Coloring Your Writing with Words

7 Jan

As a visual merchandiser with a background in interior design, I tend to see the world in a very visually-oriented way. This even applies to my writing. People who have read some of my flash fiction or story snippets often mention they get a strong sense of place and really feel like they are in the settings I write about, and I think my ability to use elements such as color and space to manipulate atmosphere in the physical world really has a lot to do with this!

I’ve been wanting to make a video talking about how our words as writers are as important as colors are to artists and designers; there are so many to choose from and they can really “color” our writing!

 

This isn’t really a “how to” video so much as it is a reminder for us writers to really pay attention to the words we choose when telling our stories and how we use them—something that’s definitely been on my mind while editing my WIP.

Some of the leading English dictionaries have close to half a million words in them, which is pretty amazing when you think about it! Not to mention, our language is always evolving, as new words and turns of phrases seem to pop up just about each year in everyday use. It can be easy reverting to our personal go-to words to the point where, when we go back and look at our writing, they stand out as being overused. Keeping a thesaurus handy in such instances as well as being mindful of what words we choose to tell our stories with can be helpful. (There are times I know there’s a better word and I can’t remember it; then I search thesaurus.com for similar words and am like, “Ah-ha! That’s the one!”)

Anyway, this video is just an exercise in word choice and how the words we choose can be used to create context, subtext, mood, tone, or whatever else we aim to achieve in our stories.

How do you “color your writing?”

Happy New Year! + 2017 Goals

1 Jan

I feel like, for many, 2016 was a troubling year. I look around me and see so much sadness about events and losses from last year. Then I look at my own life and realize that my experience has been surprisingly positive in comparison.

My biggest loss of 2016 was my boyfriend “R” moving back to Chicago. I could have let that ruin my year. I could have remained very torn up and bitter and depressed about it. I could have let it destroy our relationship. Instead, it’s become an opportunity for me and “R” to grow as individuals and share our experiences and lessons we’ve learned along the way.

If anything, it’s made our relationship stronger—a result many people in long-distance relationships don’t get to experience—and for that, I am grateful.

In other areas of my life, I’ve rededicated myself to completing work on my first novel. Those who have followed my blog for any substantial amount of time and are familiar with my journey while working on The Elementalist: Rise of Hara (TEROH) know that this is a pretty big deal for me. It’s been a struggle and continues to be so, but I’ll get to that later.

Anyway, I’m not normally into setting yearly goals, but this year I decided I should set a few because there are things that are important to me that I want to make progress on or cross off my list before the end of 2017. So this year, I’m setting 3 goals for myself. Continue reading

10 Dieselpunk or Diesel-Era Action/Adventure Movies & TV Shows (Part I)

24 Dec

I’ll try to make this one quick, but in a nutshell…let’s talk movies and TV shows.

…Dieselpunk or diesel-era-inspired ones, that is!

 

Any kind of story that is set in or inspired by the early 1900s almost always catches my interest, so today I thought I’d share some of my favorite action and adventure movies and TV shows that fall under this category.

Hope you enjoy!

Have you seen any of these movies or TV shows before?

If so, what did you think about them?  Which of these is your favorite?  Which is you least favorite?

I’d probably have to say The Mummy (1999) is my favorite on this list. I’ve seriously watched it more times than I can keep track of. (My protagonist Voi from The Elementalist: Rise of Hara was somewhat inspired by Evelyn Carnahan, the loveable-but-klutzy Egyptologist and librarian heroine from this movie, after all.  So there you go.)

I don’t really celebrate holidays much anymore, but for those who do, I hope you have a Happy Holiday(s)!

Story Excerpt – The Elementalist: Rise of Hara, Chapter 1

5 Dec

Hello, everyone! So I’m still in Summerlin and had a really, really long night (pulled a 13.5 hour shift). Regardless, it’s been a while since I posted a new video for my YouTube channel, so I decided to record an excerpt of my WIP, The Elementalist: Rise of Hara. I actually read it out loud.

Just like I’ve been doing during my edits!

This one starts not at the very beginning of the story but in the protagonist’s first chapter. The story is setup in “parts,” and Part I is told from another main character’s POV to introduce what’s going on elsewhere in the world, leading up to the protagonist’s role–which I introduce in Part II.

I may record the second chapter sometime, as well, as it introduces the shady government agent who approaches the protagonist, Voi. But we’ll see.

I return home in 3 days, after which I’ll be able to get back to my read-out-loud edits. (I’m not doing it during this trip only because I think differently at night and tend to miss things after 10+ hour shifts…)

What did you think?

Do you like the story so far?  Is it something you would be interested in continuing reading?  I have a few people who’ve volunteered to be beta readers already (yay!), whom I’ll be sending out my manuscript to early next year, so it could change based on their feedback. We’ll see.  But that’s what I have for now.

Anyway, thanks for watching/reading/listening!

Editing, Life & Spy Stuff

27 Nov

A lot has been happening in my life over the past couple of weeks, and not much of it has included editing. I flew to Chicago for a week to see my long-distance boyfriend, whom I hadn’t seen in 5 months (we weren’t always long distance); he was a complete gentleman and romantic during my entire stay. Also, one of my cats has not been feeling well and has lost over 6 pounds from his original weight of 16. Then tomorrow, I’ll be flying to Summerlin, Nevada to help open a new furniture store with Living Spaces, where I work as a visual merchandiser. (This will be my 3rd store opening since I started about 6 months ago.)

In other words, I haven’t had much downtime—and I won’t, for some time.

Store openings are a whirlwind and can be a lot of fun, but they’re also stressful at times.  Last time I did one we only had 9 days to set up everything from scratch (10 for the rest of the team, since I left a day before grand opening), which was a record time for the company. This next one I’m doing will be similar. Like the last, this will be another large store, clocking in at 140,ooo square feet. (These store showrooms are comparable to IKEA’s in size, by the way; IKEA just tends to advertise the sizes of their entire building with the warehouses included.)

In other words, it’s pretty big.

Luckily, I’ll get to see the boyfriend again as soon as January rolls around, which will be nice. In between my return from Summerlin on December 8th and the boyfriend’s arrival 4 weeks thereafter, I should be able to get some more “read-out-loud” editing done.

I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to finish before the end of the year now, unfortunately. Too much has been going on, and my attention has been spread as a result. I’ll have more of a chance to focus on the novel in the upcoming weeks and later in January after the boyfriend has returned to Chicago.

In Other News…

Meanwhile, I’ve been getting some ideas for the next book and keep thinking about a few scenes in particular that have been inspired by some moody, spacey songs I’ve been listening to by a song artist named Koda. (You can find more of his music here.) I also spent a little time tweaking my two ending chapters, as they didn’t quite feel “right” to me—not that they were “wrong,” per se; just not quite “hitting the mark” for me.

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What happens when a drunk air elementalist with claustrophobia tangos with a brooding clairvoyant wrestler at 3AM in a hotel room? Writing about it in a chapter of my fantasy novel, The Elementalist: Rise of Hara, entitled, “Two Tumblers, a Red Dress & a Bottle of Whiskey.” | Image credit: unknown.

Anyway, the second story will be set in new locations inspired by early 20th-century China, Japan, and Saharan regions especially as opposed to the more European-like settings I’m currently writing in.  It will likely be even more espionage-y than the first novel, I’m gathering—mostly because the main characters will be veering off their usual paths and doing a lot more things their governments may/may not approve of (intrigue!), as possibly hinted at by the novel title I have planned: The Elementalist: Revolutionary.

As such, I’ve been gathering inspiration on life in/near the Sahara as well as spies during WWII.

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I started reading an espionage thriller called The Key to Rebecca by Ken Follett, which I’m enjoying so far. It mainly follows a German spy who’s been sent to Cairo, Egypt during WWII, as well as his British intelligence counterpart in an intriguing cat-and-mouse game. I’ve also been watching the miniseries version of a book I once read called The Time In Between, also set around the WWII era. I wrote a blog post about this book a while ago; it was one I really enjoyed.

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The TV series is very well done. Sira Quiroga, a Spanish seamstress turned renowned dressmaker turned spy against the Nazis, is a clever and compelling heroine–with an impeccable sense of style, to boot! If my protagonist Voi Román read her story, I think she would like Sira very much and might even consider her a role model, of sorts.


Anyways, that’s what I’ve been up to. I still need to pack and get ready for my trip to Summerlin, though hopefully, I can get a little editing done before I go. (Once I’m there, it’s 10+ hour work days, and after moving furniture and bending and crouching all day, I know I won’t have the energy to edit then!)

A belated Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers, both old and new!

Neo-Noir, Dark Themes & Fantasy

12 Nov

As I comb through my finished draft of The Elementalist: Rise of Hara (TEROH from here on out), reading it out loud for awkward sentence structures and flowing cadences, I’ve come to realize that my novel is surprisingly dark—surprising to me only because I never intentionally sat down and told myself, “Hey, I’m gonna write a dark fantasy novel!” All the same, it’s making me seriously consider whether my story is even a bit neo-noir.

It’s very much dieselpunk and fantasy, sure, but that doesn’t describe the tone. Not that a series of labels for a novel has to, per se, but if I want to give people a better idea of what they can expect from TEROH, then I wonder now if I should also be adding “neo-noir” to the mix somewhere. (Depending on what version of my blurb I use, I could see people interpreting the story as a light-hearted, swashbuckling type, which could be misleading. Especially if I use my shorter “under 200 words” version versus my slightly longer “under 300 words” one, the latter currently showing on my site.)

Before I get ahead of myself, let me explain why I suspect my novel may be neo-noir. Continue reading

What is Dieselpunk?

30 Oct

If you’ve been following my blog, then you’ve probably heard me talk about something called dieselpunk before. (My WIP, after all, is a dieselpunk story.) I’ve even written an article about it, though that was a few years ago.

So what is dieselpunk, exactly?

Well, the other day I decided to make a video explaining what mean when I use the term dieselpunk.

What is Dieselpunk?

 

Though young, there is a growing community of enthusiasts who are positively gung-ho about this artistic phenomenon. (Just take a look at dieselpunks.org!) I think I may have a slightly broader outlook on the definition of this movement than others, but essentially, dieselpunk is both a sub-genre and aesthetic drawing inspiration from early 20th-century aesthetics, attitudes, ideas, technology, etc. that applies a more contemporary outlook using speculative and/or anachronistic elements. In the video, I explain some of the staples of dieselpunk and also share some examples of what it looks like in movies, books, video games and comics.

Novel Update

So. Technically, I finished the edits I was working on–that is, revisions to the plot, inconsistencies in details and characterization…that sort of thing. This is exciting, but I realized that while making these revisions, I also left the manuscript open to more obvious though minor errors like leaving out a word here or there or trying to cram too much into one sentence instead of splitting it into two.

In light of this, I decided I need to do a quick run-through of the manuscript and read it aloud to myself to help me find these kinds of blunders and correct them. It will make for less distractions during the beta reader process. I started this last week, and…well, it’s funny what you’ll catch using this method.

As much as I’d like to claim “I’m done!” with this novel, I think I owe this much to beta readers.

Also, since the holidays are coming up, now isn’t really a good time to be approaching people anyway saying, “Hey, can you read my 200,000-word novel in between parties and dinners with your friends and family sometime between Halloween and Christmas?” It’s better to make these quick fixes now and wait until after the New Year for beta reading, in my opinion.

Start the year off right!

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for you today. I’ll check in again soon!

Challenges as a (Fantasy) Writer + 5 Tips for New & Aspiring Writers

16 Oct

As some of you know, I’ve been facing a lot of challenges in finishing my first novel—not just writing a decent first draft but editing it, too, to my liking.  The whole process has been taking me a really long time. So. The other day, I decided to make a video in which I share some of my struggles but also 5 tips for new writers, or those who have thought about starting a novel but just haven’t done it yet.

Really, I don’t think anyone’s journey has to be as arduous as mine.  Just keep these tips in mind, live by them, and you’ll make progress much faster than I ever did!

Writing Challenges + 5 Tips for New Writers

 

Looking back, however, I think I almost had to go through the toils that I did at the length that I did for a reason.  Not everyone will have such a hard time staying dedicated to their writing, but taking this long has allowed me time to grow and mature more in the middle or working on this project—giving me a fresh perspective that has allowed me to tackle subjects in my writing that, in the past, I felt inadequate at handling.

It all works out in the end, I suppose. 🙂

Loved the video?  Be sure to give it a thumbs up (click on the video title to see the original page) then visit my YouTube channel, Tiyana Marie Writes, and subscribe to more discussions about writing!

(This video was pretty long, I’ll admit.  I went through several takes before getting to this version, too.  Next time, I’ll try splitting any long videos I make or focusing on just one topic. Also, still figuring out how to get my Canon T3i to focus while capturing video! Normally, I only use it for photography. A bit of a learning curve there, hehe.)

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

So right now I’m really excited because as of this morning, I only have 4 scenes left to edit before I can start looking for beta readers for my WIP.

I mean, look at that progress meter! > > >

After almost 10 years of thinking and toiling and avoiding and dancing with this story that’s grown to become The Elementalist: Rise of Hara, this is amazing!

Today, I have every chance at wrapping up those last four scenes.  Yesterday, I was able to take a crack at seven scenes, so it’s doable.

Don’t worry—I’ll be sure to make an official announcement when I’m 100% done with my edits, though. 🙂  It will be a grand affair.

Life Aboard an Airship

3 Oct

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“USS Akron (ZRS-4) approaches the mooring mast, while landing at Sunnyvale, California (USA), 13 May 1932.” Source: By USN [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

I was researching a technical point in my novel (for verisimilitude’s sake), realizing I was making some assumptions about technology during the 1930s and ’40s that I actually hadn’t researched–like whether or not airships had any hydraulic systems in place (a minor plot point in my WIP).  Anyhow, I came across a comment by a man named “Stu” on an article at airships.net about the Hindenburg, and I thought it was very interesting.  He was responding to another reader’s questions about airship rudders and elevators.

Here’s what he said: Continue reading

Airship Mania!

25 Sep

I was just browsing through videos on YouTube the other day, looking for anything related to dieselpunk, and I came across a few documentary videos about airships that are actually pretty darn cool.

One is a 3-part series covering a broad history of airships, beginning from the late 1800s up until today.  The other uses actual black and white footage along with the journal entries of Lady Grace Drummond Hay, who was a journalist and also the first woman to travel around the globe via air! I’ve found the latter video particularly interesting.  The narrator did a wonderful job, and the writings of Lady Drummond were delightful. (There’s even a side plot about a forbidden romance.)

Just a little something I wanted to share. 🙂 If you’re interested in airships, those are definitely worth checking out!

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In other news, I’ve managed to get some editing done this weekend on a couple of scenes. Today, I’m reviewing a scene in which my main characters unexpectedly learn more about the history of their enemy through one of their team members, who admits he once was a member of a secret society…

…along with the leader of The Enemy.  Hmmmm…  (Yeah, he might want to explain that one, right?)

At this rate, sticking to weekends to get editing done, I could actually wrap these edits up within the next couple of months! Just got to make time for it. That’s the key. I’m also taking less side jobs, as a result. So far, I haven’t regretted doing so. I find I’m much happier working on the novel, actually.