Progress Report – Writing a Novel in 30 Days (Week 2)

Stats

Current word count – 9,257                                                                                                        Word target – 23, 338                                                                                                                     Days written (this week) – 4                                                                                                         Days gone – 14/30

Sun, Mon, Tues

Words written – 0                                                                                                                          Total – 5,900

Wednesday – day 11

Words written – 821                                                                                                                      Total – 6,721

Thursday – day 12

Words written – 711                                                                                                                      Total – 7,432

Friday – day 13

Words written – 278                                                                                                                      Total – 7,710

Saturday – day 14

Words written – 1,547                                                                                                                   Total – 9,257

Some details

I’ll admit, I am pretty behind at the moment. I’ve been snatching moments to write in all week, because I’ve been pretty busy with other things. So I do have quite a lot of catching up to do! At current, though, I’m fulfilling one of the goals I set out with – which was to keep the story nicely organised, rather than hopping around to all the big events. I’m managing so far, and I feel like it’s quite nice and tidy!

As for the writing itself, I have three POV characters – Connie, Arran, and Hermes. They tend to take it in turns to narrate quite nicely – unless I do what I did this week, and forget Arran’s supposed to be speaking. I wrote an entire chapter as Connie by mistake… but that’s an issue to fix in editing!

I’ve had a few more exciting ideas that I think will add some more depth and excitement to the story, so I’m excited to add those in this week. I might have to up my daily ‘words written’ goals a bit, though!

A little sample…

Arran ignores him, continuing on from where he was interrupted. “As for being unprepared, that’s a magic wardrobe. Tell it where you are, and it’ll give you suitable clothes for the conditions.”

Hermes stalks over to the wardrobe, snapping “Petra, Israel.” He pulls the door open, nearly hitting himself in the nose as he does. Sure enough, the inside of the wardrobe is lined with turbans and flowing clothes. He looks vaguely impressed. “How exactly do these things work?”

Funnily enough, that’s secret. And none of your business,” Arran smirks. “Just like the transport stones Zeus is so desperate to learn how to make.”

Just like that, the impressed look is gone. Hermes wraps himself in flowing cloth, and throws a ball of fabric at Arran, before pulling me towards the wardrobe. “Go on, get something.”

And so I do.

We sit in silence until sand stops beating at the edges of the tent. Suddenly, everything is calm and quiet. The noise of the sand was something like rain hitting a roof, but less of a patter, and more of a constant hiss. It had become almost un-noticable whilst it was going on, but the moment it stopped, quiet fell.

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Progress Report – Writing a Novel in 30 Days

Stats

Current word count – 5, 900

Word target – 11, 669

Days written – 4

Days gone by – 7/30

So, I’m writing this… 6 days after I should have. But, I have a great excuse 😀 We’ve had absolutely stunning weather this last week or so, so I took a bit of a break from blogging. (and I’m behind my word target because of taking a break some days whilst we were on holiday!)

(Introductory post here.)

Breaking it down

Sunday – Day 1

1,682 words written                                                                                                                      Total – 1,682

Monday – Day 2

Words written – 1,773                                                                                                                   Total – 3,455

Tuesday – Day 3

Words written – 1, 694                                                                                                                  Total – 5,149

Wed, Thurs, Fri

Words written – zip, zilch, zero 😥

Saturday – Day 7

Words written – 751                                                                                                                      Total – 5, 900

Some details…

All in all, though I’m behind target, I’m having a great time. Lots of extra pieces are slotting into my original idea, and I’m loving it.

I did struggle a bit with figuring out my viewpoint – was wrestling with whether to go for third person or first person, but I’m currently going with first person, as I need each of my characters to have the space for some secret-revealing thoughts…

A little sample…

.jpeg” width=”2048″] Chapter aesthetic!

It all started with this infernal owl. Apparently it had memorised my sleep schedule, because the moment my head touched the pillow, it would start shrieking. And the moment I woke up, off it would go again. The most annoying screeching you’ve ever heard – shrill and piercing, but so loud that it could have been hanging right outside my window. It went on for about two weeks, and by then I was done with trying to ignore it. So, the next time it started, I threw my slipper at the window. But… I’d forgotten that my window was open. So, out went the slipper. And the cursed creature was still screeching. I went down to fetch the slipper, the other still snug on my foot. It was a cold night, and damp –almost humid, but without heat, as if it were misty or something. My slipper was on the floor, right outside my window, but as I went over to get it, a shadow swooped over my head, whistling like a tea-kettle. I ducked, swung the slipper, and sent it spiralling into the window. It landed on the floor, and looked at me in as disgruntled a way and owl can look, before shrieking again. I couldn’t help it – I told the thing off. Gave it a right earful for all the times it had kept me awake. As I was scolding it, listing the nights it had kept me awake, it suddenly turned into a boy, sitting on his rear in a puddle, and rubbing his head ruefully. I jumped back with a shriek akin to its – or his usual noise. “You swing a solid slipper.” he grinned.

That’s all for now – next update soon!


Book Review – Short, by Holly Goldberg Sloan

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Title: Short

Author: Holly Goldberg Sloan

Rating:  ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Genre: Middle Grade

 

 

DESIGNJulia is short, and aware of it. But she doesn’t mind all that much, until she hears her parents discussing it like an issue. And realises that her little brother was taller than her. To add to her problems, summer isn’t looking like it will turn out to be all that great for her, either; not only because of the death of her beloved dog, but also because her mum has decided that she needs to audition for a theatrical production of ‘The Wizard of Oz’. She isn’t keen, but auditions, gets cast as a munchkin, and attends her first rehearsal, which makes her realises that she would hate to leave. Here, her lack of height is perfect – you can’t have a tall munchkin, can you? As the summer progresses, Julia meets a wide cast of people, and is supplied with new opportunities to open up to new things. She also begins to learn an important lesson – that just as it’s alright to be small, it’s important to love yourself just as you are.

I’m all for finding joy. Now that he’s put it into words, I realize that maybe that’s what the play was about for me.”

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This book deals with some deeper subjects – self acceptance, and death, in a careful way, spinning them into the thread of the story. The main death is that of Julia’s dog, Ramon (showing how much the death of a pet can rock a world, especially that of a child’s), but we also learn that another character’s family member has died.

Julia is incredibly sad when Ramon dies, clinging on to a little sculpture she has of him, and really not wanting to let him go. But as time passes, she begins to heal, and accept his death more. This in itself was touching to read, as it sweetly showed the sorrow and unwillingness to let go that you can feel when a beloved pet dies – Julia said multiple times that it didn’t really feel like Ramon was gone, and this rang true for me, when I think about when pets of mine have passed away.

The old us is a new us every day, and we have to accept that we will have a beginning and a middle and an end.”

As Julia discovers herself and learns to accept who she is, of course not everything’s perfect straight away. She doesn’t instantly love everything, and life isn’t suddenly perfect. But she does grow. Something that helps her in her journey is meeting a few people with dwarfism – this helps her to accept, and eventually enjoy, her small stature. She also learns to understand herself a little bit better – by starting to create a scrapbook of herself, commemorating significant events in her life.

I grew this summer. Not on the outside, but on the inside. And that’s the only place where growing really matters.”

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In the beginning, I felt that Julia’s voice was a little too grown-up for a young teenager/pre-teen (don’t think her age is specified, but her older brother is 15 so I’m taking a guess). I felt that she talked in a way that you’d expect a well-read adult to, and as the book specifically said that she wasn’t a particularly big reader, that didn’t quite fit for me. But as the book progressed, I did feel that her character was quite mature, and also that she was very curious, and enjoyed learning new things – hence why she used long words often.

There are always two things happening in any situation: What we see, and what we don’t see. But what we don’t see we can feel – if we are paying attention.”

Multiple sentences from this book hit me quite strongly. But one that I’m still really remembering is this – “I have to remember how powerful it can be to say thank you.” I really think that this is a very, very true quote. Julia writes this after she thanks her mum for making her audition, and sees her happy the simple words make her. And I think it’s very true – something so simple really can impact people a lot. A few little words – sorry, thank you, I appreciate it… can mean much more than we’d think. And it takes so little effort to say them, that there’s really no harm!

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There should be a word for the kind of moment when you are excited but also sad and at the same time you know that what’s happening is important.”

For a book that, if you simply glance at the cover, looks very cutesy and light-hearted, I felt that this story dealt with deeper issues than I originally expected. But they were dealt with nicely, woven into the story of one girl’s summer. I would say that the subjects were present, but definitely not the only thing the story revolved around. They were just a little part of Julia’s summer, not the be-all and end-all. Overall, ‘Short’ was a nice, easy read, and was quick and enjoyable, whilst still raising up some things to think about.

Everything has to come to an end sometime.”

Writing a Novel in 30 Days

A few days ago, I was feeling a bit discouraged about how un-inspired I was feeling about writing, and wishing I could start/complete one of my novel ideas. So my mum suggested that I follow a NaNoWriMo style set-up, and write the first draft of one of my novel ideas in a month. (or, in this case, 30 days – I started in the middle of the month. Couldn’t wait.)

If you’re not familiar with NaNoWriMo, it’s an annual event that encourages writers to complete 50, 000 words of a project. Most commonly, participants will take on a novel, but some opt for other projects such as short stories or editing. It takes place in November, and the goal (in order to complete it) is to write 1,667 words a day.

I liked the sound of that idea, so what I’m doing is taking the idea of NaNoWriMo, and applying it to… the 17th of June to the 17th of July.

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My writing tracker…

The idea I chose for this project was actually one that only recently started forming. I think I’d describe it as a mythological mash-up. The characters involve Greek god Hermes, a witch from a well-known folk tale, and someone inspired by Arthurian myths, and the basic plot involves an epic quest to save a kingdom! Also, I’ve got plans that include fairies, desert treks, and an all-knowing magic book…

The idea came out of two separate ones – an image I saw of a disguised desert town, and the thought of a normal person being asked by a mythological god to go on a quest with them. Mash them together, and you get a story… I hope. 😀

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A little ‘novel aesthetic’ pic…

I’ll post an update on my progress each week – and maybe include a little snippet from that week’s writing?

The Top 3 Books I Read in March

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The Castle – Sophia Bennett

I’ve actually read one book by Sophia Bennett before – ‘The Look’, and I thought it was really good. She has a way with words that makes you unable to put the book down. I read the whole of ‘The Castle’ one Saturday morning, snuggled in bed with the morning sun streaming through my window. It was rather nice! Basically, the main character’s father is missing, thought to be dead, but a combination of factors mean that she thinks he’s actually alive, and so she sets out to find him. I think that one of the reasons it was a favourite this month was how engaging it was. It was an idea unlike anything I’ve read before, and that was partly what made it that interesting.

Story in a sentence – Her father can’t be dead, and Peta is determined to prove it, no matter the cost.

MBY

Me Before You – JoJo Moyes

Ahh, this book. What an emotional rollercoaster. I knew how it was going to end – a result of the movie adaption giving it quite a lot of publicity. But I spent the entire book getting more and more attached to the characters, and hoping with my entire being that it could just not happen. I liked this for so many reasons – I loved Louisa’s spunky personality, and Will’s humour. But personality quirks aside, the book also covered some very thought-provoking subjects – those of severe disability and simply not wanting to be alive any more, and the fight those around the one who’s done with life to convince them otherwise. It was… very emotional. I laughed, I cried, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget that book.

Story in a sentence – Will’s sick of living, but Louisa is striving to show him that it’s worth staying alive.

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If I Stay – Gayle Forman

What do you do when the people you cared about most aren’t there? That’s the subject this book covers. Gayle Forman’s idea was this – if you had the choice whether to live or die after loosing your family, what would you choose? Which things would make it worth staying – or not worth it. She presents this idea through a car crash. The family of a teenage girl all die in the accident, but the girl remains – badly injured, but alive. She has to decide whether she wants to stay. Gayle Forman explores all the different people and things that help the girl decide whether or not it’s worth staying in a touching way, both in the current moment and through flashbacks. There was this one part, where the girl’s grandfather was talking to her, and saying that it was alright if she didn’t want to stay alive… I cried. The whole story had a very thought-provoking, touching element.

Story in a sentence – If I stay, what’s in it for me?

Weekly Hoard – March week 1

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The Island of the Lost Horses – Stacy Gregg

“We came in like a storm tide, a single mass of wild horses…”

Beatriz’s mother studies jellyfish. Which means that, not only have the jellyfish taken over Beatriz’s room, they have dragged Beatriz and her mother out to the tropics. All that was pretty rubbish, until Beatriz came across a horse, living on the island they’re moored by. This horse is a very special horse indeed, and after Beatriz meets the old lady who also lives on the island, she is pulled into an adventure, and learns about something that happened a long time ago to bring the horses to the island. But back in the current time, a wild storm is approaching the island, and the horses must be saved. Beatriz’s mother insists that they head to the mainland, for their safety, but how can Beatriz leave the horses to the dangers of the storm…?

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Fearsome Dreamer – Laure Eve

“The sun shimmered and winked at her as she walked…”

What once was known as England now goes by the name of Angle Tar – Angle Tar, the one remaining place in World not to have hooked into ‘Life’, a place of virtual reality that offers escape to anyone in the rest of World. The rest of World is so busy inside Life that they notice nothing outside of it, but behind the scenes, the higher powers are gathering specific people, and training them for a specific purpose. The gathered people are known as ‘Talented’, and posess a skill that nobody else does – they can travel to different places just by thinking about it. But a darker purpose lies behind this collection of Talented, and as Angle Tar and the rest of World battle over the posession of Talented students, the end of the world draws nearer with every moment. Only the Talented can save the world, but they are also the ones holding the power to end it…

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Life in Motion – Misty Copeland

“I will forever fight, performing as if it’s my last show. And I will love every minute of it.”

Misty never thought that she could be a ballerina. But the moment she first set foot in a ballet class, the teacher spotted her natural talent, and encouraged her to pursue ballet. And so, Misty was thrust into the crazy world of the ballerina. But although natural talent allowed her to learn at crazy speeds, it wasn’t easy. Not only had she started learning ballet much later than most other students at her level, but she also faced racial predjudice in the industry. But she took everything life threw at her, and fought through, head high, striving every day to reach her dreams, and achieving incredible feats. This is her story…

 

Book Review – Dragon’s Green by Scarlett Thomas

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Title: Dragon’s Green

Author: Scarlett Thomas

Genre: Children’s Fantasy

 

 

                                                                                                                                  

Euphemia Truelove is a student at the Tusitala School for the Gifted, Troubled and Strange, a school attended by a great variation of children. These children seem to be either ‘Troubled’ and ‘Strange’, but it’s hard to tell which is which, and there don’t appear to be any ‘Gifted’ children in attendance. When Effie’s grandfather dies, leaving her all his books, and a few special objects, she is distraught. And everything is made worse by the fact that her father has sold all the books, bar one, to a rather odd, suspicious man. Effie is determined to get them back, but she can’t do it alone. With the help of four friends – Maximilian, Wolf, Lexy and Raven, she sets out to reclaim her books. But the discovery of the one unsold book pulls her into a strange world, where she must complete the story if she ever wishes to return home…

DESIGN

— Characters —

There are five main characters in this book – Effie, Maximilian, Wolf, Lexy and Raven. In the beginning, they are, for the most part, loners, and do not associate with each other. It’s easy to see why – Effie’s a dreamy nobody, Max is a nerd, Wolf a trouble-making athlete… each of these children does and enjoys very different things. They were all quite stereotypical characters, and I felt that they could have been slightly more varied – they can be easily split into categories, and that introduced the potential risk of the entire book sounding like most school movies. Thankfully, however, the book escaped the fate, and managed to bring individuality into the characters. It also gave them some character development. Not a ton, but as this was the first book in a series, I expect there’s more to follow. The main character development, I felt, was that Maximilian became a much more decent guy. He started out as somebody who seemed to manipulate things to fit what he wanted, and took something he shouldn’t. In the end, however, his character had grown enough to be able to admit his wrong, return the items, and make amends.

DESIGN

— Plot —

So, after her grandfather’s disappearance, Effie starts meeting the other four outside of school, and one by one, realises that the objects her grandfather left her are destined for each of the others to own. These objects are called ‘boons’, and the idea is that some specific boons awaken a dormant power in young people who possess them. The five boons that Effie has conveniently each belong to her and the four others, so that all works out nicely.

I enjoyed the plot. It did feel quite like a video game to me – you collect boons, go on quests, and gain or loose life-force depending on your actions, but it was all quite fun. The story moved quickly – the first chapter jumped straight into the action, but it all worked with the idea. There were some amusing characters, such as a terrifying school teacher, and some ‘bad guys’, who the children were up against, as well as a cast of other supporting characters – the princess from a story, a dragon, Effie’s cousins from another world, the parents and siblings of other characters… All in all, the plot was nicely woven and moved smoothly. I did also really like some of the ideas introduced, such as a dragon that looks like a large, slightly scaly human with wings, a school for princesses (some of whom get fed to said dragon), and being able to adventure through books. It was, whilst taking some classic ideas, a tale unlike anything I have ever read before.

DESIGN

— Writing —

This was nicely written. It didn’t strike me as incredible writing, but it was in no way terrible, either. In the beginning it felt a little wordy, especially for a children’s book, but it was only the first few chapters, and soon straightened out. In the terms of point of view, it was in third person, but as different characters were occasionally in different places, that had to be managed. Each different chapter tended to start with the names of the characters, however, and would quickly tell you which characters you were with, so the switches worked neatly. It was also a well-handled set of switches, with each character getting the time they needed, instead of just one chapter. When a good point was reached, it switched to the other characters, but the author gave the characters space to adventure whilst switching between places.

DESIGN

— Cover —

The cover for this book is lovely. It’s quite dark, and is done as a silhouette of a girl emerging from a wood, with a cityscape in front of her, and dragons (yes, dragons!) flying above the city. The colours are all very dark and mysterious, with lots of blues and purples. I just had one problem with it. You see, parts of the cover were made to glow in the dark (which is very cool), but they wrote ON THE COVER that ‘this book glows in the dark’! For me, it distracts from the rest of the cover. Everything else about it was cool, it’s just that one little thing. The rest is beautiful (and I tested the glow in the dark, and it works, which is pretty neat!).

DESIGN

So, to conclude this review – this was a book that took old ideas, and created something completely new from them. It was well-crafted, and written in a fun way. It’s the first of a series – the ‘Worldquake Sequence’, and I think I’m going to try and find the other books!

Go forth… and read!