To Brave the Adventure that is Nanowrimo?

With Nanowrimo just around the corner, I find myself at that fork in the road… do I join or do I just watch everyone else around me panic?

Well… I’m still standing at that fork in the road, but I’m curious to know if any of our readers are into NaNo! And if you are into it, do you like planning ahead or just winging it when november begins?

On my first attempt at NaNo, I tried to plan out a basic idea for a story… but then it didn’t pan out because once november came around I hated the idea… hahaha… on my second attempt, I tried to wing it… but then I just stared at a blank document for two hours and gave up– then I forgot about it by the second week because life sucks sometimes.

Have any of you been successful? Made it at least halfway? Or just fail miserably like me?

Sorry this is so short~
You’ll probably notice posts to be lacking… well, midterms are around the corner. Ahhh, the joys of a working student right? So fun. :)

Until next time!
Sam

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A Depressing Tale From Michelle’s Paper Garden

This is something I thought of when I am walking home in the middle of the night.
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The girl could not be more than sixteen years old yet she held a sleeping baby, a boy, wrapped in a plain blue pressed to her not fully developed breasts. He had been born only a few hours before she decided to take to the streets, an unwise action to be sure, but she deemed her task important enough to venture out on a cold winter night with a newborn. Foolish child was completely unaware of the predators who lurked just beyond her sight. Like myself.
I couldn’t help but smile a little. Merry Christmas to me, I thought wickedly as I began to follow her to the street at the edge of the park. I remained in the shadows of the trees, my feet never touching the ground.

She looked to her left and then to her right before crossing the quiet, snow covered street. It was a precautionary measure that had been etched into her head since childhood, but it did nothing to warn her of my presence or for that matter, of the presence of the others who were hovering about her: the homeless man whom to most would appear to be sleeping on the park bench was a ghoul, a creature whose enjoyment of the dead bodies is disturbing even to the most sadistic of night creatures; the unusually large stray dog who was sniffing around garbage cans in the park was a werewolf with hungry red eyes, and the old Santa Clause at the corner was no jolly old elf, but a redcap with a thirst for blood. All watched her carefully, all were aware of the others hanging about.

She raced up the steps of the large gothic building whose great towers seemed to reach the sky and stained-glass windows that were larger than any man; a church with all its stone glory. There were lights coming from inside the church, as it was Christmas Eve and midnight masses were popular for some reason. I would never understand Catholics.

With the utmost care — or at least the utmost care one can show when leaving a newborn on the front porch of a church— she placed the baby in front of the door. “I’m sorry,” she whispered to him before placing a kiss on the child’s forehead.
How sentimental, I thought sourly as the girl rose and slammed her fists against the wooden doors. Then, she rushed down the steps like a prankster who had just left a flaming gift on the doorstep of a hated neighbour and across the street. She quickly whipped past the homeless ghoul, who immediately perked up, as she vanished into the trees.

With a cruel grin of black pointed teeth, the creature rose from his bench and walked after her. The wolf growled hungrily from behind me, and proceeded to follow him, hoping to get a bite before the ghoul had his way with the young girl. No one would want to take a bite after the ghoul.

My head snapped back to the abandoned baby, and I immediately noticed that the redcap had moved from his corner. He had almost reached the staircase when the wooden door swung open, flooding the porch with soft candlelight and warmth from the many bodies that were seated in the pews. A man, a priest from him garb, stood in the doorway with a confused look on his elderly face. He spotted the baby and his expression changed to one of pity. He scooped up the child, mumbling comforting words that the sleeping baby would neither hear nor understand. He looked around, but saw no one, as the redcap had dropped his disguise and had ducked behind a tree.

It was my turn to act. I stepped out of the trees and walked to the edge of the park. “Good evening, father,” I said cheerfully as I walked across the street without looking one way or the other. I had no need to be cautious.

The priest pulled the child close to him, either because he worried that the baby would be cold or because the tiny voice in the back of his mind was telling him that I was not like him. Men of the cloth were not known to appreciate the unusual. “G-good evening, miss. Merry Christmas,” he replied with a forced smile. There was a twinge of fear in his dark blue eyes.
Hmm, so it’s the latter. I sighed as I walked up to the priest, who took an involuntary step backwards. He stared straight at me, and I in turn, stared right back.

My pupils narrowed to a thin slit. “You have nothing to fear, priest. I am just like you,” I told him, though the words made me want to gag. No one wants to be the equal of their food. “Now, give me the baby and then walk back into the church to finish your service.”

The priest nodded as he handed the baby to me and turned to renter the church. Some of the churchgoers asked him what had happened, but he ignored them all as he marched up to the alter. Paying no mind to the strange looks from his congregation, he began to preach. Those in the pews mumbled to their neighbours, but did nothing else.

The baby made a noise, rubbing his little nose with a balled fist. I glanced down at it. I could feel my fangs peeking out of my gums as I watched the blood rush through the tiny creature. There was nothing like the taste of a newborn.

There was a growl from behind me. I looked over my shoulder to see the redcap, thin and pale, standing at the foot of the staircase. His blood-soaked cap was clutched in a skeletal hand. The ghoul and the werewolf appeared on the other side of the road. The werewolf, now in human form, was covered in blood. The ghoul adorned a bloody skull on top of his head and the face of a pretty sixteen-year old girl was sewn to his bare chest. He chewed absently on a severed arm.

I turned to look back into the church. There were so many warm bodies that it sent chills up my spine. A low, content hiss escaped my lips. I smirked coldly. “Have at it, boys.”
A blur moved past me and the first scream followed as a large wolf tore into the jugular of a little old grandmother. The ghoul waddled over to the door, screeching gleefully at the mounting fear in the room. The redcap glided by me, turning in the doorway to face me.

“Coming, Camilla?” he asked, his voice was hoarse.

“No,” I replied as I lifted the baby. “This will be enough for me.”

The redcap nodded before closing the door. There was a soft click, trapping everyone inside like cows in a slaughterhouse. Screams and the sound of crunching bones were the only things that could escape the church.

Grinning like a schoolgirl, I spun around to make my way down the stairs, which I had planned on skipping down. I could have done a jig, I was so happy. Once I made it down the stony steps, I glided across the street and vanished into the dark, snowy park.

Great Characters!

Hey! Sarah here, and today I’m going to be writing about something more writing oriented.  Keep a look out for a book review soon though, on one of the books that Sam and I received as part of our Random House Canada fall preview!  I’ll also be posting on my own blog soon, about everything that went down there! (http://sressiambre.wordpress.com/)

For now though, I have a post that was inspired by our recent trip to Comic Con Montreal (Sam, Meli, Michelle, and I). And it’s all about great character writing!

Alright, so what is it about characters that make them so memorable?

On the surface, when wandering around Comic Con, I think it would appear that cool looking costumes and weapons are the sole reason for a cosplay choice.  Upon deeper speculation however, I think there’s much more to it.  I believe that good characters have the ability to capture the love of an audience, and that if well written, they can last for many years, even when the book/film in question is not in the spotlight.

Firstly, and perhaps the most popular costume choice is that of a superhero.  Everyone wishes to be more than they are at some point in their life.  Imagining that you can save the world, and protect those you care about? Who doesn’t think that would be great?

Now, when writing our protagonists, they will most likely be heroes and heroines of some sort.  Not always with powers, not always with disguises, but they are almost all inherently good at heart and want to take action to overcome the antagonist or obstacle in their way.  We want to write protagonists that our audience will cheer for.  And we want our audience to be able to empathize with them, and many times, wish to be them in some way (though not the situations we put our characters in!).

Next, villains! Writing good villains can be harder than writing our protagonists.  They can come out looking like stereotypes; card board cut outs of what evil looks like, with no redeeming qualities.  Though this type of monolithic evil can work occasionally, I have found that I prefer my villains be more complicated.  I think that a good antagonist had justified reasons for what they are doing, and that it should be less certain that they are wrong in their beliefs.  Having villains as complex and real as your antagonist is what’s going to make your story levels better, and stop it from falling flat.  It keeps readers on their toes, not always sure if good will actually conquer evil, and questioning even where the line between the two lies.

Some of my favourite characters are not necessarily good ones.  And of course, this is my time to once again rave over George RR Martin’s character building in his Song of Ice and Fire series (Game of Thrones, for the HBO viewers).

Though there are characters you hate (Joffrey, anyone?), many have gathered a following of fans.  Tywin Lannister, for one.  The things he does are so heart breaking to Stark fans, and yet he still commands a certain respect from readers who see he uses his skills to accomplish what’s best for his family (though the way he treats them is not particularly admirable).  Then there’s a character like Theon Greyjoy, who is so cowardly that he loses all respect, and yet still manages to get pity for the situation he’s in (though I’ll admit, I’m in the minority of those who actually enjoys his character and POVS).  And who can ignore a reader’s (and viewers) favourite: Tyrion Lannister.  Though he’s witty, and relatable, he has still done terrible things (read the books!) and it’s amazing that Martin can still make him so loveable.

The line between a protagonist and an antagonist is not always clear, and I’m sure that’s why the more complex characters are so much fun to choose for cosplay at an event like CC.

Lastly, I want to talk about the more obscure costumes I saw.  Which brings up the topic of secondary and minor characters.  They may seem insignificant, but in reality they run the story just as much as the main ones do.  Now, continuing on with Martin, there are so many characters that this point really becomes important.  A character like Beric Dondarrion may not be on as many pages as Tyrion, but he holds a lot of power and is a fan favourite because of his endurance and skill.  Jaqen H’ghar (a personal favourite) plays a seemingly small role in the books, but has a remarkable presence (I also believe he will have a much larger role in the next books).

Looking at JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series, it’s characters like Fred and George, Dobby, Luna and Neville (though I’d argue that they’re main characters by the end of the series) that make readers laugh and cry; sometimes more than I would for the main characters.  Writing good secondary and minor characters could make or break your story.  They can greatly influence the main plot, and can certainly capture the hearts of your readers just as much as your main characters.

So who are your favourite characters of all time? Why?

Do you prefer a more complex villain to a monolithic evil?

How do you go about writing diverse and riveting characters?

Let me know!

A book review should be my next post here.  Til then, hope you’re all enjoying yourselves! Feel free to recommend your favourite books to me!

Yay for New Books I’m Not Sure I Can Discuss Yet~

If the title confused you, I’m sorry!

I have to keep this short and I’m still waiting for an answer about whether or not I’m allowed to discuss the event in better detail… but! Here is what I will say:

Sarah and I just got back from the Random House of Canada Fall Preview 2013 and all I have to say is: I AM EXCITED. I haven’t been this excited for books in a long time. Got a few new reads (I started reading Mother, Mother by Koren Zailckas on the ride home and I’m hooked! This is probably be my next book review~) and I can’t wait to talk about them!

Until next time!
I’m sorry this isn’t a really great post, but I don’t want to get in trouble for talking about stuff I might not be allowed too…

Sam

Picture it & Write

She hadn’t known what she was thinking, but she was never one to pass up a dare. This was clearly a mistake. If she ever made it back to solid land, she’d definitely need to start prioritizing.
“Oh, come on.” she begged, holding her cell phone up in front of her face. Shielding her eyes from the glare of the sun, she noted that she only had two bars left. Just as she was in the process of dialing, the boat tipped slightly before flowing steady through the water.

“What-” Speech seemed to fail her as she caught sight of the whale under water. A giant eye blinked up at her tiredly from below the depths.

This is Sasha’s entry to this week’s Picture it and Write prompt hosted by Ermiliablog!
Enjoy and join in on the fun!

Picture It & Write: Once Upon a Cloud


Once Upon a Cloud

How He wished he could part of that world, the sounds of traffic, the bustling footsteps of hurried peoples, the numerous smells from all corners mixing as one and the spreading out again and the tall structures with their outrageous design reaching up to the sky. They were all blissful to him; he could sit up in the sky for hours and never blink for fear of missing something. Oh how he wished he could experience it all.

When will there be a day where he wasn’t busy rallying the young cloud-dust whom would much rather change shapes than be still or prepare a new weather cloud for another day or be in his office buried in paperwork,

overlooking statements from other cloud-watchers worldwide? Would there be a day where he would wake up in a non-translucent form among the race he feels closely connected to? He knows that the others like him do not think the way he does. They are content and happy, and they say the world of man is filled with much disappointment that we up in the clouds should never stray away from out heaven.

Even if it felt more like hell, was it truly worth staying he wondered but never out loud. These were his personal confessions he carried with himself each time he snuck away to watch over the world so close but far from him. The world which makes him feel much more than just a cloud.

The world in which he is finally free.

This is Meli‘s Entry to this week’s Picture it and Write prompt hosted by Ermiliablog!
Enjoy and join in on the fun! :)

For Sam’s submission click [here].

Until Next time

Comparing Authors/Series

Have you ever read a review or picked up a book that states something along the lines of: “The New [INSERT POPULAR BEST SELLING AUTHOR’S NAME HERE]!!”

This came along because I’m currently reading Samantha Shannon’s “The Bone Season” and some of you may know that she’s being compared to/called “the new J K Rowling”. But as I’m reading through this, that isn’t the case. The only thing right now that makes them similar is their publishing company and the fact that Shannon is set for a Seven book series.

Other than that, Shannon’s books have nothing to do with Harry Potter or J K Rowling. It’s a great way to get hype for a book, but as I’m reading it all I’m thinking about is what it’s being compared too.

Yeah…

I have a love hate relationship with these hype things. I love it because if I’m looking for a specific style or genre, going through lists that are “recommended because you read [insert title here]” or “if you liked [series name here], you’ll love this” saves me a lot of new book hunting time.

I dislike it because I tend to have high expectations for the book after. Then… 60 percent of the time, it just doesn’t compare.

Don’t get me wrong though, because the books I pick up are still a great/good read! But… you just can’t compare two or more different authors/books series against each other. Everything you read or watch or listen to should stand on it’s own and not be compared to something it has nothing to do with.

Sure there might be a familiar aspect between whatever it is you’re subconsciously comparing but I think we should get into the habit of not doing that. I think we (or maybe this is just me) would enjoy some reads better if we weren’t constantly comparing it to things you know? I mean, how can you compare different styles of writing anyway? or different worlds of fiction? They’re meant to be different for a reason…

Am I rambling here/not making any sense?

What do you think?
Do you get caught up on the own comparing thing?

Let me know!
Until next time
Sam