Chapter Endings and Cliff-Hangers

It’s been a while since I’ve written here. To do a brief catch-up, I am doing camp NaNoWriMo this month, and my novel is titled, for now, Three Ways to Death. It’s about an assassin person who is sent to retrieve a deadly weapon from inside the minds of three comatose people. (I know, it probably sounds like Inception, but I actually have more of Interstellar on my playlist)

I haven’t been very easily inspired to write here, and I especially like it when I can write about some curiosity in writing that I feel like talking about. And I have just run into one, and so I gladly took the chance to write here, sense I’ve been wanting to do another post, but I’ve been unable to come up with something to write that I would be interested in reading.

I was just finishing my first chapter (a bit later than I liked) at the point when my character was going to go into the shared mind of the three people. I came to an interesting dilemma of how to end the chapter. Actually it wasn’t a dilemma, because I had automatically wanted to end the chapter when he left the real world, and before he was going to enter the ‘dream’ world. However, here is where I could have easily ended the chapter:

“Are you all ready?”

“You tell me,” Anear said. He then suddenly asked, “What can I expect to find when I get there? Will I actually see and communicate with Proven, Kindle and Merrick?”

“I really don’t know. Alright, if you’re ready…” she started typing on a keyboard.

Anear clenched his jaw, and closed his eye, uncertain of what to expect.

“I’m switching you over,” she said, hesitantly.

Anear heard a final button pushed and then all reality seemed to change.

The chapter could have ended here, creating a nice finish in itself. You’re left wondering what ‘reality’ will change to and what will happen next.

However, after I’d considered ending the chapter here, I decided that it didn’t actually create the tension I wanted. For one thing, it is already technically known what’s going to happen next- there can’t be that many options when you go into a shared brain thing (speaking in science-fiction terms, of course). There was also the fact that it sounded too much like many of my other chapter endings. (also, being the writer, I knew there was a twist coming later on, when the chapter would begin as I planned)

So, I went ahead and continued the chapter, finishing with:

He had experienced such a thing once, a long time ago, when he was a kid and had fallen from his family home’s balcony. When he’d woken, for several minutes nothing had made any sense; he didn’t know who or where he was and the world didn’t seem real. It was like that, only it had occurred all at once.

What followed next was the world fell away, and a drowsiness came over him that was so powerful and unexpected that he gave into it immediately.

The blackness that came afterwards was of kind unlike even the deepest sleep. There was complete nothingness with no thought. It lasted to the point that Anear could’ve been dead.

Then Anear got past the blackness, and he found himself in a different place.

Now, I’m not actually sure if it creates the same tension the other ending would have had. Finishing with a statement that Anear was in a different place is a little obvious- after all, what else would you expect? But I feel that it doesn’t expect the reader to be amazed at the change. By adding this, I have got the reader past the ‘cliff-hanger’ and now on a comfortable ledge; I’ve gone further by introducing the fact that, at the very beginning of the next chapter, he will be elsewhere. And, though I haven’t said it, the blackness is compared to being deeper than sleep, practically death, and then Anear got somewhere beyond that deathlike nothingness.

The question is now, is beginning the chapter with:

He looked around, and saw that there was a vast, stormy sea around him. It seemed to be sunset, and the light was spreading all across the sky, great powerful clouds alight in orange, deep gray and pink that seemed almost to reach the sea.

– a disappointment, or is it a good disappointment, making the reader want to go on and understand what’s happening?

A Different Side to My Life

Well, Camp NaNoWriMo is over, which actually means a lot of things. First of all, I made my goal for my story, which is technically not much of an accomplishment. I had to reduce the word count by 10,000 because I wasn’t going to make it (in other words I cheated) and I didn’t finish my story (not a first-time). Hopefully I’ll go on with it too, because I was enjoying it, even if it’s a pretty tough exercise. I write science-fiction, that’s where I’m comfortable. So, I decided to write a fairy tale, and I’m really enjoying it, but- wow- it is a change!

Now, the significance of Camp NaNo ending is that writing is a big part of my life and, I hope, some day, it will be a career, which is why I was not working on a different side of my life until April was over. Now, I will be concentrating on the other side of my life for a while, and hopefully that won’t let me stop my writing of Ion’s Way– my latest story.

Now, I’ve already given a slight introduction to the other side of my life- that is my Etsy shop. I’m taking my sewing career very seriously- really, I am, even if there are only about 4 things on my shop!

One of the things I’ve had to put off until now is a blog that I am co-writing with my sisters, who also have Etsy shops. This blog, entitled Ribbons in Our Hair, will be focusing more upon our Etsy life, our creative endeavors and probably everything else. I’m definitely hoping to be able to get to know some of the people I hope to sell to, and talk more in detail about what I make!

So please go ahead and check it out! And, especially if you know anyone who’s interested, tell them about it!

Here’s a link to our blog:

And, just in case anyone is interested in checking out our individual Etsy shops, here is my elder sister (Abigail’s) Etsy shop:

My other sister (Hannah) Etsy shop:

And my own Etsy shop:

Have fun looking around!

April Camp NaNoWriMo Novel

And here it is again! A lot has happened this year, so it’s kind of strange to think that April Camp NaNo is back again! I have very fond memories of the last one, and I am more or less hopeful for the novel I wrote last year- except it needs massive editing- up until we found out my Dad had lost his job. Now that novel seems strangely ironic, sense a part of the storyline is about the end of the world and trying to avoid it- and that’s what most of this last year has felt like.

But that’s a different story- literally. Now, as of about a week, my Dad has a job and life is- what it always is: exciting. So, last year my novel was strangely ironic in being about the end of the world- when a part of our world seemed to end. And this year my novel is about hope after the end of something wonderful, ironically similar to our situation now. It’s totally accidental- well, okay, it’s technically a stretch to say either novels are similar to my life, but it’s kind of interpretation.

I wasn’t sure what to write for Camp NaNo, especially sense I’m used to being able to at least think about it a month before it happens, and prepare for it fully. I normally have a playlist ready, my page up, a synopsis written, a few characters (especially the main character) figured out, maybe some scenes practically written, etc. But not this time. I practically don’t have anything, I only just figured out my main character’s name, I do have some inspirational photos and I’ll hopefully work on a playlist (a very important part) tomorrow.

But I am doing Camp NaNo! And, fortunately, I know what I want. I figured out what I wanted to write based on my life a couple of weeks ago, but I think it should still apply. I want something I will enjoy writing! Something that’s fun and will be challenge, of a different kind than I usually try. I am going to write a fairytale- and that’s about as much as I can say.

Well, okay, I can tell you my story is set in beautiful mountains and forests with a lost kingdom and wandering people and a big hill and a magical room. My main character’s name is Ion, a boy of 12 at the most. I suddenly realized that I’ve never written a story (of much consequence) with a child as a main character, so I’m going to give it a try, and this is one of my challenges, as well as the fantasy setting rather than my usual science-fiction. My story is titled Ion’s Way which refers to a passage of land that Ion’s family inherited

As to how much fantasy it is: no unicorns or wizards, though possibly the suggestion of fairies. Certainly, the world will be a little more fantastic and unlike anything that could have technically existed. (here I must apologize to my sister. She’s complained of many medieval stories existing in a world without the church history, which is quite inaccurate. Well, I’m not the person to do it! That would mean much more research, which I wouldn’t mind but can’t manage now. So, the world will have to do with a bit more of the fantastic)

Most importantly, in preparation for my story, I am reading lots of the best fantasy. E Nesbitt, Magarey Allingham, various wonderful poems (mostly Robert Louis Stevenson) and George MacDonald. So far it’s wonderful, but we’ll see if I manage to make it through the month without bringing in someone that’s time traveling!

Much luck to all my fellow Campers! I’d love to hear what everyone is going to write!

Trying to Make it Work

So –  I was looking over my posts so far and I have a couple of drafts that I haven’t published. One was a post I was supposed to publish before NaNoWriMo, in preparation for it, and there’s this one. Here’s how I started it out: “Something interesting happened today. I was looking over a post I hadn’t published yet. Apparently it was from before I’d had a brainstorm of brilliance.”

First of all, apparently I have a problem with unpublished posts. Secondly, I wasn’t sure what I was talking about in the first paragraph of this post. I remember now, and now I have 2 options for the topic. I don’t want to just delete this post- waste not, I suppose, so I think I’ll just do both topics.

Topic 1, the idea I came up with upon rereading my paragraph and- for a moment- having no idea what it meant: In writing, one can easily leave off on a sentence that, upon returning to your work, will make absolutely no sense, as was my case when I read the unpublished post. What brilliant brainstorm was I talking about- and why in the world did I decide to stop writing after making a conceited comment like that? The answer to that question is that I simply lost interest, but that’s besides the point.

What do you do when you get back to whatever you’re reading, and the last thing you wrote doesn’t make any sense? The easy thing to do is to just get rid of it, but somehow that feels wrong. Waste not, I guess. The best thing to do, I think, is to simply go with whatever new topic comes up in your head and write about that instead, as I am doing in this case.

I’m pretty sure this is the ‘Panster’ way of writing, where you come up with a basic plot and then just write it and come up with things as you go. I’m starting to realize that I do this quite a lot! Half of the story I just finished writing this November was stuff I had no idea I’d be writing, and some of it I wrote simply because I felt like it. (technically I’m not sure that’s a good thing, but it’s fun) It’s very interesting, because sometimes it can take your story in a totally different direction with your characters doing totally different things than you ever thought possible!

Topic 2, the original topic for this post (which I should’ve done first because now I don’t remember it again. In a second I will remember it again… it’s coming….):

Oh yes! I apparently mentioned that my storylines, the ‘present day’ in my story, and the part where they go the past, which is Civil War era, do not match. Everything’s a blur, so I don’t remember if I actually did say that here. To recap: at the beginning of my story the storyline that’s going on in ‘present’ day (which is actually some time in the future) is more fitting to the Revolutionary War, where a group of people are trying to break away from a tyrannical authority. In the past storyline, obviously it’s about two groups of people disagreeing over several various matters. It did bug me that they didn’t match, and so I couldn’t do parallels.

Well, in an interesting twist, it turned out they did match. And actually the two possible topics for this post also match up, because in this case, I was happily writing along in my usual I-don’t-technically-know-where-I’m-going/Panster way, when I discovered a way to make the two storylines coincide. It is amazing when this happens because it doesn’t seem possible (actually I think one’s subconscious brain is aware of the connections and that’s how you eventually get there. It’s the only thing that makes sense).

So, I’m not exactly sure where I was going to go with that topic, because it sort of seems to leave my readers in the middle of dull field with no way to get back. One should usually lead one’s readers back to somewhere interesting so they don’t have to leave the page feeling- odd, like they took two steps with their left foot. I guess, what I should say is that one should try writing Panster way, because often one actually does know where you’re going, even if it doesn’t seem like it.

At the same time, you really need to control your plot twists! I had so many there at the end that it was getting ridiculous, and it was all going to blow up anyway! I didn’t do one plot twists, but my story really needs to be cleaned up a bit.

(from this point onwards I digress because it’s been a long day and I’m tired, so don’t bother reading if you don’t like digression)

So, there you go. I’ve taken care of one unpublished post. I still haven’t figured out what happened to the first part of my bloopers (not that it’s important. For some reason my type of sense of humor delights in very strange mistakes, like bloopers). I need to figure out if it’s possible to create an actual page where I can talk about music, where you can add separate posts- or is that what the categories are for? I like things filed away properly (not that I’m organized at all) rather than all piled up together.

The Drifter — Reflections

Well, I am done with my Drifter trilogy, which, of course, is not technically of much significance to anyone but myself. If I had the 1st of the 3 stories published- that might be different. But no matter what, it was a huge step for me, because- in a way- this was the first story I took seriously. It’s the first story I imagined myself publishing, not because I think it’s good enough (for some reason I’m constantly finding problems with it, even if I can’t figure out precisely what those problems are) but because I just kind of aimed that direction more than usual.

I researched the Civil War for this story, I looked into a few different kinds of diseases, I read old stories I normally wouldn’t bother with, I studied PTSD (am still studying!) as well as numerous other, small things that have changed and affected my life more than normally.

Now, of course, I know about these things, I will have to put them into other stories. I may even go on with Mark Kingston’s story, if I can figure out enough reason to do that. In another story I’ve already invented a machine that helps retrieve memories, often helping in cases involving someone with PTSD- though I don’t know if that would actually help!

Anyway, yes I am done with the Drifter trilogy. Of course I’ll have to edit and probably change a lot of things (adding about 2 weeks to one story, due to a sickness that takes much longer to develop than I had them there!) but editing is just not the same as creating! I’ve already gone on the journey, now I have to look over the photos I’ve taken and choose what I want to remember from the journey, and what needs to go.

I had a misty forest as my background during the last of November and I would gaze for a long time into the distance of the forest, thinking about my story- and wondering why I was thinking about my story. I don’t have misty forests in my story, especially not this one- just smoky forests if anything. Then I finally figured out why I’d think about my story (and it very well may be the reason why I think about it, though it took me a moment to fix up the beautiful idea)

I was standing in the misty forest- a beautiful forest- and I was watching as my story was swallowed up by the distant mist, being shrouded behind all the other ideas that will come up in my head that will eventually form to become a new story. Other stories have sunk into that mist until I can’t see anything of them.

I don’t know if this story will fall back into the formless gray- until even the outline is indiscernible. I never do know what will happen to my stories, either the good or the bad, the favorite or the much-avoided. In a way, it’s much the same as the last scene in my story- where my main characters are in a burning building, having accomplished their task, they think they’re going to die, and actually I don’t know if they do or not.

So there I was, listening to the playlist for my story on the second to the last day of NaNoWriMo, when I suddenly realized that I’d come to the end of the Drifter’s story. I wondered about all sorts of things- mostly: why did I call it Drifter when I almost never refer to that name in my stories? I think it’s actually more of a state of mind that I’m talking about, rather than I title.

But I did start to wonder if this story would sink to the background as many have done before- even when I thought they were so important I would never even come up with a new story (yeah right). As usual I wondered how I could possibly forget about this story- as I’ve done several times before.

Fortunately I don’t think that will happen. After all, I have to use what I know about the Civil War and PTSD. That’s not quite the same as the storyline itself, but I don’t think I can forget this easily.

And then there are the things that you don’t expect to change you. Like Mark Kingston. He’s a pretty normal guy that I don’t even like that much, and yet I think he’s the type of character I can’t get away from easily. It will be a while before I can let him fade in the mist, which may prove problematic for my other characters!

Yes, the Drifter’s story is done for now, except for editing, and I don’t know what’s ahead for me in the forest. I admit it, it’s scary. I’m a hopeful person and I can almost always say in this sort of situation that there’s still more ahead, which is true- the adventure is still coming- but sometimes I just need to stop and know that what’s behind me is something I’ve been working on for several years, something that was a part of my life for a long time- and still will be. It’s behind me, I can’t go back- the Drifter’s story is done.

Further Bloopers…

In case you’re wondering, the title of this post was given it because I had a post that was scheduled to come up on the 1st of December. For some reason it hasn’t shown up, much to my disappointment because it had some fun stuff on it.

The explanation of this post is that one often makes mistakes on one’s story- naturally- and now I can publish my bloopers! So here are the ones that aren’t missing (maybe it will show up next year)

Mark stopped strubbling…”

I wasn’t paying attention to the screen. (I’m pretty sure strubbling is walking through slush)

“… Throughing him to the ground…”

Same problem

“… without the air being sucked out of my lunch.”

It was supposed to be lungs.

Context: the scene is from Mark Kingston’s perspective: “But the only reason why he thought about this- the last thing he’d heard Mark say…

I’m wondering if Mark has a problem with split personality as well as PTSD!

… He wanted to slow or stop Shelby from making a movie he disagreed with.”

It was supposed to be move.

… That snot a solution.”

Originally it was supposed to be: That’s not a solution, but I’m apparently writing the 4 year old boy version here.

“… making everyone reacted…”

I wrote the sentence at two different times. Not a good idea!


Acceptance Speech Time!

Well, I made it! 50,000! Actually I made it on Wednesday night, and then I realized I should say something about it- and then I came up with something bigger to do, sense it was just recently Thanksgiving and I realized how many things have helped me in this story. So I’ll go ahead and do something Oscar acceptance speech-style.

*hysterical giggles* First of all I’d like to thank the brilliant minds behind Nation Novel Writing Month! *gasp* Without you I probably wouldn’t have written numerous novels, including this novel. You’re the best!

*talking very quickly* I would also like to thank all my family for their patience with me and willingness to let us do this crazy trial! We wouldn’t have made it this far without you! (of course I need to make sure they take a look at this post) Thank you, Daddy, for letting me use your laptop so much! *wiping away a tear or two*

I would like to thank Hans Zimmer, Steve Jablonsky, *gasp* David Crowder Band, Newsboys, Jars of Clay and so many others for creating music that inspires me and helps me to write. So many scenes and emotions were inspired by your creations!

*starting to feel like I’ve been onstage too long but I must write this!* *Shaky voice* And there are so, so many other people that helped in the creating of this story- Shelby Foote and many other people who wrote about PTSD, as well as the veterans who were willing to speak about their struggles. You made my story real.

And last but far from least (in fact the inspiration for this idea) I must thank Doctor Who for the many years’ worth of timey-wimey training to help me figure out the timey-wimey stuff in my stories. With that training, so many plot holes have been mended, so many plots have been born and- most likely- so many possible readers will be totally confused! But I couldn’t have done it without you, Doctor Who. Most of my stories probably wouldn’t have existed if it wasn’t for you (and therefore I might’ve written much likelier, sensible stuff) (Douglas Adams, I still can’t match your wit. The world won’t know a genius like you again. RIP)

Thank you! Thank you, so much! Thank you again! *gasp and sob. Stumble off stage*

Now I just need to finish my story!

(In writing this, I must also remember the people who may not make it. They still can! There’s another day! My sisters are writing amazingly and their stories sound fantastic! You are doing a great job- this goes for all the people doing NaNoWriMo who might not make 50,000.

It is so not right when Word decides to have problems with your document so about 1,000 words are lost when you’re at the end of November!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Believe me, sister dear, millions of NaNoWriMo-ers feel great sympathy for you! Many prayers and wishes that your story gets pulled up again successfully! You- and it- deserve it!)

The Small Problems with Writing

If anyone knows about NaNoWriMo, you know you shouldn’t be slowed down by any problem- ask questions later, edit when you’re done and put in even the inexplicable things. But of course that’s not possible. There’s always a part of the Inner Editor that you can’t shut off- some part of you wondering if you need to rewrite that part, if it makes sense, if you can find a better word for it.

Sigh- the issues of writing.

Well, today I came to one of those parts in my story. It wasn’t the worst kind of problem, when I know I am going to get rid of it later on. It was just one of those awkward moments that my fellow writing sisters and I have a problem with. Fight scenes.

They can be incredibly difficult to write, not to mention slow, because you have to figure out how your characters will react and what they will do! Fortunately this was just a scuffle, not an all out fight with blood and bruises (certainly no gore. I don’t have any ninjas)

Now, the worst kind of fight scene is when you have to describe everything in a very physical way, using words like: abdomen, chest, ‘foot pressed on his neck’, strangling, ‘gasping for air until he was bright red’, and all sorts of other things like that. It’s embarrassing, actually- especially when the writer is not a physical, masculine hero (which is the case for me). Fortunately you just have to state the facts and leave it at that- get it over with. But the other problem with that way of writing a fight scene is that I find it usually doesn’t keep me interested. I am being given a scene to picture in my head but I don’t feel it.

So, here’s a paragraph I wrote, written the physical way:

“The man paused and then threw a hard punch against Mark’s jaw that knocked a tooth loose. He was thrown against the wall, hitting his head and shoulder. The force caused him to stumble a little but he caught his balance and started toward the man, his hands outreached, ready to find the man’s throat or else just tackle him, but the gun was in his face before he could get further.”

Okay, I exaggerated it a bit, but it’s very easy to do when you write a fight scene this way.

And this is the way I used, which didn’t exactly feel like a fight scene, it didn’t have the same action, but it implied more emotion- which is important in this scene- as well as bringing in a little bit of the ever-present PTSD which my character is dealing with (and hopefully it makes sense!). It’s the emotion version:

“The man waited a second, and then quickly struck Mark so that he was knocked against the wall. He recovered and was about to return the attack, sensing only that upon being attacked he needed to attack back before it was too late, but the gun checked his action and he drew back again.”

I think I’ll stick with this version.

another interesting problem I came upon in that scene, moments earlier. Trying to find the right word can be problematic. In this instance the guard that attacks Mark is surprised when a prisoner vanishes (literally)

Here’s the sentence:

“Shut up!” The guard barked, clearly ________.” and that word was what caught me up for a while- besides texting 4 different people at the same time. You need the right word, because some times the wrong word can slow it down, oddly enough. Plus, in this situation it was a very specific reaction. The man is surprised, feels like he should be in control (having a gun), panicking, aggressive. So what is that word? I thought of consternated, dismayed, aggressive, shocked but none of them really work because they don’t feel right.

Well, for the moment I’ll go with consternated, but I’m not happy.

oh well. Time to ignore the Inner Editor and go back to the Word War I started a half hour ago.

A Horror Story for the NaNoWriMo-ers and All Authors

Something came to mind as I was about to start writing, and I thought I should let everyone know about it. At first I thought it would be good for just writers, but actually a lot of what people do can be effected by mistakes like the one I made.

On Thanksgiving day a couple years ago (yes, it is possible to write on Thanksgiving) I was using my sister’s laptop to write on and my story was on my thumb-drive. As I was pulling myself out of my couch (which likes to eat people slightly) the laptop slipped from my hands and my thumb-drive was broken. Fortunately the laptop was OK, but several stories I had been working on, including my first NaNoWriMo novel- a sentimental favorite and turning point in my writing- were lost. Fortunately the novel I was working on that year was up and so it was OK, and actually my sister may be able to retrieve the other documents (I’m kind of confused about that).

The main tragedy of the event was that I’d lost my other stories- I mean, I hadn’t backed them up somewhere else, even though I had had plenty of time, I just didn’t think it was necessary. It is necessary though! So always, always remember to back up your work onto something else, maybe even several other places!

If you know someone, maybe doing NaNoWriMo, and they never pay attention to the ‘back-up your novel day’, please tell them about this or show them this post. It is very important. (actually I’ve forgotten to back-up what I’ve done so far too. oops)

NaNoWriMo Pep Talk (keeping in mind that I am also doing NaNoWriMo, so I need to get to writing)

And here is my own pep talk:

Did your character just jump off the roller coaster that was going at a 100 mps and turn into a fox, and is his name Aeson ‘Bubbles’ Douthwaite? Has he finished that double-decker pizza his wife wanted him to make for their kids’ birthday? Is his villain twin brother going after the ribbon wielding landscaper and is Bubbles working on getting his villainous twin brother to the moon in time to discover Australia? Will you be in time to write all this before the end of November? Have you even started on the mid-climactic getaway?


Good. Whatever your story is, I think it’s better than Bubbles’, so go ahead and keep writing.

(If you find the story I just outlined remotely interesting, and you’re thinking: ‘I wish I’d thought of that’, then I assume you’ve completely lost interest in your story! But don’t worry. I know you’re story’s better than that)

Good writing!