Wednesday, May 29, 2013

You're Researching What? TCWT Blog Chain May 2013

So, this month the prompt for the Teens Can Write, Too! blog chain came from yours truly. My prompt is thus:

“What are some of the coolest/weirdest/funniest/most disturbing things you’ve researched for a story?”

This is going to be fun.

I have looked up:
  • What color violet eyes actually are (they're either pale greyish or dark, dark blue)
  • Names that mean "Stupid" (there aren't any)
  • "Weird antiques" so I could put some in a fictional antique shop
  • The history of bottled water
  • Crimes punishable by death
  • Ossuaries (really, really want to put one in a story. Maybe as part of a prison)
  • A bit about the Barbary Pirates, specifically the capture and sinking of the USS Philadelphia.
  • Medieval herbal medical practices (From a book my family owns. That book scares me. They used highly toxic convallaria [lily of the valley] as medicine.)
  • Making candles
  • Growing and using various kinds of natural dyes (indigo, sumac, madder, etc)
  • The branding of slaves (This was an image search. Didn't find what I was looking for.) 
  • Different kinds of weird silverware
  • Thatching for roofs
  • Old fashioned names
I like The Given Names Frequency Project for that last one. I found it when I was trying to find a name for a character who lived in the 1800s, and it was very helpful and extremely interesting. The resource from them  I used (the link called "popular given names, US 1801 - 1999") was a collection of names with the number of times they appeared in censuses during the 1840s. I just looked at their website again, and there are other resources there I haven't investigated yet that look promising.

I've had the urge to write historical fiction (not the story referred to above) since my Anatomy and Physiology class went to the Indiana Medical History Museum, which is housed in what used to be the pathology building for the no-longer-existent Central State Hospital for the Insane. Oh yeah.  Now I really want to set a story there in the 1900s, a few years after the pathology building opened. Other than visiting the museum, I haven't done any research, but I really want to. They had books there from 1850. 1850! Books the original doctors had brought with them when the building opened. And this pair of old, real human skeletons that they had ordered in the day from a medical supply catalog (Just a little creepy...). Oh, and all the old equipment. They had an autopsy table from the 1920s. And this really cool pH color comparer thing...

Okay, I'll stop now. I need to actually come up with a story to set there. 

Another cool historical thing I stumbled upon once was a set of local coroner's records from 1896 to 1935.  I didn't go out looking for them (I accidentally found them on my library's website), but I think I did use them as a historical reference for a story idea that ended up dying. (Dying, coroner's reports, ha.) Depressing, really depressing, but fascinating. Several people got hit by trains. Swallowing acid was a popular form of suicide. Lots of babies died. Teenage boys were stupid. Oh, and there was this murder... which I don't remember all the details to at the moment, and actually there were several murders, but If you want to read more about what I found, I posted a bit about them a while back in this post

So, there's my post, with a bonus ramble about historical loony bins. Big thanks to John from TCWT for letting me host this month, and to all the bloggers who participated in the chain. Here's a list of all the participants (you should totally check them out):
30th – (We’ll announce the topic for next month’s chain)

And a wondrous day/night/morning/midnight/mid-afternoon/whatever to you. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Adventures in Editing - The Oh Carp Stage And The Battle Plan

*Theme music*

Welcome to Adventures in Editing!  A series of blog posts in which you will see a young writer figure out how the heck to edit a novel. Heeere's your host, Lily!

*Scattered applause*

So. This week I started editing my NaNoWriMo 2012 novel, Noxumbra. (Yes, I did change the title from Noxumbra Manor.)

Overwhelming? Oh, yes. So many levels of yes.

There is so much to fix. Plot holes, flat characters, a not-yet-built-enough world, some Insta!Luv (sorta).... lots of things that just need to be redone and reworked.

This would be the first "Oh carp what I have I done what was I thinking that first page tastes like cardboard" stage. I would be surprised if another didn't visit me half-way through.

One cannot edit, or do anything productive, during an Oh Carp stage.  So I kissed it goodbye and sent it off to torment someone else. It still sends me postcards, very depressing post cards, but I try to ignore them and give them to my sister so she can use them as litter for her ducklings.

So, after spending an afternoon or so wallowing in self-pity and general overwhelmed-ness, I decided to develop a battle plan.

Everything gets better when you have a battle plan. Time to pull the Battle Axe of Editing from the dungeon.  

I'm still working on my battle plan, but basically it looks like this:

  1.  Make sure the chapters work so I can torment work with a crit partner for NaNoCritMo.  
  2. Work on fleshing out the characters. Their backstories etc, will influence the plot.
  3. Work on the plot: 
  • Fill in the big BREAKS I left in my manuscript during NaNoWriMo when I needed to get my 2000 words in but had writers' block so I switched scenes.
  • Obliterate the Insta!Luv and develop the Nomance properly. 
  • Develop a reasonable way for the Manor to earn money.
  • Make Gwen's life harder.
  • Etc, etc, etc.   
     4. Worldbuild. A lot.

That's it so far. No doubt it will change somewhat.

I think that's all for this episode. Time to pull the Battle Axe of Editing from the dungeon.

Do you have any advice/questions/random statements about glittered armadillos? Please utilize the handy comment box below!

And a good night/morning/afternoon/whatever to you.

*Lights dim. Closing theme music* 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Viola and Zella's Theme Song

NOTICE: This post will most likely turn out to be me fangirling over a song and how well it fits with two of my characters. Ish. I may also get a few words in about character theme songs in general. We'll see.

One of the things my writerly side does is analyze nearly every song I hear to see if it fits with a character. Break up songs, love songs, songs about death, about partying, about tractors, you name it. It can get rather annoying, actually. But sometimes my head puts a song with a character and it's so perfect I grin every time I hear the song and I make a mental music video of my characters to the music. 

This happened a while back with Thompson Square's If I Didn't Have You, and my characters Viola and Zella. Now, If I Didn't Have You is a romantic love song, but I ignore all the purely romantic lyrics and fantasize about Vi and Zella to all the "Can apply to love in general" lyrics.

Here's the song:

It all started when I listened to this song and thought "what if they meant 'this life would kill me if I didn't have you' literally?" And almost immediately, Vi and Zella came to mind. Zella gives Vi a reason to fight and survive, and Vi rescued Zella when she was just a wee thing. Both are orphans of war, and they bonded to each other when their parents died.

I won't go into the rest of their story, but if you want to hear more about it, ask me in a comment. Also, if you want your daily dose of depression, go check out the Pinterest board I have for them. I'm pretty sure that story idea is the result of my dark side watching my interest in writing grow and saying "Hey! I want in the fun!" So, yeah, not a happy Pinterest board.

Well, that wasn't a great excuse for a blog post, but hey, I got new content up.  And I never did say anything worth while about character theme songs in general. Oh well, maybe another time.

And a wondrous day/night/evening/afternoon/whatever to you.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Announcing NaNoCritMo!

Hey guys, Sarah F. from Inklined and I are organizing a new event called NaNoCritMo, like NaNoWriMo, only for critiquing.  Check out the CritMo blog here:

We should have more up later today! You should totally check it out.

The June test run for NaNoCritMo is now live! This is a trial run to work out any kinks in our system, but if you want to participate, you can register on the blog. We plan on doing another CritMo in September, so if you can't make it to the June event, check back then.