I HAVE RETURNED! Sorta. With News.

Okay, so, a month ago (whoa, was it a month? sheesh), I posted that I was taking a blogging hiatus.  This was brought on by a number of reasons that aren’t totally relevant, and after some thinking and talking with friends, I made a decision.

I am going to keep blogging, because even with the struggles, I do enjoy it.  That is, I think, the one reason I have kept blogging over the years—because somewhere deep down, even when I despise it, I actually like blogging.

Here’s the catch, though.  I’m creating a brand new, shiny blog.  Totally new.  None of the baggage and everything that’s attached to this one.  (Let’s take a moment to appreciate I made this blog…four-ish years ago?  Wow.)

The new blog will be pretty different from this one.  I’m approaching blogging from a totally different angle, something that might work really well or fail really epically (in probably a bad way).  I think the only thing that’ll be all that similar between this blog and the new blog is…actually the color scheme.  (What can I say, it’s a pretty color, even if I can’t decide if it’s blue or green. I’m a writer who can’t really describe a color.  Whoa.)  So don’t be surprised at how different the posts will be.

I also made the decision to start using my pen name, so you’ll see comments under the name of Morgan or Morgan Dusky, rather than Shim.  (Feel free to keep calling me Shim if you wish, though.  I’ll still answer to that, I promise.)

So without further ado, my new blog address is http://morgandusky.wordpress.com/

Advertisements

Blogging Hiatus

I’ve already sort of been kind of WordPress-absent the last few weeks, but I thought I would make it official.

I’ve been having a hard time trying to blog lately, for a multitude of reasons—lack of time, lack of ideas, lack of motivation.  It’s actually been adding a little stress to my day, the fact that I haven’t really done anything with WordPress in a while.

So I’m officially stating I won’t be on WordPress much, so I won’t feel back and all of you won’t wonder where I disappeared to. So, I won’t really comment on any posts, I definitely won’t have any new posts of my own, and I might miss some things.  But I shall return!

I have no idea when, but I’ll be back.

Probably.

[insert virtual brownies for those who get the HTTYD reference]

Short Story: Four

This is a mostly random short story I started at the beginning of January, and then didn’t finish until like a week or so later.  It is my second short story written so far in 2016.


u no anyting bout dragon eggs???

The text came through at three in the morning, startling me awake.  I stared sleepily at my phone, my brain taking its sweet, sugary time to process the words.  With a groan, I settled back against my pillow, and texted back, They probably don’t like being woken up at three in the morning.  Why are you even awake?

The response was almost instant, considering Elliot could probably text faster, and with better spelling, with his toes.  No srsly do u??

Clearly this was not going to be a “give hinthint comments to let me go back to sleep” kind of situation.  Why dragon eggs?

Lorrennnnnnnnnnnaaaaa plz

Wow.  That must have taken forever to type.  And it was totally unhelpful.  I rolled my eyes, and pulled my covers over my face.  Not that there was anything to hide from—my blackout curtains allowed as much light into my bedroom as a black-hole would.

Finally, I pulled it back and dialed his number into my phone.  He picked up pretty quickly.

“Since I’m already awake, we might as well avoid your terrible spelling,” I said as way of hello.  “So why is it you need to know about dragon eggs when the sky is still darker than this black-hole in my room?”

“Black-hole—?  Wha—?  Lorena, just—”  Elliot sounded pretty panicky, and I sat up straight, instantly worried.  He groaned, and I could hear all of the pent-up frustration even through the phone.  “Please.”

There was a crackle of something.  At first, I thought static, and then I realized it sounded more like a rustle of leaves.  Where was he?

“I don’t actually know much about them,” I said.  “It probably depends on the mythology.  Um.  They look like normal eggs, but bigger, I guess?  And, in the movies, they usually—”

“I know what they look like, Lorena,” Elliot interrupted.  There was more leaf-rustling-crackling sound on his end.  “What are you supposed to do with them?  How long does it usually take before they hatch?  Can baby dragons breathe fire right away?  And what in the world do they eat?”  His voice rose higher and higher in pitch until he sounded almost like me, and I was nearly a soprano.

“Elliot, jeez, take a breath before you hyperven—I mean suffocate.”  Hyperventilating, suffocation, totally the same thing.  I rolled my eyes at myself.

“I am breathing.  Can’t you hear me panting?”

“Oh, so you are hyperventilating.”

“Lorena!”

“Sorry.  Why are you so panicked about this?  I don’t know anything about dragon eggs—they’re just myths anyway.”

Silence.  A silence filled with more leaf-rustling and his definitely-heavy-but-not-really-hyperventilating breathing, which was basically not at all like silence.

“Well,” Elliot said at last. “I found something in the woods.”

“Something? What are you doing in the woods?”

“I couldn’t sleep,” he said sheepishly.

“So you took a walk in the woods?”

“I like the fresh air.” He sounded rather defensive, and I decided to drop it. Who really cared if he took walks in the woods after midnight?

“What did you find?” I asked. “It wasn’t a dragon egg, was it?”

I teased, but Elliot didn’t joke back. I heard a heavy sigh. “I had hoped you would believe me, Lorena. I knew nobody else would.”

“Dragon eggs don’t exist, though, Elliot.”

“Then what would you say this is?” he demanded angrily. “It’s a giant, polished stone, only it’s purple and not heavy enough to be rock. And way, way too smooth to have come from the woods.”

I had no idea how to respond. I peered out my window, and the moonlight glared through the temporary break in the curtains, but as soon as I let them back in place, the black hole swallowed that moonlight.

“It does kind of sound like an egg, maybe,” I said.

“I don’t know which is worse,” Elliot said. “The fact that you don’t believe me or that you’re only trying to pretend to believe me.”

“Elliot—”

“No, no, it’s fine. You back to sleep. I can handle this. Maybe Google will have something… no, it probably won’t, but I’ll be fine. Goodnight, Lorena.”

And he hung up.

I stared at the phone for a moment. His caller ID faded from the screen.

A dragon egg?

No, okay, I didn’t believe him. This kind of felt like a prank or something. Only a very pathetic one. The weird part was, Elliot didn’t do pranks. He was usually pretty honest.

It wasn’t that hard to come to a conclusion. No, I didn’t believe he’d found a dragon egg. But I did believe that he thought he’d found one.

I called him back. He let it go to voicemail.

I tried again, with the same result. This time, I decided it wasn’t worth it. If he didn’t want to talk to me—then fine, I would go to bed and reclaim my sleep.

I stared at the wall, cuddled up into my blankets, sleepless, restless, wondering. What if he had? What would happen then? What would that mean?

Some time later, I fell back asleep.

The next morning, I woke to a slew of texts.

Sry i didnt call u back

it hatched!

its prple!!!

its so pretty

ow!! it tried to eat my finger 

& my phone!!

sry lorena

And then the texts stopped. The latest one had been about a half hour ago, so I thought maybe Elliot was still awake. I called him.

I had no idea what to say.

He answered and spoke first. “Lorena, hi. I can’t really talk right now—there’s—quick, grab it!

“What is going on?” I asked.

“I’d tell you, but then you wouldn’t believe me,” Elliot said. There was a clatter of noise, and then he said, sounding far away from the phone. “Sky, don’t do that, you’ll get burned!”

I told myself the hurt I felt, I probably deserved. I really hadn’t even tried last night.

Then Elliot said, as if he hadn’t said anything at all before, “My egg hatched. The dragon tried to eat everything, and didn’t want any of what I gave it to eat. It woke my sister up, and when she came downstairs, it climbed all over her.” He yelled something in the background, then continued, “It has no qualms about biting and burning me, but it seems to adore Sky and eats everything she offers without even biting her too deeply.”

Even if I had no idea whether I believed in the existence of this dragon, I could hear the sounds in the background that made Elliot’s story seem very real. His sister Sky’s voice, an animal-like squawk that wasn’t quite a normal bird sound, and the chaotic sounds that came from chasing something.

“It wants Sky?” I asked. “How old is she again?”

“Four.”

So I made myself a book cover…

This is some of what happens when I really don’t want to be productive, but need to be more productive than browsing Pinterest.  And hey, this is totally inspirational, right?

image copyright to Shim

I was going to try to write up some kind of back-cover blurb thingy to share in this post, but ohmygosh those are so hard to write.  (It probably doesn’t help that I’m only in the middle of the first draft, so…heh.)

So instead, here’s a…shorter blurb-thingy.

Former thief Ceveth and his two older siblings are contacted by someone named Izi who offers them the heist of a lifetime—break into the most secure building in the city, the city hall treasury, and steal an unidentified item  As a reward, Izi promises them a fresh start to their lives—and the only way to keep from ending up in prison for the rest of their lives.

(And for anyone who’s curious, I shared an excerpt of the first chapter over here.)

Why Writers Should Appreciate Long Shopping Lines

The past few months, my schedule has gotten busy and filled with lots of activities—important things, like school, chores, social interactions, meals—and less important, fun things.  As a result, it’s more difficult to find time to do everything I need or even want to do.  Even my writing has happened less often than I would like.

Sometimes, I get kind of impatient when things take longer than I want, because it’s wasting my time—time I could spend doing other things.  So when the shopping lines are long, for example, the usual thought to cross my mind is, “Ugh, I could be writing/[insert other task here] right now.”

Shopping

You know what, I really could be writing right then.

Think of it like a word war/sprint.

The point of a word war is to try to write as much as you possibly can in a set period of time.  No worries about spelling, grammar—just get as many words down as possible.  Usually, you do word wars with other people, and when the set time is over, you compare word-counts.  My favorite word war lengths are fifteen minutes.  It’s enough time for me to get in the “writing groove”, and really get writing.  In fact, for NaNo 2014, I discovered I could write about ~800 words in that fifteen minutes.

While you’re standing in line, you might not have fifteen minutes.  (I really hope the line isn’t that long.)  Maybe you only have two or three.  Maybe you have five.  And sure, there’s nobody to compete against.

But if I write ~800 words in fifteen minutes, and we pretend that I can keep that speed in five minutes, then I should be able to write 267 words in five minutes.  That’s…a lot of words for five minutes.

Okay, I really can’t write that fast.  Eight hundred words is only for those really good word wars where I’m really trying, and it takes me about five minutes to even get “warmed up”.  So in five minutes by themselves?

I get maybe a paragraph.  Or sometimes just a sentence.

That’s a paragraph or a sentence more than I had before.

Let’s say I can write 50 words in five minutes.  I’m on a long shopping trip with my…say, sister, just because.  Three separate stores.  The first one is pretty quick, no time to really do anything else.  But at the second store, my sister sees an old friend and she starts chatting.  Five minutes.  Fifty words.  The last store, there’s a long line.  Five minutes.  Fifty words.

By the time I get home, I’ve not only done a lot of shopping, but I’ve also written a hundred words!  My personal goal is usually to write about ~500+ words every day, so if I’ve already gotten a hundred, then I’m a fifth of the way to my goal already.

Even in other situations, sometimes just using those five wasted minutes, standing in line, waiting for someone, standing in the elevator.  Who says you can’t make use of it?  Five minutes start to add up after a while—maybe you’ll get your whole quota for the day done in five minute segments.

Of course, I would like to say that setting aside time to write solely is important.  Sometimes, you have to be totally immersed in your world.  If nothing else than just for your sanity.  (Break from reality, anyone?)  There are plenty of times where I can’t actually make use of those few extra minutes, but in order to go any further, I need to be in my world.  And five minutes in my world is…both not enough, and actually kind of frustrating.

So this does not work all the time.  I’d say, it probably doesn’t even work for everyone.

But five minutes.  A single sentence, even.  That’s more than you had before, and all you’re doing is standing in line, anyway.

More Resolutions-y Stuff!

I’m too lazy to write a real blog post, so I’m going to do the latest Beautiful People post, which is about resolutions and stuff! Yay!  I did technically already do a resolutions post, but I like some of the questions in this.

These questions are from Beautiful People.

What were your writing achievements last year?

I made it through draft two of Oracular.  That was about it.  But that was a lot, so hey.

Tell us about your top priority writing project for this year?

Finish Sleeping in Cyberspace.  Make it through draft three of Oracular and hope that the story when I’m done with that pass-through will actually be coherent.  And…write some novellas.  Okay, that’s actually three, so if you want a one-project answer, then I’d say finish draft three of Oracular.

List 5 areas you’d like to work the hardest to improve this year.

  1. Less procrastination.  I think this basically explains itself.  I spend a lot of time doing things like “oooh, Pinterest” and stuff, but there are also countless hours I spend doing basically nothing because I just don’t want to write (or anything else).  If I just cut some of those down, I think it would be so much more.
  2. World-building.  I did already post about this a little, but I really want to work on my world-building and…really figure out how in the world people world-build all the way to the end without getting sick of the world.
  3. I want to write something funny for once in my life.  My writing style tends to be very serious, and while I normally don’t have a problem with it, for once I’d like to write something humorous.
  4. Read more…I don’t feel that I really read enough last year.  Eheh, guilty.  I’d like to change that this year—and keeping track of what I read would be great, too.
  5. Find more confidence in myself (and get better so that confidence is well-founded). Confidence is probably one of the biggest things holding me back, so I would like to change that.  But, of course, I would like to actually be good and be confident in it—not just think I’m good when in reality I’m terrible or something.

Are you participating in any writing challenges?

I don’t know yet?  I may or may not do NaNoWriMo this year.  It’s too early to tell, really.  It’s possible I will try again to write the sequel (all the way through, this time, instead of just pieces) for Oracular for NaNo this year, although maybe I’ll have another project  by that point.  (You can always count on the plot bunnies to find you, that’s for sure.)  Maybe Sleeping in Cyberspace will have a sequel.  (I think it has potential for a sequel because of the way I’m setting up the world.  I just don’t know if my characters will allow me to write a sequel.)

What’s your critique partner/beta reader situation like and do you have plans to expand this year?

As of about a week ago, I found two possible CPs for Oracular and we traded the beginnings of our novels.  We’re still in the “trial run” stage, so I don’t know if it’ll actually turn out, but I’m hoping!

Do you have plans to read any writer-related books this year? Or are there specific books you want to read for research?

Yup.  I got three writing-related books for Christmas, actually.  I can’t remember their titles off the top of my head, but I would like to read them.  (One is basically a “here’s info about guns for writers” (this is for my sci-fi WIP), and the other two are on character traits.)

Pick one character you want to get to know better, and how are you going to achieve this?

One?  Just one?  Um.

Um.  After going back and forth a little, I decided on Iaelie Crestal.  She was one of the first characters I “got to know” while planning Oracular, but while writing the second draft, I started to realize that I didn’t actually know her as well as I thought I did, and I think I might be misrepresenting her somewhat.  (Weird, I know.  I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen with a character.)  So before I start truly editing draft 3, I want to get to really get to know her, and do her character justice.

Do you plan to edit or query, and what’s your plan of attack?

That may or may not be how I’m approaching editing.

Actually, that’s not totally true.  I don’t have a fully-formed plan, but I have some vague ideas, and I’ll be fleshing it out better once I’m closer to editing.  Right now, I shan’t worry about it.  (I’ve always wanted to use the word “shan’t” in a sentence.  I think I just fulfilled something on my bucket list, teehee.)

 

As for querying?  No.  I don’t think I will be at a stage to even think about querying until next year at the earliest (and probably not even quite then, depending on how well draft three fixes up the plot).

Toni Morrison once said, “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.”  What are the books that you want to see more of, and what “holes” do you think need filling in the literary world?

I’m actually writing about the relationships between teen/young adult siblings at the moment, and I can’t say I see a whole lot of that in fiction.  Or at least YA.  Not that there aren’t siblings, I just don’t see a lot of stories where the relationship between siblings is all that relevant to the story.  Seeing more of that would be nice.  Especially good relationships.  Of all of the sibling-relationships I can think of, most of them seem to be “my brother turned evil and now we’re mortal enemies” or something.

Good, strong, healthy relationships between siblings.  Or just familial relationships as a whole.  (Turns out, it’s hard to have a character have a good relationship with their parents when the parents are dead.  And…a lot of parents end up dead in YA fantasy.)

(I think it would be nice to see more ordinary, platonic friendships, as well, but I like the idea of familial relationships right now.)

What do you hope to have achieved by the end of 2016?

…a lot.  ‘Nuff said.

Mostly, I want Oracular to be readably coherent and have a world to stand on.  I also would like Cyberspace to have a finished first draft, and plans for edits, and I also would like to have some more short stories written (see bar on the right), but the main project is Oracular.

story: thread of life

This short story sort of kind of killed me a little inside. My heart just sort of tugged painfully.
But it’s so beautifully written.

i n k y c o n s t e l l a t i o n s

I was bored and had a random idea, so here’s a thing! It’s basically about doll-people who are living and have emotions and stuff. I don’t really know. And it doesn’t really have anything to do with mythology, although the title makes it seem like it does. Anyway, here you go!

She reached for the thread coiled in the center of his palm. It was an assortment of different colors, but the first one was white, from the Times Before.

The boy opened his hand a little more, just for her, making the hole that the thread came out of more visible. The girl held the thread gently, then pulled at it, and it stretched out of his palm with ease. At first it looked like a compressed rainbow, every shade squished into another, but when she observed it more closely, the colors were arranged in beautiful and unpredictable…

View original post 572 more words

World-building! Yay!

And so we start the world-building again!

This is blackboard tape on my bedroom wall.  It was a Christmas present and I love it so much.  I can’t decide which is better anymore—my whiteboard, my sticky-notes, or my blackboard!

After deciding that I won’t start any major plot changes/revisions until after I’ve had at least one beta-reader go through my novel and give me feedback, I figured starting the world building now would be acceptable.  I tried it last night, actually, and ended up instead extremely frustrated.

Today, though, proved to be much more fruitful!  That blackboard was actually mostly empty this morning, and the strip underneath wasn’t there at all.

I decided that I was going to start my world building with the history.  And the history, I’d start at the beginning.  Yay for figuring out creation!  I actually considered an idea for it, but then it developed into something else, and now I have a really, really awesome idea for my religion, and no clue how the world actually came into existence.  (I’ll probably say “science” and be done with it.  Because, really.)

Tomorrow I’m going to work more on fleshing out my timeline (that’s what that bottom strip is), and then next week, I’ll probably be working on research.  I suck at research and my first and second draft were both written with a “I’ll pretend I know what I’m talking about and hope nobody notices” kind of attitude.

I’m pretty sure that won’t actually slide.  (It actually already hasn’t, considering the culture and whatnot of my world feels very blank.)  And I would like to know what I’m talking about in a few cases.  So now begins the research!  Yay!

That’s basically how it’s going so far.

I also happen to be procrastinating from my WIP, but hopefully that won’t last long, because I would like to finish the first draft of that.

How goes the writing for everyone else?  Where do you usually start when you tackle the huge chaotic mess that is world-building?

Showing versus Telling & Subtlety

Sometimes being subtle is more descriptive, I’ve found.  Saying “they were brothers” is specific, but not really descriptive. What kind of relationship do they have? Are they estranged or close?

Showing

I realized that while writing about the siblings in my story. I did say outright that they were two brothers and a sister—but the important part is actually the way they treat each other.  For example, they argue a lot. Especially the older two. And yet they also have pet nicknames for each other. These two things together show both how close they are and yet also how imperfect their relationship is.

Yet it’s also totally subtle. I never pointed out either of these two things (or any of the other ways they treat each other that help suggest their relationship), but it still helps the reader figure out what the dynamics are between the characters, way better than me saying “they’re siblings” does.  Or even “the siblings were close, but they had some issues”.

Actually, this is exactly what showing instead of telling is. I am showing their relationships.

I think there actually is a place for telling, somewhat. In this particular situation, who’s to say that my “showing” won’t leave the reader just assuming they’re really good friends, rather than siblings?  I think I show their being family well enough, but that’s certainly something to consider, hence why I actually do say they are siblings.

I hesitate to let this turn into another “showing versus telling” post, because there’s already so many of them out there.  But it really clicked with me, this time, exactly what showing is.

In all the examples of showing versus telling I’ve seen in the past, it always seems to be smaller things.  Say, emotion.  Show the emotion, don’t just tell me she’s angry.  Right?  We know that.   (On the subject of showing emotions, the Emotion Thesaurus is awesome for helping with that.)

But showing is so much deeper than that.  In fact, it occurred to me, you can show while telling.  Take, for example, a description of a room.  If you describe the room, you’re probably telling.  But while you’re telling me what the room looks like, you can pick your words so that at the same time, you’re showing what the narrator thinks/feels about the room.

Another thing is character arcs.  Or character personalities.  Do we tell our readers upfront that this character is saucy?  Well, maybe, but then what do we do?  Show their sauciness.  And then as the story progresses, again, we show the character development.  What good would development be if it was all told?

Once upon a time, Selena was a spoiled child who had no idea what privileges she had.  Then her father declared bankruptcy and she lost everything.  She got a taste for what life is like at the poverty level, and she found humility.

THE END.

That really isn’t how we develop characters.  Or introduce characters.  Or introduce events.  Or…really any of that.  I’m pretty sure even the “the end” is telling.  (You know, usually we show readers they reached the end by having a back cover after the last page.)

Or world-building!  Isn’t that all showing, as well?  (Of course, there is the occasional world-building info-dump because I think it’s impossible to avoid info-dumps 100%, but still, that isn’t how all of it’s shown.  Or even most.)

Showing goes way deeper than just a simple “her cheeks turned pink and she looked at the ground” instead of “she was ashamed”.  And I think the best showing is so subtle, you don’t necessarily know you’re being shown.

The Character I Wish Existed in More Fiction

There’s this huge push for diversity lately, especially in characters.  More this, more that!  I like some of the changes that I’m seeing, but there’s one character I don’t see often and I wish I did.

The introvert.

Introvert

The biggest problem with introverted characters is that there are attempts to write them.  I’ve read about plenty of characters who are shy or antisocial/asocial or socially-awkward.  There are definitely wallflowers in fiction.

But being a wallflower isn’t what being an introvert is.

Part of the problem, I think, is that a lot of people don’t actually understand what introverts are.  I’ve heard people describe introverts as being those shy or wallflower people.  Someone else I knew thought that it had to do with how well someone could communicate.  Someone else I know thinks of introvertedness as a character flaw that needs to be overcome.

The thing is, being a wallflower or being shy are sometimes effects of being an introvert.  But it isn’t the root of it.

I’m an introvert, and for me, being an introvert isn’t just how I communicate or how I make friends.  It’s true—I hate crowds.  If I enter a room with a lot of people, I tend to stay near the edge of the room.  Usually by a wall.  I’m shy when I meet new people, and sometimes, I have a hard time initiating a conversation with somebody I’m not real familiar with.

But that isn’t what being an introvert is about.

I like being alone, sometimes.  But I hate being lonely.  I have friends, and I need my friends.  Without them, I’d go crazy.  I might have more fictional characters in my head than real friends, but what friends I do have that are real are really close friends.

Sometimes, being an introvert means I will pick one really close friend over a group of people qualifying as “I…think we might be friends?  Maybe?”.  I prefer deep conversations over light and fluffy useless ones.  (That’s not to say I can’t talk about the weather.  In fact, I like to compare the weather from where I live to the weather where some of my non-local friends live.)

Sometimes, being an introvert means breaks from routine are tiring.  Don’t get me wrong, I love to have something a little different happen.  I can go stir-crazy as easy as anybody else.  But if something goes differently one day, then it needs to be normal the next day so I can recover.  I think this goes for most people, actually, but as an introvert, my “downtime” is really important.  I went to a birthday party this afternoon?  Okay, I’ll probably spend the evening holed up in my room with my headphones.  I went on vacation for two weeks?  Great, it was awesome, and now the next week is probably going to be spent mostly at home.  Without the downtime, I get more easily overwhelmed and my stress level rises.

I gravitate towards the walls in a room, but sometimes it’s just so I can see everything going on.  I’m shy at first, but if I warm up to somebody, I can talk until they’re sick of me.  I don’t have a lot of friends, but the ones I do have are important.  I need my routines, and I love breaks from them, but then I need the routines again.

To bring this back around to characters, I think the thing is, there are introverted characters.  But they only just scratch the surface.  They only have a few of the stereotypical “features” of an introvert.  Or, even worse, they’re viewed as having a character flaw and it has to be overcome.

“Oh, don’t worry, by the end of this story, you’re going to be the biggest social butterfly in existence.

Being an introvert isn’t just being shy.  It isn’t a character flaw.  There’s nothing wrong with me.  It’s the way I think.  It’s the way I interact.  Being an introvert can introduce flaws or be coupled with them—like being too shy to make friends—but it isn’t the flaw itself.

I wish there were more truly introverted characters, instead of just shy or asocial ones.