General Status Update 4/7/17

I couldn’t think of a particularly specific topic to blog about this week, so this post will just be a general status update: what I’m working on, current goals, future projects, etc.

I’m trying to wrap up the first draft of Serafima’s Stone in the next month or two. I’m very close to finishing the primary story line, and then have to fill in some secondary plot points. I’m moving into a new house at the end of April, so my free time is a bit limited until then. However, I’ll be setting up a designated writing space (as opposed to my current writing space, aka sitting on the couch with the TV oh-so-temptingly sitting on the other side of the room…) in the new house, and am hoping this distraction-free space will help me focus and increase my productivity. The new house will also have a patio space, so maybe once the weather gets nice I’ll write outside.

In addition to working on Serafima’s Stone, several plot bunnies have been jumping around in my brain. While Serafima’s Stone is of course the highest priority, I have spent some time exploring these other plot bunnies. Follow the muse! Writing something is better than writing nothing, right? Even if it’s not what you meant to work on…

Oh, hai!I'z yer personal plot bunneh fur today!.png

Anyway, these other plot bunnies will form the foundation of novels I’ll work on more specifically once the Gaslight Frontier Series is completed. You can look forward to an urban fantasy novel, a post-apocalyptic/humorous novel, and an epic fantasy novel down the line.

Because I’m moving this month, I’m not officially taking part in Camp NaNoWriMo. If you are, though, I’d love to hear about your progress (or struggles!) in the comments!

The Benefits of Taking a Break From Your Project

We’ve all been there. You start a passion project – you’re so excited! – and you make progress and make progress and – hit a wall. Your passion disappears and your project becomes a chore. You lose your vision and your motivation.

I have to keep going, you tell yourself. If I stop working on this project, it will never get done!

Sometimes that’s true. But sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes taking a break is warranted, and beneficial.

I participated in NaNoWriMo in November, working on Serafima’s Stone. By the end of November, I was sick of my story. I didn’t like my characters, I didn’t know where my plot was going, I hated my writing style. I felt boxed-in: I wrote Grigory’s Gadget with the intention of having this sequel. I have to write this sequel! But I hate this sequel and have no idea what I’m doing!

So, during the entire month of December, I didn’t touch my story. I didn’t open Scrivener once for the entire month. I didn’t force myself to ponder the story, to try to figure it out. I just left it sitting patiently on my hard drive.

And do you know what happened?

During the month of December I was inundated with ideas and inspiration. I’d be listening to music (namely, the Westworld soundtrack) while working on a report in the office when – BOOM – I’d get an idea! Yes – that’s what motivates that character! Yes – that’s what will happen next! Yes – I need to work that detail in! I have a chain of emails I sent to myself in December, jotting down the ideas so I wouldn’t forget them.

When January 1st rolled around, I was itching to get back to writing my story. I like my characters again. My plot has a direction, and even a discernible  ending! I’m still critical of my writing style, but so is every author ever. At least now it’s not in a self-defeating way.

So if you’re working on a project – a story, artwork, etc. – and you’re getting stuck in a rut like I was, know that it is okay to take a break. Give yourself a time limit that works for you – take off a day, a week, a month, or even a year (sorry, a year is probably too long, I just got the F.R.I.E.N.D.S. theme song stuck in my head…) – and then jump back into your project.

And I’ll be there for yooouuu….

…sorry…

Year in Review: 2016

The year 2016 has been a roller-coaster-ride of a year. Between wars, crazy politics, and the huge number of celebrity deaths (on that note, I’m not a religious person, but isn’t there something in the bible about good people being sent to heaven right before the apocalypse, leaving only the sinners left on earth to suffer? Anyway…) a lot of us are ready to kiss 2016 goodbye.

But it wasn’t all bad! This year, I’m proud to say I became a published author, one of my life-long dreams. So below is my Year in Review for 2016, highlighting the milestones (some writing-related, some not) that have defined my personal journey this year.

I really encourage you all to sit down and make a similar list. What were the moments in 2016 you were proud of? No matter how big or small, try to remember every moment that made you happy. Did you reconnect with an old friend? Get acknowledged for your hard work? Meet a fitness goal? Find a new favorite movie?

Make the list, and if you still feel rotten about 2016, do what my friends and I are doing on New Year’s Eve: build a bonfire and burn 2016 calendars. I think it will be pretty cathartic.

Connecting through Twitter Chats

As writers and readers, it can be difficult to connect with people that have similar interests. Both of those activities are generally solitary. If you want to talk to someone about a certain book or genre, or writing tips and tricks, how do you find them?

One great way to connect with like-minded people is through Twitter Chats. Twitter Chats are just that – chats that happen on Twitter. People tweet to the conversation using a designated hashtag about a wide range of topics. Many Twitter Chats are scheduled weekly or monthly, digitally bringing together a group of people to have a discussion.

Some of my favorite Twitter Chats for reading and writing are:

  • #BBChat, which brings in authors to talk about their process for writing
  • #StoryCrafter, which is a great resource for all sorts of writing advice
  • #k8Chat, another chat which brings in authors to talk about their process
  • #NaNoCoach, which is a chat specifically centered around the annual NaNoWriMo challenge

Sometimes it’s difficult to keep track of a Twitter Chat conversation on your regular Twitter newsfeed. That’s why Twitter has the TweetDeck. You can set up a column which shows all of the tweets using the designated hashtag – easy! There are also websites like Twubs available, which show the tweets in a format that’s more akin to a chat room.

Next Sunday, December 18th, I’ll be hosting a Twitter Chat as part of the Fantasy & Sci-Fi Network Christmas Sale. We’ll be discussing our favorite fantasy and science fiction novels and authors before diving in specifically to discuss steampunk. You can follow along using the hashtag #FSFNet between 12 and 1pm EST! My twitter handle is @EA_Hennessy. Hope to see you there!

NaNoWriMo 2016 Summary

Well, November has come and gone, and National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) has come to an end.

I did not reach the goal of 50,000 words, but I still made a good effort and ended with 40,176 words.

nano2016

I got hit with pretty severe writers block right as Thanksgiving arrived. Between traveling, spending time with family and friends, and binge-watching Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, I didn’t have time to properly work around that block. I was able to recover a bit at a local write-in that word-sprinted to midnight on the 30th, but still fell short of 50k.

That doesn’t mean my NaNoWriMo journey this year wasn’t a success. I feel much more confident about my story than I had on November 1st. Characters have become better-developed, the plot is more filled-in, and I’m actually excited about the sequel to Grigory’s Gadget now. (For a while there, I berated myself for setting up a sequel. Why did I do that to myself? WHY?)

So now I’m neatening-up what I did write during November, and will be posting the new scenes on Wattpad shortly.

General Update 11/11/2016

A lot has happened in the past week.

Now, I’m not going to go into specific politics here. I’m sure if you spend any time at all on the internet, you’ve seen more than you can stomach, regardless of your political beliefs. I know I have.

I couldn’t muster the focus this week to pick a cohesive topic to blog about. So, this will just be a general update.

As many of you know, I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), the annual challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Right now, I’m on track, and by the end of today should have at least 18,333 words written. Those words are split between two projects. The primary project is Serafima’s Stone – Book 2 of the Gaslight Frontier Series, the sequel to Grigory’s Gadget. The secondary project is my Chapter 1 submission for the Collaborative Writing Challenge Steampunk Project.

NaNoWriMo has been going very well so far this year. I’ve connected with some great local writers by attending “write-ins” at a local Escape Room (seriously, one of the coolest places I could imagine writing in!).

I want to leave you all with something positive and optimistic this week, so I’ve compiled a list of books (and some movies or shows) that emphasize the goodness of humanity and that look to a bright future (or that are simply fluffy and funny).

Books

  • The Harry Potter series
  • The Tender Bar by J.R. Moehringer
  • Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
  • I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
  • Wings of Renewal: A Solarpunk Dragon Anthology by Claudie Arseneault and Brenda J. Pierson
  • The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

Movies/Shows

  • Basically any Hayao Miyazaki/Studio Ghibli movie
  • The Fundamentals of Caring (2016)
  • Little Miss Sunshine (2006)
  • Life in a Day (2011)
  • The Mindy Project
  • How I Met Your Mother (series finale not encouraged 😉 )
  • Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
  • Parks and Recreation

Westworld – Is It Steampunk?

A couple weeks ago, I posted on the topic of What Is Steampunk?! Now I’d like to present a little case-study-of-sorts by analyzing a new, popular TV show – Westworld – to determine if it’s steampunk or not.

Westworld is a new show on HBO based on a 1973 film by the same name. The program takes place in fictional “Westworld”, a technologically advanced, Western-themed amusement park populated completely by synthetic androids called “hosts”. Westworld caters to high-paying visitors referred to as “newcomers” or “guests”, who can do whatever they wish within the park, without fear of retaliation from the hosts.

In Defense of Calling Westworld Steampunk

Westworld combines a Victorian aesthetic (in this case, the Old American West) with advanced technology (androids, as well as other modern technology). It also takes a hard look at human nature and society, which is a common theme in steampunk. It includes steampunk and Victorian tropes, including anachronistic clothing and trains. Is this enough to call Westworld steampunk?

In Defense of Not Calling Westworld Steampunk

All of the 19th-century elements of the show are a fiction within the park. As such, there are really two worlds: the “real” world, and the amusement park world. The amusement park world is not a steampunk world; it tends to feel more like historical fiction. In particular, the technology within the park is consistent with actual 19th-century technology, rather than re-imagined advanced steampunk technology.

Westworld actually better fits into the mold of cyberpunk, the genre from which steampunk later emerged. As defined by Wikipedia, cyberpunk is “a subgenre of science fiction in a future setting that tends to focus on society as ‘high tech low life’ featuring advanced technological and scientific achievements, such as information technology and cybernetics, juxtaposed with a degree of breakdown or radical change in the social order”. Westworld gives us this advanced technological future, which is juxtaposed with the struggles of the increasingly intelligent androids who become pitted against humans.

In other news, I’m currently participating in NaNoWriMo! Feel free to find me as dragongirl1225!