Friday, January 28, 2011

Go Inkies! Inkpop publishes

Read article. HarperCollins publishes teen writer from their teen writing site/forums, Inkpop.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The colors, Duke! The colors!

Awesomeness of my post title aside, I read a very interesting post over at PBackWriter the other day. The author makes color palettes to help her visualize each character, setting, scene, etc, which I had never thought of doing before. It's interesting to think about how colors stimulate emotions, like the red corrections on a returned school paper create a visceral reaction because we instinctively think of blood, and thus harm. But blue and pale yellow, on the other hand, are considered very calming colors.

Whenever I am brainstorming characters, I search online and find an image of an actor, or anyone really, that I make the mascot for that character. It helps me think of the little things, like how a character hunches their shoulders and swings their arms when they walk when I can see a picture of a similar person with a slouch. I had previously cast this character, the lead Snatcher from the latest Harry Potter film, as Eamon.

This is the clearest picture I could find of the character, but I think he looks much more like Eamon while he is sauntering around in the movie. But the layers of clothing, boots, and gloves on his hands are exactly what I imagined him to look like. (As a side note, way too many of my male characters end up looking like Daniel Craig.)

I plugged this picture into the color palette generator at DeGraeve's, which lets you create a palette of colors from an image URL, to test Lynn Viehl's method of paletting (a word?). These were the colors returned to me:

and of course black. Not very interesting, and I don't think of Eamon when I see them. So I went to DeGraeve's Color Picker, and started plugging in some of the HTML color codes to see what colors would turn up.

It was actually kindof difficult to work with, at least for what I am trying to make. If I was trying to paint my room, then I got set after set of perfectly coordinated colors that would have completely rocked. But I'm looking for colors that each mean something, and if one of the colors is the mud brown color of his hair and the other is a steel blue color for his eyes, those two colors are totally not in the same color family nor are they related in any way, but they mean something to me. (Although it was a lot of fun to click around and see what colors came up.) By going to this code site, I was able to pick and choose more colors for specific purposes. I like this site because there are several ways to pick your color, and it also gives you information about HTML coding, which I think is super interesting. (There is also this code site if you are looking for something a bit more streamlined.)

I came up with this color palette for Eamon:

which seems a little generic to me, there are all just dark colors, but it screams more "Eamon" to me than the first set does. But I feel very unsettled when I look at it, because I know it isn't TRULY Eamon. The green is too Chrismas-y, the grey is too blue and girly, and the palette needs more black and grey but that is too hard to show with the black background of my blog. I think this is a cool concept, and I know that when I finally hit that perfect combination of colors it will help me a lot and be a great visual aid, but who know how long it will take me to hit that perfect combination... This isn't something I would want to spend hours on, but I know it would take that much effort to get it right. I'd like to keep trying with the color generator, because I think that has the right potential. In any case, I was entertained for an evening, and I do really like the idea behind it.

Funny story, Lynn Viehl posted the blog on the same day my boss told me I must be color blind. I'm not. His sweater was totally purple.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Chapter One Finished!!

About damn time! I wrote about another page tonight to finish. And I have to say, I kindof wish I had more to write in the chapter, everything was coming so easily! Usually it takes a lot to write a few sentences, but I banged out this last page in about 15 minutes. I wish I could have written my college papers that fast.... a lot, actually.

I wish I could jump right into chapter two, but I have outlining and brainstorming to do before I can start that. Even though I am a discovery writer, I like to think of the basic arc of the chapter before writing it, but I develop it as I go. And it's time to think of character histories before I go much further for Eamon and Nikolas. Eamon is an asshole, and I want to think of him like a villain, except for his one gesture of good faith towards Anna (even if he did it for the wrong reason). He needs to start low so he can have a good redemption arc. Nikolas needs to have a dark history... but I haven't figured out how that is going to happen yet, and I need to think of something that would have brought him back to the good side before meeting Anna.

It feels so good to finish a chapter!

A bunch of things

Still working on the last bit of chapter one, but I'm not really concerned about that right now. I was at the gym yesterday and I had this flood of ideas the whole time I was on the elliptical (probably because I didn't blast my ears with music this time) but of course I had forgotten everything by the time I got home, because how on earth am I supposed to record ideas when I am at the gym? In any case, I think I need to take a break from the drafting to develop the back stories of the two male characters. Anna is easy--her story doesn't start until the book starts, that's kind of the definition of a main character. Yes, she has a back story, but we are watching her learn as it happens, as opposed to the other two characters who have already learned, and they are imparting their wisdom to Anna (essentially). I think I am also going to make Anna a little older.... maybe/maybe not. I'm very definitive in my outlining, can't you tell?

In any case, I'm pretty distracted from everything except my writing right now. I always have so many ideas, but when I get home, or even on my lunch break, my brain is already starting to shut down. I am definitely a morning person, especially when it comes to writing. It would be great to wake up at four in the morning and get some writing done before work, but let's be honest, once I get home at night I have a second wind and start cleaning my room or surfing the interwebs, and before I know it it's past eleven and I seriously need to go to bed. Maybe I can wake up early and then blast myself with coffee, to get past the fuzzy-morning stage.

Started reading Ink Exchange by Melissa Marr. Finally! I had read the first and third books in the series, and the fourth is already out and the fifth is coming out next month. Don't know why I skipped around so much. But so far, I am really liking it. She is one of my idols as far as authors go... I met her at a signing and she is one of the most interesting people to listen to. I love honesty, and she just says it like it is (and after starting this book, she writes it how it is, too). Even though she is writing a teen book, the maturity of her writing is much higher than the rest of the genre. In this second book, her writing has improved much more since the first, and I know that this is her favorite book in the series--her passion really shines through in the writing.

More about books, I finally finished Scar Night by Alan Campbell. I flew through the first three-quarters of the book. It was awesome, intriguing, the setting was kick-ass, but then I don't know what happened at that three quarter mark, but it took me an entire month to finish it! (And I know it was a month, because I bought the second one a few days before Christmas because I thought I was going to finish it and want to go straight to the next book, and I didn't want to be stuck at home without it. So much for that thinking.) Even when I was reading the book, it became so far-fetched, even for a fantasy novel, that I was completely taken out of the book and audibly scoffing it. Two people are chained at the ankle, and one starts swinging the other above their head so quickly they start to hum in the air, and not only does all the blood not rush to their head and they not die from massive blood-pressure fluctuations and oxygen deprivation, but they are swinging their sword and lopping of heads of enemies the whole time. PUH-LEASE!!!! I have the second one, and I would like to know what happens, but evidently the characters start at the beginning with all the growth they had from the first book lost, and after that ending it may be a while before I pick it up.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Oh crap...

I knew this would happen. It is now the 24th, and I am still painfully trying to finish out the last scene of chapter one before the end of the month. But there's an "it's all my fault" and an "it's not my fault" to go along with this, which sums up to be "it's still my fault." The last scene is the escape scene, with lots of action summing up the entire set-up of the first part of the chapter. The problem is, the escape scene should be a chapter of it's own, and the introduction part of the chapter should be a separate chapter, but could probably even be two.

I was already thinking this beforehand, but it was all summed up today when I realized that Anna's little brother needs to die in the escape scene. A very easy thing to add, except that there was zero character interaction between the two other than sitting across the dining table from each other. I'm thinking that in the first half, the two of them can play a joke on their older sisters (who are noticeably older than the two of them) and thus grows their friendship. Then when the two of them are escaping and we find out that the little brother didn't survive his injuries, it actually means something more than "Hey, the cute kid died."

This is annoying because not only does it create more work for me during revision (which who am I kidding, was expected), but it messes up my outlining and the way I think about it because everything in my outline was know by it's chapter number. Chapter One was the escape scene, Chapter Two was introducing the other main character, etc. This will now be know as Chapter 1-2, and I think I'll split it after Anna is given the stone (which means nothing to you, dear readers, but that's okay). But this will be two chapters in a row ending with death and injury... a pretty morbid way to start out a book.

Tonight, I hope to get a decent chunk of time to do some writing. I still have a chapter to edit which is past the deadline (Alex, I'm sorry!) but this is happening more and more lately. Need to come up with a working title for the book... anyone know a snappy synonym for "resurrection"?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

About Me

Even though this is my personal blog, I am trying to center it around writing so I will try to keep this related, too. I graduated from Penn State University in December 2009 with a degree in English/Editing and Publishing, but I consider myself a science kid at heart. (I was a physics major for two years, decided I wanted to edit scientific journals/books, and They said I had to be an English major. Wasn't too happy about that change--I hate English classes.) Don't get me wrong, I love reading and most of my life has revolved around that, but I am a firm believer that some books just shouldn't be assigned in a class. They are going to blow, regardless. And please, I would love for someone to change my mind. Explain to me why Tom Jones is a relevant read for today. Teachers in middle school and high school should fight to get popular books read in class. I think the most important thing is just getting kids to read. Get them off the television and computer for once. Worry about moral relativism later. I have a lot of respect for people like J. K. Rowling, Rick Riordan, and yes, even Stephenie Meyer, because even though they aren't writing books that will last hundreds of years (though arguably Harry Potter might), they get kids excited to read (more on this later--maybe--but there's my history for ya).

In any case, I didn't become interested in writing until after college. I always liked reading too much to bother with it. I read other author's blogs and they talk about how they wrote their first story at the age of eight, were published in their high school newspaper, and totally rocked the literature contests at their college. It makes me a little disappointed sometimes, because frankly I would not have graduated with an English major if I could have helped it. But I just have to remind myself that I'm a different person, and things work differently for me. I love my life, and I write for me.

I'm debating whether or not I should post my story online as I write it, drafts and notes included. That way, anyone reading this can really see how I develop. I've even set a website up for it already--but it all depends on how embarrassed I am about posting my first story. It's not that I'm embarrassed about the level of writing (I realise and fully accept that my first story will suck), I just don't know how much I want it exposed to the world. But then on the other hand, posting it online will give me another incentive to keep writing. I've written the first four chapters of a couples stories, but have never lasted further than that. The current one is the most original as of yet, so I'm hoping I stick with this longer.

We shall see. Enough rambling. Welcome to the life of me. (That rhymes.) I haven't written much the past few days. Of the last scene I have left in chapter one I'm probably only a quarter of the way through it. In all honesty, my chapter one probably covers three chapters worth of information, but it works for now.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Blogging is Awesome

I know I haven't been the most punctual blogger lately, but I have to say, I've been thoroughly enjoying it. It's a little piece of the internet that's mine, and I don't care if no one reads it. (Actually, I would prefer if less people read it until it gets a bit more impressive.) But I'll think of something during the day and just can't wait to share it. For instance, a little dose of motivation, from Robison Well's blog:
Ten years ago I was in a writing group of five people. Of that group, three of us have gone on to get published nationally: Brandon Sanderson has been wildly successful, both with his own epic fantasy and as the writer of the final Wheel of Time books. Dan Wells, my brother, has a three-book deal with Tor writing critically-acclaimed horror. And here’s what the three of us have in common: Brandon was working on this thirteenth book when he finally sold one (which happened to be the sixth one that he wrote). Dan also sold his sixth. And Variant is my seventh.
And for everyone who thinks it is incredibly depressing to have to write six novels before getting published, just think, Twilight was Stephenie Meyer's first novel. Joy. I think I'd rather write six books. To make you feel better, City of Bones was Cassandra Clare's first novel, too. I don't know about J. K. Rowling, but it would make me feel really good and happy if Sorcerer's Stone was her first novel.

But just so we're straight, I write because unless I'm getting the words onto the page, the story becomes all I can think about. Sure, eventually I would love to write full-time, but then again, I don't write consistently enough yet to know that writing full time is going to be something I want to do. (But then again, the whole cubicle/commuting thing is totally not working for me. And I really love my job. I like knowing that I am contributing something to society instead of just frittering my time away doing lazy artist stuff. I just wish I didn't have to ride the train for three hours every day to get there.)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Prose Troubles and Ahead of Schedule

I realized the other day that one of my problems while writing is that I describe everything way too much. If someone is going to turn off a light, it is not necessary for me to describe their arm reaching up and their hand grazing along the walls till they find the switch and finally flip it. I need to cut everything shorter and just say what I mean to say. I imagine this will get better as I write more, but for now it's frustrating and I have to live with fixing it in post.

In better news, I only have one more scene to go in Chapter One, which puts me way ahead of schedule for my incredibly generous January 31st deadline. But I'll admit I'm still impressed with myself. I can't start celebrating yet because the chapter isn't finished yet, but I'm still happy about it because it's better than I was doing, which is incredibly pathetic.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Happy New Year!

Wow, a whole month between posts, and I only had three posts up to begin with. Blog is off to a great start. In any case, I normally dread the new year, mainly because it is hard enough to get myself to the gym, and then when the new year hits I want to go even less because people flood the place for about a month before it is empty again. I'm not saying, "Be unhealthy! Don't go to the gym! This is my gym!" I just really hate the crowds. But it is great that people finally get themselves to the gym, even if it does take a new year to do it. Americans are way too freakin fat. Yesterday I was next to a girl on the ellipticals who was finishing up her workout. She had been ellipticizing (a word?) for 40 minutes and had burned almost 500 calories. That's amazing! I wanted to say good job but I didn't want to risk insulting her. But I was thoroughly impressed. It really put my workout to shame.

As far as New Year's Resolutions go, mine is not to go to the gym. It's to write more. Fiction writing, blogging, and I am going to include researching/reading nonfiction in this category too. I not only went to the gym yesterday, but I wrote some, too! Talk about a productive day. It wasn't much--not even a page--but the important part is that I sat down and did it. My goal is a chapter a month. That sounds ridiculous, but I'm starting out small. I don't want to give up on my resolution two weeks into the year. I also now have my (current) story outlined up through chapter four.

And a little something to leave you with: I don't know what this book is and I will probably never pick it up, but I like the author. This guest blog post is great.

Happy New Year! I hope everyone set resolutions. It's good to have goals.