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My Favorite Character I’ve Ever Written

This post is part of the brand new WIP Wednesday Link-up For Writers. The theme this week is “My Favorite Character I’ve Ever Written.” Join the link-up and show off your current projects! 

My Favorite Character I’ve Ever Written

Confession: You know when people debate whether an author is a character-driven or plot-driven writer? I’m definitely character driven. I have a nasty habit of accumulating stockpiles of characters that I love to bits and then finding myself utterly incapable of thinking up a story to put any of them in.

My writing process is basically:

  1. think up character
  2. profess undying love and adoration for said character
  3. mentally catalogue every conceivable detail about the character, including strengths and weaknesses
  4. figure out how to ruthlessly exploit those weaknesses within a story (example: this girl has fear of loneliness? HOW CAN I ISOLATE HER FROM EVERYONE SHE LOVES??)
  5. begrudgingly brainstorm how I might use the character’s strengths in moments of triumph, because I guess they have to win sometimes. 
  6. retroactively find a way to thread all these pieces into a coherent plot

Continue reading “My Favorite Character I’ve Ever Written”

For Writers · Reading Nourishes Writing

Required Reading: 10 Books Every Writer Should Read To Boost Creativity and Feel Totally Awesome

Consider the following scenario: You’re grappling for a description your brain flatly doesn’t want to visualize. Your characters are standing on a dock overlooking a lake, and for some reason your pesky gray matter is acting like you’ve never even seen a lake before. What does a lake look like?? you ask yourself in a state of panic. … Wet?

Or maybe you want to name a character or location in your novel something significant, something historical and symbolic that’ll make future academics nod approvingly at your cleverness. Only, the spells in Harry Potter exhibit the breadth of your Latin education…

Or, after months of labor, you’ve stapled, glued, spackled, spat, and slapped your story together only to step back and find … it looks slightly wobbly, crooked and flimsy, and like a asthmatic’s breathless wheeze could knock it clear over. (As an asthmatic who has before found herself unable to summon the lung capacity to blow out birthday candles, I truly understand the meaning behind that hyperbole.)

In all of these cases, books are your best friends.

The books in this list are ones I consider Required Reading for people who love to write. They’re books that’ll fill your brain with juicy words to chew on, books that’ll help you fix problems you’re having with your draft, books that’ll answer creepy questions like “what if I want my protagonist to get shot, but not too shot, if you know what I mean?”

(I genuinely believe we’ve all Googled that quandary as writers. Does “I don’t want him to die, just have a pretty bad time…” sound at all familiar?)

Without further ado…

10 Books Every Writer Should Read To Boost Creativity and Feel Totally Awesome

HW_thesaures

1. The Descriptive Thesaurus Series

I love these books so much. My first foray into the Descriptive Thesaurus series was the Emotion Thesaurus, but I just got the two beauties pictured above last week, and I am getting so much use out of them already. The idea of the Rural and Urban Settings Thesauruses is to help writers visualize the settings of their novels by offering concrete, sensory details to kickstart your creativity.

For instance, the Urban Settings entry for an Alley lists sights commonly found in alleyways (from “crushed takeout cups” to “broken wood pallets”), associated sounds (“wind scraping trash into the corner”), smells (always incredibly helpful to me, as I don’t have a sense of smell!), tastes, and textures (such as “the squishy, wet give of stepping on trash” and “rough bricks beneath a palm.”)

These thesauruses aren’t meant to do your writing for you, but rather help you get into the mindset of the scene you’re trying to set. If you haven’t been in an abandoned alleyway any time recently (or a submarine, military helicopter, carnival funhouse, etc.) it can be hard to remember all those little details that make a description so vivid! I love these books.

Continue reading “Required Reading: 10 Books Every Writer Should Read To Boost Creativity and Feel Totally Awesome”

Reading Nourishes Writing

Reading Nourishes Writing: Upcoming Readathons

“Reading Nourishes Writing” is a hugely important maxim over here at Happy Writer, one that I remind myself of constantly. (Especially when I’m feeling guilty for setting aside my laptop for a few more minutes of reading time.) As a writer, nothing will boost your creativity more than reading books, than filling your head up with words, and beautiful descriptions, and vivid settings, and characters so real you can see the sunlight glinting off their hair and hear the padding of their feet as they walk across the room.

Reading books will show you how other authors solved problems, how they structured their story, how they fleshed out their characters. You wouldn’t try to build a car without ever looking at the insides of a real, working car, would you? You can flip through dry manuals, sure, but a real peek under the hood will help you visualize where all those nuts and bolts and tube-y bits really fit. (Tube-y bits. I obviously know tons about cars.) Same principle! Learn by Doing. Write by Reading.

So, if you’re a writer out there who feels a little guilty whenever you set aside your WIP to read a couple more pages of a book, don’t! You’re filling the well, inking the pen, eating the food that’ll give you energy to keep moving. And, if you’re a person like me, who has mountains of books she never quite finds the time to conquer, here are some upcoming readathons that’ll help motivate you to take that break, refill that well, and read some books!

Upcoming Readathons: Fall 2016

The Great Twitter Readathon: Hosted by Sierra Abrams, this readathon will run exclusively on Twitter September 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. There is an optional group read as well as group chats, if you’d like to join in!

The Tackle Your TBR ReadathonEvery year, Wishful Endings hosts the Tackle Your TBR Readathon. Running from September 12th through the 26th, the Tackle Your TBR Readathon is a laidback, no-stress challenge that demands no expectations: just a chance to motivate ourselves to read a little more than we might’ve normally and make a dent in our towering To Be Read stacks!

Banned Book-A-Thon: This weeklong celebration of Banned Books Week will run from September 25th to October 1st. Here is the video announcement and the Twitter to follow.

Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon: Held twice a year in October and April, the Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon is my favorite reading event. A full day of challenges, prizes, snacks, and a bajillion pages read. This year’s event will be on Saturday, October 22.

The FrightFall Readathon: Hosted by SeasonsReadings, this readathon will run from October 3rd through the 7th.

Epic Reads Open Reading Decathlon: Or, if you can’t fit a formal readathon into your schedule, might I suggest the open-ended Epic Reads Reading Decathlon challenge? All you have to do is read 10 books in 10 days! Easy, right? (heh. sweats)


Have you ever participated in a readathon? What’s your best number of books you’ve ever read in a single week? If you know of any other readathons happening soon, leave them in a comment below and I’ll add to this post!

For Writers

Submission Opportunities for Writers

Submission Opportunities for Writers

I’ve been trawling the internets lately on the search for places to submit writing — from poems to flash fiction to short stories and non fiction essays — and I’ve amassed an unruly pile of links. I think it’s best to compile these opportunities in one spot, for everyone to benefit from! This list is by no means exhaustive, but should be a good jumping off point. If you’re a writer looking to get your writing out there, add publication credits to your CV, and potentially get paid a few bucks here and there (some of these sites pay for work, many don’t), check out some of these options:

*some sites are on here multiple times, under each category of work they accept. 

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Blog

What Projects Am I Working On?

This post is part of the brand new WIP Wednesday Link-up For Writers. The theme this week is “What Projects Are You Working On?” Join the link-up and show off your current projects! 

This year has been a scattered one for me, writing-wise, but the last couple weeks have done wonders for my motivation. My goal for this year is to write everyday, to stay focused on what’s important for the story instead of getting mired in fiddling edits, and to actually finish my work.

Here’s a taste of the projects I’m currently working on:

The Other Side – A Novel Series

TOSboard

Ah, TOS. My work perpetually in progress. The Other Side is my pet project, a funny, adventurous, at times heart-breaking fantasy series with a moving Door, a magical bracelet, a corrupt and xenophobic government, murder, kidnappings, LGBT protagonists and several different center-stage queer romances that is very dear to my heart.

I’m trying to edit Books One and Two together into a single bookOnce I’m done, I think it’ll be a much stronger novel with an exciting, satisfying ending — but it means I’m dismantling almost 190,000 words of fiction and cutting up two narrative arcs to create one cohesive, coherent story. And that is proving really, really difficult. Feel free to send cookies and Twizzlers.

Snippet:

Lightning cracked overhead, turning the world a harsh, unnatural white. Another crack and it was black again, the rain sheeting down, and how was he supposed to see to escape, and why in the world, or why in this world, did he keep getting himself into situations that mandated he run for his life?

There came the slight rustle then, of the bracelet to Charley’s wrist, and he had to agree — it had to have something to do with the Object. One man alone could not generate this amount of bad luck.


My NaNoWriMo Novel: A Fantasy Forest Adventure

ForestMoodBoard

For NaNoWriMo this year, I’m going to take a break from my perpetual TOS edits and work on a silly idea I’ve been nursing for a few months: a fantasy adventure novel about a quest through a magical forest. There’s a deadly plague ravaging a village, necromancers bringing the corpses back to life, a princely hero hoping to find a cure amongst faerie magic before his boyfriend dies of the plague, an asexual wizard who can shoot fireballs out of her hands (and keeps accidentally burning things down), and the scrappy kleptomaniac thief who runs into them both as he’s escaping into the forest with some stolen something, and decides he’ll tag along on their noble quest as it seems as good an alibi as any. This’ll be so much fun to write.

Snippet:

“On a walk, indeed. Do you see his clothes? He’s a hoodlum, on the run.”

“And what’s wrong with that? I’m a hoodlum, too, technically. On the run.”

James’ chin snapped in her direction. “Are you really?”

“Did I not mention that?”

“Who are you on the run from?”

“Um.” With a flick of her fingers, Ash formed a spark in her palm. She rolled the flame up and down her knuckles with an air of nonchalance. “Do you know that fire, back in the village? That small little thing that had everyone … screaming and running around fetching buckets?”

James slowed to a stop. “The fire that burned down six houses. And killed about a dozen pigs. And irreparably damaged the mill–”

“All right, you’ve made your point, you’ve heard of it–”

“You started that?”

Unintentionally.”

“Is that why you agreed to take me through the forest?” James was shouting now, though he hardly realized it. “You’re on the run. You’re–” He laughed, breathlessly, and feeling no great amount of good humor. “I’m aiding and abetting a criminal.”

Hopper’s head appeared from over the rise. “Oi, who you calling a criminal?”

Her,” said James, voice cracking as he pointed at Ash, “I’m calling her a criminal. We’re not even talking about you.”


Super Hero Short Storymoodboard_bolt

I’m on a bit of a time crunch here. Meerkat Press is open for submissions for a super hero anthology, and I’ve got the scraps of a story that might fit their collection. It’s about a guy with pretty terrible luck who gets electrocuted several times in quick succession and finds himself able to conduct and control electricity. He’s trying to find a way to use his powers — to help people, sure, but at his boyfriend’s behest he also finds himself starting a twitter, a blog, designing a logo… The pressure to self-brand is strong with this one, but how is he supposed to market his super power if he can’t even figure out anything super to do with it? Because, well. He can jumpstart cars. And could maybe be helpful in a blackout. Otherwise … shooting electric bolts out of his hands isa skill proving difficult to monetize.

Another silly, fun story that I’m hoping to finish before the anthology’s September 15th deadline. Fingers crossed!

Snippet:

“What the hell happened in here?” were Zack’s first words as he shouldered into the apartment late that afternoon, his arms overloaded with notebooks and loose papers he had brought home to grade. A worksheet slipped free of the bundle and wafted, feather-like, to the ground which was, dumpster-like, covered in blackened and charred rubble.

Jake would’ve lied and said they had been robbed, but even the stickiest-fingered of thieves were polite enough not to burn down coffee tables and leave scorch marks gouged into the walls.

“Okay, I want you to forget for a second that our security deposit is definitely forfeit,” he said, kicking through the wreckage. (“Why does it smell like burnt pennies in here?” said Zack.) “Instead, I need you to—to just watch.”


There you have it, the projects I’m working on! If you’re a writer out there, I hope you decide to do the link-up and show off your stories. : )