Wednesday, February 27, 2013

NaNoWriMo Spotlight: Ryn aka FallenFaerie

Introducing Ryn, aka FallenFaerie. Her NaNo novel is titled "Scientific Wings". I met her at the very first write-in I hosted and she came to most of the others as well. We had quite a good time conversing. She hosted some write-ins at Smelly Cat, so she was kept very busy throughout the whole month!

Who are you?

I’m Ryn. Not short for anything cool but makes me sound like a faerie.

Why did you pick NaNoWriMo to consume your November? 

I decided to do NaNo because it’s a challenge in a hobby that I truly love and aspire for. I attempted NaNo in 2011 and then the two camps in 2012 before trying again for the regular NaNo in 2012. Life threw up on me in 2011 so I didn’t finish but learned a lot of tricks and actually got to about 30,000 words anyway. The camps were massive failures. The first one I was ready with a vague outline and when I started writing I realized I could take the story in five or so different ways and took half the months trying to figure out which one to go with. I finally decided to eventually write all five stories out and then never did. The second camp I had nothing - because it would have been too easy to go back to one of the five stories from the prior camp of course - and never really started anything.

What was your novel about this year? And why did you pick that?

Nick explores different relationship styles and gets life slapped when her ex-boyfriend returns offering her the chance to mutate wings as a sort of apology.
At least that’s my working “hook.” I chose this story because non-typical relationship types are interesting and very much underrepresented in popular fiction. And I like to think about that stuff anyway so it’s easy to write about. Also, wings are really cool! And usually sneak their way into every story I write.

What is your typical writing process like?

Typical? I don’t know that I have one. I guess it would be Step 1: launch Scrivener, Step 2: start typing. I experimented with writing sprints and a few word wars and discovered that I write better with writing company.

How did your month go? 

I won! I didn’t finish my novel but I hit the 50,000 word mark. That was a really awesome feeling. My normal social life died down a bit but my writing social life took off. Made some new friends. And as soon as NaNo finished and I posted my winning up on Facebook, everyone seemed to think that meant I was available to hang out again. I don’t think they understood the whole “I still have to finish the book!” thing.

What did you learn from NaNoWriMo this year?

Write with people. Write alone. Write often. And when all else fails, grab chocolate (or your revival snack of choice) and write more. 

Really though, most of my successful writing times happened when I was doing word sprints. Whether by myself or with anyone else, setting a timer for about ten minutes and then just writing was awesome. Usually I’d allow myself a break of however long I wrote for a break in between sprints. So usually ten minutes or writing and then ten minutes of talking, texting, snacking or bathroom runs. It worked really well for me.

Where else can we find you online? 

Well, I just stopped writing on my old blog but Most of my blogs there are opinionated political rants.
I just recently started a blog for me to just dump words out of my head and somewhere for others to possibly enjoy reading as well. You can find that one over at
I’m also on most social media sites but those are boring compared to blogs.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Kagerou's Journal 2

(Welcome back to my blog serial. From now on, there should be a part uploaded every Friday. The key word there is "should". To see what happened before, read part one here.)

Curious, I turned to see what had caused the commotion. I wasn’t close enough to identify the source. However another sound caught my attention. Behind us ranged a series of tables joined together end to end and loaded with food. On top of this sat a small hunched shape. A goblin perched on the table, stuffing its face with food and spilling it everywhere. Screams filled the square as townspeople saw the goblin and began running.

A sound emanated from the direction of the wagon. I looked over in time to see another goblin streak out from under the wagon and attack the Varisian dancer. I started towards her but then I felt my feet kicked out from under me. I fell in a tangle with a third goblin who had snuck up behind and tripped me.

I could see barely anything aside from the scrawny goblin’s arms and body. However, I heard the roar of a bear and saw it rush towards the location of the dancer. There was no sound of paws hitting flesh so I supposed it had missed.

But I had a more pressing problem. I jerked a hand free and tried to punch the goblin in the face but my fist sailed past its ear. It retaliated but I squirmed aside.

I head the bear roar again but in pain. The goblin must have taken a swipe at it with its rough sword. I squirmed around to check on the first goblin and saw that it was still engaged in eating. One less goblin to deal with was a blessing.

The square was clear of almost all the townspeople. It seemed that none of them were fighters capable of assisting. A gray streak resolved into the form of the cat who had caused the commotion earlier. It was coming my way, eyes fixed on the goblin pinning me. The goblin must have realized the cat was coming after it because it released its grip on me and swung its sword at the grey cat who dodged.

A sudden flash of light took us all by surprise. I half rose to see a very dead goblin fall to the ground from the table. The dancer’s hand was still raised and glowed with the after effects of spell casting. Somehow I’d known from the first that she wasn’t a normal scarf dancer.

The goblin on me gurgled, drawing my attention back to it. I watched as a spear tip emerged from its chest. With a shudder it fell dead. A large Shoanti woman clad in a bear skin shoo it off the end of her spear.

She asked if I was uninjured and helped me to my feet. I looked around the square. Two goblins lay dead and a bear was mauling a third. Besides us combatants, the priest was the only person left. He hurried down the steps to greet us.

“Thank you for your assistance with the goblins. I believe I speak for all the townspeople in this matter. I am Father Zantus, the priest of this cathedral. Please allow me to heal your wounds.”

The bear was the only one injured so the priest gestured him to come forward. The Shoanti spear woman looked towards the bear and it shuffled over demurely. They were obviously paired. A druid perhaps? His injuries vanished as soon as Father Zantus finished murmuring the spell.

But our troubles were not at an end. The loud cries of excited goblins echoed from down a side street. Without a word, I, the Shoanti, the bear and the dancer sprinted towards the noise. Behind us, the grey cat also tagged along.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

NaNoWriMo Spotlight: Reka aka RekaStormborn

Please welcome Reka, known as RekaStormborn on the forum. Her NaNoWriMo novel is titled "Wild Witch: Imprint". She falls under the category of yet another writer I couldn't meet during November, being all the way out in Gastonia, but I think we would have had a good time had we actually met. Reka was one of the first in our region to cross the 50k goal line. Congrats to her!

Who are you?

At 28, I’m happily married to my high school sweetheart, working in a field I never expected, and still writing after 17 years. It’s been a bizarre journey. We moved periodically when I was a kid because of my dad’s changing jobs. Who knew that managing hotels would mean as many moves as most military careers? After four states (PA, NY, MI, NC), two elementary schools, two middle schools, two high schools, and my dad moving into the IT field, we landed in Gastonia, NC fairly permanently.

It was there that I wrote my very first completed novel length work, a YA fantasy completed the summer between my sophomore and junior years. My writing continued to flourish and improve as I moved through high school, made it into NC State where I earned an English BA with a concentration in creative writing, took 9 months off school, attended Appalachian State for an MA in English with a concentration in community college teaching, and got married.

Having learned that teaching freshmen English didn’t pay nearly enough to make up for the fact that I didn’t love it, I reverted to my previous part-time jobs in retail and at an ice cream shop. This left me plenty of time for writing, which I took advantage of to write several more novel length works. Then, the downturn in the economy hit home. Seasonal and temp retail dried up and the ice cream shop had to shut its doors.
After two weeks unemployed, a friend called to offer me a spot as a data entry temp at the family owned supply company she was working for as a graphic designer. In the way of things, it turned out to be who I knew, not what I knew. That data entry project was completed, and then they realized they had another one, so they put me on that project. And somehow, pulling the customer, vender, and item information from their old system into QuickBooks Enterprise, turned into a full time job as something between tech support, IT help desk, QuickBooks expert, and general data processing/entry/control person. Two English degrees, and I’m working in IT. Go figure.

These days, I’m working in the office in Shelby, NC four days a week, and telecommuting from Raleigh, NC on the weekends so that I can see my husband who is finishing up a degree at NC State. It means 40 hours a week working, 10 hours a week driving, and precious little time to write regularly, but I’m still at it, working away on manuscripts that I hope to publish soon.

Why did you pick NaNoWriMo to consume your November?

My NaNoWriMo career started out in 2010 when a fellow fanfic writer encouraged me to join her in the challenge. I was only working 32 hours a week at the time, and could sneak writing time between customers are work too, so I was confident that first year. I’ve been writing stories far too long to be called short almost since I started writing in the 6th grade. My short pieces were over 20k, so 50k should be easy.
That first year, I restarted twice, didn’t finish the story line, and wasn’t particularly happy with more than a few scenes here or there, but I did write over 100k that 30 days of November. I considered it a success because I met great people, found a wonderful event to do every year, and wrote 50k twice in 30 days.
My second year, I was in the middle of crunch time at work pulling anywhere from 45 to 60 hours a week, had family coming in for Thanksgiving, and was doing my 10 hours of commuting every week. It explains why I only managed 50,044 that year and crossed the line on day 30. But I still met good people, got a lot of work done on a sequel to a novel I’m almost ready to publish. So all in all a good NaNo year.
So this year was my third, and I knew going into it that it was going to be another year like the last. With a 3-month-old niece recently arrived, 3 family members coming to stay at my parents’ for Thanksgiving, having to move my daily needed belonging from one residence to another not once but 3 times during the month as I shifted from staying at my in-law’s soon to be sold house to staying at my parents’ during the work week, 10 hours a week of commuting, and far too much work to get done, I wasn’t even sure taking the 1st off of work and building up 8 hours of comp time in October was going to save me this year. But then I managed to get 30k written in the first five days. The head start kept me positive, and while my average daily word count continued to shrink, I managed to pass 50k on day 13. Then I wrote less than 3,500 words in the next 15 days. But I still beat the challenge, and have my winners T-shirt to prove it.

One of the reasons I’ve continued doing NaNoWriMo even when it’s a harrying experience that stresses me out and leaves me without enough time to sleep, is the people I meet every year. Even when I only keep in touch with them that once November, it’s a great way to meet other writers, swap ideas about stories, storytelling, and the life of a writer, part- or fulltime. The networking potential, the write-ins (even when only two of us show) and the bits of shared story, misery, success, and encouragement are well worth any discomfort or stress.

Being in two different regions the past two years has brought even more advantages, this year especially. During NaNo 2012, I started a standing Tuesday night write-in. It ended up just being two of us, but we’re continuing to meet every Tuesday for a chat, some writing, and even a bit of critiquing so far. In addition to that, I’ve met a great group of women who are all interested in keeping the community feel of NaNoWriMo going all year, so we’ve started an off-season group of sorts as well as a critique group. It also gives me a built in group of fellow writers, so maybe I can talk them into doing Camp NaNoWriMo with me this year. This has to be easier in a month without a major holiday after all.

What was your novel about this year? And why did you pick that? 

This year’s novel was a WIP I’ve been typing away at for more than a year. While I may not have been starting from a blank slate, I did start with a word count of 0, even with 27k already written, so that every single word of my 50k would have been written in November. The story is a paranormal gay romance. This is a niche market I stumbled into via fanfic work with a good friend I met in grad school. Through my fanfic stories, I developed a small fan base, many of whom encouraged me to publish original works. So I’ve been working on stories that interest me, and also fit the criteria for a press I discovered through that same fanfic community. Torquere Press ( deals in LGBT Romance in almost any genre. Paranormal is one of the genres I’ve been dabbling in for years now, so I thought I’d kick my own butt and get this started story finished so I could submit it for publication.

The story starts out with Kyle, a Wiccan PI, staked out in a tree to observe Lee, a young man who was supposedly kidnapped as a child. What Kyle doesn’t know is that Lee is a Wild Witch, a type of magic user he can’t sense like he can others, and his two friends are far more than they seem as well. When one transforms into a wolf before Kyle’s eyes, he falls out of the tree in surprise. Now that Kyle has literally dropped into Lee’s life, they have to deal with conflicting goals, an unintended magical bond, Lee’s werewolf and vampire protectors, Kyle’s Wiccan PI uncle, and their growing attraction to one another.
It was a really fun story to write and I’ve had a lot of fun with it. I’m working on revising now, and plan to submit it by the end of the year, so hopefully I’ll be able to share the whole story soon.

What is your typical writing process like? 

I write off the cuff for first drafts. Similar to how we are encouraged to write during NaNo, with our inner editor silenced and the words just flowing onto the page. I may go back to fix a typo or run spell check occasionally, or re-read a section to remind myself what happened, but generally I start at the beginning and write all the way to the end. I can knock out 30k in a week or over 100k in a month if I have the free time. Revision is where most of the time commitment is for a story. I probably spend ten times as many hours working through revisions and edits than I do writing the zero draft.

I call it a zero draft for a reason. Zero drafts are very rarely if ever seen by anyone else. I’ll read back through the zero draft to find any glaring errors, sentences that don’t make any sense, or major plot holes and contradictions. That becomes the 1st draft, which I’ll often send to a trusted beta reader or take to a critique group. That process will be repeated four, five, ten times depending on how much I feel needs improved, changed, etc. It takes time, but it usually gives me a much better story in the end.

How did your month go? 

I made my goal of 50k super early, then managed a measly amount of words after that. Planning ahead saved my win this year. The week of Thanksgiving was chaos. I spent more time at my desk with my head in my story than I spent with my husband this November. Thankfully, he’s amazingly supportive of my writing and didn’t mind. And I do try to make it up to him in October and November. My social life consisted almost exclusively of write-ins during the month, but I still managed to be social. I even finished the story, getting to a nice happy ending, at least for the moment, so it was a resounding success this year.

What did you learn from NaNoWriMo this year? 

This year, I learned that I really needed other writers in my life. After leaving grad school, I wasn’t in a place near other writers, at least that I knew, and I lost touch with many of my long distance writing friends and those I exchanged critiques with over the last few years. So realizing that I needed to have a community of writers I could stay connected to year round, rather than just during November. Having come to that realization, I’ve worked to keep in touch with some of my fellow NaNoWriMos over the past two months and have managed to collect a few who I’ll be seeing regularly.

Where else can we find you online?

You can find a short original piece of fiction, and various other writing and reading related posts on my live journal:  I've decided to try my hand at the whole blogging thing and see how it goes.

The fanfic community I mentioned above is Pomme de Sang, an Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter fanfic archive. Do be aware that there is adult content and only those 18 and older should view content labeled as such. My stories appear under the author name RekaStormborn and are for entertainment purposes only.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

NaNoWriMo Spotlight: Cathy St.Onge aka Delia Tracy

Introducing Cathy or Delia Tracy as she's known on the forum. She falls into the category of fellow NaNoers who I failed to meet with though I'd love to have met her at a write-in. See below for her very interesting story behind her pseudonym/forum name. Isn't it neat?

Who are you? 

You can refer to me as Cathy St.Onge or as Delia Tacy (my pseudonym). There are two interesting stories behind the second name: one is that it's actually a great-great grandmother's name that I discovered in the eighth grade when researching my family tree for a school project. The other is that an elementary school teacher once told us that authors tend to pick pseudonyms with the same initials as their own. I don't know how true that is, but I was determined not to make the same "mistake." I eventually noticed, however, that the initials are one letter over from my real initials.

On the resume level, I'm a high school English teacher originally from Massachusetts. I've lived all over North Carolina -- and briefly in Hungary -- and moved to Charlotte seven years ago. I am also the pet human to two rescued cats -- the youngest rescued by my students -- and do a lot of knitting, so I like to say I'm living the stereotype. :)

Why did you pick NaNoWriMo to consume your November?

I did NaNoWriMo in 2011 for the first time and couldn't/didn't "win" or finish. (Never try to write a novel and your Boards at the same time.) I wasn't planning on doing it in 2012 when it suddenly hit me that "someday" wouldn't arrive without some effort. I'd also been working on taking back my life from my job, and doing something so intensely personal seemed to fit the bill.

What was your novel about this year? And why did you pick that?

This year, my novel was a work of historical fiction set in the Civil War. It deals with two people who end up working together in the radical branch of the Anti-Slavery Society (the society was real, but the search-and-rescue branch of it is fictional) and end up on the run together for several years. It's a story that's been with me in some form or another since I was nine, and I felt confident that it had far more than 50,000 words in it.

What is your typical writing process like?

My Wrimoing process is different from any process I use for my work writing. I start by picking a scene I want to work on that day -- or finishing a scene I started the previous day -- and write from there. I sometimes stop in the middle and look something up, though if it's too time-consuming I'll just add a virtual sticky note to the manuscript and do the best I can with the facts I'm unsure of. Often I'd break my word goals into three or four chunks and do some cleaning and/or correcting in between. Tackling it in small bits helped me stay disciplined and motivated.

How did your month go? 

I won but didn't finish. Teachers have a negligible social life in November anyway, so that part wasn't affected. My friends were super-supportive and let me ramble on about things that didn't interest them whenever we talked. My mom -- a published author -- had fun listening to my weekly progress reports on Sunday nights. And, surprisingly, it helped me bond with one of my advanced classes. I was telling them that I personally understand how hard writing can be because I was trying to writing 50,000 words in 30 days, and of course they grilled me until I ended up telling them the whole story. After feeling like a bad teacher keeping a shameful secret (so much class time wasted!), a colleague pointed out that that showed the students a real-world application of the writing process as well as the fact that writing is actually used beyond school. They also got to see that teachers sometimes struggle, even with a subject they know.

That class, by the way, gave me a great idea for the story when they said that one of the slaves who helped the secret society should be a witch. When I acknowledged that that would work and was a great plot point, they immediately began drafting my acknowledgements page for me. I have to admit that it was a shot in the arm to have sixteen teenagers listen to the outline as if they were enraptured kindergartners at story time.

What did you learn from NaNoWriMo this year?

I wrote down so many snippets from the pep talk emails, but most come down to these lessons: you have to let yourself have fun, you have to give yourself permission to write, and you have to take your work seriously, because no one else will if you don't. I also learned that I have lived at both ends of what was, at the time of the Civil War, the longest continuous stretch of railroad in the world.

Where else can we find you online?

I don't have a blog, and I'm sure my teaching wiki is of no interest to anyone!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Weekly Roundup for 2/4/13

Did you enter the contest I mentioned last week? I did. Sent it in less than two hours from the deadline. I do hope my email made it through on time. If you entered, tell me in the comments! I'd love to find out.

But you're here for some useful links. Today's post features several helpful articles all the from the same person. I became "acquainted", to a certain degree, with John Yeoman through a fantasy group I joined on Yahoo ages ago. I've posted links to his site before, but I thought I'd mention this time the quarterly writing contest he runs. It costs fifteen pounds (he lives in the UK) to enter but you get personalized feedback no matter if you win or not. Consider looking into it! Here's more information. If you don't win, this might be a helpful post.

John posts many articles on wooing readers, and this one is no exception.

Here's his take on how to write a bestseller. Don't think it has anything to do with writing just anything you like.

A while back, he ran a mini-contest for the worst sentence in a published book. Want to know the winners? They certainly are hilarious!

And finally, try downloading and reading his free ebook "21 Wicked Ways to be a Better Writer" for 20 + "recipes" for writing better.

Looking to wow an agent? Why not try branding yourself?

I hope you enjoy his posts as much as I do!

Until next time.
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