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, it’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?? 😉

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

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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, it’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.

The Mysterious Mill

Somehow even though I posted this up on all my social media feeds, I never got around to posting this map of Thomas Farrell’s Mill here on my blog. So today I’m remedying that!

When I was asked by my publisher to create maps for my novella, The She-Wolf of Kanta, I knew I had to include the mill. It stands as both a valuable resource for Kanta, but also as an intimidating monolith. What happens behind its powerful walls is both gruesome and bloody, and Thomas Farrell himself is an enigma.

Thomas Farrell’s Mill:

When Thomas Farrell inherited his father’s mill, there was only a single grinder, and it was human powered. The hard physical labor meant a high turnover rate, and the mill was anything but profitable.

See the full map and learn more about Thomas Farrell’s Mill

Exploring a Flawed Family

Putting together the family that makes up Dahlia’s life is a complicated process. You really can’t help but put pieces of yourself into each character, and as you consider the overall family dynamic, you start to understand where each of them fall into place. Knowing that they had to choose to be in this position is also telling of the parents’ personalities. It’s also taken a toll on their children of course. I didn’t want them to be the typical cookie-cutter families that I usually see. I wanted them to have depth, to have made mistakes, to not be perfect, but always striving to do good. Which is of course what has led them to this point, whether good or bad.

Project: The Seeking

Each Seeking, the magic that protects the town 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, it’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: 8,053

New Words Written:
10/10 – 1,147

Progress:
A serious talk with Mother that has probably been years in coming, and the realization that things were not always like this. Already Dahlia is learning so much and she has a lot left to discover and learn before this novel is done.

Next Up:
Talks with Dad, a family tradition, and an explanation of the family’s history. Then preparing for the Seeking to begin.

Commentary:
I wrote part of this by hand, but ran into a snag when I couldn’t recall the names of the family members Dahlia was going to be interacting with. I can’t just use placeholders. I’ve tried before, and the placeholder I chose ended up coloring the name I felt was appropriate for the character, so I try to steer away from them now. I did draw out a family tree, but it was on paper and wasn’t handy. #writerproblems

It’s been difficult trying to find time to write this month. I’ve been belatedly participating in Inktober (see my posts on Instagram) because it doesn’t take as much intensive focus like writing does, but it sure did feel good to dig into this story again. Between cleaning up the house for our upcoming Halloween party, meeting up with friends to visit Haunted Houses, and helping family members move, I don’t think it’s going to get easier either! I want to get our Halloween decorations up outside but it’s been raining hard down here in Georgia and the humidity takes your breath away. Still hoping to carve out some time again this week though!