Monday, December 9, 2013

Flightless Birds

(No, this post will not be about penguins or ostriches).

I completed NaNoWriMo!!! :D While my story isn't finished (far from it, actually), I hit the 50,000 mark on the 30th. Here are the ins and outs of my book, Flightless Birds.

Book cover:

Book Synopsis:

Raven doesn't know her last name. She doesn't know her first name, either, since Raven is just a nickname given to her by the Flock. Found hidden in the bushes as a baby next to her dead mother, the Flock took her in and raised her as her own. They're always on the run, the Flock, and now the members are starting to drop like flies. President Hunter's out to kill them all. If you're gay or if you're related to someone who is, you're dead. If you know, you're dead. If you know, and you spread the secret--
You're worse than dead.

First line:

My day started and ended with Blue.

Pinterest Board:

Click HERE to see it. Personally I like Willow Shields as Blue and Johnny Depp as Duke best, because they both really look like my characters.


"Radioactive" by Imagine Dragons (An awesome song for the entire book. It really matches the theme and the mood of it.)

"Burn" by Ellie Goulding (The Flock's theme song).

"Gone" by Ionna Gika (This song would play right after Blue's death).

"My Songs Know What You Did In the Dark (Light 'Em Up)" by Fall Out Boy (A really powerful, sort of angry song for one of Raven's fight songs).

"Girl On Fire" by Alicia Keys (Raven's theme song).

"Atlas" by Coldplay (This would play at the beginning of the book. It just really fits somehow.)

"We Remain" by Christina Aguilera (This would play at the end of the book. Not telling you who remains, though. ;) )

"Come & Get It" by Selena Gomez (This is really loud and intense, perfect for the lead up of the final battle scene between the main character and the villain).

"Not With Haste" by Mumford & Sons (A song that would play during the "credits" of the book. ;) )

"Bring Me to Life" by Evanescence (Another intense song. Maybe for another battle scene? I'm not really sure. Flashes of scenes from the book just played in my head when I heard it, so I added it in.)

"Where the Streets Have No Name" by U2 (This really describes the whole Flock's situation. They're always on the move, always trying to find a temporary home. Their streets have no name, since they're living in the wild.)

"The Ruler and the Killer" by Kid Cudi (The villain's theme song).

"I See Fire" by Ed Sheeran (Love this song. It's mellow, but powerful. I imagine a temporarily-defeated Raven walking through burning forests when this song plays.) 

"Everybody Wants to Rule the World" by Lorde (This song is dark and haunting. It describes the villain perfectly. And her voice is awesome.)

"Place For Us" by Mikki Echo (This is one of my favorites from this soundtrack. It basically mirrors the dialogue of the main characters, asking if the horror will ever end, if there's a place for them where nothing bad ever happens.)

"Counting Stars" by OneRepublic (The perfect song to describe one of the character's inner thoughts--not telling you who)!

Favorite quotes:

My day started and ended with Blue.

“Raven, Are you up to hunting today? I know you’re Head, but Jackson can take over for you if you’d rather—”

Fighting back weakness, I said, “I’m fine. Really.”

“Are you sure? You look—”

“Bad night’s sleep,” I insisted. “I’m over it now. Where’s my bow?”

“Jackson’ll have it. I told him if you weren’t up to it he’d be in charge.”

I gritted my teeth, but forced a smile onto my face. “I’m sure he loved that.”

Toby rolled his hazel eyes and ran his hands through his brown hair, which was sort of ridiculous, seeing as it was extremely close-cut. “Yeah. I believe his exact words were, ‘What? You mean that Raven isn’t Queen of the World?’”

"I can't wait for things to get better." Blue sighed and leaned against the tree trunk. She looked past me at the sunset. I followed her gaze and focused on the brilliant reds, oranges, purples, and pinks in the sky. "They will get better, won't they, Raven? Raven?"

I looked over at her, at her hopeful face, her wide eyes, and perfect . . . everything.
"Yes," I said. "Things will get better."

"Come here." He puts his arm around me and I lean my head on his shoulder. "You can tell me."

I gulp. "It's like admitting that she's finally gone."
Toby doesn't deny it. He doesn't say, "But she is." He doesn't say that I'm kidding myself. He just sits in silence with me and we watch the sky until the sun rises.

Stay strong, stick together, and survive. The three S's of the Flock. The first two are a cinch. The third one, not so much.

"I hate having to explain this stuff to the kids. It's bad enough they're living in the woods with us, barely scraping by, but then we have to strip away what little innocence they have left during the peak of their childhood to explain why they don't have a mommy and a daddy, why they don't have a house, or why we don't have proper shoes. It's awful. It was worse with you. You just looked so sad and lost and--not like you when I told you. Like all the light had left the world."

“It’s not because of Liam,” I insist. “It’s because of the Flock. If it were just Jackson I’d go.”

“No you wouldn’t. You hate Jackson.”

“I don’t hate Jackson.” At this Toby smiles. “I hate Officers. I hate President Hunter. I don’t hate Jackson. Hate’s too strong a word to be given to Jackson.”

I get up, stumble, and continue running. My legs are well muscled and trained, but they are burning worse than ever. One quick glance tells me that the burning is because of a bullet lodged in my knee. Somehow I don't feel the full pain I should feel. Is adrenaline the reason or fear? Are the two connected? I have no time to think.

Thinking. I will add that to the list of things that are dead.

"Couldn't sleep?" Mara says.
"Oh, no," I sigh. "The problem was I couldn't wake up."

Mara hesitates, but turns and leaves. Once I'm sure she's gone, I walk to the creek where Mara and I had sat the day before.

It's so blue.

I stick my hand in the frigid water scoop out a handful of pebbles. Slowly, hands trembling, I arrange the pebbles into a single word: Blue.

It's so beautiful, so breathtaking, so peaceful, so Blue that I can almost feel her standing next to me, holding my hand and laughing at something I had said.
The perfect monument for a perfect child. Some of the weight lifts from my stomach, like a bird taking flight. I feel it fly away into the blood-red sky.

"But I'm your sister!" Kevin protests. "You can trust me!"
"I know I can trust you," Jamie says. "It's the rest of the world I can't trust."
"Hear, hear." Flynn holds up a flask of water and takes a long swig.

"Is it about that Liam guy?" he asks. "The one that got captured?"
I lift my head up and give a little laugh. "You're good."
Flynn grins, showing off his pearly-white teeth. "Call me Professor Charles Xavier." He pauses. "Actually, don't. That's quite a mouthful."
"How'd you know?"
Flynn cocks his head. "Well, I was kind of an X-men geek back--"
"No. About Liam."

"You two are morons. There's no way this is going to work."
"That's the spirit." I roll my eyes at Flynn. "And here I was thinking that you were going to be all pessimistic."

"If you're going to help me, you need to be honest. No lying, especially to guard people's feelings. Lying is just as effective as putting a band-aid on a bullet wound. Eventually you need to be blunt and pull the bullet out."

"All right. So Mara will keep watch?"
"And she won't give us away?"
"I'll eat my nonexistent hat if Mara tells anyone until after they confront her."

When I wake Mara in the dead of night, I know I must've gone crazy. She knows it, too, because she gives me a look like a child whose parents have said, "Try it. You'll like it."

I can feel it; the warm, happy energy that I always feel when he's around. My stomach flops around inside me and I get a bubbly, tingly feeling up and down every inch of my body, like one of those carbonated sodas Liam told me about. Root beer and Cola and Dr. Pepper.

As Toby would say, this is not The Hunger Games. We are not a rebellion. We are not District 13. No one is the Mockingjay. And the fence will always be on.

"I'll shoot you first," the Officer says smoothly. "I'll shoot you and then you'll be dead."
"Put two and two together, did ya'?" I taunt him. "Death usually follows a bullet to the head."

I say nothing. Instead I glare at him, imagine spirals of flames shooting from my eyes and burning him until he is nothing but ash.
But of course I can't shoot spirals of flames from my eyes, so I settle for spitting into his face.

There is a chance I will return, because I can now feel the water, feel my hair fly around me like a flock of birds taking off into the sky.

"Why doesn't he like me?" I ask, though I already know the answer.
"He's jealous of you being second-in-command," Liam answers without hesitation. Bingo.
"That's stupid," Flynn says. "Raven's the most likeable person I've met."
I roll my eyes. "Come on, your best friend is Jamie. How can I be more likable than her?"
Flynn grins. "Sure she's my best friend, but she's not so likeable."
I laugh.

"Are you guys coming, or what?" Jackson shouts from way ahead of us. It dark enough that I can't make out his facial expression from this far away, though I can imagine it vividly. Eyes blazing, nose wrinkled, with a slight sneer on his face to mask his pain.

"Hi," I say.
"Hey," he says back, in an almost dreamlike state, like he wasn't fully aware of what he was doing. He glances down at my arms and gestures towards them. "What happened to your arms?"
"Jumped through a window." I say this as if it's perfectly normal, and Toby doesn't question why.

"You have plenty of time to improve. I bet someday you'll shoot better than any of us. You'll be the best in the Flock."
I feel my eyes bug out of their sockets. "Really? Ya' think so?"
"I know so. And when you do, you'll be the Head of Hunting."
I frown and furrow my eyebrows. "But Anthony's Head of Hunting."
Toby shrugs, still grinning. "If you're better than him, you'll be Head. That's the way things go."
"But that's unfair! He was Head first!"
Toby sighs and lays a hand on my shoulder. "Life's unfair, kid. You'd better get used to it fast, because if you don't, you're in for a lot of hurt."

I climb the biggest tree that's within three feet of me and I don't stop until I reach the top. I stick my head up high, so I'm above the leaves, above the world, and in the sky.
This is as close to freedom as I will get. Up here, this high off the ground, the world feels endless. It's times like these when you marvel at how large the universe really is. When you take the universe and compare it to us, the human race, we must be no larger than a speck of dust, or a germ, or an atom. We are small. We are powerless and we are weak. We are insignificant, and to me, that is beautiful. We're a tiny percentage compared to the rest of everything that is. We are this big.

We walk for an hour down the woods in silence. Though it's not quite sunset, the light is slowly starting to fade. Not once does Liam take his arm away from me. I don't mind. I like how he keeps me close against him, like I am his lifeline, his tether to this world.

I give Liam 'the look,' the one he calls the "Mrs. Weasley stare." I don't have the faintest idea who Mrs. Weasley is, or what her stare looks like, but mine is accusatory, suspicious.

I hear Liam and Flynn say, "Rock, paper, scissors, shoot!" They then both come over, Flynn carrying the blanket under his arm and Liam grinning at me.
I furrow my eyebrows and send him a silent message. What's so funny?
Liam glances over at Flynn, who's settling himself on the ground, and mouths, "I let him win."
He lays down on the ground so we're facing each other. I prop myself up on my elbow and, if I try really hard, I can imagine all of the sleeping Flock members around us while we stay up and chat about everything under the sun. It's almost like old times. Back when I had a home and a family.
I shake my head a little. This is my family now. Liam and Flynn are my family.
"His teeth were chattering the entire time," Liam whispers. "He had goosebumps up and down his arms, so I let him win."
I smother a laugh. "How do you let someone win at Rock, Paper, Scissors?"
"Like this." Liam holds up his fist.
I do the same. "Rock, paper, scissors, shoot!" Liam reveals his choice (scissors) shortly after I do (rock).
I grin at him, the kind where I show all of my teeth. "But you knew what I was going to choose. You know I always choose rock."
Liam shrugs, also smiling. "Well, I don't know what to say. Flynn chose paper and I chose rock."
I roll my eyes playfully. "A mere coincidence." I poke his arm hard enough so he rocks a little, thrown off balance. "I think you just don't want to admit that you lost at Rock, Paper, Scissors."
Liam makes a "pfft" sound. "What? Me? The Rock, Paper, Scissors champ? Never!"
I shrug. "If you say so."

I'd been so delirious with happiness that I'd forgotten all about a watch. My insides seem to sigh. A watch. I'll be safe. I won't half to resort to a half-sleep, the kind that feels like you're sleeping with one eye open.

I lie down next to him. "Doesn't the world seem endless when you look at the sky? All of those stars. There has to be trillions of them. It must be amazing to be out there, looking down at Earth and all of the other planets. I wish I were a star."
"You don't have to be a star to be out in space," Flynn says.
I snort. "All right. I wish I were a moon."
"No, I didn't mean it like that. I mean, people go out there all the time. For research and stuff. They even walk on the moon."
"Wow. Really? I had no idea."
Flynn nods, and looks over at me. "They're called astronauts. They have to go through all sorts of training and stuff, but once they've passed all the tests and whatever they climb into a rocket and take off."
"Wow. Wow."
Flynn laughs. "I can't believe you didn't know about them. I was sure Toby must've--" He breaks off, biting his lip. I pretend not to notice.
I stare at the moon, which is big and bright, though not quite full. I wonder if it's waning or waxing. "When things get better, if I'm still alive, I'm going to be an astronaut. I'm going to go to the moon and look down at Earth and wonder how in the world a planet that small could cause so much hurt."
"If you go, I'm going with you," Flynn says. "It could be lonely out in space."
I shake my head. "I don't know. All those stars and planets and moons and things? It'd be like having trillions of friends and family."
"Still. They can't exactly talk, can they?"
I smirk. "In a way, maybe they can. Deaf or mute people can't speak, but they still talk. With sign language or with their facial expressions. Maybe stars have their own sign language."
"Or Morse Code." Flynn grins. "You know, three short blinks means hi, three long ones means bye, two short and five long means where'd you put my sandwich."
I laugh.

I hear something rustle behind me and I glance back, but it's just a bird. A crow. No, a raven. I can tell because Toby taught me early on to make a difference between the two. It's bigger than a crow, his feathers slightly more ruffled. He's not so much sleek and shiny as he is black and bold. Black as night. Black as my hair.
"There's a big difference between a raven and a crow. One is a crow. One is your name."

Flynn nods slowly. "I think I get what you're trying to say."
I frown. "Words don't do her [Blue] justice. She's--more than that. She's beyond verbal explanation."
Flynn gives a little laugh. "Beyond verbal explanation. I like that."
"She was pure." I stare up at the cloudless, blue sky. "After everything she'd been through, she was pure." 

"You scared me half to death," I say, gasping for breath through the tears.
Flynn frowns. "Only half to death? Geez, I thought I'd scare you at least three quarters of the way to death."

"You are truly a miracle," Flynn mutters, gently tipping my head back. "That shot seems like it should've killed you."
I give him a small smile. "I guess I just really wanted to live."
Flynn leans back on his hands and shakes his head at me. "Again and again you've outrun death."
"Yeah, he must be pissed at me."

"What'd I miss?" he asks, looking back and forth at Flynn then me.
"We were just discussing our imminent deaths," I answer.
Liam furrows his eyebrows. "Our--"
"Imminent deaths," Flynn finishes for him, nodding. "Yup."
"Why are our deaths imminent?"
"Because no one is going to come save us and we'll either die of old age or be publicly executed," I explain.
"Not if we escape."
"I don't think that's really possible."
Liam frowns at me. "Since when have you been a pessimist?"
"Not a pessimist," I say. "Just a realist."
"You've always been an idealist, though."
"It's time to face the facts. We're just not strong enough to take such a stable system over."
"Every system has a flaw."
"Maybe. But what's President Hunter's flaw?"


A guy I met on the YWP forums just finished my anime-styled drawing of Raven! :D Here are the pictures. Isn't she awesome?!


Raven Portrait


Alexandrina Brant said...

I like this, Kate. I love the sentence "Found hidden in the bushes as a baby next to her dead mother" as it's more than just the 'found as an orphan' trope, and it suggests the being hunted already.

You have quite a lot of fave quotes, so I skim read them today, since I'm supposed to be revising for a Stats test, but I love the idea. I've never gone through my own book(s)/WIPs and picked out my favourite quotes because something in the back of my mind always says "it's the reader's job, not yours," but I know I have my own favourite bits. ;)

Alex Brant :)

Anonymous said...

Wonderful excerpts! I loved reading them.

Flightless Birds reminds me of Maximum Ride. Have you ever read it?

The Magic Violinist said...

@Alexandrina Brant Thanks! :D I hadn't even thought about that when I wrote the blurb, but I guess it does work.

@nevillegirl Thank you! :) Ha ha, yes I have. Now that you mention it, I can see the similarities.

Boquinha said...

Wow! I read all of this before bed yesterday (this morning :P). I loved all of it. Your writing floors me again and again. It's compelling; it's real; it's engaging. The characters have personality and wit. There are funny lines. There are deeply meaningful, profound lines. So much depth! Wow. I bet that is a lot of fun to write. Also? I love the character's names - where did you come up with them? Also, the pictures are great. Wonderful writing. I love it.

Dr. Mark said...

Wow! This is really great. It is not only cool to read all of the excerpts, but also to see the music you envision going with the book and the actors who would best portray your characters. I'm very impressed.

I liked so many of the quotes, but this one actually made me laugh out loud:

"What happened to your arms?"

"Jumped through a window." I say this as if it's perfectly normal, and Toby doesn't question why.

Keep up the great writing!

Boquinha said...

"He's not so much sleek and shiny as he is black and bold." Love this. It made me stop and ponder.

The Magic Violinist said...

@Boquinha Thanks! :) I'm so gad you like the quotes! As for the character names, I'm not exactly sure how I came up with all of them, but I do know where I got some of them:

Raven: I got her name from a character in the Delirium series. I just loved the name, and I knew that one of my characters had to have it. I actually came up with Flightless Birds from another story I'd written. I'd started writing a novel, but only got twenty pages in before I realized that I was just writing Delirium, except worse (I'd finished the trilogy the night before, and I guess that was my way of handling the hangover). Anyway, I save the story, but never went back to it. I discovered it again right before NaNoWriMo and voila! I recycled the first twenty pages and changed it to form a completely new story. (See, this is why you never give up on an idea! You never know what you can turn it in to.)

Mara: Again, I got this name from a character in another book (The Bitter Kingdom). I wrote it down to use eventually, and I did! :)

Liam: Kirsten wanted me to help her brainstorm ideas for her secondary character. She liked the name Liam, and we thought it'd be fun if we both had secondary characters in our NaNoWriMo books named Liam.

Flynn: Remember Colin and Finn from "Gilmore Girls"? ;) I thought Finn was a cool name, but it didn't really fit my character, so I just tweaked it a little to make it work.

Blue: Another name stolen from the Delirium series. I love it when characters are named after colors (Blue, Grey, Red, Violet, etc.). I just think it's so cool. It gives them a sort of mystical quality without being too out there.

Duke: I honestly have no clue how I came up with this, but Duke just seems like a scary, powerful name.

President Hunter: Get it? He hunts down rebels. I'm going to change his name eventually. Too Hunger Games.

Jackson: No idea why. I think I also may have gotten this from "Gilmore Girls," though my Jackson is NOTHING like that Jackson.

@Dr. Mark Yeah, that's one of my favorite quotes, too. ;)

Boquinha said...

LOVE hearing about where you get your names! Pretty much everywhere, apparently.

Looking over what you've said, it makes me think of how often your wheels are turning when we're watching something together, discussing something . . . etc.

Of course, I shouldn't be surprised - so often, you're grabbing pen and paper or your iPod to "write something down." I love it! Thank you SO much for sharing all this with me - I really enjoy hearing about your inspiration.