Wednesday, February 10, 2016

On Wattpad: The End Diary

I'm super excited to tell you guys about The End Diary being available on Wattpad. I'm updating it regularly, and already have five parts up for you to read and enjoy. I've been busy working behind the scenes, but it's only fair that my readers get something from me sooner rather than waiting any longer.

Here's a little Q&A I put together regarding why you should check out The End Diary.

What is The End Diary?
The story is told from Megan P. Whitford's perspective (don't ask her what the "P" stands for, she'll never tell). It's a coming-of-age story where she realizes the truth matters more than life and death itself. Told in a memoir-style, The End Diary is her last chance to get the truth out about her and Carly Jacobs. It is a LGBT story, but focuses largely on Megan's outlook on life, which may not be a healthy one.

What should readers take away from The End Diary?
In today's society, people are so polarized with social issues and the way society should be run/viewed/etc. We have a lot of hate, and most of it comes from a line in the sand where we see life as us versus them. Megan sees her life in this way--her against the world.

I hope readers see how detrimental this outlook can be to... well, everyone. The End Diary also explores the idea of truth and perspective, as we all perceive the world differently. Her story has a lot of lessons in it, and this explanation only scratches the surface.

Why call this book "The End Diary"?
While Megan has feelings for Carly and there is a small (echoed: small) romance in The End Diary, that is not the core of the story. The core of the story is much deeper, drearier, and darker than a romance and first love. As Megan says in the very first chapter of The End Diary:
But I should preface this with a warning: this story probably doesn’t have a happy ending. If it does, on some level, I’ve failed. There shouldn’t be a knight in shining armor swinging in at the last second—or riding in? Is that a better visual? Whatever. He won’t ride in at the end of the story and say, “Hey, Megan, guess what? I’m saving you.” And boom, story’s over.
It is called The End Diary because there is supposed to be a sense of finality and foreboding right from the get-go. Megan's character is strong enough to pull you into her story and life despite her accidental spoilers and hints (she chastises herself as a writer). She's unhappy and frustrated, but she is ready to let the world know the truth in her manifesto.

Be sure to check out The End Diary on Wattpad!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Mad Max Fury Road: All Show No Tell

My characters tend to be emotional teens who are stuck inside their heads. When I was in high school, I had a hard time seeing the world outside of myself. I overthought and over-analyzed everything (probably still do). Because of this, when I write contemporary young adult novels, my characters tend to have the same self-reflection and existentialism.

Recently, I've been moving in another direction. While I still plan on making several contemporary, emotional YA books (A Criminal Heart, No Sugar Coating, and The End Diary), I am working on several fantasy and sci-fi titles. While these characters still have some introspection, the books revolve heavily around plot rather than internal turmoil.

So why Mad Max: Fury Road? Warning: Spoilers. Not only is the movie visually stunning, but there is virtually no "telling" at all. There are moments where the characters could explain a lot (through monologues and exposition), but they don't. Information is passed along quickly with characters interrupting each other as a natural ebb and flow of dialogue.

"The soil, we had to get out."
"We had no water."
"The water was filth."
"It was poison..."

This conversation takes a minute, but they (along with the viewers) come to the horrible realization together: there is no green place. Furiosa screams into the desert, heart-wrenched. We know how she's feeling, and it's done visually. No existential internal narration needed.

We never receive an explanation of the war boys, but we collect knowledge of this universe through context and dialogue. "At the end of his half-life" and the tumors growing on the side of Nick Hoult's neck. We know how hard it is to have a non-deformed child because the stillborn baby was "perfect in every way" (a grand announcement), and every single ruler has something physically wrong. This makes extra narration unnecessary.

This is hard to do when most YA books feature a teen at the start of their journey. With In a Blue Moon, my MC Effy stumbles down a rabbit hole into absolute chaos. She needs to ask questions, but only has limited time due to her deadly situation. Information is revealed as new questions arrived to avoid any long-winded info-dumps.

The story I recently started, Ferals (working title), features Wren, a teen who has grown up in this universe. She knows and understands the world, thus she doesn't need to explain it to the reader. I am taking a page from Mad Max and trying to show this universe is instead of explaining how it came to be. In the first 5000 words, there are two paragraphs of exposition. Two. The rest of the world comes through descriptions and dialogue between the seven characters.

By having an MC who is aware of the world, more work is placed on the reader to fill in the blanks. Mad Max: Fury Road unfolds the universe without explanation, while still providing viewers with enough information to draw conclusions. A good writer should be able to do this. I should be able to do this.

While film does rely on the inherent visual aspect, books can and should lean that way as well. Sure, you don't want your MC to sound like a robot prattling off X happened then Y happened. You need some flavor. You need descriptors and emotions. Incorporate all the senses. If you are writing in first person, you can have some internal reflection (heck, you can have this in third person too).

Instead of: I stuck out my hand, and he shook it.
You can have: I stuck out my hand--a stupid move I wanted to take back--but he still shook it.

The second gets you into the character's head. The MC is self-conscious around this guy. It keeps the focus on the visual aspects, but provides insight into the MC's thought process without a long-winded diatribe (though, there can be a place for that as well).

If anyone wants a refresher on "how to create a universe where your MC is aware of how the world works, but the reader does not... and how to clue the reader in without over-saturating your book with exposition," watch Mad Max: Fury Road. Analyze how they show the world and how they accomplish bringing you into the universe. The script might give you some good ideas for writing your next novel. Reflecting on this movie has helped me.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Success: The New Approach Works!

As you guys know, I'm approaching my goals a different way this year. By creating a chore and create box, I've forced myself to have concrete deadlines for my goals every day. I have 24 hours finish two items: one is a chore, one is creative.

We're 22 days into January, and right on time, I finished all the chores in my chore box. Time to rinse and repeat, but since I'm trying to be more creative in all aspects of my life, I decided to do a quick photoshoot. The idea was to have a portrait with my head in the middle of an arch of things I've accomplished thus far.

Of course, Gerty had other plans. He said, "This looks like a good place to flop." Flop. Stretch. Roll. Lick paw. Look at the camera with a "What?" face.

I feel proud of myself for sticking to my plan and accomplishing a lot more than in previous months. I take one day at a time, and I do a little bit every day. This year has been a lesson in consistency, and so far, so good.

A photo posted by R. A. Desilets (@radesilets) on
I'm 15% through editing The End Diary (read the first two chapters for free), I've started writing two new books (Ferals and Shrinking Violet (In a Blue Moon #.01)), and I've read four novels. I have a long way to go, but two of my books are in the last round of querying. This means, results of querying pending, I should have at least two more books out this year. The End Diary should be published this year as well. Lots to do, but I'm working every single day!

Monday, January 11, 2016

YA Gets Real: Invisibility

No one could see me. I was standing in the middle of the crowd at the park, and no one bothered to look my way. I finally did it. I found a way to become invisible, and this moment was the most glorious of my life!

I threw my arms out and tilted my head back, indulging my face with the warmth of the sun. The breeze blew around me, making the fine hairs on my body tremble. I needed something more; I needed to push the limits.

Glancing around, I did a little jig, something someone would have to acknowledge if they could see me. I thrust my hips around in a wide circle, jumped up and down, and did what few swing steps I knew. Still, no one spared me a glance. Everyone was on their way to work, busying themselves on their phones. Everyone was blind to me.

Because I had succeeded.

Grinning, I pulled off my shirt, tossing it into the nearby fountain. Without me, my shirt would probably look odd, suddenly appearing out of thin air. But who cared? No one could blame me. No one would figure out who I was.

I unhooked my bra and tossed it into the fountain too. I spun in a circle, loving the caress of the outdoor air. Finally, I reached down to undo my jeans, but two hands clasped around my wrists, forcing my arms behind my back. I stifled a scream and blinked.

How could he see me? Did he have powers too?

The police officer pulled me towards his vehicle, growling something about protesters. He shoved me unceremoniously in the backseat, and I wanted to cry. My potion hadn't worked on this man, but why? No one else had looked at me, so why him? Why someone who could ruin my life?

---

I waited in the holding cell by myself, being the only minor there. They had given me a large sweatshirt to pull over my head. The spell had obviously worn off in the car ride over. I sighed. Showed what I knew about magic, and how long it could last.

"This has all been a misunderstanding." My ears perked up at the sound of Dad's voice.

"A misunderstanding? Your daughter was tearing her clothes off in the middle of Central--"

"I understand what she was doing, but you have to understand she's off her medication. She always thinks she's a wizard when..." he continued talking, but my blood boiled.

No, Dad. I don't think. I know, I thought bitterly.

"And why would a wizard get naked in public?" The cop sounded bored.

"She believes she can make potions that actually work, and if a wizard could become invisible..." Dad was probably shrugging, even though I couldn't see him. But whenever his voice trailed off like that, he shrugged, as if that would explain everything.

"Fill out these forms," the cop scoffed.

I shook my head back and forth. None of them understood. It had worked, albeit for a short time. No one had seen me. I could have done anything at all. The medication blocked my powers. Why couldn't they understand that? If they put me back on it, it was goodbye powers, hello mundane high school life.

I kicked my feet out, bouncing slightly on the spring-filled cot, anxiety pulsing through me.

"You crazy?" One of the women from across the way asked. Her gray eyes narrowed.

I shook my head, frowning. "Not crazy, just... powerful."

The woman nodded. "I was powerful too, once. But they always take it away."

---

These posts are silly, parody posts of some scenes that can be found in YA tropes intended to make you smile on your Monday morning. I adore YA books, as a reader and a writer. These stories are fiction, but provide a possible alternative to scenes from stories we love.

A few titles I enjoyed where the MC has a special ability (linked images):

 Adult title: 

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Books, Cats, and a Giant TBR Pile

While I was doing my daily chore*, I had this horrible thought: how many of my books have I actually read? Stricken, I stared at my shelves and realized, "Oh... oh no."

The idea for this photo blossomed. I must have it. I must have this ridiculous photo in my possession to prove I have an awful book buying habit. Sure, I donate a lot of the books once I read them, but this TBR pile has been growing year after year while I still go to the library.

Why?

I've always been a deadline-oriented person. I procrastinate, but once the end is looming over me, I have to finish what I've started. Library books have deadlines; mine don't.

This is why I made the chore box*. It's also why I made a very specific "Create" box with the same concept as the chore box. I have to do one task a day before the day is over. It's a concrete, deadline-oriented task. I have one day, that's it.

Today, I pulled out "Blog." Today, I decided that wasn't enough and also did the photo project. Today, I'm also committing to 2000 words of editing. Why? Because completing one task makes me feel accomplished. It makes me want to do more. Seeing a list makes me panic and do less. But one task? Just one? Sure. Let's do it! It will go in the "Accomplished" box once I'm finished.

So, what am I going to do with all these books?

Read them, one at a time. My create box also has items for downtime, like reading, coloring, and journaling. Things that are necessary to continue being creative.

My goal for the end of the year is to make my TBR pile a little less intense. Expect another photo in a few months with an update on how the reading is going!

Feel free to add me on goodreads! I only rank books 4 or 5 stars -- 5 for favorites, 4 for highly recommended. So you can easily see the books I love. I read mostly YA, all genres.

* You can find more information about my awesome chore box on my Patreon page on a free post.