Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Last day!

It's the last day of NaNoWriMo! Hope everyone does well and finishes strong!

I'm currently far, far behind. I don't even think I'll make half my goal. But, that's OK--I've made a lot of progress on Forged Steel. I know now that NaNo just isn't for me. Something about it just makes my creativeness curl up in a little ball and shout, "Go away! No one's home!" :) More on this tomorrow...

If you need a break from the flurry of writing, I have a new short story up at Avenir Eclecta, Delivered. This was the thirteenth door he'd knocked on...

Tomorrow is the beginning of December (YES!) and you know what that means? (Besides Christmas)...

A new chapter of Falls the Shadow! Skylar's tension mounts as he struggles to keep the Library a secret. The Professor doesn't notice, but his best friend Coll does, and as much as Skylar hates pushing him away, he knows it isn't his place to unveil the Library just yet.

And, one more fun thing to keep the post-NaNo blues away! Kat Heckenbach, author of the amazing fantasy Finding Angel, is hosting a giveaway on her blog. It has four books: signed-by-her copies of Chicken Soup For the Soul: Just For Preteens, Splashdown Book's short story anthology Aquasynthesis (with three of Kat's short stories), Finding Angel, and an unsigned copy of Fred Warren's short story collection Odd Little Miracles. These are all books totally worth checking out--so go show Kat some support and maybe win some books! :)

That's all! Hope you guys have a great writing day! Be sure to come visit tomorrow for a NaNo wrap-up post! :)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Writing Exercise # 4--If you were Blind...

Have you ever thought about the way that something feels? Just picked an object up and really felt the different contours and textures of the components?

Here's a good exercise for that. Close your eyes, reach your hand out to the side, and pick up whatever your hand falls on first. Spend a minute or so just feeling the thing. Most likely you'll guess what it is right away, but I want you to just concentrate on the way it feels to your fingers.

Now describe it in a couple of sentences:

I felt a long, thin wire that swooped upward in a gentle curve. Then I felt a tiny round object strung on the wire, slightly rough and pebbled. Finally I felt a cool, smooth, flat stone, then a flat bit of metal, like a pinhead.

I was holding a stray earring that has been on my desk for the last two weeks.

Now, have your character stop in the middle of their scene, and imagine what they could pick up and feel. What is it? How would it feel in their hands? Would it be familiar or foreign to them?

Varian ran his fingers through the long grass surrounding him. It was almost sticky, catching the rough spots and callouses on his fingers, but leaving a bit of a sting behind. Guess that's why people called individual pieces of grass 'blades'.

I hope this exercise helps in making three-dimensional scenes for your readers to be immersed in! As always, if you want to do this exercise with me, just post your descriptions in the comments. Have a good week!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Meet the Author: Follow-up Interview with Rebecca P. Minor


Last week I spotlighted the new fantasy novella The Windrider: Divine Summons. You guys may remember me talking about this serial before, in an interview I did back in March. Now Becky--sorry, Rebecca P. Minor--is back with a follow-up interview!

Rebecca Minor draws narrative experience from a BFA in animation from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA. Since her graduation in 1997, she has worked as a game animator, freelance artist, full-time mom, teacher, and sheet music customer service representative. She is the author of The Windrider Saga, serial fantasy fiction from Diminished Media Group.

She blogs at http://callofthecreator.blogspot.com on anything from fantasy reading and writing to the life of mother and wife. In addition to writing, Rebecca also creates occasional illustrations, three of which will appear in Port yonder Press’s The Book of Silvari: An Anthology of Elves.

Rebecca resides outside Philadelphia, PA with her husband and three sons, whom she is slowly infusing with a love of fantasy, one member at a time.

*What was your journey to publication like? How long has it taken?

My journey from the beginning of writing to being published took a little less than four years from “word one” on Sword of the Patron to the release of the first Windrider book. Shortly after I began writing, I decided my end goal was publication, so once I started, I went at it full throttle. It’s been an amazing time of developing a whole new vocabulary in terms of what I need to know about the industry, unlearning some bad habits, and figuring out where (and where not) to stand my ground. I consider myself privileged to have books out after so short a relative time.

*Who is your favorite character in the Windrider series?

The obvious answer to that one is Vinyanel, of course, but I’ve also been surprised by the sudden magnetism of other characters that crop up, especially some of the new additions in the second book. There’s an assassin character who proves to be a great foil to Vinyanel who’s been fun to develop, as well a slightly dangerous female character who isn’t quite sure whose side she’s on.


*Now that you've joined the ranks of published authors, how do you feel?

Honestly, overwhelmed. The person who told me it’s easier to write a book than it is to sell one was not kidding. I find myself checking Amazon ranks and wondering if anyone has even bought, let alone likes my work, and for a newly published author, sometimes feedback is hard to come by. But I’m also thrilled to have come to a new world in my writing life, and I simply pray my efforts will bear lasting fruit.

*What projects are next?

The next big item that will be monopolizing my attention until the new year will be the editing of my novel, Sword of the Patron (which will be getting a new title, incidentally.) Once that project launches, I will turn my focus to the redrafting of the second book in my novel series, as well as to writing a third Windrider book. Somewhere in there, I might be releasing a novelette set 2500 years before the time of The Windrider, but that project is a little up in the air for me, just because there are so many other items in the queue. It’s all going to be guided by reader demand.


*Any advice for those currently seeking publication?

Attend conferences. Yes, they are expensive, but they are worth the cost from an education and a networking standpoint. I would also specify that smaller conferences are not necessarily less useful. You might get some bigger names teaching at ACFW and the like, but you may be able to network more effectively at a smaller event. The other piece of advice: seek out experienced mentors and apply what they say to you. The comments I got on my manuscript from fantasy author David Wolverton (aka Farland) is what I truly believe took my novel from a few people expressing mild interest to having a bunch of simultaneous requests for the whole shebang.

Thanks, Becky, for joining me at Magical Ink! Readers, you can find the first book in The Windrider series at Smashwords, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble for e-book. Remember, tomorrow on the 22nd, the second book is being released! And I've heard the plan is to release the two books in print next January, so for those who don't do e-books, mark your calendars!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Novel Spotlight: The Windrider: Divine Summons by Rebecca P. Minor

STORYLINE: When a dark plot to undermine the security of the elven nation emerges, Captain Vinyanel Ecleriast must decide. Will he allow his contentious relationship with his half-elven mentor, the Prophetess Veranna, to interfere with his sworn duty to protect his people and his homeland? Newly ordained as the future High Commander of the First Airborne Division of the Elven Cavalry, Vinyanel sets off astride his new mount—a silver dragon—to intervene before the elves’ enemies disappear into the wilderness not only with priceless artifacts pivotal to the elves’ safety, but the life of the elven king in their hands. Only if he can put aside his preconceptions and take full hold of Veranna’s teaching will Vinyanel find the strength to fulfill his Divine Summons.


MY THOUGHTS


Cons:
Too short! But I can live with that since there are two more books in the series. :)

It took me a bit to really get into the book. I think that was because of the situation the book starts with and the backstory needed to understand it.

While the characters certainly didn't feel two-dimensional, I found myself wanting more backstory on them. How did Majestrin and Veranna met? Was Vinyanel born a continually sarcastic grouch, or did he become this way because of an event in his life? I'm guessing that as the series goes on, we'll see a bit more of these characters' backstories.

Pros:

The lyrical writing style coupled with the first person point of view really pulled me into the story. It meshed very well with the more formal elvish culture, so that not only Vinyanel's speech but his narrative and thoughts matched his culture.

Like I mentioned above, the characters weren't two-dimensional.

And of course, I'm always partial to books that feature beautiful descriptions of riding dragon-back. :)

CONCLUSION:

I'd say the family-friendliness of Divine Summons was pretty good. There's a part where Vinyanel's horse breaks his leg (which turned my stomach a little, but my stomach is weak when it comes to breaking bones anyway). Vinyanel gets captured and knocked around, and there's a near-sacrifice that might be a little scary for kids. I'd probably feel comfortable handing it off to a 13 or 14-year-old. No profanities (unless you count a dragon saying "Blast!" when he gets into a situation where he can't breath ice). :)


I really enjoyed this book! It made a quick, beautiful read. I'll definitely be buying the rest of the series as they come out.


My rating: 4 stars.


**NOTE: A week from tomorrow, on the 22nd, the second Windrider book will be available for purchase as an e-book. For those who don't do e-books, the print editions will be out next January.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

NaNoWriMo Day 1-7

About four thousand words so for in NaNo--hopefully this week will be a little slower so I can get catch up those four thousand more that I'm behind. :)

Dragged Underworld has undergone two title changes. I wanted the second book in the trilogy to be Burnt Silver, so I thought I'd go with a color scheme. Turns out Ted Dekker has a monopoly on any color scheme that includes Green and Black--at least, that's what Justin suggested.

So I changed again, to Forged Steel. It sort of works, since I'm discovering that my MC's journey is about cutting down on his pride issue and forging him into a better hero. That changes everything to a metal theme--Burnt Silver and Poison Iron being the last two in the trilogy.

I'll try to be more diligent in updating. Look for me in a couple of days! :)

Monday, November 7, 2011

October Update--work on the stuff I'm NOT supposed to be working on ;)

So October was probably the best month I've ever had, writing-wise. Unfortunately it wasn't on much that I needed to get done. :)

I edited several flash fiction pieces, one of which went to Avenir Eclectia. The others, I'm not sure where the home for them is quite yet. There's an anthology idea being kicked around but I'm not sure if it will come to fruition or not. I also wrote a short story set in a colleague's story-universe, and just got the edits back on that.

Mary, LoriAnn & I worked on Falls the Shadow, mostly editing. Posts are scheduled through the end of the year, thankfully--we cut it a little close once or twice.

I was supposed to work on Half Blood. And I did. Some. I got stuck halfway through October at about 32K and decided that I was tired of it, that I needed a break. I want this draft to turn out good, unlike all my other rewrites, so I figure there's no sense in rushing it (although I think I have one or two people about ready to kill me or at least chase after me with pitchforks and torches because I'm taking so long.) The good news is that I'm unstuck. The bad news is, I'm not going to work on it for a while longer yet.

So what did I do in October? Well, a Facebook group I'm a member of was having a contest, and I thought, "Oh, I'll come up with a story for it." I'd already had a tiny bit of a story idea in my head, ever since I read Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman earlier this year (I don't recommend it by the way--while it was a fascinating urban fantasy there was just way too much foul language) about a kid who got accidentally pulled into an urban fantasy quest by his best friend. It was originally supposed to be funny.

It exploded. From a short story to a novella (I knew when I hit 7K and the hero had just gotten his hands on the treasure map that the short story thing wouldn't work any more) to a trilogy of novellas, collectively called The Underworld Mythos. Working title of the one I'm writing now is Dragged Underworld, but I'm brainstorming new ones. I want to get a color thing going for the titles, because for some reason I want the second one to be called Burnt Silver. Maybe Underworld Green? Errr...or not... So...yeah...that makes this 5 novellas for the year (counting Dreamwalker and Bargain with an Elf)...just call this The Year of the Novella, I s'pose. :)

As you know from last Tuesday's post, A Bargain with an Elf and Dragged Underworld are my two NaNo projects.

So what else am I doing in November?... We get to spend Thanksgiving week with family--yay! :D I'm going to pick up my flute and my brother's old viola and start teaching myself viola and--if I get good enough--join my church's worship group. Oh yes, and there's the church pie contest. I won last year, so we'll see how this year goes. :) And I've started training for a half-marathon with some ladies from my church. Normally I'd shy away from any sort of running, but I need to get back in shape and this provides the perfect accountability to do it. Wouldn't kill me to drop 10 or 15 pounds.

So I have a fairly busy month ahead of me! :) Somewhere in there I'll find time to write at least one more Avenir Eclectia story, and edit that short story. Oh yeah, and work on Half Blood.

Riiiiight. ;)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

NaNoWriMo Take Two

Yes, I'm doing it again this year, despite last year's ridiculous disaster. I'm stubborn that way. :)

Once again, I'm being nonconformist and doing an unofficial NaNo. I probably wouldn't have even done NaNo except--well, as I mentioned before, I'm stubborn. And it worked well with my super-full writing schedule to try to finish some stuff as quickly as possible.

This year's projects are two novellas. One, A Bargain with an Elf, is listed under my Current Projects page. The other is a novella that kind of grew on its own (more on that next Monday), an urban fantasy called, for now, Dragged Underworld. DU is currently at a little over 10K, while Bw/aE stands at about 3K. I know exactly where I'm going with both of them and I'm pretty confident I can get them both finished by the end of November. :)

I'm also going to drop some hints here, just to tease y'all. :) What I plan to do with these novellas is going to be fun, crazy, and awesome (I hope). I know for sure my plans with Bw/aE. Plans for DU involve a little more than myself making the decisions, but if I can get it to work, it'll be way cool.

I hope you guys will join my chronicling of my NaNo progress over the next month. Hold me to my goals! I'll post a short notice every couple of days or so to let you know how I'm progressing.

Have a wonderful week!

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