30 April 2016

Zipper (and Other Words I Hate)

**My theme for this year's A to Z Challenge is THE REVISION PROJECT. Topics I come across while I write the third draft of my novel, Uneven Lines.**

I barely got a chance to even look before he pulled my zipper down and slipped his hand over my boxers. 

Yeah, there was no quote in UL that uses the word "zipper" that wasn't naughty. Sorry not sorry. Actually, I'm lying. There's totally a sentence in the first chapter that mentions backpack zippers. But where's the fun in that?? 

So I actually hate the word zipper. But it's one of those weird words that you can't really find a way of replacing or editing out. So I started thinking about what other words I hate that I still have to use from time to time. So I made a list!

WARNING: Most of my least favorite words are related to sexytimes in some way.

Ok, it's not so much the word that I hate. It's that it's just a necessary part of any below the waist sexy scenes. Pants can't come off without zippers going down. I know you can skip some things, but that always seems to be an action that needs to be on the page or people are going to wonder how the heck those pants came off. Magic? Scissors? And the pants aren't always 100% off, either, but Jordan's always wearing skinny jeans, no one's getting in there without a zipper being undone.

I hate this word probably more than any other word and I don't even know why! It's just a weird word! It's a weird thing! Especially on dudes! But I mean, it's there. Sometimes a tongue has to be touching it...

This is one of those words that just sounds so textbook in a sentence. Like, what is this, high school health class? What's the alternative--hard on? Because that sounds SO romantic! NOT.

The F Word
No, not the obvious one. That's in there 183 times. The mean terrible one. I've tried to use it somewhat ironically but it always stands out like a sore thumb. I think it may be better off not in there at all. (Except maybe the quote featured in my V post. But that whole paragraph is heavy on the sarcasm so I think it works).

Ok, I don't actually hate the word love. But it's kinda hard to come up with words that you dislike and still have to use (because if you dislike a word, you typically just don't use it!). But for this particular novel, I made it a point not to use this word. At all. Ok, once. That's why I'm hoping it will stand out in that particular sentence, because it kind of shows how one character is entirely aware of how another character feels for him (but has not revealed this to the reader). But I have made sure that I don't use it in any other sentence in the book, even something so simple as, "I love pizza!"

I wanted this list to be longer, but like I said, coming up with words that I hate and still have to use is hard. Plus they're all probably related to sex somehow. Well, that is it for this year's A to Z Challenge! I hope you all enjoyed my ramblings this month.

What words do you hate? Are you going to take a nice long nap now that the Challenge is over??

29 April 2016

Yummy Stuff

**My theme for this year's A to Z Challenge is THE REVISION PROJECT. Topics I come across while I write the third draft of my novel, Uneven Lines.**

I stuck the fork right into the squishy, yellow center, picking up a big chunk and sliding it onto my tongue. It was sweet and tangy, the flavors erupting in my mouth. I snatched up the entire dish and brought it back to the couch and ate and ate and ate until my fork scraped up all the crust from the bottom. I just couldn’t stop myself. I didn’t even want to. 

One of my favorite things to write are food descriptions. This won't always be necessary in every story, but in UL, food plays a huge role, so it definitely pops up now and then. Writing about food can be fun--what it looks like, smells like, tastes like. It's a great chance to really dive into a description and cover all of the senses. 

But why food? Well, that will depend on the story. For mine, food represents not only an actual hunger, but also a more symbolic one, as well as an awakening of sexuality. With pie and cupcakes. Yeah, it may seem weird, but I think it works. It's one of the more fun parts of writing my novel. 

So where do I sneak in food descriptions? Well, most of them are at the beginning. If you read this post, you may remember that when Tom first meets Jordan, he brings him a pie (it's a math joke!). Chapter One ends with Jordan eating that entire pie in one sitting. His hunger is something that cannot be contained, but also exposes a vulnerability that he isn't quite ready to admit, either. 

I will fully admit that it gets bizarre at points, and I absolutely love it. One of my favorite scenes involves eating lemon bars while Jordan, is, well, by himself...doing something else at the same time (wink wink). It's so weird and yet it works. Every time I include a lengthy food description, what I'm hoping for is to actually show some other aspect other than just the fact that my characters are eating. There are other emotions and desires going on at the same time as a literal hunger for food. 

Why would you want to include food? If not for a symbolic reason, maybe just to show character traits. Maybe one of your characters likes to cook. Having them cook for another character could be a good way to show certain aspects of their relationship as well. Or maybe you just want to make your readers hungry...

Do you include food descriptions in your stories? Do you think you could eat a whole pie in one sitting??

28 April 2016

Exceeding Expectations

**My theme for this year's A to Z Challenge is THE REVISION PROJECT. Topics I come across while I write the third draft of my novel, Uneven Lines.**

But clearly it was supposed to happen, since the universe so conveniently placed the answer right in the palm of my hand. I mean, I’m used to getting my way, but this was more than that. This was a sign.

I'm not exactly the type of person to believe that things will go my way. I don't honestly believe that I'll finish this book in the near future and get it published and then all my dreams will come true. But that doesn't mean I don't dream, either. I guess the weirdest part about that is that sometimes I actually worry that these dreams will come true. What if it's just too much for me to handle? What if I just want to run and hide instead? 

I won't deny the fact that I dream big. I mean, I lead a very rich fantasy life. And it's this weird mixture of thinking/hoping that all of these things will come true while also being incredibly rational thinking that they couldn't possibly happen. Like, I'm delusional, but I'm also very much aware of how delusional I am. Sometimes I wonder if these thoughts are helping or if they are holding me back. 

It's not just because I worry about reality not living up to my expectations. That's pretty much guaranteed to happen. There's another underlying fear that I don't really like to think about that much. What if these dreams do all come true? Am I really the type of person who can handle it? I'm not exactly one for the spotlight. I mean, I can't even take the pressure of being a bride right now and only six people are coming to my wedding. So why do I think being some famous author is going to work out for me? 

But I also think everything happens for a reason. I've always thought that this story is bigger than me, because it was just so strange that I even came up with it in the first place. I feel like it serves a bigger purpose than just being a story, but I can't know what that is now. 

And then there was the sign, of course. I know I've mentioned it a few times with my weird vagueness, and that's for two reasons. I don't really want to talk about it that much until I actually know whether or not it was a sign. That could take years to figure out. But also I don't want to explain it and have people say, that's not a sign, you're just crazy! I'd like to hold onto that little bit of hope. 

I will tell you that it involved at least four coincidences at once. I knew three of them beforehand, which was pretty much why I was where I was in the first place. Things seemed to line up perfectly and I just had to be there. What I didn't expect was the fourth coincidence, and it kind of slapped me in the face. I've mentioned before that my novel has colors--blue and gray (yes, I know it's weird, but stay with me). I suddenly realized those two colors were right there, front and center. It was kind of nerve-wracking to realize this. What did it mean?

I know the more logical explanation is that it meant nothing and it was just a big coincidence. But it was just so weird that I still think about it from time to time over three years later. Was this the universe's way of telling me things will work out? Or am I just nuts? 

Either way, the thought of success is mildly terrifying. What if I can't handle it? I feel like I'm the kind of person who would rather go hide in a cave than shine in the spotlight. But that doesn't mean I don't want to finish and publish this book. So I guess, like most things, I'll have to take it one step at a time. 

Are you afraid of success? Do you think the universe sends signs?

27 April 2016

Wait, I Take It Back

**My theme for this year's A to Z Challenge is THE REVISION PROJECT. Topics I come across while I write the third draft of my novel, Uneven Lines.**

I felt so stupid and angry. I didn’t want to forgive Brian, not ever, and I wasn’t ready to forgive myself. It just seemed so easy to forgive Tom, because he was so f***ing pathetic, because I didn’t want to start over. 

Stories usually have a lot of twists and turns. Not everything that happens is going to be expected. If you want to keep the reader entertained, including a few surprises could be a good way to go. But how do you get things back on track after you've included a surprise? Does it lead your characters down a completely new road or is it more of a detour? 

What happens after the twist will probably depend on how big it is, or how it relates to the overall story. Is it something life changing or just something that temporarily throws your characters off? How do you recover from a twist (if recovery is even possible)? 

My issue is that I feel like I recover from my twist too quickly. There's something that happens at the end of Chapter 17 that is completely unexpected. I love the twist. LOVE IT. So much so that I'm not going to explain it and spoil it. I love everything about it, how it comes out of left field, my narrator's response to it. It's pretty much perfect (I think...). What I worry about is how fast I smooth things over. In the next chapter, actually. 

Basically one character does something bad to another. It seems like their relationship is over, but then some other unrelated bad things happen and the second character changes his mind. Then the character who did the bad thing explains why he did it and apologizes. And then we're back to normal. 

I just hope that the chain of events leading up to the apology doesn't make it seem so strange. But I also worry that the character's explanation basically takes back the bad thing he did. It's not completely swept under the rug but it's pretty much forgotten within a few chapters. Does this totally ruin the shock of the twist? Or should I find some other way to keep its impact going as the book continues? 

Do you ever "take things back" in a story? How do you deal with a twist?

26 April 2016


**My theme for this year's A to Z Challenge is THE REVISION PROJECT. Topics I come across while I write the third draft of my novel, Uneven Lines.**

Great. Just fabulous. I mean, really. What the hell, why didn’t we just have everyone watch us going at it? It would have been a great show. Watch the f** try to f*** the desperate whore. Who knows what could happen?!

One of the few good things about working on the same novel for over five years is that at this point, I have the voice down. It is done, it's developed, it's perfect in my mind. It certainly may not be everyone's cup of tea ("Who has tea??" Jordan says. "You made tea and didn't make me a cup?!"), but neither is the whole book. For this book, and for this character in particular, the voice works.

Voice is a tricky thing. What you need can depend on a lot of things. Each character should have his/her own distinct voice when they speak, but that doesn't necessarily come up on every page. Your narrator's voice does, though. And if the book is in first person, you're actually writing from a character's point of view. As you read, you're experiencing everything through his eyes and his words. You want it to sound like a real person is telling the story. That's where voice comes in.

Everyone has a certain way of speaking. Your narrator's voice should be distinct from the other characters in the book. We should actually believe that this person would use these words to tell the story. When I first started writing UL, it did not sound like a teenage boy was telling the story. It sounded like a twentysomething girl was, well, because that's who was writing it. Voice doesn't always come to you right away. Sometimes just getting the story down first is more important. But developing a distinct voice for your narrator will not only make the story believable, but hopefully more enjoyable.

Honestly, the first thing I did to develop Jordan's voice was just to throw a lot of swears in. I figured that was a totally plausible thing for a teenager to be doing. I cut the big, lengthy words that he would never use and replaced them with more believable ones (like "bullsh**" for "pretense," that was a good one!). I didn't shy away from fragments. I added little phrases that I probably will need to cut down on in the third draft, like all the "I mean"s and "really"s and "I mean, really"s.

I guess the one thing I worry about is that some people won't like the voice. But I guess those are the same people who wouldn't like the book anyway. But some people are turned off by swears. I almost didn't include the end of the above quote until I realized that was kind of the point. If Jordan wasn't swearing all the time, it would probably seem weird. I know that limits my audience a bit, but I just think it's more believable, and it's something unique to his voice. There are other characters in the book who never swear, but he's definitely not one of them. So why would his narration be any different than his dialogue?

Figuring out the voice can depend on a lot of things. Who your character is, what point in his life he's telling his story from, or just how he speaks in general. It can take a long time to develop, but as long as the narrator has a unique voice, that will make the story come alive even more.

How do you develop a character's voice? Do you mind reading books with swears?

25 April 2016

Unseen Forces

**My theme for this year's A to Z Challenge is THE REVISION PROJECT. Topics I come across while I write the third draft of my novel, Uneven Lines.**

“So when do I get to meet your sister?” I asked when I finally took a second to breathe instead of eat. I said it like this was something completely normal to ask. Really, I just wanted to see how he would react. 
He just glared at me for a second before shaking his head. “You’re hilarious.”

Every story is like a bubble. Everything that happens in the story takes place inside of that bubble. All of the action, dialogue, and moments that the reader actually reads over the course of the book. But that doesn't necessarily mean that these things are all that matter. We can still see through that bubble, where there are all kinds of outside influences.

Unless your story is following a particular character from their birth to their death, then really, we're just looking at a particular moment in his/her life. What is happening in this life snapshot will obviously be the most important part of the story, but that doesn't mean that what has happened before it isn't important. Your characters have already lived some of their lives and that has shaped who they are. Some of that may show up in your story.

Take background information, for example. Stuff like this occasionally needs to come up within a story--things that happened long before the book began but whose influence is heavy on the characters and story. The background story on Jordan's mom plays a big role in UL, for example. It weighs heavily on their relationship and how he lives his life. Without some of that information sneaking in now and then, their relationship within the story may not make sense. What has happened before the story begins will still find ways of influencing the characters from time to time.

Not every single influence is necessarily seen in the story, either. If you think about one character in your story, then think about every person they know and that has influenced them in some way, that would probably be a lot of people to include in one book. I have a few unseen characters who are mentioned here and there throughout the story, Jordan's mom's boss and Tom's sister in particular. These unseen characters influence the lives of the story's actual characters, but there just isn't a spot for these characters to actually show up. You don't want to force these characters into the story if they just don't fit, but if their influence is still there, maybe they need to be mentioned from time to time.

There are things and people outside of your story that will occasionally influence what is happening within it. How much information you share about these things will be entirely up to you.

Do you have unseen forces or characters that influence your stories?

23 April 2016


**My theme for this year's A to Z Challenge is THE REVISION PROJECT. Topics I come across while I write the third draft of my novel, Uneven Lines.**

“So once we find someone who plays bass we could actually start playing.” 
“Make sure he’s cute.” 

Finding a quote for today's post was rather difficult. When I first wrote Uneven Lines, I had zero intention of writing any sequels. It was always a stand alone book in my mind. Consequently, there aren't really any lines in it that hint at a sequel. The line about finding a bass player for Jordan and Eric's band was just supposed to be a joke. I had no idea that person would a) eventually exist, b) actually be a love interest for Jordan, or c) turn out to be a "certified cutie" (possible Book 2 description). Or that he would bother me relentlessly about the sequels when they weren't even supposed to exist in the first place!

But let's rewind. At what point to you decide to write a sequel to a story? I guess it's probably different for every writer, for every story, even. You may know a particular story needs to be a trilogy before you even begin writing it. For me, that was never the case. I just came up with a story and I wrote it. It was never supposed to be anything else. But then the main character decided to attach himself to my brain. I started thinking about what would happen to him after the story ended. It wasn't always terribly interesting; most of these brainstorms were just for fun. But eventually an idea for a second book started to form in my mind. I was considering things that I never thought I would when I was writing the first book, characters whose existence was never even mentioned, but would actually be so important in Jordan's life. So I had Book 2. Well, an idea, at least.

My hesitation for writing Book 2 was mostly based on the fact that I had no idea when or if this series would end. Should I just keep writing Jordan's stories for the rest of my life? Or was there a place to cut it off? I didn't want to start Book 2 without some sort of endgame in mind. And at the very least, I knew UL could stand on its own without any sequels.

But then suddenly I had an idea for Book 3 , and I totally blame Adam, the aforementioned cute bass player. He's the one who threw the ideas at me and they stuck. Which, interestingly enough, is exactly what Jordan did to me with the first book. My characters tend to control things more than I do. The thing about Book 3, though, is that it would completely tie up the series. Instead of having no end in mind, suddenly I had a trilogy. It seemed perfect and yet daunting at the same time.

I worry about how people will react to the sequels. If they think the first book is good, will they think the sequels are as good? I certainly think the sequels will have a different tone than the first book. Jordan is fifteen in UL, but he'll be twenty in Book 2 and twenty-two in Book 3. I think Book 2 goes to some very dark places, whereas Book 3 does the opposite, there's a lot of happy fluffiness. Do all these books actually fit together? Will anyone even care to read them? Will they wish I had just left the first book alone?

I can't really worry about the sequels too much without getting the first book done. I know I want to write these books for me, and I will. I know I want to publish UL, but I'm not so sure about the sequels yet. I guess I'll have to write them first and see how they turn out.

Should I write the sequels to Uneven Lines? When do you decide to write sequels to your stories?