The Road to "My Compass Home" : In the Details

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

One of the hardest things for me as a writer?

Picking and choosing details.

I am a very detail-oriented person and love describing things with flair and uniqueness...however, oftentimes readers just want to get to the point or maybe don't even understand what I'm getting at.  This is the stage I'm at right now with the book: the next to the last editing cycle where I spend hours deliberating on whether I should add that detail or take this one out.  I can go on for two paragraphs detailing a first kiss, or only a couple of sentences to describe an entire town: there's no in-between and I have to somehow find that "in-between."  A lot of writers are told to "show, don't tell" but I can take that out of hand a zillion times over.  I once had a professor ask me to TELL more and show less.  What you guys see is often a largely pared-down version of my writing because of those rules.

Rule of thumb: don't go into detail on one specific object for more than 3 sentences unless absolutely necessary.  People will fall asleep.  Bad grades will occur.  The wails of bored readers are heard in the distance... at least, those have been my findings.  And if you are falling asleep writing, it might be a good idea to revise so you can stay awake too.

My one detail-oriented loophole in this series is Lucy, who sees the world with beauty and in abstract and with wonder.  Sometimes I wish more folks would be like her and see the beauty in life instead of focusing on the bustle of daily life.  It's something that Ellie's sister Gina has learned to do, and something that Ellie will need to learn in this novel.

There are no finite rules for details in writing,  and they vary between genres.  But no matter what, it's important to keep in mind that the audience doesn't know what your fictional world looks like, only you.  Write as such...and forgive me if I write too much!

Week In Review: Promos, Procrastination, and Plays

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Hey everyone!
First and foremost, I hope you all have a great - and safe - Memorial Day weekend!

Also...frantically, on Wednesday, I remembered the deals I wanted to offer over the holiday weekend.  Cue me racing to my computer, hoping KDP would allow me to launch promotions within such a short time frame.  Alas, everything was fine, so...

Beautiful Chaos is available as a *free* download and Everything I Never Said is available as a countdown deal. Saturday May 26th, it is available for $0.99. Sunday, it will go up to $1.99, and Monday it will be $2.99, which will be the last day of the sale.
If you're more of a paperback fan, I'm also offering sale prices for them, up until the 29th:
Everything I Never Said is on sale for $3.99
Beautiful Chaos is on sale for $10.99
Welcome Home is on sale for $5.99 (If you're anticipating the release of My Compass Home, I recommend buying the paperback of Welcome Home now so you have time to read it first!)

Before I even posted anything about the Kindle sale, there were 6 download of Beautiful Chaos today -- before noon!  Thank you so much, guys!  Don't forget to leave reviews on Amazon or Goodreads!
Iain de Caestecker agents of shield Leo Fitz *swoons*
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 1 //
Alright. That said...
Currently Reading: Welcome Home.  Yes, I'm reading my own book.  I needed to get a feel for the tone I used for that book for later edits of the second one in the, I kinda love my book. 

Current Bible Verse:  Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.  Do everything in love.  (1 Corinthians 16:13-14, NIV)

Current Projects:  I'm focusing on My Compass Home and as of this week, I finished the second typed draft.  And now the edits begin....Also, I'm working on the 150th anniversary play I've been mentioning on here; we're two weeks and one day away from the performance and I'm low-key freaking out.  I didn't know how much went into putting on a church play before, but there are curtains to be opened and closed, sound systems to be tweaked (more like, people to be notified about the tweaks so they can make the changes), programs to type and print, changes to be made to the script, and blocking the stage oh my gosh send help.  Blocking the stage when you're also acting in the play is incredibly hard.  Wednesday was the first time we walked through the play onstage and everyone missed the cue line to sit down -- myself included -- and we were all crammed into a corner.  Nobody was moving, let alone stopping the read-through to ask why everyone was crammed into the corner, and I got so frazzled between trying to keep apace with the script and trying to find how many pages back we should have gone to our seats at the the very play I wrote....that my friend-slash-cast-member had to lean over my shoulder and point out on my script where we needed to sit down.  Thank goodness he has enough brains for the both of us. 
The Princess Diaries - happy/sad Mia
Princess Diaries //
Everyone's doing very well, though.  I'm starting to get excited with how everything's turning out and how everybody's adapting their characters.  

Also, I made the Dean's list for my college again this semester, which was kind of exciting.  I've made the Dean's every semester thus far, but aside from the first time and this semester, I've always kind of seen it as a "hey, great job being mediocre" certificate because my professors have to tell me to modify my vocabulary so it's less archaic.  Guys.  Archaic.  So I have to "dumb down" my vocabulary to get good grades.  That's a rant for another day, but I'm very pleased to have gotten on the Dean's this semester because of the amount of work I had to put into my statistics and Spanish classes, both of which were very hard and I may or may not have been concerned about even passing them...*cough* but I made it.  

And this is the first semester I'm also mentioning my Dean's publicly because for the longest time, I've even asked my parents to keep it under wraps because one of my blood relations has a legitimate issue with me being in college, being "over-educated" and then when anyone mentions any of  my academic achievements to them, they go off on Facebook tangents about how they're "the black sheep of the family" and go on rants about how they could have gone to college too, if they had wanted to.  (But they didn't.  Because it's over-education.)  I'm tired of feeling like I have to hide  myself in order to accommodate someone's feelings when they don't support me in anything.  

So here I am.  

I made the Dean's list.  For the sixth time.  

And I normally would not turn to the Internet for personal rants.  I'm not that kind of person, let alone a very open one to begin with.  I only share this because I see it happening everywhere.  I think it's important to keep in mind that while you should love and respect other people, I think there's a certain line between being kind and being a doormat, to be honest...and those people can be cousins, siblings, aunts, uncles, friends...anyone.  By adulthood, if you feel like you have to change the innermost core of yourself, or even hide who really are, in order to be "worthy" of someone else's attention, it isn't worth it.  While it might hurt to give that up, God loves you far more than that person (or people) ever could, and no matter what you do or where you go, He's always there with open arms, waiting for you to notice so He can love you...and that never changes.  

Rant over.  Have a looping gif of Tom Hiddleston as Loki.  
one shots e imaginas de tus personajes favoritos de marvel. Aviso… #fanfic # Fanfic # amreading # books # wattpad
Thor: The Dark World 

Anyway, how have you guys been this week?  Any Memorial Day plans?  

The Road to "My Compass Home": Timing is Everything

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

I am excited to announce that as of 12:40 AM this morning (or last night, depending on how you look at it), I am halfway through typing the second draft of My Compass Home.  I intend to publish it the first week of July during the two-year anniversary of Welcome Home's publication, but we'll see!

It's always important to consider the timing of a series.  When is it appropriate to continue the story, and when is it a good time to stop?  Welcome Home surely could have been a standalone story, despite the fact that I wrote over 60,000 words that were never included in the story (and later got deleted with a hard drive failure *sigh*).  Knowing when a story is finished -- tastefully so -- is an important key to any series, and mine is no different.  While Lucy and Spencer's love story technically could have finished off with their engagement in the first book, there were doors left open for a good many things: Spencer's PTSD and how it would affect his new family, Lucy's lack of knowledge as to her father's whereabouts, Levi's perpetual lack of meaningful relationships, and what can be done about the bubbly woman known as Morgan?  Intertwining these "open doors" in the first book allowed for an entire series to be born...and maybe even some short stories?

In My Compass Home, I've decided to end the story on a less-traditional note: we know that Levi and Ellie are on solid ground, but they're both starting over again, in several different contexts.  Their story will continue to develop through the third book (in the background), simply because that was how quickly -- or slowly -- their relationship evolved.  Not everyone's love story ends the same way.

However, I've recently been looking at the evolution of the characters and what will happen in the upcoming third book, which has prompted me to consider adding a fourth book to the series in which the series comes full-circle back to Lu and Spence solely.  While I'm still working out the kinks, it seems as though this choice will make the third one a lot less crammed...which is another major consideration authors have to mull over when writing books.  Putting too much into one book is exhausting, but putting too little into a book makes it straight-out boring.

The road to My Compass Home will certainly not end with its release.  I have a few excellent cliffhangers especially selected for the end of My Compass Home, which will spill into the third and subsequent books...and I'm very excited about them, but I can't share them because, you know, spoilers, but here's a line that I absolutely loved:

And on another note, I would also like to give a quick announcement that if you want to check out any of my books, you ought to wait for my Memorial Day sale, which will be kicking off this Friday and running until Tuesday.  Stay tuned!

Week In Review: Finales, Come They Will

Saturday, May 19, 2018

The first week free from college....
Only for a few more weeks until one of my summer classes starts up.

I have totally done this!
Credit: Anne of Green Gables 
When my advisor told me I should take summer classes to fulfill the last two requirements for my psychology minor, I was all for it.  Relieved, even, that I could do so online.  But now that it's sunken in that I'm wasting a summer on schoolwork....Nope. 

Currently Reading: Umm...nothing much this week.  I've still been too busy.

Current Projects: I came up with some short story, novelette, and poem ideas for various projects that I only have inklings of plans for, and I came up with some fresh continuity choices for my two main series.

Current Bible Verse: Strength and honor are her clothing; she shall rejoice (alt: laugh) in the time to come.  (Proverbs 31:25, NKJV).  

And a special verse for all the college and upcoming high school grads out there: For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV).  Congratulations on your hard work and best of luck for your future!  (If any of you guys are graduating this year?)    

And it's season-finale-season.  The time when absolutely nothing is on TV and I have to be a productive human being (or just binge-watch whole seasons...) Not to mention, apparently this time around, it seems like "death and disappointment" is the theme for everyone's finales?  Wow.
Credit: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 4 // Tumblr
However, I think dissecting the finales for their storytelling impact is a great idea.  So if you watch NCIS, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., or The Blacklist and haven't seen the finales yet, don't read any further.

In the episode-before-the-finale, NCIS took away two fantastic characters: Abby Scuito and Clayton Reeves.  The latter was killed protecting the former, but only after developing his character.  Reeves was a suave, albeit minor, character until a few episodes ago, when they expanded his character and gave him a background.  Real sob-story; he lost his mother and ended up homeless with his sister, and planned to open up a homeless shelter in honor of his mother.  When he died protecting Abby, she chose to accompany his body back to London, then finish the work he'd begun with building a shelter...this time in his honor too. The episode was so very impactful because, not only because a character who starred in the show for the past fifteen seasons was leaving, but also because of the selfless acts of Reeves paired with his saddening background.
Tip: give your characters backgrounds; give the readers time to love them before you do something horrible to them.

In the season finale of The Blacklist, a shattering plot twist came about: the man claiming to be the main character's a dangerous impersonator (Raymond Reddington).  Not only that, but it was revealed that many of the deaths of people close to Liz (the main character) were a result of this secret.  This was very artfully orchestrated throughout the entire series: everyone thought the big secret about the impersonator's identity was his relation to Liz.  As it turns out, the big secret is that he isn't Raymond Reddington at all.
Tip: purposefully mislead your readers with simple ambiguity.  Bonus points if you rip their hearts out along the way, I guess...and to top that off, make sure you bring back a beloved character only for a dream sequence or a "I wish you were here" scene...

And finally, in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the whole team is given the task of ensuring that the world....doesn't blow to pieces.  (It's sci-fi.)  Choices had to be made including the worth of life: should the team save their leader's life and fulfill a prophecy about the apocalypse, or should the team let him die and change time itself?  Honestly, it makes a lot more sense if you've watched the show.  But anyway, the leader -- Agent Coulson -- ended up making the decision for the team, choosing to die slowly and leave his beloved and his team, one practically being an adopted daughter.  They ended the episode tastefully: he visits Tahiti, which watchers of the show recognized as a place that had reoccurring themes in the series.  Finally, with the altering of time came the altering of some lives: the star-crossed lovers and newlyweds, Agents Fitz and Simmons, end up separated.  Their motto throughout the series?  "I'm never leaving your side."  It's natural that they are split up during a mission and Fitz ends up dying without her by his side.
Tip: Rip your readers' hearts out and stomp on them by killing all of their OTPs at once  Build your characters into a lovable team.  Give them difficult choices that will divide them to show that family is stronger than arguments.  Give them devastation and leave a small window of hope that time itself can be changed once again.

Welcome to the 4077 • Posts Tagged ‘Charles Emerson Winchester III’
Credit: M*A*S*H 
Any thoughts on TV finales and what writers can learn from them?  How did your week go?  Sound off in the comments! 

The Road to "My Compass Home": Archetypal Casting

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

When you're writing anything, it's important to know your characters to a certain extent.  In addition to that, knowing how your characters work together may very well save your work! 
While writing the Faith, Hope, and Love collection books, I knew that the supporting cast would be almost as important as Spencer and Lucy.  While the "background" characters come front and center in subsequent books, the bases given to them in Welcome Home provide crucial information and allows for the series to flow well.  I'm not ashamed to admit the use of archetypes when forming the characters, because many great authors use character archetypes that have arguably originated from the Bible. 

We have the "wise old man" archetype in Mr. Barnes, who is steadfast, almost a father (or grandfather) figure to Lucy when she needs it most (and will be there for Levi and Spencer as well). 

The "jester" archetype is in Levi, who was originally intended merely for comic relief...until I started writing about him!  Morgan may also fit into this role. 

I probably don't need to tell you that Ms. Neelson fits the role of the "pessimist" archetype, right?

In My Compass Home, we'll be introduced to Ellie's twin sister, who is most definitely the "champion" archetype -- she's very devoted to her sister's welfare and does everything in her power to help her sister. 

Not to mention Martin, a fellow soldier that Spencer runs into: he's most definitely the "corrupter" archetype: someone who purely wants to cause trouble. 

While it seems like these characters are a mishmash of conflict, they actually work well quite together in order to bring balance and an almost everyday atmosphere to the story.  In real life, it's very rare that everyone gets along in a positive atmosphere.  Throwing in some other characters allows the story to operate in a realistic format -- and you can probably think of that one person that gets on your nerves, or perhaps that person you always look forward to being around because they're so pleasant. 

Archetypes are at work, of course, in Lucy and Spencer as well: Lucy's a bubbly morning person; Spencer's dragging himself out of bed at 11 AM and making wisecracks. 

Certainly, archetypes are meant to be built on.  They provide merely the basis from which a character springs, and if you'd like a great list of archetypes to peruse for your characters, click HERE.

What archetypes do your characters represent? 

Week in Review: May I Be Brief?

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Just a quick post today, sorry guys...I'm  rather burnt out from this week as a whole....and I didn't  die this week, so that's a plus.  I'm officially done with my junior  year of college.
Credit: NBC Chuck//Gifer

Although  I have two courses to work on this summer, it's  nice to  have a little  bit of time off anyway.  

Current Projects: the 150th anniversary play for my church...again.  Only about  3 1/2 weeks until  showtime and no I'm  not freaking out  over that at ALL...

Currently  reading: same as last week.  I have a huge reading  list for summer, but who knows if I'll get to it...

Current Bible verse: All of Psalm 23, which we've  been studying in youth group:
Credit: Amazon 

I'm also hoping to get my final draft of My Compass Home finished this month before proofreading and getting  it out there for the world! About time, too, since the first installment of the series was published nearly  two years ago....which is hard to believe!

What are your plans for the summer?

Call For Betas!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Hey everyone!  Instead of a post this week about  My Compass Home (which I'm too busy to write because of finals) I'm asking for your help. 

I  am currently in the process of writing a novel to submit to Hallmark Publishing, Love-Inspired, and maybe a couple of other publishing houses.  The due date for Hallmark is September 3rd --Labor Day, so I really need to get cracking on the novel.  Because of that, I am currently considering the option of having a few beta readers to look over whatever I have written by next month.  (Might be an entire first draft, might only be 70% of a draft; it depends on how quickly I'm writing.)  Obviously, I'm not entirely sure whether I'll have the book done in time for it to be looked over by beta readers, so this is just a tentative request, but here are the specs:

The specs:

Title: Winning Holly's Heart
Rough Synopsis: A young woman (Holly) runs a therapeutic riding stable and is given the option to enter a local competition for small businesses.  The competition would allow her to buy a new farm -- her old operation was destroyed by a tornado -- but losing the competition may very well mean the end of her dream.  Meanwhile, a single father and his daughter begin coming to the stable.  The daughter, Taylor, has been extremely withdrawn since her mother was killed by the same tornado that swept Holly's farm away.  When Holly and Taylor hit it off, Justin can't help but take notice...but when the contest goes awry, will everything fall apart? 

Word Count (when finished): 65,000 minimum for publication -- the draft will probably be less than that, though.

Start Date: June 21st, 2018
End Date: July 21st, 2018.  You'll have a month to read through and, if I can do a crash course on sharing Google Docs, the beta will be on there. 

Do you enjoy sweet, clean romance, Hallmark movies, or reading Love-Inspired books?  If you do or you think you'd be a good fit for beta-reading, please let me know in the comments section!  If everything works out well (and on time -- that looming due date is creeping me out!) I'll be in touch!  (If not, I'll let you guys know anyway.)  Thanks! 

Week In Review: A Day Late & A Dollar Short

Sunday, May 6, 2018

My apologies for not posting this yesterday, as is my routine.  I had a plethora of coursework to do, and despite having taken out a chunk of that, I'm still slavin' away today with it.  But I didn't want to leave this go any longer than necessary, so without further ado:
Oh my gosh Fitz, I don't even know what to say XD
Credit: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 1 //Pinterest
As of today, it's finals week, guys.
It was all of last week as well, but this is the real deal.  I had three essays for one class.  I had so many Spanish assignments I had a dream about speaking Spanish.  My psychology-statistics class was easy this week, and it's never easy.  Which means the final, obviously, is going to be treacherous.

And this week, I have at least 4 exams, 1 term essay, and some other assignments to wrap up...and the studying that comes along with it.  And this week happens to be the same week that I have CPR training re-certifications for work, the farrier coming out to trim the horses' hooves, and play practices are starting again for that 150th anniversary play I keep mentioning (which is only one month and four days away....)

''Actually all of my systems are nervous.'' Hahaha :) / Leo Fitz
Credit: of S.H.I.E.L.D.
*Clears throat*

Current Projects: Over the weekend, I've been writing a short AU story with my writing friend (here's a link to her blog) and through the week, I worked a little bit on Something New as well as my yet-untitled manuscript that I need to finish before August....and that's about it.  I had absolutely no time for writing this week....

Currently Reading: Still that same Star Wars novel.  I'm gonna attack it when I'm done with finals, I am....I've been dying to read it.  I'm also going to read Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman, which was school-assigned but I found our selections to be pretty interesting, so I'm keeping it. 

Current Bible Verse: Which of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?...But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.  (Matthew 6:27, 33-34 NIV)  It's important to remember that worrying about something won't help at all.  Most of the time, it only makes things worse.  Stay chill, my friends. 

This week was also rather interesting because, frankly, weird and mildly inconvenient things happened.  I attempted to apply for a college scholarship with some articles I've written for my college's newspaper, only to find that the website no longer had the ones I wanted to use on it --just the ones I wanted were gone--and the archiving website I'd used recently to save the pages had, apparently, failed to save them.  This is why you save everything on USBs or whatever your preferred mode of backup is.  *sigh*

I've also been having some more personal issues with writing for their newspaper, as I have hardly been able to contact a pretty important person there this semester.  I don't know the exact circumstances, but I was more than ready to quit writing there as a result of it--but I recently learned that the situation has been resolved for next semester and I'll also be getting more articles to copy-edit, which is fantastic. I also told the advisor for the paper that I wanted to edit as much as possible since I'm considering opening up an editing business once I graduate, and he offered to help me with that, so I'm thankful.  It seems as though a little perseverance goes a long way (either that or bullheadedness, but I prefer the term 'perseverance').

Finally, a reminder to get your eight hours of sleep in.  This week, I applied for a writing and editing position at an up-and-coming entertainment website (around the same time that I contacted the newspaper's advisor with some concerns about that issue I mentioned in the last paragraph).  But let me tell you, writing a cover letter at 1 A.M. when you're final-studying-tired, you have an important phone call to make in the morning that you're freaking out over, and you're awake waiting for your load of clothes to finish in the dryer (and then your fatigued brain convinces you that the dryer seemed way too hot and dear goodness, will it burn the house down?) probably wasn't a good idea.  I don't even remember what I told them.  I do remember looking up reference links from my time as a columnist at Nerd HQ, but that's it.  So don't write semi-important cover letters at 1 A.M., guys. 

Anyway, enough of my mindless drabbles.  It's time to get down to business and write my paper on modernism...

How are you guys?  Anyone doing finals this week?  If anyone's already done with school, what's freedom like? 

The Road to "My Compass Home": Finding Home Base

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Every story needs a setting, obviously.  It needs a tangible world that the reader can comprehend and see in their mind's eye -- otherwise, the characters are just existing...somewhere.  This can also make or break a story, especially depending on your genre. 

No pressure, right?

When I began writing this series, I researched homelessness rates by state before anything else, seeing as Spencer would be entering the picture as such.  New York came up fairly high on the lists I saw on numerous websites, so that narrowed down my search criteria for the home base considerably.  The actual town was inspired by something purely awkward.

Who knew a trip to the orthodontist could spark a series?

I only went to that orthodontist once, for the initial consultation that promised straight teeth if I shaved the existing ones down and also if I yanked the ones I couldn't see out.  (Or had someone do it for me, rather.  I don't think you have many options for removing wisdom teeth.)  That paired with the doctor's fascination with my eyes scared me off, and I kept my wonky teeth and something else: the mental blueprint of their office. 

A lot of the dental offices in the area surrounding my hometown inhabit old Victorian houses.  There's just something about them -- the towering roof, the endearing little towers sprouting off of the sides, and the gorgeous woodwork accompanying most.  I absolutely love them, and sitting in that orthodontist's office waiting for my appointment told me that Lucy would adore living in a Victorian house.  I sat there mapping out her house, what wall colors she'd have, where she'd put her paintings and how Spencer would view the place for the first time.  It helped me in so many ways -- honestly!  The book was written within a month and a half of that visit, and that included downtime for the extraction of my wisdom teeth, which I unfortunately had to do, braces or not. 

But another thing struck me as I was writing: most Victorian houses, at least in the towns within driving distance of my home, come in clusters.  I knew I'd have to find a place in New York where Victorian homes have been preserved through the years, which was a little bit of a challenge.  I had to keep in mind the logical pathway Spencer may have taken on the job search, the confines that the Victorian must-have put on location, the New York requirement, and the surrounding area, which would account for Barnes' Books and the diner (for example, small businesses had to be popular rather than towering skyscrapers and corporate offices).  I also had to account for the darker matters of my antagonist and where they might hang out at (and why). 

One little gem jumped out at me: Cortland.  It's a town in New York with a very strong Victorian-style influence on the homes, with many original Victorian houses surviving. The town also seemed welcoming to small businesses and storefronts, without a skyscraper to be seen on the photos I saw on Google.  Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean that there isn't a city influence on Cortland, but from what I saw, it was a perfect little place for Lucy and the gang. 

I suppose if there's something to be learned from this: keep your eyes open wherever you go.  You never know where inspiration may strike or where your next major story will originate from. Look at the ordinary with fresh eyes and you might just see what your characters --and readers-- could.  Don't be afraid to take pictures or surf the Internet for random houses and landscape photographs: creating a database of photos and locations might actually come in handy!  It certainly helped me, and I hope it inspires you to do the same!