Tag Archives: into the land of the unicorns

The Blog Hop Stop: The Spotted Writer Station

Throughout the two and a half years I’ve been building this platform, I’ve received blog awards and surveys that help share who I am as a person and a blogger. It’s reminiscent of a right of passage for bloggers to post at least one of these introspective questionnaires. This survey of sorts is probably the most personal and technical I have had the pleasure to write.

And so I have been invited by my very dear friend Matt from WantonCreation to take part in a themed post about my writing process. Matt and I began our blogging journeys around the same time, and he has been such a phenomenal inspiration to me since we first found each other. His blog is much more versatile than mine including posts about music, interesting sites to check out, and his recent move to Sweden. Matt is both witty and humorous in his posts, so please be sure to check him out!

My lovely writing nook!

My lovely writing nook!

So, this particular blog hop stops at Spotted Writer Station for a look inside my writing process, which up until this post I hadn’t given nearly enough thought. I hope you, my ferocious minions, learn a little bit about me from these questions and the person I’ll be tagging at the end.

What am I working on?

The only answer I should have at this point is my novel Dollhouse Daughter. As most of my writer’s group knows, I have terrible issues with procrastination and focus (hence why I’m typing this post instead of revisions). Dollhouse Daughter is a coming of age story, but also a reaction of how families recycle mistakes across generations. Here is a working book blurb:

Cassie Brooks, a bookish 13-year-old girl from Pennsylvania, must move hundreds of miles from her childhood home when her grandfather falls ill and her parents are left to care for the Brooks Plantation in Warrenton, GA. Cassie has a choice—settle for her narcissistic mother, a passive family, and the unforgiving awkwardness of a new school or give in to the temptation of vodou after meeting a mysterious woman in the forest?

Insert Pudgy kitty picture!

Insert Pudgy kitty picture!

The blurb could use some fine-tuning, but I’m over halfway finished with the novel. It’s taken me two years to get to this point, but I feel confident in my characters and the way my story is told. I think people will enjoy my main protagonist Cassie with her love of Japanese anime and her snarky comments. I also think they will love to hate my antagonist Marge— not necessarily a true villain, but she’s mighty difficult to tolerate in the same room. Eventually, I hope that at least one person will enjoy the finished product and it will lead me to my Master’s degree.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

I branch out into a few genres (sci-fi, fantasy, horror, mystery), but if we’re talking about Dollhouse Daughter the genre would definitely fall under YA fantasy. Yes, I know it’s a mega popular genre, especially within the past ten years, but when the characters speak to you—you better damn well listen. Anyways, I think I bring an honesty to the genre that otherwise could be forced or disingenuous. I think me being a 25-year-old lends to a closeness to the suffering in my teen years. I mean, I still haven’t fully processed everything I am and everything I can be. The terror and loneliness that Cassie feels when she’s with her family isn’t something I pulled out of the ether; it’s pulled straight from my heart onto the page. Not only that, but the fantasy element isn’t an escapism like it is typically defined in the genre. I wanted my fantasy to intensify the situations in my stories. Instead of running away from reality, my characters, especially Cassie, must face the harsh facts life has to offer.

Why do I write what I do?

I’ve loved fantasy and science fiction ever since I started reading. It’s really as simple as that. I write the same wonderful ideas that have nurtured me into an avid bibliophile since first grade. Dragons, ghosts, aliens, vampires, zombies—all of my favorites will find their way into my writing not on purpose, but because it has helped shaped me into the writer I am today. My love of fantasy began with Into the Land of the Unicorns by Bruce Coville, and from then on I knew I wanted to write about magic and space for the rest of my life. It allows me to show the truths of humanity without the limitations of what’s “real”. I can choose to make a story about zombies with my imagination and people will learn more about me in the process.

Iz rly comfy like dis!

Iz rly comfy like dis!

How does my writing process work?

That's right I said no kitty. Too much distracting cuteness

That’s right I said no kitty. Too much distracting cuteness

This is the tough question. My process goes against everything that most authors/mentors tell you to do. But hey, whatever works right? I don’t wait to revise until after I’ve finished the first draft. For me, there is no first draft. There’s only the work in progress and the finished manuscript. I keep working at each sentence until it feels right to me. So, it makes me a slower writer and it takes me much longer to finish a piece, but it’s so worth it.

By the time I finish a chapter, it has gone through at least three to four “drafts” and is nearly ready to share with my writer’s group. Sure, there are mistakes, and things that need to be touched up. However, I try to make it count the first time instead of waiting until I’m completely finished to go back and change it.

At the same time, the best place for me to write is actually at lunch during work. No internet, no kitty, no bed—NO DISTRACTIONS! I find myself getting the most work done when I physically have no other distractions or ways to procrastinate. I think the most rewarding part of my process is that the product is well worth the wait. I end up with a fantastic chapter after a few weeks or a month of work.

Who’s Next?

Her authorial name is K Orion Fray, but I know her best as Rion. She is one of the most imaginative, focused writers I’ve ever met. Let me break down how stellar she is:

Maxed out twice during 2013 NaNoWriMo with two novels in progress, one of which is currently being published on her website as a serial. Rion has successfully become an audiobook reader, cosplayer, moderator (not sure about the exact title) for NanoWriMo, blogger, published author, and many more. I could effectively write an entire post about how much I adore my dear friend because well, it’s easy to find great things to say about her. In the workshop where we first met, Rion astounded everyone (especially me) with the sheer amount of quality content she was able to write during our ten minute prompt. It was at least three full-sized pages if I recall. Nay my friends this was no exaggeration or fluke; she is the real deal full of wonder and geekery that blows my mind every time I talk with her. Plus she loves all the cool shows like Doctor Who and Supernatural. I wish her luck on her version of this post, it was a blast! Now you must check her out!

Happy reading and writing!

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Getting Back to My Roots: Unicorn Style

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At one point in every writer’s life they have THE MOMENT. There is a novel or story you’ve read  in your past whether it be at age 7 or age 38 that ignites a spark in you to be more than just a casual reader. It is a hunger for stories–for faraway lands, technologically-advanced alien planets, and characters that seem more realistic than your own neighbor. The story can be from any genre or any time. Most importantly, it has affected you in a way nothing else has before. Sure there are books that you’ve enjoyed, but this one was different.

For me, it was Into the Land of the Unicorns by Bruce Coville, 2nd grade in Mrs. McClelland’s class. Now not every young girl is swept away by the idea of unicorns, but at 7-years-old there was nothing sweeter than a lonely, neglected girl finding her destiny with these beautiful, magical creatures. With Coville and McClelland’s help, I was fell in love with the limitless potential of storytelling. Although it wasn’t the first book I had ever read, it was and still is the most powerful.

Coville has a simple, straightforward style that works well with his 80+ children’s and young adult novels. It was my first real glimpse at world-building, and I was in love with the fantasy and of course the unicorns he brought to life. Later that school year, I attempted to write my first story, which at three pages long was a harrowing adventure of a fairy princess with a shape-shifting blob for a companion.

Before Coville and his Unicorn Chronicles, I had a satiable appetite for reading much like any other enthusiastic child. Not anymore. It was after journeying with Cara Hunter and her faithful new friends in Luster that I found my passion. My love of stories intensified from that moment on. Several years later I discovered the second book in the series and in my delight I fell into the world of Luster all over again. No matter how long I spend away from Coville’s world I came right back within the first few pages.

Thanks to the wonderful world of Google and Goodreads, I’ve come into the possession of the third installment of my beloved series rather recently. It’s been, I’d say, around 8-10 years since the second novel, Song of the Wanderer, and getting back to my roots is exactly what I needed to rekindle my creative mojo.

By the second chapter, the adorable and slightly annoying voice of the Squijum (part monkey/squirrel) threw me headlong into a heavy case déjà vu, which I was all to happy to allow. There is nothing more satisfying than characters who instill a sense of contentment in a reader as a youth AND an adult. I only wish I can do that with my Cassie for one person, and Coville is guaranteed hundreds if not thousands in the forty years he’s been publishing.

We finally reach the meat of my post with the fact that this book and this author being my moment of “revelation,” if you will. It was the moment I knew that I had it in me to escape whenever I wanted if the story came to me. I wouldn’t write again for many more years other than fan fiction, which is a good start anyways. And even when I revisited the most important book of my career, I still found the magic bubbling on the pages. Sometimes the books we remember as kids don’t always ring true when you’re older.

Coville’s books have been an integral part in my decision to become a writer, and following the 17 years apart from this particular reader-author relationship I had some catching up to do. So, I decided to take a trip over to Mr. Coville’s web site to re-acquaint myself with the man behind my inspiration. What did I find? Some of the greatest advice I have ever come across.

I encourage you to head on over to BruceCoville.com because he is both simple and coherent no matter what kind of stories you are writing. Hey, he even uses the same tag line that I use at the end of all of my blogs. Coincidence? Since this is the first time I’ve visited his website I’d say no. It’s a powerful feeling when a complete stranger guides you down the right path because it’s one you share with them. I am almost finished with Dark Whispers and Coville still gives me the chills in all of the right places. He gives me hope that I can someday give those chills to hopeful writers that their dreams are just like mine and they can come true if they believe.

Do you remember the first story/book/poem that made you want to be a writer. Share your “back to roots” story in the comments below. I’d love to hear them. And in the spirit of a lovely Sunday morning—-Happy reading and writing, my lovelies!

 

Oh and—-interwebz kitteh picture!

My close up Mister Main Coon!

My close up Mister Main Coon!

 

 

 

 

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