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 e-book or here to purchase the paperback.

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.

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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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Top Ten Tuesday: Anticipated Releases

It’s time for another Top Ten list from That Artsy Reader Girl. The topic today is “Most Anticipated Book Releases for the First Half of 2020.” As I’ve just gotten back into reading very heavily and am just getting used to keeping a TBR and learning what modern authors are even out there, not to mention whose writing I enjoy, I’m not really tuned into what is coming out soon. But that doesn’t mean I’m not anticipating reading some new releases, mostly as ARCs. So this list (of 7, not 10) will include mostly ARCs that I’ve been approved for, or some that I have recently requested and am still waiting on approval for, that come out within the next few months. It will also include 1 book that I’m just looking forward to releasing, and 1 special entry at the bottom that comes out this week.

1. The Gray Chamber by Grace Hitchcock
This actually came out on January 1, but that’s still the first half of 2020. I’m about 25% into this and enjoying it so far.

2. On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson
I’m not very proud to admit that this has been on my TBR since fall, and I keep putting it near the top of the list, then pushing it back for others. It releases (technically re-releases) on March 10, so I guess it never felt that urgent before. I really need to get to it, especially since book #2 in the series is going to be re-released soon as well.

3. This Light Between Us: A Novel of World War II by Andrew Fukuda
This is my third “old” ARC, having been on my list since mid-October. It releases today! I haven’t started it yet, but based on the synopsis and reviews, I’m looking forward to it.

4. The Blue Cloak by Shannon McNear
This is the first book on the list that I have requested as an ARC recently, but haven’t been approved yet. If I am, it will be the 3rd book in this series I’ll have read (all by different authors). It’s been an interesting series, and I will probably be going back to some of the earlier books at some point in the future (they’re all stand-alones). It releases on March 1.

5. The Land Beneath Us by Sarah Sundin
I just requested this ARC yesterday. I will absolutely read it one way or the other, as it sounds right up my alley in so many way! It releases on February 4.

6. The Truth about Us by Brant Hansen
Brant Hansen is my favorite radio personality. If you’re in the mood for a fun, clean, often random podcast that makes you think, check out the Brant & Sherri Oddcast. He also writes some books that combine faith and humor and make some interesting points. This book isn’t on Netgalley, though his two previous ones were, so I’ll keep checking; I’ll read it either way though. It releases on April 21.

7. Pithea by Kristi Drillien
In case it wasn’t clear from the top and side bar of my blog page, this is my book! It releases this coming Friday, and you’d better believe I’m excited about it! The Kindle version can be pre-ordered here, and on January 10th, a paperback version will also be available.

What new releases are you looking forward to in the next few months? Link your own list in the comments so I can check yours out too!

Pre-Order Pithea Today!

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 pre-order as a Kindle e-book! Both the e-book and the paperback will be released on January 10th, but if you want to get ahead of the game, you can pre-order the e-book here.

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.

Weekly Writing Update: December Week 2

Last Sunday, I listed 3 goals to be working on. In the week since then, I finished 2, plus another task that I decided needed doing, and have just started into the 3rd:

1. Remove NaNo fodder from 2019 NaNoNovel – This took a couple of days, but it’s finished, and now this draft can be filed away for a while.

2. Update Kindle version of “Pithea”, upload it to KDP, add Kindle version to Goodreads – This also took a couple of days, and now I have very little left to prepare for publishing my first novel! (Read the first chapter here!)

At this point, I decided that I needed to make a minor edit (which of course turned out to be some major work) to the paperback cover, which took about 45 minutes, but the cover should be set now.

3. Finish first revision of “Outcast” (book #2) – This particular goal is going to take a bit longer than the others. I’m already about 90% of the way through the revision, according to the math I did for a post back in August when I was last working on this revision. However, I hit on an idea some time in the last month for a way to cut out a character that I’ve realized isn’t very important to the story by giving the little bit that he does do that’s important to a bigger character, so I’m making that change before I go back to the rest of the revision. This is what I will be continuing with for the next week.

Writing Wednesday: IWSG Dec 2019

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The optional question for this month’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group post is quite timely for me, and very close to the topic I was considering writing this post about anyway. Here is the question posed for today’s IWSG post:
Let’s play a game. How would you describe your future writer self, your life and what it looks and feels like if you were living the dream?

With the impending release of my first full-length novel, I have started to dip my toe into marketing. I am the absolute worst person to be self-publishing, as I have 0 social skills and don’t know how to carry a normal conversation even in everyday life. Add to that a very small budget and every common writer insecurity, and well, all I can do is the best that I can.

Last Saturday, I took part in a Local Author Book Sale at the library in a nearby city. It was part of a holiday shopping extravaganza downtown. To participate, you basically have to have a book you can sell, so I qualified with The Triangle. I took some copies to sell and some items with which to promote my future novel “Pithea” in advance of its release.

I did hand out some promotional bookmarks and talk to some people who showed interest. But I think the biggest thing I got out of this event is an understanding of what to do better/differently next time.

There was a man at the table next to me, younger than me, who had something like 6 books to sell (mostly novella-length from the look of them). When he arrived and started setting up, he lamented how many things he had forgotten to bring (we loaned him our masking tape). He said he used to do events like this all the time, but has gotten busy with school recently and didn’t take much time to prepare for this.

With him as an example, as well as other authors I met or studied during the event, I commented to my husband that someday I’d like to be as confident as he was with the people walking by his table (though I’ll never be the talker he is), but that I’d never want to get to the point where going to an event like this is so run-of-the-mill or unimportant that I don’t still do my best to prepare for it and make it a great event.

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That’s me at my table with my pitifully meager display compared to most of the others. My husband insisted on the banner, which was a splurge for our tiny budget, but was well-received. I was dealing with imposter syndrome pretty heavily the whole day, and questioning why they even let me come to this event. But I was really glad I did. It was a huge step up from the only other event like this I’ve been part of, and yet, still small enough to give someone like me a chance to attend and learn.

All of that said, I don’t want to end this post without saying that I am not as disheartened as I may sound. Everyone has to start somewhere, and I’m definitely just starting out. I may never get to the point that I’d like to, regarding confidence and self-promotion, but I do know that I’ll get better than I currently am with practice. And if along the way, I can find an audience of whatever size for my books, people who enjoy the characters and their stories and want to know what happens next as much as I do, then I’ll be pretty happy.

For my fellow writers, what does your future writer life look like?

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Weekly Writing Update: December Week 1 (NaNoWriMo Wrap-Up)

(Before I get into this long update, one last time for 2018, be sure to check out today’s NaNoToons if you haven’t already: 2019 – December 1st It’s also the very last NaNoToon ever!)

NaNoWriMo is over, and boy what a month it was. I spent pretty much all of my free time in November either writing for NaNoWriMo or working on “Pithea” for its upcoming release. Still, I came out on the other side with 82,750 words and, more importantly, a finished draft! This book will most likely be book #8 in the Pithea Series. But since I’m just about to publish book #1, and all of the books between here and #8 still need a lot of work, who knows what could happen by the time I get there.

I had some highs and lows during NaNo, but was more happy than not with what I was writing. I had some “Aha!” moments, which I absolutely love, even though they were mostly minor. Still exciting! I already know a lot of places that need work, but it will be a long time before I get back to it for revision.

I had hoped to leave myself with little to work on for publishing “Pithea” during November, so I could focus on NaNo, but being that this is the first novel I’ve ever published, I can say now how silly it was for me to think that would be the case. I managed to find a balance, though, and now I have only small details left to work on.

I now have a finished cover, the paperback interior is completely ready, and the digital file just needs updated to minor changes I made when finalizing the paperback interior. I’ve added the book to Goodreads (just the paperback for now until I finish the digital file), added it to Reedsy (read the first chapter here!), and the ebook will be available for pre-order on Amazon soon!

So with NaNo over and my attention turning not only to final publishing details, but also to working on book #2 so that it can be released in a timely fashion after book #1, I have a new list of writing goals, related to all of these things:

1. Remove NaNo fodder from 2019 NaNoNovel – Sometimes I’ll spend the first few days after November ends doing a quick clean-up of what I wrote–mostly removing things I marked as NaNo fodder and at least doing a quick spell check. This is usually better to do while the story is still fresh, and then it’s good to let it sit for some time. It shouldn’t take long, and is better done now than later (I know that from experience).

2. Update Kindle version of “Pithea” – As part of this goal, after updating it, I’ll need to upload the final version to KDP, proof it, and decide on when the pre-order should be available. And add the Kindle version to Goodreads.

3. Finish first revision of “Outcast” (book #2) – Going by what is widely understood to be acceptable word count lengths for books of its type, “Outcast” is currently quite a bit too short. However, the amount I’d have to add would basically be entire new story arc. Rather than stress about how to lengthen it right now, I’m going to finish with the revision of what is already there, and then send it to 3 people who were most helpful with revision of “Pithea” and ask them to read it and tell me what they think–if they think there’s a lot that could be expanded on, plot threads they’d like to see followed, etc. And then I’ll go from there.

NaNoWriMo Day 29

Day 29 writing badge

The Words: 415 words. I wrote a little during my family’s big Thanksgiving get-together today. I took my Neo and typed a little while my family was playing Codenames: Pictures.

The Story:  That small amount of words was for storyline 2, and I think I’m now onto the final scene for this storyline. Tomorrow, I’ll be gone all morning and afternoon, going to a nearby library for a Local Author Book Sale to sell The Triangle and promote “Pithea.” And in the evening, my family will probably be decorating the Christmas tree, but I expect to still have some time before midnight to get a little more work in and hopefully finish the draft!

Total word count: 82,117

Don’t forget to check out today’s NaNoToons if you haven’t already:
November 29, 2019