I said I had lots of new plans for 2016, and here's one of them taking effect: my first ever Beautiful People post!
These questions were so fun to answer, I'm afraid I went slightly overboard. :)
I finished the first draft of my ridiculous space opera The Prince's Pendant! Two drafts, actually. Came up with the idea in the fall of 2014, and by October 1, 2015, I had the second (still really rough) draft in good enough condition to print out and give to my brother as a birthday present. So I am rather proud of myself, although there are plot holes and terrible descriptions and I'm not even sure who my protagonist is....
I also wrote a spattering of other small projects. The biggest of these was half a novella/novel about Sir Gareth, from Arthurian legend. If I only would've stuck with that enough to finish the first draft, I would be rather impressed with myself. But as it is it's on my list of to-dos. Also, I had a little essay of mine published in Teen Ink's print magazine.....however, I'm not sure how much of an achievement that is, as I'm rather miffed by that organization for several reasons. :)
Tell us about your top priority writing project for this year?
Oh dear. I'm torn about that, actually. However, I think I have it narrowed down to two main options:
Option One: Give my all to that space trilogy I can't stop talking about and draft both Book 2 and Book 3. To quote Flynn Rider, that would be stupendous. I would feel so happy if I could carry Raphael and Dar and Timandra through a big series of adventures and land them in a happily-ever-after and be able to go back and rewrite and edit and edit some more and dream about publication for my little family! But that feels like a really ambitious not to mention messy goal, and I feel I'd actually like to finish something this year. Which brings us to...
Option Two: Try my hand at historical fiction and turn out a tidy little novel that's so well-researched and polished I can start reasonably planning for (and not just dreaming about) publication. That. Would be. Stupendous. Even more so than having super-strength in my hand. :) Because, my dear people, I simply adore history. And the very idea of writing a novel set during the Civil War is so enticing I don't know if I can possibly resist the temptation.
Of course, there's the option of trying to be superwoman and completing both those projects....but I don't know if I'm up for that.
List 5 areas you’d like to work the hardest to improve this year.
Um. Okay. I can do this...
1. Finishing things. And I mean really finishing, as in, editing something to near perfection. Although I tell myself I've "finished" several books in my life, really I know I haven't completed any of them. I want to gain that focus and determination and stick-with-it-ness that I'll need if I'm ever to write books for a living. (Which would be so awesome there are no words for it...)
2.Style. Prose, y'know. I'm dreadfully ashamed of how lazily The Prince's Pendant was written. The entire time I was writing it, I had this mindset that when I went back and rewrote it I would polish it up so it read beautifully. Very dangerous and wasteful mindset. That's the whole reason I started writing the Gareth novella - to flex my prose muscles.
3. Research/worldbuilding. Another weakness of The Prince's Pendant, and the Gareth novella, too, for that matter.
4. Characters. Not just characterization, but knowing what a character's purpose is. I never want to write another draft where I'm constantly wondering, "Now, who's my protagonist in this thing?"
5. Theme. I want to be able to write a story that's morally beautiful as well as well-written.
Are you participating in any writing challenges?
If I can come up with a satisfactory story idea and write it out in a satisfactory way before the end of this month, I plan to enter the Tarpeian Rock young writer's contest detailed here:
Besides that, I don't have any contest entries planned. If something comes up and interests me, I'll be likely to take a shot at it.
What's your critique partner/beta reader situation like and do you have plans to expand this year?
I love my beta readers and critique partners. They're so wonderful. :) I'm blessed to have several friends who are willing to read my work and tell me what they think of it, and to act as a sounding-board for my very frequent writing-related fits. Invaluable among my beta readers are my siblings, particularly my two sisters. I was extremely flattered to find them sitting together with my notebook on their laps this morning. I joke that they're my editors. One of them is especially merciless, and won't hesitate to tell me that Timandra is being really weird when she's asking her brother if he likes a certain young lady. :)
Nope. No plans to expand. I mean, if the occasion arises I'll be glad to suck in more friends as beta readers, but that's not really a plan, just a malicious tendency of mine.
Do you have plans to read any writer-related books this year? Or are there specific books you want to read for research?
Not really. If I decide to write that Civil War novel, then I'll need to do a ton of research. I'll probably lean heavily on the internet for that, in addition to begging Mom for stops at the library.
Pick one character you want to get to know better, and how are you going to achieve this?
Um. All of them.
Haha, for example's sake let's say Eldon. Eldon Clemmons. The poor boy was supposed to be my protagonist and I found him the dullest character on the face of the earth (or on the face of Perlacia or Zozzani, depending on which planet he was in at the time). Yet I think he has potential. Rather ironically, my plan is to kick him greatly out of the picture in Book 2 and then bring him back to help the girls get through the crisis at the climax. My guess is that when he shows up as a man instead of just a boy, all outfitted in an Erdanian uniform with a sword and a fighter flier of his own and everything, and is willing to lay his life on the line in the service of the prince, I shall fall head over heels in love with him and have lots of fun developing him in Book 3 and in the rewrite of The Prince's Pendant (if I ever get to that far-off stage).
Do you plan to edit or query, and what’s your plan of attack?
No. Editing and querying sounds like the first stage of a dream come true, but in my heart of hearts I know the first stage of that dream come true is finishing a book. So I'm going to focus on that right now.
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?
Ha, that's an awesome quote. Books I'd like to see more of. Well, although I must admit I don't really read many modern books and therefore don't know what's being published nowadays, I've always wanted to get my hands on a historical novel that recounts some great big event through the eyes of an ordinary person, particularly a child. Hence my ambition to write a novel about the Battle of Lepanto in 1517 someday.
Regarding holes in the literary world, I think we need lots of good, wholesome children's literature. (By "children's" I also mean young adult - I'm in denial about being almost grown up myself.) I want to see books published and sold by secular companies which have nothing offensive in them - books that uphold Christian values, have heroic characters giving a good example, and show the family as something beautiful and glorious. Books that show the marriage bond as indissoluble, books that show religion as something noble and grand, books that set straight historical lies about the Church. Books with more to them than meets the eye. Books that inspire young people to be truly great in the only way that matters. Books that yearn after and point towards all that is good, and true, and beautiful. Books that inspire us to be saints. Books that make us laugh. Books that make us cry.
In other words, I want to see books that will work to reverse the direction in which America's culture is going.
What do you hope to have achieved by the end of 2016?
I hope to have finished something, whether it's a complete draft of my space trilogy or a neatly-finished historical novel about the Civil War.
In addition to that, I want to be able to let go. To know that writing isn't the most important thing in the world. To be able to tear myself away from my story in thought and action so I can be a 17-year-old. I think if I do that, the time I do give to writing will be more likely to be efficient. :)