Last week I finished my fifth or sixth draft (it kind of depends on how you count) of my novel Footfall. While I’m trying to revel in finishing another draft, I also am trying to think ahead a bit to the next steps to completing this book. After all, my goal is to produce something I can get published (either traditionally or self-published), and it still needs more work to get to that phase. While I have a list of structural edits to make, one of the major things I need to get figured out is the worldbuilding. It’s not that I haven’t already spent time working on this world. I have! But, as I’ve been working on the latest draft, I realized there are some holes that need filled in, so to speak. So, I’ll share some of the things I’m doing to fill in those holes and, you know, have fun doing it. But first, I should probably cover a pretty important question many of you are asking.
Right, so last week I announced that I was doing NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) this year as a way to help me finish my novel. I mean, technically I’m not “doing” NaNo because I’m not trying to get to 50K words in one month. My novel is already over 50K, and I’m just trying to finish it. I need to write something like 30K this month (give or take a few thousand words, depending on how the story shakes out), and even 30K in a month requires a degree of discipline and some shenanigans to get through. After all, I have a full-time job, am trying to get back into running regularly, have a regular D&D campaign, this blog, and other stuff. So, what am I doing to set myself up for success and actually finish this thing?
Well, I’m glad you asked! Here are four things I’ve done to help me finish my novel.
This past Saturday I attended GeekGirlCon and I had such a blast. It was a good balance of panels and chatting with creators in the expo hall. I found myself feeling energized and inspired to tackle my own ambitions as a creator, and so I wanted to share what I did there and my takeaways with you guys. But first, let’s quickly cover what exactly is GeekGirlCon.
So, last summer I received feedback on my manuscript, Footfall, from a published author. It was great feedback, very helpful. But one of the items of feedback that caught me off guard the most had nothing to do with the content of my story, but instead how it was formatted.
Writers tell stories for a multitude of reasons and people read stories for a multitude of reasons. I think what we get from the reading experience is very personal, and sometimes we simply want to use that story as a method of entertainment or escape. I don’t there’s anything wrong with that (actually, I think it’s awesome). But what about books that don’t bring entertainment or escape, but instead challenge us? I mean, books that are just plain hard to get through, both philosophically/thematically and narratively. How do we approach those? I’ve been thinking a lot about this very topic since I finished The Power by Naomi Alderman. It’s a book with a lot of strengths, but I also found it, to be frank, quite challenging on a number of levels. And yet, if someone were to ask me if I would recommend it, I would emphatically do so. To me, The Power fits into a larger canon of books that I think are necessary specifically because they are challenging to read. And I’d like to talk about why that is.
Have you ever finished a book, crying? Crying, but not crying for the reasons you thought you’d be when you started the book? Have you ever sat quietly reading and then shouted an expletive, causing the concern of your partner? Well, I have. Guys, I finished Spice Bringer. What an emotional roller-coaster of a book. And I thoroughly enjoyed it all and I think you might, too! So, if the you’re intrigued by a book featuring a super compelling female lead, snarky salamander (I KNOW!), and fascinating world building, read on for my review of Spice Bringer.
So, I’ve been posting a bit more regularly to my blog, and I realized it would probably be good to let you guys know what I’ve been up to. I mean, I’ve actually been up to stuff. Are you surprised? Wait, don’t answer that.
When I was 11, I read voraciously and had a number of favorite types of books. I loved historical fiction. I loved science fiction. I loved fantasy. And, no matter what the genre, if a book had a dragon in it, I was definitely down to read it. When I got an advanced reader copy of Kandi J. Wyatt’s An Unexpected Adventure and saw that the main plot centered around a dragon, I knew I was in for a good read and it did not disappoint!
Full Disclosure: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are my own.
An Unexpected Adventure is a middle grade book about the adventures of 14-year old Harley and his friends Chace, Will, Cherise, and sister Karis and what happens when they find a dragon’s egg on the Oregon Coast. At first the story focuses on the practicalities of how a few middleschoolers can care for such a fantastical creature, but then things get complicated when the mysterious Professor Raleigh enters the scene with suspicious intentions toward finding the dragon. Harley and the others scramble to protect Steria (what a great name for a dragon!) from the professor. However, this becomes more and more difficult as Steria grows, learns to fly, and starts doing what dragons do, namely wreaking havoc.
There were a few things that I really enjoyed about this story. First, the kids all seemed to be really compassionate and empathetic, both in their interactions with the dragon and with each other. Steria was also a treat, with her evocative descriptions reminding me of a cross between a cat and a regal queen (I suppose cat owners may disagree that those two categories differ). I also really enjoyed the setting, Myrtle Beach in Oregon. I grew up in Oregon and spent more than a few summers hanging around the Oregon coast. It was fun to revel in the nostalgia of running around the lush forests, walking across the sandy beaches, and mingle with the locals.
To be sure, this is a middle grade book and it’s geared towards that age group’s reading level, so I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for adults (although I certainly had a lot fun reading it!). However, I think the themes, story, setting, and characters make this a great book for dragon-loving readers between the ages of 10 and 15.
So, big historic stuff happened recently in the science fiction literature world. If you haven’t heard (you probably did, because I was screaming quite loudly), author N.K. Jemisin made history not only by winning the Hugo award for best novel three consecutive years in a row, but also for having every book in a series (The Broken Earth Trilogy) win a Hugo. If you’re not familiar with the Hugo’s, it’s a pretty prestigious award that recognizes great authors in the science fiction genre, with winners like Isaac Asimov, Orson Scott Card, Ursula K. LeGuin, and Neil Gaiman.
It’s a bit chilly for August, but that doesn’t stop me from dumping a few ice cubes into a glass. Add a quarter of lime, a lug of gin, and a generous pour of tonic, and it’s a drink. I mean, it’s liquid in a glass, so I suppose that’s not a high mark to reach.