Saturday, November 3, 2012

Hello from the land of Nano!

I guess saying that I'm in the land of Nano isn't exactly accurate.  In these three days I've only done 2715 words of After the Holiday, which, as you know now, is my current novel. 

Aaaanyways, yesterday I went to a simply spectacular writing workshop.  I learned about a lot of writing techniques that I've been doing almost unconsciously.  It was really helpful and on top of that the workshop leader and an amazing testimony of God's work in his life as an author.  Now I'm at my bestie's house recovering from a stupendous surprise birthday party for her sister (who is incidentally also a dear friend, but I shouldn't need to say that.)

But back to writing.  Instead of doing it myself, I convinced my friends' 11 year old little sister (who is another of my friends, but I'll stop now) to do the NaNoWriMo Young Writer's Program.  A car ride full of brainstorming and now she has a full-fledged plot of a girl who dreamt of going to Costa Rica and had her dream come true when she got cancer.  She's now sitting in front of the computer beside me asking me questions about what she should put in her story and telling me that I should be writing.

Yes, dearie, I should, but I can't concentrate on writing while you're asking me questions.  It's easier to concentrate on a blog post.

My laptop background, made by the talented Natasha.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

November and novel excitement

Realizing that NaNoWriMo is little more than a month away leads to a Very Important Question.  What exactly do I plan to do this November?

I briefly toyed with the idea of not doing Nano; perhaps spending that time on studying and doing a sort of MyWrimo thing to finish up the 40,000 words I still want in The Frenchwoman.  But I think The Frenchwoman is best with the slow, lazy, inspiration-condusive pace I'm on with it right now.  And I couldn't not do Nano.  For pity's sake, I've done it every year since I was eleven and I don't want to stop now! 

Which brings me to the obvious meaning of my Very Important Question: Which book do I plan to write this November?  A few days ago Anne wrote about her Works To Write.  I have a couple of those, all of them very dear to me, and I really don't know which would benefit most (or be harmed least) by being written in 30 days, this year.  So, to proceed sensibly, I will list off all my Works to Write in a logical fashion.

The Huguenot Cross: Proceeding from my love of Huguenot (French Protestant) history and the excessive reading of what were my favorite books at the time, The Huguenot Cross is the story that made me know I wanted to be a writer.  I planned the characters out at age eleven, gave them a family tree and started the first two chapters, when I decided since this was obviously going to be my masterpiece I'd better learn how to write before I continued.  Now I know that it won't be a masterpiece, but it is a lovely story and has wonderful potential.  The advantage of doing this one is that I started the plot simmering four or five years ago, all I'd have to do is reheat it, add some kind of writing cornstarch (to thicken the plot, naturally) and get going. 

The Huguenot Cross chronicles the stories of two sisters, Charlotte and Aimee, and their cousin Marie-Elise left in France as the persecution of French Protestants is reaching its height (sometime after 1685.)  With disguises, danger, and escapes the girls manage to evade imprisonment, but can this last long?  Will the three of them ever be together again and find their families, now in far-off Switzerland?  Will their faith in God sustain them when a little compromise could mean so much?

Be Careful or I'll Put You in my Novel (working title): This one is just a lighthearted romance story of a dear and slightly crazy authoress and, well, a hero. I'm thinking it'll perhaps benefit from being left until I have more life experience, more ability to make their faith permeate the whole thing, and, well, more romance-experience would help too. But still, it would be the most fun book I've ever written.

Divided Loyalty: A brave, high-spirited boy, brought up to consider patriotism the highest of virtues. But he doesn't have a country to call his own, and as war comes on, he must choose one - and stick to his choice ever after. This inspiration for this one came just before I started The Frenchwoman and I've plotted it in-between times of The Frenchwoman, so it shares the same general tone, although different theme, as that one. And the hero and heroine are a little too much like Hastings and Madeleine. Okay, scratch that, they are TOTALLY like Hastings and Madeleine. Down to the shape of Madeleine's chin. So I'll have to work on giving them personalities of their own.

Almost a Fairy Tale: By rights, this one shouldn't be on my list because it has very little chance of being much more than 3-10 thousand words.  It does not have a happy ending and, since my worldview is one of hope rather than pessimism, I don't think I'd want to stretch it out long enough to be a novel.  I had taken a Persuasion-esque subplot from Times of Love and Laughter and turned it into a short story to enter a contest.  It didn't win, but the tone of it's narrative and one beautiful sentence in particular made me itch to turn it into a contemporary story.  The two characters, even though I haven't written a single bit about them, are perhaps my favorites.  There's just something beautiful about them, something beautiful and something heartbreaking.  And the love story of David and Emily is both beautiful and heartbreaking. 

I surprised meself by realizing that David and Emily look exactly like Ten and Rose in Doctor Who.  The fact that I've never watched it is not the point.  It just means that I won`t be stealing plot ideas and personality bits from Ten and Rose.  Which is sort of a good thing.  And since my new internet filter somehow blocked google images (Shocking!  What ARE internet filters coming to?) I had to find this picture by looking through months and months of archives in the blog of a beloved Whovian.  I knew she had posted it somewhere... and since I couldn't help re-reading all her posts, yeah, that's the reason this post is later than I thought it would be.

After the Holiday: Roman Holiday needs a sequel, right?  Right.  Did you know that the princess that Ann's father nearly married disappeared to marry Joe Bradley's father instead?  And that their son was - you guessed it - Joe Bradley?  And that Joe's mother's country rather needs an heir to the throne?  And that the Countess is horribly mad at Princess Ann because she came up the envelope with pictures of her Roman holiday and she thinks Ann is dreadfully close to following the path of her father's near-wife?   And that, since marrying Joe is Out of the Question, Princess Ann is resigned to marry any tolerably tolerable princely dude recommended to her by the prime minister?  (I think we're going to have fun with that prime minister... :D)

Richard and Eloise: She came only to help her people remind him of his duty as a king.  But now he loves her and it almost breaks her heart to see herself using him for her own ends.  I thought for about two seconds of calling this The King`s Conscience.  But that would be waaaaay too cheesy.  The only worse thing I can think of at the moment is spreading a thick layer of cheese whiz over the title page and ignoring the title altogether.  I first met these characters while reading The Scottish Chiefs  (Great book, by the way.  And the excessively flowery parts are not my fault.  I like flowery parts, anyhow.) even though they`re not even in there.  Eloise calmly appeared when I was considering the most effective way of changing the mind of a king who's usurped another country.  The king was Edward III until I found out that he was already married, and besides, he never did change his mind.  So Richard, king of no country in particular, naturally took Edward`s place and now the story of Richard and Eloise needs to be told.  So I think I will tell it.  Someday.

What do you think?   Which sounds like your favorite?  Which do you think I should do in November?

Friday, August 31, 2012

Really? Oh... yes, of course.

Autheniticity in writing will only arise from authenticity in living. Ideas that occur to you in the course of your life should be jotted down in your notebook, which we will discuss later, but only so long as you remember that the world does not exist to provide raw material for your notebook.
-Wordsmithy by Douglas Wilson

I kid you not, readers, but my reaction to this was, "You mean what happens to me DOESN'T happen to provide material for my stories? You mean that time this summer when I nearly fainted in a parking lot didn't happen so that I'd know how to write a fainting scene, as I groggily thought when I was lying there on the sidewalk?

Well, obviously not. Duh.

P.S. My apologies for the formatting and the infrequency of my posts. The computer I use only lets me compose them in HTML, which makes it a little confusing and hard to work with. .
P.P.S. I just finished reading Wordsmithy and highly recommend it. Review might be coming soon if I get the computer to work.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

A writer never has a vacation...

For a writer, life consists of either writing or thinking about writing.” - Eugene Ionesco

This summer I planned to do an enormous amount of writing.  Lots of free time, whatever chocolate I can scare up, and an old but faithful laptop on which to madly type all the brilliant inspiration flowing through my mind.  What could be better?

But now, after a month of trying and hoping, the laptop is finally pronounced to be unworkable, blank, dead, in short, useless.  Then the chocolate did not care to make itself available... (naughty chocolate.  Now I want to go raid the chocolate chip bag, but since I was going to use them to make chocolate chip cookies, I won't.  )

But at least the brilliant inspiration kept madly flowing throughout my mind.  In a month where I haven't written a single bit of any of my writing projects, I've thought through A Woman in Shadow an enormous amount, gotten to know my characters a great deal better, had an amazing amount of inspiration for new scenes and plots, gotten a couple of ideas for new stories, turned The Huguenot Cross from a wanted-to-write-when-I-was-ten book to an actually working novel idea, and agonized over character casting.

Lord Hastings (first name Edward,) of the League, of the Scarlet Pimpernel, who also happens to be the hero of A Woman in Shadow, is being particularly difficult.  The rest of my characters have delightful, interesting, writable personalities, but he is just so... elusive.  I can't even get it into my head what he looks like, but I have an idea that if I do, the rest will fall more easily into place.
Actor Jeremy Brett
That looks like a military
uniform.  I want a cravat.

Hastings is not short, but not particularly tall either.  He is strong, but does not come across as particularly muscular.  His face is handsome, but not extremely striking.  His hair was going to be some kind of brown, but I'm so desperate that I'll go for a lighter color, too.  He is about twenty-five.

Actor Sam Worthington
Of course  his hair would be different and he'd
be wearing different clothes...
As to his character and personality: he doesn't take things all that seriously, he has a pleasant sense of humor, is amusing company, and is a good sportsman.  He's chivalrous more by instinct than design, and, while he's good company and knows it, the real heroic things that he does he does as a matter of course.  He has the potentiality to be quite an amazing hero, but since most of the book is from his perspective, I'm afraid the reader will grab onto his perception of himself, charming company but not really a hero.  And in most of the scenes he's either with Blakeney, which could put him at a disadvantage, or with Madeleine, who is really a remarkable character.  And he's either confused or in agony in most of the scenes I've written.  I'm a nasty author....
Actor Tom Davey
Face it, this is a boring picture,
but it just might work.

So, as you might see, I have a little problems with Hastings. How do you think he'd act?  What do you think he looks like?  Do any of these three pictures I suit your opinion of him? Can you suggest anything to solve my casting problems?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Introducing you to my Frenchwoman...

I have ignored this little bloggie dreadfully.  I have ignored my writing dreadfully too.  If I didn't know it already, I'd be inclined to think I was a Dreadful Person. 

But, Madam, that is beside the point.  Here is the Anne-girl's first tag - yes, it's the fourteenth and this is only the first one.  And what's more, most of it was sitting in drafts for ages on end. 

What is the name of your novel? The Frenchwoman.  Um, it's actually called A Woman in Shadow but I can never call novels by their titles, so I've got into the habit of calling the book (and the character) The Frenchwoman.

Are you doing the book in a month challenge? I was actually more than 8,000 words when June started, but since this is Camp Nano it doesn't matter.  And I'm not writing as much as I should, but I'm writing more than I would have if I hadn't done Camp Nano at all, so I can't complain.

Name your three main characters. Oh, I have to give away the secret?  Well, okay. 
The book is told from the point of view of Lord Hastings, whose first name is Edward. (But I do not say Lord Edward Hastings.  NEVER Lord Edward.)
Then there is the main character, Madeleine de la Trenelle, who goes by aliases half the time so her name doesn't matter.  And then...
(drumroll please)
There is Sir Percy Blakeney.
No comment.

Give a basic summary of the plot line. Sort of like a back cover blurb.
I am very hesitant about giving away the plot.  It's MY plot, thank-you-very-much, and if you want to know what it is you will have to read the book and watch it upfold step-by-step.  But The Frenchwoman (excuse me, Maria, that is not the title) is the first of my novels to have a real Theme, which I am unashamedly proud of. 

And the tumbrils rattled along slowly, sent by the leaders of the Republic One and Indivisible for Liberty, Equality, Brotherhood or Death.  Finding Liberty impossible, equality unpleasant, and brotherhood unattainable, the leaders of this glorious revolution had settled upon Death.
Is there true liberty, equality, and brotherhood anywhere?  How will it be found and what will be the cost?

There.  That is the setting and the theme, in come my characters and you are free to guess what happens. 

And then there are the twin theme/inspiration texts.  The first one was what first inspired the plot, the second one is what I learned from the book, or learned when I was writing it and unconsciously drifted into the story.

“It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.  On the contrary: If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.  In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Which character is your favorite so far?
(Sir P. B. is out of the question.  He's Baroness O's character, not mine) I truly admire Madeleine.  And I really sympathize with her too, but I don't really know her.  I'd have to say Hastings.  He's just so sweet and likeable.

Do you believe in assigned word counts and deadlines, or just writing whenever you feel like it?
I assign the word counts and deadlines and I write whenever I feel like.  Not that that works. :(

What's your book's theme song?
The Impossible Dream comes to mind, and not just for Sir Percy and Lord Hastings.  In this case I'd apply it most to my Frenchwoman. (who I can't bear to call Madeleine)

What inspired you to write this?
I was vacuuming some Saturday afternoon and I was very, very bored.  To pass the time I got into a daydream of being some mysterious Frenchwoman who met ultra-heroic and super-amazing Sir Percy Blakeney.  But I couldn't have Sir Percy and me together without falling in love with him.  Since, of course, there's Marguerite, I changed my daydream to have an ultra-heroic and super-amazing member of the League instead.  And as the main character gradually became less and less like me, the daydream morphed into a story.

Have ever read or seen Les Mis?
Nope, not yet.  With the advice of my parents, who think I should wait a while before jumping headfirst into Victor Hugo (and who probably think I will start a Les Mis fansite - they know me too well,) I'm leaving it alone for now.  I like it already, though, and will probably save the beginning date of my grand and glorious fanship for my birthday, in a few months.

What author has inspired you the most?
For this?  Definately Baroness Orczy.  Her plots, her characters, her descriptions...  But occaisonally I disagree with her in the matter of writing, when I deliberately tweak the plot or theme to say, "This is what I think, Baroness.  And I often agree with you, but not always."

Friday, June 1, 2012

All writing is propaganda, in one form or another.

There!  That grabbed your attention, didn’t it?  It is a truth that should be universally acknowledged that the first post on a new blog should be very attention-grabbing indeed.

Perhaps you were wondering about the quote I used for my blog name and have on my header.  I think I can safely say that the majority of us (fortunately) do not think it is their business to tangle with people’s emotions.
“I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.” - James A. Michener
But (and here I come back to my title), writing makes you feel.  When you read a good book, in a sense, your emotions get tangled into it.  You laugh at a witty response, squeal at a delightful scene, cry at the tragic parts (oh, poor Sydney Carton…), and fall in love with all the characters.

But the thing about writing a good book is that in a sense (and if you cultivate a certain amount of brilliance), you can decide what you want your readers to feel.  You can decide the circumstances of the tragic part to make your reader’s feelings just a little different.  A book written well can stick new thoughts into a person and make them learn.  It can even give them a completely new worldview.

Obviously, as authors we have a big responsibility.  To a certain extent we can make them feel differently, think differently… even change their lives.
How are we making them feel?  What are we making them think?  Will their lives be changed in a good way by our writing?
You might think, “I don’t try to manipulate my readers’ feelings or change their minds.  It’s just a story.”

A story is a story, but all stories have some kind of worldview put into them.  What you really think will show up on the page.  Simple bits of the plot will reveal where your values lie and simple details in the tragic parts will really show what you feel.  And, if you’re a good author, your reader might feel the same way.  If they’re good readers, they’ll see from your writings what your values are; what you think and feel.

*raises glass filled with fruit juice*
Here’s to a beautiful lifetime of reading for all the readers and an inspiring lifetime of writing for all the writers!  And may we never stop striving for excellence in our writing.