An Hour A Day

If you know anything about me, you know that I work on one writing project after another. I alternate working on multiple projects at once. I get a lot done on these projects. But when it comes to editing, it’s a slow-going process. Sometimes it’s non-existant.

My plan was to have my mystery novel 100% edited by the end of this year and start querying it in January. I did really well working on it at the beginning of the year and then somewhere I got lost along the way. Or my novel got lost. I don’t really know.

Needless to say, I’m taking a break with that one. I hate to say it, but I really need to re-evaluate my plan to tackle that novel. There’s a lot more to figure out than just “editing” it as far as research and deeper plot holes go.

Writing mysteries are hard. I love it, it’s fun, but there’s so much information to remember and to figure out when writing each mystery. And since my novel is the first in a series, I feel the need to figure out the rest of the books before I can fully understand the first mystery. It’s a little hard to explain, you’ll just have to trust me on that one.

So maybe that novel will be ready by December 2017. Because I’ve decided that George and Lilah need a vacation. So I’m not going to look at my manuscript until January 2017. If inspiration happens to strike, then I will most definitely put that to good use, but for right now I’m going to take a step back and then look at it again as though I’m editing the first draft in January.

I know I said I was going to have my sister look at it, but I’m not even going to do that just yet. Maybe next summer.

So, the point of this whole post (now that we’re over 300 words into the article) is that Kris and I had one of our quarter-life-crisis-things when it comes to our writing.

I try to make deadlines for myself and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. In the end, I know the deadline is “fake” because it was set up by me and I have no one to answer to, except me.

But the reason I do so well with NaNoWriMo is because the deadline is “real.” I have to give my manuscript to someone by the end of the month. That someone being the NaNo validator, but still, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Plus, NaNo is kind of like a competition. And who doesn’t like a fun competition?

So Kris and I decided to commit to one novel each. We both have a novel that’s mostly written, but the first draft isn’t quite finished.

For me, it’s The Lost Girl. I wrote 58,000 words of the novel back in April for Camp NaNoWriMo, but the actual story wasn’t complete.

I know I wrote a post a while ago saying my plans were to finish the novel, edit it in the summer, and then post it on Wattpad in November or December. Well, this may come as a shock to you, but I haven’t touched that story since the end of April.

I was focused more on why George and I couldn’t get along and then when I finally threw in the towel for that one, I decided to work on short stories.

Anyway, Kris and I are going to hold each other accountable for our novels. She committed to her fantasy novel and I committed to The Lost Girl. We’re going to work on our manuscripts for at least one hour each day and finish our first drafts by October 1st. Including today, that gives us 32 days, 32 (or more) hours to finish these drafts.

Then, on October 1st, we’re going to write each other letters about our manuscripts, things that we think need work, what we need to edit or research, the works. Then we’ll swap manuscripts and the other will read and critique it. We’ll set a deadline for that and then we’ll go from there.

It’s still a deadline set up by me, but I have someone to answer to other than myself. My manuscript will be leaving my hands in a month even if it’s just going on the desk across from mine.

I think this will work.

How are your writing projects coming along? Let me know in the comments! 

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The Lost Girl: Excerpt 2

We’re nearing the end of Camp NaNoWriMo so I thought I would share one last excerpt of my novel, The Lost Girl.

This is a short excerpt from the middle of chapter thirteen. This is first draft material, but proofread for typos.

Enjoy!

The Lost Girl excerpt

“Now think of the happiest thought that you can think.” Peter ordered.

“The happiest thought? Like a memory of some sort?” Grace wondered.

“It can be anything you want, but it has to be something real.” Peter explained.

“So a memory…” Grace concluded. She put her hand up to her chin as she thought looking up at the sky. “Okay, I think I got one. That’s easy.”

Peter smiled. He took Grace by the hands again and led her to the edge of the cliff. “Now think of that thought and keep thinking about it!”

“What are you doing?” Grace frowned at the edge of the cliff.

“Are you ready?”

“Not really…”

“Go!”

Peter shoved Grace off the edge of the cliff. She tried to hold her balance at the very tip, but fell anyway. She flailed her arms and legs as her body accelerated faster and faster the closer she got to the water. She screamed knowing that this was going to be it for her. She covered her eyes with her hands bracing herself for impact with the water. If she didn’t die on impact, she would certainly drown.

Grace jolted when she was suddenly lifted back into the air. She dared to take her hands away from her eyes. Peter was holding onto her in his arms and they were heading back up to the top of the cliff. Through the air.

“What is going on?!” Grace panicked wrapping her arms around Peter’s neck tightly.

“Ouch,” Peter winced. “You just pinched my neck.”

“You just threw me off a cliff!” Grace shouted.

“Yeah, I don’t know why it didn’t work.” Peter muttered in sincere confusion.

“What didn’t work? I almost died!” Grace panicked as they made it to the top of the cliff.

“Yeah, sorry about that. Were you thinking about your happy thought?” Peter set Grace back down on her feet and folded his arms his chest deeply thinking.

“No! I was too busy thinking that I was going to die!” Grace yelled.

“You’re going to disturb the whole forest if you keep shouting like that.” Peter said glancing over at Tinkerbell on his shoulder, who was covering her ears. “Besides, you’re upsetting Tinkerbell. Human voices are extremely loud to them. It’s kind of like when you tap on the glass to a fish tank. It disturbs the fish.”

Grace stared at Peter with her mouth gaped open and her eyes wide. He pushed her off a cliff, she almost died, he began to fly, and he was making fish metaphors.

The Lost Girl: Excerpt 1

We’re almost halfway through April 2016’s Camp NaNoWriMo session. I can’t believe it!

I’ve been working really hard on my novel, The Lost Girl, and so far it’s coming along quite nicely. In my opinion.

I thought I would share a quick excerpt with you guys from the story. This excerpt is the beginning of chapter four, where Peter Pan first joins the party.

This is first draft material, but I did proofread it to clean it up just a bit.

I hope you enjoy it!

the lost girl excerpt rachel poli

Grace looked over her shoulder as the elf-boy led her away from the rest of the boys. She couldn’t see anyone anymore leaving her to believe that they obeyed their leader and had in fact gone back to their duties—whatever that meant.

She looked back ahead of her and stared at the back of the boy’s head. He hadn’t said a word to her since they had left the other boys behind. Where was he taking her? Was she in trouble? Or was he going to help her get out of the forest?

Before Grace could open her mouth to ask, the boy swiped a tree branch out of their way and held it aside for Grace to walk through. He let go of her hand and waited for her to walk through. She slowly took steps on her own afraid of what was going to be on the other side of that tree branch. Yet what she saw in front of her was unbelievable and she stared at it in awe.

“Welcome to my Treehouse.” The boy announced with a smile.

“It’s… Huge.” Grace said softly.

A giant tree stood before. The base of the tree took up space in more than half of the clearing. The trunk was as thick as a ship and seemed to be as tall as the sky. She placed a hand over her eyes shielding her sight from the sunlight as she tried to see the top of the tree. Branches stuck out in all sorts of directions, the branches being about as thick as a normal tree trunk.

“Is this…? This is the Tree of Life, isn’t it?” Grace couldn’t help but ask.

“Huh?” the boy raised an eyebrow in confusion.

“I read about the Tree of Life in school.” Grace explained.

“I don’t know what that is.”

“I read it in my history class textbook.”

The boy blinked at her.

“A book,” Grace stated.

“Oh! You mean stories. I know what a story is. I like stories.” He grinned.

Grace shrugged her shoulders. “Yeah, I guess history class is kind of like telling one big story.”

“Anyway,” he patted the base of the tree trunk, “I don’t know what this Tree of Life is that you’re talking about, but this is my home.”

Grace pressed her lips together thinking. Then she pointed to the tree. “So… When you said, welcome to my tree house, you meant an actual tree house?”

“Well,” the boy looked the tree up and down before settling his gaze back on Grace. “It’s my house and it is a tree, so… Yeah.” He shrugged his shoulders.

Grace nodded her head not knowing what else to say. She wrapped her arms around herself holding onto Curly’s cloak again. Sure enough, this all seemed to be happening in real life and not a dream.

“Follow me.” The boy prompted her. He began to climb the tree.

Grace stood where she was and watched him climb a little higher. She had never climbed a tree in her life before, especially not one as big as that tree. Even though he wanted her to follow him, she was going to be perfectly fine standing on the ground and watching from afar.

Then he looked down and slid back down the trunk as soon as he realized he was climbing alone. He walked over to Grace taking her hand in his once more and smiled at her. “It’s a lot of fun. You’ll see.”

Grace wanted to protest, but she couldn’t get her voice to work. Curiosity was taking over again. She should have learned her lesson from the first time, but she was too interested in the tree to mind.

The boy led her to the base of the tree and began to climb once more. He let go of Grace’s hand, but only for a moment so he could get a firm grip on the trunk himself. Then he looked down over his shoulder and reached out to her again. Grace took his hand with a short hesitation and began to climb the tree behind him. Though she wasn’t sure how she was going to climb such a massive tree in a skirt.

He kept leading the way, higher and higher. They dropped each other’s hands once in a while to get firmer grips on their climb. Then Grace would stumble and grab onto his hand or foot or whatever was closest to her.

“You’ve never climbed a tree, have you?” he asked with a smirk.

“Not one this big.” Grace grunted in response. She glanced down over her shoulder and shivered at the height. She was getting tired. Just how far up were they going? And how were they going to climb back down?

“We’re almost there.” He assured her.

Grace looked straight up and narrowed her eyes. They weren’t even halfway up the tree! How were they almost to the top?

It was just another couple of steps when the boy sat down upright on a branch. He reached down, grabbed Grace’s hand, and pulled her up. She sat on the branch in front of him breathing heavily. She gripped the branch as tight as she could; her knuckles began to turn white.

“Okay, now how do we get down?” she asked quickly.

The boy smiled. He reached over behind her and opened a small hatch in the neighboring branch, which looked as though it had been cut off to create a hollow hole. Grace peered down the hole looking into the abyss.

She suddenly felt afraid again. And she wasn’t nervous because of the height.

“It’s fun, I promise.”

Those were the last words Grace heard before the boy pushed her down the hole.

The Lost Girl Cover

Pretty much since I started writing I always wanted to create my own covers for my novels. I never knew how–what programs to use, how to get the pictures legally, etc. So I never bothered… Or I would, but I just wouldn’t show it to the rest of the world.

Yet, whenever I can, I try to take pictures of nature or other things that strike me at the time. I tend to use the camera on my phone, which takes great pictures. However, when I learn to use my real camera then I’ll start bringing that with me to places.

I recently got Photoshop and while I took a class on it in high school, it’s an updated version… and I probably still wouldn’t remember how to use it even if it was the same version.

But I did my best and creating graphics can only get better with practice.

So, lo and behold, here is the cover to my Camp NaNoWriMo novel, The Lost Girl.

the lost girl cover peter pan rachel poli

It’s simple as I have to work with what I have and what I know. Though I think it came out pretty well, if I do say so myself.

The background was taken from the backyard of the family I babysit for. I took the picture myself with my phone.

I had other ideas for the cover, but as I don’t have a model to act as the protagonist for the cover, I decided to go easy and simple.

Sometimes I think simpler can be better.

I hope this cover does the novel justice!

I would like to say, “It’s not like I’m going to publish this or anything,” but I do plan on putting this story on Wattpad when it’s edited (hopefully by the end of 2016 or very early 2017).

I made a Wattpad account a while ago hoping to get more of my original work out there other than just quick Short Story Sundays. I still haven’t posted anything on there, but I think The Lost Girl will be the first one.

I don’t really think The Lost Girl will be publishable by a traditional publisher and I don’t have the desire to attempt to self-publish it. So I think Wattpad would be a great fit. It would be like the next step up from my blog. Of course, I’ll still continue to give updates on here and let you all know when the next chapter is up.

But that won’t be for a while, so don’t worry about it.

That’s where I stand at the moment. I hope you like the cover. I’m looking forward to actually writing the story in two days!

Good luck to those who are participating in Camp!