Summer Announcements

Hello. It’s summer. And I am feeling the heat in more ways than one! I am preparing for a move. Thus and therefore, my will to blog is hitting an all-time low. Rather than beat myself over the head, I think I will give myself a break. This does not mean that I will not post over the summer. But my post frequency will probably be slowing down.

You are so sad right now. I can feel it. But it’s going to be okay. I’ll still be around on Twitter and such. And really, wouldn’t you rather I invest quality time in writing The Creation of Jack 3 and revising The Traveler? Yes, you would. Because they are going to be AWESOME!

Now for the good news! My regular blog might not be posting as often, but there are some fun treats coming your way:

-An interview with Hannah Heath (this next Tuesday!) It is snarky and fun! Don’t miss it.

-I am working on a Book Trailer for Out of Darkness!

-If all goes well, I will release a teaser for The Traveler sometime in July!

-And in August, watch for an exciting Cover Reveal!

See? Fun stuff is coming your way this summer. In the meantime, here’s some SciFi inspiration that I’ve been browsing through on Pinterest. They may or may not have anything to do with COJ3. I’m not telling. But they are fun and beautiful anyway!

Have a fantastic summer everyone!

Indie Author Interview #7 K.L. Pierce

I’m excited to introduce my good friend K.L. Pierce! I was gonna have her on the blog sooner, but she asked me to wait until “summer” because she’s a super important college student. Lol. Jk.

Kirsten’s book Two Lives Three Choices is a SciFi allegory with themes of hope and redemption. It has a lot of heart, has a very original plot, and ends with a great hook for book number two. One thing I love about Kirsten is that she is always looking to improve her writing craft and communicating authentic hope and truth through her work! Read my full review of her book here.

When did you start writing Two Lives, Three Choices and how long did it take?

I probably started writing Two Lives Three Choices when I was around 15.  It took about a year to write the first draft.  However, as I was planning on making this into a series, I wanted to make sure I was committed by writing the first draft of the sequel as well.  Between writing, school, and editing Two Lives Three Choices, the grand total is probably around six years.  I’m committing myself to spend at least a couple more years with these characters, so hopefully they don’t get sick of me!

Without giving anything away, what are some of your favorite aspects of this book?

That’s tough, but I’d probably say the deep bonds between the characters.  Krysta’s friends are willing to sacrifice everything for her, and Krysta is willing to make the same sacrifice for them.  The love Krysta has for both her friends and her family is what drives her to grow into the person that she’s meant to become.

How far are you on the sequel and what can we look forward to in this next book?

The story is basically written.  Right now I’m in the editing phase.  Fixing those pesky little typos and figuring out what parts of the story are important and which parts need to be cut out.  I do have a title though: Two Lives Two Destinies.

As the title suggests, we’re going to be focusing on Krysta’s destiny throughout the book.  What exactly is her destiny?  How does her past play a role in that?  Both Etans and King Immanuel have a destiny in mind for her.  Krysta’s trying to figure out what those destinies are, and whether she has any control whatsoever.

I feel like I should know this, but I don’t: is there going to be a third book?

Haha yes there is.  While it’s still Krysta’s story, it’s going to be focusing more on the reactions that a couple characters have to Krysta’s struggles.  Specifically Dion, and another character who I can’t say because, spoilers. 🙂

What does your creative process look like? Has it changed over the years?

I’m a pantser at heart, so my creative process is a bit more free-flowing.  I usually pray before I write, because God is an infinite source of inspiration for me.  Then, I put on some music, and start typing away!  Sometimes I have to start over because it doesn’t feel like the story is going the “right way” or could be improved.  Once I feel like I’m going in the right direction, it’s a journey of discovery for both me and the characters.  There were actually some parts of Two Lives Three Choices that I didn’t know about until I wrote them.  I was like “What?! Cool!  What happens next?” Other times I have scenes that pop into my head and I think “Hmm, wonder if that’ll fit in anywhere.”  Then, five or so chapters later, I realize: “Hey!  That scene is next!”  I basically get the benefits of being a writer and a reader through this process.  It’s fun!

How have you seen yourself grow as an author? What do you still need to work on? And do you have any goals for yourself?

As an author, I have grown in my writing abilities, the ability to use constructive criticism for my benefit, and marketing abilities.  I know where my weak areas are and I have been striving to work on them as I write Two Lives Two Destinies.  While not all criticism is constructive, a lot of the feedback I’ve gotten from reviewers has been very helpful.  Finally, while marketing doesn’t come naturally to me, I am watching other authors, and slowly learning the tricks of the trade.  Still, there is always room for improvement, in all those areas.  My goals are to continue improving on my weak areas.  I still need to work on making sure that all the elements of a good book are there while also being concise.  I have a lot of ideas that flow through my head.  Sometimes it’s a challenge to sort through them all!  But sort through them I shall!

What are three tools you use as an indie author?

I use WordPress for my website and blog, Photoshop for book covers and graphics, and Microsoft Word for writing and editing.

Have you read any good indie books lately?

I’ve been on an indie-book marathon (if such a thing exists), so yes!  Most recently I read Branwen’s Quest by Katelyn Buxton, which I thoroughly enjoyed.  I’ve also read Out of Darkness and Into the Void by E.B. Dawson (that name sound familiar?) Disclaimer: I was not in any way prompted to say this!  Go read her books, they’re awesome!  I also have a few other indie books/short stories on my TBR list on Goodreads, so the marathon continues!

What sets your writing apart/What is unique about your story?

I take aspects from different genres, insert my own spin on them, and synthesize something original.  For example, in Two Lives Three Choices, while the protagonists and her friends are around 16 (typical YA novel age), there isn’t as much emphasis on romance.  Instead, there’s more emphasis on familial relationships and friendship.  Another example is, while there are super powers involved (arguably more Sci-Fi), those that have them aren’t going to be saving this world.  My writing blends elements that people are familiar with but shifts the emphasis for a fresh take.

Has your major (computer science) helped you with your writing? 😉

Yeah, it has, although in more subtle ways than you would expect.  When writing programs, my professors strongly emphasize elegance, time efficiency, and space efficiency.  There are many ways to solve a problem, but some ways are better than others.

Writing is similar in a sense.  You can write the same story in a number of ways.  But what makes that story good is how elegant all the aspects of a book are developed.  As well as how much space (e.g. pages or word count) it takes to tell your story.  I’ve started considering my writing under a Computer Scientists eyes, and I think my writing will become stronger because of that.

Thanks so much for answering my questions (and thanks for that unsolicited shout out)! I loved learning a little more about you. If you want to learn even more about Kirsten, go follow her on Twitter: @KLPierceBooks

Or check out her blog/website: http://www.klpiercebooks.com/

Her book is available on Amazon.

“Sure You’ll Help Me…Right off a Cliff…”

“Helpful” seems like it should be a simple concept. But it’s not. It always astounds me how some people use helpfulness to mask their own self-serving agenda. Okay, okay. As human beings, we all have that little monster of selfishness that wants everything to come back to us.

I’ve heard this mantra of writers helping writers all over social media. And a lot of them truly mean what they say. But some people just talk the talk and never follow through. And others follow through with the best intentions but end up doing more harm than good.

So I thought I’d share my Helping Authors Manifesto. It’s in progress, of course. My overall theme is Be Kind and Respectful. This list may grow or change. But for now, my manifesto addresses beta reading, reviewing, and general customer service!

When Beta Reading- I Will Be Honest and Respectful 

If I have agreed to beta read your project, then I will do my best to be helpful to you. I will try not to impose my personal writing style and preferences on you. I will try to leave my prejudices and biases at the door. But I will give honest feedback about plot holes, character development, and story craft issues.

When Reviewing a Book- I Will Show Courtesy 

As a principle, I review the story itself. If there are formatting issues or typos, I like to treat the author how I would like to be treated and give them a chance to fix it. If it really is such a mess that it is distracting and/or the author doesn’t respond to me, I’ll put a comment in my review to be fair to potential readers.

I know how much work it takes to write a book. In all my reviews I purpose to bring out the best qualities of the work, even if I didn’t like it that much. But I also try to be honest about my reading experience. Technically a review is a personal opinion. But it’s not quite fair that the writer’s career hangs so heavily on the personal opinions of complete strangers. That doesn’t mean I will be dishonest. But there is a way to be tactful and to admit that other people have different taste and may enjoy the book.

Obviously, if I love the book I will praise it to the skies.

I Will Give the Author the Chance to Make it Right 

When dealing with self-published authors I am dealing with people, not corporations. If I have purchased a service and something goes wrong, I will reach out and give the author the chance to provide excellent customer service before resorting to other means (writing a negative review, or a negative post on social media).

What am I talking about? What if I ordered a print book and found the formatting was all off? I could go straight to Amazon and write a bad review. Or I could contact the author and explain the situation. As an author, I want my readers to have a good experience. As an author, I would replace that book for the customer.

It’s too easy to fall into the trap of thinking, “They published it like this, so they need to take the consequences.” I don’t want to have that attitude. I want to have the attitude of, “They are an author just like me and maybe I can help them in this area.”

One time I changed the file for my ebook and published it to KDP. The proof copy showed everything was perfect. But there was an error on Amazon’s part and the proof was wrong! For almost two weeks, my ebook had flaws that I thought had been corrected. I was horrified when I found out. I got the issue straightened out. But I would have loved a kind person to have sent me a quick e-mail saying, “Hey…just wanted to let you know that there were some weird formatting things happening on this page…”

The author may listen, the author may not listen. But I want to be that person for other authors.

I recognize that the indie publishing scene is super lopsided right now. Some indie authors spend hundreds of dollars to make their books as professional as trad pub. Others don’t have those resources, or the knowledge and experience. But I think if we treat each other with courtesy and professionalism we will only benefit!

Don’t Leave Your Readers Stuck in the Middle

I think we all know it’s important to hook your readers early on. But what happens after that? I love stories. When I hear the premise for a story my mind runs off in a million directions, imagining all the possibilities. So it isn’t too hard to hook me. But lately I’ve run into a string of books that nearly lost me another way: the middle got boring.

I don’t think introductions are all that hard. Almost everything is interesting when it is new. Characters can often be more engaging the first time you meet them. Granted, it can be difficult to craft a seamless, engaging, well-balanced beginning. But even just an average one will often do the trick. But I think it is even more telling what you do after your hook your reader. What happens when the newness wears off?

This is probably one of the places where the author’s experience, or inexperience, really shows. This is where I can usually tell if the author is a natural storyteller or not, and if they are using an outline or trailblazing (I don’t like the word “pantser”).

Everybody knows what needs to happen in the opening (hook your reader). Everybody knows what needs to happen in the climax. And the rising action leading up the climax is often the most fun to write: tension, action, drama, suspense etc. But that little stretch of text between the beginning and the rising action is a tricky, tricky spot. It is a literary doldrums. As a reader, the momentum of the beginning will often carry me up to 15-20% (yes, I’ve been reading mostly e-books lately). But I run into the literary doldrums from 20% even up to 75%.

By now you’re all ready for me to give the magic solution, right? Sorry, I don’t have that! But I do have some tips and suggestions. Ready?

Suspense/Tension 

This is perhaps the most obvious solution. You know those books that people can’t put down and they stay up until 3:00 am to finish them? Those authors jump into the rising action right away. They saturate their books with suspense and tension from the beginning. I like these books as much as the next person. But I am also glad this is not the only type of book. A lot of my favorite books are slow-build. The rest of these tips will address slower-pace books.

Subplots 

Repeat that word over and over to yourself. The main plotline has to develop slowly, otherwise, this’ll be a short story or novella. But that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun in the meantime. A recent poll on Twitter surprised me by revealing that most people prefer a slow and steady build rather than a break-neck pace from page one. This gives me hope for humanity 😉 But that doesn’t mean your book needs to be boring. Let the reader go on mini adventures as the BIG adventure slowly brews.

Characters

This is a perfect time to put your characters to work. They’ve been introduced. But don’t wait until the rising action to add depth to them. People will keep reading if they like your characters. This is a perfect time to take some of your minor characters on subplot adventures. You can save the juicy stuff for your MC, if you want, but that leaves plenty for the minor characters.

Reader Gratification 

This isn’t a must, but it’s very pleasant when it’s done successfully. It can be pretty amazing when subplots intersect/interact with the climax. It makes you feel like a mastermind as an author and leaves the reader in awe. But you don’t have to do it that way. You can tie up some of those subplots rather quickly. This is one way to earn reader trust. If you show them you can successfully take them on a “mini-adventure” from start to finish, they’ll be more likely to trust you, and they’ll anticipate the major plot arc. When I’m reading a new author and I hit the literary doldrums, and there are no subplots, I begin to wonder if the climax and resolution will even be worth it. If you successfully execute the full arc of a subplot in the first half of the book, it shows your writing credentials. It can also give your reader a sense of progress (especially for longer books i.e. Dickens style). As a reader, I don’t like the feeling of chipping away and not getting anywhere.

WARNING: These subplots can be tricky, though. They should never be confused for the main plot. If a novice author tackles this wrong, the reader will feel like the main conflict has subsided and wonder why he/she needs to keep reading. Uh oh!! Red alert! Make sure you put in compelling hooks for the big plot arc!!

So those are my thoughts on literary doldrums. What are yours? Have you seen any of your favorite authors use these devices? Do you have any advice to add? Join the conversation below!

 

Indie Author Interview #6 Beth Wangler

Beth and I are clearly going to have a lasting friendship because it was sparked by a mutual love of orange trees and knowledge of smudge pots (google it). I haven’t read as much of her work as I would like to. But her ambition is inspiring (you’ll see what I mean when you read the interview!)

First off, what a great name you have! You must be an intelligent, compassionate, interesting person. 😉 Tell us three fun facts about yourself! 
Three fun facts about myself are as follows: One, my favorite color is yellow.  Two, I love crochet, and have very strong opinions about it being better than knitting (all my friends now know the difference 😉 ).  Three, my first and last name can be interpreted as meaning “House of Sorrow on a Hill,” which I think is very poetic.
(Me: Sounds worthy of Anne of Green Gables!!)

If you had to live in Middle Earth (terrifying thought I know), where would you live and why? 
Ooo, I love this question! I would definitely choose to live in the Shire.  Rivendell and Lothlorien are enchanting, Gondor is stately, and Rohan is rustic, but nothing beats the coziness of the Shire.  Adventures are great, but for everyday life I’d rather have a cozy hole with a fire in the fireplace and a nice cup of tea.

I’ve talked to a lot of writers who dabbled in the craft for a while before fully pursuing it. Was there an epiphany moment for you when the sun shone down on you and butterflies landed on you and you knew you were chosen to be a writer? 
Haha, I don’t know about a moment when the sun shown down on me (I usually hide from the sun.  It likes to burn me).  But there was this:
When I was a child, I would devour books like one drinks water.  One day, when I was somewhere around the age of third grade, I was laying on my bedroom floor consuming the latest literary adventure.  Usually when I read, nothing could pull me out of the book, not without a lot of effort.  This particular occasion was different.  I paused in my reading and had an epiphany that would change my life: I could add books to the world, not just consume them.
I’ve been writing ever since.


Tell us a little bit about your other works (published or in process). 

In 2012, I independently published The Weavers’ Blessing, a fairy tale novella loosely inspired by “Snow White.”  It’s about a princess trying to save herself and her country from the evil king poisoning the land.  In the years following that, I wrote two more fairy tales and published them on my blog.  The second, The Kangraffs’ Curse, is about a runaway prince who has to face his parents in order to save a peaceful kingdom from destruction.  The third, Noemi’s Dragon, is about a princess who will fall prey to a dragon unless she finds her true love by her eighteenth birthday.
Most currently, I’m working on a fantasy series tentatively titled The Firstborn’s Legacy.  This series combines my loves for fantasy, history, and Bible stories in nine novels and some supplementary works in the form of poetry or short stories.  Child of the Kaites, the first novel, is about Raiballeon, who battles fear and world-bending evil spirits as she tries to free her people from slavery.  I publish new chapters on my blog bi-weekly (until the end of the school year, at which time I’ll return to weekly postings).
I’m editing book two, The Steward’s Apprentice, about orphaned Vree who takes up her mentor’s mantle and tries to become the strong leader she thinks she should be while dealing with the surly old Steward, small town bullies, and talking weasels.  I’m nearing the end of drafting The King’s Son, book three, which is roughly the Biblical story of Jonathan and David, but with dragons, fairies, and giants.

So, I’ve only been able to read 3-4 chapters of your work Child of the Kaites, but I’ve been loving it. Tell us a little bit about it. (General plot, inspiration etc) 
I’m so glad you’ve been loving it!  I love all your comments and feedback.
Child of the Kaites is the first novel in my The Firstborn’s Legacy series.  The whole series of 9 books plus some-odd supplementary pieces is inspired by the history of the world (broad, I know), specifically focusing in on Jewish/Christian/Biblical history.  CotK is inspired by the story of Moses and the Exodus.  At the start of the book, the people of Maraiah have been enslaved for generations.  Now, at last, their deity has heard their prayers for freedom and promises to answer through Raiballeon.  The problem is that Rai, an odd girl to begin with, has been living in exile on a neighboring island.  In exile, Rai resigned herself to life as a storyteller and as the quasi-servant of the family that sheltered her.
Then a person from her past unexpectedly appears, along with an enigmatic stranger.  Their unsettling presence forces Rai to ask herself if she’ll reclaim her calling and possibly die, or reject her purpose and let history forget her name.

What kind of books would you like to see more of? 
I would like to see more hopeful kinds of books.  I’m a middle school teacher, and I’m reminded every day of how many of my students are depressed.  I know it’s commonly viewed as the sign of a good writer to put your characters through all sorts of troubles and make their lives living nightmares.  While I agree that characters should face challenges, just like real people do, I want to see more books that embody hope in the darkest situations.  Our children–and we ourselves–need to be assured that the darkness will end and we don’t need to face our trials alone.  To quote Samwise Gamgee, we need the reminder that “there’s some good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for.”
(Me: This is why we’re friends!!) 


What is one area you’ve seen yourself grow in as an author? 

I’ve seen myself grow in lots of areas, especially recently.  The areas of growth that most excite me are more behind-the-scenes.  In the past year, I’ve started actually outlining and doing more planning ahead for my stories.  This has helped tremendously, with keeping plots straight, characters consistent, and good ideas from dying.  I’ve also been amazed at how much plotting out my stories helps prevent writer’s block.  Since the beginning of last July, I’ve been writing six days a week with little deviance.  That’s amazing for me!  I never had this much consistency before.  I’m super excited about how much gets done when I write just a little every day.  I’d feared that planning things out would diminish my excitement for my stories, but I’m thrilled to find that I’m just as excited as before–if not more excited now.
For an area of growth you could observe when reading my stories, I think I’ve improved at balancing backstory.  I’m a history teacher at heart (and in reality).  I love inventing complex pasts and cultures, planning everything from clothing to customary greetings to political structures to religions.  It’s hard to hold back on sharing the world I’ve created, but I know I’ve gotten better at not info-dumping.  Of course, I still have a great deal of room for improvement.


What is one area you’d like to improve in and what steps do you plan to take to get there? 

I’d still like to get better about weaving in manageable amounts of worldbuilding, instead of overloading the first few chapters with it.  In addition to that, I really want to get better at writing romances.  Most stories have romantic subplots, and I think these relationships between characters can be incredibly beautiful and deepen stories.  I just find myself caught up in other subplots and the main plot, and usually my romances end up like this: “Oh, this character should like someone.  Well, I guess I’ll shove these two together.  Eh, good enough.  Now, back to the dragons.”
My go-to solution for anything is research.  Right now, that looks like observing how other authors do better jobs at this, reading articles, and paying more attention to the romantic relationships of the people around me.


Have you read any good indie books lately that you’d like to recommend? 

I’m reading Ashley D Hansen’s Ethan right now, which she publishes weekly on her blog.  It’s about Ethan, a secret agent on a mission that may be him beyond his advanced skill level: Working with a partner.  I also loved her The Darkest Hour, a distopian Sleeping Beauty where Aurora just wants to be a chemist and the evil queen has a (maybe) mystical gem.  I’m also reading J.E. Purazzi’s Revelation, a scifi/biopunk novella.  Since I just started, I can’t give a good description of it yet, but I’m loving her writing style and the character and world are intriguing so far 🙂

Thanks for the interview, Beth! I’m excited to read more of your work. Get to know Beth more on her website and follow her on Twitter: @beth_wangler !

Guest Post for J.E. Purrazzi

Hello friends!

The wonderful J.E. Purrazzi asked me to post on her blog for her community week! I chose to talk about the semi-controversial topic of adding themes/messages to your story!! Go check it out:

J.E. Purrazzi’s blog (www.jillanepurrazzi.com/blog)

Have a great week!

 

5 Futuristic Technologies We Need Today

Admittedly, when it comes to technology there’s always bad and good. Sometimes we seem to invent things that will bring out the worst in us. But there are always good advances too.

Why don’t these things exist already? I would use them every day.

Holographic Pictures (from Serenity)

Because three-dimensional people don’t look like themselves in two-dimensions. I am notoriously bad at recognizing people from their pictures. A 3D holographic picture would serve much better for things like passports.

Self-Driving Cars (from I, Robot)

Yes, I know that these are in the works and some early prototypes probably exist. I’m also a little reluctant on this one because sometimes I love driving. Other times (like after a long, emotional day) it’s the worst. It’s like having your own personal chauffeur.

Self-Adjusting Clothes (from Back to the Future)

I heard the buzz about someone already inventing those shoes. But why not clothes, too? I hate shopping. Wouldn’t it be nice to go pick out generic clothes and have them fit your body perfectly? So wonderful! Let’s all dream together!

Food Replicator (Star Trek)

Ideally, food replicators would take the work out of cooking and bring back the joy! I love cooking a couple of nights a week, but the rest of the time I cook out of necessity. But even if we don’t have food replicators, I’d settle for a beverage replicator. Can you imagine limitless beverages? Heaven on earth for any writer…

And finally, my favorite…(this is the one I want the most)

Lightsaber Toaster (from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)

Look at it. Isn’t it beautiful? Have I ever mentioned that toast is one of my favorite foods? I feel like this one is feasible. Any inventors out there wanna make this happen for me? I’ll dedicate my next book to you, I promise!!

What futuristic technologies would you like to see?

My 5 Favorite Character Types

Tropes or not, I can’t get enough of these characters (when they’re done well)…

The Character Whose Bark is Worse Than His/Her Bite 

Why? Grumpy people used to scare me when I was younger. I was delighted to find out that a lot of them are softies on the inside. This discovery never gets old for me. 😀

Examples:

P.L. Travers from Saving Mr. Banks. She’s pretty prickly, but it gets me every time she yells at them for turning Mr. Banks into a monster.

The Doctor from Voyager. He is one of my favorite Star Trek characters ever. Snobby, smug, critical, grumpy, but has a good heart.

The Obviously-Hurting Character Who Acts Tough 

Nobody likes jerks. It’s easy to dismiss them and not try to understand them. But people don’t act out of a vacuum. This character type can be easily romanticized. There’s not much romantic about it, but these guys are interesting and complex.

Example: (Why could I only think of one? I know there are more! Maybe I’m thinking of real life. I’ve met so many people like this in real life!!haha)

Jim Hawkins from Treasure Planet. He’s an adrenaline junkie and he tries to act tough, but deep down inside he’s insecure and wounded because his father left him.

The Quiet, Gentle Character with Hidden Strengths 

They fight their battles bravely, but rarely get the credit they deserve. I firmly maintain that kindness and gentleness are superpowers.

Examples:

Sergeant Lipton from Band of Brothers. Quiet, humble, and understated he does his duty faithfully and holds the loyalty and respect of all the men.

Cinderella from the 2015 release of Cinderella. I love how they made her strong in her kindness. She chooses to stay in her home and be kind to her step mothers and step sisters in honor of her parents.

The Leader Who Faces His/Her Duty Without Shirking

It’s easy to run away from problems, avoid them, pawn them off to others, or try to manipulate them. I love the leaders who face their demons boldly, sacrifice for those under them, and show the best that humanity has to offer.

Examples:

Aragorn from The Lord of the Rings. He patiently pursues his destiny as the heir of Gondor. He serves Frodo and the Fellowship humbly and willingly. He knows how to lead and how to sacrifice.

Captain Winters from Band of Brothers. Maybe not super impressive at first glance, he proves a very competent commanding officer. When he is promoted he struggles with his position because he’d rather be with his men at the front.

Captain Janeway from Star Trek: Voyager. She’s unflinchingly brave. She commands confidently, is fiercely protective of her crew, and is always willing to lay down her life for others.

The Reformed Bad Guy, Who Feels Guilty for His/Her Past 

I shouldn’t take pleasure in other peoples’ guilt. If you haven’t noticed already, I like complicated characters. Plus it’s nice to know that people can be redeemed. And something in me relates to the theme that we’re haunted by our mistakes. Plus, there’s often a refreshing humility to these characters.

Examples:

Black Widow from a million Marvel movies, but especially Avengers I and II. She likes fighting for the good guys. She believes in the cause of good. She always carries the burdens of her past, but they help her make the right decisions (for the most part).

Edmund Pevensie from The Chronicles of Narnia. He betrays his brother and sisters and Aslan, but receives forgiveness. That’s why he is able to extend forgiveness to Eustace in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (one of my favorite scenes in the entire series!).

Do you guys know of other characters who fit these categories? What characters would you love to see more of?

Have I written any of these characters, you ask? Why yes, yes I have. And if you can correctly categorize my characters in the comment section, I’ll send you a virtual cookie!

Indie Author Interview #5 Bethany Jennings

I found Bethany Jennings through her hashtag game #WIPjoy and soon started hearing about her short story Threadbare. The premise piqued my curiosity and I decided to dive in. I’m so glad I did! The story is moving, genuine, and engaging. I immediately connected with the themes, almost as if this story was sparked from conversations I’ve had with my friends! I immediately hunted down the wonderful Miss Jennings and she was gracious enough to give me this beautiful, encouraging interview!

Hello, Bethany! Introduce yourself:  
Hello! I’m a writer of science-fiction and fantasy (usually for YA readers), a freelance editor, and sometimes a graphic designer. I’m also a homemaker and the mom of four kids under the age of seven. No, I don’t get much sleep. 😉

Where did the inspiration for Threadbare come from? 

 
Last summer I was forced to put away a story I’d been working on for over a decade – which was one of the most painful things I’ve ever done. There was the very natural grief at “shelving” a long-term dream, of course, but on top of that, I was plunged into loads of uncertainty, self-doubt, and the realization of how that project and my long-term goals as an author had become hidden idols in my life. I struggled with all this for months; every time I thought I’d gotten past my issues, I’d find a deeper complication to work through. I began to think of myself as having “tangles” from which God was gently helping me free.
One day I thought, “What if there was a girl literally trapped in tangles?” And Threadbare was born. I didn’t really expect to even finish the story!  I considered it a way to process my own struggle, and at one point I thought I was going to stop writing it because I didn’t think it was helping me move forward. But ultimately God brought me through to the end of my own tangles, and that healing was what enabled me to actually finish Threadbare. I’m so grateful! He not only gently taught me and helped me through my pain, but He also confirmed my calling as an author by letting me turn my struggle into a story that stands on its own and can encourage others! Threadbare is a testament to His goodness in every way. 🙂
 


I’ve seen some of your other fans begging for a full-length novel. Is that likely to happen? If not, are you working on any new projects? 
 
At this time, I don’t plan to write any full-length novels…but I do have ideas for more short stories about some of the other characters. *mysterious wink* And my current project is a fantasy short story, titled Dragon Lyric. It’s very different from Threadbare, delving into my darker, more hard-hitting side as an author.
 


Can you tell us anything more about the interesting world you created in Threadbare? Any fun facts that you had to leave out?
One of Bess’s teammates used to be a Drifter… I may delve into that in a future story… 😀
 


I understand you are also a freelance editor. What is it that you love most about editing other authors’ work?
 
I love cleaning up prose! Making sentences smoother and snappier – while maintaining the author’s voice – is something I really enjoy. And actually, even more than editing, I enjoy helping authors write the blurbs (back cover descriptions) for their books.

 Have you read any great indie books lately that you’d recommend?

 
I highly recommend “The Girl Who Could See” by Kara Swanson! – a YA sci-fi/urban fantasy novella that releases on June 1st. That story grabbed me by the heart, and is in some ways similar to my own work, with strong themes of hidden realities.

 What is one piece of advice you’d give to aspiring indie authors? 

 
Be rigorous about making your books professional and polished – editing and cover art can be expensive, and sometimes the editing feedback is hard to hear, but it’s all worth it to make your book really shine. 🙂 And becoming “known” as an author is a long and difficult process; have patience with that, and expect that you’ll need to publish quite a few stories before your readership starts to really grow.

 What are three tools you use as an indie author (or that you’d recommend)? 

I LOVE using Pixabay (a database for free and 100% copyright-free pictures) and Canva (a free online photo editing site) to make graphics for quotes or promotions. Those are very handy tools. And I recommend good writing blogs like writeinsideout.com or helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com, to learn more about your craft and find good troubleshooting tips.
Thank you so much for interviewing me!
Thank you, Bethany! The world needs more of your work, so keep writing!
To learn more about Bethany Jennings, go check out her website and follow her on Twitter: @simmeringmind
And I go read Threadbare! Right now!

Why Your Setting is Not Made Up of Adjectives

This is a throwback post, originally published about a year ago. 

Gasp. What?! What about all of those writing workshops where we stuffed one hundred adjectives into every sentence?

I am not saying there is no value in learning how to be descriptive and expand your vocabulary. But you can describe every single detail of a scene and still lose your reader. Why is that?

Continue reading “Why Your Setting is Not Made Up of Adjectives”