Wednesday, January 10, 2018

2018 Goals

So I wasn't originally going to post any of my goals.  Because, really, what's the point?  Why set myself up to feel bad that I didn't reach them?

But then I couldn't stop myself.  Any excuse to talk about my stories...

And, when it gets down to it, perhaps posting about them will give me a little more motivation to push and actually reach these writing goals.  cause that's apparently how this works

I do a monthly plan (and have done so for a few years) mostly because it helps me decide what to do for the three months of NaNo (camps in April and July, and NaNo itself) and what I can do in between those months.
January  Finish first draft of Words of Peace
February/March  Edit Words of Gold
April  Finish first draft of Halls of Legend for Camp NaNo
May/June  Catch-up // Edit Words of Song
July  First draft of Secrecy for Camp NaNo
August/September/October  Catch-up // Edit Words of Peace // NaNoPrep
November  NaNoWriMo
December  Catch-Up
Sound doable?


Wait, I need plans for Saver of Memories??  *stuffs paper in shredding machine*  Forget the plans, I'm winging my blog this year!


I actually make personal plans (spend more time in the Word, keep room clean, pray more, spend more time with family, that sort of thing) every morning while reading the Bible, every evening while reading the Bible, and every Sunday and Wednesday during worship. (Seeing a pattern there?)
But I made a few more general ones at the beginning of this year.
  • Ride the horses more
  • Keep up running
  • Go mountain biking with my brother
  • Try doing some drawing with Evangeline
  • Write Ships, Secrets, and Survivors with Sarah
So, nothing super fancy.  But still, something to work at.  I've got 12 months, so let's see what I can get done!

Monday, January 08, 2018

30+ Miles of the Most Boring Forest in the World

Also known as, Julian Daventry runs her first Ultra Marathon.

What is an Ultra Marathon?  Usually it is a 31 mile race, though technically any race with a distance over that of a marathon (26.2 miles) is a Ultra Marathon.  Most Ultra's, however, are 31 miles, also known as a 50K (what you most often see on bumper stickers).

How did my race go?  Well....

6:30 AM
Almost time to leave the hotel for the race.  Just need to fill up my water pack.  My mother says not to worry, there will be water at the start.  Let's hurry and get in the car.

6:45 AM
Me, my Dad, my brother, and a running friend are all dropped off at parking lot where the start/finish line is.  My mom waves and drives off, and I barely have time to throw my coat in the van.  I thought she was going to stick around and watch us start - I'm still carrying a few things in my pack that I was going to give her later...

6:50 AM
There is no water at the start.  I forgot the pins for my race bib.  It's below freezing.  I don't even know what time the race starts, or what the course will be like because I've forgotten to read the race emails where that info is given...

6:55 AM
My Dad calls me over to a large group of runners.  "Are you ready to run this?" he asks.
"Oh yeah..." I say.
"We're starting in five minutes."
*record screech*
*frantically turns watch on so it can get my location before I start running*

7:00 AM
Everyone takes off running down a dirt road, and I attempt to breathe evenly and not panic.  I just started my first Ultra Marathon.  I don't have any water.

And then it's time to count the miles....



Starting to warm up.
I can do this.


The hot chicken broth my Dad has in his thermos and kindly shares with me is utterly amazing.
Warmed up, and running on down the trail.
This isn't so bad.
I can do this!


First aid station.
Fill previously empty water bottle.
Eat frozen potatoes, bacon, gummy bears, and pretzels.
They are actually pretty good.

Okay, some hills.
Hills are okay.
Just walk up, and then keep running.

The hills have not gone away.
They have gotten worse.

I did not sign up for these hills.


Hey - a lake!
Finally, something different to look at.
These trees are getting a little tedious.
As well as the hills.

Next aid station.
Food is still frozen.
Frozen food is still good.

The hills are gone.
The trees are back.
Something green would be nice, or at least something that's not a brown tree, stick, leaf, or dirt.

Almost hallway.
Getting tired.
But still going.

Me: So this is the Ultra Experience.
Dad:  We're only halfway.  It's gonna get worse.


My knee hurts.
My feet hurt.
My back hurts.
But never all at once.
They take turns, like the nice aches and pains they are

This is the farthest I've ever run. 
Every step is a new personal record.
I hate this forest.


I don't want to see a tree again.
What I want to see is a place why I can buy a new set of legs.

I can't believe I'm still in this forest.
I can't believe I've still on my feet.
I can't believe my feet are still attacked to my ankles.



Everything hurts. I've been running and running and I'm not getting anywhere.

 Well, I have ofically done a marathon.  So if I miss the cutoff time or end up having to stop because of injuries or something, I can at least say I'm a marathon runner.


Should be getting close to the finish. 
Races normally are slightly shorter than the announced distance.

ILE 29
So very...very....close....
Walking a lot.
A lot.


Technically I have reached an Ultra Marathon now.
Where is the finish line?
Can I stop now and legally finish the race?

I did not sign up for this extra distance.
Do I get a refund?
Or at least a new pair of feet?
Or a knee replacement?

MILE 32.50

I crossed the finish line with a watch showing 32.50 miles.
I cried as I crossed the finish line.
I was still able to run across the finish line.

Disclaimer: I say I ran 33 miles because my watch is notorious for giving me a much shorter distance than everyone else (like an 18 mile race I ran ended up being 15...that's how bad it is...).  So I'm adding a bit it didn't catch and saying I ran 33.

For the record, I am not getting a knee replacement.  My knee is fine.  A bit sore, but fine.  :)

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

April Wrap-Up

April showers bring...wet chickens and muddy horses and tire skids in the yard and puddles on the driveway and all that loveliness.

But even with all the chaos, I was able to get a fair amount of work done.  The weather has been very cold lately, and we even got some snow, which was odd for this time of year!  We've also been having an extreme amount of days off at work recently...which is nice, since then I can finish my story....

*glances at calendar*

*spews hot drink over computer screen*

Sweet tea and crumpets, it's January 2018!!!!!!!

Since when???  Are you telling me summer and fall has already passed, and we've had a new year start, and I had no idea?
Whoop de diddly do.
I'm off to buy some new calendars....

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

How to (Successfully) Co-author a Novel, Part 3: Writing & Wrap-Up

Alright, here is the final installment of the short little series on co-authoring.

Co-authored with the great Evangeline.

Who may or may not have had a little too much coffee while writing her part...go check out her blog.  Seriously, go do might regret it.  She'll be talking about where you can write your story.

Today (or this evening, rather), I'm going to share our thoughts on editing.

Editing a story on your own can be quite messy, especially if it’s your first time doing so (or, if you’re like me, and just write first drafts that are all over the place).

However, editing with a co-writer is twice as messy.

So don’t even try.

Okay, I’m kidding. Actually, if done with some forethought, editing with a co-writer can be somewhat easier.

Your partner is also your Alpha reader.

Doesn’t that sound great?  The poor soul that is exposed first to all the GRUESOMENESS and the SHEER RAW POWER of the FIRST DRAFT…is someone that helped write the thing…

Of course, editing won't be without it's little setbacks, but hey?  When does a story ever just go 100% perfectly?

In a nutshell: Fix what you are good at, and your co-writer can handle the things he/she is good at. Discuss the plots and characters and such together, and then go from there. If you are good at descriptions, than you can go through the story and take care of those. Your co-writer might tweak dialogue. If you split the story into different POVs, you might edit the ones with your character’s, and your co-writer will handle his/her character POVs.

Go through the draft together and make notes on what need to be changed, then split up the workload according to skill set and willingness to do so. Always keep your fellow writer in the loop of what you’re doing. If you’re going to change a scene, it never hurts to ask first.

Honestly, it's all downhill from here.  Unlike writing on your own, things get easier once you begin to edit.  Your workload is cut in half!

You should always edit the SAME DOCUMENT.  Things get messy when you have to merge to second drafts together.  *Shudders*

This happened to Julian and I once.  We were both editing a story on our laptops, but because we were using different word processors, we just decided to edit two different documents.  We were editing chapter by chapter thankfully, so merging them was actually rather simple, but it was frustrating trying to keep up with what the other was doing.

Once scenes are added, removed, and edited, and all the main and side plots are straightened out, and the dialogue and description are well balanced, send the grammar expert in to do a quick read-through, and you’re finished!

So we have a new year coming up.  Why don't you try something new and co-write a story?  It can be something simple, something short.  No need to start an epic nine-book fantasy saga on your first attempt (but I won't stop you if you do start one).  Just give co-writing a try this 2018!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

How to (Successfully) Co-author a Novel, Part 2: Characters

So technically I still posted this on Wednesday, so I kept my promise.  :)  But there was PANIC! at work today, and I was so frazzled I forgot just about everything that I should know about anything and yeah...Evangeline was so nice and patient.  Great gal to work with!

But today (or this evening, rather), we are talking about how to write the characters when you are co-authoring a novel.  And just as a reminder, when I am "speaking" the text is green, and when Evangeline gives her wisdom, the words are white.  Plain black text is just, well...plain black text.

Writing the characters can be one of the hardest and most complicated parts of co-authoring a story.  It can also be one of the best and most enjoyable experiences - when done so as to please both writers. 

It’s complicated.  :)

Today, we are going to tackle the two main ways characters can be handled in co-authoring: sharing the characters, and splitting characters.

Sharing Characters

Again, hop over to Evangeline's blog.  She'll be talking about how to co-author while sharing all the characters.  Very interesting.  :)

Splitting Characters

Most common to co-authoring, each character is assigned to a writer, and that writer is responsible for making sure that the character and the plot surrounding him/her is taken care of, nothing is forgotten, and other character plots are not trampled.  So one writer might take the main character, the other writer the sidekick or another MC.  Side characters are divided up, according to the writers preferences and writing abilities.  (I personally have a hard time writing villains, so I usually just let Evan take over them.)

(I rule the Dark Side.)

Of course, you can always try something new, and work with a character type or plot you usually avoid, just for some practice.  You have your co-author there to help you out, or take on the writing of hard character for you.

You also will need to set up some rules regarding characters to abide by, such as in the words of Iron Man, "Okay, anybody on our side hiding any shocking and fantastic abilities they'd like to disclose? I'm open to suggestions."

See, when you have a co-author, you can't keep little secrets about your characters’ history or abilities.  Everything has to be on the table.  The point of writing is to surprise your readers – not your co-author.  They need to know what’s going on.

This is a common pitfall I’ve seen (and experienced) in co-authoring.  Everyone wants the cool character with the tragic backstory – which isn’t revealed until later. (ba-dum tiss!)  Please restrain yourself from hiding things from your co-author.  They might unintentionally ruin your secret plot, leaving you furious.  Or in the revelation of your secret plot, you might crush their own plot…and then things go downhill.

You have to be willing to compromise when it comes to characters.  Your favorite character can't win every victory and be the center of attention all the time.  You must be willing to work with your co-author's characters and plots.  Not everyone can have a cool life (or win them all)!

But how do you write a story when you have your own characters you are writing?

Simple.  You take turns - going back and forth with them, moving along the draft, using the POVs of your own characters.  It will often look like this:

Julian:  Vanyar turned back to her visitor.  “Please excuse me for a moment.  I will be right back.”  With a final smile at Jewel, she turned and stormed through the shop, practically yanking the door off the hinges as she burst into the street.  “Tharn Blackshard, you get here right this minute!”

Evangeline:  Jewel covered her ears, and moved farther away, pretending to examine the wares of the shop.  When all was quiet, she turned back to her friend.  “Have you heard from Hwen or the Sisters recently?  Any news from their end of the map?”

Julian:  Vanyar stuck her head back in the shop.  “Say what again?”

Evangeline:  “Have you any news?” Jewel hesitated to stop closer - Tharn had not yet arrived, and Vanyar might break into more ear-shattering screams at any moment.

Julian:  Tharn trotted up, soaking wet, followed by Joshi, who was also damp from head to toe.  “What happened to you boys?” Vanyar waved a finger in their faces.  “What on earth happened to you??”

Evangeline:  The boys both pointed at each other, crying, “He started it!” at the same moment.

And so on until the end is reached.  This is a fun way to get stories covered, but it does have drawbacks: editing can be rather complicated.  If you copy the story right over, you will most likely have some serious head-hopping, POV problems, tenses and such change, and a mash-up of different styles.

Another problem that arises is lack of detail.  Often times when you write alone, you spend more time introducing a scene, and adding description.  When you’re going back and forth quickly, detail and description often falls to the wayside.

This can, however, be fixed in editing (which we will talk about next week, Lord willing).


(Though I will add that Evangeline and I know each other and our characters fairly well, so we often don’t bother to ask, and don’t mind when someone else takes care of a character for a few lines.  Like in the example above, Evangeline "took" my character Tharn when she made both boys point at each other.  I did not mind, however, because she played him correctly - they are both trouble-makers...always close to disaster.)

The Return

How you handle the characters will be up to you.  You can practice both ways before you draft, test things out during the first draft, or just decide which method you want to use beforehand.  You may even try using both (it’s actually very easy to do both, and ultimately, it will sorta’ end up that way regardless of which way you start with)!  Take a look at your story, and where you think it will go.  Which method will help the story flow?  Do you have multiple POVs?  A large cast of characters?  Splitting them up between the co-authors might be best.  Or are you sticking to one MC?  You may want to go ahead and share the writing of him/her.

Come back next week for our wrap-up post where we will discuss editing, give some general knowledge and tips, and dare you to try something new this coming 2018!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

How to (Successfully) Co-author a Novel, Part 1: Getting Started

There's an old quote that goes something like "Write what you know."  So today I am here to talk about co-writing a story, and Evangeline is helping me (she is my co-author, after all)!

Personally, I absolutely love co-writing.  Some of the best stories I have written were co-authored with Evangeline.  Some of my favorite characters are the ones we created together.  Some of my favorite quotes are from our stories.  But I digress.

I mean, seriously, these are sooooo cool!!!  (What you don't see are the stories we wrote via flash drive instead of actual paper and ink.)

Back in 2013, on a long car trip, Evangeline and I grabbed a notebook and decided to write a little story in it to pass the time.  It was a huge success (as in, we were instantly addicted and there is no cure).  Four years later, we have not looked back from co-writing.  From those little stories and snippets, have emerged entire novella, novels, and our complete series beautiful-brainchild Heritage of Kings.

Writing with a co-author is a different experience from writing on your own.  It’s scary and unfamiliar!  You don’t have complete control!  You have to share your characters and your work!  So why would you do it?  (Cause seriously, only those who enjoy forms of self-torture might like this...)

Simple.  It’s a great way to get non-writers into writing, to try out new styles, or simply to have help with brainstorming, plotting, writing, and editing.

But today, Evangeline and I are here to prepare you (and hopefully excite you) for jumping into this new way of writing!  We actually wrote most of the content on the posts together, taking turns the way we do when writing together.  When Evangeline is bleeding her fingers onto the keyboard, the font color will be like this.  And when I'm explaining, it'll look like this.  Ready?  Keep reading!

What should I expect to experience if I co-author?

Please jump over to Evangeline's blog for her list on things to expect.  You can read it first, or you can finish this post and then go visit her - it really doesn't matter.

Getting Started

The first thing you need is a story idea.  You're dead in the water without one.  Once you have your initial idea, sit down with your friend/co-author and work out a rough outline.  It doesn't have to be an eight-page document with all the scenes in detail, but enough to hold up the story idea. 

Basically, this is very similar to normal writing.  You get an idea...flesh things out...gather just need to work it out with another person, and make sure everyone is happy.

For Julian and I, we generally both come up with the plot together.  She usually has a good head for planning the general scope of the story, and then I sit down and work out all the smaller threads and side plots that bring everything together.  After I’m done, I’ll bring it back to Julian for review.  She'll tweak it or add elements of her own.  Once everything is agreed upon, we start writing.

Of course, sometimes you and your friend might have different methods of outlining.  And I’m here to tell you, it’s okay to outline differently for the same story when co-writing!  Evangeline usually keeps an outline consisting of things we have already verified to be in the story (such as “they go to the castle for XYZ”) and she keeps that with her while she writes.  I prefer to get a general idea (usually attained after lots of discussion and the final plot revision) and then wing it.  But I always have Evan to keep me on track.

The saying “two heads are better than one” holds true when co-authoring.  You'll always be coming back to the plot and tweaking/adding to it.  What makes co-authoring so great is being able to bounce off each other when brainstorming.

Not to mention that co-writing means you have twice the amount of strengths (and brain power) going into the story.  Evan is always there to bring humor to the draft, and I keep the drama and music going.  Evan pushes the plot forward, and I sew up any holes.

One thing that is fun to do with co-writing is to try branching out into a genre that isn’t one you’re normally writing in.  Evan didn’t write much fantasy until we started co-writing together.  And with the story I’m writing with Sarah will have more of a modern feel, which will be new to me.  So don’t be afraid to try something new!

The Return
So, are you interested in co-authoring yet?  I hope so, because there’s more coming next week!  This series (should) have two more parts covering how to deal with dividing up characters and work load, and then another with tips on how/where to write and edit your shared book.
Happy co-writing!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Wednesday Teaser

Have you ever written a story with someone, but just ended up arguing about what the characters were going to do?
Have you ever co-authored a story but couldn't figure out the logistics of two people and one book?
Have you ever wanted to share the writing experience with a friend or family member but couldn't figure out how to introduce them?
Well, stop by here on Wednesday for some exiting tips by yours truly!
(And also drop by Mrs. Baldwin's blog; the last post for the tag is up!)