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Welcome to Journey of a Writer

The story of a writer is a tale sung by many, but the journey to become a better writer? That is something else entirely. The first step is to admit, “You’re not that great – everyone has room to learn and you’re no different”. Good ideas, and good voice, count for very little if you can’t write well. To learn, you have to admit your weakness. Mine? Editing? If you haven’t noticed … it doesn’t mean I don’t try, I am just not good. How to get better? Return to the basics, and so, that’s where I begin.

If you browse around you will find useful information on the subject of writing. This blog is a collection of notes from my studies and comes complete with useful links and book recommendations.

Feel free to comment. Offer suggestions for a writing topic or ask a question!

The Alundra File 01: Sinead Ahern is for sale!

You can contact me via email at ninakaytel@gmail.com.

Lack of Imagination

I feel so guilty when asked, am I writing? It’s like I do write, but am not writing at the moment. Why am I not writing at the moment? I have no idea. Lack of motivation? The longer I don’t write the worse I feel. I feel like with the FA I have been afforded this opportunity to do what I love to do, which is write, but I am closing in on 25 and haven’t gone anywhere. I thought by now that I would have an agent and be published by now, but it is myself that is holding me back. I had the series, and it was easy to say ‘wait until the series is done.’ I started the series when I was twelve. I worked on it diligently, even worked on getting it ready for querying until I realized that I was just beating a dead horse. With the new story, though it is as if I jumped into the deep end and forgot how to swim. Writing now is not the same as when I wrote as a teenager the story consumed me. when I’d wander around the farm I’d image whole scenes, I used to do these monologues before I went to sleep, I used to think of my story in the car. Now though it is like the story is only there when I write. Maybe I just got to old, too consumed with the daily worries of adult life, maybe it just diminished with my ability to walk. Whatever it is, I miss that. I want it back.

Despite that the new story is going. It’s fun. Originally, it was written to be a high fantasy set in a medieval type era. However, I just didn’t like it. I didn’t think the GOLEM fit in an era that lack technology. I was also relying on POV switches to bulk up word count.

So I scrapped it. Took the idea and updated the era to something akin to what we have now. The world is nothing like ours and the government structures are a war between communism and socialism, ruled by Emperors and Kings. I am exploring a story line that I always wanted to write; even used it in my series, but it needs its own novel.

I am hoping to be done by November so I can participate in NaNo again.

Writer Down!

Ah, blog friends you’ve been missed. I actually have been thinking about posting for a while, but life is crazy, and I kind of dug myself in a hole when I started this blog. I need to make this blog more than its original vision. As in, I need to talk about me, as the writer; because it takes everything, you do in life to be better at anything. There are lessons hidden in day-to-day life that I think are often missed.

Like I stated life has been insane!

I think I was depressed for a while, and didn’t realize it until recently. I had stated to wither in my life and my writing. How I figured this out, you may ask. By all means, ask away. My power chair broke. I nursed it for a week then it just crapped out.

I was terrified and broke down emotionally. I mean I broke. You would think someone I loved died. No, I was scared of life without the chair – how hard it would be, how much more I’d get hurt, knowing what I couldn’t do – and the thing that I hate the most about being disabled, how much more dependant that I would become. The fact that I have no money. The fear that I would lose the limited money I make babysitting. I am already in debt for the chair’s batteries, and a new controller …. I mean that is just the tip of the thought process that day.

Yes, the first few days were excruciating; wheeling around in a manual chair, with a disability that makes every movement like you half a bottle of vodka drunk. My arms hurt, I had more bruises and cuts then I care to count, and on top of that my health was declining, and I had reached a stress level that I couldn’t deal with.

Being disabled is like walking this tightrope of your emotions weighed against those around you. All my life people have told me to not be so cold, to open up, and I tried. When I broke down, the people around me just made me feel so guilty. One person is having heart palpitations, using tranquilizers just to deal with my emotions.

I realized after that first day that I had to bury it. Everything I felt, every complaint, hide the cuts and bruises and pretend that being in this chair is better.

I did, I put on my bravest face. I feared that this level of concealment would turn me back to the girl I used to be, the teenager that was a cutter, speed freak, and just flippant about her life. I feared the reversion because that girl and this one share the same thing: the concealment of emotion for the sake of others.

The days passed and it got easier. I couldn’t go outside and there are still things that are next to impossible to do or just harder, but I grew stronger with each day, and then it dawned on me: I was withering away in the power chair

I couldn’t say how much weight that I lost in these past couple of weeks, but it is significant. That is considering I exercised everyday for an hour before this happened. You’re fucking crazy if you think I am going to risk breaking something to get on the rowing machine from this chair, but it doesn’t seem too necessary now.

My body feels great, and I got over the anxiety. I am even thinking about continuing to use the manual chair once the new power chair arrives. If I get approved for one that is.

I find that my mental health is improved minus some of the worries. Like the transition from bed to chair. In the power I had to clutch to the arm and turn and hope I did it right. In this one I simply pull it next to the bed and side in. Just that alone makes the day much better.

After I week, I got brave enough to ‘walk’ a ledge.

Before I go further, since I was woefully unprepared for the chair breaking my manual chair is a clunky medical use chair. Not the cool ones that people have for their houses.

Anyway, I got tired of not being able to at least go on the porch. So I rolled myself out, then lifted it up (a proper chair is different in areas of weight and wheels so the move is easier since the chair is designed for it) and walked two of the wheels over the edge then jerked myself inside.

Woooooooo, a simple freedom.

I don’t have a death wish to go down the ramp. It is way, way too steep for that, but I think as I grow stronger I’ll try ‘walking’ it up the stairs.

The trick with FA is finding balance in the unbalance.

Yes, it is harder. Yes, there is more pain and injury, but I feel so much better. More than that, I feel like I have grown as a person.

As for my writing, when this initially happened, I seized this first week to play Final Fantasy X, but alas I beat it so I had to figure out how to write in the chair, which is a few inches shorter than the desk making typing uncomfortable. My typing is bad enough with a proper chair. In true red-neck fashion, I robbed the cushion off the power chair to use for the computer.

I am working on an untitled project, which was (at one point) my NaNo novel. Lesbians, MECHAs, Gods, magic, and a 2,600 war.

That’s all for now.

Morning Post

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The days off have come and gone, and I didn’t get anything I thought I was going to get done, done. I had a couple of bad Ataxic days in a row. You know, drop everything. One day, I even spilled my entire cup of coffee right after I just made it. I acquired a nice knot on my noggin from bending down and the powerchair not stopping so out goes Nina. I collected several new bruises, but eh such is life, or so people say.

Two good notes:

I planted a second garden. People scoffed at my chaotic mixture of seeds, but it is survival of the fittest, plant style. Like the first garden, I can’t wait to see what springs up.

I met my personal challenge of not switching POV in my new novel until after 10k words. I actually made it to 15 before I shifted to a second POV. I remember how hard that was in the Alundra File, but in this story, I was almost reluctant, but I got to a spot where the main character Zareck is traveling, only two options there talking or scene jump. I did skip some time when I switched to Leila, but she will provide new eyes to the story.

When I rewrote the NaNo novel to update the technology, I had no idea that the story would change this much. For example, Leila and Zareck were originally from the same village, and secretly in love. Since he was an outsider to the village, he was forbidden to marry Leila or any girl from the village. When the Imperial army kidnapped her, he went on a journey to save her.

How horribly lovey dovey. Not my style, either.

Such is not the case now. Like I said, I wanted to rewrite it for a more solid reason to have the Golem I have one now, both the Royal army and the Imperial Soldier fight with them.

Zareck became a Soldier. Leila some girl from a village. They don’t know one another, and might be enemies since he is on his way to her village.

I know it is about to get very interesting — not that it isn’t already!

A 2600-year war for two Gods, that are long dead. That’s the central plot of the story.

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Hello

Hello everyone,

I am going to endlessly apologize this summer for my lackadaisical nature keeping up with this blog. I still love you guys. Having this blog has given me more confidence than I thought possible. Anywhere is an update:

After I trunked my series, I ended up working on my NaNo novel got about 60k words into a second draft and decided it wasn’t working, for me. I had this challenge in mind to write an entire story without technology, but it kept bugging me: the story is based around MECHAs called the Golem. In a medieval setting, their presence is limited and reliant on the magic they need to run. So the question became what was the point of the Golem. There was nothing in that setting that made them necessary.

So I scraped the second draft and began a third.

This one has a modern setting – different world – where the main tools of a 2,600 year war is split between the Golem and airship.

The challenge now become writing for as long as I can in a single POV, which I am doing remarkably well at – if case you were wondering. Nearly, 15k words in Zareck’s POV. I think that is a record, for me.
I have most of this week off and plan to use it to work on the second Alundra File (if you haven’t checked it out yet, please do so, it’s available on Amazon, http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IGYZZUC).

I added in pictures of my garden. I planted things and they grew!!!

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Gardening and Abandonment

I know, I know, I am following in the footsteps of many bloggers who come and go, and I don’t want to be like that. Spring has come and things change. Time shortens and people get busy. I’ve been babysitting again, taken up a new hobby, oh and finally, I abandoned The Black Sunrise and the series.

Many people out in the blog verse are parents, and saying I babysit isn’t much of an excuse not to keep up with a blog. I am not a parent and after twelve or more hours of children is enough for me. They leave, and I veg. out. It’s amazing though. I have been babysitting my nephew since he was nine months old. I don’t miss preparing bottles and yucky liquid baby food.

I’ve also taken up gardening. I started with one flowerbed and now I have two. I can’t wait until the flowers grow. It’s interesting in knowing that I am responsible for the something that will help bees and birds.

About three weeks ago, I made a huge decision about my writing career. I decided to abandon my series. I have been writing on it since I was … well, fourteen. I love my series, I love Zihn and Cristia, I love that their story inspired me to be a writer, but I was clinging to the series. It was holding me back. It lost its magic a long time ago, and I was just writing and re-writing it, but never progressing. I would keep doing that until I had withered to an old age and all my chances for publication had faded into dust.

I need to step away from it. Not just step, but also bury it in a time capsule and not dig it up for fifty years.

It took a while to settle on a project that I will choose to publish, but I have. I have been working on my NaNo novel.

I can’t stand the thought of my series failing, and the chances of that happening right out the gate are good so I have decided to push on with an idea that is newer, fresher, and written after my learning curve, which by the way is far from over. Also by clinging to the series, I can’t advance forward.

I have suspended any major learning while I am in writer mode.

So that’s it.

 

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The Emotions of a Published Author

My feelings towards writing at the moment are a combination of things rolled into one hanging grey cloud over me. All production has stalled in other words.

I thought at first maybe it was disappointment. Belonging to the forums and befriending writers (some not all) creates a sort of disillusion. Do this, don’t do this, no one wants that, and then you go and read what is popular and they did this, and this, and yes, I the reader love that. Anyway, I began to write without all that, without taking risks and you sound less and less like yourself. I became so worried about the rules and forgot about the passion. Still, if I want to make it, I felt that I had to conform and that isn’t the case. A handful of the best-sellers that I have violated everything right down to opening in a dream. Hell, Divergent starts looking in a mirror.

(I don’t want anyone to read that and think that I am knocking the forums. That isn’t the case. That is my weakness. Writer forums are an invaluable resource.)

In comes a flood of disappointment. At myself. I conformed. I tried to do it all right and forgot myself.

After disappointment comes discouragement. I thought finally gathering the courage and self-publishing would lead somewhere. That the people in my life would finally take interest. If anything people care about it less than they did before. I got nothing from it. No one (aside from people on the internet, though I love you guys) cared nor has spoken about it. I wanted validation and got silence.

It’s highly discouraging; well more so, than knowing that my punctuation still bites.

Are my parents even proud? Will it be like this when I hook and agent? If they don’t care then what is the point? I swear it has been easier to talk about my sexuality, but again both are unspoken. Said once and never mentioned again. Somehow though that truth is easier when dealing with my sexuality. With the writing it is painful.

Loneliness. Being a writer means isolation, trapped in your head with your ideas and surrounded by people who rather talk about lawnmowers.

Anxiety. Not sure if this is an emotion. However, every day I struggle with the urge to take the Alundra File down. My brain tries to convince me every day and every day I fight it back.

Indecisive. The edits of The Black Sunrise, are a great improvement, but something is wrong with it. I have run through it twice and don’t know what, but today I figured that out. It doesn’t sound like me anymore; it is though cleaner, passionless and drab. Everything I learned it there, but to get it there I drained the life from the story. I was so worried about conforming to the rules that I forgot what to tell a story.

I guess indecisive should be past tense. I am going to rewrite TBS. I am going to work on the second Alundra File.

The emotions of a writer may make it sound like I am depressed, which isn’t the case. I have a car now, and in four or so months will be able to drive it. On a low income, I have to take this a step at a time, pay it off, tags and title then insurance. It’s finally gotten warm outside so I’ve been soaking it up and spending as much time as possible not in this room and I have been babysitting, and if the guy that my brother is working for pays him, I will stay working. My time is full, which brings me to my last emotion.

Burnt. I was. I pushed from October into March working on writing every day, learning, applying, writing, obsessing, sleeping to wake up and do it again. In the last couple of days my brain as opened up, my creative sands are falling again and my motivation has (sorta) returned.

 

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Divergent

I read the Divergent series by Veronica Roth in its entirety over the past three days. Though I had numerous problems with it, especially in the last book, I am not going to talk about them now. I can’t even decide if I liked the series, but I give it this: the author did her job, and her book ranks as one of the few that has ever made me cry. Why? Roth constructed a character that I felt I believed, I yelled at, and I cried for, and that is the lesson I take away. Well, one of them.
Everything is pointless if you don’t craft a good character. Your adverbs, your showing, world building, action, sex, the gleam of the kitchen sink, it is all worthless if the reader doesn’t care about the character.
They don’t have to be the strongest, the brightest, the wisest … they have to be dynamic, believable, and most of all, the reader has to care about them.
G.R.R. Martian, Roth is coming for you.

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Reinvention of The Black Sunrise Opening Scene

This new scene has been the hardest thing I have ever writer. It’s been a balancing act to know what information to give out, and having the events match up to later flashback, but with this one scene (I only posted a small part) I realized I have a whole new way to go about the first part of the novel. With plenty of wiggle room, I’m going for it. I’m not sure if I am going to keep any of it, because frankly I am scared shitless of changing the story, but I have a nagging suspicion that it needs it.

Has this ever happened to you guys?

I’m still working on it, mind you, but what do you think of the new opening?

______________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

Seth paced a step out of reach from a blanket of cold filtering through the dead trees that loomed above him. The ancient Oaks rose hundreds of feet into the sky, their bark the color of ash, a mixture of grey, black, and a flare of red. Grey leaves crackled, waving against the phantom breeze.

He unbuttoned his ode green jacket and slid it off. The sun peaked above him bearing down hot rays. He wiped the sweat from his forehead, and then threw the jacket over his shoulder. Sweat soaked through his undershirt. His stomach rumbled and legs ached, but he didn’t have the gift that some men did. He couldn’t stand still.

How long have I been waiting here? In silence? Seth hated silence, and the forest drowned in it. He had orders to wait outside, not to enter – Nia didn’t say how long. A jolt ran through his hand. The cold air stirred. He drew his gun and aimed it at the girl fleeing from the trees.

Naked and caked in black dirt, her unwashed black hair hung in heavy strings around her heart-shaped face. Every bone in her small frame exposed. She rounded on him. Round purple eyes dominated her face, and stared, unblinking, at him. He lowered his aim, opening his mouth to speak.

She pounced knocking him to the ground clawing at his face. Dirt encrusted nails tore into his skin.

Several thoughts ran through his head at once. He was an apprentice for a blacksmith – swung a hammer for years, spent his evenings cutting wood, endured the drunken blows of his father – he knew how to fight and how to win, but he couldn’t summon the desire to fight. Not a girl who couldn’t weight ninety pounds, and looked like the earth just gave birth to her.

He grabbed her by the wrists, pushed his energy into her, and jerked from his body. The world whirled around him in a blur.

He fell into a small clearing where the girl stood. A dead fawn lay in a dried creek bed. Darkness folded around him. One by one, his bones crushed under the weight. The deer ran towards him, then the girl – blood floated in the air behind her, the ground became rivers of it – then his father appeared over him, stinking of wine, raising his fist. Fear exploded through him, he turned heel to run, but fell. His father bore down on him.

He hit the hard earth gasping. His temples throbbed, his muscles twitched. He rolled over; grey clouds had filled the sky. Silence, again. With a grunt, he sat up. The girl lay a few feet away, curled in a ball shivering.

“I warned you before we came, not to make contact with her.” Nia shook her head , slipped off her jacket, and laid it on the girl. The commander stood a good six feet, with stony grey eyes, her thin frame hidden under a green uniform, her dirty blond hair tied back into a loose ponytail.

“You didn’t tell me that …” her eyes narrowed and he fell silent. He couldn’t say the word monster, because he knew it was a lie. She doesn’t have control. Even as she withered on the ground, red sparks filled the air. He climbed to his feet and turned away, “you said we were going to recruit a soldier, Commander.”

“And we have.” She approached him and pressed the gun into his hand, “We should reach the Phantom City before nightfall, and I’d suggest that you refrain from eye contact and physical contact of any kind towards Cristia.”

“Is she a prisoner or a recruit?” he wondered when the girl stirred. Nia knelt beside her and fixed the jacket, then helped her up.

“This is Seth. He’s a soldier in the Human Mage Alliance. I’d advise you two to get along – be friends.” He didn’t understand her emphasis on friends. He hadn’t decided if he even liked her, she was unique … but friends. “Come, we should get moving.”

Cristia cocked her head and studied him. He kept his gaze between the two dead trees behind her. Friends. He wondered what it meant. How could he be friends with some girl, wild, untamed, and caked in dirt? He walked alongside of Nia, putting a few feet between him and the girl.

 

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Day Two: Writing with Skill

Day two of Writing with Skill is the same as the day before, but the passage given is longer and sprinkled with more detail than the day before so it is harder.

To review: being able to filter out all the details in dialogue, action, word building and description to find the core of the story is a rudimentary skill that all writers and readers should have. Whether you are reviewing a news article or reading the latest YA smash hit, you should be able to identify the plot even if it is buried under five-hundred pages of words.

The passage today is from The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken.

The first step is to note five or six phrases or short sentences as an overview of the events in the passage.

Sylvia struggles with hunger and cold.

She doesn’t take the stranger’s offer of sweets or chocolate.

She threatens to call for assistance if the stranger keeps bothering her.

Despite being cold, she won’t do anything unladylike.

The cold and hunger cause her to have bad dreams.

The train stops for wolves on the tracks.

A wolf breaks in and the stranger kills it.

 

The next step is to combine these details into a summary.

Cold and hungry, Sylvia keeps her distance from the polite stranger offering her food. Refusing his offer for sweets, she drifts off into a troubled sleep, only to be awoken by the howling of wolves. A pack of wolves has filled the tracks and caused the train to stop. The stranger assures Sylvia that she is safe, but no sooner has the words left his mouth does on break in. The stranger then stabs the wolf with a broken bit of glass.

 

The point again is to discard the details. Though it might be tempting to include the violet icing of the jam cakes, the fur lining of the stranger’s cloak, the details of the dream these are no important events in the story.

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Writing with Skill: Day One

Today I started Writing with Skill by Susan Bauer. It is a homeschooling program. I thought it would be useful to me to identify where I am going wrong with my punctuation. As I did with the previous textbook, I am starting at the very beginning and not skipping ahead.

The first skill that needs to be in place is the ability to summarize a narrative in four to five sentences, identify the main idea of both the narrative and a paragraph.

The first day’s exercise is to read a passage from The Pepins and Their Problems by Polly Horvath and jot down four or five short sentences or phrases to help remember events in the story.

The Pepin family is plagued with problems.

They woke one morning to find toads in their shoes.

Neither the two adults nor kids would wear the shoes.

Mr. Bradshaw the neighbor also had toads in his shoes.

No one could figure out why.

The second part of day one is to combine the notes into a brief summary.

The Pepin family, plagued with problems, wakes one-morning to find toads in their shoes. The family refused to wear toad-filled shoes, and sought out their neighbor for a solution to the problem. Mr. Bradshaw, the neighbor, was just as puzzled as the rest over the appearance of toads in their shoes.

Why I think this is important:

When writing a blurb, synopsis, or a query letter we writers have to be able to figure out what the over-all plot is. The details of appearance, setting, the fluff in dialogue, action are all just there to flush out the core plot. Discarding the details and focusing on the plot is how we sell the story.

Think about it with your work, the book you’re reading or even the last television show that you watched: can you summarize it in a few sentences? Identify the core of the story? Leave it in a comment; I’d love to hear from you.

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