Monday, June 21, 2010

Those Dang Characters

Currently I am still working on Witch Tourniquet. This is due in part to my beta reader being slow with reading the last three chapters because she doesn't have the time she once did. But she still gets the job done, and I am extremely grateful for her. She'll make a fine literary agent one day--or even editor.

In any case, not only do I have to re-write the last three chapters because I haven't realistically developed Alice near the end, but I have to completely re-do her co-star, Nathaniel Gareth. Originally I was trying to portray him as bi-polar, because in the 19th century, nobody knew that it existed, so it wasn't like I could have him come out and tell Alice about his disorder. I did this so unsuccessfully, it's not even funny. Bi-polar disorder is one of those complex disease that you have to do extensive research on to fully get, not just know what it is. You can say bi-polar disorder involves rapid mood swings, but to actually write it is difficult, because sometimes a mood swing just doesn't fit for situations where death is involved. That, and it made him weak, though that isn't to say people who are bi-polar in general are weak. It's to say I don't know how to write a bi-polar character.

Now I'm making Nathaniel the strong, cheerful one, with a dark past to boot. Since Alice herself has a hard time finding strength, I figured I'd have Nathaniel be her strength, her hope. And I love him much better this way. I'm not done with him, as I still have several more scenes to re-write with him in it, but I'm hoping to start querying in no time at all. I'm going to make the goal to start querying by the time issue 5 of Sorean comes out.

Readers, what characters in your WIPs have been impossible for you to write? How have you managed to solve the problems with those dang characters?

Friday, June 18, 2010

First Blog Award!

The awesome Caitlin R. O'connell gave me this one, and you can find her blog here:
(One day I'll hyperlink.)

1. Thank and link back to the person who gave you this award.
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Pass the award along to 15 bloggers who you have recently discovered and who you think are fantastic for whatever reason! (In no particular order...)
4. Contact the bloggers you've picked and let them know about the award.

Seven things about me:

1. I recently fell in love with painting, Jackson Pollock style.
2. I am a passionate photographer who wants to try her hand at Goth photography.
3. I used to ride and jump horses, and I still want to, but the horse I used to ride is now a dressage horse. :(
4. I aspire to graduate college with honors.
5. I've been working on Witch Tourniquet since I was 14 (yeah, LONG time).
6. I started dreaming of being an editor when I was 13 (that's come true!).
7. I want to live in New York!

And I'll choose people to give this blog award to later, because I've actually got to think. Don't want to choose random people and have it not mean anything.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Goosebumps or Gut

#YALITCHAT offered a lot of interesting insights today into what various authors do to make their first five pages keep someone's attention. But that isn't what this post is about. I think it'd be pointless for me to blog about that, because everyone has a different way of doing it, and not all techniques are going to work for every kind of story. Sometimes stories work best when they start out with action, sometimes they don't. Continuing on...

One chatter pointed out that he/she knows when something's good when goosebumps occur. I pointed out that I once got goosebumps reading the first draft of Witch Tourniquet, and it was, in fact, awful. There was no subjectivity to the awfulness of the manuscript. It was awful by fact, plain and simple, but I still got goosebumps for some reason when I read it. I can't for the life of my figure out why, because my gut begged to differ.

What, you ask? My goosebumps and gut conflicted? Pray tell? Frankly, I have no idea myself. But I've learned in my experience as a writer to not listen to those traitorous goosebumps. I've learned to listen to my gut, and it took me a few hard lessons to finally listen to it for good. My gut would go off, but it's such an easy thing to avoid, so I'd shut it from my mind. But later my beta reader would point out something my gut told me, and it took several critiques from my beta reader for me to finally give into my gut, despite how much extra work that makes for me.

Reader, what do you listen to? Goosebumps or your gut? Which do you think is better and why?

(By the way, let me specify that this is AFTER you've written the entire first draft)

Victoria's Asylum of Maggots

Well, I won't be using my weebly website anymore, as I am getting my own website that's going to be linked through the Sorean domain. I've decided to just use this blog, and so this blog will be linked to my website. Working two separate blogs is tiring and pointless and silly. I don't know why I did that.

In any case, I'm basically re-writing (with much more info) a blog post that's on my weebly account, because 1) I need something to blog about and 2) I want more followers for this blog, and in order to get more, I'm going to have to continuously keep my content updated.

As you all know, I've been hard at work, along with the rest of the staff, on issue 4 of Sorean: A Gothic Magazine. It came out several days ago, and you can find it at, go to the issues tab, and then download issue 4. I did not give the direct link because some people may have problems going directly to the .pdf. In it are two pieces of my writing, one being "Victoria's Asylum of Maggots" and another talking about Gothic Literature. Hopefully the Gothic Literature one will help those aspiring writers of Gothic fiction.

In one blog post that I deleted off my weebly website, I said I was going to blab about "Victoria's Asylum of Maggots", and I still am. A lot of you have probably already read the weebly blog post, but I'd like to go into more detail about the process of this thing.

I am extremely happy with the way my first part came out. I believe it demonstrates my best writing as of today, and I did my best to make it both about the words and the plot. Thus far people have thought it dark, scary, and uncomfortable, all wonderful compliments to me, since that's what I'm aiming for with this piece. I hope the rest of the parts will be just as good, and I hope I do not disappoint.

Now, if you have not read it, you need to, because this post won't mean anything to you unless you have.

Continuing on, when I first started editing for Sorean, and after issue 3 came out, I knew that I really wanted to start writing fiction bites for them. But I was unable to because there were enough. Well, things happen, life gets in the way, and I finally was able to swoop in and contribute something.

Before all that, and while I was still dreaming of writing fiction bites for them, I was dabbling around with several fic pieces, trying to figure out exactly what I wanted to write for them. I wrote a prelude to my novel Witch Tourniquet, but due to legal reasons, such a prelude could ruin my chances of querying Witch Tourniquet. So I scrapped that.

I started listening to Emilie Autumn, I believe, around the time I was writing that prelude. If you haven't listened to her, you need to give her a chance, especially if you, and I dread saying this, enjoy listening to Lady Gaga. Just so you know, their music styles are in no way alike, but for some reason people who love Emilie Autumn also enjoy Lady Gaga, and the two are always being compared. Generally when I listen to a certain artist a lot, particularly a specific song(s), I get ideas for a story. Nightwish's The Poet and the Pendulum inspired Dead Poet's Pendulum, just as Marry Me and Thank God I'm Pretty inspired Victoria's Asylum of Maggots (among other things).

Originally I was going to write a series of ficlets titled Twisted Children that told the story of different children with dysfunctional lives. My first one was going to be about a boy who had a twisted, incestuous relationship with his mother. The second one was going to be Victoria's Asylum of Maggots. However, when I found out Emilie Autumn had written a book called The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls, and I listened to a snippet of it, I began to realize that Victoria's story couldn't be told in a few thousand words. I needed to draw it out. I scrapped the Twisted Children idea and just went straight into Victoria's Asylum of Maggots. I began research on asylums, particularly Bedlam, even though I couldn't find much about said asylum. But I'm going to do much more research with future installments, so no worries there. I did just enough to draw an eerie picture of a broken girl locked in an asylum cell for the first part.

I at first wanted to use a boy for an asylum, because it seems like girls receive all the torture in YA stories and boys don't get enough recognition. Using a boy, however, wouldn't have shown the true horrors of an olden day asylum, because women were the ones who faced the worst torture. A woman could be put in an asylum for any number of reasons, including being an unwanted wife, as in the case of Victoria Wilson.

Although Emilie Autumn has already written a book showing that asylums haven't changed much, her book is sadly sold out and was limited, so no one else will get to know what beautiful story she's told until--and it's rumor, far as I know--a second edition is released. But I wanted to write VAoM, not because I wanted to tell a story or show my best writing, but because I want people to face the uncomfortable, the darker side of life that Goth is supposed to be about. We ignore the uncomfortable because it makes us, well, uncomfortable. Doing this, however, is doing a disservice to those who are forced to live in the darker side of life, because it makes us ignorant. When we are faced with a person who seems out of sorts, we automatically judge that person, believing he/she to be a lunatic or some other creature that certainly isn't human. We only judge because we know nothing about what this person faces or has faced.

It's my belief that the general population is still ignorant about mental illnesses, and I'm not talking about the advertised ones like depression and PTSD. I'm talking about the silent ones, like bi-polar disorder, borderline personality disorder, and panic disorder. Nobody talks about these disorders. Anyone with a disorder that isn't advertised on television seems to be insane in the eyes of the mainstream world.

As a YA writer, I recognize that there are YA books that deal with really dark issues, like drug abuse, anorexia, and mental illnesses. There are also YA books that have the characters thrust in asylums. What I've noticed, however, is that although the psyche of the character is being delved into, the mental hospital itself doesn't seem to be delved into enough, save for maybe Girl, Interrupted. The mental hospital acts as just a catalyst for helping the MC get better, but there are no books that talk about the abuse that still goes on in asylums. The characters are always in the "safe" part of the asylum, but I haven't seen a YA book yet that puts a young adult in the "loony" part of an asylum. I want my asylum to function almost like it a character, where I reveal a darkness so sick, it might make you angry, because some of what's going to happen in Victoria's Asylum of Maggots still happens in present-day asylums. The patients are just sometimes helpless to stop it, because who's going to believe a nutter? Who's going to believe the girl with hallucinations when she says her psychiatrist raped her? No one's going to, because that very same psychiatrist can just say it was a hallucination.