The Return of Rae!

Posted on July 13, 2011. Filed under: Editing, Musings, My Writing | Tags: , , , , |

Hello all you people in the blogdom!

I am exhausted, intrigued, excited, and thrilled. And I am home! After a year (more or less) abroad in the wide, wide world of China, I have returned to the wonderful US. It’s been a wild ride, but if you’ve kept up with my other, China-centric blog, you already know that.

After all that time away from home, I’m back and ready to revamp this blog of mine! I will probably be working on a few concepts that have been floating around my brain while participating in all kinds of things to keep me afloat. I have to get a job, of course, which could take longer than I really like to think about, but in the meantime I’ll be keeping up my online activity as well as my writing.

Speaking of writing, what was the first thing I did when I arrived home? Oh, that’s right: I gravitated instantly to the box with my CreateSpace proof copy, courtesy of the NaNoWriMo winner’s page. It arrived long before I did back in the States, and when I opened it up, I got my first taste of just what a book that I wrote could look like.

I would actually recommend purchasing a proof copy of a draft if you are an aspiring writer. It means so much more to have a professionally bound copy of your book with your name on the front in your hands, and it’s given me more motivation to edit and revise the book now that I’ve seen just how awesome it has the potential to be.

Fire & Ice Bound - Cover of my Proof Copy

As you can see, I decided to take a picture of my proof copy with my dog, Harley. Seriously, though, the cover was gorgeous. I will go ahead and admit I probably could not use the cover art if I were to self-publish the book because the amazing artist who designed it (another NaNoWriMo participant) mentioned the artwork potentially being licensed in such a way that I would need to pay for it. However, as this book is just for me at this point, I’m thoroughly enjoying the gorgeous cover.

Title Page of Fire & Ice Bound

I took quite a few photos of this to link to the NaNoWriMo forums, but the point is that seeing my name (or my pen name as the case may be) in print is enough to motivate me towards eventually ironing out all the kinks and making this shape up into a real novel.

The end result of this proof copy is a 333-page book on cream paper with few stylistic designs apart from the chapter font. The lines are spaced at 1.5, and the font is 11-point Times New Roman. It’s a little over 90,000 words long, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed rereading it since I haven’t read it since I finished writing it in February 2010 (written originally for NaNoWriMo 2009).

Random Inside Pages of My Novel

It’s stunning to see my novel in print. Like I said, I sincerely urge you to get a proof copy of your novel printed. With CreateSpace, you do nothing until you approve your proof for sale, which means you never have to approve your proof copy. So in essence, you can finish editing, revising, polishing that proof copy until you get it just right, and then you can start sending it in to agents.

A proof from CreateSpace is actually rather cheap when you get right down to it. Basic shipping will get it to most places in the States within a week of ordering, and I think it’s a definite investment in the future of my writing career to see what I’ve written in book format and really get a chance to read it like I would a novel.

The Back Cover of My Novel

I’ll probably update with a little more about how I’m using this proof copy to edit and revise my novel. I think it might be fun to do a few visual presentations on my editing process, especially if it becomes as “colorful” an experience as I imagine it will.

I thoroughly intend on doing a revision of the novel, printing it out on paper, revising again, doing a sweeping edit of grammar, and finally paying for a second proof copy from CreateSpace that will hopefully be the most polished version of the book.

Until then, there are novels to be written (in August), resumes to revamp (next week), blogs to write (soon and very soon), and other things that have to be finished.

I hope this visual blog post has warmed your little writer hearts and reminded you that I am, in fact, not dead. I will be around more soon, and hopefully we’ll see this blog revamped in the interim.

Looking forward to more posts soon –

– Rae

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History of the Author Part 5

Posted on March 30, 2010. Filed under: About Me, Books, My Writing | Tags: , , |

Here it is, the story you’ve all been waiting for!

History of an Author:

As it’s the last Tuesday in March, I’ll be posting today about how I got into the world of long, original fiction. Obviously you’ve read about my start in poetry, my love of books, my foray into fanfics, and my short stories. Now I have to admit the truth.

All of that was just the path I took to novel-length fiction. It’s true. I’ve always wanted to be a novel writer ever since my first look into a Lori Wick novel. Even as a little kid, I knew I had what it took to be a novelist.

I admit that I’ve taken a rather circuitous route thus far to achieving my goals. A lot of that is due to my grandparents who always made a point of telling me what I could and (more frustratingly) could not do. I’ve always been easily influenced by the opinions of those closest to me, and knowing that my grandparents thought I would not make it in an artistic field has shaped a lot of my choices.

Thus I earned a Bachelors of Science instead of a Bachelors of Arts. I majored in business and am now qualified to run your business as a manager, and I’m sure I’d do a darn good job of it. I know the ins and outs, have taken the financial classes, the logistics courses, and the information technology classes to give me the edge. I’ve made presentation after presentation and learned business communication techniques to make me formidable in the office.

But my heart isn’t in business, and it never will be. Give me pen and paper, and I’m at home. Offer me a computer and word processor and I’ll be happy as a clam.

That’s why I am where I am now: lack of confidence due to family opinion. But I’m getting to the point that I believe in my own writing, and I’m willing to pursue it.

With that in mind, let me tell you a little about how I started writing my first novel.

It was through NaNoWriMo, as you might have already guessed. I had some harsh circumstances hit me in the middle of fall 2008, and I’d dared two friends to do NaNoWriMo with me. I figured they would back out and I wouldn’t have to do it. They didn’t back out, though, so I was stuck on November 2 trying to sign up for the event and figure out a plot.

I needed some catharsis after some personal trauma, so I started writing my story. I changed names to protect the innocent and wrote in the style of a diary entry. The story wasn’t completely autobiographical, but it was definitely heavily influenced by my circumstances and relationships at the time. And as it was supposed to be a novel, I came up with a title for what I was considering “Chick Lit” in the genre category. So what did I call it? Insert Witty Title Here. Yeah, it was a cop-out, but I actually like that title and think it would be great for a book someday.

During NaNo2008, I managed to write about 34,000 words before life happened again and I quit. To be fair, the two friends who were writing with me also quit that year, too. It didn’t bother me either considering it wasn’t a novel I believed in.

By the early fall of 2009, I was in a much better place. Lots of things had finally come together for me, including a graduation date from the school I hated. And I dug out some old notebooks while cleaning that led me to my notes on a fantasy novel I wanted to write. I even had my friend come up with symbols and character sketched for me. Two of my friends had created characters for the book, and I had the basis for a pretty involved story.

I started looking at my notes and realized I wanted to write this story. It wasn’t just for myself, but my own selfish pride was definitely a big part of why I wanted to write it. I already had a number of characters mapped out, and my only problem was figuring out a plot. I’m sure when I first started brainstorming for this story a year or two ago I had a great plot idea. Unfortunately I never wrote it down, so I began brainstorming again and came up with a number of different ideas that were pretty viable with the world I’d created.

I titled my story Fire and Ice Bound, and I made plans to write it during NaNo2009. By the end of October 2009, I had a blog dedicated to the story to keep me motivated, several friends agreeing to participate with me, parents who wanted to see how the story would play out, and the piece de resistance: a 12-page Word document full of outline, plot, character, and miscellaneous notes. I also typed up a separate character profiles page as well as various other related sets of notes. I had the whole story outlined in my mind, and it was enough information to comprise three different and distinct books.

***

The forum banner I made for my novel - I'm obsessed; yes, I am.

Synopsis of Fire and Ice Bound:

Brenn Redoix is a 19-year-old fire-bonded living in Devalt, Ezer Kenegdo. She’s been attending Devalt’s elite preparatory academy since she was 7 and is preparing to graduate with a number of her peers. All that’s left for these exceptional element bonded students is to take their legitimacy exams. Once they’ve received the legitimacy certification, they’ll be eligible for government service.

In Ezer Kenegdo, the government is ruled by a number of ‘old’ families, including the family of Brenn’s best friend Levi Devalt. Brenn and Levi, however, have always entertained the notion that the government is slowly tightening its grip on the rest of the country. Policies concerning inter-element marriages and laws declaring a person can only bond to one element have solidified the two friends’ stance on their government, and while neither particularly wants to work with the shady electorate, they have no choice now.

As the legitimacy exam draws nearer, strange things begin to happen. A negotiator from Ezer Kenegdo is killed by neighboring Pridemos Nald. A state of heightened alert is sounded throughout the city, and the electorate begins discussing changes to the legitimacy exam. When Brenn and her 13 classmates hear from their instructor that the exam had been changed to a more practical version, she and Levi know something’s amiss.

That’s when Levi overhears a conversation between his father and Devalt’s representative: the exam has been changed in order to oust a student they believe is multi-bonded, or bonded to more than one element.

Now in even more dangerous territory than before, Brenn and Levi begin training doubly hard for their mysterious exam. But what is it? A harrowing trek through Centrale Foraois, a no-man’s volcanic wasteland in the center of three bordering countries. The students are divided into two teams on a competition to answer a set of clues, but what they encounter in the forest is more deadly than any of them expected.

***

Because I’m still trying to pin down a good synopsis, that’s what you get. 😛 I figured some of you might be interested in hearing what my novel was about. Ezer Kenegdo is a world of 10 elements. There are a lot of technical terms that I didn’t use in the synopsis because it makes more sense to simply read the story.

This first book is more of a coming-of-age tale. It’s tragic and dark, and my main character, Brenn, learns more than she expected. But it’s also the lead in to the sequel: Water Based. That book will be even darker with mentions of warfare and runaways, dangerous chases and deadly enemies. I’m not sure when I’ll write it at this point, but I want to give Brenn her due in Water Based because there’s a lot I didn’t cover in F&IB.

With that said, now you know where I’ve come from. My stories are all rather odd, and my background is fun. I don’t know how interesting a book like Fire and Ice Bound would be to the mass market, but I like the concept. It’s been fun to write, too, and if I never sell it, I’ll still be glad I wrote it. After all, this was a labor of love for myself, not for anyone else.

Thoughts? Comments? Questions? What do you think of the synopsis? Let me know!

-Rae-

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On the First Read-Through

Posted on March 3, 2010. Filed under: Editing, My Writing | Tags: , , , , |

It’s been an incredibly busy day. I’ll make a short post. Wednesdays are hopefully going to be my days to update you on the editing progress this month and tell you all the fun things I’m working through on my manuscript for Fire and Ice Bound.

With that said, I’ll start by explaining how I want my first read-through to go.

I’ve already read through the prologue and the first chapter. I may or may not ditch the prologue after the advice Orson Scott Card gives in his how to book. I haven’t decided yet.

My first read-through, for better or for worse, is simply going to be a grammar check. The only reason for that is I know myself too well. If I reread what I’ve written, I’ll go nuts every time I find a comma splice or misspelling. So I’m reading critically for grammar first.

But I almost forgot to mention my program! As a NaNoWriMo winner, I had the opportunity to cash in on some great winner offers. Obviously the one most NaNo-ers care about is the free proof copy from CreateSpace, and I definitely plan to use my coupon and get my proof copy once my manuscript passes inspection. However, there’s another awesome offer that a select number of NaNo-ers were able to cash in on this year as well.

I say select because it really depends on what type of operating system you use. Anyone using an Apple was able to cash in on this offer, and it’s pretty fabulous. The NaNo winners were able to purchase Scrivener at a 50% discount from the cover price.

Scrivener is a word processor, but it’s not just a word processor. It was created with writers in mind, specifically writers of longer pieces of fiction, like novels. Scrivener allows you to do some really awesome things: combine all your story documents into one giant file, use the corkboard to move and manipulate the order of your story, divide each chapter into scenes, edit, use the full-screen mode for minimal distractions while writing, and so much more.

It’s a pretty intriguing program, and I’m just now exploring it through editing Fire and Ice Bound and writing The Macchiato Murders and Tales from Lucy, but there are a lot of things I’ve yet to figure out. It has everything from a standard novel manuscript form to a tutorial to scriptwriting features, and it’s pretty simple to operate.

So I’ve imported all my chapters from the NaNovel into Scrivener and have read through the prologue and first chapter, making minor wording changes and a few rewrites or deletes. It’s not great, and it needs a lot of sculpting and shaping to make it work, but it’ll be worth it.

This is the beginning of my editing process, and I know everyone edits differently, so what’s your starting point? A brisk read-through to get a feel for the whole story? Chapter by chapter or scene by scene revisions? Let me know! I’d love to hear tips and tricks from the pros (or the not-so-pros as the case may be).

-Rae-

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The Writer’s Rush

Posted on February 7, 2010. Filed under: Fantasy, My Writing | Tags: , , |

Today is a long day; suffice it to say it’s the Superbowl rush at our house.

I’m going to begin posting a series of Sunday blogs based on either sermons at church or Christian books I’ve read. I’ll also post below the Sunday part of the blog with a normal post. Most of these will include a quote whether it be from a writer, a book, or the Bible (which, yes, I know it’s a book, but I figured it’s somewhat distinguishable from other books). If you don’t want to read it, feel free to skip down to the bold heading below.

Quote for today: “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.” – Mark Twain

The Thought: My pastor used this quote in conjunction with the question: “What are you afraid of?” If you’re a Christian, this quote applies because we claim to believe in a God who’s powerful enough to control our tomorrows and thus have no real need to worry about or fear the future. And, truthfully, it applies if you’re not a Christian as well. Tell me, how many things have you worried about over the years that never came to pass? I think Twain makes a rather good point, don’t you?

See? That was painless. Now onto the rest of the post…

Once again, I’m writing about writing. But this is a celebratory post, so get excited with me.

At exactly 12:28 a.m., I wrote the last words of Fire and Ice Bound, completing my NaNoWriMo 2009 novel. Yes, it’s a rough draft. Yes, it needs a ton of work. Yes, I’ll be editing the entire month of March.

But… here’s the kicker: I finished writing a novel all by myself.

How many people can claim that? The numbers are high enough, but really, that’s not the point. I set out to do it, and I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish. For me, it’s with both a sense of elation and excitement that I wrote the final words of my novel, closing that chapter of the story.

Now I can move on to the sequel… after copious amounts of editing in March, of course. But it’s done, and I can also move on to the next items in my ever increasing goals list for 2010. I’m happy and pleased with myself and feel I’ve given myself a sense of self-discipline I didn’t have before.

In case you’re interested, here are some of the stats about my novel. I promise not to overwhelm you with posts about the content of the book; that’s for another site.

With no further ado:

Title: Fire and Ice Bound

Genre: Fantasy (possibly YA Fantasy)

Total Number of Chapters: 18

Total Number of Pages: 158 (single-spaced, 12-point font Times New Roman)

Total Number of Words: 90,066

I’m thrilled and excited and also exhausted from all the work I’ve done both on the novel and around the house lately. I am definitely looking forward to taking a break from writing novels and beginning other projects.

Now that I’ve completed my story, I feel comfortable saying that I won’t write about it again until I begin the editing process next month. In fact, I’m hoping to have a post on reading for you tomorrow, which would be a nice change of pace, don’t you think? Unless someone asks, I’ll leave my synopsis out of this blog. See my link above for the synopsis posted to my other blog.

Anyway, I’m in a very celebratory mood despite being tired, so I’m rather looking forward to my parent’s Superbowl party tonight. When I hear everyone cheering the teams on, I’ll throw in a cheer of my own for my story.

Feel like joining me? 😀 I hope you all have fabulous Sundays, and please leave any comments or questions you may have. Thank you for reading this little self-centered post, and I promise to leave references of my writing out of the next one!

-Rae-

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Write What You Know

Posted on February 4, 2010. Filed under: Books, Fantasy, My Writing, writing | Tags: , , , , , |

Pen

It’s a simple piece of advice echoed in thousands of ways. “Write what you know.” That’s what I’ve heard, read, and seen in people’s writing over the years. And it’s the single piece of advice I’ve heard most from others who write.

So I have a question.

How many writers actually do this?

Yes, of course, I understand there are elements of truth in all fiction. That’s quite obvious. And I know writers tend to put a little bit of themselves into what they write. That’s one of the reasons so many authors are passionate about what they do.

But if you take apart the elements of the story, how much of what authors write do they actually know?

Since I’m asking the question, I’ll use myself as the example. (It works well considering I don’t want to make claims on another author’s behalf.)

For NaNoWriMo, I planned, outlined, and wrote a majority of a fantasy novel. Like most fantasies, my novel was written entirely in a made-up world. The countries I created were not based off the United States in any real way. Nor was the continent based off North America (though I could certainly argue that my inclusion of three countries within my continent is similar to N.A.).

My fantasy elements are all based off elements in nature, so perhaps I’m writing what I know there. However, instead of using a typical four-element society, I dreamed big and wrote a ten-element society, which I’m still getting the hang of.

For the most part, my fantasy world is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before. I’ve never experienced a world where the most advanced form of transportation is through horse-drawn carriages, nor have I experienced a journey through a wild forest on foot that lasts more than a day.

I don’t know what it would be like to wield an element in nature, nor the extent to which a person would have to practice in order to control that element. And I don’t know what it’s like to watch a very close friend tortured to death.

These are just a few of the elements I’ve thrown into my world. Now I’m not trying to generate interest in my novel; I’m just explaining why I wonder how much writers actually know about the worlds they write in.

I do understand some of my world, for sure. My characters have become my friends, and I understand and know them. I know the friendships and relationships I’ve created, and I see the web I’ve weaved to tie them all together.

And as a great portion of what I write is in some way, shape, or form loosely based on others’ works that I’ve read or watched, I know those things, too. But it makes little sense to me to claim that I’m writing what I know.

I’m curious. Are there any other writers out there who have similar problems? And is it related more to the experience the author has? I’m relatively new to the art of writing a novel as this is the first one I plan to finish. So maybe I just don’t understand because I haven’t really been there yet.

Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear others’ perspectives. Let me know what you think.

-Rae-

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NaBloPoMo February 2010

Posted on January 31, 2010. Filed under: About This Blog | Tags: , , , |

Well, it’s official.

I’ve joined National Blog Posting Month for February 2010. I have a couple of goals for having done this. And then I’m also hoping it will help me in the long run as I work on my BFS list for this year as well.

My first goal for NaBloPoMo is to consistently post at least one blog a day on the subject of reading and/or writing. That’s fairly simple and in line with the contest rules, so it should be the most obvious goal.

My second goal is to make this a habit. Blogging is something I’ve wanted to do consistently for a while. I love writing, and blogging is a rather painless way to continue honing my ability while keeping it sharp. In addition, I’d like to get some followers (eventually) who actually like reading what I post in order to keep me motivated to write.

My third goal is to use any self-discipline I use in writing daily to put toward my BFS list, which I have posted on the NaNoWriMo forums. What is a BFS list, you ask?

A BFS list is a list of Big, Fun, and Scary goals for the year. The idea is similar to resolutions, but it’s more involved because you’re trying to make specific goals as opposed to just the general “I want to lose weight” ones that always end up broken by the end of the year. In addition, each goal should be big, fun, and/or scary.

My list has a lot of things on it that most likely won’t get completed within the course of the year; however, I’m hoping that I’ll finish a majority of it. I’ve broken it down month by month, and February is the month I reserved for doing NaBloPoMo. Thus, here I am.

With that said, tomorrow begins the month, and I’m looking forward to developing a system. I’m going to attempt to do a few book reviews as well as put together some writing blogs, perhaps chronicling my own attempts at the art as well as following some other people who are writing.

If you plan to read my blog, feel free to sit back and relax. I’m here to entertain. And let me know if you have any thoughts, comments or questions. Snide remarks are welcome as well, but at least give me a chance!

-Rae-

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Welcome to The Book Wyrm

Posted on January 27, 2010. Filed under: About Me, About This Blog | Tags: , , , , , , |

If you’re reading this, it’s because you’ve found your way to my blog, and I welcome you here. The Book Wyrm is my place to talk about all things writing, reading, and otherwise books.

My name is Rae Reneau, and I have some experience in both the writing and reading that I refer to. I’ll summarize. I’ve been reading since I was very young and have collected quite a few novels over the years that I reread with gusto when I’m experiencing a dearth of new, good fiction. In addition, I always have at least a few books on my to-read list, and I’m generally always reading at least one book, if not two or three.

While I don’t have a background in English (owing to my own decision to study business administration in college), I do have a bit of a background in journalism. Originally I was a journalism and business major and took classes in both fields of study. I’ve also worked in newspapers, most notably (or not) at my community newspaper where I served as a stringer for a year, writing stories about community events and drilling out front-page stories with some effort.

I’ve been writing for years now. It started mainly in middle school with a journal I kept, developed into writing poetry, and eventually manifested in a desire to write fiction. To that end, I began working on writing short stories, fanfiction (to my detriment), and novels.

For the past two years, I’ve been a member of NaNoWriMo, the one place I’ve felt truly at home with other writers. National Novel Writing Month is one of my favorite times of the year, and after having survived to win in 2009, I’m trying to actively pursue writing with more enthusiasm now.

So to make it simple, here is my plan. I’m going to join NaBloPoMo for the month of February 2010 in the hopes that I’ll actually develop a habit of regular blogging. I intend to make my posts writing or reading oriented and focus particularly on my rather extensive (read: 30+) book list.

If you’re still interested after all that, sit back and enjoy. I’m here to entertain.

-Rae

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