Monday, February 15, 2016

Get To Know Me Tag

The lovely Carlyn Ross tagged me in a Get-To-Know-Me challenge! Here 'tis.
let's do this
            Name: Emma Davis
            Nickname: Um…Em? I’m also called Emma Grace by my family, because I have a reputation of being not-very-graceful and often tripping over my own feet.
            Birthday: November 10th
            Place Of Birth: Jacksonville, Florida.
            Star Sign: Scorpio (I actually had to google this just now because I didn’t know. :P)
            Occupation: At the moment, um…being a person?
Behold, my face:
Not my best photo, but I like it because it was my "I am determined to finish this frickin novel today" face when I finished WSE draft 1. 

            Hair color: light-ish brown
            Hair length: Just past my shoulders, although I’m planning on bobbing it this spring! :D
            Eye color: Greeeennnn
            Best feature: I do love my eyes.
            Braces: nah
            Piercing: Just my ears, thanks.
            Tattoos: None now, and none in the future bc I am an indecisive wimp who would immediately regret my decision as soon as I’d had it done.
            Righty or lefty: -waves ink-smudged left hand- Leftyyyy
            Best friend: Ahhhhhhh um, my cousin Hannah. She's pretty great.
            Award: I think it was a tee-ball trophy when I was like, 5.
            Sport: Tee ball!
            Real holiday: ….I have no idea
            Concert: Winter Jam 20…13, I think?
            Film: I have several, but Casablanca and Saving Mr. Banks are definitely my top two!
            TV show: Gilmore Girls all the way
            Color: p u r p l e
            Song: THIS QUESTION IS SO STRESSFUL. I can’t pick one so. Top 5:
                        -EMPHASIS, Sleeping At Last.
                        -MOON RIVER, Audrey Hepburn
                        -LITTLE WONDERS, Rob Thomas
                        -SCREEN, Twenty One Pilots
                        -SMALL TOWN MOON, Regina Spektor
            Restaurant: Olive Garden yes
            Shop: Chamblin’s Bookmine, which is this absolute maze of used books and is my favorite place to go ever.
            Books: Again with the stress. Agh. Um… Emma by Jane Austen, Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson, Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows.
            Shoes: my stone-gray flats, and the similar colored, slightly-heeled pair I got to replace them once they wore out.
            Feeling: A little bit tired and a little bit excited and like I really want a cup of tea.
            Single or taken: hi yes I am 5ever alone
            Eating: I just ate a chocolate cake made out of zucchini and it was surprisingly good.
            Thinking about: this video
            Watching: a documentary about the 70s.
            Wearing: my favorite sweater and a pair of jeans
            Want children: yes
            Want to married: yesyes
            Careers in mind: Teaching history in some way. <3
            God: Completely  
            Miracles: ^
            Love at first sight: I…don’t really have an opinion on this? I guess I think it’s possible but…I don’t think it’s something that happens to everyone.
            Ghosts: welp. Haven’t really thought about this. I guess I don’t?
            Aliens: Doctor-who style aliens? Nah. I think it’s possible that there’s life out there that we don’t know about but I highly doubt they’re gonna come to earth and be all “take me to your leader *beepboopbeepboop*”
            Soul mates: Yes. And this quote is how I feel about this:  
I loved that phrase: soul mate. We asked Grandma what it meant and she said, “Two people who understand each other without talking about it. Two halves of a whole.”
            “Like being married?” I asked.
            “No,” Grandma said. “It could be anybody. Father or mother or sister or friend. A teacher or someone you work with. Anybody. Any two people who understand each other so well that one of them can fly blindfolded and the other will stand unafraid on the wing of the plane.”
            (taken from BLACK DOVE, WHITE RAVEN by Elizabeth Wein.)
            Heaven: Yes!
            Hell: See above answer. Can’t really separate them.
            Kissing on the first date: Um. I have put no thought into this. –shrugs-
            Yourself: I do.

Well that was fun! I am tagging….
                        Mariesa at MeoBird, Sam at The Writer’s Nook, Elly at The Spilled Inkwell and Aimee at To The Barricade!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Book Nostalgia

There’s something especially marvelous about looking at a collection of books and stories and seeing yourself in them. Not just who you are today, but who you used to be, and better yet, who you want to be.
Growing up, I read a lot of classics. Granted, they were the Illustrated Classics editions, but since then I’ve read most, if not all, of the originals. I’d go to the library at school in second grade and come back with Jane Eyre, over and over again. I don’t remember when I first discovered it or when I decided that it was going to be mine, but at some point I did, and I read it so many times that year that I think I could have quoted whole passages.
I came across Nancy Drew around the same time as Jane Eyre. The library only had a handful of the books, so I read the same ones, until I went to the county library, where I found shelves and shelves of them, and discovered the magical thing called a holds’ list. The only Nancy Drew book I’ve ever owned, for whatever reason, is The Bungalow Mystery, which I got with my dad at a small bookstore in downtown Fernandina.
Where The Red Fern Grows and The Secret Garden both happened in third grade. Where The Red Fern Grows was an especially memorable read, because it probably the first book I’d ever read where characters that I’d come to know and love died. I’ve read that book so many times now that the cover is made up almost entirely of masking tape.
I can’t remember when I first read Anne of Green Gables. It was sometime in third or fourth grade, or maybe the summer between. I got the boxed set on Ebay for somewhere around thirty dollars; I don’t remember if I payed for all of it, or some of it, or none of it at all. But I remember when they came in, and I remember keeping them in the little box for a long time, until the box was starting to fall apart, and I moved my library out of the single shelf on my closet and into my room. After I read the Anne books, I found the Emily books, and a collection of short stories LM Montgomery had written set in and around Avonlea.
In sixth grade I went through a massive Louisa May Alcott phase. I honestly don’t remember what started it, or when in that year it began. But by the end of the year I’d read every one of her books I could get my hands on, my favorites being Little Women and An Old Fashioned Girl.
There are so many others. Huckleberry Finn, although I can’t remember when exactly I first read it, was a favorite. So was Treasure Island, only I have a date for that – first grade. I was quite proud of myself. Esperanza Rising, the Dear America series, the American Girl mysteries, The Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter.

I have almost all of these books still. Most of them are sitting on a short bookshelf beside my bed, and they stay there, neatly stacked, neatly organized. But sometimes I have to take them down to clean this shelf and sometimes I end up sitting here, with a stack of books whose covers are all worn and old and rough with use, remembering what it was like to read them for the first time. I say hello to them again, and let them remind who it is I want to be. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

November's Over, Everyone.

            IT’S ME AGAIN! I was my usual self this month and was all, “hahah what’s a blog I don’t have one of those nope”. Who’s surprised? Not me!
            I did keep a semi-coherent log of my NaNo adventures, though. You can look at it here. The link will take you to my Tumblr tag for When Summer Ends, which is full of pictures and gifs and quotes that remind me of this story, and some charming late-night excerpts and screenshots I posted from this draft. I am most likely going to regret all of that in a few month’s time but oooohhhh weeeeelllll.
            And now, onto the actual reason for this post.
            You’ve heard of NaNoWriMo, now get ready forrrrrrr….
            NaNoReMo! National Novel Recovery Month? Eh? Ehhhh? It’s catchy and you know it.
            I dunno.
            But yes. Here are my preferred ways of getting back to being an Actual Person in the aftermath of NaNoWriMo. Enjoy.
#1 – Go back to a normal sleep schedule.
You remember what it felt like to get a full night of sleep? When you weren’t staying up till the wee hours of the morning and then getting up with the rest of the world a handful of hours later and pretending you weren’t dead inside? When you didn’t require 5+ cups of coffee, or tea, or your preferred source of caffeine to keep you going throughout the day?
Wasn’t it nice?
Go back to it.
NaNoWriMo could be named NaNoSleepMo – National No Sleep Month. When you have almost 1700 words to write a day, sleep becomes a less important concern than getting your daily word goal for the day done, and also procrastination. But now that it’s over, you’re going to want to get back to a normal sleep schedule, where you go to bed at a reasonable time of the night and get up the next morning and don’t feel like a zombie for the next twelve hours or so, until you suddenly become nocturnal and proceed to stay up the entire night writing.
Make yourself go to bed at a time that if you’re asked, you won’t be all, “Haha, well, see, the thing issss,” about it. Getting to sleep before nine at night is like, the nicest thing ever after a month of negative 599993332 hours of sleep every night.
#2 – Go back to life-ing.
            Who needs a life, anyways?
            Well. I do.
            And I mean, you kind of do too. Because while sitting in front of your laptop for 30 days straight, writing like crazy, and making a slow transformation into Gollum is super fun and all…it’s kind of nice, going back to being an actual person.
Wrimos be like
            You have a family! And friends! Hobbies! Responsibilities you shirked during November!
            It’s time to go back to those, my friends. It’s time to close your laptop, take off your headphones, put on actual clothes instead of that really comfortable hoodie and pair of sweatpants, and go be a person.
            I know for me it’s kind of really hard to snap out of the whole “Ew people no get them away” mindset that I get during NaNoWriMo, but even though you can maintain that glorious creative streak while simultaneously Gollum-ing for a month straight, it’s bound to run out. You’re going to have to start being a person again, I’m sorry to have to break the news to you.
            We’ve all been there. I’ve been there. It’s tough. But you just have to do it.
#3 – Get rid of the candy.
            My diet during NaNoWriMo consists of two things: tea, and junk food. English Breakfast Tea is the tea with the highest caffeine level I’ve ever found and it is your best friend. And junk food, oh, junk food.
            I had a basket full of chocolate and candy this past month that was full to the brim and still has leftovers in it. I did last year, too. I have jars full of Skittles and Dove chocolates, and I basically live on those little waffles that you take out of the freezer and pop into the toaster.
            But I mean. November’s over, guys.
            It’s time to move on. Those candy wrappers that are scattered everywhere? The half-eaten boxes of gummy worms and Sour Patch Kids you have on your desk? The bag of M&Ms you have left over?

            Show no mercy. Kick ‘em to the curb. Get rid of the candy.
            Okay, that may be being a bit drastic. But seriously. Cut back on the candy, alright? It tastes so good but it’s not exactly the best thing for you and it’s Christmas time, so you’re bound to be getting your fill of sweet stuff. I have three younger brothers and a variety of younger cousins; when it’s time to get rid of the candy, I’m kind of covered.
            I would tell you to cut back on the tea, too, but I cannot in good conscious tell someone to stop drinking tea. Ever. So I won’t. –gleefully drinks Christmas tea-
#4 – Take a break.
            Writing is freaking exhausting, okay. It wears you out, leaves you feeling brain-dead, takes you for a wild ride, makes you cry, and you still plow on with it. But once you reach your goal – whether that be just writing your words or finishing your draft* - give yourself a break.
            Close the laptop. Put down the pen. Recharge.
            You’ve had a month of nonstop creativity, of insanity and excitement and breakdowns and strokes of genius and mind-numbingness, and now, it’s over. Let yourself recover from the wonderful and terrible experience that is NaNoWriMo.
            I read a lot in the aftermath of NaNoWriMo, because usually when I finish things, I’m in a sort of slump, where my brain is mush and the idea of creating anything at all makes me want to throw something. So I don’t. I read a lot, I catch up on TV shows that I missed during November, I watch movies, listen to music other than my novel playlist, play games, have actual conversations that go beyond “Could you please bring dinner to my room kthxbai”.
            It’s so worth it.
#5 - Regroup.
            Chances are, now that you’ve finished, you’re at a bit of a loss. If you’re me. Or like me.
            Or maybe you’re organized and confident and have your writerly self together. If so, go you!
            But I’m not. I’m usually that person who, as everyone else is starting to Do Things again, decides to forgo this and curl up and sleep for about a thousand years and cry because I have no idea what I’m supposed to do now ugh.
            So I take December to regroup. Do I want to edit that beast of a novel I just wrote? Do I want to start another one? Return to whatever I was working on pre-NaNo? Give up the writing life entirely?
            Hahahaha. That last one. I’m so funny, guys.
            But seriously. December is my get-myself-back-together month. My month where I don’t put any pressure on writing and kind of take a chill approach to it. The month where I attempt to decide what I’m going to do in January, when I’ve had sufficient recovery time.
            Everyone’s different, so maybe you only need a few days before going back to writing, or maybe you don’t need any at all! I know for me, after NaNoWriMo, I kind of need a break to let myself get back to normal and to try and make sense of a jumbled mess of thoughts, and all the things I want to work on.

*I’m in this boat. I am so in this boat. When Summer Ends has maybe 20,000 words left on it but at this point I have no idea. It keeps getting bigger. And bigger. And bigger. I have a deadline of December 7th to be finished with this draft, and I’m spending this week doing just that. So I mean. My NaNo recovery process kind of starts on the 8th, but whatever. I’m going with it.

     Aaaaaand...that's all! Now, if you'll excuse me...I have a novel to finish.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

In Seven Days

I'm back.
I hope?
I know that since...well, basically since sometime early this spring, I've been trying and failing to be consistent with this whole blogging thing. I do want to be on here, guys, I promise. I love blogging. It's loads of fun, I love the community, and I like getting to type up a bunch of thoughts and post them somewhere, not really knowing if anyone is going to read them, but just to get them all out. It's nice, you know?
Still, as much as I do love it, I don't seem to be all that good at it. I'm not so good with posting weekly, or even bi-weekly, although I seem to do alright at once a month. But.
I'm really, really hoping to change that. And with any luck, this time around won't crash and burn so spectacularly as my other attempts. Why?
In seven days, you few people who read this blog, November begins. And with November comes the season of notebooks and sticky notes and desperate 1 A.M. writing; tea, coffee, or your preferred source of caffeine far too late at night; the time for attempting what seems to be an impossible, and insane, challenge. NaNoWriMo* is almost upon us.
And my gosh, am I excited.

So, okay. If you've poked around on this blog for any length of time, you'll have stumbled across a series of posts I made last November, creatively titled 'NaNoWriMo 2014 Log'. Basically, I took about fifteen minutes out of each day to write a quick post where I wrote down my word count for the day, my total word count, and my favorite few lines that I'd written that day. Usually, these posts included a lot of gifs, because I was pretty exhausted by the time I got around to remembering to post, and they didn't make much sense. The excerpts I shared now make me cringe a little, because ew first draft why, but I'm so glad I did it! Number one, sharing those little bits of my writing was fun. I love getting to show the parts of my stories that I really love - I love sharing my words, usually, unless it's something obscenely atrocious or close to my heart (basicallyallofEmptyAlibidraft2? Which oddly enough, more people have read than the first draft.) 
Number two, I actually blogged! Consistently! Daily, or at least every other day! For an entire month!
It's still my proudest achievement on this blog. 
I'm going to be doing the same thing again this year, because, surprise to no one who knows me, I'm participating in NaNoWriMo again this year. 
This year, I'm writing the first draft of Letters To The Dead, which you can see a bit of on the My Writing tab up top. Letters To The Dead is the first of four books in a historical paranormal series, taking place in New York from 1946 to 1950. 
I'm so excited for this story, guys. So, so excited. 
So in seven days, I will be making my first NaNoWriMo 2015 post. It will officially be November. 
I'll see you all next Sunday. 

* Back at the beginning of the month, I was going to make a nice lovely post about NaNoWriMo, tips for first timers, my experiences, my ways of preparation this year....obviously, that didn't happen. And while I still could make that post, I'd much rather spend this last week working on my outline and making sure I'm prepared for this year. So you should go look on their website or at this post that Mariesa wrote if you're curious!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

When It's Time To Step Back

     Hi there.
     I'm quite aware of the fact that, basically, I died over summer. There were no posts on this li'l blog of mine. I don't really have a suitable excuse other than I was busy and I was working on other things. Pathetic? Maybe. True? Yes. Definitely.
     So, in the past four-ish months, a lot of things have happened. Just before I went on this unintended hiatus, I finished the second draft of Empty Alibi. I've spent the summer working on that novel. Trying to get through draft three. Writing and rewriting and rewriting the first chapter, replotting things in the middle I knew were messy, introducing and removing characters, introducing and removing entire subplots, chapters, scenes, you name it. I had plans to enter the OYAN Novel Contest back in August...which I ended up not going through with.
     I've still not written draft three. My document is sitting there, at 13,000 words, and it's been removed from the little 'pinned documents' section of Word. I've still got all of my character pictures and doodles for that story taped up on my wall, but I'm no longer aggressively making sticky notes for it. At least not right now.
     I don't know. This post is going to be...weird. Rambly. Probably not going to make any sense. In fact, I may end up typing this whole thing up only to get to the bottom and think, "Nah, better not publish that." But I need to type this up so bad, and you know what, I need to get over myself and actually get back into blogging, because gosh darn it, I've missed this. I like rambling into a void where people are possibly reading what I'm writing or possibly not.
     Who knew?
When It's Time To Take A Step Back
      I am not a very experienced writer. I mean, I like to think I am. But in reality I've only been writing seriously since last October or so. I only ever finished a first draft last November. I've since written nearly 200,000 words on that story, not counting the scenes and entire chapters in various junk pile documents for each draft. So I mean, I've done some stuff, but I'm not super experienced.
      I haven't been with this story when I was really young. I only just had the idea last spring. I haven't been working on it for years and years; only about ten months. There are a handful of people that have read this story. I've only finished 2 drafts. It's a mess.
      But it's so important to me. 
      I don't know what it is about Empty Alibi that's got me so tight. Because I look at my other stories and I see so much more of me in them. I see the things that I struggle with in Rose and Miles and Olivia and Charley; I see the lessons I'm still learning in Leona and Jo and Walter. Empty Alibi isn't exactly a 'me' story, you know? There's a lot of family drama, a lot of friendship angst, a lot of a certain someone thinking she's a lot smarter than she is and then falling hard when she realizes she isn't.
     Oh, wait a second. That sounds really familiar.
     So maybe there's a lot more of me in Empty Alibi than I thought. 
     I dunno. It's just one of those stories that seem kind of...different. I don't really intend to stick with mystery as my genre, because it takes a lot more plotting than I like and it's not where my heart lies, but I love this story still. Maybe it's because these characters are the reason I ever finished a novel to begin with. Maybe it's because they saw me through my 15th birthday, getting my learner's permit, losing my grandmother, a second workshop, and countless lonely weekends. Maybe it's because this story, with its ins and outs and its messy plot and even messier characters, has been my semi-haven. It's where I've went when I'm standing in a crowded room and I still feel lonely; it's the thing that I do when it's late at night and I can't sleep and instead of staring at the ceiling I pull out a notebook and start writing a scene. This may sound weird, but Bethany is how I've processed countless awkward, embarrassing, frustrating, and exciting moments in the past ten months. I look at the things that happen and I think, "Okay, how would she deal with this?" And then I go and plot some more.
     All that to say, this story is so important to me. It has my heart. I think it always will, in some form, even if it's just a tiny little corner that's collecting dust and is mostly for nostalgic purposes. I think that in twenty years I'll look back at the things I wrote for Bethany and Elliot and Jules and Chapman and I'll smile, and I'll remember how important it was to me, and it will still be there, faint and almost forgotten. 
    And even with all of that, with everything that this story is to me, the idea of sitting down and trying to write it makes me want to go curl up somewhere dark and cry. It makes me want to hit my head against my desk repeatedly. I don't know why. I really wish that this wasn't like this because darn it, I actually want to write this. I want this story to get better and become what I know it can be, but I sit down to write it, and nothing happens. It got to the point where I was actively avoiding writing because I did not want to try and suffer through another unproductive afternoon. 
     I was starting to get to where I didn't like writing. It hurt, and not like writing should hurt. It was me sitting there, typing out 50 words, 100 if I was lucky. And it's been like that since...July, I think. Mid-July. 
     So here I am. It's mid-September, and I've been sitting at 13,000 words since this time last month. At this point, I'm not even working on Empty Alibi. I'm writing a modern retelling of Emma by Jane Austen. 
     And I needed this, I think? I needed to step back from that story even as much as I love it and work on something else. I needed to stop thinking of everything as "How would Bethany approach this?" and as "How do I approach this?"
     I don't know. Can you love something too much? Is that possible? Is it possible to be so completely in love with a project - a novel, an art piece, a song, whatever your choice of medium is - that working on it ceases to be a good idea?
    I am not in love with the words that I wrote, or with the scenes I was pounding out. What I love is the essence of that story, the characters, their struggles, their relationships. I think I am too close to that story to do it any justice right now. 
    For the past ten months, I've worked on it. I've had little pockets of time where I did other things - in between drafts 2 and 3 back in May, I plotted Letters to the Dead big time. I've done a lot of development on other stories, too, in between scenes and in spare time. But for the most part, it's been just Bethany for ten months, and I've gotten too close in. I know the story too much, maybe. 
    I don't know. I don't know. I don't think any of this makes sense. And maybe I am wrong about all of this. Maybe it would be better if I kept plugging away at Empty Alibi, in the long run, but I don't care. I don't care. Does that make me a 'bad' writer? 
    Right now, I am going to write Love And Other Impossible Things. I am going to let myself get back into first-draft writing - that feeling of exploring a story at its most basic, knowing it doesn't have to be perfect, knowing nothing, really. So that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to write the first draft of that novel and I'm going to plot Letters to the Dead, and in a couple of months, after I've had time away and I've let myself work on other things, I'll come back. 
     So this isn't me giving up. I want to want to work on Empty Alibi again, and at least right now, I don't think trying to keep working on it is the answer. It's time to step back, turn away, and let go. And it will still be there in two months. It will still be there in two months, six months, a year, two years, because at the end of the day it is my story, and it always will be. 
     Pardon the rambling in this post, and the probable nonsensical analogies and descriptions. I needed to write this. 
     And also, I now have something to point people to when I say I'm not working on Empty Alibi at the moment. Blogs are nice like that. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

/May 27th, 2014

I'm covered in sand, still in my slightly-damp bathing suit after a day at the beach. My scratched up sunglasses are perched on top of my head and my legs are curled up beneath me on my seat. I've taken a break from Falling Dark for just a few moments, just to let myself write this tiny little idea down.
That tiny little idea turned into over 800 words of the first scene I ever thought of for Empty Alibi. Those 800 words led to Bethany, Elliot, and Harris. Jules and Chapman would come later.
May 27th, 2014, at 11:57 PM, I closed out the document after saving it as "Bethany Wilson and a Rather Gruesome Murder (Early Twentieth Century Mystery Idea Thing)".
I would spend that whole summer thinking of that story. It would be pushed to the back burner for a while, but I'd always come back to it. I drabbled for it over and over again, I tried to write the beginning. I started a Pinterest board.
In October I was trying to pick between that (which I was still just calling Bethany Wilson Story) and Project Orion (which has been put on what looks like a permanent hold - not my genre anymore, not something I really want to write). I was leaning towards Orion, and at the time, I didn't think much about historicals.
As far as I was concerned, Bethany was the exception to my streak of (admittedly, cliched) dystopian story ideas.
I wrote up synopses for both, though, and since I couldn't decide, I let my mom read them.
"Which do you think I should write?" I'd asked her.
She said Bethany.
It was outside of my comfort zone.
It was different than what I'd usually written.
And so I started pinning more onto my Bethany board. I came up with a title (Empty Alibi). I renamed Thomas Elliot as Elliot Henry, and gave the name Thomas to Bethany's older brother. Jules and Chapman were the product of character lounges with Sam.
Jules was created solely for the purpose of teasing/scaring/annoying Ashford Clarke (actual perfection) (jk) (not really). Chapman was how, in the Ellyn!universe, Bethany ended up bringing down the villain. He was a detective with the NYPD who helped her in the end.
I moved the story from 1913 to 1919, then to 1921. I can't remember why, now. It was probably a combination of Downton Abbey and various 1920s things I'd seen on Pinterest.
And just before NaNo started, I nailed down a year. 1924.
I documented my draft-one adventures all throughout November (here).
I'm spending the rest of the summer with Bethany and co. I've written roughly 136,000 words total for this story. I've spent hours on end brainstorming, developing, writing, thinking. I've made collages and written complete fluff just to make myself happy.
So here's to that hint of an idea I had on May 27th, 2014. And for once I'm going to congratulate myself for procrastinating.
Because if I hadn't been seriously stuck on Falling Dark, Empty Alibi might not have happened.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Historical Fiction: The Basics

     Hello everyone! Since the last time I've posted, I've finished the second draft of Empty Alibi (!!!), finished my read-through of the second draft, and started my third draft. In addition I've began plotting for Letters to the Dead (see the My Writing tab at the top for more info on that story).

     With the school year winding down and Camp Nano finished, I'm hoping to post more on here. I'm starting a series on historical fiction -- I'm not claiming to be an expert on writing it, but a lot of this will be what I've learned since I started and resources I've found. Wee!

         If you've been here since pre-NaNao last year, you'd remember a post I made talking about my NaNo project - a historical fiction mystery. At that time I had not written any historical fiction or mystery ever, so the whole event was one big learning experience.
     I went into my first draft knowing the very basics about my era and winging most of it as I went. A lot of late night research and frantic checking of EtymOnline and my trusty 1920s guide was involved. 
     Honestly, I could call this post Historical Fiction: How Not To Do It, because trust me, I know. I used to think I wouldn't write historicals for two reasons: a) I considered myself a dystopian writer (*cringing because PAST ME, ALMOST ALL OF YOUR DYSTOPIA IDEAS SUCKED, WHY DID YOU NOT SEE THIS*) and b) historical fiction, quite frankly, scared the crap out of me. 
      Research? Historical accuracy? What? Never? In any universe? It always seemed like such a big commitment. And for some reason I always thought of historical fiction as being set in the 19th century - and I didn't really want to write about corsets and courtships. 
       Again. *cringes at past me*

       So now that you know my background concerning historicals...we can talk about fun things, like deciding how to nail down location and time, and incorporating historical details into your story, and FASHION. Pop culture. Edumacating yourself on your era. 
       Can you tell I really love historical fiction?
      I don't even know what this post is gonna look like, guys, so bear with me.

Feat. one of my favorite 1920s photographs. Because. '20s.

Historical Fiction: The Basics

     So you have a historical fiction idea. Or you like the idea of historical fiction, but don't yet have an idea. 
      Honestly, the thing I'd say is most important is to immerse yourself in history. I am a huge history nerd. I love it. I love history. 
      Pay attention during history class. Look up things that seem interesting afterward. 
      Something I've always done (even before I knew I liked his-fic) was to think about what people my age were like during that time. What was it like to be a fifteen year old on the American Homefront during World War 2? How did girls my age spend their time in the '20s? What did teens do for fun around the turn of the 20th century?
      Historical fiction - at least to me - is about bringing history to life. The best historical fiction I've read makes me feel like the people in the story could have been real.
      Code Name Verity. I can see Maddie and Julie. I can see them being real, I can see girls in the '40s who had lives similar to them.
      Mattie in A Northern Light. How many other Matties were there? She felt alive.
      Henry in Across a War Torn Sky. There must have been a thousand other Henrys, right? What was that like? 

      So now that I've waxed poetic about history...
      What happens next? (Or, in my case, what should happen next?)
       You have the idea. You have a character, or two, or three. You might not have a plot yet, but it's a story, and it won't leave you alone. 
       What next?
        If you don't already, start trying to pick a decade for this story to take place in. Eventually (obviously), you'll need to narrow it down to a year, but right now, a general idea is all I ever need. I knew I wanted Empty Alibi to be set in the '20s after seeing some of the dresses from that era. Letters to the Dead was set in the 40s because the music from that decade really seemed to fit the characters. 
      Start reading about your era. Watch films from it if possible. Pinterest has a History section - take advantage of that! Start yourself a Pinterest board, if that's your kind of thing. 
      More than anything, start trying to get to know your decade. I don't know, maybe I'm weird, but I love getting to know eras of history. It's like making a new friend, if you can pardon my strange analogies. 
       What was the music like? The fashion? What movies, TV shows, or radio programs were popular? 

        My advice would be this: do not do what I did in November. Seriously. Take your time with your research. Find out what your characters are like, and how their culture and time period affects them. Get to know your setting and era before you write. 
        I mean, it will turn out okay in the end. Empty Alibi is on track now. I have my research done. 
        But it will save you a lot of time, headaches, and late nights spent researching. 

        So that's it. That's the 'basics' of historical fiction. I'm not sure how much sense this post made, but I am hoping to continue this series. I've got several posts planned following this same idea -- if there's one thing I love talking about, it's history and writing.