November 29, 2012

Journaling, Day 29 of NaNoWriMo

Total Word Count So Far: 40,003

Yes, still behind, but catching up. All I have to do is write 10K words in two days... with one of those days being Friday, my busiest day of the week... okay, so maybe I am in trouble. But I'm not going down without a fight, so we'll see what happens.
At present my story is in complete disarray and I have absolutely no idea what's going to happen next or how it's going to end. My main character Thaddeus is currently out of commission and being nursed back to health by his wife after suffering from some pretty severe smoke inhalation. (We burned down the textile factory after we broke into it. In our defense, it was an accident.) Since he's supposed to be the main character, that leaves the story in a bit of a lurch, especially when one considers the fact that Reuben Clark, the boy Thaddeus and Fu-han are supposed to be protecting, is still missing after being kidnapped by James Wells, who we thought was a good guy but wasn't. So, Thaddeus' current state leaves Fu-han to rescue Reuben with the help of Jen Qiao, the woman who has the connection to his past that neither of them want to tell anyone about.
I'm hoping maybe they'll use the opportunity to work out some of their issues... I just hope they do it in English, since the only words I know in Chinese are their names. I suppose we'll just have to see.
So on that note, I'm off to write.
Oh - but before I forget - today is C.S. Lewis' birthday! If you're like me and woefully behind on NaNo, you probably don't have much time to spend the day celebrating the life of the man I consider one of Christianity's most influential writers (and who is my personal all-time favorite writer). But, I am going to make time today for a nice big cup of Irish Breakfast Tea and re-read a few of my favorite C.S. Lewis quotes, since I feel I would be remiss if I did nothing at all to celebrate. I'm currently reading That Hideous Strength, the third book in his Space Trilogy, for the first time too, so maybe I'll take time out from writing to read a chapter or so.

How about you? How has the life and/or work of C.S. Lewis influenced you? Do you have a favorite work or quote of his?

Share it in the comments box! And for those of you frantically struggling to catch up on and finish your NaNo... don't give up!

November 26, 2012

Journaling NaNoWriMo, Day 26

Total Word Count So Far: 31,333

Yes, I am unbelievably far behind. And it has been way too long since I've journaled, so please forgive me.
This November has turned out to be one big hectic roller coaster. In a moment of blind, rash stupidity, I decided that I needed to tear the old carpet out of my room and give the whole thing a thorough deep-clean... in November. *Note to Self: Never, ever undertake a project of this nature in the month of November again!* Then my mom got sick and was down for a few days, which left me in charge of all the normal, routine cooking and housecleaning, on top of the added work of getting ready for Thanksgiving. No sooner did Mom get well than I got sick and was down for three days, so Mom had to cook Thanksgiving dinner all by herself, while I laid on the sofa and got absolutely no writing done.
By the time I got well and was able to open up my NaNo document again, I was 12,000 words behind. Can I get caught up fast enough to still finish on time? I guess we'll see.
As for the story itself, it's taking some crazy and totally unexpected turns. I've had a bit of a hard time dealing with 'quantity over quality', but my main character Thaddeus took it upon himself to call me out into the story and give me a pep talk (yes, I am actually in a scene in the story - blue jeans and all), which helped me get back on track. That's when the surprises started showing up in the story. So far I've discovered that one of the characters, who was supposed to just be a highly annoying good guy, is actually a bad guy. Then this random Chinese girl, Jen, waltzed into the story, and apparently she and my character Fu-han have some pretty intense history that neither of them want to talk about. Thaddeus' wife and sons, who weren't supposed to be actively involved in the story at all have now been dragged out of their home and through the streets of London in the middle of the night to hide out at Jen's house where the bad guy can't find them. Thaddeus' student Cole has developed a major crush on Thaddeus' daughter Ann. At the moment, Thaddeus and Fu-han have broken into a textile factory in search of the leader of the anarchist rebellion. And I, the writer, have absolutely no idea where any of this is going.
With only four days left, though, I'm going to have to hurry and find out!

November 17, 2012

Author Interview - H.A. Titus

Back once again, with one last interview with an author from the Avenir Eclectia anthology. Today we're talking with H.A. (Heather) Titus, whom I've been blessed to have as a personal friend, cohort, and co-author on multiple projects, for several years now.

HA: Hey Mary! Thanks for inviting me over to your cyberspace home. :)
MRP: You know you’re always welcome. ; ) Let’s get started: What first brought you to the world of Avenir Eclectia and got you interested in the project?

HA: I ran across it while browsing the Splashdown Books sites. I thought it sounded like a cool Christian version of the Star Wars universe set-up, where authors all worked together to create a really cool world. Plus, I have a tendency to be wordy, and when I saw that the preferred wordcount was below 400 words, I thought it would be cool to challenge myself.

MRP: What do you consider your unique 'trademark' as a writer, and how does that come through in your Avenir Eclectia stories?

HA: I'd say my unique trademark is bringing characters out of a dark past and into an at least semi-hopeful future. Even if I don't always showcase my beliefs, I always try to bring characters to a place of hope at the end of the story arc. A lot of that comes through Pieter's past as a smuggler/his future as a flight teacher, and the orphans' future in being able to have good jobs. With Reeder, it's in his fear of the supernatural forces that his brother is a part of, and how eventually overcomes that fear.

MRP: I've had so much fun watching you explore the unique way a smuggler and a group of orphans relate to each other. Can you tell us a bit about that (your inspiration, goals, etc.)?

HA: My inspiration for Pieter was, basically, I've always wanted to write a character that is a former smuggler. Cara was inspired by the other orphans I saw in the stories. I didn't intend for them to last for longer than two or three stories, but as I figured out more about them, their story kept expanding.
I really didn't have specific goals in mind as I started writing them. I have noticed, though, that Pieter especially has expanded as a character. He goes from bored, spoiled rich kid to infamous smuggler to flight school teacher. Teaching was the last thing he ever thought he would be doing, yet he finds the most satisfaction from it. (Of course, his story doesn't end with becoming a teacher...but if I said anything more, it would be a spoiler. Can't have that!) ;) So I think my goal with him is illustrating how satisfying a simple life can be.

MRP: What do you see as the biggest advantage of a multi-author project like Avenir Eclectia?

HA: The inspiration. I always joke that I should've worked for Pixar, because the team that works on a story together always meets every morning to bat ideas around. I work the best when I get a chance to brainstorm with other creative types, and I always come away from an AE story or discussion inspired to write, whether it be for Avenir Eclectia or on one of my own projects.

MRP: The biggest disadvantage or challenge?

HA: The continuity. It's like the old saying, "Too many cooks spoil the stew." Not that I'm saying that there could be too many people involved in Avenir Eclectia. But sometimes, with multiple people writing about the same locations, it can get a little off-kilter since everyone kind of has their own perspective on things. But so far I think everyone has done a really good job at working together to keep stuff consistent.

MRP: Do you have a favorite memory or experience from the Avenir Eclectia project so far?

HA: I really, really loved reading everything that Walt Staples wrote. He had a great wit and a talent that I envied. He was one of my favorite Avenir Eclectia authors and I really miss him.
Besides that, my next favorite memory would be seeing my first fiction piece published, and seeing the first book in print with my name on the cover.

MRP: Seeing my name on the cover was a big thrill for me too, and getting to share that exciting first with a close friend just made it that much cooler! 
Can you give us any kind of hint at where your story/character arc is going from here?

HA: Pieter, Cara, Cog, and Clock will be involved with some of the creepy-crawly happenings on Avenir. Reeder, my messenger in Zirconia, actually has a lot of his story plot to go, and his story will be tied into some of the demonic-plot storylines.

MRP: Thanks again for joining us, Heather! It's always fun talking to another author, especially one who shares interest in a project I've been blessed to be a part of. ; )
HA: Thanks for having me Mary! 


Well, that about wraps up the Avenir Eclectia interviews for me. It makes me kind of sad. But, work on the shared project continues with some exciting plans for the future, and of course, the first volume is available in print on Amazon at an amazing price. So if you haven't read it by now, you've got no excuse. : P

Have a great weekend, everybody!

November 15, 2012

Author Interview - Pauline Creeden

Hello, all! I'm back again, with another interview with one of the Avenir Eclectia authors. Today we're talking with author Pauline Creeden. Thanks so much for joining us today, Pauline!

PC: Thank you for having me here Mary!

MRP: What first brought you to the world of Avenir Eclectia and got you interested in the project?
PC: My first introduction to AE was through a link posted on Facebook by fellow writer friend, H. A. Titus. She posted a story and I followed the link. After reading the short piece about a wizard making deliveries, I was intrigued by the site as a whole. I spent hours perusing the stories and history of the shared world. As can happen sometimes, a character popped in my head. She wouldn’t let me go until I’d written her first scene.
MRP: What do you consider your unique 'trademark' as a writer, and how does that come through in your Avenir Eclectia stories?
PC: Hmmm. My trademark? I like for my stories to have the feeling of both the familiar and the strange with a twist that I hope makes it original and lasts in the reader’s mind. That’s my goal anyway.

MRP: I've loved following your story arc and your character, Zana Black. Can you share a little bit about that for those who haven't read it yet?

PC: Zana Black is, of course, the character who grabbed me after reading the history of Avenir. After being grotesquely injured in a bug hunting accident, teenage Zana lost her brother as well as her left arm and leg. A scientist (Dr. Lee) found her and engineered parts to allow her to have some semblance of a normal life. The make-up of Avenir’s judicial system is that most bug hunters are criminals or low-lifes. Zana’s father was both. She grew up hating the father who left her and her brother for dead, and became a bounty hunter specifically to find and kill her father.

MRP: You've got me intrigued, and I've already read it! That must be a good sign. ; )  I'm looking forward to reading more!
What do you see as the biggest advantage of a multi-author project like Avenir Eclectia?
PC: I can take my time with the story arc and not worry about whether readers have something to read in the mean time. It’s also fun to read the way other authors are building on to the world. My favorite stories to follow so far have been Ernsto and Dressler’s arcs.

MRP: The biggest disadvantage or challenge?
PC: Because the world has so many authors working in it, an author has to keep track of the other stories in order to keep from clashing with someone else’s story line. It can be time consuming, even if it is fun.

MRP: Do you have a favorite memory or experience from the Avenir Eclectia project so far?
PC: Travis Perry has offered to collaborate with me on a story arc for Zana that includes a meet up with his character Ernsto. I’m looking forward to it, and am sure it will be an interesting learning experience.
MRP: (You can read up on Travis Perry and Ernsto in my interview with Travis, Here.)
Can you give us any kind of little hint at where your story arc is going from here?
PC: Of course, Zana will have to deal with her daddy issues. I’m hoping that there might be some sort of forgiveness in her future, and maybe she’ll learn that it’s okay to let herself be loved. She’s got a hard crust right now. I’m hoping she’ll soften up.
MRP: Thanks again so much for being with us. It's been fun!
PC: Thanks again for having me here, I hope to meet up again!


November 13, 2012

Author Interview - Jeff Chapman

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm back with some more great interviews with authors of Avenir Eclectia Volume 1, the newly-released science fiction anthology from Splashdown Books.

This time around we're chatting with author Jeff Chapman. Thanks so much for joining us today, Jeff!

JC: Thanks for inviting me, Mary.

MRP: What first brought you to the world of Avenir Eclectia and got you interested in the project?

JC: I'm friends with some of the Splashdown authors. I learned about the project when I followed links to their stories. I don't usually read much science fiction but the stories were fascinating and the world so varied and full of potential.

MRP: What do you consider your unique 'trademark' as a writer, and how does that show itself in your Avenir Eclectia stories?

JC: I like to write about characters who aren't certain about their beliefs or the decisions they make. The consequences of those decisions likely won't play out as they hope or expect. I also love tragedy, so while a few of my stories will end happily, most will have a more ambiguous ending. 

MRP: The stories you've written for Avenir Eclectia often deal with complicated issues of right versus wrong. Can you tell us a bit about that?

JC: When Elihu discovers the hermit's cache of coins, he has to decide between honoring the dying man's property or the good that Elihu could do for his impoverished community with the money. He's not happy with his decision, but the right choice doesn't always bring us immediate joy.

"A Creature of Words" comes down to a moral decision on the part of the fish. She decides to abort her attack on the human diver not because she's having trouble sawing through his dive suit armor but because she realizes he has language like the angels. Her morality forbids eating a creature with words.

MRP: What do you see as the biggest advantage of a multi-author project like Avenir Eclectia?

JC: I particularly like the sharing of characters between multiple authors that allow various story arcs to interact. We see familiar characters from a new perspective and the stories no longer appear as single threads going off in their own directions but as different colored threads woven together. I've consciously tried to tie my story arcs into those of other writers. My stories "A Fortuitous Stumble," "Shelter from the Storm," and "The Hermit's Cache," for instance, borrow the character Elihu Simmons--a bug-hunter and pastor--from stories that Travis Perry wrote. Of course it's polite to ask permission to borrow characters and let the other writer see what you're doing with them. This is great for building friendships and relations with other writers.

The stories from others are expanding and filling in the Avenir Eclectia world and each addition can spark your imagination in a new direction.

MRP: The biggest disadvantage or challenge?

JC: The flip side is that it can be hard to keep up with what's happening in the story world. You don't want to be caught writing about something that can no longer happen. I think Grace is doing an admirable job keeping a watchful eye on all the story threads.

MRP: Do you have a favorite memory or experience from the Avenir Eclectia project so far?

JC: My first story "A Creature of Words" is from the point of view of a fish, albeit an intelligent fish. I wasn't sure if this would fly, so I was elated when Grace accepted it.

MRP: Can you give us any kind of hint at where your story/character arc is going from here?

JC: The stories about the hermit that Elihu discovered in a cave will follow the hermit to the The Abbey of Francis and Lazarus House located on the asteroid Assisi. We'll find out who the hermit is and what's in his cryptic book. The contents of that book will create a profound personal crisis for one of the monks

MRP: Is there anything else you'd like to add or share?

JC: I'm looking forward to writing more Avenir Eclectia stories. I have the hermit thread which I see going on for quite some time and a new thread about a couple bug hunters. I hope to get back to the fish as well.

Thanks so much for hanging out with us here at the Writer's Lair, Jeff!


Remember, the AE anthology is available on Amazon for $5.98, plus it's eligible for Amazon's 4-for-3 promotion. So don't just order one for yourself; it would make a perfect gift for the sci-fi reader on your Christmas list, too. ; ) Click Here to order it from Amazon.

November 12, 2012

Journaling, Day 12 of NaNoWriMo

Total Word Count so far: 13,304

Yes, I'm already a few days behind. I had a bit of a crazy weekend, and time change really threw me for a loop this time around, which doesn't usually happen. Plus I've had a really hard time getting into this story for some reason. Of course, that could be due to the fact that the story idea was only two weeks old when NaNo started... not the greatest plan I've ever had... but I've ironed out some issues and I think this week I should be able to get caught up. Maybe I can even start building up some cushioning so I don't get behind again over Thanksgiving. (Whose crazy idea was it to put a national holiday right in the middle of NaNo, anyway?)
I realized that my main character, Thaddeus, had no character arc, and that that was part of what was creating so much drag in the story's flow. So I've figured out what his arc is, and I think it's starting to streamline things a little more. That being said, I should probably get off the internet and go write. I have a lot of ground to gain!
One last thing: since life does seem to go on outside of NaNo (It's a wild idea, I know, but hey--they laughed at Copernicus, too.), I've got a few more interviews with authors from the Avenir Eclectia anthology that I'll be posting later this week, so be sure to watch for those!

How is NaNoWriMo going for the rest of you (whether you're writing or not - you still have to live through November)?