Hello everyone! How are you doing this fine Thursday morning? Welcome to the first post of 2021!
Today I’m going to be introducing you to my “secret project” which I’ve been hinting at a bit for my last few posts. Since it was my NaNoWriMo novel and I never finished doing Know the Novel for my other novel which was supposed to be my November novel, I’ve decided to introduce it using this format.
Anyway, I’m really proud of this novel. If you’ve been following my blog for the last few years, you’ll probably know, or at least guess, that I haven’t completed a novel since my dad died in 2018. This is the first one I’ve finished for over two years! And I’m so happy with it! And I feel like I’ve finally broken through the writer’s block I’ve been suffering from for so long.
So yeah, I’m not going to be talking much about this novel outside of the three Know The Novel posts I’ll be doing on it, mainly because its very special to me, and secondly because I’m going to attempt to query some agents and I just don’t want all the details floating around the internet.
It’s coming up to one of my favourite parts of the year, which is, of course, NaNoWriMo and the madness that is trying to finish a novel in a month (and though I’ve reached 50k twice out of three times, I have never finished a novel in November).
And since it’s October now, it’s time to introduce my project for this year. It is, obviously, called Beneath a Starlit Sky, which is just a working title for the moment, but I kinda like it.
Anyway, so let’s get into this!
1. What first sparked the idea for this novel?
I was reading a book about Captain Cook, and as it was talking about Cook arriving in Tahiti, it made an aside about some of the first white men to reach these islands. The expedition was led by Louis Antoine de Bougainville, and onboard the ship Etoile, was a young woman called Jeanne Baret. Baret was disguised as a man–the young assistant to the ship’s botanist, Philibert Commerson.
Though the Tahitians apparently recognised Jeanne as a woman and her disguise was revealed, she continued on the ship until Commerson, who was also her lover, died. He was consistently ill on their voyage, so much of his work was actually done by Jeanne. Their collection was very important to Western biology and botany, yet Jeanne’s name is practically forgotten today, despite being the first white woman to circumnavigate the globe.
Anyway, I found myself fascinated by this story, which I’d never heard of before and it kept turning around in my head. Eventually, I combined the story with that of William Dampier, a privateer and buccaneer, who was one of the first white men to draw and describe Australian flora and fauna.
And thus, my novel was born!
2. Share a blurb (or just an overall summary if you’d prefer)!
Mere has been publicly shamed and exiled to her aunt’s country manor. But she isn’t going to give up that easily, and desire for scientific renown is burning fiercely in her heart.
Desperate to make a name for herself, she makes a pact with her brother, Gabriel Atkins the botanist, and disguises herself as his male assistant to join a voyage of discovery.
Only, the voyage isn’t simply a voyage of discovery…this is a privateer’s ship and they are sailing to find Beach, the fabled land of gold.
3. Where does the story take place? What are some of your favorite aspects about the setting?
The story takes place on a large privateering ship, which also doubles as a scientific expedition. The ship is named The Orca, and is a rather fine piece of work.
My favourite aspect of the setting is definitely the ocean. I find the ocean rather fascinating but also rather terrifying and I’m looking forward to exploring this wild, sea-monster-full abyss with my characters.
4. Tell us about your protagonist(s).
I have three main characters who I will proceed to tell you about with great exuberance.
Meredith Atkins is my main character. She’s called Mere for short, and she’s a thin little whippersnapper of a girl. She has a wild bush of fiery red hair and a temper to match. Mere has a logical, sharp mind and she loves nature. She’s particularly interested in plants and wants to be a botanist. She’s kind, clever, persistent, charismatic, and artistic–with a flair for painting and sketching. Despite her desire for wild adventures and independence on the open ocean, her deepest desire is to be in love and to be loved.
Gabriel Atkins is Mere’s older brother. He’s practical, logical and perhaps a little boring. He is tall with blond hair and blue eyes and is conventionally handsome, however has had no luck with finding a wife, so he’s dedicated himself to the study of botany. He is popular and has a lot of friends, but his sister is his favourite person in the whole world. He loves her with his whole heart. His first job is as a ship’s botanist onboard a ship named The Orca…which is, of course, a privateering ship.
Roe Langley is the final character. He is the navigator on board The Orca, and he’s thin, black haired and grey faced. He is an orphan who has worked his way up the ladder from a cabin boy, to the apprentice to the navigator. Then he falls ill and is abandoned in a random country, where he almost dies. Once he’s well again, he joins The Orca again, this time as the only navigator. He has a passion for science, botany, painting and taxidermy. He’s kind, quiet, but also struggles with dealing with people.
5. Who (or what) is the antagonist?
So we have several antagonists, but we can’t talk too much about them, since they are supposed to be surprise villains. However, I can tell you that they are all very clever. The Orca‘s captain is not really the man for the job, since he’s much more interested in science and discovery than he is on gold, which the rest of the crew are not so keen on. So yes, there’s a mutiny. No, I won’t tell you who starts it.
6. What excites you the most about this novel?
Everything! I’m excited about writing about The Orca, about the animals and the botany. Mere is a great character and I’m fascinated by Roe and his story, and I’m excited by the general aesthetic…and, you know, all of it.
7. Is this going to be a series? standalone? something else?
This is part of a companion series of novels. The novels are all set in the same fantasy world and they are retellings of the lives of interesting women from history. This is the second book I’ve drafted as well (the first was Wattle Firesif you want to check that out. Wattle Fires is a retelling of Marie Antoinette’s life).
So yeah, it’s really a standalone, but its part of this series that’s loosely connected.
Also, if anyone has any brilliant series name ideas, hit me up. I have no ideas.
8. Are you plotting? pantsing? plansting?
I’m a plotter at heart, so I’ve done a plot for this book. Unfortunately, I’m not really a fan of my plot 😦 so I’m rewriting it. But I definitely feel like this is the sort of story that’s going to have many brilliant plot bunnies pop up though, and I’m definitely going to be chasing them.
9. Name a few unique elements about this story.
Hmm…this one is hard, but here goes…
Its a (fairly) historically accurate representation of the privateering life. Pirates, privateering, and buccaneers were not dumb criminals for the most part. Indeed, many of them, like William Dampier and Francis Drake, were well-educated, sponsered by royalty, and maybe even geniuses.
Brother and sister relationship! Not as unique as it used to be, but I still really enjoy the sibling dynamic and I’m excited to be writing it.
A love interest that has genius levels of talent and cleverness, but is not very good-looking. Roe almost died of smallpox as a teenager and this has left his face pock-marked and scarred. He’s also rather pallid and grey.
Botany! YA has really been branching out lately with the subject matter it deals with (novels about cooking, novels about art, novels about man-eating horses!) but I haven’t seen any books with botany as a centre piece.
The general aesthetic (yeah, I’m obsessed with the general aesthetic, aren’t I?)
10. Share some fun “extras” of the story (a song or full playlist, some aesthetics, a collage, a Pinterest board, a map you’ve made, a special theme you’re going to incorporate, ANYTHING you want to share!).
Are you guys doing NaNoWriMo (or an equivalent)? If so,WHAT ARE YOU WRITING?? Tell me ALL the details? Or what’s your current WIP? Do you like pirates? Ocean stories? Are you in love with your novel because of “the general aesthetic”? Also, please do this linkup. I’m real keen to read your answers.
And today we have another post published on Kingdom Pen! Since it’s now a week into October and November (aka, NaNoWriMo!) is only three weeks away, many of us are starting to think about our NaNo novels. But what if you have no idea where to start?
It’s October and the air of every writerly community is buzzing with anticipation. Why? Because National Novel Writing Month (also known as, NaNoWriMo) is coming, beginning November 1st.
But what is NaNoWriMo? Well, NaNoWriMo’s website describes the history of the program as follows:
“National Novel Writing Month began in 1999 as a daunting but straightforward challenge: to write 50,000 words of a novel during the thirty days of November.
Now, each year on November 1, hundreds of thousands of people around the world begin to write, determined to end the month with 50,000 words of a brand-new novel. You may know this mass creative explosion by the name National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo…”
Essentially, that’s all there is to it. A massive writing community comes together and attempts to write 50,000 words and/or an entire novel in one month, during November.
I know among the community here on Kingdom Pen, we have a diverse array of writers. Some of us have been doing NaNoWriMo for years, racking up an impressive streak. Others have never done it before, but are keen to give it a go. And some people have never heard of it before today.
However, October is known to the NaNoWriMo community as “Preptober”, where writers who are planning on taking part in NaNoWriMo start their preparations for their month-long challenge. So today, we’ll be looking at ten ways to prepare yourself (and your novel) for NaNoWriMo.
Obviously, there’ll be tips in this guide that will appeal to you and some that won’t, so don’t feel pressured to take them all on board. Also, this guide works for anyone keen on trying NaNoWriMo out, and it’s not aimed at any group in particular. I hope the beginners, intermediates, and veterans alike can find something that works for you.
So…I disappeared for a bit, didn’t I? Well, a lot has happened in the past three weeks and I don’t really want to disclose it all here, but suffice to say that life went mad and NaNoWriMo has gone down the train because apparently personal tragedy must always strike during the month when all I’m trying to do is write.
Anyway, I thought I’d duck in at the end of the month to do the next part of Christine Smith’s Know the Novel Link up. Even though I’ve given up on NaNoWriMo I’m still more than happy to chat about my current project, Southern Cross.
1. How’s the Writing going overall?
You’ve had the low down on this already. I got to 11,000 words and then life struck and I’ve only written 1,000 words since then.
So, Not great but that’s how life is sometimes.
2. What’s been the most fun aspect of writing this novel so far?
Ooh… I’ve loved writing about Charlotte! She was a surprise favourite character for me and she’s just been so much fun. She’s a nurse and I have so much respect for the WW1 nurses and everything they went through and I love not only Charlotte but also all the research on nurses that I’ve done for her chapters.
3. What do you think of your character’s at this point? Who is your favourite to write?
I just answered this! I love Charlotte. I also like Curt and Andrew and Charlotte’s “boyfriend”, Sydney Black. They’re all fun!
4. Has your novel surprised you in any way?
Not really? I can’t think of anything at the moment.
5. Have you come across any problem areas?
I’m having real trouble moving from the set up into the actual story. It’s just dragging a lot and also I didn’t write much of an outline so all the pacing is out of whack. Those are my problem areas at the moment.
6. What’s been your biggest victory with writing this novel at this point?
Being able to use literally years worth of knowledge and research about the war has been hugely rewarding. I hope I’m doing it at least a sliver of justice. Definitely finishing it and being able to hone the information and fact into a readable, believable and entertaining story will be a huge victory for me.
7. If you were transported into your novel and became any of your characters, which one do you think you’d be? Would you have taken any different actions than they have?
Hmmm…this one’s difficult. I’m a lot like most of my characters, but if I just randomly became one, it would probably be Amy. Amy and I have a different approach to life, though we’re both pretty humorous (I think?) And self-depreciating with a healthy disregard for authority unless they’ve earned our respect. If I was Amy I’d probably be doing even more worrying than she is at the moment.
8. Give us the first sentence or paragraph and then 2 (or 3) favourite snippets!
A few snippets:
9. Share an interesting tidbit about the Writing process this far! (For example, have you made any hilarious typos? Derailed from your outline? Killed a character? Changed projects entirely? Anything you want to share)
I decided to change the format, tense and person of my story 11,000 words in, just on a whim. Originally, I was writing in first person present tense, and then I decided to change to third person past tense. I also decided to make letters from the boys who these girls love–Amy’s brother, Curt, Charlotte’s brother, Andrew and Pearl’s friend, Frank–the opening for the chapters. I like this format and it promises to be fun.
10. Take us on a tour of what a normal writing day for this novel looks like. Where do you write? What time of day? Alone or with others? Is a lot of coffee (or another drink) consumed? Do you light candles? Play music? Get distracted by social media? Tell all!
I haven’t really had any normal writing days. But on a general normal writing day for a generic novel, I’ll procrastinate for some time, then finally drag myself to my desk, light one of my scented candles and write for ages. Or at least spend ages on the computer 😛 I’ve had some great word wars with the folks at Story Embers too! Those were great fun.
What about you guys? How did NaNoWriMo go for you? Did you win? How’s your novel going?