Sunday, November 30, 2014

WIP Marathon November Update

Last check-in: Finished chapters 22 and 24 (84,321 words)

Currently: Working on chapter 25 (1610 words, including outline notes)

Current word count = 85,931 words

WIP issues this month (& things I learned & what distracted me):

Warning: This is going to get long.

This month went horribly, writing-wise. I only wrote 6 days this month, and on those days I barely got anything done.

There were a lot of things that got in the way of writing.

1) Busy month
   Week 1: no major distractions
   Week 2: exam week
   Week 3: friend in town
   Week 4: in St. Louis for Thanksgiving

2) I was sick during weeks 3 and 4.

3) Mood: I haven't felt at all invested in writing. (And not just in writing. I haven't felt invested in anything I've read lately either. Or in blogging, for that matter.) I can't even blame it on a lack of energy, because that's not the problem.

4) I hate this chapter.

I knew going into chapter 25 that it would be a difficult chapter and that it would not be fun to write. (Well, okay, a part of it was fun to write, but after that, my inspiration died.) But I figured I would get through it the same way I get through other difficult scenes: by making it as easy as possible.

Yael Itamar's Strategies for Making Writing Easy:
-outline the scene ahead of time
-write in short bursts
-if you're stuck, figure out exactly why you're stuck - then troubleshoot
-if you're unsure about details, fill them in later
-if that isn't enough, add wine

Usually, that strategy will take me to a point where, after 2-4 writing sessions, the inspiration will hit and the ball will get rolling on it's own. But my usual strategies weren't working for this scene. The outline didn't help much, I was only able to write about 100-200 words at a time, and I didn't want to drink a lot of alcohol while I was sick.

There are a lot of reasons why this chapter has been particularly difficult:

1) It involves speeches. I'm sure all of you have heard enough speeches in your life to know that 90% of them are loaded with flowery bullshit. Luckily, neither of these speeches are very long, but they're still boring to write.

2) Setting the scene. This is definitely my weakest point as a writer.

3) The POV character: Itoban (my only male POV character) is basically the Sansa Stark of my book, in that he doesn't do a whole lot, but is mostly there as an observer. (Note: No, I didn't do this on purpose. It just kind of happened.) He absolutely has his reasons for being in the novel, as well as reasons for being a POV character, but the lack of him doing much means there's more space to fill.

4) There are a lot of characters in this scene, doing and saying various things. It's a lot to organize.

5) You learn a lot of little details about characters as you write. In this scene, I learned about Itoban's "unofficial arrangement" with the city's baker. (That was the fun part!) I learned that Olivia plays the violin to calm herself before a public appearance. I learned that Katil usually insists on writing her own speeches, but that Advisor Gevante insists on hearing it ahead of time so he can make necessary changes. I learned that Forrest and Itoban have a secret game where they try to guess which of them wrote different parts of the speech. The thing about the little details is that while they enrich the writing, it's also sometimes a challenge of figuring out where they fit.

6) The main reason, however, that this scene is difficult is that I feel like it's repetitive. The city's residents are going to express the same concerns that Katil, Olivia, and the Takiran Council have already discussed and argued about a hundred times over.

I have already mentioned that Part Two of my novel is split into two threads. The first thread was relatively easy to write. It's set in our world, not the magical world, which means a lot less worldbuilding. Better yet, it consists almost entirely of characters gossiping and fighting with each other, which is a lot of fun to write. A few scenes into Part Two, I decided that I would write the first thread first, since I knew it would be much easier. When I started the latest revision of the novel, most of those scenes were already written.

The second thread, which is where this chapter belongs, is much more difficult, and a lot less fun. It has more worldbuilding and very little plot. And as I mentioned earlier, it feels static and repetitive. Many of these scenes didn't exist until this revision, so I guess I can forgive myself since it's essentially a first draft. But what I'm starting to realize is that until I figure out the best way to write the second thread, I don't think I can do this scene justice.

So I'm going to put chapter 25 aside for now and move on to chapter 26 (which is part of the first thread, and the last chapter before the two threads merge).

Books this month:

-completed:
   The Thief (audio) - It's good. I'll should post my review soon.
   Shameless - I recommend it if you're looking for sexy, feminist-friendly NA
-started:
   Arclight
-still reading:
   The Twistrose Key

Goal for next month: Finish Part Two and start Part Three!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

New Adult Recommendation: Shameless, by Nina Lemay


“You don’t have enormous fake tits,” he says. “I hate enormous fake tits. If you’re gonna do that at least be subtle, a D or a double D. Who do they think they’re attracting anyway?”

I don’t answer. I know if I open my mouth something totally unacceptable will come out.

“But you’d never do something like that to your body,” he says, an affirmation more than a question. I know exactly what he expects me to say, what role he wants me to play: it’s Stripper with a Heart of Gold Monday for him. Usually I have no trouble keeping up. Usually this is the moment when we cross the threshold from one or two dances to the half-hour, the hour, with a big tip at the end.

 But I just can’t bring myself to say it. “No,” I finally mutter.

It’s more than enough for him. “Of course you wouldn’t. You’re better than that. You’re going somewhere, you won’t be dancing here till you’re forty-five, right?”

Well, you’re well over that threshold and you’re still coming here, I think, but wisely keep my mouth shut.

***

I should start off this review by saying that I'm not a big romance reader. It's really hard for me to get invested in a book where most of the plot centers on whether or not two people decide to have a future together. That was why it took me so long to get through this book.

But was it a good book? Absolutely. The two main characters were well-developed, I loved Hannah's honest and occasionally snarky voice, and there were many quotable moments (see above quote). I also appreciated how certain topics--sex work, slut-shaming, power imbalance in a relationship, rape--were carefully explored. It was good to see stripping presented as a valid part-time job, but at the same time, it wasn't glamorized. And I loved how this was ultimately a story of female empowerment.

Also, if you're looking for a New Adult novel that doesn't center on a borderline-abusive relationship, I can recommend Shameless for two reasons a) Emmanuel is actually a very respectful love interest, b) but at the same time, he isn't a paragon of moral virtue or a knight in shining armor. He does occasionally say things that he has no right to say, and he's not above giving Hannah special treatment as a student. So yes, the relationship has flaws, but they aren't brushed under the rug for the sake of wish fulfillment. They are brought into the open and discussed.

Also, the sex scenes felt believable.

If I had to point out a flaw in the story, it would probably be the secondary characters since most of them came out flat.

But overall, I would definitely recommend this novel to anyone looking for a great NA romance.
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