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Friday, August 29, 2014

Candor Fridays- Week Seven

It’s Friday, folks! Hopefully you all know what that means by now…

Just one question this week, from Harpley: Do you remember why you decided to become a writer, or what books began to shape that dream and desire in you?

I can honestly say there aren’t any specific books that made me want to be a writer. Every book I’ve ever read has fueled my imagination in some way, of course, but I can’t pinpoint any that inspired me to actually be a writer.

I have always been a storyteller. I used to come home from school with stories to tell- some that my parents spotted as obvious fabrications and others that left them a bit concerned. But, for me, it was just that school wasn’t exciting enough so I made up more interesting stories to tell.

And then, once we started homeschooling, Mom used to give us a prompt every day and we would have to write off of it. Sometimes it was a non-fiction prompt (like, what is your favorite color and why? or something) but, for the most part, she left  a lot of room open for creativity and I would create characters and stories around the prompts. From there, I started creating stories in my free time, some based off of books I’d read, some from the imagination games I played with my sister and friends, and some from random ideas I got out of the blue. I read a lot of course, but I can’t say there was a set of books or anything that sealed my fate as an author. Every book I read contributed to that.

I don’t remember the name of the book that prompted me to start calling myself an author. I simply remember reading the “about the author” page in the back of the book- I was around twelve at the time?- and it suddenly dawned on me, this realization that this thing I did for fun, people actually got paid for it; I could get paid for it.

And, from there, there was no turning back.

So, yeah, I feel like my questions didn’t give you any real answers… :P Sorry about that… XD

And, that’s that! Make sure to send in your questions for next week, everyone! Can’t wait to see what you all have for me to answer next! Hopefully, I’ll see you on Monday.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Introducing the Crew of the Meridian Skies

I know I was supposed to post Monday or yesterday, but the whole thing completely slipped my mind. Sorry about that!

I don't have an actual post written for today, as I still seem to be unable to write anything original. However, I was editing an old excerpt of mine for something and I discovered that I like rather like it. Quite a bit, actually. So I thought I would post it to share with all of you.

It's a scene from an untitled steampunk novel I was working on a while back. The main character, Nikki, has just been rescued from a fire and is resting up while this scene takes place. It's the introduction scene to the crew of the airship she is now aboard, the Meridian Skies (as you could probably guess by the title of this post).

So, without further ado, my scene (which I very much hope you enjoy!):

How is she?” Horatio Locke, cabin boy of the Meridian Skies, asked from his seat on the floor. He looked up as the door to the airship’s main room opened, addressing Philomena McLoughlan as she entered. The room was the crew’s common meeting area and was well equipped with several easy chairs. While the official rules stated that seating was first come, first serve, the unofficial stated that seniority ruled and higher up crew members got the chairs while the lessers got the floor.
“The poor girl’s hurting,” the woman said with a shake of her head as she dropped into her chair. The strap of her aviator’s cap, which hang loose and unbuckled, slapped into the side of her face. As ship’s navigator she felt the need to wear her goggles and cap at all times. “She’s going to need a lot of loving the next few weeks. She just lost everything and our news isn’t exactly going to sweeten the pot.”
Jess Roycannon, ship’s engineer, looked up from the small device he had been fiddling with. He tapped his screwdriver against his left leg while he talked; the clanking of metal against metal muffled by the fabric of his pants. “She still doesn’t know then? You didn’t tell her?”
Philomena rolled her brown eyes. “When would you have suggested I bring it up? Before the emotional breakdown or after she threw up?”
“She threw up?” Ratio- as the cabin boy was commonly called- wrinkled up his nose in disgust.
Jess grinned at him, a lopsided grin that transformed his face. “Yeah, she just barely missed getting it on Philomena too.”
The woman shot him a glare that made him grateful the room was spacious enough for him to be on the other side of the room from her; she might be a woman, but Philomena McLoughlan packed a mean wallop and she did not shy away from using it any and every time she deemed necessary. And, it would seem she deemed it necessary more often than not.
“You be nice, Jess Roycannon,” the woman snapped. “If that were you lying in there you wouldn’t take kindly to anyone making jokes about it, now would you?”
The young man shrugged as he turned his attention once more to unscrewing the backing off his project. “I can’t rightly say as I would care one way or another.”
“Would someone care to enlighten me what bearing Mister Roycannon’s preferences have on the matter at hand?” Mister Wilburn, the ship’s first mate, inquired. No one on the Meridian Skies knew the man’s first name. Not that it mattered; they would not have used it even if they did know. His very air seemed to demand the respect the title of mister implied.
Everyone fell silent at his words and the man nodded once in agreement with their actions. “I see. So then, shall we commence with the meeting of what is to be done about Miss Love?”
“I don’t know what there is to meet about,” Jess put in without looking up from his gadget. If he had not been talking, one would easily think all his attention was focused on the thing, the way he looked at it. “Why can’t we just leave her where she is? She’s safe and she can get plenty of rest. Do we really need to tell her anything?”
“Why wouldn’t we tell her?” Ratio asked, his brow wrinkled in confusion.
Jess offered a one-shouldered shrug, pausing in his work, but tapping his screwdriver against his leg as he replied, the soft clicking as it tapped his leg emitting through the room. “Because she’s a stranger and we don’t know if we can trust her. I’m all for protecting her, but I say we gotta protect ourselves as well.”
“What a thing to say!” Philomena exclaimed. “You take that back right now, you hear? That poor girl has a right to know. How would you like being locked up in a room in a strange place and having no one tell you anything about where you were or what you were doing there? Men. Honestly.”
“I would greatly appreciate it if you did not include me in that generalization,” Mister Wilburn put in. “Especially in light of the fact that I am inclined to agree with you, Miss McLoughlan. Miss Love is entitled to an explanation. We would be remiss in our duties to keep it from her, chiefly since the keeping will most certainly only give her cause to worry and will do nothing to aid in the swiftness of the hoped for recovery.”
There was a moment of silence as everyone processed what the man’s words meant in plain English. Then Jess, still tapping his screwdriver, spoke up.
“Well, the captain had a reason for keeping everything from her, didn’t he? I mean, are you sure it’s right for us to tell her what he didn’t? Shouldn’t we respect him and wait for his say so before we tell her anything?”
“And how would you suggest we go about asking him?” Mister Wilburn said. “Perhaps one of us could get ourselves arrested and locked in the cell next to his? Or, perhaps a better course of action-”
Jess let out a huff. “I know we can’t ask him and that’s my point. We shouldn’t go making a judgment call when he’s not around. Not after him keeping it a secret all these years. That’s not fair to him.”
“What about what’s fair for Miss Love?” Ratio asked, looking up at the ship’s engineer with large, earnest eyes.
Without missing a beat- both with the screwdriver and the conversation- the young man replied, “Well, I guess the question is do our loyalties lie with her or with the captain?”
“Do us a favor and stop that infernal tapping a second,” Philomena commanded.
Jess complied, moving his hand a few inches from his leg so that it bounced between his fingers in midair and did not make a sound.
“Much better, now we can actually hear ourselves think.” She took a deep breath and everyone braced themselves for a longwinded Philomena speech. “This isn’t a question of loyalties. Every one of you here knows where my loyalties lie. I will serve the captain with my dying breath and even after, should he find some service my corpse can do him. I know all of you would do the same. But, that doesn’t change the fact that we have a little girl lying in the other room who is hurt and scared and it’s up to us relieve that fear as best we can.
“Now, you said we oughtn’t to make a judgment call when captain wasn’t here and I can see where you’re coming from. And, in normal circumstances, I’d agree. But, these aren’t normal circumstances. And, I think the captain trusts us enough to make a call in his absence. Whatever his reasons for keeping the truth from his little girl, I think he’ll understand why we had to, as Ratio put it, do what was fair by her.”
Jess chomped down on the inside of his lip, his nostrils flaring and his gaze roaming angrily about the room, unable to settle on something, in a display of barely controlled display of ire. “Fine, you want to talk about fair for her? How would you all feel, being raised all nice and proper in a little country church, and then one day you woke up on board one of the most wanted pirate ships in the Seven Nations? And, what if these pirates- who insist that they aren’t really bad, they’re actually very nice people- what if they told you that not only were you aboard their ship because you lost everything you loved and held dear but also because you just so happened to be their beloved- and very much feared- captain’s daughter. You all say telling her will help her heal. Well, forgive me, but I disagree.”
He got to his feet, tucking his small device and screwdriver into his tool belt. Every gaze in the room was on him and no one spoke in the brief pause that ensued before he finished with, “But you can do whatever you want, it doesn’t matter to me. I don’t like the way the engine’s sounding. I’m going to go look into it.”
He moved across the room and out the door into the passageway, the only noise that of the gears in his left leg which were in need of oiling. All eyes followed him as he left and the room was quiet for a long moment after he had gone.
Then Mister Wilburn said, “He has a valid point, one well worth consideration.”
Philomena shook her head, her goggle strap hitting her face once more. “Yeah, he does. I don’t know what we should do anymore.”
“Might I suggest we meet in the middle?” the first mate ventured. “A compromise. Miss Love deserves to know enough to ease her mind and aide in her recovery. But, there is no need for her to know every detail until such a time as we deem her well enough to handle all the facts. We might, for now, simply tell her that she is aboard a ship of which her father is the captain. And, should she ask, we might explain his absence as being unavoidably detained. For now, that is all she need know.”
“Mister Wilburn, you’re brilliant!” Philomena exclaimed. “I could kiss you right now.”
The man straightened his coat, a look of shock and horror gracing his features. “I assure you, Miss McLoughlan, public displays of affection are not necessary in the least.”
“Should we go somewhere a little more private then?” the woman asked with a lilt in her tone and a teasing smile on her lips.
“Miss McLoughlan!” the man exclaimed, looking utterly scandalized. “There is a child present!”
“Ratio, don’t you have something to do?” Philomena asked, nodding toward the door.
The boy grinned as he rose to his feet, tripping a little and nearly ending up back on the floor. “Yes, ma’am.”
Mister Wilburn rose as well, a wild look of frenzied panic replacing his usually controlled expression. “As do I, and I believe, Miss McLoughlan, do you.”
He left in somewhat of a hurry and the cabin boy shook his head, chuckling as he grinned at Philomena. “It’s not nice you doing that. You know how much it flusters him.”
The ship’s navigator grinned. “Why do you think I do it?”

So, that's that. Hope you all enjoyed it! Feel free to leave a comment telling me what you thought of it. And, don't forget to send in your questions for Friday. See you all then!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Candor Fridays- Week Six

It’s Friday, folks!

Before I start, I feel like I should address this week’s earlier post:

My intention of posting was not to cause pity or concern, nor was I fishing for attention. While I was asking for prayer, I did not expect so many people to express concern about my wellbeing. I’d like to tell you all that while I appreciate your words of advice and encouragement more than I can say, there is no need for you to worry about me. I know this is a darker period of my writing, but I also know that God is faithful and I will get through this eventually.

My intention for posting was simply to be honest with my readers. If this is truly a blog about writing and what it’s like to be a writer, than I owe it to you all to let you know it isn’t always fun and game. And there are times when we’re not too keen on our job. And, there aren’t always days when we can be positive about those times. That and that alone was my reason for posting.

But again, thank you all so much for your responses. As I have said before, I appreciate you, faithful readers.

And, that said, let’s get to down to business (TO DEFEAT THE HUNS!!. *coughcough*):

Rodger Sauer asked: My question is this:  What are your all-time top five favorite character names, and why?  (Book, movie, TV show, etc)

That’s a really hard one- especially since a lot of names I like are more because of the character and less about the name (since reading The Misadventures of Maude March I adore the name Marion for a guy).
But, I've come up with five and a bunch of honorable mentions all the same. Even though it was really hard...

5. Dick Dewy- Under the Greenwood Tree The double “d” thing is just awesome and it’s a really fun name to say. It’s even better when you watch the movie because everyone says it with an English accent and it’s awesome :3 (actually this story in general had good name- the girl’s name is Fancy Day!) 

4. Zacharias Wrench- Goodnight Mister Tom. As many of you know, Zach is the character I would choose to be my best friend out of any fictitious character. I swear it’s not just because of his name, but you have to admit it’s a really cool name. I just love how all the sounds work together and how it’s a mix of normal with different.

3. Lasaraleen- The Horse and His Boy. Lewis in general knew how to name characters, but Lasaraleen is my favorite. It has been ever since I first read that book. It’s just so weird and unusual and fun to say.

2. Templeton Peck- The A-Team. They almost never call him by his name, they always call him Face and I’m really torn about that. I love his nickname, but why waste such a great name when you’re not even going to call your character by it? Also, Hannibal Smith is a name from that show worth mentioning. Hannibal :3 That in and of itself is a great name :3

1. Gavriel Mikolaus (which I always pronounced like "Gabrielle" but with a "v" instead...)- the Life of Faith: Millie Keith series. Words cannot express how much I adore this name. And her nickname, Gavi. I just think it’s the most unusual, but not too weird, name ever. And I love it to pieces.

Honorable Mentions: Nicholas Ransquate- the Life of Faith: Millie Keith series; Amen McBee- The Keeper of the Doves; Kat Royal- The Kat Royal series; Finley Sinclair- There You’ll Find Me; Emmajin- Daughter of Xanadu; Holly Golightly- Breakfast at Tiffany’s; Atticus Finch- To Kill a Mocking Bird; Katarina Bishop- Heist Society (Basically, I like names that are fun to say and roll off the tongue nicely)

And, Lindsay Marie asked: What are some things you've learned about writing intriguing openings to your stories? / What are some of your favorite novel openings?

I touched on the first question during Week Four (http://ivorypalace.blogspot.com/2014/08/candor-fridays-week-four.html). I’m hopefully going to write a more in-depth post on it sometime in the future.

But, as for favorite openings, this is going to be fun! I’m going to do two favorites from a writer’s perspective and two from a readers.

I’ll start with the writer ones:

One of my most favorite openings in terms of good writing/storytelling, is the opening of Heist Society by Ally Carter.

For those of you who don’t know, Heist Society is about a young woman who comes from a family of thieves, turns her back on their ways, but is dragged back into their world when her father is accused of a crime he didn’t commit. It’s a really great book, you should go read it *nodnod*

The thing I love about this opening is that it starts with explaining about the school the main character, Kat, is attending and how she got into it. And then it goes into Kat’s last day there where she’s accused of pulling a prank she knows nothing about. What makes the chapter so spectacular, is that the author never comes out and says that Kat comes from a family of thieves. She never up and tells you that Kat turned her back on her family and their ways for a more “normal” life. She never tells you that Kat is different. But it’s there. Every line, every one of Kat’s thoughts tell you there is something up with her, that she’s not your average teenage girl.

So, yeah, love it. Great book. You should read it. *firm nod*

The second opening, would be that of Divergent by Veronica Roth (which I’m not necessarily recommending. If you have questions about my thoughts on the series, please email me, I’d love to discuss them with you).

This opening is really great because it starts with Tris’s mother cutting her daughter’s hair. Which seems like a horrible way to start your book. It basically goes against every “rule” I have ever been taught as a writer. But, it’s actually a really great scene.

See, like Ms. Carter, Ms. Roth never comes out and tells you things about the world her character lives in. I mean there are a few little things here and there, but for the most part, she shows us her character doing something normal, but also shows us what isn’t normal about it all.

That’s the key. The biggest mistake I think writers make is drawing attention to how different their story world is. They feel the need to put up big neon signs in their writing that say “This is different! This is interesting! This is exciting!” and it turns me off. Especially when the book is in first person and I’m wondering who the main character is talking to that they feel such a drive to explain how different their world is.

Understating the interestingness of your story world, especially if it’s a different or new world to the reader, is one of the most underappreciated techniques out there. If you understate and show us that this is all normal to your character, it makes the reader curious. It makes the ask questions. It makes them want to keep reading to find out more. And that is exactly what you want.

And, the reader favorites (though, as a reader, I love the two openings above as well):

I love the opening to There You’ll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones because the epilogue is a callback to that opening scene and so now every time I read that intro I think of the end and it makes me cry (in a good way). That’s another great technique, is to call back your ending to your beginning, to tie the two together. It’s a good scene to start with, but it’s even more wonderful as a reread. Which makes me appreciate Ms. Jones because I feel like she considered her fans and didn’t just write her book for first-time readers. She wrote it for people like me who would love it so much they would read it more than once.

And, the intro to Winter’s Child by Cameron Dokey is some of the most gorgeous prose I have ever read in my life. In general, her prose is amazing, but this intro in particular has really stuck with me. I would highly recommend her fairy tale retellings (her other books look like paranormal stuff so I haven’t read them and therefore can’t recommend them.) She’s really great at putting spins on fairy tales and like I said- her prose=beautiful. So go check her out. Now.

Of course, there are bunches of other openings I love, but I shan't go into them here.

And, that's that. I'll hopefully see you all in Monday with a real post! And, in the meantime, I'll be looking forward to the questions you send me this week! :D

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Honest Post of a Frustrated Writer

***Warning: This post was written by a confused young woman and doesn’t contain any answers to the questions raised. You have been warned***

I hate being a writer.

Shocking, I know.

But, see, the thing is, writing is my happy place, my fun, fulfilling pastime.

It’s also my job.

And, now that I’m trying to be a professional and treat it more like my job, it’s starting to feel a lot more like work and a lot less like a happy place.

I have planned and plotted so many story ideas in the last few weeks. I have worked out all the little kinks and pushed through the plot holes. I’ve made them go from a simple thought or idea into a true story, all ready for writing.

And then I sit down to write and I’ve got nothing. I just feel completely empty.

It’s like the part of my brain that strings word together to make sentences and turns those sentences into stories is no longer functioning. It’s like that part of me is completely empty.

I have struggled the last few days, trying to figure out what to write about here. I’d get an idea for a post and go “yeah, that’s great” until I sat down to write it. And then, nothing.

It’s like I can’t even do that anymore.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I want to write. It’s not like I’m not trying, because I am. But it’s like my brain is unable to do that right now.

I don’t want to quit being a writer, but I sure hate it right now. I wish it was like a “regular” job where I could work on it and struggle and then leave it at the office when I got home at night.

But, writing is a calling, a way of life. It’s not something I can turn on and off like a switch.

So, when I can’t sleep and I’m plotting an idea at midnight, it’s hurtful because my mind keeps reminding me I probably won’t actually be able to write it.

Sadly, my brain is right.

And I am sick and tired of it.

The reason I write is because I want to share my stories with people. I want my ideas to not just be in my head, but to be something other people can read and talk about and enjoy.

So when I can’t share them, it feels like my entire existence as a writer is a waste of time and energy.

What’s the point in plotting a story I won’t be able to write? What’s the point in working on something I can’t actually put into words? What’s the point of pouring my time and emotions into something that is solely for my benefit?

Is there a point?

Because if sure doesn’t feel like it.

What it feels like is a waste of time. A waste of energy. A waste of life.

But, it also feels like all I have.

Since it’s summer, I don’t have a lot else going on. The writing class I teach and the Bible study I do childcare for both don’t start until September. So, while I don’t want summer to end because my sister is home and the end of summer means my sister is gone, I can’t wait for September.

Because then I’ll have other things to occupy my time with.

Things to get my mind off of the fact that I am a failure as a writer. But, I can’t actually quit my job because writing doesn’t work like that.

It’s something I’m stuck with, for better or worse, until the day I die. So, if dying’s the only way to get quit, I guess I’ll hold out. Because that’s not something I really want to do quite yet- dying, that is. But, that might just be the only reason why I'm holding on to this writer thing right now.

So I guess I’ll just keep up doing what I’m doing. I don’t really have many other options.

And, if you would like, you could pray for me, should you think of it:

  • First of all, please pray that I fully depend on God for everything- including my words and inspiration.
  • Second, that I stop stressing out about this and that my ability to “do words” comes back soon.
  • Third, that I could stop stressing about the other things in my life, especially writing class, and that if it’s God’s will, I will have another few students.
  • And, lastly, please pray that I don’t let my attitude about my temporary writing inability cross over into the other areas of my life and effect the way I deal with the people around me.

And, I’m really sorry that this is a depressing post without any answers to my questions. But, I did warn you after all.

I guess I’ll be posting on Friday, so if you have questions feel free to send them in. Those seem to be the one thing I can write these days.

Thanks so much for reading and caring. I appreciate you, faithful reader.

Until Friday, remember to stay awesome! I’ll see you then.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Candor Fridays- Contest Winner Announced!

It’s Sunday folks!

And, I didn’t post at all last week. Really sorry for that. I don’t even have an excuse, it just sort of didn’t happen.

I’m working on a post for tomorrow or Tuesday but right now I have a special announcement to make. You know, the one I was supposed to make on Friday…

It has been a month since I started Candor Fridays. I’ve really enjoyed answering all your questions and look forward to what you will all come up with in the future.

And now, as promised, I’ve drawn a winner for this month’s contest.

Are you all ready for this?


Are you really ready?

Are you sure?

Are you sure you're sure?

 You're sure?

All right, then

Here it is:

The winner for this month’s Candor Friday Contest is: Harpley

[insert bells, cheering, and whistles]

Her prize is choosing a topic for me to write a full blog post on, whether that be a subject she wants to me talk/rant about, a question she wants me to answer, a prompt she wants me to write a story off of, or a book review she wants me to write. Or, if she has other ideas, I might surprise y’all with that.

And, in the meantime, I shall hopefully have a blog post for you tomorrow or the next day. And, I’ll be waiting eagerly for your questions for this Friday!

Until then, remember to stay awesome!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Candor Fridays- Week Four

It’s Friday, folks!

I’m very sorry I didn’t write a blog post this Monday! This week has been insanely busy (but incredibly exciting and wonderful) as we are hosting a writing week with some wonderful out-of-towners and a friend from home. I shall return Monday to tell you more about how wonderful that’s all been.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to make sense of it all; it’s been a bit crazy…

But in the meantime, we’ll get to this week’s questions:

Cindy Sauer asked: Do think being able to write stories is a creative gift people are just naturally born with, or can anyone develop it?  It sounds like you just have these ideas popping into your head all the time - from beginning to end.  Me, on the other hand, I can come up with great beginnings, but that's it - I never can figure out where to go with them.  When you come up with a story idea, do you have to sit down and really think out where it is all going, plot it out, etc. or does it just flow naturally.  I guess I'm wondering if I'm just not putting in the time I need, or if I just don't have "it"

This is a really hard question to answer because it’s rather complex. I think both options are a possibility. Some people are born with a natural ability to write and so they cultivate that talent and excel. Others, however, are not born with that ability but, at the same time they are drawn to writing and have a desire and inclination to create stories. So they take classes or read books or just study writing by reading and become successful that way.

I, for example, am very much a natural when it comes to writing characters. I can’t for the life of me, however, write plots. They are just so hard for me to come up with. But, because I’ve studied and worked at it, I’m able to create better plots. So it is with people who aren’t born with a knack for writing. If they are truly dedicated to learning to write and putting the amount of time (which is a crazy, insane amount, as it is with learning anything) they will be able to “make themselves a writer” in a sense.

And, honestly, I think that people like that actually have an advantage over writers who are born with that knack because they start out by putting so much work and dedication into their writing that it becomes natural for them. Whereas with someone like me, I’m so used to things coming easily that when they don’t I’m inclined to drop the story because it’s no good. When really, it just needs a little dedication and some old-fashioned hard work.

And, Lindsay Marie asked: What are some techniques you like to use to hook readers at the very beginning of the story?

Interestingly enough, this is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately and have hoped to write a blog post about. But, since that obviously hasn’t happened, I’ll give you a condensed version here (and maybe write the longer blog post later…)

Something I’ve always been taught is that one must hook their readers with the very first sentence. Also, the opening scene must have action, especially of a very intense nature. But, then I started reading popular YA fiction books (because if I’m going to write the genre, I should know what’s hot, right?) and started noting that most don’t follow that pattern.

It seems YA novels start with normal things, like a girl getting ready for her day or getting her hair cut. And yet, the author works to weave in details to tell us that while this is a normal day for the main character her life and world are far from normal.

I think this method is more effective because throwing a super intense scene at your reader right off the bat can be a bit much or hard for them to get into. So, starting them off slowly but offering enough to intrigue them draws them in much more efficiently.

So, I would say that’s the best technique for me- to intrigue the reader enough to make them want to spend the rest of the book with my hero and in their story world. Try to raise questions and create emotion, don’t be confusing but leave things vague enough that they want to keep reading to find out more. Draw them in so slowly they don’t even realize they’ve been tricked into reading a few chapters instead of the few sentences they started out intending to read.

Take the reader by the hand and guide them into the story. Don’t force them into the action too soon or shove them into a world until they’ve fully decided they want to enter it. Because in the end, being gentle is always a good idea.

And that’s that, folks! I’ll be announcing a winner next Friday. This month’s winner will be able to choose a topic for an upcoming blog post (whether it’s a short story prompt, something they want me to talk/rant about, a book review, or some other thing they come up with). I’ll also be answering questions next week, so it’s not too late to get your name in there!

So, make sure you email me! I can’t wait to hear from you.

And, in the meantime, I’ll hopefully see you here at the beginning of the week!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Candor Fridays- Week Three

It's Friday, folks!

Since you all know what that means by now (hopefully) I'm just going to jump right in!

Harpley asked: I've read your book, 'Why Rodney Never Should've Gone to the NAPIC', and I was often grinning to myself as I read the humor you injected into it.  I realize that most of the funny lines and narrations simply come from Kit being Kit, but do you have any advice on how to write humor into a story like that?

This is actually one of the hardest questions I’ve ever been asked. And, it seems to get asked quite frequently. So, I’m going to go ahead and try my best to answer it.

First of all, as you said, a lot of it comes from Kit being Kit. That’s the biggest thing- never try to force humor. Readers can smell forced humor a mile off and then it’s no longer funny. But, as a reader yourself, I’m sure you know that.

That said, there are three key words that come to mine when I think of Kit’s voice: Exaggeration, Understatement, and Sarcasm. You know what I mean, right?

Let’s start with exaggeration: Remember that scene at the beginning of the book where she sees Oliver O’Rourke for the first time and goes nuts? She crushes on him majorly to the point of exaggeration. I meant to do that because I wanted the scene to be funny rather than just girl crushing on boy. Girl crushing on boy gets eyerolls. Girl crushing on boy to the extent that it’s hilarious gets rave reviews about that chapter (okay, maybe not rave reviews, but I have been told my several people how funny it is). There’s other times too, like when she’s in the closet and she says, “That’s my worst fear, you know, death by darkness.” She’s freaking out so much that while it’s realistic, it’s also ridiculous. So, realism to the point of exaggeration.

That said, Kit also has this great habit of understating things. When she’s not freaking out about how serious something is, she’s… well… not freaking out about how serious something is. This is like in the opening chapter, when she’s complaining how she’s in trouble at school because her teachers never believe her when she tells them she was kidnapped. It’s like in that same chapter when she goes on to talk about how not a big deal it is. In the second book there’s a scene where she walks into a bookstore and there’s a man with a gun. Kit’s thoughts? She’s upset that she skipped breakfast and it doesn’t look like she’ll be home in time for lunch. It’s when she’s so apathetic, it’s funny.

And then, sarcasm. Which I don’t even really know how to explain. That’s something that Kit just does. And it’s funny XD

Basically, my advice is to look at your story and see where you can add some of these techniques. Can you exaggerate here? Or, would understatement be better? Or, would sarcasm fit into this spot? But, above all else, make sure that the humor stems out of something natural. Kit is an exaggerator. If you have a character who never exaggerates, making them exaggerate to be funny all of a sudden won’t work. Kit’s crushing on Oliver works because that’s what girls do. Maybe not to that extent, but it’s definitely a fact that our minds can work that way. And, the scene I mentioned above at the bookstore is only natural because Kit’s used to guns being waved in her face and while she’s mildly concerned about it, she’s also more concerned about food. Always. I don’t think there is a priority higher on Kit’s list than food.

So, those are just a few basic tips on how Kit Parker’s humor works. There are obviously a lot of other ways to make people laugh and I would recommend looking in-depth at the things you find funny, breaking them down to see how they work and why. But, above all else, make sure it stems out of something natural. If you keep that in mind, you’ll be well on your way to writing scenes that have people in stitches.

Lindsay Marie asked: If you could design your own house... and had enough money to buy all the books you wanted... how would you incorporate books/bookshelves into the design?

I had way too much fun with this one, I’m not going to lie (that would be bad on any occasion, but especially since this is Candor Fridays and I’ve sworn to be honest…)

Anyway, after I received your email, I did a bit of searching online and found some awesome pictures that I’m going to post below and then give commentary on.

First, I should explain that books are a major part of my life; I don’t think people really realize how major. They are a happy place for me, and buying books is my way of splurging. Whether it’s online buying favorites or at a bookstore/ sale. I’m already bursting at the seams as it is, so asking what I would do if I had the money to design my own home and buy all the books I want is dangerous…

And, of course, the first thing that comes to mind when I think of that is this:

Yup, that’s right. Belle’s library from Beauty and the Beast. I can honestly say it has been my dream ever since I first watched that movie to have a library like that (and to marry a guy who would give me a library like that, but that’s beside the point… :P) It is the most gorgeous thing ever. *nodnod*

All right, I’ll stop drooling now and move onto the next picture…

 It needs a railing along the side (seriously, aren’t people afraid of falling off or something!?) but, isn’t this such a great idea? It would be really great for a finished basement/ school room thing especially, where you could put all the school books and other school stuff. Plus, it’s just such a great use of space.

This is another drool-worthy use of space. I mean really, look at it. Do I even need to give commentary on this? Because I’m pretty sure it speaks for itself.

This is another great idea for an attic. I seriously need this. Now. Except, that I would put bookshelves all the way around where there weren’t windows. Because who needs wall space when you could use the space for bookshelves? *drools*

I think this is my favorite. A secret passage and a bookshelf combined. Is there any better combination? I didn’t think so.

And, lastly:

Is that not the coolest looking office ever? Not sure it’s really practical, but I still love it!

Basically, I’m going to have bookshelves everywhere. And I mean everywhere. If the space can be used for a bookshelf, it will be. Because having a place to keep all my books is at the top of my priority list and I have/want way too many books to do anything else…

And that’s it, folks! Another Candor Fridays week! Make sure to send in your questions for next week and remember that I’ll be announcing the giveaway winner the week following (the 15th)

And, until then, I’ll hopefully see you on Monday! :D