Angie Azur is a YA Sci-fi Writer.
Writer for PALEO Magazine.
Former Intern at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
SCBWI & COWG Member.


Thursday, May 10, 2012

90 Day Novel Challenge

So I've decided to take on this book: 90 Days to your Novel by Sarah Domet.


She's a pretty funny writer, although at times she rambles on a bit, but that might be for the entirely new writer, to help he/she better understand the information. Being a big seasoned, I have less patience. Just get to the good stuff. So I skip ahead. But so far, her advice is worth the amount I paid for this book.


I'm starting this challenge in the hopes that I learn something about me as a writer, and to prove to myself that I can get a novel done in a few short months.




Pros: 

  • I've been wanting to write something new for about 6 months, but REDWOOD BLOOD had to be revised again and again.
  • If I take Sarah's advice, I should have much less revising time on this next novel.
  • My kids are still in school right now.
  • I need to give myself goals and deadlines. This book does that. 


Cons: 

  • I feel constricted right now when it comes to freely writing.
  • I like outlining, but I never stick to it.
  • My kids get out of school in less than 60 days so I'll have some crunch time at the end of this challenge.
  • I want to exercise too - but butt must be in chair.
  • I'm nervous I'll fail.

The book is set up in two sections. The first one is about outlining and scene writing. I've heard a lot of this before since I've taken many writing courses and workshops. I skimmed through, highlighting some information that I'd forgotten over the years.

**Part one is great if your are entirely new to writing. It gives a lot of sound advice, so if you are a newbie, read it thoroughly.

Part Two starts the 90 day challenge. And my first assignment is below:


Brainstorm as many early memories as possible in 2 hours:

1.     My white cat jingles loved me a lot. But he hated that I dressed him up in doll's dresses with hats and glasses. And he hated that I cut off his whiskers every time they grew. But he never scratched or bit me. I sat on my screened in back porch, where he sliced a hole in the door screen so he could go in and out as he pleased, but mainly he pleased to sit with me. He loved my pudgy hands on his head. He rubbed against me, his white fur tickling my chin. He got a worm in his neck one summer day. My parents couldn't afford a vet, so my dad got tweezers. Jingles growled and screeched. I’d never heard him sound so mean. My dad twisted his neck backwards and I could see the wormhole deep into the muscle. Blood and ooze came out, with barely the tip of the worm's back end. Jingle's claws dug into dad's jeans but he didn't let go. He dug after that worm with the sharp metal tips of the tweezers I only knew as the scary splinter removers. He grabbed that worm's bottom and yanked it out. It was a fat worm, gut full of cat muscle, and it had a ribbed body. It squirmed as dad flung it from the porch steps. Jingles sprang away, racing toward his favorite hiding spot under the fence. I hated my dad for a long time for not taking Jingles to a vet. I thought he was too rough, too twisting on his soft white neck. But Jingles lived and I forgave dad.

2.     My Pap-pap was my Mom's dad. He lost his legs to diabetes. I was only 5 when his first leg was amputated. I didn't think much of it because he could still walk with a cane and his fake wooden leg. He had a limp, but it didn't matter to me. I was 8 when they took his second leg. And I hated the doctors and the hospital and the nurses. I hated the smell of the hallways, like Clorox and the white pillows that held pap-pap up on that bed. I hated that smell of blood when they changed his dressings and the look of the stitches, like a mouth sewn shut. I hated the wheelchair that brought him to the car. And I hated the people who stared at the parks and malls, kids especially pointed and looked too long. Pap-pap would never dance with me again. But Pap-pap learned tricks. He did wheelies, and spun in his two-wheeled jail. He went off jumps and fast down ramps. He let me sit in his lap for crazy fast spinning rides. And he could still play ball, catch and throw. He could still kiss me and hug me. He could still make jokes. He was still pap-pap.

3.     My bedroom is where I hid from middle grade on… My home was not all princesses and parties. My home was physical and abusive and hiding away, behind a closed door with my music blasting helped. I loved my pink radio, a gift from my uncle, whom to this day probably does not know how that pink boom box saved my soul. Rock and roll, my music choice was the music of druggies according to my little sister, but I didn't care. I blared it. I screamed lyrics that I wish I could scream at my parents. I loved it. My chest pounded, my feet tapped and my body jumped, swayed, and wriggled to the beat. I let off steam. I let out anger. I let out rage. I let myself go. Without my pink radio, without my room, without rock and roll I would have ran away. Who knows where I'd be right now. So thank you uncle. Thank you room. And thank you music – you saved my life.

4.     The coolest thing my dad ever did was teach me about the sun and planets. I was younger than 3rd grade, because that's when we moved away. My little sister sat on her bed in the bunk below and I sat on the top one. Dad had a thin wooden bowl that he stood, covering the bedroom light with. He said it was the sun and it glowed orange just like it. He held out a ball and spun in circles explaining the way the earth rotated around the sun. He told us about the other planets too, their weird names. I especially liked Uranus and Pluto. He told us about stars and how hot they must be and explosions and burning out. It was a magical night and when I went to sleep I dreamt of outer space.

5.     I got my first real adult apology from my teacher Mr. Gayle. I was always in the art room in 9th grade. I loved to draw and paint. Every study hall or gym class I'd ask for an art pass. Mr. Gayle was so cool. He'd let me organize the art supply shelves and help him with grading. I really looked up to him. Then one day some art supplies went missing and he blamed me. He didn't even ask, he just accused me of taking stuff home. I hadn't done it and I didn't know who did. I was crushed. My eyes filled up and I felt really hot. I couldn't believe he would think I would steal. I loved that art room and I love him. I freaked out. I screamed at him that it wasn't me and then I left. The next day I got a note on a long sticky pad. He said he was really sorry and that he should have known I would never do anything like that. He said I was the only one with a key and so he thought maybe I took some things without asking. And then he asked me to please forgive him. At that point in my life, at fourteen, no adult had ever apologized for their actions against me. I never felt like an equal person, but when Mr. Gayle did, he opened the world up to me. All of a sudden I was seen. I was there. And I was someone who was worthy of a sorry note. I still have the note and yes, I forgave him. I wish Mr. Gayle was still alive today so I could thank him for that one small token of worthiness.

6.     My best friend and I could do anything together. My favorite day with her was when we jumped in rain puddles after a huge thunderstorm. The air felt muggy and flies and bees buzzed around flowers still dripping with droplets. We put on our tennis shoes and ran outside of her house on college hill. The sun was bright and everything seemed whiter from it. The biggest puddles I'd ever seen covered entire roads. We ran through them and the water was warm with swirls of rainbow reflecting car oil. I found a quarter in one and she found a penny in another. The sides of the roads ran fast with rushing water searching for an exit. There was all sorts of mud, debris, and garbage junked up against the drains. We laughed and splashed each other, covering our cut off shorts and white t-shirts with drops of dirty water. We had the best day getting wet from head to soaked shoes. Our laces turned from white to brown and never washed out.

7.     My Great Grandmother smelled like moth balls, seriously. I thought that was a joke people said about old people, but she did smell just like them. And she had the scariest body in her sewing room. It was made of metal and wood and stood about 5' tall and when you're 3' tall, that's a huge difference. And everything she made for us to eat was soupy. I mean everything. Meat had a wet sauce. Mashed potatoes floated. Salad wilted under the heavy wetness dumped all over it. It was gross and dad used to make us eat it. I gagged many times. Mom would bring her own food for us and pass it to us under the table. I'd push the soupy mess around my plate until it all became one big glob of goo and then I'd dump it in the trash as soon as dad left the kitchen. The best thing I remember about Great Grandma was her boobs. They were huge, like clown feet huge and warm like a hot potato. I loved snuggling on her. She was like a human pillow, well two pillows. I could sleep there all afternoon.

8.     The blueberry farm let me be me without the judgment of others. I could run and jump over stumps, stick my bare toes in mud, or walk across moss without anyone thinking I was too old for all that. I'd watch deer. I'd sing to crows. I'd chase frogs. It was just me or me and my sister and it was wonderful. No angry dad or scared mom around. No chores. No boys to act prettier or dumber for. No girls to tell secrets to or lie to. It was freeing to be so alone with only the earth and its creatures surrounding you. I loved it and to this day a lot of my stories take place in nature.


1.     Trying out for cheerleading was a highlight of mine in high school. I’d never much been interested in cheerleaders, although my mom idolized them. She herself was the head cheerleader in school. She also liked to play up the role of dumb blond. She dyed her hair and acted cutsy with boys. From her stories this was something most of the girls did, so it didn’t seem so negative. I on the other hand was a tomboy, and I hate that term. It means I’m acting like a boy, when in fact I am a strong girl. But I hated dresses, makeup and anything pink, up until 9th grade. I don’t know what happened, except that my boobs grew over the summer to a size C+ and my waist got smaller, and boys noticed. So I started to look at magazines to pretty myself up. And then cheering tryouts came around and I asked my mom about them. She was so excited that I had an interest that she started helping me memorize the cheers and dances. She was a good coach too, even if she was more eager for this than I was. But I did make some new good friend throughout the process. And when I walked into that gym, smelling of dried sweat and popcorn, I felt confident I’d make the team. I did my routine the strongest I ever did, shouting the loudest and jumping the highest. The next day at school the names of the girls who made the team plastered the front doors. My name was the very last one. I screamed!


1.     I’d finally caught the ghost. For the past few weeks weird things happened in the house. First, when I got the cereal out I always put it on the counter, then I’d get the milk. But when I’d put the cereal down and open the refrigerator, turning my back to the counter, the cereal would disappear and I’d find it back in the cupboard. Then, I always put my school books on the left side of my desk, because my light was on the right side. Everyday I did the same thing, it was my routine. But when I’d leave to use the bathroom or go outside and come back, my light and books had switched places. My room would get cold in one corner. My favorite things went missing. Then I’d see something dart out of the corner of my eye. It was shadowy and quick. I tried to catch it but it always beat me. But the day I saw it, I had a plan. I brought my books into my room as usual, and set them on the left side. I turned and left my room, acting like I was headed to the bathroom, but just as I got to the door I spun fast. And there it was – hovering. The ghost had no legs, just shredded up dark green pants. It was a male, I’d guess in his 20’s and he was wearing a jacket with gold buttons and a strange hat. Then he was gone. He vanished into my wall, the one that touched the outside garage. I ran after him, down the hallway and out the back door and jumped the three steps down into the garage. He wasn’t there, but a headstone was. My dad had propped up a headstone his tractor had hit while cutting grass. He’d dug it out and leaned it up against the wall in the garage, the wall that was my bedroom wall. The stone said that the man had help with some war and for his payment he got land from the president. It was our land. And when he died he’d been buried on it. I made my dad re-bury that tombstone right where he found it and the ghost stopped coming around. 



Thoughts:


I enjoyed this assignment, but I do not think I came up with much that could spawn an entire novel, as the book hoped I would do. There may be bits and pieces in all of them that could be pulled together and sprinkled throughout a new novel idea. We shall see.


I also liked thinking back to my past. After re-reading the above 8 memories I feel more connected to myself as a younger child. 


I think I should also do this exercise with the age group I write in in mind. These were earliest thoughts, but I'd like to skip ahead to middle school and high school memories. On my own time, after this challenge I will re-visit this assignment and focus on an age. 




Your Assignment:


Now if you'd like to take this challenge with me - go buy the book - or download it and catch up. It would be fun to have some partners in crime on this. If you don't want to write an entire novel and would just like to do the exercises, that works too. 

No comments:

Post a Comment