Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Villains - A Rant

(Please pardon if this strays slightly off-topic, I just felt the need the type all this out...anyone else have thoughts on this??)

I see it everywhere: How to create a believable villainWhat motivates your antagonist?  How to write a villain that readers can understand.

This is all very fine and good.  Our stories need to be believable.  It doesn't make sense if we did hours of prep for the MC, and then just went "um...the villain wants world domination and he has hair."  The characters in our books (all of them) need to have motivations, and realistic ones.

But lately I feel as if I've seen the rise of "good" villains.  Of villains that readers actually fall in love with and even rush to defend.  Of people who are sometimes good and sometimes bad, depending on their mood or the circumstances.  Of antagonists who are just "misunderstood" or else excused.

(Now I really like redemption arcs.  It's great to see the villain realize the error of their ways and join the good guys in time to make a last stand against the chaos he or she has created.  It's great to see them repent.  And as Christians, we should be praying to that end for people, hoping that they would repent.  But that's not what I'm talking about.)

I'm talking about rooting for a character while they're bad.  Laughing when no one really knows what side they're on, because they're twisty and it's funny.  Excusing their actions because of some tragic backstory that made them do what they do so it's not quite their fault.

Have we grown so tired of seeing the hero do what is right, that we would rather sympathize with what is evil because it's new and exciting and entertaining?  What are we teaching ourselves?  That it's okay to do bad things as long as we help the good guys in the end?  That somehow we can be excused from our behavior because of what happened to us in the past?  That being bad is cool?  That killing is funny?

(Maybe I'm getting a few vibes from Gray's post on Bad Boys in YA, what do you think?)
But, people say, not everyone is completely good or completely bad!  We all make mistakes and have our own sins and struggles.  Some of us are naturally more inclined to do good, and others more inclined to do bad, and I'm trying to show that.  Our stories need to be believable!
Yes, they do.  I agree 100%.  But that's not an excuse.  As writers, we need to show things the way they are.  But we also need to inspire, encourage, and motivate our readers.
We need broken characters, to show us we're not alone.  They can show us the path of despair that sin leads us down.  They can show us that there is redemption for those who repent.
But we also need good characters, to give us an example.  They can show us that it's possible to remain steadfast and not give up.  They can show us how to help others.
But, others say, completely good characters are boring.  I want to read about characters with faults!  Not follow some perfect Mary Sue character who does what's right every single time!
Does anyone ever get tired of Aragorn always being so noble and kingly?  Does anyone ever get tired of Leith Torren galloping off to the rescue?  Does anyone get tired of people being kind and brave, despite the opposition?
You can have a character do the right thing and not have them be "sickeningly perfect."  Maybe they're scared, but they do it anyway.  Maybe they don't want to do it, but they do it anyway.  Maybe they do it, all the while asking for strength because they know they can't do it alone.
If every character we ever read about turns back, we will naturally follow in their footsteps and turn back as well.
So we need characters who push forward, to show us the way.  And we need characters who turn back and then realize their mistake and return to do the right thing so for those who make the same mistakes can realize there is a way for them to return as well.
Ultimately, everyone is completely good or completely bad (in God's sight).  We will all go to one of two places at death - those who have repented of their sins and received Christ's righteousness will go to be with God, and those who have gone on their own way will go to Hell.  And we need to remind readers of this as well.
That sometimes-good-sometimes-bad person might have gotten away at the end of the book with happiness.  The good person might have been horribly murdered and never seen joy.  Maybe the villain got what they wanted at last.  But at death, everyone will get what they truly deserve for eternity.  Things here on earth last for but a moment, but eternity is forever.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

NaNo Checklist

October is here, and that means NaNoWriMo is speedily approaching.  I know many writers are preparing to take part in the month-long writing craze, while others are hesitant, and others have decided to pass this year.
It's a daunting goal: to write 50,000 words of a story in 30 days.  But, I can assure you, it's quite doable.  A little preparation beforehand and some self-control during can go a long way.

Before: Pray

As always, we should bring our plans to God and ask His blessing upon them.  Pray that He would give you time to prepare and write the book.  Pray that you would be able to glorify Him through it all.

Before: Create Your Novel
This is the fun part, and begins the motivation to write.  Sign up or log in and create your novel on the NaNo website.  Put up a cover or a blurb if you have one.  Then share the word among your friends and family that you're going to attempt NaNoWriMo!
Before: Gather Your Intel
I hope you know what you need to do before you start writing a draft.  Some people write out the book chapter by chapter, or scene by scene.  Others just type up everything they know randomly into a word document and then wing the rest.  I like to do something in the middle - a synopsis.  I write out where I want the book to go (kind of reads like /and then they go over here and this happens, and so-and-so runs off to do something else and the rest head off to the forest/), but leave it open for change and even bunny trails.
Before: Organize Your Workspace

I find I like to save current WIPs to my desktop, where I can access them instantly, without having to go through a maze of folders.  Once I've finished using a file, I then store it away into the correct folder in my Documents.
Right now, I have a Scrivener file prepared for my NaNo novel, saved to desktop.  My synopsis is also beside it, easily accessible.  All my other writing material (drafts and such) is saved to Documents, out of the way.
Before: Finish Your Chores
Think ahead to November.  Is there anything you can do now so you don't have to do it next month?  Clean your room, get the fall clothing out, start the Thanksgiving preparations, prep some blog posts.  Anything that can be done now GET IT DONE.
Before: Get Your Reward
Bribing yourself can be very efficient.  Give yourself a treat if you meet your word count every day - maybe a YouTube video, five extra minutes on social media, or even just a piece of chocolate.  Have another reward every week, maybe something bigger: read a short story, bake some cookies, or just go outside for a hike.  And then prepare something big for the end - a movie, a trip with friends, or just let yourself sleep in Saturday morning.  Celebrate your milestones, but don't let yourself get too carried away.  Don't celebrate reaching your daily word count by watching a movie marathon - you can use that time to get ahead!

During: Pray

Continue to pray.  Pray that God would keep you from idolizing this story.  Continuing in prayer can help put this story where it should be - after God.  Make sure you're spending time in God's Word first and foremost.  If you're skipping morning or evening devotions so you can get NaNo accomplished, what are you saying you prize more?  God or the story?

If you complete NaNoWriMo, but haven't touched your Bible, it's not a victory at all.  Put the things of God first, and leave the rest to God's Providence.
During:  Use Your Chances
Have you made your word count and still have half an hour before bed?  Don't stop writing - keep going!!!  Had some plans canceled?  Use that extra time to write!!!  Get ahead whenever you can, so when you don't have time, it's not as stressful.  For example, Mondays are always the slowest evenings of my week - I can easily double my normal word count.  And I write as much as I can then, so if anything happens later on in the week, I can still meet the weekly word count needed.
During: Guard Your Time
I can so easily get distracted on social media.  So I have to make rule that I can't check it until I've reached my word count.  And even then, I can only look at it for five minutes before getting back to writing. 
(Tip: Timers Are Your Friend

When it's time to write, I pull out my phone and start the timer going.  Then it's like I'm on the clock.  I can't get distracted.  I have to write until I meet my goal.  And at the end of the month, I can view how much time I've spent writing and reading and working on specific projects.)
During: Don't Backspace
Three years ago, I was writing the first draft of Words of Song, and at one point realized "they wouldn't do this."  So instead of erasing all those words until I got back to where the story should be, I just...*hits enter button a few times*...started the next scene where things /should/ be and continued on.
Remember, you can fix things in editing.  Forgot about or added a character?  Just pick back up like they've always been there.  Realized one needs to go?  They suddenly vanish.  Hate where thee story starts?  Just forget and keep pressing on.  You can make changes later, right now, you just need to put the words on the page.
During: Save Your Work

There's nothing more discouraging that loosing part of what you've spent so much time typing up.  That happened to me two years ago.  I only lost about 400 words, and honestly, it wasn't even the word count that bothered me, but the fact that I can never seem to do justice to a scene when I'm rewriting it from scratch (editing an already put-down scene is easier).  It's almost as if putting it down in a word document erased it from my mind, and when the doc is lost, then I can't get a backup form my brain.
Lately, I've just been emailing myself copies of my recent WIPs instead of loading onto a Flash Drive.  (I've managed to loose two flash drives in the past month, so yeah...)  But since I have everything saved in an email folder, I can now access the doc anywhere - my laptop, phone, iPad, or wherever else I find myself.  I just need to log into my email and there it is.
But however you do it, SAVE YOUR WORK!!!

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

The Shining Stallion - A Poem

Well, as I mentioned before, I've won a poetry contest.  Yes, it was just at the fair, but there were a ton of other entries, so I'm quite proud of it.

I can't remember where the idea (or inspiration) for this poem came from, but here it is:

The moon shines onto his glimmering hide
while he stands by the road on the far way side.
Watching the house where the lights have gone dead,
as he pricks velvet ears on his small black head.
Then he lowers his nose and picks his way
across the field shining with newly-cut hay;
His dark, graceful hooves not making a sound,
or even a print on the hard, frosty ground.
With breath making clouds in the cold night air,
he fixes the house with a keen, longing stare.
Hearing a noise he looks up at the sky
for he well knows that there are humans nearby.
Lying in bed in her small little room,
sleeps The Girl, with a sad face lit by the moon.
Gleaming-wet tears track the lines down her cheeks
but still on through the terrible dream she sleeps.
She knows her hard lessons, and her dark woes.
She knows when to help, and when to let one go.
Chasing through dreams run a black horse's screams.
For she cannot be selfish; all this she deems.
A tap on the pane, a gentle nicker,
rouses with a start the shivering sleeper.
She glances outside; he paws at the moon.
The sun is coming and he must leave her soon.
Morning is here, with a sunny blue dawn
The Girl runs outside and out onto the lawn.
She strains her small ears and hears a goodbye:
A wild and free shining stallion's cry.
I didn't win any fancy awards, just some ribbons (and bragging rights, lol).  I think I was under 18 at the time, so I believe the age group I was in (and placed first) did not go against adults, but the judge's choice award did go against the adults and I did win that one as well.

(Also, the horse in the picture is my Frieisan, Pepper.  He's actually a gelding, but I thought I would use him for my title picture anyway, since I don't have any actual stallions...)

So there you have it!!  I have some writing advice themed posts coming up, as well as the epic Shared WIP Tag in November.  So be sure to keep your eyes open for those!

Monday, October 01, 2018

September Wrap-Up

Wow.  September went by sooooooo fast and NaNo approaches and colder weather and sweatshirts and fuzzy socks and the animals are all covered in burrs.

So how did September go?

My family went hiking with Sarah's family on Labor Day.  I love the trail to the waterfall (except the stairs, hate those).

Top of the waterfall...

The waterfall itself (so pretty!)
Also sent Words of Gold to my Alpha Reader, and just got her notes back the other day (super helpful and can't wait to make this book even better).

Had Hurricane Florence come through (thankfully, no damage done, at least to my place).
Rainbow after the storm
Went on a ride with my Dad (who doesn't normally ride bareback, but we were feeling adventurous).
Riding in the evening is so relaxing

I typed up the synopsis for Words of Song, and it looks like I'm going to have to completely re-write the enter book (fun).

Also went to the Write2Ignite Conference (first conference ever; left with a bunch of stuff to think about).
Literary Treasures book table (featuring Fawkes and The Girl Who Could See!!!!)

My brother got me a notebook for note taking (do I not have a cool brother??)

Book room (yes, I did get books)

Wandering around between sessions

Still wandering around

Jenny Cote, the key-note speaker

The road sign where I found the name Julian, so many years ago, when I was a young, aspiring writer in search of a name for a character....then later chose it as a penname.

Also finished the Out of Time Trilogy, by Nadine Brandes (pretty good, though not my favorite genre).

Hope y'all had a good month.  Anyone hit by the hurricane?  Should I do a post on what I learned at Write2Ignite?

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

#CoverLove Tag

So Ivie tagged me...and honestly, I spent so much time staring at my bookshelves, it's a little embarrassing.

The rules

Thank the blogger who tagged you and link back to their blog
Create seven new #CoverLove Tag questions or just use mine
Answer the seven questions your nominator gave you
Nominate seven other bloggers and let them know they've been tagged

A cover you loved the moment you saw it
I don't even remember when I first saw this book for sale in the store...I just was so excited to find a "new" Tolkien story with a beautiful cover and I had to have it...

It's not even the prettiest cover on my shelf.  But it's one where I did love it the instant I saw it.

Your least favorite book cover on a book you love

Well, tbh, the first thing I thought of was the poor, ruined cover of my old The so many times the cover completely fell off.

Than I realized the question was mostly talking about, well, ugly covers.  And How They Kept the Faith came to mind.  Because the cover isn't that great.  It's not horrible, but it could be a lot nicer.  It doesn't really make you want to discover what story is inside.

But the is amazing.  Honestly.  It's got to be a top favorite.  It's moving and beautiful and heartwrenching and just...AHHHH

A cover you love on a book you hate

Okay, first off, I don't hate The Fiddler's Green.  I just...didn't like it.  Not a single thing of it.  The first book was entertaining, but this one...ehhhhhhhuuuuuuu bleh.  But the cover...isn't it stunning????

A cover that makes you think of your childhood

So this is my second copy of this book, as my mom bought me a new one after I read the first one to pieces.  This was my favorite book when I was a horse-crazy youngster.

Aesthetic goals book cover


A book cover with a food item you love to eat

I practically tore my shelf apart looking for something with food on it...and this was the closest I came to "food."
I mean, salad anyone??  Salad is good.
(Though, come to think about it, I did have a cooking magazine in my magazine stack...guess I could have counted that one??)

A book cover you love on a book you love

The Silmarillion all the way!!!

The Re-Tag

Eh...I'll be lazy here...if you want to answer the following questions, by all means steal the tag and run and answer them!!!!

A favorite cover on an old book
A favorite cover on a new book
The cover of a book you're currently borrowing (from the library, or a friend)
A blue cover
A cover with an animal on it
A cover that made you look twice at it the first time
A cover you thought was amazing at first, but now you don't find it so exciting

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Special Announcement

It's the big announcement y'all've been waiting for!

The Shared WIP Tag is back!!!

Calling all NaNoWriMo participants, this edition of Julian Daventry's Shared WIP Tag is going to focus on your NaNo novel!!  You can use this tag as part of your very own NaNoPrep or simply just to get yourself excited and motivated.
(And who doesn't love talking about their writing at any given chance?)

How Does It Work?

Simply send me a message!  Drop me a comment, email me (if you already have my email), or send me a message via the Contact Me form on the right side of my blog.  I will add you to the list of participants.

Secondly, the participants will work together via Google Docs to create sets of questions for everyone to answer.  If you join late, that's fine - you can still be part of the tag, but you'll just miss out on the fun of choosing the final questions.  This will be done throughout September, and we will draft our answers during October, thus building the excitement for our NaNo novels.

Then, during November, everyone will release their own answers to the questions on their blog, usually on the same day, if at all possible.  We link to each other's posts, and NaNo madness will ensue!
Still confused?  Check out my Shared WIP Tag page on my blog and check out the previous posts.  Then go ahead and let me know you wanna be part of it, because it's lots of fun!!!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

How I Ride (a miniseries)

A brief little wrap-up to my series, featuring my horses (who I don't think have actually gotten their own post yet???)


I don't really do anything fancy with my horses.  We aren't on the show circuits or the rodeos.  Not that I'm a bad rider, or that my horses are wild.  Far from it.


Short Rides at Home

Most of the time, I'm just riding around my house.  I swing on bareback after work and ride down the road before dark.  I race around the row of apple trees lining the driveway.  I give my little sisters and the neighborhood kids pony rides and mini lessons.  I might hitch the cart and trot up the road. 
That's as laid back as my rides get.

My Personal Trails

This is where it gets crazy.  The trails we've cut back behind the house range from let's drive the Jeep through the woods to isn't this a deer path? to I think I just swallowed a spider when that last branch hit me in the face.

They're not maintained very well.

The Local Trails
I have a 6 mile trail in town, and it's wide, rolling, and relaxing.  There are always other people riding their horses, so it's fun to go and show off my horses and admire others in return.

But the other trail...a 30 mile one...I can go for miles and never see another soul.  The trail is beautiful, winding along creeks, farms, and the mountains.  But it's narrow.  I usually get my knees squished between horse side and tree at least once every time.  It's rocky (made sure the horses have shoes!).  And it's relaxing.

I just gotta watch my knees.

Carriage/Cart Driving

I drive up and down the road, and even to town, when I feel like it.  There are also a few local trails where I can take carts, and I also have some driving buddies that I occasionally meet up with and we challenge each other to some cones courses.

Jennifer's House

She has around 6-8 miles at her house, and has a number of young kids.  And do you know what kids like?  Galloping.  And guess what her trails are?  Hay fields, and the roads leading to hay fields.  So guess what we do a lot of?  Galloping.
The Horse Resort

There's a place about an hour and a half away I go to about once a year.  They've got hundreds of trails up in the mountains, and you can camp in a tent or RV, or rent a cabin.  They've got barns to keep the horses in (and some cabins have their own private barns). 

It's fun.  But the trails.

The hard ones are straight up and straight down, and in poor condition because hardly anyone ever goes on them.  The easy ones are covered in mud because they're flat and used so many times.  The maps are confusing and the trails incorrectly marked.  We get lost every time we go.

But it's fun.  Really.  It is.

Ride and Ties
Two people and one horse.  One takes off on the horse, galloping madly down the trail, leaving the other teammate behind.  After a while, the rider dismounts, ties the horse to a tree, and starts running.  The other person catches up to the horse, mounts, and takes off, passing the other person.

Repeat until race is finished.

Obstacle Courses
hese are fun, too.  And the horses seem to enjoy them.  I've done ones in arenas, and ones where you go along a trail.  But you're judged on time as well as how well you and your horse complete the obstacles.

Mounted Archery

Fairly self explanatory.  Arrows + Horses = Galloping off on your horse while firing arrows into the sunset.

This is my newest "horse thing" so I haven't gone to any official events.  I just set up my own course and trot the horses along, shooting arrows.  But it's fun, because my brother will actually do it with me.



I don't show a lot, and when I do, it's usually just benefit shows.  I enjoy watching others in the ring, but since I'm not strictly English or Western, it makes showing a little difficult (which class does an Australian saddle fit into? lol). 

But I know where my horses and I truly shine - trying new things, tackling challenging trails, and bringing smiles to little children.
Bonus: Meet my Horses
So I don't think I've ever actually introduced my horses before?  I mean, I've shown pictures of them and all, but never given them a post to themselves before.  To be honest, I've tried to not bring them up too much, since this is a writing/reading blog, not a horse blog.

I've put this off for far too long.

Cord is my first horse, now a 28 year old Paso Fino gelding.  He was a retired show horse when we got him, and he has faithfully taught me so much about trail riding, showing, and just being around horses.  He is now semi-retired - technically for little kids only, but I can still swing up and ride him bareback around the house for a short ride.

Spirit was my second horse, a Tennessee Walker.  He's the perfect trail horse, and standing at a big 16.3 hands, anyone can ride him, adults and children alike!  He has smooth gaits, and is patient and tolerant of beginners.  He's slowly moving into retirement as well, since he's 21 years old, but he still enjoys trail riding and being loved on.

Pepper is my dream horse.  He will do anything I ask him, be it a Ride and Tie race, mounted archery, driving, representing the Friesian breed at the fair, or just babysitting my little sisters.  He is an attention seeker, and loves being around people.  He's done a lot for an 8 year old, and has become my go-to horse for anything and everything!

Bree is my newest addition, and my first ever Quarter Horse!  He's tiny, at 14 hands, and is like a huge puppy dog!  He follows me around, begging for attention.  He's young, at 5 years old, and already is a solid trail mount.  I look forward to introducing him to some more things and turning him into an all-around horse.