Monday, October 31, 2011

Another Round of Novel Writing

It's that time of year again. November is, after all, National Novel Writing Month.

This will be my 7th year participating in NaNoWriMo, and hopefully the 7th time I "win," ending the month with another 50,000-word novel. I'm preparing to block myself from Facebook, lock myself in my dorm room, attempt to avoid any and all distractions, and write like there's no tomorrow.

Call me crazy, but this is my favorite activity of the year. This year I'm doing something totally new: I'm trying the seat-of-the-pants approach. No outline, no extensive worldbuilding, no research. Whee!

So what am I writing? Having been thoroughly inspired by books such as 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Airborn, and Leviathan, I'm going all-out Steampunk!

Y'know, like this:

Or like this:

Even though I don't have an outline, I do have a general idea of where I'll be heading with the plot. Here's a short teaser for Silver Sky:

"In an imaginary world where all compasses point to the Queen's palace, an awkward, bookish young woman named Sylvianna is shocked to find that her rich family is actually made up of feuding sky pirates. She's kidnapped by the worst of them all, a man named Sean Fletcher... her long-lost father.

As she reels with this discovery, she struggles against her family history, social expectations, and her own secret desires for adventure. But eventually, she realizes that she must become what she most hates -a pirate- to stop the empire from destroying itself."

Want to join the writing fun? Head on over to the NaNoWriMo website and get yourself signed up!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Over the last two years, I've become increasingly interested in the art of telling a story through pictures. I've always loved books with lavish illustrations (such as the Dinotopia books by James Gurney), and I've read a few printed graphic novels (such as Rapunzel's Revenge by Shannon Hale). Then I discovered the online world of webcomics.

Webcomics are unique in that anyone can make one and put it up for the world to read. They don't need to get accepted for publication by Marvel or any of the other big-name publishers. That means that the author(s) can experiment and tell their unique story without anyone breathing down their neck. And usually, they're completely free to read. The drawback is this: webcomics are usually updated one to three times a week, so once you catch up to the most recent page, you must waaaait.

I'm a visual person. Many of my characters and story concepts come to me in pictures. When I found out about webcomics, I was immediately drawn to the idea of making my own someday, but I knew I would need to focus on improving my drawing skills. Since January, that's exactly what I've been doing, and I rediscovered how much I love art. I start college next week as an art major!

Not only have I been practicing my art, I've also absorbed lots of great webcomics. I thought I'd share my reading list, in case any of you are also interested in comics or visual storytelling. Some of the following may have certain elements that I don't like or agree with, but there's something special in each one that kept me reading.

Winters in Lavelle - Fantasy
The Dreamer - Time travel/Historical/Romance
Inverloch - Fantasy (this one's complete!)

Others I like for one reason or another:
The Silver Eye - Fantasy.
Dreamless - Romance/Mystery/WW2/Defies genre... Warning: It's intense. (But it's complete!)
The Phoenix Requiem - Fantasy/Romance. Warning: Rather violent and dark. (also complete)
Between Places - Fantasy. The story is confusing at points, but the art is beautiful.
Girl Genius - Steampunk. Warning: Violence, and some skimpy outfits.
Bardsworth - Fantasy/Humor.
Seed - Fantasy.
One Question - Fantasy.
Earthsong - Fantasy.

... I just realized, there is a lot of "fantasy" in that list.

Do any of you read webcomics? What are your favorites? Have you ever considered making a comic or graphic novel?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Creative Activities, Contests, and the County Fair

Hey, everybody!

Summer is always a busy time for me. In the last few weeks:

-I wrote a Wild West retelling of "Rumplestiltskin" and won a writing contest! My story will be published in an ebook collection. I will give more details once it's out.

-I applied for several scholarships.

-I participated in our County Fair, winning several ribbons in photography and art. 

-I started a personal exercise program, and stuck to it (so far). My secret weapon is audio books-- I can only listen to them while I'm riding my bike, walking the dog, etc.

-I read plenty of books (currently reading Firebird, by Kathy Tyers).

-I wrote a couple thousand more words in my steampunk/fantasy novel.

-I did a digital painting for a contest hosted by the Paper Wings Podcast. You can vote for me! I would greatly appreciate it if you went to this link and clicked "like" on the sidebar. That's it. The entry with the most "likes" in each category will win a Wacom Intuos tablet. The Grand Prize of all the entries will get a live critique of their work with the hosts of the podcast, Disney artist Chris Oatley and Lora Innes, creator of the webcomic "The Dreamer," of which I'm a big fan. Voting is only open for one week!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Welcome to My Treehouse

After much careful thought, I've decided to change the title of my blog from "Evergreena's Journal" to "Evergreena's Treehouse."


In the last few years since I started this blog, I've done a lot of exploring, learning, and growing. My life has expanded in many ways. When I first started my blog, I only knew that I loved to write. So I made that the main focus of my blog, creating an online "journal" where I could jot down my stories, goals, and random musings.

Lately I've been searching out God's will in my life, and how I should best use the gifts and passions he has given me:

--In early 2010, I went to the Florida Christian Writers Conference, and discovered that I don't love writing itself, I love story.

--Last December, I re-discovered my passion for art, and decided to embark on a self-taught journey until I start college as an art major next fall.

--In the last four or five months, I began to sense that God may have a place for me in the film industry, perhaps the animated film industry. I'm currently experimenting with animation and 3D modeling.

--I recently opened an online Etsy shop, Rachel's Re-Creations, where I hope to sell various items crafted from recycled materials.

--I continue to take thousands of pictures with my DSLR camera.

--And I'm still writing novels and short stories.

I don't fit in a "journal" anymore. That metaphor no longer applies. My multi-faceted life requires a bit more space to move around in online. I need a place where my friends can explore with me, a place where creativity happens. So I thought, "If I could build my dream studio in real life, what would it look like?"

A treehouse.

A no-brainer. My virtual treehouse is born!

And through all of this change and exploration, I know one thing for sure: whatever career path God leads me on in the future, I will always create.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

On My Desk Right Now

At this very moment, I have on my desk:
-my MacBook Pro, Phoenix, taking a short break from Maya tutorials
-a black-and-white Maine Coon cat, Flower
-various writing projects (including portions of short stories, novels, and essays) printed out, stacked, and ready for editing
-my to-do list notepad
-a 0.9 mm mechanical pencil (blue)
-a pen from Northwestern College
-my Wacom Intuos4 medium pen tablet (squee!)
-a paperback copy of Dandelion Fire, by N.D. Wilson
-my zippered pencil case, filled with my precious Prismacolors, graphite and charcoal pencils
-a cream-colored spare button
-an empty Ziplock baggie
-The Complete Digital Animation Course book, by Andy Wyatt
-a Northwestern College folder, containing the list of courses I'll be taking next fall
-a printed-out email about a contest held by the Paper Wings Podcast
-a spiral-bound notebook entitled "College"
-some ripped-up pieces of a Kleenex box
-a frayed piece of hem cut from my blue jeans
-my elbows.

What's on your desk at the moment?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Adventures in Storytelling

This is an essay I recently wrote for a scholarship application. The prompt was open-ended, so I chose to write about my passion for storytelling. I discovered some interesting things about myself as I wrote, such as the fact that I don't love "Writing," I love "Story." It isn't the field of English that I love - it's the basic elements of an entertaining plot and engaging characters in a unique setting, well depicted. And, as a side-note, even though I don't say so in the essay, my ultimate goal is to glorify God through any form of storytelling I choose to implement. 
(Note: Please do not copy or re-post without permission.)


That’s what I’m all about.

I get excited about writing, art, photography, music, and film because they all offer opportunities for telling an expressive story. The media may change. Paint or pixels, sentences or sound waves, it doesn’t matter. They can all be used to convey emotion and imagination, and that’s what I love.

Ever since I was first learning to read, and allowed myself to get swallowed up by the adventures of The Boxcar Children, I could sense that stories had a certain magic about them, namely, the power to captivate, entrance, and draw eager listeners into another world. I knew I wanted to be a part of that process almost from the very beginning.

My brother and I made up a magical land, and acted out epic adventures with our stuffed animals. As we grew older, that imaginative play became the springboard for writing stories about our Beanie Babies.

It wasn’t long before I was writing full-length novels. I self-published a science fiction book as a teenager, and sold paperback copies to family and friends. Since I was home schooled, my parents encouraged these kinds of self-directed projects, and provided resources that would help me to learn and grow.

But writing alone wasn’t enough. I discovered my passion for photography when I got my first digital camera at age fifteen. Since then, I’ve taken over 17,000 pictures, many of which have won awards through 4-H and other venues. I love to look at things from a new angle, and capture entire stories in one wordless moment.

Lately, I’ve experienced a renewed interest in art and filmmaking. Each of these has incredible potential for a storyteller like me. I’m eager to delve into these subjects more in college. 

I also hope to discover new opportunities for interaction and collaboration between all of these different areas of study. With the internet and other emerging technologies, there could be possibilities for artistic expression we haven’t even thought of yet, and I want to be on the forefront of that fast-growing field. 

I’m ready to take the next step and go to college, where I hope to purposefully expand my experiences and gain valuable skills that will help me make an impact on the world and propel me into a lifetime of learning.

This isn’t the end of my story. This is only the beginning.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The "Aha!" Moment

I’ve been thinking a lot about short stories and short films and their structure.
They are so much harder to write than novels. You have such a short time to introduce characters and make them compelling, set up a plot of some kind, and tie it up with a resonant punch line.
I think that’s the key. It all has to build towards a powerful “punch line” of some kind. It doesn’t have to be a joke, it just has to make the audience experience an “Oh!” or “Aha!” moment.
An example: In Pixar’s awesome short film “Geri’s Game”, an old man is sitting in a park playing an intense game of chess with his alter ego. That introduces an interesting character and a humorous plot… but it all becomes memorable when the game is won- and the object of the duel is revealed. That’s the “aha!” moment.
Another example, from a short film titled “INSiDE.” 
(This paragraph contains spoilers). A man suffering from multiple personality disorder is being questioned by his doctor, who is trying to get him to claim his true name again. It builds to a noisy climax, and he finally says his name. But then the another doctor enters, and we learn the surprising truth: The first doctor was one of his figments all along. “Aha!”
The "Aha!" moment ties everything together, and makes the short story/film worth remembering. It's usually a twist on the expected, it carries some emotive punch, and it has to take place in a short amount of time (duh).
I’m currently brainstorming for a short film my family is going to make this summer. Already we’re leaning toward the epic side of things— possibly two airships, a sky pirate attack, a lost city of treasure, a mysterious device… and that’s enough fodder for an entire full-length novel! As the official scriptwriter, I’m trying to find a way to condense that into a 10-15 minute film steeped in the epic steampunk adventure feel, yet keep it short, simple, and powerful. How do I come up with that perfect “Aha!” moment? 
First, I think I have to figure out the theme or "tone" of the story (is it romantic? Wry? Mysterious? Heart-warming? Humorous? Stark?). Once we have that root theme in place, we can decide what plot elements accord with that theme, and then find a way to twist the expected resolution.
Any thoughts? I'd appreciate input, because I'm still pretty baffled by writing shorts. Anyone have any questions (or advice!) about writing short films and stories?
One last random musing: Short films are often most powerful when the story is told without a scrap of dialogue.

Friday, April 8, 2011

What I've been up to lately...

Ack! I know I haven't been blogging much. Life has been BUSY! Here's some of what I've been doing:
-Writing two different novels, one steampunk/fantasy, and the other YA mystery
-Writing a screenplay as a part of Script Frenzy
-Applying for scholarships
-Visiting colleges (more about this later)
-Learning how to use my Wacom tablet
-Cleaning & organizing my room
-Making a gift for my new niece
-Planning a short film with my siblings

And... I made this video.

It's just some piano improvisation that I recorded the other day. Enjoy!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Accomplishments and Adventures

I'm back! I dropped off the face of the blogosphere for over a month, and I'm sorry that I haven't been posting or commenting on other people's blogs. I've been so busy lately that I had to let my blog hibernate for a while.

It is that time of year again! I've been working on my list of Big, Fun, Scary Adventures for 2011. (These are akin to New Year's Resolutions, but Bigger, Funner, and Scarier... and more Adventurous!) Last year, I had these four:

1. Attend my first writers conference
Last March, I went all the way down to Florida for the Florida Christian Writers Conference, and I had a great experience and learned a lot. You can read my summary of the trip HERE.

2. Get my driver's license 
I completed this one just in time! Just a few days after Christmas, I passed my driving exam and got my license. Unfortunately, I don't have a car, so it doesn't help me much.

3. Write a song every month
This is the one goal that kind of flopped. I wrote lots of pieces and parts of songs, but I didn't finish any of them. Oh well.

4. Start a photography blog
I did start a photography blog, which you can visit HERE.

My list of Adventures for 2011:

1. Write 250,000 words
2. Set up an Etsy shop and sell stuff
3. Make a short film with my brother
4. Go to college
5. Cut my hair

Every single one of those goals is Big, Fun, and Scary. At least, for me.

The first one, about writing all those words, may best be broken down into monthly goals. So I started a list of writing goals from January through May:

-Write Nanooks in Trench Coats (this is goofy, crazy, 4-day novel writing race to 50,000 words with my brother. I already won, by the way.)
-Type out Greenheart, my NaNoWriMo novel that I wrote mostly by hand
-Plan and outline my 2YN novel (an online writing course I'm doing)

-Start writing my 2YN novel, and get at least 40,000 words into it

March  (National Novel Editing Month!)
-Finish editing The Shadow of Rebellion, my sci-fi novel

April (Script Frenzy!)
-Finish writing my screenplay "The Twin Confessions of Melody & Harmony"
-Write a steampunk short film script (yes, this ties in with Adventure #3 above!)

-Finish my 2YN novel (it's a young adult novel, so it'll probably end up around 75-90,000 words)

I haven't decided what my writing goals will be from June forward, because I may have new story ideas by then.

I make goals like this and write them down so that I'll have something to work toward, and when I come to the end of the year, I can look back and see how far I've come. It's both a motivator and an encouragement.

What are some of the big, fun, and scary adventures that you will have in the year 2011?