Thursday, January 21, 2010

Stories We Never Hear

Eek. There's been a bit of a lull in my blogging. See, I was busy waging war against a cold that was trying its very hardest to sink its claws into me. I think it's safe to say I won. With the help of several gallons of orange juice, the cold has been vanquished!

Speaking of wars, while I was guzzling OJ I watched a lot of documentaries on the history channel. Keep in mind I was probably slightly inebriated due to mass amounts of citrus and a crazy-busy immune system, but I saw this show on Vimy Ridge and it kind of struck a chord with me.

Under Vimy Ridge, there are a series of tunnels. In the days and weeks preceding the battle, they served as living space for thousands of soldiers - soldiers who were my age - many of whom would never make it home.

The tunnel walls are made of chalk-based rock, and are easy to carve into. Thousands of soldiers chiseled their names, hometowns, girlfriends', wives', and children's names into the walls, along with intricate designs. (Almost none of which I can find on google! Grr!!)

Three thousand five hundred ninety-eight of these people died.

In the documentary, they traced some of these names and found old letters and military records, and in some cases were able to talk to family members, and it gave a little glimpse at who these people had been and what they had done - what adventures they had, what they cared about, what they achieved. And it got me thinking about the stories we lose when people die.

My great-grandpa was a sniper in WWI. On one mission or another, he was creeping around behind a barn, and ran into a German sniper. They sat down and had tea together.

If my great-grandpa had died, there's a very real chance that no one ever would have heard that story. As it is, I can retell it in three lines. I'm sure there was more to it when he first told it. But I'll never know what that 'more' consisted of. I'll never know what they talked about, or why exactly they sat down and had tea together - two soldiers on opposite sides of the war. It's gone. (Unless maybe there's a German teen somewhere whose family does a better job of preserving stories than mine.)

When I look at old photographs, I find myself wondering about these sorts of little stories. Who are the people? What are their names? What did they do? What stories did they have to tell? I'll never know.

Luckily, I'm a writer, and I can make some pretty imaginative guesses. ;)

This hereby concludes today's gloomy blog post.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Yay for Blog Posts that Don't Involve Thinking!

Because I can't think of a word beginning with F that would somehow relate to contests and therefore create some nice alliteration when paired with Friday.

But there are lots of contests going on right now!

Sumayyah's giving away prettiful banners and cover art at The Raven Desk. Only two days left!

Also, Race is giving away a copy of The Secret Year over on Creare.

I think one day when I have a job/some other nefarious money-acquiring scheme, I shall host a contest. They look like such fun. :)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

This Thing Called Writing

It started in Grade 1. (or grad 1, as I so thoughtfully wrote at the top of the page)

My writing is nearly illegible, but I seem to have been writing about some made-up adventure with my friends and...The Three Musketeers?

at ferst reses Dartanyen [D'Artagnan, I assume] was missing from the rok we mett at evry reses

And then sadly my writing gets too messy to tell what sort of misfortune befell poor D'Artagnan. (Rest assured it was something awful and probably involved the Evil Vice Principal.)

But this unreadable passage marks the beginning of my career as a burgeoning story teller. From the garbled writing in my Barbie and Secret Garden notebooks, to the wild tales I told in my Daily Journal at school, to the maybe-almost-publishable wordage I spew out now, I've never been able to stop writing.

Sadly, as is clearly evident by the above passage, no one is born with the ability to write like [insert amazing author of your choice here]. We have to write and write and write and write and commit an obscene number of writing faux pas before we get anywhere.

I've been reading a lot of awesome blog posts about the mortifying excrement stuff writers came up with when they were younger, and it got me looking at some of my old notebooks and Word documents. It was rather amusing to say in the least. I had no idea what sort of atrocities I was committing.


Shameless self-insertion Harry Potter fanfiction! (Age 7 or 8)

"Wake up." I heard my mom say softly. "I'm up." I said sleepily only half awake. I heard my mom walk out and down the stairs. I yawned, stretched and sat up. I crawled down the bed and took my white T-shirt with the gold star on the sleeve off the bottem of my bed. Then I reached under my bed and felt around until I found my jeans. I got dressed and went down stairs.

As I went downstairs I could smell my dad making pancakes and toast. I sat down at the table and started to eat the 3 chocolate-chip pancakes and apple juice I just got.

The table was realy crouded. In-fact there were 16 of us at the table! There was: me and Harrys friend Hermoine, me (Rebecca) [in case there was any hope left that this wasn't a shameless self-insert], my brother Harry, my dad (James), my mom (Lily), and my cousins [insert Weasley family here]...


Shameless self-insertion LOTR fanfic! (Age 9-11) (At least I had the decency to give my author surrogate her own name this time.)

I seem to have left the resulting document on another computer. Suffice to say I dragged the Fellowship and my elf-self through all sorts of revamped LOTR plot lines and also plot lines from almost every other book I read over the course of these 2 years. *facepalm* I should also tell you it was 100+ pages written in size 10 Comic Sans font, and I thought it was cool to have huge blocks of text rather than use paragraphs.

Evil Plan Prologues (Age 12)

Lord Lavince looked out into the blackness of the night. Not even a hint of breeze touched the leaves. Nothing stirred. His guards were silent as they assembled behind him. The time had come to put the first stage of his plan into motion.

The plot was seamless, a thing of true perfection. A malevolent sneer darkened his face as again he thought it through. Although dealing with hunters, Sitka’s group in particular, was risky, he had no doubt that they would join him eagerly. They would not turn down the chance to see King Alistar dead, even if it meant allying with a vampire to do it. The werewolves were getting restless. It would not take much to make them forget the old peace treaty, and then a war like no other would erupt, and it would not end in the vampires’ favour. Not when he applied the potion, which that twisted mage, Shauvier, had provided for him. The poor fool. The werewolves would be totally obedient, completely under his command. They would follow his orders, and his orders alone. The potion would strengthen them greatly. The vampires would not stand a chance.

This was my first real book, spewed out during sixth grade. It was called The Undead Prince and it was about (can you guess?) a vampire prince. This Vampire Prince was was kidnapped by an evil vampire lord. Evil Vampire Lord (hence forth known as EVL Hehe that almost spells evil) planned to take the vampire throne for himself, and wanted to keep Vampire Prince alive for some nefarious purpose while he did it.

So Vampire Prince was given an amnestic drug and thrown into the human world, where, of course, he wound up in a grade 8 class (because high school was far outside my range of experiences at this point) and met my inexplicably curious MC.

I later explained this curiosity by revealing that...

My MC was the great-great-great granddaughter of the magical world's most powerful sorceress, but didn't know it until she got stuck in a plot corner and needed to blast her way out of a mountain dungeon.

So anyhoo, let the Epic Quest to Save the Vampire Kingdom commence!

Once it was all said and done, The Undead Prince was a whopping 155K, with a rather decent ending, if I do say so myself. In fact, I think 13 yr old me was much better at endings than 18 yr old me. It all tied together nicely, at any rate.

My mom read it, assured me it was brilliant, and (horrifyingly enough) helped me get my sticky little paws on an agent's email address. We somehow convinced her to read the thing, and she was really quite nice in the sense that she read the first fifty pages and made several helpful comments about character development and so on.

I got as far as several chapters into a third book before realizing the aforementioned agent was not crazy and these books were crap.

After that, I decided to try my hand at contemporary.

Hello, Teen Angst! (Age 13)

Tangled was a story about six five teenagers with extremely angsty lives - Damian, Jake, Amanda, Renae (not Renee! No, no, no!), and Daniel (who I completely forgot about by the middle of the book). Originally there was supposed to be a third girl, Isabelle, but she was rich and had a rather happy home life, so I got bored with her and cut her out.

Damian, judging from the amount of page time he got, was secretly my favourite. He was also the token bad-boy who was supposed to really not be that bad. Suuure, he was a drug dealer, but he really needed the money and secretly encouraged people to stop buying the drugs. And yah, he was involved with some creepy organized crime guy, but again, he really needed the money and just in case you were thinking he could get a regular job I'm sure the bad guy would totally hunt him down if he tried to quit. AND his little brother has CANCER so HA! You HAVE to sympathize with him!! MUAHAHA!


In all its 125+K glory, this book also made a few tremulous steps into the world of publishing. I actually convinced an e-book publisher to look at it, but they weren’t too happy with the 179 instances of the F-bomb.

The Big Move (Age 15/16)

I actually had two of these books. One was about a girl who moved from BC to Texas (watch me walk all over every Canadian and American stereotype ever invented), which I wrote during grade nine and never finished.

Then there was this one.

I am about to die.

Huddled in my mother's old Chrysler Concorde, looking up at my new school, I was dead sure of that fact.

There were too many kids, too many windows with cardboard taped over them, and too many security guards standing by the doorway for me to feel even faintly hopeful that I might make it through the day alive.

I wanted my mother to turn around and drive back to the house. I wanted her to look at the school and say that there was no way she would let me set foot inside a place like that. I wanted her to tell me we were moving back to Riverglen before we all got shot.

But she didn't.

In fact, she was already getting out of the car.
I actually finished this one (YAY!), and at approximately 95K it was my first almost-normal-length book (YAY!). I called it Life is only Ugly until you find its Beauty. (I’m sure that was supposed to have some deep metaphorical meaning.)

Sadly, it has no chance of ever being published. It’s about a girl who does the Big Move from a small town to the rough end of a big city and she struggles to adjust and meets this cute guy in her art class. But I'm from a predominantly upper-middle-class suburban neighbourhood. I can’t really pull off drugs and gang violence and randomly crooked cops all that well.

I did zero research, pulled the ending out of my rear, and my MC and Cute Art Guy don’t even get together in the end! (Because there’s something weird about Cute Art Guy. He’s an extremely gifted artist, but he’s sort of in La-La Land all the time. As the author, you would think I’d know why, but I never really dug around for an explanation. :P)

After this, I moved onto...

CPCS - Chronically Passive Character Syndrome (Age 16/17)

And I still haven't gotten over this one.

The Boy Who Stole My Heart Car came in at 54K! It doesn't send agents running for the hills! In fact, they seem to like the premise, because I queried a few (read: 4) and most of them (read: 3) requested a partial.

But none of those partials did very well, because my MC is passive to the extreme and I wind up totally glazing over the whole LI-is-a-car-thief thing. *headdesk*

I have plans to fix this one up, though. I think it's salvageable.

Next came...

The Mutation also known as my WIP

It's going to wind up being about 200K. 'Nuff said.

But really, I should have seen this one coming. Look at the word counts that have preceded it. 175K at age 12, 125K at age 13, and there was secretly a 139K attempt at contemporary during my grade ten year that never even got near finished!

I think it's been proven: I have a disease called Longbookitis, I'm still committing plenty of writing faux pas, and the road to being a published author has a very loooong learning curve.

Wow, that turned out long.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

I've been trying to post for the last two days! But Summary Sunday didn't work out so well. I tried to write a summary of my WIP. Really, I did. But it kept mutating into this monstrously long thing. Sort of like the WIP did.

It also revealed some potentially chronic plot problems and the only borderline-almost-decent summary I cam up with completely misrepresented the story. In other words, I made the plot sound way cooler than it actually is. Which makes me think some massive overhauling might be in order during the editing process. Maybe I have the right idea with the summary. It would probably shorten the 200+K mutation into something that won't send agents running for the hills.

But until then, I shall tease. It's a bit rough, since I spewed it out between the hours of 3 and 5am. Hope it's still enjoyable! :)

Context: The military is camped out in my MC's hometown, and everyone has been freezing to death for the last few nights because they don't have proper winter gear. It just occurred to my MC that her family has tons of warm clothes, so she went scuttling off to her old house, assuming her father (who she has seen around camp) still lives there.

My parents' room was still lived in. My father hadn’t made the bed and there were socks on the floor. I went to the closet. My mother had always hidden our birthday presents in there, up on the top shelf.

My father’s military uniforms were hanging nearest the front. I brushed them aside and grabbed an armful of sweaters, scouring the corners, floor, and shelves for the missing jackets.

Downstairs, I heard the door open, and the sound of feet on the hardwood floor.

If my father was off shift, we were late for ours.

Then, “Ay!”

My heart missed a beat. That voice was not my father’s.

Mina!” Rory’s voice was pure panic and in the instant before I bolted my eyes landed on the insignia on one of the dark green jackets I had thought belonged to my father.

Three inverted chevrons with a line over top – a colonel’s rank symbol.

I ran.

I flew out of the room and raced for the stairs, snagging the clothes hamper as I passed.

Below me there was a bang and a thud – Rory hitting the wall and then the floor. I leapt out of the stairwell swinging. The hamper smashed against something solid and a man in an SO’s uniform – a major – toppled, his baton skittering out of his hand and across the floor.

I clutched at Rory’s jacket, but he was already on his feet and hurtling towards the door – towards the man standing in front of it. The man – the colonel – could only gape as Rory and the box of mittens slammed into him and sent him crashing into the wall. Then Rory and I were past him, out the door, leaping off the porch and tearing up the street.

The hamper was big – awkward – heavy. It slowed me down. Rory got further ahead.

Then something caught my arm and wrenched me around. The hamper slipped from my hands, spilling onto the road. I was nose to nose with the major I had just knocked over. I had a brief glimpse of his snarling red face, saw his arm move out of the corner of my eye, and then my head was snapping to the side and fire was spreading across my cheek and over my eyebrow, up to my temple.

There was a crunching thud and I was sure it was the sound of every bone in my face shattering.

The grip on my arm loosened and slipped away.

My head spun and all I could see were colourless splotches. I threw my arms out, not knowing which way the ground was coming at me.


A hand caught my wrist, steadying me instead of making bruises.

My vision cleared and I found Sade. The look on his face was as horror-stricken as I had ever seen it. My gaze sunk to the major, sprawled on the ground between our feet.

Halt!” The colonel stumbled outside, revolver drawn and pointed at us.

“Go!” Sade shoved me forward.


I threw my arms over my head and ran.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Flaws and Poll Summary

Okay, it's time to get that poll out of my sidebar, since people can't vote anymore and it doesn't fit nicely at all. :P

The poll results were as follows:

What makes you swoon over the boys in books?

Their gorgeousness 4 (50%)
Their complete devotion to the MC 4 (50%)
The romantic things they do/say 5 (62%)
Their ability/willingness to protect/stand up for the MC 5 (62%)
The badass-ness 5 (62%)
Their sensitive side 5 (62%)
Their wit 6 (75%)
The fact that they sparkle 0 (0%)

Number of votes: 8

(Edit: I apologize for the fugliness of the poll. *headdesk* It refused to line up nicely justified the other way.)

All in all, it looks like things were pretty close to tied (with sparkly-ness being the obvious exception. No Edward groupies here, apparently. ;D).

This seems to suggest that the love interest in books can either a) have one of a million possible personalities and still have a fair shot at making someone fall in love with them or b) be a mash-up of all the characteristics mentioned in the poll and be named Gary Stu.

And so my point is, as wonderfully gorgeous and romantic and funny and tough-yet-sensitive we can make the LIs in our books, they must have a flaw!

Okay, so I'm kind of stating the obvious, but I needed to give people something to comment on. Tell me: what kind of flaw(s) does the LI in your WIP have?

(Interesting how it seems safe to assume that everyone has a love interest in their book. I suppose because we're all writing YA? If it was MG, it might be a different story... But I digress! Tell me about the flaws! ^_^)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

Second post of the year! New Years resolution to blog regularly going well! :)

Slightly longer snip this week, from my good old monster of a WIP. *suspects she really ought to get around to posting a summary of this thing* Hmm. Maybe I'll have a Summary Sunday?

Anyhoo, here it is! Hope you enjoy!

Sade looked around. “You know I haven’t actually got a clue where I’m going.”

“Where are you trying to get?” I asked.

He shrugged. “Away.”

So I lead the way down to the shoreline, and when we weren’t allowed past the makeshift blast walls, we wandered towards the arm of land that encircled the westward side of the bay. Technically we weren’t allowed out there either, but Drake was watching that strip of wall and he ignored us.

There was nothing but rocks and a few sparse tufts of grass out there. A cold wind blew inland, whipping my hair around. I could hear waves crashing on the seaward rocks. Errant drops of spray spattered my face. A haze hung over the bay, greying out the islands. Baltic was nothing but the faintest outline in the fog. It was hard to imagine that it was garrisoned by five thousand enemy soldiers – that there were walls, cannons, and long range guns built into its shores and mines beneath the ice.

Sade was looking out to the sea. I followed his gaze, and after a moment I made out the grey blurs of battleships, lurking on the horizon. We could only see the foremost ones, but I had no doubt there were as many here as there had been on the east coast – maybe more.

I glanced at Sade, thinking of his reaction when we had seen warships before.

He caught my eye, and he must have spotted the anxious look on my face, because he smirked and said, “I’m fine, love.” He looked back towards the horizon. “Just caught me by surprise last time.”

“Oh.” I eyed the ships' shadowy outlines. One of them was moving, ploughing southward through the ice. The ice would be thick out there. The sound of it cracking and groaning and shattering rolled across the water and into our ears. “At least they’re not very close.”

“They don’t have to be close,” he said, turning and heading for the land’s tip.

I followed.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Morose Monday

Look! Look! I'm keeping up with my New Years resolutions! I'm blogging! (Even if, in this post, blogging has become synonymous with whining. :P)

So anyhoo, this Monday is morose, of course, because Christmas holidays are over and even though I don't have to go back to school thanks to that whole I-graduated-last-June thing, I do have to get my rear in gear and finish these online courses I'm taking. I also have to acquire a bulldozer and do something about the piles of mess that have accumulated in my room. o.O

Furthermore, I'm back home after being at my aunt's for two weeks. My aunt typically has 2-12 people in her house at any given time. My house typically has one person: me. And my dog. Whose gastrointestinal system is not as, er, fresh, as it was when she was a younger dog... Anyway, it's all rather lonely in comparison.

But! On the upside, being alone in a house means I don't have to listen to my music through headphones. I can blast it as LOUD AS I WANT!!! Er, as loud as my speakers will let me before they asplode, that is.

And so on that note, I shall scamper off to clean.