Every year I prepare a writing playlist specifically for NaNoWriMo. Sometimes I need absolute silence to write, other times I can do with some tunes to get me in the right frame of mind.
I find that film soundtracks work best of all.
This year I discovered Spotify. It’s a free web player with a massive library of albums. The only downside is that sometimes they put in ads, but that’s OK because they tend to only last for about 30 seconds. It can be frustrating interrupting your music flow, but for a free web player i won’t be complaining.
NOTE – I tried using the Spotify app on my phone, but it’s not the same. Selecting a playlist led to other random songs being played as well. Only on the web player and on tablets does it actually do what you want it to do.
Here is this year’s playlist, thanks to Spotify:
Spotify says it’s about 6 hours worth of music. It’s remarkably different to my 2011 NaNo soundtrack which eventually consisted of one song played on repeat.
I’ve been super busy this year producing work under a couple of different pen names, but I always find November’s NaNoWriMo to be a good writing exercise and time to produce something under my real name.
I’ve done NaNoWriMo every year since 2010. Two of the books I completed and self-published under NaNoWriMo were highly praised. The third is currently being looked at by a publisher. We’ll ignore the year my cat and computer both died and I lost half the novel I was writing. I still haven’t quite recovered from that and can’t bring myself to re-write the lost novel.
But anyhow, it’s October again and time to start my NaNo prep.
A few months ago I won a pre-made book cover in a giveaway, and I decided to build a story around the cover.
I still wasn’t sure what I was going to do for NaNo 2014, but I pretty soon managed to settle on a character, figure out her goal, throw some obstacles in the way and develop a plot.
I’m a planner. If I don’t know what’s going to happen in the novel I sit there staring at the screen.
Conversely, if I know how the story’s going to end, I normally don’t feel the urge to complete it.
(Which is probably why I have so many unfinished novels.)
I’m planning my new novel using the three act plot structure.
Act 1 ‘Exposition’:
- Inciting incident
- First turning point – where the hero accepts their new calling
Act 2 ‘Rising Action’:
- Obstacles and progress
- Mid-way point – a major setback
- More obstacles and higher stakes.
- Second turning point – what I call ‘the point of no return’.
Act 3 ‘Resolution’:
- Stand up and fight – the final push.
This is the structure I’ll be following in writing my novel. Let’s hope I can stick to it!
Cat from The Night Huntress series (Jeaniene Frost)
Hmm Cat… what can I say about Cat except that she totally kicks ass? Cat would make a great BFF because she’s totally tough, not afraid to go after what she wants, yet still totally tender and caring. She had a hard upbringing, hunting vampires, and has slowly grown into her gaining powers with every book. I wouldn’t mind if she were to bring that Bones over to hang out, either.
Rose from the Vampire Academy series (Richelle Mead)
I have a deep, deep love for the Vampire Academy series. I think it is the most concise, well-written YA novel I have ever read. I think Rose would make a great BFF because she’s totally devoted to the people she loves and risks her life over and over to save them. Rose has demonstrated time and again how she is there for her BFF, my namesake, Lissa. We could totally bond over late night movies and the fact that I have the same as her old best friend. Also, I would never make her choose between me and the love of her life, Siberian hottie Dimitri. She can totally keep him. We’ll all hang out together.
Rachel from the Animorphs series (K.A. Applegate)
This is the book series that defined my growing up. It shaped my adolescence and my reading expectations. I know half of the books were ghost-written, but I can’t count the number of times I’ve had an Animorphs-related dream. Rachel was my first kick-ass girl heroine after Xena, but she was different: she was a teenager. She was so young and fearless and totally without mercy when she needed to be: she was also fiercely protective of those she deemed weaker than herself: her BFF Cassie and her boyfriend Tobias. I totally cried when she died. In MY reality, we’re eating pizza and talking about boys, because I’m totally not allowed to know about the Animorphs – but it was that very adventure that unlocked the Amazon warrior goddess inside the mall rat airhead, and allowed her to flourish into my number one guiding factor when it comes to my own heroines. (Brooke Nevin played a short vegetarian gymnast captain Rachel in the Canadian TV series, whereas the book version was tall, ate cheeseburgers, and sucked at gymnastics).
Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series (J.K. Rowling)
Come on! How can I not have the cleverest witch of her generation as a BFF? She’s totally awesome! Even in the beginning, when she’s portrayed as a snotty know-it-all, she’s still totally awesome. Yes, she may require the occasional rescue, but she also stands for bloody magical torture and doesn’t break. She figures out almost every puzzle, always has a spell up her sleeve for every situation, and if she doesn’t know the answer to the question, she’s bound to know where to find said answer. She even falls in love with a ginger! What a woman! (Emma Watson portrayed Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter film series)
Jane from Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte)
Jane is my favourite classic heroine. She doesn’t let anyone stop her from getting what she wants, even when she’s not entirely sure what she wants. To compliment that, she’s not afraid of walking away, either. It’s a very powerful dichotomy that we don’t see very often in modern heroines unless they are damsels in distress. Jane is no damsel – she’s not even pretty. And the man she falls in love with, Rochester, isn’t handsome, either. This isn’t an epic tale of the two most beautiful people in the world meeting and falling head over heels – this love takes time to develop, to see past physical appearance and blossom into a love that we know will stand the test of time. I always found it a lot more believable than Elizabeth and that stick-up-his-arse Darcy, anyway.
August is the Book Birthday month for my first novel, The Edge of Darkness, a deep-space cyborg dystopian.
Please go here for your chance to win a paperback copy.
Ends September 30.
Note – I can’t say ‘book crushes’ or ‘book boyfriends’ because it is near impossible for me to feel attraction to a character that’s purely in my head, let alone an underage one.
Tucker from the Unearthly series (Cynthia Hand)
Book Passion for Life casts this guy as their Tucker Book Boyfriend. Yeah, he looks vaguely how I imagine him. Hand managed to do something amazing when I read Unearthly. She managed to get me to change my mind. I very distinctly remember bitching about Tucker’s dickishness early in the novel, and I believed I claimed he was going to have to work very hard to get me to come around. Well, it worked! I think Tucker is gorgeous and sweet and attentive and patient – all good traits in the boy who’s meant for Clara! I’m not particularly into romances, and Unearthly is definitely a romance, but I enjoyed it immensely. Tucker’s a keeper. I’m dying to know what happens in Boundless, book 3. I’m pretty sure I refer to Tucker as a cowboy lumberjack.
Sam from The Wolves of Mercy Falls series (Maggie Stiefvater)
I have a very soft spot for Sam and Grace because I don’t see their relationship as bestiality, but as a very mysterious metaphor for a long-distance relationship. I can totally relate to that. Sam’s patient, caring, and wise. He’s mature way beyond his years. I don’t even mind the occasional fur and howling, if he must. He handles his… shall we say… ‘issues’ like a pro. I enjoyed their story in Shiver. The subsequent stories not so much. Even for a romance, I liked them. I guess I’m just a sucker for a teenager who thinks about marriage. That’s dedication for you.
Brigan from Fire (Kristen Cashore)
What I like best about Brigan is that he falls in love with Fire despite her beauty. It’s a reverse Beauty and the Beast. I loved the developing romance – two broken, vulnerable characters discovering a tenderness for each other where hatred and enmity are supposed to reign. I wouldn’t exactly call him abusive in the beginning, but he hates Fire with a passion and treats her a such. I love his turnaround – it creeps up on you unexpected. He’s not even handsome! Oh, Brigan! You’re one of my favourites.
Eddie from the Vampire Academy/Bloodlines series (Richelle Mead)
Eddie rocks my socks. I like him a heel of a lot more than Dimitri and Adrian. Which is funny, because the others have so much more screen time. Eddie is like a big brother figure, which is why I like him so much. He’s loyal and doesn’t hesitate to jump into a fight. He’s capable of holding his own, and he’d make the perfect Guardian. I didn’t even mind that he got transferred over to Bloodlines, although I did have an issue with his romantic pursuit in that book.
Bones from the Night Huntress series (Jeanienne Frost)
Do I even have to list the reasons? I mean, Spike from Buffy when he has a soul? How could anyone refuse?
I think Bones is one of the sexiest literary heroes there is. Not because he’s ‘hot’ or possessive, but because he’s unfailingly loyal, utterly fearless, and a little territorial. Don’t get me wrong: a guy who emotionally and physically manipulates or abuses a girl is so not cool. Bones doesn’t manipulate, but he radiates powerful sexuality that feeds off one and only one woman: his Cat, or ‘Kitten’, as he likes to call her. If you even so much as looked at Cat the wrong way he’d rip your heart out. There’s something immensely attractive knowing that a guy has your back no matter what – not because he needs to protect you or that he condescendingly thinks you’re fragile or vulnerable, but because he genuinely loves you. I love this book series.
Touch of Power by Maria V Snyder
I think my review went something along the lines of: OMG *flail* FANGIRL *flail* some more.
Avry steps into leadership positions when she needs to, kicks ass when she needs to, and comforts and mothers when she needs to. She’s got a great balance of feminine and masculine traits, and she’s neither an uber-warrior nor a damsel in distress. She grows throughout the novel as well. She’s like… my perfect heroine that I never wrote.
Draykon by Charlotte E English
My review of Draykon was roughly the same as my review for Touch of Power.
Charlotte has an obvious gift for beautiful prose and many a time I caught myself drooling over her wonderfully constructed sentences.
Entwined by Heather Dixon
I’m pretty sure this was more of the same.
Once I opened the book, I was blown away. Just blown away. I did not expect this calibre, wit, and execution. The characters were simply gorgeous. The writing was incredible. And the humour! I have never laughed out loud so many damn times in a novel that wasn’t 1) a comedy or 2) written by a comedian. It’s just… the humour! The fluff! The witty comebacks and fantastic situations!
Fire by Kristen Cashore
This novel broke my heart.
Fire’s character development was really awesome. I’m so sad that people put this book down half way through. She grows magnificently both in personality, character, and power. She makes her own choices, and even when her choice is taken away from her, she manages to gain control of the situation.
Talyn by Holly Lisle
Holly Lisle taught me everything I know about writing.
Blurb (from Goodreads.com)
HOW FAR WOULD YOU GO?
All Meg has ever wanted is to get away. Away from high school. Away from her backwater town. Away from her parents who seem determined to keep her imprisoned in their dead-end lives. But one crazy evening involving a dare and forbidden railroad tracks, she goes way too far…and almost doesn’t make it back.
John made a choice to stay. To enforce the rules. To serve and protect. He has nothing but contempt for what he sees as childish rebellion, and he wants to teach Meg a lesson she won’t soon forget. But Meg pushes him to the limit by questioning everything he learned at the police academy. And when he pushes back, demanding to know why she won’t be tied down, they will drive each other to the edge — and over….
Review (full review posted on Goodreads.com)
I can’t for the life of me come up with any good reason for why this book is 4 stars and not 5 stars. Normally five stars for me are rated for books that have a huge emotional impact or connection, or challenge me (or are just plain and simply awesome, or I read in my childhood and I’m totally nostalgic for). I didn’t really have an emotional connection but this book did have an emotional impact on me, because I cried in one particular part near the climax. Still, if you ask me what you could change about this book to make it 5 stars, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. I really liked it, to me it just wasn’t amazing. However, I would recommend it to romance readers and people who love contemporary YA.
And I think it’s a really beautiful novel about two damaged people learning to love and overcome their fears. The romance developed nicely and despite Meg’s age (17) it was totally believable.
And I totally love Meg’s attitude. She’s not a bitch, just a rebel with no cause and no fear. John was a giant sweetheart and a total hottie (I don’t often find literary characters hot but Echols’ descriptions were really great, and I got sucked in to Meg’s head to see the attraction) but there was something about him that made me feel that he was a tiny bit manipulative. Maybe it was his protectiveness and his need to CONTROL ALL THE SITUATIONS but he seemed to manipulate Meg a bit, especially physically which is so NOT okay especially as he’s this huge cop and she’s this tiny teenager.
Well sure, the entire plot revolves around John’s decision to make Meg ride along with him. And I secretly have a thing for Gothic novels, which abhors the feminist side of me, because the I’d hate to be in the same position myself but there’s a reason Belle from Beauty and the Beast was my favourite Disney princess for many years. I like reading about strong girls trapped in an environment with an older dude who has a position of power over her. Don’t do that to me in real life, but I kind of like it in my entertainment. It’s my guilty pleasure. That’s why I liked The Castle of Otranto, Northanger Abbey, and Jane Eyre.
Going Too Far isn’t a Gothic novel, but it does have the basics of one. Meg often wonders if she’s suffering from Stockholm Syndrome because she’s being forced to spend time with Officer Hottie.
The novel was written okay. I had some issues with the text, mostly because I think they might have been speaking in slang sometimes and I’m not from America, and sometimes the dialogue was ambiguous and vague so it took me a few pages to realise what they were talking about. But I’m clever enough to work it out in the end, and maybe that’s what matters.
Pretty much the only problem I had with the book was at the end when Meg decided to dye her blue hair back to brunette. I understand why she did it – because the blue dye represented her fight with cancer, and accepting that it was over meant going back to a normal colour. But to me it looks like the shrew has been tamed – that the wild child has settled down. I know characters have to change over the course of novels but I would have liked it if she dyed it a colour that wasn’t her natural colour: blonde, or auburn, or even green. The dye represents a change in her attitude but the colour delivers the message to the reader.
If you like contemporary YA romances you’ll probably love this.