Of gingerbread and sibling-angst and space sirens and poison gardens // Beautiful Books #1

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Do you know what tomorrow is?

The first day of (Na)tional (No)vel (Wri)ting (Mo)nth.

*collective shrieking of writers all over the world*

This is my first year properly participating–unlike last year when I sort of forgot all about the fact that I meant to write the whole month long + life happened.

Am I nervous? Hah. I’m on the nervous level of a gingersnap on a cookie platter in front of a little boy right now.

Am I excited? YOU HAVE NO IDEA. I’ve counting down the days and I have this grand plan of getting up at 5:00 a.am on work days so I can write, and I’ve warned my family in advance that I may become a hermit, and–*flailing* so excited i become incoherent when i talk about it. Half of my excitement could be attributed to the fact that I am in love with my story, which reminds me of the whole point of this post: who wants to know what Annie is writing for NaNo?

FYI: I’m planning on writing most of my book in longhand–which is how I usually first-draft–so that means I’m aiming for a lower word goal that 50,000. Basically I am going rogue and turning NaNo into Camp NaNo.

(also FYI: some of you may recognize this as the book I worked on briefly for last NaNo. I’m hoping to finish it this time around. Absolutely. Definitely and for sure.)

Cue the Beautiful Books questionnaire hosted by Cait and Sky wherein I divulge never-before-revealed secrets of….

Witchling

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What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?

Witchling is the book that was never supposed to exist. It’s actually the sequel to I am Juliette, the first book in my series of science fiction fairytale re-tellings. When I first started toying with the idea of a sci-fi Beauty and the Beast re-telling I sternly ordered myself to keep it a standalone novel because I have a very bad habit of spinning every story into a series. That would not be the case with I am Juliette, I declared.

*laughs at poor, ignorant, innocent Past Self*

(If we’re getting technically it was actually a character’s fault. He mentioned someone briefly in IAJ and, of course, my curiosity got the better of me and I had to find out all about said charrie. So, it is my fault? Never mind. Carry on.)

I think Witchling has been in the works for roughly a year and a half? And when I say “in the works” that means I have 10,000 words of the first draft written. Everything else is still in that lovely, ethereal realm of Not-Quite-Sure-What-Is-Happening-But-It’ll-Be-Glorious.

Describe what your novel is about!

a) it’s a Hansel and Gretel re-telling which makes me all the happy because I adore that particular fairytale almost as much as Beauty and the Beast. Largely because of the gingerbread house, I expect, but also because the children are such darling, intrepid humans and the story is quintessentially fairytale.

So think Hansel and Gretel.

But in space.

Futuristic space.

Creepy, futuristic space.

Hansel and Gretel in space + poisoned gingerbread and hypnosis and possible immortals and espionage and chilling assassins and double, possibly triple, secret agents and brainwashing and classical music and deadly gardens and foot chases and masks both visible and invisible.

What is your book’s aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like.

spicy scent of gingerbread. cold air and goosebumps. sharp needles. a soft, irresistible voice. vicious wolf. monochrome. lost siblings. shattered glass. morbid motley of dead people’s belongings. labyrinth. tiny white pebbles. stars glittering. innocent child-laughter. masks and mind games. light at the end of the tunnel. victorian greenhouse. break the cage. 

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Introduce us to each of your characters!

The Witchling. lost girl taken under a monster’s wing. she’s like a siren but one who lives in space + keeps a greenhouse and burns souffles on the side. broken sense of morals. collects mementos of victims. brilliant exploiter of people’s weaknesses. trickster sense of humor. feeds off adrenaline-filled situations. her true self is hidden behind a finely-crafted blend of masks–so deeply hidden she would not recognize it if she saw it. her insecurity is real. (also, despite her name she isn’t actually a witch. Just too mesmerizing and enchanting for her own good.)

The Wolf Master. monster with the face of an angel. Moriarty-complex. he doesn’t lurk in the shadows: he owns them. obsessed with people’s minds and souls. literally has no boundaries when it comes to “playing God.” taught the Witchling everything she knows. passionate swordsman. he only fears one thing, but he fears it so much he’s been running away his entire life.

Erik Halsey. skilled soldier with more secrets than anyone guesses. has an alarming knack of speaking bluntly. probably breaks down every locked door he encounters. will defend the people he cares about to his last drop of blood. kind of really hates politics and double-speak: is unfortunately involved in both. loves all cookies and just wants his own island in the middle of nowhere. eventually. there are children to do something about first.

Hans(el). fiercely protective older brother. heartrendingly precocious. ponders everything from all angles. has an aversion for dark rooms. will go sleepless and hungry rather than trust anyone. has picked up a decent amount of English alongside his native German. if you ask him for a hug he might bite instead.

Greta(el).  little ray of sunshine. anchor for her brother. hoards all things shiny. does the begging puppy eyes ridiculously well. barely talks and only in German. love language is touch.

How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)

  • Excited hyperventilating has happened.
  • Also moments of “WHAT IN CREATION AM I THINKING. HAVE I GONE MAD. HALPPPP.” Everyone assures me that I was mad to begin with so all’s well.
  • This list here has various elements + vital scenes that I want to incorporate into the novel.

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  • I rarely ever research for first drafts. I just let my imagination run about unfettered, and then fix the logic holes when I edited.
  • I bought myself pretty, new gel pens since I’ll be doing most of NaNo longhand + am collecting aesthetic imagery on Pinterest because I am a visual person + hashed out details with Other Humans + am doing a whole ton of praying because I don’t do this often enough about my writing and it’s kind of really important.
  • Why, yes, I have a chocolate stash specif. for NaNo. This is Annie we’re talking about. When do I not have chocolate and/or rave about it from the rooftops?

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What are you most looking forward to about this novel?

Honestly, the fact that it’s a Hansel and Gretel re-telling is enough to make me spazz happily—which I do a lot when I think about this book (I adore that fairytale if that isn’t perfectly clear to you by now).

I am head-over-heels in love with the cast of characters, and I can’t wait to spend more (and more, and more) time with them. Be still my beating heart.

Also, the sibling-angst is strong in this one. And I’m incorporating a non-romantic friendship between a man and a woman—which is something that matters a lot to me. Bring it on, gingersnaps.

*really just loves everything about this book* *could go on for hours* *must be considerate, my precious*

List 3 things about your novel’s setting.

  1. Long corridors and monochrome colors and sharp corners. There is no happy medium of light in the Wolf Master’s city—it’s either blindingly bright or faint enough that dark, looming shadows are everywhere.
  1. Trees. Black trees with silver leaves and tangled branches and long scars across their trunks. Faint whispers. Snapping twigs followed by long silences.
  1. A kitchen with lots of high stools and brightly colored stoneware dishes. The smell of good things baking. A candy jar half-filled, and floury work surfaces, and warmth from the stove. Mugs of steaming hot chocolate. There may be gingerbread. Possibly.

What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in the way?

Fulfilling each and every one of her orders to the utmost degree of perfection. What stands in her way? Hansel and Gretel and, ultimately, herself.

(Keep in mind that these are the Witchling’s goals at the beginning of the book. Lots of shenanigans and morally grey situations go down after that.)

How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?

By the end of the novel the Witchling’s world has been turned upside-down. She’s started to think for herself, to make her own decisions, she’s realizing what she thought was truthful, was right, might not be at all—and it discomforts her a lot more than she likes.

How has she changed beyond that?

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(you knew it was coming at some point)

What are your book’s themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?

I put a lot more of my heart into this book than I initially realized and, whilst I am Juliette feels like a healing book to me, Witchling has more of an element of digging deep, of bringing dark things to the surface, of brokenness and what that means in a person’s life, of staring untruths in the face and saying “I refuse to believe you. I refuse to let you shape who I am.”

I have an idea of how I want readers to feel but I don’t think I can put it into words yet. BUT. I do want them to be really, really eager to find out exactly what happens to the Witchling and the rest of the charries in the next book.

If you’re participating in NaNo what are you writing about? And if you aren’t a writer, whose stories are you stalking next month? TELL ME ALL.

 

Beautiful Books — Witchling (part two) // Also, NaNo updates

Time for Part Two of Beautiful Books!

According to the title, I also promised NaNoWriMo updates so let’s chat that first, shall we?

Last week my older sister and I went on a road-trip together. I didn’t get much written (about 1,000 words total) but it was wonderfully inspiring — everyone ought to try to road trip at least once per year. While we drove past rain-wet fields, deeply green pastures, forests of skeleton trees, and under the arc of pearl-grey sky, I spent a lot of time thinking about my books and planning my writing schedule out for the next few months. In a nutshell, with everything happening during the rest of November (helping a sibling move, fall-cleaning, Thanksgiving preparations, etc) realistically it would be well-nigh impossible for me to write 30,000 words on Witchling. Hence, I changed my goal to 10,000 which I reached this past Tuesday (YAY) and I am going to focus on Blood Thread for the rest of the month. I’m hoping to finish it before NaNoWriMo is over (Lordwilling) and I’ll spend the first two weeks of December editing and polishing it. It’ll be about 25,000 words long by the time I’m done and I have big plans for it.

So, there you have it! All the rest of my NaNo word-count will be going towards Blood Thread, and I feel much more at ease about my stress level — which has been higher because I’m sick right now. woe is me 

By the way, I am very curious about how your NaNo battle is progressing, folks! Tell me ALLLL about it in the comments, please and thank you. *gives everyone rejuvenating chocolate* And as for anyone not doing NaNo, I’m still curious about your writing, my precious.

Beautiful Books — Part Two


Is the book turning out how you thought it would be, or is it defying your expectations?

It’s has been a very obedient child for the most part, but at least three times it has suddenly darted from the beaten path and I’ve had to race after it and drag it kicking and screaming back.

What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?

Oh, since you asked so nicely.

“The children are approaching, ma’am.”

(cue the suspenseful music.)

Are you a plotter or a pantser? Have you ever tried both methods and how did it turn out?

I’m a conglomeration of the two (plantser). My method is as follows:

Step One: Do a rough outline of the story with all the major plot points charted out.

Step Two: Trot merrily along from point to point and encounter all sorts of delightful shenanigans along the way.

Step Three: Become stuck with no idea how to get to Point (insert random number).

Step Four: Write a rough scene-by-scene outline.

Step Five: Write industriously with many moments of varied emotions.

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What do you reward yourself with after meeting a goal?

Sometimes the warm, fuzzy feeling of having reached said goal is enough. If not, I break out my chocolate stash (it’s very small, but IT IS ALL MINE.) Other rewards include watching a TV episode, reading, sharing snippets with friends, browsing Pinterest…. basically anything I particularly enjoy.

What do you look for in a name? Do you have themes and where do you find your names?

I like names that have a snap to them. I like to toy with words and turn them into names — such as Prism. Most of my names are gleaned from meeting people, looking at gravestones, checking baby name sites… sometimes I look up names based on the meaning or I take foreign names/Latin words and manipulate them into my own thing. If I hear a name I like there is a 99% chance I’ll incorporate it into a book. And I always have a list of names in the back of my mind just waiting for that perfect character.

What is your favourite to write: beginning, middle, or end — and why?

Beginnings are wonderful, also scary. But I love the emotions of finishing a book. There’s nothing like it.

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Who’s your current favourite character in your novel?

WHAT SORT OF QUESTION IS THIS I ASK YOU.

What kind of things have you researched for this project, and how do you go about researching? (What’s the weirdest thing you’ve researched?!)

I actually haven’t researched very much. I tend to leave that for the second draft. One thing I did look up was how to make souffles. Needless to say, I’ve been craving them since then.

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Do you write better alone or with others? Do you share your work or prefer to keep it to yourself?

I write best when I’m completely alone in a room, but word wars are amazing things so I (politely) bribe/beg my friends and younger sisters for them. Sharing snippets of my work with others is terrifying and exciting all at once. I love it.

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What are your writing habits? Is there a specific snack you eat? Do you listen to music? What time of day do you write best? Feel free to show us a picture of your writing space!

Sequester myself at my desk, turn epic music on, make sure my glass of water is near by and write like I’m being chased by all nine of the Nazgul. I can’t snack whilst I write because I find it too distracting. I write best in the morning/early afternoon. Rarely ever do I write in the evenings.

(stay tuned for Part Three next month!)

In other news, I voluntarily entered the black hole of k-drama last week (I know, I’m questioning my sanity too). I’ve only seen City Hunter so far, but it was glorious and has so many martial arts scenes and plot twists and it destroyed my feels. I literally sat there and sobbed when a Certain Character died, and I can count the times I’ve done that during a film on one hand. I’ve entered the ranks of k-drama fangirls and I love it. My family thinks I’m mental. I fully intend to drag them down with me. *maniacal laughter* It’ll be epic.

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Alright then, cyberspacelings! Tell me all about your NaNo experience so far. How goes the war? Are your books/characters being good, little creatures? Are you a k-drama fan? If you’ve seen City Hunter, let’s chat!