The NaNoWriMo Draft: Writing Update

It’s finally happening: The ugly, 65,000+ word book that’s been collecting dust in my computer files is finally being read.

That’s right. The dreaded NaNo-Novel, the one penned over three months ago now, is ready to be cut up, burned through, and edited to shreds.

2013-Winner-Facebook-Cover

 

As I read through my super-rough novel these past few days, a made a list of mental/physical notes of the thoughts I had about my work, a few of them being the following:

Wait, who is this character again?

Wow. This scene could possibly the worst piece of fiction I’ve read in my life.

LOOK! A line of believable dialogue! Score one for the author!

Correction. THIS scene is the worst piece of fiction I’ve ever read.

*glances at notes made during November* Ha, look at my little comments here. I’m hilarious.

*reads through supposedly comical scene* This…isn’t funny. At all.

Did I really write this scene? Because I really don’t remember…

Why do I insist on making sentences so super long and complicated that I forget what the whole thought was in the first place and it doesn’t make sense and land ho, we have another run-on.

Air. I need air.

While reading through the first draft was painful, it also brought back to mind all of the things I’d forgotten about in my story. Characters, settings, subplots I never really followed through with. It also reminded of all of the reasons I loved my story and wanted to write it in the first place.

Here’s a quick list of all the things I’ll be focussing on as I dive into the first round of edits:

  • Major plot changes. After writing my NaNo-novel, it was obvious my story needed some serious changes, though I really didn’t know how to make them. Once I took a break (which is 1,000X easier said than done) and returned with fresh eyes, it was almost immediatly clear how to fix things.
  • Character development. Something I really struggle with: getting my characters from my head onto the page in a realistic way.
  • Dialogue. Oh, how my characters need to learn how to talk. (That was a slam on me, by the way.)
  • POV change. The first draft is in first person, but this second time around, I’ll be writing in in third person.
  • My Main Character. I know I mentioned character development earlier, but my MC really needs help. In some scenes, she’s as fiece and dark as I’d imagined her being. But most of the time, she’s this sweet, spontaneous person that I don’t even know. Getting my main character down is key.

 

So, with all of that said, I hope to get this draft edited/rewritten within the next couple of months. I am super excited to be working on it again! 🙂 I’ve really missed my characters (or the ones I remember, anyway…).

Until next time!

~ ~ ~

Isabella Stines spent most of her childhood diving into books and breaking the rules by reading past her bed time. Still an avid reader, she spends more of her time as a student and musician in addition to writing, fueling her creativity with Ramen noodles and sweet tea. Stines is currently working on her first series.

You can find Isabella on Pinterest ( http://pinterest.com/isabellastines/ ) and tweet with her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/IsabellaStines

First-Draft Celebrations + What’s Next

PicsArt_1389471176453

I haven’t blogged since November, when I waved goodbye and dove into the hectic sea of NaNoWriMo. And I have a few pretty good reasons for not being around since then–which I’m sure you don’t want to hear about.

But I will tell you this: I won. NaNoWriMo? Finished, with days to spare. My first draft of my first novel? Yeah, it has the words “THE END” scribbled at the end of it. And I might be a *little* proud.

Although I hit 50k words before the end of November, my book was nowhere near done. Working through December, I finally finished the 31st, celebrating the new year with an actual novel under my belt. I didn’t do it by myself, though. Supportive friends, family, and writing buddies are who kept me going. So to all of you: THANK YOU! A first draft may not seem like a huge deal, but it’s definitely a milestone for me.

What’s next for my writing:

  • Short stories and flash fiction, some of which I’ve submitted to different competitions. It’s definitely helpful to focus on these smaller stories as I try to distance myself from my novel (so editing can happen with fresh eyes!).
  • Although this probably should have been done before NaNoWriMo, I’ve finally been putting the pieces together and mapping out the whole series I’m writing. It feels so good to finally get all of these ideas on paper. And, it’s just plain fun to make connections and make paths cross throughout the entire series–it’s making me fall in love with my story all over again!
  • Meeting my daily writing goals with this amazing book. Seriously, you need to check this joker out.
642 THINGS TO WRITE ABOUT by The San Francisco Writers' Grotto

642 THINGS TO WRITE ABOUT by The San Francisco Writers’ Grotto

These just aren’t your average writing prompts. I don’t want to give everything away, but here are a few of my favorite ones so far:

~The next sound you hear and what caused it.

~The end of the world.

~Write a scene that begins with, “It was the first time I killed a man.”

This book was a given to me as a Christmas gift. I can’t get enough of it! There are tons of potential story ideas, for novel-length works and short prose.

And that’s that! Happy Saturday! 🙂

The Cure to First Draft Blues: Could It Be NaNoWriMo?

Photo from Photostock

Photo from Photostock

I have a love-(mostly)hate relationship with first drafts. Especially since I’m a total rookie in this game, making this one my official first first draft.

They’re fun. You get to write out all of your ideas and scenes that you’ve been dreaming up and obsessing over. You find out who your characters really are, and how they think the story should go. You’re not just a creator or a dreamer any more; you’re a writer.

But first drafts can be horrible. Painful. Kind of like starting a journey without a destination or an ETA. Is your idea really worth writing about? Will other people want to read it? How are you going to get your characters from point A to point B? Sure, you have outlines. Maybe even a detailed story arc. But now, instead of planning your story, you want to (gasp) write the thing?

One of my very first posts was about Inner Editors and how they hold us back. Of course our critics will be helpful in our story, but after the first draft is done. My current work in progress was started and restarted eight times.

Eight. Dashed. Times.

I had completely lost it. In one sitting, I had written out the first chapter in thirteen different ways, and hated every one of them.

My inner editor was screaming for perfection. My heart was screaming for me to get on with the stupid thing.

When I returned home from Central America in August, I was ready to pen out the story that I had been drowning in for over a year. I had characters, settings, snippets of dialogue and detailed back stories; and I was tired of waiting for the perfection to appear. I was going to make it happen, no matter what it took.

So I made a plan and set some goals.

  1. I wrote every day. Whether it was a school-sport-social life-filled weekday or the sometimes-but-not-always-less-hectic-weekend, I would write in my story before the day was done. Even if it was just a few sentences. Putting words on a page is what it’s all about.
  2. Weekly Goals. For this first draft (or what I like to call my Puke Draft, since that’s what it felt and probably read like) I wrote by hand in a designated writing notebooks. My personal goal was about 20, handwritten, front-and-back pages a week. While some weeks it was a breeze, there were some times I was cramming to meet my deadline.
  3. I had a plan. “I’m going to have _______(insert number here) of _______(words or pages) done today.” Then I would break it down even more. “I’m going to write ____ pages during lunch, ____ pages during break, and ____ pages before bed.” I cannot explain how much this helped!

With this, determination and a whole lot of work, I wrote over half of my novel in one month. Since starting it, I realized the various plot holes and different things that needed fixing. With NaNoWriMo just around the corner, I thought, “Heck. I might as well start over with a clean slate and crank this baby out!”

Now that I have a clearer direction of where I’m going, I can’t wait to dive into NaNoWriMo and re-write it. I’m still a little unsure of the end—but isn’t that the whole point of National Novel Writing Month? Although this will be my first year, I’m feeling pretty confident (and maybe just a little bit nervous) about it.

How many of you are participating this year? Any past experiences with NaNo?

New About Page!

 Find out where Isabella Stines will be this summer: https://isabellastines.wordpress.com/2013/06/04/its-not-really-vacation-time/

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Let’s be honest. My old About Page was…eh, pretty boring. It was the same quick bio that I put at the end of every post. So, I decided to spice it up a little bit:

cropped-morerandomcards-037-0011.jpg

Check out the new About Page here: https://isabellastines.wordpress.com/about/

I’ve been thinking about adding more and making it more fun. What do you like to see in About Pages/Bios? What’s in yours?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Isabella Stines spent most of her childhood diving into books and breaking the rules by reading past her bed time. Still an avid reader, she spends more of her time as a student and musician in addition to writing, fueling her creativity with Ramen noodles and sweet tea. Stines is currently working on her first trilogy.

You can find Isabella on Pinterest ( http://pinterest.com/isabellastines/ ) and tweet with her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/IsabellaStines

 

Throwback Thursday: A Prize Winning Short Story

Welcome to Throwback Thursday! 🙂

Below is a story I entered in a local writing contest. I really didn’t expect to win anything, since I had never let anyone outside of my family read my work at the time. But when the awards night came around, and it was announced that my twelve-year-old self had won the grand prize, I continued to pursue my dream of writing. That day, in the journal I won as a prize, I wrote, “…it was my day to shine. Today, I know who I am: I’m a writer…”

Again, this story has not been edited. It’s given to you as it was when it was written! Enjoy.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I froze in my bed, terror-stricken. I knew my mind couldn’t possibly be so cruel to play such a horrid trick on me. I was thinking so much that my words rang in my ears. I scarcely noticed the floor boards moaning two stories below me, as if they were crying out, shrieking that danger was near, that it was coming.
It was finally happening.
I realized that this night was the very night that would change my life, I knew was coming. It was the time that everyone in this household had been expecting—but just the same, it wasn’t exactly the night we waited for in good spirits; it was the night we were dreading.
Fear gripped me, its icy finger were digging into my heart. As I struggled to fight back tears, my door silently slung open; its hinges did not even make a sound. Lord, I prayed. Give me strength to make it through this night. God, protect the Jews….My heart was throbbing inside my chest rapidly, and I was so afraid I forgot to breathe. Stealthy steps followed by quick ones fluttered in front of my bed. I sat up and whispered as loud as I dared:
“God be with you!”
“And you, also, my dear Annelies!”
The secret door in the corner of my room was where we had planned to keep our three Jews when a night like this one took place. A rectangular piece of wood served as a fake wall that concealed our hiding place of priceless lives. Though so fragile, so worthless, each one of us prayed that God would bless it as it played the role of a temporary refuge. Now that my eyes adjusted to the dim interior of my bedroom, I could make out the outline of a stooped over man, helping a women and a young girl into the secret room. The little girl, Anika, only five years of age, was clinging to her mother, Joseline. I could tell she didn’t want to go.
“No! It’s to dark in there. Mama, please!”
“Anika!” her mother’s voice was shaky but stern. It was relieving that I wasn’t the only one afraid.
Uncle Rufus, the man of the group, stooped over and scooped Anika up in his arms as if she was a rag doll. Uncle Rufus was a very tall, thin man of seventy. He had smooth, white hair that he liked cropped short. I gladly gave him a regular trim as needed in the last several months we had him. His mustache, exact color of his hair, never went scraggly. I know my father and mother had always taught me that favoritism was wrong, but I treasured Uncle Rufus slightly more than the rest. Our long talks, him teaching me to play cards games, and us peeking out my window at night to look at the starry constellations fueled a bond between us that could never, ever be broken.
“Annelies?” Uncle Rufus’s voice seemed to shake the air.
“Yes?”
“Thank you, my dear! Give your parents my gratitude—”
I heard the fake wall slide shut, then the muffled sound of a door closing. I held my breath. I waited for what seemed like hours; when really it was a matter of seconds. Then I began to hear doors opening and slamming shut below me. I heard my sisters, Sandra and Clasina, scream in terror. I heard rushing footsteps, shouts, and what sounded like a table crashing to the floor. I prayed over and over again. I heard the oldest of my three younger sisters, Roza, cry out: “Oh, oh! My head! What a terrible head ache this is!”
The code. My whole family had been preparing for this night. We had practiced and had drills so that when this nightmare happened, we would be ready. When Roza cried out and complained about her head, that meant the officers were coming up into my room. With shaking hands, I knocked twice on the wall, and two knocks came back at me. This indicated that Uncle Rufus, Joseline, and Anike were all right.  If I ever made it down stairs alive, I would tell Roza that if the officers permitted me, I would fetch her some medicine for her head. This phrase meant that the Jews were safe.
The next thing I knew, I heard the rumble of footsteps making their way to the third floor. I lay in my bed, trying to act sleepy, but it was no use. I was wide awake, the adrenaline rushing through my veins completely rattling my brain and courage. Then, I heard the most frightening words: “Search each room! Have each person questioned!”
My door slung open, and banged hard against the wall. I slowly sat up in my bed. Rubbing my eyes, I acted as if I was tired, as if I had just woken up. I tried to keep my breath steady, so I wouldn’t be gasping for air. Please God,  I prayed. Protect us all… Then a deep, strong voice rang out in my room so loud I thought it would shatter the windows.
“Where are the Jews?’
“What Jews? Who are you?” I replied. With each sentence, I felt my courage grow stronger.
“Answer my question!”
“I—I have no idea, sir—”
With that, I felt a rough hand grip around my neck and nightgown collar. The officer leveled my face and his face. Through the dark night, I could see his eyes; they were grey in color and very sharp and alert. “I asked you a question,” He said in a bullying tone. “And I expect you to answer it!”
With that, he hit me, and hard, too. As I tumbled out of my bed, I felt something cold and liquidity run down my chin. When I brushed my hand across it, my eyes met a bloody mess. I stared up at the officer, sobbing. He yanked me up as if I only weighed as much as a Dukaton, then harshly pushed me out my bedroom, toward the staircase.
As we walked down the stairs, I realized I may never be able to walk these steps again. Suddenly memories of Sandra falling on these stairs, me carrying Roza up to my room, and me sitting on these very steps listening to Clasina sing came rushing at me. As we reached the last step of that precious staircase, I never could of even imagined the scene I was about to enter.
Officers surrounded my family and crowed our dining room. A few lanterns that were lit cast gloomy shadows that danced across the wall. The air was stuffy and hot, and I heard Sandra coughing uncontrollably. Every member of my family was being held back. Roza kept squealing, Clasina sobbing, Sandra was looking away. Roza saw me and nodded towards the east wall.
 I followed Roza’s gaze and shrieked at the horrible sight; they were beating my mother. The officer who was doing the horrible task would question her the same thing, over and over again: “Where are the Jews?”. If she did not answer immediately, which for the sake of the precious lives upstairs she didn’t, he would hit her. Her bottom lip was bleeding, her nimble hands shaking; her eyes were shut hard as if she were praying. I closed my eyes just as she did—tears raced down my cheeks. I couldn’t look at her. God…I said under my breath. Help us! Stop them from hitting Mother—
“Load them up into the truck.” Said one of the officers. Apparently, they realized that Mother wouldn’t give any clue of the whereabouts of the Jews. “Look in every closet, every little opening. Leave no area unsearched.” I glanced back at the officer who escorted me from my room. His eyes looked as they did before; shooting horrible glances that could melt anyone. Next thing I knew, I was being shoved out of our front door into darkness. “Roza—” I croaked. “I could get you some medicine for your head—” I was cut off by an officer. “No talking!” So I stayed silent. I saw the truck that would soon be transporting us to a far away place. As I climbed up the back doors, I gasped.
We were not the only ones in the truck. Men, women, and children were leaning up against the sides. Some were crying, many were staring in front of them as if they were in a trance. I stood there, not quite sure what to do. I glanced behind me, and a swarm of officers and bits and pieces of my family were stepping over other prisoner’s legs, trying to make their way through. Soon Roza was in my arms; her face smothered in blood and newly shed tears. “Annelies, is it not the worst thing you have ever imagined? Where are we going? Prison? Death chambers?” I didn’t answer directly, because I didn’t know myself. “It is frightful. But we are in God’s hands.”
By that time we were sitting along the sides, shoved up against other women, men, and children. As Roza and I searched for our family, only one word hung like fog in my mind: Prison.
The truck started, and soon we were bouncing along the road. It was very hot, as if tension and fear heated up the trailer. The rumbling noise of the motor hummed as we rode along. I tried to pull back my wavy brown hair, but my hands were shaking too much. Several times different officers questioned us on our name, birthday, family, if we were married, if we had children, and other questions that seemed pointless. Each officer recorded our answers on paper, then went to the next person.
I gazed at Roza. Her beautiful, inky black hair that came almost down to her waist was in a braid that she twirled around in her fingers nervously. Her hazel eyes were trimmed in black eyelashes, her cream colored cheeks were now red with fear. Roza was my beautiful little sister, and though she was 14, she was at least two inches taller then me. Her lanky legs took long strides; I sometimes had to jog to keep up with her.
Clasina was the second youngest of the children. Her hair was the same as mine; caramel colored and wavy. Clasina had a beautiful singing voice; when she sang sad and slow, it would bring tears to your eyes. When she sang cheerily and fast, it made you want to dance and clap your hands. And even though she possessed such a marvelous gift, she was very modest and shy like Roza. Though only thirteen, she would not work on bringing glory to herself but to her Creator—, which made our parents feel like singing right along with her.
Then there was Sandra, the youngest. She was very outgoing, and had so much energy it would make you dizzy. She could talk non-stop for half an hour; which she often did. Though she was ten years old, some people mistaken her for an eight year old; she was very short, and she only came up to my chest.
Rik, the oldest and only boy had a wonderful talent; playing the accordion. He preferred playing fast and merry songs, which used to flow around the house like an invisible river. He used to try to teach a few songs or melodies, but I could never keep up. I missed his music so much—he, just like us, was arrested. He was caught helping an elderly couple take care of the Jews they were hiding. He had gone to prison a few months ago—I wondered if we would see him.
All of a sudden the truck stopped. I hadn’t noticed how long we were riding; though I was sure it was no small amount of time. Suddenly an officer came into the middle of the trailer and yelled: “All children are to come with me!”
Roza and me clung to each other and struggled to make our way towards the officer. We were both shaking with fear; I had never been so scared in my life. I realized I may never see my Mother and Father again. Roza must have thought the same thing I did, for we both began searching franticly for our parents. Soon we saw Clasina, half running to where we were standing. All three of us girls embraced, almost overwhelmed to see another familiar face. As soon as I heard Clasina say, “Where can Sandra be?”, I panicked once again. “Sandra!” I called. “Sandra!”
“No talking!” yelled an officer. I shrank back, frightened. I pulled Roza and Clasina closer, and then continued looking for Sandra. Suddenly I heard the pounding of footsteps then an officer yell “No running!”. As I turned to look, there stood Sandra with one eyebrow cocked high. As she turned to me, she said: “No running! Ha! It’s as if they would care if we would trip and get hurt. Besides, where we gonna go, anyways?” I laughed and squeezed her tight. Sandra knew how to make the worst situation the funniest.
“It’s ‘where are we going to go’ not ‘where we gonna go’, Sandra,” said Roza, who was constantly correcting her, but only this time she was smiling. Sandra grinned, then took turns hugging her sisters. “Mother and Father are near the door,” Sandra said. “We’ll get to sneak a hug goodbye.”
As Sandra prophesized, later we were bent over and hugged my parents goodbye for the last time. We were all crying, and Clasina was sobbing uncontrollably. Mother and Father said at the same time “God be with you!” Then we four were at the back doors. It was the last time I ever saw them again.
It was pitch black outside, and all the children were to line up in a single file line. Sandra, Clasina, Roza, and I held onto each other’s shoulders with me in the lead. Officers laughed at us, making fun of our clothes and our sad faces, as if it were funny we were going to prison. Every time Sandra would start to retort, Clasina would quote Scripture on anger and other verses that would apply at that moment. Sandra stayed silent, but I caught her more than once glaring at an officer.
We were lead into a small, cramped room, and once again we were questioned the same series of questions as before. We were commanded to stay standing. Our legs were cramping, our knees felt like they were about to give out. Sandra remarked that she had every question and answer memorized, while Roza quietly said she wondered why they took more and more of the same information. After every child was through, we were split up. Once again, God’s mercy was evident because all four of us girls were in the same group. Again, we were led outside. In the night, I saw the outline of what looked like an old run down stable.
When we reached the doors, officers accompanied us into the old shelter. We sat down on some hay, along with the other children. My eyes where used to the darkness now, and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Boys and girls, anywhere from the ages from three to sixteen, were packed together so close it had to be hard to breath or go to sleep for that matter.
The restless night dragged on and seemed to never end; it was so hot, and though there was so many children, each one seemed to suffer alone with their heartbreak. I began noticing how thin some kids were; their bones and ribs showing, their arms only two inches around. It was a horrifying sight—most of the children’s condition was critical, and older ones talked of malnutrition. It frightened me; not for my own sake but for my sisters. And where was Rik? Was he in another shelter like this one?
Suddenly something cool and shiny was handed to me. I slid my hands around the object, not quite sure what I was to do with it.  “Scissors,” a girl said to me, “To cut you and your sister’s hair.” I stared blankly at her. Dawn was breaking, and through the heavy air I saw her face clearly. She was my age or maybe younger, I couldn’t tell. Once more she told me what the object was. I nodded. When I asked why we had to cut our hair, she replied that the lice were unbearable and each child’s hair needed to be cropped short.
I felt my jaw drop. My hands involuntarily let go of the scissors. I tried blinking back tears, but it was no use. I took one last look at Roza’s beautiful, black hair. I ran my fingers though it, unable to speak. All my life I had said that I would give anything to have hair like Roza’s; and Mother often said a woman’s glory is her hair; and now I was taking it away. I was taking her glory away. I picked up the scissors, thread my fingers through their loops, then began cutting. With every “snip”, I sobbed. When I finished, Roza turned around to look at me.
“It will grow back,” she said quietly.
“Only to have it cut again.” I said, brushing back my tears.
I heard Sandra exclaim, “We get to cut our hair! Oh! Annelies, oh, Annelies, can I cut my own?”
“You mean ‘may I’” Roza cut in.
“No Sandra. Let Clasina do it.”
Sandra put up a fight, but as always, she was overruled by her older sisters. It wasn’t long until we all had hair cut off to our chin. I drifted off to sleep, holding Roza’s hair in my arms, just to be woken up by: “Wait your turn!” and “Slow down! It’s all you’re getting today!”
I looked up and saw officers thrusting small, metal bowls in each of the children’s hands. The girl next to me, who had explained the meaning of the scissors before, must have noticed the confused expression that clung to my face. “Gruel,” she said, “we get it every morning.” When I asked her how long she had been here, she said: “I don’t know; I haven’t been able to keep track of time. For awhile, though—” Just then an officer practically threw each of us a bowl of disgusting gruel. It only had a few grains of rice; so soupy and grey, I gagged at the sight. When I realized this was all we would be getting, I requested that each of my sisters gave me their bowl. When they asked why, I explained that I wasn’t hungry. I wouldn’t take protests; I kept pouring an equal amount in each bowl. I wouldn’t let my sisters starve.
Hours dragged on; if we were to talk, we had to keep our voices into whispers, for if there were a sound, the officers would yell at us harshly. More than once, a boy or girl would be led away by an officer out the door, though they had done nothing wrong. Even sometimes, that same child would come back. When I asked my friend who had been answering my questions about, she grimaced and replied:
“They may be transported to the labs or the suffocation rooms.”
“Labs?” I croaked. I couldn’t get Rik out of my mind.
“They run tests on them, such as medical tests for science experiments. Sometimes they come back—sometimes they don‘t.”
I couldn’t talk anymore. I was to weak. Why would they do such a thing to children?
Days dragged by. Sandra was quiet—way too quiet. Roza stopped correcting her. Clasina’s musical voice no longer in tune. Her face was yellow, her voice extremely shaky. Everything was so quiet that it was deafening; silence rang in my ears. More days and nights came and went. Every morning I passed my gruel to my sisters; I couldn’t watch them go hungry. My stomach was aching and everything was spinning—I felt so dizzy. However, nothing or no one could change my mind.
The sun came up; the sun went down. The difference between day and night was now forgotten, as well as the need for better nutrition and exercise. When Sandra tied to get up and walk around, officers would order her to stay seated. All she could do was drop to the ground feebly; there was no more strength in her to fight back.
Hours turned into endless weeks that never seemed to come to a close; seconds seemed like minutes, and it was so absolutely devastating that when my sisters would cry, I would cry along with them. We would weep until we drifted off to sleep, just to wake up and cry again. I didn’t know how long we were going to be there, or how long I was going to go without food, all I knew is that if Rik could endure it, then I could, too.
Rik. The thought of his name brought tears to my eyes. I wanted him back. I needed him…
I had reached the end of hope. I stopped praying, thinking that if God could hear us, He would have surely done something. This hatred continued for more days and nights, for all I wanted was a miracle someone, something, somehow. I felt myself drifting off into a hazy dream. Rik was there, his sparkling eyes where beautiful. He was laughing, his smile bright and cheery. I wept again, and this time alone.
While I was sleeping, I felt two weak arms wrap around me, yet much stronger than any of my sisters. When I opened my eyes, there was Rik, right beside me. I thought I was still in my dream. There was something so magical about it; though there was nothing appealing about his appearance. His face was a deep yellow—even more so than Clasina’s. His once sparkling blue eyes were hollow and light grey. His honey colored hair was stringy and hanging in his dirt smudged face. I started to speak, “How–?”
“Never mind.” He said. Rik was sitting between Roza, his arms wrapped around both of us. Sandra was in his lap, and Clasina was clinging to me. I laid my head on his shoulder and whispered: “Were you taken to the–to the labs?” He nodded. “What did they do to you?” I asked, though I was scared of the answer. He told me about how they would command him to sit somewhere, then they would give him a shot of some sort, or have him drink something. After awhile they would ask him how he felt, then send him some place else. “Some of the other kids weren’t as lucky as me. Others, they—” He stopped, not quite sure whether to go on. I don’t know how long all five of us sat there—I just know it was an amazing feeling, us being reunited. For the first time in awhile, I recognized the gorgeous sun seeping through the cracks of the wood above; it was almost as if God was smiling down on us.
Then, I began to pray again. I thanked God profusely for His mercy and his wonderfulness of Him to permit Rik to be there with us. I told Rik of these prayers, and the five van Claver children would quietly sing hymns to the Lord. The music, though no instrument was playing, was beautiful in every aspect I could have ever imagined. The merry tune was sweet as molasses, the words dripping with sweetness. My head was aching, my sides were burning, but I didn’t care.
Suddenly, I got so dizzy I couldn’t see straight. I felt weak. “Rik—” I whispered hoarsely. “Rik—” Next thing I knew, everything went black. I don’t know how long I laid there; no one seemed to know anything about time itself anymore. When I woke up, my siblings were staring down at me. “W–what happened?” I muttered.
Rik looked me straight in the eyes and said, “Malnutrition. Annelies, you must eat something.”
“No. They must have food—” I wouldn’t let my sisters die hungry.
“Annelies, they’re fine. You must eat.”
I shook my head.
“Annelies, you will die if you don’t. Your condition is serious! Please, we’re all begging.”
I shook my head again. My sides were aching, and it hurt my neck to talk.
When morning came, the officers shoved a bowl filled with gruel into my hands once more. Rik motioned for me to eat. I sipped a little, just to spit it out. I shook my head, indicated to Rik that I just could not eat it. And as I lay there in the hay, all I could think about was our staircase at home, with the creaky wooden steps and black nails. I thought about the memories that each step possessed. I stared into space; imagining our house, our family together—
Then I saw it. A staircase—much like the one we had in our house, only much lovelier. It was trimmed with gold; each step was made out of pearls and outlined by rubies. I clutched Clasina’s hand—I know she would just love to see it.
“Clasina! Rik! Roza! Sandra! Oh, it’s lovely! White, gold, pearls, gems! Oh—”
“What? What is it?” they all chorused.
“The staircase to Heaven! The staircase of Glory!”
I drew my last breath, and ran up the staircase.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Isabella Stines spent most of her childhood diving into books and breaking the rules by reading past her bed time. Still an avid reader, she spends more of her time as a student and musician in addition to writing, fueling her creativity with Ramen noodles and sweet tea. Stines is currently working on her first trilogy.

You can find Isabella on Pinterest ( http://pinterest.com/isabellastines/ ) and tweet with her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/IsabellaStines

Super Sweet Blog Awards (Nominations!)

Great news! The Isabella Stines blog has been nominated for the (drum roll, please…)

Cupcake4

Ta-dah! The Super Sweet Blog Award.

I was actually nominated last week, but due to the craziness of my schedule and some unexpected shenanigans, this post just couldn’t be up any sooner. Now, let’s get started!

First off, I’d like to thank (ha, sounds like I just won a Grammy) Katie Sullivan from the D/A Dialogues for nominating me! Make sure to check out her blog here: http://dadialogues.wordpress.com/

Rule time! If you’ve been nominated & you accept your nomination, you must:

  1. Thank the Super Sweet Blogger that nominated you.
  2. Answer the five super sweet questions (below).
  3. Include the Super Sweet Blogging Award in your blog post (above).
  4. Nominate a baker’s dozen (13) other bloggers.
  5. Notify your nominees on their blog.

(*note, you do not have to accept your nomination. If you don’t feel like participating, that’s totally chill!)

Questions!

Q: Cookies or Cake?

A: How about a Cookie-Cake. Ya feel me?

~

Q: Chocolate or Vanilla?

A: Choco to the Late, baby.

~

Q:  Favorite sweet treat?

A: Cheesecake. Oh, and those oreo-cream-cheese-ball things. Oreo bites, or something like that. Those are killer.

~

Q: When do you crave sweets the most:

A: When I’m not supposed to.

~

Q: Sweet nickname?

A: Loo Loo (can you guess where that came from?)

And now what you’ve been waiting for…

Nominations!

  1. Lea Jurock  from  http://leajurock.wordpress.com
  2. Hope Cook  from  http://hopecook.wordpress.com
  3. ioniamartin  from  http://readfulthingsblog.com
  4. 1WriteWay  from  http://www.marieannbailey.com
  5. charlottecarrendar  from  http://charlottecarrendar.wordpress.com
  6. Sherri Lackey  from  http://sherrilackey.wordpress.com
  7. poemsandpeople  from  http://poemsandpeople.wordpress.com
  8. Debbie  from  http://debravega.wordpress.com
  9. EBotziou  from  http://ekaterinabotziou.wordpress.com
  10. Marina Miller  from http://marinamiller16.wordpress.com
  11. Charles Yallowitz  from  http://legendsofwindemere.wordpress.com
  12. Victoria Grefer   from  http://crimsonleague.com
  13. Pat Bertram   from  http://ptbertram.wordpress.com
  14. Touch2Touch  from   http://touch2touch.wordpress.com/

(I know I was only supposed to pick 13…but I couldn’t decide!)

If Katie Sullivan hadn’t of nominated me first, she would so be on the list above. Have you checked out that blog yet? I’m gonna give you one more chance: http://dadialogues.wordpress.com/  I promise, you won’t be disappointed!

CONGRATS to all of the nominees! You guys deserve it. Your posts have either been super helpful, insightful, funny, interesting…just flat out awesome. Thanks, & great work!  🙂

* * *

Isabella Stines spent most of her childhood diving into books and breaking the rules by reading past her bed time. Still an avid reader, she spends more of her time as a student and musician in addition to writing, fueling her creativity with Ramen noodles and sweet tea. Stines is currently working on her first trilogy.

You can find Isabella on Pinterest ( http://pinterest.com/isabellastines/ ) and tweet with her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/IsabellaStines

Throwback Thursday: An Introduction Scene

Part of me really, really wanted to shred this thing to pieces. Thankfully, my inner editor suffered a heart attack after reading, so she was in no mood to correct all of the character mistakes and over-used adjectives.

Welcome to the first Throwback Thursday post. Enjoy!

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

 

I slowly tugged on the rusted handle, cringing at the soft squeal the sliding drawer made. Taking a deep breath, I peered into in the musty opening, deftly sweeping my fingers across the velvet lined bottom. Empty. Sighing, I push the wooden frame shut.

It was third drawer I had explored in the large, rather bulky cedar dresser. The dresser belonged to my Uncle; and before him, his father; and before him, some distant cousin we’d never heard of or from. It was a rather funny looking piece—with wide hips, hideous feet, and a small head which served as a mirror. There had to be at least fourteen different drawers, if not more.

Probably a lot of hiding places in this obscure structure, I mused.

And so far it had stayed hidden.

Though the lush carpeting in my Uncle’s bedroom and moaned and groaned when I had walked upon it, it didn’t even dare to croak as a rich snob glided towards me.

“Thief!” sneered Priscilla. “Give it to me at once, Adelaide Hendrics!”

I whirled and saw the ferocious face of my beautifully spoiled cousin. Her black hair was darker than night could ever be, and now her striking green eyes had a funny look in them.

“I said give it to me!” she shouted.

“I heard what you said.”

“Then obey!”

“I am not your pet, dear cousin.”

“But I am much older, and by far much brighter and cleverer than you are, Adelaide Hendrics!”

For some odd reason, my ugly cousin just loved calling people by their full name. I smiled evenly. “Yet not bright nor clever enough to get what you want.”

Priscilla flinched. Straightening her posture, she resumed her previous rantings. “Give me the key, my thief-ly cousin!”

Key? She had gone mad. I had no key! On sudden inspiration, I threw my hands together behind me, my fingers entwined. Smirking, I cocked one eyebrow and bravely replied:

“Never.”

If my dear cousin wanted to be a fool, then I must encourage her.

“It’s mine!” she screamed.

“What a funny thing! You, putting your belongings in someone else’s dresser?” I smiled. What fun this was!

She replied in anger: “One can do what she pleases with her own possessions, Adelaide Hendrics. I dare say you wouldn’t know; you’ve never owned anything more costly than a hair comb.”

My glory had had ended. Her words hit me in the stomach, and all I wanted to do was roll over and hide. Priscilla came from an extremely wealthy family, while my family was forced to live in the wilderness, barely able to keep food on the table. Wealth was a touchy subject for me, a rather prickly topic on my pride.

Clutching the “key”, I moved swiftly towards the corner of the room and yanked the satin cord by the bedside table.

“No! Stop, you rat!” cried Priscilla.

But it was too late. My protector had already been summoned, and in a matter of seconds revenge would be mine.

A clock that hung on the wall ticked. Somewhere in the kitchen, dishes rattled. Someone laughed a little too loud downstairs.

Unable to contain herself, Priscilla flung herself toward the door with high hopes of escape. She was half-a-step too late.

The oak door burst open. Priscilla ran straight into my helper.

Helga didn’t move. She didn’t even flinch when Priscilla hit her stomach, wobbled back and hit the floor with a shriek.

“If y-you lay your gri-grimy, stupid-id, ugly h-hands on me I’ll—”

Helga had already scooped her up by her expensive dress collar and set Priscilla on her shaky feet. “Me don’t have ugly hands, lass,” Helga smiled a little. “Me hands be strong; strong enough to take care a you as well as ye cousin there.”

 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Although I can’t find anymore stories with Adelaide, Priscilla, and Helga, snippets from these characters and ideas still show up in my writing today. I’ve always had an obsession with the name Adelaide, which was often the name of a main character in my writing. Also, the older, protective woman caring for a wild, rambunctiousness girl is a relationship I adore. Something about the difference in class and the mother-daughter like bond really inspires me. I hope you enjoyed this piece penciled  my thirteen year old self! 

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

 

Isabella Stines spent most of her childhood diving into books and breaking the rules by reading past her bed time. Still an avid reader, she spends more of her time as a student and musician in addition to writing, fueling her creativity with Ramen noodles and sweet tea. Stines is currently working on her first trilogy.

You can find Isabella on Pinterest ( http://pinterest.com/isabellastines/ ) and tweet with her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/IsabellaStines

Monday Musings (and some ancient poetry…)

Happy Monday, everyone!

In the Twitter & Instagram world, Thursdays are considered to be #tbt, otherwise known as Throw Back Thursday. TBT consists of bringing back old memories and photos and posting them from the world to see.

It can either be a glorious or embarrassing attempt.

I’m thinking about adapting this for the blog. But instead of old pictures of me (how boring would that be?), how about old poems, stories, character sketches, and maybe even a couple songs? I literally have stacks of notebooks smack full of these babies.

Heck, I thought. Why not share them with you?

Things might will get a little messy. I was in my tween years, for Pete’s sake. Talk about an emotional roller coaster. If hormone-driven-slightly-unstable-talked-and-maybe-wrote-too-much was a word in the dictionary, a picture of my confused face would be by it.

I’d love your feedback. Yay or nay, my wonderful readers? Is it a good idea, or a rotten one? I’ll continue to post other things besides my writing, and some Thursdays might be skipped.

I’m going to go ahead and post a poem by my 14 year old self. Read on at your own risk! 🙂

* * *

A Victorious Beginning 

A blank page,

A new beginning

A common rage,

Finally thinning

*

An angry start,

Finally ending

A broken heart,

Finally mending

*

Evaporate,

All wicked things

Take the sorrow,

And pain it brings

*

For spring is here,

Your glory’s done

Your chilly winds,

Nature has shun

*

Echoing lies,

Finally hushed

Spring’s colors,

Finally brushed

*

Winter blues,

Shall fade away

Your untruth,

Cannot stay

*

He has won

His riches displayed

His victory song

Spring will play

* * *

Thanks, everyone. 🙂

Isabella Stines spent most of her childhood diving into books and breaking the rules by reading past her bed time. Still an avid reader, she spends more of her time as a student and musician in addition to writing, fueling her creativity with Ramen noodles and sweet tea. Stines is currently working on her first trilogy.

You can find Isabella on Pinterest ( http://pinterest.com/isabellastines/ ) and tweet with her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/IsabellaStines

The Inner (evil?) Editors

This is disturbing.

That. Yeah, right there. That’s horrible.

What exactly possessed you to do this?

This has to be illegal.

Geez, Isabella. Who was the terrible liar who told you to write? Who told you you COULD write???

*  *  *  *  *  *

ID-10047343

Image is from http://www.freedigitalphotos.net

 

Friends, meet the the critic that lives inside my head. He (she?) makes his (her?) appearance whenever I’m in the process of creating something: be it a story, a character, a painting, a cake for my neighbor, a new blog post, etc.

They’re really a rather feisty editor. When I type ‘writer’ in my biography on twitter, they whisper, lie. When I click on the Microsoft Word icon, they snort.  When I come up with a solution that will fill my plot-holes, they scoff a little too loud; so loud that I sneak a peek at random bystanders, hoping they did hear my nasty critic with all of its annoying noises.

Now, I thought I was the only one a little bit off, but after doing some “reasearch” (i.e. studying other writers’ blogs, reading up on my favorite authors, etc.) it turns out the “inner editor” is a common critic that every writer deals with. In fact, one of the first tips I received while reviewing NaNoWriMo was this:

“Say Goodbye to your Inner Editor.”

Now, there is a time and a place for that Inner Editor. People employ him/her (or, if your critic is like mine, a picky woman with a very manly voice) in roughly two different ways:

1. Use them after your first draft is penned out. Let em’ loose. Let the critic scowl, edit & revise (because editing and revising are two different things), and rip your manscript to pieces. It’ll hurt. But you’ll end up agreeing with them, and soon your beautiful little (or not so little) story will be ready for another pair of eyes to see, so their inner editor can go crazy on your work.

Gotta love the writing process. This first option is the one that works best for me.

2. Use that Inner Editor every few scenes or chapters. Write a little. Take a break. Come back and edit. A sort of Edit As You Go method.

For me, it’s not a good idea to edit WHILE I write. I’m talking about writing a sentence, re-reading eight times, only to decide that it needs to start with a preposition instead of the subject, or it’s too long, too short, too…

DON’T DO THIS. It will only slow you down and drive you insane. If you must, go back and edit every few paragraphs. But don’t scrutinize every sentence to the point where you can’t even get a page done in a reasonable amount of time (and REASONABLE AMOUNT OF TIME varies from author to author).

Just write. That’s what you are: a writer. So break out the notebook and sharpen up those pencils. Double click the Microsoft Word icon with all the confidence in the world. Put the inner-critic on hold for a while. Tell him (or her with the masculine voice) to sit down while you finish your piece. There’ll be time for the Editor. But now is the time for the writer (YOU! 🙂 )

How do you deal with your inner editor (or are you one of those gifted writers who doesn’t own one)? Do you critique your work as you go, or once your entire piece is finished? Feel free to answer in the comments!

Isabella Stines spent most of her childhood diving into books and breaking the rules by reading past her bed time. Still an avid reader, she spends more of her time as a student and musician in addition to writing, fueling her creativity with Ramen noodles and sweet tea. Stines is currently working on her first trilogy.

You can find Isabella on Pinterest ( http://pinterest.com/isabellastines/ ) and tweet with her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/IsabellaStines

The Official Welcome Post

(Just kidding, guys. I don’t do ‘official’ anything.)

To the readers, aspiring writers, discouraged scribblers, established authors & halfway normal people who may enter into this blog:

Welcome. I’m so glad you’re here! Grab a chair; a cup of coffee, a nalgas cojín, your cat, or whatever makes you feel comfortable.  This blog is in its early stages, much like my writing. We’re both newbies, to the blogging and the ‘official’ writing world. But that’s what the wonderful world wide web (you liked the additional ‘W’, don’t you?) is for: to connect, reach out and learn.

Of course, WWWW is also used for other things, but I won’t get into that here.

Anyways, I’m Isabella Stines (howdy!) and I am embarking on this new adventure, entitled: “The crazy idea I had to let people know I actually write and that I’m actually working on my first ‘real’ fiction that people might want to read”.

Feel free to post new name ideas in the comments below. The shorter, the better.

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. (Cliché opening, I know. But stick with me. It might get better.) Mini-me used to scribble up notebooks with new stories daily, often illustrating my own work for emphasis. I don’t remember ever not wanting to be a author. I don’t even remember a time where I wasn’t, at least, a writer, even though those stories will hopefully never, ever be shared. Short story contests and novel creations are in my past and recent history (not to mention my present). It’s just a part of who I am. And I can’t wait to share that with you!

So stick around awhile. Have some fun and interact. I’m looking forward to letting loose and sharing my writing adventure with you!

Isabella Stines spent most of her childhood diving into books and breaking the rules by reading past her bed time. Still an avid reader, she spends more of her time as a student and musician in addition to writing, fueling her creativity with Ramen noodles and sweet tea. Stines is currently working on her first trilogy.

You can find Isabella on Pinterest ( http://pinterest.com/isabellastines/ ) and tweet with her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/IsabellaStines