Novel Noshing: Foods Inspired By Our Novels and Characters, Part 4

october-cutting-board

Welcome Back!  Today’s headlining picture makes me think of my favorite thing about autumn baking…apples and cinnamon.  Here in the North Country, Autumn is in full swing.  Cool, crips nights, and sun-shiny days illuminate the colorful trees here in the Adirondacks.  It’s the season for steamy drinks, comforting casseroles, warm breakfasts to get us started in the morning.

Which brings me to our featured author of the week.

For this fourth installment of my series, I present to you author Melody Winter, and her soon-to-be-released novel, INIQUITY.  Here is Melody, with a bit about her upcoming release.

melodywinter

Village life for my characters in Iniquity is hard. Food is limited, and meat scarce. But the one meal that’s made every morning is a hearty bowl of porridge. The men need a filling breakfast to see them through a day working at the fields, and the women usually eat their fair share as well. The weather is cold, miserable and it often rains, hence a stomach full of warm porridge is a good start to everyone’s day.

oliver-twist

Athena mentions having to soak the oats overnight. This was a traditional way of making porridge. For each serving, the equivalent of 50 grams of oats was added to a mix of 300ml water and goats milk if it was available. The following morning it was cooked in a large metal pot over hot coals, stirring constantly until it boiled, and then stirred again for a further ten minutes.

Unfortunately, in Iniquity there isn’t much else you can add to the porridge as fruit and other plant growth is severely hindered by the lack of sunlight. The villagers only grow the necessities.

INIQUITY is due for release on the 25th October, available through amazon, or a signed paperback direct from Melody. The ebook is currently available for pre-order at a special discounted price on amazon:

Amazon.com: Link to Iniquity on amazon US  

Amazon.co.uk: Link to Iniquity on amazon UK

Email Melody: melodywinterbooks@gmail.com

About the author:

Growing up, Melody showed a natural ability in art, a head for maths, and a tendency to write too long English essays. Difficult to place in the world when she graduated, she pursued a career in teaching, but ended up working in finance. Melody is convinced the methodical times she spends working with numbers fuel her desire to drift into dream worlds and write about the illusory characters in her head.

Melody Winter lives in York, North Yorkshire, England with her husband and two sons. When not dealing with football, rugby, and a whole plethora of ‘boy’ activities, she will be found scribbling notes for her stories, or preparing for another trip to the nearby beaches at Scarborough and Whitby. With an obsession for anything mythical, Melody revels in reading and writing about such creatures, and creating her own.

 

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I’ve Got A Cover To Reveal: Sachael Desires, by Melody Winter!

Welcome readers!

I just love these days!  I get to share an amazing, never before seen, book cover!

First, a little bit about the book, SACHAEL DESIRES, Book 2 in Melody Winters “Mine Series”:

During her ordeal with the Sect, Estelle Bailey dreamt of escaping back into the arms of the sea—and Azariah. But freedom came at a price, and though she’s back with the Sachael who’s stolen her heart, she’s also land-bound until the next full moon. And with the threat of Orontes looming ever larger behind them, Azariah, Estelle, and Michael—her once-captor turned rescuer and friend—are on the run.  Following Michael’s lead, they seek sanctuary amidst the natural beauty of the Orkney and Shetland Islands until Estelle can complete her next submergence ritual and Azariah can whisk her away to the safety of Saicean.  ​ ​ Secrets, betrayals, and old enemies await them, though, and as events spiral out of control, Azariah makes a decision that puts all their lives at risk, forcing Estelle to face a journey she never wanted to take. With time running out and tempers running high, her only hope to save the man she loves lies in a reconciliation between two kingdoms who despise each other.

Book Two in the Mine Series, Sachael Desires further expands on the intricate underwater world of the Sachaels, and the hostility and isolation of not belonging.​

Add to goodreads

And here is its amazing cover:

SachaelDesires-Winter

About Melody Winter:

Growing up, Melody Winter showed a natural ability in art, a head for maths, and a tendency to write far too long English essays. Difficult to place in the world when she graduated, she pursued a career in teaching, but eventually ended up working in Finance. Melody is convinced the methodical time she spends working with numbers fuels her desire to drift into dream worlds and write about the illusory characters in her head.

Melody Winter lives in North Yorkshire, England, with her husband and two sons. When not dealing with football, rugby, and a whole plethora of ‘boy’ activities, she will be found scribbling notes for her stories, or preparing for another trip to the beach. With an obsession for anything mythical, Melody revels in reading and writing about such creatures. In fact, if she wasn’t such a terrible swimmer, she’d say she was a mermaid.

Sachael Desires is her second book in the New Adult Romantic Fantasy series – the ‘Mine Series’.
Melody Winter Author Photo

Learn more about Melody Winter on her website, twitter or facebook.

Book Review: Hide The Elephant by Jonathan Dunne

EXTRA, EXTRA!!!  HIDE THE ELEPHANT RELEASES TOMORROW!!!

It’s not every day that this North Country Girl is afforded the opportunity to read an advance copy of one of her favorite author’s upcoming novels, so when Jonathan Dunne, author of Balloon Animals, Living Dead Lovers and The Nobody Show, asked me if I would be willing, I jumped at the chance.  I have interviewed Mr. Dunne a number of times (just click on the book titles just above for more information about him), and our conversations always have surprises in store.

What follows is my review of HIDE THE ELEPHANT, the upcoming release from dark humorist Jonathan Dunne.  I hope you keep an eye out for it.  It’s a real gem!

HIDE THE ELEPHANT by Jonathan Dunne: Expect The Unexpected

Any fan of Jonathan Dunne will come to expect certain things when he releases a new novel.  They will expect to be entertained.  They will expect to be startled at its many oddities.  And they will expect a dark humor that only Jonathan Dunne can deliver.  But if his new book has proven anything to me, it is that with Jonathan Dunne, the reader has to expect the unexpected.

I am a fan of Mr. Dunne’s novel’s.  I have been from the first moment I read a single page of his first book.  From Balloon Animals, to Living Dead Lovers, to The Nobody Show, I have grown accustomed to his dark yet unbelievably funny scenarios that split my sides from the laughter.  But in his latest work, HIDE THE ELEPHANT, Mr. Dunne shows us a side to his writing that I believe will further cement him in my arsenal of writer’s whose works are not to be missed.

Like his previous novels, Jonathan Dunne artfully pulls the reader into the world of his main character.  He does this by addressing The Reader directly in the text from time to time, which may seem taboo, but I find it charming.  You become part of the story in this way.  Also, like his other works, the setting is often something from way out in left field, but always in Ireland.

HIDE THE ELEPHANT has something different, though, in that the plot was incredibly sweet, almost heart-wrenching at times.  Our hero, Mick Munroe, is a zoo keeper, spending the better part of forty years caring for an Indian Elephant at the zoo.  When Altzheimer’s Disease begins to take its toll on Mick’s memory, he is forced into early retirement.

HIDE THE ELEPHANT tells the story of Mick and his elephant, Sinbad, as they escape from captivity; Mick’s captivity, in the form of senility, and Sinbad’s, in the form of literal bars.  With nothing to lose, they take off on an adventure across Ireland to find freedom.  And this Reader found herself admiring the way that Mr. Dunne mirrored Mick’s life with that of Sinbad’s.  It was beautiful to see how the two captives leaned on each other for support, through all of the tough times, lucid or otherwise.

This is not to say that humor is lacking in HIDE THE ELEPHANT.  There are plenty of places where poor Mick struggles just to get through the crazy thing his life has become, oh, mercy!  And his Snicker’s-eating elephant is quite delightful at times.  To put it bluntly, this book has something for just about everyone.

Not to be overlooked is my other favorite thing about Jonathan Dunne’s novels, which are his references to the places and character’s from his previous novels.  I really like the cameo of Arthur Lawless from The Nobody Show, as well as the mentions of other citizens of Old Castle and Limerick City.  These references pull The Reader further into the world of Dunne’s mind.  Brilliant.

In my previous reviews for Mr. Dunne’s books, I encourage the readers of my reviews to check out his work.  But this time, I would also mention that Jonathan Dunne has now shown that he is a writer who is evolving, embracing more sensitive issues, and doing so with finesse.  I look forward to my next Jonathan Dunne read, although after this one, I really can’t imagine what to expect from him next!

Artistically Speaking: With Cover Artist Ashley Ruggirello

ashley ruggerillo
Ashley Ruggirello is an author, designer and doting wife living in beer and cheese land, WI.
When not lost in the fictional world of Skyrim, she can be found exploring typography, manipulating responsive DIVS, or with pen & paper in hand (figuratively though, as she uses Google Docs much more often), writing her New Adult novels.
She considers herself a designer by nature and writing at heart, though she always wanted to make video game walk-throughs as a child.
Ashley’s favorite color is chartreuse, and she has an undeniable attraction to moss (not of the Kate variety).
For my blog today, I’m thrilled to introduce Ashley Ruggirello.  As founder of REUTS Publications as well as a freelance cover artist, Ashley has enthusiastically agreed to hang out on my Writer’s Block for a bit to talk about her roles in the publishing realm.  Welcome, Ashley!

Ashley Ruggirello: Thank you so much for having me, Susan! I’m excited to share an inside look at what I do, why I do it, and how REUTS differs from others, so thank you for the opportunity 🙂 I hope my ramblings make sense…

Susan: Tell us about your background, and what brought you to become a cover artist and founder of REUTS Publications.

Ashley Ruggirello: To be honest, my educational background is in web design and IT. After I completed my education I entered the advertising industry working for one of the top 25 largest independent advertising agencies, located in Wisconsin. All my design experience is self-taught, if you’d believe it! I’ve been going at it for over ten years now, learning and adapting to the changes in design and business as I go. Being a writer for even longer, starting REUTS in 2012 just seemed like the perfect coupling of my two passions: writing and design.

Susan: I read in another interview you did recently, that you started REUTS Publications out of a personal desire to build a publishing company that filled the gaps of what you felt was missing in the industry.   Have there been any surprises along the way, good, bad or otherwise?

Ashley Ruggirello: There have been a lot of positive surprises and learning lessons throughout the two years of REUTS’s existence, though I have a feeling the negative will be a little more insightful. I think what’s hardest to realize–and avoid–is becoming cynical and jaded toward the publishing industry and author expectations. That’s not to say I hate, or even strongly dislike either, being an author myself I could never, but it’s the conscious effort to–in light of negativity, delays, pestering, etc…–to stay positive. The whole point of REUTS was to be a beacon of light, an escape, if you will, from all the iron clad, locked-tight companies who make up the publishing industry. There’s a lot of talent out there, on both sides of the book, but sometimes it’s easy to forget where you started, and where you’ve come from. That’s something I hope I never lose, no matter how the industry changes. It’s an important part of REUTS, and an important part of who I am.

360: a few positives–the way the community has embraced such a unique, young boutique publishing company such as REUTS has been overwhelming. I still have to pinch myself (or request the pinching be done by our Editorial Director, and one of my best friends, Kisa) because all the love and support is incredible.

It’s also very cool to see a book from start-to-finish. When it’s your own book it’s exciting, but when it’s someone elses and the excitement just seems to jump off your computer screen, it’s nearly impossible to not be happy and excited.

Susan: As a cover artist for REUTS, what is your conceptual process? Do you automatically begin to visualize a cover concept as you read a manuscript for the first time, or do you wait until the end of the manuscript to make a plan?

Ashley Ruggirello: I can’t say I really have one. Each cover design project is unique in its own way, with unique challenges and creative opportunities. To put each book into a boxed process and try to make it work wouldn’t be fair to the author, my inspiration or the book itself. Although I approach each cover design the same way (which I’ll mention more in the next question), the process to follow is completely dependent on the creative direction we agree upon.

To answer your second question, yes! I gather ideas as soon as I start reading, sometimes from the title alone (which I know isn’t fair, but I just can’t help it!) There are many times when discussing a manuscript I’m quick to announce “I CAN’T WAIT TO DESIGN FOR THIS,” usually in all caps, too. That’s one of the factors I judge a manuscript based-upon, though I’ll get to that, later 😉

Susan: How involved can the author be in the cover design process?

Ashley Ruggirello: I’m sure it’s different for other pubs, big or small, but when it comes to REUTS’s cover design process the authors have a say from the get-go. When an author is working with me, each cover design process begins with one simple (albeit broad as all heck) question: What would your ideal cover look like? See; one sentence, only seven words, and it’s meant to encompass so much. How are you supposed to fit–let alone describe–a complete story in one image? That’s the most exciting and most terrifying challenge to cover art and, to be honest, I put that on the author, first. Before I share any of my own ideas I like to see what an author would like, and then further discussing what’s best both for the book and the intended marketing, I work directly with an author to tweak and perfect their brand. That’s what it really is–a brand. Given my background in advertising I’m able to treat it as such and create the author’s best first impression for both themselves and their story.

Susan: I’ve said this before, but REUTS covers are amazing, and in the world of books, the cover can be the most important aspect. For example, I am more likely to pick up a book in a store if the cover grabs me from the shelf. What do you do to keep your cover ideas fresh?

Ashley Ruggirello: Thank you so much 🙂 There’s a lot of self-doubt when creative a new cover, so the positive feedback is always appreciated and is absorbed to my core. I always feel like my designs look like they’ve been designed by me–as if they carry my “signature style” or something–so I’m not sure how fresh they might be considered in the grand scheme of things. I guess if you were to check out the REUTS book page, no two covers look identical, huh? So I must be doing something right 😉 I think it all comes down to spending all day, every day on the computer, and looking at pretty pictures. That’s sort of the broad way to put it, but it’s essentially true; I’m on the computer about fourteen hours of my day, and that leaves me with a lot of time to browse for inspiration. I frequent websites like DeviantArt.com (for all around artistic inspriation), WebCreme.com (for website-based inspration) and Goodreads.com (for book cover inspiration). There are so many different styles and options and directions, it’s easy to get lost in the world of pretty pictures (I know I do on a daily basis).

I think the most important thing to keep in mind is to constantly evolve to something new–don’t do the same thing you did last time, but instead push outside of the box and just see what happens. I’ve found that some of the best experiences/designs/etc… come from stepping outside of your comfort zone. I try to do that as much as possible, even when it comes to cover art.

Susan: Kisa Whipkey, REUTS Editorial Director, commented in our recent interview that when a submission comes in, the editor, marketing specialist and cover artist, chime in to determine the manuscript’s fate. What makes a good submission, from the point of view of the cover artist?

Ashley Ruggirello: I started mentioning it above, and it’s if, while reading, I can visualize a book in my mind’s eye. There’s a level of intuition that comes with working in both acquisitions and the creative department. If I’m struggling to find a central image, or even the beginnings of what might be the cover art, it sets off my Spidey Senses and may not be the best fit in my perspective. In publishing a book there are so many pieces of the puzzle that need to come together–editorial, marketing, cover art, etc…–and if one piece of the puzzle doesn’t fit, you can’t force it.

Susan: You also work as a freelance cover artist. Can you tell us a little bit about that? Does that role differ from your role at REUTS?

Ashley Ruggirello: They don’t differ much, though what I’ve found to be the most challenging is designing for a book I’ve never read. Because I’m a part of the Acquisitions Team at REUTS I read every book we eventually sign. Most of the time I’m designing while I’m reading; picking out scenes, symbols, imagery I can eventually use when it comes to the cover art phase. That’s different as a freelance cover artist because I simply don’t have time to read another full manuscript, so I’m left to design off of a synopsis and the author’s interpretation. Sometimes it’s great! I can create exactly what the author requests. Other times it’s a bit more difficult because we can’t seem to line up the images in both our mind’s eye.

Susan: Do your cover designs have their genesis with pencil and paper, or mouse and screen?   Does it depend on the book?

Ashley Ruggirello: I know a lot of artists begin with a sketch. For web design (my educational background) it’s with a website wireframe. Of course I tend to go against the grain when it comes to design and I absolutely have to just jump right into the creation process. I’ve never been one to sketch, outline, etc… You could say I’m a panster opposed to a planner, in all aspects of life. So after I have even a loose idea of what a cover might look at, I have to just get started messing around in Photoshop. To channel a little bit of Bob Ross, a lot of my designs end up being “happy little accidents;” just me, tinkering in Photoshop to see if something will look good. Most of the time it doesn’t, as any guess-and-check process goes, but when the pieces do come together–it’s magic!

Susan: Is there anything else you would like my readers to know, either about the acquisitions process at REUTS, or about your experiences as a cover artist in general?

Ashley Ruggirello: We try to break free of the industry norm, but in all the good ways. Sure, it takes a lot of time, but dedicating time to each manuscript, to treat each author as a human being, not just the shell that created something, is really important to me, and to REUTS. And it does. It takes a lot of time responding to emails individually, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. The moment you become a robot, which is essentially what a form response turns you into, you lose a little bit of your humanity, your compassion, and that’s very hard to gain back.

And then, I think if there’s one thing I could tell someone entering the cover art phase with their artist, it’s to not sweat the small stuff. Most of the time a piece will be rough for many, MANY rounds. If something looks off in round one, and it’s still there by round three, know that your artist is aware of it, and is waiting to put the final polishing touches on once they have your design approval. The reason designers don’t get the polishing done at the start is simple: things change. A lot. It’s more important to get the BIG idea down and then fine tune the details, than create a print-ready cover for each version. It just makes sense! So have no fear, your cover artist is looking out for your best interest. Always. 🙂

 

Thank you so much for having me, Susan! You may not think much of it, but you’re really awesome at interviews, and your questions are inspirational! I appreciate the space to let me go on and on and on about what I do, and I hope others found it useful 🙂

If anyone wants to keep the conversation flowing, I can be found on Twitter (@amRuggs) and like to tweet about memes, cats and booze, sometimes all at once!

Susan: This was a real pleasure, Ashley. I appreciate the time, and I’m sure my readers do, too!

 
Ashley Ruggirello can be found on:

As Ashley suggested, let’s keep the conversation going! Are there other aspects of the publishing world or writing in general that you would like to see here on S.M. Nystoriak’s Writer’s Block? Let me know in the comment section!

Book Review: The Nobody Show, by Jonathan Dunne

I recently finished Jonathan Dunne’s novel, The Nobody Show. Here is my review!

I have been a fan of Jonathan Dunne’s writing for quite some time. Since his first novel, Balloon Animals, I fell in love with his witty writing, charming yet flawed characters, and plots that always seem to turn by way of the unexpected. His latest book, The Nobody Show, embodies the same characteristics as the others, making me fall in love once again. In this book, however, I felt there was a story within a story, and that is what I loved the most.

From the moment the book begins, the reader is introduced, one by one, to a multitude of strange characters (one being a chimp named Bonnie), who don’t realize they share a dream. As a matter of fact, when reading, I began to wonder when these people would realize how their lives cross under fate’s guide. Jonathan Dunne does a masterful job creating their scenarios as one at a time, he builds a Circus of Nobodies, with dubious circus skills. Each one is crazy-wonderful in their own rite.

It isn’t until the end of the story where the second plot comes into full focus, as the reader witnesses the breakdown of Arthur Lawless, The Circus Master. I was sad yet touched as Arthur fell from “greatness”, as he realized the importance of his family; his rock.

As I wrote earlier, The Nobody Show doesn’t really stray from the Jonathan Dunne Formula which has pleased me so much in the past. However, this book has a sweet side among the absurd. Admittedly, this book is longer than his others, but this is not a bad thing, considering the depth he weaves into The Nobody Show’s plot.

I enjoyed this book, and believe it was worth the wait for its release.

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NaNo 2014 Mini-Series: Plowing Our Way To 50K: Round 2!

NaNo 2

Hello!

Last month, I posted round 1 of my NaNo Mini Series interviews. The entire post can he found here: http://wp.me/p35Mk4-fa

One of the things I was most impressed with was everyone’s different approach to NaNoWrimo. All eight participants are NaNo Veterans, so each one of them has been there, and done that. Speaking for myself, I learn something new about planning with every NaNo I do. This year marks my fourth consecutive NaNoWriMo.

Today NaNo-ers will give us some insight into their writing lives, now that NaNoWriMo 2014 is in full force. I wonder how things are going?

Let’s find out!

Mid NaNo nanotoon

Susan Nystoriak: First of all, let’s talk about your progress so far. NaNoWriMo says that an average of 1667 words per day will get you to the 50k mark on day thirty. How is your word count going? Are you following the NaNo word count guideline?

dianaDiana Pinguicha: I never follow their guidelines, although I try to write at least their minimum every day. I usually go for 2k every day, because I know some days I’ll come home exhausted from work, and I’ll just have a bite and go straight to bed, so my extra most of the days compensates for when that happens.

Ali picAli Carey Billedeaux: Well, I WAS doing pretty well until yesterday. I am terrible about using work as an excuse not to write. I’m always like “I worked a lot today, I think I deserve to watch TV instead.” Which is, of course, a trap. I fell for it yesterday.

Don’t worry, I’m back on the horse today, word count all caught up and everything!

Alessa Hinlo profile picAlessa Hinlo: Oh god. This is super embarrassing, but it’s a big, fat 0! Hopefully, that’ll change soon, but it’ll take a push to catch up.

Margarita polaroidMargarita Montimore: I was trying to exceed them, and started off great, doing 2K words a day, but then fell behind. As of 11/8 I’m a little over 13K words. Hoping to put in some 2K+ word count days to catch up.

Mary Ann NicholsonMary Ann Nicholson: I don’t follow Nano’s word count guidelines. Some days I write more, some days less. But I plan for it. I planned for 0 words both days of Pitch Wars because I knew I’d be too distracted. But I wrote twice as much the first 2 days of Nano in anticipation. I typically go over the Nano goal by a lot, so I don’t worry about it too much.

Alexis Larkin PictureAlexis Larkin: I am having so much fun writing this book, but failing miserably according to NaNo’s word count guidelines. I’m planning nightly sprints this week to make up some ground. Should be caught up mid-November.

Shawn PicShawn Thomas Anderson: I’m keeping my head above water. Started strong, I’ve been shooting for 2000 words a day, knowing that work days and family obligations could result in lower counts over the weekends. I have had a couple days where I’ve dipped below 1500, but I have a buffer with the 2000 words from other days. I keep my laptop plugged in and charging all the time, so that I can jump in and bang out some words whenever possible. Make the most of every minute!

Susan Nystoriak: In the Round One interview, you all mapped out a plan for attacking this crazy writing month. Have you been able to stick to your plan?

 

Diana Pinguicha: I had a crazy first week of November, so I’m lagging a bit behind than I’d planned—nothing unmanageable, but still, behind. I went to the UK on the first weekend, and wrote a lot on the plane, but between that, work, and studying for an exam on the 8th, it’s been hard.

Ali Carey Billedeaux: I normally try to stick with the progress bar that NaNo gives you. I find that, even if I don’t match the word count perfectly, it’s a close enough estimate to let me swing back and forth a little and still get where I’m going.

If you mean plot-wise, than it’s too soon to tell. So far, things are going to plan, but this is still solidly in the getting-to-know-you part of the book (for the readers and for me!) so my characters are just starting to settle down.

Alessa Hinlo: Alas. I overestimated my ability to write during the first week of November with Pitch Wars going on. But that’s come to a close. My plan will need readjusting, though, given the lost week. I’ll probably drop the short stories and start on the novel straight-on.

Margarita Montimore: Kind of. I prepared detailed notes, character sketches, a 29-chapter outline and even turned the wall of my office into a giant collage to prepare for my Nano novel. I find that I don’t refer to the notes and outline as much as I expected, at least not yet. I completed six chapters of the novel, which vaguely correspond with two in the outline. I have no problem with that; I expect I’ll veer from the outline even more as I keep writing.

Mary Ann Nicholson: I have my spreadsheet with how much I have to write on it based on how much time I expect to have. And I’ve adjusted it down because I need to slow it down. Nano is slowing me down! Ha. I’m adding onto a pre-existing WIP. I’ll probably hit 50K on that one in the next week, but to write 50K new words will be a challenge.

Alexis Larkin: My plan was to use any free time I could find to work on NaNo. I have strayed from that plan to take advantage of a couple of wonderful writing opportunities and to deal with a household issue. On the bright side, I planned to use a visual outline and semi-pants it from there. This plan has worked out really well. I have a few photos set out for each chapter and have had a great time using them as a launching point when I start to write each evening. The pantsing is fun too. Whenever something doesn’t make sense, I just keep writing with a promise to myself to fix it later instead of worrying about fixing the outline right away.

Shawn Thomas Anderson: I’m wildly off my plan! I’m in full-on panster mode—and loving it! We’ll see where it takes me. That internal editor is urging me to go back in an start revising section, but I’ve been successful at fighting him off. FULL SPEED AHEAD!!!

Susan Nystoriak: What can you tell us about your 2014 NaNo project? Give us as much detail as you can at this point. Do you have characters fleshed out? Where is your plot headed? Does your NaNo havae a title yet?

Diana Pinguicha: Sightless was my first novel back in 2011, and it sucked. Since then, I had the opportunity to make a Point&Click game centered on its main theme (see through other people’s eyes, and how the world changes according to the person), and I had to rewrite the story for that. So now, I’m working with the novel to match our prototype.

Ali Carey Billedeaux: It does have a title! Right now, I’m calling it “Drowning City” because it’s about Venice in the late 16th century. I’m having sooo much fun with this, as I’ve never done historical fiction before, but I can safely say that my word count is down because of the amount of surprise research that takes place writing something like this. I did a lot of work before, I swear, but sometimes it feels like I’m starting from scratch!

Alessa Hinlo: I don’t actually like talking about my projects while I’m working on them. You can call it superstition, or you can call it part of my method. I will say that it’s a psychological thriller and tentatively titled THE CORNER GAME.

Margarita Montimore: AVIRA is the name of my novel. I set out to write my take on a haunted house story, set at a remote island resort. Two women end up at Avira, one to work there after a suicide attempt, the other in search of her missing brother. The women begin to unravel the mysteries of the hotel as each also deals with their own personal struggles. As of writing this, one just arrived at the hotel and the other is on her way, so I have a lot of story development ahead of me.

Mary Ann Nicholson: My WIP has a working title, which is Flirting Near Disaster. Not a day goes by I don’t try to think up something better. I think up something better, then check Amazon and curse whoever got to my idea first.

My story is a steamy romance based on a lot of baseless assumptions my MFC makes. Her company is working on something akin to a pheromone perfume, but more scientific, more bio-chemical warfare. Testing it out on herself, she meets my MC, who she assumes is a struggling musician, and the attraction is mutual, powerful and immediate. She only later discovers he’s a newly famous rock star with all the “I’m not worthy” angst that comes with that. Worried he could only like her because of the chemical attraction, she struggles with the ethical dilemma of keeping him through deception or coming clean and possibly losing him.

Alexis Larkin: My romance is (very) tentatively titled THROW OFF THE BOW LINES. I had very broad descriptions for my main characters when I got started—more like job descriptions really—but I’m finding that they’re more complex, well-rounded people the more I write. That probably sounds crazy because I am the one writing them, but I feel these characters are revealing themselves to me in a more organic way compared to my past work. As for the plot, I’m working toward a “happily ever after” ending. Just a matter of figuring out how to get there.

Shawn Thomas Anderson: It’s YA ‘80s magical realism—completely new territory for me. I had my jaw broken and realigned the summer between my senior year of high school and my freshman year of college. It was a time when I was forced to shut up and listen to the world around me, because my jaw was wired shut. This is a fictionalized account of that summer. I graduated high school at the end of the ‘80s, but I chose 1985 for this story.

The MC prides himself in being invisible all the way through high school. No dating. Kind of quiet. Always there in the background. When he has his surgery and his jaw is wired shut, suddenly people take interest in him and he learns things about his friends and family that have been there all along. Everything is changing with the onset of college. He’s learning about his life in the last ten seconds of the game, because he’s leaving in August. There are pain-killer-induced hallucinations, MTV-themed fantasies, pop-culture meltdowns, and narwhals in the swimming pool.

I have two working titles that I’m playing around with: THE WHOLE WORLD WANTS TO KISS YOU WHEN YOUR JAW’S WIRED SHUT or simply, SMASH’D!

I must say, the characters really need further development. So far, my favorite character is the MC’s little sister Cadence (She goes by Cade). She’s bitter and rebellious, and never enters or exits the family home through the door—always through a window, like she’s sneaking out.

Where’s it headed? I’m not completely sure, but three truths are explored along the way: 1. The MC’s family is changing, because he witnesses his parents’ marriage is falling apart. 2. The MC is experiencing self-discovery and a sexual awakening, because everyone wants to (obsessively) be with him (a taste of what could have been). 3. An imminent dive into the great unknown—college!

Susan Nystoriak: I know that for me, life can sometimes get in the way of my writing plans. Have there been any struggles you have faced so far? If so, have you been able to push through?

Diana Pinguicha: Already mentioned that above. Plane trips, work, college, all bearing down on me like a 10 ton weight. Last week, I could barely write a word I was so tired every day. I’d get home, make dinner, take care of the kitties and the dragon, sit on the PC and stare at the screen, unable to put down any words. So I played The Cat Lady for 30 mins and fall asleep during the most wtfuckery scenes you could imagine on a video game.

Most of what I managed to write was during breaks at work, on paper, or during the commute, on my cell. It hasn’t been enough, but the wordcount only matters on day 30, and I’ll push through. I think.

Ali Carey Billedeaux: Life’s been pretty forgiving lately. The big pitfall is the usual one: I have to work up the will to sit down and write.

Luckily, I’m having a lot of fun with my story. So that’s something 🙂

Alessa Hinlo: As I said before, I underestimated just how distracted I would be by Pitch Wars. Don’t get me wrong! This is a good problem to have. But the showcases were very distracting, not just for keeping an eye on my own entry but on everyone else’s! At this point, I have to accept I lost the first week of NaNo and forge on.

Margarita Montimore: Yes and yes. I was fortunate to have the novel I wrote prior to this one selected for Pitch Wars and spent much of last week on a final round of manuscript edits. I tend to get immersed in one project at a time, so it was a challenge to switch between the two while being so damn intense about both. I also recently started querying that same novel, so I spent a lot of last week researching agents and sending them materials. I needed to take a day off from Nano to decompress from the contest and querying, but now I can give Nano my full attention again. A lot of words can be written in twenty-two days…

Mary Ann Nicholson: I work full time, have kids and recently had the distraction of Pitch Wars. I took vacation days off this month so I could focus on writing for entire stretches. One of the great things about Nano are those butt-in-chair days when you’ve written for 4 hours and don’t think you can do anymore. But you write some more and dip into that crazy place that you only get to after you’ve written past sanity. There’s a lot of magic in there. So that’s why I take time off.

Alexis Larkin: I’m solving this problem by making more realistic writing plans. Instead of trying to find lots of little stretches to write during the day, I’m working at night after baby bedtime and on the weekends. I have a lifetime to write and only this brief time to enjoy my daughter’s babyhood. For this very limited time, I’m trying not to be too hard on myself. So far so good.

Thank you again, Susan! I enjoyed reading about everyone’s process so much in the first round of your mini-series. Can’t wait to see where everyone is at now. Good luck my fellow NaNos! Write like the wind!

Shawn Thomas Anderson: Oh yeah, big time! Again, keep that laptop charged and handy and just keep writing every moment you can. Now, you are going to think I’m nuts, but I’m also doing a weekly short-story challenge this month and revising on another manuscript. I use a dry erase board to plan and alter my daily writing schedules. I find that new words really make me feel good and propel me forward when I’m doing slow and methodical revisions.

It took me years to complete my first MS. I love the story. It’s a middle-grade fantasy adventure. I’ve been revising it for months. I did NaNoWriMo last year for the first time to prove to myself that I could write something fast and furious. I’m proud to say I did it. And now I’m doing it again!

And that’s it for now! Thank you all so much for your responses to the Round Two questions. We’ll be checking in with you one more time once NaNo14 is finished.

 

Good luck!

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? Let us know! Please leave us a comment below, and follow us and our progress on Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by!

An Interview With Myself: Plowing MY Way to 50K!

Hello!

Next week we’ll be checking in with my NaNo Mini Series participants for round two of the series.  I have been working on my own NaNo project along side them, and thought I’d post about my own progress today.  I’ll admit, the fact that I wrote the questions myself, then answer them below as if I hadn’t, is slightly weird.  🙂  My participants will be answering these same questions next week.

Nanowrimo2

1.  First of all, let’s talk about your progress so far. NaNoWriMo says that an average of 1667 words per day will get you to the 50k mark on day thirty. How is your word count going? Are you following the NaNo word count guideline?

So far, I have been consistently about 1200 words behind. I love the NaNo word tracker that shows up on their site. Normally I try to stick to that, but so far, I haven’t been able to meet it on a daily basis.

2.  In the Round One interview, you all mapped out a plan for attacking this crazy writing month. Have you been able to stick to your plan?

Heck No! My plan is out the window! I am a music teacher and grades for the first quarter are due around this time, which also means end-of-quarter projects all come in for evaluation at the same timeJ So, I will continue to do what I can for now. I have a feeling that I’ll be able to maintain a better writing pace after next week.

 

3.  What can you tell us about your 2014 NaNo project? Give us as much detail as you can at this point. Do you have characters fleshed out? Where is your plot headed? Does your NaNo have a title yet?

My NaNo’s working title is Misty Dawn and Violet. A link to my synopsis and excerpt can be found here: http://nanowrimo.org/participants/flute71/novels/misty-dawn-and-violet. I absolutely love it! It’s a humorous adventure tale. Misty Dawn and Violet are college students and best friends, and they take a spring break vacation to a Wyoming Ranch to find themselves some cowboy’s. The book is a fun and funny account of their experiences along the way.I feel like the characters are pretty well fleshed out, and I have a decent idea where the plot is headed, but anything can, and probably will happen! That’s the fun of the first draft!

4.  I know that for me, life can sometimes get in the way of my writing plans. Have there been any struggles you have faced so far? If so, have you been able to push through? 

As I have mentioned, life has definitely gotten in the way for this year’s NaNo. I am pushing through, and even though I am not quite meeting the goals set by NaNo, every little word counts. When I can write, I do, and I have confidence that it will all work out in the end.

And that’s it for now!  Next week, I will post the progress of everyone else. 

How are you all doing with NaNoWriMo this year?  Leave me a comment below!  See you next time 🙂