The Gillion

I’ve been posting a lot of poetry but I’m also working on a young adult dark high fantasy novel. Here’s a bit of the pitch for it. Down below you’ll see the poem I wrote in college. The poem informed the flash fiction that is becoming the novel. Would you want to read this?

Pitch:

Death rolls over the mind, a lingering pain as dreams are slowly devoured. Mint scorches the air. A boy screams. Still, an ever persistent hunger lingers. Always so empty. Always alone. A mother walks into a room and sees a creature with glowing blue eyes leaning over her son. Sixteen-year-old Aarya wakes up screaming. Nightmares. The creature disappears. Days later, the boy dies. It wasn’t just a dream; it was the first of many deaths.

Poem:

I wrote this at least six years ago. It is the inspiration for my novel but is quite different in how everything works. However, I felt this would be fun to post and share with everyone.

The Gillion

The trees shook and shivered as the moon rose to its zenith
The felines hissed and canines barked voices raised in fear
People ducked inside as the rain cascaded down
And a jackal’s woeful cries echoed in my ear

The moon screamed once as a shadow took its glow
The stars hid and whispered as their master stole their light
You might ignore the cats, and tell the dogs to shush
But when the sky goes black turn in for the night

I’m sure you’re wondering, what caused this scene to peak
What caused the barks and meows, and made the moon go out
Have you heard of the Gillion, monsters of the sky
Who swoop and dive and strike when the darkness is about

The Gillion are the remnants of those forbidden dreams
Phantasms of a world of darkness and spite
Where dreamers are forbidden and children are concealed
And death is dealt quickly for each imagined slight

They always find our world a most pleasant place to feed
Culling out dreams burned with incandescent light
They cross at new moon to hunt as we dream
Of futures and fancies and the next day’s delight

Their long midnight tails pull the thoughts from our minds
They then tie them and bind them and lock them away
They feed on our hopes and devour our dreams
Until our dreams are but shards in thoughtless disarray

They say the summer sun will scare them away
And when soundly sleeping they’ll ignore our beds
They claim that a child can slay them from the sky
But that battle must be fought where only dreamers tread

Many weeks have passed since I was called to war
The felines hissed and canines barked warning all to hide
The trees shook and shivered as the moon hid away
That night I fought a Gillion and watched two worlds collide

He hunted me all night, my dreams an eerie call
I laughed as I hid preparing to do war
He finally caught my dreams and drug me to his side
I swooped and dived and then let out a mighty roar

I twisted from his grasp and grabbed my deepest dream
I focused deep inside and stuck a mighty hit
The brawl was long and fearsome but victory was mine
And down fell a Gillion made to finally submit

No more will we fear, the Gillion’s midnight romps
They no longer cross the border at the jackal’s woeful call
Fear not, my friends, a Gillion was destroyed by my blow
And at last he released dreams stolen from us all

Queries, Novels, and Sequels…

I’ve nearly finished my first novel. Two friends and looking it over for any remaining grammatical uncertainties or any story issues. For better or for worse I’ve finished a query letter and a synopsis. I have a “submission package” document ready to go. To wrap this novel up I just need to look through the edits once they’re sent back and start the query process. Over the last months I’ve taken some time off of writing stories and worked on the submission documents. Anyone who tells you writing a query or synopsis is easy is lying. Or, at least in my case they are. I found creating these documents really difficult.  The multiple POV issue didn’t help! Which stories and intrinsic? What can be left out? What are preconceptions a reader might have? So much to juggle and think about…. ugh.

A few weeks ago I started outlining the sequel.  I’m using Scrivener to outline this novel. That’s something I didn’t do for the first and in hindsight I regret.  That being said, I don’t know if I would have known how to outline a novel. I never did it for papers in school so I think I needed to work through the process. For my first novel I shot from the hip and had to rewrite and reorganize. I had to create an ending, to revamp the middle, to cut and rewrite thousands of words. I want this to be more focused. I want to do half my brainstorming up front. Then, I want to hide and to write. I want to return to Agrini and my lords and ladies. I want to watch characters fall in and out of love, to see the machinations of gods and goddesses, kings and paupers, come to fruition or fail. The Shadow of the Labyrinth (oooh! title perhaps?)  is going to cover this novel. Sebelina will be stronger than in the first novel, she will rise, get knocked down, and come back all the better.

And now, a bit about our antagonist Edric and his first taste of magic from his sorceress Shira:

Shira’s already pale skin shone white as pulse after pulse of red energy shimmered down the ribbons, circling her flesh, and then reaching out toward him. He gasped, his own pale flesh stained red from the scalding touch of magic burning its way up his arm. After long moments of agony, the pain faded and he began to feel stronger, better, more. He could think of no other word. He could scarcely think. He was more.

Anyone else struggle with query or synopsis? How about a title for your novel? Do you outline or shoot from the hip?

Transported

Every time I sit down to write I’m transported into a world that I’ve created. For those minutes (sometimes hours) I allow myself to be swept away be an imaginary character I’ve created. Along with the joy of spending time with these friends and enemies, is a sense of responsibility to find and tell their stories.

My current story is older YA. A person at a writing group asked if I ever considered writing an adult story. My mind strayed to the unfinished manuscript I have saved to my computer. That story is 100,000 words that never quite became a full story, which never built a grand arc of tension, and which will eventually require massive rewriting.

I told him I had and mentioned the other story. It’s adult fantasy with sinister villains, sword fights, sex, magic, and death.  At some point I’ll finish that story. But for now? Now, I’m enjoying the world of monsters and teenage angst.

What genre and age range do you write and why are you drawn to it? Answer in the comments!

Tension and Contests

I might not have posted since October, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been writing. In February I entered a flash fiction writing contest. It’s the first contest I’ve ever entered and I’m nervously/excitedly waiting for feedback from the judges. Women on Writing (wow-womenonwriting.com) hosts quarterly contests, the entry fee is only $10 to cover their costs and prizes. You can also buy a critique of the story which is another $10. So, for a grand total of $20 I’ll get feedback on my story and it’s entered in a contest.

In other writing news, I put my rough draft fantasy novel on the shelf and I am expanding the flash fiction story into something longer. I’m not sure how that’s going to change the story but it has psychological thriller tension that I’m cautiously outlining. I’m nervous about getting too hopeful because I’ve had issues with tension throughout an entire story before. It seems to be going well so here’s hoping.

When you write tension how do you track it?  I’m working with outlines but I’ve heard about people using spreadsheets and sticky notes. What works for you?

Friday Morning Ramble

When you read do you see a video playing in front of you? For better or for worse, I do.  I also fall asleep telling myself stories and watching these scenes.  Somewhere between awake and asleep is often where I fix troubled parts of my story, once the scene is clear in my mind I can write it.

How about writing, when you write what do you see then?  It’s more difficult to craft these scenes (some days I’d rather just read a great scene!)  Layer by layer a moment in a scene is built: the visuals, the sound, the texture, voices, smells, even taste can become important elements.  Some of this has been written in the first draft and some was left out.

When I’m in need of texture I walk around my apartment touching walls, wood, and other items.  I think about them, feel them, and then I write the object I need in my scene (sometimes nothing like the item I studied, but studying a single item helps my mind begin working through texture).

Happy Friday Everyone!

Finding your writing voice: putting black ink on a white page.

I write one word at a time and to be even more technical, a letter at a time.  I know, I know, how does that help?  It’s all about voice, finding your voice as a writer and finding the voice of each individual character.  A friend admitted to me today that he didn’t like my writing when he first read it; he said it was too choppy.  Now he says he finds the same scenes compelling.  I shot back that it might have been helpful to know there were problems with my writing to begin with!  Of course, I had no objectivity when I started my novel.  It was the beginning of November and NaNaWriMo was expecting me to hit 1667 word a day – a day!  I did (and then some).  The result?   A semi-completed novel of more than 50,000 words that was in desperate need of editing and re-examination and plot and character development (the list goes on) AND an individual who wanted nothing more than to continue writing and improving her story.  Overall? a complete win.

I hardly recognize a lot of the words I wrote just a few months ago.  I sit back reading and changing them on a daily basis.  Sure, they’re on the page, which of course is the first critical step.  However, they lack polish and they lack voice.  I’m don’t just mean accent, but the  phrases, meanings, colloquialisms and feel all need to ring true.  This is actually difficult because while my world is relatively high fantasy the language used intentionally has (a few) swear words in it but is also linguistically high fantasy in spots.  Yes, you read correctly, my protagonist swears (I like her better because of it).  But, finding the balance in tone is difficult.  It takes work and honest feedback from readers.

In order to achieve this I take the advice of those smarter than I am, many of those I read have emphasized the importance of writing every day and so I try to write a little each morning and evening.  However, finding time to write can be exhausting.  I wake up a little earlier in the morning and start typing away.  Depending on how many times I hit the snooze button I get between 30 and 60 minutes to dedicate to writing.  Then I write when I get home in the evenings.  This part is tricky because I often need time to decompress from work and that inevitably involves the internet.  And, what starts happening when you surf the internet?  You don’t want to stop surfing the internet.  Some days I’m successful in focusing on writing, sometimes I’m not.

When do you write and how are you developing your tone?  Have any ticks you want to share? I find having a well-developed world and character are an important place to start.  Write your character by herself and figure out how she thinks, feels, and reacts.  Who knows, you might use it elsewhere.

Critiquing the Critique

A big hello to any of the Monkeys with Red Pens – that’s the critique group I spent two hours with this evening.  We meet at the Bayou Bakery, great coffee!  Saying that, I am not a habitual coffee drinker but it was completely necessary today (lots going on at work).  There were five individuals at the meeting who commented on my 11,000 word submission from two weeks ago.  Did I mention I was nervous?  Because I was, complete with a fluttering stomach and jittering legs.  On second thought, the jitters might have been because of the coffee – perhaps a nervous moment is not a good time to inhale a caffeinated beverage.

We started with another writers work, I really enjoyed reading it.  More modern than what I write but very interesting.  We had a great discussion about the characters and their motivations.  Then the pause as we watch the camera zoom in.  There I sit, empty coffee cup in hand, wondering “what did they think?”  A momentary pause, I wait with bated breath.  Remember that heart and head I handed them?  Well, thankfully they left the guillotine at home.

Over all the feedback was very helpful.  Nothing to worry about!  I have some great ideas stemming from the conversation on what to watch out for within my writing.  Apparently a few words I use are a little jarring, which is a fair observation.   There were a lot more conversations which occurred and I enjoyed listening to everyone discuss what they thought was going on.  I have to clarify my religions in my writing.  There’s so much to get across that I held back a little too much there.  I’ll have to evaluate the scenes and find a place to enhance the description.  If you want instant motivation find a critique group.

What makes a critique helpful to you?  What do you like in Critter and what is unhelpful? Image

­­­­­­­­