November Wrap-Up: TOTAL FAIL

Oh hey there!

It’s been a hot minute since I made a normal post, you know?… and I unfortunately don’t even have much to show for it. I was doing so well with NaNoWriMo up until last weekend and then ALL my writing went out the window. Not to make an excuse or anything, but it’s been two years since I spent a holiday with my family (my boyfriend’s family is always kind enough to treat me like one of their own so I usually spend it with them) so I was just UBER happy my brother decided to spend Thanksgiving with me. So I kind of wrangled him into Thanksgiving with the BF’s family which is always super comforting and fun, and then we actually attempted to go Black Friday shopping. My second time ever doing that. And my last.

But either way, it totally killed my numbers goal so I’m frightfully behind the 50,000 word mark. I think I hit around 30,000 and then just lost it 😦

So not only did I go pretty much AWOL from the blog, but I didn’t even succeed in finishing NaNoWriMo (because let’s face it, I can’t write 20,000 words in two days).

However, even with that “failure” behind me, I really, truly believe this was one of the most rewarding writing experiences I’ve ever had. Writing by hand and then typing worked so, so well for me. It allowed me to get an intuitive grasp on the story I’ve never experienced before and I was able to recognize what it was lacking or where it got boring. When I typed at the end of the day, could then go on to elaborate and be super descriptive because by then I knew exactly what was going on in the story, how the character would act, and what the dialogue would be like. It was like a run-through of a scene where I could see the actors on stage contemplating, “well, what does my character feel right now? What is her motivation?”

It sounds silly, but it also let me twist and turn the story to create better conflict. I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time dealing with conflict in my everyday life, so creating it on purpose is so counter intuitive. But, after handwriting a scene, I was free to put on my Snidley Whiplash mustache and write CONFLICT GALORE for my poor little darlings.

So, even though I didn’t reach my word count, I gained a lot more from the process than I would have if I had just typed the story like normal. Yes, double-writing is a lot more time consuming, but I think I finally found an approach to writing that works best for me.

 ⚜️

And as for BOOKS! Dear me, I failed again.

My TBR is so cute… Illuminae, The Royal Elites, and Shadow and Bone.


I got 2/3 (Illuminae, you are next, my little tragic scifi book), and also tacked on installment number 3 and 4 in the Locke and Key graphic novel series by Joe Hill. I super recommend these, they’re so well written and drawn. They’re perfect for when your brain is going to explode. I read them before sleep to calm my brain even though they’re horror stories. I feel like they’re more engrossing than a regular book but less stimulating than an iPhone when you’re trying to wind down from the day.

Yes. It was that kind of a month 🙃

I just have to say… I did not like Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. I’m sorry… I know she’s a YA supergod right now, and I’m sure Six of Crows is better (it damn well has to be, in my mind), but I just could not take it seriously. It was like reading some highschool fanfiction. My biggest issue was the main character who had little to no continuity… her personality was all over the place. She reminded me of Bella Swan 2.0 in terms that she had a personality (whereas Bella didn’t) but it was still all over the place. But I still have faith in Bardugo and will try Six of Crows next time. The magic system and the angst were well-written so I think there’s something to be said for Bardugo’s writing.


😍

But, I loooooooooooved The Royal Elites by Marie Lu. I want to crawl inside the book and gather all the characters into my arms and hiss at whoever tries to hurt them. I love them all. I want to know them all. I want to be in the book even though it’s one of the most depressing narratives I’ve ever read. I highly recommend it if you like darker fantasy. It isn’t a horror, but it’s definitely made up of dark themes.

So, all-in-all, a very manic type of month. Not “successful” in terms of goals, but I gained a lot of perspective and there were some educational bits thrown around in there.

How about you guys? I’m reading through the NaNoWriMo wrap-up posts because this was an adventure for us all. I’m definitely going to continue writing this story (it has potential, guys!) and I have a couple of good projects coming up to share with you guys!

Until next time!

 

Live,

⚜️

Morgan Paige

NaNoWriMo 2016 2nd Update: I Need White Out

 So far I’ve been writing pretty consistently, but after this weekend, I have hit a wall…

I wish I could blame it on writer’s block or a difficult plot hole I have to work around. But instead, I realized late on Sunday night that everything I had written in the three days prior had to be rewritten… UUUUGH can you just hear all those words spinning through the pipes? Those poor, crappy paragraphs. They never stood a chance. 😑

The problem was that I had realized the scene I was writing was DRAGGING…. How is the audience supposed to be excited if I’m not even interested? The scene presented crucial world-building information, sure, but somehow it was soooooooo uninteresting. Why not just shoot myself in the foot if I manage to make my own dark, weird world uninteresting?

So I’m hovering around the word count goal, now, because I’ve basically been rewriting the scenes in a new, completely different setting. It’s way better, it feels so much more organic to the story, but DAMN can I just say how disheartening this is? It’s like… I could practically see myself just holding those papers over a fire and laughing as it burned into ash. Laughing at my poor little writerly self whose wrist muscles are seriously taking a toll from writing by hand and then typing.

But, I still stand by my methods. This write-then-type approach is really keeping me in the story so that I can identify when things like this doesn’t work. And, just to make myself feel better, I kept the word count of the bad scenes in the NaNoWriMo calculator… they still count, right?

Ugh… yes, I am flustered. And yes, I am getting annoyed. But I have made it to the halfway point without skipping a day of writing.

I keep telling myself I have to make this a habit, because writing, albeit discouraging at times (hell, at most times) is really rewarding. I’m going to TRY and push through and at least finish the scene I’m working on right now even though I really just want to lay in a blanket burrito with some chocolate. Maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s the shitty scenes, and maybe it’s just the idea that someday, somehow, I can be a REAL writer, and I’m still so far away. But the only way to get there is to keep going.

Right?

Right.

 

Until next time,

🔥

Live,

Morgan Paige

eBook Review: Bridge Daughter by Jim Nelson

This ebook was sent to me by the author for an honest review.

 

Title: Bridge Daughter

Author: Jim Nelson

Length: 386 pages

Purchase at: Amazon Kindle

Summary: In the god-fearing city of Concord, California, thirteen-year old Hanna lives with her attentive and caring parents. Life is quiet, quaint, and outside of her Aunt Azami and Uncle Rick, Hanna truly believes she needs nothing more in her life. Everything changes, however, on her birthday, when she decides to steal a pregnancy test from her local pharmacy.

Her life is cut in two: life before pregnancy test, and life after pregnancy test, and she must learn to cope with the indelible fact that she is her mother’s bridge daughter. Hanna goes on a mission to learn her own beliefs and values, from herself, to her parents, to God himself, and along the way she learns the gut-wrenching truth that sometimes there is a purpose to your life. And it may not be what you hoped.

Impression: I’ve never gotten teary-eyed after reading a self-published book yet, and I’m happy to say that Bridge Daughter is that inspirational and entertaining of a novel.

Jim Nelson weaves a novel FRAUGHT with taboo topics (religion, sex, life VS death) and handles them so professionally and emotionally. Hanna is a beautiful character that undergoes one of the most trying and tortuous character arcs I’ve ever read- the entire time, I rooted for her through all of her trials, good or bad. She begins the book as a naïve, immature child and ends the novel a saint. Though that, ladies and gentlemen, is the question that Nelson seems to pose all along: where is the line between morality and the right to live your life as you see fit? Is there a line? Is there actually a divine reason behind your existence?

This is an incredible scifi novel that bridges (ha) the gap between religion and science. It is so emotionally superb and is not overhanded with any of the themes (because let’s be honest… religion novels tend to drive people batty, but this is one of the gems that genuinely, genuinely asks you to learn and question on your own). The style is a tough one for authors to grasp, because not many people can write from a thirteen-year old girl’s stunted perspective. But Nelson achieved the nigh impossible. You learn and grow with Hanna, you come to understand the world she exists in and the choices that she has to make, and you endure the tests she must face with as much uncertainty and doubt as she does.

I would suggest this novel to everyone- it is intelligent, gripping, and hard to put down. The action is full-speed ahead; no one makes it out of this book without a tested perspective after some masterfully written heart-wrenching moments. Nelson is a tried and tested author, and I genuinely suggest his book to all scifi and high fantasy lovers. Five feather pens!

Rating:

T5W: Characters You USED To Love… But Not So Much Anymore

So I’m going to be kicking off my reentry into T5W posts with a post that kind of stumped me lol

Today, let’s talk about characters that we either loved and came to grow out of or became neutral about – this is an awesome prompt given to us by Sam and Lainey over at the T5W Goodreads Group.

I’ll be throwing around sacrilegious opinions, though, so hold tight! This could be fun:

  1. Ariel from The Little Mermaid
  2. Odd Thomas from Odd Thomas
  3. Darcy Patel from Afterworlds
  4. Kate Harker from This Savage Song
  5. Boromir from Lord of the Rings

 

OH HOW THE MIGHTY HAVE FALLEN

I can practically hear the pitchforks being lit, I’m so sorry everyone. But let me just start by saying I don’t think any of my opinions in this post are a reflection of the author (except one… meep). 3/5 of these authors are incredible and I could never hope to touch them in terms of talent, and one is a movie/Danish fairytale so it’s kind of cheating, but oh well…

Let me try to explain myself:

As far as Ariel, I used to love her as a kid, but I just grew out of it. As the comedian Iliza says oh-so-succinctly in her new standup routine, “No Soy Mermaid.”

No, but seriously, it’s just not a character who I really think is a good role model and I still laugh at her antics. She’s crazy. But I still love her soundtrack. Unashamed.

Odd Thomas is a bit of a heretical choice, too, and I’m sorry to admit how my feelings have changed in the past couple of months. Koontz is an amazing author and I don’t think this was a fault or anything to his books, but Thomas is a bit… whiny. It kind of sunk in how self-pitying he is and how much he defines himself by his relationship (which is really the only interesting thing about him, and it’s so disappointing that this happens because the dude can TALK TO DEAD ELVIS! How can a person become so defined by his relationship that Elvis can’t even save him??). Yeah, bad things happened to him, but self-pity is a deal-breaker for me. Self-Awareness = Good. Self-Pity = Bad.

Darcy from Afterworlds was a kind of shining spot in the darkness for a while, too, and I understand her character arc is WAAAAY different than most characters (after all, she kind of serves as a vessel for teaching the audience about the publishing industry as well as an entertaining storyline), but she is just a little too… wish fulfillment-y? She has all the right edges in all the right places and I think the end of her story was really forced upon further inspection. Westerfeld is an amazing author, though, and I think he just wasn’t sure how to give her an author’s happy ending lol

Aaaand the “strong” Kate Harker. I wanted to like her. I did, at first. I like her background and the conflict she has with her father. I like the world she lives in. I like her polar identity crisis with the other characters in the book. It took me a while to come to a conclusion about her, and I told myself for a while that I would buy the sequel to see what happens to her. But I won’t. She isn’t strong. She isn’t what the author was trying to portray her as. She’s such a shadow of what she could have been. This is the only character in the bunch that I think is the fault of the author, because Schwab’s schedule is stupid, disgustingly full to the brim. She has to churn out so many books- of course her characters will suffer. Kate is so weak I just… I can’t care how things turn out. She’s like that person in high school that always made things worse for themselves but couldn’t justify why. And here, the author doesn’t even justify it to you. You’re just left watching this trainwreck. No thanks.

And here come the pitchforks, because Boromir is one of the most beloved characters in Lord of the Rings. I tried to like him- when I read the books I just kind of let him be, but then I watched the movies and remembered just how much of a jerk he was.

Yeah, he repented when he tried to take the ring from Frodo… he served as a moral story about how karma will get you if you’re bad… but basically I felt he was like a death-row prisoner saying he was sorry when he was asked to sit on the chair for the first and last time.

What do you guys think? Did I just lose some friends? Lol

Until next time,

And remember to stay strong and be bright, my friends.

Live,

Morgan Paige

November TBR: YA Hypes, Unconventional SCIFI, and a Reread

On top of all of the writing this month, I’m going to try, TRY, to read a couple of books lol

After all the spooky reading we did last month I’ve kind of reverted back into my feel-good comfort zone and am reading a couple of YA fantasy books that came to my attention this past month.

I am reading:

  1. Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
  2. The Young Elites by Marie Lu
  3. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
  4. The Amulet of Samarkand (REREAD) by Jonathan Stroud

As you guys know, I’m a huge Jay Kristoff fan and I’m going to finally read his and Amie Kaufman’s novel Illuminae. I purposefully avoided any spoilers or reviews about this book because it appears to be genre-bending and kind of niche in its style of storytelling. So hopefully I like it! The graphics in this novel and its sequel Gemina were done by author Marie Lu, so I’m going to be reading her book The Young Elites. So far it’s VERY good and I have been biding my time to really jump into it, because…

I’m kind of stuck on Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo.

I am trying really hard to get through it. I rented it from my library last week because Six of Crows was checked out and I really wanted to see how good of a writer she is.

So far, I can see why the younger YA crowd like her writing. It’s very to-the-point and kind of immature, which is honestly making it VERY difficult for me to read. I get it though, that’s the demographic that this book appeals to. So I’m just trying to get past the style and immerse myself in the story. It’s an interesting story, too- the world building is cool and the magic system is very intriguing, but dear god the characters are high schoolers. It’s hard for me to just accept that construct since the world isn’t modern day high school… is a dystopian medieval world. They should be a bit smarter and more worldly…

BUT I digress. I’ll see how I feel when I finish it.


I’m also supplementing my reading with an audiobook reread of the Bartimaeus trilogy by Jonathan Stroud. He is the perfect writer in my mind and I wish I could be as good as he is. Stroud and Bartimaeus are keeping me honest in my NaNoWriMo writing lol

My TBR shelf is overflowing and I can’t help but shrink away when I look at it. I have so many literary novels I need to finish but I think I’ll leave that off till December when I have a bit more free time… what do you guys think?


Let me know what you guys are reading or if you’ve read any of the ones I’ve listed. I’d LOVE to hear any feedback on Shadow and Bone and Illuminae– good, bad, mediocre, let’s chat about them! ☺️

 

Until Next Time,

🔥

Live,

Morgan Paige

NaNoWriMo 2016: My Brain is…

… a steam train idling in a tunnel.

Happy November, everybody and welcome to my first NaNoWriMo update!

I can’t believe it’s already the second week of the month… I think NaNoWriMo has just dropped me into a writing hole that I can’t see out of. It’s actually really great, I love these moods because it’s not often when they happen. I’m sure as writers you all understand lol

I’ve tried a new approach, however, and now instead of either just typing or just writing by hand, I’m doing both! It obviously takes a lot more time, but I keep my head in the game, and when I get around to typing what I’ve written for the day, I’ve had more time to mull over what the scene really is supposed to convey and how best to do it. So it’s like I’ve gotten to write my first draft and also edit it along the way in preparation for the next day.

I’ve managed to keep up with the word count, too, but I’ll admit that I’m just barely hanging on there. I get just about 1,700 words per day and sometimes can stretch it when I do my typing later in the day and make some serious structural edits.

My story is going pretty well, though, and I think it helps because it’s an idea I’ve had mulling around in my head for a couple of months and really, intimately know my characters. It’s pretty fun to see how much I’ve grown as a writer since last NaNoWriMo. My 2015 story was super flat and pretty much author wish fulfillment… which I DESPISE when I catch a hint of that in anyone else’s books.

So, it’s actually really fun to be writing a character that is pretty much nothing like myself. I have a good handle on her as a person and know what motivates her. Pretty much all we have in common is our familial bond, but other than that all I can do is shrug and let her pave her own way through this story.

How are you guys doing with your NaNoWriMo goals? Do you have any new characters or situations that surprised you in your story?

Good luck and keep writing! Even if we don’t make it to the goal, this is more writing than we’d be doing otherwise, eh?

 

Until next time,

Live,

Morgan Paige