NovelSisters

watching, reading, and writing stories

NaNoWriMo in April

So apparently there are writing camps and all sorts of fun things that NaNoWriMo does throughout the year. I’ve only ever done the write 50,000 words in November contest before. But this month my sister was thinking about joining a cabin and writing for the month of April. When she told me about it, I suggested that we use the month to start writing our co-authored book together. You see, we talk about story ideas all the time. Usually we keep our writing separate, but we’ve talked for years about writing a novel, or even a series together. So I figured, why not try it this month?

Our story idea revolves around a middle school student getting the super power of teleportation and then learning how to use his powers and become a hero all while keeping his identity a secret and keeping up with normal teenage life. It’s been a blast so far, though I still have very little direction for where this story is going. But I figured y’all might like getting a glimpse of what I’m working on, so here’s a section that I wrote.

Keep in mind that this is unedited and subject to many changes.

Our working title is:

Tales of a Middle School Superhero

This is the story of how I became a middle school super hero. It’s pretty crazy so be warned. You might not believe me but I’m totally telling the truth.
It all started when I was sitting in history class and my teacher, Ms. Robinson was talking on and on about the Great Depression. Which I think is such a bad name, like how can a depression be great or even good? They should have named it something else like the horrible depression. But anyways I’m getting off topic. So I was trying my best not to be depressed listening to her talk about all the horrible things people had to deal with, like dust tornadoes and living in cars instead of houses. And I started thinking, why couldn’t everybody just go to Disney World and be happy? Or better yet why can’t everyone go to Six Flags Fiesta Texas for free? I mean they have so many good rides and like the best water park. Why can’t we all just be happy? And I started thinking about my favorite ride at Six Flags. It’s totally the Superman Krypton Coaster. I love when the first drop makes you feel like you’re really flying and then spins you in the giant loop. I started imagining that I was on the roller coaster instead of stuck in my boring… and depressing classroom. This is a normal thing for me, my mom says I have trouble daydreaming. But I really don’t have any trouble with it. I do it so well that I could actually call it my special talent. I can actually picture that I’m there and not here. But well, this time felt different because, I didn’t just see it. Like I heard it. People were screaming around me and there was wind in my hair and I could feel the twists and turns of the coaster pulling me out of my seat. And that’s when I realized something. I was no longer in my class. This was NOT a daydream, or even a dream dream. This was real! Somehow, I had left my class, traveled over a hundred miles, and landed in a an empty seat on the Superman. I let out a surprised scream, but no one else seemed to notice me. They were already screaming anyway. I realized the restraining bars were a bit tight. I guess the guy who closes the empty coaster seat put it as tight as it could go, since no one was in the seat when the coaster left. Lucky for me, I’m small for my age. I haven’t quite hit that growth spurt yet. So the coaster sped me on my way and gave me a great look at the park. I noticed that there weren’t many people around, which makes sense. It it a school day. Even though summer is definitely on it’s way, most people aren’t going to the theme parks yet. The brakes squeaked loudly and jolted me to a stop, then we coasted slowly into the terminal. The fat guy behind the controls looked at me and blinked a couple times. I froze, wondering if he realized I hadn’t been there when the ride started. Then he pressed a button releasing the locks and our restraints lifted. I unbuckled mine and stepped out of the seat.
“You want to ride again? There is no line.”
I looked up at the operator but I felt a bit unsteady from the coaster. That or reality that I had just teleported.
“No thanks, I’m good,” I said, then quickly got up and hurried past the worker, following the walkway into the Superman gift shop. I sat down at a bench and took a deep breath. Before I could decide what to do next, my phone buzzed in my pocket. I fished the phone out of my cargo shorts and promptly dropped it on the concrete sidewalk. The phone kept buzzing though, so I picked it up and saw the picture of my best friend stuffing an entire slice of cake in his mouth. It was the profile picture I had assigned him. It matched his personality quite well. Sam was always hungry, especially for anything sweet. We joked that he didn’t have any normal teeth, only sweet tooths. I managed to swipe my finger across the touch screen before it went to voicemail and put the phone to my ear.
“Nick? What happened to you? Did you ditch without me?”
“Hey Sam, I uh. I don’t…”
“Dude, that was not cool. Ms. Robinson grilled me like crazy. She said she never said you could leave for a bathroom break. I had to tell her you were about to throw up.”
“Actually, I might.”
“Really?”
“Yeah, you’re never going to believe me Sam, but I think I just teleported.”
Sam cackled. “You’re right, I’m never going to believe you. So where did you go?”
“I uh, went to Six Flags. I just rode the Superman.”
“Are you tripping man? Seriously, do you need a doctor or something?”
“I’m serious. I was imagining riding it while Ms. Robinson droned on and on and then suddenly I was riding it.”
“Okay, you can stop with the joke, it is way too late for April Fools.”
“I’m not joking Sam. I don’t know what happened. One second I was there and the next I was here.”
“So you didn’t sneak out of class?”
“No, I didn’t mean to leave.”
“Wierd. I didn’t even notice. No one did. Ms Robinson just asked me where you went and then I noticed that you weren’t there.”
“What’s wrong with me Sam? People don’t just randomly start transporting places!”
“I know, I know, chill. We’ll figure this out. Where are you now?”
“At a bench, next to the Superman Coaster.”
“I wish I was there, I still have two more hours of torture before school ends.”
“What do I do Sam? I can’t walk home from San Antonio!”
“I know, I know. Just stay calm. Maybe you should call your mom.”
“And tell her what? Hey mom, I just teleported, could you come pick me up please?”
Sam giggled. “Yeah I think she might not believe you.”
“You do believe me though, right?”
Sam didn’t answer.
“Sam?”
“Look I know you like playing jokes–”
“This is not a joke! I’m really in San Antonio. You want me to send you my location on my phone?”
“Sure, do that.”
I hung up and opened up my maps app. I took a screenshot of my location and texted it to Sam. I waited till the text went through then called him back. The phone rang twice before he picked up.
“So did you get it?” I asked.
“Yeah, how’d you do that? This is a pretty elaborate prank.”
“It’s not a prank Sam, I’m really at Six Flags. I can send you pics if you want, or a video. But I’m not lying. I’m really here.”
“But you were in class ten minutes ago. You couldn’t…”
“I did.”
“Okay you’re totally scaring me now. If this is a joke you’d better tell me right now.”
“For the last time, it’s not a joke.”

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Author Visit

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Well I got to visit another lovely school this week. I drove down to San Marcos on Tuesday afternoon and walked into De Zavala Elementary to speak with the 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders about writing. A couple of 2nd graders listened in during the first presentation too. It was so cool to see their enthusiasm about writing a book. Several of them asked me about how they can get involved with NaNoWriMo too. I hope that one day I get to hear about some young authors who got their start at De Zavala. One kid also asked me if my books were in Spanish. I had never thought about translating my books before. But that’s actually a really good idea, especially for where I live. So I may have to look into that too.

I am also excited to try a new way of selling my books. At every other school I’ve gone to, I’ve offered my books at a discount if someone preorders. Then I bring the books to the school with me and pass them out after the presentation. But just like any adult, kids usually don’t want a book until after they’ve heard all about it and meeting the author helps a lot too. So the librarian at De Zavala  suggested taking orders after the presentation and then letting me know how many books she needs in a week or two. I’m hopeful that this will be a great way to promote my book and make it available for even more kids.

However, in some cases I may have to stick with the preorders only, especially for schools that are hours away from where I live. But for the schools closer, it might be a great way to make it easier for kids to get the books.

So anyway, I had a lot of fun with this school visit and I hope the next one is just as fun.

If you happen to want copies of the Finding Home Series, check them out by clicking the pictures of the book on the right. The links will take you to Amazon where you can read some sections of the book and have it shipped directly to your home. It could make a good Christmas present for a young reader.

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NaNoWriMo 2016

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Sorry I haven’t posted in awhile. This little author has gotten quite busy in the past month. One of the main reasons is that I’m attempting to join in on NaNoWriMo this year. The National Novel Writing Month is a great way for anyone to jump start their writing. And since I finally finished and published Finding Home: The Lost Brother this year, I thought it was time to start writing the third book in my Finding Home series. I’m planning on this being the last book in the trilogy. But who knows what could happen. A fourth book could end up popping into my brain at some point.

For anyone interested in what this next book will be about, just know that a lot of things still need to be worked out. I’m in the very early stages of writing. But because of NaNoWriMo, I have almost 20,000 words written so far. This book will be focusing more on Princess Serina’s perspective and the working title for now is Finding Home: The Pirate Princess. From the title it’s easy to see that there will be some swashbuckling adventure in this book. I hope any of you out there who have read the other books will check this one out when it is finished.

And if there’s any aspiring authors out there, this in the month to start! Join in with NaNoWriMo and start writing. It’s amazing how much you can get done when you have a goal and a lot of other people helping you stay focused.

Sign Up For NaNoWriMo Here

I may have fewer posts for the rest of this month, due to all of the writing for NaNoWriMo. But maybe that means I can post some sneak peeks of the third book when this month is over.

Also, I’m very excited to be speaking to the students at DeZavala Elementary next week. So you can expect a post about the school’s Author Visit in the future.

Hope all of you are having a great week!

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How I Became An Author

I’m excited to announce that I will be visiting a school in Giddings, TX! Immanuel Lutheran School has graciously invited me to come speak about writing and my new book Finding Home: The Lost Brother on September 8th. I’m so excited to talk with kids about my experience with writing and publishing books that I just had to share.

I know most people who read this blog will not be able to come to this school, or any of the school visits I get to be a part of, so I thought I’d share a little bit of what I will be talking about while I’m there. There’s a lot more to my speech along with some questions for the kids, but I thought y’all might like this little glimpse into my life and how I became an author.

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My sister after she won NaNoWriMo for the 1st time

How I Became An Author

When I was younger I always loved to make up stories by playing pretend games. I’d imagine that my backyard was the Oregon Trail and I’d pull my little wagon around it like I was really traveling to Oregon. I’d pretend I was a horse or a dog with my sister and I’d pretend I was a mermaid or a dolphin while I was in the pool. But as I got older, I started to write down some of the stories I imagined. And I always wanted to make up new ones. I got into the habit of trying to think up a good story whenever I went to bed and hoping that I would end up dreaming about it. That didn’t work very often, but one time, when I was trying to fall asleep, I started thinking up a really great story. Usually if I liked the story enough I would try to write it down so I wouldn’t forget it, but this story was so good, I didn’t want to just write it down, I wanted to share it. So I started writing.

Now writing down the basic plot points of a story is one thing, and actually writing out the dialogue and what the characters do and say is very different. I worked really hard on making my story a reality for a few months, but eventually I started focusing on other things, like school and friends. By the time I went to college my idea of finishing this story and actually publishing a book was still something I thought would be cool, but I didn’t know if I ever would.

Then when I was a senior in college my sister did something amazing, and well it kind of brought out my competitive nature. She decided to do NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month and write 50,000 words in one month. I didn’t think she could do it, I mean I had been working on my book for years and hadn’t written that much. But she did it, she wrote a whole book in one month. And I decided, if my little sister can do this, I can do this. So I set to writing my book and actually finishing it. And the next year when she decided to do NaNoWriMo again, I joined her and wrote the first draft for my sequel.

And that’s how this book got it’s beginning, from a little bit of competition.

 

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I Love Youth Fiction

So for the past two months I’ve been trying to read a book, it’s a mix of historical fiction and romance. And I just can’t get into it. I’m still not even halfway through the book and it’s just not engaging. But in that same time I have read 3 youth fiction books! It only takes me a couple of hours or maybe one day if it’s longer to speed through a youth fiction book. They’re just so fun to read, so interesting and just enjoyable. It’s no wonder I’m writing in that same genre. So I thought I’d give you some short reviews from my most recent explorations into the youth genre and then give an update on my upcoming book.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/eckhartpubliclibrary/6887718935

 

First off I read Cinder. The final book of the Lunar Chronicles was just released and my sister bought it the day it came out. When she refused to do anything but read she suggested I read the first book in the series: Cinder. I don’t usually read the futuristic sci-fi kind of books, but I knew it was based on the classic Cinderella story so I gave it a chance. And it was great, plenty of action and good descriptions, funny characters and unexpected changes to the classic story. I was surprised when characters actually died and my happily ever after ending wasn’t fulfilled. I have a feeling I have to wait to read Winter to get the ending I crave. But the book opened up a new and interesting world with plausible realities and a great assortment of characters. I would highly recommend this book, and by the way I’m already reading the second book in the series: Scarlet.

The Tournament at Gorlan

Image Source: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/kids/return-to-the-world-of-the-rangers-apprentice-with-the-tournament-at-gorlan/

The next book I dove into was The Tournament at Gorlan, the first of the prequel series for Ranger’s Apprentice. I had been looking forward to this book after reading all of the other books in the Ranger’s series. And I did enjoy reading it and getting to see some of my favorite characters as their younger selves. However, it didn’t connect to me as much as Cinder did. I felt like a lot of the jokes I’d already heard before. For example Halt got thrown off his Ranger Horse just like every other Ranger when they were apprentices. I did enjoy the plot of trying to rescue the king and prince from Morgarath and I also loved the scenes when Halt and Pauline first meet. But it wasn’t my favorite book in the series and I may never read it again.

Cover of the first edition of How to Train Your Dragon

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Then yesterday I read the first book of How To Train Your Dragon. I’ve loved the movies for years and have always meant to read the books, but I never did. Well now I can say I have read at least the first book in the series. It’s definitely meant for a younger audience, but it was an enjoyable read. I found it interesting how different the movie was from the book. There are several characters that never even show up in the movies, and a very different take on dragons. I did find it humorous that the vikings book on how to train your dragon has only one suggestion: Yell at it. I also enjoyed seeing the outcast young Hiccup and Toothless become the heroes of the story. I’m not sure if I’ll ever read the other books, but it was a fun and very quick book to read.

And lastly I’ll give a quick update on my upcoming sequel Finding Home: The Lost Brother. This month instead of writing a new book for NaNoWriMo, I’ve been editing each day. I’m hoping to print a test copy at the end of this month and get some more feedback from readers. But the book will soon be finished and I’m excited to get to share it with all of you.

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Rewriting a Story

Pencil, Sharpener, Notebook, Paper, Education, Office

Image Source: https://pixabay.com/en/pencil-sharpener-notebook-paper-918449/

I have done several posts about what I’ve been reading or watching lately, but I haven’t had a post about my next big writing project. About a year ago I finally finished my first novel Finding Home: The Orphan’s Journey. It’s not like I’m a big time author, and not many people have even read my book, but it was something I really wanted to do and I actually finished it. Well, as many authors do, I started writing a sequel to my novel. I started the process during a NaNoWriMo competition. But the result has been sitting off in some lonely part of my Laptop’s hard drive for sometime. Now that school is back in session and everyone around me is headed back to the grindstone, I figured it’s time for me to do the same.

So I got out the word document and started ‘revising’ but it really is more like rewriting. You see when I started this sequel I had a very vague idea of what I wanted the story to look like. And most of what I had written for NaNoWriMo was spur of the moment inspiration. Now that I’m rereading it, there’s a lot I want to change. But I am not used to cutting out big chunks of story and throwing them away. When I wrote my first novel, everything was planned, or at least a lot more than this one was, so most of what I wrote, I kept. But with this sequel, I’ve had to add in a whole other storyline. It’s like I’m starting over, but I still have all these chunks of old storyline that I don’t want to delete.

It’s a touchy process of me trying to figure out what can stay, what can be reworded and touched up, and what just doesn’t make sense anymore in light of the changes I’ve made. It’s like I’ve entered a whole other world of writing, and it’s a lot harder than the last one. There’s always that little voice in the back of my head saying, “no I liked the old story better, why are you changing it? You’re making a mistake!”

But even though it feels more time-consuming and it is hard to let go of what I’ve already written, I think this is a growing experience for me as an author. And I do find the new direction of my story much more compelling than my initial idea.

Maybe I’ll post a sample of what I’ve been working on one of these days, but it would make more sense if you have already read my first novel. So for now, I’ll just post a link to where you can find that: http://www.amazon.com/Finding-Home-The-Orphans-Journey/dp/1490556427/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1409681857&sr=8-1&keywords=finding+home+the+orphans+journey

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The Novel’s Journey

I know I don’t mention it on this blog a lot, but I am a writer. Specifically I’ve been working on publishing my first novel for the past several years. Writing a novel is a long process. Not only does it take perseverance to actually finish, it also takes serious thought and editing skills. On top of that pile on the whole mess of trying to self publish and you can start to see why it takes so long to actually finish.

But I’m proud to announce that my novel “Finding Home; The Orphan’s Journey” is now finished! It is available on Amazon today!

Cover

http://www.amazon.com/Finding-Home-The-Orphans-Journey/dp/1490556427/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1384877071&sr=8-1&keywords=Lydia+Hill+Finding+Home

I’d like to share a little about how this story came to be, and perhaps in the future I’ll post some small sections from the text itself. But if you want to go ahead and purchase a print copy, feel free.

This novel began as an sketchy idea. Oftentimes as I’m going to sleep I think up some story in my head. Usually I’ve forgotten it by the next morning and most of them aren’t worth remembering, but this time, I liked the idea. I decided the next morning to write out a generalized plot line. It wasn’t a super long plot, and most of it was the big picture. In essence I knew I wanted to write a story about an orphan who goes on a quest to find his long lost family, in hopes that they are still alive. I had a few ideas of what should happen to him on this quest, like running into a Princess and saving her life. But there were lots of gaps and holes, and I had no idea how to end the story. Also, the big picture was very different from actually writing a book, putting in dialogue and description and organizing the whole thing into chapters. All of this actual writing was a big job that I had never attempted before.

The writing process started out slow, I started with a grand back story explaining what had actually happened to this orphan, but eventually realized that this was not a great way to start a book. It was good to write so I knew what had happened, but it wasn’t needed for the reader.

As years continued, I still dreamed about one day actually finishing my book, but high school was nearing it’s end and my busy college days lay before me. I thought that taking Writing classes in college would help motivate me to finish, but instead of writing my novel, I wrote other papers, and learned more about what it takes to write well. In addition, during my college years I was able to secure a job at a local middle school where I was supposed to read with students. As I saw examples of good and bad literature in the school library, I began to think again about my novel, and giving younger kids an exciting book that was also clean and safe. I was really tired of kids coming across crude language and telling me “I’m not allowed to say this.” Of course you’re not, I was thinking, this stuff shouldn’t be in a kid’s book. There’s got to be better stuff out there. And so I decided that my novel could be one of these ‘better’ books, at least in the sense of crudeness.

By the time I had graduated from college, it had been a long time since I’d actually tried to write anything connected to this novel. When I finally looked back at it, I realized how simple the language was and how difficult it would be to “fix” what I’d already written. But I decided to try. Now that there was no homework to do, I had time to write.

So I recruited a few friends to give me feedback on my early chapters, then I started writing furiously. By writing very long research papers in college, I had learned that writing was not such a big challenge after all, I just had to do it. Another contributing factor was the National Novel Writing Month. My sister had won the contest my senior year of college, and I began developing a plan of finishing my novel before November, and then trying to write a sequel during the contest month. With this goal in mind, I worked much more diligently. By November 1st I was done with my rough draft and ready to write more.

After the busy NaNoWriMo season, I entered a new phase: editing. Some of it was fun; developing chapters, making artwork, or adding descriptive details. But editing also meant scrolling for typos multiple times, and having a few friends read the whole draft for errors. As you can imagine, this was a long process that took several months, but finally I was nearing the end. Figuring out the cover and description was actually not as hard as I thought it would be, thanks to Create Space’s program. And now I’ve come to the end of my journey, at least for this novel.

So if you’re interested in starting a journey for yourself, buy the book. Or if you’ve already started out on your own book, leave me a comment and let me know where you are in the writing process.

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NaNoWriMo

Image Source: http://nanowrimo.org/

As November rolls closer, I’ve come to decision time. Should I participate in NaNoWriMo again, or take a break? For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It is basically a contest or challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days.

Last year I did it for the first time. It was a a blast. Sure there were times of stress, or having no clue what to write about. There were times I just stared at my computer screen with no clue what to do. I think I even had to write on an ancient laptop for part of it because mine had crashed. But still I look back on that time as a great experience.

But this year, I don’t have an idea to write about. Instead I see a pile of old work that needs revising. Should I really start a new project that will also need editing? I’ve toyed with the idea of making any revisions I make to an old novel count towards my goal of 50,000 words. But I know I don’t need to write a whole book with my revisions, I just need a couple of new chapters and some changes in the ones I’ve already written.

However, as I was glancing through blog posts today, I saw that one brave writer is going to try NaNoWriMo for the first time this year. And it got me thinking; yeah I have plenty of excuses, but the main reason to do this is because it actually gives me a reason to sit down and write. So maybe I’m not writing a new story, maybe I don’t have a detailed plan, but I can still join in with all the other writers out there and actually give a big effort for one month. And who knows what will happen.

So that’s my plan for now. I may end up with several short stories, and some new chapters for my unfinished book, or I may find a whole new novel developing, but I’m not going to make excuses and not write anything. The least I can to is try.

Any other writers out there who are on the fence about joining in, I’d encourage you to hop on the writing train. And if you’re that person who’s never finished a novel but wants to, I’d encourage you to give NaNoWriMo a try.

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