So Much Has Happened…

This post is extremely late. I’ve been putting it off for a few reasons.

Two of those reasons have passed away. Dexter, my first surviving calf, died of unknown causes. One day he was fine and then next he was dehydrated. No matter how much I tried to correct it (litres of electrolytes, numerous injections suggested by a vet), more symptoms kept coming. He died in my arms two days later.

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The calf second from the front in the attached picture came along on the 11th of November. ‘George’ was very sick from the beginning. We battled scours and pneumonia, and since he never wanted to drink from a bottle (I spent 2hrs trying to convince him one night), we had to tube-feed him for over a month before we weaned him. At one point we called the vet out to make sure her didn’t have BVD (he didn’t), but we were told George had numerous genetic abnormalities. He perked up after he stopped drinking milk. He ate plenty of hay and grain, and loved eating mangoes. When it rained he ran around and played with the others, even though he had deformities in his legs. I thought he would beat the odds. But a month later, at two months old, I found him lying on his side unable to stand. I helped him to his feet and he walked around like nothing was wrong. He ate more than I’d ever seen before, but once he sat down he couldn’t rise. The second day he couldn’t walk far, but his appetite wasn’t affected. The vet prescribed an anti-inflamitory to treat possible nerve/spinal damage. The following day he could stand but couldn’t walk without falling. At lunch he couldn’t stand at all but continued to eat. I stayed with him until the end. We still don’t know what really happened.

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On the 15th of December I found another calf in the paddock. ‘Heidi’ is the calf at the front of the photo. She had a rough few days, but she’s doing fine now.

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We branded Elmo, Fred, and Heidi about two weeks ago. Elmo has been separated from the younger two and put out with the weaners (the calves that were raised by their mothers and have been taken off them now they’re about seven months). They weren’t happy with me for a few days (I wasn’t happy with myself tbh), but they’re back to wanting pats and eating my clothes.

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What else…?

Oh. With the same finger, I skewered it with barbed wire (had to pull the wire out myself), was bitten by George, and cut it with a knife while bangtailing (trimming a cow’s tail hair). The third will definitely scar.

I went to Supanova (kind of like ComicCon for Australia) dressed as Celaena Sardothien and met SARAH J. MAAS! I even had a photo taken with her and a few fans also dressed as her characters. She’s amazing. I also met Summer Glau and Matthew Lewis. The best weekend so far.

I helped my Dad put the roof on his 6m high shed. A storm hit while we were up there and a stray sheet of iron hit the kill switch on the boom lift. We were stuck up there. I had to jump off the roof and land on a truck to switch it back on. Probably one of the scariest things I’ve ever done.

I’ll be heading to university next Saturday. I’m excited and terrified at the same time. For the first time in my life I’ll be living away from home. I know. As someone who just turned 20, that sounds childish to me too. But I was one of those luck kids who grew up in a close-knit family. We fight but we’re quick to forgive. I’m also my Mum’s support person and vise-versa. I think I’ll have a few homesick moments.

And finally, I finished HFI. It still doesn’t have a title, but I’m pretty proud of it. It still needs heaps of work and I have to add more subplots and conflict, but I’m excited to revise it.

I think that’s it. Wow, I wasn’t expecting to write that much.

I’m not going to promise to update in the next week or so since it’s about to get crazy for a while, but I’ll try to post something after O’Week.

 

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Excuses and NaNoWriMo

So I totally forgot to post something last week, but I have an excuse…an adorable excuse:

Freddy Fred

Meet Fred. I found him on the 22nd (October) and have spent the last week bringing him back to full health. He was smaller than my knee when I took him home.

He’s looking much better now, which is good since NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow.

I’m not going to go into great detail about NaNoWriMo. It stands for National Novel Writing Month and the goal is to write 50,000 words in the month of November. There are hundreds of blog posts on the internet for you to read if you want to know more.

This year I’m writing HFI (see last post for more details). I might write it in 1st Person after all, and edit it to 3rd after NaNo. I tried 3rd, but the writing felt stale.

I’ve been using The Story Grid to plan it. I recommend you at least give the site a look. There is a book you can buy, but everything in it has been posted on the website (often word for word). It reminded me to ensure every scene, chapter, and act had a beginning (Inciting Incident), middle (Complication, Crisis), and end (Climax, and Resolution). If there are any OYAN students reading this, I suggest you read a few pages. A lot of the information appears in the OYAN course.

Anyway, I’ve rambled on for long enough. I’m spending the rest of the day preparing for a long month =)

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year?

New Ideas & Learning from the Pros

I used to think that working on more than one writing project at a time would lead to hundreds of unfinished stories. In a way, I still do. But after trying to write the same novel for almost 2 years, I needed a break.

While at work, I came up with a ‘what if’ that evolved into a story idea:

What if humans are incapable of seeing perfection?

A bunch of other questions popped up after that, until I ended up with a high fantasy story idea (I’m calling it HFI until I find a better name) that feels like a fairy-tale. A dark fairy-tale if that’s possible.

This all sounded great—to me at least—until I realised it needed to be written in 3rd person.

I have very limited experience with writing in 3rd person. I needed help, so I decided to learn from authors with a few books under their belts. I could’ve chosen any experienced writers, but I wanted their books to be in the same genre as mine. It also helped that their characters are around the same age as the ones I’m writing about. I ended up picking Garth Nix, Kristin Cashore, and Sarah J. Maas.

Below are a few notes I made while flicking through their books. (Please remember that the notes taken are not a reflection of the writer’s work. I wrote whatever thoughts ran through my head at the time, including things I needed to remember during the first draft—I get bogged by all the ‘rules’ and forget that I can break them whenever I want).

Sabriel – Garth Nix

  • Allow yourself to use as many adverbs and adjectives as you want in the first draft. Include empty words. Most can be removed during editing. Don’t delete all, or it will feel stilted.
  • Break rules. Use was, had, did, has, etc.
  • Determine the character’s voice and use it. Don’t let the writing be stiff just because it’s 3rd
  • Everyone sees things differently. Let the character’s view of the world speak.
  • Allow yourself to write paragraphs of history and information. It doesn’t all have to be used in dialogue.
  • Include plenty of description. Don’t imply everything and hope the reader is paying attention. Make the world vivid and real in the reader’s mind, even if you have to make it real in yours first.

Graceling – Kristin Cashore

  • Make the writing reflect the character’s mood, task, or motive. When the character is focussed on a task, give the writing tunnel vision.
  • Every character will use a different vocabulary and pause at different places. Some will use long sentences; others will speak in short sentences with very direct content. Includes using contractions and the Oxford ‘and’.
  • The characters will keep track of the weather, season, and time of day if they don’t have access to clocks or calendars. Weather will affect the difficulty of a task and possible outcome.
  • Vary sentence length and syntax (where commas are placed).
  • Give the character an opinion about their superiors, inferiors, and equals. Bring it up when describing scenes with these people.

Throne of Glass – Sarah J. Maas

  • Make the writing feel personal. Imagine you’re writing in 1st person, but with ‘she’/’he’ and character names instead of ‘I’. If that is too difficult, write it in 1st person and convert it to 3rd during revisions.
  • If writing with multiple POV characters, make it clear which character is speaking within the first paragraph. This is especially important when both are in the scene.
  • Doesn’t have to mention a name. Could use a feature, an action, a setting, surrounding characters, or unique voice/quirk of that character.
  • Every character will have their prejudices. They will all be unreliable narrators in some way. Don’t let a character be perfect or have a clear view of the world.
  • Look into their history. Their experiences will shape how they see the world and the people around them.
  • A minor villain can simply be misunderstood. Let the enemy of one character be understood and respected by another
  • This also applies to POV characters. The actions of one POV character will not always be understood by anther POV character.
  • Don’t explain the motives of one character to another unless there is a severe disagreement and they feel obligated to explain themselves. Some may lie to avoid vulnerability.

Have you ever done something similar to this? Do you have any advice or want to include something I missed? Tell me in the comments

Voice Issues

For the last two years, I’ve been trying to write a book I wittily named Out of Time (I like using puns in my titles). So far I’ve written three vastly different chapter outlines, numerous backstory re-writes, and just over 20,000 words of the actual novel. Unfortunately, I’ve had to strip back 12,000 of those words to accommodate the new outlines.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m super happy with the alterations. The plot improved each time I revised, and has become something I’m excited to write.

So, why haven’t I finished the novel?

Voice. I’m struggling to find Kasia’s voice.

In the original plan, Kasia was a character full of hopes and dreams. Sure, her situation was terrible, but she pushed her fears aside to pursue her goals. Kasia pretty much vomited rainbows and butterflies.

As you can imagine, she didn’t make a very good narrator. There were times when she was so positive and eager that I wanted to gouge my eyes out.

Cue backstory re-write.

I made her suffer. In fact, I think I went a little too far in terms of psychological trauma. Oops.

Oh well, she lost that annoying Little Miss Sunshine tone and entered Mr Grumpy territory. I cringed as I typed that analogy. Ugh.

New Kasia is angry—and a little unstable. She has a bad temper and poor impulse control, which occasionally leads to dangerous and life-threatening behaviour.

Ah, much better. I could talk about New Kasia for hours.

What I haven’t been able to do, however, is write as New Kasia. I tried switching to third person limited, to no avail. Next I tried writing a synopsis in first person to get a feel for her voice. While it produced some good material, she sounded far too angsty.

In the end I caved and randomly generated a scene from some site I can no-longer recall. I wanted something unrelated to the story so as to avoid growing attached.

Massive failure.

In an unexpected twist, the scene flowed without effort. I enjoyed writing it so much that I want to include it in the novel (dun duuun). As for her voice, I think I found it. I still haven’t used it in a planned scene, though, so I don’t want to count my chickens just yet. Fingers crossed.

What about you? Are you having trouble with your character’s voice, or do you have a method of finding it?

Some Regrets

I was one of those teenagers.

The type that made a profile on almost every writing platform out there, and wrote About Me sections that made it blindingly obvious that I was around 13 years old.

I’ve spent the last few days cringing as I edited or deleted accounts. The worst part is, I remember writing them and thinking I was being funny. I was wrong.

Anyway, the worst of it is gone. Hopefully my online persona sounds more mature than it did before (or at least reflects that of someone entering their early twenties very shortly).

…Probably not. My bad.

Umm, Hi

I’m not new to blogging. In fact, I’ve had a blogger.com account since 2011. Though, that doesn’t mean I’m any good at it.

Truth be told, I suck at posting regularly.

I feel like my life isn’t a particularly interesting one, so I don’t want to bore you with weekly posts about life on a cattle property. Maybe I’ll do a monthly update or something… (kidding–sort of)

Since this is my first post here, I should probably tell you a bit about myself. I’ll give you ten facts as I don’t feel like dragging this post out too much.

  1. I live on a family owned and run cattle (beef only) property.
  2. Since graduating high school in 2013, I’ve worked full-time on said property. My Granddad passed away during my senior year, leaving my Dad to run it. Instead of going straight to university, I decided to give him a hand. This is the only reason I’m still here. If he wasn’t my father, I would’ve quit after a few months.
  3. I’m applying for university next year. I’m looking at a few options (Vet Science, Speech Pathology, Psychology, or English) but I’d like to start with a general diploma to get back into the swing of studying.
  4. I write books. Two have been published, but they were collaborations with many other authors. I have finished one for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), but don’t intend to publish it.
  5. Last year I started the One Year Adventure Novel course. I’m still writing the novel, so I guess for me it’s the Two Year Adventure Novel course.
  6. I’m raising two poddy (orphan) calves.
    DexterElmo
    The left is Elmo, right is Dexter
  7.  I currently own 543 paper/hardback books. While ebooks are easy to carry around, I don’t count them. If they’re any good, I’ll buy them in physical form anyway.
  8. Just in case 7 wasn’t clear enough: I have a SERIOUS book buying problem. My record for most books bought in a single day is 32. I plan on reading everything, but I need to find the time.
  9. I’ve kept a diary since 2010, so I don’t know why I’m so inconsistent with a blog
  10. My favourite authors are Richelle Mead and Sarah J. Maas. The first made me want to write, the second introduced me to the fantasy genre (I had an irrational dislike for it until I read THRONE OF GLASS). Now I want to write fantasy.

Okay, I think I’ve gone on for long enough. Time to go feed the calves.