This year I plan on taking part in National Novel Writing Month. National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo for short), takes place during the month of November and is a challenge to writers to write a 50,000 word novel in thirty days.
I first heard about NaNoWriMo two years ago, but this will be my first year participating. With my full-time job, part-time job and my volunteer work, November is one of my busiest month. However, I am determined to find the time complete the NaNoWriMo challenge.
While, deciding to participate was easy, deciding what to write is more difficult. There are so many stories swimming around the grey matter of my brain. I have two projects in particular that I want to work on. One is a Middle Grade fantasy about a group of eleven and twelve year-olds with special abilities that work in inconvenient ways. The other is an Adult horror that puts a new spin on the Greek myth “Pandora’s Box.” Though the middle grade story will probably only take 50,000 words to tell, I have decided to work on the adult horror story instead. I have been reading a lot of dark fantasy lately and really want to try my hand at writing something creepy and macabre.
I hope to report my progress once a week on the blog, so be sure to check back for updates.
I have rewritten the first chapter of Blood of Esta so many times since completing the first draft back in 2008 that I’ve lost count. It’s definitely the chapter I’ve revised the most. Probably because it is the only part of a novel that has at least a chance of being read by an agent or publisher when you query them. If they like your query letter, they’ll read the first few pages. If you can’t hook them with those pages, your’re screwed.
I mentioned in an earlier post that I had won a professional critique of the synopsis and first three chapters of Blood of Esta. The critique was from the Acquiring Editor at Bell Bridge Books, Debra Dixon. She gave me highly encouraging feedback about Blood of Esta and my writing (my favorite line being “feel very confident that you’ve gotten to a point that your writing is professional and enjoyable”). She also pointed out a few things that she thinks could use some rethinking. The biggest potential “problem” was the prologue. She didn’t feel that the prologue scene, though informational, was powerful enough to open the book. She gave a suggestion for a new opening, one that I’d already been thinking about writing. I took her advice, and below is the new opening scene for Blood of Esta. Comments are always welcome.
BLOOD OF ESTA
N. M. Carrara
One thing I had learned about my connection to the Earth these past thirty years was that cold always meant danger. I’d once walked barefoot across a frozen lake in the Snow Mountains. Without any threat that the ice would crack or that I would be ambushed by predators, the frozen lake felt no different than walking on a plank of damp wood, and the snow that fell in those mountains kissed my skin with the same tepid wetness as a spring drizzle. But confronted with danger, I felt the cold. Like the time I’d trekked through the burning deserts of Gensamer. Even with the blinding sun at the noon apex, the sand below my feet had grown colder as I neared a scorpions’ nest hidden in the dunes. The change in temperature was the Earth’s warning. Cold equaled danger. And now, as I sat waiting on the wall, I didn’t know why an Adornian peace officer and a foreign ambassador were galloping towards the monastery, but the chill that laced the summer air told me that trouble chased after them. Continue reading BOE Chapter One, Take Fifty
It’s Wednesday (even if it’s already 10:30pm), and that means it’s time to showcase one of my many works-in-progress.
In today’s installment of WIP Wednesdays I am presenting the opening scene of a dark urban fantasy piece I’m working on. It is a novelization of my short story “Pandora’s Box.” The piece below would be considered the prologue. Enjoy.
Six days ago I received an unnerving phone call from my brother Adam. He had called from his mobile and the battery was about to die. He told me that his girlfriend had been murdered the night before, “by accident,” he said; and that he was mixed up in something that, “you wouldn’t believe even if I told you.”
“Slow down, Adam,” I said. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Where are you?” Continue reading WIP Wednesdays: Prologue to Pandora’s Box the Novel
Introducing WIP Wednesdays (“WIP” stands for “Work in Progress.”) On Wednesdays I will share a passage or chapter of one of my many WIPs. One WIP is a MG (middle grade) fantasy about a group of middle school kids who have special abilities that work in inconvenient ways. I posted the first chapter a few weeks ago. Below is what will likely be the second chapter. Next Wednesday I might even share the third chapter (if I ever finish writing it), or most likely a passage from some other think I am working on.
From Untitled MG Fantasy:
Russell Mickelson rubbed his sleepy, dark eyes and rolled over in his bed. The morning light peeked through the gaps in his curtains, shining on the dozens of sailboats painted on the pale-blue walls of his bedroom like a lighthouse lamplight. He hated this wallpaper. He might’ve liked it when he was a kid, but twelve-years-old was too old for wallpaper sailboats. He squeezed his eyes shut and tried to will the tacky, childish boats away.
“Russell,” his mom called from the bottom of the stairs, “your breakfast is getting cold.”
Breakfast? It’s only 7:00 a.m. She never makes breakfast this early. Continue reading WIP Wednesday: Another Chapter from the Untitled MG Fantasy
Besides BLOOD OF ESTA, I have a few other ideas floating around in my head. Below is the first chapter of a middle grade fantasy novel I’ve been working on (very slowly) over the last year or so. It doesn’t have a title yet.
Today’s the day. Today’s the day I find out if Wyatt Anders likes me.
Carmen strode into homeroom and took the seat assigned to her on the first day of school last month. She was early. The three other eighth-graders in the room looked bleary-eyed and miserable to be sitting in a classroom at 8:00 a.m. But not Carmen Leary. She looked forward to homeroom every day. She couldn’t wait for homeroom, or first period, fourth period and seventh period. Ever since Jasper Parkins had sent her the text containing Wyatt Anders’ schedule, Carmen couldn’t wait for summer to end and school to begin. She screamed so loudly when she read that she had not one, but three classes with Wyatt, that her mom came running to her room thinking she’d been stabbed or something. Continue reading New MG Fantasy Story