Story Reveal // Ships, Secrets, and Survivors

So a few months ago (or thereabouts) Sarah was talking on her blog about how when she and I first started writing, we often wrote stories with each other.  As we got older and more serious, we left that behind and went our own separate ways (though still remaining close critique partners, or helping each other out with ideas, writing problems, etc.).  And then the wonderful Ivie commented on the post and suggested we try writing another story together.


We did.

New Project Reveal!.jpg

Right now, this story is just in the plotting stage, and we plan to being drafting once NaNo is complete.  This story most likely will not progress as fast as our other novels, since those will be taking first priority.  But still.

We are writing a story together (again)!!

In an event where nothing goes wrong, everything goes wrong...

Adi is not your average princess, dreaming of more than dresses and dances. When her name is called on Selection Day for the Scaera Dumeda, a yearly test for the smartest and most cunning young people of Antovan to join the elite Shadow Squad, she throws away her title, despite her family’s threats of disownment and the uncertain future ahead. This may be the opportunity she hoped for.

Jay Hill is the fearless captain of the Red Wind, and was believed to be a ghost story until one of his crew is selected for the Scaera Dumeda. The sailor, Ravin, is shocked and horrified at such an announcement. Ever since receiving an almost fatal blow in a duel he has been marked dead in the records.  He never even took the required test. Jay suspects the pirate Captain Rev Martin of treachery, but can do nothing except watch and wait as the event begins.

When other selectees start to die off unexpectedly (and contrary to the spirit of the event), Adi, Ravin, and the remaining candidates must learn to work together with Jay’s pirate hunters to defeat the evil lurking in the Scaera Dumeda. Can a motley crew with different goals learn to fight together? Or will they just end up making a mess of a disaster?

Today I will be talking about the Pirate Hunters.  If you run over to Sarah's blog, she will be posting about the Shadow Squad.

Legends speak of a ship that sails pirate-infested waters, a ship with no sails, no flag, and no fear.  Her captain, the tales say, has sworn to hunt down and stop the most notorious pirate in Antovan - Captain Rev Martin.  No one knows who these sailors are, or where they came from, but the burning wreckage from pirate ships can be found floating on the water, and sometimes watchmen tell tales of seeing a ship sailing by the light of the moon.

So when a dark ship with no sails is found docked outside the building where the Scaera Dumeda takes place, people are astonished.  The legends are real!

They are even more astonished when they see the captain - not an old, seaworthy sailor, but a young man of noble linage.

The sailors sitting on the railing, watching everyone with raised eyebrows are not battle-hardened warriors (as suspected from the wreckage they leave), but orphans, commoners, and even ex-criminals.  To top it off, the sailor selected for the Scaera Dumeda is none other than Ralivaen del Mankayl - a mercenary who has been presumed dead for many years.

What the locals can not see - the treachery about to hit the selectees of a simple yearly event, and the preparations the young captain and his crew are making to capture the Captain Rev Martin.

So?  Excited?  I am!!  I'm sure you'll be hearing more about this story in the future!

The 4-Part Writing Special // Questions on Writing

The 4-part writing special pt 4.png

So here we are at last - the final set of questions!  Hope y'all have been enjoying getting to know Words of Gold (and everyone else's WIPs).  And I have no pics for today - sorry!

What do you do to get yourself in the story?

Usually I just start writing.  After a few sentences, I'm deep in the world and the MC, loving every word.  If I just don't feel like writing, I'll re-read some previous chapters to remind myself why I'm writing this book. 

Do you do anything extra - art, covers, character journals, glossaries, playlists, etc. to help you with your story?

I can't draw to save my life, so I mostly just stick to looking for pictures on Pinterest.  I have a Betrayal and Bravery playlist with music that fits the mood (as well as songs that I can imagine the characters singing/playing).  I do character journals (of a sort) as my pre-drafting process, and also make a list of all the characters, animals, and places (so I can keep things organized).  Sometimes, when I'm in an applicable situation in life, I might pretend to be a character.

*eyes Sarah and Evangeline*  So that's why you might occasionally see me mumble while tacking up a horse....

What is your writing process?

Step One:  Get amazing idea.
Step Two:  Write it amazingly.
Step Three:  Publishing with amazing company.
Step Four:  Get amazingly rich.

Read and learn, people.

Ha ha, nope.

Actually, I usually get an idea.  Maybe a character, or a brief plot.  I don't start writing a new story, but rather, I save the plot and just add to it.  Maybe a month or so later, I've got characters, a full plot (more or less), and a brief synopsis.

Once I have decided how the story will go (via a synopsis; I can't work with outlines), I bang out the first draft.  This usually takes me a month to two months (most of it during one month, then just finishing the last few chapters during the second month).

Then begins the process of editing.  I usually do a read-through and take notes.  Add new and remove un-needed scenes.  Edit all remaining scenes as required.  Send to fellow Pennites for feedback.  Make changes after receiving said feedback.

And then repeat as many times as needed until all the scenes are what I want.  Then I go on to editing grammar, spelling, sentence structure, etc.

There you have it!

Anything you learned about yourself or your writing that you would like to share?

I've found that I need a balance between planning things and winging things.  I would much prefer to wing it, but if I do, the story usually ends up not being done very well (rabbit trails all over...).  If I plan every detail, I get a different but also unpleasant result (the story is short and terse).

Finding a balance of just enough preperation so that I can successfully wing (more or less) my writing is necessary (and possible).

(Not to mention I can apply this to anything in my life - work, running, cleaning, etc. to complete said things.)

What keeps you going when you start to worry you’ll never finish?

I remind myself that I don't have a set-in-stone deadline.  If the story isn't turning out so great, I can ditch and start another, or I can re-plot and make changes so that it can continue. 

If life is busy, I just remind myself that little bits at a time can add up.  Or I can just take a break and return when theres more time.

As long as I keep pushing forward, bit by bit, I will finish.

(I will add that I don't often feel that way - just my personality...)

What inspired you to start writing, and how long have you been at it?

I like to think that I've always been a writer, and my family and friends just continued me along this path. 
My dad always told the best bed-time stories, and my parents taught me to read at three years old. 
Growing up, my sister and I would always play stories with our toys - there was always a bad guy who needed to be defeated. 
I devoured every book I could get my hands on. 
Sarah and I wrote stories together on hand-made books. 
Every personal notebook I had contained story attempts. 
I was always looking for new books to read, and not always able to read something new. 
When I got my first laptop, I immediately started writing with it, and never looked back. 
So I don't know when I exactly started. 

What author is your writing style similar to?

Honestly, I have no idea.  My style tends to differ depending on each story.

What writing goals do you set, and how do you reward yourself for meeting them?

I set monthly goals, in more of a "get as much as you can done with this book in this time, be it first drafting, editing, or plotting."  Sometimes I'll do word count goals (when applicable), but that's about it.

I reward myself by...being happy with my progress.  Maybe a day or two off to just read or do other things.  But nothing fancy, like a trip to get ice cream or a movie binge.

What does a regular writing day look like for you?

I don't write in the mornings, but I try to get in 10-15 minutes during lunch break on weekdays.  This is usually my blog post writing time. 

My WIP writing time is in the evenings, between family devotions and bedtime.  That can be between 20 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the events of the day and what must be done that evening. 

How many ideas do you currently have saved on your computer/flash drive?

Oy!  So most of my ideas get their own folders, and then I have separate folders dedicated to shorter, less-fleshed-out ideas,

So these are the folders on my flash drive...

sci-fi novel
(half-finished draft with Evangeline and some friends)

Betrayal and Bravery
fantasy trilogy
(current WIP)

Char ne Rayft
fantasy trilogy sets
(history series for the world in Heritage of Kings; some finished and unfinished drafts, only outlines for others)

Heritage of Kings
fantasy series
(co-writing with Evangeline, some books are in edits, some in drafting, some outlining)

No Suit Left Behind
superhero/spy novel
(co-wrote with Evangeline, completed draft)

fantasy novel
(first draft, in editing)

Song of Stones
Tolkien fanfiction
(don't will never see the light of day)

Stars of Darkness
futuristic trilogy
(two finished drafts, third one slightly outlined)

Strength of Swords
fantasy/sci-fi novel
(working on turning ideas and characters into a plot)

A super special story that I will be talking about next week
(whoop de doo!)

Flash Fiction
A bunch of blog post ideas/written drafts

A folder with a few old RPGs
that I may turn into actual stories someday (if my friends don't mind)

A number of half-started stories
that may someday get better plots/characters so I can try again
A note on my phone with 7 different story ideas I'm fleshing out
So yes, lots of ideas!  I can't wait until they are all written and printed.  :)

That wraps up the 4-Part Special!!!!!!  Thanks so much for sticking with me through this journey, and thanks to everyone who took part in it!  I hope you enjoyed sharing information about your WIPs and learning about some awesome up-coming stories!

Links will be provided, as usual....

Blogger collab 3.png

The next 4-Part Special will be in February.  Please sign up if you're interested!  Not only do you get to answer questions about your WIP, you get to help decide what the questions will be!!  (And that's half the fun!)

I will be blogging over NaNo...once I figure out what to post about...


Ah, the last full week of October.

Actually, yesterday I was operating under the assumption that it was the 29th (which is actually a mistake I make on a regular basis - getting dates mixed up) and was going around like I can't believe October is almost over!!!! and everyone was all we still have a week left and then I realized I had skipped an entire week somehow.

Hold your horses, Julian, it's not time to start writing that novel yet.

Yes, I am excited about my NaNo Novel.  Beyond excited.  It is the last book in my trilogy, and I have been dreaming planning to write this for over two years.  I can recite entire scenes from memory that technically haven't been written yet.  So yeah, I'm really thrilled to be finally writing this book.  (So excited that I'm probably overusing all the -ly words...)

Here's the quick blurb:

The end is here.
There will be peace, or there will be death.
Two enemies, both seeking the death of the Telae, Raybir, and Marywyn the Villager, unite in an attempt to crush the uprisers, but they did not count on one thing: the bravery of those who follow God.
Marywyn and her companions, against terrible odds, rush to save their captured friends and put an end to the war.  But they did not count on betrayal.  Will God give them a victory, or will they lay down their lives for a future triumph they will never see?

I've been working on my synopsis, which went well until things didn't go well and now I have added much more to the story and forgotten to kill off a character I knew was going to die since the beginning and I can't believe dear little Marywyn is going to go through so much trauma and reach the end at last.

But my plan this NaNo is to...

(I'll give you a hint: it's not to reach 50K) reach 50K and still have sanity, some form of cleanliness, and also be organized.

I mean, I've done lots of 50K-in-a-month deals.  And I tend to finish with a week or so left.  But I also usually have various word documents scattered around two laptops, a computer, three flash drives and a phone; not to mention having given up on teeth brushing, putting clothes away, and possibly even sleep itself.

So this year, I want to finish and still be on top of things.  *rubs hands together*  Let's see how this works...

What are your NaNo goals?  If you're not doing NaNo, or you still going to do some sort of challenge for yourself?

The 4-Part Writing Special // Questions on Story World

The 4-part writing special pt 3.png

So today we are focusing on the world within Words of Gold.  Admittedly, worldbuilding is one of my weak points in writing, but I have been trying to fix that lately.  Let's see how good of a job I've done...

Name a unique aspect of your storyworld

I have tigers.  Tigers of all colors; solids, stripes, spots, you name it.  And they vary in size, temperment, and location.  Those in the mountains are quite wild, dangerous, and normally are left alone.  Some grassland tigers are quieter, and can even be tamed and used as pets.  There are smaller ones (cat size) that can be found all over, and are fairly harmless.

I'm not a super tiger person, but for some reason I have really enjoyed putting these felines in the story.

Talk about one of the important animals in the story

A small, sturdy beast is Marywyn's horse.

A number of warriors in the West Band threw in a bit of money and Jaran went to buy Marywyn a horse as a surprise.  She named him Horizon.  He's a very calm and relaxed old horse.  However, as good as he is, Marywyn is still very nervous around him, even after taking lessons.  Overcoming her fear is something she must learn through the story.

A paragraph describing something in your storyworld

The streets of the city were pretty in the daytime. Perhaps a little too rocky for my liking, and the steady uphill climb took my breath away, but the flowers and small trees growing at the steps and above and below almost every window brought color to the white and cream buildings. The more I walked, the more I decided that the city was beautiful, though quite a different beauty from the village. Even the people, while they did not smile as much, wore their hair down more, and their clothes were made from bright and soft silks and cotton, rather than the brown or cream wool that I was used to seeing.

Something dangerous in your storyworld

The shadows.  Not because of something the shadows are capable of, but rather because of who might be lurking in them.  War is almost certain, and spies are everywhere.  Rough characters, or even enemies, might be around any corner, ready to kill you. 

Especially if you are a certain red-haired villager...

Something delightful in your storyworld

The colors.  Everyone in the royal city of Raybir loves to wear brightly-colored clothing.  Skirts, pants, leggings, dresses, shirts, vests, hats, shawls, scarfs, you name it - they love to dress up in it.  In the villages, people mostly wear drab colors, and spend their money on more important things than fine clothing and dyes.  So when our young villager arrives in the city, and sees all the colors, she instantly falls in love and aspires to get nice clothing herself.

A movie soundtrack that would complement the setting

I would say a mix of the following:

Black Beauty (for the light-hearted, merry Old England feel)

The Village (for the mysterious and chilling violin pieces)

The Lord of the Rings (because I absolutely adore Howard Shore's music, and how he gives characters and places their own themes)

How does the geography impact the story?

Not so much in the first book, but definitely more in the other two books, when Marywyn travels more.  Words of Gold mostly takes place in the Royal City.  The castle is built on top of a hill, while the city is scattered around below it.  This way Marywyn is able to watch the battle while in the castle, and survey the armies camped in the fields surrounding the city.

Is there a particular location or time period you had in mind when creating your storyworld?

Not particularly.  The storyworld grows as I write the story, so I tend to take little pieces from all around the world and history as needed (or as I discover them).

What is the climate like, and does it play a role in the story?

Lots of rainbows in the Spring!
In Raybir, the weather is drastic - summers are very hot, and winter brings loads of snow.  But there is lots of rain, and it's perfect for raising crops and animals.  In other lands, the weather differs from this, but since I'm trying to keep this post centered around Words of Gold, I won't speak much of the other lands (which you discover in the rest of the trilogy).

Are there any traditions, and do they have an effect upon the plot?

There are numerous festivals, where Marywyn goes out in the city with her friends and gets to know them, their histories, and learn more about the city. 

The Royals in the castle have balls often, sometimes for special events (like birthdays), and sometimes for no reason at all - and Marywyn also goes to some of those. 

When a warrior wants to become a Captain of a Band, he must challenge the current Captain, and beat him in a duel.  The whole castle often gathered to watch these challenges, and they can often become big events with less important duels and other feats of skill shown off for the enjoyment of all.

So, what do you think?  Sound like an interesting world?  Would you like to visit it?

And again, please check out the other worlds...links will be provided asap!

Blogger collab 3.png

First Drafting, Part 12: Tips and Tricks

So here ends my series on first drafts.  I hope y'all enjoyed it, learned some things, and got motivated to finish that story.  First drafting is a tough process.  It's full of agony and stumps and not-enough-time and distractions.  But it's also full of fun and excitement and adventure.  And it can be finished.

So here's a quick check-list for first drafting:

~Prepare as best you can by finding out how you write
~Be a good steward with the time you have
~Always be on the lookout for more time you can use
~Avoid internet distractions like the plague and set limits on such things so you don't go overboard on them
~Do what it takes to keep yourself interested in the story - music, re-reading, or even a day or two off
~Don't stop to look things up - make a note for later and keep going
~Don't get stuck - start fights or do surprising things when you're not sure what happens next
~Be prepared before you start your writing time - have everything taken care of (such as chores)
~Keep notes of what should be changed during editing instead of going back to fix them
~Don't worry about if your story is worthless - just write it and love it

And now, here are a few tricks of mine that I would like to share:

Word Wars

I'm sure almost all of us know what these are.  Two or more people get together (usually over the internet, such as FaceBook, GoTeenWriters, or the NaNoWriMo sites), agree upon a length of time (from 5-10 minutes, or even up to half an hour) and type as fast as they can.  The person with the highest word count is usually the "winner", but it's not so much a race/game as it is a friendly challenge to boost your word count.

These I find really helpful.  I prefer shorter sprints, like 5-10 minutes, but others prefer (or can do) longer.  Knowing someone else is there, also typing the same time as you, is quite encouraging, and just having the timer boosts some adrenaline.  Doing a few of these a week during NaNo events really raises my word count.

Scenes Ahead of Time

When I get an idea for a future scene, I'll often take time to write it down, in as full detail as I wish.  It gets me thinking ahead, and then, once I finally get to that scene in the draft, I can just click-copy-paste, and there it is, all finished and ready for me to move on.

Also, when I'm stuck, I'll read those future scenes to get my creative teas (I'm not a juice drinker) flowing.

Time Yourself

No, I'm not talking about word wars (again). 

This is a tactic I use more often.  If I start checking FaceBook or other sites to join word wars, it's easier for me to get distracted.

Instead, I'll set a timer, usually for twenty minutes, then type as fast as I can (perhaps not quite at word-war speed), and get as much down as I can.  Then I set the timer for ten more minutes and do a quick break - get up and stretch, clean a few things in my room, and check email.  Then I start another twenty-minute segment, followed by another break, and continue until it's time for bed.

Typing Tutor

If you're a slow typist, or tend to just use two fingers, I would recommend learning how to type correctly.  My mom got me a typing tutor program on a CD (around 6 years ago), and at first I shrugged it off.  After teaching myself to type, I thought I was fine.  However, I eventually caved, and tried it out.  I hated it. 

I refused to type the way it told me too. 

But I finally paid attention, used the correct fingers, and now my typing speed is much higher (and much more accurate!).

If you are going to devote yourself to something, learn to do it right. 

Sunday Break

I may have already talked about this, but I'm going to mention it again.  Take a weekly day off.  For me, this is Sunday.  I go to church, I read some books, I talk with friends and family.  And I don't think about writing (not if I can help it).  I don't worry about could I be writing or my story needs to be finished....  I relax, chill, and forget about it.

Then Monday comes around and I'm fresh and ready to tackle that draft with renewed vigor.  My highest word count days are Mondays.  Partly because Mondays evenings are usually quiet at my house, but also because I return to the story ready to get that draft done.

So, my dear writing peoples, I bid you all a very fond farewell.

Until next week.

I'm already saving up post ideas.  (Partly to have prepared for during NaNoWriMo - because it approacheth).  Anyone have anything you'd like to hear me rant blog about?

The 4-Part Writing Special // Questions on Characters

The 4-part writing special pt 2.png

Today we are going to talk about the characters in Words of Gold.  As much as I would love to talk about all the characters in the entire trilogy, I shall (attempt to) restrain myself and keep this post only on those appearing in the first book.

Let's see how well that goes...

Who is the main character?  (Bonus points for description or picture.)

Marywyn, a villager.  She is around twenty years old (funny, how I've never pin-pointed her exact age...), and loves gardening, goats, and good grub (er, food...).  She has red hair, freckles, light blue eyes, and a nice smile.

Marywyn loves her little village - with lots of gardens and flowers!

 What is the goal of the protagonist?  The antagonist?  (No spoilers!)

Marywyn would like to return home alive.  She believes she's only in this mess (mess as in - people trying to kill her, the princess hating her, and her family being far away) for a brief time before she goes back to the village. 

Of course, that's want she wants, but God has a different plan.

The antagonist...well, I actually have a couple.  None have world domination (mwahaha) in plan, though.  I don't want to tell who they are, or else the "Betrayal" part of the trilogy won't be as exciting.  :)  But just know that while some villains are obvious enough throughout the story...more lurk in the shadows...  *cues creepy music*  And their motives...well, you will have to read and find out.  (How's that for a sales pitch??)
Is there a possession or memory the MC keeps close?

Marywyn has one memory of her father, and while it has faded, she still remembers his bright blue eyes, his deep, kind voice, and the comfort his embrace gives her.  She prays that someday she will see him again, and get more memories with him. 

What is the MC's greatest fear?

Well, Marywyn is not a brave soul (not in the slightest), so she actually has quite a lot of fears.  Essentially: she's afraid of everything.  Horses.  Strangers.  New things.  Shadows.  People who don't smile. 

But I suppose she fears most that she'll never see her family together again.  With a brother taken prisoner, parents out of the picture, and all sorts of havoc running around the world, they may never be a happy little family.  She fears she'll be alone and on her own.

Like Marywyn has no interest in seeing what may lie over the mountains.  Most likely whatever is over there is dangerous, and should not be messed with or bothered.
 Who is your favorite character?

It's a very close three-way tie.  *smug grin*

I love Marywyn, as she's the MC and I spend a lot of time in her head.  Despite our differences, I think we could get along quite well, and I have loved watching (or reading)(or writing)(however you would like to put it) her learn.

I also love Wisdom Ravencroft, a woman who spends her time helping others with no thought of gain for herself.  I would just love to spend an afternoon with her - singing songs while going on little mercy missions.  She also has a big draft horse I would love to take a ride on.

Lastly, I love the Captain of the West Band, who is noble and chivalrous - sometimes.  Can I please just sit and eat a snack with him, maybe have him teach me how to shoot a bow, and then play a song or two together?

List some of the more prominent characters, and then provide a line that describes them (from your WIP).

 Marywyn the Villager

“What makes you so special that Rayn Hetherin feels the need for you to take his favor?”
I shrugged. “Nothing.”

Princess Connaven
Conn found every excuse to complain. I did my best to amuse her, but she refused to be amused.

Rayn Hetherin
He removed the hood from his face to display dark eyes, hard to make out in the shadows of his long hair. “Have no fear. Im a warrior, bound to protect the people of Raybir.”

Wisdom Ravencroft
Everyone was Wisdom's friend, be they servant, captain, or castle-goer.

Duren Blackburn
“He knows he’s supposed to be here, but can’t remember why.”

Who is the funniest character? Smartest character? Creepiest character? Most reckless character? Quirkiest character?

Argh!!!  The funniest (imo) character arrives in the second book....but in the first one, I would have to say Jaran.  He loves to make people laugh, and is a bit of a show-off.  His quick wit gives him the ability to produce loads of quick retorts and sarcastic remarks.  He is the standard-bearer of the West Band, and it's his job to keep up morale and encourage the warriors, so it's a perfect fit.  :)

The smartest would be...Rayn Hetherin.  He has a fast calculating mind, and his position in the West Band is one of strategy.

Creepiest...ahh....perhaps Landin.  The Crown Warrior to the Queen Moreno herself.  He was trained from birth to be a great warrior, and he suspects everyone of attempting to kill her.  At least, that's what he seems to be thinking when he looks at you.

Reckless is Jaran again, since he tends not to think before he acts.  He just sees something that "must" be done and goes off and does it, whatever the consequences might be.

My quirkiest character would probably be the Princess Connaven.  Sometimes she's a mirror image of her mother - cold and regal; other times she's just a young girl with loads of curiosity and innocence.  Deep down, I think she's a sweetheart, but being a princess has changed her to someone else.

I mean, if I lived in a castle, I would probably become a different person.
How do you come up with names?

Oy.  A number of names I have made myself; some are other names I've tweaked a bit.  Other names I just come across in my life and decide to use them.  My characters tend to go through many name changes (except Wisdom...she has always been Wisdom) until I find one that fits them.

I have a note on my phone where I save names I find that are interesting.  So whenever I need a name, I just grab one from there.  Then the name might get changed or tweaked as the story and the character grows.

What is the Myer's Brigg type of your MC?  (Bonus points for side characters!)

My dear MC, Marywyn, is an ESFJ.

Wisdom // ENFP

Connaven // INTP

Rayn // ISTJ

Jaran // ENTJ

Duren // ISFJ

Are any characters influenced by someone in your life?

Not in this trilogy, no.  I have based characters of real people in other stories, but all three books in Betrayal and Bravery are free from such things.  I do have a few scenes that spring-boarded off of events in my life, and I have a few characters that remind me of people that I know (but were not influenced by them intentionally).

So - still interested in my trilogy?  Please check out the other bloggers and see their answers to these questions!

Links as they are accessible: