August Highlights – Boating, Swords, and Personality Types

Greetings, my fellow Pilgrims. It seems forever since I’ve given you a ‘life update’ even though it’s only been a month. But I know you’re all so eager to hear about what I’ve been doing so I’ll just preface this by saying this month has been completely insane.

There’s not enough time to list everything, so I’ll try to hit the highlights.

My Life

First of all, as many of you know, I published Song of the Sword this month! That was exciting and I had so many wonderful people help with my blog tour and the launch. Thanks everyone *waves* But, all said, I’m glad it’s over. Now I can relax. For three or four months anyway and I guess I’ve a bunch of writing on my next novella so it’s not really going to be relaxing. *sighs*

Secondly, some of my family went to Iowa in the middle of this month to visit Dad’s parents. It’s a nine hour trip. And we got sick. Well, we all were getting colds on the way there and had them the rest of the trip and the way back and at home… Somewhat miserable, but we managed to have fun too. Between resting and some reading I:

  • Saw a vivid sunset, with clouds edged in living gold. I tried to take pictures but they didn’t capture the drama.
  • Got up at 3:00 a.m. and watching shooting stars with my uncle from the back of a truck for an hour an a half. I saw 26 of them shiny silvery streaks across the sky. It was exciting. I was also pretty tired the next day, but the memories were worth it.
  • I learned canoeing (also from my uncle) and canoed a mile across a lake then kayaked the mile back.
  • Skimmed a 300 page book in a few hours.
  • Went boating in my uncle’s boat.
  • Navigated crazy five lane road as we passed below Chicago on the way home. And survived without crashing!

Oh, and changing the topic, but remember those cute little jars I showed you all a month or two ago? Well, here’s how they look now.

Also, I bought a sword! I found it at a local swap meet and spent the next hours touring the booths with the sheathed blade over my shoulder, earning several comments and a number of looks, including the admiring eyes of young boys. Not that they were looking at me, I’m sure. It’s a King Arthur sword and weighs about two pounds. It’s not sharp, but it looks cool and I really like it. Here are just a few beginning pictures I took the morning I bought it.

Writing

Lots of writing this month. Like normal.

WIPs

I’ve two main ones this month, and one part time project.

  • Forest of Darkness, my Hansel and Gretel retelling. I wrote it for July nano and have been working on getting it readable this month.
  • Fidelyon, the new (and, probably, final) title for The Final Clash/The Spear and Shield/Legend of the Shield. I’ve a ‘final’ round of corrections I’m starting. Two chapters a day, and I hope to have it ready for beta readers by the end of September.
  • Scarlet Rose I’m working on this as I have time. Mainly in the evenings in small bits, but those small bits will add up.

Other Writing

  • Are Cliches to be Avoided by a certain Hope Ann on the Kingdom Pen Website. If you haven’t checked them out, you should. It’s a great place for young Christian writers.
  • 101 Lies Writers Tell by Nate Philbrick. I really enjoy the writing humor from his website.
  • Black Mastermind by Writefury. This is a serial story (part of the inspiration for me starting a serial story) which I absolutely love. It’s part seven, but the first six parts are linked and it’s totally worth the time it would take to go read through all of them.
  • Thundering of Hooves by…me. A flashback post last year about how quick and how far a horse can travel.

Cliche Benders

A villain who hates the dark, a hero who has no clue how to fight, a sharpshooting minion, and a princess who doesn’t want to get married or become a warrior. She just wants to be left alone.

Me…

I’ve been getting into MBTI typing recently and, apparently, I’m a INTJ. Also, apparently, there are only 0.8 % women who are INTJs. Here are a few scarily accurate pictures I found on Pinterest.

So…yep, that’s me.

So, what about you? What is your personality type?

Have you visited Kingdom Pen yet?

Also, are you ready for school to start…who is getting ready for school? I have teaching, not lessons of my own. But even teaching takes time.

Ready for Autumn to bring some cool weather?

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New Fantasy Times: Damsels in Defiance

Elena has taken it upon herself to write this article. Kirin’s hurried agreement may or may not have had something to do with the arrow she was twirling between her fingers as she made the request. But regardless, Elena, everyone!

Ever been on the receiving end of a rescue? Yes? Well, you might have noticed they don’t always go as planned. You know those minor details which tend to crop up. An alert guard. A well defended dragon lair. An absent prisoner off on an escape of her own. Until, of course, the captive ends up in the grip of her captor with a dagger pressed against her throat. Not an enviable position.

Of course, all rescues don’t go like this. There was the time the pompous prince of Athada arranged the capture of his betrothed, then showed up in a scarlet cloak, accompanied by servants bearing silver crystals to record the event. He battled through a dozen apathetic guards before swinging open the door of the poor damsel’s chamber only to be splashed with several bucketful’s of tar rigged up on cleverly disguised ropes. The princess and I, concealed back at her father’s castle in perfect innocence, laughed over the transmission of the prince face for the rest of the night.

But, admittedly, not many captures are going to end this well.

Avoiding capture in the first place is always a good idea. Not as if we’re always given that option. But there are some things a girl can do. Like not disobeying a father or other authority and deciding to venture out the dangerous dark alone. I’ve nothing against a bit of danger, but if you slip off on your own in some rash attempt to prove your skills, you are practically asking to be captured.

And as for valid captures, the reasons aren’t limit to kidnapping a princess and bringing her to a castle in the hopes that riches will sway her to marry her captor (I mean, if she does agree, is that the sort of woman any man is going to want?) or to evil generals who want a ransom or a pressure point on his enemy (which is completely unfair to our friends, even if it’s not our fault, and we ought avoid this capture if at all possible, even if it means sacrificing some of our own freedom and staying safe).

But we woman are also captured for other reasons unconnected with the desire of our hand in marriage or the capture of those who love us. As messengers. As spies. As slaves. Or even intentional captures to manipulate the enemy from the inside.

Anyhow, readers of common stories sometimes expect their captives to act in an exasperatingly simple way. Now if you what to enhance this view of yourself, there are a few pointers you can follow:

  1. At least several times.
  2. Huddle in a corner. Preferably while crying.
  3. Make no effort to move (actually, the dead-weight tactic is a great passive-aggressive technique for many angles of behavior)
  4. Refuse to tell your captor anything, while clearly showing your answer through facial expressions (another way to trick your captor, if you are good enough at it).
  5. When your rescuer comes and gets in the inevitable fight with your captor, stand to the side and scream, ignoring the any weapons at your disposal (really not the best option since, at this point, it’s probably do or die).
  6. Basically, have no more use than a delicate golden curtain.

However, waiting around for rescue isn’t always a viable option. And there are many things a woman can do to while away the time and try to escape.

The first thing is establish your value, because on that depends your own safety and how far you can go before you press against the limits of your captor’s goodwill. If you’re being held by a prospective suitor or someone who needs you alive for a ransom, you can have some fun. Pranks on guards. Riddles. Sarcasm and insults. Of course, gauge yourself carefully. It would never do to be placed under stricter guard because you’re merely being annoying. If you’re being held by a slave driver or as a spy…it’s probably a good idea to shut up and make the least noise you can. Or maybe the most noise. It depends a lot on your guards and your captor’s personality. Each situation is different.

But, whatever the case, there are a handful of personalities one can choose and use to the full:

  1. The tearful princess: basically acting as weak and helpless as you can while preparing for one sudden push. This can be quite fun to reenact. The hard part is not laughing at everyone’s looks of disgust while you sob or pretend to be so delicate you can’t even walk on the rough ground.
  2. The steady maiden: take it all in stride. Keep informed. Don’t show much fear, but don’t show how much you know either. Act like everything is normal. The confusion this causes can be hilarious as well, though you will probably be watched fairly closely.
  3. The defiant damsel: insults, sarcasm, pranks, either with brazen triumph or practiced innocence. You can say what you want, demand what you want. Also quite fun to act. Of course, you’re likely to be kept under a fairly heavy guard, but you’re also likely to get some of the things you need for an escape.
  4. Using two or even three layers of personality can also give you some good results.

Also, always remember that persistence pays off. Want a view of the courtyard or extra sheets to tie together for a rope? Ask and plead and cajole until your captors are so annoyed they give in. You can veil your reasons in foolish girlishness, guilt your captors, or use hard brazen logic. Again, it all depends on the mood of your capture.

Conceal anything which could be used as a weapon in your clothing. And be prepared to use it. Especially in aid of a rescuer.

Finally, help your rescuer in any way possible, leaving behind clues. If you happen to escape, tell others as soon as possible so your rescuer doesn’t fall into your captor’s clutches and the roles reversed. It’s always very inconvenient when that happens, believe me.

 

Have any questions, legends, or trending cliches you’d like Kirin Quillblade (or Elena) to address? Please comment below; he promises to at least read what you have to say between his realm leaper’s missions, even if he holds the rights to choose what to write about and what to ignore.

 

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Developing Your Characters: Part 3 – The Dependence

There are three main questions, powerful, yet short, which an author should ask and answer for each of their characters. The first question is, what does your character want? What does he desire more than anything? What will he give anything for and what is he striving for? Coupled with this question (if the character is a major one) is what does he really need, and is it what he wants?

Secondly, what does your character fear? What will he do almost anything to avoid? Is what he wants more powerful than what he fears or vice versa?

Today, we’ll move to the last major question which should be asked while developing characters:

What does your character depend on?

Does your character depend on himself for strength? To get things done? Is he the ‘end of the line’? Or does he rely on someone higher than himself. A family. A king. A magical weapon. A nation. A God, either true or false.

Though this question may be very much in the background of your story and plot, it makes all the difference to the character. Even if the actions of a man rescuing his daughter, or a princess taking back her throne end up being the same, the attitudes and emotions coupled with their actions will change drastically depending on who, or what, they rely on.

The degrees of reliance may change too, though for minor characters simply answering the question will be enough. For others, reliance on self, land, or God may shift through their character arc, either for better or worse.

And there you have it! Three questions to keep in mind for each character as you write about them. What does your character want more than anything? What do they fear? And what do they rely on?

Fidelyon: ‘A’ with Ethaniel

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.

There’s plenty of words here in Elentisa which begin with A, but two stand out.

Firstly, there’s Almathea, our great capital. Based on the banks of the Shimilver River, Almathea is ringed with great walls which appear blueish from a distance, but up close they also reveal specks and lines of silver.

It’s a bustling city, with trading sectors, a wide open forum for daily markets, Sanctuaries of the Prince, the quieter twisting streets of the living sectors… Smoke hangs in the air, along with the scene of flowers and ripening fruit. The splash of fountains slip through the shouts of messengers and vendors, and water pours along the gutters at least once a day, keeping the city clean.

Overshadowing Almathea’s eastern walls looms the castle bluff where the king lives. Bad news if the castle is ever taken while the city still holds out against an enemy. Still, all in all, it’s an ideal city. Of course, Almathea is the only great city I’ve been to, but Ard has been to many cities, or so he claims. And even he grudgingly agrees that Almathea is one of the the cleanest, liveliest city in Elentisa.

Ard, of course, is the other ‘A’. He rescued me from a village destroyed by Volandum raiders when I was very young and raised me even while he ran a messenger outpost. There was never any question of what I’d become. I was one of the youngest runners on the force, and in my spare time Ard’s teaching was detailed, with an intensity it took me years to understand. The swordplay I caught on to well enough. The books and rules of governing…less so. What would a messenger need with such information anyway?

Firm, sometimes stern, yet always with a ready laugh, Ard was always there. Watchful. With an air of expectant waiting. I knew he harbored secrets, and he never denied it. What I didn’t know was how deep those secrets ran. And how closely they concerned me.

 

 

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Flames of Resistance

The moat was nearly dry, all except the pool surrounding the causeway up to the castle gate. It was deep there yet. Hopefully it was deep enough.

Fathren tried to swallow, but his tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth as a hot wind swept over the dry parched plains. He told himself it was from the rationing of water, but the dust raised by the invader’s armies wasn’t helping either.

“Ready?” His whispered cracked.

“Ready.” Three soft voice replied from the dry grass about him.

Fathren nodded his fingers tightened around his bow as his breath hissed rapidly though the cloth covering the lower half of his face. They had one chance, the four of them. If they failed, they’d die. If they succeeded, they would be branded destroyers. But at least the invaders would suffer a bitter blow.

Already the steady tramp of feet were echoing along the brush filled moat surrounding the castle. On the wall, the sun glinted off silent troops.

Fathren closed his eyes for a long moment, then drew an arrow. “On my mark, and may the Prince be with us all.”

“May the Prince be with us.” His companions’ voices were accompanied by the swish of arrows.

Fathren tensed, measuring the distance of the approaching soldiers. The troops in the moat. The horsemen behind his party in the tall grasses. The dryness of the grasses.

Almost…almost…

He raised one hand.

Now!

Fathren sliced his hand downward and leapt to his feet, springing to the middle of the causeway. Focusing, he breathed on the tip of his arrow and his heart leapt as it flashed into a flame.

“Draw!” His voice seemed to echo along the battlements even as startled cried from the wall reflected the shouts of derision from the invaders.

“Aim!”

He focused toward the brush just beyond the lead troop, feeling rather than seeing his friends fall in place behind him.

“Loose!”

His string sang as the arrow cut through the air. Shouts burst into a confused babble and Fathren spun, a single glimpse assuring him his companion’s arrows had found their mark while anger ripple through the walls above. But it was the only way. The lord would have surrendered if given the chance. Surrendered, and been slaughtered.

He’d not have the chance.

And, as Fathren followed his men, leaping over the causeway to the murky pool beneath, he only hoped the flames already catching hold on the plains and enveloping the invaders would be enough to save them all.

Pilgrims and Progress

Good day, my fellow pilgrims. Can I call you pilgrims?

Why?

You just had to ask, didn’t you?

Very well. I want to call you something. You’re not a bunch of nameless faces, after all and I’d rather say something other than ‘hey guys’. Besides the term ‘pilgrim’ is fitting, if I say so myself.

*coughs* I do say so. *coughs*

A pilgrim travels, just as we are all traveling. There’s journey involved in writing a book. Or reading one. Or the pilgrimage of life as we pass as strangers and witnesses in a strange land until we reach our final and glorious home in heaven.

*inhales deeply* That was…deep. Also, there’s this song that I like which fits very well.

All right, pilgrims, on to lighter topics.

Who here has seen the trailer for the 2017 Beauty and the Beast, taken screenshots of practically the whole thing, and then made collages of them? *raises hand guiltily* Why does release date have to be nearly ten months away?

Once this movies comes out, I’m seriously going to have to make some new collages for Rose of Prophecy.

But I did say progress in the title of this post, and it’s true.

For starters, I finished the second draft of Scarlet Rose yesterday!

*internal cheering*

This is the first book in my futuristic trilogy called – you guessed it – Scarlet Rose! There’s plenty of work to be done on this book which is very much in progress. The main problems is I’ve so many secondary characters and subplots that they’re drowning out the main character in my story. And yet I don’t want to get rid of anything. *sighs* The troubles of a writer. But better too much than too little, right? Or not. I’m still not sure on that quarter.

Nextly (yes, I made the word up. And I like it. I think I will keep it) I was looking forward to the Rooglewood fairy-tale novella contest which was to be announced in June, only to discover this past week that it has been postponed until next year. While a little disappointed, I have to admit I was also relieved. Selfish, I know. But now I’ve more time to focus on my own novellas.

Speaking of which, Song of the Sword is progressing well. I’ve been getting beta reader feedback and am focusing on clarifying various points which are confusing. And I’ve been planning my launch which is in two months! Where did the time fly? And I’m hoping to have review copies of Song of the Sword ready by the beginning of July! But I’ve got everything written down and the various tasks I need to do deadline out.

And no, it’s not because I’m super organized. Well, actually, I may be super organized. But I can’t relax unless I’ve everything laid out and know what I need to get done and by what time.

I’ve also been preparing a street team. And a Facebook page for said street team. And cool blog buttons. And promotional pictures. You’ll get to see them in a week or two, so keep your eyes open!

Life has been buzzing along at a rapid pace and summer’s heat struck with a vengeance this week. The relation between life and myself can be summed up accurately by this gif…with life, of course, being the cat who’s completely relaxed and without a care in the world:

On that note, anyone seen HOME yet? Because it’s adorable. And such a different take on a common story line of aliens invading earth…

What do you think, pilgrims? Do you accept the title I’ve given you? Also how do you prefer to write: starting with too much information and clipping, or having too little and being forced to add more? How are you dealing with summer’s heat? And, most importantly, what do you think of ‘nextly’ becoming an official word?