Weekly Writing Update: March 3

I went through a bit of a slump this week while working on “Outcast,” (book #2). At first it was simply due to an early morning because of work, but then everything start hitting the fan at once over the last few days because of COVID-19, so it’s been difficult to focus.

I made up for the rest of the week with a lot of progress today. The word count is now up to 70k, which is awesome! It also means I only added 2500 words this last week…oh well. I did some revision in there too. I have 3 more scenes to fix up and 1 new one to write, so I won’t be adding much more at this point. But I wonder if my main beta reader right now will say there’s a lot more she’d like to see. Problem with that would be that I don’t think there’s anywhere to put more of the story arc I’ve been adding without taking away from the main arc. But I’ll worry about that if it happens.

I’m anxious to get through this stage of the revision, so I can look at all of these new scenes at a glance, amongst the existing scenes, and figure out how on earth to order them. Then the real revision can begin, and I’m really hoping it won’t be a long, exhausting process like it was with book #1 (Pithea).

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: March 2

I was pretty productive this week, adding a total of 5676 new words to “Outcast,” (book #2), as well as doing a little revision to make some freewriting from the past fit into the book.

When I started working on this step, I was hoping to add at least 10,000 more words to this book, if not 15,000. At current count, I’ve added 12,750!! I have a few more scenes to write or adapt, so I think I may just hit or pass 15k, which will bring the book up to a total word count of 70k. This is so much more acceptable to me as a follow-up to a book with 105k words. And early feedback says the scenes are generally good additions, too, not just filler. So far, I’ve been filling in a gap of time that the couple of people who’ve read the book have wished to see more of.

After I finish writing new scenes, I’ll go back and fix up the new stuff based on that early feedback, and then I’ll have to lay out the scenes and find a new flow for them. Then there will be further revision stages after that, but my biggest concern about this book was that I wouldn’t be able to adequately expand it to a higher word count. Now my biggest concern is how long it will take to get through the revision and be ready to publish it.

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: Books With Single-Word Titles

It’s time for another Top Ten list from That Artsy Reader Girl. Today’s topic is “Books With Single-Word Titles.” I thought this would be really easy, and then I looked through my list of books on Goodreads and realized…it’s not so easy. At least, not for me with the amount of books on my Read and Want to Read shelves, which I generally want to stick to for these weekly posts. And because it is a Top Ten list, after all, I didn’t want to include any books I didn’t really enjoy. Below is what I came up with, which includes 8 books I’ve read and 2 that I haven’t, but have a very good feeling I will like more than the average books I read. For once, my list is ordered 10 to 1, with #1 being my favorite of all the books on the list.

10. Redshirts by John Scalzi
Between enjoying the 2 books of Scalzi’s that I’ve read so far and being a Star Trek fan, not to mention my husband’s recommendation, I expect to really like this book too.

9. Unoffendable by Brant Hansen
I read Brant’s second book before reading this, his first, and have plans to get to it soon. His second book (Blessed Are the Misfits) is great, so I have high hopes for this one.

Pithea cover, Kindle

8. Pithea by Kristi Drillien
Bridging the gap between the books on the list that I haven’t read and those that I have is my own book (which, of course, I have read).  (See more about this book here.)

7. The Battlemage by Taran Matharu
I sort of cheated with the “The,” but ran out of books and wanted to fill out the final spot. This is the third book in a trilogy that that I really liked, and my favorite of the 3.  (See my review for this book here.)

6. Sneak by Evan Angler
This is book 2 in the Swipe series, which contains 4 books with 1-word titles. I’ve only read 2 of them so far. (See my review of this book here.)

5. Holes by Louis Sachar
Great book, great movie. If you haven’t read or seen this, you really should! (See my review of this book here.)

4. Thr3e by Ted Dekker
Great book, not such a great movie. I definitely recommend the book, though. (See my review of this book here.)

3. Priceless by Joel & Luke Smallbone
This book has a subtitle, but I’m ignoring that for this list. Actually, the 2nd book on the list has a subtitle too…oh well. (See my review of this book here.)

2. Obsessed by Ted Dekker
I tried to not include any 2 books by the same author, but oh well. I have not read this book for many years, but I read it a few times in my early adult days. I remember loving it, but plan to re-read it soon to see if it holds up.

1. Illusion by Frank E. Peretti
A new favorite of mine by my favorite author.  (See my review of this book here.)

What are your favorite books with single-word titles? If you also posted a TTT, share your link so I can check it out!

Weekly Writing Update: March 1

I wrote more new scenes for “Outcast,” (book #2) this week, a total of 3945 words. I took a couple of nights completely off, due to early mornings for work, but overall, I’m really glad with the progress I made.

I’ve been trying out a way to stay focused for the writing, using tricks I’ve learned from NaNoWriMo. I’ll write for 10 minutes without stopping and without over-thinking my words, and then take a break, which usually means reading a book for 10 minutes. If I don’t write in sprints, the words I can get written in 10 minutes would take at least 30, most likely more, because I’d be stopping too often to edit as I go, or to look something up that I’m just certain needs to be looked up RIGHT NOW. The progress is much smoother this way.

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 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. Though 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.”