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* Day 19 – Which authors or books have inspired your own writing the most, and why?

So when I was growing up, I primarily read Christian inspirational romances, mostly because they happened to be what my mom had laying around the house, right? But I can’t really call those things that inspired my writing. If anything, I found a lot of their writing styles stilted and lacking SOMETHING, though I couldn’t figure out what, so they instead inspired me not to write like them.

My latest inspiration is probably Stephen King. I really admire the straightforward way that he writes, a way that is accessible to both learned readers and less learned ones, and the way that he develops his plots. His book On Writing greatly changed my writing style, and I am forever grateful for it. I need to read him a bit more, actually, just to learn more about the suspenseful realm of writing.

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* Day 18 – Who is the antagonist in your novel? What drives their actions?

This is a tough question, actually.

I suppose that one could assign the role of Odalys, Erik’s chief hallucination, to antagonist. She is manipulative. She is prideful. She rules over Erik and dictates his actions and she is incredibly jealous of that Freya girl. But she is still just a hallucination, one that Erik actually controls.

Therefore, Erik is the real antagonist. He created Odalys. She might play on his subconscious, but she cannot exist unless Erik allows her to through being unmedicated. Erik’s actions are driven primarily through his paranoia and secondarily through his obsession with Freya and his desire to keep her all to himself. If he had his way, no one in the world would see her or be able to touch her but him. No one.

* Day 17 – In what time period is your novel set? Is it in this world or another?

Odalys is set in the present day, but Boulder Springs is such an isolated little fictional town that its development feels stifled. They are a very poor village, for example, so fancy technology is shunned in favor of the essentials. The local church still runs a great deal of it, with the mayor more so serving as a hand puppet. There are few schools and no universities. All of the buildings are also incredibly old and behind the times, most still made completely out of wood. People still dress very conservatively, even the adolescents, and anyone who breaks the mold is subtly encouraged to leave through a constant boycott of their family.

Suffice to say that it is also on planet Earth, yes. It isn’t a desirable town, but it is necessary for the story.

* Day 16 – At around the half-way point, it bears mentioning that most of us wrimos have other obligations beside simply hitting that elusive word count. What else do you have going on in your life (work, school, children, neurotic pets, etc.), and just how much are you shafting it to win NaNo?

As mentioned before, I work two jobs, go to school full-time in my senior year, have a relationship to keep healthy, and I moderate a roleplaying forum.

Wow. Just writing that makes my head spin.

Work is not allowed to be shafted. Really, work has priority over NaNo, if I can be honest. There’s no way that I would ever skip work just to write my novel, for example, no way at all.

School is shafted in that I don’t always reach the reading goal that I am supposed to have in my two literature classes. I often have to SparkNote the remaining sections just to get caught up for the next day’s reading. I’ve missed a writing exercise in my Creative Writing class, though I think my teacher will allow me to make it up. Spanish…I’m pretty steady in that. But I did put off this huge presentation due for it on Monday in favor of writing.

My boyfriend and I are both just really missing each other. Writing is a lonely practice. It requires you to sit in a room without interacting with anyone so that you can get the pages written that you need to, as well as to write them well. But NaNo is also pushing my boyfriend and I enough to realize that we don’t want to keep being apart like this. In a way, it’s better for the future development of our relationship.

As for the roleplaying forum, I have taken a month long hiatus, and they all understand that. The other three that run it are keeping it going and they know I’ll be back December 1st, if not sooner, thank goodness.

* Day 15 – Do any of your characters have a disability or mental illness? If so, how does that affect their development throughout your story?

Erik’s schizophrenia is the driving force behind the story itself. As he gradually comes off of the medication that he was on in the beginning of the novel, he becomes unhinged. The disease takes over him. His hallucinations control him, his neurotic tendencies leave him vulnerable, and his paranoia has him suspecting every single person in the village, Freya included, of being out to get him. It makes him antisocial and sociopathic. If it was not for his schizophrenia, we would not have a story.

* Day 14 – Is the sexuality of your characters a large part of your novel’s story? If so, are there characters who deviate from the heterosexual “norm”? In what way?

Sexuality is crucial in my story. When Erik seduces the innocent, naive Freya into his bed, it is a symbol of him slowly unraveling her innocence until she depends on him for her every choice and decision. It is also a way for her to begin suspecting that their relationship isn’t as perfect as it seems, given that he turns the issue around and blames her for their relationship progressing as quickly as it did when she begins to express regret for sleeping with him.

So, yes, sexuality is huge. Even sexual preference plays a small role. Freya’s best friend and only companion, Anne, is basically banished from the village and excommunicated from the church due to her secretly being a lesbian. She is given two options: either confess to the congregation that you have sinned and change it, or every person in this village will boycott your family’s bakery until you are all run out of Boulder Springs. Conservative Freya plays an integral part in hurting Anne enough to send her away, thus leaving Freya without a single person to confide in but Erik.

* Day 13 – Name a male character from your novel. Describe him through the point of view and words of the female character you introduced in question 3 (if they never interact, pick another female character).

“Erik…Erik Moore. There are far too many things that I can say about him.

Erik marches to the beat of his own drum. No matter what Dr. Hammond or Pastor and Sister Randall say to him, he refuses to let them rule him. Intimidation won’t do a thing. He just sort of…floats through the day, staring everyone down, daring them to come after him, commanding them to keep a safe distance if they have no courage. He’s brilliant. He really is.

I’m not quite sure what he does all day. He doesn’t have a job, which is why I pay for his room in the boarding house and his food, but…he never seems bored. There is apparently always something for him to spend his time doing, even in the sleepy village of Boulder Springs, Nebraska. I’m starting to grow suspicious, actually. There might be some detective work that I need to do, but…but I’m so hesitant to do it.

This is the man who made me into a woman. Me, Freya Lyfield! I don’t even care if the church says it was wrong. He’s so right every time that he reminds me that we’ve found a love that no one else can really understand. I saved his life. You can’t share that with just anyone. I don’t even care when he gets a little pushy. It’s just a product of his passion.”

* Day 12 – Imagine you’re behind in your word count goals (even if you’re not) and are going to pull an all-nighter to catch up. Screencap a playlist of inspirational music you would use to get you up to speed.

Oh dear, this is probably the day I should NOT be responding to on my work computer, haha. Well, I can’t pull up my iTunes or something like that, so instead of a screencap you get a LIST O’ LINKS! These are basically divided among characters, situations, etc., that would get my mind in the Odalys headspace. There’s a lot of them, since I’m just going through my playlists on my iPod and plucking them out, haha. But they’re all lyric videos, so check them out if you want to see the sort of music I’m into.

1.) , Awake (Freya, desperation)
2.) , Awake (Father’s message to Freya from Heaven)
3.) , A Thousand Suns (Freya, fin)
4.) , Like Blood Like Honey (Freya, fin)
5.) , Awake (Erik, theme)
6.) , Innocence and Instinct (Erik, theme)
7.) , A Thousand Suns (Erik, paranoia)
8.) , The Black Halo (Erik, replacing Odalys with Freya)
9.) , Disintegration (Erik’s hallucinations)
10.) , Falling Away (Erik softening to Freya)
11.) , Wicked OST (Freya and Erik’s relationship, beginning)
12.) , Barton Hollow (Freya and Erik’s relationship, unhealthy)
13.) , Loud (Freya and Erik’s relationship, abusive)
14.) , Comatose (Odalys to Erik. Take it as creepy as you like)
15.) , The Rising Tied (Peter, missing Freya)

I am horribly behind in this and I apologize for that to any of my readers, haha. But I’d like to thank Angie for her comment that reminded me that yes, people ARE reading, and I should give them new things to read. 🙂 I’ll be queuing these posts to appear over the next few hours gradually so I don’t spam everyone.

* Day 11 – Ever tried collaborative writing (such as play-by-post roleplaying)? If so, what do you think of it?

It is roleplaying that made me the writer that I am today. No, seriously. I’ve been roleplaying since I was nine years old. There has only been short times where I have not been involved with it, whether it be in a chatroom or on a forum somewhere like Proboards or InvisionFree. I am thoroughly addicted to the process. I am actually the moderator on a roleplaying board at this moment in time, which adds another degree of stress or two to keep it going and to keep people happy, but I don’t think I could give it up for anything in the world, really.

Erik and Freya are actually characters I made while roleplaying, though with a few minute changes. For example, Erik is no longer a wizard (why, yes, I AM a Harry Potter nerd) and Freya no longer has pink hair (you work with what you have), but they still retain the characterization that I instilled in them over years of careful love, development, and attention.

I honestly don’t know how I’ll ever leave roleplaying, haha. Creating things with another person is just addicting. But it scares me to think about how I’ll feel if I end up being a 30-year-old on a forum with a bunch of 17-year-olds around me, so…we’ll see.

NaNoWriMo – Week One Update

Word Count: 16,781.

This is clearly a little delayed, haha, but I thought some of my readers might enjoy it.

Getting back into the swing of NaNoWriMo is absolutely exhausting. I’ve charged full-force into it this year and am attempting to juggle it along with two jobs, my senior year of college, and a romantic relationship that is slowly but surely moving toward marriage. Friendships? What are those? Family communication? C’mon. Basically, my entire life right now revolves around writing, and writing with those that I love.

I’m beyond lucky that my boyfriend is doing NaNoWriMo with me. He’s using it to write a script for a webcomic that he plans on pursuing and I am super excited and proud of the progress he’s made, since he’s just as stressed as I am if not more so. The good thing about this semester is that I can BS a lot of my assignments if I need to. If I fall behind in my lit classes, SparkNotes will help me with my daily participation grade. The things I write for NaNo are useable in my Fiction Writing class. But my boyfriend is an Illustration major, which means he’s drawing day in and day out to try to get his assignments done as well as trying to accomplish them to the highest level of his ability as possible. I can’t imagine being under that kind of strain. Regardless, it means we get to spend time together at the local Nashville write-ins, so that helps thoroughly.

I’m not satisfied with my word count, though. I feel like I was a lot farther ahead at this point last year and thus far I’m only barely staying ahead of the word goal every day, whereas most of my write-in buddies are already hitting 25K and 30K. It’s a dash to my pride. But I have to learn to write slower, lest EVERYTHING I write come out as crap. I won’t have a huge amount of time to do significant revising, so it’s important that I get a lot of this done on the first shot.

At least my characters are behaving thus far. I wrote the integral seduction scene a few days ago and Erik even let me fade to black. Fancy that. Unfortunately I still need to write a scene or two bridging INTO the seduction scene, and that is proving far more difficult than I anticipated.

Long story short…I’m unsatisfied with my word count, but I’m satisfied with my story. I suppose that’s what makes the real difference.