Not normal...but lots of fun.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Tools of the Trade

So, you may have noticed, I'm a writer. As a writer, there are certain tools I use to work my trade. I thought I'd share a few with you, and if you have any you also use, I'd LOVE to hear about them. 

Well, to begin with, I am an outliner. I write general plot outlines, chapter-by-chapter outlines, character backstories, character breakdowns, maps of all the places my characters go within the story, culture breakdowns, creature details, plus, in Dragon Marked, I'm inventing my own language.

So, I have to have a lot of advice and help on working on this HUGE project. Some of the things I've used for help:

-The Anatomy of Story By: John Truby has projects at the end of every chapter to help flesh out your story or idea. They can be a little annoying, but have opened up whole new scenes for my storyline. Will these scenes make it to the final version? Only time will tell.

-Worldbuilding Questions By: Patricia C. Wrede. If you know anything about fantasy, you've probably heard of Patricia C. Wrede. I have long adored her books in the Enchanted Forest Chronicles. And her worldbuilding questions are practically necessary for any self-respecting fantasy writer to use.

- Character Breakdown By: Charlotte Dillon ( This is a free chart to breakdown the characters you wish to place in your story. Now, it is EXTREMELY detailed, but you can take out whatever you want and still have a pretty good picture of who and what your character is. I don't know for sure if this will make my characters more 3-D, but I do know that all those vague ideas I already had for my characters are fleshed out in this process, so it should be good for something.

- The Language Construction Kit By: Mark Rosenfelder. This is both a book on and a site for great, FREE advice on creating your own language. I'm so glad I found this site, as I have not a clue where to begin on creating your own language, but am determined to do it for this book.

There are a few more sites I've used but can't recall at the moment. Suffice it to say that I have piles of research notebooks, loads of files on research, and am just starting the prologue of the book. Pitiful isn't it?

I told you before, though. I want this book to be perfect. Or, at least, as close to perfect as I can make it. So, I've gone a little overboard. Doesn't everyone?

Seriously, this idea lit a torch under my bum. I hadn't written anything for like a year or more, I felt depressed and despondent from my recent loss of a job, and then this idea hit me like a bolt of lightning. It drove me crazy until I capitulated. I would write this book. And I would do one heck of a job with it.

So, I threw myself into the work with everything I have and have lasted this long. I WILL finish this book. I WILL get it published. And I WILL make all this time and effort worth it.

You can bet on it.

Anyway, if you have anymore tools you'd like to share, I'd love to hear them. I know there are tons more out there, I'm just so swamped with what I have. If you'd like to search for even more, try 100 Amazing Writing Tools You Never Knew You Needed. A lot of them look really cool, and I think I might try a few...if they're free.

My computer, google, and my virus detection program says all the above links are clean, and all except the books (The Anatomy  of Story, The Language Construction Kit) are free. Hope all this helps all you fellow writers and have a wonderful day! And please comment with any additional tools you've found. You know I'd love to see them.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Oops! I Said It Again!

Not very long ago, I discovered the bad words for every writer: was, is, are, be, etc. Pretty much all those 'to be' verbs come with a no-no sticker attached. At least, if you happen to be a writer. They (and by 'they' I mean the books on writing) tell me it sounds better to use an "active" voice instead of an "inactive" one. And those 'to be' verbs fall under the category of "inactive".

But I can't stop using them! I didn't realize how often I did use them until someone had to tell me you shouldn't. Ignorance was bliss. But now, every sentence I type comes with a sudden flash of warning: You can't say that! Change it to something else! Kyla, you 're using a bad word again!

Argh. I want to go back to my former ease in writing and not worry over the bad words until it comes time to rewrite and revise. But how do you recapture lost innocence? Will I never write a word without worry again?

How important can not using those words be? Should you never use a 'to be' verb? Are there certain circumstances in which you should?

Does anyone else struggle with this annoying habit? Or do you have other bad habits you find hard to purge or ignore? I'd love to hear your suggestions, problems, and advice, so please share!

Personally, I'm sick of my internal editor and I just seemed to hire him. Any advice on how to fire him or at least get him to shut up until the second draft? Seriously, right now I just want to fire the jerk.

Does anybody else have trouble with their internal editor? Did you only discover him/her after reading advice books or sites? Is it a common affliction among writers? Please leave your opinions in the comments below!

Until next time, happy reading!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cheater, Cheater, Pumpkin Eater

I know what you're thinking: Bad Kyla! But I couldn't help it. It was just too tantalizing. I wanted it too badly. It was taunting me, dang it!

I just had to write the prologue of the first book, Dragon Marked. I was supposed to wait until I finished the research, but...I couldn't. I really, really wanted to write. And I was thinking: Most of the research I have left to do effects the middle and the end of the book. Why not start work on the beginning and continue the research at the same time? Especially since my interest in the research has been flagging of late. I was itching to get my fingers on the hard-core writing.

Eight months is just too long to wait. No research should take eight months. Even if I had fun. I waited too long for this moment, and now it's just around the corner and I couldn't resist jumping ahead. I suck at self-discipline.  But, then, I'm a writer. We're not renowned for our self-discipline.

 But I keep trying to find my inner disciplinarian. Sadly, she came without a whip and chains. Oh, well. I guess life is all about making do. Do the best you can with what you have, that's my motto.

Something that really shocked me, I found the writing more difficult than it's ever been before. See, this is me, normally:

 And this is me now:

I've never, ever had trouble shutting my editor off in the past! Now I've read all those books on writing, and suddenly the stupid jerk won't shut up (she's the one with the coffee mug). Is it because I now know what I'm doing wrong? Or is it just because this book is so special to me, I want it to be perfect? A lot of pressure comes with perfect, you know. If I could attain perfection, well, that would make me perfect, wouldn't it? 

Unfortunately, I'm far from perfect.

Fortunately, I pushed through anyway. I feel like everything written last night reeks of crappiness, but I kept going and got it on the page. That's progress, right? Even if I have to rewrite every word, at least it's begun.

But that's just so unlike me. Usually, I'm staggered by the incredible work I just wrote. It's weeks or months later when I come back and say it sucked. Usually, both instincts are wrong. Is the circumstances different this time, or is what I wrote really crap? I guess I'll have to have some people look it over eventually and tell me. Until then, I'm stuck wondering.

Well, that's all until the next edition of Kyla's Not Normal! Talk to ya later, and have a great day!

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Dragons Made Me Do It

Well, I told you I have a major writing project in the works, but I never told you anything about that project. I think it's past time to rectify that.

To start with, my book is an epic fantasy. Now, look away from the Lord of the Rings flashbacks you just saw: my book is different. For one, my main character is a girl, named Mira (Rosmira, but Mira for short), and she found a very special item that gave her the ability to copy other creature's powers. With this item, she must fight a terrifying army of creatures known as the Nightmares. The Nightmares are a shape-shifting race, who are not only able to replicate the exact shape and look of any creature they copy (requires physical contact), but also their memories, emotions, and both their learned and natural abilities.

Oh, and did I mention the romance between Mira and one very gorgeous dragon, plus an elf competing for her attention? Then, there's the giant wolf-like creature who is incredibly loyal to Mira, a jealous elven maiden who hates her, and an elf who hates humans in general and Mira in particular. With all of that in the mix, you're sure to have a really crazy story.

Sound weird? I'd really like to know what everyone out there thinks of the idea. Is it awful? Does it sound interesting to you? Would you want to read more? Would you put this book back on its shelf? Please comment with what you think. I'd really appreciate your view, even if it is extremely negative.

If you're wondering why I had to write this story, well, I fell in love with the main character, the setting, the dragon and his culture, and the whole idea. It's just so...enrapturing. This story demanded to be written, and I just went along with the ride. Though, you know, I haven't actually finished writing it yet. I suppose you can say the ride isn't over yet.

One thing to make clear from the get-go: this is the first book of a six-book series. Now, I'd like to hear everyone's opinion about that, too. Is that too many books, you think? Are you sick of reading series? There have been an awful lot on the market, especially in the fantasy genre. Or do you think that is just the perfect amount? Do you like reading series? Again, I really want to know what you think.

Love to hear your opinions! Please comment and I'll talk to you later. Have a great day everyone, and happy reading!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Back On Our Feet

It was a nice trip, but I am so glad to be back home, on my own two feet again!

I had such fun, but my niece and nephew stole my computer the entire time! The only time I could get on the computer, the internet was out. So, no blogging.

Well, now that life has calmed down (some), it's about time I discuss why I made this blog. To be honest, I'm a writer who is currently working on a major project that I plan to get published. And I found myself thinking it might be fun to write a blog about the process as I'm doing it. I've been at it for about 8 months already, but there is still so much to be done.

I'm still working on the research phase, but I'm almost done (oh boy, am I ready to be done). And then I can start writing, something I really want to begin doing. I can't though, because I really believe this book has to be done to the best of my ability, meaning I have to put a lot of time in the research. Good simply isn't good enough. It has to be incredible, phenomenal, wonderful.

Has anyone else out there done a lot of research before writing a book? Did it help benefit your writing? Because my book is a fantasy, I have a lot of worldbuilding to get done. I LOVE worldbuilding. But I'm frankly sick of it by now. I'd really like to hear someone tell me how worldbuilding to a large extent helped them create a very good book, because that would be great encouragement for me right now.

Well, that's all until next time. Maybe I'll improve on this blogging thing by then.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

We Tripped

At least, it wasn't a long fall.

I'm now at my grandmother's, listening to her and my mom talk. They'll probably be at it all night. Oh, well, I've really enjoyed the trip so far. I wonder what will happen. It's started with a bang, anyway. We received the great joy of traveling through the night on a 12-hour trip. I slept a little during, for about two hours. But my mom drove the whole way, so she didn't get any sleep. Poor thing.

We arrived at the hotel at 5:00AM and then had about an hour's sleep. After that, we went to a convention for 8 hours. I was thirsty, I was tired, I was hungry, it was crowded, and it was hot. That first day was not fun.

But today was wonderful! It was a great joy to be at the convention, after a good night's sleep, a nice lunch packed, with plenty to drink, and sitting where I cannot see the crowd. That changes everything! I had such a great time. I enjoyed every moment of today and was glad to be there.

Anyway, I've got plenty to do! Thanks for reading and have a good day everybody!

Friday, June 10, 2011


To trip or not to trip, this is the question.

I love it when my mother can't make up her mind about going or staying. (Can you hear the sarcasm, or was that too subtle?) She hates leaving the house, but consistently gets the itch to take a trip. So who knows what she'll do. I quit trying to predict her thoughts and ideas a long time ago.

I'm pretty sure we're going. In fact, I'll be shocked if we don't. Usually, if preparations get this far, we go. But there was this one time...well, never mind. You really don't want to know.

If we do go tripping, I'll get to see my grandmother. She's a sweetheart and I'm excited about seeing her again. It's hard when you live hundreds of miles apart. Without a computer, it'd be impossible.

Well, I got to go finish packing, unless I wanna risk a repeat of that one time. Which I really, really don't. So, talk to you next time on my brand new, pretty blog.