Sunday, August 29, 2010

I'm Writing Because I'm Nervous

...And sometimes writing is the only thing that distracts me enough to calm me down (though sometimes the nerves are too much and I can't write anything of substance.)

I'm nervous because tomorrow, I start my junior year of college. Well, classes don't start tomorrow- they begin on Wednesday- but I move in tomorrow. I also have a big audition that I want to nail but am afraid I won't.

How does this relate to writing? Because this is a year of writing challenges, which is both scary and exciting.

CHALLENGE #1: Declaring my writing minor, which I haven't yet officially done (as in, the paper hasn't been signed. Everyone knows, though.) This is a big step for me... bigger than I realised at the moment that was sitting down with my advisor saying, "I want to declare a minor in writing." Bigger than I realised when I spent hours over a few weeks telling my mom all the reasons I wanted to pursue this minor while she said on the other end of the phone, "And what are you going to do with that?" (She asks this of an acting major- ha!) At those points, I was completely confident. It was the Right Choice and I knew it. Now, though I still think it's a good idea, I'm nervous that I've over estimated my writing ability and people will scoff at me.

CHALLENGE #2: Taking a play and screenwriting class. Doesn't seem like a huge deal when you consider how many plays and screenplays I've written, but again, it's the question of quality. And the fact that I'm going to be forced to have people perform my writing after very few revisions. I've only had this done a few times and they were cringe-worthy affairs.

CHALLENGE #3: Taking a Writing in Poetry & Fiction class. I'm less nervous for this because, unlike Play & Screenwriting (which is required for my major) the class won't necessarily contain people I actually know, which will make it easier for me to share. But then there's the poetry part. I strongly, strongly dislike poetry. I can count on one hand the poems I sort of know and like. Other than that, I just don't enjoy it- reading it or writing it. And because it's in the title, I'm pretty sure it's not going to be like middle school honors English (the last time I was forced to write poetry over an extended period of time), where it was just a unit. I think it's gonna be like... a big part of the class. Someone save me from my own poetry...

CHALLENGE #4: Writing a suspense novel in a month. That's this year's NaNo, as you probably know, and it's a genre I haven't tackled before. But it will be made 1000x easier by the fact that it's CONTEMPORARY! Let's hear it for much less research (despite the fact that an e-mail just arrived from a friend containing a thirteen page paper on the mathematics of light as possible source material... oy...)

And add into that that I'm living with four other people this year (though only rooming with one), none of whom I've lived with before, so you never know how that's going to go, and my plethora of auditions this week... I'm freaking out, guys.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

WIP Wednesday

Some more of NaNo '10 for you :)

“Now, Lyddie, you have an appointment on the third; I’ve already written you an excuse card, so just hand this in to-”

“Wait,” I say. “I can’t leave early on the third. I’ve got a class.”

“You need to go to this meeting,” Aunt Kaye says shortly, still trying to hand me the card.

“Is it an appointment or is it a meeting?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, a meeting implies a general gathering at which people discuss something in an open forum while eating cookies. An appointment implies a nice couch and a psychologist.”


“I’m serious, I can’t go.”

“You have to. Here.” She finally gets the packet into my hands. “Just read this over. It will tell you everything you need to know.”

“Then why do I have to go see the guy? Is he going to read it to me? Because I’ve been doing my own reading for quite some time now.”

“No, he’ll just explain things to you; the finer details.”

“I don’t need the finer details, Aunt Kelly. At the risk of sounding like a real teenager, my life is over and that’s all there is to it. I’d rather not add missing this class to my list of Reasons Why My Life Sucks Right Now.”


“No, I can’t. I-”

“Lyddie, listen to me!” Something in my aunt’s voice stops my tirade. “You need to do this. The job you’re going to undertake may seem simple, but it’s not. There are a lot of intricacies that you don’t understand yet – Dr. Philips will explain those to you as well.”

I look at the pages in my hand. Admittedly, I don’t know much about this whole lantern thing, and I don’t want to screw it up. “Fine,” I sigh. “I’ll go. But if he tries to shrink me, I’m out of there.”

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

WIP Wednesday

A continuation of last week's (also, "the group" has no name yet, which is why I use that phrase so much :p):

“So let me get this straight,” Eliza said, pacing between her bed and her desk. “You’re here to break me out of St. Claire’s?”

“Well, we prefer the term ‘liberate’, but yes,” Jonah replied

“Okay…” Eliza said slowly. “But why?”

“Well, to make a long story short,” Jonah started, “My group and I think that it’s unfair that you’ve been afflicted with a disease that will take your life at – how old are you? Fourteen?”

“Fifteen,” Eliza answered. “As of -“ she glanced at her watch. “Three minutes ago.”

“At fifteen. We’ve created a cure that will rid your system of all traces of the Attenuate Virus. If you come with me, I’ll bring you to our doctor, Abigail Markham, and she can give you the Cure. Then the plan is that you return here and convince the doctors that you’ve had a miraculous recovery.”

“But what’s in it for you?” Eliza asked. “Why wouldn’t you want credit for healing me?”

“It’s all right,” Jonah said. “We’re not working for praise. We want to make you and those like you better. None of you did anything to deserve this affliction. So come on! Pack a bag and we’re out of here!” He noticed Eliza hesitating. “What?”

“This whole thing is just… weird. I really want to believe that you and your… group can heal me, but I don’t know why I should trust you. Why would you choose me to save? There are twenty – six other people in the world that have AV. Why me?”

Jonah smiled. “Well, to be perfectly honest, you were chosen solely for your location, although your age doesn’t hurt, either?”

“I don’t understand.”

“As you know, AV has spread to people all over the world. You are the only one of the afflicted on the East Coast.”

“Lucky me,” said Eliza wryly. “And what do you mean about the age thing?”
“Well, it’s not required, but it always helps to have a subject that is younger. Usually, that means they’ll have less health problems and also respond to treatments more quickly. Abigail also has her own reasons for preferring younger candidates, but you can ask her to explain them when you meet her.”

“You’re talking like you go to medical school. How old are you?”

“I’m sixteen, almost seventeen,” Jonah responded. “And I didn’t even graduate high school, let alone go to medical school.”

“Then how do I know you know what you’re talking about?”

“Listen.” Jonah sounded suddenly impatient. “I’m offering you the chance of lifetime, literally, just like the group offered me last year.”

“You had AV?”

“No, but they inoculated me so I can never get it. I’m telling you, Eliza, this Cure works. The group has been working on this for a long time, much longer than I’ve been involved with them. Last year, they heard about my experiments in chemistry and asked me to help them. It was an honor to be asked, and far more lucrative than staying in school.”

“Exactly what kind of experiments were you doing?”

“God, you ask a lot of questions.”

Eliza raised her eyebrows. “Well, you’re asking me to come with you so you can inject me with something I can never be sure is what you say it is.”

“I was allowed to stay after school to try my experiments, but there were… limitations.”

“Such as?”

“Well, I couldn’t test my results, because that would require human or animal subjects. Besides being illegal, I could never morally do that, in case something went wrong. I would never be able to forgive myself.”

“But what about this Cure? You’re willing to test it on me?”

“Oh, I didn’t create it. I just helped. By studying under Abigail, I’m learning how to craft different vaccines and treatments without worrying that I’m messing something up. You know the influenza pill?”

“Of course,” said Eliza. In 2019, a pill had been created that all but eradicated the threat of the flu. Eliza had never met anyone who had had it since then. It was an unbelievable breakthrough.

“Well, the group created that. Now they’re working to cure more terminal illnesses, like the Attenuate Virus, HIV, AIDS, cancer, muscular dystrophy, stuff like that. Believe me, we’re the people you want on your side. So, will you come?”

Eliza chewed on her lower lip, weighing the situation.

“Okay,” she decided. “I’ll come.”


I was up until all hours this morning writing. While this isn't uncommon for me, what I was doing was plotting out the rest of The Other Side of Light, my NaNo 2010. As I was working on the end, something surprising presented itself- I may need a sequel.

This was a little shocking. I've never written two linked stories and I never set out to make Light anything but a stand-alone novel. I also don't know HOW to write something like this. I know now that if I want to do this, I need to plot out both at the same time, not only to make sure they are recognizable as related stories, but to make sure that I actually have enough to write two books... otherwise I may just have to make Light longer than I'd planned.

Have any of you done this? 'Cause I'm open to any tips :p

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Those Things You Don't Want (But Need) To Hear

My friend and I met to discuss what he had read of my novel. When we sat down to talk, he opened with the following:

"There's one really big problem."

Not exactly what I wanted to hear. But I knew he was right before he even started elaborating.

Basically, I have a lot of work to do. A LOT of work to do. And if I wanted, I could ignore all of his comments and just leave my novel as it is- I have no ambition of publishing this one. But the thing is, though I don't really need to see this one on the shelves of Borders, I want to make it the best it can be. I want to make it up to publishing quality, even if I never send it off.

Here's a look at one of the pages after his editing:

It's going to be a long, hard journey, but I think in the end, it's all going to be worth it. Right now, though, I've got a LOT of work to do.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

WIP Wednesday

I literally just ended a meeting with my best friend/writing partner Katie. We edited our screenplay that's been in the works since 2005. It was also a good-bye breakfast, as she leaves for another year in Texas in less than twenty-four hours. Sad :( But it all went very well and we have big plans for it.

As for WIP Wednesday, here's something I'm not sure if I shared before, but even if I have, I'm going to again :p Here's a clip from Q/Quarantined.

Eliza’s parents left around six o’clock that night. She tried to distract herself with a book, but soon closed it. At 7:02, she would have her final birthday. The idea didn’t astonish her as much as it did when she was first admitted. However, she couldn’t help thinking that spending her last three years stuck in a single room was not exactly living life to the fullest.

Impulsively, she crossed to the refrigerator and took out the box containing the second cupcake her parents had left for her. Placing it on her desk, she opened the package. Inside, she found not only the cake, but another candle and match. Was it cheating if she made another wish?

No, she decided. It was her birthday. Her last birthday. And if she wanted to make two wishes, who was going to stop her?

Placing the candle in the middle of the cupcake, she lit the wick and blew out the match. She watched the unmoving flame as it glowed. What did she want this time? She really only wanted one thing. Could you wish for the same thing twice?

Well, she was already cheating by making two wishes, so she might as well go for broke. She kept her eyes open this time as she thought, ‘I want my life back.’ Eliza blew out the candle. And as the flame went out, so did everything else. The room was suddenly plunged into darkness.

In her nearly three years at St. Claire’s, she had never experienced a power outage. What might happen to her - to everyone here - if they didn’t get everything up and working again?

“Sorry, my bad.”

When the voice spoke from the darkness, Eliza screamed and flattened herself against the wall.

“Wh-who’s in here?” she stammered.

“Hang on… crap, I can’t find the switch.” The voice was young and male and anomalously casual, given the situation.

“What are you doing here?” Eliza asked, wishing the fear would leave her voice. How did someone get in here?

“Wait - okay, found it.” The lights suddenly came back on, leaving Eliza squinting.

Across the room stood a tall, skinny, dark-haired boy of about sixteen. He leaned casually against the doorframe as though he broke into terminally ill girls’ rooms all the time.

“Who are you?” Eliza asked. “And how did you get in here? Where’s Darren? You should leave - you could get sick.”

After a moment, the boy spoke. “I guess I’ll take those one at a time. My name is Jonah Teagan. I came through the door. Darren is busy trying to figure out a way out of the storeroom he’s locked in. And calm down - I can’t catch AV from you. Or from anyone, for that matter. Which means you don’t have to stick yourself to that wall if you don’t want to.”

Eliza stepped away from the wall, but didn’t approach him. “I don’t understand- what do you mean you can’t catch AV? No one but me has been in this room for almost three years because they said I’m highly contagious.”

“Oh, don’t worry, you are. Just not to me.”

“What does that mean?” Eliza inquired disbelievingly. In her opinion, this Jonah guy was at this very moment taking his final uninfected breath, especially if he kept coming closer.

Jonah took a few more steps toward her so that he was almost an arm’s length away. “It means,” he said, looking her directly in the eye. “That I have an offer to make you. Care to listen?”

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Just Chatting

Today I went with most of the film crew I'm involved with to scout locations. When we finished with that, we went for bite to eat and ended up talking about writing, and, in particular, our novels. While I'm not going to outline our whole conversation, since it was a good two hours long, I will just say that having someone (or a few people) to talk to about this stuff is really nice. At the risk of sounding holier-than-thou, sometimes people who don't write, even just casually, don't understand what it means to be surprised by a character or the way a scene had to go. It was just really great to talk to people who are in the midst of doing the same thing.

Also, the one of them who is editing my novel right now is being really, REALLY thorough. As in, he edits a paragraph a night, is on page ten, and comment 40. While this is daunting, it's also good, for two reasons. The first is that I edit the exact same way. Well, I go much more quickly, because I like to get the flow of the story as I edit, but I am also usually up to comment 40 by page ten or so. It's good, too, for the reason that I need this. As my editor mentioned, my first editor did all the basic stuff, so now it's time for a more in-depth look at the story. I'm pretty sure his edits are going to kick my butt, and I'm positive it is going to be for the best. I'm equal parts nervous and excited.

And now I leave you with a picture I took with my new camera while we were location scouting:

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

WIP Wednesday

Oh... it's Wednesday... My mind has been all over the place lately, what with closing one show the other day and opening another next week. Eek! But that has nothing to do with the promise I made to you guys and to myself that I would post something every Wednesday. So, here you go. Some more Remembrance.

“Get up! Ruthie! Noah! Get up right now!”

Ruthie opened her eyes to find her nose a fraction of an inch away from the cinder block wall. Noah had sprawled out while he slept, claiming most of the bed as his own and forcing Ruthie to huddle close to the wall. She sat up to see her mother at the foot of her bed.

“What’s wrong?” she asked.

Her mother was already folding the blanket Noah had dragged along with him the night before. “You need to get up and get dressed now. We didn’t bring a clock down with us and you will be late for school if you don’t hurry. Noah! Get up!” Mrs. Halpert pulled the blanket off of Ruthie’s bed and Ruthie felt the cold of the shelter steal over her. Noah must have too because he curled into a tighter ball in the middle of the bed, either still asleep or doing a very good job of ignoring their mother. She nudged him as she climbed over him and stepped onto the cold cement floor. Standing in the middle of the shelter, Ruthie realised that she didn’t know what to do next.

“Mum, can I go to my room to get some clothes?”

“No time,” her mother said hurriedly. “Your father and I took some things from your rooms last week in case this happened. Look in one of the boxes under the beds.”

Ruthie knelt down and peered under her bed. There were two boxes there. The first one was full of torches, tools, and other items they might need. She pushed that one back and pulled out the second one, which was full of clothes. She removed a set for Noah and tossed them on the bed as she searched for her own clothes. Her heart sank as she saw the frocks lying on the bottom of the box.

“Mum!” she cried, seeing the old worn fabric. “I can’t wear any of these!”

“Don’t be ridiculous, Ruthie,” her mother scolded. “I got them from your room.”

“Did you get them from the bottom drawer of my wardrobe?”
Mrs. Halpert was busy looking for something on one of the shelves. “Yes, I did. Why?”

“Those were to go to Annabel!” Ruthie said, naming her thirteen year old cousin. “They don’t fit me anymore!”

“Ruthie, we don’t have time for you to go up to your room to change,” her mother said impatiently. “Annabel’s not that much smaller than you, I’m sure they’ll be fine. Now please, get changed. Noah! Up now!”

As her little brother finally started to rise, Ruthie selected the biggest blouse and skirt she could find. She pulled them on and tried to adjust them as best she could. The skirt was a tad too short and the blouse pulled a little at her chest, but it was the best she could get at the moment.

“All right, your father’s got your school books,” Mrs. Halpert said when Noah was finally up and dressed. “Now hurry, or you really will be late. Go on, go.”

Ruthie and her brother each took their books from their father and exited the shelter, heading in the direction of school. As the pair made their way down the street, Ruthie continued to tug at the hem of her skirt – this was going to be a bother all day, she knew.

School was ten blocks away and Ruthie knew they were running very, very late. They would be lucky to arrive before the bell. She hurried a still – sleepy Noah down the street as fast as she could.

When they arrived at the school, the first thing Ruthie noticed was the energy in the air. While people were clustered in their usual groups, the conversations were hushed and the air seemed thick with anxiety. The air raid had put everyone on tenterhooks. Every now and then, a student would glance up at the sky nervously as though expecting a bomb to fall at any moment.

Ruthie looked around for her two best friends and spotted them standing by the entrance. After making sure Noah was headed in the direction of the lower school, Ruthie rushed over to them.

“You’re late,” Nora Savidge pointed out as Ruthie took her place next to her friends.

“We haven’t got a clock in our shelter yet,” Ruthie said. “We got up so late that I had to wear this old uniform that my mum had brought down – and she got it out of a box to hand down to my cousin!”

Annie Payson giggled as she straightened her own blazer. “I thought it looked a bit different today. Look, the patch still has the old crest on it. Make sure to avoid Mrs. Zaeler today – she’ll give you a demerit if she sees that.”

Ruthie groaned. “It isn’t even my fault!” Deciding she would worry about that later, she looked around at her fellow students, all talking intently. “Is everyone talking about the air raid last night?”

“Of course,” said Annie. “It was the scariest thing that’s ever happened! I didn’t sleep a wink all night; I thought our shelter would be hit any minute.”

“I was worried that a bomb would go off twenty streets over and the resulting wind would blow our shelter over,” Nora remarked wryly. “I think my dad just propped two pieces of metal against each other and put a door in front of them.”

“Your dad is a teacher,” Ruthie pointed out. “It’s not like he has ever had to do it before.”

Nora opened her mouth to respond, but before she could say anything, the bell rang and the students began to rush into the building, still chattering about what had happened the night before.

As Ruthie took her seat in the classroom, she noticed that the seat beside hers was empty. At first, she didn’t think much of it- it was not unusual for its occupant, Jimmy Henderson, to be too busy plying a prank to make it to class on time. But his seat was still empty when her teacher, Miss Whittaker, called the class to order.

“Class,” Miss Whittaker said, standing in front of her desk as her students took their seats again. “Miss Burns has an announcement she would like to make. Please give her your full attention.” Ruthie’s teacher stepped aside to give the school’s wide – girthed deputy headmistress the floor. The form rose and waited. Miss Burns was silent for a moment as she surveyed the students, her lips pursed and her stern eyebrows pinched together.

“You may be seated,” she said distractedly. “I am afraid I have some bad news, children,” she began. “As you must all be aware, we have been having air raid drills here at school for the past few months in case the building is attacked. Last night’s air raid gave you a taste of what could happen during school hours, and I do not doubt that many of you were frightened. In any emergency situation, some unfortunate things can come about, and I regret to inform you that such a thing happened during last night’s raid.”

The class was confused. While many of them had been anxious during the air raid, it was over now. What after effects could have a part in their lives?

“Several buildings were destroyed by the bombs that fell, one of them being the flats on Wannamaker Street. The Henderson family was a resident of this building.”

There were a few soft gasps as the class turned as one to stare at Jimmy’s empty desk. A heaviness seemed to fall over the room as the principal’s words sunk in.

“What happened to them, Miss Burns?” a girl named Evelyn asked softly. It was a mark of the seriousness of the situation that Miss Burns did not reprimand Evelyn for neglecting to raise her hand.

“I regret to say that, though Mr. and Mrs. Henderson and their youngest child were found unharmed, the authorities were unable to located James and his brother Arthur.”

“But they’re just… I don’t know, lost or something, right?” said a boy named Roger. “Maybe they ran to get help and couldn’t find their way home in the dark.”

Miss Burns’ mouth grew tight. “We can only hope that is the case, Mr. Jennings. There are people looking for the boys as well as a few others that have also gone missing, and you can be sure that if they are indeed still alive, they will be found.” With that, Miss Burns nodded to Miss Whittaker and left the room. But she did not take with her the grim silence that had fallen over the students as soon as she said the words “still alive”. Ruthie glanced again at Jimmy’s empty seat. She couldn’t seem to wrap her mind around the idea that someone she knew might really be gone forever. Could it be that this boy, this noisy, wise – cracking fourteen year old, had already reached the end of his life the night before? Was his body lying in wait of the search party? Or might he be gone completely, never to be found by anyone at all?

Ruthie shook her head, trying to rid it of these thoughts. Jimmy could take care of himself, she was sure of that. They would find him. By next week, she told herself, he’d be sitting next to her again, folding up paper airplanes in his lap and grinning that sideways smile of his. He would be, because Ruthie couldn’t accept anything else.