So I saw Christine Smith do this tag over on her blog a few days ago and it looked really fun! It also reminded me that I haven’t really talked about myself in a while, so I thought this tag would be fun for you all to get to know me a little better, whether you’ve been around for years or are a new follower.
This tag was created by Jameson at Lovely Whatsoevers!
And yes, I know its not August anymore, but who cares? Not me.
- ) Introduce Yourself!
Hello, I am Chelsea! I’m a slightly crazed young woman who is two weeks off being twenty years old. I’m a dog trainer by profession and a writer by hobby. I enjoy hiking, knitting and playing with my dogs in my spare time 🙂
2.) Tell us about your work-in-progress and your August goals!
Well, I’ve currently got a few works-in-progress, but they’re not all in progress right now as I speak. My main projects are my dystopian novel, The Stars Fill Infinity and my WW1 historical novel Southern Cross. I dearly love both of them, but I’ve been working on TSFI since I was sixteen, so it has a very special place in my heart. Essentially, it’s a retelling of Les Miserables (Les Miserables meets The Hunger Games is my official pitch), and it follows two sisters as they navigate an unjust and cruel dystopian future. There’s lots of heartbreak and angst, you know, all the good stuff. Southern Cross is similar, but its definitely New Adult, rather than Young Adult, and it follows three young women, Amy, an Irish Catholic orphan, Pearl, a German governess, and Charlotte, an Aboriginal woman. It primarily focuses on the plight and strength of women during the war while their boys were overseas fighting.
Since August is actually almost over, let me enlighten you on my September goals.
For TSFI, I hope to finish off my revised character profiles and my revised plot outline so that I can begin work on completely rewriting it.
For SC, I hope to do a few character profiles and read three books for research.
3.) Introduce your characters!
Let me give a one sentence introduction to all five of my main characters from the two above mentioned projects:
Chessy//TSFI//A sparky seventeen year old with more than her fair share of trauma to live through, clever, kind and passionate.
Sapphire//TSFI//A nineteen year old introvert and single mother, broken, sad and courageous, willing to give up anything to save those she loves.
Amy//SC//Eighteen year old Irish Catholic with no money and no marriage prospects, cheerful, spunky and struggling with the then-unknown diagnosis of ADHD.
Pearl//SC//Twenty-one year old governess with knife-sharp intellect and wit, could have gone to university if she’d had the money.
Charlotte//SC//Twenty-four year old nurse, compassionate, ambitious and highly motivated, illegitimate daughter of a white farmhand and a black mother.
4.) What are you currently reading?
The Wisdom of Father Brown by G.K. Chesterton and The Blue Salt Road by Joanne M. Harris. Not sold on either yet, but I’m not very far in, so we’ll see how it goes.
5.) Favorite genre to read and write.
Toss up between fantasy and historical fiction. I love both so much and couldn’t imagine my life without one of them. There’s also this sweet spot called historical fantasy and that really floats my boat 😀
6.) Three fun facts about your work-in-progress.
- TSFI was my first “serious” novel. It’s also the first novel I’ve written with the intention of getting published one day.
- The title came from a passage in Les Miserables where Marius first visits Cosette in her garden.
- I have about fifty other classic novels I want to retell set in the same universe, but I doubt I will ever write them 😦
- Southern Cross is my first foray into the world of New Adult, which has intrigued me for some time now.
- I have wanted to write a big, epic WW1 novel for about five or six years now, but its never really come together until I read a few books recently that cemented my dream for it.
- Amy is one of my oldest characters. She came to me when I was thirteen years old and has already have three drafts of a middle grade novel written about her.
There we go, three interesting facts each!
7.) You get to spend the day in your story’s world. What do you do?
Both of them would be pretty horrible to spend a day in…However, I think I would use the time wisely to research the time and the culture, so I could write about it better. I’d also have to keep from dying as best as possible.
8.) A favorite kind of character to write.
Um, quirky, awkward boys who are incredibly passionate about something–usually something strange.
I also like wild, crazy girls with messy hair, no make up and an inability to listen to other people’s advice, but also probably an anxiety disorder.
9.) What is your writing weakness?
I often find it hard to describe exactly what’s going on in my head, which I think leaves a lot of my writing shallow and vague. I think the fact that I can’t expand any further on this topic proves my point 😛
10.) What is your writing strength?
I hope that is writing interesting, fleshed out characters as well as thoroughly researching little used and interesting settings and time periods.
11.) What are your hobbies outside of writing?
I mentioned a few already, but here we go again. I really enjoy dog training of various sorts, knitting (this is my Sunday afternoon unwinding hobby, it’s very good), sewing (occasionally), screaming at the tax office about my end of financial year tax returns, choreographing dog dance routines (yes, this is a thing) and listening to an eclectic range of pop music, musicals and movie soundtracks.
12.) Your favorite villain trope.
Villains who believe so strongly in an idealistic goal that they will die for their beliefs. I don’t know why this trope appeals to me so much, but I really love it and my villains often fall into this category. Villains like Javert from Les Miserables, Madame Defarge from A Tale of Two Cities, Mrs Clennam from Little Dorrit, Claude Frollo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame etc. To me, there’s something especially tragic about these sorts of villains, because imagine if their loyalty and faith was put towards a noble cause? Imagine what good warriors they would be! And yet they’ve dedicated their lives to misguided beliefs and evil and they are unable to change.
13.) A favorite book you’ve read so far in 2020.
I’ve read so many! Here’s a few.
The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams. 10/10 recommend this to anyone looking for a good adult historical fiction. Beautifully written, wonderful themes, compelling characters. Absolutely loved it.
Unnatural Causes by Richard Shepherd. Fantastic non-fiction book about the life and work of a forensic pathologist. Not for the squeamish, but absolutely brilliant.
The Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter. The best fantasy book I’ve read in ages. West African inspired, brilliant writing and thrilling plot. Definitely an Adult book though.
14.) Writing playlist
This is my generic instrumental writing playlist. I do sometimes make playlists specifically for a particular novel, but I’m much more likely to listen to this playlist than I am a specific one. Because that’s just the way I am.
15.) Your WIP’s theme colors/aesthetic
SC//Dusty brown|sunset red|muddy grey|khaki|drought|barking dogs|lanolin|Merino sheep|tears|black edged telegrams|gunfire|racism|rain|love
TSFI//vibrant green|sunny yellow|pale blue|stars|dark nights|futuristic|blood|old books|bullets|revolution|passion|anger|fear|blue roses|rain
16.) Share your social media + book links!
And, uh, that’s about it!
17.) A side character you love in your work-in-progress.
Side characters are always my favourite things! And there’s so many that I love in both of my books. In The Stars Fill Infinity, the side characters are definitely my favourites. First of all, there’s Rain. She’s a sparky street girl with a traumatic backstory that she never full reveals, and she’s got blue hair and wears denim overalls. She’s honestly one of my favourite characters ever to write because she has such a wide range of emotions. I just love her, ok?
Also in TSFI there’s Quillon. Quillon is an extroverted introvert, he’s friends with everyone, he loves his friends, he’s passionate and caring. I just love this boy. As all my beta readers are well aware.
And of course, there’s other characters in TSFI I love, Justice, Zac, Jonas, etc. But Rain and Quillon are my favourites.
In Southern Cross, my favourite side characters are all the boys! SC centres on the girls and women who were overlooked by war and I love them, but there’s a special place in my heart for the boys that go off to war. There’s the twins, Frank and Henry, who’ve been split apart by their differing political and moral opinions. Frank believes that defending his country by going to war is a noble thing, while Henry is horrified by the idea of killing other humans in the name of self-defense. There’s also Curt, who has been rejected from the army four times because of his medical issues, before finally being accepted into the fledgling air force. He’s been sent white feathers, and dumped by his girlfriend because of his inability to join the army, and he’s broken and angry. And finally, there are Andrew and Sam. Andrew’s possibly the illegitimate son of Mr Ashford, the station owner, though no one will admit it one way or another. He’s half Aboriginal and ostracised from society, but somehow still kind and wise and talented. Sam is also of uncertain parentage, but he’s Chinese. He’s also ostracised, but he’s incredibly clever and rather overlooked. Both of them go off to war in order to “prove their worth” to a white majority society and they have varying results.
Anyway, nobody wants to read ten more blocks of texts, so I’m going to stop talking about random side characters now.
18.) What is the best part about being a writer?
Being able to have a wild, overactive imagination and claim it as work, and being able to obsessively reread childhood favourite books and claim it as work.
19.) A genre you want to write.
I desperately want to write a literary historical novel, something like Burial Rites,The Blue Rose or The Dictionary of Lost Words. The sort of book that brings overlooked people into the spotlight. And I’ve never written anything like that, so…
20.) You’re an author on a Q&A panel! Which authors are sharing the stage with you?
Hopefully some other popular YA authors. I think it would probably be like Cressida Cowell, maybe Nadine Brandes, Suzanne Collins, etc. They are all authors who write similarly to me.
21.) One way you’ve grown as a writer + one thing you want to improve on.
This one is really hard because I know I’ve grown a lot as a writer over the 10+ years I’ve been doing it. However, if I had to choose just one way, I think that I’ve been able to grow a lot in the realm of theme. Obviously, this has a lot to do with the fact that I’ve been literally growing up as well. As a ten year old, I didn’t really have beliefs or morals or ethics. I believed what my parents did, and that was that. And because of that, my stories only had shallow themes and messages (friendships are good! Be nice to each other!). As I’ve grown up though, I’ve developed my own beliefs and values that I hold dear and the more that’s happened, the deeper the themes and messages I include in my stories have become. The exciting thing for me is that I know I will continue to change and grow (I’m only twenty, people!) and that my themes will continue to change along with that.
And one thing I want to improve on? I think I want to improve my worldbuilding skills. They are woefully inadequate for the type of books I write and I need to get better at it.
22.) Goal check-in + a snippet!
So my goals for 2020 were kind of all over the place, but let’s have a look at what my writing goals were:
-Edit SFI within an inch of its life
-Polish SC and (hopefully) submit to a competition
-Write a new first draft and/or compete in NaNoWriMo
So far I’ve done none of these.
Okay, now for some snippets. I love sharing snippets 🙂
Frank tries to laugh at Sydney’s story, but he doesn’t have it in him. Nothings funny on the front lines, but everything must be made into a joke. If it isn’t, they’ll go crazy.
The whistle of another shell overhead jerks his mind away from the darkness surrounding him and all he thinks about for a moment is his own safety, making sure the sound of that whistling shell isn’t the last thing he’ll ever hear.
It explodes some way off, and the shrieking of dying horses—and dying men too—makes him cower down, clenching his teeth. Sydney just sits where he is, his face blank.
A moment later, a sergeant appears from the other end of the trench. His face is grim, his mouth set in a deep frown. “You boys,” he says. “You’re going out as soon as the sun sets.”
“So, buck up. Do what you can. Don’t worry about it. Here, I’ll say some prayers with you.” I get up and go to my room, coming back with my rosary beads.
Pearl gives me a look and through her tears manages to say, “I’m Lutheran.”
I shrug. “Its the same God, isn’t it?”
Pearl smiles for the first time.
“You are accused of assaulting a member of the upper class. That alone is worth a year’s hard labour sentence. Upon that, you are also accused of riotous behaviour against the government. That is another year and a half sentence. That is excluding evading the police and preventing the course of justice. Things do not look good for you. But, a full confession to the ignorance which your youth has blinded you with and a solemn promise to adhere to the law in future events would halve your sentence very effectively. Do you understand now?”
I nodded, the silence still threatening to crush me. I needed birds, the wind, people’s voices, any voice other than Caderousse’s, any noise other than the grinding of my own teeth and the drumming of my own heart.
My hand broke the surface. I felt the cold wind blowing against my wet skin for one brief heartbeat before I sank underneath the water again.
And then someone grabbed my hand.
And I was hauled, dripping and spluttering and still choking, against the side of a boat.
“Justice?” I gasped.
“Would you look at that! I didn’t expect to catch a pretty girl when I went fishing today.”
I scraped my sodden hair out of my eyes, blinking through the haze of water that coated my eyes. Nope, of course it wasn’t Justice. Justice wouldn’t haul someone from a dirty river and then refer to them as a pretty girl. “Quillon?” I amended. “The one and only,” Quillon returned. “At your service.
What about you guys? What are some great reads you’ve found this year? How have you grown as a writer? What are your writing weaknesses and strengths?