Sunday, November 29, 2015

NaNoWriMo Update #2

It has been such a LONG month...for more than one reason, but the main being this here NaNo thing. There were so many days that I wanted to give up.   I wanted to watch TV.  I wanted to read a book.  My dog was desperate for me to play with her.  But instead I scrambled to get in my 1,667 daily word count.

Thank goodness for a few days off and the opportunity to catch up after YALLfest.  I finished the challenge, and I'm highly amused at the novel that came out.

So a special thanks to Valerie, Jessica, and Aubrey for keeping me motivated and enduring endless snippets to get their reactions.  It was worth the stress.

Here are a few of my favorite parts (that won't make a whole lot of sense by themselves, but enjoy!)

At the Hatter's Tea Party in Wonderland:

Unsure of where the conversation was going, Evie yelled out “Change of seats!” again and was only moderately surprised when everyone started running around again.  Evie decided to avoid a bit of the chaos by just scooting into the chair sitting next to her, but was startled when the March Hare decided to lay on the table in front of her, nose to nose, feet crossed and rocking up and down.  His chin was resting on his hands and his nose was twitching in a very rabbit-like way.

“I vote the old lady tells us one of her stories,” he said wiggling his very large rabbit ears.

“Old lady?” Evie gasped, placing a hand on her chest in fake disgust.  Levi laughed and choked a bit on some tea.  “I don’t have any stories of my own.”

“I don’t believe you,” squeaked the Dormouse, who had crawled up on top of the rabbit’s head and mirrored his same position.

“I don’t either,” Levi said, moving down to the seat next to her.  “You’re full of stories, Evie.  Tell us one.”

She looked at him, so earnest and encouraging, and she felt her heart melt just a little.  What story could she tell?  What story would he like to hear?  What story would entertain the Mad Hatter, and the March Hare, and the Dormouse?

“Once upon a time there was a young girl who lived on a lake,” she started.

“How did she live on a lake?  Could she stand on water?” the Dormouse interrupted.

“Well, no.  That’s not what I mean.  She didn’t actually live on the lake, she lived on its shores,” Evie answered.

“Well, why don’t you say what you mean?” the March Hare said, taking a sip of tea.

“It’s a figure of speech,” Evie tried explaining.

“How can a speech have a figure?” asked the Dormouse.

“What shape did it take?” the Hatter added the conversation.  Well, sort of.  Evie was feeling like this conversation was going nowhere very quickly.

“Would you like me to continue the story?” she asked, hoping to get everyone’s attention.

“Yes, please,” the Dormouse conceded.

In Oz:

And the lion, despite his fearfulness, was a bit frightening at first glance.  It was a lion.  He had a full mane and long, sharp claws that clicked on the brick as he walked.  But then he would smile, or look at her with his sad eyes, and the fear would disappear.  She liked to imagine that he was a bit like Mufasa.  He would have been far less terrifying if he had the voice of James Earl Jones.  Then she imagined the Tin Man with the voice of Darth Vader and the Scarecrow saying “Ray. People will come, Ray.  They’ll come to Iowa for reasons they can’t even fathom.”

And just because she couldn’t turn her imagination off at that point, she thought about how weird it was that James Earl Jones characters aligned so wonderfully with her fictional travelling companions - Mufasa, the lion; Vader, only really humanoid at the end; and Terence Mann, who liked to hang out in fields.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

#YALLfest 2015

Hi everyone!  I've missed our time together.  This NaNoWriMo thing is kicking my butt.  With any luck, by the time you read this, I'll be past 25,000 words...only three days behind on word count :)  I took some writing time off to head back to Charleston, South Caroline for this year's YALLfest, and it was just as much fun as last year.

Julia, my librarian buddy and blogger friend at Stylish in the Stacks, dominated the festival meeting over thirty different authors.  I got stuck in some slower lines, but had just as much fun.

A quick shout out to the wonderful volunteers and event coordinators for putting on such a great event.  I met some of the most amazing, enthusiastic book lovers ever who each had a story to share and an author to gush over.  We actually stayed with a couple that we met last year in line!  They were amazing and gracious hosts who are just tons of fun and an absolute pleasure to know.  Another very successful year!

Here's who I got to meet:

                            Kiera Cass                         Elizabeth Wein                     Gail Carriger

                     Scott Westerfeld                      Brandon Mull                          Rae Carson

                      Danielle Paige                       Margaret Stohl                       Aaron Hartzler

                      Dobby: A Free Elf                  Marissa Meyer                      Julie Kagawa

              A newspaper photographer               Libba Bray                         Carolyn Mackler

                       David Leviathan                  Susane Colasanti                  Michelle Falloff

                          Nicola Yoon                       Rachel Caine                Epic Reads: Margot Wood

            Epic Reads: Elizabeth                                                                           Fun with us!

Monday, November 9, 2015

NaNoWriMo Update #1

Week #1 is complete, and I finished with 14,503 words written, a little more than par.  That's a whole 13,000 more than I wrote last year :)

I'm chalking it up to the two events I attended with some really awesome people.  First was a regional meet up at the local Denny's where I met some pretty dedicated and hilarious folks who were diving off the deep end as well.

And then, this past Saturday, I hung out at my local library (a.k.a. my place of employment) and participated in a Harry Potter writing crawl that offered up some fun challenges over the course of the afternoon.  There was also a relaxed afternoon at Starbucks (tasty peppermint hot chocolate in hand) with my writing buddy Jessica.

The story is progressing.  I've hit some roadblocks here and there, and it's going in a direction that I hadn't quite intended at the onset, but it has been a lot of fun to write and share with the people that are cheering me on.

It's really a ridiculous story that is a vehicle for shameless pop culture plugs and inside jokes, but the heroine is finding her way through a strange land and the troubled young man who got her into all of the trouble is starting to reveal his own weaknesses.

Here's a snippet for your amusement (with a friendly reminder that it is unedited:)

First there was darkness, and Evie considered the fact that she might just be the biggest idiot in the world, stepping trustingly through a door in a magical tent in the middle of the woods.  When the large, wooden, circular door closed behind her, a world appeared and she most definitely came to terms with the fact that there was magic in the world.

And then she realized she was terrified.  She turned back around, grasping for the doorknob, but the door had disappeared, and she found herself standing in the middle of a forest.  Perhaps she should have thought this through a little more.  She hadn’t really intended on going on quite this big of an adventure...especially one that started with a handsome librarian and a magical tent.  She wasn’t quite sure what she expected but this never crossed her mind.  And how could it ever?  Seriously, she thought, I’m seriously losing my mind.

Evie sat down on the ground, in a comfortable patch of green grass, and decided to take a moment to think, to assess, to determine just how much trouble she was currently in.  After taking a good look around her surroundings, she immediately concluded that she was not, in fact, in Indiana anymore.  Or quite possibly reality.  She was in a lot of trouble.

The trees were tall.  Immensely tall.  Gigantically tall.  And so was the grass.  And the flowers.  And the humongous ladybug that had just landed on a boulder a stone’s throw from where she was sitting.  She was in a giant world.  Or she was very, very small.  Or she was somehow in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.  Which possibility was real was yet to be decided.

She considered very seriously about screaming.  But then, Evie thought, she might attract the unwanted attention of the terrifyingly large ladybug.  So then she tossed around the idea of breaking down into tears.  But what good would that do?  It might make her feel better, but it wasn’t going to give her any answers to the one-million questions running through her head.

Evie closed her eyes, slowly inhaled and exhaled three very large breaths, and reopened her eyes, hoping to find that she was actually sitting on her couch, Milo in her lap, and waking from a dream.  The Librarian had called this her “story”.  If this was indeed a story, she hated the idea that she would just wake up and realize that none of this had actually happened.  That was a terrible plot device.  If she was going to go on this adventure, then it had at the very least to be real.

Instead, when she opened her eyes, she found a monstrous ladybug staring at her.  And it was at that moment that she decided she had two options.  First option was to stay put.  Wait out the thirteen hours and hope that the Librarian was just joking about being stuck here forever.  Second option was to get up and start walking.  Somewhere.  Away from the giant ladybug that could potentially kill her.  Would a ladybug kill her?  Were they carnivorous little creatures?  Or big creatures in this instance?

Perhaps she should have asked Levi what would happen to her if she died on this side of the door.  If you die in a dream, do you just wake up, or are you dead?  And then she started thinking about the movie Inception, and the concept of a dream within a dream within a dream.  Which led to “I know you, I walked with you once upon a dream” getting stuck in her head, and she realized that she was super nervous, because when she got nervous weird things would pop into her head, and had she been saying all of this out loud, she would have been rambling on and on and on.

Evie wasn’t really willing to find out if the ladybug would kill her and if that would mean she was dead, dead, so she stood up, brushed off her pants, and realized that she had slipped the envelope with the items she was supposed to collect in her back pocket.

Monday, November 2, 2015

NaNoWriMo 2015 - The Library of Dreams and Unexpected Adventures

It's November!  Which meets National Novel Writing Month.  I've epically failed the last two years, but that's no excuse to not give it another whirl.  This year I've planned and planned, and I'm feeling good at my chances of hitting 50,000 words in just thirty days despite some breaks for the holidays and another trip to Charleston.

This year's attempt is tentatively called "The Library of Dreams and Unexpected Adventures," and features a pop up library, mysterious librarian, and a young girl who needs something nonsensical and amazing her life.  They say to write what you know and what you love to just get words on the page.  So that's what I'm doing.  Chapter one has a reference to Newsies and The Night Circus, so we'll just have to see what else ends up in the story.

If you're a NaNo participant, and you're looking for a little fun and accountability, join us on Saturday's at the Greenwood Public Library from 1-5pm!  We'll be there typing away.

I'm sure I'll be checking in on the blog from time to time this month, but if I get carried away, I'll see you on the other side!

And while I've never let anyone read my other two NaNo novels, I'm being brave and giving you an UNEDITED snippet from chapter one...

Chapter One

The Librarian shifted and then shifted again in the cramped bus seat trying his best to stretch out his legs and ease the aching in his knees.  Bus travel seemed so undignified after years of travel on the rails.  He missed the days when getting from one place to the next was an event, men in their best suits, women fashioned in fancy buttons and beautiful hats, boarding trains with tickets in hand headed out on an adventure into territory that was unsettled and a bit wild.  They were leaving for a new life, a new beginning where anything could happen, and they did it in style.

Looking around the Greyhound, the bright headlights from passing cars casting an eerie yellow glow on the faces of sleeping travelers, he wondered if that same sense of adventure had disappeared.  Did people still feel that same sense of reverence?  Excitement for something new?  An eager anticipation for the unknown?  He hoped so.  If not, he firmly believed that a good book was enough to inspire even the loneliest of hearts and disbelievers.  But then again, he was The Librarian.

Unconsciously he reached down and patted the suitcase at his feet already anticipating his next destination.  It was weathered and leather and covered in stickers and stamps showing the miles and years of its existence.  Traveling across the country, filling days with the power of imagination and library books, never got old.  

And neither did he.
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