Saturday, October 26, 2019

NaNoWriMo 2019: Kick-Off/Meet-Ups

NaNo is just around the corner and a big part of some writer's experience is meet-ups. Writing in a group is a different experience than writing at home in your own little nook. You may be expected to socialize *gasp*, I know writing is normally a task best performed alone.

Let me back up and talk to you about what kick-off events and meet-ups are (I know, it sounds self-explanatory)

Kick-off events are put together to help a group get to know each other and each other's writing. Often times there is NaNo-swag, such as stickers and bookmarks. Some ML's put together goody bags, give out candy, or do giveaways.

This year, I probably went overboard. It's my first time, and I'm excited! My goody bags include little notebooks, pens, stickers, bookmarks, gum, and hard candy. I'm also doing a door prize: a candy bucket with a coffee mug, chocolate, latte mix, bigger notebook, better pens, a stuffy to squeeze, and a fake plant (perfect for the forgetful writer). I've only got one 'thing to do' thing planned. It's something I'm borrowing from my regular writing group. On a large index card, each writer writes down a summary of what they plan on writing, then everyone gets to read each card and add a question, comment, or suggestion. It's a way to find out what we're writing, get a little silly, and get to know each other a bit better.

Once NaNo starts, meet-ups are great events to help you stay motivated. If you have a competitive nature, like me, then their especially awesome. One thing I like to do is word wars. What are word wars? Well, I'll tell you! Someone sets a timer and the writer who gets the most words down before it goes off wins. During meet-ups, a majority of my words happen during word wars. Some ML's give out goodies (I have candy, a few pens, and such) to the highest word counts. I'm considering doing some for the most improved word average as well. Now, there is some etiquette  you should always follow when hanging out with other writers:
  • If you are going to be listening to music, you need to wear headphones or earbuds (I picked up a few extra sets of buds at Walmart for a buck each)
  • (I'm gonna yell this one, so plug your ears) NO TALKING DURING WORD WARS (It's a pet peeve of mine)
  • Be respectful of other writer's chosen genres. Your cup of tea or no, the only thing you should be offering up is encouragement or keep your lips zipped.
  • If someone asks a writing question, don't make them feel stupid. Everyone is going to be in a different place.
  • Be respectful of the venue. Make sure you clean up after yourselves. if you're meeting in a restaurant, be kind to your servers. If you're meeting in a library or bookstore, keep the noise level down.
  • If you don't have a private space or there are young'uns joining you, watch your language and topics.
I'm sure there are other things that could be brought up, but those are what come to mind at the moment.
Oh! Cell phones! Be courteous and take your conversation out of the room if it's going to be a lengthy one.

That's all I can think of for the moment! What do you look forward to about kick-offs and meet-ups? Do you have any questions? Are you ready?

NaNoWriMo 2019 Blog Series

Friday, October 25, 2019

📚REVIEW📚 Hungry For Blood/Rabid Wolf

Hungry For Blood: A Science Fiction Paranormal Thriller (A Dream Traveler Series: Genetically Altered Book 3) by [Noffke, Sarah]Hungry For Blood by Sarah Noffke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm really loving this series (and finally getting used to the audio narrator's pronunciation of werewolf)

Some are won, some are lost, and the action continues! Really, the narrative from novel to novel is one cohesive storyline. You get to know the characters little by little and we get to travel even deeper into what Olento research is cooking up.

The 'Rabid Wolf' is terrifying, and it was awesome to see Zepher, in particular, step up to the challenge.

The was also a moment between two characters that I've been looking forward to, and I'm hoping for more in the next book. I'm hoping at least some of the werewolves get their happily ever afters!

Available on Amazon for $4.99

View all my reviews

NaNoWriMo 2019: Research

I love research! Love it! Is that weird? I hope not. I really enjoy learning new things, and writing has given me the perfect opportunity to indulge in that. 

What does research look like to you? How in-depth do you go?

This year I have quite a bit to do. Today at the library I spent two hours researching only one topic, and I have so much more to do. I'll probably not get it all done before I start writing, but that's okay.

I might find something that I need more information on while I'm writing, and that's okay as well. As much as I love research, while I'm writing isn't when I indulge in it, it's too distracting for me. Perhaps you are able to take a breather and follow the research bunny trails, and that's awesome!

Now, what I do when I run into something like this is leave myself a note, right in the text! I'll simply be going along and then I'll add some brackets, inside which I note down what I need to learn more about, then continue on my merry way. When it's time to edit, then I go and do that research!

How about you? Do you love research? Hate it? What do you do when you run into something while you're writing?

NaNoWriMo 2019 Blog Series

  1. My First Year as an ML!
  2. This Year's Idea
  3. Getting to Know Your Characters
  4. Outlining 
  5. Research
  6. Kick-off/Meet-ups

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

NaNoWriMo 2019: Outlining

I know, I know, outlines aren't for everyone. However, they definitely are for me. 

NaNoWriMo '11 (I think), I decided to try writing without an outline. I succeeded and won with just over 50,000 words, but I hated that novel. I haven't actually opened it since that November and I'm still intrigued by that particular idea, but I'm not ready to revisit it yet!

I suppose you might not consider my outlines as traditional, it's more like a bullet point roadmap, and it works for me. Let me walk you through my progress.

Step 1. After coming up with the initial idea, I sit there with some index cards and think about how I want things to happen. on each card, I note down a particular beat I want to hit. This year, I'm writing a romance, so my main focus is the relationship. I had a vague idea of how I wanted things to progress so I wrote down things like the circumstances of their first meeting, how they get to know each other, the first kiss, etc. I then fill in any slow spots that show up.

Step 2. Next, I decide on what my subplots should be, some come naturally, and others I have to think about for a while. I follow the same progression. This time my subplots cover a stalker and illness (not gonna give you any more than that, not because I'm worried about anyone stealing my ideas, but because I do plan on publishing and want it to be a surprise!)

Step 3. I rearrange my cards on the floor or on a table so I can see everything. If I like what I see, super! If I don't, I add more plot points and/or do some rearranging.

Step 4. I write down the outline on paper, leaving spaces to add anything else I might think of later. This is also when I do research, which may (and did) add more points.

At this point, I'm pretty much done with my outline. Now, this isn't the outline they teach you in school, it's simply what works for me!

How about you? Do you outline? Do you wing it? What's your process?

NaNoWriMo 2019 Blog Series

  1. My First Year as an ML!
  2. This Year's Idea
  3. Getting to Know Your Characters
  4. Outlining
  5. Research
  6. Kick-off/Meet-ups

Friday, October 18, 2019

📚REVIEW📚 Ypsilon and the Plague Doctor

Ypsilon and The Plague Doctor (Hall of Doors Book 4) by [Chopchinski, Zachary]Ypsilon and The Plague Doctor by Zachary Paul Chopchinski
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Yahoo! Another amazing Hall of Doors book!

Ypsilon and The Plague Doctor is an action-packed steampunk zombie science-fantasy. (Yeah, you read that right!) I can guarantee you've never read anything like this before.

I don't know what goes on in Mr. Chopchinski's head, but it seems to be a strange and terrifying place. The monsters he has created for the world machine remind me a bit of Night Watch/Day Watch in that it's just a different kind of horror that you don't typically see in an American written novel (Night Watch is, I believe, written by a native Russian).

It's fun to follow characters that I now know pretty well through different landscapes and genres. I feel like the preceding book in the series, Arija and the Burning City raised the bar on the series and this one meets it head-on, taking you into a place of comfort (the world machine) and turning everything inside out and sideways.

Arija and Adal manage to stick together this time, but that's the only real sense of comfort you'll get. This is a twisty turny thrill ride and I can't wait for the next one!

Preorder now on Amazon!

View all my reviews

Monday, October 14, 2019

📚REVIEW📚 Alpha Wolf/Made to Kill

Alpha Wolf (Olento Research, #1)Alpha Wolf by Sarah Noffke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I was already familiar with Ms Noffke's work, so I was so excited to learn she was working on a series featuring werewolves. This book was awesome!

This series takes place in the same world as the rest of Ms Noffke's book, so at the heart of it are the Dream Walkers. The werewolves are the result of science and are a cool new take on the whole idea.

Ren might not be there, but his trademark snark continues on in his daughter, Adelaide, which I totally appreciate. I love how her character is explored in this story, as the woman underneath.

As for the werewolves themselves, you meet three of the 12 men in this story, and I loved all of them. I'm intrigued and am looking forward to getting to know them better as they hunt down the rest.

View all my reviews

Sunday, October 13, 2019

NaNoWriMo 2019: Getting to Know Your Characters

How do you create your characters? Do you discover them as you write, or do you have a firm picture in your mind?

When I write a new character, I like to get to know them pretty well, before I start torturing fitting them into the story. I do a fairly thorough questionnaire, then I free write/interview them to get a feel for their voice.

The following is the character builder I did for Percy before I started Beauty is the Beast. (Warning: There may be spoilers if you haven't read Beauty is the Beast yet. Also, things tend to change and grow as I write. This is just the original stream of consciousness interview)

Who Is Percy?

What is the character’s name? Persephone, Proserpine
How old is the character? Very, appears to be in her thirties
Who were the character’s parents? Demeter (Ceres) Dionysus (Bacchus)
Where was the character born? What were the circumstances of the birth? Did anything unusual happen? What is the character’s relationship with his/her/its parents/creators? She was born in the Greek parts of Fae. Nothing unusual about her, besides being the daughter of gods. She was close to her mother as a child, and barely has contact with her father (except for the occasional barrel of wine). They became less friendly later in life.
What was the character’s childhood like? Are there any brothers or sisters? What is the relationship like with siblings? Her childhood was disastrous. Growing up in Olympus isn’t the best for a child. She very well may have brothers and sisters, though not full Fae, through her father. She doesn’t know any of them.
Where did the character go to school? What kind of education did the character have? How much education? What quality? What does the character know? What does he not know? She was privately tutored as a child, then more-so when she became Hades' wife. Her main focus, of course, was agriculture. She knows quite a bit about the organic bits of life and very little of the mechanical.
What kind of relationships does the character have? What kinds of friends? Enemies? Why? She is married to Hades (Dis). There wasn’t much love during their first thousand years or so of marriage, but they’re working on it. He even makes the trip to Maine to visit her, when he never comes to the mortal world if he can help it.  Percy has made enemies in the underworld, they’re not crazy about her being Hades' wife, as she is a Summerland Fae. She is a friendly sort, getting along well with the general public, identifies best with the older ladies, despite being ancient in comparison. She keeps the peace in the salon, especially when  Gretchen’s wolf is close to the surface. 
Does the character have any bad habits? Drugs? Alcohol? Tobacco? Sexual appetites? What character flaws does this person have? She likes a good glass of red wine, compliments of Daddy. She searches for the good in people, even to go so far as to overlook obvious character imperfections (she’s employed a werewolf and a vampire). She’s been forced to, living with Hades four months out of the year. She’s a bit shy, and soft-spoken hates confrontation.
Describe the physical appearance of the character. Skin color? Height? Weight? Physique? Tall or short? Fat or thin or muscular? She’s Greek, with the olive skin tone, and dark hair naturally. She’s of average height, 5’5” though it’s unclear if she chose that height, or if it’s hers by nature. She’s slightly overweight, though her curves are less than generous. She’s chosen to appear to be in her thirties, and average except in her nationality (she likes Greek features). This is all her mortal look. When she lets the glamour slide away, she’s blonde like her mother, Violet eyes, Tall (she’s an Olympian) slender, and full-figured (Hot enough for Hades to kidnap and marry)
Hair color? (baldness?) eye color? She’s got shoulder-length level four or five hair, with caramel highlights. Her eyes are dark brown, though they may change when she relaxes her glamour in the presence of Fae friends (Hades, Gretchen, and Lacey)
Does the character have any disabilities? Distinguishing marks? Tattoos? Disfigurements? Why? What were the causative circumstances? None
What kind of jewelry or ornamentations does character wear? Rings, earrings, necklaces, medallion, or piercing? She wears a wedding ring (and a ruby, not a diamond), she wears the occasional pewter pendant on a leather cord or ribbon, things like that. She’s very earthy in her style
What class of person is this? Wealthy or poor? Honest or rogue? Soldier or leader? Merchant or laborer? Teacher or student? Highborn or lowborn? Educated or ignorant? Rational or superstitious? Religious or skeptical? Percy is very wealthy, her husband supports her, though she does earn money through the salon, and has invested wisely throughout the years. She leans towards honest, though she’s become very good at lying to herself, to the point of thinking those lies are the truth. Rational, except for when the lying to herself comes into play. She’d be considered religious, though she doesn’t go to church, does her study on her own.
What kind of clothing does the character wear? Fancy or plain? Expensive or cheap? Elegant or simple? Describe the clothes. What kind of footgear? What kind of leggings or skirts? What kind of shirt or blouse? What kind of coat? what kind of headgear? She’s bohemian in her style, lots of earth tones, but every once in a while she throws in a splash of color. Makes a lot of her own clothes, knits, and sews, etc. When she does shop, it’s at a liquid sunshine style store.
What kind of weapons doe this character carry? Why what does this weapon accomplish? How much training has your character had in the use of these weapons? No weapons (she’s employed two, and Hade’s people watch out for her.
What powers or abilities does this character have? What, if anything, is special about this character? What is fantastic? She’s good with plants and chemistry. She likes to make her own products (body, hair care, candles, etc.) She’s been playing with hair for eons.
What does your character believe? What does he know? What does he need to know? She believes in God, She knows there’s good in everyone. She needs to know that even if there is good in a person, she employed a killer, she’s kinda responsible for bringing her in. this is going to destroy her belief system darkness may dominate.
What is the problem? Why is it his or her problem? Why does this problem hurt? The problem is she’s (good goodness)
What is this character’s weakness? Fatal flaw? She believes in the good in people, she refuses to see the bad, even when necessary
What is your character afraid of? Losing her anonymity, finding darkness within herself
What makes this character angry? Cruelty, people proving there is evil in the world.
What makes this character sad? When people don’t get along, prejudices,  being alone, winter.
What makes this character happy? When everyone is getting along, work goes well, summer time
What does this character want? To never return to the winterland, but keep her husband
What does this character need? To stop lying to herself
What does this character most need to learn? What does this character most need to say? To whom? The truth of the human condition, that there is darkness inside of her. That she loves Hades but if he wants to continue their marriage, he needs to spend some time in the mortal world.
What is the essential emotional problem that this character must face and resolve? Her love for the human world, her love for the fae world, love of her husband, she needs to become herself.

Ah, interview time once more. Again, I come bearing the gift of tea, though straight-up black this time, with plenty of honey.  Soup for You is the perfect backdrop of the day, and I’ll admit I’ve already ordered my food for the day. Potato and leek soup, yum! I don’t think Percy will mind. It’s a little chillier out, hopefully, they don’t mind me bringing tea for my guest. I bought myself a bottle of water (I’m already getting low on travel mugs, and I have others to interview).  I picked a booth out off to one side, for privacy purposes. This isn’t a very big place, so hopefully, no one eavesdrops. I glance down at the time on my laptop, !2:33, she’s a couple of minutes late, but not terribly so. The door opens, and a breeze hits me, making me lookup. It’s Percy, and she’s not alone. There is a tall dark man with her. They are an odd couple. He’s dressed to the nines, like a lawyer, black slacks button-down, no tie, though maybe it’s been recently removed. He’s just as dark complexed as she. His boots don’t fit the rest of the outfit, heavy-duty combat boots. She in comparison is wearing a dark green and brown crinkle skirt and a dark brown cardigan set. Her hair is pinned up in Grecian style updo, with just the right amount of curl loose around her face and nape. Her makeup was natural, just a hint of green on her eyelids. Every eye in the restaurant turned their way.  I hadn’t quite expected Hades to be so hot. His dark wavy hair was styled back away from his face, without even a whisp out of place. He exudes masculinity.  And he’s huge. He could have toned down the Greek god just a wee bit. Percy touches her outside palm to his chest and lifts up on tiptoe to whisper in his ear. As she settles back on flat foot once more, his presence seemed to shrink, not his size, just the presence, and he became a human Greek god.
“I’m sorry about that.” Percy didn’t specify if she was sorry about being late, or bringing her attention-drawing husband. “this is my husband Hades.”
They both took their seats on the bench opposite me.
“Thanks for coming,” I hold my hand out in greeting. They both shake it in turn, nothing abnormal there, except for how uncomfortable I feel. I position my laptop so that I’m peering over it to look at the pair. 
“So, uh, you’ve chosen to stay in Maine?” my question is directed to Hades.
“I’m forced to, yes.” A man of few words, fine. Means I don’t have to talk to him.
I hand over the mug to Percy. “Let’s get started. Why’d you choose Maine for your summer home?”
She glances at her husband before answering. “I wanted somewhere as far from home as I could manage.”
“Physically, or culturally?”
Great, moving on. “You’ve chosen to flaunt your wealth, instead of concealing it like Gretchen.”
“I have. I have no reason to hide it, I’ve been in one place for long enough, and people don’t ask questions. I support local agriculture.”
“Do you have your own garden?”
“Several, lots of flowers. I grow the lavender and chamomile for Gretchen’s tea in my kitchen all year round. But I have a nice herb garden, right outside the door. My vegetable garden is out by the barn, and I’ve planted flowers all over.”
“Do you tend it all yourself?”
“I tend as much as I can, and get some help from local children. We do a farmers market, and several fairs.”
“Me and the children I employ.”
“What’s the age range?”
“Twelve to twenty-five or so.”
Children indeed. 
“We make tea, and various crafts, and fresh fruit and veggies, as well as canned. I have a small orchard.
“Sounds like you keep busy, that and cosmetology.”
“I do, though one of the older children manages the gardens for me. Teaches them responsibility.”
“Sounds like a place my mother would love to work if it were closer. 
“How did you choose your original salon employees?” I’d gotten some of the details from Gretchen, but I want more.
“Well, I went around to the salons in the state and looked for Fae. I knew there had to be others, they’re all over the place. I made appointments with them. I had to be sure they could actually do hair. When I found the two I felt I could work with, and were both very promising talents, I invited them to my home, which I was in the process of renovating into the salon and museum. I owned and used most of the antiques at one time or another, so didn’t have to spend a penny on the displays, other than the cases and hangings.”
At this point, Hades has left us to order food. And I’m about to take advantage.
“What’s your marriage like?”
“Excuse me?”
“All I know is what I’ve read in collections of Mythology, you’ve to fill me in if you want me to be accurate.”
“Of course, sorry. At first, I was against the whole idea. My dad arranged the marriage without my or my mother's knowledge or consent. He attended the ceremony and gave me away. All legitimate, no rape of Persephone. I hated him for the first hundred years or so, then I grew to respect him. He may be a dark Fae, but there is some good in there. I couldn’t bear his touch otherwise.  After about a thousand years or so, I fell in love with him. The rest is history.”
How very unromantic. “He’s the god of the dead, how do you deal with that?”
“He is in charge of all the necromancers and Vampires, it was just the bit he was given to rule over. He doesn’t practice necromancy, or at least hasn’t since I’ve married him.” Or at least not while she’s in the room. “He keeps them in the Winterland as  best he can, and out of the mortal work.”
Being that here vampires were running around all over, he’s been slacking, or he’s not being totally upfront with his wife.
And he’s back.
“Our food will be out in a minute. I got you a veggie wrap.”
“Sounds good. What did you order?”
Figures. “Tell me about Lacey. You’ve looked into her past, why didn’t you know she was a psychopath?”
“I didn’t find a trail of bodies in Maine-”
“Percy’s got the fatal flaw of only seeing the best in people. Lacy was hunting out of state, as much as possible, and surviving off of animals when she had to, like when she hunted with Gretchen… legitimately.” Hades interrupted.
“She checked out. It’s not my fault she’s devious.”
“She’s? do you still have contact with her?”
“From time to time. She was a friend, after all, even if she’s made some bad choices.”
“She chose to kill people full time, pro bono for her vamp clan.”
“Not completely pro bono, they take good care of her. They’re not hunting here, so it’s none of my concern what she does with herself.”
Alrighty then. Apparently ‘gods’ don’t have that little thing called a conscience … or it’s selective.
I’ll give them a moment to eat…. Or feed each other, kinda mushy and gross, not at all what I would expect of Hades. He’s gonna break out a pomegranate any second now. 
Time to interrupt.
“What’s in your pocket?” It’s a Kendra question, don’t ask.
“I don’t have any pockets.”
“Nope, Hades has the money.”
I glance at Hades. Should I ask him? Eh, what’s the worse he can do, besides turning me into cadaver for all to see, I mean.
“Hades, what do you have in your pocket?”
He scoots down in his seat a bit, and reaches his hand in his pocket, and deposits a fistful on the table. A money clip topped by a hundred dollar bill. A small rubber bat. No fuzz to speak of. Paper clips, a blackberry, and a big old journal style book. How did that fit in there?
I wait for an explanation but don’t get one. Ok, the money is self-explanatory, so is the Blackberry. But what about the rest.
I boldly reach out and nudge the rubber bat. It’s not a rubber. Its eyes pop open, and it flips right side up with a flap of its little wings. It’s smaller than any bat I’ve seen before, about the side of a teabag. 
I do my best hold in a shriek, as it flaps up into the air. Hades snatches it and shoves it back into his pocket.
“He’s a messenger.” Great, a little bitty dark messenger almost made me scream like a little girl.
“How about the book?”
“It’s a book. You don’t really need to know, trust me.”
Fine, trust Dr. Death.
“And the paperclips?”
“Aren’t actually paper clips.” He picks one up, and squeezes his fist around it, and opens again to reveal… a business card. He hands it to me.

King of the Underworld
Contact via bat

“Why do you have business cards disguised as paperclips?:
“They’re smaller, they fit better in a pocket?”
“I guess the book takes up a lot of space.”
“It does. Aren’t you supposed to be questioning my wife?”
“Yes. My brain is frozen at the moment though.”
He turns to Percy and smiles. “Hone, what do you do for fun?”
“I like to play with my plants.”
“How do you hide to werewolves during the full moon?”
“I keep them in stalls, with titanium bars. They’re locked from the outside with padlocks. They used to have slide bars.”
Fine, let him ask the questions, he’s doing a better job.
“Is it easy to hide what you are?”
“Since I’ve moved to Maine, I’ve only done the basics, a glamour, no glitzy magics. People here really don’t ask questions of each other. They ignore oddities on their own. But not from outsiders.” She caresses his hand.
Now I’ve got a question. “Why do you were a ruby instead of a diamond engagement ring?”
“it hasn’t always been the tradition to hand out a diamond. And I much preferred colored stones. He already had it picked out, he gave both it and my wedding band to me during our wedding.”
And I’m out of questions again. And Don’t Stare At Hades. It might make him mad, no matter how good looking he is.
“What’s your Bra size?”
Hades is glaring, but she’ll answer. “Thirty-eight C. what’s yours?”
“Thirty-four D, as best I can tell. I’ve not had good luck with the bra shopping.” of course she turned it around on me.
“Do you ever leave the property?”
“Of course, I like to shop a bit, and go to used book stores.” She polishes off the rest of her sandwich.
“Do you know where I can find Lacey-Marie?”
“New Your City.  Let me get you her number.” She grabs a napkin, and one of my loose pencils to jot down the number.
“Thanks.” I shove it into my purse.
“Any other questions?”
“No, but if I come up with any, my I write to you for the answer?”
“Snail mail, yes, I’m not good at getting on-line regularly, Lacy was the only one who is out of the original bunch.”
“Also, can I get some copies of your client cards, the descriptive stuff, not the formulas, of course.”
“I suppose, as long as you change the names to protect their privacy.”
“Of course.”
“Well, then I will look forward to hearing from you.”
They both stood, and I hurried to follow their example.

Again with the handshaking, and they left.

NaNoWriMo 2019 Blog Series

  1. My First Year as an ML!
  2. This Year's Idea
  3. Getting to Know Your Characters
  4. Outlining 
  5. Research
  6. Kick-off/Meet-ups