Tag Archives: Pushing Boundaries

Writing Update: A Request for Beta Readers

Image Description: a vertical pile of leather-bound hardback books with differently coloured leather jackets.

I’m going to be honest, my writing isn’t doing well these days, I just… feel really lost and meh about pretty much everything related to Novel Writing. I’m considering taking Canis Major down from Smashwords, I probably should have done this already, but everything feels overwhelmingly difficult right now. The idea of committing to another novel project at this point in time just feels draining and I seriously lacking in motivation. I suspect this is largely to due to the fact that Canis Major feels largely unfinished, which has resulted in a lack of feedback from Readers.

I have requested people I know to read Canis Major and give me some feedback on it, but thus far, they have all failed to respond. So, I’ve decided to branch out and ask people on The Internets if they can help me out. I’d like to put out a request for Beta Readers and, before you all rush out and volunteer, here are the terms and conditions.

~Condition One: Time. I know we’re all busy, I know we all have lives, we all have commitments and obligations, but there’s no point volunteering to go through my book with me, chapter by chapter, if you don’t have the time to do so. And this is fine, there’s no judgement in that, but I will judge you on the inside if you say can and then fail to follow through (most writers are going to do this), please don’t waste my time.

~Condition Two: Interaction and Interviewing. The Beta Reader process will be something along these lines – Beta Reader reads chapter, Beta Reader informs me they have finished reading the chapter, I will ask the Beta Readers lots of questions and I’ll need the responses to be more than “it’s nice” or “it was good”. On the other hand, statements like “I don’t have an opinion about this” or “I don’t feel anything for this character” are legitimate answers.

~Condition Three: Genre. The Pushing Boundaries trilogy belongs in the Contemporary Crime genre, at this stage, Canis Major is more Contemporary than Crime, but the Crime elements are going to be more prominent in Orion. While you don’t need to be an expert on the Crime genre, if you don’t have an interest in Contemporary or Crime novels, you’re probably not going to enjoy Canis Major.

So, just in case you’re not familiar with what Canis Major is all about, here’s some basic information about it.
Word Count: 46,610
Blurb:
“James McKenzie, a computer programmer and karate enthusiast, with the help of his best friend and private investigator, Justine Jones, is tracking down local corrupt police officers. Together, they convinced the Gangs and Organised Crime Unit of Specialist Crime & Operations that the Acker family are worth investigating. With a little luck, James and Justine may meet their goal for an arrest and conviction.

Except there has been a snag. James’s grandmother Rosemary decided to lease out their spare room in a university exchange student program, and there’s a possibility that the student may be caught in the crossfire.

Beth Smith, a future primary school teacher, is travelling to the UK for the first time. She just wants to leave her family drama back home in Australia, especially since her family has only a theoretical concept of personal boundaries. She wants nothing to do with James’ complicated family drama or his and Justine’s under-cover drug investigation.

Nobody knows the Ackers like James and, in his experience, bullies don’t go down without a fight and he’s not convinced that it isn’t going to go horribly wrong. After all, it isn’t paranoia if everyone really is out to get you.”

Here’s a Link to Smashwords – you can download a sample from there.
Here’s a Link to the Canis Major Prologue – you can read it and leave a comment if you want to

If you’re a fellow indie author like myself, we may be able to exchange Beta Reader feedback, leave a link to your book in the comment section below and I’ll check it out (although I recommend indie authors check out my book review policy first before offering). So, if you’re interested in volunteering your time as a Beta Reader for my novel, let me know in the comments section below and you can also email me brkyle.author@gmail.com

PSA For Indie Authors – Part 3: Genres and Cover-art

Image Description: a picture of a wooden table with (from left to right in a clock-wise circle) a piece of paper, a pair of thick-framed black glasses, a pine cone, a dusty green-leather bound book, a green vintage type-writer, an open blank notebook, a wooden stick, a small tan-coloured rectangle with black writing on it and an empty glass ink-well.
This post is about self-promotion and marketing for Beginner Writers who want to write Genre Fiction or Genre novels, so if that doesn’t appeal to you, fair enough, feel free to pass on this post. This post will be covering basic tips and advice so this post may come across as stating the obvious, however, we all have to start somewhere.

I would recommend watching these YouTube Videos by Jenna Moreci
~How to Choose a Genre for your Book
~Marketing Basics for Writers
~Skills You Never Thought You’d Need as a Writer

I think one of the most important elements of writing is figuring out what type of book you’re writing, as the genre of your book will determine a lot about what type of book-marketing you’ll be engaging in, and which agents and/or publishers you plan to pitch to. Like Publishing houses, Literary Agents will usually have submission guidelines on available on their websites, so you should check those out first before you contact them.

One of the things that Literary Agents advise is to investigate the genre of books an Author is writing in. This is where the advice “read widely within your genre” comes into play, you need to read the good and bad books within your genre, and you need to be informed of the visual art-style that is associated with your genre.

For example: My Work-In-Progress novel series Pushing Boundaries comes under a hybrid category of Genre, it fits into the Contemporary Crime genre, so lets break those categories down and have a look at what type of Cover-art Style is involved in the Crime, Mystery and Contemporary genres.

~Goodreads: Crime

~Goodreads: Mystery

~Goodreads: Contemporary

When you examine certain genres, especially Crime and Mystery together, there’s a distinct trend of book-cover art displayed on the most popular novels. For example:

Crime:
~a vague silhouette of a person, usually from a distance
~empty wide-shot landscape pictures with One Point Perspective
~Large, bold, and brightly coloured book-title and author title
~if a woman is on the front cover, it is displaying the back of her head.

Mystery:
~There’s a lot of overlap between Crime and Mystery, but Mystery covers tend to be more colourful in design, Crime tends to be a dark/bland cover with colourful text displayed on it to act as contrast.
~Partially obscured faces
~if a woman is on the front cover, it is displaying the back of her head.

Contemporary:
~There’s strong and liberal use of colours to make the covers pop-out, the cover and title text are usually bright contrasting colours
~Models on covers are predominately female-coded or a cishet-coded male and female couple.
~if a woman is on the front cover, it is displaying the back of her head.
~The predominate sub-genre of Contemporary is Young Adult, so the use of live models on covers are of 14-18 age-group.

Personally, I dislike the popular book-cover designs of Crime and Mystery, I think the Contemporary covers are much more eye-catching and engaging. In saying that, I have no idea what to make in the rising trend of displaying the back of a woman’s head, I have no idea how that could possibly convey to the reader what that particular book is about. I can only presume that The Cuckoo’s Calling, The Goddesses, and Everything We Keep are all very different books.

Now, it could be argued that best-selling authors like Chris Brookmyre and James Patterson can get away with unappealing book covers involving shadowy silhouettes, people are going to buy their books regardless, unfortunately not all aspiring writers will achieve James Patterson-level of success, so I would recommend putting some effort into the thought-process behind what the book cover should look like.

I’ll use my book-cover for Canis Major as a case-study (Kim made this for me, aren’t they amazing? Of course they’re amazing! You should check out their stuff).

Image Description: book cover of Canis Major - Volume I of the Pushing Boundaries series. The cover is picture of the constellation of Canis Major, as depicted in the Southern Hemisphere (the nose of Canis Major is positioned in a downward direction).

Canis Major:
~Point One: The design is a simple black and white colour scheme, easy for the reader to look at and comprehend

~Point Two: I’ve chosen the constellation of Canis Major (the Great Dog) for multiple reasons. Constellations are seasonal, so the constellation of Canis Major will look different in Southern Hemisphere countries, like Australia, than in comparison to Northern Hemisphere countries like the UK.

~Point Three: James, one of the main characters of my novel, has a special interest in Astronomy, he shares this special interest with his step-father Robert, it’s a bonding thing they have.

~Point Four: Another reason for the choice of Canis Major is because a big inspiration for writing this book was to address a lot of the problems and objections I had with the novel The Curious Incident of The Dog In The Night-time by Mark Haddon (here’s a review by Disability in Kidlit that goes into why this book is super problematic).

~Point Five: The theme of Constellations as book-cover art will apply to all the books in the Pushing Boundaries series, Volume II will be Orion (the constellation of Orion is right next to the constellation Canis Major) and Volume III will be Scorpius. I plan for Pushing Boundaries to be a trilogy but I’m aware that every time an Author declares their project a trilogy, it somehow turns into a trilogy of four.

~Point Six: My novel is a Contemporary Crime novel, so just like with a crime, you have to put together all the small points in order to see the bigger picture. See? It’s Deep and Meaningful.

Here’s the thing though, while I think this cover is great and it’s exactly what I wanted, is this particular book-cover design marketable? It’s generally recommended that authors get feedback from their target audience, which was something I didn’t do. Another element to consider is that, while I think Kim did a great job, I do need to acknowledge that Kim doesn’t specialise in Graphic Design, and that it’s generally recommended to authors that they hire a professional (here’s a list of book cover designers via The Creative Penn).

So, authors need to figure out what their genre is and research what books within that particular genre look like, however, just because a visual idea is popular within a particular genre, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s good. Get some feed-back from your target audience and be willing to shell out some money for a professional book-cover designer.

If you’re an indie-author and you’ve got a .jpeg of a book cover, drop a link to the book-cover image in the comments section below and we can have a chat about the pros and cons of visual design.

Links:
~9 Tips to Building the Book Cover Design You Always Wanted by Jane Friedman

The Beautiful Books #27: August 2017

Image Description: The Beautiful People for Writers - Writing Goals

It’s time for another edition of The Beautiful Books, where I write a blog-post discussing how little progress I’ve made on my WIP Novel Project, Orion – Volume II of the Pushing Boundaries series, YAY! Let’s begin with some writing advice, if you need some, check out the links bellow:

Jenna Moreci:
~Tips For Writers

Katytastic:
~WRITING / OUTLINING / REVISING

For this post, I’ll be focusing on Beth and James, hopefully that will make things easier. On with the Questions!

What are they addicted to/can’t live without?
Beth: Caffeine (tea and energy drinks). Beth has a stress-eating problem, but she’s more inclined towards cheese and biscuits, or say, having and enormous tub of Greek yogurt and eating it with savoy-biscuits like dip (IDK, honestly, straight Greek yogurt tastes super weird to me).

James: sweet treats and desserts. James (like Beth) has a stress-eating problem, James will stand in the kitchen and just eat a whole packet of dark-chocolate digestive biscuits without thinking about it.

Name 3 positive and 3 negative qualities about your character.
Beth:
01. Positive – Beth is helpful, she’s willing to help volunteer her time (sometimes overly so) if she perceives someone else needs it.
02. Positive – It takes Beth a while to get attached to people, but when Beth cares about a character, she really cares and they’re willing to do a lot for other people.
03. Positive – Beth is eager to learn new things.
04. Negative – Beth can be overly helpful, sometimes giving too much of her time (not being able to see that a project is doomed to fail or being taking advantage of), sometimes taking over a situation completely without asking, she can also come across bossy because of this.
05. Negative – Beth is introverted to a socially awkward level, it can make her insecure and prone to negative thinking.
06. Negative – Beth doesn’t really know what she wants and she’s incisive about things that should be easy to figure out, which is a difficult thing for her to admit to.

James:
01. Positive – James is honest, sometimes too honest, but I consider it a positive thing.
02. Positive – Like Beth, it takes James a while to get attached to people, but when he cares about a character, he really cares and they’re willing to do a lot for other people.
03. Positive – He’s very protective of his younger siblings, sometimes a little too overprotective, he really does care about them, but he finds it easier to display it with action rather than say
04. Negative – James can be super controlling about stuff, like his food and his environment, it’s bad coping mechanism and I’m hoping (over the course of the series) to help him grow out this behaviour and be able to let some things slide.
05. Negative – James can be petty about stuff.
06. Negative – James tries not to to be, but he does get jealous of Dominic, mostly because it seems like Dominic has all the things James has always wanted (a stable job, family acceptance and his own place), I’d like to write a chapter where James eventually resolves his perceived issues with Dominic.

Are they holding onto something they should get rid of?
Beth: Emotional Baggage with both her parents

James: Emotional Baggage with his parents and some guilt/resentment issues with Mac (with what Mac has become and the way Mac is not-dealing with the situation). James also has problems with the way his mother refuses to not-deal with Mac, despite the fact that his mother is the exact opposite with him (his mother is nosy and tends to pry a bit with regards to James).

If 10 is completely organized and 1 is completely messy, where do they fall on the scale?
Beth: Beth is more of a 5 or 6, she’s naturally a messy person, but she tries really hard to be neat and organised
James: James is more of a 8, he’s organised but it’s also part of a coping mechanism and is connected to his anxiety, so it’s not a natural thing.

What most frustrates them about the world they live in?
Beth: Beth gets frustrated by a lack of empathy or not noticing (or refusing to acknowledge) a problem, the more obvious the problem more irritating it is.

James: Communication with Neurotypical people. They don’t mean what they say and the don’t say what they mean. Conversation is where casual ableism usually shows up as well.

How would they dress for a night out? How would they dress for a night in?
Beth: Out = pretty vintage style dresses Mary has made for her, In = casual wear (like tracky-dacks and a t-shirt)

James: Out = overly formal, In = overly casual (track-pants, t-shirt, fluffy robe, thick slippers). James does wear a binder during the week when he’s at work.

How many shoes do they own, and what kind?
Beth: an excessive amount of shoes, wide variety of types, but Beth is prone to gravitate towards brightly coloured shoes.

James: a nice pair of black lace-up shoes for formal events, a pair of nice business shoes for work, a couple of pairs of running shoes, and a couple of pairs of work-boots (one for the farm, one for home).

Do they have any pets? What pet do they WISH they had?
Beth: Beth tends to gravitate more towards dogs than cats, but she doesn’t mind either.
James: he has a calico cat named Sarah Jane

Is there something or someone that they resent? Why and what happened?
Beth: Her mother Claire, for being an alcoholic and being an abusive parent, as a result of Claire’s abusive behaviour, Beth has nothing to do with her. Beth also resents her father because, at the time, Isaac came across as taking her mother’s side, so there’s this unspoken resentment between them.

James: James does harbour some resentment towards his mother, he lives with his grandmother instead of her and he feels she should have made more of an effort in getting Robert’s half of the family to accept him as he is. *Upcoming spoilers* James’s biological father dies in a car-accident and James resents how he has to navigate all the complicated social conventions and social rituals for a person who pretty much abandoned him at five-years of age.

What’s usually in their fridge or pantry?
Beth: snacks, like yogurt and crackers and cheese. Beth likes to have dried pieces of fruits because she forgets to eat fresh fruit and it goes bad

James: James can be kind of anal with his food, so everything is in organised Tupperware containers with labels or ziplock bags with labels. His fridge is most likely to have vegetarian stuff in there but also stuff to make smoothies with. James will often have enormous container of carrot-sticks.

So yeah, let me know in the comment section if you’re working on a Novel Project, I’d love to hear about other people’s projects (that way I don’t have to think about mine).

The Beautiful Books #26 – The Author Writing Process Edition

Image Description: The Beautiful People for Writers - Writing Goals

How do you decide which project to work on?
I’m actually pretty terrible at focusing on a singular project and I’m often working on multiple projects at once.

How long does it usually take you to finish a project?
The Pushing Boundaries series is the only project thus far I’ve been able to focus on long-term. I wrote a rough draft for Canis Major – Volume I for NaNoWriMo 2015 (November) and had it edited and self-published by November 2016. I know a year doesn’t sound like a long time, but it felt like a long time because I was focusing on it for a core unit of my degree and needed the eBook published in order to graduate.

Do you have any routines to put you in the writing mood?
No, unfortunately, although I am trying to organise myself into the ritual of getting a cup of tea and lighting some tea-candles and an essential oil burner before starting and seeing how that goes.
Image Description: from left to right, a triangle shaped tea-light candle holder with purple flowers painted on the front, a small glass tea-light candle holder, a white oil burner from Dusk with a tea-light candle inside and another small glass tea-light candle holder.

What time of day do you write best?
I generally struggle in the morning and tend to work better in the afternoon and evening

Are there any authors you think you have a similar style to?
As I’m an author who is just starting out, I have no idea, personally I think this is something you’d have to ask a reader rather than a writer.

Why did you start writing, and why do you keep writing?
Looking back, I began fan fiction writing as a coping strategy for dealing with… well, Life in general, I suppose, however, it also allowed me to experiment with writing possible narratives that could occur within that already structured world, most of these narrative possibilities contained the idea that the canon narrative could have gone in a different direction than the one the author chose. It’s a safe way to explore narratives and characters. But, eventually, the novelty of fan fiction (and the lack of quality control) made the cons of fan fiction out-weigh the pros.

I also realised that if I spent all my time playing around with other people’s narratives and characters, I was left with neither the time or mental capacity to work on my own narratives and characters (although characterisation is still an area I need to improve upon). The reason I keep writing, I guess, is because I’m constantly coming up with new ideas, which is kind of frustrating because I’d like to be able to work on the projects I’ve already started, but we all have our own creative processes.

What’s the hardest thing you’ve written?
During the editing process, I was trying to get my character Beth to convey some plot/character related information to another character Mac, in the original manuscript this took place over three chapters, however, with the assistance of my editor Kim, I managed to transfer this information in three lines of dialogue. It was so frustrating and annoying at the time but it was a good learning experience.

Is there a project you want to tackle someday but you don’t feel ready yet?
probably my Lake of Tears project, which is a SFF (Science Fiction Fantasy) Dystopian cross-over involving elves, gods, mages, dragons and time-travel. I am nowhere near the level I need to be (as a writer) to write it, that and I need to do some more research into time-travel and paradoxes.

What writing goals did you make for 2017 and how are they going?
I wanted to have written Orion – Volume II written, edited and self-published by the end of the year, but that goal has become laughably out of reach due to personal circumstances and issues with mental health.

Describe your writing process in 3 words or a gif!
Image Description: a Labrador-dog, wearing a red tie, is sitting at desk with a laptop. It looks as though the dog is typing on the laptop. The picture is captioned with white capital text, I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I'M DOING.

The Beautiful Books #25: June

Image Description: The Beautiful People for Writers - Writing Goals
Image Description: an image of a white notepad with light-blues with a dark-blue pen. At the top of the picture is text in dark-blue, “beautiful people for writers”. Down the bottom of the picture is text in dark-blue, “hosted by http://www.paperfury.com and http://www.furtherup-and-furtherin.blogspot.com”

Another monthly update on my Pushing Boundaries WIP Novel Project. I’m going to attempt to outline Orion – Volume II in preparation for Camp NaNoWriMo in July (here’s a link to my Camp NaNoWriMo profile in case readers want to join me).

These questions have taken longer than it should have for me to answer (honestly, I have no fucking idea what my characters dream about, maybe that means I don’t know my characters well enough, IDK), I suspect that the outlining process is going to take more effort than I first anticipated (here’s the link if people want writing resources from Camp NaNoWriMo).

Honestly, the Camp NaNoWriMo resources weren’t that useful for me, so I’ve included some links down the bottom of the blog post for Plotting and General Writing Resources.

What’s their favourite place they’ve ever visited?
James: Disneyland Paris

Beth: visiting London with Justine and Dominic

Mac: The small greenhouse Robert, James and Mac constructed together when Mac was young

Cassie: Camping with her family

What’s one mistake they made that they learned from?
James: when James was younger, he wasn’t interested in romantic relationships, he found it easier to manage open/casual liaisons. As James got older, he wanted to make an attempt at romantic relationships, however, his relationship with previous girlfriend Claudia was more along the lines of being in love with the idea of a stable relationship and thus was willing to put up with a mediocrity. In his mind, the mistake was entering into a relationship that didn’t meet all his needs and wants, and the lesson learnt was “don’t enter into a relationship just because you’re lonely”.

Beth: Beth is very suspicious of men, this due to bad experiences she’s had in the past and a previous abusive relationship (it became abusive when she ended it), in her mind, Beth thinks her mistake was being vulnerable too early in a relationship or entering into a relationship at all, giving her ex-boyfriend too much information about herself. Beth’s mental objective is keeping her distance for as long as possible, she often plays hard to get in romantic pursuits, if it seems like situation has too many variables or too much risk, she won’t bother, she’d rather go without then to compromise on her own set of terms of conditions.

Mac: Mac tends to be too direct and too honest, he can come across as a little intimating at first, he’s also a little socially awkward, he often gets excited and enthusiastic about comic books, so he’s learnt not to stand too close to women and not to stand in the way of doorways when talking about comic books.

Cassie: I think Cassie’s mistake is that she lacks confidence in herself and often doesn’t speak up about what she wants (and usually regrets it later). I hope that, over the course of the Pushing Boundaries series, Cassie becomes more confident and emotionally secure in what she wants and needs.

What was their favourite subject in school? Or favourite thing to learn about?
James: Astronomy and Science related subjects

Beth: Literature, Home Economics, Drama and Media

Mac: Woodwork and Metalwork

Cassie: Textiles, Drama and Literature

What’s their favourite flower/growing thing?
James: Roses, citrus scents, and herbs, specifically Rosemary

Beth: Lavender

Mac: Herbs

Cassie: Lemongrass and Citrus scents

Have they ever made someone cry? What happened?
James and Mac: Both of them have accidentally made women and girls cry by saying something insensitive or being too honest and/or too direct

Beth and Cassie: Both of them go out of their way to be considerate of people’s emotions, so neither of them had have made someone else cry, but Beth does occasionally suffer from foot-in-mouth syndrome and sometimes Beth can be a little too direct.

Would you consider them a reliable or unreliable narrator?
James: Mixture of the two, he’s reliable when it comes to observing other people, but can be blindsided by his own biases and some preconceived notions about people, for example: he has a preconceived notion about who Cassie is as a person and has no problems about using her and discarding her in order to fulfil his own objective, James can be ruthlessly efficient.

Beth: Beth is the reliable type of narrator, but she’s the internal type of narrator, she’s honest with herself (to a certain extent), but that’s pretty much it.

Mac: Mac might be considered an unreliable narrator about himself, and he isn’t that observant about other people, Mac tends to wrap himself up in his own little world.

Cassie: Cassie might be considered an unreliable narrator, she likes to think the best of people and she’s kind of oblivious (sometimes it’s out of self-preservation, sometimes it’s naturally occurring)

They’ve gone out for a “special meal.” What would they eat?
James: James enjoys Asian cuisine, vegetarian meals mostly.

Beth: Beth has a weakness for bacon and hard-types of cheese, however, Beth enjoys Lasagna, Asian cuisine, and baked-potatoes.

Mac: Mac enjoys steak, chips and salad

Cassie: Cassie enjoys home-cooked meals but loves Pad Thai and Asian cuisine

What’s at least one thing they want to do before they die?
James: James has become hyper-focused on taking down the Acker Family, this is mostly because he doesn’t have a strong concept of long-term goals, it’s difficult to him to think past this goal.

Beth: Beth wants to travel around Europe, she wants to do touristy things, despite the fact that she doesn’t like crowds.

Mac: Mac wants to get married and have kids, but he’s beginning to sort of rethink those objectives, “are romantic relationships really worth the hurt and pain?”, he’s kind of in the mental state of “Life in general is not worth the effort”.

Cassie: Cassie wants to get away from her immediate family, with the exception of her Aunt, and establish her own safe space. Cassie wants to be a primary school teacher to prevent her type of family situation from happening.

Do they have any distinguishing or unique talents?
James: Justine and James work well together, Justine handles calling people directly (something James isn’t particularly good at), James is good at writing the required script, finding the right information, James is good at picking up details that other people may miss.

Beth: Beth has this ability for people to feel compelled to tell her personal information (although she doesn’t see it as a talent and would prefer if people didn’t dump their problems on her). Beth could consider her cooking skills and her experiences with her catering business to be her better talents. Beth is happy to make desserts or cakes but isn’t interested in eating the items she makes. Beth is also skilled with crocheting but terrible at sewing with a needle or with a sewing machine.

Mac: Mac is good at hands-on tradie-stuff, carpentry and landscaping. He’s good at gardening and DIY Home Projects.

Cassie: Cassie is good with sewing, she often makes clothes, but she doesn’t wear them (she often donates them).

Links:
~NaNoWriMo Plotting Resources
~Worksheets for Writers
~Four Steps to Putting Your Plot in Order
~THE ONE PAGE NOVEL PLOT FORMULA
~THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO GOOGLE DOCS FOR WRITERS (+ WORKFLOW VIDEO & PDF CHECKLIST)
~Story writing websites: 151 of the best
~Plotting and Scheming Cheat Sheet
~Creative Writing Tools


The Beautiful Books #24: Parental Edition


Image Description: an image of a white notepad with light-blues with a dark-blue pen. At the top of the picture is text in dark-blue, “beautiful people for writers”. Down the bottom of the picture is text in dark-blue, “hosted by http://www.paperfury.com and http://www.furtherup-and-furtherin.blogspot.com”

Welcome to another edition of The Beautiful Books, a writing prompt link-up hosted by Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further Up and Further In, this is where I answer questions related to my current WIP Novel Project, which is my Pushing Boundaries series, specifically Orion – Volume II. I’m a little torn on which characters to focus on for this post.

For the last couple of posts I’ve been focusing on Mac and Cassie, mostly because James and Beth’s characters haven’t been working out in my head the way I want them to and, well, if James and Beth aren’t working out in my head, they’re definitely not going to work out on paper. But I was talking about The Unnatural Philosophy of Kit March (which you should totally go check out) with Kim.

I mentioned how it was helpful to read Autistic characters written by an Autistic person, which lead to us talking about Pushing Boundaries and how I’ve been unable to make any real progress on it. It turns out I may have figured out what the problem with James and Beth is, knowing what to do about the problem is another thing entirely, but progress is still progress (no matter how small it may be). So I’ve decided that I’ll have a go at featuring Mac and Cassie as well as Beth and James. This is mostly because James’s problems with his parents and Mac’s problems with his parents are undeniably connected (or at least in my mind they are).

Overall, how good is their relationship with their parents?
James: Depends on your definition of parent. Emotionally, James considers his grandmother Rosemary to more his mother than his mother Emilia, but he also considers Robert to be his father (although he doesn’t say it). James’s biological father left when he was about five (James barely remembers what he looks like, but remembers a lot of the other negative things associated with him), which was about the same time James received his Autism diagnosis.

Beth: Beth no longer has a relationship with Claire (her mother), due to her mother’s alcoholism and history of abusive behaviour, which can make her relationship with Isaac (her father) strained. Beth feels as though her mother wasn’t fully held accountable for her actions (Claire would never admit that she had been abusive and didn’t stop drinking, nowadays Claire just drinks less and goes to regular therapy sessions).

Mac: Pre-Cassie Incident, Mac’s relationship with his parents Emilia and Robert was fine, but Post-Cassie Incident, there have been problems due to Mac drinking a lot and lashing out, which is unacceptable but he feels it’s the only option he has because he doesn’t know how to deal with it and his parents aren’t particularly keen to talk about it either because they don’t known what to say (they’re essentially hoping by pretending it hasn’t happened it will all go away).

Cassie: Cassie gets along with her mother more so than her father (she has more, her father is an alcoholic and tends to be at the “angry/verbally abusive” kind of drunk, so she avoids dealing with him when he drinks and doesn’t know how to act around him when he’s sober.

Do they know both their biological parents? If not, how do they cope with this loss/absence and how has it affected their life?
James: James knows of his biological father, but doesn’t consider him his father, and James wants nothing to do with him. As a result, James’s personality is rather hedgehog-like, he finds it difficult to trust others and open up to people. James often uses his Autism as a shield of sorts

How did their parents meet?
James: Emilia and his biological father grew up in Glasgow and met through mutual friends, Emilia was friends with Alanna (who is married to Beth’s Uncle John) and Alanna introduced Emilia to him.

Beth: In Australia, Nurses and Cops tend to inter-marry a lot, so Isaac and Claire met via mutual friends at a Christmas Party. Claire was drunk and almost fell off a patio-deck, Isaac managed to prevent her from falling off and hurting herself and was sequentially stuck taking care of her for the rest of night (he ended up taking her home as he doesn’t drink).

Mac: Robert badly injured his hand and had to go to the emergency department, that’s where he met Emilia, who is a nurse in the emergency department. Emilia came to the conclusion Robert was injuring himself just to see her and asked him about it, he responded that he was just clumsy but wouldn’t object to seeing more of her outside of the hospital.

Cassie: Same sort of situation as Beth but both of Cassie’s parents drink.

How would they feel if they were told “you’re turning out like your parent(s)”?
James: James would try to establish which parent first, as he thinks he has multiple parents (so to speak). Being compared to Emilia and Rosemary would result in the standard “Well yes, that’s how genetics work you see.”

Beth: Beth would be a mixture of confusion and anger, it would be more dependant on who was making the comparison and which parent, if people were to compare her to her mother, it would frustrate her and she would then stop talking to the person, but she’s also resigned in a way to the fact that very few people know what kind of person her mother really is.

Mac: Mac would take it as a compliment, give the person a salute and continue with whatever he was doing.

Cassie: Cassie would take it as an uncertain compliment (“Umm… Thank you?”) meanwhile thinking either person involved doesn’t know her parents well enough to make that kind of remark or knows too much about them.

Is there something they adamantly disagree on?
James and Mac: Emilia and Robert disagree on how to handle the Mac situation, Robert thinks they should talk to him about it (or at least take him to a therapist), Emilia is of the situation that there’s no point talking to him about it, she doesn’t think there’s anything she can say that can make the situation better. Emilia would prefer to wait until Mac is ready to talk about it, which may seem weird because she’s the exact opposite with James.

Beth: Isaac doesn’t drink at all and Claire is an high-functioning alcoholic, so there’s a fair amount of self-denial and Cognitive Dissonance there. Isaac tries to get her to cut back and has always reacted angrily to Claire encouraging Beth and Mary to drink when they were younger.

Cassie: Cassie’s mother cares very much about appearances and social-value/social perceptions, Cassie’s dad doesn’t particularly care but is willing to play along in order to placate her.

What did the parent(s) find hardest about raising your character?
James and Mac: Emilia and Robert found that the hardest part in raising James and Mac was in navigating how different they are, Mac and James tend to be at the opposite end of the spectrum on… pretty much everything. James is oversensitive to stuff, in comparison, Mac is under-sensitive to stuff.

Beth: Beth has the same under-sensory problem that Mac has, but the biggest problem here isn’t her parents raising Beth, but Beth having to deal with the fact that both her parents are lacking in parental skills. With regards to Beth’s mother Claire, Beth felt as though she had to be the adult most of the time, as Claire was hyper-emotional, prone to meltdowns and an alcoholic who fluctuated between high-functioning addict and low-functioning addict.

Cassie: Cassie has three older brothers, so her parents found it difficult to enforce gender roles and gender expectations upon Cassie, although I will acknowledge these are self-imposed difficulties that her mother struggled with, her father doesn’t particularly care.

What’s their most vivid memory with their parental figure(s)?
James: James’s most vivid memory of his biological father isn’t so much a visual image, but rather the smell of tobacco mixed with alcohol (the smell of alcohol is more triggering than tobacco) and the feeling of a tense atmosphere but not understanding why.
His most vivid memory of Robert is when he took James to his first Karate lesson, they arrived half an hour early so that James could look around the church (suss out the layout) and ask questions before the lesson started. James recalls Robert being there the whole time (he often looked over to make sure Robert was still there).

Beth: When Beth and Mary were young, they would build a pillow fort in the living room and wait for their father or mother (or sometimes both) to come home from work, Beth and Mary would play a game of who could stay awake the longest. Beth’s most vivid memory of her mother was when they had a massive argument, Claire became verbally abusive then became physically abusive, Beth doesn’t remember the words precisely but she remembers the look on Claire’s face.

Mac: Mac distinctively remembers the looks of relief on his parents faces when James returned to inform them that Cassie had been safely delivered and that she had managed to convince her family she had been staying over at a friend’s place. Mac feels as though his parents took James’s side in the Cassie incident.

Cassie: Cassie has fond memories of family camping trips.

What was your character like as a baby/toddler?
James and Cassie: quiet children who could easily keep themselves amused by their own devices

Mac and Beth: rather loud children, both of them are clumsy and talkative, Beth was often singing as a child and Mac would often bang stuff together loudly.

Why and how did the parents choose your character’s name?
James: James is named after his grandfather on his mother’s side of the family (McKenzie)
Beth: Beth’s mother has an obsession with British Royalty, specifically Princess Diana, so she named her Elizabeth, but Beth prefers the shortened version.
Mac: Mac translates to “Son” in Irish Gaelic and Scottish Gaelic
Cassie: There’s no real significance in the choice of Cassie’s name (full name being Cassandra).

Well that’s all the questions answered, if readers are also participating in The Beautiful People Writing Prompt, let me know in the comment section.

The Beautiful Books #23: March 2017

Image Description: The Beautiful People for Writers - Writing Goals

Welcome to another installment of The Beautiful Books, where I bather on about my current WIP Novel Project, which would be Orion – Volume II in the Pushing Boundaries series (yeah, I know, it says Scorpius is the title of Volume II on the Pushing Boundaries link page, clearly I need to change that, Scorpius will be the title of Volume III instead), however, there have been some complications with the plotting and outlining process.

I’m supposed to have a finished outline for Volume II by the end of March so I can use it for Camp NaNoWriMo in April, but right now it’s just super hard to sit down and think about what I want to happen in Volume II, let alone write it down. One of the numerous problems is that currently I don’t know what’s going on with Beth and James, so for the mean-time, I’m just going to focus on Mac and Cassie and, hopefully, that’ll work out instead. On with the post!

What’s their favourite book/movie/play/etc.?
Mac: Mac enjoys Marvel and DC Comics (the whole Marvel/DC rivalry doesn’t make any sense to him), so he’s enthusiastic/passionate about Comic-to-Movie adaptation, he likes being able to explain the adaptation differences and domino affect it would have on the plot-line.

Cassie: Cassie enjoys cheesy romantic-comedies but her favorite movie would be The Notebook

Is there anything they regret doing?
Mac got Cassie pregnant when she was seventeen and he was twenty and, while they don’t regret getting pregnant per say, they regret the circumstances and events that happened around the two of them at that time (so it’s more of a “guilt by association” type thing).

Mac: When Cassie first told him that she was pregnant, Mac went to James for assistance and James and Justine offered to help discreetly arrange an abortion for Cassie, which is something they both objected to (Cassie didn’t want to get abortion and Mac was supportive of her choice, he was willing to provide whatever Cassie needed), however, Cassie’s family eventually realised that she was pregnant and organised to have Cassie “sent off to a relative” when her pregnancy became more noticeable and for parents to adopt the child. Mac objected to this attempted to (for lack of a better word) rescue Cassie from this arrangement (Cassie was pretty much being forced into giving up the child, but she have a small say on who the adoptive parents could be, Mac didn’t get a say at all). James found out about this and, with Justine’s help, tracked Mac and Cassie down and brought Cassie back to her parents.

Cassie: Cassie doesn’t regret going through with the pregnancy, but sometimes she does wonder if she should have had an abortion (would it have spared Mac all that turmoil and stress?), Cassie also regrets not being able to talk to Mac about the situation, Mac just assumed that they would be a continue to be couple and they would automatically become a family, Cassie wanted to be Mac and she loves him very much, but she realizes now that she didn’t want to be a mother at that point in her life and she’s afraid of saying anything about it because she doesn’t want to sound like she doesn’t care about Mac or the daughter they have. So Yeah… A lot of angst there.

If they were sick or wounded, who would take care of them and how?
Mac: Emilia is a little precious with Mac with when Mac is sick

Cassie: Cassie normally just takes care of herself (depending on how bad it is, usually she’s not that bad), her mum checks on her but her mum is more the aloof/distant type.

Is there an object they can’t bear to part with and why?
Mac: Mac has sonograms of his unborn daughter tucked away safely, but he also has a copy of them on his phone, for obvious reasons.

Cassie: Cassie wishes she had sonograms (her mother took her copies from her to give to the adoptive parents), I’m planning on writing a depressing/touching scene (depending on my writing skills and reader’s perspective) where Cassie finds them on his phone.

What are 5 ways to win their heart (or friendship)?
Both Mac and Cassie have a strong sense of loyalty to their friends (it does manifest in different ways, Mac is more aggressive and willing to pick a fight, where are Cassie is more passive and willing to do stuff on another person’s behalf). Beth manages to win them both over being nice to them and cooking them food.
Mac: Mac is more of a common interest type person, Duncan and him have been mates since secondary school and while they both have an interest in drawing, Duncan no longer has time to pursue it (busy with work and a girlfriend), Beth has more of an interest in manga than comics but she knows enough of a general overview of Marvel and DC so that she had keep up with Mac. Beth also has a list of Marvel movies and TV shows she’s been meaning to catch up on.

Cassie: Cassie is pretty tolerant of people, but she won’t accept homophobia and, even though she’s rather timid when it comes to defending herself from her brother Mark or Donoghue, she is quick and sharp to call Mark and Donoghue out on their bullshit. Cassie can be a little clingy, although she doesn’t always realise it, Seamus sometimes has to remind her when she’s being too clingy with Beth.

Describe a typical outfit for them from top to bottom.
Mac: work boots, flannel shirt (usually in a shade of blue with a navy blue singlet underneath) and jeans.

Cassie: feminine method of fashion, pastel colors (pink and blue), likes to where knitted items of clothing and make her own items of clothing.

What’s their favorite type of weather?
Mac: Summer and spring, but mostly summer, Mac would love the idea of Australian summer, which generically speaking involves wearing shorts and thongs (the shoes in case that wasn’t clear), going to the beach and having a backyard barbecue

Cassie: Cassie likes spring, she loves the smell of roses and flowers in bloom, she also enjoys hiking and walking trails

What’s the worst fight they’ve ever been in?
I suppose it wasn’t a fight, but more the absence of a fight, the pressure of things left unsaid. When James and Justine came to collect Cassie from the caravan-park they were holed up in, James held Mac in a head-lock until he passed out (James made sure to get Justine to stay with him to prevent him from chasing after Cassie), so neither of them got a chance to say goodbye and get proper closure from the whole incident. The lack of closure affects them both, it just affects them in different ways, Mac gets drunk and lashes out, while Cassie takes to selling drugs so she can get away from her parents.

What names or nicknames have they been called throughout their life?
Mac: Mac doesn’t have any nicknames because he’s name is already so short, although Beth does develop the habit of calling Mac “Macca” (which she does to annoy him, although it annoys James more than it does Mac)

Cassie: Cassie’s full name is Cassandra, but she prefers Cassie

What makes their heart feel alive?
Mac: Being with Cassie

Cassie: Being with Mac

So Yeah… that’s about it thus far, now I just have to sit down, and figure out how to shove all of those past events into a 60 000 novella *manic and slightly panicky laughter.

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