DecWriMo Day 7 (12/8/19) | SNIPPET

Good morning, everyone! How have y’all’s weekends been?

We’ve had a great past few days. I blogged on Friday and told you all of my plans to write (which I did – yay!) and yesterday, we spent the day with our friends! Lucas was studying the whole time, but I crafted (#CricutChristmas) with my friend all day and actually got a decent amount done. Today I’m continuing to craft, as I’d love to be done all my gifts by the end of the week, do some cooking, some laundry, and hopefully write a little bit more.

The scene I’m currently working on is in the third chapter and where our two mains officially meet. They’ve “met” in the two previous chapters, but this is their first conversation. I’m having a lot of trouble setting the tone for it – I don’t know exactly what I want them to think of each other just yet. I’m also trying to weave in some world-building without being too info dumpy. I’m posting a snippet below of my favorite part. It’s not a knockout paragraph by any means, but I think this might be the section that has the least red pen through it when I edit.

Not my problem, I think as I pull my gaze away from the girl with a knife to her neck, stowing the piece of fabric in my pocket with my Rubik’s Cube. Anyways, it’s just Steve that’s got her. As the Bloat’s most tweaked-out denizen and notoriously pathetic blood beggar, he’ll steal a little of her blood and leave her alone. She’ll be back to normal in a couple of hours.

Probably.

Help, the voice echoes in my head again, persistent and commanding. 

I shake my head in frustration. “Shut up,” I whisper, pulling the Rubik’s Cube out of my pocket to distract myself from the phantom pleading. “I don’t want any trouble.” 

With my toy comes the piece of fabric, now soaked through with blood. Something shifts in my chest as I look at the damp square of ruby in my hands and I curse my heart for its ability to feel before climbing up the nearest fire escape.

“Fucking idiot,” I mutter under my breath, not sure if I’m referencing Steve for going after a minor in the daylight, the girl for walking alone this early, or me for following cryptic signals from a disembodied voice and a bloody rag. 

Bridie, the character who’s talking in this chapter, has a very sardonic and self-deprecating voice. My favorite way to describe her is “a human trashcan Trying Her Best.”

That’s my post for today – apologies for the shortness of it! I really want to get moving on these present and finish what I can by tonight. Thanks for checking in, and have a wonderful Sunday!

DecWriMo Day 5 (12/6/19) | WRITING

Hey pals! Apologies for missing yesterday – I meant to blog (and write) but honestly, I just kind of needed a night of doing nothing. As I said in a previous post, I’ve been sick! Today I feel almost 100% back to myself and was able to write a little on my lunchbreak!

I’m not sure about you, but sometimes it’s really hard for me to jump back into writing. The last time I wrote was before Thanksgiving, so… almost two weeks ago? Dang, I didn’t realize it was that long. I’m realizing that I tend to write in spurts. I can write for hours every single day and then sometimes, I don’t write at all for a few weeks. On those first days back, I find it really hard to start again. I think a lot of it is imposter syndrome kicking in (my brain pretty much being this vine) so that’s something I’ve been trying to write through today. I’m feeling like all my words are boring – which, they very well might be – and I need to remember that that’s okay and I can fix it in editing. Since I’m on draft 5 of my current project, I’ve been feeling like this draft needs to be sparkly clean (lol @ myself).

This is also the first time I’ve tried to outline a story and then write it. One of the main reasons I’m a pantser is because when I outline, I kind of feel like I got the story “out,” you know? Like I’ve written down everything that happens (with a fair amount of detail) and then I’m like… what’s the point in writing this story now? I already know what happens. However, I couldn’t not outline this story since it’s from two POVs and pretty much four storylines have to intersect throughout the whole book.

So today I’m feeling a little “meh” about my writing and what part I’m currently on. I think I’m going to listen to some music that I’ve previously saved for the two characters I’m writing a scene for, eat some chocolate, and let myself write.

Hope y’all have a happy and safe Friday! Thanks for checking in!

DecWriMo Day 3 (12/4/2019) | WORLD BUILDING

Hi all!! Apologies in advance for the shorter post – today is my birthday and I’ve had an incredibly relaxed and food-filled night! Know what else it was filled with?

WORLD. BUILDING.

I have such a love/hate relationship with world-building. Like, I love doing it sometimes because it’s fun to create expansive worlds inside your head but other times I’m like… “Why do I have to figure out the 200 year geo-political structure of this fictional country? Why can’t things just happen for no reason whatsoever?”

Well today I was in for a treat because my husband (first year med student currently very under the weather) cooked me dinner and as he cooked, he talked through some world building I did on my lunch break earlier in the day.

In THE LAST MCNARY, the world runs on blood. Like, $100 bill could be laying in the street and the only value it’d have to someone is that it could be a (terrible, awful) way to give someone a paper cut and steal their blood.

Yeah. Like vampires without the imbibing blood part.

So I’ve been wrestling for a few weeks now on how I want the economy to run. It’s no secret that I SCRAPED by with a low B in my econ class in college. I still don’t *fully* understand supply and demand. But I had to do some learning to get myself started today, and Lucas (my husband) was the catalyst who helped me figure out all the holes I still had left. So here’s a quick look at how the city of Zenith’s economy works:

Government and hospitals are fused together (super alarming, right?) in this future. Around 90% of the population is working class, a little less than 10% of people are “off the grid” (unregistered in the government’s catalog of citizens and their blood types and do not have a Blood Card – more on that later), and then there’s the top 1% of hospital and government executives who are rich because – you guessed it – they don’t use their own blood to buy things.

Most citizens have Blood Cards, which act as a credit card. You buy things on it like any normal person would, but you have a certain credit limit based on your height, weight, and gender (as present-day blood donation works – different sized people can donate different amounts). You can make payments (read: give the government your blood) at kiosks around the city. If you hit your credit line or overdraft… let’s just say that’s no bueno.

This is just the highest level overview, but it’s such a relief to have that part worked through. It’s especially awesome that I was able to do so with my husband and on my birthday 🙂

#PitMad is tomorrow! I’ll probably pitch so I have to go craft some tweets. Happy December 4th, y’all, and have a wonderful night!

DecWriMo Day 1 (12/2/19)

Today’s prompt: Images that Inspired Me

If you’ve been on my website before, you’ll notice some pages have a new header image, and here it is in all it’s glory!!

AMAZING, INCREDIBLE, INSANELY PERFECT commission by @EllieDoodles02

This was a Christmas present from my husband (aka, best husband in the universe, as he’s known to me). I’ve wanted this piece since I first started writing, when it was just Stenne and I. However, our girl gang has grown by three and I literally couldn’t be happier (until I think up another series and we grow by one more). I’d love to introduce you to by leading ladies, from left to right!


Anna Cooper

Book: Cooper & Parrish

Blonde hair, blue eyes, and a questionable fashion sense for a late 19th-century single woman are the first three things every townsperson in Billetsby, England sees when they spy Anna Cooper running like a mad woman through town, brandishing weapons and screaming in a foreign language no one can quite place. Usually trailing behind her in a reserved (albeit embarrassed) manner is Dr. James Parrish with his phials of swirling blue liquid and disapproving frown. Unfortunately for both Anna and James, they are the only two in Billetsby capable of saving the town from the mysterious evil forces that are slowing converging, and therefore must defy danger on perilous adventures together.

Anna is never seen without her precious blue-flamed katana and ornate revolvers—all of which were a gift from a Qing dynasty prince, mind you. Like any decent English woman, her favorite beverage is tea. Her wardrobe is an eclectic blend of 19th century English fashion, tribal wear from her adventures abroad, and pieces from her late grandmother’s jewelry collection she can’t bear to live without.

An Excerpt from Cooper & Parrish:

“Would you like me to escort you home?”

“Do I look incapable of getting there by myself?” Anna snaps.

“Is that a trick question?” The man asks without missing a beat. “Yes, you do. That’s why I offered to walk you home. I just saved you from an attack you weren’t able to fend off yourself.”

“Excuse me, sir,” scoffs Anna. “I had it under control.”

“Under control? Are you daft, woman? That thing

“Nearly killed me. I heard you the first time,” Anna cuts him off. “I would say thank you, but I’m not grateful to a pompous ass who refuses to acknowledge that I can handle myself against a simple forest daemon.”

“Tiyanak,” he corrects. 

“You’re entitled to your wrong opinion, but I’m telling you, it’s not a tiyanak,” Anna shoots back. “Now if you don’t mind I’ll be on my way, by myself, thank you very much.”


Bridie

Book: The Last McNary

It’s not Bridie’s fault that she has to kill to survive on the streets of Zenith; it’s her parents’ fault for abandoning their 10-year-old in the Bloat nearly fifteen years ago. Now 25, Bridie struggles to survive in a city where her blood is the only asset she has and harrowing ghosts stalk her trail.

Zenith runs on blood, literally. Bridie has spent her life dodging cops and undercover hospital agents intent on capturing her to make her a bloodslave—someone kept by the hospitals and forcibly drained of blood until they’re no longer useful. Bridie’s one of the oldest homeless kids in Tent City to remain uncaught until a chance meeting with a young girl lands both in the Bloat’s run-down hospital.

Bridie thought her life was over when she got captured. She didn’t realize it was only the beginning of a new and terrifying chapter of a book that’s been closed for 15 years.

As a 15-year resident of Zenith’s grimiest streets, Bridie is nearly always covered in some sort of mud, dirt, or muck. She suffers from anemia, as most homeless, starving kids in Zenith do, and trades her blood for daily iron tablets (pretty counter-intuitive, right?). Though fierce and vicious to strangers, she’s kind and forgiving to those she cares about. It’s tough to get on her good side and when you do, only a truly devastating betrayal will cut you off from her forever.

Bridie doesn’t remember much about her parents, nor does she care to.

An Excerpt from The Last McNary:

“That reminds me,” I pull up my sleeve. “My bracelet. Can you keep an eye out for it? Maybe the cop who took it will bring it in to trade, with a little of his own blood for your… wares.” Flourishing my hand toward the synthetic blood Marv pushes on Zenith, I roll my eyes. “It’s not the first gold you’ll receive,” I suggest, nodding to a worn oval box on an endcap near Marv’s shoulder. Though the green gems and gold filigree are tarnished, it looks like it was once valuable to someone.

“I’ll keep a watch,” Marv nods. “How’d a cop get it off of you in the first place?”

I respond through mouthfuls of the hearty stew. “Breakfast trap next to the police station. I was feeling risky this morning.”

Marv’s expression dours. “Hey kid… you’re, uh… you’re pretty shit at stealing, you know that?”

“It’s a good thing I’m better at violence,” I exhale, launching myself onto the checkout counter beside him and brandishing my knife. “Stealing is easier when you don’t have any witnesses.”


Me! (Katarina Betterton)

Hey there! I’m the author of all these ladies. I grew up on the East Coast, have been writing on and off since around fourth grade, and married the love of my life in June 2018. We have an adorably mischievous puppy and my favorite part of our relationship is that we somehow figured out a way to be real adults while also being kids at heart.

Instead of boring you with my entire autobiography, jump over to my About page if you’d like to learn more about me!


Stenne

Book: 33

Stenne believes she’s a “nobody;” just another insignificant person in the world working as hard as she can to earn points for her Haven. In her eyes, she’s the same as everyone else—after all, they all wear the same thing, eat the same meal, and do the same jobs. However, when tripping over a stranger brings on a persistent headache and an ability to question what she thought she’s always known, Stenne realizes she isn’t like her neighbors at all. She’s different, and that difference can get her killed.

Stenne soon discovers she’s not alone in distinction; a boy swearing they’ve known each other since childhood begins to confirm what Stenne’s wondered about her world. Her confusion comes to a head when the leader of the Commune—Stenne’s home and the last civilization on Earth—threatens Stenne with a choice to either lose her Haven or forget the boy who seems to know more about herself than she does.

Stenne decides to risk everything—her comfortable world, her Haven, and her life—to dig deeper into the Commune’s apparent lies and seek out the truth of her past before the Commune destroys her future.

As per Commune instruction, Stenne is never not in her uniform: a black v-neck t-shirt and dark grey industrial cargo pants. She’s scared of pretty much everything, but her worst fear is failing. Stenne doesn’t have ambition besides earning as many points as possible for her Haven. She has a hard time admitting her faults (as she sees every fault as a failure), but knows she can be a rash decision maker, quick to fly off the handle, and completely lacking in common sense at times. Much greater than her faults, though, are her strengths: her kindness, her bravery, her optimism, and her smile.

An Excerpt from 33:

There are eight statements about myself I know to be utterly true—eight tenets by which I’ve thrived for the last 23 years and 362 days. 

I am the Commune.

I am safe.

I am liked.

I am capable.

I matter.

I have a purpose.

I want my Haven.

I am not special.


Eta

Book: mErTAle

To her crew, Eta is the fiercest pirate sailing the six seas of Ondur. Under her flag as the Daughters of the Sea, they’ve been able to collect bounties from nearly every coastal town the water touches and eliminate other pirate threats. As the only female captain with an all-female crew, Eta is the fiercest pirate in Ondor. She’s also a mermaid; a part of herself she’s hid from her land-walking counterparts for six years. Citizens of Ondur have hated the merpeople dwelling below in the kingdom of Undor for generations.

Eta and her crew sail to a popular port after their most recent victory only to find every ship in their fleet there—the warning to Eta that something is wrong. Eta and the skeleton crew with her watch in horror as a warlock explodes every ship in their fleet. Before they can execute a revenge attack, the warlock’s minions attack. Unwilling to resign her remaining crew members to a bitter death when she can swim them to safety, Eta reveals her true form as a mermaid and escapes with her crew to the briney depths of Undor. She loses her way before arriving in the main avenue with her human friends, accidentally crashing the engagement parade of Eta’s ex-fiance and his new bride-to-be. Eta soon faces a choice as she and her crew remain in Undor: stay safe in the confines of the water-based traditional rule, or risk their lives to reclaim their freedom on the waves?

Eta is a regal being without the need to prove her royalty. She’s automatically respected when she walks into a room because of the air of grace and power she carries with her at all times. She’s sure of herself, strong-willed, and a fighter for justice. She hates traditions and the practice of doing something the same way because ‘that’s how it’s always been done.’ As Eta’s two worlds converge, she finds herself questioning her true purpose in life.

An Excerpt from mErTAle:

“I don’t understand, though. If you’re so kind, why be a pirate at all?” He asks, honest curiosity in his voice.

“There aren’t many roles in the world in which women have freedom,” I state plainly. “My crew is made up of women—only women—whose old life offered nothing but pain and confines. Wives beaten within an inch of their lives by the husbands. Widows who can’t support themselves. Spinsters cast aside. Prostitutes sold into slavery. Any woman who doesn’t have anywhere else to go has a place on my ship.”


And There You Have It!

You’ve now met all my leading ladies. Who’s story interests you the most?

PLEASE, please, please go follow the amazing artist who created this incredible work of art, Ellie (@EllieDoodles02 on Instagram). She was such a pleasure to work with (I actually had her do four commissions for me!) and is an amazing human. I literally can’t recommend working with her enough, so please do yourself a favor and go follow her to see more of her incredible work!

Feel free to follow me on Instagram and Twitter as I make my way through writing these awesome women. Have a wonderful rest of your day and happy December 2! #DecWriMo19

Introducing DecWriMo

We’ve all heard of NaNoWriMo, but have you heard of DecWriMo? No? I hope not because I checked Instagram and it doesn’t exist yet (surprising, I know).

I’m going to brag for a hot second before I explain what the heck I’m talking about and tell y’all that last year, I absolutely crushed NaNo. I finished not one, but TWO books. You read that right. Two whole manuscripts.

“Wait, wait, wait!” You’re probably saying. “How did you write two whole books in 30 days?”

Honestly, I did it with a lot of support from my husband and a lot of TERRIBLE. WRITING. So bad. Like… so, so bad.

You see, I was only focused on hitting my word count goals. I wasn’t focused on developing the stories I was working on, which is why for the next 8+ months, I revised the heck out of the first book and began querying it and now I’m revising book number two. And the biggest thing I learned from last year’s NaNo?

Don’t push yourself too hard.

Honestly, I’m upset with my last-November self. Writing is a continual-growth process and I’m not upset that I didn’t write good words (hello, every first draft ever); I’m upset that I didn’t take the time to care for the stories I started to write. I’m upset that I focused more on quantity than quality of writing and while that may work for some people, I just don’t think it works for me. Through Twitter and Instagram, I’ve seen that it kind of doesn’t work for a lot of others too. That’s why I came up with DecNoWriMo.

So, what is DecWriMo?

I’m glad you asked! DecWriMo is an idea to let go of word counts and chapter goals and pressure and instead, focus on an accountability to myself to take time for my stories. It stands for December Writing Month, but really, this could be a year-round thing. An every month thing. A whenever/wherever thing. Because DecWriMo isn’t a season, it’s a state of mind. It’s training your brain to think more about stories as a whole, not about getting to the last page. My husband actually planted this idea in my head by giving me some of the best writing advice I’ve ever received:

“Things need time to become great.”

the best husband in the entire world during a NaNo2018 breakdown

Why was I rushing stories out of my brain and onto a Word doc if they weren’t ripe enough to be told? If I wasn’t ready to write them?
~the world will never know~

This December, I’m trying to think about my stories every day. A few months ago, I’d hoped that I’d be ready to query 2018 NaNo’s book two (The Last McNary, if you’re interested) by January 2020, but that’s not going to happen. It’s gone through five drafts and only now am I happy with the way the story is progressing. So instead of rushing through November and December to try to get it done, I’m taking my time. I’m listening to music. I’m letting my brain ponder all the paths the story can take; all the motivations and tragic pasts of the characters; all the twists, turns, and surprise endings I can come up with and writing them down.

No word count goal. No rushing.

As I tend to get lazy after the first few days of being accountable only to myself, I’ll be posting each day for the month of December (give or take a few around Christmas time and obviously, as it’s December 2, not every day) about what I focused on that day for my story. I might have written, I might have found some cool pictures on Pinterest that inspired me, I might have found a new song I added to a character playlist, or maybe I was in the grocery store and heard something that sparked my creativity.

Who knows, y’all, but that’s the beauty of it!

If you’re interested in participating in DecWriMo with me, let me know! Tweet at me, tag me on Insta, or leave a comment below on what you want to think about this December. I’d love to hear what you’re focusing on and if there’s any way I could help!