My journey through the world of writing and everything that lies in between…

Posts tagged ‘novel’


So, I was sick for about a week and a half and that pretty much zapped any desire to do anything. I’ve also been so caught up reading; I haven’t done that in forever and I’ve read six books in the last two weeks so that took me away from writing. Now I have to get back into the swing of things and it’s HARD. It always is…

But then once I jump that initial hurdle, I realize how much I’ve missed it. So…I’m back again, after yet another absence 😛 Today I’m working on making my chapter summary somewhat readable for my crit partners (which shouldn’t take that long–it’s only a basic summary after all) and then I need to jump back into actually writing the story. I need to also work on editing the 2nd chapter since I’m up again at my local crit group in another week and half. But I have to get this thing done, at least the first draft, before June.

And I still need to start that story for the Writer’s  Digest Contest. I’m nervous about it though because my MC is coming out a lot more…um, deranged…than I thought and I’ve never written a character like that before. I guess the only thing I can do is throw myself into it right?

I hope everyone’s writing ventures are going well!

Balancing Act

Apologies for the lack of posts again; I’ve been so busy working on my freelance writing that I tend to forget about my blog and all the other blogs I follow.

It’s a little tricky balancing my writing time between the articles and my novel. I haven’t really accomplished that yet…I’ve been so focused on the freelance writing that I haven’t given much thought to my poor, neglected novel. Anyway, I’ve been given an ultimatum to finish the novel by the end of the year, if not by the end of the summer. So I guess that means I need to figure out this balancing act soon. 😛

Writer’s Ego

Well, I didn’t final in the first pargraph contest, but that’s perfectly fine with me 🙂 The ones that did semi-final and final are truly awesome so I suggest you go to Nathan’s blog and check it out!

Anyway, I have to admit that I’m finding my writer’s ego inflating. It’s not a bad thing per se, but I want to keep it in check so I don’t become too proud. I think much of it has to do with the comments I seem to be getting on a daily basis over at the NaNo forums. I started a thread over there about making mock book trailers and it seems to be quite popular now (5 pages of comments last I checked). I think that starting the thread is what’s making me get the daily NaNoMail comments about how much everyone wants to read my book 😛

I’m glad I started that thread because it at least makes me see that there could be a market for a historical fantasy based in Japanese mythology. (Also glad that it’s really inspiring people to want to write!) Of course that may not be an accurate representation of the market, but it’s nice to see the comments. It’s really helping me stay more focused on my novel as opposed to the last few years.

I’ve always been self conscious about my writing (what writer hasn’t?) and sometimes I don’t think I’m ever going to be talented enough to get an agent, let alone get published. I know I shouldn’t be thinking this, but I tend to be an negative person by nature, unfortunately, so it’s hard for me to break that mindset. But the comments are really helping me break that perception I have of my writing.

Of course I know I still have a lot to learn and a great deal of crafting to do. I’m still searching for my writer’s voice–not quite sure I’ve found it just yet–and I should be reading up on the craft a little more.

 Perhaps my dream is not as far off as I once thought. 🙂

Research Time: Round 1

Since I have the bulk of my summary done and all my character bios completed well ahead of my self-imposed deadline, I decided in the two months before NaNo, I’ll do as much research as possible. I won’t get it all done–not even close–but at least I can do basic research about the culture, at least the everyday life of a farmer.

So far, I’ve done some research on the area where I’m setting the story. The village is going to be based after Shirakawa-go and Gokayama, remote villages in Gifu and Toyama prefectures. The area is very unique among Japan, most renown for their gassho-zurkuri type houses (named such because the steep angle of the roof is similar to praying hands). The houses were large and often held extended families up to 30 or 40 people. (For the purpose of my story though, there will only be around 9 or 10 in the house and they’ll be minor characters).

The culture of the area is unique too because the villages were so remote and often cut off from the world because of the heavy snowfall during the winter. It was this way even up to the 1970s when the main roads were developed. It’s often said this is one of the last remaining places in Japan to go “undiscovered”.

Perfect setting then for my book. A place cut off from the rest of the world and a place where winter is especially brutal. What better place for my Yuki-onna to live? 🙂

Here’s a picture of the types of houses that are in the area:


There used to be hundreds of these scattered throughout the Shogawa river valley. Unfortunately many succumbed to old age and modern progression, especially when the dam and man-made lake Miboro were developed. I’ve read that some of the houses were dismantled and moved in order to prevent their destruction. Thank goodness for that!

There’s still a good number of these houses in the area, and quite a few allow visitors to spend a night. There’s also a few houses turned museums too. Ah, to travel there…that would be a dream!

Here’s a panoramic view of the village of Shirakawa-go:


I’ve even found videos on YouTube of tourists traveling here as well as a few good ones of the house interiors (one is in Japanese and I can’t understand it, but the visuals are great).

Sometimes I just love research 🙂

Ahead of Schedule

It seems that I’m actually able to follow the writing goals I’ve made for myself this time around.

In fact, I’m ahead of schedule 🙂

The character bios are 90% done; I think I have 3 more to do before it’s completed. Well, in a loose sense. I’m forever changing them and often characters don’t always show all of themselves until I’m actually writing. But it’s a good guide for me to refer back to and it helps me visualize the character a little better.

I’m even pretty far on my loose outline. I’ve got the entire first part summarized. It’s very basic but I’ve found that the detailed ones I used to make change too much along the way. A basic summary just helps me get my jumbled thoughts organized. It also lets me see if there are holes or places where something else needs to occur or be explained.

Now to come up with the second half of the book, which isn’t as clear to me (yet) as the first half was.

But I’m ahead of schedule with that; I gave myself until the end of October and it looks like it may be done by the end of August or beginning of September.  🙂

“Mock” Book Trailers

I spent the majority of Friday night, from about 7 p.m. to midnight, working on a “mock” book trailer for Lady of the Snow. Then I spent a few hours the following afternoon polishing it.

Why? I have my sister to thank for it 😛

She started making little trailers for all her possible book ideas so it could help her decide which one to work on for NaNo come November. (She’s one of those who are blessed with a million ideas to choose from, :P)

After watching them, it made me want to make one for my novel. Of course, it took me twice the amount of time to make one as it did for her to make four of them, but that’s because I’m slow and picky. It shouldn’t have taken me as long as it did, but I’m pretty happy with the end result.

I think it took me so long because I had to find specific pictures for my book; it’s difficult finding suitable pictures of the Yuki-onna.

Unfortunately I can’t make it “public” because I don’t own any of the pictures or music. But I have it for my own personal entertainment as well as being able to share it with a few others.

Anyway, have you ever made a “mock” book trailer for your story? If anything, I suggest taking a little time to make one–it really helps the creative process along as well as giving yourself a little diversion 🙂

Character Name Hunt

I’ve been actively hunting for names for the characters in LotS (ha, I love the shortened version of my book’s title :P). I’m one of those writers that has to find names that are symbolic for the characters, too, so it makes it even harder than just searching for names.

Oh, and the names are Japanese, so the hunting has been even harder. It’s not like searching for a name in English where despite the spelling, it generally means the same thing. For example, in English,  my sister’s name, Caitlynn, can be spelled many different ways: Caitlyn, Caitlin, Kaitlyn, Kaitlin, Katelyn etc. But the variants are all based off the Irish or Welsh version of Catherine, which means “pure.”

 However, from what I’ve found, Japanese names may sound and be spelled the same in English, but it could be totally different Japanese, depending on what kanji is used in the spelling of the name.

For example, one of the names I’m considering for my MC:

Spelled “Miyuki” in English. However, it can mean anything from “beautiful snow” with the kanji 美幸 to “deep snow” with the kanji 深雪, to “beautiful fortune” or “beautiful happiness” with the kanji 美幸. That’s not counting the hiragana and katakana spellings. And even these may be wrong; I can’t read Japanese so these characters can be completely off.

Anyway, I’ve decided to try and not focus too much on the techinical aspects and just focus on the English spellings, at least for now.

Here are some of the possibilities for my MC, the legendary Yuki-onna. I’m giving her a human name, for much of the book she’s going to be human:

Chiyoko (child of a thousand generations, child of forever). This one could be interesting since she spands at least three centuries.
Kasumi (mist) I like the way this one sounds, but mist is appropriate in some ways because as the Yuki-onna, she’s not made of much more than that.
Mayumi (beauty, wonderful). Just because I like the name 🙂 And the fact that as a human, she’s renown for her beauty.
Miyuki–silence of deep snow/beautiful snow/deep snow . This one is fairly obvious; I’m leaning towards this one the most because of the “snow” aspect, and it’s more elegent than just plain Yuki.
I’m also in the process of picking out names for the minor characters, but I’m not as concerned about the meanings for them. The only one that’s close to certain will be her husband Minokichi, whose name is taken directly from the myth in Hearn’s Kwaiden, which I’m using as inspiration for the second half of my novel. Even then, I’m not 100% certain on keeping the name, but we’ll see.

Do you put a lot of work into finding the perfect names for your characters? How do you go about it? If your characters are set in a different culture, how do you overcome the hurdles of the language barrier?

As always, I love to read your comments! And I don’t mind hearing any constructive criticism on the names I’ve chosen here, too 🙂

Writer’s Block: From Blogs to Novels

I’ve been desperately wanting to keep this blog updated at least three or four times a week and so far I’m probably only posting twice a week. That’s not a way to get readers! You’d think with all the blogs I read on writing and publishing, I’d be able to think of something. Especially for a hopeful author-to-be like myself.

It’s important to get that audience, and I do have a few faithful readers (thanks, guys–you know who you are :)). But I don’t want to lose readers because my blog is not updated frequently enough for them. In today’s fast paced world, attention spans are short, and if a blog doesn’t look like it’s being updated with new posts, people will stop visiting.  But how do you keep coming up with ideas? Perhaps I’m still quite a newbie at this writing thing as my brain seems to hardly be able to come up with anything of interest, whether that’s related to the blog or writing in general.

I know I shouldn’t be making excuses–I should just sit down and write–but I have to constantly battle the lazy slob within me. That’s really my biggest flaw I think–I don’t have the motivation or control to overcome the lazy side; I often let it take over. However, I also know that if I have a deadline imposed on me, I’m able to get my butt into gear and write (for example, with NaNo, I was able to reach the 50K goal before the deadline). But if it’s left up to me, the motivation isn’t there.

Sad, isn’t it?

I think it’s changed in a few years too. I used to be able to write all the time. Most of it had to do with passing the time in boring classes in high school and college; I also used to write short stories all the time for a weekly writing challenge at another website. But even that’s stopped.

Part of that may have to do with the novel mindset I’m in; I wasn’t actively working on a novel until late college and that’s when the short story ideas started to dry up. I guess when I’m in “novel mindset” it’s hard for me to come up with anything that’s not related to it. It’s certainly not a family trait; my younger sister is also a writer and she’s able to crank out the short stories like crazy while she’s working on a novel. Perhaps that’s just how my brain is wired.

Anyway, how do you keep the ideas coming? Are you like me, where you have a difficult time with the motivation factor? Or are you able to come up with new ideas all the time? It could be related to updating your blog or writing new stories or poems. I’m just curious  how others are able to do it! 🙂

To Outline or Not?

I’m constantly in awe of those writers who don’t use outlines. They just write and come up with the story as it goes along.

I’m the complete opposite. I have to use an outline or the “flow” of words stops. Or more specifically, doesn’t even get started.

I need some sort of loose guideline to follow as I’m progressing in the story. I say “loose” because often the chapter changes as I’m writing, although the general idea is still there. I’m also more of a visual person, so it’s easier for me to see the order of the book if I have an outline, and if I need to do any switching around (which I do all the time!) I can just copy and paste the chapter segments.

Are you one who outlines your story or do you just jump right in and write? Or, do you do a combination of these?

2000 Words

I just wrote over 2000 words for my first draft.

Not the best 2000 words by far, but it’s something nonetheless.

A new chapter too (although it’s a chapter that’s earlier in the book, one that’s being added). Now, to do a quick edit  tomorrow before submitting it for critique next week.


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