Stitching Scenes Together

Spent some more time this evening hammering out words for Broken! I’m rewriting this section to fit in with the rewrite I’ve done with the introduction, so it takes a bit of time to stitch everything together properly. I’m sure I’m going to be cutting things later too when I do edits, but for now the goal is just to get the words flowing!

Project: Broken

A land has fallen. An escape was made. It’s a victory of sorts, but at what price?

Shaleigh has made a terrible mistake, one she may not ever be able to fix. Lost and in a strange land with anger and death all around her, she must navigate her way through treacherous lands on her quest for redemption. Along the way she’ll have to negotiate with the mercurial Queen of the Fae, survive the dangers of the Masked King’s realm, and seek out a terrifying fire dragon.

With two powerful beings hot on her trail, Shaleigh has no choice but to keep moving, or else face the dangerous magic of the Madness that has already caused so much pain and heartache. With her sights on helping her friends and her heart longing for home, Shaleigh is determined, but will it be enough?

BROKEN is Book 2 of the Stolen series

Words Written:
8/12 – 1,320

Current Word Count: 11,698

Progress:
Not as much written today as I hoped, but I had to slow down once I reached the areas I had to stitch together. It’s part of being a writer, but it’s definitely more common when you’re a pantser like I am.

Next Up:
Getting past that pride and being given an order.

Commentary:
I’m really loving digging into the environments and the sensations in this world. That’s one of my favorite parts right now, that and untangling all the emotional turmoil these characters are in. Oops, sorry guys.

Starting the Sequel to Stolen

It takes a while for me announce a new WIP, especially when it’s a novel. I like to make sure that I’ve figured out the opening and gotten a good feel for the characters. Working on the sequel for Stolen is no different. It was actually harder to start because I wanted to keep the same style and characterization that I left off with in the previous book. There are whole articles that talk about how difficult it is to get that middle book down in a series, and this was no different. It took me forever to get Shaleigh’s voice in the first book finalized, and it’s taken me a while to grasp how everything in Stolen has changed these characters. Sometimes it’s for the better, sometimes for the worse.

Over the last couple of months, my writing for this book came in fits and spurts. Mostly the flow of creativity got interrupted by responsibilities that I couldn’t ignore, and when I read over the story I had so far, I wasn’t pleased with it.

As an author, I know that if I’m not digging it, my readers won’t either. So I keep revising and revising and revising until I get that introduction and opening as good as I can get it. For me, it’s important to start with a solid ground before I build up. Even though the ground is pretty solid from all that happened in Stolen, there’s still a lot that needed to be sorted out.

I write in a way that’s known as a “Planster”. Yes, I will plan and use an outline, but it’s more of a guide for me. Mostly I’m a “pantser”, letting the story and characters lead me along, making sure I hit those plot markers as I go. Those I already have figured out. Those I figured out back while I was writing on Book 1. I have found that when I get near the ending though, that’s when it’s really important for me to have an outline. Sometimes I’ll drop everything to pinpoint the steps and stages for those final scenes. (And you’ll probably see why when you read Stolen when it comes out in January!) When I was working on The Seeking earlier this year, I was very glad to be using Scrivener too, that way I could easily reorganize scenes if I needed to.

Here’s the start of my next book: Broken. It’s book 2 of the YA Fantasy Stolen series. So far it’s already pretty dark, pretty intense, and pretty darn scary. Did I mention this book will take a dark turn?

Project: Broken

Book 2 of the Shaleigh series

A land has fallen. An escape was made. It’s a victory of sorts, but at what price?

Shaleigh has made a terrible mistake, one she may not ever be able to fix. Lost and in a strange land with anger and death all around her, she must navigate her way through treacherous lands on her quest for redemption. Along the way she’ll have to negotiate with the mercurial Queen of the Fae, survive the dangers of the Masked King’s realm, and seek out a terrifying fire dragon.

With two powerful beings hot on her trail, Shaleigh has no choice but to keep moving, or else face the dangerous magic of the Madness that has already caused so much pain and heartache. With her sights on helping her friends and her heart longing for home, Shaleigh is determined, but will it be enough?

BROKEN is Book 2 of the Stolen series

Words Written:
6/18 – 4,243
6/19 – 807
6/20 – 482
6/21 – 3611
7/29 – 740
8/7 – 708
8/10 – 2,226

Current Word Count: 10,609

Progress:
Oh my gosh, so much has already happened and I’m only 10k words in! An illness, a revelation, a confession, and even angry outbursts. It’s been an emotional roller-coaster ride!

Next Up:
Realizing that they need to work together in order to correct this and that they need to keep moving. These two have so much to work through, not just externally but internally as well.

Commentary:
Of course, starting a new novel means putting together a new playlist! Once I get it a bit farther along, I’m looking forward to sharing it. 

Creepy Corridors: Why We Love Them In Horror

One of the first films I saw that really brought attention to the dread of walking down hallways by yourself was in The Shining. Little Danny Torrence would pedal along on his toy bike and you would get accustomed to the drumming of the wheels as it moved from wood to carpet to wood again. At first in the film it seems like a cute way for the kid to pass the time. But then as the film progresses, and Danny starts to experience the supernatural activity of the Overlook, that’s when each turn in the hallway makes your heartrate speed up.

Danny Torrence from The Shining

This weekend while doing research on a cruise ship, my family would help to point out particularly disturbing corridors. That is of course one of the benefits of telling your fellow travelers that you are doing research for a horror book. “Oh, Lena, you’ve got to get a picture of that one!” I would hear as they point down a cramped two flights of stairs shoved into a corner of a hallway. Or “Okay, this place just feels like a horror movie,” when we went to find a restroom in a large concrete stairwell complete with exposed ceiling pipes and wiring. I loved it of course, and snapped pictures like crazy. It got me wondering though, what is it about these places that really puts us on edge? Why do we instantly think that these places are ideal for horror scenes?

The first obvious answer is that there’s limited sight. Stairwells are particularly bad about this, and you could easily have someone several floors up following or watching you if the middle of the stairwell is open. In The Shining, little Danny Torrence turns each corner, not sure what he’s going to encounter each time. The tension increases throughout the film even though it’s literally just a kid on his bike.

The second answer is how cramped they are. That tiny stairwell down to the next floor that almost looks like it was forgotten? There isn’t much space to move there, and if you got partway down the steps and saw someone wielding a chainsaw running toward you, there would be little time to get out of the way. When you’re on a ship as well, there’s a very real sense when you’re out on the ocean of how isolated you are. The only way to leave the ship in a hurry is with the lifeboats on board, which is both exciting and frightening.

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See? Very cramped stairwell

Finally, the longer the hallway, the fewer places to run. The first time I went on a cruise I was daunted by how long the halls were for rooms. Staring down the hallway and seeing the length of space you would have to walk just to get to the main section of the ship was surprising. I’d seen ship cabins in videos before, but rarely those long halls. You get a real sense that there’s very little space to run there. There’s either forwards or backwards because every door you pass is locked. Again not only are you isolated, but you’re also very visible.

“Cruise Ship Hallway” by Satanizmihomedog on DeviantArt

Writers and film directors have recognized the innate fear that these spaces carry and have been exploiting them for decades. That stairwell with the exposed pipes and wires that we found could have easily been a filming location for the Nostromo ship from Alien. On the ship it was built for utility, but in the world of writing, it’s a perfect place for an ambush. These hallways don’t have to apply to ships either. I’ve seen plenty of buildings with halls so narrow that turning that right corner could have you running into someone if you’re not careful. Danny Torrence found that out the hard way.

What kind of hallways or stairwells have you found particularly creepy? Do you have any pictures? I would love to see them!

Traveling as an Author

As an author, it’s tough going on a vacation. You get to go to a new place and have new experiences, but you only get to enjoy them for a limited time. It’s like your senses are all splayed out in order to soak up as many sensations as you possibly can. It doesn’t matter how long your vacation is, it always feels too short, especially if you hope or plan to use it for writing inspiration. You’re always afraid you’ll miss some kind of detail.

Soon I’ll be going on a trip down to the Bahamas, and I plan to write it off on my taxes for book research. This is the first time I’ve attempted it, and I’ve done some research on what all needs to be done. Basically you need to keep track of your individual expenses, and then make sure you work on your research a little bit every day.

I’m going to be bringing a travel journal to take down all the notes of places, to describe interiors, to map out locations, to really bring more than just a picture with me, but to bring a whole location home. Later when I’m working on this new book (we’re talking probably a year or more out right now), I want to be able to pull out my notes and see that entire scene again like it’s already been placed into my novel.

I’m going to try to define the feel that it gives off too. Now that’s something that doesn’t come across in any picture or journal. If you were ever in band and trying to tune the whole room at once, do you remember the upper note that would be heard dimly above the noise? It wouldn’t waver if everyone was in tune, it would ring, even though no one was hitting it. That’s kind of what I’m trying to capture in writing, that imperceptible note.

I’m really looking forward to it! I’m hoping it’ll give me some insight into things I didn’t notice before, or give me a few plot ideas.

I don’t really want to say too much on this future project because it is so far out and right now it’s just a hazy idea, but I’m planning on it to be another YA Horror novel in the vein of The Seeking – another book that’s in the pipeline. That one is at least out of the drafting phase.

Do you keep a travel journal with you or some way to document your experiences when you travel? What works best for you?

Bullet Journaling as an Author

I’ve only been using my bullet journal since February, but now it’s become a staple in my writing career. It’s helped me remember important things to do, kept me on track with my goals, given me a creative outlet, and even made me healthier. Let me explain.

I scoffed at the idea of keeping a bullet journal at first. I thought I didn’t have the time to keep one and I certainly wasn’t as talented as some of the Youtubers I watched. Slowly though I got on the band wagon and began my own. It was an ugly start. I didn’t know how to organize it and I was using markers that were too fat for the pages, but that was okay. Soon I looked forward to my bullet journal time.

Then a few months later I was diving back into my unfinished YA Horror novel, The Seeking. By that point, I was starting to catch on to how useful this little journal was and figured it could help me in my writing. As you can see, my little word count tracker motivated me so much that I had to put in half steps just to have an excuse to fill it in.

Later on, I was dealing with the release of The She-Wolf of Kanta and had to figure out what to do with the Facebook event I would be leading. You know what was by my side the entire time? My bullet journal of course, with a list of times and events to keep me on schedule.

Now months later, I’m doing the first pass of edits for Stolen. You know by this point that I had to put a tracker in.

My poor bullet journal has been through a lot this year. It’s already almost full and it’s only July. I’m going to have to pick up another one soon to replace it. Do you know what I’m looking forward to though? On New Year’s Day of 2019 I’ll have so many trackers that I’ve completed in my journal. It’ll be concrete proof of all the work I’ve done this year. I’ll be able to flip through years from now and reflect on my first year as an author working on books instead of short stories, finally seeing major traction doing what I’ve loved for so many years. ❤️

Then I’ll setup my new bullet journal and start all over again!

If you’re an author or working to become an author, I would highly recommend starting a bullet journal. It was amazing how much more relaxed I felt getting all the things I was trying to remember out of my head and onto the page.

If you keep a bullet journal, what do you love about it the most?

If not, what holds you back from doing it?