Tag Archives: Charleston

Fall Update + The Mighty Pens

Hi everyone! It’s been a while, but I actually have writing updates and stuff I can post about. Let’s get those out of the way before we talk about my favorite writing time of the year.

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Obligatory floof with some of this year’s new releases.

First and foremost – I FINISHED THE MOTHER F’IN REWRITE!

Eighteen months from start to a complete second draft, and I am THRILLED that is behind me. Draft 2 came out to 110k words, seventeen chapters total. I can’t remember the first draft count off the top of my head, but it doesn’t sound like much of a cut.

Much of the overall plot remained the same, but it was tightened a fair bit. I cut characters, added new ones that made sense. Added A TON of setting details and character stuff I neglected in the first draft. The resulting story is far and away a better version of what I originally wanted and envisioned. It’s finally *my* vision of Charleston, the main characters, and the plot.

Long story short on other things (because I really want this to be a shortish post):

  • Entered Pitch Wars, didn’t get picked*
  • Put up a blurb during #CPMatch and ended up with three new CPs
  • Pitched during Pitmad for the first time
  • Bought a new house!
  • Sold our old house!
  • Adopted a new kitten!

Before I move on, one other note and shout-out regarding my rewrite: I have been so, so lucky and am eternally grateful for my writing buddies/critique partners – Leah, Amy, and Lindy.

Leah, Amy, and I met at DFWCon 2015. We don’t write the same things, but we’re always there to support one another (oozing confidence is our thing). Lindy joined the fold after DFWCon 2016, and she’s been my alpha reader/confidante/sounding board pretty much ever since. She helped me hone my pitch, and read ALL of my chapters as I rewrote them for the WIP. Like, the last year of the rewrites were so much more bearable – AND PRODUCTIVE – because of her. All three of these wonderful ladies’ enthusiasm and support have helped keep me afloat; my tribe means the world to me, guys.

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Yuri On Ice ties with Pride and Prejudice (2005) for best-stress-reliever.

Okay, onto the other important thing.

I love NaNoWriMo. No, seriously, I do. NaNo taught me how to get shit done. (The drafting part, anyway.) I like charity and helping people in need when I can, too.

So it’s really cool that two awesome authors, Kat Brauer and Susan Dennard, put together a group (The Mighty Pens) which joins the writing frenzy of NaNoWriMo with fundraising for an awesome cause: the Malala Fund. You can read more about the group and fundraiser in the links posted, but in short, the Malala Fund is dedicated to providing twelve years of safe education for girls.

How does this relate to NaNoWriMo and/or me? Like a race or something like Jump Rope for Life (if you’ve heard of that, not sure they’re still doing it), people get sponsorships of donations depending on how long they run, or how many minutes they can jump rope. The Mighty Pen has a similar goal – drive donations and/or sponsorships based on how many words we write for NaNoWriMo.

MY GOAL:

  • 80,000 words, all of it for new projects. This isn’t for one book, either. I have three stories (technically more but I have to at least strive for an intact sanity by the end of November) I want to get started so that when I am finished with revisions, I have headway into new words. My ideal breakdown is:
    • 30,000 words on a paranormal romance
    • 30,000 words on a cyberpunk sci-fi
    • 20,000 words on a YA space opera

If you’d like to sponsor me, whether it’s $1 per 10,000 words or $10 for every $10,000 words, I would be so, so grateful and you’d be helping girls all over the world!

 

How will I know how many words you’ve written, or current progress?

  • I will be updating my word counts on my NaNo profile with each writing session.
  • Though I am going to try to stay off of Twitter and other social media to maximize writing time and reduce distractions, I will do my best to post my word count at least once a day.
  • Ask me!

 

That’s all I have for now. For any other writers – I hope to see you burning up your keyboards or notebooks with how quickly your stories are coming out of you. May your words flow bright and strong!

 
*I hoped I wouldn’t be picked, actually, which sounds sort of… counter productive, but I can go into that more sometime later if anyone wants. I definitely wanted to apply just to give it a shot, but was less stressed about not getting picked than getting picked.

 

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How writer brains work

So just a quick post – sort of gushing about another “Ah ha!” moment, while also to show how your brain comes up with shit that will work if you don’t hamstring it.

I’m trying to finish all remaining rewrites (a.k.a. draft 2) on the urban fantasy project by end of June, plan being to send CPs/Betas the first half by end of May.  Which meant starting from the beginning. I rewrote chapter 1 and the first scene of chapter 2 in February or March at some point, then dropped them. Because the second scene in chapter 2 just wouldn’t work.

Can’t exactly avoid it any more, though. It has to get done or other goals this year *coughPitchWarscough* won’t happen.

I was supposed to finish it yesterday. Didn’t happen. The new words sounded just as boring and overdrawn as the first set. To bypass some of the stress and anxiety of missing yet another deadline, I decided to plow ahead to chapter 3 and come back. As I started jotting out the first scene in chapter 3, this is what happened:

“Okay, where exactly are all these things in this container?”

*Tries to sketch out how it’s laid out. Looks up cargo container packing pictures.*

“How is there any room for her to move in there? And why would they pack the stuff that they need to unload and hide IN THE BACK?”

Brain – What about making it a pirate ship instead?

“Don’t be silly, there can’t be any pirate ships in this thing. That makes no sense-”

*Googles old merchant ship holds.*

“How can I make this fit the rest of the world? How can a pirate ship fit in an alternate, modern Charleston?”

Brain – Here’s all you need to know to tie it into this moment and recent past.  *Dumps out ideas and possible subplot threads.*

“…NOW CHAPTER TWO WILL BE SO MUCH MORE FUN!”

 

And now (well not right now) I can go back to chapter two and give it the oomph it deserves. It won’t be pirate ships… exactly.  Mwahahah.

Moral of the story: don’t quash the little voice that offers up what sounds, at first, like an outlandish idea. It might be the solution you’ve been banging your head on the keyboard for.

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Charleston

I got back from Charleston last week and all I can say is, wow! I had done some research beforehand on the historic downtown area, good eateries and the like, but I’m still just kind of amazed. Looking at a few houses on Google maps does not prepare you for just how many old homes there are, not to mention all of the different architectural styles.

A Charleston house with piazza and all!

A Charleston house with piazza and all!

Naturally, I fell in love. I don’t want to go into a whole giant spiel about why you SHOULD visit (I could, trust me), but if you do go, here are three things I would recommend seeing/doing:

 

1) Carriage Tour – I did this on my first day there, and it was well worth the money. The tour guides/drivers are all certified, and the city tests them every three years or so to make sure they know their stuff. On a carriage tour, you’ll go to one of three “zones” that the historic downtown is divided into – West, East, or South. You don’t get a choice, this is determined by a city official with a bingo ball. I don’t really think it matters which zone you end up in, because you’ll probably get a dose of Charleston’s history in with the highlights of the tour zone.

Palmetto Carriage, one of the carriage tour companies.

Palmetto Carriage, one of the carriage tour companies.

 

There are a number of companies doing these tours. They all have the city license to operate and whatnot, so just do a little research and see which one might be a good fit for you. There are also walking tours for both the downtown area and special topics (pirates, ghosts, naval, etc.).

 

2) She-Crab Soup – Just to preface, I don’t really like crab. It’s too sweet, and too expensive for the little bit of meal that you get from it. In doing my pre-trip research, though, a looooooot of people were talking about She-Crab Soup from one restaurant or another. Since I ended up going during restaurant week, when a lot of restaurants have a three-course meal for $30 or $40, and a couple had this soup on the menu, I thought I might as well try it. More because I like soup, than because I like crab.

Poogan's Porch, a restaurant on Queen St. in Charleston.

Poogan’s Porch, a restaurant on Queen St. in Charleston.

 

Oh boy, was it good. I had a cup at both Poogan’s Porch and 82 Queen, and I honestly don’t know that I can say one is better than the other. Poogan’s version was a little less dense, and had a spicy kick to it. At 82 Queen, the soup was a bit heavier and creamier. The sweetness of the crab came out more, but it wasn’t overwhelming.

One of the only times I've ever eaten gravy willingly.

One of the only times I’ve ever eaten gravy willingly.

 

There is a plethora of fantastic food in Charleston, but definitely try the She-Crab Soup.

 

3. White Point Gardens/Waterfront Park – After you’ve been walking around for a whole day (or two, or three…), take a bench in either of these parks and let it all sink in. Revel in the city’s past and present. Watch the sailboats and frigates gliding through the Cooper River. You might even see a cruise ship, or at least the behemoth tail thing of one. You’ll also see people walking their dogs, or running around the Battery. No one will bother you, probably.

Waterfront Park

Waterfront Park

(I prefer Waterfront Park simply because it felt more symmetrical. White Point felt unbalanced, because all of the statues/memorials were on one side of it. )

 

White Point Gardens, west side.

White Point Gardens, west side.

 

All in all, I came away with less, and in some cases more, than what I expected from the trip. I ended up with notes on just about all the primary characters, and some ideas on how to tweak the city for the setting. I’ll probably end up twisting some of the history and architecture for my needs, but I still haven’t decided how far I want to go down that hole.

My main concern was learning more about my main character, which didn’t pan out very well. She didn’t reveal herself. My next step will probably be practice scenes, which I’ve never done before. First time for everything, right?

 

In closing, Charleston is beautiful. If you’re not going to go, find some way to send me back!  =)

 

 

Last night in Charleston, treated to a gorgeous sunset-sky!

 

 

 

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