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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Moving Forward

While I make no promises whatsoever as to an earlier-than-planned release date for The White Thread, I find myself incapable of NOT moving forward at this point. The thing that's got the fire lit under me? It is (of all things) the desire to start my next fantasy series before another four years have passed. Christmas break is a great time for quiet contemplation (when the children are asleep, that is) and my contemplation has largely centered on new story ideas. I already have about ten series on the back burner from before I ever started The Gateway Chronicles, but I keep coming up with new ideas! (One of which I have particularly fallen in love with, to the point that I even pulled out a pen and paper and sketched my main characters - something I have not done since college). Anyhow, as much as I may love my new idea, I have absolutely no intentions of doing any real work on it until The Gateway Chronicles is complete. SO, I sat down and started going through my White Thread notes and began a very early-stage outline. I named and outlined the first 6 chapters tonight, but my brain won't cooperate! It keeps jumping ahead to much-anticipated scenes, some of which are not even in this installment. So once again I am convicted that I must make every moment of my books as arresting as those scenes that I am just dying to write and share with my audience. And as I get further on this endeavor, I also have more details to juggle in my mind. My notes are already copious, with the promise of more to come, and I think I need a new system of organizing them so that I don't leave anything crucial out of the story. And THIS is why I usually save this process for the summer... Well, we'll see what I get done over Christmas break and whether or not any of it makes the final cut come summertime.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

"The Nature of Fantasy"

One of the literary inspirations that I named in my previous post was The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander, and I have been recently rereading my way through the series (it gets more delightful and thought-provoking every time I do). I always read the author's notes and introductions at the beginning of every book I read, and in Mr. Alexander's note on book 3 of the series, The Castle of Llyr, he says this: "The nature of fantasy allows happenings which reveal most clearly our own frailties and our own strengths." I had to stop and smile as I pondered the truth of this statement, because it so perfectly sums up why I love fantasy and why I write fantasy. Fantasy as a genre is a unique vessel for the transmittal of truth. A successful fantasy author will transmit truth in such a fashion that the reader will not even realize that they are being "taught" as they read; they will absorb the truth as a part of the story because that truth found in the story resonates with the moral compass within us all. In order for this resonance to take place, however, the reader must find something with which to relate within the story, and that usually happens through good characterization. Let's face it, nobody in real life is going to find himself or herself actually sucked out of this world and deposited into a new world with magic and magical creatures, right? BUT, somebody might be struggling with a particular issue (such as depression or loneliness) that causes them to relate to a character in a book that is going through the same issue. The beauty of fantasy is that it clearly contains heroes and villains, and the reader should relate to the hero in all of his or her struggles and seek to overcome those struggles as the hero does. The genre removes the reader from real life, however, helping this lesson not to feel overly didactic or too much like a self-help book. To bring this closer to home, I've made it no secret that Darcy in my books is very autobiographical. In a way the first book was a public confession of my early teenage flaws. Some of the most beautiful feedback that I've received on my books has come from parents who have told me that their teenage daughters really relate to Darcy. I think that this must be because Darcy reveals to them their own frailties in a (hopefully) non-offensive manner. My hope would next be, of course, that as Darcy grows and changes in the story, that she would also reveal to my younger readers their strengths as well, and how they might find strength in this life.

My discussion on this quote did not come out exactly as I wanted it to, but I hope that you all get the idea anyhow. My guess is that if you are a reader of fantasy, you will read that quote and, like me, nod and smile to yourself because you know how true it is. I would be interested to read some comments on this!

(I'm inserting a link to Amazon where you can purchase The Chronicles of Prydain if you're interested. They make a great gift for readers of all ages and have a male main character for those of you with sons who think that they would more enjoy reading about a boy than a girl. Just click on the title above.)

Friday, November 19, 2010

Literary Inspirations

I was asked by a coworker this week what literature has inspired me in my writing of The Gateway Chronicles, and I thought that perhaps the answer to that question might make for an interesting blog post, so here goes...

I have absolutely no hesitation in answering a question like this because I have always been very cognizant of the fact that a hugely important part of writing is the art of imitation. My awareness of this has only been sharpened in recent years as I have taught at a classical school in which there is a definite ideology of learning from the masters that have gone before us. Now, some people balk at this idea in regard to creative writing, and I have (at more than one time) had people recoil in horror and say, "You mean you copy other writers?! Isn't that plagiarism?" To which I have to answer, "Don't be absurd. Of course I don't mean that I copy other writers, but I do strive to emulate and imitate truth, beauty, and goodness as found in my favorite works. But I diverge... let me get back to the matter at hand by listing my strongest literary influences and saying in a nutshell what I have learned from each one (and therefore seek to also do in my own writing).

1. The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis is definitely my oldest inspiration. It was Lewis (via Narnia) that first taught me how to suspend disbelief, and that depth of meaning does not need to be couched in lofty language.
2. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien. I read The Hobbit many years before The Lord of the Rings and I love them both in different ways. I think it was the former that taught me that fantasy writing should be clever (the chapter "Riddles in the Dark" impressed me and I often have returned to the book simply to read that chapter over again), and the latter that defined High Fantasy for me and taught me that fantasy literature should also be epic.
3. The Archives of Anthropos by John White were books that I dearly loved. It was through them that I saw how a different spin can be put on another person's idea to create something entirely new, and that it was not plagiarism to do so. (They are very reminiscent of Narnia.)
4. From Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice I learned that the real meat of a story is in compelling, dynamic characters. I was given this book at age 13 and have read it at least once a year ever since.
5. J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter helped me to see that fantasy need not be allegorical in order to contain Christian themes, symbols, and messages, and that sometimes the most commercial-looking literature can be the most profound. I also learned from Harry Potter the joy of growing up with characters and that a series of books must be planned from beginning to end before the ink ever hits the page if it is to be a success. (I could also go into the literary alchemy that I learned from reading these books, but I would have to then also give credit to author and "Hogwarts Professor" John Granger).
6. And last, but not least, The Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander. Although children's fantasy, I only stumbled upon these books as an adult... and fell immediately in love with them. From them I learned that epic fantasy (ala Lord of the Rings) could also come in a small package. They also reaffirmed everything that I had already learned from all my previous inspirations about the hero of a story: He/she must start out flawed and learn a little something along each step of the way. And although the hero need not be perfect by the end of a tale, the greatest lesson that he/she can learn is how to be selfless and self-sacrificing. Surround this hero with caring, bold, empathetic, loving, and humorous friends, and it should be a formula that works every time.

Well, I realize that I have been long-winded, but I am rather scatterbrained from lack of sleep (self-imposed... but I could not miss the midnight premier of Harry Potter 7 last night!). I hope this has been interesting. I have half a mind to revisit some of these topics in later blogs throughout the course of the year. But for now, to bed!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


The Oracle is now available on Amazon! It takes a while for all of the information to be uploaded to Amazon, but if you click on the link to the right, you can get directly to the page where you can purchase it. Don't forget that if you buy more than one, you can get free super saver shipping!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Available for Purchase!

I am happy to announce that book 2 of The Gateway Chronicles: The Oracle is now available for purchase! Just follow the link: The way that createspace works is that it is immediately for sale at the e-store (above) and it will show up on Amazon over the course of the next several days. I will be babysitting Amazon to check up on when it becomes available and will be sure to set up a hyperlink as soon as possible. A few notes on when and how to purchase: If you know that you only want to purchase one copy at the time being, it helps me the most to purchase it on the e-store mentioned above. If, however, you know that you want to immediately order two or more copies, it would be better for YOU to wait for it to show up on Amazon. Amazon offers free super saver shipping on purchases over $25.00, so larger orders save you money on shipping on Amazon (although I make about half the amount on the actual book compared to what I make on the e-store). It will also come available at large bookstores like Barnes and Noble or Books A Million for order, but I make very little money if they are purchased through the large chains. (Really, though, I'm happy for it to be purchased through any and every channel! I just want people to read my books!). If you live in town, you can also purchase it by paying me directly to order one in for you. I pay shipping in that situation and make the most money on the actual book. Well, I think that's all! I have to say that I feel an immense amount of relief at having finished the second book! Now I will rest for a few months, and then on to book 3: The White Thread.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Final Review

The Oracle is finished and submitted for its final review. This review process is typically very fast and I hope to be able to say that it will be approved in the morning, but we'll see. I'm a tiny bit concerned about some sizing on the cover, but if there is a problem with that, I should be able to get it ironed out within a day. Either way, I HOPE that it will be available for sale by the end of the weekend.

I just have to say that the completion of this project at the end here has been so totally exhausting. This week has been filled with many sleepless nights, and I've been struggling with migraines and an ulcer (heh, go figure) for the past two weeks. It's almost painful to be this close to the end and simply sitting and waiting for the review to go through, but waiting is part of the process as well. Next year when I am getting out book 3: The White Thread I'm going to try to manage my time more efficiently so that I don't feel this way around this same time a year from now. If somebody were to ask me if it is all worth it, however, I would of course say yes. I know that writing is in my blood, and it gives me a euphoric rush like nothing else on earth. To steal from Chariots of Fire, "When I [write], I feel God's pleasure!" I wish that I could come up with something more profound than that right now, but it is almost 3:30 in the morning and I have been working on finishing up the final revisions for 8 hours (following an 8 hour work day teaching, of course). I think that it is time to go to bed.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Meet the New Narks

Well, I had promised a few sneak peeks before The Oracle is officially published, and I realized that I had only posted one so far! So, I thought that I would introduce you all to two new narks that show up in book 2.

Wal Wyn ... was the fairest day nark she had ever seen. His eyes were so pale that they were almost clear, and his hair was not just blond, but white blond. Borna Fero, by comparison, was much darker as a day nark (his hair could almost be called light brown), and he was unusually thick and stocky. He wore his hair in a myriad of tiny braids, and the expression on his face looked a little crazed. He stood now swinging a large knife over and over between his hands, and when he'd introduced himself to Darcy that morning, he had told her that he had been raised by bears.
I had a lot of fun writing these two characters, and I hope that you enjoy reading about them in The Oracle. Speaking of which, I have the proof copy in my hand and I hope to be able to say that it is available for sale by the end of this week!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Six is Back

Just a quick note: Book 1: The Six is once again up for sale. It has it's new cover, and I've updated the thumbnail here.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Oracle Update

I decided to go ahead and answer the question posed in the comments to my last post via a new blog post (btw, thanks to paranormal fantasies for alerting me to the fact that the new cover for The Six is already up on Amazon! I will update the thumbnail hyperlink on here as soon as I can). The question was whether or not I have any update on the release date of The Oracle. The answer to that is yes and no. I have a tentative release date of two to three weeks from now. Unfortunately, publishing with createspace does not allow me the opportunity of knowing exactly when it will go up for sale, but here's where I am in the process: My artists and I are working out a few kinks in the cover art for The Oracle (resizing). As soon as I get that final artwork, I will order a proof copy. Then I have one final read-through to complete, the final proof to order, and it will be done! It really could go very quickly, assuming that nothing untoward happens. I am MORE than ready to have it finished, and I am so excited to start getting feedback. One of my great friends and benefactors is reading the draft this weekend, so we'll see what she says. My student reader read it straight through three times in a week and said that she cried at the end. Yes! I made somebody emote.

Anyhow, check out the Amazon link if you would like to see the new cover art for The Six, which will go back up for sale as soon as I can approve the proof with the new artwork (hopefully in a couple days). Thanks to everybody for all your support!

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Just a quick note: Book 1: The Six will NOT be available for sale for (hopefully) just a couple days. I have placed the title on hold so as to put the new cover on the book. I will post when it is once again available for sale.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Passage Sneak Peek!

Okay, in the rundown to publication (now that we are roughly a month out according to my optimistic schedule) I want to post from time to time little sneak peaks from the text of The Oracle. Here is one of my favorite passages from Chapter 19: The Unwilling Participant:

It was then that she noticed the large raft that served as the ferry. An ancient man was clinging to a long, gnarled pole as though it was an extension of his arm, staring at them; one eye was completely obscured by cataracts. He looks like Charon, Darcy thought with a shiver, ferryman of the dead! She hoped that she wasn’t being prophetic.

I worked several hours on revisions today. I hope to be ready to order my proof by the first of October!

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Slow Drag

Right about now is the time that I realize how much of a slow drag the revision process actually is. I'm arguably about halfway through, and the end is not nearly as close as I would like it to be. If I did not have a full-time job, I would certainly be done with revisions by now, but I DO have a full-time job (and it is a job that I love) that requires my time and attention. I have a student reader all lined up to do a revision for me once I get my first proof copy put together, but I have to finish my end first. She keeps bugging me for the book and I feel badly because I keep putting her off. But it's all good; it will come together in the end. My release date of late October should still be achievable. Here's what I have completed thus far:
-My first complete read-through/revision.
-My rough draft has been edited for grammar and content by two experts.
-Half of the above-mentioned edits written in to my paper rough draft.
Here's what I have yet to complete:
-Finish entering the last half of edits to paper rough draft.
-Enter all revisions into the computer draft.
-Submit revised/edited draft to receive proof copy.
-Give proof copy to student reader.
-Make changes suggested by student reader.
-Submit and receive second proof copy.
-Perform another read-through revision.
-Make all necessary changes.
-Submit and receive third proof and okay for publication.

Okay... so maybe I'm not quite halfway through. What can I say, I'm an optimist at heart!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A Little Dose of Insanity

I realized recently that it takes a little dose of insanity to be a fantasy writer. (Okay, quick dash away from the computer to chastise my one year old for throwing a building block at my three year old's head.) I came to this realization one night last week when I was home alone and I randomly started brainstorming some ideas for book three (which has a tentative title TBA). I was pacing my living room talking to myself... and, I mean, not just talking, but having a full-blown back and forth conversation. So anyhow, I paused mid-stream and said to myself, "If anybody walked into the room right now, they would that I am totally nuts!" But that got me to thinking. I wonder how many other creative types have similarly borderline crazy habits? Is there a fine line between creativity and insanity? Perhaps. Perhaps... Anyhow, quick update: Notes for book three are coming along quite nicely. I've conceptualized a few important plot points and am excited at where the story is taking me. Revisions on The Oracle are moving. My two editors have finished their revisions, and I next have to combine their revisions with my revisions to push out a second draft. I am hoping to move the publication date up a couple weeks, but we'll see what happens!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Covers that Kill

Don't judge a book by its cover, right? Yeah right. That is, of course, exactly what most people DO. I've witnessed many book covers that kill in a good way, and many more that kill in a bad way. I would prefer that mine be the former, of course. But what, exactly, makes for a good cover? Firstly, and I got this from watching, of all things, a reality show this summer, the cover art should serve the title. It really is an act of marketing; draw the consumer's eye to the title. Have you ever noticed how many very popular authors have their names as the largest thing on the front of their books? (eg. Nora Roberts) This is because they have become SO popular that their readers no longer really care what their stories are called, so long as they are the authors. In the case of starting out authors, however (such as yours truly), the title should really dominate the scene. But that is not to say that the artwork should be boring, or, heaven forbid, cheesy. Cheesy covers can kill an author dead. Case in point, one of my favorite modern fantasy authors (who shall remain unnamed) has had the misfortune of having the worst covers imaginable put on her books. They are cliched in every sense of the word, and scream "I am a cheesy Christian fantasy novel," when the books themselves are anything BUT. She is an amazingly talented writer and crafter of stories whose books have often been passed over by people too embarrassed to be seen with them. Even I carry them around face down. Anyhow, I diverge... What I'm really trying to say is that I know my cover on The Six isn't anything to write home about, but I think that I at least avoided the cheese-train. I am working with, however, some very talented and wonderful student artists to craft new covers for my books, and I am confident that they will turn out spectacularly. We are aiming for simplicity, yet something eye-catching. They should appeal to both males and females, and they should be relevant to the stories. This is one of those aspects of the publishing process that most established authors don't get to take part in (as far as I've always heard, I could be wrong), and I am so happy, as a self-published author, to be able to have my hands in the process. Hopefully the end result will be covers that kill in a good way, helping my books to reach a wider audience, and helping my artists to share their craft with the world. And now, I realize, I have written too much. I'm sure that most of you have given up on this rambling blog post by now. If you have stuck with it to this point, my hat's off to you. You are either very bored, or a very big fan... or perhaps just curious... like a cat. (That's why my friends call me Whiskers). Oh boy, it IS late when I start pulling out Will Ferrel lines. Good night.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Quick update

I don't really have much to say right now beyond wanting to assure all of you that I am working hard on revisions and enjoying the process. I'm feeling some frustration over a lack of time, as usual, but I know that I can pull together one full revision before school starts on Monday. I only have 75 more pages to read through to finish my first revision, and then I will need to go back and enter all my changes in the computer. I'm a little old fashioned about revising; I like to have a paper copy that I can mark up with a pen. Plus, I find that it is helpful to have to re-enter the changes on the computer because it forces me to go over those changes in my head one more time. I do have to say that I am greatly enjoying my own book. My brain is alight with all sorts of possibilities for the next installment and I am seriously considering getting to work on it shortly after publishing this installment. We'll see, though. Trying to write during the school year can be like trying to swim upstream; a lot of energy expended for not a lot of gain. But I might try... I might. I have so many OTHER stories in my head right now, too, that it's appealing to finish this series in less than six years. Well, no promises. More soon!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Back Cover Excerpt

I have to say, taking a few days off from the writing process has felt wonderful! I fell asleep last night so fast that I don't even remember tossing and turning at all. But I am anxious to get on with my revisions, as well. Anyhow, I took a few minutes this afternoon to tweak the back cover excerpt. I'm not thrilled with this, and it's really too long to go on the back cover, but it's a take off of what I wrote before I actually started writing the novel itself. So, I thought I'd share what I came up with. Feedback is most welcome. What actually ends up on the book should be similar to this:

One year has gone by since Darcy Pennington’s life changed forever. A year ago she’d thought that magic only existed in fairy tales. A year ago the existence of parallel realms would have seemed preposterous to her. A year ago she’d had no real friends. Now all that had changed.

It is the summer before freshman year and a return to Cedar Cove Family Camp also means a return to Alitheia for Darcy and her five friends. Remembrances of Alitheia are bittersweet for Darcy, however, as her elusive purpose and uncertain future in the magical realm continues to evade her. Egged on by the boy she is supposed to someday marry, Darcy petitions the Oracle, a mysterious entity that can answer any question, and finds herself sucked into a journey that she did not intend to take. Darcy soon comes to realize that her journey to the Oracle has thrown the outcome of the prophecy itself into question, and endangered both new friends and old. Uncertainties continue to mount between Darcy and her companions, and an unwelcome visitor from Cedar Cove adds a layer of mystery that none of them were prepared for.

When Darcy reaches the end of her journey, it is to find herself with more questions than she started out with. And there is a cost associated with every answer that the Oracle gives... a cost that may be far greater than Darcy is willing to pay.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Reflections on being DONE!

I reach a point in every book that I'm reading (okay, if it's any good) where I simply can't put it down. I love that feeling of just HAVING to finish it, no matter how many hours you have to sit on your duff. Well, I reached that point in writing this weekend, which is rather more brain-exhausting than reading, but it was a similar feeling nonetheless. I wrote eight pages Sunday afternoon and, because I did not reach my requisite ten pages before my children woke up from their naps, I sat back down after they went to bed to write another two. Well, two turned into ten, turned into twenty, and before I knew it, I was staring at the clock on my laptop reading 3:38AM and thinking to myself, "I'm going to finish this, I just HAVE to!" And so I made myself some coffee, replaced my contacts for my glasses, and dug in. Part of the reason that I needed to get it done so bad was that I had just finished writing the climax of the story. (This included pacing back and forth across my living room at 2 in the morning with my journal and a pencil trying to write a poem for the climax chapter). Having gotten through that part, the downward slide increased (as it were... see blog post "Like Walking Downhill")and I couldn't shake the sense that I was basically finished with the story, even with thirty more pages to write. Thirty pages really isn't much, however, in story-land, so I also had to condense and cut to keep the book around 380 pages. Now, don't get upset! If, when revising my draft, I decide that the end feels rushed, I will add back in some of the elements that I cut out. (I easily had enough material planned for this book to take it to 450 pages.) I think that it will be effective as is, however, and that some of the cuts I made actually add to the mystery of the ending and will give me more things to build off of in the third book. Anyhow... so I finished the last chapter at 8:30 in the morning, by which time my two small children were squawking like baby birds to be let out of their beds, and so I reluctantly tried to accept that the epilogue was not going to get written at that time. But, I just couldn't, just COULDN'T, leave it like that! So after feeding my children breakfast, I put the laptop up on a shelf in my living room (out of the reach of grasping, sticky fingers) and typed the six-page epilogue while my boys hung on my legs (literally). You might think that makes me a bad mother, and I don't blame you, but it's not every day that you finish a novel, and I figured that it wasn't going to kill them if Mommy ignored them for a half hour. And now I'm able to give them so much better attention that the hard part of the process is over. Hey, I slept for over eight hours last night for the first time since I started writing The Oracle. That's something to rejoice about all on its own!

Okay, so rough draft of The Oracle? Check! Commence revisions...

Thursday, July 22, 2010

How to Write a Fight

So, I'm a girl, obviously. The most intimidating thing for me to write is a fight sequence. Anyone who knows me well can tell you that I am a Lord of the Rings officianado, and I have watched ALL the special features on ALL three extended director's cut dvds. Anyhow, where I'm going with this is that in those special features, Peter Jackson mentioned that he never wanted to write "kissing scenes," and so he would just write in "and they kiss" on the script and hand it over to the women to fill in. Likewise, the women didn't want to write fight scenes, so they would write in "and they fight" and hand it back to the men. I couldn't help but think about this over the last couple days as I knew I had this imminent fight to write. I'm always intimidated by writing fights because I worry that I won't be able to make it realistic or exciting. But then I got to thinking... I am NOT a sissy girl. I would rather watch Terminator any day over When Harry Met Sally, and I have seen more action movies than your average teenage boy. Of course I can write a fight scene! And it's not like I don't have any existing fight scenes to reference for help, so I took out a few of my favorite fantasy novels and re-read some fights to see how others have done it. All things considered, it was quite a process just to psych myself up to get this one chapter written, but I think the outcome has been pretty successful. I wrote it VERY late last night, and I love it! But I guess the jury will be out until the book is published and read by others. SO, the chapter is called "Magician and Mayhem," and I look forward to hearing from you all whether I wrote it successfully or not.

I have reached page 286 and I think that I could possibly finish this book over the weekend. It sure would be nice to be able to sleep again!

My three-year-old is watching Phineas and Ferb right now and Phineas just said, "Ferb, I think we just stopped, and/or started, an alien invasion!" Lol. I love that show.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Like Walking Downhill

Well, I can happily say that I have reached the halfway point in The Oracle. I am on page 190 and, like I already said, I want the novel to be about 375 pages. So I guess you could say that I am a little over halfway. Yay! Writing the second half of a novel is a little bit like what Treebeard said about going south: it's like walking downhill. I took the time tonight after my husband went to bed to read over the last fifty pages that I wrote, and I'm very pleased with it. I wrote a chapter today in which I introduced seven new characters. Let me just say that I had a lot of fun with naming these characters, and anybody who likes to look for deeper meanings in things should look them up after the book comes out. :O) It's very late, I'm very tired, and I'm going to bed now.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


I have managed to turn out over fifty pages this week, which is great. I feel like, okay, I can do this! I am now on page 118 and have a good chunk of the main plot introduced, all though I haven't really gotten to the meat and potatoes of the book yet, which is, of course, the journey to the oracle. I'm feeling okay about that, though, because I can't treat this story like it exists in a vacuum. I have elements from the first book that have to be incorporated and expanded upon, and I have to think about the four books that will follow this one. SO, while the Oracle is the main point of this book, it is only a part of the overall story, so it's okay if I spend some time on other things. Really what I see before me right now are three sub-conflicts: One that is internal for Darcy, one that she and Tellius will tackle together, and one between the Six and Colin Mackaby that they will hash out together with Rubidius. And all of these have to play court to the overall conflict of getting rid of Tselloch and closing the gateways to his world. I need to acknowledge, too, that there will probably be further sub-conflicts that will emerge as the story goes on. SO much to keep straight! It's fun, though, it really is, and every time I have a eureka moment about how to piece things together, I feel really good about myself. (That sounds rather self-absorbed, doesn't it? Oh well). I'm going to do my best to keep my momentum up, and I think I can really get this thing done by early August. My husband is going to read through the first couple chapters tomorrow and give me some much-needed feedback. Looking forward to that!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Getting Back on Track

Okay, so I've had a few delays this summer with my writing schedule. My boys were sick the first week of June, and then we took a family road trip the third week and I, unfortunately, did not get any real work done on The Oracle while we were visiting family in MN. (We did have a lot of fun, though). Driving 17 hours, and through the night nonetheless, does give one plenty of time to ponder plot, however, so I did get quite a bit of brainstorming done. I think it was sometime mid-Missouri in the middle of the night while all my boys (husband included) were sleeping that I figured out some pretty juicy details. My brain has always worked well late at night (or early in the morning, however you want to look at it), I often have a hard time falling asleep because my brain is so active after dark, so it was actually a pretty productive time for me. I also had the presence of mind to write down everything I came up with once we arrived at our friends' house. Aside from that, however, work on my book on the trip was nil. Okay, so taking stock of everything, I had about fifty pages completed when we left. In the five days that we've been home I have really put my nose to the grindstone to get back on track and I managed to write 28 pages. Unfortunately, that's not enough, so I have to pick up the pace. I figured out the math that if I am shooting for another 375 page novel, I need to write roughly 10 pages a day to finish by August 2nd when my teacher in-service begins. I could push the deadline back to finishing by the time school starts, though, which still puts me at about 7 pages a day. So let's just average things out to 7-10 pages a day. That's a little daunting, but I'll get it done. I'm through the most difficult portion of the writing, I think. My main characters are back in Alitheia and almost everything that needed to be re-introduced has been. I've also introduced a couple new characters that I'm pretty excited about and everything seems to be falling into place nicely for me to build to the real conflict of the story. I wrote a description of Tellius today, as he is at age 12, and, well, let's just say that adolescence is not always friendly. I should know, as I teach adolescents, and I get to observe their physical transformations. Some of them breeze through it, but it is really rough on others. I do have to say, though, sometimes the kids that look the most awkward through their adolescent years turn out to be the most attractive people in the end. *wink*

Monday, June 14, 2010

Rolling, rolling, rolling...

I really feel like the ball is rolling on The Oracle now. I have written 42 pages and, for the most part, have a clear idea of where the story is going. It's funny because I had diverged quite a bit from my outline and was just questioning the validity of even having an outline when I hit a little snag in the story and had to refer back to it to pull me back on track. The chapter I just finished (chapter 5: The Tail) is the longest chapter so far and I am on the cusp of sending the six main characters back to Alitheia. I'm excited to begin writing that stage of the book as it will be something quite different from anything I've written in the Chronicles so far. I have to now begin formulating in my mind how I am going to set up reintroducing Alitheia to my readers. The second book in any series is always difficult in this way: how does the author describe something in such a way as to be different from how it was described in the first book, but complete enough to introduce a potential new reader to the story? I don't want to describe everything the same way over and over again (there will be six books, after all). I just hope that I can provide my readers with sufficient diversity!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The First Hurdle

I can proudly say that I have completed the first two chapters of The Oracle. Obviously it is all a rough draft, but I really feel like I have gotten over the first hurdle. Even better, I really like what I've written so far, and this book has taken on its own identity almost immediately. It's always amazing to me how, once you get rolling, the characters lead you in different directions than you thought you were going to go. Not in very big ways, but significant enough for me to diverge from my outline within the first couple pages (that's what makes it a working outline, I suppose). At any rate, I think my readers will be pleased with how the book is shaping up. It's a little more mature (not in a bad way, in the sense that my main characters are now a year older and should act more mature) and while I think it maintains the spirit of the first book for continuity, it is also something completely new. Darcy is in a much different place at the opening of this book than she was at the opening of the last one, and I think people will be pleased to know that she's not going to be quite so disagreeable, at least, not right away. (She still has to be flawed, you know?) Anyhow, here's the first two chapter titles (liable to change!): Chapter 1: Darcy Has a Dream. Chapter 2: Questions Without Answers.
So long for now!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Almost there!

Goodness! It has been much too long since I have updated my blog! Well, here's my excuse: I'm a full-time school teacher and the school year is winding down. It's crazy right now, but school will be out in 4 short days and I am counting down the time until I can begin actually writing The Oracle. So I guess this is just a short update to anybody out there who cares that I have not disappeared off the face of the planet, and I have a novel in my head that is crying to get out! I hope to have weekly or biweekly updates on The Oracle throughout the summer.
So long for now!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Sneak Peak

Today I sat down and wrote the back cover of The Gateway Chronicles, book 2: The Oracle. Here it is in its entirety:

One year has gone by since Darcy Pennington’s life changed forever. A year ago she’d thought that magic only existed in fairy tales. A year ago the existence of parallel realms would have seemed preposterous to her. A year ago she’d had no real friends. Now all that had changed.

It is the summer before freshman year and a return to Cedar Cove Family Camp also means a return to Alitheia for Darcy and her five friends. The return to Alitheia is bittersweet for Darcy, however, as her elusive purpose and uncertain future in the magical realm continues to evade her. Egged on by the boy she is supposed to someday marry, Darcy sets out on a quest to find the Oracle, a mysterious entity that can answer any question. In the end, however, Darcy may discover that the answer to her question is not worth the cost of asking it.

I am looking for feedback on this, so don't hold back! It's only the first draft and I don't have any problem making changes. I am heading into Spring Break this week and hopefully I can get some work done on the book. We'll see! Either way, The Oracle will be published around Thanksgiving this year.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Hook

I've put a great deal of thought into The Oracle (book 2 of the Gateway Chronicles) this month, particularly concerning what the hook for the second book should look like. Of course I already know what the story is going to be (I'd be in a great deal of trouble right now if I didn't at least have that figured out), but I think there is a great challenge to be met in drawing the reader into the story right away in the first chapter. Writing a good hook is always a challenge, but I think it's even more difficult when you have a series of stories like mine, in which the principle characters have to get to the other world before the real conflict of the story develops. The Six started off very gradually because it was introducing the entire series, and I want The Oracle to be a distinct break from that. I determined long ago that each book has to start in "our" world, so I took care in The Six to set up elements of conflict that can carry over from Alitheia to "here." And I think that just this morning I figured out exactly what the hook for book 2 should look like. (No, I'm not going to tell you!) Now that I know the beginning, I feel like I can finally start putting together the outline for the book.

Okay, I've been feeding peach puffs across the table to my ten-month-old, but I think he needs something more substantive. Now he's grabbing at the laptop. Time to go!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Contest Entry

Well, I just finished submitting my book to the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA) contest. I have never entered a writing contest before and it was super nerve-wracking just trying to make sure that everything was formatted correctly and just right. It's really a matter of jumping through the same publishing hoops as usual: They will read my "pitch" (ie. query) to determine if they want to look at anything else. So if the pitch is not engaging enough, that's basically end of story. I'm torn between feeling really confident about the pitch I wrote and really morose about, but it's submitted and done regardless. I know that I have a good story to tell! The positive feedback has been overwhelming! Now it's just a matter of getting somebody in the publishing industry to take notice. Okay, to avoid sounding like a broken record, I'll leave off on that for now. My thanks to all of you who are supporting me!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Waiting Game

What an amazing time this publishing experience has been! It's incredible to me that I have "fans." People have read my book, like it, and are eager for more! I have gotten nothing but positive feedback so far from my readers, and some of it has been VERY positive. So, now that I have gotten the first wave of books out and we are through the holidays, it is time for me to start actively promoting myself again. I feel like I am stuck in a waiting game for a while, though. I am waiting for those who have read and liked it to tell other people about it who will then go purchase and read it. I am also waiting to hear from some various people who have given copies to people in the media and the publishing industry and whatnot. I feel like official publication just HAS to happen for me! I don't know how long it will take, but I think I will get there eventually. As to what else I can do right now, I'm going to take some copies to the local libraries and try to set up a few more book signings. That's as good a place to start as any!