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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!
-Kaycee

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
-Kaycee

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Mentors

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.