Goal Changes: Midweek ROW80 check-in

I’m not so sure we choose our stories. Sometimes I think our stories choose us. Such is the case with my current WIP, a steampunk Cinderella retelling that took me by surprise. This is my first attempt at writing YA in a few years (though, since my master’s is in children’s lit, the story is a perfect fit).

photo by Kristin Nador, WANA Commons

photo by Kristin Nador, WANA Commons

So, in light of the fact that my latest WIP, my first foray into the steampunk genre, is taking up most of my time, I’ve changed up my goals a little bit. I’ve put revisions of other stories on hold until I finish this draft. My goals below reflect this change.

Writing goals:

1.) Work on a first draft of my YA steampunk novel “The Clockwork in the Stars.” Wrote 2,394 words. Not sure I’ll have this one completely finished by the end of this round, but I hope to be close to finished by the end of the year.

2.) Read three books on the craft/business of writing. Continued reading “Writing the Breakout Novel” by Donald Maass.

Social media goals:

1.) Check in on Twitter or Facebook daily. On track to meet this goal.

2.) Blog twice a week. On track to meet this goal.

3.) Comment on three to five blogs per day, Monday-Thursday. On track to meet this goal.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. It’s also a blog hop! Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

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Why I write–and read–fantasy

Sometimes the world is so full of darkness that we need an escape–even if there’s a touch of darkness in that world we find ourselves drawn into. It’s especially nice to read a story in which characters overcome great odds, save the day, and live happily ever after. As J.R.R. Tolkien once said

“Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisoned by the enemy, don’t we consider it his duty to escape?. . .If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we’re partisans of liberty, then it’s our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!”

photo by Janet Boyer, WANA Commons

photo by Janet Boyer, WANA Commons

Or, as Dr. Seuss puts it

“Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living. It’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, and that enables you to laugh at life’s realities.”

Fantasy offers us a wonderful opportunity not only for escape but also to learn about ourselves and see our world in a different light. Our villains are our fears personified. Our heroes inspire us to greatness. We can enter a world of magic, of elves, of witches, of dragons, of … well, if you can dream it up, it can exist in the pages of a fantasy story. When it comes to writing fantasy, not even the sky is the limit.

Now, more than ever, I believe the world needs fantasy literature. I’m glad to see how many conferences there are devoted to the subject—because works of fantasy deserve to be parsed, analyzed, and explored. I’m glad to see how many writers have created worlds for readers to lose themselves in, whether it’s embarking on a journey through Middle Earth, attending a school of witchcraft and wizardry, or seeing a fairy tale reimagined.

Sometimes we just need to get away. It not only recharges us, it can also heal us, it can also enlighten. I’m grateful that stories of the fantastic speak to me. If I had my pick of genres, this is the one I would come to, again and again. But I often don’t feel that I chose fantasy literature. I feel like these stories have chosen me.

There’s magic in this world—inside of all of us. And fantasy brings that to the forefront. So go ahead. Pour yourself a cup of tea, pick up a good book, and lose yourself for an afternoon or an evening. You need it. We all need it.

Or, as Terry Pratchett said

“Humans need fantasy to be human. To be the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape.”

I leave you with the words of Robin McKinley:

“The great thing about fantasy is that you can drag dreams and longings and hopes and fears and strivings out of your subconscious and call them ‘magic’ or ‘dragons’ or ‘faeries’ and get to know them better. But then I write the stuff. Obviously I’m prejudiced.

Obviously, so am I.

Lastly, an ROW80 check-in…

Writing goals:

1.) New goal: Work on steampunk story, tentatively titled “The Clockwork in the Stars.” Wrote a detailed synopsis and tracked down photos of most of my main characters. Also did a lot of background work on world-building.

2.) Finish a first draft of novella/novelette “Haunted Kisses.” On hold.

3.) Finish a second draft of novelette “Called by Magic.” Started revising the first chapter and read through the comments I’ve received so far.

4.) Do a read-through of “Good Old-Fashioned Magic,” make necessary edits, and send to critique partners. On hold.

5.) Read three books on the craft/business of writing. Continued reading “Writing the Breakout Novel” by Donald Maass.

Social media goals:

1.) Check in on Twitter or Facebook daily. Every day except Friday.

2.) Blog twice a week. Blogged three times this week.

3.) Comment on three to five blogs per day, Monday-Thursday. Goal met.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. It’s also a blog hop! Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

What about you? Are you a fan or writer of fantasy? If so, what draws you to this genre? What draws you to your favorite genre?

The planning stage: Midweek ROW80 check-in

I have to admit that my favorite part of the writing process is when my fingers are pounding the keys, filling a blank page with words. I used to be a full-out pantser, but I kept getting stuck on my first drafts, so I decided to do some planning. It’s definitely helped my writing. I’m a better writer now than I was a year ago, that’s for sure. I’ve come to enjoy the process of discovery that’s part of the planning stage.

When I’m planning, I’m writing scene ideas on index cards; crafting a rough synopsis; writing an outline; tracking down photos of key characters, objects, or places; or doing world-building or character backstory. All of these things add depth, add layers to my story. Sometimes I’ll do some of this as I go—I’m constantly being surprised by details about my world or my characters as I write. But knowing as much as possible beforehand helps me create richer first drafts.

Steampunk! | photo by Cole Vassiliou, WANA Commons

Steampunk! | photo by Cole Vassiliou, WANA Commons

The planning stage has its perks—I spent part of yesterday looking up shoes with a steampunk flair for my new story, and there is something satisfying about getting to know your characters before you dig into the story. I enjoy looking for photos of my characters. This story has an element of mystery, so I want to make sure I can sprinkle clues throughout the story from page one.

What about you? What’s your favorite part of the writing process? How much planning do you do before you put pen to page—or fingers to keys?

A midweek ROW80 check-in…

Writing goals:

1.) Finish a first draft of novella/novelette “Haunted Kisses.” No progress. Instead worked on a detailed, for-my-eyes-only synopsis for my steampunk story. Still a few holes to be filled in, but I’m off to a good start.

2.) Finish a second draft of novelette “Called by Magic.” On hold.

3.) Do a read-through of “Good Old-Fashioned Magic,” make necessary edits, and send to critique partners. On hold.

4.) Read three books on the craft/business of writing. Started reading “Writing the Breakout Novel” by Donald Maass.

Social media goals:

1.) Check in on Twitter or Facebook daily. On track to meet this goal.

2.) Blog twice a week. Counting the cover reveal for Ruth Nestvold’s “Island of Glass” that I posted yesterday (gorgeous cover—check it out here) and this post, I’ve met this goal.

3.) Comment on three to five blogs per day, Monday-Thursday. Met for Monday. Only commented on one or two blogs on Tuesday.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. It’s also a blog hop! Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

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Cover Reveal: Ruth Nestvold, “Island of Glass”

Today I’m handing the blog over to Ruth Nestvold, a Nebula Award nominee and author of the upcoming release Island of Glass, for a cover reveal. Her story contains elements from Cinderella, and I love fairy tale retellings, so this one is definitely my cup of tea. Hope you enjoy the excerpt included below!

Without further ado, here’s the cover:

Island of Glass cover Ruth Nestvold

Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Chiara Dragoni is a master glassmaker of Venice, a position that is both a privilege — and a trap. For the glassmakers of Murano are forbidden to ever leave the islands of the Venetian lagoon.

When Chiara’s uncle is caught on the mainland and thrown into the dungeon of the Doge’s Palace, she must use all her talents, including magic, to help free him. But the gift she creates for the ruling prince of Venice has unintended consequences, and now Chiara must decide whether to give up everything — and everyone — she knows and loves in order to save her dream.

Set in an alternate historical Venice with alchemists, witches and magic, the story uses familiar motifs from the beloved fairy tale “Cinderella” to tell a tale with a very different message.

Island of Glass is a Young Adult fantasy novella of approximately 25,000 words, or 100 pages. It is the first book in The Glassmakers Trilogy.

Now available for pre-order for an introductory price of only 99c!

Excerpt:

The prince chuckled, placing the second slipper next to its mate on the gilded side table. “Most young women scheme for the opportunity to be alone with a prince of La Serenissima. Yet here you are, offered the chance, and you turn it down.”

Chiara didn’t know what to say. She could only hope that beneath his smiles and chuckles he wasn’t offended. Her plan to gain the prince’s favor was backfiring badly.

“Talented, beautiful, and unusual,” the prince continued. “And quite rich as well, I presume?”

She could tell from the heat of her cheeks that they must be flaming by now. She nodded mutely.

He raised one expertly plucked, aristocratic eyebrow. “And you want me to free your uncle.”

She almost heaved a sigh of relief at his change of subject. She hoped that was the end of his attempts to flirt with her; flirtation was not one of Chiara’s strong points. “The Fenice Glassworks cannot be run properly without Gianfranco Dragoni,” she said. “Surely the Council of Ten cannot wish for such a situation. The taxes we pay are an important source of revenue for Venice, after all.”

He didn’t answer, staring instead at the matching glass slippers. “I wonder if they would fit me. They look to be my size.” He glanced at her again with a suggestive smile. “As if you knew me intimately, my dear.”

Oh, no, she hoped he didn’t intend to actually try the slippers on! They were decorative, not meant to be worn. If they broke and cut his princely foot, he would probably throw her into the prison of the Doge’s palace right alongside Uncle Gian.

He sank into the nearest lavishly upholstered chair and snapped his fingers. “Remove my shoes,” he said to the servant who appeared at his side.

Chiara watched the proceedings, trying to remain composed, given her panic at what would most likely happen next.

Author bio:

Ruth Nestvold’s short stories have appeared in numerous markets, including Asimov’s, F&SF, Baen’s Universe, Strange Horizons, Realms of Fantasy, and Gardner Dozois’s Year’s Best Science Fiction. Her fiction has been nominated for the Nebula, Tiptree, and Sturgeon Awards. In 2007, the Italian translation of her novella “Looking Through Lace” won the “Premio Italia” award for best international work. Her novel Yseult appeared in German translation as Flamme und Harfe with Random House Germany and has since been translated into Dutch and Italian. It is now available as an ebook in the original English.

Find Ruth Nestvold on the Internet:

Blog: https://ruthnestvold.wordpress.com

Website: http://www.ruthnestvold.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Ruth.Nestvold.Author

Twitter: @Ruth_Nestvold

Sunday ROW80 check-in

Well, Round 4 is off to a slow start for me. Lots of appointments and a migraine slowed down my progress this week, but I am excited to have started a new story, my first attempt at a novel-length work in a while—and my first-ever attempt at writing steampunk. It’s a fairy-tale retelling set in a steampunk world, so it’s a fun new challenge for me.

Since I have two new-ish stories to work on, I’ve decided to spend some of the upcoming week less focused on word count and more focused on plotting, world-building, and character exercises. After that, I’m hoping to crank out some more work in the rest of the year. This has been a year of first drafts for me, so I’m hoping to add at least one more to that list before I close the books on 2014.

Before I go, I’d like to leave you with some words of wisdom about the power of imagination from Lewis Carroll:

made at quozio.com

made at quozio.com

Lastly, my ROW80 check-in…

Writing goals:

1.) Finish a first draft of novella/novelette “Haunted Kisses.” Wrote 1,197 words on this project and 1,904 on another, for a total of 3,101 words. The other is my first attempt at writing a steampunk story, so I’m pretty excited. Wish me luck!

2.) Finish a second draft of novelette “Called by Magic.” On hold until I finish goal No. 1.

3.) Do a read-through of “Good Old-Fashioned Magic,” make necessary edits, and send to critique partners. On hold until I finish goal No. 1.

4.) Read three books on the craft/business of writing. No progress on this goal.

Social media goals:

1.) Check in on Twitter or Facebook daily. Met for three of five days. Will have to do better this week!

2.) Blog twice a week. Target met.

3.) Comment on three to five blogs per day, Monday-Thursday. Met for all days except Monday.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. It’s also a blog hop! Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

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ROW80 Round 4 goals

ROW80LogocopyI’m posting these a few days late, but here they are: my goals for 2014’s final round of A Round of Words in 80 Days. It’s been an amazing year, my first writing full time. I’ve finished four projects so far (two drafts of a novella and first drafts of two novelettes and a short story) and am aiming to finish a fifth before the end of the year. I hope to start submitting next year, so that means there’s plenty of revising in my future. :)

In the meantime, here are my goals for this round:

Writing goals:

1.) Finish a first draft of novella/novelette “Haunted Kisses.”

2.) Finish a second draft of novelette “Called by Magic.”

3.) Do a read-through of “Good Old-Fashioned Magic,” make necessary edits, and send to critique partners.

4.) Read three books on the craft/business of writing.

Social media goals:

1.) Check in on Twitter or Facebook daily.

2.) Blog twice a week.

3.) Comment on three to five blogs per day, Monday-Thursday.

A Round of Words in 80 Days is the writing challenge that knows you have a life. It’s also a blog hop! Click here to cheer on fellow participants.

What about you? What are your goals for this round, writing or otherwise?

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The arrival of autumn and a ROW80 Round 3 wrap-up

fall arrangement 1229576_97847309It’s officially autumn, the season of pumpkin spice lattes, brisk breezes, warm sweaters, and Jack-o-lanterns. Fall always makes me want to curl up with a good book and a cup of tea, as the days grow shorter, the evenings longer, and the leaves more colorful with each passing day.

And with the arrival of autumn comes the end of another round of A Round of Words in 80 Days, the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Round 3 turned out to be quite productive for me. Here’s the tally:

  • Finished a second draft of my novella “Good Old-Fashioned Magic.”
  • Finished first drafts of two novelettes, “Called by Magic” and “When Magic Knocks.”
  • Read five books on the craft of writing. My goal was four, so I exceeded my target.

Click here to see cheer on fellow ROW80 participants.

How did Round 3 go for you? Did you meet your goals? And what’s your favorite part of autumn?

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