Always quirky, sometimes sweet speculative fiction

Tag: storybook perfect (Page 1 of 2)

Too Many Topics For A Title

I don’t usually blog about multiple topics in one post, but today I’ll make an exception.

Wahoo! I finally finished Storybook Perfect (again). In case you were unfamiliar with why I mention the ‘again’, I had finished Storybook Perfect, the first in a trilogy, but when I compared its 175,000 word count to my estimated 120,000 word count for the following two books I didn’t like the discrepancy and decided to turn the trilogy into a quartet. You can read more here.

So, finally re-written, revised, edited and formatted. Now onto fixing my paragraph and 2 page synopsis (no need to change the one sentence fortunately). Then to start submissions again. Is it sad that I’m excited by that?

So that’s one thing ticked off on my NaNoWriMo prep list.

Word Count Calendar

I’ve also set up a little excel spread-sheet with my word count goals. It only took me a few minutes to make the spread-sheet, though I am laughing at myself for forgetting how to make sums in Excel (a minute of thought reminded me I need to preface the word ‘SUM’ with an equals symbol). It has been three or four years since I built a spread-sheet from the ground up.

Being the generous person I am (Toot toot! Hear me tooting my own horn?) I thought I’d share it for anyone who wants to save themselves the 10 or so minutes it would take them to make it. You just click this link.

My parents read my post about winning the Nature’s Cuppa tea pack. They are currently doing the grey nomad thing around Australia (not sure what a grey nomad is? Here you go.) and asked me to save some of the chai tea bags for them. That reminded me I probably should try some of the other flavours (I was so in love with the chai I didn’t even open the other packs yet).

The earl grey is delicious. The aroma relaxes you immediately and the flavour matches the aroma to a ‘t’ (pun or not? Your choice). The chai’s scent is a lot more peppery than the flavour (other spices level out the taste nicely) hence why I mention how well the smell matches the taste in regards to the earl grey. Who knows, give me a week and I might have tried another flavour ;p

My business cards arrived too. I was going to post about it yesterday, but doctor’s appointments, broken down cars (resulting in having to drive T-J to and from work), and Xander’s refusal to leave the park even after an hour and a half (I tried the good old ‘bye-bye Xander’ and walk away trick, but he just waved to me and kept on playing. You’re too young to see through mummy’s ruse yet Xander!) meant my day was a little too full for blogging.

A shot of my business card

So here’s my card! I used a small strip of the website background to add a little colour, and I’ve been obsessed with the QR code for months. What do you think?

Lastly, I’m looking forward to going to the Gold Coast Writer’s Festival, I’ll be attending on Friday and Saturday. I’ll let you all know how it goes. I hope someone asks for my business card 😀

Well, that wraps up my crazy multi-topic post. Do you think my word count goal spread sheet could be useful for other stuff too? What do you think of the business card (try out the QR code!)? Keep your fingers crossed for me and the submissions please.

 

I won the Nature’s Cuppa prize pack but am under no obligation to comment/blog about the tea. All opinions are my own and not paid for.

Xander and my business card

10 Days To NaNoWriMo

Philosoraptor pontificates NaNoWriMo (I am obsessed with Memegenerator ATM)

There’s ten days until NaNoWriMo takes over whatever scraps of free time I have. I know I’m going to need to prepare for this because people with less on their plate are posting how they fear they will not be able to win. No I didn’t write that line to beg for people to praise me and tell me I can do it, nor did I write it because working a full-time job isn’t tough. All I mean to say is if back when I worked a full time job I’d known how little free time I would have with a child at home I would have put in more effort to wisely use the free time I had back then. Even now I’m sure there are people reading this rolling their eyes thinking, “Jeeze, you only have one kid? You don’t know how good you got it.” So I’m not trying to say I have the biggest load on my plate either.

Whoa, went off on a serious tangent there…

Well, suffice to say, I know I need to plan this out, because I intend to knock this out of the park.

So, here’s the list of what I’m working on to prepare:

1/ Finish my final read through of the altered Storybook Perfect so I can be submitting it while I work. Ok, sure that doesn’t sound like it should be important, but I don’t want to leave something so close to finished undone, nagging away at the back of my mind. In a fit of procrastination I might go back to finish it and loose precious time. Also I’d like to be doing something to get it back out there ASAP.

2/ Pick my story. Well technically I’ve done that. If you’re already following my Facebook page you will have seen the synopsis I put up. The synopsis is still a little raw, not quite pitch perfect, but it definitely gets the idea across. Follow this link to my NaNoWriMo page and you should be able to read it. Feel free to tell me what you think.

3/ Set up plot outline in Scrivener. Since the idea isn’t brand new I’ve got plenty of ideas of how I want the plot to go and the themes I want to bring up. It’s been rolling around in my head for a year or two, but has always been on the back-burner because I have so many stories I’m desperate to write that it hasn’t had a chance to come to the front. I have a very large, very active back-burner.

4/ Set daily word count goals. 50,000 divided by 30=1667(why do keyboards have no division sign? Is there a HTML way to make them?). But I intend to goal more heavily in the early weeks so I have a buffer for busy days/writers block/illness that may strike later on. Being a mum has made me very safety conscious ;p I want to make a tickable calendar so I can track days I was under and over. I already track word counts(when writing) and page counts (for revision) in my five year diary, but I want something I can absorb in one glance. edit 24/10/12: I’ve done this now, and I’m sharing it. The calendar is fairly simple, just an Excel spreadsheet, but if you’d like it go to this post for the link.

5/ Pre-prep a few blog posts as back up for when I’m just too busy. No phone-ins though! I’m going to want to keep focused on my NaNo and even though I love my blog, I can see it being a distraction. I’ll keep thinking of really cool things to post and keep writing here instead of in the novel. Sadly, blog posts do not get counted toward your NaNoWriMo total.

6/ Complete my other submissions for various journals and competitions since a few are due in November and early December. This is the bottom of the list because I’m not sure how much time I can create. I’d love to get this done, since this will hopefully get my name out there, but if I can’t then I can’t. I’m still going to strive though, because that’s in the spirit of NaNoWrIMo.

Can you think of anything I’m missing?

The Perfect Line

You know that perfect line. That line you can’t forget. The line that even if you wanted to you couldn’t scrub out of your memory with the scratchiest brillo-pad. If you still haven’t grasped the concept here’s two examples, one with no background (because I assume you all have watched Disney’s movie ‘Tangled’. If not, SPOILER WARNING) and one with a lot of background.

“You were my new dream”

So first, Tangled. The line Flynn says at the end (when we all think he’s dying) “You were my new dream”.

And just in case that wasn’t a good enough example of a perfect line. In the manga series ‘With The Light’(which you might be sick of me talking about with two posts in the last few weeks on it, here and here) the mother of the autistic child Hikaru needs to fill out a questionnaire on behalf of her son in which one of the questions is ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’. She eventually decides Hikaru would want to be (here’s the perfect line) “A happy working adult”. Even now, years after reading it for the first time, I remember that line. When I heard the manga-ka (Keiko Tobe) had passed away before completing the series I became frantic with worry that she may not have ended the series so I would never discover if Hikaru grew up into ‘a happy working adult’.

As a writer you can’t help but strive for that level of impact. Problem is sometimes it comes out cheesey. Other times the paranoid editor who hides within every writer thinks it’s too cheesey when in actuality it’s dead on and everyone but you can see it. Also it can be exhausting trying that hard on nearly every line of dialogue.

I’m currently revising ‘Storybook Perfect’, my first novel (which clearly this blog is titled after) in preparation for the Harper Voyager open submissions and every few pages (I’m lying, paragraphs!) I stop and agonise over a line, trying to make it perfect. This manuscript is being seen by the publisher, it hasn’t had an agents loving hand run over it to smooth out any creases, and a stay-at-home mum doesn’t easily have the money to hire an editor. I’m panicking that just about any imperfection could be the difference between acceptance and rejection – which of course it is. There will be thousands of authors competing and there is an undefined (at least not on the page I read) number of vacancies. If I’m rejected I know it won’t be the end of the world, I’m made of far tougher grit than that, but it would be awful to miss an opportunity like this simply because the work wasn’t perfect.

Of course perfection is all about perception.

What’s your favourite perfect line? It can be either your own creation (in which case please give us some context) or something you’ve seen/read.

 

Tangled image full rights belong to Disney.

***While trying to hunt down a picture of Flynn’s ‘death scene’ I came across a picture of a cosplayer ‘bringing the smoulder’ and couldn’t stop laughing. I got permission to link to it so please go here and enjoy! If you have a DA account comment too please 😀 ***

The ‘Look’ Challenge

I’ve been challenged by fellow writer/blogger Elizabeth Barone, to do the ‘Look’ challenge. To complete the look challenge you take the work you’re currently toiling on, go to the first time the word ‘look’ appears therein and post the surrounding passage on your blog. I went with my manuscript for Storybook Perfect since I’m working on it for the Harper Voyager open submissions for spec-fic rather than the short story I’m currently doing (which is not going quite so well, but as I’ve said before, I sometimes struggle with short stories).

So here you go, a little sneak peak of early on in chapter 1 of Storybook Perfect:

 

Brione blinked.

Where am I? The thought wafted out of the shock. She hadn’t blacked out, at least she didn’t think so. Aside from a slight ache where her seatbelt had held her in place she couldn’t feel any injuries so the impact must not have been severe. Despite her pose Yui had not been speeding, though perhaps she had been driving faster than she should have on the shale. Yui was already unbelted and clambering out her door to inspect the damage. Brione took a long deep breath and closed her eyes, letting the relief swell.

Madison breathed hard behind her. The breaths started off rapid and terrified, but Brione could hear them turning into angry pants. This was not the first time Madison had been in a crash when Yui drove. While none of the accidents were any more severe than this one, Madison did not appear to be taking that into account.

Yui knelt beside the front driver’s side tire to inspect it.

“Ugh! The mudguard’s up against the tire. Give us a sec.” She told her friends without looking away from the damage. The half-Japanese girl drew herself up high and aimed two solid low kicks against the mudguard, expanding the gap. She leaned down to consider it again. “I don’t think the frame underneath is damaged. Just a little body work needed.” She peered back inside the car, dropping herself back into the driver’s seat. “I’m turning off the radio though, gonna keep an ear on the engine just in case.”

“Well you are the expert.” Teased Brione, teeth flashing in a cheeky grin.

Madison wordlessly screamed and jumped out of the car, slamming the door as she got out. “I’m walking the rest of the way.” She told them with a fury that could burn your ears.

Yui shrugged and started to reverse. Madison was prone to furious outbursts, if she wanted to explode, let her do it some where far away.

Madison shrieked as the car reversed past her and when Yui stopped to change back into first gear Madison tore open the door and flung herself back inside. Evidently the thought of walking a kilometer along a deserted country road by herself was a scarier prospect than getting back into the car with the crumpled front.

Madison’s muttering was louder than the engine and Yui tried her best to focus on how that was a good thing because that meant the engine was fine. Brione barely heard the grumbling because she was pondering a statistic she had heard of which claimed most drivers automatically drove to defend themselves. Yui had not and it prickled Brione’s interest.

I use omniscient third person POV, which is a different to usual so I’d love to hear what anyone thinks. Also if you’d like to take the challenge let me know and I’ll post your link here.

Time To Get To Work!

Oooooh, Harper Voyager are going to do open submissions for epic fantasy (and some other genres) novels. True it’s for their e-book line, but still – HARPER VOYAGER!

I have to get out the polishing cloth on ‘Storybook Perfect’ and the still-not-quite-perfectly-named ‘Written By The Stars’. I promise I’ll keep blogging, but definitely going to be focused in on those manuscripts for the next few weeks.

PUMPED!

What’s A Blogger To Do?

What’s a blogger to do when her internet stops working? Why actually get some work done on her novel of course!

I took on an ambitious task recently, turning my epic fantasy trilogy into a quartet. I’d been considering it for a while. I’d noticed a disparity between the size of Storybook Perfect when compared to its two follow up novels. Storybook Perfect runs at 175,000 words, but when I look at the scenes I’ve planned for its untitled sequels neither seems like they will go much over 120,000. Usually the series starts with smaller books and the last few are the large ones. I’ve been thinking of ways to combat this problem. I don’t really want to ‘pad’ the later volumes, padding usually reads exactly like that – as filler. If you doubt me, anime fans, think of Naruto’s filler episodes. They lacked the lustre and power of the episodes that were drawn from the original manga. They weren’t terrible (though some may dispute that statement) but they weren’t up to the standard of what came before or what followed. I am NOT doing that to my books. I want my books to be shiny and strong.

So my next option was cut from Storybook Perfect. I have revised that book more times than I can count and while I could probably shave a few thousand words of somehow (god knows how, but there would be a way) it would never be the tens of thousands I’d need.

So a thought came into my head. Turn Storybook Perfect into two books. There were ideas I had to relinquish for the sake of word count that I could rewrite and of course I’d have to add a new conflict in to wrap up the new book 1, but it could be doable.

I agonised over the decision for a few months, no one wants to go back and tear through something they spent ten years already working on, but I didn’t feel there was any other way.

Scrivener is a godsend. I transferred my existing Word document into Scrivener, split it into scenes so I could flick through to add and remove at will (soooooooooo much easier than scrolling through a 294 page Word document). Now I can also move scenes that will be in book two easily as well.

The only down side is shortly after that I got a fever and a bad flu  >.< but I’m back online and (almost) feeling fine so we’ll be talking again soon.

Writers Group – My First Critique

In my previous post ‘Nerves’ I told you all that I had submitted the first chapter and a half of my current WIP for critique. One of the reasons I chose that was because of how much I was struggling with my revision of the first draft and how I couldn’t pin-point what was wrong. Well my group certainly knew! It was unanimous that my protagonist was a whiny, passive bitch. It makes perfect sense. In Storybook Perfect my main protagonist (Yui Watanabe) is already a strong young woman so doesn’t have a great deal of growth in that area. I wanted Fanta to grow more so I purposefully weakened her at the start, burdening her with an anxiety disorder among other things. Unfortunately I made her so weak she’s not easily likeable.

Fortunately this is something I can fix. The person Fanta becomes later in the story will simply have to be clearer at the start. I’m quite confident that this is the problem I was sensing from my manuscript – the false/forced growth of my protagonist. I’m sorry Fanta, hopefully they’ll like you a bit more next time ;p

Getting my work critiqued was great. It was also widely agreed that the alternate world setting was awesome. That makes me beam with pride since the reason my other novel was turned down by the agent who requested the full manuscript was because the world was too ‘stock standard fantasy’(I’ve made a lot of changes now so it’s a bit less run-of-the-mill for those curious – I listen to feedback). Funnily enough she disliked the world, but loved my protagonist – the exact opposite of this story, so I’m laughing quite a bit right now.

I also really love talking to several of the members of the group. I’m looking forward to next time eagerly.

How To Armour Your Best Girl

This one is for fantasy writers and gamers alike.

I dress my protagonist of Storybook Perfect, Yui, in full plate armour, which merely has a slight extra bowing in the breastplate to accommodate her bust. In less formal combat she wears a chainmail hauberk and a surcoat. Not much different from what her fellow male knights wear.

I knew from the very start I wasn’t going to dress her in any sort of a midriff baring outfit. Sexy though they may be its just ridiculous to give your opponent easy access to you belly. If you angle your sword right you can even pierce up and under the ribcage to the lungs and heart in some of these outfits. While I do enjoy playing some of these cutely armoured women, I would never dress my warriors in such frippery. It’s only there to visually pander to the male gamers.

I’ve collected a few links in regards to women in armour, both with stand points similar to mine, but with far more beautiful pictures and much more detailed arguments. To be honest I’m supplying these links for selfish purposes also – so I can easily find them in future.

This one is by an actual black smith (How cool!) and details why armour specifically shaped around each breast individually could be dangerous to the wearer.

This one from The Mary Sue rightly argues the point of if you are able to believe in magical powers and the ability to carry 99 copies of about a hundred different items and 999,999 gold without twenty pack horses why can’t you believe a woman would be able to wear a full suit of armour.

If you have any links to realistic armour for women I’d love for you to put them in the comments because Yui will not be my only warrior female and I’d love more references for the future.

Blown Away

It stuns me to realise this but since February 14th I have taken my current work in progress (working title is Fanta’s Story, but I can assure you that won’t be the final title) from a story outline I transferred into Scrivener to 55,000 words. I have six scene cards – yes you read right only six scenes – until I have completed my first rough draft.

It doesn’t feel real.

I’m dead serious here. It doesn’t. I started writing Storybook Perfect (back when it was called Yui’s Tale, are you sensing a similarity with my WIP titles?) when I was sixteen. I finished it in 2009, when I was 27 and off work for two months with a (still undiagnosed) vertigo disorder. It was only a rough draft finish of course and it has gone through easily eight full edits since, but to go from the first book taking 11 years to the next taking not even two whole months… it blows my mind!

Admittedly I always have had the habit of getting distracted by something shiny and new. I would start Yui’s Tale and after a chapter or a scene or two I’d get excited about ‘the Children of Tejemanya’ or ‘Evannah’ and do some writing in them and the cycle would continue with new books starting, ideas being plotted and then distraction! I’m even the same with games. I start a game, get approximately two thirds through and then something new comes out and I just can’t help but play with it. I can count the number of games I have actually watched the ending credits roll in on one hand. Ok, I lie, I need both hands, but I’ve played easily more than triple that count, keeping my success rate at under 30%. As a quick aside, oddly enough those I’ve finished I often go back and complete AGAIN. My re-completion rate is 60%. What’s wrong with me? I don’t know.

Getting back to my point now, I am easily distracted – as I just proved in multiple ways. What I think has helped me with my current work in progress is having a child.

Whaaaaaaaaat?!

Yep, having a child. I have so little time that I no longer waste it watching TV or just lying around. I have to use every precious minute. It keeps me focused, makes me determined. Even though I have other projects (this blog and my other secret WIP I will reveal soon) I have been able to maintain focus and tear through this. I never had that until now.

So I want to thank my precious baby, Xander, not just for being the light of my life but for helping me write like a real author. I love you.

The Complexity of Japanese Names

Inspired somewhat by this post on naming characters I thought I would tell you all about my recent adventure with naming Storybook Perfect’s protagonist.

Wait a sec you say, didn’t I finish writing Storybook Perfect ages ago – that’s the completed manuscript, right? So why are you naming the character now? I had originally named the character Yui right from the start. She was of Japanese/Australian descent with an Aussie father and a Japanese mother. When she turned eighteen she took her mother’s maiden name as her last name in honour of her deceased mother, so she has an entirely Japanese name.

Originally Yui was Yui Horiba, but recently it occurred to me for authenticities sake I would need to know her name meaning and the kanji she used for her name. For those unfamiliar with the Japanese written language there is the Hiragana(for words of Japanese origin) and Katakana(for words of foreign origin) which are similar to the letters of our alphabet only they cover ‘mora’(syllables) such as ‘ka’, ‘tsu’, ‘ni’ ect. Then they make it really hard by having Kanji.

In a nutshell kanji originated from China and are a large and (often)complex symbol which stands for a word or phrase. Most Japanese children are not fully aware of all the kanji so in many books and manga when a kanji is used the hiragana are written small alongside it so it can be spelled out easily. Most Japanese names have a special kanji attributed to them. I realised I had a serious character flaw in the fact I had no idea what Yui’s kanji or meaning were so I studied up.

I had a dreadful time trying to find the meaning for Horiba – which admittedly was a random Japanese surname that the younger me saw and thought ‘oooh, that sounds cool’ – and eventually came to the decision I might have to drop that last name and pick another.

So I thought it best to start with Yui’s first name. I was fairly certain I didn’t want to change that, but if there was no last name I could match with it and be happy about I might be forced to so I didn’t say never. Yui’s name has multiple meanings depending on the kanji (as with most names). Meanings ranged from tie/link, only and reason and most of those could or were teamed up with the kanji for robe/clothing. With this range of meanings in mind I read through lists of last names and their meanings.

I found a brilliant match almost immediately (It’s enough to make you believe in destiny!) in the surname Watanabe. True Watanabe is almost the Japanese equivalent of Smith, but when you hear what the combination of kanji can read as you will see why I chose it for a protagonist who travels from one dimension to another.

Yui Watanabe can be read with these Kanji

Yui Watanabe in Kanji

The Kanji for Yui Watanabe

as tie/link across boundaries/areas. You’ve got to appreciate that and (not to be too spoiler-tastic with my own book) you learn something more in book 2 about how powerful a meaning that name is for her.

Of course I’m still a little paranoid, I’m only a beginner at Japanese and most of my research on names and kanji has been on the internet (where everything HAS to be true. Right?) so my translation may not be perfect. I’m hoping I might be fortunate enough that someone out there more skilled than I might be able to confirm I have it all right (You’d know someone, wouldn’t you Sammy?).

Out of interest does anyone out there have an interesting name meaning, either for themselves or a character they created?

Lastly I hope I didn’t offend any Japanese people in my descriptions I was decsribing what I knew in the simplest way possible and meant no insult if I made any.

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