Monday, December 31, 2012

Lessons in Fantasy...from a two-year old.

My aunt, uncle, and cousins have been visiting for the past week.  They are awesome and I have had a fantastic time seeing them.  Albeit I have not written much because of their stay, I have learned quite a bit about fantasy...and from my two-year old cousin (we'll call him C) of all people!

It wasn't quite as cold this afternoon.  So after we got back from church, C and I decided to spend some time outside.  We were the only people in the yard. A slight breeze was blowing, making the wind chimes begin to sing.  The playset sat tall and proud, the swings shifting slightly.

C and I stepped into the yard.  A huge grin took over his face and he rushed to the wind chime.  He watched the wind chimes for a few moments, then rushed to the lowest one.  He gently prodded the metal tube with his finger.  We listened the noise.  He touched it again, a little harder.  Laughing aloud, he lifted his arm and smacked the wind chime, shaking the small branch it hung upon.  He laughed and raised his arm to hit it again.
"No no, C,"  I said.  He stared at me, then glanced back at the wind chime.  After a moment's contemplation, he shrugged and came back.

Lesson #1- Some fantasy "normals" have become so typical and cliche, that even if you hit them as hard as you can it will not make the sound more beautiful.  In fact, it will get annoying.  Clarification: Some things are so cliche, even your most zany and unique idea for it won't fix the problem.  For instance, the "I am your father" villain-is-hero's-father twist is so overused, it can't really be made un-cliche.

I chased C down the little hill in our yard.  The shed is placed very closed to our high fence, giving part of our yard an "alleylike" feel.  He marched into our alley, like a brave knight on a quest, and began to explore. He pointed to the tiny hole in the shed's foundation and he insisted in peering into it.  Undecipherable exclamations of excitement and wonder bubbled out of him as he lay in the dirt looking through the hole.  I gave him a funny look.  That hole was irritating to me. My dachshund Derby had been lost down there countless times, causing hours of calling and searching with a flashlight, trying to get the crazy dog to crawl out.  Bunnies often nested there, causing both dogs to bark hysterically whenever they came around the shed.

But to C, the hole was an incredibly awesome mystery.

Lesson #2- While some fantasies/books/genres/authors might be irritating to me, it does not mean other people can't like them.  For instance, I am not a huge fan of Charles Dickens.  And that's an understatement. It doesn't mean other people can't like him.  It also doesn't mean other people are less intelligent for liking him.  His writing is just not my style.  But that's my opinion.  It also means I don't need to be offended when people express distaste for my favorite genres/books/authors/whatevers.  Even if they are rude, I just have to remember that it doesn't matter what they think and that they are free to have their own opinions.

C finally rose to his feet and began walking away from the hole.  He walked around the tree growing behind out shed and moved to the air conditioning unit.

"C, please don't touch that,"  I said, walking over to stand beside him.  He stared at the giant metal box for a few moments, tilting his head from side to side.

He looked up at me and pointed, "What's this, KayCEE?"  (He always says the last syllable of my name super long and super high pitch)

I giggled at how he pronounces my name.  I pointed to the box, "This makes the house feel nice."

C squinted at the box.  After a moment, he turned away, clearly not comprehending.  He suddenly squealed loudly and rushed back towards the shed.  I followed him and glanced at what he was pointing at, praying it was not a frog.

It was not a frog, but a clump of green moss.  I smiled and knelt in the ground, "It's soft, C, see?"

He sat on the ground beside me and stared at the moss.  He began to rub it with his finger, his smile slowly growing larger. For more than a minute, he pet the tiny clump.  A chilly breeze burst through the air.  I shivered and glanced towards the deck, wondering how much longer C would want to be out here.

C finally stopped petting the moss and reached for a nearby pebble.  He clumsily lifted it to his eyes.  He twisted it and analyzed it from all angles.  He pulled himself to his feet, keeping the dirty rock clutched in his tiny fist.  He looked at the moss one last time, then began to walk towards the deck.

Lesson #3- I hinted at this in my last post about fantasy.  Fantasy helps you regain childlike awe and amazement at "ordinary" things.  As a little kid, C is still finding everything in the world new and miraculous.  I used to feel this way, but as you grow up, you become so bogged down in life, worries, and biological hierarchy charts that you stop noticing the "boring" little details.  God made those details just for me to enjoy.  How dare I consider them "mundane" and "boring"?  They are incredible, impossible, perfect creations that no man could ever craft.  Fantasies should help bring those little details into a sharp microscope, and force a reader to never view them the same way again.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Writing? Ha!

Yes, this is my first post this month.  I have not really written much of anything in December.  I think all the pent-up writers block from NaNo are beginning to seep into my brain.  I did write a Christmas short story based on Scotty McCreery's "Christmas in Heaven" song.  Every year, I write a short story for my family's Christmas card.  I'll probably share it here in a little while.

So yeah, I've only written about a thousand words in Hail Frost since the end of November.  Quite frankly, I have just not wanted to write.  Christmas is crazy, I am truly sick of school, and I have such a majorly bad writer's block that even the thought of turning on my laptop makes my stomach churn.

So, what have I been doing?  Well...

I was surfing Netflix trying to find something to watch and I stumbled across a little show called Doctor Who.  I. Love. It.  A lot of people gripe about the Ninth Doctor, but I just love him!  I'm gonna be sad when he regenerates into the Tenth Doctor.  :(

Also on my list of to-watch Netflix things are BBC Sherlock Holmes, Merlin, and possibly 24.

Guess what I plan on spending my Christmas break doing!

So yes, in terms of writing, that is the most writerish thing I have done.  Watch Doctor Who with my brother and write a Christmas short story.  I'll try to force myself to write during break I suppose...but it's just so hard when the Doctor is busy saving the universe from pig-mutating aliens and skin stretched humans!  XD

If this all seems a bit random, I apologize.  I'll probably write a post about short stories or sci-fi soon.  Honestly though, my writing energy levels are lower than the TARDIS' technological advancements in the past fifty years.

Friday, November 30, 2012

*happy dance, happy dance, collapses in a lack-of-sleep-stupor*

I won y'all!  Yay!

This past month has been AWESOME!  I am so happy I was able to do NaNo with my best friend, Ruth, who also won!  You can check it out at her blog here

Of the three and a half novels I have written, 'Hail Frost' is by FAR the one that deviated from my outline the most.  Instead of focusing on Hail, Ember, and Snow, the story mostly focused on Hail, Flake, and my would-be villain, Valin.  Valin made a really fun villain, but his character has so much more than can be developed.  Instead of dying in my showdown like I had planned, he lives and he is probably going to be the main villain of the next 'Leverage' novel also.  In 'Ember Flame' Flake seemed for the few chapters she is in.  She is probably one of my more dynamic characters, and she is actually one of my favorites now!

Anyway, thanks to everyone who supported and prayed for me!  It was so much fun, and I really appreciate y'all thinking about me throughout this month.  Every time someone would come up and ask me how my novel is going, people I had no idea knew about my novel, I was so touched.  Y'all are awesome!

My novel is not finished yet, but as of right now the word count is 90,012 words!

Now, if you excuse me, I'm going to go take a shower in celebration.  Again, y'all are awesome!  Thank you so much!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Random NaNo Tips

Here are some random tips I have given on various topics to other young writers.  :)  They are from the forum, so they are answering specific questions from people.  To avoid any, I dunno, privacy infringement or whatever, I will write the gist of what they were asking, then put my actual answer.

How so I write a battle sequence?

Battle scenes do take a bit of practice, just like any form of writing. But I've found a few tips that really help me...
(This is for like, battle scenes. Like, with armies and stuff. Think Lord of the Rings, if you need help with more one-on-one type conflict I can help there too! :) ) Depending on what point of view you are writing in, it will work in different ways. Think of how your favorite movie with action battle scenes does it. I, for one, will be using Lord of the Rings as my example. In, say, the battle of Helms Deep, the camera switches between "point of views." For a little, we might watch Aragorn fight off two or three orcs, then the camera will switch and we see the whole mass of the armies charging and firing at each other. Then it will change again, and we'll see Legolas shooting at a few orcs, then it will switch yet again to show the inside of the caves with all the frightened people listening to the battle. Then it's back outside in the rain where we see ladders being placed on the wall.
It's interesting how the movie creators did these battle scenes. They switched with how they viewed it. They made it personal, and frightening, at the same time. They made it personal by showing the characters we know and love fighting for their lives. They made it dangerous by panning out and showing us what exactly they are up again. And then they threw in extra conflict and dread by showing how frightened everyone else is, and they can't even see the battle. This implies that we, the viewer, ought to be frightened too.
Books work in the same way. If you are writing in third person, this will be easiest. But you can still do this technique if you are writing in first person. Have your character involved in the conflict for a little. Describe his actions through his point of view. (personal) Then take him out of the fight for a moment. Say he slays his enemy then looks over the rest of the battlefield. This is when you describe the rest of the armies. (frightening)
How do I introduce another protagonist to the novel?
I introduce all of my character through definitive action. You said he was "one of your protagonist," implying that there are more than one. I'm assuming you have already introduce one of your protagonists. You could show him first through your other MC's point of view. Have him doing some action that instantly defines him, like fighting, or arguing with someone, or protecting a friend.
What is your favorite thing in a guy MC? (main character)
(My profound answer)
Me likey bad boys.  >:)
Anyway, next question...

How do I write a journey through a forest without it being boring?
You could summarize the trip with a few short sentences if nothing important happens on the trip. You could add some details to make the summary interesting, like, "After wondering through the emerald trees and briers for three days, they eventually managed to reach the other side without getting killed, eaten, or lost." Something like that.
Or, if you don't want it to be that short, you could use this time for character development. Maybe have two characters who are tense with each other have a chance to duke it out, or maybe they could have a deep heart-to-heart conversation around a campfire. If you choose not to summarize, remember the most important thing in any novel. Conflict. Conflict makes stories, without conflict, there is no story. And that is boring. So just add conflict!

How do I write a prophecy about my MC into my novel?
Turn an old cliche on it's head! Instead of your hero finding a scroll in an ancient library, have the hero find the scroll (or better yet, iPad on note app :P) in a completely unexpected place, like the grocery store, the museum, his chemistry textbook. Whatever you do, try not to be cliche. Take the first thing that comes to your mind and switch it around!
So yeah, that's just some of my insightful (lol) advice to other brave NaNoers.  I didn't have time for a normal post...
Happy Belated Thanksgiving everyone! 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Teenagers Writing Romance

On NaNoWriMo forum, there are many, many teenagers who are writing romance novels.  (You can tell by going to their profile and reading about their novel)  I was a bit surprised by this at first, I mean, of the three most popular book series for teenagers (Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Hunger Games) only one is an actual romance.  The other two are different forms of adventure novels.  I know Harry Potter does have a little romance in it, but from what I heard it is not the main focus of the story at all.  I don't even consider the "romance" in the Hunger Games to be applicable.  Katniss was faking most of the time, and when she wasn't faking, nothing felt real at all. 

All that to say, there are a lot of teenagers writing romance novels, and probably even more with romance in their novels.  Seriously, even I have a little...but more on that later. 

First, a disclaimer, I think the One Year Adventure Novel curriculum turned me against writing romance.  In one of the chapters, Mr. Schwabaur (aka Mr. S) was explaining the different types of characters and their roles in stories.  He basically said at one point: "The Love can be a good source of conflict and dilemmas for your hero.  But, I don't know how to say this lightly so I will be blunt, do you really know anything about love?  Outside from what you have read or seen in stories, do you personally really know anything?  I didn't until my mid-twenties.  And you can't write something-write something well-until you have experienced it for yourself." 

It was an interesting statement.  I was thirteen when I went through the curriculum, and I kid you not, I have read the textbook over twelve times, have watched all the videos at least twice, and have read all the classic novels he suggested reading.  Clearly, I take this curriculum very seriously.  So I took that, like everything else, to heart and vowed to never break it.  And I didn't.  "Shadow's Fire" has zero romance.  Zero, zip, nothing.  I even took Julia's dad out of the picture to eliminate the possibility of showing any affection at all between her mom and dad! 

So that might be a bit extreme.  But that's exactly what I did.  Life was good, nobody was falling in love, the pirates were being shot and killed, everything was perfect.

Then came along "Ember Flame."  Or, more specifically, Ember and Hail.  I was typing along in my story, everything was fantastic, one character was betraying another, one was getting tortured, another sold into slavery, I'm totally in my element.  Then BOOM.  All of a sudden, Hail decided to start liking Ember...and Ember was liking him back! 

I began to panic.  I immediately went back and erased the last couple paragraphs I had written.  I stared at the screen for awhile, trying to think of something to do.  I wrote...but it was flat.  I erased it and tried again.  Boring.  Erased.  Flat.  Erased. Flat.  And it went on and on.  Exasperated, I pulled out my trusty OYAN textbook, wondering if I had missed the section on how to get your characters to stop liking each other.  But no.  Instead I read the part where he says to let your characters come alive and do what they want to do.    Otherwise, they will feel flat.  So reluctantly, I let Ember and Hail start to like each other.

Yeah, it was awkward.  As the story went on, I kept hoping something would happen to make one angry at the other and they would start not liking each other.  But I guess love does not break that easy.  I turned Hail into a zombie and made him the cause of death to someone she loved more.  I made him an assassin.  I made him a drunk.  I had him chop someone's hand off in a drunken rage.  He is conflicted, emotionally unstable, and dark.  And don't even get me started on Ember.  Bratty, beaten, defensive, angry Ember.  And yet, Hail still liked her.  And Ember still liked him.  

So at the end I panicked.  I admit it, the reason why they can't be together, I made that only to get them apart.  I went back and added a bit of foreshadowing to make it seem more realistic.  I was ashamed of, well, writing a romance.  But I was also ashamed of eradicating it so fast. 

All in all, I am glad I did it.  It caused some extra conflict and one last dilemma at the end.  But it really was not fair of me to do that.  But hey, I'm human, and I'm new at this author thing.  I guess I'll learn from my mistakes. 

Anyway, I am a little surprised at how many kids are rushing in head-on to this romance thing.  Maybe it's cuz I am homeschooled and I am not around it in school all the time.  But even many of the homeschoolers are doing romance, and there is nothing wrong with it necessarily.  I'm just surprised. 

I'm going to try and face the romance a little more, um, courageously (for lack of a better word) this time around.  It will NOT be the main focus of my story.  Hail and Ember are going to be apart for most of the book, and I will give them time to mature and grow up a little.  Ember needs to learn to take responsibility for herself and her sister.  She needs to step in Coal's shoes.  Hail needs to forgive himself for his past and let Elethor take responsibility.  He needs to step out of Elethor's shoes.  So I'll give them both time to grow up, and, who knows, maybe I'll give the romance thing another shot.  Hopefully, nobody will notice that this author is petrified of writing romance.  ;)

I'm curious to see what y'all think of teens writing romance, particularly a book where the central theme is  romance. 

Friday, November 16, 2012


Anyone else do symbolism?  I <3 symbolism.  I love finding it in stories and figuring it out.  I put some symbolism in Hail Frost.  I can't tell you...but lets just say it involves....

A cute wittle fluffy baby wolf!  *giggles*

Me: I'm not sorry Hail.
Hail: <_<

Monday, November 12, 2012

Writing Tidbit #3

I have a few tips on keeping NaNoWriMo novels interesting and focused.  It is tempting to just write extremely long dialogue to kill your word count, but it doesn't usually make for a good novel.  (not that I know anything about that...)

Anyway, here are my tips...

Conflict.  If there is no conflict, there is no story.  Keep the conflict going in every scene.  It can be internal conflict, dialogue conflict, a sword fight, anything, as long as there is conflict.

Character.  Every scene ought to show something about some character.  If the scene involves a character, and most scenes do, it should show some insight into their character.  It can be as simple as their favorite color, or something deeper like a favorite childhood memory.

Quest.  Keep your character's quest in mind.  Not necessarily the principal plot, but make sure the characters are always pursuing something.  Don't show scenes where they go shopping in the market or scavenge for food unless it has some impact on the plot.

Happy NaNoing everyone!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Hail Frost: The Characters!

Here are my characters from "Hail Frost."  The pictures are actors who look kinda like how I imagined my characters.  Lets turn this into a game and see if you can guess who the actors are!  After all the guesses, I will tell in the comment section!  :)

(Oh yeah, and I could NOT find any actress who looked anything like Ember, so I made my own using the Mary Kay virtual makeover.  Soo...don't guess on her.  :P  If you want, you could say actresses who you think look like Ember. )

Hail Frost

Hail is a young warrior who is trying to redeem himself from his dark past.  He is cold, brooding, and is becoming increasingly distant.  He does not trust much, himself least of all.  As his brother begins to find out more about Hail's past, Hail begins to work harder to redeem himself.  

Ember Flame

Ember is an orphan brat turned hero, but she pretty much ditches that last part when she decides to try and find answers from her own past.  She is stubborn, headstrong, and fiery.  She struggles to find her place in the world, and to try and become sufficient guidance and family to her little sister.  

Commander Valin

Valin is the "new kid," the "rookie" in the government of the Pull.  He (quite literally) had to scratch his way to the top.  He has managed to keep his deadly record a secret and he hides behind a facade of charm and eloquent justice.  Deep inside though, he holds a grudge against the Leverage and he has no intention of letting them save Holdinus.

Snow Frost

Snow is finally fulfilling her destiny, but part of her is telling her it is to late to earn forgiveness with anyone, including Elethor.  It certainly does not help when her travelling companion begins to become disgusted with her past actions.  Snow is outwardly composed and calm, but she also still retains her old sneaky and manipulative abilities.   

Klina Rindil

Klina is the little sister of Ember.  She has spent most of her life tossed from place to place.  When she first met her new sister, she was inspired by her fiery spirit and bravery, but Klina soon realizes that Ember is a far cry from the perfect sister.  Klina is both spunky and serious, and she really wants the world to be peaceful again so they can settle to a normal life.

Rime Frost

Rime is the younger brother of Hail.  He can be a tad demanding and whiny, but he really wants to be like his older brother.  Hail is often disgusted with Rime's lack of seemingly lack of fortitude and courage...but perhaps he will discover that maybe Rime is not the cowardly one...

Flake Frost

Of all the Leverage, Flake prides herself on being the only one to have maturity and a "decent" background.  She tends to look at the world, and herself, with rose colored spectacles.  But when Flake realizes that maybe she is not so perfect, in fact, that she might have caused the most damage of all of them, she begins to see the world a little differently.  


Dray is an ever-mysterious and cocky enigma that touches paths with Ember, Hail, and Valin.  He is often underestimated...and no one is really sure who he is or he works for.  The only person more mysterious than him is his older brother, Jess.  But that's another story.  ;)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Count of Monte Cristo: Review

I was going to do a review on Lord of the Rings, but come on, we all know how that would go.

"Lord of the Rings is the best trilogy and books and everything EVER!  Read them!!!  Tolkien was the best writer ever!!  AHHH!!!!  Aragorn is so awesome and Eowyn and everyone read the BOOOOOKS!!!!"

Ahem.  Yeeah...soo I'm doing Count of Monte Cristo instead!

"Count of Monte Cristo" was written kinda like a TV show back in the early days following the French revolution.  Every week, a new "episode" would be posted in the newspapers and periodicals.  So reading "Count of Monte Cristo" is kind of like starting to watch "Once Upon a Time" on DVD.  You just can't stop at one episode!  Or two...or three...or seventeen...

Not that I know anything about that.

Anyway, "Count of Monte Cristo" is a rather long book, the unabridged version being over 1,200 pages long.  If you do decide to read this book, read the unabridged version, NOT the abridged version.  The abridged version is 600 pages.  It was made to be a bit more "family friendly" than the unabridged version.  It's still good, I read it first actually.  But its kinda like watching Once Upon a Time with little siblings and constantly fastforwarding or muting or whatever.  Still enjoyable, but leaves you kinda confused on some parts.

Not that I know anything about that either.

"Count of Monte Cristo" is the story of young Edmund Dantes, a sailor with a wonderful life ahead of him.  He is about to become a captain at the age of nineteen, he's engaged to a girl who he loves and who loves him back, he's making a decent amount of money, and people like him.  Well, most people anyway.  There are four men who could like him a bit more.  These four men scheme and plan and manage to get Dantes thrown in the Chateau D'if, a prison that nobody ever leaves unless they are dead.  There, Dantes secretly meets a fellow prisoner, Abbot Faria, who educates and teaches him.  The Abbot and Dantes plan an escape attempt that would have worked, except that Abbot Faria dies before they can do it.  Before he dies, he tells Dantes of a hidden treasure on the isle of Monte Cristo.  He tells Dantes to start again and make a new life.

Dantes has other plans.

He takes the mass treasure and begins to weave together an elaborate tapestry of mystery and intrigue.  He portrays himself as the mysterious "Count of Monte Cristo" and he lives by several other pseudonyms too.  For over twenty years he plots and plans his revenge on the four men who ruined his life.  And when he finally gets it, he discovers that it is not everything he wanted.

"Count of Monte Cristo" is an incredible story, with an action-packed and intricate plot that leaves you turning pages.  Dantes' revenge is so perfect and so wicked you can't help but root for him, but he still leaves uncertainty because there are some people, some really good people, who are caught in the middle of his revenge.  No matter who wins, something is going to lose, leaving the reader filling dread and tension at every page.  The characters always have a lot of depth to them, and you even get to see a hint of goodness in the villains, and a hint of badness in the good characters.

The book has many Christian themes in it too.  Taking care of family and friends, the dangers of revenge, sacrifice, love, forgiveness, and redemption.  It has just enough humor to keep from becoming too tense or depressing, and just enough tension to keep your knuckles white and teeth chattering.

But probably the reason why I truly love this book is this; I adore anti-heroes.  An anti-hero is someone who acts as the villain for most of the book, then becomes good and finally becomes the hero.  Alexandre Dumas succeeds with this flawlessly.

This book is probably not a little kid book though.  His revenge involves poison, manipulation, killing, and lying.  Premature burials, drugging, executions, and guillotining also play a role.  Everything is carried out in a very conservative way though, and I can't really complain about anything in this book.


You know, I guess I could have gone all Lord of the Rings nerd with this too.  "AHHH!!! DANTES is SOOO incredible!  This book is sooo cool!  READ IT!!!"

Thursday, November 1, 2012


I've survived!  I have officially written the first 3,235 words of Hail Frost.  I thought I'd share the very first scene, and I apologize because I have obviously not editted yet.  But hey, it's always nice to see someone else's rough draft right?  :P

(This is just a cool picture I found because I have this weird aversion to writing a blog post without pictures.  I don't care about reading one with or without pictures, I just can't make one myself.  Funky, right?)

Hail Frost: The first scene from chapter 1.  (Which I am thinking of calling "Daylight."  Named chapters will possibly be an added thing in the editted Ember Flame.)  This might seem kind of pointless, but it is major foreshadowing and it sets up the theme and premise for the rest of the novel.


Hail thrusts his hands into the crusty dirt. His dark hair was matted to his furrowed brow as he tugged at the stubborn ground.

“Is this really necessary?” He grunted at a nearby youth, who was standing with his arms crossed. The boy nodded and wiped his eyes.

Hail rolled his eyes and glared towards the sun. He threw the dirt on the nearby grave and decidedly wiped his hands on his cloak. “There,” he snapped, “That good enough, your highness?”

The youth glared at him, “You're a jerk.”

Hail sneered at him, “Rime, it was a mule. And we're losing daylight. Come on.” He tossed a saddlebag over his shoulder and began walking down the grassy incline. The grass was silky and smooth under his feet, but Hail couldn't help but wish it were the crunch and chill of snow. The sun was lowering over the sea. The light sapphires of the sky began to turn to rugged rubies hidden beneath a lacy veil. Hail turned and glanced back. Rime was still on top of the hill, moaning like a baby over the newly dug grave.

Hail stormed back up the hill, “Did you not hear me? We need to go. Now.”

“You didn't even mark it,” Rime remarked dully.

Hail stifled a curse. He gestured at the ground, “It is a huge mound of dirt in the middle of this once-beautiful meadow. I think it is obvious enough.”

Rime's green eyes snapped through his tears. He turned and began trudging down the hill, never looking at Hail, and never looking at the grave. Hail grimaced to himself and at Rime's retreating back. I was so much more mature at his age, he though ruefully, the brat can't even lift a sword. I could lift a sword at thirteen.

He stopped his thoughts before they could continue on to what he had done with that sword. At thirteen.

Hail sighed, yes, it was better for Rime this way. It was better to be a coward than a warrior. He jogged down the hill to Rime and placed his hand on his shoulder, “I'm sorry, brother.”

Rime flinched and looked away, “No you're not. You're not sorry she's dead.”

“I admit, she was just an animal to me,” Hail replied, trying to fight back the irritation rising in his throat, “But I am sorry for you.”

“Yeah, you're sorry I'm not brave, strong, incredible you,” Rime flung at him, pulling out of Hail's grasp.

“Believe me, I'm not sorry for that at all. You have no idea the price I had to pay to become...”

“You? To become you?” Rime replied, he turned and glared up at his brother, “You betrayed the Leverage. You were a drunk. You have done countless sins in your life. You even betrayed Elethor. And what price have you paid? You survive while others die in your place. Ember's in love with you. Even God has forgiven you.” Rime shook his head with disgust, “And you have not changed. You don't care when death happens. You don't even pretend to be upset! Instead you become angry with me because I am apparently not as strong as you.”

Hail stared at him for a few moments, his face void of emotion. He turned and stared over the sea again. Jagged and broken rocks stuck out like thorns in the water near the cliff. They were a more welcome sight than his brother. Hail pushed forward, “Come on,” he mumbled over his shoulder, “We are losing daylight.”


Hope y'all liked it!  Happy Noveling! 

NaNoWriMo is here!

As November progresses, I hope to do at least one post a week to keep y'all updated on my novel, and to retain my sanity.  Hopefully, I will be able to do more quick, encouraging posts just in case there are any other NaNoers or Wrimos reading my blog!  :)

So I've set my word count goal to 90,000.  It was 90,000 last year.  I considered doing 100,000, but decided against it.  True, I feel like my writing skill has improved in the past year, but my school work has also increased.  And unfortunately, schoolwork does not magically disappear when November comes.  Soooo....yeah, 90,000 again.  My mom is being super nice and taking away my literature for the month so I can focus on NaNoWriMo, which she counts as an elective in project management.  (I already have four English credits, and I will be getting at LEAST two more, so she counts it as project management.)  Although, I still have to finish my literature, I just go a month into the summer to do so.  I don't mind.  I love literature, and NaNoWriMo is worth it.

ANYWAY, enough about me.  How bout some Ember Flame and Midnight Warrior updates?

Ember Flame is about to go through another round of editting.  There are a ton of typos, grammar, and writing issues throughout the entire book.  So I am going to get it editted and then re-publish it on Amazon afterwards.  We will also be adding a copyright page (hehe...kind of overlooked that last time.  Even though it IS technically copyrighted, it is always good to have a page saying so), a table of contents, and hopefully an excerpt from Hail Frost.  Pretty exciting stuff!

Midnight Warrior is on hold until NaNoWriMo is over.  I do plan to help keep it in mind throughout the month by doing a few posts on the characters and such from it.

If y'all could pray for me thoughout the month that would be awesome!  Last year, I did not (ahem) understand time management and I got behind on my school and wrote myself sick.  Literally.  I think I caught a mild case of the flu, and it was not going away because I would stay up late writing.  On top of that, I ended up doing school all summer because of my lack of foresight.  I am better at managing my time now, but I still struggle with procrastination so prayer would be awesome. 

Also, could y'all pray for my best friend Tori?  She is doing NaNoWriMo for the first time this year, and she is going for 50,500 words!  (Adults do at least 50,000)  She is two years younger than me, and she is also finishing up her first novel that she wrote over the past year using the One Year Adventure Novel.  (That will be TWO rough drafts of TWO different novels written in ONE year y'all!!!)  She's really talented and I don't want either of us to get discouraged throughout the month.

Thanks!  NaNoWriMo ahoy! 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Three more days!

Yep.  Just three more days until NaNoWriMo. I am soooo excited, and kind of nervous too.  I just thought I would do a quick blog post to say how I have prepared for November.

1.  Outline, outline, outline!

I have stayed up for over two hours every night just attempting to brutally outline and nail down every big plot turn in my story.  A lot of it will probably change as my story unfolds when I actually write it.  But it always helps to think of uncliche plot twists just to keep myself on track.

Speaking of uncliche, I am SO excited about my villain in this book!  Sicreet was pathetically cliche.  (I was joking around with my dad that all I needed to do was give him a hunchbacked minion and a black cat to stroke while telling his evil plan and I would be good!)  But my new villain, Valin, is, in my opinion, really good.  He's a twenty-something guy who has had to do a lot of shady stuff to get to the top of Pull.  Sicreet and he were enemies and he could not have been more pleased when Sicreet was killed.  He's a lot smarter than Sicreet, and he is also more realistic.  He has a real side, an almost-good side.  And he is not as cruel, at least in the normal sense of the word, as Sicreet was.  Valin is much better at toying with emotions and motives than physical pain.

He's something of a foil to Hail.  Hail is basically on the run and can't tell who he is because of all the terrible things he did in his past, while everybody loves Valin because of his seemingly perfect record.


2.  Read over what I last wrote.

Meaning Ember Flame. It is so painful.  So many typos and junk.  Oh well.  I do this to get back into the writing style of the past book, which was dialogue driven and short, basic descriptions.  It was also written in 3rd person alternating.  "Midnight Warrior" is much deeper and thoughtful than Ember Flame, with a lot more intrigue, thriller, and mystery thrown in the mix.  It was also written in 1st person alternating.  Sooo...I'm making my brain revert back to the "Ember Flame" style of writing.  Lots of dialogue and lots of fights and a fairly basic plot.

3.  Get my characters under control.  Meaning, just do quick, horrifically written "short stories" which is really just sticking all my characters in a setting and telling them to have at it.  I do this just to make sure I have their voice right.  I really don't need Ember to start acting like Aralyn or Valin to start acting like Narcul, so I really have to get out of Midnight Warrior mode and into Ember Flame mode.  It's kinda tough.

Ember:  Tough for you maybe.  I'm havin fun.
Me:  I'm sure you are.
Hail: *smirk*
Snow:  Being placed in a dark cave with a bunch of people I've never met and who seem rather shady.  What could be more fun than that?
Ember:  Well, in your absolutely professional opinion, probably killing my brother would be more to your liking.
Snow:  *huffs*  I thought we had moved past...
Hail:  ...You murdering Coal? *chuckles dryly*
Snow:  *tosses hair*  Really you two!  *storms off*
Flake:  You did forgive her you know Ember...
Ember: *shrugs*  What, do you want me not to be angry about his death?  How would you feel if two people you trusted totally wacked out and...
Hail: *winces*
Rime:  Hey!  Back off, Ember!  What happened to all that gross mushy stuff between you two!?
Ember: Shut!
Rime:  You shut!
Snow:  You all need to shut!
Hail:  *at Snow* You shut!
Klina:  You know that makes zero sense...
Dray: What happened to the "up?"
Ember: It's stupid.
Rime: Unneeded.
Hail: It's a waste of breath.  Kinda like talking to you.
Klina:  *under her breath*  Leverage are sooo petty.

*cough*  Well, um, as you can see I have them completely under control!  There is no possible way they are going to surprise me in my story! way.  *to characters*  HOW DID YOU GET HERE???

Ember: *proudly*  I broke into you room and hacked your computer.  Duh.
Hail:  A little piece of ice told us where you lived...
Ember:  Where did you find ice in Lothlorien???
Hail:  *funny look*  We aren't in Lothlorien, genius.
Ember: But Kaycee said she lived in Lothlorien, idiot!
Hail: *facepalm*

Umm...forget that.  *Grabs characters, throws them in dungeon, locks the door, runs off and feeds the key to a rabid raccoon*

So, yeah!  That is what I am up to right now!  THREE MORE DAYS!  SOOO EXCITED!!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

*Insert happy face*

Hello everyone!  Yes it has been awhile, but I have some updates.  First off...

I got the "Very Inspiring Blogger Award!"  Yay!  :)

Here are The Rules...

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you.
  2. Place the award on your site
  3. Share 7 random things about yourself.
  4. Nominate 15 blogs. Let them know they’ve been nominated and how to accept the award.
So, thank you Ruth for nominating me!  You are da best!  :)

7 random things...hmm...

1.  I have been homeschooled my entire life.  Yep. Never stepped foot or hand or head inside a school.  (Okay, that's a lie.  I DID take the PSAT *insert shudder* at a school.)  (Oh yeah, the shudder was about the PSAT, NOT the school, which was a very nice and pleasant looking place.)

2.  I am interested in becoming a screenwriter and/or movie director along with author.  My siblings and I did some filming to make a YouTube book preview for Ember Flame.  (Which is NOT done by any means...)  It was a lot of fun!  We filmed it on my grandparents farm and there were TONS of awesome, woody places to film!  My brother was the camera dude, my sister played Ember (There is a funny story to that....) and my other sister carried the boots.  (Funny story with that too...)  I arrange the props and bossed my siblings into what to do.  I LOVED it!  Not sure about them, but I had a great time!  So yeah, movie directing would be EPIC!

3.  I have two crazy little dachshunds named Derby and Charlie.  Derby is all crazy and hyper, while Charlie is very slow and contemplative.  I wuv them so much!  

4.  I'm an avid shooter.  Pistol, shot gun, rifle, I love it all!  I also LOVE archery.  My favorite is pistol, but I also love skeet shooting (shot gun).  I hope to get into some trap shooting soon.  I've only shot rifle like, twice, and I did pretty terrible, but I'd love to try again.  

5.  Fall is my FAVORITE time of year.  I'm not really sure about my next favorite season, probably summer.  But the colors of fall are gorgeous!  The sky is such a bright, vivid, happy blue while the leaves are all dancing scarlets and golds and orange!  I love the feel of walking out on our stone patio with all the bright leaves stirring about my boots in the wind.  It feels like Rivendell!  

6.  My favorite Avenger is Iron Man, and my second favorite CHARACTER in the Avengers is Loki.  Don't judge me. 

7.  I have been a Christian since I was seven, I did not start growing in my faith until I was thirteen.  And in the past year, God has done some pretty incredible things in my life.  I wish I could detail them all, but suffice it to say that Matthew 6: 25-36 is an incredible part of the Bible.  

Well, there are the seven random what...  *scrolls up*

*scrolls down*  

FIFTEEN???  I'm not sure I even read fifteen blogs!  But let's see how many I can do...  Jenelle Schmidt-Fantasy Writer  Ruth Achiv's Bible Blog. (Ha!  Yes it is perfectly legal for me to do this! >:)  )

I don't really feel comfortable nominating people I don't know...but I do read more blogs than this that are truly inspiring also!  But for now...these two will work!  Maybe I'll add more later.  

Perhaps in another blog post I will talk more about NaNo preparations.  Seven more days!!!!  

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Hail Frost...The Synopsis!

Yep.  Thanks to all your awesome comments in the last post and in my email, I have finally made a synopsis!  This is my first one, so it is prone to change by the time I fully outline and write my novel, but I thought y'all would like to see it.  :)

"Five of the Leverage have been reunited.  The sixth is still missing, and is apparently in the clutches of the Pull with no leads to find him or her.  Striving to trust Elethor, to Leverage split into groups to attempt to hunt down this final Leverage.

Snow and Flake venture deep into the Northern Barbaric which reeks of dark magic and an ancient race that has a strange connection to the Leverage.

Ember has, naturally, opted to follow her own course.  She returns to the ruins of Grel with her sister Klina, to try and solve a mystery in her past inspired by an odd bracelet.  There she meets an old acquaintance who has uncanny knowledge of everything she has been doing, including the history of a certain Hail Frost.

Hail and his brother Rime have returned to Heesen to try and get information about the last Leverage from Hail's former master, Marin.  When they arrive, they find the place swarming with cheering crowds, ecstatic people, and an abolished slave trade.  Determined to discover the meaning behind this, Hail forces an "interview" with Marin to discover the newest deception of the Pull, a plan far more risky and deadly than anything Sicreet ever concocted.  Hail receives all the information he needs to defeat this plan, but to do so would be to reveal everything about his past.  And that is the equivalent to suicide for Hail.

Ghost dragon mysteries, hidden paths, the last zombie in Holdinus, and the comeback of the Pull force Hail to question his darkest thoughts.  In the end, he will have to choose between deception and life, or truth and death.  As he strives to erase his past and change his future, his choice will affect the fate of all Holdinus."

Any tips?  Any more ideas?  I have not begun in depth outlining yet, so there is still time to suggest!  :)

I'll stop comment begging.  I promise.  I will.  (facepalm)  

Thursday, September 27, 2012

In which I become a hypocrite...

...and do my number one blogging peeve.

Sorry folks.  I hate this.  I really do.  I can not stand it when people beg for comments.  Hopefully, I don't go as low as "begging."  But I really need help with something.

If you have read, or are reading, "Ember Flame" can you please tell me something you think should be in the sequel?  Can you tell me stuff you want to see in the sequel, even if it is not necessarily important?  Anything I should NOT do?  Anything I should do again?

I specifically want help with the characters.  Hail and Caran in particular.  How much backstory do y'all want to see?  None at all?  A lot?  Please help me!  (Oh darn, now I'm begging...)

Again, please except my apologies for doing this.  (facepalm)  I will try not to do this again...but I really need help planning the sequel!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Writing Updates..gearing up for NaNo

Hi everyone!  Is it just me, or has the bloggy world gone very quiet recently?  I guess it makes sense if it has, I mean, school is getting harder, people are planning Thanksgiving trips, going fall shopping, and other stuff like that. 

Anyway, I decided to write a post before I fall into a blog rut.  I couldn't think of anything super profound to say, so I figured I'd just give some updates on what I am doing. 

1.  Ember Flame.  I'm sending draft copies of it out to a whole bunch of people, and I'm also fixing it up a bit.  I'm not changing any of the story mind you, (as much as I would LOVE to fix my villain <_<)  I'm just making the descriptions and dialogue a bit better.  The book currently has a good many typos and grammar problems.  When I first got it published on createspace, I thought it would just send me a few copies, but nooo, they posted it on amazon.  Would have edited a bit more had I known that.  So after it is completed re-edited, I am going to republish it on amazon.  For now, it is still up there because I am too lazy to take it off right now. 

2.  I have a manga drawing of Ember that I did not do.  Someone from the NaNoWriMo forum of awesomeness did it for me.  Don't you think they did a great job? 

I pictured her hair being a tad redder than that, but everything else is spot on. 

3.  Speaking of NaNoWriMo, it is quickly approaching!  November is totally going to be my favorite month of the year again (it was last year too!).  If you have never done the National Novel Writing Month, I highly suggest you do it.  If you are seventeen or under, I suggest you do the Young Writer's Program version of it.  If you are thirteen or over, you are allowed to do the adult website, but they allow swearing and adult content.  If you are okay with that, then you could do the adult site.  Personally, I just find it awkward.  Here are the links to the YWP version and the adult version

4.  Midnight Warrior is coming right along.  Aralyn, my anti-hero, is turning out EXACTLY how I wanted her too.  She is my favorite character I have ever invented, so I am glad she has not turned out to be flat and boring.  I'm close to 40,000 words on Midnight Warrior. 

5.  As NaNo approaches, more and more ideas for Hail Frost have been stirring around in my head.  I have a basic idea for the plot, but it is EXTREMELY vague at the moment.  Mostly, I've been inventing my villain.  Sicreet, my villain from Ember Flame, is irritatingly cliche.  It kind've makes sense in my story context, because the people who are like him all have certain elements of immaturity to them.  But that does not change the fact that he is still cliche.  I am happy to say though. the villain for this one is not going to be cliche.  He's a pleasant, though manipulative, twenty-something guy who everyone pretty much worships.  He stops the creepy zombiefications and other bizzaro stuff Sicreet had inflicted, and the people love him.   But Hail knows something about him that no one else does, and the bad thing is, Hail can't tell what it is because it will reveal far too much of his own past. 

I have a feeling Hail Frost will be about the same length as Ember Flame, but it will delve into Hail a lot more than Ember Flame did.  Personally, he is my favorite character.  He kind of reminds  me of a bizzare mixture of Guy of Gisbourne from BBC Robin Hood and Alastair Coldhollow from Sword in the Stars.  Yeah, he's awesome.  ;) 

Yeah, but don't worry.  Ember will be back and brattier than ever in this one.  I know you are all just thrilled.  >:)

I plan on doing a longer post about Hail Frost and Ember Flame soon, and I also plan on doing a kind of introduction to my characters from Midnight Warrior, if I can get them to behave long enough.  <_<

Needless to say, I can't wait until November!  It's gonna be epic! 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Writing Tidbit #2

If you want to write good fiction, you need to read good fiction.  Here is a list of just all around good classic fiction that are extremely helpful. 

Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs- has very good descriptions and most of the characters are nicely developed.  Not much plot because the story follows Tarzan discovering who he is, while the readers already know who he is.   Despite that, it is a fascinating, enjoyable read.  (8.5)

Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald- is filled with depth, mystery, and magic.  The writing is enchanting.  This story has the feel and innocence of a fairy tale, but a more profound edge to it.  Though some of the characters are a tad cliche, it adds to the fairy-like feel of the book.  (9.0) 

Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson- an exciting story with a plot based on revenge, adventure, and justice.  The characters have a lot of depth and backstory to them.  The writing can sometimes be a bit long and tedious, but it is still a worthwhile read.  (8.0)

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley- this story is known as the first sci-fi novel.  This novel is filled with profound hidden meanings behind each and every action.  Nothing is said or done without a point.  I will say though, the author has a lot of points to make and the writing can suffer because of this sometimes.  I did not find any of the characters all that likeable, but that was clearly Shelley's point.  This book shows how to write a novel that makes a point using an absurd and brilliant adventure.  (8.0)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Pirates! Arg!

Hi everyone!  In honor of National Talk Like a Pirate Day, I am going to do an extensive post on writing pirate historical, fantastical, and fantasy fiction!  Ready?  Here we go!

Pirates have always been an exciting and romantic genre to write.  Even during the 18th and 19th century, otherwise known as the Golden Age of Piracy, pirates thrilled and excited people...though I doubt they would have admitted it in public.  Historians have found pirate puppets and toys from the time period, clearly showing the fascination people tend to have for pirates.  Even long before that, towards the beginning of the Medieval era, every Norseman's dream was to become a Viking and sail and pillage to win glory.  There has always been something fascinating about piracy.

So what is so fascinating?  What about these scoundrels of the seas do people find so thrilling?  It's hard to have an answer for this, but here is the best I can give.

I am NOT a romantic gal.  I've never enjoyed reading anything from that genre, and I rarely like it in other genres.  But the romances I DO enjoy tend to have a bad-boy character involved.  Not really sure why, I've just always liked that type.  Guy of Gisborne, Tony Stark, Han Solo, Rumpelstiltskin, Jack Sparrow (but COME ON!  Who doesn't like Jack Sparrow???)  I think pirates have been fantasized into this "bad-boy" type of thinking.  It's the thrill of being free and doing whatever you want, whenever you want.  Not exactly Biblical, but this is why I think people love it so much.

So before I mentioned three types of piracy stories: historical, fantastical, and fantasy.  Lets start with defining each of these...

Historical Pirate Fiction

This is pirate stories that strives to be historically accurate and do not deviate from the realm of possible.  "Treasure Island" by Robert Lewis Stevenson is a prime example of this.  Young Jim never fights any sea serpents or skeletal pirate crew.  Everything is extremely realistic.  Another less known example would be "The Blood Ship" by Norman Springer.  This story is about Jack Shreve who joins the crew of a wicked captain and has to try to save his friend Newman from death.  This is my favorite pirate novel and it is a MUST READ!  The only books I suggest more than this one are "Lord of the Rings", "The Hobbit", and "Count of Monte Cristo."

Fantastical Pirate Fiction

Some of these stories care about historical accuracy, and others don't.  But the main thing about this genre is that they have supernatural or fantastical elements.  "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies are fantastical pirate stories that don't really bother with historical accuracy.  (Blackbeard alive at the same time as King George II)  They are fantastical because they have the aforementioned skeletal crew, cursed treasure, fish people, sea goddess, mermaids, and Krakens.  A fantastical pirate story that does have historical accuracy would be Wayne Thomas Batson's "Isle of Swords" and "Isle of Fire" books.  (Excellent books!   Highly suggest reading them!)

Pirate Fantasy

A more accurate title would be "pirates in fantasy."  This genre is when pirates make an appearance in speculative fiction.  Han Solo is a type of pirate, "smuggler," used in the Star Wars saga.  Podo from Andrew Peterson's "Wingfeather Saga" is an ex-pirate.  He is completely stereotyped and HILARIOUS!  (Highly suggest those books too.  Gee, pirates just make stories awesome, don't they?)

Now I am going to list just some little tips I've learned about each one.  The first novel I wrote was "Shadow's Fire."  I wrote it with the One Year Adventure Novel curriculum which required me to pick a historical time period for my story, and to be historically accurate.  I was a tad upset when I learned this because I enjoy fantasy WAY more than historical fiction.  The only historical fiction I usually enjoy is Arthurian legend and pirate fiction.  Arthurian legend was out because that almost seems more like fantasy than history.  So I picked pirates and boy, I am so glad I did.

When people pick up a pirate novel, they have a few expectations about it.  Most pirate stories are treasure stories.  It is extremely rare to run across a pirate story that does not have some element of seeking wealth in it.  They also expect the villain to either be a pirate, and the hero be a British dude who fights pirates, or the hero to be the pirate and the villain to be the British dude.  It is hard to break out of these molds and keep an audience interested, but it is also hard to stay in these molds and not be cliche.

The best way to avoid these problems are to add instead of subtract elements.  In "Shadow's Fire" my heroine is an English girl and the principal villain is her English uncle.  But wait!  I thought this was a pirate story!  I knew people would probably be thinking that, so I have the sub-villain be a pirate, and I have a kinda sorta anti-hero pirate dude in it too.  I chose to do both instead of one and I think it worked well.  (I seriously need to finish editing it so I can see if others agree!)   

I also did keep the treasure in it...a little.  Julia does not find the treasure in the book, just clues.  I am using the treasure as a plot that spans over the would-be trilogy.  Each other story has a different principal plot that is unique.  In "Shadow's Fire" the principal plot is to stop an army of pirates from invading England.  The pirates in my story have strategically put England at war with France and Spain.  Julia's uncle, a member of parliament, is helping them by manipulating King George into signing yet another tax on the angry colonies in America...on their tea!  Julia has to try and stop this from happening, but, since my story is historically accurate, she fails...sort of.  She does manage to keep the pirates at bay which gives her time to try and stop them another day.  Meaning another novel.

Historically accurate novels are tricky but very rewarding.  They give the story a realistic feel to them and, if done correctly, can try to make the audience think that is what really happened.  A good way to accomplish this feeling is by taking a historical question that does not have a good answer and making up your own answer.  Why did King George feel the need to continuously tax the colonies and refuse to listen to them?  According to historical records, he was actually a very nice guy, though rather stupid.  So why did he?  Well, apparently, he was being manipulated by pirates!  :P

Fantastical novels are fairly easy.  they follow the basic pattern of historical fiction, but they add monsters and curses to the mix.  The hardest part about writing these is not going overboard with the fantasy, but doing enough too.  If you do too much, the reader will roll his eyes and think, "That's ridiculous!  I can't believe that!" and he will stop reading.  You don't do it enough, the reader will go, "WHAT?  Giant zombie sea serpent that is the guardian of the treasure that came from an alien planet???  I thought this was a historical novel!"  That's not good either.  The trick is doing just enough to keep reader's interested, but not too much.

Fantasy pirates are straight forward.  There is a little bit too them though.  You can't have them act too "piratey" or people will wonder when the 18th century pirate found a time traveling machine and blasted his way to the iron planet of Sobbeedo.  Han Solo is a good example of how to do this correctly.  (I've used Star Wars so many times as an example on this blog.  Seriously, when in doubt about ANYTHING in writing, look at Star Wars. Seriously.)  Han is obsessed with money...and freedom.  He loves his ship.  He's cocky, fearless, and has an awesome smirk.  BUT you never hear Han let out an "avast ye Luke!  Grab that there blaster and stop actin' like a planetlubber!"  That would be taking it a bit too far.

Well, if you've made it through this post, I tip my hat to ye, matey.  Have a great National Talk like a Pirate Day!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Naming Characters

Names are very important things.  They are who you are.  In the Bible, children were often named after certain aspects of God's character or blessings.  In many cultures names are an attribute your parents want you to have.

Choosing appropriate names for characters can be really hard.  I have to say though, it seems hardest to me to pick names for historical fiction characters.  I have written two novels, the first was a historical fiction pirate novel, and the second was fantasy.

"Shadow's Fire," the pirate novel, takes place in 1773.  The heroine is an average, rich English girl.  Popular names of the times for girls were Mary, Elizabeth, Rebecca, etc.  Elizabeth was immediately ruled out because that would bring to many correlations between "Shadow's Fire" and "Pirates of the Caribbean."  (I was already pushing it with a pirate named Johnny!)  "Mary" seemed to common, "Rebecca" and "Rachel" did not fit at all.

I finally decided to name her Julia.  Julia was fairly common, but not super common back then.  I chose the name by looking at my plot.  What aspects of the plot could I use to make a name?  One of the main plot strings is following an ancient Roman treasure which Julius Caesar had something to do with.  Shakespeare is also mentioned several times throughout the story. (Juliet, Julius Caesar, etc.)  Thus, Julia!

Fantasies are easier.  Usually, I take a modern name, then change some letters in it.  I changed the name "Justin" to "Josten" merely by changing the vowels!  This creates a name that is pronounceable, but still different.  In "Ember Flame" I changed the name "Karen" to "Caran".  Another thing I like to do is to combine two names.  Like David and Devin can become Davin or Devid.  You can also add a syllable or two to the beginning of a normal name.  I'm not sure if the author did this on purpose, but in "King's Warrior"   the heroine's name is Kamarie.  Ka+marie.

My best friend is writing a futuristic time travel book.  These are tricky to name but I think she did a great job with it.  She took a common name and changed the spelling.  It is still pronounced the same but it looks futuristic.  Her heroine's name is "Loral."  It is still pronounced like "Laurel" but it looks....updated, for lack of a better word.

Personally, I was not a fan of the names in The Hunger Games.  The Hunger Games was obviously a story based off of ancient Roman culture, and some of the name (Plutarch, Cato, Brutus, Seneca to name a few) clearly show that.  I have studied Latin for close to six years now, and any name that ends with "a" is always feminine.  It took me a little to get passed names like "Peeta" and "Cinna" because of the "a" at the end.  And the name "Katniss" just kind've confused me.  On this one thing, I'm totally with Gale (and that's a girl name too!)  Catnip!

Anyway, that's my little summary of names.  If you have anything to add feel free to share it!

Friday, September 14, 2012

This is why I write

I'm a writer. Whenever I try to define myself, the order always goes like this:  Christian, daughter, sister, friend, writer.  There is not much I put higher on my list of importance.  Jesus, my family, and my friends are the only things more important to me than writing.  I daren't call myself an author.  That makes it sound so professional, so vocational.  I'm a writer because I write.  I can't say that I am really good.  I can't say that I am any good.  Heck, "daren't" is apparently not even a word!  And I have just used it in a blog post...twice!

I write because it helps me discover what I feel and think.  I've realized through writing that emotions are very strange things.  I can be content, angry, and ecstatic about something all at the same time, and yet I appear to my family to be cold and distant.  I'm not that fantastic at talking.   In fact, I'm an introvert and I am fairly shy at first around new people.  You know those types of people that are very vocal on the Internet but all quiet in real life?  Yeah, I'm in that group.

There are many reasons why I write, but that is the main one.  I think the second reason I write is because life is so hard sometimes, it just seems to drag on and on.  You feel like there has got to be something more you should be doing, but you can't think of what it is.  Nothing is necessarily wrong with your life, and yet, it's not right either.  Being a teenager especially, I have noticed that sometimes I will be in a perfectly good mood, and then suddenly something will happen and I can be instantly crying alone in my room.  It usually has something to do with chemistry.  Yes, I have cried over my chemistry homework, then became aware that crying will get me nowhere and I just need to do it.  Don't you judge me.  :P

When I don't write, this happens more often.  This also happens more when I don't have my quiet time for awhile.  I believe God gave me a gift for writing.  Whenever I spend time with Him then use my gift for Him, my day goes infinitely better.  I have better control on my emotions and I think I'm a nicer person to be around.

Another reason I write, especially writing fantasy, is because it helps me keep my focus on what this world really is.  Fantasy often has some sort of battle of epic proportions between good and evil.  The hero is one of the good guys and he has to defeat the evil that threatens to take over the world.  How many times have we seen that story?  And does it really ever get old?

The real world is just like that, but it is less noticeable.  You catch glimpses of the evil when someone honks loudly at you for being hesitant at turning right at a red light, when you see someone cruelly kick or hit a puppy, when your teacher hands you your chemistry assignment...(okay, okay, maybe not that last one!)  But all in all, you don't really see the evil.  I have never been chased by Ringwraiths and stabbed by a morgul blade.  I have never grabbed my lightsaber to fight off an angry band of Siths.

But even if you can't see it, the evil is there.  I am chased by incessant jealousies and stabbed with the bitter consequences of sin.  I do have to grab God's word to fight off an angry mob of doubt.  Writing fantasy helps me keep this is mind, and helps me be on my guard against real sin, real evil.

But that's not all.  Often I find myself becoming angry and semi-depressed at all the pathetic pettiness people possess.  (I <3 alliteration!)  There is good in this world too!  True, you might not find one valiant soul dragging himself and a deadly Ring to a fiery volcano to save the world.  And you might not ever be saved by Jedi who arrive just in time to destroy the storm-troopers trying to kill you.

I hear of men and women who run into buildings that have been hit with airplanes to save others at the cost of their own life.  I hear of missionaries and pastors in closed countries who refuse to back down in the face of terror.

I also know of one valiant soul who dragged himself and all of my deadly sin to a cross where he died to save the world.  And I have been saved countless times by my savior from encroaching sin that is trying to take me.

Whenever I ponder this subject, my favorite scene from any movie EVER always pops in my head.  I think I should share it, so here it is!

This is why I write.  All of this...and to avoid chemistry assignments.  :P

Sunday, September 2, 2012


Most adventure stories have certain types of characters that typically appear.  The hero, the ally, the foil, the love, the villain, the henchman, etc.  But one that almost always appears is the mentor.  The mentor is someone who is wiser than the hero, and usually someone that has conquered what the hero is having to go through already.

The mentor usually does five things:
1.  He introduces the hero to the story world
2.  He teaches the hero the physical and mental skills he will need to know to conquer the story
3.  He shows us, the reader, what the hero will have to become plus more to defeat the villain.
4.  He tests the hero to see if they are worthy.
5.  He usually has been faced with the same task the hero must complete, but did not achieve it.

1.  He introduces the hero to the story world.

"When the hero is ready, the mentor appears."  Not exactly the cliche, but it fits for the story world.  So the hero has faced the inciting incident, and he has decided to tackle the story and take on the villain (embracing destiny).  But who is going to teach him what to do?  The mentor of course!  The mentor might be in the story from the very start, but he does not become the mentor until the hero decides to take on the story.  Then the hero is willing to listen to what the mentor has to say.

For instance, in "Captain America: The First Avenger"  Dr. Erskine introduces Steve Rogers to the world of training for war, Hydra, and World War II.  He teaches Steve why it is better to be a good man than a strong man.

2.  He teaches the hero skills.

As I said before, the mentor usually has faced the same problems as the hero.  That means he knows what the hero will need to know to win.  These can be physical or mental skills, or both.  Haymitch Abernathy, from the "Hunger Games" is a perfect example of this.  He has entered the Hunger Games and won, and he has been a mentor for the Games for 23 years.  He knows the mindset that will be needed to win, and he saw that in Katniss.  He also knew how strong and smart the tributes wold have to be, and he taught Katniss that too.

3.  He shows what the hero will have to become to defeat the villain.

This one is a tad confusing, so I will just use an example.  In "Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back," Luke is training with Jedi Master Yoda on the remote planet of Dagobah.  We see Luke doing some pretty impressive stuff like levitating rocks with the Force, doing triple flips, and becoming stronger.  While he is training though, his X-wing ship sinks into the swamp.  Yoda challenges Luke to raise the ship with the Force.  Luke tries, and is rewarded with a few very unimpressive bubbles.  He turns to Yoda and says, "You ask the impossible."  Yoda sighs, and then proceeds to raise the ship with what appears very little effort.

This is one of my favorite scenes in the entire Star Wars series.  Luke is obviously no match for Yoda, and Yoda is no match for Darth Vadar.  To make things worse, Darth Vadar is no match for the emperor.  This scene shows just how much Luke will have to learn to become the hero he is supposed to be.

4.  He tests the hero to see if they are worthy.

The scene I used above could work here as well.  But sometimes, the hero passes the mentors test.  In "Once Upon a Time" Henry challenges Emma to stay in Storybrooke to find her destiny.  Emma fights this for awhile, but eventually she agrees to stay, at least for a little.  She succeeds as a mother and as a hero in this test.

5.  He has usually been faced with the same tasks the hero is faced with, but did not achieve it.

This does not mean the mentor failed necessarily.  They just could not complete the task.  In my story "Shadow's Fire" the heroine, Julia, is forced to take on a leading member of parliament, and an English privateer.  Herman Smith, a former privateer, was faced with the same task but he was not strong enough to withstand both forces.  He was forced to quit being a privateer and fade into obscurity.  But when Julia comes along, he trains her with the knowledge he did not have to face the villains.

A far more famous one (lol) is from "Star Wars: The Revenge of the Sith."  Obi-Wan was forced to fight Anakin in one of the most epic battles in all of the Star Wars series.  Technically, Obi-Wan won.  But he did not kill Anakin because it hurt too much.  Because he did not kill him, the emperor came and turned Anakin into the cyborg, Darth Vadar.  Obi-Wan did not fail.  Pity is a good moral.  But he did not finish the task. The task was left to Luke.

Mentors are some of the most memorable characters in all adventure novels.  In my opinion, every story ought to have one.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Writing Tidbit #1

"Writing Tidbits" is something I totally just made up and they are quick, short post about something writerish.  

I've been reading Agatha Christie's "Death on the Nile" for school.  I've never really gotten into mysteries before, but I have LOVED "Death on the Nile."  I write adventure novels.  Mysteries are a form of adventure novel, but I have noticed some interesting differences.  

1.  In adventure novels, a death of a main character is supposed to be surprising.
2.  In mystery novels, you typically already know who is going to die before they die.     

1.  In adventure novels, you usually "see" the death.  Which means you know how the character died, or who killed the character.
2.  In mystery novels, you do not "see" the death so you do not know who killed the character.  

1.  In adventure novels, the death is usually the result of the plot.  
2.  In mystery novels, the death is the plot.  

1.  In adventure novels, you feel emotion at the death of the character, be it anger, sadness, happiness, relief, etc.
2.  In mystery novels, the emotion comes with the tension and anxiety to find out who committed the murder.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Importance of Fantasy

Actually, a more appropriate title for this post would be "The Importance of Speculative Fiction," but that just does not sound as good.  :P

Fantasy is my favorite genre, to read, write, and watch.  I've been watching fantasy since I was, I don't know, probably three since the Disney princesses are mostly fantasy.  My first introduction to book fantasy was probably when I was seven because my mom read "The Chronicles of Narnia" series out loud to me.

But I think I can say when I finally decided I loved fantasy was when I was nine years old and read "The Hobbit."   I just remember thinking "Yes!  This is great!  This is what all books should be!"  And then I read "Lord of the Rings" the next year and I was sold.  Fantasy was the best genre ever.  (I vowed when I was ten to read the Lord of The Rings at least once every year for the rest of my life.  I just finished reading The Two Towers for the eighth time.  :P)

I bet you want to know what my point is.  Okay, I'll speed things up.  There are many people in this world that believe that fantasy, or more importantly, speculative fiction, is a waste of time.  They think it does not teach you anything about a historical time period, or about our modern society.  They think it is a cowardly way of leaving this world and into a fairy land.

I can respect their opinions...if they have actually read or watched fantasy for themselves.  One of my biggest peeves is when somebody judges something they have not experienced.  It is the reason I don't post reviews or opinions about Twilight.  I have never read nor watched Twilight.  I'm allowed too, I just have not.  I have my reasons for not reading or watching Twilight, but they are my reasons.  Who am I to impose my reasons for not reading them on somebody else?

Even Tolkien battled with this.  Several critics were saying that fantasy was only for children, and even then it should be limited.  They said that it was not instructive for adults to read a fantasy.  Tolkien's reply was that "people often don't see the difference between the desertion of a soldier and the escape of a prisoner."  (paraphrased)

And that is one of the many reasons I love fantasy.  It's an escape.  True, everybody should be grounded in reality, but good fantasies help us cope with that reality.  My family is going through a very sad time right now.  I'm reading The Hobbit right now.  Middle-Earth is one of my favorite places to be, and The Hobbit is an innocent, humorous read, but still assures me that good will always triumph over evil.

Which reminds me of yet another reason I love fantasy.  Good fantasy will re-inspire awe and wonder at the amazing world God has made for us, for me.  I remember when I was five I would stand back and stare at a tree in childlike shock, wondering how anything could ever get that big.  What is the tree made of?  How did it get there?  Why is it there?  Being five, you can't exactly get answers to these questions...and I'd probably have been bored if someone had told me the molecular structure of a tree.  As I got older, I quit even bothering to ask these questions.  Trees were just a part of everyday life, nothing special.

But then I read Lord of the Rings with the Ents, and I look at trees and just wonder how.  And why.  Why would God make something so magnificent for me?  Does He really love me that much?  And the answer to those questions are yes.  He really does.

Ted Dekker's "The Circle" series caused me to look at the Bible differently.  So many people, myself included, get so used to the Bible as a household object.  I'm sure I could easily find twenty in my house, and that is a wonderful thing, but it is easy to become numb to what the Bible truly is.  God wrote the Bible.  God.  He wrote it.  God's words are powerful, with words he created the world, and we have His words.  In a book.  Is that not amazing?

Bill Myers' "Eli" has made me look at Jesus' life and death in a totally different light.  "Pilgrims' Progress" teaches the journey of a Christian.  Wayne Thomas Batson's "Sword in the Stars" shows just how wonderful the birth of our Savior truly was.  I could do this all day.

Even speculative fiction that is not Christian can inspire.  "Star Wars" says that good will beat evil, the battle won't be easy, but it will be worth it.  "Pirates of the Caribbean" (it is a type of fantasy/sci-fi because it is history with fantastical elements in it) shows that everyone, even someone as bad as Captain Jack Sparrow, can make the right choice.  "The Hunger Games" says that no society is ever lost.  I could do this all day too.

A recurring theme that appears in almost all speculative fiction is good v.s. evil.  G.K Chesterton once said, "Fairy Tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten."  I love to be reassured that good will always win.  No matter how bad the situation is right now, Jesus has already won.  I am a Christian, so what should I fear?  Jesus has already beat evil, and someday, he'll defeat it again, once and for all.  But it is easy to lose sight of this amazing truth, good fantasies remind me of it.

Now, I do not deny that there are bad fantasies that can prove harmful.  But isn't that true of all genres?  It takes wisdom to discern what is good and what is bad, and that wisdom can only come from God.

Everybody needs to escape from time to time.  There are bad escapes, and there are good escapes.  Reading a good book, and for me, a good fantasy, is a good escape.  And everybody needs to dream.  Who would not want to defeat a dragon and save the world once in a while?  And God gave everyone an imagination.  Writing and reading a good book, a good fantasy, helps stimulate that imagination.  God gave me an imagination, and I intend to use it.