Editing the Beast

While Beast is the title of my book, the title of this blog post is an eerily accurate pun. The first thought I had when glancing over my finally finished beloved (!!!) was uttered in the form of these words.

Who wrote this load of garbage.

Turns out that I did, and as such, it’s my job to turn that garbage into something a little less rotten.

 

The Big Issues

Beast was originally a 27k novella of two parts, cleverly called Books I and II. In my second draft, I added a third part, which is now Book II and the old Book II is now Book III. This poses several issues.

First of all, the second part feels shoehorned in, mostly because it is. Second, there are several details that I added to the book that are in Part II, but not Part I and III.

Another issue is that my new Part II has even worse pacing issues than the book did before. There are several chapters that need to be split up and then expanded. It only has 8 chapters, to the other parts 12 and 13, and an awful lot happens in Part II very quickly.

Overall, Beast has big problems with two main things: pacing and setting. The settings are clear in my mind, but I’ve provided almost no description in the book of places or even characters. Pacing is already a weakness of mine, and Beast needs to have an awful lot of it straightened out. You will probably hear ranting about this in the future.

 

The Hopeful Solutions

Or, since it is May the Fourth Be With You…

 

A New Hope

Most of the editing process will be expansion. Beast is still a teensy 35k, which is still five thousand words away from being the smallest of novels. Most of the bulking up will come from slowing down the pace and adding the much-needed description, as well as breaking down some of the more jam-packed chapters.

There’s also a lot of work that needs to be put into continuity. Specifically, Queen Snow. She was a surprise character (why do they do this to me) and now I have to accomodate her a book earlier than planned. Even in my second plan, Snow showed up as an afterthought in Part II. But now the relationship needs to be slowed considerably and shown more gradually. My worry here is that Adalina’s relationship with the Assassin will feel rushed by comparison.

Which reminds me, Belle’s name has been changed to Adalina. You’re welcome for the head’s up.

It’s going to take many more drafts, and I already dread the work, but I’m glad to finally be done with Draft 1.5 of Beast.

 

What are your recent writing accomplishments? Reading accomplishments? Completely unrelated comment? I welcome them all below! 

Everything Behind You

Everything Behind You

You drive your truck, a rusty, blue F-150 that looks about fifty years old, through a desert night. It is alien, void of human life. You think that the desert abhors life. That is why only creatures too stubborn to care what nature thinks of them can dwell in the arid habitat.

Maybe the desert cares about us. Maybe it knows weak, fleshy humans cannot survive in its moistless environment.

Or perhaps the desert does not care about us, you think, just as its inhabitants care about nothing, and that thought scares you.

But regardless of what the desert you are driving through thinks of you and your old, blue truck, you continue driving. Scrubby bushes and plants with an extraterrestrial appearance pass through the zone of yellow presented by your one working headlight.

Part of you is bothered that only one headlight works. Your field of vision is now uneven, and should something happen to your right, you would be unaware of it. But part of you is too tired to care. You know you cannot replace it yourself at this moment, as you did not think to pack a spare headlight, and dwelling on the single headlight only bothers you more.

To distract yourself from the lopsided illumination, you look up. Past your bug-speckled and grime-streaked windshield, you can see the vast, vacant sky hovering above this desert that is alien, void of human life.

And while the sky is vast and vacant, it appears to be filled with a dusting of stars. But you know that it is only the vast, occupied universe behind it that holds these stars. The sky is quite empty, save, perhaps, for a feeling of… something.

You do not have a name for this feeling. You are too tired to search for one. So you drop your eyes from the vast, vacant sky and its backdrop of a vast, occupied universe to look once again at the single beam from your single headlight.

But you do not have to bear the peculiar, uneven illumination much longer. The pale asphalt before you lightens further as you approach the dim streetlamps of a singular desert town.

A faded sign proclaims the fun travel destination that is Yucca Springs, although the spray paint disfiguring a happily painted family causes you to suspect the message is no longer as truthful as it could have once been. Secretly, you wonder if Yucca Springs had ever been a fun travel destination.

You do not drive the truck past the sign. Instead, you stop and park the car, stepping on the emergency brake because you are close to a ditch. You do not know if the emergency brake could actually prevent falling into a ditch, but you see no reason why it would cause it either.

All around you is darkness. Not the blackness of an unlit desert, and especially not the pale dim of a wasteland lit only by a moon. But true darkness, the sort that hides in shafts of yellow light and creeps in the minuscule shadows of scrubby plants, and the darkness that you hear because it muffles and sharpens all the wrong noises.

There is nothing in front of you. But there is everything behind you. Every once in a while, you turn to see what is there. But suddenly, the behind-you is now the in-front-of-you, and everything has moved to the new behind you. The darkness makes the shuffle of your shoes on gritty sand piercingly loud, but the sounds of everything behind you are still maddeningly muffled.

Then, you hear a new sharp sound. It is not the sound of tires rolling over asphalt, or even through the gritty sand. It is footsteps–just footsteps–crunching through the scrubby plants towards you.

You turn to face to noise, and instead you face a face.

“Welcome,” says the face.

You do not say anything back, because you do not need to welcome them, nor do you feel very thankful for their welcome.

The face has a body between it and the source of the footsteps, and that body has hands. The hands hold out a photograph. Your hands take it.

The photograph is old. Or perhaps, it is new, and has simply been abused. It is faded in a bright sort of way that looks very dim in the darkness. But where the photograph fails to send an image to your mind, your mind imposes an image on the photograph, and to your eyes it looks just as you remember.

It is a photograph of you, in a place you once lived, with a person you once loved, with an expression you once wore often. You try to replicate the expression, but it has been too long, and you only frown.

“It’s the same one,” says the face with a body between it and the source of the footsteps.

You nod, because it wasn’t a question and therefor didn’t need an answer.

“How long have you been looking for it?”

You shrug, because you do not remember.

The face with a body between it and the source of the footsteps turns and walks away, the footsteps now sounding muffled.

Suddenly, the darkness changes the way it sounds. Even your foosteps do not sound sharp. But the sounds that once were muffled are piercing and loud. They are the sounds of things behind you that you will never see, like memories and things that hunt you.

Something feels like it is growing between your nails and the nailbeds. It makes you cringe to consider, but you cannot shake the feeling any more than you can shake the Everything behind you.

So you clutch the photograph and walk back to your truck, footsteps muffled, and step inside. You release the emergency brake and put it into drive. Then you drive through Yucca Springs. Between the street lamps, you can see that only one headlight still works.

You drive out of Yucca Springs. There is no goodbye sign. You wonder if the town could not afford a second sign. But you decide you do not care, even though you do, because you care even more about the Everything that is behind you.

You go into the desert. The desert abhors life. That is why only creatures to stubborn too care what nature thinks of them can dwell in the arid habitat.

Maybe the desert cares about you. Maybe the desert does not care about you. Maybe it wants to protect you, and maybe it does not think of you at all.

You wonder which is more alive. You, or the Everything behind you. Which one will the desert kill first?

 

Back From Lent

Back From Lent

Those of you who follow me on Figment or Wattpad may know I’ve been joining my family in abstaining from recreational activities done on a screen for Lent. While we determined that I could still compete in Figgy Idol, since it’s considered extracirricular instead of recreational, I was unable to blog or update other stories.

As a result, I’ve actually had a lot more time for writing. Who would have thought? /sarcasm

Here’s a list of all the things I’ve done during the forty days of feasting. Writing wise, of course. Just click on the title of a work to be taken to where you can read it.

 

Shutdown: A group of online teens are faced with a very unique situation.

Trapdoor: A cyberpunk bounty hunter goes after a big catch, but she might get caught instead.

Hempen Jig: A mermaid trapped in a cage. Here, I had to express a certain emotion without ever naming it. A few Figgies liked it so much that I wrote a few more chapters. I’m looking forward to updating more at the end of Figgy Idol.

Oblivion: Featuring the same characters as my dialogue story Pi, Oblivion shows Setta and and her AI having a confrontation over what it means to be human. Which is my favorite subject.

Everything Behind You: Okay, so this wasn’t technically Figgy Idol. I only posted it today. It’s an eery story from second-person point of view about deserts, memories, and illumination.

 

I’m really looking forward to getting back into the swing of things. I plan to blog at least once a week, but I might move up from there once my college coursework slacks off in a few weeks. Other than that, here’s a small list of what pieces of writing I’ll be working on.

 

Beast– I finally got my rear into a chair to write Part II. I’ve taken down the previous Part II of Beast on Wattpad so that I can continue to update with the new material.

I Hate Wonderland– A fanfiction crossover between Avengers and Once Upon A Time, where Bucky realizes he’s the Mad Hatter. This is a quirky/dark fic that I’m doing just for fun. It’s been on hold for a while, obviously, but I’ll be updating again soon.

Sidekick– Another fic, this one a Flash/Arrow fic about another earth. But on this earth, Flash and Arrow are mortal enemies, with A.R.G.U.S. agents Abbi Garret and John Diggle between. But the already tentative balance is upset even further when Hunter Zolomon–from the earths we know and love–zooms into town.

Euler Circuit- This one has no links, as it’s still in the planning stage. I got my friend T.R.G. to help with the creation of some planets for our beloved characters of the first novella to protect and save, possibly from themselves.

 

 

 

 

 

Figgy Idol

Figgy Idol

I’ve moved on to Round Two of Figgy Idol! And not only that, but I made Top Writer of Round One with my story A Real Fighter.

But Round Two is giving me serious difficulties.

When summed up, the prompt told us to create a plot driven story in which there is a death neither at the beginning or the end that will affect the reader with the strength of the writing. The issue is that we only have 6000 words total, which means at the most 4k words with which to attach the readers firmly to the characters we kill off and leave to deal with the aftermath. And then we have to sew up the plot completely afterwards!

If that wasn’t hard enough, I’ve selected a crime story as my genre. Crime, mystery, detectives… I read very little of this as compared to other genres growing up (I didn’t have the patience) so it’s far from my forte.

Which is exactly what Figgy Idol is supposed to do; it’s there to push you out of your comfort zone and force you to grow. But geeze, I sure can pick ’em.

Anyways, here’s the summary of Haint. Although I’m considering changing it to A Real Witch to match my other stories.

Haint Blue paint is said to keep away evil spirits. But practical Sheriff Lance knows that no amount of Appalachian superstition will keep away the bad guys found in his line of work. When a girl obsessed with the occult goes missing, however, Lance will have to rely on the local “Granny Witch”–a young woman named Nona–to help him with the case.

Where his mind fails him, hers works wonders, and when her herbs can’t save a life, his bullets just may.

As to other writing, I’m extremely close to finishing Queen. That makes me so excited! It’s considerably longer than Beast already, coming in at around 80k. Whereas Beast is a mere little 30k in need of lots of editing. After some discussion with a few writing (and reading!) friends, I’ve decided to not expand as much as I’d planned and leave a little more up to the publishers. I’ll just be adding in the second part for introductions to Snow for Book Two, and a little more setup for some sub-plots of Beast and overarching plots of the trilogy as a whole. Overall, I’m really excited about how this is turning out!

In non-writing news, my family is still awaiting military orders on where to move next. We hope to know by the end of this week! It sure would make planning a lot easier if we knew what side of the world we’d be on.

Those are all the updates for now! Keep your eyes peeled for a Book Blab later on this week!

Blessings,

J.A.

Challenger Deep

My family and I recently took a little trip to L.A. While the intent of the visit was Universal Studios (which was very cool), we also stopped at some watch shops, quilt shops… and book shops.

They were independently owned book stores that my mom researched before going, like Book Soup or The Last Bookstore. At Book Soup, I picked up a book called Challenger Deep. And I believe it could very well be one of my favorite stand-alone books I’ve ever read.

 

ChallengerDeep-final-cover-hi-rez.jpg

 

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

Basic Summary- Caden Bosch is on a ship that’s headed for the deepest point on Earth: Challenger Deep, the southern part of the Marianas Trench.

Caden Bosch is a brilliant high school student whose friends are starting to notice his odd behavior.

Caden Bosch is designated the ship’s artist in residence, to document the journey with images.

Caden Bosch pretends to join the school track team but spends his days walking for miles, absorbed by the thoughts in his head.

Caden Bosch is split between his allegiance to the captain and the allure of mutiny.

Caden Bosch is torn.

 

My Thoughts- That’s the summary that the book came with, and I really liked it. A summary that gives a little more away is that Caden has a mess of mental illnesses, most prominently schizophrenia.  Neal Shusterman did a masterful job of showing a thought process eerily similar to my own in a way that is both poetic, but also deeply connects you to the character. Neal managed to make me feel like Caden, which is a connection that the neurodivergent community desperately needs.

What Can Authors Learn From This Book?

Tackle the Big Stuff

I’m not going to lie to you. Challenger Deep goes deep. Mental illness is not a joke, and while this book has its humorous lines, it knows that. They cover topics as simple as wanting your family to understand you, to the issue of suicide. This is a difficult book to read from that standpoint.

But it proves an important point. These are the things that people need to be reading. Whether it’s to know that they are understood by the world, or to show someone how to understand another person, these are topics that have been ignored by far too long for the majority of the world.

Schizophrenia is a joke, depression is misunderstood, bipolar is taboo. This book tears that all down and proves that it doesn’t have to be and it shouldn’t be that way. Those are the kinds of strong, world-changing points that I wish every piece of writing to make.

I Understand Nothing

 

On a less deep note, this book makes zero sense about 90% of the time. As a reader, you have to just sort of accept the fact that it will make sense eventually. And when it does, it’s both mind-blowing and poignant. But my complete lack of understanding–while overdone for most books–urged me to keep reading.

Mystery, mystery, mystery. It’s not an action scene that makes someone keep reading; it’s the wondering if the character will survive it. It isn’t the romance that keeps a person involved in the story; it’s the burning desire to know if it works out in the end. Mystery is one of your most valuable tools. Learn how to wield it wisely.

 

Overall

 

This book was amazing. It could be a struggle for some readers, either from the dark tones or the sometimes confusing plot. (Or the slightly slow beginning, I’ll admit.) But it’s a thrilling ride that opened my eyes in many ways, and proves that no one is beyond being understood, and everyone is capable of being saved from drowning.

Figgy Idol Round One – A Short Story

Figgy Idol Round One – A Short Story

So on the amazing website of Figment, some users are holding Season 4 of Figgy Idol. Figgy Idol is a writing competition that mirrors American Idol and similar competitions.

I’m lucky enough to join for the fourth season, and things are booming. My audition story–A Real Fighter–served well enough to get me into Round One. Today was the deadline for the first real part of the competition however.

The prompt was simple, but also infuriating. The focus was creativity, and the goal was to create a legendary character, much in the same style as Greek and Roman mythology.

Please feel free to let me know what you think in the comments! Even though I’ve turned in my submission already, I would still love to expand my abilities.

A brief explanation of my strange schedule lately: My family just took a vacation, so I missed two updates. I apologize for that! I also decided to put off my Book Blab until next Monday, where I’ll be reviewing Challenger Deep.

So, with that aside, I’m proud to present A Real Hero!

 

Continue reading “Figgy Idol Round One – A Short Story”

The Images of Writing – Part II

This time I come not just with maps, but with character concepts too! (I have maps too, of course, but if you’ve been keeping up with my Tumblr you’ll see that they’re a little different.)

Tale

I’m so happy with how the ref for Belle went. I know that I want Terian to have a Hungarian/Romani culture (which means some name changes for Belle and the kingdom) so I wanted to reflect that in her clothing. It’s brightly colored with designs that are reminiscent of calico. (Note to self- Look up the history of calico.)

tumblr_okd591hnad1w46dplo1_540

And here is a promised map! In case you were thinking, “Geeze. Her mapmaking skills are way better than in that last image post,” put yourself at ease. I didn’t art this myself. I used an amazing tool called Inkarnate. It’s abilities are rather stunning, although there are a few suggestions that I made.

map-1

Beast

These two are the lovely Tilverune and Kryiol. (As you can tell, I only have a female base right now. Male characters are put on hold.)

Tilverune has a lot of Inuit influence, both in her culture and fashion. Which is really, really fun.

tumblr_inline_ok9kxegjof1uexck8_540

Kryiol, on the other hand, is a mutt. A little Romani, a little Grecian, a little Super-Futuristic. Inspiration for Kryiol came almost entirely from my friend TRG.

 

tumblr_inline_ok9kywqodf1uexck8_540

And finally, a map for KISA! This one is a lot more basic, as I was getting frustrated with how large the mountains and trees were. (You can only scale it down so far, which is one of my software suggestions.) So I stuck to icons and rivers, although I now wish that I had kept the land a parchment color rather than showing the ice/greenery/desert. But oh well.

tumblr_okb70gjk2r1w46dplo1_540

(Please take time to notice the beautiful little Skelside and dragon off to the right, folks.)

So there’s my images of art update! I’m currently working on concept art for Ella of Tale (Polynesian/Samoan influence), and will get to work on Snow’s armor as soon as I’ve gone over Slavic fashion with TRG! You can expect a research post pretty soon about what I’ve been finding out, because it’s actually pretty cool.

Speaking of expecting things, this is as good a time as any to relay my Devious Plan™. I’ll be posting Book Blab reviews on Fridays/Saturdays, and anything else comes out on Tuesdays/Wednesdays. In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t give myself leeway like that, but we’ll see how the scheduling works itself out.

 

If you enjoy my writing, please hit the follow button or fill in your email for updates. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments, or you can email me at j.a.apricity@gmail.com. Thank you for reading!