Indie e-Con Scavenger Hunt 2018 – Stop #15

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I’m so sorry to everyone who has been scrambling around trying to follow this scavenger hunt only to have it fall apart at stop 15. Moral of the story, don’t make commitments the week before a book release.

If you are just joining the scavenger hunt, you can find the first stop here On Kandi Wyatt’s blog as well as more instructions and a giveaway.

So without further ado, let’s welcome E. Kaiser, who will tell us a bit about herself and her writing process.


My top three most influential books may seem like A) a no-brainer, B) slightly surprising, and C) completely confoozling…. but it all makes sense, just give me a chance to explain!

A) The Hobbit, and Lord of the Rings.
For any fantasy reader, or writer, especially in Christian circles, this is almost such a given that it goes without saying. But here I am, totally saying it! I was introduced to Tolkien’s delightful world at the age of 8 when I begged Mom to read aloud from the book she was reading in bed. It felt like “fairytales for adults”, all complicated and best of all, very, very long. I adored it from the first, and have ever since.

B) Robert Louis Stevenson, especially Kidnapped.
The complex but dynamic relationship of the unlikely pair who grow to be friends; the rather milk-toast David Balfour and volatile Allan Breck Stewart; it’s just the best thing ever. If you have not read this book, I am sad for you, and if you did but don’t know what I’m going on about with these characters… well, I have nothing to say. I’m literally speechless.
If you haven’t read it, I advise you do so immediately, and while you’re at it revel in the way Stevenson pits two opposites against each other, using their inherent conflicts within themselves to knit an entwined relationship that is unbreakable in spite of anything the world can throw at it.
Truly inspiring fictional people.

   And C) the King James Bible.

     Okay, don’t laugh. The lyrical language of the writing style, (or shall I say translation style, because that’s what era of language makes it so lyrical,) is simply inspiring. It can be daunting for many people to read it, they stumble and trip over the odd juxtaposition of words and the archaic phrasing.
But it is just exactly that which makes it so amazing! I’ve grown up reading it, but it wasn’t till I challenged myself to read it aloud, like a poem,  that I fell in love with the language and began to “see” the images beyond the words. Instead of just viewing it as a dry and stuffy old tome, it’s a marvelous window into the past of the English language, and for anyone who’s heard that “to get more visceral, use the Old English root-word”… well, this is a treasure trove of them.
Naturally you can’t just cut your vocabulary whole cloth from it’s pages, or you’ll confuse your readers muchly … but if you immerse yourself regularly in these words you’ll have a refreshed, and enchanting array of brilliant words to slip in where you need something with just the right amount of shine.

(As an aside, you’ll also increase familiarity with the Writ, which as a Christian should always be a good thing.)

  As for runners up, I’d go with the Prydain Chronicles, by Lloyd Alexander. They are very similar in vein to LOTR, but drawn from the flamboyant Welsh legends and infused with a poignancy that is hard to sum up. They are classic adventure literature with a band of rag-tag misfits, which always manage to be unique and interesting in spite of looking  at first glance like the stock-est of stock tropes. Perhaps it’s because Mr. Alexander was among the early users of this style, and so his works are in the pot that all the stocks get drawn from.

   Whatever it is, Taran and Eillonwy, & Co. (most especially Gurgi!) are delightful characters to follow around, and they have a lot of lessons to teach to readers, and to writers alike.

Then I’d have to say the remaining spot on the list goes to Samuel Shellabarger, and his ‘historic romances’ such as Captain from Castille, and my personal favorite, Prince of Foxes. (Love that title!) Although Prince of Foxes is set in the warring city states of Renaissance Itally, with all the rampant opulence and moral decay that era was known for, the moral of the story is strikingly forceful in it’s underhanded way… and the characters are forever unforgettable.

Swash-buckling, larger than life people in a time when life itself was largely uncertain, these books teach about pace and suspense, as well as pay off and surprising twists at the end. I recommend them to any mature writer who cares at all about history, or the telling thereof… or how to make your invented worlds feel compelling and real.

 My publication story goes like this: I was a tormented writer/child who firmly believed I’d never have a future with words, at all. (Certain negative siblings did not help!) “Writing was a waste of time and energy”, and I tried again and again to “do something more productive”. But I was miserable, plain and simple, if I didn’t release my creative energy out onto a page, and so I kept being drawn back to the imaginative realms that stormed through my dreams.

When my beloved youngest sister, best buddy, and fellow fantasy fan, was turning 16 I asked her if she’d like a book as a present, and if so what kind. She replied “I’d rather have one you wrote”. (This was a real blow to the heart, because I was a non-finisher on everything I’d ever dabbled in previously!)
I took the challenge by the horns, and in the month before show-time I wrung out over 50k of a novel, featuring Fia Brithin; as cliche-free as possible and filled with fun stuff I hoped she’d enjoy. It was the first time I’d actually finished anything of great length. (This stunt left me with major burnout, and I didn’t even want to look at the thing for years!)

  Abi-sis, however, loved it, and wanted to talk about it for months on end. She adamantly insisted “it wasn’t done yet” and plotted out what was needed, as well as cajoling me to co-plot the next… wait for , it… next four books.
Yep! Four books to go, one total rewrite to get started on. That was my “recover from burnout” strategy, courtesy of my dear sister and enthusiastic cheerleader! ( Or shall we say “slave driver”?)

    Seven years later I attended a very small writer’s event where a speaker extolled the virtues of getting one’s books online as e-books. After mulling it over long and hard, I did so, (but that was in late 2011, and the 2008 e-book boom had come and gone far away.)
Jeweler’s Apprentice didn’t achieve commercial success, but I did find some great fans, and a handful of readers were enough to convince me that Traitor’s Knife was called for, which I released in 2014.

Amid the stirrings on Fia’s book 3 I was blind-sided by a story idea that wouldn’t go away, so I told Abi-sis about it just to clear the air in my head. She loved it, eagerly pushing me to write it down. “Even as a short story! It’ll be fun!!!” she said.
I let it rip, and away it went the winter of 2014/2015; like a harpooned whale with the rope zinging through my hands. Thaw rocketed past novella stage, into novel length, split once, twice, and then again (3 novels, 1 origins novella) The ride was staggering, shocking, and sooo much fun.
I found myself blinking at the horizon spinning out with over twenty fairytale re-tellings linked together by two main royal families… and knew they were on the docket. They would be fun… and I would be busy for a long time.

I can’t recommend juggling two series at the same time, but “change is as good as a rest” and in some ways moving from the one world to the entirely different one does accomplish that. So… I’m not sure I’d be releasing Fia’s books really much faster even if I wasn’t dallying with the Fairytale Collection between times.

  Real Life keeps dragging me away, but I learn so much there that it’s worth it. A lock, stock and barrel move of the ranch from Western Nebraska to S.W Missouri inhaled a huge chunk of the years 2016 & ’17, so I’m only just now feeling steady enough on my feet to face the prospect of releasing the next book in each series.
( I did keep writing diligently through the mayhem, so I’ve got completed manuscripts, and near-completed ones; so the publishing process is the part that’s lacking.)

In between times just for fun, Abi and I hosted a Space Kitties Anthology, and it was so well received by participating writers that they called it back for an encore. Space Kitties 2; Searching the Cosmos is out in e-book, but not yet in print (because of the move.)
Space Kitties 3: The Ones They Left Behind stalled out in submission stages, (our lovely volunteer judges fell off the edge of the world! And so did we…) and I need to kickstart that project. Hopeful life has cleared up a little for folks out there, and we can re-stock our judging panel… as well as re-cast a call for submissions. (Entries were low for SpK3, which would result in a ‘not up to par’ end result. So we need more… but I’m too swamped to find them!!)  {And I don’t even have Gilder to frame for it!}

  I am motivated by really bad writing or things in books that make me mad. While truly great prose awes me into a state of intimidation; sluggish plots, dull cardboard characters, and insipid dialog are elements that make me throw that book aside and say “I could write better than that!” and then I charge off writing.

Perhaps it’s the Social Justice Warrior side of me… saving the world from truly terrible plot points.

So my themes can be summed up by what I “don’t” write.
I don’t write “practiced magick”; I’m agin’ it. You’ll not find “spells, incantations, or wands” in my books. The Fairytale Collection has many fantastical, fairytale elements, including somewhat magical things… but I make it clear they are part of the fairytale world, and not even close to edging into the “darker side” of art.

   I don’t write girls with zero agency, nor do they have to be “warrior chicks”. In fact, I enjoy the character conflict that arises when MC’s that aren’t at all equipped for this get tossed into water far over their heads. Then they learn how to swim… and we have fun watching them handle friends, choices and success along the way.

I don’t write “dumb boys” nor “brainless love triangles”. My male characters are every bit as real and individual as the many people, guys and girls, I’ve met in my life, and I like to keep them likable, a little bit conflicted, and having to work extra hard to make it through the challenges they face.

   Romance is only lightly included in most my stories, if at all. On the whole I find friendship and family to be much more underdeveloped themes, and I try to cultivate those and raise a lush crop of fun and heartwarming  elements there.
When a romance is involved (Fairytale Collection, you just can’t tell ’em without it!) it stays clean, respectful and uplifting.

Gore or gratuitous violence. While I’m a fan of some deep grit, and realistic danger, the absolutely unrealistic gore and totally un-workable mayhem tossed around out there makes me see red. Fight scenes should be realistic, to every degree possible. Damage should be commensurate with the actions that created it… and no one at all gushes blood the way R-rated films and video games portray it. (Take it from a girl who has butchered plenty of goats, chickens and bovine critters. Living creatures, even with more blood than a person has, aren’t ‘blood-filled water balloons’. They  don’t gush like writers like to portray.)

  And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It’s important to teach real things via fiction, especially fantasy, since it can paint the truest mirrors in with to look at your own life. But I can’t stand MC’s who jump off roofs and never bust a femur or even twist an ankle; horses that never run away or misbehave; and using gold coins to pay for a drink. (Ack!!! Gold was super valuable!! That would be like throwing down a  thousand dollars for a cup of coffee…)

I really don’t care if a books’ characters eat stew every day of the week… just don’t have them pay for it with gold coins. I’m beggin’ ya.

   So what will readers find in my stories( regardless of genre)?  Deliberately crafted invented-realism that will resonate with the real world, and yet sweep you away to demonstrate an angle you may not have seen before.
Wild escapes and light filled vistas where the stone in the shoe has to be taken out, and the mountain may not need to be climbed if you can just persuade the Eagles to get you to Rohan… (“Fly, you fools!”)

   Most of all, subtle lessons of encouragement and bolstering to fight the good fight, every day,… right here, right now, right where the reader stands…

  Because that’s what really good fiction is all about.


Your clue for the scavenger hunt is: I

To learn more about me and to continue the scavenger hunt, head over to Erica Laurie’s blog.

Thanks so much for participating in the scavenger hunt! I hope you enjoy the rest of it!

 

Exiles Weekend Release Blitz (and Review)

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Today Exiles (The Ilyon Chronicles #4) releases!!!!! Yay!!!!

Since many of you are also Ilyon fans, you have probably been counting down the days, and I really don’t need to tell you this news. If you aren’t a fan of the Ilyon Chronicles yes, well, you should be. They are amazing.


Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00028]About the Book

Exiled after their defeat in Samara, the Resistance struggles to find allies in their quest to restore King Balen to his throne and put an end to the emperor’s tyranny. When the crete people refuse to lend their aid, Balen leads a group to Dorland to reason with them and win their support. However, enemies prove to be everywhere, and they find themselves in a fight to keep Dorland from becoming Daican’s latest conquest.

Back in Landale, the arrival of a new enemy forces Trask and Anne to tread more carefully than ever. Tensions are rising, and the enemy is determined to test Anne’s loyalty and root out the location of Trask and the Resistance once and for all.

Feeling trapped within the walls of Valcré, Prince Daniel must contend with an ever-eroding relationship with his father. As their clashes escalate, the situation becomes potentially life threatening when his loyalty is called into question. His sister seems bent on branding him a traitor and actively seeking to condemn him to the fate of those put to death in their father’s new arena. Daniel is certain his father would never execute his only son and heir but, with other forces at work, it might not be that simple.

One small misstep could prove fatal for all.

Available now on Amazon!

Add to Goodreads

 

Haven’t discovered the world of Ilyon yet? The first three Kindle books are on sale August 11th – 14th! You can find them on Amazon.

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JayeAuthor2015(5)About the Author

Jaye L. Knight is an award-winning author, homeschool graduate, and shameless tea addict with a passion for Christian fantasy. Armed with an active imagination and love for adventure, Jaye weaves stories of truth, faith, and courage with the message that even in the deepest darkness, God’s love shines as a light to offer hope. She has been penning stories since the age of eight and resides in the Northwoods of Wisconsin.

You can connect with Jaye on her website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Etsy.


My Review

This book is amazing!!! I think it is my favorite of the entire series so far! It has a lot of the same elements that made me fall in love with the Ilyon Chronicles in the first book Resistance and many of the characters from that book make a reappearance in this book after not having as big a part in books 2 & 3. The Resistance in Landale plays a big role once again in this book with Trask and Anne taking center stage. The politics in Valcre are heating up and Prince Daniel is at the center of it. And Kyrin and Jace are off on another adventure discovering the various cultures of Ilyon.

The author does such a great job of developing the different cultures across Ilyon, and I especially love the cretes!

And the plot twist in this book…wow! Few other authors I know of could pull off the twist Jaye does in this book, and especially couldn’t do it and heighten the tension for the rest of the series. The evil was scary before, but controlled. Now? Now I’m downright terrified for what my favorite characters are going to face in books 5 & 6! I’m bracing myself for a lot of tears.


Giveaway

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Share in the excitement of the release and enter to win a themed giveaway pack! Prizes include an autographed copy of Exiles, a pewter dragon necklace by treasurecast, and a sword letter opener! (Giveaway is open to US residents only. Cannot be shipped internationally.)

Click on this link to enter.


If you’d like to find more blog posts in this weekend blitz, here’s the schedule for all the craziness:

Thursday, August 10

Friday, August 11

Saturday, August 12

Sunday, August 13

Monday, August 14

 Tuesday, August 15

 

Thanks for reading!

Release Day!!!!!

Defy releases today!!!!! Eeep! I can’t believe it is here already!

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The blog tour is in full swing. You can check out what has been posted already and upcoming posts here.

Today is the last day of the giveaways on Goodreads for Dare and Deny. Be sure to check them out here and here and enter before it is too late!

One final bit of housekeeping. The Kindle versions of Dare and Deny were both supposed to be on sale this weekend. You may have noticed that the sale on the Kindle version of Deny suddenly cut out. Never try to schedule a sale on one of your Kindle books right when your Kindle Select membership is set to renew. It makes it difficult, just saying. Due to this, the sale won’t go back up until June 2 and will continue to run to June 4. This is only on Deny. The sale for Dare went off without a hitch and will be running through June 3.

Enjoy Defy and the rest of the blog tour! Don’t miss the Facebook party on June 2. It’s going to be a blast!

Defy Blog Tour Begins!

Can you believe it? Defy releases in less than a week! And the Facebook party is a week from today! Right now, it still feels VERY unreal.

But, the blog tour starts today, so that’ll make it feel a bit more real. 🙂

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A few reminders:

There are Goodreads giveaways going on for Dare and Deny. The giveaways end on May 31, the day Defy releases.

Here are the links for the giveaways:

Dare: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/183881-dare

Deny: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/183883-deny-the-blades-of-acktar

Blog Tour Schedule

 

May 26

May 27

May 30

May 31 – Release Day!

June 1

June 2

June 3

Hope you all enjoy the blog tour!

Fan Art Contest Extended!

Hi, Everybody! It’s been a crazy couple of months!

After some consideration, I’m decided to extend the end date of the fan art contest to March 12. Things just didn’t work out to be ready by March 4. The good news is, all of you have an extra week to finish up your fan art projects.

Haven’t heard of the fan art contest yet? This blog post explains all the rules and how to enter: https://triciamingerink.com/2016/02/04/contests/

And, in case the blog post wasn’t enough to convince you to participate, I’ve finally decided on prizes. There will be two winners: one winner via fan voting and one of my choice. Both of these winners will receive an ebook version of Defy when it releases. If things are going especially well, they might even get an early copy.

Don’t worry if you aren’t much of an artist. Any form of art works. Drawing, painting, photography, fiction, quilting, knitting. If you can argue its connection with The Blades of Acktar series, it’s in. 🙂

I can’t wait to see all your fan art!


This month, I’m going to participate in the #WIPjoy hashtag on Twitter and Facebook. This hashtag was started by fellow Christian fiction author Bethany Jennings and encourages authors to share about their current work in progress. I’m going to be sharing bits about Defy. If you’re looking for tidbits to get you excited for Defy‘s release, watch for my posts each day in March!

#WIPjohy

Black Friday Book Sale!!!

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Like most other bookworms, great books make their way onto my “things I’m thankful for” list every year. It’s hard to choose favorites, but I went ahead and picked five books I read in 2015 and am thankful for.

  1. A Time to Speak, by Nadine Brandes: Nadine happens to be my editor for The Blades of Acktar, and along the way she’s also become a friend and mentor. Dare and Deny wouldn’t be what they are without her. Not only that, but she’s an amazing writer whose books also encourage me to live each day pursuing God’s purpose in my life.
  2. The King’s Scrolls, by Jaye L. Knight: I actually stumbled upon The Ilyon Chronicles in the build up for the release of The King’s Scrolls. I’d heard a lot of good things about them, so I signed up for the blog tour, bought Resistance, and read it and The King’s Scrolls in a matter of days. Jaye has been an awesome friend online.
  3. Of the Coldblooded, by Angie Brashear: Another awesome author friend and prayer warrior. I leaned on her prayers a lot while editing Deny. Her books also make my list of top Christian fantasy
  4. Leaving Nelson, by Kim Moss: I had written off Christian contemporary YA as a genre I’d never read and enjoy until Kim and I ended up on a launch team together, and she asked if I’d be willing to review her books. I said yes, and I never regretted it. 🙂
  5. Mardan’s Mark, by Kathleen McKee: I love the unique characters in this book and that the setting in this book is also based on American geography instead of the standard medieval Europe.

I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to another great year of reading! Speaking of more reading, here’s one more thing to be grateful for. Books on sale! In honor of Thanksgiving and Black Friday, a group of independent Christian authors banded together to offer over seventy discounted books on Nov 27-30. There’s literally something for everyone.

Every single book listed on Indie Christian Books is on sale in one or more ways. Find discounted paperbacks, dozens of books offered with free shipping, $0.99 ebooks, package deals and more. Even if you have a budget of $0, new reading material awaits you.

Don’t know what to pick? The fearless Indie Christian Books team created a quiz that will generate a book list perfect for you! Check it out!

Book Quiz

What awesome reads of 2015 are you grateful for? What books are you looking forward to reading in 2016?

A note on the Ebooks Only page. All books are listed as “Sold Out.” This only refers to paperback copies of these titles. Please click onto the product pages to find descriptions and links to discounted or free ebooks.
Acknowledgements: Thanks to Leah E. Good for her work organizing this sale, Gloria Repp for completing the time consuming job of uploading book info to the sale website, and Hannah Mills for her fantastic design work on the website graphics. Hannah can be contacted at hmills(at)omorecollege(dot)edu for more information about her design services.

Why I’m Glad I Went to College for Writing

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I see a lot in advice for young writers something along the lines of “You don’t have to go to college for writing.”

This is true. You don’t have to. You can just as easily get the same knowledge through going to conferences, reading writing books, following writers’ blogs, and, most of all, writing. All of those things are excellent things to do, and maybe for you as a writer, it’s the path you need to take.

But don’t discount going to college for writing too quickly.

It’s the path I decided to take, and I don’t regret it. As a teen, I knew I wanted to pursue writing, and I knew I wanted to go to college. Since I didn’t have the money to go to college and attend writer’s conferences, I chose college.

I was blessed that my local university (Grand Valley State University) has an actual writing department and B.A. program that is separate from the English department. Only about 30 colleges in the United States have a program like it. All of the professors have to be actively writing and either publishing or pursuing publication. The classes are writing classes and workshops, not English classes. The difference? An English class looks at a metaphor and interprets what it means. A Writing class looks at a metaphor and asks what it does, how it works, and how to use it. The Writing Center, where writing students help other students work on their papers and writing due for classes, is so well-known that Harvard (yes, Harvard!) patterned their writing center after it.

Yeah, pretty cool.

Better yet, I pushed my writing in a way that I don’t think I would have any other way. So here are seven reasons why I’m glad I went to college for writing:

1. I learned how to write when I didn’t feel like it. I’ve always been motivated by grades, so when I had a story due and I didn’t feel like writing, the thought of that failing grade pushed me to write anyway. Once I built up that discipline, it was easier to keep it up after college.

2. I learned how to take a critique. There’s nothing like offering up a story to thirty people plus your professor, then having to sit there silently while all 31 of them pick your story apart in front of you. It’s pure torture the first couple of times, but usually everyone is respectful and only gives constructive criticism.

3. I learned how to give a critique. Once again, grades are a good motivation. At GVSU, we were graded on the quality of our critique. I learned how to read another student’s work with an eye to helping them improve.

4. I learned how to distance myself from my writing. The classes, especially the upper level writing classes, could be intense. I didn’t always get a lot of time between writing a story, having it critiqued, and editing to turn in. I didn’t have the luxury to set it aside until I was ready to tear it apart. I had to make myself ready and dive in.

5. I learned how to write tight. I’m still working on this, but I’m much better than I used to be. Since we had limited amount of time, we learned and wrote short stories in our writing classes. It was tough learning to tell a story in such a short form, but I learned to cut a lot of unnecessary stuff to give me more room for plot and character.

6. I learned to develop characters. Anyone who has read my work knows I struggle with this. It is still a struggle, but I had almost no character development before going to college. Since GVSU teaches literary writing, character is king. It pushed me to think about characters in a way I hadn’t before.

7. I learned how to be a part of a writing community. There is something special about walking into a room and knowing everyone in that room gets writing. I’m sure a conference is even more amazing, but I liked starting small.

Like I said, there are other ways to get all of these things. But for me, this is the way I was pushed. I needed the accountability and discipline that college demands. A writing partner might let lack of discipline slide, but a college professor doesn’t.

And I got a degree that was worthwhile. A Writing degree is surprisingly versatile. A variety of businesses look for good writers, not just publishing companies.

So what is your path? Do you think going to college for writing is for you or is something else?

“Prove” your Manuscript

Proving bread

On a baking show I was watching recently, the contestants had to make a certain kind of bread. For the bread to turn out, they had to “prove” their dough, a professional baking term for letting the dough rise before baking.

And, being the writer I am, it reminded me of writing. As writers, we also need to “prove” our manuscripts. Once we finish assembling our ingredients of plot, character, theme, and setting into the dough of our first draft, we need to give our manuscript time to sit. If you try to edit right away, either you will be so in love with your words how they are that you won’t edit enough or you will be so wiped by the first draft that you’ll hate your words and be tempted to throw them all away.

Instead, be willing to give it time.

It is amazing the change of perspective that comes about by not touching a manuscript for a few weeks or a few months. Sometimes, I have a manuscript that I absolutely adore. When I take it out again, I start to see all the places that it isn’t actually as great as I thought it was. Sometimes, I have a manuscript that I toss into a drawer in frustration because it fought me every step of the way while drafting. When I take it out again, I see the places where it isn’t actually as bad as I thought. There might even be something worth saving in it.

Like proving bread, proving your manuscript takes patience. It is very tempting to take it out too early and start fiddling with it even though you know it needs to sit longer.

What about you? How much time do you give yourself between writing a first draft and editing it?