Beautiful People – August Edition

Well, hello there beautiful people! (Geddit.) My July Beautiful People post was pretty late so, lucky you, here’s another one in very short succession.

If you’ve never heard of Beautiful People, it’s a linkup for writers where we delve into our characters’ minds and answer ten questions set by the lovely and magnanimous Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further up and further in. Hop over to these fabulous ladies’ blogs if you want to join in!

Beautiful People linkup for writers

As my finished MS is currently waiting in the wings for a Pitch Wars mentor to fall in love with it and choose me as their 2017 mentee, I’ll be using my new WIP, Cockle Shells and Silver Bells for BP.

My MC’s name is Em, she’s an orphan who grew up on her great uncle’s farm in North Yorkshire before inheriting a seafront mansion on turning 18. Cockle Shells and Silver Bells is a YA magical realism reimagining of The Secret Garden.

 

 

What are they addicted to/can’t live without?

Books! As an orphan who was home schooled because the nearest school was miles away, Em lives to read and uses them as an escape from her sheltered, quiet life in the remote Yorkshire moors. It’s all very Bronte.

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Name 3 positive and 3 negative qualities about your character.

I’m not sure I can really separate them into columns of positive and negative, but I’ll give you a few of Em’s personal traits.

  • She’s shy and hates big crowds, she much prefers solitude after years roaming the moors alone.
  • She’s very closed off from others after losing her parents in a car accident ten years ago, she doesn’t open her heart easily, only her great uncle Archie has found his way in and even that took years!
  • She loves animals and wanted to be a vet when she was younger, she’d still love to work with animals, but in a career that doesn’t involve having to put them down.
  • She has buckets of creativity and always has a project on the go, whether it’s her gender bent Pride & Prejudice fanfic on Tumblr, redecorating the family estate, or tending to the garden.
  • She’s lead quite a sheltered life so far, but she’s open to new experiences and just needs someone to show her the way.
  • She loves learning and was a very keen student when she was being home-schooled. She did exceptionally well in her exams and would still like to go to university one day, but she decided to take some time out to experience life and accept her inheritance first.

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Are they holding onto something they should get rid of?

Only fear and grief, nothing physical. She lets the pain of losing her parents as a child stop her from making new friends or really letting anyone in. Hopefully by the end of the book she will have learnt from that!

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If 10 is completely organized and 1 is completely messy, where do they fall on the scale?

Like 9 maybe, she’s not perfect and can still be a normal, messy teen at times, but she’d definitely more sensible and organised than your average 18 year old.

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What most frustrates them about the world they live in?

That bad things happen for no reason at all, and often to good people, while great things happen to terrible people too.

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How would they dress for a night out? How would they dress for a night in?

She’s a big lover of comfy pyjamas and onesies for nights in, preferably with animals all over them and fuzzy slippers. She’s never been on a night out, but she does have some pretty cute tea dresses from the vintage shops in York and Harrogate.

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How many shoes do they own, and what kind?

Not many, and most are wellies or walking boots. She’s got a couple of pairs of Mary-Janes for special occasions, but she’s not a big fan of heels.

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Do they have any pets? What pet do they WISH they had?

She has the farm animals, and when she moved to the Haigh Manor she discovers a white cat who visits regularly and prowls around the gardens. Em names her Clemence and put water out for her.

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Is there something or someone that they resent? Why and what happened?

She doesn’t really know who to direct her anger at from her parents’ deaths, but she wanted to stay in France where they lived, she didn’t want to be taken away from their home and her friends. She was mad at Archie at first when he picked her up and brought her back to Yorkshire with him, but really she knew it wasn’t his fault. She’s just mad at the world for what happened, she can’t understand the random chaos that is life and prefers to protect herself from ever getting hurt again.

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What’s usually in their fridge or pantry?

At the farm the kitchen was well stocked with their own produce – dairy products, eggs, freshly baked bread and various meats. At the manor, the pantry is similarly filled (shipped over from Archie’s farm before she arrives), with added jams and preserves, handmade by the housekeeper Maggie. Em isn’t a huge eater, but she is partial to a spot of tea with bread and jam.

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And that’s all folks! Did you enjoy learning more about Em and my new WIP? She’s a salty one, I’m really looking forward to spending more time with her while I write this novel, it’s been on  hold for a few weeks while I prepped for Pitch Wars, but I think I’m ready to dive back in.

Watch this space!

 

Lyndsey

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Beautiful People – June edition

Welcome back to another edition of Beautiful People! This is a monthly meme hosted by the lovely Cait @ Paper Fury and Sky @ Further up and further in. Basically, the ladies come up with ten fabulous questions to help us delve into the hearts, minds and souls of our characters, and we answer them. Simple as that.

Beautiful People linkup for writers

If you’ve been here before, you might know I recently finished my WIP The Fair Queen and sent it off to beta readers to get some feedback. I’m also planning to take part in Camp Nano next month, so I’ve been plotting and outlining a new novel idea loosely based on The Secret Garden. Today I’m going to treat you to your first glimpse of my new WIP! Exciting, no?

My new MC is called Marie – Em for short – and she’s 18 and, sadly, an orphan. At the moment I’m imagining her with waist length jet black hair and bright blue eyes. Shall we dive into the questions?

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What’s their favourite place they’ve ever visited?

Em grew up in Aix-en-Provence in Southern France, her parents were British and met while working over there. Her father was a University lecturer and her mother was a ballerina. Every summer they would travel to Barcelona for a couple of weeks when school finished, and Em absolutely loved the city – the architecture, the food, the atmosphere.

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What’s one mistake they made that they learned from?

When she was eight, her parents were killed in a car crash and she was flown back to England to live with her great uncle Archie. Since then, Em has been pretty much alone. She was home-schooled because Archie’s farmhouse was so remote and miles from any local schools. She didn’t have any real friends, spending most of her time reading in her room, posting on her Tumblr account, and hanging out with the farm animals. Basically, it wasn’t her fault, but she learned at a young age that the things you care about can be snatched away in a moment, so she stopped caring about people and things. She learns from that mistake over the course of the book!

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What was their favourite subject in school? Or favourite thing to learn about?

Em loves to read, her favourite part of being home-schooled was choosing books to study for English Literature. She particularly enjoys classics like Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre – living in North Yorkshire it was pretty much like living in a Bronte novel.

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What’s their favourite flower/growing thing?

Em’s favourite plant is lavender. There were great fields full of it in Provence, and it grows all over the North Yorkshire moors as well. The colour and pretty scent remind her of home.

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Have they ever made someone cry? What happened?

She sometimes heard uncle Archie crying at night when she first came to live with him, but not because she had upset him.

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Would you consider them a reliable or unreliable narrator?

Mainly reliable, but a bit of both. She has a very specific frame for how she sees the world, after everything she’s been through, and it’s not always accurate. She tends to see the negatives rather than the positives, and always assumes the worst. But she isn’t a liar, she would never deliberately deceive anyone.

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What do they dream about at night?

She has frequent nightmares about the day her parents died, and wakes up in a cold sweat, expecting to get a call about something else bad happening, someone else she loves being taken from her. Like uncle Archie.

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They’ve gone out for a “special meal.” What would they eat?

Moules frites, probably. Or some other kind of fish or shellfish. She doesn’t eat meat after living on the farm and spending time with the animals, the first time Archie killed a pig she’d become friends with she cried for a week and vowed never to eat meat.

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What’s at least one thing they want to do before they die?

She would love to go back to France, but she’s terrified. She really wants to be brave and go back one day, see where they used to live and spend time in the city where her parents fell in love. After that, she’d like to travel and see the world.

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Do they have any distinguishing or unique talents?

She has a way with animals, she can calm them, and almost communicate with them. She wanted to be a vet as a little girl, until she realised that would mean putting animals to sleep when they were too sick or injured to survive. She couldn’t bear that, so she never applied to veterinary college. She has her mother’s figure, a dancer’s figure, but she never learned how – she does have natural grace though, so maybe one day she’ll do something with that.

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That was fun! I haven’t done character bios for my new novel yet, but I feel really inspired now, so I’ll have to get right on that!

What do you think to my new WIP and my MC, Em? Let me know in the comments, I can’t wait to see all your answers to this month’s questions!

 

Lyndsey

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My writing progress

After almost a year of thinking, planning, plotting, outlining, drafting, editing, revising and a whole lot of procrastinating, I finally finished my first novel.

In case you were wondering, those pterodactyl screams are coming from me.

Writing progress Lyndsey's Book Blog

I wrote the first draft of The Fair Queen between September and January, I rewrote it between February and May, and I completed my final edits a few days ago and sent my MS out to a handful of beta readers to read and give me feedback.

Excuse me while I curl up in a ball of utter dread waiting for my beta readers to finish reading and tell me how terrible it is.

I’m exaggerating. I hope. One of my betas has been sending me regular messages about how much she loves it and hopes I’m already working on a sequel (I’m not, just in case editors and publishers alter it beyond recognition and the sequel in my mind doesn’t match anymore, but the ideas are there!).

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For those of you who are new around here, I took part in my first ever NaNoWriMo in November last year. If you’re REALLY new around here, Nano is a month long writing camp where writers from all over the world get together online and sometimes in person (your local chapter will have meet-ups but you don’t have to go), and try to write 50k words in 30 days. I discovered it on Twitter at just the right time, by October I’d written about 15k words, so I worked on my outline, created a list of 30 scenes I needed to draft for my WIP, and joined in.

I managed a solid 35k words in November, which I am really proud of, it’s the most I’ve ever written and even though I didn’t “win” I felt so much satisfaction and motivation to finish my first draft, which I did in early January, with around 70k words total.

I took a couple of weeks off to refresh and recharge my mental batteries, before getting stuck into draft two in February. Then I discovered Camp Nano, a branch of NaNoWriMo that takes part in April and allows you to choose your own targets, but gives the same sense of community and support as the November version.

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I set my target at 35k words for April, thinking I’d managed as much in Nov and this was just rewriting and editing. Well, do not underestimate the work it takes to turn a first draft into a neat and structured manuscript! I also had a week’s holiday in Turkey booked during April so I basically had to rewrite 35k words in 21 days. I managed about 32k words, which I was really pleased with, although I would have loved to win this time.

I spent May finishing my second draft, and completely rewriting the ending as I had realised it wouldn’t work the way I’d originally planned it. I was going to leave the book on a huge cliffhanger, with the intention of writing a sequel, but I found out that debut authors should always tie up their endings as they may not get a sequel if the first book isn’t a huge hit. So, the cliffhanger had to go, and I pretty much pantsed my way to an ending I’m happy with – one that ties up the story line of the book and brings the characters full circle, but still leaves a couple of questions and plot lines open for a follow up, without being too frustrating for readers (I hope!).

After I finished draft two I immediately started my third and final read through, formatting the MS and correcting any spelling mistakes I spotted, amending a few word choices, and probably delaying the next step to some extent. Then I sent it out to my beta readers. And that is where we currently are. Waiting for feedback. Watching the clock and biting my fingernails. I’ll let you know what they thought of it!

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Almost as soon as my MS was winging its way to betas, I saw an email ping into my inbox about Camp Nano July. I really find NaNoWriMo to be the most motivating and inspiring experience, I wouldn’t be where I am today, with a completed MS and a real sense of achievement, if I hadn’t come across Nano. So of course I’m going to take part in July!

I decided, instead of hoping my betas all have their feedback in by then so I could do a final round of edits before querying agents, I’m going to start working on a new novel idea. It’ll help me to get some distance from The Fair Queen before that final round of editing, hopefully making me more objective to any faults and flaws in the book. And if TFQ doesn’t sell and get me my first book deal, I’ll need something else to work on and submit! So, as of July, I’ll be working on a sort of modern retelling of The Secret Garden in YA fantasy style.

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So, that’s what I’ve been up to in my writing life, I’m feeling pretty proud of myself right now for finishing what I started, and I actually really enjoyed reading my novel back through to check for spelling errors etc. I really hope my beta readers enjoy it too, but more than that I hope they give me honest feedback about the plot and characters and pacing and whatever else they have thoughts and feelings on. I definitely need a fresh pair of eyes to tell me what’s working and what isn’t, so I can make this MS the best it can possibly be before submitting it to agents.

What have you been working on lately? Will you be taking part in Camp Nano next month? Tell me all about your current WIPs and story ideas in the comments.

 

Lyndsey

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My writing progress Lyndsey's Book Blog