So, a few weeks back I sent out a Mayday call to advise that March was not going well for me. Did it get any better?
Well, not really. A lot of things went wrong, but here's three in particular for you.
1. Look away if you're eating. Actually, you might want to leave this whole post until long after dinnertime.
Last Sunday the sewage manhole in our back garden clogged, and for two days we couldn't run a shower, wash the dishes, brush our teeth or even look in the direction of a sink without summoning dark forces from the depths out to terrorise our back garden.
We were at the mercy of Scottish Water. After one day without showers we became savages, snapping at each other over dishes left unclean and snarling about who had the right to use the toilet.
Then Scottish Water finally sorted the drains and life returned to normal.
2. We gave our dog a treat. Normally, giving your dog a chew bone is a good thing, right? And he was definitely happy to have it, chewing away on it all night.
But our Labrador has a sensitive stomach, and the last few days have been a lesson is just how sensitive it is. The poorly pup has completely forgotten that the house is not for peeing in. Or puking on.
I've been dealing with his illness all day today, and after untangling his lead from a thorny bush because he got tangled up as soon as the sun went down, I experienced something akin to post natal depression: WHY COULDN'T I HAVE A DOG WHO KNEW HOW TO PEE?
Meanwhile he just stood there, tail wagging, knowing damn well that I loved his stupid face.
This is why I'm not allowed to have kids. I can't even deal with a dog acting like a toddler for two days, there's no way I'd cope with the real deal.
3. I failed at cooking an omelette. This sounds minor compared to everything else, and it is, but I messed up a friggin omelette The simplest of meals.
I THOUGHT I COULD DO IT. I THOUGHT I WAS CAPABLE.
I THOUGHT WRONG.
As a result I've given up on nutrition entirely and I'm surviving on microwavable burgers for the night.
Ah well. It'll be April in a few hours.
I've been tagged for The Next Big Thing bloghop by the very talented YA horror writer Robin Moran, whose blog you should go visit to learn about her creepy YA ghost story Lapse.
The idea of this bloghop is to highlight the writing you're currently working on, so I'm covering my Camp NaNo story about seamonsters. How excited am I to get the chance to blether on bout my work-in-progress stories? VERY. VERY EXCITED.
What is the working title of your book?
Where did the idea come from for the book?
The lovely UK publisher Fox Spirit had an open-call for short stories that was well-recommended by friend and fellow writer Rob Haines. They've currently got a submission call on for their Fox Pockets series, a series of pocket-sized books containing around a dozen short stories.
Leviathan Rises started out as a short story for their 'Under the Waves' prompt, and after it was done I still had more left to write about that world, so I kept on going...
What genre does your book fall under?
YA (Young Adult) Urban Fantasy.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I almost never cast actors for my characters, preferring to draw designs for them when I can, but for Leviathan Rises I wanted to have a strong image of my characters. The main female character came to mind relatively easy -- an older version of Amandla Stenberg, who plays Rue in The Hunger Games.
The main male character, the Leviathan in question, took a bit longer to find. I had to trawl through smartly-dressed male model images for hours. It was terrible. My life is so hard.
Eventually I found Torian, a model for Photogenics Media. Here are some images from his portfolio for your enjoyment:
What's that look for? Leviathan's get shirtless a lot. You'd be surprised.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A runaway teenage girl and a seamonster on a mission from God team up to stop the world drowning in a biblical flood.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I'm hoping my agent will enjoy it when it's done. (Fingers crossed!)
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I'm still working on it. Hoping to finish it next month during Camp NaNo. Wish me luck!
What other books would you compare this story to in your genre?
Hannah Moskowitz's "Teeth" for a similarly dark 'n gritty take on seamonsters.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
After watching Supernatural, I was unsatisfied with their take on Leviathans. Computer-generated teeth? Really? That's all you've got?
These big, biblical beasts have quite a backstory, and their lore stretches back much further than just the 'seamonster with big teeth' from the show.
When I saw the 'Under the Waves' short story prompt, I saw a chance to create my own versions of humanoid Leviathans. And so the fun began...
And now to play TAG!
I'm really tempted to just invite all The Inkbots to give this a shot, because it's fun. But to name some specific names:
It's a short read, and fairly ordinary as far as interviews go, but this line shines in it:
“If you read what teenagers write, it’s much, much darker than anything a YA [young adult] author would publish. They write hopelessness, despair, suicide, murder. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. That’s the age you’re reckoning with stuff. And I think that if you’re a YA writer who isn’t engaging with that on some level then you’re leaving them to fend for themselves.”
I write in the Young Adult genre, and there's something deeply reassuring in this quote. I'm a pretty relaxed, cheery person day-to-day, but the one common element in my writing is it always goes dark.
There's a lot of information out there about the Dos and Don'ts of writing YA, and while seasoned pros will kindly advise you that there are no rules it's hard to ignore all the well-meaning shouts of:
I was a morbid teenager, to say the least. I read dark books, watched dark movies, listened to dark music. I didn't quite reach the gloomy depths of Goth or its little sister Emo, but I definitely dipped my toes in those waters. As a writer, I want to read the sort of books teen-me would love, and I won't paint over the dark parts.
Good YA means not talking down to your readers, and as Patrick Ness says, writing out the dark parts is just another way of underestimating your reader.
I'm going to be keeping this is mind whenever I start doubting my writing.
I was wavering over whether to join Camp NaNoWriMo, a month-long NaNoWriMo running in April, until I heard the news:
They let you set a word count.
After that, I was sold. I don't want to rush 50k in one month, but I have a first draft to finish and 30k (1k a day) seems much more manageable.
So I'm set! This April, I'm taking part and writing 30k in one month -- here's my camper profile.
I'm not quite sure how this 'cabin' system works but I'd love to add blogger friends in it. Drop by with your username in a comment and I'll try to add you to my cabin group.
Social Targets: This month isn't going so well for me, for a barrel load of reasons that I'm not going to bore you with, so I'm scaling back this months targets. The aim of the game this month is to just get through it.
Also, I'll be doing lots of baking, because baking makes the world a better place.
Writing Targets: None. I'll still be writing, because I'm basically addicted now, but I'm not pushing any targets this month.
Blogging Targets: Fixed the comments, currently trying to fix the Twitter autoposts. I''ll be trying to do a review of Self-Editing for Fiction Writes and Requiem. I'm also helping out with a new group blog and I should have more news about that by the end of the month.
Art Targets: Going to try and digitally colour some of my recent sketches to help me pin down a character's design.
How's March going for everyone? If you're also having a rough time, I am here to send you sympathy by the boatload. Let's flip tables together to express our rage against this month.
Okay, this post is super-late, but here we go!
Writing Targets: Start revising the "Girls Who Fix Giant Robots" draft. Recovering from January deadlines this month so writing is a low priority. I'm planning to get in a lot of gaming and movie watching.
RESULT: I actually tried very hard not to do writing this month... but I failed and ended up starting the second draft of this WIP as well as a new project. Turns out I really hate not having something to work on.
Blogging Targets: Inspirational photos for the WIP, review of Blood Magic.
RESULT: None of that, but I took care of the sketchbook scan posts I was planning to do in January.
Art Targets: Just anything, really. Got a few ideas for character illustrations that I'd like to try and bring to life.
Social Targets: Stornoway Trip planned for February 25th - 2nd March.
RESULT: Stornoway was visited! It was nice to introduce my fiancé to the island, and to get a bit of a break.
RESULT: Read Pantomime so far, and currently beta-reading a manuscript for a friend, as well a handful of comics. Not a bad month, even if I didn't stick to my targets.
A few months back, I funded the Get Ghia to Oakland campaign to help a young artist whose work I admire get to Oakland to start working in her dream job.
It's a super cool, action-packed sketch, and I'm happy to share it here.
I absolutely love the details -- the pose, the feathers around the edges, the crosshatching and the sketchy construction lines you can see behind it.
I was experimenting when I started getting commissioned art for this story, and I wasn't quite sure if it would be as much fun as it seemed it my head... it has! I've really been loving seeing how every artist does their own spin on the character while keeping true to the reference images I provide.