Archive by Author | Ann Elise

I’m Alive

This is just a post to let you guys know I’m still alive. I’m not really using this blog at the moment, but I’m posting regularly on my Tumblr. It’s mostly fandom stuff, particularly my recently-awakened Batman obsession (well, it’s actually his former sidekick Nightwing more than anybody else), plus some feminism and LGBTQIA+ stuff (hey, I figured out I’m bisexual… or pansexual… or something). I’ve gone back to writing fanfiction, this time for a show called Young Justice, with a heavy focus on the Robin/Kid Flash (Dick Grayson/Wally West) non-canon pairing because they’re fun. I may have mentioned the fanfiction part in other posts. I’m not sure. Anyway, I’m posting them on Fanfiction.Net and Archive of Our Own as well as on my Tumblr if you’re into that.

My original writing is on hold at the moment since I’ve kind of lost my taste for it for the time being. I’m not deleting this blog, but I’m not sure when I’ll be active on it again. Anybody browsing the archives should be aware that I started this blog when I was, like, seventeen so a lot has changed about my writing style and the way I think about things. I’ll make an effort to pop my head in every so often at the very least, but I’m not particularly writerly-minded at the moment, although I may or may not come up with a post about assumptions surrounding children and children’s lit, but that’s not a promise.

2012 Resolutions – How I Fared

Not particularly well. I only really completed two of them, one of which was practically a given since I have a talent for passing classes without much effort. I don’t think I’m going to even bother making resolutions for 2013. I’m not in a resolution-making mood, not to mention I barely look back at them until it’s time to tick off what I actually did in the end.

  • Finish Coldfire and submit to agents. Nope. Serves me right for completely starting the thing from scratch, though.
  • Finish the first draft of the sequel. Nope. Haven’t even started a serious attempt.
  • Revise and edit my NaNovel, not necessarily to completion, but at least to a point where reading is possible without causing spontaneous combustion of the eyeballs. I’ve done a bit of revision, but not much.
  • Do NaNoWriMo again. Yes, but I kind of just lost.
  • Do Camp NaNoWriMo (this one’s a bit iffy and will depend on my university schedule). Yes. I even won one of them.
  • Get my provisional driver’s licence, or at least rack up enough hours to take the test. lol no. Not even close.
  • Pass my first year of university. Yes.

So… not a great year for resolutions and stuff. I’m not too concerned. My uni schedule kind of dulled my taste for writing a little, but I’m picking it up again with fanfiction. So even if I’m not writing original stuff, I’m still honing my skills.

NaNoWriMo Day 22: 32k

I’m slowly catching up with the wordcount so I probably will win this year as long as I keep doing decent daily wordcounts. At least my “Words Per Day To Finish On Time” statistic has dipped just below 2000 words. So, what have I learned about my writing so far? I am a terrible judge of length when I’m writing an outline. I mean, really. I wouldn’t be surprised if one of my chapters was over 10,000 words, that’s how bad I am. Anyway, here’s a random excerpt. I don’t even know what days these are from anymore:

The hotel didn’t look too bad, given it was tucked away in a rather shady-looking street away from the bustle of the main city. Darian handled the check-in. The desk clerk’s English was poor and Darian spoke very little standard Arabic and none of the dialect the clerk did. They eventually tried speaking Greek, in which Darian was fluent and the clerk knew enough of to communicate effectively.

“Thank the gods we brought you along,” Valora remarked as they climbed the stairs to the second floor where their room was.

“Thank the gods a lot of Egyptians speak Greek,” replied Darian. “There are like five different Arabic dialects spoken in the country, including the standard Arabic. I know a little standard but not enough to hold a conversation, and don’t even let me try speaking one of the dialects if you don’t want me to humiliate myself. Most Egyptians know a little English because tourists are obsessed with the country, but the Saviours have hamstringed the education system which has made teaching English difficult. The education system was in trouble even before then because of the countless wars and other countries stepping all over this one.”

“You know your stuff.”

“You pick up on things when you’re stuck with the people who cripple entire nations’ education systems for breakfast,” Darian said darkly, slotting the key into their room’s door. “Africa would probably have coped fine on its own but the continent has been exploited by the West for resources and slavery for centuries. Our governments have a lot to answer for.” They entered the room and Darian closed and locked the door behind them.

As far as my excerpts go, that’s a pretty short one. It shows a bit of  real-world historical and statistical basis I’ve been using to help with the wordbuilding. When I’m revising I’ll have to chop up Darian’s little lectures so it doesn’t sound like he’s teaching a class. Oh, and I need commas. Lots of commas.

NaNoWriMo Day 19: 24k

I have returned from my vanishing act and have managed to fall behind on NaNo in my absence, mostly because I got lazy and didn’t bother writing anything. But now I’m back! *throws confetti* Anyway, I’ve still got time to catch up if I pull out plenty of high wordage days. *hyperventilates*

Before I lose my brain, I’m going to post an excerpt from day five, just before I stopped keeping track of the days I wrote things on.

They sat quietly for a while, Darian alternating between stifling yawns and managing caffeine shakes, Valora frowning out the windshield and muttering words under her breath. Darian figured she’d tell him what was on her mind without prompting if she wanted to share. The road kept on rolling beneath the white hood of the car. Finally, Valora looked at Darian for a second. Long enough to let him know she was about to speak, but short enough that she didn’t veer off the road and kill the both of them.

“I wanted to ask you something,” Valora said slowly. “Are you… all right?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean your insomnia isn’t exactly a secret, for starters.” Valora tapped her fingernails against the steering wheel. “And having the room right next to yours makes me rather… privy to things.”

“What things? Do I sleep talk or something?” Darian’s insides squirmed independently of his issues with cars.

“Sometimes,” Valora replied. “But that wasn’t really what I was talking about. You sounded like somebody was killing you last night.”

“Right. That.” Darian self-consciously tugged his left sleeve down to better cover the area he had almost cut the night before. “Shit, did I wake you up?”

Valora shrugged. “Doesn’t really matter.”

“It does to me.” Darian glared out the side window. There was a faded red car sitting on the side of the road, missing its wheels.

“You don’t have to be ashamed of having nightmares, you know,” Valora said gently. It was the first time Darian had ever heard her soften the sharp edges in her voice, and it put him a little on edge.

“You sound like you’re saying that from experience.”

“I am. I get them too.” Valora’s frown deepened. “I know you’ve been through a lot, and I was kind of stupid to hope I’d get you out of there with your head in one piece.”

“My head was fucked up long before we met, believe me.” Neither he nor Valora had made eye contact since she’d glanced in his direction immediately before broaching the subject. They were playing eye tag; whenever one looked, the other looked away.

“Well, between the rest of us, I think you fit right in,” Valora managed a grim smile. “Maybe when we know each other better, you’ll feel comfortable coming to me when you need someone to talk to. Don’t forget I’m here whenever you decide you’re ready for that.”

“You too… I guess.” The commitment sounded like something more than a promise to listen to each other’s trouble. It felt like some kind of bond, something a bit presumptuous for Darian’s current state of mind, but maybe their relationship would grow into it over time. Darian, for all his irritation with her, liked Valora a lot. Maybe even more than he’d first anticipated.

It’s kind of rough and I don’t like some of the repetitive bits, but it’s better than nothing, I guess.

NaNoWriMo Day 3: 15k

Today was a fairly solid writing day. Nothing as insane as day one, but it still pushed me further ahead. I’m currently sitting on the equivalent of what I’d need to write for day nine, so I’m happy enough. I haven’t been on fire as much this year as I was last year, but maybe a more steady pace will mean I won’t burn out so early. Anyway, I’ve got two excerpts today:

“I’ve been thinking,” Valora said.

“Did it hurt?” Darian blurted out. Valora pulled off her shoe and threw it at him, missing his head by about a foot.

“I’ve been thinking,” Valora repeated calmly as if she hadn’t just tried to take his head off. “We really have no idea what we’re doing, so maybe we should ask somebody.”

“Please don’t tell me you’re going to barge into some demon bars demanding answers,” said Allan. He made it sound like she had done that sort of thing before.

Barge is such a strong word,” Valora said. “I think enter is much nicer, don’t you?”

“And a lot less accurate.”

“Shush. I figured whatever freaky crap is going down will rattle a few demonic cages, so I wanted to see if any of the locals had picked up on anything.”

“I’m guessing you know where some of them hang out,” said Darian. He’d never seen a demon in person before, but he’d spent hours reading about them. Clearly Valora was much more experienced in such matters, which wasn’t a surprise since Incendaris magic only manifested in people with demonic lineage. As a result, the Incendaris had much closer ties with the demon community than any of the other magical groups. The Gaius were generally seen as the most removed, preferring to observe from a distance and construct those metaphorical ivory towers intellectuals seemed so fond of creating for themselves. Darian had never had the privilege of being removed from the rest of the world in such a manner. Not willingly, anyway.

“There’s a local tavern on the way to Skyscraper City,” Valora said. “I’ve been there before. The owner knows me.”

“And knows you’re trouble,” Allan muttered.

“I was planning to take Darian with me.”

“They’ll roast him alive on a spit and eat him with barbecue sauce,” Allan said.

“He’ll be fine with me. After last time, even I admit I need a mediator.”

“What happened last time?” Darian asked, not entirely sure if he wanted to know.

“She tried to play fetch with an Animagalus demon and spilled water on a Helioscathic demon,” Allan replied. “Helioscathic demons are fire demons.”

“Yes, thank you, I know.”

“The Animagalus demon’s my friend,” Valora protested. “He chased the stick.”

“And tried to drive it through your chest immediately afterwards,” Allan added. “At least you recognise the need for a babysitter. But, I swear, if he comes back broken, I’ll—”

“You’ll what? Give me a stern talking-to?” Valora snorted. “It’ll be fine. I’m not going to risk anyone’s life but my own.”

“Except for that fact that you’ll be driving a car with no licence and underage,” Allan said. “Please tell me you have a licence, Darian.”

“I know how to drive, but I don’t have a licence,” Darian replied. “My uncle seemed to think it’d give me ideas. And when I say I know how to drive, I mean I can drive a few feet without crashing. After those few feet, the car will gravitate towards any of an indefinite number of potential hazards and promptly crash right into it.”

“Leave the driving to Valora,” Allan said quickly. “Please.”

Cassandra giggled. “Wow. Even I can drive. I can even drive straight. It’s corners that get me.” Allan buried his face in his hand.

“Am I the only person in this house who has not caused an accident?”

“I’ve never been in a crash,” said Valora.

“I’m sure you’ve caused plenty.” Allan had to dodge Valora’s other shoe. It smacked into the wall behind him, leaving a muddy footprint on the previously immaculate cream paint.

“Oh, shit.” Valora scurried into the kitchen for the cleaning supplies.

“I’m sure you’ll come back in one piece,” said Allan over Valora’s cursing and banging of cupboard doors. “Just make sure whatever car you take has airbags and a seatbelt.”

And here’s the other once, which was so ridiculous and nonsensical that I couldn’t NOT share it:

Darian switched on the lamp on his bedside table and stared up at the ceiling. How long would it take to count all the spots? What were those spots anyway? Darian imagined they were tiny slow-moving spiders staring at him just as he stared at them. They were probably wondering why there was a giant bronze four-legged spider lying beneath them. Did spiders talk? Was it possible to learn their language, or were the sounds they made beyond the hearing capabilities of humans? They probably didn’t think he was a spider at all, really. That would be silly. Spiders were aware that they weren’t the only species of creature in existence. They ate insects. But what if they didn’t realise there were other species? What if they thought flies and other insects were just spiders missing legs and with these weird things on their backs that let them fly? Did spiders have any concept of cannibalism? Was it frowned upon in spider society or did spiders not really give a shit?

The spots on the ceiling probably weren’t spiders. And Darian needed to fucking sleep.

EDIT: A fellow redditor did a dramatic reading of the second excerpt. Here’s the link if you want a laugh.

NaNoWriMo Day 2: 12k

I burnt myself out a bit with yesterday’s 10k, so today’s output wasn’t particularly stunning. I hit a bit of a rough patch that I had to power through to get to the good stuff, but at the end of the day I’m currently in the middle of a scene that I find quite moving. I’ll probably hate it later, but I’m just going to bask in the brief glory while it lasts. Here’s an excerpt:

“All right, kids,” said Valora. “We need to talk. Allan, get your ass in here.” Cassandra switched her wary gaze to Valora. “Oh, don’t look at me like that Cassandra. This is an intervention, not a homicide.”

“I’m not sure there’s a difference,” Cassandra said quietly. Darian would have laughed if he wasn’t about as concerned as she was about Valora’s intentions.

“Oh, hush.” Valora poked a finger vaguely in Cassandra’s direction. “We need to sort out your issues right now.”

My issues?”

“You heard me. There are going to be times when you’re stuck alone with Allan and you won’t be able to do anything about it. Did you spend the whole time just glaring at him while Darian and I actually did some actual work?”

“Pretty much,” Allan said before Cassandra could protest. “I was bored by the end.”

“Are you all just going to conveniently forget that I nearly got killed by one of his kind?” Cassandra snapped.

“And Allan stopped you from dying,” Valora pointed out. “You can’t just use that incident as an excuse, since one werewolf hurt you while the other helped you. What the hell is our real problem?”

“Oh, you mean aside from all the stories of people like him killing and eating innocent people?”

“It’s not uncommon for scared people to come up with stories to explain a fear that appears to be irrational to outside observers,” Darian said quietly. He didn’t have Valora’s preference for painful bluntness, but that didn’t mean he could just be a spectator while Valora tore Cassandra to shreds and Cassandra did the same to Allan.

“Oh, great. Now you’re against me. Thanks.”

“You were able to accept that I’m a victim of the establishment rather than just another cog in its machine,” Darian told her. “Can’t you at least consider Allan and many other werewolves aren’t the heartless monsters you’ve been raised to believe them to be?”

“Why?” The word tore itself from Cassandra’s throat, almost turning into a shriek. “So I can let my guard down again and let somebody else get hurt?” Her voice cracked on the last word. Darian got the feeling she wasn’t talking about what happened to her the other day anymore. She was angry when she talked about what had happened to her, but she’d never let her voice run out of control before. Now there were tears in her eyes and her knuckles were turning white from clenching her fists.

Valora must have realised that as well, because she took a step back as if Cassandra’s emotion was a physical force pressing against her. “Are you going to tell us what you’re talking about?” She sounded strangely calm, not like herself.

Cassandra raised a shaking hand to a strand of her frizzy hair, which had fallen out of its ponytail, and tucked it behind her ear. She suddenly looked a whole lot younger in her fear, but older at the same time due to the set of her mouth, as if she was restraining herself from crying to preserve her dignity. The stark change in her expression and mannerisms struck Darian as familiar, like it was a visual representation of his own feelings when he thought about his parents. From the look on Allan’s face, he recognised the meaning behind the change just as well as Darian had.

“You lost someone, didn’t you?” Darian said softly.

The scene runs even longer than that, but it’s quite long so I’m going to leave it there. I’ll post a longer excerpt on my Tumblr here for anybody interested in reading a little more (about another 400 words, but still not the entirety of the scene since I’m still currently writing it).

NaNoWriMo Day 1: 10k

I got a strong start on NaNoWriMo this year, because I like to torture myself by pushing for crazy wordcounts right off the bat. Because I’m rebelling by working on a novel that I’d already written a bit on before November (I’m not counting those words, though), I didn’t have the same issues starting as a lot of other writers might. Keeping with last year’s tradition of posting excerpts of my writing, here’s the first one for this year:

Valora sat in the desk chair after Siate had left to fetch a Healer. “How are you feeling now?”

“Like I’d rather be dead.”

“Do you need some water?”


“What about another blanket?”


“Another pillow?”

“No! I need you to shut up.”

Valora poked her tongue out at him. “Just trying to help.”

“I’d rather be left alone to my misery, thanks.” He felt a bit less nauseous after vomiting outside, but his head still pounded and his joints ached. Gods, he hated withdrawals.

“Oh, so you’re the ‘suffer in silence’ type, eh?”

“I’m pretty sure loud puking is the opposite of suffering in silence,” Darian muttered. He was starting to feel nauseous again, so maybe now wasn’t the best time to hold a lengthy conversation. It probably wasn’t a good idea to open his mouth at all.

I have nothing intelligent to add.

NaNoWriMo 2012!

Hello, again. Nope, I’m not dead. Just lazy. And what’s the perfect antidote? NANOWRIMO, OF COURSE. Or maybe it’s just the perfect antidote to sanity. Or both. I should stop writing in fragmented sentences so often.

So, yes. NaNoWriMo. I’m rebelling this year with Coldfire. I’m performing a complete rewrite of the novel (yeah, the same rewrite I mentioned months ago and never got around to completing). I have a few chapters already written, but I’m going to start counting words for NaNo from the point I start writing them during the event, so I’m not cheating, per se. Honest. This blog will mostly be dedicated to wordcounts, summaries and excerpts, but my Tumblr will have a lot more of my brain vomit, flailing and procrastination by fangirling over Harry Potter, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Sherlock and other fandoms, some of which I’m not actually part of (I ship characters in shows I don’t even watch).

I promise I’ll be good and update often this time… unlike June’s Camp NaNo. I’ve changed, I swear. I’ll blog regularly and be a dutiful writer and actually get things done. Oh, hey! The WordPress posting options buttons look different.

Next I’ll get distracted by something shiny and ride off into the sunset on the back of a magpie. I think I better stop writing before this deteriorates any further. See you soon!

RTW #147: What Do You Use To Write?

Hey, guys! I’m alive!

I’m slightly late on this week’s YA Highway Road Trip Wednesday, but here we are nonethless:

This Week’s Topic is: What word processing program do you use to write you manuscript, and can you share one handy trick you’ve learned in that program that has helped you while you write?

Ah, a nice easy one to get me back into the swing of blogging like a responsible blogger who doesn’t abandon her readers (sorry).

I primarily use Microsoft Word because I’m vanilla like that. One thing I like about Word is being able to enable “Readability statistics”. In Word 2010, you can find this under File/Options/Proofing. I’ll include a screenshot to show you where it is on the pop-up menu (click to see a larger version):

What  this does is bring up a dialogue box after you’ve run your document through spellcheck:

This can be helpful to a writer in that it can tell you how hard your writing is to read. The “readability” heading basically takes all the data shown above it and distills it into some numbers for you. Since fiction writers (at least of genre and mainstream fiction) prefer to avoid having too many passive sentences, the percentage for that can be useful. In essence, the more passive sentences you have in your writing, the harder the reader has to work to make sense of it.

The Flesch Reading Ease is a 100-point scale that, as the title might suggest, tells you how easy your work is to read. The Flesch-Kindcaid Grade Level tells you how many years of education a reader would need to understand your writing, at least on a sentence-by-sentence level. Actually comprehending the subject is a different matter entirely and can’t be measured by the formulaic approach outlined here. The Wikipedia page for the readability tests has more information about calculating these figures. The system isn’t perfect, but it can be a good starting point when trying to make sure your work is accessible to readers.

It should be noted that a lot of bestselling authors have rather low grade levels assigned to their work, indicating that the average reader prefers books that are easy to read. I must admit I’m not actually surprised. A lot of readers find dense text incredibly time-consuming and frustrating.

I’m sure a lot of your guys already know this stuff, and that’s awesome. Hopefully I will have helped somebody who didn’t actually know about this tool.