Weekly Writing Update: February Week 4

This week I got to do some writing for “Outcast,” (book #2), rather than revising, which is always more fun for me. I didn’t have as many nights to work on it as I’d like, which I’m really hoping will be better this week, but it was still nice to do some actual writing. So far, I’ve only written 2 scenes, and didn’t even finish either of them. In total, I wrote about 1500 words last week. Not exactly NaNoWriMo pace. I need apply the methods of NaNoWriMo and write in concentrated sprints, I think. I’ll try that this week.

While I work on continuing the series, if you’re interested in reading where it all starts,
Pithea is available on Amazon as both an e-book and paperback (it’s also on Kindle Unlimited).

Weekly Writing Update: February Week 3

My primary goal this week was to brainstorm new scenes to add to “Outcast,” book #2 in my series, based on early feedback. There are 2 main areas of the story that I’m going to add more to in some way, and one of those areas is one I’ve focused on in freewriting a lot over the last few years. So I have several scenes in mind that would work well in this story, with some revision.

While searching for some of these scenes, past-me reached out and slapped present-me in the face. I do my best to keep my writing practice all in one place. I may write it in various different notebooks at first, but I try to make sure I type everything into the computer and keep it all in sub-folders of one main folder. But apparently I still fail at this sometimes. So I went looking through some of my notebooks for one scene I remembered writing (it wasn’t easy, because I have so many currently active ones, any one of which I may decide at the time is the best place for writing practice). When I found it, I also found something else…something revolutionary.

Apparently back in September, during the early part of the current draft of “Outcast,” knowing that I needed more words, I used my Writer Emergency Pack to try to generate some new ideas. I wrote ideas using two different cards, but had forgotten all about them. When I recently found what I’d written 5 months ago, I got really excited. The truth is, most of what I wrote wouldn’t generate a lot more words, but I already have enough new scenes in mind for that. I think. But these were some ideas that would strengthen certain parts of the story, and the series as a whole!

So with some new ideas, I knew that what was coming next was not going to be easy. I had to figure out how to fit all this new stuff in to an existing draft.  I had a really rough time wrapping my brain around how best to do that, and kept getting to my evening writing time late. So I put it off. I did very little for my writing for most of the week. Not nothing, just very little, and not what needed to be done.

So today, when some plans fell through, I found myself with a few hours of free time this afternoon/evening. And I decided that the best way to proceed was to break the story down to its basic parts (scenes) and just dig into it. And though normally I am able to do something like that on Scrivener, it just didn’t seem helpful today. So I made a spreadsheet with scene headers and printed them out, cut them apart, color-coded them based on the story arc they were for, and wrote out new ideas on other pieces of paper. And I spread them out over the table and moved them around until they made some sense.

scene break-down

I also remembered how much easier it can be to sort out the scenes in this story when I group them more by story arc, so that’s how I did it. I can’t really decide on the new order of scenes until the new scenes are written anyway, so this is good for now. I now have a new outline. After updating my Scrivener file for this story to reflect what I did with the papers, it’s going to be time to start writing new scenes (yay!!).

While I work on continuing the series, if you’re interested in reading where it all starts,
Pithea is available on Amazon as both an e-book and paperback (it’s also on Kindle Unlimited).

Top Ten Tuesday: Side Characters I Love

It’s time for another Top Ten list from That Artsy Reader Girl. Today’s topic is a freebie about love. I was going to skip this week, but then I hit on an idea. For my list this week, I’m listing 10 side/minor characters in novels that I loved. It’s easy to list main characters that I like, especially in books that I rated high. But something I always find fascinating is when I like a side character at least much as I like the main character(s). Even if the book ends up being one that I don’t love, I’ll always feel connected to that character. Here is my list in no particular order, because I couldn’t quite order them:

1. Levi Cobb from The Oath by Frank E. Peretti
He’s the town crackpot…talks to inanimate objects, preaches at everyone who comes to his garage, and talks about dragons. But really, he knows a lot more than people realize and is the only one in town with any real sense. And then he saves the day! (See my review for this book here.)

2. Dale of Priceless by Joel & Luke Smallbone
With his own troubled past to fuel him, Dale prods the main character to do the right thing. I don’t know if I would have loved Dale as much as I do if I hadn’t seen the movie before reading the book, as he was very well-portrayed by David Koechner. But even if that’s the reason, it doesn’t change the fact that he’s my favorite character in the book. (See my review for this book here.)

3. Matthew Cuthbert of Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
Anne herself is a lovable character, but I really identified with her adoptive…father? Uncle? To be honest, I’m not real clear on how that whole thing worked. But this older gentleman is shyer than me, and that’s truly saying something. Yet, to watch how he fell in love with this little girl I really think I think was a huge part of what made me fall in love with the book.  (See my review for this book here.)

4. Walagash of The End of the Magi by Patrick W. Carr
The way Walagash treated Myrad, the MC, in a culture where people took care of their own and didn’t have much love for strangers, endeared him to me early on in this book. And as the story went on, he became like a father to Myrad, and I loved him more and more. (See my review for this book here.)

5 & 6. Berdon Wulf and Arcturus of The Summoner Trilogy by Taran Matharu
I tried to decide between these two, but I gave up and decided to include them both. Berdon is the MC’s adoptive father and provides much-needed strength and stability throughout the trilogy, when he can anyway. Maybe it’s because he’s a blacksmith like my own dad, or maybe it’s because the MC’s dad in my own book is also a blacksmith, but I really liked Berdon.

Arcturus is the kind and fair mentor who takes Fletcher, who is brand new to this magical world, under his wing somewhat. Even more, there’s a question about a familial connection that I won’t say any more about, because it ventures into spoiler territory. There’s a reason that the prequel to the series focuses on Arcturus, and I’m looking forward to reading it. (See my review for the first book in the trilogy here.)

7. Dr. John Francis of Thr3e by Ted Dekker
Dr. Francis was a professor (I think of theology), and the book starts with him and Kevin (the MC) discussing the nature of evil in man. As the story unfolds and the FBI agent is trying to understand what on earth is happening to/with Kevin, the professor helps her work through some questions. And he ended up playing a huge role in the climax that I really loved, which made it all the worse that the professor had no part in the climax in the movie version. (See my review of this book here.)

8. Arthur Weasley of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
I just finished reading this, so it’s fresh in my mind. While the HP books have a lot of interesting and lovable side characters, I found myself mentally cheering for the Weasley patriarch when he was so appalled by the way the Dursleys treated Harry near the beginning of the book. While the reader (and Harry) may accept their terrible behavior (because what else can we do about it?), Arthur gets to say to them what we wish we could.

9. Zander Cruz of Stealthy Steps by Vikki Kestell
Christians in fiction (in any medium) are often represented as overly preachy or as more depraved than the non-Christians. This associate pastor was a realistic example of Christians–he loved God and loved people, had a difficult past, and still struggled with his sinful nature as a pastor. Sadly, his status as my favorite character in the book slipped in the 2nd installment of the series, but I’m hoping to see him re-instated in the last 2 books. (See my review of this book here.)

 

Pithea cover, Kindle

10. Jonathan of Pithea by Kristi Drillien
I ran out of ideas after 9, so I decided to include one from my own book. Yes, I like all of my characters because I created them. But contrary to what some might think, I do have favorites. Jonathan is one of them. He becomes a good friend to the MC when she needs one most and is not afraid to call her out when she does something stupid. (See more about this book here.)

What side characters did you fall in love with? Link your own TTT post in the comments so I can see what you did with this week’s freebie!

Weekly Writing Update: February Week 2

It was not the best week I’ve had, in regards to writing work. I took a few too many nights off, telling myself that I have plenty of time to do the work. And I got some critiques that concerned me a little. I haven’t built up that thick skin I’ve been told I need yet. I’m working on it, though, and I pushed past the negative feelings faster this time. My first reaction was to decide that this area of weakness that I already knew I had made my writing bad. And that it was going to take even more work than I expected to get book #2 (“Outcast”) ready to go.

But with a little bit of time and thinking, I remembered my decision to fully trust God with this whole endeavor. That doesn’t mean I’m not still going to try to strengthen this area of my writing, but it means I don’t have to let it cause a lot of stress or, most importantly, depression that would lead me to not want to work on my writing.
So last week, while waiting for a couple of people to read “Outcast,” I worked enough on book #3 (Pursuit of Power) to reaffirm that it’s a huge mess. I’ve done some preliminary work on it, and will get back to it later.

For now, I have had enough early feedback on “Outcast” to go back to it and start outlining new scenes to add to the existing story, after which I’ll be spending some time writing (which I enjoy way more than revising, so it should be fun).

While I work on continuing the series, if you’re interested in reading where it all starts,
Pithea is available on Amazon as both an e-book and paperback (it’s also on Kindle Unlimited).

Weekly Writing Update: February Week 1

Two months ago I laid out 3 short-term goals to be working on after NaNoWriMo ended. I finished the first two fairly quickly, and then it took about a month to get to the third one, due to needing a break after NaNoWriMo and the holidays eating my time. When I go back to it, it took me about 3 weeks averaging just over an hour a day on the days I did actual work (which was most of them) to finish goal #3.

1. Remove NaNo fodder from 2019 NaNoNovel

2. Update Kindle version of Pithea, upload it to KDP, add Kindle version to Goodreads

3. Finish first revision of “Outcast” (book #2) – It turned out to be a bit more complicated than I expected, because instead of simple revision, I decided to write out a minor character. And then I had to figure out the structure of the scenes. This book is far from done, most likely, as I’m still hoping to hit on a way to add approximately 10k more words to the book. But now it’s ready for me to pass it on to some of my most-trusted first readers and get their insight into that, as well as general feedback.

In the meantime, I will be working on book #3, which I currently hope to be able to release very close to the same time as book #2, because both books are important follow-ups to book #1 (Pithea) following different tracks.

While I work on continuing the series, if you’re interested in reading where it all starts,  Pithea is available on Amazon as both an e-book and paperback (it’s also on Kindle Unlimited).

Weekly Writing Update: January Week 4

Last Sunday, I said I hoped to be done with the read-through of draft 2 of “Outcast” (book #2 in my series) by Tuesday of this last week. However, a combination of some early mornings (which means early nights, cutting into my prime writing time) and a change in the chapter structure slowed me down.

I will vaguely explain (to avoid spoilers) that this book has 2 main storylines that are being told in an alternating pattern through maybe 2/3 of the book. But where certain scenes and revelations from both of them coincide is crucial. In the first draft, which was a vastly different story, I had a good spot, but the story changed so much, I kept playing with where that spot should be. I thought I had chapters laid out–which scenes went in which chapters–and then I suddenly hit on what I think is going to be the final layout. But I realized that I needed to read it straight through and make sure it flows well.

I’m now 3/4 of the way through (plus I accidentally read at least 1 chapter out of order, so I don’t know if I’ll feel the need to re-read it when I get there). I should definitely be onto a new task by this time next week. I’ve already contacted the people that I think can give me some great early feedback, and I hope to have this draft to them soon. (One of them still needs to read Pithea (book #1 in the series, which was released just over 2 weeks ago), because when she last read it, it was probably 7 drafts away from the completed version.

Then I’ll turn my focus to making sense of the mess I left book #3 in while I wait to hear back from those who have agreed to read “Outcast.”

Weekly Writing Update: January Week 3

After pushing myself to get back to working on “Outcast” (book #2 in my series) last week, I did not have any difficulty keeping that up throughout this last week. Most days I worked at least an hour on the revision of draft 2. I wish it could be more, but alas, I still have a day job to attend to, not to mention homeschooling to do.

I actually finished draft 2, then spent some time figuring out the order for the scenes. Now I’m going through and reading (sometimes scanning) to make sure that the order is good, transitions are there, and things generally make sense. Then I’ll cross my fingers that the small group of people who know Pithea (book #1 in the series that was released just over a week ago) well enough to help me figure out where to go next with this book have time to read it.

I’m about 1/4 of the way through this read-through, and hope to be able to finish it by Tuesday. Then I’ll turn my focus to making sense of the mess I left book #3 in while I wait to hear back from whoever is able to read it.

Weekly Writing Update: January Week 2

This is my first update in a little over a month, mostly due to holidays and family being in town for a few weeks past that. I did work on a few things here or there throughout that time, mostly minor changes to Pithea before publishing day.

With that done and out now, I need to focus on book #2 all the more. So 2 days ago I delved back into the 2nd draft. I’d left off in a spot that I was struggling with, which is never a good idea. Fortunately, I was able to tackle it and have some ideas for how to end the scene I’m on, add depth to a character that I’m only just starting to use more fully, and avoid having the MC seem like he’s the only one with any convictions.

I’m really looking forward to finishing this draft and getting some opinions on it. I know that this will be miles ahead of where Pithea was by this point, which is good, because I would like to be able to release it a lot faster than I did Pithea (which went through many drafts). I also need to work on book #3, because I’m considering releasing it very shortly after book #2 (I won’t explain why right now though, it’s just an idea so far).

Pithea Released!

Pithea cover, Kindle

My first full-length novel, book 1 in a series of futuristic speculative fiction with a Christian worldview, is now available to purchase as both an e-book and a paperback! What a momentous occasion for me, which I’ve been building toward for 10 years! See synopsis below and go here to buy the book.

Pithea on Goodreads

PITHEA

In the near future, a devastating global war leads to a worldwide ban on the use of all technology. A few hundred years after the war, a sort of magic—called the Power—manifests in every living person. Thousands of years later, the Power has become a part of everyday life in the country of Pithea.

Missy Seeger is struggling to find her place in the world. She reluctantly decides to follow in the footsteps of her well-known and well-respected father. As other options begin to call out to her, she can’t let go of the need to please him.

Naolin Dark knows exactly what he wants to do with his life. He finds the adventure and excitement of life in his local militia, with a sword strapped to his side, to be the only worthy path. The primary goal of Pithean militias is to protect the country’s citizens from animals afflicted by the Madness, and Naolin is eager for his chance to prove himself.

In this account told by Naolin’s brother and spanning over two years, Missy’s and Naolin’s abilities, ideals, and even bodies are put to the test in many ways as they are forced to deal with villains and monsters that are made possible—and all the more dangerous—by the Power and the Madness.

Writing Wednesday: IWSG Jan 2020

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I’ll be honest–I love talking about my writing history. So today’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group question just begs to be answered. Here is the question posed for today’s IWSG post:
What started you on your writing journey? Was it a particular book, movie, story, or series? Was it a teacher/coach/spouse/friend/parent? Did you just “know” suddenly you wanted to write?

The journey I took to get to this point amuses me greatly when I look back at it. The furthest back I can remember (on this topic) is when I was about 10 years old. I wrote a story about a couple that adopted two girls. When I think back to this story, I remember it as much longer and grander than what it actually was. I typed the story on my parents’ Tandy 1000, and even wrote a sequel. A few years ago, we fired up that old computer and I happened to find the story:

The Nickersons

Apparently I didn’t like the space bar…

I actually remember how that story was supposed to end, but there wasn’t going to be much more to it.

I also remember being sent to an enrichment class in school, though I don’t remember how old I was at this point (late elementary school, I think), due to my penchant for making up stories. They wanted to encourage my creativity, and I was taken out of normal class time for it. There were two other kids in the class–one was was an amazing artist, and I don’t recall the other one’s talent.

Around the age of 14, I got even more ambitious and started to write a story that I anticipated being a full-length novel (full-length for middle grade fiction, at least), and the beginning of a series. The main characters were a set of twins (girl & boy), and I based a lot of the other characters on a lot of people I knew at that time. I never finished the first story, but I still have what I did write, in the below notebooks.

1

Overall, I think both of these dreams were inspired by series like The Baby-Sitters Club, Sweet Valley Twins, Addie McCormick, and Mandie books, as well as many other series and stand-alones I read back then.

Fast forward to high school, and my fiction writing dropped away. I wrote some poetry in high school, a few notable pieces, but nothing spectacular. I took a creative writing class in my junior year, I think it was. A few years ago, I dug up a reflection paper that I wrote at the end of that class where I stated that though I’d enjoyed writing the short story required for the class, I didn’t think I’d have a reason to write fiction again in the future. And I didn’t until I was inspired by a computer game.

Pithea cover, KindleMy first full-length novel, Pithea (which releases this Friday!!!), had its foundation as fanfiction for the game Ragnaok Online. This started about 15 years ago, and about 7 years ago I began the journey to use the characters and some of the basic plot lines and create my own world. Now, with book #1 about to come out and at least 7 more planned, I really can’t imagine not being a writer.

Wherever this book and series takes me, however big or small they turn out to be, I know I will always be a writer at heart, and really, I always have been.

For my fellow writers, what does your writing history look like?

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