I hate feeling helpless. It’s the absolute worst feeling in the world to me. That sinking in your gut when you know your personal fate lies in the hands of others — it’s something I avoid as much as I can, if I’m honest.
Recently things in my life have been snatched out of my tight control, and I’ve had a bit of a hard time adjusting. (Who am I kidding, I’m still not adjusted.) I was sitting at my desk today thinking: Maybe I was a turtle in a past life. Because when I feel like I’m being attacked by the universe, all I want to do is close my eyes and put my hands over my ears and pretend like none of it exists. If I had a handy shell, I’d totally disappear into it.
That probably just means I need therapy though. lol
Super Spawn started Kindergarten at the end of August. He’s a full-blown big kid now! And Mom over here is learning that once they hit that level, any ounce of control you retained at the pre-k level flies out the window like a dirty kleenex. Forget those lovely evening chats about school, because by the end of the day he’s so over-stimulated all he can manage is to cry or stare at the TV and drool. (Okay, he doesn’t drool, but it paints an appropriate picture for you.)
Then I totaled my car. (And now it’s my turn to only manage crying.) Which, everything is fine — well, except the car — but STRESS, OMG STRESS.
I swear I had a point when I started this post.
Oh well. That’s where I’ve disappeared to. Life. Watching Doctor Who. Attempting to breathe. But I miss you guys. I miss writing. Haven’t been doing much of that either. Well, I have, but I haven’t. I’ve got a new sorta-kinda-almost-done-but-not-really draft. I need to force myself to get back to it, it’s the only way to relieve some of this life anxiety – to just write through it.
So brace yourselves, my dear lovelies, because you never know what I’ll say next.
When writing a novel there are a plethora of things to think about: plot, characters, conflict, pacing. The list goes on and on. But I realized last week that I’ve been missing a very big, overreaching point.
I haven’t stopped to think about how I want my story and characters to be perceived by readers. My thoughts have been more of how will my story be perceived, which isn’t so helpful when you think about it.
Now, maybe I’m slow on the uptake, but I truly had never stopped to think, “How do I want readers to feel about my MC? My story as a whole? What do I want them to be left with?”
Insert bolt of lightning here.
The WIP I’ve been working on for a couple of months now is very complex. Very. And I’ve really struggled with how to tell this story in an effective and engaging way. So on Friday when I imparted my above wisdom in a random chat with a friend, it kinda smacked me in the face. *DUH, Holly! Why weren’t you doing this all along?*
Naturally, I then set to work writing out exact goals for each of my characters, and for the story itself, and as fate would have it my plot problem was solved.
As an example of what I mean, let’s take an older story of mine I’ve talked a lot about before on the blog: HAPPILY NEVER AFTER, which is about a sixteen-year-old girl who is trapped in a fairy tale and has to escape before she loses her memory, or winds up dead.
Okay, my MC is Kate. Here’s what I might say in my goal list for perceptions of Kate:
I want Kate to come across as slightly sarcastic with a sharp wit, but it’s used to cover up the fact that she’s having a hard time coping with real life.
Knowing that tidbit of information up front makes it much easier to focus a character’s actions and reactions to mirror a specific personality. (At least I think it does.) And knowing how you want your book as a whole to be viewed allows you to set a tone from the start that can be carried through to the end.
So tell me, am I behind the mark on this? Do you set goals like this for your stories, or do you wander into it like I did?
So last Friday I hopped on a plane to Charlotte for a weekend I’ll never forget. (Also known as Weekend of Awesome.)
If you missed the buzz about WOA last year, what happens is a bunch of blogging writers meet up to write, talk craft, and – well, not to sound cheesy — become friends. Last year I wasn’t able to attend the awesome event, which was far less than awesome, so I was beside myself with excitement about this year.
We rented a gorgeous lake house just north of Charlotte, NC and spent the weekend enjoying the view as we challenged ourselves to become better writers.
I’ll tell you, there’s nothing quite as inspiring as sitting in a room with seven other writers who understand you – being able to ask questions and talk candidly about this journey. It was fantastic to say the least.
Between sipping coffee on the dock in the mornings, word-warring the day away, and giggling over dinner and movies every night, I’d say it was probably the best writing retreat EVER. I left with great memories, great friends, an extra 7k words on my manuscript, and as inspired as I’ve ever been to keep going.
BIG SAPPY GROUP HUG!!
So…today I’m flying back from my little retreat, which I will tell you all about as soon as I’m unpacked and settled. For today, however, how about a picture of some VERY cute puppies?
I couldn’t begin to count the number of times I’ve used the phrase “use your words” as a mother. Since Super Spawn was first able to talk I’ve encouraged the use of his vocabulary to explain his feelings instead of having a tantrum on the floor. (And get this, it works!)
Something I’ve tried to impress upon him, even as a small child, is that words are powerful. Coming from a toddler’s standpoint, being able to use his words can mean the difference between bawling on the floor because he lost his toy or whatever the “crisis” is, and having Mom fix the problem.
As he grows I hope to teach him how words affect people on an emotional level. How a single phrase can change the way someone sees themself, for better or worse.
As writers I feel like we hold a very special gift in our hands — the ability to take words and shape them into more. We can create turns of phrase and entire worlds that have the ability to reshape the way a young adult’s (or whoever reads) view of society, the world as a whole, or themselves in a very deep way.
So, use your words for good whether it be on your blog, in your life, or in your novel. Don’t forget the power they hold.
As Spiderman says, “With great power comes great responsibility.” (Can you tell Super Spawn is into Spiderman lately?)
The Dark Divine #1
The memories her family has tried to bury resurface when Daniel returns, three years later, and enrolls in Grace and Jude’s high school. Despite promising Jude she’ll stay away, Grace cannot deny her attraction to Daniel’s shocking artistic abilities, his way of getting her to look at the world from new angles, and the strange, hungry glint in his eyes.
The closer Grace gets to Daniel, the more she jeopardizes her life, as her actions stir resentment in Jude and drive him to embrace the ancient evil Daniel unleashed that horrific night. Grace must discover the truth behind the boy’s dark secret…and the cure that can save the ones she loves. But she may have to lay down the ultimate sacrifice to do it–her soul.
Spell Bound (Hex Hall #3)
Just as Sophie Mercer has come to accept her extraordinary magical powers as a demon, the Prodigium Council strips them away. Now Sophie is defenseless, alone, and at the mercy of her sworn enemies—the Brannicks, a family of warrior women who hunt down the Prodigium. Or at least that’s what Sophie thinks, until she makes a surprising discovery. The Brannicks know an epic war is coming, and they believe Sophie is the only one powerful enough to stop the world from ending. But without her magic, Sophie isn’t as confident.
Sophie’s bound for one hell of a ride—can she get her powers back before it’s too late?
I have done one of these in a few weeks, have I? Shame on me, because I’ve read some pretty awesome books! Not least of which is Spell Bound, the final book in the Hex Hall series, by Rachel Hawkins.
Let’s not play coy here. It’s no secret that I love reading trilogies (well, series in general). There’s so much more room to get invested in a character and a world with more than one book. But I also find that it leads me to expect more and more from each subsequent novel as I fall more and more into this reality.
The good news is, this one doesn’t disappoint. Hawkins has done a masterful job pulling every plot thread together for a WHAM-POW ending to this series.
With deception and secrets around every corner, there isn’t a dull moment in this book. It was a great wrap-up to a fun and compelling series.
Have any of you read the series? Did you enjoy the final installment?
Mine, that is. I’ve been sort of doing nothing but planning a fantastic annual vacation for me and Super Spawn this week. So…I’ve got nothing to say really.
Other than I can’t wait until our vacay. Because GUYS. We’re flying up to Washington DC for four days! And we get to spend time with one of my BFFs, Erinn!!
I am BEYOND excited!! I’ve never been to DC, and so obviously neither has Super Spawn. And he has never flown. And AND he will have just started Kindergarten and what an awesome story to have to tell all of his new friends.
GUYS I CAN’T WAIT!!! This is going to be the BEST summer ever!! Weekend of Awesome AND an awesome vacation!! WHEE!
What about you all, any fun plans coming up? I’ve got a summer full of adventure ahead of me!
by K.M. Walton
Sometimes there’s no easy way out.
Victor hates his life. He has no friends, gets beaten up at school, and his parents are always criticizing him. Tired of feeling miserable, Victor takes a bottle of his mother’s sleeping pills—only to wake up in the hospital.
Bull is angry, and takes all of his rage out on Victor. That makes him feel better, at least a little. But it doesn’t stop Bull’s grandfather from getting drunk and hitting him. So Bull tries to defend himself with a loaded gun.
When Victor and Bull end up as roommates in the same psych ward, there’s no way to escape each other or their problems. Which means things are going to get worse—much worse—before they get better….
I had my eye on this book for a while before I got my hands on a copy. Honestly it was like fate brought us together — I won it in a contest.
One thing I absolutely love about this book is that you feel completely connected to both characters. Both Victor and Bull have things about them that are bad, and both have things about them that are heartbreaking. Seriously, I must have spent more time near tears while reading this book than not.
Walton’s writing is so full of voice, and so true to these characters, it’s easy to forget that they are just characters in a book.
The whole time I was reading I couldn’t decide how this could possibly end well. There is so much bad in these boy’s lives that sometimes I had to shut it and sit it down because I would be so very angry. Not at the book, but at people in general — at life. At the realization that things like this happen every single day around us and we never pay attention.
This is a moving story that is guaranteed to stick with you long after you’ve set it aside. I highly recommend picking up a copy.