Friday, August 23, 2013

The Dominance of the Alpha-Male

Okay so Monday I totally derailed my own post. What did I mean to talk about? Alpha males in fiction. Right. Let's do that. [EDIT: I sort of derailed this one too, with pictures.]

I feel like in a lot of the romance I've read lately, the love interest is a big, strong, muscular, 'hot', manly man. And he's got the personality to match -- conceited, overprotective, needs to be in charge, I could go on. If it's a paranormal, often he's a werewolf or other shifter. And if he is, he's always the alpha.

God forbid any woman fall in love with the beta of the back. Or just a regular member.

Here's the thing - I get that alpha males are the fantasy of many in the female population (and probably some in the male population too - I should be inclusive). But I don't like them.

I don't find them attractive. Well, sometimes I do, but my tastes usually run to the more...bookish types. Or the charming ones. I certainly don't enjoy the kind of personality their fictional counterparts usually possess. (And yes, I know some of it is distortion because you're viewing them through the eyes of another character BUT STILL.)

Here are some manly men:

Here are some men who are more my type (and yes I am aware some of them are gay, this is one of my problems):

(Bonus: these two sing). (Also Matthew Gray Gubler IS HOLDING A PUPPY)

Also like 90% of the guys on this woefully incomplete list

So what about me? What about the girls who don't want an alpha male, a hyper-manly man? (Manly in the stereotypical sense. Yes, problematic gender norm things, but this post isn't about that.)

Are there any books where the female protagonist falls in love with a werewolf who loves the opera? Or a man who isn't super ripped, and instead likes to read? I've seen a few, but usually the guys are  still also super possessive and annoying. And yes, books need conflict, and having the super possessive guy annoy the female until she discovers that really she loves him and he's just trying to keep her safe seems to be a popular one. But there are other kinds of conflict.


So, my dear readers, I ask for your help. (If you are willing and able). Are there paranormal romance books, or SFF books with a romantic subplot, that feature 'nerdy' love interests? Or -- let's go crazy -- even romances with no speculative element whatsoever? They must exist, and I just haven't found them yet.

Otherwise I'll have to write one myself.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Romance Woes

I've been reading more romance lately - it's not my first choice of genre, but I find that more and more of the urban fantasy I read these days is edging farther into paranormal romance. And I've been picking up more kindle freebies lately, and most of them are heavy on the romance.

My conclusions: I'm starting to get a little more into the whole romance thing. I've always been sort of a late bloomer, and I spent the first 13 years of my school-age life at an all girl's school and dancing ballet. There aren't a lot of boys in ballet. So let's just say that I wasn't really interested in relationships for a long time.

But now, maybe I am? I don't know.

The problem is that I'm not very extroverted. I don't drink or go to parties (because I don't like parties. They tire me out and stress me out and are really just not at all fun for me). If I ever complain about not meeting anyone, the advice is 90% of the time "you need to go to parties or you'll never meet anyone".

I don't think I should have to change my personality in order to meet someone; anyone I meet that way wouldn't have the same interests anyway. It would be a friendship, or a relationship, predicated on a lie and it just wouldn't go well.

My struggles are well known in my family - it's to the point where by future boyfriend has become a figure of legend, known as "nerd-boy".

Anyway, enough about my romantic troubles. I'll meet my nerd-boy in med school, and he will like to read and enjoy going to the ballet (or at least find it pleasantly tolerable and be willing to take me), and be romantic and handsome and smart. (Nope, not setting my sights high at all...)

Monday, August 19, 2013

In which I bribe myself with stickers

I'm a little late with this one, sorry.

I've been having trouble with Princess lately. That is, I haven't been writing as much as I wanted to. (Also haven't been updating, whoops).

The problem isn't that I don't enjoy the project, or don't enjoy writing. I do. I'm thinking that maybe it's not as good as the Princess I saw in my head, but that's something I always think, so best just to ignore it and press on.

What is happening is that I'm coming up with lots of fantastic reasons why I don't have time to write right now. Which is silly, because of course I could make time. Do I really need to reorganize my closet right now? Nope.

So what's the solution? Bribe myself with stickers.

Every day I write, I get a sticker. When I have 10 stickers, I get a prize. When I have 25 stickers, bigger prize. Then 50, then 75, and so on and so forth. Mostly the prizes consist of allowing myself to buy things I've been wanting. At the moment those things are mostly items of clothing, because I really don't have room to buy lots of books and my TBR pile is out of control anyway. And the other things I want cost far too much to use as prizes.

We'll see how this goes. It's a bit juvenile but I think I just need an extra push to get going. Once I'm in the habit of writing every day, it will go easier. I hope.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Say Hello to My Little Friend

Something fun for a Friday.

While procrastinating I decided I wanted to sketch the protagonist of my Saucy Ink story, Miri. With the disclaimer that this is just a sketchy sketch, I am not an artist and don't art frequently, and her neck is too long, here she is:

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Title of the Blog

So...the title. "The Great Novel Adventure: Chronicling the Trials and Tribulations of a First-Time Author".

The first part is more accurate than the second.

I've been writing semi-seriously (as in, trying to finish projects, educating myself, honing my craft, actually writing often, etc etc) for a couple years now, and it's time to reevaluate the goals I set for myself way back when.

I was sure that this was going to be fun. See: "Great," and "Adventure"

I knew I this journey was going to be about writing,  primarily long-from prose. See: "Novel"

I suspected there would be challenges along the way. See: "Trials and Tribulations"

I was convinced I wanted to be published. See: "Author".

How much of that is still true? When I started this blog I had only the vaguest notions of what I was getting myself into. And this journey has turned out to be both difficult and joyous - more joyous and more exciting than I had imagined.

So...this is still a "Great Novel Adventure", and it still chronicles my journey. But "Trials and Tribulations", despite the way it trips off the tongue, is a bit of a downer! And yes, there are trials...but there aren't really tribulations.

Okay, what about "First-Time Author"? Well, I'm not a first-time author, because I don't have anything published and won't for a while. And you know what? I'm fine with that. I'm enjoying this process, this adventure, and I don't need to race to the finish line just yet.

Besides, with traditional publishing comes deadlines and schedules, and I've got too much on my real-life plate right now for that.

So not "first-time author". 

What about "aspiring novelist"?

Well, I'm already a novelist. A novelist is a person who writes novels, which I do. So I'm not an "aspiring" novelist, or an "aspiring" writer.

But I am an "aspiring author".

Because, you know what? I'd like to have my name on the cover of a book someday. And it may not be tomorrow, or a year from now, or even 10 years from now. But when the time is right for me, I'm going to do my damnedest to make it happen.

Welcome to "The Great Novel Adventure: Chronicling the Trials and Triumphs of an Aspiring Author".

I hope you're having as much fun as I am.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Weekly Update Princess Edition #1

Words I wrote this week (through Sunday): 1,140 (Not a lot...many things happened over the weekend.)

Scenes worked on this week: Ballroom scene (#1)

Best Snippets: "If only their conversation sparkled as much as their wardrobe."  In reference to someone's face: "That was a shame." [Yes. WAS. Take that, Laura ;)] [Also credit for this line totally goes to Bill]

Meet the (main) cast:

Kelisin (Kel)
Briara (Bria)
Teoden (Teo)

Meet the supporting cast (at least, the ones who appear in the bits I've worked on):

Petar and Leslin

I'm going to be updating the blog sidebars only once a week - it's too much of a pain to do more often. If you want daily progress updates, check out my wordcount here:

Friday, August 9, 2013

Going...Old School

I love my Kindle. I do. I can have hundreds of books on it and it's still light and easy to carry. There are lots of great things about it.

I love my digital camera. I can fit 1000 photos on my memory card; I can catch moments that are gone in the blink of an eye. I can get instant feedback on whether the shot turned out right. If I mess up, I can delete the photo and try again.

But sometimes I like the feel of a paperback in my hand. Sometimes I like the feeling of stopping by the man who sells books on Broadway and finding a paperback I really wanted and buying it for $2. It's like a surprise, a present. It's something special.

And sometimes I like to shoot film. It's softer, more intimate, more beautiful. It's like opening presents when you send the film to be developed and get the scans back. If you're lucky enough to have a darkroom, it's peaceful when you develop the prints, watching the image bloom on the paper as you swirl it in the developer. I feel like I'm creating something, crafting something, as I work.

So yeah, technology is great! The world is moving at an astonishing pace, and ebooks and digital photos and whatever-they-invent-next-week are wonderful.

But sometimes I want something tangible. Sometimes I want something a little old school.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

And so it begins...

"Her Royal Highness, Kelisin Adira Melisse Ellora Peronell, Princess of the Blood!" The herald's staff pounded on the flagstones.

Kelisin grimaced. "Princess of the Blood" was such an ugly title, but -- as everyone loved to remind her -- this birthday was a special occasion and deserved extra formality.

Trumpets sounded a fanfare and Kelisin stepped through the open doors onto the grand staircase. A thousand candles flickered in their gold candelabras, making the jeweled mass of courtiers below sparkle as their finery caught the light.

If only their conversation sparkled as much as their wardrobe.

And with these words the Great Novel Adventure, Princess Edition, has begun!
Follow my progress in the blog sidebar or here:

Monday, August 5, 2013

A Little Bit of Chaos

I am a planner. I like to have everything laid out, decided in advanced, researched to the extreme. Scheduled.  I double check everything. Then I triple check.

But I am also a pantser. Having created my Slow Loris Conservation presentation for class - having planned out what I was going to say for each slide - when it came time to present I ignored my plans completely. I mean, sure, I hit all the same points, in mostly the same order, but it was TOTALLY DIFFERENT from what I had practiced.

When I joined the Saucy Ink group, I dreamed up plots for my story. Once I had one I was happy with, I outlined. Down to almost the very last detail.

Then I started writing. And ignored my outline completely.

I don't mean "sort-of" ignored, like I still hit the basic plot points but maybe in one place they did something a little different. I mean ignored almost entirely.

Things the original outline had in common with the first draft of the story: A female protagonist. A male protagonist. A plot that needed to be stopped (it was a different plot, though).

A.k.a. not a whole lot.

So what have I learned from these experiences? Well, I know I need to plan. I also know I need to make less detailed plans than my brain thinks I need. Because I know that if I get too detailed, I will deviate. Entirely. And while my novel will probably follow a bit closer to the outline than "The Water-Witch" did, mostly because I feel better about its nascent plot than I did about my story's, there will be variation. There will be exploration. There will be a little bit of chaos.

And I'm telling you this was a realization integral to my decision to start writing Princess. I have a decent foundation, which I will expand on as I go. Yes, worldbuilding-as-I-go... usually not a good strategy, but for me it works. I come up with my best ideas in the middle of sentences.

It will likely lead to a fair amount of rewriting. That's okay. I'm fine with it, because that's actually the way I work best. Get something down on paper, then go and fix it.

I've got a slightly-more-detailed-than-basic, scene-by-scene plot outline. I've nailed down the magic system. I have a good grasp on some relevant areas of backstory. Now it's time to write.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Flashfic: 11:00 pm

It's late, and the streetlight on the corner flickers fitfully as I park my car. I have my pick of the spots; the lot is empty save for some scattered shopping carts and an old, beat-up pickup a couple spots over. It's probably the owner's car, because who else would be at the grocery store at this hour?

I push the door open at 10:56 exactly. I've made it with four minutes to go before closing, according to the peeling sticker on the glass. I step into the fluorescent light and rub my aching temples. The too-bright glare with a greenish tint isn't helping my headache.

The store is small but stuffed to the brim. The aisles are barely wider than my hips and the products are practically falling off the shelves. I glance down, but they don't seem to be organized in any sort of logical fashion. Cans of beans  and jars of pickles share shelf space with brightly-colored cereal boxes and packages of cookies. I smile despite myself; a few years down the road I'll be buying those instead of formula.

The clock on the wall ticks, and I glance up. 10:57. I pick and aisle and wander down, heaving a sigh of relief when I come across the powdered milk purely by accident. I grab two cans and head for the checkout.

When I got pregnant, I'd imagined the miracle of childbirth, the wonders of motherhood, the sheer joy of  creating and caring for a new life.

I hadn't imagined crapping during the delivery, or having to go to work after a night full of interrupted sleep, or rushing to the grocery store at nearly eleven because I couldn't breastfeed and my husband had selective hearing loss when it came to errands.

There is no one at the checkout, and I slam the formula down in irritation. The door is open. The lights are on. There's three minutes till close - tick - two minutes till close, so where the hell is the owner?

I rub my eyes. All I want to do is crawl into bed and sleep for the rest of the year...but I'll settle for buying this formula and going home. I'm going to be up all night anyway; at least at home I can  watch reruns of Law and Order.

Tick. It's 10:59, and I'm starting to get a little creeped out. Tentatively, I call out.

"Hello? Is anyone here?"

I'm met by silence.

"Hello? I know it's almost closing but I really need to buy some baby formula."

A door slams, and I nearly jump out of my skin. But it's just the owner, coming out from the back room. He's younger than I would have expected, with an open, friendly face and twinkling blue eyes. A butcher's apron covers his jeans and checked button-down, and it's seen some use - it's covered in reddish streaks and hand prints.

"I didn't know you guys butchered anything yourself - doesn't it all come packaged?"

He just laughs. Something about him seems odd to me but I'm not sure why. I try to think through the fog of sleep-deprivation and come up empty.

"Listen," I say, "Can you ring this up for me? I've got to get home before the baby drives my husband too crazy."

The man lifts his hands and I notice he's holding a meat cleaver. He runs a finger along the flat of the blade, then lifts it up to his mouth and sucks on it.

My heart stars beating faster, and the hairs stand up on the back of my neck.

But the baby is at home, crying, so I try once more.

"Can you ring me up or not?"

Tick. It's 11:00 pm. The man grins a jack-o'-lantern grin.

"I'm sorry," he says. "I don't work here."