How it all Began - Rauladin

It all started at mile 10 of a half-marathon (that's a total of 13.1 miles).  I had just started the long uphill that was basically the last portion of the road race.

And I suddenly had the mental image of someone dangling from a tree, near death.

Which probably explains my own sanity at that point in the race, but let's not talk about that.

To keep my mind off the race, I continued to think about that person.  They weren't hanging from their neck (like hanging kind of hanging), but by a limb.  So they obviously had enemies.  But why hadn't they just been killed?  Why were they left to slowly die in this horrible form of torture?  Some cruel enemies, obviously.

I repeated the image, my thoughts on it, over and over, as I finished that race.  (No, I didn't win, though I did place in my age category, which is cool.)

And no, I didn't go home and start writing this new story idea.  I simply typed it up in my story idea note and let it sit.  Months passed, and I continued to add new thoughts to it.  I finally knew who found the poor person.  I finally knew who was left up in the tree.  I finally knew why.  I finally knew what these two characters would have to do.

And I wrote the first half of the book during Camp NaNo.  It was a tad over-the-place, but it worked.  I took a break during May and June, and finished the book for Camp in July.  And the second half read MUCH better (Sarah has also read the book, and she agrees).  The plot and characters were more solid.

But most surprising of all, the book remained a stand-alone novel.  Usually as I write, I get more ideas and end up needing more books.  But no.  This book remained by itself.

I named it Rauladin, after the main character (no, not the one dangling from the tree).  It has been edited once, and now it's sitting on the back burner, patiently waiting its turn.  (And yes, I have gotten some hesitant sequel ideas for it now.)


The crooked door jerked open and a tall man with a shiny bald head loomed before the young gypsy. “Rauladin!” Laysent shook Raul’s hand so his elbow ached and his fingers tingled. “What brings you this way so early in the morning?”
“Do you need any help on your rounds? Any work done around the…the Hospital?” Raul could never bring himself to call the building by the name crudely painted on the door: The Hanging Hospital. The name probably came from the fact that most of the building was suspended above the air by ropes and boards, but even so, it never sat right in Raul’s mouth. “I need to make some money.”


The incident was forgotten until two days later, when Raul left for his next shift of border patrol. Again, Berend limped to the door behind him. Again, Raul tried to tell him to stay. With a quick glance at his father, hovering protectively near his kitchen table, Raul pointed to the cabin floor one more time and closed the door.
Only the door didn’t close. It crunched. And Berend howled in pain, his bad knee stuck between the door and the frame. Raul fell down the porch steps in surprise, nearly missed falling off the tree branch making up the front walk, and watched one of his knives fall down into the swamp, far, far, below.


“Looks like the kinsmen got to him,” Renaro croaked, passing a hand over his face. “Poor soul. Probably just looking for something edible and wandered too far. Didn’t listen to all the tales. Didn’t stay on the road. Probably didn’t even think the kinsmen were real.”
“If he got killed for coming in this far, what about us?” San shifted back and forth from foot to foot. “Let’s get out of here before whoever did this comes back.”
“I don’t think they’re anywhere nearby, or else we would be just like him by now.” Renaro hoisted his quiver further up on his back. “Dead.”
“Don’t be so sure.” Raul pulled the coiled rope belt from around his waist, tying a loop at the end and slowly unwinding it. “He may still be alive.”
Renaro merely raised an eyebrow. “You think the kinsmen would let him live after doing all this? They would have finished the job. They don’t make mistakes.”


From outside, Gwen dropped the flask of water she’d been drinking from.  “I hear swords!”
Ravenna frowned.  “That’s not a good sign.  It certainly didn’t take him long to get them angry.”  She stepped towards the door.  “Great.  He’s going to make me go in there.”


“You’re a wild one, aren’t you?” Ravenna softened her tone to one usually reserved for children or really exasperating people. She held out a hand to touch the beast, but it roared angrily at her and moved away. Ah, really, mate? Everyone’s watching, and now you’ve made me look like an idiot!
“Be careful,” came a soft voice, and Ravenna turned to see a young girl, about her own age, standing in the middle of the road. “He’s not happy when away from home. Doesn’t like strangers, either.”
Ravenna eyed the girl with a cocked eyebrow. Traveling pants aren’t quite the right fit for her, and those boots have seen more tree-top travel than the rocks here at highlands. She’s been on the road for a while. In danger, most likely, what with those quick little looks she gives every person and every shadow. On the run. From who? There’s no telling. She’s got a scar on her left temple—could be a kinsman scar, could be an accident. She speaks our tongue well enough. “Hello, I’m Ravenna, daughter of Castran.” Ravenna stuck out her hand. “New here, I see.”
“Gwen.” The girl slowly took the accepted hand and shook it. “How did you know?”
“Well, your accent isn’t highland. You must be close to Havendenara itself, eh? Anyone wearing those boots should be out here by the border, not here on solid ground. Your griffin is apparently far from home, judging by the blisters on your hands from fighting him all the way here.”

Anyway, enjoy!  :)

How it all Began - The Red War Trilogy

Ah, The Red War Trilogy.  Some of y'all might be more familiar with the original title Betrayal and Bravery.  It's the exact same story, same characters, just under a new name.  And I never had some big "title change" announcement, so don't feel bad if you didn't catch the switch.

I'm sure I've talked about this one enough to the point where I don't need to share much of the background.  I tried a new prep system, it totally worked, now I've got the entire trilogy written and edited and it's in the pitching process now.

This story has been a real journey.  But today, I'm going to share the original three-paragraph synopsis that I used to write the first book (complete with comments).  Enjoy.  :)

One morning the doctor next to Kalmarra's house is all in a panic.  (Yes, this is Marywyn.  And yes, I took the original name from Kalmar of The Wingfeather Saga).  He was drafted to help with the army, but being a coward, he urges her to tell anyone who informs that he is dead.  Then he mounts on a horse and rides off.  Later that day, a blonde haired soldier named Nahale asks for the doctor, and Kal says that he left this morning.  The soldier explains that the man has been drafted as army surgeon.  He gives her a warning that war is coming.  (This is no longer how the story begins: no doctor, no Nahale, and no casual beginning.)  A few days later, the army comes in and kicks all in the little town out and to go to the royal city to be safe.  (That's more like the actual story now!)  Kal and her family need to get jobs now, and she goes to find one.  She gets a job working for the princess, though she really wants to be in the army and get a sword.  She meets with Nahale in the stables, and having seen each other before, they talk.  (Nahale is completely removed in the official draft now, and his place is filled by Jaren, who becomes Rinn, who becomes Jaran, who then becomes female Jaran, and then becomes male Jaran again.  The original Nahale then gets introduced in a later book.)  He introduces her to Wisdom.  While out with Conn, Kal runs into Duran in the courtyard, and wonders at the insanity.  Later, Wisdom takes her to a Music-Making, and they meet Duran and Jaren (different from Nahale, because they were separate characters at this point...sorry if this is confusing, but you gotta learn it, as there's a pop quiz at the bottom of this post)(jk).  

Life continues on, Wisdom teaches Kal to read, Nahale begins to teach her sword-fighting with the help of Duran, and Jaren teaches her to ride a horse.  Ameren begins to follow her, hoping to reach the others through her.  (Like, whoa, this is so....simple.  No castle intrigue, no masked assassins, no challenges and festivals.  Makes me wonder how I didn't die of boredom while writing this part.)  Conn gets excited that her waiting woman is in a mix of excitement.  (All Ameren does is ask her to carry a message...but if the plot is otherwise boring, I can see why that would be viewed as exciting.)  Conn then goes to a music making, is rather mocked a little, and learns Kal wants to be a warrior.  She mocks Kal, and Kal gets worried that she won't make it.  Her plan is to learn to read and write, and then go and ask for the position with her friends at her back.  (Sorry sweetie, that's not how it works.)  Meanwhile the queen is suspicious about Kal, and brings her before the king and queen.  (Suspicious about WHAT exactly??)  Because she is scared, and also respectful, Kal says little, and so is dismissed.  But she learns that the queen is a bit odd, and the king is very kind.  (Wow, Jules, so profound.)

Some lines are omitted for spoilers.  Then the battle comes, and the town is in grave danger.  (Cue dramatic gasp.)  A group of people try to capture Conn, but Kal thinks quickly and runs off (wise choice), Princess in tow (oh, wait).  They run through the streets, until they find someone who can protect them.  But Duran is Duran, and Kal decides that she needs a weapon.  (Not to fight Duren, necessarily.)  She fights off a couple people, and never leaves Conn’s side.  During the battle, Duran needs to get commands to his army, and does so by imitating the notes, as everyone said he could imitate just about anything.  (Basically they hide in the bell tower, and Duren plays his fiddle right under the bell so the sound somehow echoes and carries across the city.  This scene was inspired by Archangel by Two Steps from Hell, and sadly had to be completely removed.)  More of the synopsis removed, for spoilers.  Victory!  More spoilers; I kept the ending about the same, basically.

Hope you enjoyed that little insight.  With those three paragraphs I was able to create a 80,178 draft.  On the first attempt.  A good bit of the original scenes are still there, just fleshed out.  A lot of the characters were renamed and a few were removed and their scenes given to other characters.  And there's a lot more added in to give the story more depth.  But's not bad.

But I've been working on this trilogy since 2015.  The first book has been through about 8 revisions.  The second book was written back in 2016, and was rewritten last year for NaNo (so the plot/characters are pretty much UTD).  And the third book is still in the original draft, which is also fairly current.

Anyways, enjoy!  :)

How it all Began - Stars of Darkness

Last week I talked about Char ne Rayft.  And I did a lot of the prep work for the storyworld (like, a TON of prep) before realizing I didn't have the skills necessary to write all the books.  So I went on a journey to discover JUST HOW I WROTE.  And that journey led me to Stars of Darkness.

“So I snuck in a corner, still under my cloak, and kept my ears wide open.  The men began joshing each other for the longest while, and I heard nothing of importance, and that’s when I realized something.”  Jack lowered his voice and glanced at everyone around the table.  “I desperately needed to use the restroom.” 


To sum up: I had just watched The Avengers for the first time.  I wanted to write some kind of cool spy/space/team-up story....but I wanted to also write about me and my friends having adventures with our horses.

So I compromised and smashed it all into one book.

I created a team of Agents on Horseback, all based off me and my friends and our horses (or dream horses).  With Sarah's plotting guidance, I made character sheets, plot arcs, and a chapter-by-chapter outline.

And I did it.  I finished the book.  36,614 words.  I was so proud of myself.  I went on to write the second book.  And finished that one (at a lovely 40,161).

Boy, was I thrilled.  Two books!!  Finished!!!  In less than a year!!!

Then I took a deeper look at what I was actually writing.  The sci-fi aspect fell flat.  I simply failed at describing the high-tech weaponry and space travel.  The characters (especially the MC, who was a completely made-up character) were rather flat.  And the whole "horses in space" thing just didn't get pulled off very well.  And above all, everything just seemed rushed.  It was very "they came, they saw, they conquered" with almost no description and emotion and suspense.

After some careful thought, I decided the cause was two-fold: I didn't like the MC, and I was not a plotter.  Writing from Charlie's POV was boring, and the chapter outline made my writing feel forced.

Not to mention "horses in space" is just corny, and who would want to read that??

So I put Stars of Darkness aside and went on to what would eventually become The Red War TrilogyDarkness would always be "those books which shall not be named" in my mind.  Until Havok started looking for submissions.  After a few rejections, I really started reading what was actually getting published on their website.  After a while, I came to the realization: the zany aspect of "horses in space" is just the sort of thing they're looking for!

Cackling madly, I whipped up a story and submitted it for the "Redo" theme.

And got another rejection.


With the confirmation that the Fire Horse team was just not publishable, I put them aside one more time.  I focused on my current WIP.  I didn't worry about submitting anything else to Havok.

And then, one day, I got an email in my inbox.  "Evacuation Assistance" didn't make the Redo theme, but the folks there at Havok loved the story, and thought it would fit nicely with their theme of music from the 50's.

So, the concept that I've always considered as my biggest fail is now my first-ever story to be published.

Think about that guys.  That story you think is just a mess and should be tossed...there's still hope for it.  Don't give up.

(Next week I'll be talking about The Red War!!)

Want to know a little more about Stars of Darkness?  Enjoy these excerpts!


“I’d much rather stay here,” Isak continued. “I’ll gladly do whatever I need to do to stay. I’ll get murdered and eaten if I go back to my planet.” His eyes wandered briefly over to the buffet line, where a few Riders were standing and chatting over the food. 
Lauren sighed. “We’re trying to decide what to do about that.” 
“Maybe he could work for PASS?” Coraline suggested. “I can imagine he’d have a hard time getting a job down on Earth.” 
"Walmart would take him in,” Jack spoke up. “You should’ve seen the alien who works at the one close to my house! Why, last time I went…” 
“We don’t want to know any more, Jack,” Ginger stopped him from saying anything else.


I clambered into the saddle behind Katrina, and wrapped my arms around her waist.  “Can you steer?” she asked faintly.  “I don’t ride on horses often, and never on Valor.” 
Not mentioning that I had never ridden Valor either, I picked up the reins, and felt Valor chomp on the bit at the other end of the strips of leather.  He was ready to go.  Falcon fired his gun, and we used it as a signal to run.  Valor surged ahead with a powerful burst of energy, but Shadinasty was already up ahead on her pony.  Jewel was close behind her, her gaited horse eating up the ground with blurring strides.  Coraline shot past us, loading her crossbow, the reins draped over the pommel of her English saddle.  
Stretching to see well over Katrina’s shoulder, and holding on as tight as I could with my legs, since I was sitting behind the saddle, I tried to steer Valor around the parting, gasping crowds.  He did well enough on his own, so I stopped, and focused on staying on. 
Falcon dashed in front of us, his blue roan Morgan galloping for all his worth.  “They’re mounted!” Falcon bellowed.  “We need to loose them!” 


“A stick of dynamite would work,” Carlos offered.  
“We’re not trusting you anywhere near something that blows up when you’re loading out for a mission,” Coraline glanced over at him, and then turned back to the panel.  “There might not be any fire trucks nearby.” 
“It wasn’t that bad, was it?” Carlos looked offended.  “The fire trucks only came out because the neighbors got scared!  We totally had everything under control.” 


Scanning the battlefield, I found that a few new Kill-Blitzers had come up from behind, and some of the Riders hadn’t gotten to them yet.  I galloped Suzie towards them, and then reined her to the right as one took aim at us.  We dashed into the woods that grew right up to the wall, and skirted around the KBs until we could approach them from the rear.  When we were right behind the last one, I leaped out of the saddle and grabbed for anything to hold.  I managed to get a grip on part of one of the mounted gun bases, and from there, I was able to climb onto the top.  I quickly found the hatch, and as quietly and quickly as I could, tied one end of the rope to the handle.  I undid the latch, sliding it a fraction of an inch a minute, so it was be noiseless.  Then I whistled for Suzie, who had still been trotting below me.


“Oh, really?” Lauren’s eyebrows shot up.  “Well, maybe so, but you don’t know what we have decided to do, do you?  Need I show you my papers?” 
“Yes, do so.” 
Lauren paused, and I had a feeling she hadn’t planned on actually presenting papers.  Carlos took a slip of paper from his pocket, however, and presented it to the guards.  “Here you go, then,” he drawled in his thick Southern accent.
The guard took the paper and studied it.  The room felt tight, as we all held our breath.  After turning the paper over and over in his hands and studying it from all angles, the guard looked suspiciously at Carlos, and said, “What’s the meaning of this?” 
Carlos took the paper, looked it over, and handed it back.  “What’s the meaning of what?” he asked innocently.  
“What does this say?” the guard slapped the paper angrily.  “I can’t read this!” 
“That’s because you can’t read,” the other guard ripped the paper from his hands, and studied it himself.  
“You can’t read any more than I can!” the first guard snarled, and reached for the paper.  The other didn’t let go, and it ripped in half.  For a second, they stood and looked at each other, then at Lauren and Carlos.  
“Request to open the door accepted,” one said, handing his piece of the paper back.  

Anyway, enjoy!  :)

How it all Began - Char ne Rayft

It began in the summer of 2010, I believe.  Dad bought me an old, used laptop to write my stories with.  I opened up a word document and started typing.  After a few quickly burnt-out ideas, I rummaged through my writing note books until I found a story idea that looks promising.  And I wrote it.  The whole book (granted, the total word count was only 16,419).  It was a vague medieval spin-off of the first Jedi Apprentice book, with a heavy "lone girl student is way better than all the boy students" theme.  Oh, and did I mention the MC was orphaned at a young age?  Haha, yeah.  Lady Knight interesting story, to be sure.

But I finished that, and went on to Freedom Fighters and the Mission to End Callous Power (like, what on earth happened with that title).  The female lead was all ooooh look at me, I'm a girl, and I can do everything better then you boys and the two brothers were basically Older-Sibling-that-is-Constantly-Tired and Younger-Cute-Sibling-with-Epic-Scar-and-Anger-Issues.  This is also the infamous fantasy story that has people shooting guns at one random point in the book.  Yeah.

The sequel was slightly better and had a killer ending (literally).  The third book was the best, I think, but I could never seem to get the ending quite right.

While writing the last two books, I started another one: The End of Time.  This book took place in the same storyworld, but at a later date.  I wasn't planning to connect them until I reached the end, and pulled in the main characters from the Freedom Fighter books for the final epic showdown.

I liked the idea of the books all taking place in the same world, so for the next year or so, I added more books.  Honestly, I felt kinda like Tolkien.  I made a cool map, created races, made up languages, and even attempted some timelines...  And I write more books.  A few were completed, others didn't make it.  Some were trashed from the storyworld altogether; others are still hanging around.

Then, around late 2014/early 2015, when Sarah and I were "getting serious" about writing, I took a step back and took inventory of everything I had created or attempted to create for the world of Evone.  I brought in that Lady Knight book to kick the saga off.  I plotted two more stories with those characters, and set the example for the books to come: sets of trilogies.  Soon, I had my Master Plan.  Now I just had to write everything.

*record scratch*

But how could I write all these books when I could barely get past the first couple chapters?

I needed to figure out a better process, and quickly.

So I set aside the series and moved on to Stars of Darkness - which I will discuss next week!!!


Series Overview:  Char ne Rayft.  Bird and Wolf.  A green bird sword and a wolf arm band - the emblems of two fierce races, fighting for survival amidst a powerful battle for the throne of Evone.  He who carries the sword comes from the bloodline of the foresters of deep Evone legend, with a heritage of survival and sneakery.  The arm band of the Kaltish Wolf Lord proclaims the royal linage of its wearer, capable of stirring up action in the whole nation of fiery-tempered farmers and horse breeders.  Through the ages, these heirlooms are passed down, often lost, but when they come back to the light, the darkness is thrust back again in the enduring fight of good against evil.


Lars glanced back at the Santer: they were already starting to give chase. He laughed aloud and shouted at them, “Never trust a wanderer when he sits on the back on his own horse!"


“Good afternoon,” Dart raised his hand holding the pastry. “I would like to….” 
“Assassin!” Serdal jumped backward a step, and then tossed the bucket he was holding at Dart, who raised his arm to ward off the blow. The bucket clattered to the floor, but the water inside had already soaked Dart’s arms and upper chest. He turned a curious glance on Serdal, who lunged for the closest basket on the nearby table. “You followed me!” the baker bellowed. “You’re a Santer spy!” 
Dart’s eyebrows raised as he realized the mistake, and as he opened his mouth to say something in response, the man began rapidly assaulting him with handfuls of flour.


With a roar, Branwen grabbed Drew by the cloak and tossed him on top of the table. Two of the legs snapped and broke, sending man, table, and supper onto the floor. Reda jumped to her feet, her face turning a color that had yet to be named. “What do you think you’re doing?” she screamed at Branwen. “I was just about to eat my cake!” 

Anyways, enjoy.  :)

July Wrap-Up

Hey y'all!!  So July was obviously a busy month.  Realm Makers and all that jazz.  But you've already seen my Realm Makers post, so I'm not going to talk much about that here.

I'll just add a few things:

Writers are a wonderful bunch.  They act like they're shy and awkward, but really, get a bunch of them together and they just won't stop talking.  It's beautiful.

Pitching is not as scary as it would seem.  It's just talking to another person.  It's just talking about your story.  If they say no, it's okay.  It just means they personally don't like your story, or don't think your book would work with the line they are trying to build.  And that's perfectly okay.  Just move on.  Someone out there is looking for a book like yours.

Driving in a 15 passenger van was probably the best vehicle to take.  Lots of room for suitcases, trash, and sprawling out.

What Else Happened in July?

Susan gave birth to an ADORABLE calf!!  She waited until a few days after I got back from Realm Makers, and I managed to run out at 5 in the morning to be there right after the baby was born.  Got to see him stand for the first time.  :)  His name is Sir Loin.  And I think his big sister is jealous, as she has now taken to following me all around to get attention.  (Pictures below.)

I was published with Havok.  That was really cool.  #finallypublished

Favorite Read of the Month

Well, I speed-read the Wars of the Realm books by Chuck Black.  It was nice to read some of his works again (I grew up reading his Arrethtrae books).

Reading Plan

Still on track.  Missed some of the afternoon/evening readings while at Realm Makers, but managed to catch back up in time to write this.

The Inevitable Photo Dump

Enjoy the baby cow pictures.  :)

Driving home from Realm Makers!!

Guess what happened to the car we were PLANNING to take???


Just look at him.  HES SO CUTE!!!!!

More airsoft.
I went for a run around the local lake.  Absolutely beautiful!!

Trash pickup day.

Giving Sweetie some attention.

Sir Loin.  He looks like a bunny....
The little ones are learning how to take all the horse tack off and store it.  Spirit is a patient teacher, which is good because he's so HUGE compared to their little arms...
Here's to a fabulous August, everyone.  Got some fun posts planned, so stick around.  :)  And CONGRATS to everyone who participated in Camp NaNo.  If you won, awesome!  If you didn't make you're goal, you are still amazing because I chickened out and didn't even try to do that this month....