Know the Novel - A Linkup

Apparently I haven't prepared enough posts about my NaNo novel month you'll be spammed with info all about Words of Song.  So just consider this post as a sneak-peak of sorts for the upcoming Shared WIP Tag.

Christine is hosting this little linkup, and frankly, I think it's pretty fun!  The first set of questions is fairly introductory.  :)

What first sparked the idea for this novel?

Well, Words of Song is the second book in my trilogy.  Originally the material covered in Song was supposed to be split into two books (the second and third of the series), but while I was brainstorming, I found that there was a lot more to the story, and so put all the original plots into the second book.

It basically continues Marywyn's story from the first book, Words of Gold.

Share a blurb!

Marywyn the villager has received an honorable title – Protector of the Princess.  The only problem is, the Princess has just disappeared.  Eager to prove that her friends have not judged poorly in voting to promote her, Marywyn leaves Raybir on a quest to rescue Connaven, but only runs headlong into more danger and betrayal.  And this time there are no mistakes.  The enemy is on the hunt, and they know exactly who they are looking for: a red-haired girl with a powerful singing voice.
As the danger only grows, Marywyn begins to doubt: was she the right person to do all this?  Surely there are many others who can be the hero, others who are more brave.  Can Marywyn rescue her friends and save Raybir, or will she leave at the first opportunity to return to the safety of her garden and flowers?

Where does the story take place? What are some of your favorite aspects about the setting?

The story takes place in the land of Arromëre.  It starts in the little rural kingdom of Raybir, but over the course of the book, Marywyn does a great deal of travelling, and once of the places she visits is the rival kingdom of Ristor.

I love getting to explore new places with Marywyn - she travels through dark, creepy forests, fights tigers, and gets to see ships for the first time.  I also love how, no matter where she travels, she finds fellow believers and is welcomed into their homes simply because they all worship the same God, and so see each other as family.

Tell us about your protagonist.

Marywyn is a nobody, who probably shouldn't be the protector of the princess - there are far better warriors who would love to have such an honor.  She wonders what God has in mind for her, and is determined to do her best, even if it means doing things she's scared of, to keep Princess Connaven safe.  But the enemy isn't after Connaven...they're after Marywyn.

Who (or what) is the antagonist?

Queen Moreno seems intent on getting revenge against Ristor for attacking them, even though her army would just be massacred.  Ristor is only too eager for another war.  There are Rochen marching across the mountains.  Not to mention the stranger in the city is still trailing Marywyn, waiting for something...

What excites you the most about this novel?

Heh heh.  Middle books/movies are always my least favorite.  But this book, however, does have lots of things I love: adventure, music, lots of poetry, mysterious people in the shadows, wild horses, chase scenes, danger, sword fights, torture, I'm just quoting The Princess Bride.

Is this going to be a series? Standalone? Something else?

The second book in the Betrayal and Bravery Trilogy.

Are you plotting? Pantsing? Plansting?

Well, kind of.  I wrote the first draft of Song a couple years ago for the 2015 NaNoWriMo.  Since then, I edited the first book and then wrote the third book for NaNo last year.

I could probably "wing" this draft, and get away with it, since I know where the story starts and ends, and who all the characters are.  But I'm still writing my usual synopsis, so I at least have some guidelines.

Name a few things that makes this story unique.

I hate this question.'s no magic in this fantasy novel?  No dragons?  Elves??  Yet it somehow is fairly exciting (I hope)?

How about "Julian Daventry is the one writing this, so while it might seem like an typical Christian fantasty novel, it has elements that are different.  Because nothing is new under the sun, but we can put different spins on things to make them unique."

Share a fun “extra” of the story.

Just a little cover I made via Canva...nothing too spectacular, but hey - it does the job!

Stars and Soul Cover Reveal

So, super exciting news - Rosalie Valentine is publishing a collection of short stories titled Stars and Soul!  And today we're revealing the cover (which is super cool and amazing!!
I mean, let's be honest, that is just absolutely beautiful!  And my favorite color scheme, too.  :)
So what is it about?  Check out the blurb:
A scheming imperial family.
A bedraggled starship captain.
A runaway artificial intelligence.
A dying general.

Four small stories of stars and soul.
The book is being released on November 20th, and you can preorder it!!  (The kindle version, anyway.)  There will be print copies available as well, which is good, because I want one on my shelf...
So check out the link and then join the party to wait until November...

Fairytale Riot Blog Tour

So Keturah emailed me a while back, telling me about how she'd recently gotten published and would I like to be part of the Book Tour.

And I was like "...yeah!!!!  Can I interview you?"

So, without further ado...

How did you hear about the book?  That's something that I always wonder, like...I've never heard of this and you're suddenly going to be a part of it?  That's awesome!

My friend, Lauren likes to send me emails with tons of links for different places looking for submissions of different sorts. When I have time I'll look over the submissions and see if I have anything that might fit what they are looking for. As I've written dozens of short stories, I always have something I can submit to many of the places  Lauren emails to me. I've receive tons of rejection letters, but it's been an overall fun, learning process.

What made you decide to do two entries (or did you enter more that we don't know about)?  Were you surprised that both made it in?

I actually entered three stories! I just had three fairy tales I thought might fit their criteria, that were available to be used (the one that's published in Mythic Orbits I could have possibly used if it wasn't already being used elsewhere). Last day of April 2018, Months after I submitted, I received the email from Agorist Writers an hour after I found out my dad had just been in a serious car accident. The letter started out with them saying they were sorry that they couldn't use "Blessed Disasters" in their upcoming anthology, BUT they would love to use my next two stories. I just had to do a bit of rewriting. Which I happily did.
I felt a little guilty being so excited about the stories being accepted, because I still didn't know how my dad was doing, except that he wasn't doing very well.
I was staying with my friend, and I think she thought I was a bit strange. I took the news of my dad being crushed in his truck calmly. I read the email from the publishers and literally jumped up, and broke into a huge smile. "It's good to see you have some natural emotions," my friend told me.
I promise I am human. I just don't worry like most people do. Yet, I love joy.

I haven't read the book yet, though I did get offered a review copy (just have no timeeee!).  Can you tell me about your stories and the inspiration behind them?

Wow, the inspiration behind one of them is really personal. I'll save that for last ;p
I don't remember how the Piper's Last Song exactly started in my head. I know I had been reading a lot of history about the Waldensians. And I didn't like the Pied Piper story very much—but realized I could combine the two stories. So I wrote a rough draft of a short story and put in my files. Years later I went through my folder and saw it, and though, "This is a great idea I need to rework." So I did. I think I was probably seventeen when I did the rewrites? Anyways, it was a long time ago. I also have a notebook full of poetry, so I added all of that into the story. The only poem I wrote especially for Piper's Last Song is the very last poem. The first poem in the book was a silly thing I'd written when I was fourteen or so. I so loved that poem and was excited to be able to use it in that story.
I originally called this story The Last Song, but then I saw that Nicolas Sparks had a romance novel by that name. So I changed my title, a little grudgingly at first.
Prince Perfect I wrote spring of 2017. I had just been through a rough breakup, and I couldn't do anything. I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep, and most of all I couldn't write. Laughter, of course, was a dead memory. It was a horrible time for me. But in that darkness a satire story came into my mind. Something to make fun of how I had been dumped, something that would lesson the darkness I felt inside. I laughed at my idea. And I wrote the story, laughing the entire time.
This story started my healing, returned me to my pen, and showed me I could laugh at my heartache.

Is there anything you wish you could go back and change, now that you’ve had time to sit back and think about your entries?  Do you ever go back and read your “finished” work and find yourself wanting to make corrections?

Not really. I'm weird like that. I don't really like worrying about anything. And, besides, if I spent all of my time reworking old stories I'd never have time to write all the new ideas spinning around inside. My main concern is that my message in Prince Perfect won't come out clear. It's not about feminism. It's not saying all men are evil. It's showing that some men are such self-conceited idiots that can't see a good thing when they do, and that it's never right to hurt anyone. This same message could be said toward all the women who show no sign of loyalty, and dump guys easily, too.

You can preorder the book at:

I mean, seriously, doesn't this cover look cool?

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.

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!!!

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!

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?