A “Quick” Backstory For My Novel, Part 4.

This is the story of how my YA fantasy novel project started! If you’re new to the backstory, please check out part 1part 2, and part 3.

January to March 2022: This was a period of rapid progress in my novel. I was working on several pages at once: the manuscript itself, a similar document full of running notes, and a Notion page with the following subpages:

  • Series Wiki, where I put all my worldbuilding elements as subpages
  • Plotting Page, where I jotted down plot threads and made ‘scene cards’ (basically pages for each scene, that you can re-order as if they were physical index cards)
  • Plans and Processes page, where I put all my to-dos and Kanban boards
  • Inspirations and Research, where I listed books and webpages I wanted to read, and took notes on them as I read them
  • Practice Experiments, where I tried writing sample scenes and dialog, brainstormed titles, and worked on the prose.
  • Drafting Notes, which tracked the status of each scene (whether it had been outlined, drafted, polished, etc.) in a table.
  • Book budget, which tracked what I’d spent on the project already, like on editors.

I started with just a few of these pages, and added more as I needed them for all the ideas I was having. It was quite a thrill, this stage of the project. I had all the pages open on different tabs, and kept jumping between them as the ideas flowed! I could barely type fast enough to keep up.

Around mid-February, I felt ready to draft Act I in detail. I started going to writing sprints with Sarra Cannon’s writing community, and plodding away at the manuscript, using the Notion pages only for reference.

I was excited about how Act I was shaping up, but soon I got stuck again. I slowed down and let my mind wander, to let the ideas bubble up again.

Soon, I started to get some glimmers of answers, so I wrote a lot of scenes in my note-taking apps on my phone and computer, and as voice memos, until I finally felt confident in the story. In late March or so, I had checked every scene off the list.

April to July 2022: By this point, I’d been working frenetically on the novel for a while, and needed to make time for other pursuits, like blogging, sustainability research, and general life-maintenance. So I slowed down on the novel and set myself a more manageable (I thought) goal of organizing all the writing I’d done on Acts II and III.

I was able to do about half of what I had planned, so some of the scenes still need pasting into the manuscript.

And this is when I started telling this backstory! I wanted to share my novel writing progress with this blog’s readers. To do that, I first needed to catch you up to the present day.

Which I have – now!

Looking ahead

Now, it’s August, and my goal is to paste in the stragglers and start polishing up the scenes. I’ve also been drawing some of the scenes to help me visualize them. (It’s a lot easier for me to get into the atmosphere if I do!)

So I hope to share progress updates and some of the drawings (if they don’t give too much away) along the way.

(Oh, and if you’re wondering, I don’t have a title yet. That’s something I find difficult in general.)

Cunning Fire Fan Art

The two main characters from the webcomic Cunning Fire.

I wanted to do something fun and cute! So I drew the characters from a webcomic I’ve been reading. If you haven’t read it, you’re in for a treat, because you can do what I did, and binge-read the hundreds of pages that are already up. It’s a beautiful urban fantasy story about witches.

It’s made by Kaz Rowe, and they also have a great YouTube channel about LGBT+ history.

A recurring theme on my blog is becoming ‘fun things I found on YouTube’. I guess I spend a lot of time there!

City Council Meetings: The Next Sustainability Skill I’m After

I’ve written recently about the various sustainability skills I’m trying to build: mostly writing and advocacy. The next skill is advocating for change at the city level. This is a project I’m still working on, so there won’t be a “Success! Huzzah!”-type of ending to this post.

As I wrote in my recent letter to the editor, cities need to set science-based targets to work toward net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. I think setting targets is the most basic step toward making any progress.

Redondo Beach, where I live, is a pretty forward thinking place, but they haven’t joined the Race to Zero initiative (which involves making a net-zero pledge and setting science-based targets), unlike several nearby cities. So I started by writing to my council member to ask if the city would consider it.

While waiting to hear back, I also used my city’s customer service portal to get some information. Redondo Beach adopted a climate action plan an few years ago, and I wondered if maybe they were way ahead of me, in terms of planning.

I read the plan itself, and it was pretty solid. Lots of good ideas of measures to look into, including encouraging electric vehicles, greening the city, and the typical measures recommended by the UN and other bodies.

So I asked the city how implementation was going. And…

It hasn’t been going anywhere. See the public comment I made on a City Council Meeting agenda for details:

Deepti Kannapan
Submitted At: 6:20pm 08-09-22
At the end of the 2017 Climate Action Plan (https://www.redondo.org/civicax/filebank/blobdload.aspx?BlobID=35593), the next steps were listed as setting up a Climate Action Team and designating an Implementation Coordinator.
Per some information I received via customer service request, the Community Development Department is not aware of a Climate Action Team having been formed, and the Community Development Director doesn’t believe any further action was taken other than adopting it. I am waiting for similar information from the City Manager’s office.
I wanted to ask how we can follow through on the good foundation set in 2017, and see the proposed measures come to fruition.

eComments page

So… the plan was made five years ago, and then no action taken on it. I’m hoping that will change soon.

These city council meetings are hybrid in-person/virtual, so I made an eComment and then Iurked on Zoom. I guess I could have spoken my comment if I wanted. They read my comment aloud during the meeting! You watch the video here (just the few seconds where they read it). And kudos for a reasonably good pronunciation of my name.

* * *

I’m pretty new at this advocacy thing, so I’m reaching out to local environmental groups for help.

Some suggestions if you’re curious about trying this:

  • Did you know cities had customer service portals? Mine turned out to be pretty responsive! You need to check your city’s official site (which may be clunky and old-fashioned).
  • Here’s an article I read before going, to learn about why going to council meetings is a good idea for being civically engaged in general.
  • I was hoping the meeting would be zany like in Gilmore Girls, but it was not.

More to come as I continue to pursue this!

Nature Girl Series – Part 3

This is the third and final ink drawing in my Nature Girl series! (Here are parts 1 and 2.)

I did a bit more preparation for this one than the last – working out the perspective on the tree, since we’re looking at it from high up, and trying out a couple of different compositions in thumbnail form.

I like this one! Even though I can see its flaws, like the where’s-Waldo aspect of my character – she’s hard to spot. Or is that a sign of success? I integrated her into the landscape a bit too well.

I enjoyed making this series! It was fun getting ink all over my hands, working analog, and practicing new art skills. Now, I’m gearing up for another drawing series to do this quarter.

Do you like organizing your projects into series or challenges? I’d recommend trying it if you haven’t!

Nature Girl Series – Picture 2

…and anatomy practice.

This is the second drawing I did as an experiment in combining landscapes and characters! I did a little more sketching with thin pen lines this time, before doing the thick dip pen inking. Also, I practiced drawing heads from this angle in my sketchbook a few times, since I hadn’t tried it before.

After my first attempt at the drawing, I put it aside, but something about the head position seemed off. So I took a picture and figured out the anatomy using red lines:

Luckily, I was able to fix the issues in the ink drawing, before going back to digital to change the background color and add highlights. That way, the original looks right too.

Part of the trouble comes from sketching with pen without using pencil first. Going ink-first is a habit I have from my sketchbook. Maybe I’ll try it the sensible way next time. But not before…

Nature Girl series part 3! (Coming soon.)