April Camp NaNoWriMo is OVER

IMG_0310[1]As the title states, the April session of Camp NaNoWriMo has come to an end. And guess what? I met my goal of 75,000 words AND I finished the second draft of my novel “Snowfall”! And let me tell you, that was exhausting, but not as bad as I thought it would be. I’m super proud of myself for actually making all 75,000 words and even though my manuscript still needs (a lot of) work, I can already see it start to come together like I want it too! 😀

S8

Chapter One From Stephan’s Perspective

I waited to post this one to keep from spoiling the big plot twist, but I really wanted to explore Stephan’s emotions in this scene. It’s the only time we see him before Alicia finds out he is a traitor, so it’s a pretty big scene for him. Enjoy!

NP10-McAvoyUncle had opened his mouth to say something as I walked up, but, seeing me, he instead gestured me forward. “What is it, Stephan?” He asked, looking at me with that tired way of his that always indicated Alicia had done something childish, again.

“Sire,” I began, feeling my anger toward my younger cousin boil up under my skin, “King Thomas is becoming extremely aggravated. I don’t think I can keep him entertained for much longer.” I subtly glanced over, taking in Alicia’s completely inappropriate attire. It seemed she was the reason the King and Queen were late meeting with the other Royal, as per usual.

Aunt pursed her lips, unconsciously I think. She tends to do that when she’s upset. “Our relations with Fayal are already tenuous as it is without Thomas acting like a puffed up peacock, seeing grievous insult at the slightest offense.” I agreed, though the situation wouldn’t be quite as difficult if Alicia would just act responsibly for once in her life—but, of course, such a thing wouldn’t even occur to her. Selfish girl.

Uncle gritted his teeth, as frustrated as his wife at the situation. After a moment he nodded curtly at me, wordlessly thanking me for alerting him of the problem. “Alicia, we will continue this conversation at a later time,” he told her curtly.

I hung back for a moment as they turned to go, waiting until they had reached the stairs to ask, “You knew the king didn’t like to be kept waiting, didn’t you?” I thought I already knew the answer, but still I felt compelled to confirm my suspicions.

“And what if I did?” She replied, a self-satisfied smile playing on her face. I had to struggle to keep my emotions in check. How was it that this little nit-wit was going to get to rule the kingdom? She couldn’t make a single decision that wasn’t in her own best interests!

“You’re never going to grow up, are you?” I asked, shaking my head. “The kingdom deserves better.” I turned on my heel, anxious to get away from her before my emotions got the better of me. As soon as I turned my back on her, I gave myself a little reprieve, letting my face twist up in an ugly scowl, leaving her standing alone in the hallway. She more than deserved what was coming to her.

S10

The Soundtrack:

Chapter 1: Hunith’s Letter to Gaius (Merlin: Series One Soundtrack)

Chapter 2: The Blitz, 1940 (The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe Soundtrack)

Chapter 3: Merlin Lost (Merlin: Series One Soundtrack)

Chapter 4: Darcy’s Letter (Pride and Prejudice Soundtrack)

Chapter 5: The Burden’s of Duty (Merlin: Series One Soundtrack)

Chapter 6: Boucher’s Death (North and South Soundtrack)

Chapter 7: The Face of Boe (Doctor Who: Series One and Two Soundtrack)

Chapter 8: The Battle (The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe Soundtrack)

Chapter 9: Irishmen (North and South Soundtrack)

Epilogue: The Breaking of the Fellowship (The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring Soundtrack)

S10-Lady EleanorAlicia’s favorite book is her old battered copy of “The Tales of the Lady Knight Eleanor”, the book that her father read out of for her bedtime stories when she was a small girl. As a little girl, Eleanor the hero she always looked up to, and later in life the lady knight became one of her role models.

Alicia’s favorite play is “Lady Knight Eleanor and the Serpent”, based on her favorite Lady Eleanor tale. The play tells the story in which Eleanor must fight a giant serpent that has wound itself around the castle keep, trapping the Royal Family inside. As Eleanor and the other warriors ready themselves to fight the beast, Eleanor realizes there is a ‘serpent’ among her people as well, one much less intimidating than the beast they are about to face, but no less deadly.

S9

A Stirring Speech

“Evan! How am I supposed to give a speech?” Alicia asked anxiously, pacing the floor of her tent.

            Evan raised an eyebrow. “You just faced down the King of Kentra and you’re worried about giving a speech to people who are already on your side?” He asked skeptically.

            “That was different!” She protested. “I was angry at him for what he’d done, and he wasn’t being nice to me, which was helping to keep me stirred up toward him, so that wasn’t difficult like it could have been! He wasn’t expecting anything out of me, but my people are! If we make it through this, I’m going to be their ruler. If I say something they don’t like now, why would they want to follow me at all?”

            He sighed, stopping her by placing his hands on her shoulders. “Look up at me Milady,” he told her firmly. It took her a moment to do so, but she finally looked up reluctantly. “You are going to be an excellent Queen, but no one is perfect and these people know that. If you stumble on a word, or pronounce something wrong, or even just say something that you didn’t mean to say, they are going to understand. You don’t have to do everything right all the time—you just have to be ready to admit that you made a mistake and move on.”

            Alicia bit her lip, thinking. “But I just know I’m going to say something completely wrong that’s going to mess everything up and—” she protested.

            “Milady, you’re going to do fine,” Evan assured her.

            “But—” she began before he promptly turned her around and pushed her toward the door.

“Go on before you figure out some other reason you don’t want to give the speech!” He urged.  

            “Fine,” Alicia grumbled, hesitantly exiting the tent.

 

“All right,” Alicia began slowly once she had gotten everyone’s attention. “We’ve done our waiting and planning and now it’s time to retake the kingdom. I won’t lie to you and tell you this isn’t going to be one of the most difficult things you’ve ever done in your life because it likely will be. Not all of us are going to make it out alive, but we can’t allow our fears and worries to keep us from doing the right thing. The people who have taken the city have no right to it—they killed my parents and many of our people in order to take the castle. They would take control of the entire kingdom without care for the people. I refuse to let that happen while there is still breath in my body. Will you follow me to take back our kingdom?”

            The response she received from the crowd was thunderous, an earsplitting roar of approval that ripped through the camp.

Novel Project Personal Reflection

Have I connected the Conflict to the overall Theme or message I hope to portray?
Yes–neither my conflict nor my theme would be able to stand on their own, but together they combine to make a wonderful story.
 
Have there been hints to the Theme throughout the story?
I think the theme is definietely hinted at throughout the story. The main character is forced to confront the theme of leadership in her own life–if she didn’t, she’d be risking her life as well as the lives of those around her.
 
What should my reader know at this point about each character?
The important thing about Alicia is that she’s a young woman who doesn’t feel ready for the duties required of a future queen, and that Evan is dedicated to helping her learn how to be the queen he knows she can be.
 
Could a reader guess the ending of my story or are there still surprises to come?
I think the ghost write last week proved that it is fairly easy to get a general sense of where I’m going with the plot, but there is still a big twist to come that I don’t think anyone has guessed yet. *winks*
 
How would my readers feel at this point? Would they be emotionally invested?
If they aren’t emotionally invested by this point, I don’t know that they could ever be. Alicia is a very relatable heroine who has to deal with responsiblities being thrust onto her like many young people, even if they aren’t quite as huge as the responsiblities of a future queen. Alicia loses her parents and every thing she’s ever known so quickly that it would be really hard to not be invested in her story.
 
Have I used literary devices, such as metaphor, simile, alliteration, symbolism, irony, etc?
…not purposefully. (oops!)
 
Am I staying true to my original Plot Outline?
Definitely. My outline is terribly important for me–without it I wouldn’t be able to keep all of the details that need to be in each chapter straight. It took a great deal of thought beforehand to be able to come up with my plot, so it would be extremely difficult to go back on my outline midway through.
 
Are there changes I need or want to make?
There are a couple of things that I would like to mention or hint at earlier in the story that I did not, such as insight into what Alicia misses about her parents.
 
Am I staying on top of important revisions according to feedback?
I haven’t really started making any revisions yet, but I will be soon in preparation for submitting the entire project!
 
Am I energized about the Novel Project or feeling stuck?
I’m energized! I’m so enjoying the Novel Project!
 
Am I proud of my work?
I am very proud of my work. I feel like I’ve grown a lot through this writing project.
 
What have I learned from this experience so far?
I think I’ve learned a lot about connecting themes and storylines throughout the entire story. I also came into this project worried outlining so throughly beforehand would hurt me, when I learned how to use it properly in such a way that it truly helped me grow as a writer.

Let Me Tell You a Story

Let me tell you a story.

If you had asked me even a month ago if I could see myself being a teacher when I got out of college, I would have most likely immediately said no—in fact while I was visiting the campus of the college I will be attending in the fall, Mississippi State University, I was asked this question twice, and both times I shook my head and said something along the lines of, “That’s not really what I’m interested in doing. I want to be an author.” So, let me tell you, I’m just as surprised as all of you that in four years I’ll be teaching English! How all of this came to be is both a long and a short story, and it’s filled with some pretty incredible circumstances because this story is full of God working.

Hmmm…Where to begin…Ah, yes…Concerning hobbits. No, this isn’t Lord of the Rings, but literature is one of my greatest passions in life. I devour books, a habit that has served me well throughout my many moves as a military brat. Everything from classics to more modern works, mystery to fantasy—I’m constantly reading. In my room right now I have three large bookshelves piled with books of every genre and I’m constantly buying more. One of my greatest pleasures in life is introducing someone to one of my favorite books and have them tell me they couldn’t put it down. However, though I knew that there are teachers who only teach English, whenever I thought about being a teacher I always pictured someone who had to teach every subject—something I most definitely am not interested in doing.

About a month ago I received an e-mail from a program called the Mississippi Excellence in Teaching Program inviting me to submit a scholarship résumé to their program. The scholarship they offered was a full ride—tuition, room and board, books, a laptop, money to study abroad—and the commitment you had to make was that you would teach in the state of Mississippi for at least five years after you graduate. The offer was very tempting. Yes, that would mean I had to live for nine years in the state of Mississippi, which could be a little difficult further down the road when I started to contemplate marriage, but it also offered the security of a job right out of college. Not many college students can say that they already have a job secured for them after they get out of college.

The way I came to be eligible for the scholarship is a bit of a story in and of itself. When I was deciding what college I would be attending, I had narrowed it down to Mississippi State University and a little private college in Alabama, Huntingdon College. Everything about Huntingdon seemed to fit what I was looking for perfectly. It was a private Methodist college, the campus was gorgeous, and the writing community there is very active. The more I prayed about it, however, the more I was inexplicably led toward Mississippi State. The METP scholarship is only offered at two colleges, Mississippi State and Ole’ Miss.

As I thought about the offer, I began to appreciate what the scholarship would mean for me, sAunt Bill's Playgroundo I sent in my scholarship résumé. The day after I put in all of my information for the scholarship, our church youth group went to a place called Children in Crisis, which is a foster care facility in a nearby town. There I met this adorable little girl who was deaf. We only spent a few hours there playing with the kids, but in that time, despite the fact that I only know one or two basic signs, I was able to play and joke with her—we were able to connect despite the language barrier. God used that little girl to show me so much, about myself and about the world around me. When we left, she was in tears—and so was I.

Children are a passion of mine, although it took me a while to realize it. My mom and I have been talking about going on a mission trip together for a couple of years now. There is a group from our church that goes to Guatemala every spring break to a malnutrion center, and every time I heard people talk about the kids there, my heart ached for them. We discussed joining the group and going to Guatemala, but my mom revealed that her heart’s desire was to go to the

My little sister and some of the other Russian orphans

My little sister and some of the other Russian orphans

orphanage in Russia where my little brother and sister spent the first few years of their life. As we talked about it, I found myself even more excited to go to Russia than to go to Guatemala, but I also felt a bit guilty. I felt like my excitement to go to Russia stemmed from my love of traveling and my interest in European cultures, but I didn’t want to go on a mission trip excited by the tourist aspect of the trip. I wanted to go because I wanted to serve.

So I asked God to show me a WinShapereason I wanted to go that wasn’t fueled by my love of traveling, and the reason He revealed to me was my passion for children, no matter where they are. I love being around kids. One of the highlights of my summer every year is getting to help out with the WinShape Camp and Vacation Bible School that my church hosts. I love seeing the kids get excited as they go throughout the week, and the relationships I’ve made through the camps are very special to me. I’ve been a babysitter since late middle school, and very little can match the joy I feel when a little girl comes and sits in my lap for me to read her a book.

As I waited to hear back from the scholarship committee, these things kept playing in my mind, making me more and more excited about the possibility of being one of the people to receive this scholarship. When they called me to tell me that I had received the scholarship, I could hardly believe my ears. I still think I’m in shock. It seems incredible to me how God has been working in my life. I can’t wait to see how He continues to work in me and through me as I start college in the fall!

S7

Who Will Make Your Path Straight?–Ghost Write

This turned out to be such an interesting assignment, despite my worries. It’s terribly difficult to step into a world and a story that isn’t yours and try to write as if they are! I had a lot of fun though, and I hope I did the characters and the story justice! Head on over to Myra Frances’s blog Bravery for the rest of the story!

“Don’t you look lovely this morning dearest,” Fredrick said with a charming smile as he strode up behind her. “I brought you something to brighten up your morning, but I’m afraid their beauty dulls in comparison to your own.” He produced a bouquet of lovely red roses from behind his back with a flourish, bowing gracefully as he offered them to her.

            Ella blushed as she took the flowers, surprised to see her suitor so early in the morning. There weren’t many people up and about at this time of morning—those who were up were usually hurrying to work.

            “Do you like them?” Fredrick asked.

            “They’re lovely,” Ella assured him, bringing them up to her nose to breath in their scent deeply.

            “Might I walk you the rest of the way to the shop?” He asked, offering her his arm. “I must admit, I am anxious to see where you work. I’ve been trying very hard to imagine what it must look like, but I’m afraid I have hardly ever spent much time in such shops before, so I don’t have much to go on.”

            Ella nodded, quickly transferring the flowers to her other hand so that she could take his arm. “If I might ask, why are you up so early this morning?” She asked as they walked up the street, passing the occasional worker as they scurried by. “I thought most gentlemen didn’t get up until after the sun was high in the sky.”

            “I must admit, that is an accurate description of my sleeping habits far more often than I should like,” he said with a chuckle, “but I had some business to attend to at the mill this morning, and, as I knew I would be passing this way on my way back to the house, so I thought I would pay you a visit.”

            “And you just happened to be carrying roses around with you to the mill?” Ella teased gently.

            “Ah,” he exclaimed, “Now the roses are much easier to explain than my sleeping habits. On my way here I passed an old women who was selling some flowers on the side of the street. She was just setting up her stall for the day when I walked past and was more than happy to sell me the roses, although I think she may have cheated me a bit. She said the roses had been cut from the same bush as the ones used to decorate Queen Victoria’s chambers, so she made me pay a little extra.”

            Ella laughed. “Mrs. Thomas made a fool out of you. She didn’t get them from a ‘Royal’ rose bush—she keeps a garden behind her house!”

            Fredrick shrugged lazily. “Well, as I said, I figured she was pulling my leg, but the story was good fun. Even if it’s not true, who else can say that they bought you flowers from Queen Victoria’s rose bush?”

            She shook her head disparagingly, but had to turn her head to hide her smile. “Here we are!” She announced as they turned the last street corner before the sewing shop.

            “It’s certainly bigger than I expected,” he commented as he took in the building.

            “The interesting part is on the inside,” Ella told him, tugging him forward. “Come on, I’ll show you.”

 

Fredrick left after a few minutes inside, waving goodbye as he walked swiftly down the street.

            “Oo!” Tessa, one of the new seamstresses exclaimed as Ella went to put the roses in water. “Those flowers are gorgeous! Do you know when he’s going to propose?”

            Ella sighed, suddenly overcome with a wave of indecision. “I’m sure it’ll be soon Tessa—he doesn’t seem like the kind of man who waits very long after he’s decided he wants something.”

            With that she turned and made her way silently to where she had left Juliet’s dresses, her thoughts heavy. Was she ready to say yes to Fredrick?

April Camp NaNoWriMo

Midnight begins the April session of Camp NaNoWriMo! If you did not already know, I’ll be working on draft two of the novel I wrote in November, “Snowfall”. You can read about it here and here.

I’ve gathered my Camp NaNo Survival Kit:

  • A laptop
  • A flashdrive
  • My outline
  • My music playlist
  • My Kindle
  • Post-it notes
  • Fountain pens
  • Multi-colored inks
  • Leather notebook
  • Candy (yum!)
  • Coffee and blueberry tea
  • “The Emotion Thesaurus” by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi
  • Purple binder
  • Corkboard of inspiration!

and I’m ready to go!

Outlining

IMG_0166In preparation for Camp NaNoWriMo (only three days away!) I’ve been furiously outlining. Now, this is my second draft of this novel, but I’m finding it funny how completely differently I’m approaching this stage of editing. I’ve found in the past that outlining really didn’t help me much, and usually it actually ended up hurting me as I felt kind of trapped in a little box and I didn’t let myself run around following any littleIMG_0165 plot bunnies I chose. However, since my novella for Creative Writing class is turning out so well using an outline, I figured I’d give it a shot while I started getting ready to re-write my NaNoWriMo novel from November of last year (Snowfall).

Now, I haven’t started writing yet, but I’m really, really excited about how all of this is going to turn out. I’ve gone through a couple of phases of outlining (as detailed in the pictures) and now I’m down to eight pages of printed outline for me to refer to as I write. The big reason I decided to do such an intense outline when it’s never really worked for me before the Novel Project is because I’m attempting to write 75,000 words in the month of April. That’s equivalent to 2,500 words a day. In order for it to even be possible for me to make those kind of numbers every day, I need to have a very specific IMG_0164idea of what I’m supposed to write next before I start writing. Thus the giant outline.

With three days left before the bell sounds, I’ve finished up my outline, made up my pinboard, and all I have left to do is flesh out some character and setting details. I’m super excited for April!