger girls.

Onto business…

It’s officially 14 days until the start of NaNoWriMo. Are you ready? Are you excited? Are you stocked up with coffee and microwavable food?  Are you terrified that life will suck you into a void of stress and failure because you don’t know what you’re going to write about and you know that you’ve got too much to deal with this semester?

I’m here to tell you: don’t panic. I’m here to tell you: I’m excited and nervous as well. We can do this.

The key is to remember that you are about to embark on creating a first draft. It doesn’t matter how terrible it is (the first draft is always shit), it doesn’t matter how gaping the plot-holes are, and it doesn’t matter how poor your grammar might become. NaNoWriMo is a first draft.

Rule #1: don’t go back and edit.
Rule #2: if you have an idea for chapter two, make a note – have a NaNo note book. Don’t look back.
Rule #3: bombs are allowed at any given moment.
Rule #4: running out of steam? Kill off an important character.

It’s OK guys. This is going to be a super fun month and part of the fun is the pressure. We moan and groan and feel like the washing basket will eat us with its neglected dirty underwear, but we love being forced to immerse ourselves in a fictional world.

If you’re really worried about crunch day my advice would be to make a mood board. It’s my life saver. Pictures inspire you in ways you might not expect. Also: the way you subconsciously arrange the pictures on your mood board will tell you things about the characters or events. My professor would tell you to search through magazines and tear out any picture you’re drawn to, but I can’t always be bothered with that. The internet is just as good a resource. I would suggest browsing deviantArt or etsy. Now that I’ve chosen all my images to print out this year I’m feeling much more confident about my story idea.

Last year’s mood board:


You can do this. It’s time to psyche ourselves up and schedule our work load to fit with NaNoWriMo. You are an overflowing source of imagination and capable of great things.

Excited yet?

Writing, the countryside, fan art and bugger it.

I’m afraid I am going to bail out of giving my subjective report on the 26th of March; simply because it was super boring. I have nothing amazing to tell you other than we walked slower than a snail on sleeping pills for six hours through London. The only cool things to report are (A) over 500,000 people turned up, (B) there was so much noise around me I couldn’t hear properly when I got home and (C) the anarchists threw paint bombs at the Ritz Hotel. Eh-heheheheheheheh.

Well, and they threw sign posts too.

As you can see, Piccadilly was well guarded.

How cool is this picture? It’s only a bonfire, by the way, not London streets aflame. I don’t think the anarchists would burn down London JUST yet. Boo to riot police.


I’m now home for the Easter holidays and boy, it feels good. I’ve missed the countryside. As much as I don’t dislike living in the city, there’s no where in England quite like Dorset. OK, so the Lake District is gorgeous, too, but sssh. I’ve spent my morning out in the fields trying to write. The weather is at last warm and wonderful, just as it should be.

Tip for authors: see lots of sunlight. It makes you happy and, let’s face it, all writers need to feel happy lest the insanity claims them at an early age. Yes, insanity is inevitable. Accept your fate now, dedicated writer.

Fan Art
What with my dossier being done, Reflective Log handed in, script nearly completed and rehearsals started, I decided to take a week break from work and concentrate on a other creative skills. It’s been a long time since I did much drawing, especially having finished my A-Levels (I studied art for 6th Form/college). When I put my mind to it or feel like “I have to”, I’m almost certain I can draw anything. So, lately I’ve put out fan-art requests on Twitter. Anything people want of their favourite characters, I’ll draw it. It’s been great fun and now that I have my colouring pencils I can start to finish them up.

Character Vivi with a moogle

Willow and Tobi XD

Character: Vivi again

Character: Cloud Strife

Requests are still open. ^_^

Writing
As for writing, my latest piece is called “Second Coming”, which is an alternate explanation for the carnage that happened in ShinRa Electric Power company; a fan fiction. I’m quite proud of it, actually. Short, gory and full of creepy-headless-Jenova.

I’m working on novels all over the place, unsure which one to make my next big project. Some of you might say, why not finish Drown in a Bottle of Keys? As with every NaNoWriMo project, it’s hard to keep up the writing momentum when November ends. I’ll finish it, I just don’t know how. Can we have a Summer November?

Voice Acting
Angelus chapter three is now complete and available for your viewing/listening pleasure, along with a blooper reel. I’d say this is the best chapter we’ve yet produced. Even if you don’t follow the series, I would recommend this chapter to you.

Shudo Ranmaru is now a voice actor for Froxen Blue (WHOOOOO) and the next chapter for that will…happen. Sometime.

Thank you for reading!
Lemons

Stories, Americans, CHEESE and mostly cheese.

Just to clarify: I am alive.

I’ve not dropped off the face of the earth since NaNo. In fact, I’ve been a super busy bee and have attended tons of classes, finished all my assignments on time (and passed with flying colours), written a bunch of short stories, and entertained my American boyfriend who is living with me this December.

Many things are happening. I love present shopping. I just love buying people gifts. This year (because I have money ((see: ‘thought’ I had money)) I’ve managed to get something for almost everyone and stuff I know they’ll love. I now only have £33 in all the world. Ever. That’s it. Thirty-three pounds. But yaaay! And I still want to buy more things for people, even though I’ve already got them things. *headdesk*

I’ve been showing my boyfriend the joys of England in winter (pfft), mostly Southampton City, the German Market, and strange people I know. Every day is an adventure so far, it feels great! We’ve just bought three lots of different cheeses, French Brea, Double Gloucester Chives & Onion and Jarlsberg. The Brea is amazing. I could eat all of it right now; but I won’t because Boyfriend is cussing at me. I will either die from eating too much cheese or drinking too much coffee, but you know what, they sound like happy ways to kick the bucket in my opinion! Man, I love cheese.

Boyfriend is currently trying to wrap bows on his gifts. No idea why. He’s so meticulous in his wrapping. It puts mine to shame but I actually adore hash-dash wrapping. You know the kind. The gifts people give you that look like it has been trodden on a few times and the paper is folded in all the wrong places. I can’t wrap presents to save my life anyway. Hash-dash is the best kind.

I’m looking forward to celebrating Winter Solstice with the boyfriend this year and introducing him to the family. Everyone, and I mean everyone, has gathered to meet him. It’s quite sweet really, though he’s understandably nervous. I think he’ll enjoy our uber family-lovey-dovey-by-the-fire ways. Happy whatever you celebrate! I super hope you enjoy the winter break.

Short stories: Cannon Fodder is perhaps my best one so far. 

The Peak of his Shiny Cap

A Night With Vesper

Loss of Ignorance

Cannon Fodder

All the Time in the World

Took You Long Enough

The Pianist

NaNo Chapters:

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

NaNoWriMo Winner! But pre Post-November slump.

As ever, once the NaNoWriMo month is over, you notice a huge chunk of your day is missing – less stressful. Despite having a crazy challenge lifted off your shoulders and leaving you with time to focus on more important things (like university assessments O_O), there’s something missing.

That nagging sensation in the back of your mind that says either, ‘I have to reach the target today,’ or, ‘shit I have homework I should be doing instead,’ disappears and there’s no longer a fantastic reason not to do your work.

But despite this strange, floating feeling, I have reached 50,000 words. Hellz yeah! My novel may well go on hold for a little while as I focus on studies, but I’ve written half a novel. That’s not just me, mind you. Many others are racing over the finish line this weekend. How amazing is that? Thousands of people have written a novel/half a novel this month and it makes me want to cheer. WELL DONE EVERYONE! We’ve all done something amazing this month.

I pegged it this weekend. I stayed up writing Saturday night until 7AM Sunday. I had to reach 50k because this week is crazy assessment hand-in week, and I can’t cope with five deadlines looming over with me. Four is much better. X_x

Admittedly, a lot of my time this weekend was eaten up researching into the Chinese language, different provinces, certain dialects, Chinese fashion, vowel pronunciation (it hurts my brain) and honorifics. It was the first time this month I almost wished I had made my female protagonist Japanese. The Japanese culture and language I’m pretty good at – here be an obligatory fangirl – but the Chinese, despite my interest in it as a child, I know next to nothing about (well, not anymore *French laugh*). It’s a shame, because the Chinese culture is just as beautiful in its neighbour.

The C-honorific system, however, is so much more confusing than the Japanese one, in my western opinion. So many honorific terms! Half of them aren’t even used anymore and some have changed into insults. I suppose this can be said for the Japanese, but at least they have a sensible amount.

Despite the overwhelming awesomeness of the Chinese language, however, I learnt a fair bit this weekend. Many people will tell you to ‘write what you know’, but personally, I rarely do this. I love multi-cultural stories or stories set in another era, because I’m a geek like that. Doing research into something you’re unfamiliar with is half the fun of writing. It’s like learning about a whole new world or magical craft, and once you know at least enough to write with confidence, it broadens your horizons as a writer. You can manipulate your knowledge of the world to form a wonderfully new, in-depth experience.

For my first novel, the story is set in six different worlds each based off of different European or Arabian country (one a mix of the two). The sixth world is basically Earth (except not). Now, not only could I tell you about the country where my main characters live, but I could tell you about the twelve others the reader never visits; including the character’s family tree, their origins and how/why they ended up geographically where they are ‘today’. Know your story more than your reader, it’s OK. I think learning to enjoy research is an important element of good writing.

For example, another thing I had to research this weekend was the Chinese metro train and railway system. I told my father and he grimaced, but I actually found it quite fun!

My overall point is: don’t get caught out. Know your stuff so you can justify your decisions. Now it’s time for me to get back to drinking Coke from a mug and writing essays – ciao!

P.S. I don’t want to give too much away in these extracts. The first one is from my favourite chapter thus far and I would love it to be read as a whole (when I upload it) rather than in parts; even if that’s wishful thinking; but that’s why they may not feel very satisfying.

EXTRACT #1

“Xiao Li-ling, what are you doing?” he asked.

Shadows flickered through the carriage and Li-ling half expected the pond to have returned, but looking out the window, she saw telephone poles whizzing past. “Ah,” said Master Wu, “we’re almost there.” As Li-ling returned to where he was sat, she noticed the origami fish on the floor and scooped it up on her way past.

Guangzhou city was in sight and Li-ling pressed her face against the window. She had never in her life seen anything like it. Tall buildings, taller than mountain giants, glistened in the sunlight. “Wooow!” she gasped, “Zhǔ Wu, can I live here?”

He chuckled and peered out the window with her. “Maybe one day.”

“How did they build those?” she asked. “Are they made out of silver?”

“No, no. They look like it though, don’t they? But they’re made of glass.”

Li-ling gasped again. “Really?!”

“Mmm.” It took a while to convince her that the buildings were made of thousands of windows.

EXTRACT #2
(I wrote the action part of this extract to the Korean song: Hip Song by Rain, if you’re interested.)

Dangerfield puffed another cloud of smoke into the room and took a few paces around the coffee table. “The demon population keeps risin’ because they inhabit innocent people’s bodies,” he drawled, his confidence testing Li-ling’s temper not punching him. “The person that was there dies and only the demon is left. They want to eradicate human life, little Liling, because they see themselves as a superior race.”

“That’s not-” Li-ling bit down on her tongue and ground her fist into her hand.

“There you have it,” said Mr. Redgrave, “very well put.”

Grunting, Dangerfield glomped past and muttered, “That school don’t sound like a bad idea, sir,” and gave Li-ling a manic look.

“You stay out of our woods,” Li-ling spat.

“Silence Liling!” cried Mr. Redgrave and he hit her in the back again.

A dark, wheezing chuckle filled Dangerfield’s throat as he made to leave and Li-ling cracked. Swooping forward, she leapt into the air and swung her arm. Her fist hooked around and smashed into the side of his face with sharp precision – a blow so quick it could have been missed in the blink of an eye.

Mr. Redgrave dived to restrain her but Li-ling landed a smack against his chest, sending him flying back into the sitting room. Dangerfield made to slap her, but Li-ling pre-empted his move. She grabbed his wrist, bent his hand and yanked his arm behind him; forcing the man to spin his back to her.

Centring her energy, Li-ling gathered her strength and drove her foot into the middle of his back with barely a moment’s pause. He staggered forward, dropping his cigar, and at once raised his fists at her. Li-ling felt no fear of the built man, only hate, and dived at him.

EXTRACT #3

The folds of time roared against Frederick’s ears, his body racked with pleasure until his feet slammed into the ground and he buckled. His knees suffered the most as they smashed into the solid rock now beneath him. Rain poured down from the night sky and Frederick turned his face up, exhausted. Thunder tolled behind the clouds and rumbled over the dark terrain. A dull sob escaped him.

He couldn’t take it anymore.

Observing his new surroundings, Frederick saw nothing but black, glistening rock for miles. He paused, blinking against the downpour. This was it. This was the place! The place he had lost.
Forcing his legs to work, Frederick staggered onto his feet, shaking; his hands dripping with blood and covered in cuts. He cradled them against his chest, when lightning severed the sky and illuminated a cave up ahead. “I found it,” he gasped.

A figure lay in the dirt.

“No…” he whimpered. Making his legs move, Frederick limped over the cragged terrain, jumping as a crash of thunder echoed off the rocks. Who was it? Which time stream was he in? Was this the right place but a different thread of time to the one he needed? He recognised the shape of the man’s arms as he came closer. It would take more than a life time for Frederick to forget what Mercury looked like.

EXTRACT #4

When he next opened his eyes, Frederick saw an orange ceiling, or rather, a ceiling made of animal hide that flickered with orange light. He could hear the rain and an unfamiliar peace hugged him. He was wrapped in warm throws, the sound of rain and a crackling fire close by. A young woman appeared at his side, her long brown hair curling around her face. “How are you feeling?” she asked. Frederick closed his eyes and went back to sleep. After a few days, Frederick started speaking to her.

As she propped him up one evening and handed him a plate of raw meat cut into chunks, Mary said, “Whatever your past is, you don’t have one with me.”

He stared at her. The fire light danced over her face and rich brown hair. She did not meet his gaze. As she slipped off the beads she wore on her arms and doused the fire in the tent entrance, Frederick watched her: silent.

Mary lay down on her mat on the other side of the tent. “You don’t have to be afraid,” she said, then rolled over and drew her bear skin up to her neck. “I’m just trying to help.”