Why Defy isn't The End

*Warning: This Post Contains MAJOR Spoilers for the end of Defy. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED*

DO NOT KEEP READING IF YOUR HAVEN’T READ DEFY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Okay, you’re still here? Either you’ve read Defy or you are ignoring all the warnings.

As many of you have heard already, I’m currently writing The Blades of Acktar book 4. Some of you might be a little confused. After all, the big bad guy got defeated at the end of Defy. What more is there left do to?

Well, here’s my four reasons for why I decided to write a book 4:

  1. Martyn didn’t die. In my original plan for Defy, he was supposed to die in the end battle saving Leith. But when it came time to write that scene, Leith realized what was going to happen and shoved Martyn out of the way. So I now had a live Martyn on my hands that I had to deal with.
    • After thinking about it for a while, I realized my characters were smarter than me. After all, the whole, ex-best friend makes a last minute decision to turn good and saves his friend before dying is a little cliche. (See Harry’s death in Spiderman 3)
    • Besides, an alive ex-best friend is a whole lot more complicated than a dead one. Having Martyn die would’ve been the easy way out. He and Leith wouldn’t have to deal with the consequences of their decisions throughout the first three books. Leith could simply move on. But with Martyn alive? Let’s just say the tension between everyone is SO much fun to write!
  2. Leith needs to figure out what happens AFTER. One of the main questions throughout the series has been “Can Leith move on from the Blades? Can he do anything else? What does he do after the war? Where does he fit in a peaceful Acktar?”
    • I could’ve ended it with Defy. You know he’s going to figure something out, but it would leave that question unanswered. I know some readers love unanswered questions like that in an ending. Personally, I’m one of the ones who wants to know the answers to things like that, especially if the author has made a big deal about it.
  3. Leith and Renna’s relationship still has a long way to go. If you add up the time they actually spend together during Dare, Deny, and Defy, you’ll realize that that week in the dungeon counts as their first real, quality time together. Due to the circumstances of thinking one or both of them would die, their relationship progresses quickly in that week. BUT, they are just BEGINNING their relationship. They have pretty much agreed to finally start dating at the end of Defy.
    • Once again, I could’ve left it as is. You know where they are headed. But, they are the main couple of the book. Defy ends with more obstacles in their path than they even realize (she’s still a lady and Leith doesn’t fit with that world. He’s still an ex-Blade. They both have no clue what they are doing when it comes to a relationship). I felt their time building a relationship also needed to be told.
  4. Acktar is a mess. Most of the time, books don’t show what happens after a major war tears the country apart. We don’t see the rebuilding of Hogwarts. We don’t see Panem trying to build a new government. There’s so much hurt and bitterness in Acktar and in its new king. I wanted to explore what it takes for Acktar to either begin healing or tear itself apart, whichever comes first.

Healing and restoration is really the theme of book 4. All of the characters (Martyn, Keevan, Leith, Renna, Brandi) have some healing to do. The whole country needs healing.

Over all, my planned ending for Book 4 will bring the characters and the country to a place where they are truly ready to begin the next chapter, even if the series comes to a close.

What do you think? Are you excited for Book 4? Or do you honestly think Defy should’ve been the end? Don’t worry, I won’t get mad if you do. 😉


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Revisiting My Writer Past

Laura's House

As most of you know, I was on vacation last week. I intended to post this Tuesday, but when I got back, unpacking from camping, catching up on work and all the stuff I’d neglected before and during vacation, and realizing that deadlines I’d pushed back to the end of summer were now less than two weeks away. All to explain why this post is going up on Friday.

While I didn’t get to go to Realm Makers this year, I did end up in St. Louis, MO on the Monday after Realm Makers. A couple of my friends and I took an awesome week-long road trip to Missouri. And, I still got to revisit one of my writing roots.

The year was 1996. I was six years old when my parents loaded up our old Midas motorhome and took my brothers and me to Missouri.

My dad had read the entire Little House series to us, me curled on his lap listening to the rumble of his voice in Pa’s stories and knowing that I was his Half Pint as much as Laura was Pa’s. We’d already visited the replica of the little cabin in the big woods, though it is now a little cabin surrounded by tiny saplings. I don’t remember if we had visited any other sites by that point. I eventually visited all of the Laura Ingalls Wilder sites, the last one in Independence, KS when I was sixteen.

But on this trip, we were stopping at a Laura Ingalls Wilder site not in the books, yet essential to them. I’m talking about Rocky Ridge Farm in Mansfield, MO, the place where Laura Ingalls Wilder actually wrote the books.

I was six. I was awed in the museum at Pa’s fiddle and a handwritten manuscript. The house was old and huge. The furniture big. The tour boring. I don’t remember anything from most of the house.

But I do remember Laura’s desk. It was big with cubies and space for writing. And there, standing in front of that desk, I made the decision.

I was going to be a published author someday.

The year is now 2015. Nineteen years have passed since I saw that house in Mansfield. Seeing things as an adult is both the same and different.

The wonder at seeing Pa’s fiddle is still the same. Pa’s voice in my head is still my dad’s. I’m still my dad’s Half Pint.

Pa's Fiddle

Pa’s Fiddle

The house is different. It’s smaller. I actually remember the tour through the rest of the house. This time, I see the people and their lives, not just the author and her books.

Laura Ingalls Wilder is smaller. I’m actually taller than her (by a whole inch, but I’m still taller).

And the desk is smaller. My own desk at home could swallow it. It doesn’t look like something big enough to start off a little girl’s hopes and dreams.

Laura's Desk

Laura Ingalls Wilder’s desk

Still, I choked up standing there. At six, I’d stood there and decided I was going to be a published author. Nineteen years later, I stood there a couple months after my first book released. A surreal moment.

Nineteen years. A longer road to publication than my six-year-old self could’ve comprehended. I’d thought I’d be published by sixteen or eighteen at the latest (because eighteen year olds are so old when you’re six).

Have you ever read the Little House books? What memories do they bring up?

Do you have a specific memory of the day you knew you wanted to be a published author?


Posted in Writing Life, You Know You're a Writer If... and tagged , , , , , , , , , , by with 7 comments.

Things to be Thankful For

Snoopy Thanksgiving

By now, you’ve probably read plenty of blog posts about thanksgiving and what people are thankful for. This is a good time of year to pause, look back, and reflect, and I guess this blog post isn’t going to be any different.

I could go on and on about how I’m thankful for nice clothes, a car, my family, etc. Those are all good things to be thankful for, and I am thankful for them. But here I would like to focus on five writing related things that I’m thankful for this year:

1. I’m thankful I wasn’t published this year. That sounds like a strange thing to be thankful for, but I’ve learned so much that I wouldn’t have learned if publication had come when I’d thought it would.

2. I’m thankful for the community of writers that I’ve discovered. This year, I commented on a few authors’ blogs and discovered that published writers are people too. I’m so thankful for Nadine Brandes, Angie Brashear, Gillian Bronte Adams, Jill Williamson, and other authors who have replied to my comments and encouraged me even though they have never met me in person. I still squeal in excitement when I see an author replied to one of my emails or my comments.

3. I’m thankful for my critique partners, whether they are ones I just met this year or friends I’ve had since high school. You all are so amazing, and I wouldn’t know how to write without your encouragement every step of the way.

4. I’m thankful for Go Teen Writers even though I’m no longer a teen writer. I’ve met so many unpublished, young authors through that blog, and I look forward to getting to know everyone there better next year. The community there is wonderful.

5. Finally, I’m thankful for you, my readers. I don’t even have a book published, but I have 49 likes on my Facebook page and 74 followers on my blog. I never would have thought that possible when I started this blog a few months ago! Thank you so much!


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Push Your Boulder Up that Hill

In Greek mythology, the king Sisyphus was punished by having to eternally push a boulder up a hill. When he reached the top, the boulder rolled to the bottom and he had to push it up once again. Over and over and over again.

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Sometimes writing feels like that. We start our book rolling, struggling through those first couple of chapters to overcome inertia, the forces (whether they are doubt or our struggles with beginnings) that hold us back. We build momentum, rolling along at a good clip, until we get stuck. We’ve pushed our boulder into a dead end. We have to let it roll partway back down the hill in order to pick a new path.

Still we push on. We grind out that word count, plugging away at whatever goal we set for our self that day. Finally, after months or years or decades, we push that boulder the last step. We cheer. We collapse on the ground. We actually visit our friends and family and smile because we have time, glorious time.

Only to realize that sometime during our celebrating, our boulder rolled back down the hill. We need to start the process all over again, whether it is editing or starting the next book.

Somehow it isn’t any easier pushing that boulder up the hill than it was the first time. The beautiful momentum we’d built those last few yards to the top is all gone. Inertia is just as terrible. We moan in despair. We can’t believe we are putting ourselves through this again.

That’s us writers. We are a little bit insane. We’ve gone crazy a few times.

But this isn’t our punishment. It is our blessing. We have a gift not everyone has. Few people have the muscles or the perseverance to push the boulder of a book all the way to the finish. Even less do it again and again.

Today I started book three of my Blades of Acktar series today. It is overwhelming starting at the bottom once again, staring at the mountain of words I need to type. But I’ll get there. I’ve done this twice before. I can do it again.

What project are you working on? Where are you at in your book?

Also, I am giving away a copy of Nadine Brandes’ new release A Time to Die. Enter the giveaway here.


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Big News! Time to Celebrate!

For the past month, I’ve had some big news that I’ve been waiting to share. A month ago, I learned that the talented Nadine Brandes has agreed to professionally edit Dare! 

Nadine Brandes’ first book A Time to Die released earlier this month in ebook and paperback. You might remember seeing my blog post If I Had One Year to Live as part of her blog tour.

I stumbled onto Nadine Brandes almost by accident. I had recently read Jill Williamson’s By Darkness Hid. It was both fantasy and Christian, a combination I hadn’t seen often. I looked up the publisher: Marcher Lord Press.

I quickly learned that Marcher Lord Press had recently changed its name to Enclave Publishing, a publisher focusing exclusively on Christian speculative fiction. I browsed their list of books, reading the blurbs about each of the books and visiting each of the author websites. I also read through Enclave Publishing’s blog and came across a guest post by Nadine Brandes. I followed the link to her blog, and I guess the rest is history.

After visiting her blog obsessively and waiting eagerly for her book to release, I finally gathered my courage to see if she would edit my book as part of her editing services. And she chose my book to fit into her busy schedule! Mine!

To celebrate both this opportunity and the release of Nadine’s book, I’m giving away either a paperback or ebook copy of her new book A Time to Die. Just follow the directions below! The winner will be announced on October 17!

download

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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The Agony of Waiting

I think every writer struggles with patience in some form. It takes months to get that burning idea onto paper. It takes more months to edit and polish the manuscript. More months, possibly years, pass as the author queries agents and eventually editors. Even after the book is accepted by a publisher, the rounds of editing and printing of the book take another year or more. To add to this frustration is the question of well-meaning friends and family who ask when the book you are still writing is going to be published.

I’ve been struggling with gaining the necessary patience. Since graduating college, I’ve felt so ready to be a published author. I’m finishing manuscripts. I’ve developed a writing schedule. I started this blog. Frustration built inside my chest until I wanted to scream at the pressure.

Perhaps I’m struggling with patience, but I have realized something very important along the way.

Sometimes the waiting makes us ready to hear the answer.

girl-looking-out-the-window-jpg

If I were to be published right now, it might feel good to me, but God knows I wouldn’t be ready for it. I wouldn’t appreciate it the way I would after a long time of waiting. I might even be filled with pride believing that I accomplished it all by myself.

The waiting keeps me humble. It makes me rely on God. I have to trust that publication will come in God’s time, not mine.

I’m also learning the kind of author I want to be someday. When I’m a published author someday, I want to remember the thrill of opening my email inbox and realizing my favorite author personally emailed me back. I don’t want to forget the giddiness of commenting back and forth with an author on her blog. I need the feeling of being a person not just a faceless fan ingrained in my memory so I can treat my readers that way.

I don’t like the waiting, If God’s answer is no, then I won’t like that either. But if that time comes, then this time of waiting will have made me ready for that answer. If His answer is yes, then I’ll be ready for that too.

What about you? What are you waiting for? How is your waiting making you ready to hear the answer?


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Claim the Name

For years, I told everyone who asked that I was going to be a writer someday. They would smile, nod, and tell me that was a good dream for the future in a tone of voice that let me know that it wasn’t going to happen for a long time. That was okay. I was content with writing for fun. I rarely finished anything, but it was fun to toy around with the ideas.

I went off to college. I learned how to write lots of short stories, and I told myself that I didn’t have time to write anything longer. That was okay. I was going to be a writer someday. Eventually.

Then, I graduated. I wanted to launch my writing career as I had been envisioning for four years…and realized that I had nothing to work with. I had some ideas, some half-finished projects, but nothing to use to seek publication. In fact, I knew nothing about publishing. I didn’t even have my own blog.

Somewhere along the way, I had believed my own words. I was going to be a writer someday. Not now.

It was my excuse for not writing. Not being disciplined. Not researching the world of publishing.

It was time for a title change.

I began to tell people that I am a writer. After all, publication doesn’t make a person a writer. The act of writing does. I gave myself a writing schedule. I blog-stalked my favorite authors. I learned. I wrote.

That was a year ago. I have now finished three manuscripts and I’m working on a fourth. I’m launching this blog, and I hope to continue to reach out and make connections with my fellow writers, both published and pre-published.

I wouldn’t trade my years of being a someday writer. I did a lot of practice writing in those years that will never make it off my computer, but the practice brought me to where I am. I couldn’t claim the name of writer until I was ready.

Now I am still learning patience. Publication is still a ways off, and it’s tough to lean on God’s timing instead of mine.

What about you? Are you still calling yourself a someday writer?


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