Monday, January 30, 2012

That Pesky First Chapter and the RAGE it Creates

---Note that this picture comes from , and does not belong to me. Actually, none of the picture I use belong to me. Aside from my logo at the top of the page.

OKAY. All you writers out there! You know the feeling when you've finished your book leading up to the sequel/after the sequel/final book, and you're like, "Yes! I'm going to get started on the new one and write about fifty pages in an hour and I'm so hyper and my characters are so awesome and I AM SO PSYCHED!!!!!!!!" ?

You learn to hate it, don't you? Because eventually you'll learn you are not going to get started on the new one, you are not going to write about fifty pages in an hour, and you are hyper and awesome, but after a few minutes of trying to get your first chapter going, you will most definitely NOT be psyched.

If you're like me, you're obsessed with having a prologue before you start the book to gain people's interest, and partially your own. Usually, this is how my cycle of trying to write a new book goes:

1. Play prescribed music for my prologue, write a KICKASS 4-5 page prologue that I plan to cut down later; reread it about two times out of happiness and move on.

2. Plan to completely wipe out this first chapter with amazingness and place hands on the keyboard: Chapter 1.

3. Sit there.

4. Sit there some more. Listen to prescribed music.

5. Look at the clock and see that it's been half an hour. Resist urge to turn TV on, get onto Internet, etc. Write a few random words to delete them three seconds later.

6. Finally get a page done, and then your creativity is gone. Sit there, trying to write more.

7. Change music to un-prescribed music in the hope I'll find a secret alcove of creativity I haven't used up yet to write the rest of the chapter.

You get the idea. I reach this road block—I wouldn't call it writer's block, because the thing is I know what needs to be written. But I just can't find the words themselves in order to write it. To me, that isn't writer's block. Writer's block is the hopeless feeling you get when you've been trapped at Chapter 18 for about three months but you can't write anything. This is what I call First Chapter Block.

Here is a good example of how the dreaded Chapter 1 makes me feel:

---hyperboleandahalf: I love you. So much.

I have a few methods I use to try and get out of the ditch Chapter 1 mercilessly throws me in. The bottom of that ditch is filled with water, spikes, and sharks; thank you very much.

Here are the above mentioned methods:

1: Procrastinate until two months have passed and, with dread and annoyance, I sit down to try and write again.
2: Sit there until I write. Usually forcing myself like this results in crap writing that involves crappy analogies, repeated sentences and phrases, lousy personality, icky dialogue, etc. Then afterward I glare in the mirror at myself, unwilling to forgive myself for making such a terrible chapter.
3: Make a different sort of first chapter, changing some of the events to hopefully regain interest.
4. Procrastinate the annoying parts of the first chapter to the second chapter in order to face them later.
5. Make bloody scenes. Blood and guts and knives and guns. I don't know why, but I enjoy writing it and often gain an entire bowl of creativity from this exercise. I don't know why I love writing bloody scenes. I promise I won't turn into a serial killer. I'll leave that to my book characters.

Here is the definition of Chapter 1 for me:
The part of the book where you have to re-introduce all your characters again, the scenery again, the plot again, the villains again, and the personalities of each and every person. AGAIN. All the while introducing the new plot line, any new characters, possibilities, and doing everything you can to keep the reader's interest. You also have to avoid all that goddamn passive writing, point-of-view changes, grammatical awkwardness, etcetera etcetera etcetera.

I hate Chapter 1. I love the content of my story. I just want to continue my story from where it left off at the end of my book, but I'm too lazy to write summaries in the beginning so I opt for simply trying to put it through the first chapter. It usually turns out harder. Writing Chapter 1 is like voluntarily leaping into a pit of lava, thinking that you'll be immune to the burn. And then you will hate yourself.

Because you are not immune.

Chapter 1 is the worst Chapter you will ever have to write. And if you love to write, chances are, you're going to have to write it. About seventy times or more depending on how many books you write in your lifetime. And each and every time, if you are like me, you will hate it until you wish you could grab it off of your computer screen, throw it onto a fire, and watch it burn until it's nothing but ashes and cinders until it surrenders to your will and writes itself.

Have a nice day. (:

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Sometimes Life Can Be More Magical Than Any Story You've Ever Read [Looking back: 2011]


I'm so sorry I didn't get this post on, well, you know; December 31st of 2011. But never late than never? Anyways, what I'm going to do is just a few things that happened in the year of 2011 (At least I organized those a while back) that made me happy, ecstatic, and just plain happy to be alive, as well as memories that just come to mind when I think of the year 2011, happy or sad.

Here we go!


January of 2011

I was growing desperate. I've done so much for my book, and nothing is happening! I need help. I remember in 2010 that I queried an agent who actually showed some interest: Kelly Mortimer. She did say she would help me if I needed it. Encouraged by this thought, I sent a desperate e-mail at about 11 at night for help. Within two days she'd replied, telling me she would give me a free edit of the first three pages. I sent them to her, about in tears from gratitude.

February of 2011

I started to drive in my Driver's Education class. I remember getting so frustrated and scared from how icy it was out, but my teacher stayed patient and humorous with me the entire time, every time I had to drive. Even if I almost got us into an accident a few times. The fact he had so much patience with my driving-blonde-moments filled me with gratitude. To this day we still joke about things that happened during our driving escapades.

March of 2011

After two months, I was losing faith in Kelly Mortimer. I still hadn't received a reply. My parents had completely given up, but I knew better than that. Never give up hope! It paid off: within the final waning week of my expectancy, I received a reply. Not just a reply. An amazing, super-awesome I-love-this-agent-for-eternity reply. I received the edited three pages, and few words of encouragement, and a 12-page guide on editing. I was ecstatic. And I'll be forever grateful to her.

April of 2011

I took my final driving test with my instructor. However, the sudden commands he kept giving threw me off and I ended up almost in tears a few times. He let me stop, and my partner Taylor got into the driver's seat to let me calm down and try again. We drove around town for a while with her in the front seat. She was coming up on a yellow light at an intersection. My instructor yelled, "Stop!!"

She slammed on the brake, inches from the white line, and managed to get us stopped. "What?!"

"That's a yellow light!"

"That yellow light means caution, and I was caution-ing it!!" Taylor yelled back at him. I burst into hysterical giggles and turned toward the window, unable to control myself for the next five minutes. When I took the test again I got a C, but Taylor's little grammatical error had made my day all better.

Oh, by the way, I started my blog in April. (:

June of 2011

School ended. My friend Whitney and I had made plans to go get our hair done, and I would try Chinese for the first time. I was excited about the hair—I was going to get a blue streak; she would get the whole under-layers of her hair purple and some in her bangs—but not so much about the Chinese. Once we reached the shop we had our hair done, and as I said, went for Chinese. To this day I question why I would have ever cringed at the idea of Chinese food.

The reason this resonates with me is because it's honestly the first time I've ever done anything like that with a friend of mine, and it felt so cool to have a blue streak in my hair for a while. Even if I got into a chlorine-pool and it faded out.

July of 2011

My birthday!! I had been told that I wouldn't get a car, yet one of the little packages I got had a set of keys. I was overjoyed to see the car I'd wanted for a while, but we had an issue: there were no license papers. I couldn't drive it until we got the license papers for it. I was pretty upset, but I dealt with it. The rest of my presents kept me intact. One of my friends sent me an enormous package, and I already know that her family has a hard time with money: she sent me a twenty-dollar book and a six-dollar package of chocolate-covered coffee beans, and a $15 iTunes card. I love her. (: My birthday was just an amazing day. And getting my license was just a terrifying experience until the woman told me I passed with flying colors.

That friend I got my hair done with? I tricked her into thinking that I'd caused a pileup on the square. Haha!

August of 2011

After getting a different car than the one I had had, I was able to take my first ever journey on my own: I was going to meet a published author at the local McDonalds!! I remember driving and singing and cursing at other drivers on my way over, completely invigorated. This was my car, and I now owned the road along with the other drivers! Ha!

The author, Roger Whitlow, was an amazing guy. He gave me a few tips on publishing companies and eBook publishing as well as telling me some of his experiences in the publishing industry. I haven't really spoken to him since, but he's been having health issues, so I don't mind. It was a great experience to meet him anyway. The reason I met him was because one of my favorite teachers asked me if I would be interested. Thanks so much, Kuhn! <3

I entered into my junior at school. An upperclassman at last! I'm sure you can imagine me strutting through the halls like a badass, but truthfully, no. We had to stay eight hours that day when we're used to staying only two on the very first day, so it was more of trying to go to sleep and glaring at my teachers like they were the ones who had subjected me to this torture of sitting in a desk for eight hours, because that's obviously worse than having my nails ripped off or something.

September of 2011

I had a friend who I'd known for a long, long time; however, a strange bout of paranoia kept me from talking to him for close to two years. I worked up the courage in September to message him and ask for forgiveness, and he gave it. It's a great feeling to have one of my best friends back. It didn't seem complete without him in on my very uninteresting life.

My mother and I went to visit my great-grandmother, who had been suffering cancer for a while. We had a great time, laughing and enjoying memories together. She was perfectly fine. In fact, we were talking about how my cousin would be married soon and what she was going to wear. An amazing day.

October of 2011

Imagine my amazement when I got to my cousin's wedding and ran into just about every teacher I knew there. My driving teacher, my biology teacher, my sixth grade teacher, you name it. And I was actually dressed up, something most of them had never seen before. And watching them drink wine. It was a very strange experience. However, I was able to watch my cousin and god-cousin get married—how weird is that?! But they love each other very much. It's always so nice to see love officialized in that way.

November of 2011

My mother and I went to go watch Breaking Dawn, and after that we were going to see my great-grandmother, who after all had not been able to attend the wedding. After witnessing the movie that was actually better than I expected and instantly putting the score on my Christmas list, we went to see her.

Her condition had worsened drastically. She seemed as uplifting as ever though, and fooled me into thinking she felt okay; though my mom knew how much pain she was in. We spent time together for a few hours, and my grandmother came over later. I hugged and kissed my great-grandmother when we left. If I'd known it would've been the last time I would do so, I might've tried to find time to go and see her again.

December of 2011

The spirit of Christmas was in the air by the first. People were doing favors for each other, performing common acts of courtesy without even realizing it. I was amazed. People held doors for one another, gave each other complements. One memory that resonates is in my algebra class. We have two kinds of graphing calculators: the old ones that are often faulty, and the new ones. I never get a new one. I prepared to rush up and get one, but I knew I wouldn't. Someone who sat behind me had made it up before me. As he passed me he pushed the calculator in my hands. It brought a smile.

Finals, yippi-dee-doo-da-day. A few days before I remember studying furiously. I was going to fail, I was going to fail, I was going to fail, I was going to fail, I was GOING TO FAAAAAIL!! My history teacher twisted the desk in front of me around and sat down. He'd been terribly sick, and he was fighting just to stay at school. He asked me, "Do you need help?"

I looked at him, and I said gratefully, "Yeah. I can't find solidarity anywhere!"

With a smile, even though he looked seriously sick, he took my study guides (mainly by the corners to avoid too many germs, haha) and started flipping through. Once he found it for me he told me to keep it up and went to help the others in my class. It made me somewhat gratified to know I have a teacher like him, who's willing to put himself through hell just to stay at school and help us all prepare for final exams.

On the first day of finals, as I was walking into school, I was stuck behind two little pre-school kids. I listened to them chatter away, smiling at their youth. As we came toward the corner that would branch to my locker, my fourth-grade teacher turned the corner. One of the little boys gasped, and the woman leading the boy said, "Who's that?" in a joking way.

"Momma!!" the boy cried and ran into my teacher's arms. Mrs. C laughed and wrapped her arms around him.

"Hey, kiddo. What's up?"

"School!" the boy chirped. Mrs. C told him she needed to go, so they parted ways. It was enough. My day was made, whether I passed these tests or not. I stopped at my locker with a goofy grin.

Later that day after finishing my last test, I was getting ready to leave. I told my [sick] history teacher, "Merry Christmas. I hope you feel better by Christmas."

He laughed. "So do I. Kendra, you did a good job. Merry Christmas."

Once again with a smile I exited the school.


Those are the most important memories I could come up with. Both minor and major, they all make me happy or sad or just make me think of how blessed and lucky I am to be where I live and know the people I know. 2011 was a magical year for me. I retained all of my friends, gained some, and didn't lose much (except for my great-grandmother, but I know she's still with all of us). Though the bonds between some of my friends have weakened, the ones I have with them have only strengthened. I have such patient family and friends, friends and family who tolerate my faults (such as punctuality and response-time).

2011 was a good year for some, bad for others. For me, 2011 was one of my best years.

And now that we're a month into 2012, let's see what kind of magic this year can bring!! If you wish, share some of your experiences in the comments!!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

SWEEP (Volume 3) by Cate Tiernan | REVIEW

Title: Sweep, Volume 3 [The Calling; Changeling; Strife]
Author: Cate Tiernan
Number of Pages: 565
Published: February 3, 2011
Rating: 5/5
Morgan Rowlands holds profound magickal power. . . a power that some will stop at nothing to obtain. Though she knows she has much still to learn, magick has brought her more than she could ever have imagined: the love of her soul mate. Yet her dreams uncover something else - a dark force threatening her entire world. As the darkness closes in, Morgan realizes that she must make a choice - light or dark; hatred or love. Is she strong enough to make the sacrifice and discover her true nature, or will the darkness consume all she holds dear? (goodreads)
"Fire to fire and ashes to ashes. It will soon be done. I've already closed my heart to love. From this day on I give myself wholly to the darkness." - Ciaran [The Calling]
REVIEW [Spoiler Warning!]
Wow, so remember what I said about the interaction being sort of dull in the last volume? I spoke too soon! The gang is back and kicking this series to new standards—I couldn't put it down! It's so hard to sit down and make the review instead of grabbing the next one, but I know if I don't do it now you'll all be waiting for about two months. Oh, and let me mention the cover of this so awesooome.
So we start off with Morgan and the three main couples {Hunter and Morgan, Bree and Robbie, Sky and Raven} headed up to the Big Apple for some Amyranth information—considering Morgan just had a dream where they witnessed the coven's leader preparing to mutilate his child. The thing is no one knows their identities: they're disguised as animals.
Our new journal entries come from the POV of Ciaran, the man who we see killed Maeve Riordan and Angus Bramson, Morgan's birth parents. It's almost, if not more, interesting than Maeve's journal entries in the previous books. During all of this Morgan wonders if Hunter truly loves her, why Bree is so cold to Robbie, and how to ease tensions between Sky and Raven—all relationship stuff. Bree and Morgan are still trying to get a semblance of what they used to have, Robbie is growing more resentful for Morgan's easy use of her magick, and Raven is...well, Raven.
Enter Killian, stage left: Ciaran's son. Not that we know this right away, but we can instantly see he's a partying blood witch with no concern for how magic affects people other than himself. Flirtatious and self-confident, he is a force of nature who Morgan feels an instant connection to...the same with the man she meets outside of this party club, staring up at the moon.
Hunter and the rest of the Council come to the conclusion that Ciaran is leading the NYC sect of Amyranth, and find that Killian is his son—which means that Amyranth is after him, since Morgan's dream symbolized the wolf as the leader and a wolf cub as the victim. Hunter and Sky throw themselves into a hunt for the missing witch, and Morgan tries to help with her scrying abilities. After some delays Killian is found safe and sound, but leaves the next morning without a trace.
Here's where it gets GOOD. Morgan senses he's in danger after trying to patch things up with Robbie. [Something I didn't mention: She and Robbie went to find a watch Ciaran gave to Maeve way back when, and Robbie got ticked when she used her magic on a woman showing them around.] She decides there's not time to wait for the Council and goes to save him, but it turns out she's the victim. An edge-of-your-seat conflict of her trying to resist her magick being taken and discovering the truth of her heritage takes place, and Hunter rescues her after Ciaran himself gives him the power to do so.
Ciaran is Morgan's father, and Angus has no true relation whatsoever. Morgan falls into a phase of doubt, seeing herself as an heir to darkness and chooses to break up with Hunter now so she can't hurt him as badly later. And that's just The Calling!! Wow, I used up a lot of space for that... *ahem*
Onto Changeling, Morgan has isolated herself from most of her friends and especially Hunter, all the while wondering how in the world she can stay good. She meets Eofie, who inquires her help to put a tracking spell on Ciaran, and Morgan accepts. The entire book phases through helping her friends and having her friends help her and trying to get closer to Ciaran.
Killian makes reappearances after Morgan contacts him; she and the rest of the gang have a few parties with him (which ends up with a huge breakup between Raven and Sky) and Killian brings Ciaran into the picture for her. Morgan can't help but feel connected, wanting to know him and like him and trust him; but knowing she can't. It's a tough situation for her, and a dramatic one that leaves you begging for more.
She does get closer to him, which makes it all the harder for her to betray him. At one point Hunter accuses her of bringing Killian into the picture and ruining quite a few things between Sky and Raven; and Morgan is plunged into such disbelief and grief she rushes to Ciaran after he asks her to come to him. He decides to comfort her by teaching her to shape-shift. She uses the opportunity—while using this forbidden magick—to mark him with the tracking spell [OMG!].
Ciaran's testing her: he tricked Hunter to be in the same path as their hunt would be, and Morgan faces an internal battle between good versus evil: saving Hunter, or killing him. She chooses good, and Ciaran flees while the Council chases after him. Morgan, gratified in her choice, goes back to Hunter's side.
Strife... This book got unsettling at points, in a good way. One of the minor characters we haven't noticed all that much, Alisa, comes into the bigger picture as magick starts to affect her in unprecedented ways. She feels Morgan's magick is dark, evil; unsafe. Morgan faces tensions within her family as they finally acknowledge the fact that she is too different now; something needs to change. Her life spirals out of control as she learns her magick may be causing havoc in Widow's Vale; and her tutor, Erin, believes that.
Okay, this is getting a little long. In a nutshell, Morgan does her best to ease the rifts between her and her family, especially with Mary K. Erin proves herself to be a good tutor and kind friend, Morgan and Hunter are closer than ever though they believe his parents are trying to contact him, Bree and Robbie are trying to make their relationship work. Strife ends with Ciaran being apprehended in Spain, Alisa being hospitalized but coming out okay, Dagda [Morgan's cat] almost dying but turning out okay [thanks to Erin], and Hunter learning his parents are in Quebec. On this cliffhanger, the book ends.
Okay review finished time for Book 10. :P This volume was just amazing! [I made more of a freaking synopsis than a review. Dammit, sorry guys. Just know that it was freaking awesome and I basically highlighted the parts that I loved about it. XD]
Reading: Sweep [Volume 3] by Cate Tiernan
Fire and Ice by Erin Hunter
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia/Margaret Stohl
Listening to: Neji - Elfen Lied OST
Watching: Ghost Whisperer