January Highlights: Writing, Reading, and Outlining

I give up. I don’t know what normal weather here in the midwest is anymore. We had a few good snow falls earlier in the winter, but part way through this month all the snow melted. Which generally happens sometime each winter, except this year it kept getting warmer. We had a few days was it was in the 50s and 60s! I went out shopping with no coat! And we saw the sun. That was a nice treat.

A few days before the day it was sunny, my brother mentioned how the weather was supposed to be cloudy for the next week and a half. Mom made a comment about ‘no sun’ and I blinked. The sun? Right. I forgot about the sun… And then I wished they’d not mentioned it because I started missing it, despite the drama of mist and gray weather.

My Life

Home life is busy. My sister and I used to split a number of tasks, but now she is either at college or work six days out of seven so I have a little more to do. Though with a brother who helps make bread now, and Mom and I splitting laundry days, it isn’t too bad.

My own job of knitting hats is easing up. I’m only making ten a week now and generally go to the shop three days a week for an hour or hour and a half.

I’ve also started trying my hand at calligraphy (read: I got the markers out and doodled with them one night when I couldn’t think about writing anymore.) And I’m trying to find time for painting. Kind of. Watercolor is very fun, but it’s not high on my list of things to do; not with all the writing I’ve been doing.

Writing

Every month I seem to try and do more…

WIPs

 

  • Shadows of the Hersweald is going well. After working through beta reader corrections and some polishing of my own, it is now in the hands of an editor.
  • I outlined Scarlet Rose this month. First the book, then the trilogy and overall character arcs. When I decided to write a trilogy, I didn’t realize how more than one book complicated a story arc. But I am pleased with the results of my brainstorming. I’ve the main plot points of each book worked out and am working an hour a day on Scarlet Rose itself.
  • Fidelyon… *insane laugh* I have, umm, reoutlined this novel. I knew something was missing and finally realized the first half of the main character’s arc was missing and there was no definite midpoint to the story. So I’m plunging into another rewrite. Well, I say rewrite… some parts will stay the same, with just minor changes. Other parts, especially in the first few chapters and pretty much the whole last quarter, are up for a major overhaul. I’m excited about it, even if I do wish I could just GET THIS NOVEL DONE!

Other Writing

Writer’s Confessions

  • Sometimes I run a search on my own blog to find past articles
  • I schedule posts a month in advance but don’t add content until about a week before they are due to be posted. So if I ever die vanish into another world, you guys are going to get a bunch of blank posts… *smirks*
  • I can’t brainstorm on lined paper. I can outline with lines, but I need blank paper to let my ideas flow right
  • When I do use lined paper for notes, I write super small, fitting two lines in the space of one line. Still not sure why I do that…
  • I have been writing for years, but grammar remains a mystery and sometimes even spellcheck doesn’t recognize my words
  • I use the effort of brainstorming a project or the triumph of finishing an outline or manuscript as an excuse to go get onion rings at Culvers

Me

Yep, you never really know. Same if I am humming under my breath. I might be happy, or I might be trying to keep frustration or stress contained…

Oh, one final bit of news. I was on Kingdom Pen‘s first Live Panel Writers Discussion last week, talking about writing for a full hour! I was supposed to be one of three writers, but due to technical difficulties, I was the only one who ended up getting on. So it was just the moderator and I. But it still went well and I think all involved had fun.

So, what about you? Have you seen the sun much this winter? Have you ever outlined a book series before? What is your favorite treat to reward yourself with during or after your writing?

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Shadows of Hersweald Cover Reveal

Yes, it is time! Already!

*squeals*

Shadows of the Hersweald is the third novella in my Legends of Light series and retells the fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel. And I am very excited to be sharing the cover with you today.

A battered soldier from a defeated army, Haydn knows the only end to the arrival of the Prince’s governor is chains, followed by punishment and possible execution. Except he hasn’t counted on the Prince himself. Or the pardon which his recent foe has declared to acquit all those who fought against him.

A pardon Haydn detests.

A pardon that refuses to punish the rebels now threatening his own village. And his sister.

Guilt-ridden from his own actions during the war, Haydn knows there are others who have no conscience at all. Others who are using the freedom of the pardon to forward their own desperate schemes.

With enemies closing in on all sides, a pardon that refuses punishment for the rebellion, and nightmares of murder and fire hovering in the back of Haydn’s every thought, can he save the only ones left he cares about before it is too late?

Find out in Shadows of the Hersweald!

And…I suppose I should actually show you the cover now. So, without more ado, here it is!

This gorgeous cover, by the way, was created by a good friend of mine who just started a blog and who you can find here.

Oh, and one more thing. There is something else I’ve been looking forward to sharing. The book trailer for Shadows of the Hersweald. It is the first book trailer I have made and I had fun with it.

Well, what do you all think, of both the cover and the trailer? Looking forward to the end of March yet? 🙂

Fidelyon: ‘K’ and ‘L’ with Ethaniel

thaniel, 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.

‘K’ with Ethaniel

Keros is the natural choice for ‘K’. A fellow messenger, he has also grown to something like a friend during the times he’s been posted nearby. Generally stationed at the neighboring Messenger Outpost 8, Keros had moved up and down the messenger line more than once, filling in for sick or hurt messengers.

He is quiet and keeps to himself, though Drexin sometimes manages to get him talking and even laughing. Keros is steady, determined, and quick.

His past is a bit of a mystery although, considering he appears to be a mixture of Volandum and Elentisaren blood, it’s little wonder he doesn’t speak of. He doesn’t speak of himself much at all, really, except to occasionally mention his father who he says he will rejoin one of these days. There are some messengers who doubt such a man really exists, but they quickly learned to keep their mouths shut on such a subjected if they valued their further wellbeing.

‘L’ with Ethaniel:

There are two men who sprang to mind when I was given the letter ‘L’.

The first is Lasher. First a ranger, then a jester in King Kysten’s court, he must be in his 50s at least. Short, wiry, with sharply cut graying hair, he carries himself with preoccupied purpose. He has a dry sense of humor, but not enough to make a good jester. How he got the position is beyond me. Though I am told that he is great at juggling. Especially when it comes to knives. No surprise there.

The other is also an older man by the name of Lathen. A Volandum Follower, he lives across the border near the main pass between our two nations. A healer and a leader of the Followers of the Prince in his village in Voland, he also has a wry sense of humor and a commanding presence whenever he enters a room.

Both men are very loyal, though Lathen takes a more relaxed view of duty than Lasher. Still, the two could almost be brothers. (They aren’t. I’ve looked into it.)

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Author Myths: Don’t Believe Everything You Hear

The writer’s life is surrounded by myths, both inside and out. ‘Oh, you are a writer? You must be rich?’ ‘A writer? Are you a starving artist? I didn’t think you could make any money that way.’ ‘Just write a book and put it out there, it will take off.’

So…yes. Lots of myths. So I decided to collect a few; some from Facebook, some from articles I’ve read, some from things I’ve heard or heard of so much that they are now stuck in my head.

Myths on the Inside:

That you have to write every day to be a writer. Ok, so there is truth that you need to write to be a writer, and you need to keep writing and not just write every two months as the inspiration seizes you. But it is also fine to take occasional breaks and not write every day.

You don’t need an editor, editing yourself is fine. I tried this. Nope, not really fine. Though I’m an awful editor myself. I think even editors send off their work to others for correction.

There is no need to worry about grammar and punctuation. The publisher will assign an editor-minion to take care of it for you. Just dash off your book, and relax and enjoy your six-figure advance. Insane laughing. I wish, but no. Just not happening.

Just write you book, put it ‘out there’ and readers will come flocking to buy it. Sadly, no. For readers to love our book, they need to know about it. They aren’t going to come searching for something they don’t know exists.

Myths on the Outside:

That writing is easy because it isn’t a real job. Excuse me. Does your job fill your mind day in and day out, and take up all your free time? Do you know how hard writing is, both emotionally and physical (I mean, really, who has time for sleep?). Also, don’t you dare count my success by how much money I make. Success is about so much more.

While writing, you are unemployed and available for major tasks/projects. *chokes* Yes, I am writing. No, that does not mean I am free. Writing and free are like opposite ends of the spectrum…

People are self-published because no traditional publishing house would consider it. Hardly. Traditional publishing houses can only publish so much, after all. And did it ever cross your mind that maybe we wanted to be in control of everything ourselves?

Self-publishers shouldn’t charge money for their books – they should be grateful if anyone deigns to read them at all, so they should always give them away. The only reason I will not blast anyone who dares think or say this to ashes is because is because you are so ignorant about what goes into writing that I don’t even know where to start.

When you publish that book, you’ll make tons of money. Also, you won’t make any money at all. Marketing. Email lists. Followings… You could make lots of money, or you could make a little, or you could make a middling amount. There isn’t one catch-all figure.

Because you are a writer, you know how to spell every word under the sun as well as all the rules of grammar. Please, I am horrible at both. Sometimes even spellcheck doesn’t know what I’m looking for.

It is assumed you can pull plots or character out of thin air for a friend (or younger sibling). It’s really not that easy. You want to be a writer? Figure it out yourself. I’ve more plots than I know what to do with right now.

Of course, you want to read and critique anything a friend (or stranger) offers you. There is this thing called time, you know. I don’t have enough of it for my own work. And, unless I offer, I probably don’t have any to spare for reading everything else under the sun.

I’ve come to the conclusion that writers, like many kinds of artist, will always be misunderstood. Not by everyone. I have some very supportive family members. I also have one who doesn’t quite get it. But that is fine. That doesn’t make those who don’t understand stupid, even if we might want to shake them sometimes. One day they might understand. Or not. But it is something we will face, and it is something we’ll have to live with.

So learn to laugh at it. Laughter can make about anything better. Besides, quite often what a nonwriter thinks about a writer can be funny. Don’t worry about what others think. As writers, we need to have a strong confidence in what we do and why we do it, then accept encouragement, ignore discouragement, and keep on writing!

Do you have any writing myths to share? Either something you’ve learned or something someone has said to you? Comment below!

Beyond the Parchment: Part 5

I know. It is Wednesday and I said I was only posting twice a week. But I have something I’m planning on posting Friday, in relation to Shadows of the Hersweald so you get the next installment of Beyond the Parchment a few days early. 😉

In this serial story, we learned that a dysfunctional portal, invented by a weary writer, May Ann, actually begins to work, bringing characters to our world. And herself into their world.

Anyway, you can read the first parts of the story here. You could just read the short blurbs about them, of course, but you’ll probably miss some important details. The blurbs are there for those of you who have read the story and are trying to keep track of all the names, more than anything else. You’re welcome. *bows*

Part 1: It Just had to be Lord Jerinthreo Kraven Balstin the Second in which a writer, May Ann, wakes up to find a portal she’d designed in her book has become operational and two brothers, Jerinthreo and Daraton have come through and engaged in a bitter fight.

Part 2: All brothers fight sometimes, right? May Ann tries to keep the brothers from killing each other. Grabs Jerin and pulls him into a secret passage, only to discover she has Daraton instead (they are identical twins). Break out of the passage into May Ann’s kitchen only to discover Varizan, a villain May Ann created, waiting for them.

Part 3: My kitchen will never be the same Another fight between Daraton and Varizan breaks out in May Ann’s kitchen and May Ann saves Daraton’s life by shoving them both through the portal (which so happens to be the fridge).

Part 4: I am never doing that again May Ann and Daraton arrive in Braceaon, Daraton is wounded and Varizan’s soldiers have taken over Daraton’s former home. May Ann helps Daraton away and they find Ethred, a lady both Jerin and Daraton seem to respect, and her daughter, Adella, who happens to be Lord Daraton’s wife.

Well, That Complicates Things

Adella, Lord Daraton’s wife. The words echo through my mind as I numbly stare at the two women, the one short with gray hair and steady eyes, the other twisting an arrow between her fingers. Since when had Lord Daraton decided to get married without inviting me to the wedding?

Ethred chuckles, shaking her head. “No worries. They all look at us like that when we tell them. It’s a precious small secret right now, thanks to that snake, Vaizen.” Her forehead furrows as she turns to the fire, breaking up the coals with short stabbing motions.

The scene blurs as I shake my head, the Adella is at my elbow. “You must be tired, too. Portal traveling and all.” She leads me to a chair and gently pushes me down. Her gaze skims my clothing. “You’re not from here, I take it.”

“Not from…” I blink, shaking my head. Even details behind secret marriages needed to wait in the face of the danger we were in. “No, not really.”

“Ah.” Ethred’s lips twisted into a wry smile as she pours steaming liquid into a mug and hands it to me. “That much we knew. I saw Daraton go through that portal myself, after all.” She settles down opposite me. “Now I realize you are upset and stressed and afraid, but we really need–”

“I’m fine.” The words are a bit sharper than I mean them. “Sorry…” I wrap my fingers around the warmth seeping from the mug. “But really, I am fine.”

“Wonderful.” Ethred smiles broadly as Adella leans against the wall behind her, twirling an arrow between her fingers. “So, where is Jerinthreo, how did you meet up with Varizan, what is he planning, how did Daraton get wounded, and how did he end up with you?”

I blink.

Adella stares at the rafters above, a small smile teasing her lips. “She’ll forget the questions before you’re finished with them, mother.”

Ethred frowns. “It’s not my fault you young ones have such short attention spans. But if it can’t be helped…” She looked at me again, her eyes stabbing through mine. “Well, out with it. As quick as you can. And as much as you can remember.”

I bite the inside of my lip, hesitating. The brothers both trust her. They are also at odds with each other, which means she must transcend the petty arguments flaring up about us. Well, that or she was some sort of double agent or else…

Stop it. I scold myself. She’s not a secret agent. At least… ok, so I don’t know everything going on here, but I feel sure of that, at least. Maybe she can help, and we need answers of our own.

Interlocking my fingers behind my head, I stare into the crackling flames and slowly sift through the past few hours, recounting all I could remember. Well, all except for the fact that I had written this world in the first palace. They’ll not believe that, and even if they do, I’ve a feeling they’ll not want to hear they are figments of my imagination. If they actually are, that is. I am growing less and less certain by the minute.

Ethred flips the wire covered stone in the palm of her hand, tracing the silver designs which swirled over the smooth surface. “And you’re the Wordsmith?”

I jerk, staring at her. Wordsmith… that is what Varizan called me too, though I’d not mentioned it.

“I… maybe?”

“Maybe?” Adella slips the arrow into her quiver. “How can one not know?”

Ethred shakes her head, peering over her shoulder at her daughter. “You’re lucky. I’ve told you that before. Most Wordsmiths don’t even know their kind exists, much less what they can do.”

Adella’s eyes slide back to me, but I am staring at Ethred. “Wordsmith? As in… a writer?”

“No, my dear.” Ethred holds the stone by a chain, letting it swing back and forth. “Not a writer. A Chronicler.”

“I don’t…”

“Every generation has one,” Ethred interrupts me. “There are storytellers in many worlds, but there is only one Wordsmith in each land. They write of people in other lands, carrying the histories and the lessons learned across the borders of time and space. I was a Wordsmith, and Adella has taken the duties in hand now.” Ethred rose, crossing the room and opening a deep shelf. Rows upon rows of leather-bound notebooks stared from the shadows.

“You are from…” Ethred’s fingers trace down the spine. “Terra, is it not? Ah yes. The Wordsmith May Ann. She was the one who designed a portal…” Ethred motion outwards in the general direction of the manor house, while she flips through the yellowed pages. “Nothing about coming here, but it looks like you get married and then…”

“Stop!” I spring to my feet. My stomach twists. What on earth did this lady know about me? About my life. Another story. Another history… “I don’t want to know. I really don’t. Assuming all you tell me is true.”

“I didn’t say it would all happen, dearie.” Ethred places the book back on the shelf and turns back toward me. “Some Wordsmiths are more connected with what happens than others. There are some who get the accounts horribly mangled, I fear. Though it is hard to tell, seeing we can’t generally confirm any of them. Are you an orphan with one brother in the army and a younger sister who died in your arms four years ago?”

“Am I… why… you…” I sputter. “No! I have a wonderful family who happens to be on vacation until tomorrow night.” I bite my lip. Tomorrow night I’ve until then to get Vaizen out of my house. And possibly buy a new fridge.

Ethred sighs and shrugs. “Ah well. A pity. Not for you, of course, but it was touching. And your own death scene…”

I glare at Ethred. “Wait until I get back and write up a heartrending scene for your death. It would be just the thing to get Jerin and Daraton back on the same side, don’t you think?”

“Don’t you dare.” Steel presses just below my eye and I raise my eyebrows as I meet Adella’s flashing stare. “I am the Wordsmith here, and I can make you suffer much worse than death. Believe me.”

“One would think you both could actually make a difference.” Ethred rolls her eyes. “A Wordsmith writes what happens in the various worlds. The stories which come to them are history, but they don’t always come fully formed. And where guesswork is involved, drama and truth do not always go hand in hand. You both can kill each other or me as much as you please in your writings, it’s not going to make it so. And you, Adella, should know that already.”

Adella sighs, scowling as she lowers the arrow. “I know, but still…”

I hold up both hands. “It’s fine. I’d probably do the same if you threatened…” I broke off, watching her warily. “Never mind. I’m not telling you who you should threaten.”

Adella snorts, but her lips curve up slightly.

“And,” I turn back to Ethred, “since I’ve answered your questions, it’s only fair you return the favor.”

“As if life cares anything for fairness.” Ethred shakes her head, her eyes twinkling. “Well, ask away, and I’ll answer as best I can.”

I bite my lip, glancing around the small room. Beyond the shuttered windows, shadows of the night press inwards. Braceaon. My land. Which is no longer my land because I had nothing to do with the creation in the first place. I close my eyes, taking a deep breath. There will be time, later on, to deal with such… things.

“What has happened here?” I finally find the words. “Daraton, Jerin, Lord Balstin… I knew he would die, I just didn’t realize he died so early.”

Adella glances at Ethred, and Ethred sighs, taking a seat. “Neither did I. Or any of us.” She passes one hand over her face. “It was Vaizen, mainly. Riling Lord Balstin with news of Daraton’s marriage. Then he got cozy with Jerinthreo over the portal to gain access to that. We still aren’t sure who assassinated the Lord, but Vaizen made sure Daraton thought Jerinthreo had a hand in it due to his contestation for more lands, whereas Jerinthreo now thinks it has something to do with Adella and Daraton’s marriage.” Ethred glares at Daraton who is still sleeping peacefully. “Fools, both of them, though I must say Vaizen was convincing enough.”

“And Vaizen?” I ask. “What does he want?”

“Isn’t it obvious?” Adella looks sharply at me. “He wants the Wordsmith. He wants you.”

I groan. Great. This is just great.

“It’s not all that bad,” Ethred assures me. “There are plenty of others he wants too, though you are at the top of his list. Rest now, and by morning we might have a few more answers, although…” she glances at Daraton, “We may have more pressing matters on our hands by then.”

Right. Poison. And such.

I sigh, but let them lead me to a bed tucked in the wall. I’m never going to sleep, of course. Not now. Not after what has happened.

But I’m so tired.

I blink rapidly, trying to keep my eyes open. Or did that put one to sleep? What did it matter? I was exhausted and somewhere in my muddled thoughts I’ve the suspicion Ethred slipped some sort of calming agent in my tea. But I do I need sleep.

My eyes slip closed and darkness sweeps about me…

Darkness, but light filters through the air. My shoulders ache and something rough is holding my wrists behind my back. Rope? A heavy breath echoes in my ear and I jump, twisting to the side. A vaguely familiar outline leans against the wall as my eyes adjust to the gloom. His cloak is torn, and blood stains his tunic and face.

Jerinthreo?

My brow furrows as I stare at him. Somewhere, footsteps echo. Why does my head throb so? And is that… are those my shoes? I blink, my gaze skimming the familiar confines of my walk-in closet. What on…?

The door is flung open, and light streams inwards.

I squint against the sudden brightness, then a shadow falls between me and the light.

“Well, well, well.” Varizan’s hand catches my chin as he crouches down, forcing me to meet his gaze. “Look who finally woke up?”

 

And…there you have it. Any guesses on what is happening or what will happen next?

January Prompt Challenge

Yes, I know, it isn’t a collage. Another writer contacted me through my blog about starting a longer challenge, and I’d been thinking about it too, so we’ll see how it goes. Basically, for the first challenge of each month, I’m going to post a picture prompt and you have 100-250 words to write a short story/scene that goes with it. You have until January 27th to submit your scene in the comments below. I’ll announce the winner in February.  Anyone can enter, but keep your entries clean. No swearing, no gore or sensuality.

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