December Highlights: Skating, Sanity, and Snow

Am I ever not busy? I don’t think so… But some things made this month busier than others. Like hats flying off the shelves at Jas. Townsend & Son, meaning I’m making 12-15 hats a week instead of 10. Then there was that minor detail of Mom getting sick with bronchitis for two weeks, and Joy being busy with work and finals (then getting sick herself) meaning I was the one in charge of getting things done. The upside to all that is I haven’t got sick myself, and I’d much rather do extra work around the house than be laid up a week or two.

My Life

Writing, obviously, kept me busy. And I reworked my schedule (more on that in a moment). I do that every few months…pile up so much stuff I can’t get it all done, then step back and reorganize everything in an effort to still get most of it gets done, while gaining extra time to do the newest things I want to try my hand at.

Speaking of new things, I’m preparing to take up another hobby. Calligraphy. The main reason being, I have a beautiful leather griffin journal that I want to fill with facts and timelines from one of my lands, but one does not simply fill such a cool book with sloppy handwriting. Hence, calligraphy.

And even I take a vacation sometimes. This last week was my ‘free week’. I’d a few minor things I need to get done and catch up on, and a few more items I wanted to work on in my spare time, as well as some books to finish… *takes deep breath* But yes, mainly a free week.

I was able to go to a friend’s house on Tuesday, then travel to Chicago with a church group on Wednesday. We went to a museum, then out ice skating. So much fun, except for getting a migraine halfway through the day in Chicago and ending up spending most of the evening curled in a corner of the building where one rents and changes skates. But hey, it’s not everyone who gets to catch snippets of random conversations and get mistaken for a pile of bags. Besides, maybe one day I’ll have a character who get’s migraines…

The next day, I and two of my friends took pictures of each other. Here are some of my favorites of myself.

I also discovered Imagine Dragon songs this month. Some of them are a bit darker, but they are so full of story ideas!

From the mouths of children:

I like to scribble down funny lines I hear others say. And with eight younger siblings, I pick up a random assortment of logic and thoughts.

Random things one hears while sitting at my desk…The one from my 8-year-old sister: ‘I can’t come right now. I dropped my hair’. (the context being the hair of a lego person…I assume)

My four-year-old sister on being carried up the hill: ‘My legs are tired. Everything else is not tired.’

The same four-year-old sister gave me an empty plate one morning and I pretended to eat from it. She stared at me in horror. ‘No! There isn’t any food there. You ate the glass.’

My Writing

My main project has been Shadows of the Hersweald, but I’ve other works coming along too.

WIPs

  • Shadows of the Hersweald is going well. It is now in the hands of beta readers and I’m going to read the novella out loud to myself in the next few weeks.
  • I’m going over Fidelyon still, working on beta reader feedback and clipping. It’s going well. And I’m under 140,000 words! I’m shaving off as much extra as I can, to give myself breather room when I start going back through it again.
  • I’ve been working on the theme and structure of Scarlet Rose recently. I’m hoping to get it in a readable shape by the end of January or February, then write the second book in the trilogy this spring/summer, and the third one for NaNo. Yeah, I like to go big. We’ll see if it really happens…
  • More details on next year’s deadlines coming next week in my newsletter

Other Writing

  • Here is another article on Kingdom Pen from me this month: How to Create Religions as a Christian Fantasy Author
  • Blog changes: due to the amount of writing I’m doing, I’m going to be blogging less. Caption Challenges on Monday, then a post on Fridays. No more Wednesday posting except on special occasions.
  • I’m also stopping the Realm Leaper stories with each monthly newsletter. Instead, I am offering a free set of three different designs of Song of the Sword wallpaper! If you are already signed up, you’ll get the free downloads with the next newsletter. If you aren’t signed up, you can sign up here and get it at once!

Me

writersJust a random fun fact from Pinterest. Do I care? No, I don’t. I’m a writer. I can be a bit insane if I please.

What have you been up to this month? Have you listed to any Imagine Dragon songs? If you have, what is your favorite one? Did you have a white Christmas (we did)? Did you go shopping after Christmas (there is no better time to buy chocolate)? What are some of your favorite winter activities?

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Christian Convictions: Writing on Sundays

I don’t write on Sundays. I’m not saying no one should write on Sundays, but for me – I can’t do it. Well, I could very easily, and that is why I don’t. I get so obsessed with getting this done and getting that done. I mean, seriously, a dozen novels in my mind… where is one to get the time?

And that’s the thing. For me, writing will take up any time I allow it. It is my job. And Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest. The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath (and yes, I realize the Sabbath and Sunday aren’t the same. The point is, we take one day a week from our normal schedule and business of work to rest, renew our minds, and worship God.)

I, early on in my writing, and with my dad’s leading, made up my mind that I’d not write on Sundays. I’d rest. I’d relax. And I’d pick up my work the next day.

We need to have time to rest. To recuperate. We can’t be working nonstop all the time or we wear ourselves out. God doesn’t do things for no reason, and resting one day in every seven is no exception.

Though I do ‘lose’ a day of writing each week, I have found resting on Sunday has benefited me and my life.

For starters, I have a solid cutoff. I aim to get everything for the week done by Saturday night because I won’t be working the next day.

Monday is a new week, which I enter fresh from a day of being able to ignore my plot holes or staring blankly at the screen. The day of clearing my mind lets me start the week with fresh energy, not to mention I get some extra sleep and file away more reading than normal.

Now, I’m not perfect. There has been a day or two I finished a scene really quick. Or a piece sprang into my head that I needed to write down. If I am stuck on a plot hole, the story runs through my head as I try to find some solution before I have to sit back down and write again the next day. But, as a general rule, I lay my writing to the side one day a week.

Choosing not to write on Sundays is a personal conviction for me. I don’t think it is a sin to write on Sunday, and I think there are those who can handle it without letting writing take over their life. But, as for me, I believe it is a Biblically promoted idea to rest one day a week. Not only does it open up time for us to worship God and reflect on matters we ignore in the hurry of life, but it gives us new strength and refreshes our mind to plunge back into the work of our story the next day.

Caption Challenge: December #4

First the caption challenge winners:

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There were so many great entries which made me smile, I but had to pick one so the Caption Challenge winner is:  Fereleth, Carrier of Light

‘Failed? Oooh… that’s harsh. More like became terminally inconvenienced.’

Six-Word-Story: Jessi

“Eh, not exactly. They’ve joined me.”

Congratulations, guys! And now for this week’s collage.

 

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Pictures from Pinterest

Anyone can enter this caption challenge; the only requirement is that you keep your entries clean.🙂 You’ve two entries (you can pick one, or two both). One entry is a caption, the other is a six-word-story. On Saturday I’ll pick a winning caption and I’ll post it next Monday along with the name of the winner and the next caption challenge!

IMPORTANT NOTE: Make sure your six-word-story tells a story, instead of just being a six-word caption. It needs to go with the picture, but it needs to stand alone as a story as well. Somewhere, they’ve turned into short captions, and I want to get them back to stories.

On Saturday I’ll pick a winning caption and I’ll post it next Monday along with the name of the winner and the next caption challenge!

 

December Vlog

December Vlog

Hello, guys! Ready for another Vlog? This one is pretty short because I didn’t have questions and I was in a hurry. Still, you should enjoy it. 😉

And, like normal, feel free to ask any questions you want below so I can answer them in my next Vlog. Or maybe the one after, since the next one will be about Shadows of the Hersweald. We’ll see. *grins*

Autumn Reading: Mini-Reviews

Despite lack of time, I did get a good amount of reading done this summer.

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Inkdeath

Overview: Yes, it has a skull on the front. But there is a reason the book is called Inkdeath (and it doesn’t have to do with skeletons or anything gruesome of that kind). What happens when one gets read into a book. And when the author has based a heroic rebel off of you (or your father, as the case may be).

Technical aspects: Writing: 5 of 5 – Characters: 5 of 5 – Dialogue: 5 of 5

My thoughts: Inkdeath is the last book in the Inkheart trilogy and it is also my favorite. These books are charming and well written with great characters. Mo/the Bluejay is so cool, and I absolutely love Dustfinger. And the writing humor in here, with the author trapped in his own book…so good.

Recommendation:  5 of 5. I’ve enjoyed these books very much. I love writers meeting characters and writing humor. Besides, I just loved the book.

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The Light of Eidon

Overview: All Abramm wanted was peace. But when he is caught up in political schemes and betrayed to be sold as a slave, fighting is the only way to survive.

Technical aspects: Writing: 3.5 of 5 – Characters: 4 of 5 – Dialogue: 4 of 5 – Theme 4.5 of 5

My thoughts: I really liked the story itself. The characters, for the most part, I enjoyed. The theme was well done and the pacing was pretty good. The writing itself was not especially impressive. It wasn’t awful, just lots of telling instead of showing or mingling descriptions with the scenery. This is the first book in a four book series and I like it enough that I might get the next book sometime.

Recommendation:  4 of 5. If you like allegorical fantasy, you will probably like this story. It is exciting. I mean, how can you go wrong with gladiators and rebellion? If the writing style doesn’t bother you, then I would definitely recommend it.

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Space Drifters: The Iron Gauntlet

Overview: Captain Glint Starcrost is one of the few humans chosen to  compete in the Iron Gauntlet, pitted against four of the most fearsome, fang-filled, alien fighters in the universe. With the help of his crew, he must survive. But he’ll never be the same.

Technical aspects: Writing: 5 of 5 – Characters: 5 of 5 – Dialogue: 5 of 5 – Theme 5 of 5

My thoughts: The second Space Drifter book doesn’t disappoint. Hilarious, exciting, dangerous, with fresh new characters and unexpected twists, it builds up for the next book while telling a complete story. I can hardly wait for the next book.

Recommendation:  5 of 5. This is my favorite Christian sci-fi series and, really, my favorite sci-fi series anywhere. Not that I read much sci-fi, but I love this series. And the characters. As one person put it, it reminds me of a clean Christian Guardians of the Galaxy.

The Lunar Chronicles: Cinder and Scarlet

Overview: A retelling of Cinderella where Cinder is a cyborg. Little Red Riding Hood with Lunar enemies. Each book in the Lunar Chronicles has a new main character, but they build on each other, containing past characters and running in a progressive storyline.

Technical aspects: Writing: 4.5 of 5 – Characters: 5 of 5 – Dialogue: 5 of 5 – Theme 4 of 5

My thoughts: I loved Cinder. All the nods to the original fairytale, and yet there were a number of new twists as well. Scarlet I enjoyed, though I liked Cinder’s character better. (Plus, Cinder was as passionately romantic). Still, I’m looking forward to reading Cress, the third book.

Recommendation:  4.5 of 5. This isn’t a Christian series, but it is pretty clean. No swearing. Not too much romance. Well, there is more in Scarlet than in Cinder, which I could have done without, but it wasn’t too bad.

What about you? Have you read any of these books? What your favorite book which you’ve read this autumn?

New Fantasy Times: Independent Sidekicks

For this study, Kirin discovered that at least one character didn’t take kindly to being called a side-kick. Following which, said character wrote the following letter. Ladies and gentlefolk, meet Jagger, one of Ethaniel’s friends in Fidelyon.

Firstly, it’s companion, not sidekick. I mean, honestly. It’s not as if the ‘hero’ is any more important than we are, even if he does happen to be king, or chosen one, or something of that sort. Admit it, all of you. That term ‘hero’ is used for the person the story is focused on. The rest of us somehow are viewed as… less.

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Surprise! We’re warriors and heroic in our own right too. Well, sometimes. I’m not saying every person in every story is heroic. But if the story were about one of us instead, you’d see what I mean. The only difference is that, instead of trying to run a failing kingdom and face down deadly enemies, we are standing guard, protecting our king from assassins… and still facing down deadly enemies. Though I’m sure if you were interested, you could find all sorts of fascinating things about us, even if our actions don’t change the fate of the age.

What do we do, then? I just answered that, didn’t I? We are… well, we are people. Just normal people placed in very not normal circumstances. (Just like the hero, I might add.) Though even that depends on the situation. Sometimes we might have prepared our lives to fight and defend others.

Because that is a great part of our duty. There are secondary characters, but the ones called sidekicks (shattered spears, who thought that term up? Did they have something against us to give us such a derogatory term?) Anyway, as I was saying, we companions are close to the hero, and so close to all the danger he naturally attracts (because what is a hero without an assassin before breakfast?). Hence we normally have our work cut out for us. Not that the hero is a poor fighter himself, but the enemy sends people against him without taking us into consideration. Which is both enraging and yet slightly convenient.

Still, like I said, we are just people, even if we are awesome people. There’s no one ‘type’. Some of us are funny, some serious. Some young, some old. We are generally loyal to our friends. All of them. We live, we die…

But such is life. In the end, we are no worse than the hero. Generally, we’re even better in one area or another. (Juggling and wielding twin blades would be my forte.) And I just have one note for all of you who still aren’t getting it.

Don’t underestimate us. Your regret at ignoring us will be the last thing you think.

Humbly,

Jagger

Caption Challenge: December #3

First the caption challenge winners:

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Caption Challenge:  Fereleth, Carrier of Light

‘Ha. Didn’t you ever hear of a certain useful thing called ‘assassins’?’

Six-Word-Story: Anne of Lothlorien

“Like I’d make that mistake twice?”

Congratulations, guys! And now for this week’s collage.

 

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Pictures from Pinterest

Anyone can enter this caption challenge; the only requirement is that you keep your entries clean.🙂 You’ve two entries (you can pick one, or two both). One entry is a caption, the other is a six-word story. On Saturday I’ll pick a winning caption and I’ll post it next Monday along with the name of the winner and the next caption challenge!

 

Fidelyon: ‘J’ with Ethaniel…ahem, Jagger

Ethaniel, the main character in my novel, Fidelyon, has taken it upon himself to introduce you to his world by going through an alphabet of terms and names.

 

Hello, everyone. Jagger here. Ethaniel told me he was doing these post thingys and that he planned to write about me. I told him he’d do no such thing, so now I’m stuck writing about myself…which was my original grand plan, of course.

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I am – or I was, a jester’s apprentice. Besides the awful clothes, the job wasn’t half bad. Juggling is cool enough, as is playing with fire. And one can always get a little extra food by entertaining the maids or serving boys. My preferred choice of occupation is swordsmanship though. And my preferred method of swordsmanship is to fight with twin blades. Double the damage and besides it looks cool. Most who see me fighting say I should be a soldier. I think not. A ranger like my father and uncle, maybe, but not a soldier.

Here are two likenesses someone got somehow. Don’t ask me. They aren’t perfect, though the second one is decent. And I love the clothes…

Why am I living in the palace with my uncle, the jester, and where is my family, you may ask? Quite frankly, you don’t need to know. All that need be said is that I’ve sworn vengeance on the Volandums for the suffering they have caused. But…yes. Moving on.

When I first saw Ethaniel stumble into the courtyard, dusty and with no idea where he was going, I’d no clue I’d have to save him from an assassination attempt later that very day or that we’d be off on a wild race into the depths of legend. I’m still not sure I believe all of it, but my eyes keep telling me so, so I suppose it is true.

Ethaniel is a good friend, whatever he may say or claim. Since – well since two years ago, and the burning of my village and the debasing of my family name, I’ve received pity but not much friendship. Who wants to be the friend of the coward’s son anyway? Ethaniel was never like that. Not that he had much of a choice about whether I was with him or not, but…yes. He’s a good friend. And I’m a good friend to him if I say so myself.

 

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Self-publishing: Five Time-Saving Tools

A writer’s life is filled with so much more than the mere creating of stories. There is editing and proofreading. Marketing and newsletters. Blogging and graphics. We can take any help offered, and here are five free tools which have helped me save time and work the best I can.

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Grammarly

When you create an account in Grammarly, you can type directly into a document on the site, or you can paste into a document. Grammarly also offers some cool apps which will check your grammar and spelling as you type up emails or on social media sites.

Grammarly is split between a free version and a premium version. The free version catches critical mistakes, while you have to pay to see advanced mistakes. But it is still handy to find obvious grammar or spelling mistakes, even if it occasionally marks something as wrong that you decide to leave unchanged for various reasons.

MailChimp

Building an email list is essential for any author. MailChimp offers a free mail service for up to 2000 email addresses. You’re able to create signup forms, popup boxes, welcome emails, and various other cool stuff. You can create and save templates and track opens and clicks through Mailchimp analytics.

Hootsuite

If you are on social media at all, this is a great time saver. You’re allowed to add up to three different social media sites in the free version. Hootsuite allows you to schedule posts, either for each site individually, or for several sites at once.

Plus, Hootsuite has a cool dashboard where you can look all the information on a particular site, with columns for your posts, your feed, your messages, your scheduled posts, etc.

Canva

At some point, you’re probably going to make some graphics for a book launch, a sale, or your blog. Canva is a great free tool for this. With numbers of free templates (as well as others you can pay for) you get a head start on creating classing Pinterest photos or sleek Instagram posts. One of the best parts is that these templates are created for the optimal size of a post for that particular social media site, increasing the effectiveness of the graphic.

Pixabay

You’re going to need photos for the graphic you create, and Pixabay offers a great collection of royalty free photos. Though downloadable for free, there is the option to donate a few dollars if you wish to, but it’s not required. They have a wide variety of photos, especially when it comes to nature pictures.

These are the five tools or sites I use the most as I write and market. What about you? Do you have any favorite tools?

Caption Challenge: December #2

First the caption challenge winners:

fantasy

Caption Challenge:  Zoewingfeather

“Deathgold, for the last time, humans aren’t real. Get your head out of the book and start living in the real world.”

Six-Word-Story: noliealcarturiel

“Quiet — I’m researching Man: A Myth?”

Congratulations, guys! And now for this week’s collage.

 

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Pictures from Pinterest

Anyone can enter this caption challenge; the only requirement is that you keep your entries clean.🙂 You’ve two entries (you can pick one, or two both). One entry is a caption, the other is a six-word story. On Saturday I’ll pick a winning caption and I’ll post it next Monday along with the name of the winner and the next caption challenge!