Tag Archives: WIP Novel Project

The Beautiful Books – NaNoWriMo 2017

Image Description: a tinted-blue close-up picture of a type-writer's keypad.

What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?
I’ve been working on the Pushing Boundaries project for two years now.

Describe what your novel is about!
I have a blurb for it:
Operation Nightshade is about to commence, the undercover operatives are moving into position and the target contact, Cassandra Acker, has been acquired. John
Smith’s undercover agent is struggling to establish contact, while John just thinks it’s bad timing, however, James thinks it’s more sinister, especially when he discovers Cassie’s phone number on a piece of paper in Beth’s bedroom.

Beth has absolutely no desire to go undercover, yet is torn between two powerful factions: Uncle John and Justine, fighting for the justice a dead journalist deserves, versus Cassie, a nineteen-year-old woman who is just trying to get out a bad family situation—a situation with which Beth is uncomfortably familiar with.

James feels that Beth is sabotaging Operation Nightshade from within. The more time Beth spends with Cassie, though, the more Beth comes to agree with him. Is it possible for her to help both John Smith and Cassie Acker? Beth doesn’t have all the answers, but she’s going to find out.

What is your book’s aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like!

Image Description: a picture of the English countryside. The background has stonewall fences outlining green fields with sheep. The foreground contains a stone walking path that bridges across a small creek.


Image Description: a white stone cottage with an open teal-grey door, with a large bushel of red roses growing by the doorway.


Image Description: a leafy path with green leafy trees overhanging the path, a stonewall fence in the middle of the photograph with an open iron gate.

Introduce us to each of your characters!
Beth (Australian University student), James (computer programmer and University teacher/lecturer) and Justine (Private Investigator) are the main characters of the series.

How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)
I attempt to outline, flail about, and stock up on snacks. I attempt to plan out meals for November, that way I don’t have to stop writing for long, however, I’m generally only good at this type of organisation for a couple of weeks.

What are you most looking forward to about this novel?
I think I’m going to enjoy writing chapters where Beth is getting caught up in Cassie’s Drug Selling Drama and is torn between the two different factions, especially the chapters from James’s perspective (who is super suspicious and kinda jealous of Beth’s growing involvement).

List 3 things about your novel’s setting.
Kirkby Stephen is a small country town in the UK, it’s well-known for its national parks and walking trails, it’s very green and super scenic, however, it’s also isolated (even by Australian standards). The nearest town with a supermarket is half an hour away by car and the public transport system isn’t very accessible (or at least Google Maps doesn’t seem to think so).

What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in the way?
~Beth: Beth’s goal is have a “normal” tourist/student experience in the UK and I suppose Cassie, her Uncle John, and James are the ones who are going to interfere with that.
~James: James’ goal is to bring down the Acker Family and reveal them for what they really are. James thinks Beth is interfering with this goal.
~Justine: Justine’s goal is get justice for a journalist that was killed, she thinks Cassie may be in the way of that, but it isn’t correct.

How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?
~Beth: Right now, Beth doesn’t really know what she wants, hopefully by the end of the trilogy, she will know what she wants and will be more confident about herself and her choices.
~James: James is a bit of a dark place at the moment, it’s difficult to mentally heal when you’re in a toxic environment, so hopefully by the end of the series James is in a better place (emotionally and financially) and has more confident in himself and his abilities.
~Justine: Justine is currently dealing with her own issues (Anxiety + PTSD + Other stuff), so I’m hoping that Justine’s mental state becomes a more manageable and she resolves her issues with her ex-girlfriend.

What are your book’s themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?
I feel that this kind of question is for the Reader of the Book, rather than the Writer of the Book, stuff like symbolism and themes aren’t always intentional decisions on the Author’s behalf, however, one of the big ideas I hope to put forward is that Disability doesn’t have an age barrier. Neurological disabilities like Autism and ADHD are for life and they don’t magically disappear just because a person is now legally an adult. I also want to put forward that Ableism, a lack of accessibility (whether that’s accommodations or diagnostic services), and a lack of support (from family and government services) can really hurt people and have far-reaching consequences.

Monthly Forecast: October 2017

Image Description: a picture of cherry-blossom tree. It's a close-up picture of the branches so that you can see numerous tiny bright-pink flowers blossoming all along the branches.

In the Southern Hemisphere, October is the time of Spring, hence the flowers (no, I am not bitter how purely American things such as pumpkin spice lattes are dominating social media, what makes you think that?). For this month, my October Reading List is more spooky themed than floral themed, however, I have made sure to include some Australian Women Writers in this list (I’m doing a terrible job on the AWWC this year, oh well *shrugs*).

Australian Women Writer’s Challenge:
Image Description: book cover of The Last Necromancer by C.J. Archer. The background has a large stone cross and a graveyard. The foreground is a close-up picture of the back of a pale-skinned brunette woman wearing a black Victorian-style bodice dress, around her wrist is a latern with a skull inside it, the eyes of the skulls are green and glowing. There is a green tint across the cover.
~The Last Necromancer by C.J. Archer (The Ministry of Curiousity #1)
Available for Purchase: Amazon | Audible | Book Depository | Kobo Books

Image Description: book-cover of Paper Dolls by Anya Allyn. The cover image is colour scheme is dark-tinted, it features a pale-skinned young lady with blonde hair, she's wearing a black dress with white polka-dots, and she's sitting on a carousel-style blue horse.
~Paper Dolls by Anya Allyn (Dark Carousel #2)
Available for Purchase: Amazon

RMFAO Genre Challenge – Horror:
Image Description: book cover of Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake. In the foreground, a pale-skinned brunette young lady is extending out her hand towards the viewer. In the background is a mountainous landscape with a break in the ground, just before the young lady's feet, from within the large crack in the landscape is lava and red spirits coming out of the crack.
~Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake (Anna #2)
Available for Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Kobo Books

Image Description: book cover of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. The cover is in black and white and the main image is of a small pale-skinned girl wearing a fancy head-piece and a fancy party dress, she appears to be hovering above the ground.
~Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs (Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children #1)
Available for Purchase: Amazon | Audible | Book Depository | Kobo Books

Diverse Books Reading Challenge – Intersection:
Image Description: book cover of Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova. The cover has a purple tint across entire cover, in the background is a golden gate with a skulls design within the entrance doors of the gate. In front of the gate is the silhouette a female figure, the female figure is standing in front of the gate with her back to the viewer.
~Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova (Brooklyn Brujas #1)
Available for Purchase: Amazon | Audible | Book Depository | Kobo Books

Image Description: book cover of Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde. The cover image consists of a close-up shot of the back of someone's head, displaying cascading bright-pink hair with the title and author text displayed ontop of the hair.
~Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde
Available for Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Kobo Books

I don’t have high hopes of reading most these books on the list, especially since October and November tend to be my busier months at work. I hoping to get some of these books knock-off my TBR pile via The Reading Quest, which was a great idea, but a massive failure on my part. In all honestly, I should have read most of these before now, so while I have my doubts, I’m going to give it a go anyway.

Image Description: a participation banner for NaNoWriMo 2017. The banner is turquoise-blue with white text, in the centre of the banner is two over-crossed pens and four stars surrounding the pens.
October is also the month of NaNoWriMo Preparation. I’ll be participating in NaNoWriMo this year, I’ll be working on Orion – Volume II of the Pushing Boundaries, which means I’ll need to finish the Outline before the end of October, the Outline I’ve been trying to finish for months now. I have a special notebook put aside just for working on Pushing Boundaries stuff.
Image Description: a notebook with a light-blue and dark-blue colour-scheme. The cover consists of a start-chart of the Northern Hemisphere constellations with a black band of elastic around the edge of the notebook to keep it closed.

So yeah, what you’re reading and what you’re plans are for October? Are you thinking of getting involved with NaNoWriMo? What project are you going to work on? Let me know in the comments section down below :).

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 #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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