Beautiful Books - October

To quote Sam Gamgee, "Well, I'm back."

And it is now the beautiful month of October! Beautiful, not only because of changing leaves and crisp cool air, but because it hails the beginning of the Beautiful Books link-up, hosted by Cait and Sky as an aid to writers participating in the adventure known as National Novel Writing Month. (Or any writers, really, since you don't have to be doing NaNo to join in.)

Since this is my first year participating in NaNoWriMo, I'm super excited!

beautiful books

(I am also super annoyed at the formatting of this post. Because look at how the lower section of questions and answers are all disgustingly highlighted with white on my normal beige background. It is not at all pretty, dear readers. And I don't know how to fix it without retyping my entire post. *whimpers at own pathetic technological skills*)

Anyway! To get on with it, today I am going to rant to you about my 2016 NaNo project, The Time-Traveling League

What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?

Well, around this past June I was reading the book Time Pirate, by Ted Bell. There were lots of things I loved about this book - namely how many awesome historical things could be packed into it because of time-travel. I mean, hiding in a priest-hole from Nazis in one chapter and running away from pirates in the next is pretty cool, not?

Despite the flaws in the writing...and the flawed moral philosophy...I really enjoyed this book.:

But, at the same time, the book left me flat. The writing wasn't the greatest, and I was continually thinking up things I would've done differently. 

"Billy Blood wants to kill Nick because Nick foiled his plans in Book 1. Wouldn't it be cool if Nick didn't know why Billy Blood hated him because Nick hadn't actually foiled his plans yet?"

"Nick should go back in time to meet his father as a WWI pilot! - Will he? Will he? Oh darn no, he never did."

"I like this little group of people who share the secret of time-travel...wouldn't it be neat if they went on time-traveling expeditions regularly? If they made a time-traveling league?? And if instead of being all WWII-era people, they could be characters from all over history???"

And it was that last thought that sparked the idea for The Time-Traveling League. Now tell me, friends, and tell me true, is that plagiarizing? Don't spare my feelings, Shasta. Because I tend to be paranoid about the plagiarism thing, and as such I can never tell if my alarm is unfounded or not...

Describe what your novel is about!

It's about a league of people who time travel. Shocking, no? ;)

Why are they time traveling? That's a great question. I don't really know myself. I do know that the villain is a power-hungry personage of some sort who wants to build a time machine so he can control time. You see, even though time traveling is a thing in this story, time machines aren't. Leastways, not time control machines. You can go back and forth in time by using this thing called the "time tunnel," but you can't do like Meg in A Wrinkle in Time and arrive back in your own time a minute before you left. If you spent a year in ancient Rome, you would have to spend a year away from your own time period. 

And basically I've taken this concept of the time tunnel, coupled it with a bad guy who wants to control time for his (or her) own selfish and nefarious purposes, and then thrown a large cast of colorful characters into the mix of good guys. Will it turn out as a good novel? I have no idea. Will it be fun to write? Oh, yes. 

(That is, if I don't stress out over it too much. Remind me not to stress out over it too much.)

What is your book’s aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like!

My book's aesthetic. I do not believe I have heard that word used in that particular way before. I must needs consult a dictionary.

*hurries to look it up on google*

Ah, I see. According to the internet "aesthetic" in this sense means, "a set of principles underlying and guiding the work of a particular artist or artistic movement." Ha. So I am an artist. I like that. 

Well! My book's aesthetic is going to be primarily very fun. Bright. Upbeat. Jazzy. If this were a young adult novel, I could try to get into the horrors of war and social rights issues in almost depressing depth, BUT! it is not a young adult novel. I am bound and determined to make it a middle grade novel and just have fun with it. 

     50s/60s Blue and Green Full Skirt Dress - sm                         Cape Hatteras Lighthouse; In Buxton, NC, The tallest lighthouse in North America, stands at 187 feet tall with 286 steps reaching to its light. For just $5, (during the season) you can climb it to the top for an amazing arial view of Hatteras Island. Ready to climb?:                           Photo Uploader for Pinterest on the App Store:

             Classic Banana Split Ice Cream Sundae Recipe:                                   "Winged Victory" by Terry Jones:

That said, there is going to be a serious side to it. I firmly believe that comedy needs a serious undertone, even and especially children's comedy. I intend to make myself whimper over my characters as well as laugh with them. And I'm sure my poetry-loving side will sprinkle the story with descriptions of smooth blue skies and cotton fields and summer flowers. Fun descriptions. :)

Introduce us to each of your characters!

Each of my characters?! Yippee!! This is going to be my favorite part of the link-up. 

Well, first of all there are Alice and Jeanie Mulligan, sisters from 1950s small-town America. I did a Beautiful People post on Jeanie in August. Alice, my main POV character, is tall(ish), blonde, green-eyed, and skinny as a rail. She loves mystery stories, especially Nancy Drew and Sherlock Holmes, and considers herself pretty good at sharp observation and clever deduction. (I'm not saying she's actually good at it. She just thinks she is.) She loves Jeanie with the fierce devotion of an older sister and fancies herself Jeanie's protector; but really, Jeanie's much braver than she is. Alice is afraid of everything but strangers. Jeanie is only shy.

Girls, Soda Pop and Rollerskates, 1950s:

Then there's Michael Mulligan, my second POV character, a WWII member of the....Coast Guard, I think, although I have to do a lot more research. He's stationed at the Outer Banks during the Atlantic Turkey Shoot. (I am so excited about this! I just got back from a vacation at the Outer Banks, and I've got this really cool book about WWII on the North Carolina coast, and I saw the lighthouse and the ocean and this whole setting where Michael is from...) I love Michael already. He's quiet, friendly, responsible, in love with a nice girl back home, and prone to freaking out when things go wrong. Oh, and there's a reason he's got the same last name as Alice and Jeanie - he's their father. (I don't think that's a major spoiler..)
U-Boat Type IIB (1939) - German Submarine:

Michael's best pal in the book is Ricky Hartford, a WWI fighter pilot. I've got a slight obsession with WWI aviation, and so this should be delightful. And Ricky is going to be so fun to write. Stereotypical, perhaps, but fun. Reckless, easy-going, cheerful, teasing, and irresponsible, he should provide a good contrast to Michael. And he's always whistling, particularly the patriotic song You're a Grand Old Flag. I shouldn't be surprised if he steals center stage and turns Alice, Jeanie, and Michael into cardboard cutouts. And yet - poor Ricky! There's a touch of tragedy about him, too...

World War One 1st Aero Squadron Collection by San Diego Air & Space Museum…:

Sophia is a young Southern belle who gets whisked into the Time Traveling League on accident. Her father's one of the bad guy's minions, and it's going to be fun to put her on a bicycle and watch the Mulligan girls walk her through modern society, but I really know very little about her. Even her name is subject to change - and she really needs a last name, so if anyone has any suggestions, I'd be thrilled to hear them. 

antebellum southern belle - Google Search:

Alice and Jeanie never would've gotten pulled into this adventure if it weren't for a mischievous little cowpoke-in-training from the Wild West. Currently his name is Trick, although the more I think about that name the less I like it. It doesn't sound Old Westish enough, does it? Anyway, I like Trick. He's kinda like the Artful Dodger - you can't believe a word he says. But he's not a bad-hearted kid.

'Getting Behind in his Work' by Jack Sorenson:

Sarah is an adorable little girl who escapes southern slavery through the time tunnel. I don't know how she'll affect the plot, but I've got to have her. 

Too cute:

Oh, oh, oh! And now we get to one of my other favorite characters. Jessie (also in need of a last name) is the founder of the Time-Traveling League. She didn't invent the time tunnel or anything - it was always there - but she's the one who organized the group of good guys in order to stop the bad guys. (*Sob* that sounds so plot needs help!) She's got a personal motivation for saving the world - her little brother has gotten roped into the service of Evil Lord Characterless, and she would do anything to save him. Oh, and she's present-day. Almost forgot to say that.

Jessie's brother will factor into the story, too. He doesn't have an official name yet; I'm thinking Conner or Kevin or Ryan or something like that. Suggestions?

And...goodness, that appears to be the end of the major characters. Of course, there's the villain to be figured out and everything, and minor characters like Alice and Jeanie's mom...

How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)

Usually, I don't prepare much at all. I think about it for awhile, and then I write. For this book, though, I've been preparing in the following ways:

1. Outlining. This is a first for me. I wrote about one third of an outline about a month or so ago, and need to get around to finishing it...
2. Researching. Since this is historical fiction (in a way? I guess?) I'll need to do a lot of it. Right now my primary focus is on WWII on the Outer Banks; I'm reading an excellent excellent book called War Zone for that and plan to read another called The Atlantic Turkey Shoot if I have the time.
3. Familiarizing myself with the characters and their worlds. Basically whatever fun stuff I can find time for - writing backstories, thinking about dialogue, listening to music from the various time periods, things like that. I'm hoping to reread some of the Nancy Drew books, since Alice is a Nancy Drew fan.
4. Figuring out that nasty plot hole. The one about the villains and their goal. I'm sure there are other ones that'll need addressed, but this is the major one bogging me down right now.
5. Talking my siblings ears off about my characters and pestering them for ideas. Siblings are ever so helpful. "Guys, give me a list of modern boy's names." "Should this character get married to this character?" "Would it be stupid if I did such-and-such a thing?"

What are you most looking forward to about this novel?

The characters! Totally the characters. Also the different settings, but as those involve research and being historically accurate they're not quite as appealing.

List 3 things about your novel's setting.

1. It changes. So far I know I'll have scenes set in a small 1950s town, present-day America, the ante bellum South, the Outer Banks during WWII (hopefully), and (also hopefully) some kind of WWI thing.
2. It's full of slightly quirky landmarks, like the library gazebo and the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. 
3. It's cheerful. Even though lots of these time periods were full of dark yucky things, I want to focus on fun and adventurous aspects of history.

 This lighthouse guards the "Graveyard of the Atlantic"!:

What's your character's goal and who (or what) stands in the way?

Heh-heh....that is the million dollar question. The overarching story goal is largely a mystery to me. "Stop the bad guys," "Keep them from taking over time," etc. is pretty near the mark but so vague it's cliche. It would help if I knew exactly how the bad guys are trying to achieve their goal.

I do have a few personal character goals in mind, though.

How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?

Well, to tell the truth, I'm not 100% sure who my protagonist is, much less how he or she will change by the end of the novel. As of now, I'm pretty sure it's Alice. She'll have to deal with a lot of self-discovery - including realizing that she isn't as brave as the younger sister she wants so much to protect. And she'll have to face a lot of her fears in order to help the people she loves.

What are your books themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?

Regarding themes, I plan to discover them as I go along. I do have several topics I want to touch on, including patriotism, power, sacrifice, courage, and family. 

When the story is over, I hope readers will feel happy and satisfied. I want all loose ends to be completely taken care of, and, at the same time, for it to feel like the characters' adventures are far from over. 

So! That concludes this Beautiful Books tag. Tell me, are you participating in NaNoWriMo? Squeal to me about your projects! (Even if it's just a regular project and not a NaNo one.) Do you have any ideas for character names (first and last)? Or any advice for improving a needy plot/conflict? And at what point do you draw the line between inspiration and plagiarism? 


  1. Oh, Lucy!!!!!! *sobs and laughs in intervals unstoppably* I love it! I want to read it sooooo much! :'D Oh, Lucy.... And as for Sophia, I have a few ideas (don't feel obliged to use any of them). As follows:
    Ellhurst (-hurst- is SUCH a civil war name ending, isn't it?)
    Trillbyn or Trillben or Trillbing
    Locely or Loasely
    Penhurst (there I go with -hurst- again....)
    or lastly,
    Even if you don't use any of them, do tell what you think. :) And also, my NaNo project is going splendidly. You remember what I said vaguely about having a villain now? Oh, my villain is the most progressed, developed, believable villain I have yet. Except that the poor character's style is quite unusual for me, so therefore actually very unbelievable, if that makes a tad bit of sense. :P ;) And also, I am almost done reading the Black Cauldron. Thought you ought to know (and sorry, just so you know that was a Harry Potter quote... I'm ashamed of myself, yes..).

    1. I'm glad you like the sounds of it, Isi! I think I'll have a lot of fun with it. :)

      Ooh! Those are excellent names!! How do you come up with such great ones??? I may just use one of those. "Drenning" and "Trillben" catch my eye. "Hilthorpe," too. Naming characters is so fun!

      Ooh! I can't wait to meet this villain!!! He (or she?) sounds so interesting! And oh, you finished The Black Cauldron?? I saw you sobbing about Adaon's death on Inklings. :) I meant to console you but never got around to it.... So what did you think? (And no need to apologize for quoting Harry Potter. Honestly, I shall probably be a Harry Potter fan myself someday. It's 98% family tradition that's keeping me so vehemently and stubbornly opposed.)

    2. Oh, Lucy, I love the book, frankly, but it needs to be nicer to the poor characters! Actually, on that subject, I started composing a poem - The Prydainian Lament. I'm glad you like the names. :) (and don't worry, I was originally a reluctant Harry Potter fan, so I'll never press you to be one. Besides, Maria is reading the books and has seen the movies, and she's not exactly a fan...)

    3. Oh! The Prydainian Lament - what a perfect title. :'( You must email it to me when it's finished!

  2. I often get my story ideas by looking at other stories and thinking 'so and so should have done this instead'. In time my version of the story morphs into it's own thing, so I wouldn't worry about plagiarism at these beginning stages.

    Time travel is such a fun story idea! I often sit and think about what I would do with a time machine. The problem is that I know I'd eventually give into the temptation to 'fix' time, and end up making things worse...wait a minute! Lucy, I could be your story's villain!

    1. Glad you think plagiarism's not a concern, Blue! Stories do have a way of changing over time, which is a blessing, isn't it?

      Ooh! Yes, you should be my villain! Seriously, that's a very interesting idea, somebody trying to fix things and then making it worse. Villains with a good intention are so interesting! I kinda plan to address why it's a good thing mortals don't have control over time, I maybe I can work something in. :)

      And I was delighted to see all your comments on the Catholicism Explained posts! I do intend to go back and reply to those, but it might take quite awhile between school and procrastination. :) Just so you know.


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