Well that was gruesome

Ever write a scene where you just sit back in your chair and give a deep sigh, knowing that you probably just wrote something that will haunt somebody’s nightmares if this ever sees the light of day? I love those moments. Those moments are what make me really enjoy writing horror. A little voice in the back of my head worries that some things are a little too dark for YA, but who’s listening to them anyway?

I was very behind on NaNo (I know, and it just started!), so I’m up late tonight finishing up. No, I haven’t even started on today’s wordcount yet, but damn it feels good to be up to speed at least!

Project: The Seeking

Each Seeking, the magic that protects the city of Carra must be renewed, which means the children of the High Family must go into hiding. Whether it be through disguise or bribe, through trusted friends or perfect hiding places, every child of the Priest family must avoid capture for the full day.

When things go wrong with the renewal, itโ€™s up to seventeen-year-old Dahlia, the middle child of the Priest family, and her girlfriend, Bisa, to escape Carra and find the magical beings responsible for the protection. They must learn who would require such a cruel game to be played every year and if the protection of the Gray People is really worth such a deadly cost. What they will discover is far worse.

THE SEEKING is a YA dark fantasy novel

Current Word Count: 13,414

New Words Written:
11/2 – 1,192
11/4 – 2,078

NaNo Progress:
1,833/50,000 words

Progress:
Some hiding places are better than others, and some risks really aren’t worth taking. This scene started out tense, and then got a whole lot worse for everybody involved.

Today’s Research:
Various animals including tapeworms, spiders, and owls. I know, a pretty strange mixture!

Next Up:
An unexpected visitor, and Dahlia must learn to come to terms with what just happened.

Commentary:
Not bad for trying to catch up! I know I still have to hit the wordcount for today (Day 4), but I’m still pretty pleased! Also this scene was super intense, and 2k words just flew by once I got going. Dang. I wasn’t joking about those nightmares either, heck I think I just gave myself nightmares! But that’s good, right?? ๐Ÿ˜‰

If you’re also doing NaNo, why not send me a buddy request? Here’s my profile page!

Advertisements

NaNo Day 1: Success!

Hoo boy, it’s the first day of NaNoWriMo! I’ll be honest, when I woke up this morning, I was both excited and nervous. It took a bit to shake off the remnants of Halloween last night and get into the mode of writing today. Even though I’ve participated in and won multiple NaNos in the past, the first day always makes me anxious.

This year I’m even rebeling by working on an already started novel. I do that during most of my NaNos because it’s easier for me to already know the tone, the environment, and the characters.

If you’re also doing NaNo, why not send me a buddy request? Here’s my profile page!

Project: The Seeking

Each Seeking, the magic that protects the city of Carra must be renewed, which means the children of the High Family must go into hiding. Whether it be through disguise or bribe, through trusted friends or perfect hiding places, every child of the Priest family must avoid capture for the full day.

When things go wrong with the renewal, itโ€™s up to seventeen-year-old Dahlia, the middle child of the Priest family, and her girlfriend, Bisa, to escape Carra and find the magical beings responsible for the protection. They must learn who would require such a cruel game to be played every year and if the protection of the Gray People is really worth such a deadly cost. What they will discover is far worse.

THE SEEKING is a YA dark fantasy novel

Current Word Count: 10,144

New Words Written:
11/1 – 1,833

NaNo Progress:
1,833/50,000 words

Progress:
A bittersweet family reunion gets abruptly interrupted. Dahlia has a number of obstacles to pass, and this Seeking is turning out to not be following any of the rules.

Today’s Research:
Rattlesnakes! Apparently they’re normally 2-3 feet long, though they can grow up to 8 feet long. They’re also pretty much all over the North and South America.

Next Up:
Dahlia finally reaches her destination, but nothing is as stable as she had hoped it would be.

Commentary:
Ya’ll have no idea how happy I am to see that progress bar up to 12%! I was worried I would freeze up when I finally sat down to work on this novel again, especially since it’s been almost a month since I’ve actively worked on it. Fortunately the words have flowed quite nicely, and I’m looking forward to unfurling this world and the craziness that Dahlia has to deal with on a regular basis. Also, I got more than the minimum word count requirement for today! Here’s hoping I can keep up this beautiful pace.

Writing Diverse Books

If you’re at all involved in the writing or publishing scene, you know how big of a push there is right now for diverse books. There is a very sad dearth of novels in the world that have protagonists who are a Person of Color (POC). Historically most novels don’t have any POCs except maybe a token one here or there. These characters are often relegated to having the smallest role in a story, if they have much of a role at all. Current novels are trying to tip the scales so that people don’t have to reach so far to find protagonists that represent them that they can connect with. Hence the hash tag #WeNeedDiverseBooks was born.

I’ve tried to embrace this more in my writing, especially in the novels/novellas that I write. My WIPs of the last couple of years have all had protagonists who are POCs, but as you can see from my picture on the sidebar, I am a white woman and therefore will always have more difficulty in writing from a different perspective from my own. However that doesn’t mean that I just don’t do it because it’s more difficult, it just means I do more research to do it properly. There are plenty of things in writing that I’m not an expert in, but have to learn about to write it realistically.

I strive in my stories to write all my characters as realistically as possible, that includes flaws, mistakes, backgrounds, etc. It’s important to do the research to represent your POC characters realistically as well. I thought I’d do a shout-out to one resource that I’ve found invaluable in this: Writing with Color. This site has been incredibly helpful for me, from helping to point out appropriate skintone descriptions to describing hair, they have a ton of useful content available. As useful as their site is though, that should only be part of the research.

Stuff Mom Never Told You is an excellent podcast that’s gone through multiple hosts in the past year or so. However you can still find all their excellent podcasts online, which still reference books for even further research. Here are a few of my recommendations:

I consciously try to put more women and POCs into my stories. I think it’s important to get more stories into the media that include POCs so that there’s a higher chance that we’ll see them more represented in movies and television shows, so there are fewer incidents of tokenism and caricatures and just outright racism. It’s a slow process, but slowly the arena seems to be changing for the better.

My novella coming out on April 17th, The She-Wolf of Kanta, includes a teenage black woman who has to survive a town rampant with werewolves and human trafficking. A novel I currently have out on submission, Stolen, includes another teenage black woman who is kidnapped into another world and has to somehow prove that she is a reincarnation in order to survive. The novel I’m currently writing, The Seeking, has a teenage black woman who is in a loving lesbian relationship, but also must hide from the entire town for a full day each year in order for her family to keep it’s place of power. Diversity is very important to me, and sharing stories that include diverse people is a major goal of mine.

And what about the LGBTQIA+ community you might ask? Let’s save that for another post, but trust me, it’s just as dire.

Halloween Look: The Black-Feathered Queen

As a regular cosplayer, I think being able to dress up as a character is perhaps my favorite part of Halloween. When I was younger (before I even knew what the cosplay scene was all about), I would agonize over what I wear come October 31st. Often I would want to do a cool costume, but was was too self-conscious to be able to go all out. I felt like there was an unspoken mold that I needed to squeeze into.

Now that I’ve been attending anime conventions for a few years, have the make-up and special effects tutorials of Youtube to rely upon for expertise, and a lot more self confidence under my belt, I can finally try out those over-the-top looks I always wanted to as a kid. The other day I tried out what I thought of as my “black-feathered queen” look. I’m pretty pleased with the results!

The Inspiration:

This look was inspired by the Instagram group @elysian.fantasy.artistry who does just incredible fantasy photography shoots. I’ve been following their work for a few months now, and they never disappoint.

I had the idea for how it would look early one morning before I headed in for work. I took a few minutes to (badly) jot out the details before heading out the door. At the time, I didn’t even think about a crown, but that was added onto the concept later.

How I Made It:

The black feather shoulder pieces I made for my female!Scarecrow cosplay for DragonCon this year. There’s a wonderful Youtube tutorial that walks you through how to make these with feathers, hot glue, and shoulder pads. Basically I used the yellow contacts from that cosplay and the feathered shoulders, then added the black face paint and feathers to my face, with a dash of gold sheen and gold glitter.

The headpiece was more of a struggle than I expected. I took an old New Years plastic crown we bought for a few bucks at Party City last year and tore off the purple fur that was glued to the base. Then I hot glued black feathers all around it in layers, similar to how I did for the shoulder pads. Once that was done, I found a few yellowish green feathers from an old Steampunk outfit I had and added them to it as well to give it some dimension and some height.

Needless to say, I burned myself a lot…

Final Thoughts:

It’s not perfect, and you can definitely tell this is a makeup test and not the final product, but I’m really happy with how spooky it looks! It should definitely be an eye-catcher when I wear it to a Halloween party in the next couple of weeks. What I’m most pleased about is that it didn’t cost me any additional money, though honestly I had the pieces lying around because I do cosplay. The gold sheen Kryolan makeup was actually something we just picked up at DragonCon a month or so ago at the Arda Wigs booth (for quite a good discount!)

Although I never intended for my love of cosplay to spill over onto my writing blog, I suppose it was only a matter of time. It’s a hobby that I’ve grown to truly love, so I’ll probably be posting more cosplay pictures and discussions here as I create/break/repair/attempt things, mixed in with my normal writing updates. This blog has been straight writing for (at least!) five years now, so maybe it’s time for it to stretch its legs a little.

Do you have any cool makeup looks or costumes you’re hoping to try out for Halloween this year? I’d love to see what you’re putting together!

Stay spooky, dearies! ๐Ÿ’€โค๏ธ

My Love of Lore

I’ve been a long-time listener of the podcast series Lore. I forget how I first found out about it. My friends know that I write horror and that I love dark tales, so when I ended up having multiple close friends recommend it, I decided to check it out. Basically Aaron Mahnke will choose a particular topic or theme, and then explore it by beautifully mixing tales with history, and analyzing the topic with respect for the time periods he’s analyzing. He’s tackled changelings, werewolves, vampires, etc.

I was thrilled to hear it was going to get a series on Amazon, but I tried not to get my hopes up. The podcast series was great, but I wasn’t sure how well it could be transferred to a video series. I’m happy to say that after spending the last week watching all the episodes available, that my fears were mistaken. In fact, I would even say that the visuals add so much to the words that Mahnke puts to the episodes.

They do historical reenactments, portraying terrifying experiences and really making the viewer experience the same frightening beliefs that their characters do. Sometimes this gets to be very uncomfortable, especially since historically women were powerless or seen as property and therefore are truly at the whims of the people around them, no matter how disturbing their beliefs. They are also able to pull in historical scenes more often too, whether that’s through video clips that are available or historical documents that really bring the stories home. The series also doesn’t shy away from blood and gore, but they do switch to illustrations whenever they go to portray a gruesome scene, thereby showing the gore just as clearly but taking away the potential production costs.

And that artwork is simply gorgeous. The werewolf episode for example just had me giddy as a long-time werewolf lover. The art style changes each episode to better reflect the topic for the episode. It feels organic and fluid and matches beautifully with the topic of the episode. It reminds me of the switch to animation that you see in Kill Bill Volume 1, which I loved then and I still love now.

My only complaint is that the series was too short, though considering the podcast has over a hundred episodes, I think they have plenty to work with down the road.