Weekly Writing Wrap-Up: August 23 – 29

Announcement time! I’m starting a new weekly feature. Every Friday, I’ll be posting a summary of what I have accomplished in my writing that week. The categories reflect the work I’ve done for the previous 7 days, from Friday through Thursday. So, today’s post includes my writing from Friday, August 23 to Thursday, August 29. All right, let’s get started!

Total Word Count for the Week: 6140

Top Writing Day: Wednesday, my top day at 1616 words, was a big surprise since I thought I’d written less than I actually had.

What I Worked On: I worked on a few fanfictions earlier this week, and for the rest of the week, I was fleshing out a few new novel ideas.

The Good News: The fact that I was posting my word count today really pushed me to write more and kept me from getting distracted. As a result, I wrote more than I usually do.

The Bad News: Tuesday, I got stuck because I was trying to write the “perfect novel.”

Lesson Learned: I need to remember to focus on just writing instead of “writing eloquently” or worrying about what future readers are going to say about my work. Of course, I want people to love it and my novel to become a best seller, but right now it’s most important that I just write.

Goal for Next Week: My big goal is to participate in the teen version of NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month this November. With the teen version, you get to pick your final word goal. I would like my daily word count to be around 1600, which is the daily regular NaNo word count. So, my goal for this week is to start training for this by keeping each day’s word count above 1,000.

I’d like to turn this into a weekly linky party, but I’m still not entirely sure how to do that. Hopefully I’ll have it figured out soon! If you’d like to share your word count with me, comment below, and let me know what it was.

~ Kayla

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Author Spotlight – Chautona Havig

Today, I’d like to introduce you to one of my favorite authors, Chautona Havig. She is a prolific Christian author who has written some of my favorite book series such as Aggie’s Inheritance, The Annals of Wynnewood, and The Not-So-Fairytales.

Ms. Havig is especially good at creating memorable, authentic characters that’d you’d love to meet in real life. She has written every genre of book, from romance to mystery to fantasy, and all of them are very clean and written from a Christian perspective, which is something I really enjoy, being a Christian myself. She does an excellent job at tackling Christian issues without sounding preachy. From a writer’s marketing perspective, one of the most interesting things Ms. Havig has done is release one of her series as a serial novel. In case you haven’t heard of this, it is a regular novel that is published for Kindle or any eReader a few chapters at a time, every week. She also offers weekly promotions and free books through her weekly newsletter.

According to her website, she has “over a hundred books in progress– some of them finished.” While I haven’t read all of her books, whether finished or not, I’ve read a number of them, and I thought I’d share my favorites!

Aggie’s Inheritance Series is the story of a young lady named Aggie who takes in her eight nieces and nephews after the death of her sister and brother-in-law. Aggie has no experience taking care of a household or children, so she is forced to learn on the job as she handles catastrophe after catastrophe. I really enjoyed this book! The series was fantastic and Aggie was such a lovable character. Being a homeschooler, I enjoyed seeing Aggie learning how to homeschool her charges.

The Annals of Wynnewood is a fantasy series set in a fictional town in medieval England. The story really drew me in. Actually, I was drawn into the book so much that I spent 2 1/2 hours reading the final two books to find out what the cloaked creature, nicknamed Dove, really was! I wasn’t disappointed, and though I had a slight inkling of what she was, I was still pretty surprised when it was finally revealed.

The Not-So-Fairytales are not your average fairytales. So far, I’ve only read Princess Paisley (the first book in the series), and it was fantastic! I literally laughed out loud as the-not-so-typical-fairy-tale Princess Paisley tried to pick her future husband from all the suitors at her majority balls. The entire book was incredibly clever, and I’m sure the second book will be just as good!

Chautona Havig blogs over at http://chautona.com/chautona/. You can sign up for her weekly newsletters where she announces new books, giveaways, and weekly promotions. You can find her books on Amazon for Kindle and also in paperback formats.

Thanks for reading!

~ Kayla

Quote of the Week

Welcome to another Quote of the Week! Today’s quote is from Anna Quindlen, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author of many fiction and non-fiction books. I really like this quote because many times when I reread my writing, I struggle with writer’s block. I get stuck because I don’t think that it sounds as good as other’s writing. Reading this quote helps me get unstuck and realize that I don’t have to write eloquently or perfectly right now. It is more important to just write.

“People have writer’s block not because they can’t write, but because they despair of writing eloquently.” – Anna Quindlen

~ Kayla

Writing Sample – Hot Air Balloon – Part 2

Welcome to part 2 of my Owl City fanfiction, “Hot Air Balloon.” In case you missed last week’s post, I introduced my two newest characters, Arden and Ben. Enjoy part 2!

“No,” I said firmly. “How could I imagine something I’ve never seen?”

She ignored the last question and said dreamily, “Yeah, me either. Hang on!” She jumped up and with sparkling eyes loudly announced, “I need to buy a parachute!”

I opened my mouth to say something then shut it again. When I finally regained my composure, I managed to ask, “A parachute?”

“I want to know exactly how it feels!” She stopped and licked her lips. “I’m thirsty.” Arden danced into the kitchen, and I heard the refrigerator open and the rattling of containers. Then I heard a sickening crack and then a yelp.

“Are you okay?” I called, hurriedly getting up and dashing across the room to check on her. Images of Arden knocked out on the floor in a pool of blood flashed through my mind. I really hated the sight of blood.

“Oh, yeah I’m fine. It was just my head,” a voice echoed cheerily from the refrigerator. “The church is having a rummage sale. I bet we could get a parachute from there!” She emerged and poured a glass of lemonade for herself. “Want some?”

I nodded, adrenaline still pumping and trying to catch up from buying a parachute and the head injury.

“I wonder if we’ll find one,” she mused as she grabbed another glass and started pouring.

“Find what?” I asked, not realizing we were back to the topic of the parachute.

“A parachute! Maybe a famous parachutist went to the church and gave his beloved parachute …”

“Arden,” I warned, watching the lemonade rise higher and higher.

“to the church rummage sale …”

“Arden!” I watched in dismay as the lemonade trickled over the sides of the glass.

“What?” she said, jerked out of her day dream, and suddenly felt the lemonade pouring over her hand. She stopped and grinned sheepishly. “Oops!” Arden grabbed paper towels and licked the sticky stuff off her hand and cleaned the floor, still talking about a parachutist and a parachute. I concentrated on sipping the lemonade from the top of my glass, attempting to keep it from spilling and making more of a mess.

My hand was suddenly grabbed, and I was dragged out of the kitchen, out the front door, and down the street towards the church rummage sale, leaving behind more spilled lemonade.

When we got there, Arden lost no time. She marched right up to Mrs. Walker, who was running the sale. “Do you have any parachutes?”

She gazed at the half-crazy girl and smiled, “Actually, we do. It’s right over there.”

Arden dashed off, barely saying thank you. I jogged after her unable to believe we had located a real parachute. Finding it on the indicated table, Arden snatched it up and rubbed her cheek against it. “It’s like canvas!” she cried, the revelation spreading over her face. Her eyes brightened. “You know what? I bet I could use this.” She examined the price tag, and felt in her pocket, pulling out a crumpled $5 bill. She shoved the money into Mrs. Walker’s hand and grabbed my hand, “Come on!”

For the second time today, I was towed along as Arden ran all the way home, dragging the bulk of fabric in the other hand and tripping several times over the hole at the bottom of the parachute.

Jogging up the stairs to her house, she yanked the door open, threw the parachute on the couch, and ripped off her jean jacket.

“I can’t use it with a hole!” she complained. “Wait! I can use Mom’s sewing stuff!”

Stay tuned for part 3!

~ Kayla

If I Were Stuck on a Deserted Island…

As a writer, I like to take every chance I get to write, and I’m willing to write anywhere such as in line at the grocery store or waiting at the doctor’s office. But what if I were stuck on a deserted island? I would want to write while I was there. What would I have to have to write with? What writing tools could I not live without? (This is assuming I would not have internet, which makes my life a whole lot easier while writing.) Well, here’s 6 things I’d need to have to write.

1. My Laptop
I admire anyone who writes longhand in a notebook. I really do. I’ve tried to write longhand, so that I could have my WIP (work in progress) with me at all times. My attempts always failed. I’m just not one of those people. Not at all. I have to have my computer in order to do any kind of functional writing. So, if I were stuck on a deserted island and wanted to write, I’d have to have my computer. And unless I had access to electricity, it would have to be a solar one.

2. Music
I love listening to music while I write. I can’t seem to focus on my writing without it, and I enjoy choosing music that matches the “mood” of my novel, helping set the tone. So, if I were going to be stuck on this island, I’d have to have my mp3 player (solar powered once again :)) and my headphones.

3. Baby Name Book
It’s kind of a odd thing to bring along with my computer and music, but I’d have to have a baby name book. I have to have a working name for a character before I write them. I don’t know why, it just helps me to have something to call them. So, I’d have to a have a baby name book if I were going to write on a deserted island.

4. A Thesaurus
I usually use an internet-based thesaurus, but since there’s no internet on this island, I’d take a regular book thesaurus instead. This is probably one of the most universally used writing tools. It’s incredibly useful for finding those interesting words that really spice up your writing and is something that I couldn’t live without.

5. A Grammar Reference Book
Since this is a deserted island, I’m assuming that includes editors, too. Since I’m not the best editor known to man, I’d either need a real, live editor or a book where I can reference grammar rules so that I’d be able to edit my work.

6. My Novel Idea Notebook
This is a notebook I started a couple nights ago, but it’s already become something I wouldn’t want to write without. I started filling a notebook with interesting news articles, quotes, and even a picture or two that could inspire a novel. With all the spare time I’d have on the island, I would need its inspiration for all the novels I’d write.

That would be what I’d need to write on a deserted island. What would you need to write on a deserted (internet-free) island?

~ Kayla

Character Names – Aidric and Cerys

Today’s post is concerning one of my favorite subjects related to writing: names! I thought I’d post two character names that I’m particularly fond of. Feel free to use them for a character in your next novel/short story/fanfiction. No promises that I’m not going to use them in my own writing, of course. 😉

Let’s start with Aidric. I really can’t remember where I first heard this boy’s names. I like the name since it has almost a Celtic sound to it, at least to my ears. Where did this name actually come from? Well, the naming world is in disagreement over this name. It is possibly the name of a 9th century bishop in Charlemagne’s court, but it is quite possible that his name wasn’t actually Aidric and that the name came from a misspelling. According to http://www.babynames.com, the name means “Blessed ruler.” Whether this name is really a misspelling or truly a historical name, I think Aidric is a really unusual name for a fantasy or historical character.

Next up is Cerys. I first heard this girl’s name after doing a Google search and ended up on a British baby name site (http://www.babynames.co.uk/meaning_origin_name_Cerys.htm). I really loved the look and sound of the name. I originally thought the pronunciation was “Sear-iss,” but it is actually “CARE-iss.” Either way, the name is an unusual and pretty one. It’s a Welsh name that means “Love.” I personally would use this name in a contemporary novel, but I think it could work for other genres, too.

What do you think of the name Aidric and Cerys? Would you use them on a character?

~ Kayla

Bonus Writing Sample – Marian of Roséwood

No, you’re not confused; there aren’t two Tuesdays this week. 🙂 I decided to post an extra writing sample, an excerpt from my mini-novel I wrote in 7th grade. I was very much inspired by Brian Jacques at that point, and my plot and animal characters definitely reflected the fact. In case anyone isn’t familiar with Brian Jacques’s work, he is the author of the fantastic fantasy series, Redwall. It’s one of my top favorite series of all time. He originally told the tale of Redwall abbey, which is an abbey inhabited by woodland creatures, to blind children. Because of that, the descriptions are absolutely beautiful and so detailed one can “see” whatever he is describing, and the animals in his stories are incredibly real, wonderfully thought-out characters. Brian Jacques’s work inspired me to write down my own story ideas, to try and populate my own world with true to life characters, and to be more descriptive. Here is a sample from my story, Marian of Roséwood:

In the land of Roséwood, tucked snuggly away in Greenstone forest on a lazy late afternoon, the sun danced off the bright, gray stones of an old manor. The manor was large and rich but plain. Inside the castle, a young squirrelmaid carried many patterns and fabric bolts to the manor’s seamstress. The sound of her footsteps echoed off the great, stone stairs as she hurried to the bottom. The sun warmed her fur and played off the large murals that were painted onto the gray marble. She glanced up at the playful sunrays making designs on her fur, and unknowingly, she tripped on an out-jutting ledge not smoothed into the step. Landing in a tangle of material at the end of the cascading staircase she rubbed her sore ankle and bruised head.

“I bet you never made a silly mistake like that did you?” she inquired of a painting of two heroes. These warriors were her untold idols. In the picture the one hero was dressed in armor and held a glinting broadsword in his paw. He had brown fur with rust patches, and his eyes were kind with a slight twinkle. The other was a fair lady squirrel with pale fur and a beautiful, burnished sword in her light colored paw. Her dress looked to be made of the finest of all cloth. Trimmed in silver it complemented her fur color. The painting seemed to hold a promise saved just for her. She dreamt that she was a Roséwood hero, bringing that fine sword blade shattering into the blade of a nefarious white squirrel, just when an older, graying squirrel broke the dream and brought her crashing back down into reality.

“Marian, Marian! You must learn to be less impatient and less clumsy. You fly into all things without thinking first and trip all over them,” chuckled the older, wiser squirrel.

“I do try, Brother Ross. And I’m much less impatient and clumsy than when I was younger,” sighed Marian, then abruptly rushed into her question. “Why can’t I be like the heroes in the painting, saving Roséwood and fighting off enemies?”

Brother Ross sat down next to Marian with a sigh; he’d had this conversation many times with the headstrong, daydreaming young squirrel. He launched into it again. “These are times of peace, Marian, not war. The time for heroes and warriors is over. Nothing will harm Roséwood now. We Roséwoodlanders fought long and hard for this peace, and we will not break it for anything. The call for heroes is over.” Brother Ross glanced up at the smiling faces of the two heroes in the painting. “And if Sir Fynn and Lady Sandi were here now they would say the same.” Brother Ross stood up. “Now you must get the cloth to the seamstress and I must get back to work!”

Marian watched Brother Ross exit before picking the cloth up and climbing up the next set of stairs. Climbing them nimbly and quickly, she ran down the corridor in the direction of the seamstress. She recalled the odd twist of fate told to her that had apparently brought her here. Marian had been too young to remember for herself. According to Brother Ross she had come to the villa one dark night …

The wind whistled and whipped violently in the trees. It weaved in and out of the seedling’s branches playing games with the leaves. The wind threw rain against the thick manor walls, causing an unreal, almost evil effect. Brother Ross shook his head at the wind. All of Roséwood had never seen a wind this terrifying for as long as he could remember, and he was not a young squirrel. He fervently hoped the creatures in the woods were safe against this relentless wind and rain. His heart skipped a beat when he heard a loud pounding at the manor door. He rushed towards it as fast as he could waddle. When he opened it, the rain drove into his face. An unusually pale squirrel stood in front of him. With the unrelenting rain in his eyes and the shrieking wind in his ears he couldn’t make out who the squirrel was. He barely felt a warm, tiny bundle pushed into his arms. The squirrel spoke, though he could only hear parts of it, “I can’t keep her… name’s Marian… risked my skin for her… take care… for me please.”

A sharp, cruel yowl cut the panicked squirrel short. The scream was cut off a by a long, lithe crack of lighting. The squirrel gave one last tender look at the bundle before vanishing into the storm. Brother Ross stood in the rain for a minute staring after her. Who was she, and who was this baby squirrel?

“Oh, well,” he thought, “better do what I do best. Feed the tiny thing!”

As the tiny thing grew, she became the servant of the Lady Cornya. Marian soon won the trust of the great lady with her faithful, if not graceful service. Marian broke herself free from her revelry as she reached the seamstress’s workshop. Leaning the cloth against her chin, she pushed the door open with her fore paw. Marian walked briskly in, “Hello, seamstress… ” Marian went sprawling over a bolt of fabric on the floor. For the second time that day, no one could tell where Marian started and the cloth ended.

One bolt Marian had brought in landed near the seamstress’s front paw. Cackling as she picked it up, the seamstress stated, “You brought just what I needed, Marian, and in perfect time too. I was just wishing for this particular material.”

Hope you enjoyed!

~ Kayla

Quote of the Week

Hope you’re having a good “Quote of the Week-day!” Today’s quote comes from Raymond Chandler, author of The Long Goodbye and many other novels. I like this quote because it’s a good reminder of what to do if stuck on a plot idea: cause something exciting to happen. I’ve taken this advice many times, and it has helped me out of many plot holes!

“In writing a novel, when in doubt, have two guys come through the door with guns.”

― Raymond Chandler

~ Kayla

Writing Sample – Hot Air Balloon – Part 1

I am officially admitting it to the world. I’m an Owl City fan. I recently started listening to Adam Young (for those who don’t know, he is the singer behind the one man band Owl City) after hearing him sing a cover of one of my favorite hymns, “In Christ Alone.” I really liked his version and wanted to hear one of his original songs. That song was “Hot Air Balloon.” I heard this song and knew at that moment that Owl City had just inspired my newest characters as well as becoming my newest favorite band. Everyone, I’d like you to meet Arden and Ben in Part 1 of “Hot Air Balloon”:

It all started when I went over to our next-door neighbor’s, to officially meet their daughter, Arden. I reluctantly stepped up on the porch and, with a deep sigh, pushed the doorbell. Arden flung open the door. With her light brown braid and freckled nose and cheeks, she looked pretty normal.

“Ben!” she squealed, skipping out of the way. “Come in! You just have to help me finish my prologue!”

“Ooooo-kay,” I said, raising my eyebrows. I really wasn’t much on writing, or at least fiction writing. I tended to prefer reality. Arden snatched at my hand and dragged me into the living room. “Can I take my jacket off now?” I asked, motioning to my orange and black jacket.

She didn’t notice, as she flopped down on the cream colored carpet and gazed up into my brown eyes with her green ones. “Well? Come on!” she cried. I sighed, and sat down beside her. I was beginning to think my earlier “normal” assessment may have been a bit premature. “I need help with this sentence.” She pointed to one of the lines with a painted nail.

I stared at the doodled-on notebook page, trying to make the letters come into focus. “Uhhh … Prince Even fell from the Tower-In-The-Sky’s window. His cape flew back behind him like a superhero’s, and he spread his arms out. Glancing down at the ground, he realized he was going to need something to catch him.”

“Whaddya think?” She rolled on her back and gazed up at the ceiling, her braid flipping from her shoulder to the floor.

“It’s …” I stopped. I couldn’t think of anything to say. I mean, how realistic was a prince falling from a tower in the sky’s window? “Imaginative,” I finally selected a word to describe the bizarre prologue.

She rolled back over, grabbed the purple pen, and tapped it against her teeth. “Hmm … what could break his fall? A random rainbow? A prince-saving unicorn? A dragon? Ooooh …dragon.” She held her pen right over the page, poised to write the word, “dragon.”

“Or a parachute?” I muttered, running my fingers through my blonde hair.

She brightened up immediately. “A PARACHUTE!” Jumping up, she snapped her fingers and did a little dance. I just stared. “Normal” was definitely out.

“YES! That’s perfect!” She dropped by her notebook and scribbled, “He pulled the string attached to his parachute, and it poofed open. The fabric touched his arm, feeling like …” She stopped and chewed the end of the pen.

I gazed over the words. “Poofed isn’t a word,” I pointed out.

She grinned, “I know. I just created it. Isn’t it a great word? Poofed. Poofed. POOFED!” Giggling, she lapsed back into serious thought, interrupted by an occasional
giggle. “What does a parachute feel like?” she wondered.

“I don’t know. I could Google it for you,” I offered.

“Can you imagine what a parachute would feel like?” Arden turned her jade eyes on me.

Stay tuned next week for part 2 of Arden and Ben’s story! And for those who’d like to hear the song this story is based off of (I definitely recommend it!), here it is:

~ Kayla

5 Tips on Curing Writer’s Block

Ever have one of those days? You know the one where you just can’t think of anything to write about? Writer’s block is THE worst thing about writing. I go along, writing just fine and then suddenly…I’ve got nothing. Nothing. I sit there, drum my fingers against the keyboard…and still have nothing. So, instead of getting frustrated, I’ve learned to try one of these 5 writer’s block busters.

1. Change it up
Maybe you’re not completely unable to write. Maybe it’s just the project you’re working on. So, work on something else, especially something enjoyable. If I’m writing and feel writer’s block coming on, I switch to another project, usually an already in progress fanfiction because they’re fun to write! Also I feel like some of the pressure of creating a new world is gone, since of course, the world is already built for me. Once the feelings of frustration are eliminated, I can come back to the original project and make good progress.

2. Go and smell the roses
Sometimes, you just need to walk away from the keyboard (or the notebook) and take a break. Instead of trying to ‘push through'(which is occasionally required), sometimes it is better just to walk away. Shut down the computer, take a walk, listen to music, draw, etc. Anything other than writing. Sometimes I find that it’s not actually writer’s block, but it’s just me telling myself that I need a break.

3. “I’m going on an adventure!”
Maybe it’s because you’ve been trapped behind the same desk, in the same room (or on the same bed, in my case!) for too long. Take the laptop/notebook and move. Go outside in the grass, to a coffee shop, or any place other than the usual writing place. I actually brainstorm ideas when I’m ice skating. If the ice is too crowded to actually get any practice done, I’ll skate around, and just think over plot ideas, since I really can’t skate and type at the same time. 🙂 Sometimes, you just need a new view.

4. Houston, we have a problem
I tend to have a bout of writer’s block if I know that I’ve made a plot mistake or am not happy about a certain scene. It’s like I’m telling myself I have to go back to fix the problem before I can continue. I’ll feel stuck for a few days then open the Word doc, reread what I’ve written, see the glaring plot hole, fix it, and then the writer’s block is poof, gone. So maybe that writer’s block is actually a mistake crying out to be fixed.

5. “He’s dead, Jim.”
Sometimes the novel is just…dead. It’s time to have the funeral (I know it’s painful) and move on. That could be the reason why you just can’t seem to make any headway. It’s hard to continue work on a project that doesn’t have life in it any more. I’ve had plenty of ideas that sound great when I start, and when I begin writing, everything is wonderful. As the novel grows and I continue to flesh out the idea, I arrive at a point and stop, completely unsure about where to go next. Then I reread what I wrote, and realize that I don’t have writer’s block, my idea is just dead. So, sometimes, it’s not actually writer’s block, it’s the project itself.

These are my five tips on curing writer’s block. While these five things work for me, everyone is different and has their own methods that work for them. What do you do when you have writer’s block?

~ Kayla