Category Archives: novel

NaNoWriMo 11/6 Excuses

Okay, so I didn’t get a chance to write on my camping trip, but we had a wonderful time.

As for Monday and Tuesday…well, very little writing got done as I tried to clean the house– including getting my son’s room straight. Soon, it will be time to sell it so I can get my own house and land.

Today I go to court to get the executor-ship turned over to my brother and I. Please revise your wills once the minors on it reach age. I’m 37 and my brother is 35. I am actually the only child listed by name in the wills. In fact, the appointed executor in the will stopped practicing law 7 years ago… in his late 60’s. It has made things a bit difficult in trying to sell things and pay bills. At least that will be fixed today.

So, as far as writing is concerned–

I WILL write today, and hopefully catch up a bit. My actual goal for this year’s NaNoWriMo is to get back to writing everyday. If I can get 50K done, awesome. I just want to fall back into the habit of writing again. That is the most important thing to me.

So, how are you doing with NaNoWriMo?

What are the challenges you have to push through?

What do you hope to get out of this year’s November?

Always,

Dawn

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Filed under author, conflict, crazy, feeling, growing, learning, NaNoWriMo, novel, White Darkness, work in progress

NaNoWriMo 11/2

okay, today’s total is a bit better. 2077 words.

Unfortunately I can’t update this again until Monday, or maybe, possibly Sunday night. We are going camping and leaving in just a little bit. It is a Cub Scout thing with my son. We should have a great time, but it may put a crimp in my writing since I will have to write everything by hand!

Good writing to all my fellow NaNoWriMo guys and girls. And if you aren’t doing NaNo, find someone who is and give them a pep talk!

Always,

Dawn

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Monday already? ACK! Chapter 1 of PROPHECY

Okay, I have to say, Marathon is going well so far. I posted my first chapter of PROPHECY in the past tense and it went over really well. I had 7 votes and 6 of them were ‘yes’, so I get to move on to my next chapter. I am goign to post the chapter as it was written for marathon here, and later this week will put up my revised version. Tell me what you think!

Chapter 1

The whispers were quiet as I slipped out the back door. For once, I didn’t have to worry about the siren call from the woods behind our house.

Momma was in the kitchen doing the dishes and humming her favorite song: Ode to Joy. She always claimed it made her feel like she was doing something exciting and dramatic instead of the mundane chore of cleaning up after Daddy and me.

I skipped over to Amos’ pen, thrilled to have a few minutes alone with the black and white hound. He jumped against the fence as I opened the lock with a clank. He bounded out of the kennel and knocked me to the ground, licking my face. His wet tongue tickled my face even as the fresh cut grass prickled my bare arms and legs. I giggled, but tried to be quiet. Momma didn’t like it when I went outside by myself. She always worried about something or other and made me feel nervous and awkward.

Her protective hovering made me feel like some impending doom was lurking nearby. It also made me feel like a freak. Other kids never had to suffer the over protectiveness of my Momma. After all, why should I have to hold her hand when I was just in the backyard?

But today, I was free, if only for a few minutes. Free to play with my dog and feel normal for a change.

Pushing Amos’ happy face to the side, I looked up at the beautiful white puffy clouds the floated through the sky. I smiled with pure joy at the day, the freedom, and the silence that came from the woods.

I struggled for a moment to get Amos off me, even though I knew my young body couldn’t hope to push the forty-pound dog to the side. Wagging his log, whip-like tail he backed off anyway. He was a good dog who always knew what I wanted even if I didn’t say a word.

“You’re a good boy, Amos.” I hugged him around his middle smelling the sun and his unique doggie scent. He never acted as if I was anything other than a seven-year old. He never treated me with kid gloves, nor as if I was about to do something a seven-year old shouldn’t.

He bounced away from me, acting like a puppy instead of an old dog, and I chased him around the yard.

Like a crash of thunder washing over me, the whispers began. The strange murmur from the trees just beyond the yard filled my senses.

Amos’ reacted instantly. He jumped in front of me and glared into the woods. His growling overwhelmed the whispers, but then they rose in volume and pitch. My dog’s ears pressed back tightly to his head and his body shook in anger or fear. He was the only one who ever heard the voices other than me. I tried to calm him by placing my hand on his back and murmuring nonsense words into his ear. Normally, that was enough to calm him down. This time he only tensed more and pressed his body back against me, causing me to stumble to my knees behind him.

I looked to the woods, trying to see why he refused to calm down, but they looked the same as they always did when the whispers began. Shadows under the trees grew longer despite the sunlight and moved in sensuous dances without benefit of the wind. The wooded area took on a dark menace.

Then the light dimmed and blackness crowded the puffy clouds from the blue sky. The yard darkened and a cold wind began to blow from the woods. My skin tingled with gooseflesh and I held tight to Amos, getting a small comfort from his warmth despite the racing of my heart.

My confused thoughts swept over me. I wanted to go to the trees, to follow the sounds to their source, but even more, I wanted to run back to the house and shut the noises out. The chaos in my mind froze my limbs and locked my mouth shut so I couldn’t even call for Momma, or to the woods, though I wanted to do both.

Words began to creep through the wind, words I heard not only with my ears but also with something deep inside of me. They touched my fear, yet they promised an approval I have never felt before. Absolute acceptance.

“Scottie, come to us.”

“It is your destiny.”

“We are as you are.”

“You will be treasured among us.”

“You are the child we have been waiting for.”

The words scared me but also intrigued me. They seemed to know how much I wanted to feel normal, to not be the freak my parents feared. The uniqueness, the intelligence, the almost adult in a child’s body, that worried my Momma and that my Daddy denied, felt cherished. And wanted. The feeling behind the words promised a future far greater than anyone would believe. It promised that I was different for a reason.

My muscles unlocked and I moved toward the calls.

Amos slid from my arms and threw himself on top of me, hurling me to the ground. Pain flared in my cheek where I landed but my eyes never left the woods. Amos’ growls and barks vibrated through me as I tried to shove him off me. His weight shifted slightly, brining his full weight down on my legs. With a surge of power, I pushed him hard and he fell off me with a whine. He struggled to his feet, but moved with a deliberate slowness that showed I had injured him in my escape. I wanted to comfort him, but I stumbled forward towards the woods instead. My stiff body fought against me, but step by step, I moved to the call.

With a painful sound Amos jumped at me again, teeth sinking into my shirt. He pulled me back, but I shrugged hard and felt my shirt rip, leaving only shreds in his teeth.

I broke into a shambling run, screaming inside to stop. I didn’t want to go into the dark woods, but my body refused to obey me. Amos limped in front of me again, but I threw him to the side, hearing a crack as he broke a rib when he landed. I looked at him; stride breaking as I rebelled at myself for causing him pain. I longed to go to him, to apologize to him, to help my faithful friend, but I couldn’t stop my legs from running faster to the trees and the voices that called me. I choked out a scream, partly for Amos, and partly for me.

Warm, familiar arms swept me up from behind. Entranced by the woods, I never heard Momma running for me. Amos’ attempts to slow me down gave her enough time to catch me. My own shout had alerted her that something was very wrong in the yard. The spell of the woods eased slightly as I smelled her perfume and felt her embrace, yet still I tried to pull away from her.

“Scottie, where do you think you are going? If I hadn’t heard you scream and Amos bark, I wouldn’t have known where you were!” Her voice strained to almost a shrillness that shocked me into looking at her. She clutched me close to her chest, and turned her body toward the house as I peered back at the woods. She jolted as she stepped into a small hole or something. The movement forced me to break eye contact with the calling words. Their power over me weakened further and I could breathe again.

“Momma, let me down. I want to go to the woods,” Words not my own escaped my lips as I looked into her beautiful chocolate brown eyes. Fighting her embrace, and myself, I turned myself so I could see the trees. Their powerful call washed over me again, filling me with unbelievable yearning.

Momma’s face clouded over, darker than the skies above as she looked deep into my eyes. “Why Scottie? Why would you leave me and go into the woods?” She tightened her grip around me so I felt like I was being crushed by a bear. Stumbling in her haste, she took several steps away from the trees and toward the backdoor.

“The trees, Momma they call to me. I want to go into them; I need to go into them.” The words forced themselves through my clenched teeth, lying and telling the truth in the same moment. The woods petrified me, but I wanted to be in them more than anything else in the world.

“Cherie, Scottie? Are you two out back?”

Momma’s breath whooshed out of her at the sound of my father’s voice. Her body started relaxing immediately and I could breathe again. I pushed against her, but only with half my strength. I didn’t want her to let me go, even though I wanted to be free.

“Jackson, we are back here!” Her stressed voice cracked, yet there was a measure of relief in it.

Daddy hurried around the corner of the house, his face set as though preparing for a fight. His golden hair shone in the sunlight and he looked like some avenging angel intent on protecting the poor mortals: Momma and me. Seeing no apparent danger, he slowed his pace but scanned the yard with eyes that missed nothing.

I wriggled and finally escaped from Momma, but instead of the woods, I ran to my Daddy. He could protect me. He could keep me from doing the thing I longed and hated to do.

Amos stopped growling when Daddy picked me up, but he didn’t stop looking at the trees.

“What are my two favorite people in the world doing this afternoon?” Daddy’s voice, warm as honey, did not show any anxiety, but he gently touched the rip in my shirt made by Amos’ teeth. His mouth tightened and he asked silent questions to Momma with a lifting of an eyebrow.

The whispers grabbed me with their power and I pushed hard away from Daddy who gave a surprised grunt, but didn’t let me go. From the corner of my eye, I saw him look down at me, though I focused my attention on the woods. The call from the trees all but overwhelmed me.

“So, little man, what have you been doing?” His false tone betrayed his anxiety, as did the tightening of his arms around me. “You and Amos been playing?”

Amos struggled to rise from the ground, whining softly. His eyes stared at the trees and he barked a sharp staccato sound then ended with a howl of pain. My heart felt like it broke. I did that to him. I hurt my dog.

I buried my face against Daddy’s chest, tears overflowing. Daddy lifted my chin with a finger.

“What’s been happening, son?” His serious tone forced words from my throat, words that sounded false even in my own ears.

“Daddy, Amos and I were playing, but I think I hurt him. I didn’t mean to, I was listening to the woods.” I cocked my head to the side, realizing that the calls had faded away. “They are quiet now, but Amos didn’t like them. He tried to keep me away from them.”

“And you hurt him?”

“Daddy, it was an accident. I didn’t mean to. He just wouldn’t let me go into the woods. Can you fix him up?”

Daddy frowned. “Well, I’m a doctor right? I’ll do what I can tonight and take him to the vet tomorrow. But why were you going in there?”

“The woods called to me. I wanted to walk under the green trees, smell the soil, and talk to the wind.”

A soft murmur arose from the trees again. I looked toward them and leaned away from Daddy’s body, transfixed by the music that tugged at my heart.

“Scottie, Scottie. SCOTTIE!” The sharpness in Daddy’s voice awakens me from my trance. I slowly looked up into his eyes, still half enthralled. He stared down at me, his forehead a severe line. I reached up a single hand and tried to smooth it away. He opened his mouth to speak, but I interrupted him before he could begin.

“Daddy, don’t look so upset. I would be okay. The woods want me there.” I glanced back at the woods, and the siren call of the trees settled over me once again. “I would be fine.” I tried to climb down out of Daddy’s arms, wriggling and pushing with all my might. “I will be fine.” His arms tightened around me more as I reached toward the music. “I will be fine.”

He will never let me go. He and Momma don’t understand. I don’t understand. What is wrong with me? I want to stay with my parents. How can I want to run to the woods as well? The woods, they call me…call me…

Daddy looked over my head at Momma, where they exchanged a look they didn’t think I could see. I wished I could see inside their minds to know what they were thinking. Daddy’s arms shook with effort as he tried to keep me contained. Or maybe there was another reason, perhaps some hidden emotion. I stopped wriggling to get down, accepting I couldn’t get away, but still my voice whispered, “I will be okay.”

“That’s not the point, Scottie,” Momma said. “It’s not safe in the woods. Not safe at all. Especially not for a little boy.” Her voice trembled and sounded distant as though lost in a memory; one that scared her more than anything in her life.

Questions swirled through my mind.

What did she know about the woods? How could she think that I would be hurt there? Could she possibly hear the voices that called me? Did she know that I really belonged there and simply wanted to keep me to herself? Why would she keep me from my destiny? Is it really my destiny?

My parents were keeping something from me. They appeared too nervous, too scared about me going into the woods. Something must have been in there that they didn’t want me to see. Something they thought would hurt me, even though I knew better.

The question spilled out of my mouth.

“What do you mean? I know the woods will not hurt me. They told me so.”

“Okay, let’s go inside,” Daddy’s voice was hard and strained. The frown on his face would have made the fiercest animal run. It had the same effect on me.

“Let me down, Daddy, I can walk.” Although willing to go with my parents in order to learn what they knew, I couldn’t help but look back to the woods as the calls from them slowly faded into non-existence.

“Scottie, stop squirming!”

I stopped moving, but cowered as Daddy carried me into the house. What would he do with me once we were in there? He never raised his voice at me before, but this time…

“You will never go into those woods, Scottie. Never.” Momma’s voice cracked with fear as she choked back tears. I looked at her, afraid of her as well. Something was terribly, terribly wrong, and soon I would know how wrong things could actually be.

She was right, though. I would never go into the woods, not of my own will,

But would my determination be enough to keep me away?

Always,

Dawn

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Book Review: WARM BODIES by Isaac Marion

Those of you who follow my blog know that I do not do book reviews. I simply don’t. There is really no reason for it, just the way I am.

This time, I am compelled to do a review.

I have to be honest. I picked up WARM BODIES by Isaac Marion so I could analyze it. It is written in the first person present, which is also how I write. So, I wanted to see how he handles different descriptions and technical sorts of things.

Besides, I don’t like zombie stories.

While I was reading, I did pick up a few things, but only when I was really concentrating. Most of the time I read the story of R, entranced. I would flip pages and devour the words, then realize that I stopped looking at it critically 3 chapters ago.

Oh well, so much for getting a good analysis.

But what a great story! What a great novel!

I’m not telling you much about it, because the description does not sound nearly as good as the actual book.

R is a zombie. But he finds ‘life’ as a zombie unfulfilling. The other zombies moan and stumble the days away, while he attempts to ponder deeper thoughts. Then he meets Julie. He stops the other zombies from eating her (ouch, that sounds bad) and keeps her in his airplane home. He changes, and so does she. Together they represent something the world has never seen before.

Now, go read it. It really is excellent. If a zombie book can capture my attention enough that I have to write about it, it is worth your time.

Always,

Dawn

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I can’t believe I’m doing this! Intro scene for WIP

Well, here it is, the first scene in my new WIP. It is still a bit rough, of course, but I would love some opinions.

It is a paranormal horror piece and, yes, it is all told in this POV.

I better get this posted before I lose all my nerve.

Tentative Title: The Green Ones

Chapter 1

I slide out the back door, looking cautiously at the woods behind the house. The whispers are silent today. I head over to Amos’ pen and quickly unlatch the door.

“Come here, boy!”

The black and white hound bounds out the gate and jumps up on me, knocking me to the ground, giggling. The newly cut grass is prickly against my bare arms and legs while his goofy face looks down at me as he licks the side of my face. I take a moment to look up at the puffy white clouds that float through the brilliant blue sky. It is a day to enjoy, a day to live life to the fullest. And I want to run around!

I struggle to get Amos off me, once more cursing the fact that although my mind is that of an adult, my body is still that of a five-and-a-half-year old.

He knows what I want. He backs off, still wagging his long tail, and allows me to stand.

“You’re a good boy, Amos.” I pat his back and give him a quick hug, his fur soft against my face, as I smell the doggie goodness of his body.

Suddenly, I hear it again. The whispering of the green leaves in the woods.

Amos jumps over my head and stares into the woods, growling. He must be able to hear it too, although no one else ever has. Certainly, Momma and Daddy have never reacted to it before.

Words start to creep through the breezy sounds, words I hear not just with my ears, but also with my heart.

“Scottie, come to us.”

“It is your destiny.”

“We are as you are.”

“You will be treasured among us.”

“You are the child we have been waiting for.”

“The child of prophecy.”

The words overlap and merge into a breathy kind of silence, yet they all reach inside of me, tugging at my senses. They seem to know how I yearn for acceptance for who I am, not the child my mother wants me to be, or the prodigy my father thinks I am. I am unique in every way, and I know that. There is something more waiting for me than just any average child.

I step away from Amos’ rigid figure and move closer to the trees. I want to enter the woods and surrender myself to the voices. I move as though in slow motion, each step careful, but strong.

I break into a run, charging toward the woods. Amos tries to get in front of me, but I push him out-of-the-way, my arms stronger than ever before. The old hound dog barks sharply, and then I feel warm, familiar arms sweep me up.

“Scottie, just where do you think you are going? Silly little guy. If I hadn’t heard you playing with Amos, I wouldn’t have known where you are!”

“Momma, please let me down. I want to go to the woods.” I look into her beautiful chocolate-brown eyes, pleadingly.

Her eyes cloud over with worry as she asks me, “Why, Scottie? Why would you ever want to go into the woods?” She holds me closer, and takes several steps backward, away from the trees and toward the house. She almost stumbles in her haste.

“The trees, Momma they call to me. I want to go into them.”

“Cherie, Scottie? Are you two out back?”

My mother sighs in relief as my father calls out from the driveway, and says, “Jackson, we are back here!”

Daddy comes walking around the corner of the house, his golden hair shining in the sunlight. His smile so bright, I can’t help but grin in return.

“What are my two favorite people in the world doing this afternoon?” Daddy’s voice is warm as honey and so inviting that I wriggle out of Mamma’s arms and rush to his side.

Just as he always does, Daddy scoops me up in his arms and holds me up higher than his head before wrapping me in a warm hug. He is my favorite person in the world.

“And just what have you been doing, scamp? Running around with Amos, I bet!”

“Oh yes, Daddy. And listening to the woods.”

Daddy’s eyebrows raise and he looks a bit worried.

“Listening to the woods, Scottie? That is an odd thing to say.”

Momma speaks up. “Jackson, I caught him trying to go into the woods today. I was just getting ready to take him inside.”

“Is what you mother’s saying true?”

“Well, yes, Daddy. The woods call to me. I want to walk under the green trees, smell the soil, and talk to the wind.”

Daddy’s forehead pinched together into a fierce line. He looks more worried now than before. I reach up and try and smooth it away.

“Daddy, don’t look so anxious. I would be okay. The woods want me there.”

He looks over my head at Momma, and they exchange a look they don’t think I can see.

“That’s not the point, Scottie,” Mamma says. “It is dangerous in the woods, and there are many hidden dangers there of which you know nothing.”

Her words are more formal than normal, almost as though she is reciting something she had memorized long ago. I looked at her, questioningly. There is definitely something she isn’t telling me.

“What do you mean? I know the woods won’t hurt me. They told me so.”

“Okay, let’s go inside,” Daddy says, carrying me to the back door.

I try to get down from his arms, but he holds me tightly, and refuses to let me down when I tell him to.

“Scottie, stop squirming!”

I stop moving, but frown as Daddy carries me inside.

 okay, advice? criticism? does it hook? is it crap? give me something, dear readers!

Always,

Dawn

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Character Sketches: Make Them Well-Rounded

Today it will have to be a quick blog as I have to head to work in a few minutes.

Character Sketches.

This is another way to get to know your characters a bit better. Will you use all this information in your MS? Probably not. But it will help you have a well-developed character. This is for all your characters, major and minor, protagonists and antagonists.

This is the sheet I use. It is from First Draft in 30 Days by Karen S. Weisner.

Character Sketch

Character Name:

Nickname:

Birth date/Place:

Character Role:

PHYSICAL DESCRIPTIONS

Age:

Race:

Eye Color:

Hair Color/Style:

Build (Height/Weight):

Skin Tone:

Style of dress:

Characteristics/Mannerisms:

PERSONALITY TRAITS:

BACKGROUND:

INTERNAL CONFLICTS:

EXTERNAL CONFLICTS:

OCCUPATION/EDUCATION:

MISCELLANEOUS NOTES: here I put a picture of my character, whether a sketch or an actual picture.

I think the rest is self-explanatory, if not leave me a message!

Always,

Dawn

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Pillars of Writing

Okay, so today I want to talk about what makes a good novel, especially a thriller novel.

To begin with, it would help to define what a thriller novel can be.

A Thriller is a moral tale. Yep, you heard me right, a moral tale. Despite the negativity that is often applied to such a term, a moral tale is not a bad thing. The moral does not have to beat you over the head like the last 15 minutes of Happy Feet. It can be far more subtle than that. A good morality story teaches you about morals without you even being aware of it at the time. Let me give you an example. Who here hasn’t read a Harry Potter book? Okay, so most everyone has. Think about it for a minute. All the Harry Potter books urge people to follow in Harry’s (and Hermione’s and Ron’s and Dumbledore’s) footsteps by standing up for what is right and good. Yes, it is a morality tale. And a damn fine one at that. Did you even realize you were getting a message when you read it? I didn’t.

Okay, so a thriller is a moral tale. Great. Now, what kind of books can be thrillers? Well mysteries, horrors, paranormals, science fiction, fantasy. All of these can be counted under the thriller definition I am using here. The most important thing is that it is a moral tale, that’s it.

Now, on to the pillars. (I am using the term pillars because it is the term James N. Frey uses in his How to Write a Damn Good….  series. I recommend How to Write a Damn Good Thriller to anyone writing in a genre listed above.

All of these Pillars help to make a cohesive novel that is interesting and even fun to read. Remember you don’t want to hit people over the head with morality though. This is not Happy Feet. (Yes, i keep using that example, mainly because I loved the movie until the last 15 minutes, where it irritated me, a proud conservationist. if you haven’t seen it, I suggest you just skip over the end when it gets really preachy.)

Okay, without anymore ado, The Pillars.

1.) High Stakes– This is important, though the definition of high stakes can differ. It does not have to be the life and death of all humanity to be high stakes (though it can be). It could just as easily be the survival of a child, the savior of an immortal soul, or something else that is important. In all this is a pretty straight forward pillar. Don’t think about it too hard.

2.) Unity of Opposites– Okay, this sounds complex. It  isn’t. Of course, neither is novel-writing. Hard, definitely, but not complex. Unity of opposites, with everything else stripped away, is basically the reason your hero can’t just pick up and leave. That’s it. What is keeping your hero from saying, “The heck with it!” and getting out of Dodge? it can be morality, or even physically being stuck somewhere. Just make sure the reader isn’t asking why he doesn’t just leave.

3.) Seemingly Impossible Odds– The hero may not make it against the odds, and definitely for a period of time the reader doesn’t think he can. Usually, however, the hero does eventually overcome the odds. Usually, not always.

4.) Moral Struggle– Easy enough. There is a good side and a bad side. Your hero is on the good side. Think Luke Skywalker in Star Wars. The movies would have been completely different if told from Darth Vader’s point of view. (Notice I said Vader, not Anakin).

5.) Ticking Clock– There has to be a deadline for the hero’s actions. This is über important for the thriller to have a sense of urgency. I mean if there is no deadline, there is no reason for the hero to try to solve the problem and defeat the villain.

6.) Menace– Simply put, your hero and other sympathetic characters are in danger through most of the story.

7.) Thriller-type Characters– Your characters, hero and villain alike, must be clever and resourceful as well as larger than life. Think about Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker again. Although both are believable characters (in the Star Wars universe) they are both bigger than life, and incredibly clever. Same with Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort (yes, I said his name).

Incorporating all these Pillars into your novel will make it stronger and a far more interesting read. If you leave even one out, you run the risk of losing your readers, and we all know that is not a good thing.

Remember a thriller can be just about any type of novel, not just a murder-mystery or a zombie book.

Good luck, good writing!

Always,

Dawn

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Filed under author, character traits, characters, conflict, feeling, growing, ideas, learning, novel, paranormal, rules, story, thinking process, Thriller, voice, Writer, writing, Writing a Paranormal Novel, writing novels, writing process