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Friday, December 30, 2011

Character Bio - Yahto Veli

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone in this holiday season! I've taken a short hiatus from blogging while we celebrated the holidays and entertained family, but now I think it's time to return to my promised character bios. So I am sitting amidst the detritus of new Christmas toys in my living room and ignoring the monumental mess around me to take a little time out to write about Yahto Veli. I should say before I begin, however, that writing a character bio about a nark is rather difficult as each nark is really two characters, not one, and none more so than Yahto Veli, but I hope to put together a bio that would please Veli and at least cause Yahto not to scowl too deeply. I'm also going to try and avoid repeating anything that I've already explained about narks in previous blog posts, so if you find yourself confused, you might want to reference my "Student Questions" posts. And so, we begin...

Full Name: Yahto Veli (Narks do not have surnames, although they do belong to clans).
Siblings: Yahto Veli had only one sibling, in the manner of all narks, who is mentioned briefly in book 3, if you can find him. You will notice the past tense used here because his brother, Yeriel Yavin, died before our story began.
Physical description: Yahto has black hair, tan skin, and dark grey eyes, while Veli has blond hair, light blue eyes, and fair skin. As with all narks, Yahto Veli has long hair that falls about to his shoulders, large, pointed ears which he can twitch and move slightly independent of the rest of his head, and very angular features that are humanoid, but ever-so-slightly otherworldly. He is tall and slender with very long fingers. When the Six first arrive in Alitheia, he is about 50 years old (equivalent to about 30 in human years). After his time with the Oracle, however, he has aged to about  85 in nark years, placing him in the early years of "middle aged" according to his kind.
Personality: Here is where I have had the most fun with Yahto Veli. While most night and day narks share nearly-identical personalities with their counterparts, Yahto and Veli are unique in their distinct personality differences. While much on the surface of their personalities is different, however, I've tried to drive home that at their hearts, they are the same. Yahto is glum, pessimistic, impatient, and caustic, while Veli is cheerful, optimistic, a patient friend and companion, and kind. Their personality shifts, therefore, mirror their appearance shifts. What they have in common, however, is a deep thoughtfulness and loyalty. They are each devoted to the cause of the rebellion and would lay down their lives for any of their friends.
In Alitheia: Yahto Veli is part of a special caste of narks who have joined with the humans in a traditional relationship of service and protection. For hundreds of years, narks who felt called to these duties would separate themselves from their communities and clans and join together in training and preparation for this task, which begins when they are very young. Only a select few ever choose to take the Oath of Service to a member of the ruling royal household, and Yahto Veli is part of the rotation of narks from this caste that go through terms of trial to see if they are suited for this special position. Yahto Veli broke tradition by making the Oath of Service to Darcy that you find at the end of book 3.
Trivia: Yahto Veli's name was chosen very specifically. Yahto means Blue (Native American) and Veli means Brother (Finnish). So, essentially, he is a "Blue (or grumpy) Brother." I was originally going to kill Yahto Veli off at the end of the series, but I found that my readership became so attached to him (and so quickly!) that I simply couldn't do that. I still needed him to make a self-sacrifice of some serious sort (holy alliteration, Batman!), though, so I came up with the idea of his episode with the Oracle to replace killing him. He is engaged in a courtship with Voitto Vesa, although I cannot elaborate on where that is going because my readers still do not know the fate of Voitto Vesa as of the end of book 3. He will continue to play a dominant role in each of the remaining three books. He was the first nark that I envisioned.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Character Bio - Tellius

The much-promised and long-awaited character bio on Tellius is finally here! Thanks for sticking with me...

Full name: Tellius Ecclektos VII
Parents: Tellius Ecclektos VI and Mitera Ecclektos
Siblings: Cadmus Ecclektos (1 1/2 years younger)
Physical description: Tellius has changed a lot from book to book, but he's on his way to being tall (~6 feet) and lean. He has dark brown hair that is wavy and brown eyes with flecks of green in them. He has a straight nose and freckles, although not as pale a complexion as Darcy. He has a square jaw and strong lines in his face.
Personality: Tellius's personality is rather tricky. I've kept him pretty mysterious for a while so that I can reveal things about him a little bit at a time. As you find out in book 3, however, Tellius has a lot of repressed feelings of fear, anger, and personal torment. He is haunted by the childhood memory of his parents' murders and is hyper aware of his own mortality and of the imminent danger that the remaining few members of his family are in. He tends toward seriousness and resentment over things from his past and things foretold to come in his future. Because of these things, he had to grow up much faster than usual for a boy of his age, and he tries desperately to control any aspect of his life that he can. It's not all negative for Tellius, though! As with many people who go through extreme trials, he will eventually allow them to transform him into a strong ruler and someone who is fiercely protective of the people he loves. He's also quite courageous, if a little rash at times, and thoughtful. And, well, there's a lot more that I could say about him, but I have to leave some things to be discovered!
Likes: Swordplay, archery, horseback riding, reading, art.
Dislikes: Having his life determined for him, hypocrites and people who act fake, autumn, being left behind/left out.
Birthday: September 15th
In Alitheia: Tellius is the seventh of his name in the Ecclektos line of rulers. He is a descendant of the first legitimate human king of Alitheia and the bearer of the promise of the prophecy that a king (presumably in his line) would someday wed the Intended. He is gifted with inverse fire and water magic, which is very unusual because most people in Alitheia are born with earth magic.
Trivia: His governess, Eleanor Stevenson, is like a surrogate mother to him. Tellius is my favorite character in the entire series and easily the most complex. While Tselloch ruled at Ormiskos, Tellius and his brother hid in plain sight as servants under their first cousin once removed, Tullin, at the low castle-keep of Kenidros. It took me a long, long time to settle on Tellius's name; it could not be too difficult to say, and I wanted it to convey a sense of royalty while also sounding friendly. I eventually based both his names off of Greek words that have significant meaning to his identity, but I'm not revealing what they are! Although his interactions with Cadmus have not been given much time in the books, Tellius loves his little brother more than anybody else in the world and is attached to him as only the older of a pair of orphaned boys could be. Tellius is the funnest character to write. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I'm Official!

I know that I promised a character bio on Tellius, and I will make good on that, I've just gotten a bit swamped early this week with activities and so I am a little behind. I will do my best to get that done tomorrow night! I did HAVE to blog about what happened today, though! Today I signed a publishing contract with The Writer's Coffee Shop Publishing House (TWCS) for the first three books of The Gateway Chronicles and the remaining three in the series. So that means that I am now no longer an indie author, but an official, contracted author! Huzzah! Follow the link below to read about TWCS, and I'll keep the blog updated as I have news about the new releases of the books. (They are still available on Amazon and Kindle, but will go unavailable for a time as TWCS gets ready to re-release them).

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Character Bio - Darcy

It was suggested to me to start a series of mini character bios, so that's going to be my main focus for the next several blog posts. I hope you enjoy!

Full name: Darcy Marie Pennington
Parents: Allan and Sue Pennington, owners of Pennington Furniture Surplus
Siblings: Roger Pennington (3 years younger)
Physical description: Darcy is about medium height for a girl (I imagine 5'4" or 5'5") and thin, but not overly skinny. She has wavy, mahogany-brown hair that she wears long, pale skin, freckles, and grey eyes.
Personality: Darcy has a very introverted temperament. She tends to be introspective which, at first, keeps her trapped in a wallowing pit of self-pity and selfishness. Early on, she tends to assume that everybody around her is either judging her, not interested in her, or just as selfish as she is. As she grows throughout the series, however, her introspection helps her to become deeply sensitive to the feelings of others, thoughtful of her words and actions, and braver than many of her friends. Darcy will always struggle will awkwardness in social situations, however, and never has an easy manner with people, especially when she is uncomfortable.
Likes: Animals, reading (especially fantasy literature), rock music, history, and French toast (to name a few!)
Dislikes: Pop culture trends, being in a room full of people she doesn't know, girly stuff, biology, and touching people.
Birthday: March 2nd
In Alitheia: She is the Intended. Her standard is a horse and she is bonded with a horse named Hippondus. She can manipulate earth and air elemental magic. Her special talend is to mind-speak with high animals. She is supposed to marry Tellius and become queen of Alitheia.
Trivia: I came up with Darcy's name after watching Pride and Predjudice one night. It worked perfectly because I have little homages to all my favorite authors in the books. After I had her name picked, the rest of the story just fell into place. Darcy's mom and dad are from the South (they lived in Birmingham for a time). Her mom was a cheerleader for Alabama and her dad was a baseball player for Auburn. Darcy blushes with her ears because I blush with my ears, and she has freckles because I always wanted to have freckles.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Book Signing

Well, tonight was a very fun night! I had a book signing sandwiched in-between socials for the Logic and Rhetoric students at my school, and a lot of people showed up! I sold clean out of The White Thread within 45 minutes (something I truly did not expect) and sold several additional copies of my previous two books as well. After the signing, I had a question and answer session with about twenty of the students who stayed for the social, and it was quite fun to listen to some of their theories and speculations and to get to answer some questions about my books. And then I came home and got to sit down and order fifty more copies in for people who still want to buy them! It was a good night. Tomorrow I get to have a conversation with a professional in the business to discuss some options for my books, so I'm looking forward to that as well. I'm going to continue focusing on marketing and sales up through Christmas here, and then hopefully begin work on book 4.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Going Strong!

I find myself woefully behind on my blogging, for which I sincerely apologize. The effort of completing early marketing efforts on The White Thread and monitoring early sales has consumed that part of my brain that is available for my writing endeavors (ie. that part which is not taken up with being a wife, mother, housekeeper, and full-time teacher). I am happy to report, however, that my sales are going strong, and last I checked I had two five-star reviews up on Amazon for the print edition (which you should check out if you're new to me or my writing). I'm getting fabulous reviews from those people who have already read my third installment of The Gateway Chronicles, and I have a book release party/signing scheduled and coming up soon (for info, visit the group fan page for The Gateway Chronicles on facebook). All things considered, the past couple weeks have been a whirlwind, and I'm doing all I can the keep the momentum strong for the Christmas season. I am constantly being told, "This should be a movie!" or, "WHEN is this going to be a movie?" I usually laugh and say, rather tongue-in-cheek, "Well, that depends on YOU!" In all reality, though, that is the truth. As a lowly independent author, the success or failure of this series rests largely on the shoulders of those of my fans that are willing to spread the word, write me reviews on Amazon, Kindle, Barnes and Noble, Good Reads, and wherever else my books can be ordered, buy my books for others as Christmas or birthday presents, and place copies in school and public libraries. (Some of you are already doing so many of these things, and for that I genuinely thank you!). For my part, I promise to keep writing, through this series and beyond, and to keep scheduling book signings, to keep blogging (hopefully more frequently than I have as of late), and to keep being active on Twitter and facebook. Thanks again to all of you who have enthusiastically helped me, and if you're new to me, click on one of the book icons on the right to read about my books and what my readers think of them. Bye for now! (To follow me on Twitter, search for @kbhoyle1).

Monday, October 24, 2011

Print Edition on Amazon

Just a quick note to let you all know that the print edition is now up on Amazon! I changed the hyperlink on the right to direct you to Amazon instead of my e-store for those of you who enjoy benefiting from free super saver shipping on purchases over $25. It may take a few more days for the book cover image to load to Amazon, but the book itself is there. Don't forget, The Gateway Chronicles make great Christmas presents for avid readers, young adult readers, and even reluctant readers (I've had many testimonials to that effect). If anybody would like to look into getting a signed copy for somebody, contact me directly at

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Print Edition Now Available!

After much blood, sweat, and tears, The Gateway Chronicles 3: The White Thread is now available in print format! Huzzah, huzzah! If you click on the link on the right, that will take you to my e-store with createspace where you can purchase my book immediately. If you prefer to use Amazon, it will take 5-7 days for the posting to upload to Amazon, and it will take 6-8 weeks for it to show up at all major booksellers. As soon as it shows up on Amazon, I will change the hyperlink on the right to direct you directly to Amazon instead of my e-store. I'm very excited to be finished at last! Kindle sales have continued strong and lots of people have already read it (some people already more than once!). There will be a book release party at my school sometime soon.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Update on the Print Edition

So, frustration of frustrations, I received my final proof copy today to discover that createspace did, indeed, shrink all the text down instead of trimming the extra white space around the outside. Again, I submitted the exact same size document as I always have, and it has never been a problem before, but this time it was. I spoke with customer service just now and they are sending my query on to technical support. They will hopefully just go ahead and fix it for me, as they've always done before, but they might require me to submit another document (which would really be frustrating, as I can't send any other sort of document than what I've been sending all along). Anyhow, it's going to take several days, probably, for me to hear back from them, and then I won't be able to okay it for purchase until I approve another proof. This was really not meant to take this long, so I apologize to all of you that are waiting for it. I'll stay on top of it and get it done as quickly as possible!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Kindle Edition, Now Available!

I'm happy to announce that the Kindle edition of The White Thread is now available for only $4.99. Just follow the link below to purchase it. Don't forget, this is book 3 of The Gateway Chronicles, so if you haven't read books 1 and 2 yet, you will want to do so! Book 1, The Six, and Book 2, The Oracle are available on Kindle for only $2.99 each.

For those of you who are a little more traditional readers (such as myself), the print edition of The White Thread is forthcoming. I'll post as soon as it is available!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Progress Update

The GOOD news is that I have finished my final revisions and submitted everything to createspace for review. I have also set up my Kindle edition and that is in the process of publishing. The bad news is that for some reason createspace has gotten back to me stating that the interior file I submitted is too large and they have, basically, made it fit. So I CAN order my proof, but I need to check it really carefully to make sure that everything looks okay. This is very puzzling for me because I submitted the exact same interior file size and in the exact same manner as I always have, so I don't know why I would get that message from them now. (For example, I didn't get this message on the first file review for this book, and I literally took the same file I submitted and made revisions to it and submitted it again.) So, anyhow, my excitement at being finished is somewhat dampened by this. I've ordered the proof, but it will take a few days to get here. If, for some reason, it doesn't look as though it fits, I will have to figure out what changed between last time and this time, and that could take some time. If everything looks good, I will okay it for publication. It's a bit frustrating.

Regardless of what happens there, the Kindle edition should be ready within the day, so that's something to look forward to. Here's hoping that everything is okay with the proof copy!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Productivity... or Lack Thereof

I know that I am way overdue for an update on my progress, and for that I apologize. Just chalk it up to the productivity problems I have been having for the past month. Let's just say that I am trying my hardest to get The White Thread out as soon as possible. I have been, however, severely hampered by exhaustion ever since school started up for the year (it's difficult to get revision work done when every time you sit down to work on it, you fall asleep!). I have a great teaching schedule at work this year, I'm just... tired. I'm recovering now from a bout with the flu, too, which hasn't helped things. Once I started to feel a little better this afternoon, I got about an hour's worth of work done, so that's good, and I'm going to try and hammer out the rest of the fact-checking and revisions starting this weekend and into next week. I think it's going to be very difficult to have book 3 done by Sept. 30th, but if I can't make that deadline, it will be finished in early October, THAT I can promise!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Student Questions, Take 2

Q: What inspired you to name the new world Alitheia?
A: This is a pretty simple question to answer. When I set out to write this series, I knew that I wanted most of my names to have very particular meanings - meanings that would tell the reader something about the place or person. Many of my names have been taken from Greek words, and "Alitheia" is one of those. I won't reveal what it means, but if you're interested enough, you should be able to figure it out!

Q: Did you base your books on The Lord of the Rings?
A: Not directly, no, but I have made it no secret that The Lord of the Rings is my favorite fantasy series of all time. There are aspects of my stories for which I have drawn inspiration from Tolkien's works (such as having the narks be a type of elf), but The Gateway Chronicles is a much different type of story. I really wanted to write something that was more The Chronicles of Narnia meets Harry Potter.

Q: How long does the publishing process take?
A: Well, I can really only speak to the self-publishing process. It really just takes as long or as short as I make it take! Createspace is very quick on their end of things as far as turning over the manuscript after review and the proofing process. What takes the longest for me is the revision and editing process, but as quickly as I get that done is as quickly as I can get the book published. All things considered, from the time I begin to write a novel to the time it is available for sale, about 4-5 months pass. Although I have not traditionally published, I have heard that that process often takes much longer.

Q: How many more books do you think you will write?
A: 15? 20? 30? 100? Lol, I don't know! All I DO know is that I already have multiple projects on the back burner. The project I am going to start after I write the final three installments of The Gateway Chronicles is a trilogy. Then I have another trilogy in mind, and after that a project that will be the sort of series I can continuously add books to (but I'm waiting for some public domain issues to clear first for that). I have another 3 or 4 book series partially planned after that, and... the list goes on and on. Let's just say that, God willing, I will write and publish at least one book a year for the rest of my life! (This actually answers about six questions I had to this effect).

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Student Questions, Take 1

Last week Monday I had the opportunity to speak at my school before an assembly of our Logic School students. During this time, many of them asked me questions pertaining to my books, and I had a blast answering them and getting to chat through various aspects of the my stories and the writing process in general. I knew, however, that I would have time to answer all of the questions, so I sent around a clipboard on which students could write some questions that they desired answers to. I thought I would take a few blog posts to answer some of those questions. This is the first of those blog posts.

Q: Have you written any other books?
A: Other than the first two books in The Gateway Chronicles, I have written a stand alone fantasy novel set in an entirely different world. It is called The Seventh Kingdom and is a pretty standard swords and sorcery type novel. I do not, however, plan on ever publishing that book as I started writing it when I was very young and worked on it for so many years that it does not work well as a consistent story. It was great practice for me, however, and it helped me to identify mistakes that I tend to make and what sort of author I am. In the future (after The Gateway Chronicles are complete) I do plan on writing many, many more books. You can probably plan on seeing one new book from me a year for as long as I continue to have story ideas.

Q: How do you come up with such great ideas like Yahto Veli?
A: I'm very flattered that so many of my readers have considered characters such as Yahto Veli (the narks) and others to be "great ideas." I guess the answer to this question is that I never know if an idea is going to turn out to be "great" when I conceive it... does any author, really? I always say, write what you know! Every great idea has some basis in reality. To address Yahto Veli in particular, I first had to conceive the narks. I think that every fantasy story has to have some unique creature, and I wanted mine to be the narks. At the real camp on which the story is based, there is a silly form letter that you can buy in the camp store to fill out and send home. The last option on the letter reads, "I have to go now because:" and then four reasons are listed, one of which is, "the night narks are coming to get me." I never knew what a night nark was, but that line captured my imagination from the time I was a child. So I took the name "night nark" from the form letter, and it only seemed logical that if there is a night nark, then there must be a day nark. And I went on from there, figuring out that I wanted night and day narks to share the same body, etc.... Yahto Veli is unique because I always loved the character Puddleglum in The Silver Chair, and I wanted a character who was rather glum and pessimistic like that, but really very good natured at his heart. I thought it would be funny to give Yahto that personality and Veli exactly the opposite nature. And then once I figured that out, it opened up all sorts of other things for me to do with him. I was worried about the narks in general, feeling as though they were a gamble and people would either love them or hate them (finding them too cheesy), but, thankfully, people have loved them!

Okay, that was only two questions, but I went on a little long in my responses. I'll wrap this up and come back with some more later this week.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Back Cover Summary!

Okay, I'm still working on this, but I decided to go ahead and post my draft of the back cover summary of The White Thread:

For a year, Darcy Pennington has agonized over the fate of her dear friend Yahto Veli who sacrificed himself to set her free at the end of her last year in Alitheia. As her third trip to the magical land approaches, Darcy wonders if the daring rescue she desires to launch will be allowed to go forward. Darcy soon comes to realize, however, that much more is at stake than merely the rescue of her friend. Her return to Alitheia is marked by the mysterious disappearance of Colin Mackaby, and a new message from the Oracle adds to the riddles that the Six must decipher if they are to expell Tselloch from the land. Along the way relationships will be created and destroyed, and for some characters, the deepest scars are those you can't see.

I agonized over writing this for some reason, and it might stay just as it is... or it might completely change. For you die hard fans out there, though, it at least gives you a little sneak peak and addresses the question you've all been pestering me about all year!

I finished adding the changes from the outside editing last night and sent it off to two more people. My friend (and fellow indie author Schledia Benefield) is going to write a review blurb for the back cover, and my "student" reader Katie Foust is going to give me the intended audience perspective. (I have to say "student" because she's technically not my student any more as she graduated this past spring, but she still falls within the intended audience range of 13-18 years old). Once I hear back from both of them, I can begin the final fact-checking and polishing up that needs to take place before I order my first proof copy. Overall, I can't believe how fast this has gone this year! If you had told me six months ago that I would be through my outside edits before the first day of school, I would have laughed. Speaking of school, I have more planning time during the school day this year than ever before. I'm hoping to be able to take less work home as a result and am toying around with the idea of beginning on either book 4 (The Enchanted) or the outline of my next project during the school year. Anyhow, we'll see how things go. Hope you enjoy the back cover summary! Let me know if you have any thoughts.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Outside Edits... Complete!

I heard from my second outside editor today, and she said that she has finished my manuscript, that the story is "incredible," and that I can get it from her tomorrow! That's very exciting for me to hear, not only that both of my outside editors really loved it, but that they got it done so quickly that I can move on to the next stage of the process well ahead of schedule. When I receive the manuscript back tomorrow, I will begin working on incorporating their changes and suggestions, and then I will send it off to a student reader and also a friend who is a fellow author who is going to write a "blurb" for me for the back cover. I still think that a September release date is a possibility.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Hunger Games

I find myself in the curious position of having arrived home from work only to discover that I left everything I needed to work on at work, and so I have an hour or so of luxury this afternoon to work on other things. Okay, perhaps not luxury (as I can hear my children awaking as we speak), but I can probably blog with a cartoon on in the background.

I was searching for something new to read in the wake of finished writing The White Thread to hold me over until I get the edited draft back. I found what I was looking for in The Hunger Games trilogy. First of all, I have to rescind my previous blogged comments about hating books written in the first person present tense. I still think that it is an awkward tense, but I now think that if it's done well, as it is in The Hunger Games, then it can be very effective. I enjoyed these books so much that I didn't even notice the tense anymore after a while. I read the complete trilogy in three and a half days, a process which involved me walking around my house with my nose in the book, neglecting my household chores, and throwing food at my children as though they were dogs (just kidding). Because I don't want to give away any spoilers, I won't go into any details of the series, but I would recommend it for readers age 16 and up. I might have to revisit reading I Am Number Four.

My manuscript of The White Thread, by the way, is with my second outside editor. My first editor finished it very quickly and expressed that she loved it, so that was very encouraging! I'm hoping to get all the editing and revising done by the end of the month.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Fantasy According to C. S. Lewis

I thought that I would take the opportunity to blog about a few topics near and dear to my heart as I wait for my manuscript to come back from my editors. I have made it no secret that I have a passion for good fantasy literature, my favorites being the works of C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and J. K. Rowling. Some critics of fantasy literature accuse it of being (among other things) juvenile, escapist garbage, commercial trash, or even wicked (based on the presence of magic, witches, wizards, warlocks, sorcery, etc.). I freely admit that some fantasy literature falls into these categories, but nobody should write off the genre as a whole based on these presuppositions. In fact, I find that fantasy as a genre is more edifying in many cases than any other genre of literature, for many reasons. Rather than continuing to hear me wax philosophical on this topic, however, I thought I would present a few quotations from the late, great C. S. Lewis for your consideration:

"Admitted fantasy is precisely the kind of literature which never deceives at all. Children are not deceived by fairy-tales; they are often and gravely deceived by school-stories. Adults are not deceived by science-fiction; they can be deceived by the stories in the women's magazines. None of us are deceived by The Odyssey, the Kalevala, Beowulf, or Malory. The real danger lurks in sober-faced novels where all appears to be very probable but all is in fact contrived to put across some social or ethical or religious or anty-religious 'comment on life.'" From An Experiment in Criticism

"The boy does not despise real woods because he has read of enchanted woods: the reading makes all real woods a little enchanted... the boy reading the fairy tale desires and is happy in the very fact of desiring. For his mind has not been concentrated on himself, as it often is in the more realistic story." From 'On Three Ways of Writing for Children,' Of Other Worlds

"...When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up." Ibid.

I particularly love the middle quotation. Anybody who spends any amount of time with teenagers has witnessed the malignancy which is the self-centeredness of the American teenager. We live in a society of "YOU." Everything is always all about YOU; what makes YOU happy, finding YOUR hidden potential, being true to YOURSELF, etc.... Reading good fantasy (or fairy tales) can take a person outside his or herself in a way that causes him or her to desire a power and a fulfillment outside of him or herself, as well as encouraging them to see him or herself as part of a larger, more beautiful story. Anyhow, I'm ranting now, I suppose, and I could go on for much longer, so I'll cut myself off. Any thoughts?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

First Revision

Well, I finished my first revision of The White Thread earlier this week, and I felt this amazing sense of relief! Ahhh... finished with the most laborious stage of the operation. The draft is with my friend Beth getting its first outside edit, and I can't wait to hear what she thinks of it. As with the previous two books, she'll be the first person to read it all the way through other than your's truly. I still feel as though I should be working on my book every night, though, so I've been getting this strange sense of unrest every night and am craving a good story to read. It really is good for me to have the story off my hands for a few weeks because I have a lot of other work to complete before the school year starts... which is really soon! Anyhow, this is just a very quick update. I'll try to write something more clever later in the week.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Revisions... And YouTube Book Plug!

Hello All! I am halfway through my first read-through/revision of The White Thread and feeling very good about the pace of things. This first revision is mostly about checking for continuity from beginning to end (ie. did I start any subplots that I neglected to resolve or address later on?) and checking for obvious typos. When I am finished with this, it will go off to a good friend for editing, and then another good friend after that for another edit. While it is out of my hands, I will be re-reading The Six and The Oracle to fact and continuity check (again... it's really a never-ending process). When it comes back to me, I will incorporate all changes and suggestions, in the meantime completing my second read-through. Then I will hand it off to a student reader. I do this to gage reader response to the story and how successful I was at suspending disbelief. While it is with my student reader, it will also go to an author friend who will be reading it to write a "blurb" for the back cover for me. Finally I will submit the draft to createspace and order my first proof copy so that I can complete my third read-through... and so forth and so on until I feel that it is as polished as it is going to get. There are also formatting and cover submission details to work through with createspace, which is always a headache, so I don't really want to think about that just yet. Oh yes, and I suppose I will have to write my back cover description soon. So... lots to do, lots to do. I will try to keep it fun and post an excerpt or two from the book as publication time draws near. It warms my heart to know how many of you guys are looking forward to this book! While YOU are waiting, check out this amazing youtube video plug for my book. It will take less than two minutes to watch, and the more hits it gets on youtube, the better! Thanks!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Draft 1, Complete!

I tried as hard as a could to complete my first draft of The White Thread by Sunday morning, but I had to call it quits at 5:30 in the morning when my thumb joints had swollen so badly I could hardly move them and I was so fuzzy-brained that every word was a challenge to get out. Still, I went to bed feeling as though I was basically finished, as I was half-way through the last chapter. I finished officially, however, late last night (or early this morning) and it feels quite good to be done! So, 51 days of writing has left me with a draft that is 407 pages long. I have much editing and revising to do, however, so this number will remain fluid, and I'm going to try and trim it down to 400 pages if possible. Trimming the length doesn't always have to mean getting rid of a lot of content, either. I tend to be wordy and redundant in my rough drafts, so cutting out overused words and phrases can sometimes gain me back whole pages.

I had planned on beginning my first read through this afternoon, but as soon as I sat down to write this blog post, I could hear my two year old stirring from his nap. Do toddlers have an internal radar that alerts them whenever Mommy wants to get something done? Quick! She's about to be productive... make a ruckus! Oh well. I could probably use a day off anyhow.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Almost There!

I was right about how I'd feel this week... a LOT happier than last week! I finally got through my block and the second half of the book starting rolling along very quickly. I'm on page 300, so I'm less than 100 pages away from the end. Some of the scenes that I wrote this week are really great, too, I think. I introduced a new villainess, and she was scary enough to give ME nightmares when I went to bed that night, so I must have done something right. I've also written a deliciously awkward scene between two characters and a scene that even made me cry a little. I know, I know... this is probably the point at which some of you will say, "Wow, you are way too invested in your characters! It's just a story; come back to reality." Well, of course I'm invested in my characters and my story! If I can't write characters for which I feel something, then why would you - my readers - feel anything for them? Anyhow, I am almost there in terms of having a finished rough draft. I hope that I can finish in about a week, in fact, I'm almost certain that I can. I have this condition that when I get within a certain number of pages from the end of writing a book, I just HAVE to finish it, so I'm anticipating an all nighter sometime late this coming week. And then I will start the revision process, which is long, arduous, and sometimes painful... Just kidding. It's not that bad... most of the time. But for now, I'm off to bed.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

My Brain Hurts

This is my second Sunday update, and I've had a semi-productive week. I'm on page 228, so well over halfway, but I didn't meet my quota every day this week because of some teacher training days that I attended for my teaching job. That stuff stimulates my brain in a totally different way, so it's been rather difficult to pull myself back to storytelling mindset following that. Combine that with the very tricky point of the story I am at (over halfway, wondering if the pace is too slow, figuring out what all needs to happen between now and the climax, etc...) and I just don't feel as though the story is flowing as well as I would like. I have some "dead space" to fill at the moment while the characters are travelling, and I hate that because I don't believe that anything in a well-crafted story should be random, so I'm back to the drawing board for a few meaningful scenes that progress my characters toward the climax while also addressing some of the many subplots that I have going on (all of which have to ultimately lead to THE END). I'm also back to the drawing board for a few intermediary scenes because of this ring composition that I am attempting in which every chapter of the second half of the book should mirror the corresponding chapter in the first half of the book in some way. I spent half my writing time this afternoon just putting all my chapters into a ring composition chart and trying to figure out some of this mirroring. I hope that it produces a good story in the end. Overall, my brain hurts. I'm looking forward to getting past this point. I'll probably be happier in a week.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Camera on Her Shoulder

I had to choose very early on what voice I would be using to tell my stories, and I hadn't given it much thought for a long time until recently. I have since come to believe that point of view in a story is wildly important to its overall success. Let's take two worldwide bestsellers: Harry Potter and Twilight. With a few exceptions, J. K. Rowling sticks to 3rd person limited in telling the story of Harry Potter. Hogwarts Professor John Granger describes this as like to having a camera on Harry's shoulder through which you, the reader, are viewing the story, but that camera can also look inside of Harry's head. Using this perspective, the reader never gets outside of Harry's own experience (again, with a few exceptions) and therefore empathizes with Harry as they see what Harry sees, feels what he feels, and senses what he senses. This works very successfully for the Harry Potter stories because of the elements of mystery within them. We only feel and think what Harry feels and thinks, and we only see whatever is in his immediate periphery, and that limits our perspective and prolongs the mystery. Twilight is written in 1st person limited. This means that the narrator's voice IS Bella Swan and the reader only gets Bella's perspective, but in a much narrower sense than in Harry Potter. This also causes Stephenie Meyer's target audience (young woman) to feel as though they ARE Bella as they read.... Do I even need to elaborate on how this was successful for her romance driven series? Both of these voices are very successful, although I prefer 3rd limited. I am telling my stories similar to Harry Potter in that there is a "camera" on Darcy's shoulder usually looking out, but sometimes looking into her head. I love telling the story this way. It simplifies the process for me and allows me to limit what the reader is aware of. Readers typically come to trust certain characters and distrust others. When you tell a story that is limited in some way to one character's perspective, you can manipulate that trust or distrust. For example, if you tend to distrust Darcy's opinion because of the bad decisions she's made, I could, hypothetically, throw you a curve ball and have Darcy be the voice of wisdom in a future book, causing there to be a twist at the end when you realize that her opinion was actually right for once! Hypothetically I could do that, I'm not saying that I WILL.

Because this blog post is already quite long, I might as well tell you the point of view that I seriously dislike reading. I hate reading books in 1st person present tense. That means that the story is told how I am writing this blog. "I am sad. I open the door and walk to the store. As the sun shines down on me, I think what a nice day it is. I meet a friend and we have a conversation. Etc..." This type of perspective works well for, well, a blog, but when used to write a story, it feels too abrupt and too much like stream of conscience. If I find that a book is written in this manner, sometimes I won't even buy it because I find the voice so distracting! For example, I really enjoyed the movie I Am Number Four, so I looked into the book, but sure enough! First person present tense. Yuck. Plus which, it must be so difficult to write a book like that! But now I'm just ranting. I should get back to work. I'm over 200 pages and over half way!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sunday Update

I missed my third Friday update because I was at a work conference, so this Sunday update is taking the place of that. I also didn't get my promised post completed concerning voice/p.o.v. in a story because of the same conference, so I hope to make good on that promise this week instead. The good news is, however, that I got more writing done than I had anticipated for being out of town and working, and I also had a fabulous time and met a few people associated with a publishing house. We'll see if that connection takes me anywhere!

Just out of curiosity, I checked my blog from a year ago to see where I was at in my page count at this point in the summer when I was writing The Oracle. Much to my surprise, I found that I am over a hundred pages ahead of where I was last year at this time. That makes me feel much more relaxed about my progress! I am on page 168 currently and about to make an attempt to write a few more pages before bed. Wow. That just hit me. Page 168! I feel as though I just started writing this book. I have a feeling that this installment is going to turn out to be longer than the previous two. I don't want to have to charge more for it, though, so we'll see.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Second Friday Update

I have another good week of solid writing behind me, but I can't shake this sense of urgency! Gotta get it done, gotta get it done, gotta get it done! I have a lot of work to do to prepare for the classes I will be teaching next year, and that's hanging over my shoulder making me feel as though I can't relax into the writing process. That being said, I do believe that what I've produced so far is good. So I guess that feeling stressed is not actually hindering the creative process (although all of you will be the ultimate judge of that when the book comes out). I really, in particular, like the chapter that I wrote yesterday (which was chapter 8, but I'm not going to reveal the title). I always enjoy writing scenes that contain a lot of emotion and a lot of energy. It also has a bit of a twist ending that might be unexpected, so that was fun to write. What made it most enjoyable to write, however, was that it just flowed from me. I knew exactly what I wanted each character to say and where I wanted all the action to take place without it being forced. I could picture it very clearly in my mind, as well, which is also important. Of course, I always imagine my books as movies, so each scene appears in my mind as I conceive it and put it to paper, but when I can picture what the characters are doing and how they are acting, emoting, etc. before I even begin blocking it out, that's a good sign! Anyhow, perhaps I have belabored this. I am on page 112, so that puts me on pace with where I was last week (a little ahead, actually, as chapter 1 doesn't begin until page 6 or 7). I hope to have a post about voice early next week.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Some Thoughts on Planning

It is at this point in the writing process that I begin to seriously reflect back on all the planning that I did to prepare for writing this installment of the series. I am a major believer in planning when it comes to novel writing! I didn't used to be because I thought that it constricted the writer and the creative process, but I now realize that it actually gives the writer greater freedom. Just because I have crafted an outline ahead of time doesn't mean that I have to stick to it to the letter, but it gives me a base to come back to if a spontaneous thread takes me off in a different direction for a while. Plus which, especially when writing a series of books that all have to work as a coherent and consistent story at the end of all things, if you don't know where you are going before you start writing, how on earth can you know how to get there? I have already added two new chapters that were not on my outline, but always I come back to that outline, saying to myself, "okay, I need to bring it back to this point, and this needs to come somewhere after that," etc... Yes, I will have to do a little reinventing of the structure of a few things along the way, but at least I have a framework from which to work and to which I can always return. I've been reading the book Harry Potter's Bookshelf: The Great Books Behind the Hogwarts Adventures by John Granger, and in it, he quotes J. K. Rowling on this topic. She said in an interview with the South Australia Advertiser, "I do a plan. I plan, I really plan quite meticulously. I know it is sometimes quite boring because when people say to me, 'I write stories at school and what advice would you give me to make my stories better?' And I always say and people's faces often fall when I say, 'You have to plan,' and they say, 'Oh, I prefer just writing and seeing where it takes me.' Sometimes writing and seeing where it takes you will lead you to some really good ideas but I would say nearly  always it won't be as good as if you sat down first and thought: Where do I want to go, what end am I working toward, what would be good, a good start?" (Qtd. on p. 61) Sounds like pretty good advice to me!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Friday Update

After my first full week of writing, I am on page 55 of The White Thread. I feel okay about that page count - good, but not spectacular. It's perfectly on schedule, I just think that I can do better. I seem to stall out after every couple paragraphs and sit and stare at the computer for a few minutes mulling over how to word the next section. Usually things flow a little bit easier than that for me, so I just don't feel as though I'm completely on my game. That being said, when I go back and reread what I've written so far, I actually feel pretty good about it! So... we'll see how it all turns out. I'm currently in the middle of chapter 5, which is an add on chapter that wasn't in my original outline. Sometimes that happens when you are writing; you suddenly realize that you need more transition from A to B. Anyhow, there's a scene in chapter 5 that I think needs to be there to help set up/remind the reader of the nature of magic in Alitheia. I've already gotten them back to Alitheia, which is good because it gives me a lot of pages in which to develop the conflict there (or, I should say, continue the conflict that was set up in The Oracle). The setting of this book is going to be (largely) more contained than the previous two, which gives me a chance to work on the relationships between various characters. (Any of my students who will be reading this for outside reading should be taking notes! Relationships in The White Thread = important! And I don't just mean romantic relationships.) My brain is, for now, however, somewhat dead. I've been staying up into the wee hours of the morning writing, and I don't think I'm going to be able to burn the midnight oil tonight. Maybe... I don't know... We'll see.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Book 3 Cover Debut!

I am happy to finally be able to debut the cover art for book 3 of The Gateway Chronicles! The background color for this book will be white, just as it appears here. I must give props to my fantastic artists (and new high school graduates) Mariah Lawrence, Hannah Pryor, and Bethany Carter who have designed all three of the new covers for me. It will be several months yet, but when The White Thread goes up for sale, I will add this image to the sidebar with a hyperlink for easy purchase on Amazon.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

First Summer Update

Even though I was able to get a little scattered writing done last week, I have officially begun my writing schedule and this is, therefore, my first official summer update. I will admit that I was very tempted to take a nap this afternoon instead of writing (that's what being at the park in the hot sun with two small children all morning will do to you), but I made myself a cup of coffee and decided to power through it. I started off well today! I had already written about two thirds of my first chapter, so I finished that off and got well on my way through my second chapter, totalling about 7 1/2 pages for the afternoon. That puts me on track with my writing schedule, so I'm pleased. I've introduced a few new characters already and am busily fleshing out the old. It's fun to be able to write Darcy and company more as teenagers now rather than as middle schoolers. There's a whole other dynamic that goes into the character development. I'm also working hard to make Darcy more likeable this time around. Not that that was off track with my original plan, but I realized recently that one of the reasons why I made Darcy so unlikeable in the first book (and the second, although hopefully not to the same degree) is because she is so heavily based on ME at that age, and I really didn't like myself at that age. So, enough with the self-deprecation! My heroine now needs to be loved! But, again, this works in with my original plan and what I think is a natural character development for her at this time. Hopefully it all works out!

Monday, May 23, 2011


Well, I finished all my grading for the year, and although school isn't officially out until Thursday and I have to work until Friday... I just decided to go ahead and start writing The White Thread. Surprise! I had no plans of doing this until about midday today, but I'm really glad that I did. I won't say that I didn't spend a good deal of time staring blankly at my computer screen, because I did, but I also got a lot written for my first day out (4 pages) and I'm feeling really good about how it's flowing. Picking up the (figurative) pen and writing about Darcy, Sam, and Lewis again is like greeting old friends. Okay, I have to go because my husband and I have a movie to catch, but I just wanted to give that quick update!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

One Week to Go

My last post was something of a downer, so I thought I should be more upbeat this time around. I'm excited to think about writing The White Thread this summer, and I only have one more week until I begin that process. I am also somewhat nervous, though. I have something of a "block" regarding certain aspects of this installment, and I'm also concerned about making ring composition fit for this story. Realistically, though, I'll probably do what I always do: take a deep breath, and start writing. Usually once I get going, the words just flow. I'm going to set myself this summer at 7 pages a day, but it's more likely that I'll write between 10 and 12... we'll see. The sooner I get the draft done, the sooner I can start the revisions and editing process, and the sooner I can get a final product out. We are not traveling anywhere this summer (thanks to the stupendous gas prices), so I won't have any major interruptions. All things considered, I think it's going to be a good summer to be an independent author!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Reflections on Rejection

The agency that was reviewing my manuscripts for the past couple months unfortunately decided to pass on pursuing a representative relationship with me. So, I'm left to reflect on being rejected, yet again. Here's the thing, though, the publishing industry is a very difficult industry, and I've often commented to people that getting an agent or an "official" publisher is rather like trying to get discovered in Hollywood. That being said, I'm not trying to bellyache, I just want to be honest about how I, an independent author, respond to this sort of experience, because perhaps it will help some of you out there who are just beginning your publishing journeys. I have been here before, but unfortunately this time is particularly discouraging. I had a very good referral to this agency, and it still wasn't good enough. Unfortunately, too, I happened to have a very bad day yesterday (having experienced something that I hope I will never have to experience again) and got home to open my e-mail and discover that the agent had finally e-mailed me back after having my manuscripts for almost three months. Now, obviously there is no way that he could have known the sort of day that I had had, but I had to shake my head at the extreme irony of the situation. Sometimes things just work out like that. Anyhow, he was very kind in "letting me down easy" and gave me a few recommendations for other agents to query, but I just don't know if I have the energy to start over from square one again (not right now, at least). Once upon a time I would have questioned my ability to write or tell a good story, but I don't do that anymore. My abilities as a storyteller and writer have already been confirmed by my readership (whom I love very, very dearly!), many of whom have contacted me spontaneously over the past two years to express their delight over my books. Some of my students are so enthusiastic about my stories that they pester me weekly to start writing book 3 already! I know that I write stories that teenagers want to read, so why is it that the professionals don't agree? I just don't know... it's rather puzzling to me. I can only conclude that this particular agency simply wasn't the right match for me. I do not thumb my nose at them or anything of that sort. I still have every respect for them as an agency. If all I ever become is a local "celebrity" (using that term VERY loosely), then that is good enough for me. It was a great joy for me to help some of my students write their outside reading reports on my books this month, and I will be happy to keep on doing that year after year. From here I will just keep plugging along. I will start writing book 3 in two weeks and will have the rough draft completed by the first week of August. I continue to sell a few books every week, and I hope to get a few more book signings set up over the summer, as well. I plan on unveiling the cover for book 3 in June, so keep on the lookout for that! You are going to love it.

In totally unrelated news, my brother the game designer, Dennis Hoyle, is unveiling his debut card game tonight! It's an award-winning card game called Drop Site and you can preorder it at

Sunday, May 8, 2011

A Little Business

The school year is running down and I am counting the days until I will begin official work on The White Thread. (20 days from today!) I'm going to start the process of reviewing and organizing my notes, especially those which I took over spring break. Once I start writing, I will try to have weekly updates on my process. Also, I'm considering converting my Gateway Chronicles group on facebook into a page so as to make it public rather than private. I think that this could help me market my books more effectively and gain a wider exposure. I will happily take any advice, however! Okay, that's all for now. I've been writing about Greek philosophers all night for school and I'm burned out. Night!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

You Know You're a Writer When, Part 2

You know you're a writer when... With the imminent tornado threat heading our way in a couple hours, my husband and children and I are going to be heading for a safer location in a short while. As we knew that this weather was coming even early this morning, I began to think about what I wanted to bring with us from the house. And what do you suppose the first things I thought of were? My laptop, flash drives, and multiple writing journals containing all my notes for all my books. It wasn't until several hours later that I thought about packing an overnight bag with clothes and toothbrushes and food. Lol, I guess that says something about my priorities.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Encouraging Week

This week has been a little encouraging on the marketing end of things. After a slight lull for the past two-three weeks, my books sales are once again up somewhat on Amazon. I'm not selling oodles and oodles of books, but I am selling a small number at a constant rate. I'm confident that sales will continue in this manner for the rest of the year, and hopefully improve as I begin to chronicle the writing of The White Thread. In a little over a month, I break ground on book 3! It's hard to believe that in August I will be halfway through writing The Gateway Chronicles. I came up with another book idea this week, something that would be a stand-alone novel set in the future. I really like the idea, but I will have to shelve it for a couple years. I have to finish The Gateway Chronicles and then write the trilogy that I have planned after that before I go on to anything else. Ah, if only I had unlimited time to write... I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels that way!

Monday, April 11, 2011

I'm Writing!... Curriculum

Well, I can honestly say that I AM writing this week... but not fantasy fiction. I've had a bit of a period of silence here with my online "stuff" (blog, twitter, facebook, etc...), and not honestly because I needed a break or anything like that, or even that I've been overwhelmed with schoolwork, I simply didn't have anything new or unique to say for a week or so. I began to feel the itch once again to get back to my life as an author, but I realized that I still didn't exactly have anything author-related to blog about at the moment. The only writing that I'm doing right now is curriculum writing for school. I decided to add a new unit for my 8th grade classes, so I'm busy as a bee researching and writing lecture notes and worksheets. While this might not interest those of you who enjoy my fantasy fiction (and devestate those of you who are my 8th grade students), perhaps it at least shows you my versatility. I'm stretching to make this apply to my blog, I realize this. I will try to have something a bit more... engaging next time!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Indulging the Creative Urge

Why do I always get the creative urge to write late at night? It's as though I have an internal creativity clock that turns on around midnight and won't turn off until SOMETHING is put down on paper. This is annoying enough in the summer when I actually have the time to indulge it, but during the school year it is simply frustrating. I feel like saying, "Yes, I KNOW that you want me to write something, but I just CAN'T right now! I have school to attend to and prepare for and if I don't get my sleep, even over the weekend, then I can't do my job to the best of my ability." But, as these things usually go, it will not be ignored, and so it would be useless to go to bed anyhow because I will just lay there mulling over the story points in my head for several hours. I suppose that I had better indulge the urge...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Spring Break Wrap Up

This is a couple of days late, but I got rather distracted with family visiting over the weekend, so I didn't really have time to sit down and do this until now. My spring break was, overall, productive. I did not start actually writing The White Thread, but I got about as much prewriting done as is possible at this stage of the game. I still have a good amount of research to do on a few topics before I write, but I feel very well set to churn out book three this summer.

On the marketing front, I have continued to sell copies of both books 1 and 2 at a slow but steady rate since I published The Oracle in November. This is encouraging because last year around this time sales had pretty much ground to a halt on The Six, only to pick up in early fall in anticipation of book 2. I'm happy to see that my books continue to sell, and I really think that my readership is expanding into new areas of the country (and the world! I know of at least a couple readers in other countries). I'm also still waiting to hear back from an agent who is reviewing my books right now, and I'm feeling encouraged over even having that possibility, regardless of how it turns out.

As I head into the next two months, I will be very busy with schoolwork (as a teacher, of course), and I'm sure that the time will fly. Before I know it, summer will be here and I will be hard at work being an author once again. Not quite as cool of a moonlighting job as being a superhero, but close. I'll keep you all posted!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Change of Plan

Well, I changed my mind regarding the number of chapters for The White Thread. A couple of blog posts ago I had said that I was going to take it down to 22 chapters, but I decided that that is too great a break with what I have been doing so far, and so I'm going to cut it back only to 25, with an epilogue. Not a huge change, but I think it will work better with my plans for the story. As I was outlining each chapter, I just realized that I was trying to squeeze in just a little too much to each chapter. This would be problematic for me specifically because I think one of the things I do best (according to what I've been told by others, that is) is the art of the cliffhanger chapter endings. If I expand my chapters to include too much information, therefore, I'm afraid that I might lose my edge there. So, I have added three chapters and an epilogue, and I have named them all, and half of them are completely outlined. We'll see how much more I can get done before Spring Break is over in a couple days. (Where has all the time gone?)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Pronunciation Guide, Take 2

I promised a few weeks back that I would post another pronunciation guide for some of the names in The Oracle, so I thought that I would make good on that. I'm just going to take them as they come to me, so these won't be in any particular order:

Cal Meridian = KAL mer-IH-dee-yan (kal as in "cat")

Borna Fero = BOR-nuh FAYR-oh

Wal Wyn = WAHL WIN (wahl as in "wall")

Tokala = toh-KAH-luh (toh as in "toe")

Tormod = TOHR-mud

Badru = bah-DREW

Terra = TAYR-ruh (tayr as in "tear")

Mayim = mah-YEEM

Boitheia = boh-IH-thee-yuh (long "o" in boh, short "i" in ih, "th" in thee as in "with")

Grypas = GRIH-pus

Fobos = FOH-bohs (both long "o"s)

Archaios = ahr-KAY-yohs (long "o")

Did I miss any big ones? Let me know if you have any questions!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Plugging Along

"Plugging along" is a good way to describe what I am doing right now. I got the detailed outline through chapter 14 typed up today. This was more or less busy work, as I had already pretty well outlined these chapters in my handwritten notes. I then spent some time researching ring composition and scanning through my scattered notes regarding things that I need to "not forget" from the two previous books. Now that I am heading into book 3, the fear of dropping the ball on something that I set up in a previous book is rather prevalent, but I think it will go away once I actually start writing the book. There's just so much to keep straight! I also named all but one of the rest of my chapters for this book tonight, and I think that I have them pretty well figured as to how they will fit into my chiasm (having to do with ring composition). It feels strange to be working on my official prewriting so many weeks prior to my start date for writing the book; so much of what I'm getting down in outline is hypothetical. If something ultimately doesn't work/flow with the story, then I will just end up rewriting much of my outline anyways, but I'm going to trust to my methods and see where they take me. As long as everything fits with the chiasm that I am creating, I should come out with a sensible story in the end. (If this feels rather nonsensical, it's probably because it's very, very late.)

In other news, I started my "summer" reading this week. I thought I'd get a head start because I think that writers learn best by imitation, and I'd like to learn a thing or two about narrative misdirection before I start in on my writing this summer. Jane Austen is one of my favorites, and a master of narrative misdirection, and I've read all of her books except Persuasion and Northanger Abbey. So, Persuasion is where I'm starting! Does it seem strange that a fantasy author would look to take lessons from Jane Austen? Perhaps, perhaps not.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Not a Complete Waste

I'm sitting on my living room floor amidst the detritus of my sons' playthings with the laptop in my lap thinking that I should have gotten a lot more done this afternoon. I can hear my sons squawking like birds down the hall, however, and I realize that any productive time this afternoon has passed. It's time to get them out of bed. (Joshua is now laughing so hard that he's having difficulty breathing, and I'm wondering what mischief my older son is getting into to trigger so violent a reaction in the younger.) Anyhow, in a nutshell, I finished the details on my outline for the first four chapters, so I guess the afternoon wasn't a complete waste. I made an attempt at researching something I need to understand for ring composition, but I have a funny virus right now that's making my head and throat hurt rather badly, so I gave that up as a lost cause almost immediately. If I can pull myself together later tonight (after my boys are in bed), I might be able to redeem some time for further writing/planning. That's my hope, at least!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Gaining Momentum

This is my first Spring Break update, as it were, since I am trying to be uber-productive regarding my writing this week. Blogging about it will keep me honest... hopefully.

Today I made myself sit down and begin translating my chicken-scratch notes into a clean, typed outline. I wasn't really feeling motivated to work, however, as anybody who is a school teacher can attest to regarding Spring Break. By the time you get all 3rd quarter grades finished and entered, your brain feels dead and you feel induced to sit like a vegetable on the couch for eight days straight. Thankfully, I have small children who keep me non-vegetative. Regardless, once I got them down for a nap, I thought to myself, "Do I really NEED to start working TODAY? Why not start tomorrow..." Nope. Not gonna cut it. If I truly want to balance being a wife, mother, teacher, and author, then there must be no such thing as a wasted day. (I'm not implying that I cannot and do not take days of rest, but there is a difference between taking a rest day and simply wasting a day away in front of the TV). SO, once I got started, I felt the quickening of excitement that only comes to me through writing. I remembered, oh yeah, I LOVE doing this! This is what I am designed to do! And while the ideas did not just start magically flowing, I did get a good start on a very structured chapter breakdown. For book 3 I am going to attempt to cut my number of chapters down to 22 and an epilogue (fewer chapters, not fewer pages). This will work better for the new structure I am attempting in which certain chapters should mirror other chapters that have come before. I already have detailed outline notes for 13 of these 22 chapters, and I've named all but 5 of them. Some chapter titles that you can look for in The White Thread include: "Furniture Girl," "The Other Oracle," and "The Archipelago." (All subject to change, of course). Anyhow, I promised myself that this blog would not turn into an essay, which it is in danger of doing, so I will cut it off there for now. Suffice it to say that I am gaining momentum and looking forward to a very productive week!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

My Plan for Spring Break

Is it hubristic of me to assume that any of you CARE what I will be doing over spring break? (Or perhaps it's hubristic of me to use a word like "hubristic" in my blog. Hmmm....) Perhaps you will care as it relates to my progress on The White Thread, however. As soon as school gets out on Friday, I will have a blissful week all to myself to spend wiling the hours away in front of my laptop, spinning my fantasy tales as only I can.... Sorry, I just had to stop and laugh hysterically for a moment. No, obviously that will not be how my spring break is spent, but in all seriousness I do intend on getting some work done on book 3. In between assorted doctors and dentist appointments for myself and my young'ns (since Spring Break is the only time that I really have to do that sort of stuff), and cleaning my pathetically filthy house, I will hopefully complete my detailed outline for The White Thread. If I manage to get that done in good order, I might even start writing the manuscript itself, although I'm not too concerned about getting started on that, as I already find myself ahead of schedule. Can you believe that last summer I didn't even start writing my outline for The Oracle until June? I started June with a re-read of The Six and the note taking process that goes along with that, then began my outline in the second week and started writing near the end of that week (revising and finishing the outline as I went along). Then we took off for a 10 day family vacation to MN and I had to stop work entirely, only to resume three or four days after we got back. That left me with about 6 weeks to write about 320 pages of the 385 page manuscript. I got it done (and in only 5 weeks, actually), but it was terribly stressful and my brain was so occupied for the entire time that I suffered from acute insomnia. It was so bad that I stayed up all night once I hit page 325 and wrote the last 60 pages in about 8 hours. Long story short, I don't want to find myself in that position again this summer, which is why I have done so much working ahead this year. SO, bringing me back to the title of my blog post, I hope to have all of my pre-writing for The White Thread finished before the end of Spring Break, leaving me my full Summer Break for actual story writing.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

If You Want to be a Better Writer...

If you want to be a better writer, study ancient and classical literature! It's my firm belief that all the best stories have already been told, and successful writers of the modern age will beg, borrow, and steal from the great classics that have gone before them. Okay, that sounds worse than I intended it to. Let me elaborate. I'm not talking about plagiarism, of course, but I am talking about the usage of themes, techniques, and even plot elements that are timeless and effective. I'm currently teaching Herodotus to my eighth grade students and leading them through the actual text of The Histories. Even though this is my sixth read-through of this work in four years, it still compells me every bit as much as it did when I first read it, and I would say even more so. I told my eighth graders today in class that many authors have borrowed elements from The Histories for their own books, and it just got me thinking about this topic. For example, nobody will ever be able to convince me that Shakespeare did not get the idea for the witches' prophecy in Macbeth from the oracle to Croesus in book I.55 of The Histories. Or how about that Ring of Power in The Lord of the Rings? Also Herodotus. Structure of the city of Minas Tirith in the same work? Check out the layout of Ecbatana as described in... The Histories. I obviously studied the Oracle at Delphi for book 2 of my series (as referenced in many ancient texts). Those are obviously some specific plot points, but imitating the great classics of the Western tradition is much more than that. The works of Lewis, Tolkien, and Rowling all brilliantly follow ancient and classical structural patterns. For example, if you want (as these authors of the modern age have done) to write a book that follows the Hero's Journey structure, what better instructor can you find than Homer's Odyssey? And really, the list of works that I could cite goes on and on. Although I would say that I am far from being an expert of ancient and classical literature, I do know that my little bit of study has gone a long ways toward making me a better writer. Perhaps you should consider picking up an old book too!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Six Degrees of J. K. Rowling

I had the very great privilege this evening of meeting someone whose works I have long admired and engaging in conversation with him for several hours. His name is John Granger and his books include, How Harry Cast His Spell, The Deathly Hallows Lectures, and Harry Potter's Bookshelf. I found him to be very, very personable and gracious, as well as almost frighteningly smart! As an upstart young fantasy author, it was so refreshing to talk with someone about topics that I have such a passion for (and no, we didn't JUST talk about Harry Potter all night), such as literary alchemy, and to learn something about new topics, such as ring composition. Mr. Granger is a classical scholar, and so we also found common ground there since I (and my coworker who came with me, along with one of my students and my husband) teach at a classical school. Back when I was in college, I picked up one of John Granger's early works and, reading it, discovered not only the literary genius behind Harry Potter, but also that a work of fantasy need not be pretentiously intellectual in order to be chock-full of depth and meaning. He was the one who instructed me in literary alchemy and made me see how much planning must go into my writing before I actually START writing. Getting in touch with him this year happened by way of one of my students who was writing her thesis on Harry Potter and had contacted him as a source, and getting to actually pick his brain for an evening was just icing on the cake. It was also fun to play "Six Degrees of J. K. Rowling," because he knows Melissa Anelli (of The Leaky Cauldron), and Melissa Anelli knows J. K. Rowling. So there you go! I did it in three degrees, I guess. Lol. Anyhow, it was a good evening and I hope that it enriches my writing. John Granger has also agreed to write a "blurb" for me to put on the back cover of my next book, so that will be my first celebrity endorsement! Yay! I've attached the link to John Granger's blog if anybody is interested:
In the picture, I'm seated holding one of Mr. Granger's books and he's standing behind me holding one of my books.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Online Review and Giveaway! Click on the link to read a review of The Six by a blogger and to get a chance to win FREE signed copies of both The Six and The Oracle! I was very thankful for the opportunity to send my books to this blogger, who has been very kind to me!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Wish I Was Writing...

I'm having one of those evenings where I really feel the itch to write, and I just can't. It's simply not time to begin writing The White Thread. While I CAN work on notes and outlining and ideas, it is virtually impossible for me to begin the serious work of writing the novel until school is out and my life as a teacher is exchanged for my life as an author. (I guess that I am always a little bit of both, but you get the idea.) I get so many incredulous responses from people when I tell them my writing schedule, but the summer months are the only months during which I can truly devote myself to a writing project. Teaching is so all-consuming that it is a rare night that I even have the energy to write a blog before bed, and while I love my characters and my fantasy world, I love my flesh and blood students too much to abandon their education for my own personal writing "itch."

Perhaps the forced writing hiatus is beneficial, however; it imposes a period of deep reflection on my work before forward progress can be made. In that, each step of my story is carefully thought-through before the proverbial pen is put to paper. And that is always a good thing, is it not?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Pronunciation Guide, Take 1

Most of the feedback that I receive on my books is very positive (phew!), but it is also commonly coupled with questions regarding pronunciations of names and places. I consciously tried to fashion the names in my series in such a manner as to appear pronouncable to most people because few things are more annoying to me than attempting to read names that look like total and complete gibberish! (That also tends to interrupt the flow of the story and add to an inability to suspend disbelief in the case of fantasy). So, most of my names come from other languages, either as exact words or as derivations from real words, because I figured that even if people didn't know exactly how they are "supposed" to be pronounced, at least they will look pronouncable. Despite all my best efforts, however, I think that many of my names are actually very difficult, so I thought that I would take a couple blogs to put together a rudimentary pronunciation guide for some of the names in my books. (Let me also say, however, that I don't really care how my readers choose to pronounce my names, this is just how I pronounce them in my head.)

Alitheia: a-lih-THEE-yah (the first "a" as in "cat" and a soft "th" as in at the end of "math")

Orodreos: o-row-DRAY-yohs (all long "o"s)

Tellius: TEL-lee-yus

Cadmus: KAD-mus ("a" as in "cat")

Torrin: TOHR-rin (long "o")

Yahto Veli: YAH-toh VEH-lee ("veh" as in "vet," not "vay")

Voitto Vesa: voh-EE-toh VAY-sah (hard "v"s [for all my Latin students] and long "o"s)

Tullin: TUH-lin

Tselloch: TSEH-lahk ("ts" as in "lets" and "lahk" as in "Loch Ness")

Tsellochim: tseh-lah-KEEM

Tsellodrin: tseh-luh-DRIHN (singular), tseh-luh-DREEN (plural)

Any questions on this first batch or any that you want to see me write out? These are all from book 1 so far. I'll include some from book 2 next time. Enjoy!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

$3.99 Kindle Edition!

I guess I'm using this blog post as more of an advertisement, but that's okay sometimes, isn't it? Anyhow, I wanted to announce a HUGE promotion that I am running! For one month, book 1 of The Gateway Chronicles, The Six, is going to be available on Amazon Kindle for just $3.99! If you have a Kindle or a Kindle reading app and you haven't read the first book of my series yet, this is a great opportunity for you to try it out! Tell your friends with Kindles, too! Enjoy!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Have Your Journal On You at All Times!

I was reminded today of the importance of always having my journal on me at all times (or at least near to me). I was sitting on my bed stealing a few minutes of alone time while my kiddos were in front of the TV, re-reading a favorite book, when inspiration struck me. Nothing major, just a minor epiphany about a clever element that I can add to book 3 (something that I can add in that will make all former 8th grade students of mine happy), but it was one of those things that probably would have flitted right back out of my brain if I hadn't written it down at that exact moment. Lucky for me, I keep several journals stashed around the house (and in my work bag, and in my car, and in my desk at school, etc.), and so I had only to reach down, snatch one up, and write as frantically as I could before the moment left me. (On a side note, the vast number of writing journals that I have does make for a difficult process of consolidating notes before the actual process of writing begins, but it's better than losing those precious moments of inspiration!) As I completed my notes, I chuckled to myself and thought how true it was that any person worth their salt in any trade is never without the tools of their trade. Good thing I'm a writer and not an astrophysicist!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Clearly Defined Characters

I had a kind reader ask me tonight how I clearly define characters, including how I add new characters. Well, having clearly defined characters is like keeping track of any other detailed aspect of a story, but it is also hugely important! (I strongly believe in character-driven stories.) As I have told my creative writing students in the past, you must know your characters better than anyone else. When I was first writing notes for The Gateway Chronicles, of course I had a general outline of a storyline, but where I really started was with my characters. I named all the main characters and began writing mini-bios of each of them, including things such as likes and dislikes, but also mundane details such as birthdays, hometowns, number of siblings, etc... Many of these facts will never be shared with the reader, but the make the characters more real in my mind, and therefore helps them to come across as more real on the paper. Now, that being said, I don't believe in being so thorough that your characters have no chance to evolve with the story. For example, when I first conceived Tellius (crown-prince of Alitheia, for those of you who haven't read my stories yet), I wanted him to be a little impish and silly, and I wanted his dynamic change in the story to be learning how to take life seriously as he got older. Well, I started to write, and I realized that, with the way the story was coming together and with the history that I had written for his family, that personality didn't make any sense for him. So, Tellius came together more as a result of how the story was turning out than anything else. Darcy, on the other hand, is exactly how I conceived her in my notes. Adding characters, whether from the beginning of a story or mid-stream, usually starts with a name though. I think that names are just hugely important, and they should be reflective of a character's personality/identity. (I actually feel the same way about name my children!) In that, most of my character's names have very specific meanings, and a few are word plays (which always makes me feel clever... and a little pretentious too, aparently! lol). Anyhow, I'd be happy to answer any specific questions along these lines from my stories, but I told myself that I would keep this post under essay length, so that's all for now! Good night!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Complexity, Not Ridiculosity

For starters, yes, I do know that "ridiculosity" is not a real word, but it had such a nice ring to it when paired with complexity that I decided to coin it. If Shakespeare could invent words, so can I! (I'm sure there's room for argument there.) :o) Anyhow, to the meat...

I firmly believe that fantasy authors must create stories/series that are sufficiently complex without crossing the line into the realm of being ridiculous. By way of illustration, have you ever read an Amazon book description or a back cover excerpt on a sci/fi/fantasy novel that contained so many twists and turns, funny-sounding names, and detailed plot points (that the author clearly thought would entice you to read) that you snorted in amusement (or disgust) and moved on to the next book? I know I have! Take this fictional excerpt as an example:

Zarnog, the high supreme emperor of the sphere of seven planets, is on a quest to find a bride for his son, the soon-to-be heir to the supreme emperorship. Unbeknownst to Zarnog, however, his son, Phoodoo'zycarnum, is already in love the the unworthy slave girl, Shiibya, who is a Ha'aba spirit entity capably of splitting the life-force of the prince if he refuses to wed her. Meanwhile, the evil empress Ranca of the sixth planet in the confederacy is devising a means of capturing Shiibya and using her Ha'aba spirit powers to control Zarnog and steal the emperorship from his son. Only Zarnog, with his ability to harness the power of the crystal moons, is capable of stopping Ranca, but, distracted by his quest and ignorant of his son's love affair, he may be too late...

Ridiculous, eh? But I've read so many back cover excerpts like this! (Many of them much worse and much longer). Here's the thing, sci/fi and fantasy novels usually ARE complex and they usually do contain a lengthy list of strange-sounding names and details that would sound completely ridiculous if strung all together at once. I think the key to avoiding death by "ridiculosity" is to use moderation when doling out some of the more complex elements of your plot. Give enough details to hook a reader's interest, but not so much that they will drown in them. And this does not merely apply to back cover excerpts or summaries! I've had to keep this in mind when writing books one and two of The Gateway Chronicles because I have a few elements that could be very hokey if presented poorly. My creation of the narks is a good example. I have a lot of notes on them, but I didn't need to tell my readers everything about them in the first book; I think that would have been, well, ridiculous! In the first book the reader learned that narks are elves, they are exceptionally fast and talented, and that one nark body is shared between two nark entities - a night nark, and a day nark. The reader also learned a few random things pertaining to these main elements, but that was it, because that was all that was needed (and I didn't put it all in one chapter). In book two, the reader learns how narks marry and have children, and about a very important ethical boundary between them. In book three, the reader will learn that narks can choose to - oops, almost gave away a secret. ;o) Anyhow, this is getting rather lengthy, and I hope that you get the idea. I'm certainly not trying to pat myself on the back here, in fact, achieving complexity without ridiculosity is something that I certainly struggle with! And really, YOU are the best way for me to know whether or not I have been successfully complex without being ridiculous so far in the first books, so let me know! (And don't hold back the construction criticism where needed.) Even if you haven't read my books, you can follow the links on the right of the screen and read my back cover excerpts on Amazon. Any takers? I'd love to hear what you think...

Saturday, January 22, 2011

You Know You're a Writer When...

So you know that you're a writer when, in the midst of being sick for several days, you think to yourself, "Gee, I should really write down exactly how I am feeling right now so that I can accurately describe a sickness in one of my books." I think if you're a true writer, you can gain inspiration from any situation in life. Lol. I hope that doesn't sound pretentious! So, if Darcy comes down with a flu-like cold in my next book, you'll know where it came from! Okay, that's all I have energy for right now...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

New Review of The Oracle

The following is a new review of The Oracle. The woman who wrote this for me is someone I was able to connect with via facebook through a mutual acquaintance while I was writing The Oracle. She's a fellow author of YA literature (Plain Jane, on Amazon at and has become a good online friend. We will get to meet in person for the first time this February when she and her family will be in Birmingham.

"I was introduced to the first book in this series this past summer, and I anxiuosly awaited the release of the second. At this point I find myself desiring the author to finish the third installment before the planned release date. I'm not sure if I will be able to wait that long! I have started reading the first book to my children at night, and they get aggravated with me when I stop for the evening.

I had a difficult time putting The Six down as I read it, and I found it almost impossible to lay down The Oracle. I would literally have to pry myself away. The Oracle keeps you on your toes wondering what could possibly happen next. I was taken by the author's willingness to all such unfortunate events to befall the main character. Her characters are truly loveable, believable, and filled with flaws. The characters and what the author brings into the characters' lives makes your heart swell with joy as well as break with piercing sadness."

Read more reviews of The Oracle at or leave your own!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Like Putting Together a Puzzle

My progress on The White Thread continues to be slow, but at least it is steady! I am currently reading through The Oracle and taking notes on all sorts of seemingly (some of them) small details that I need to keep in mind and/or get right in the next installment. I know that personally, as a reader, I sometimes get so absorbed in a book that it takes on a life of its own and I almost forget for a time that somebody made it all up. It's like the "story" existed somewhere on a higher plane long ago and all the author had to do was "discover" it and write it down. Now, don't think I'm crazy, I mean, I know that this is certainly not the way that stories come to be, but I think it's the really good ones that cause the reader to suspend disbelief in that manner and view the story as "real" events. Along those lines, the suspension of disbelief, particularly in a fantasy tale, will be completely shattered if every single detail does not make perfect sense with the rest of the story. As an independent author, I don't have a particular editor whose sole job is to check for continuity, and it's one of the things that I worry about the most in the writing process. It's also amazing to me, however, how much the entire process is like putting together a puzzle; it's almost mathematical in nature. If I said that Darcy did X here and she did Y here, then those two things together have to equal a Z reaction to this scenario. When I was writing book 1, this was all very simple because it was brand new, and there were a few things that I put in the story that I wish now I had not (because I have to make them work with the rest of the story!). Writing book 2 was difficult in this manner, but manageable, and I think I was able to maintain good continuity, but it's proving much more difficult for book 3, here, which makes sense, I guess. The longer the series gets, the more details and fine plot points (and characters) there are to keep track of. So, all things considered, it's probably very good that I started the notetaking process early, because doing all of this come summer time may have busted my time budget!

On a sidenote, The Six and the Oracle are now available on Kindle for only $8.99 each! Just go the and search K. B. Hoyle.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

New Review of The Six

I thought that it might be interesting to publish the most recent Amazon review that I have had of The Six. I chose this review also because it was written by someone who was not an acquaintance or friend of mine previous to his discovery of my books through a write-up in our college alumni newsletter. (It's always good, as a self-published author, to be able to see that people other than my immediate friends and family find my books to be valid and worth reading!) I was contacted by this reviewer and his wife and have since had the privilege of striking up an ongoing correspondence via facebook. I hope you enjoy reading the review, and if you think it might encourage someone you know to try out my books, feel free to pass it along!

"Came across this book by chance and definitely glad I did. In my opinion the first couple of chapters are a little slow, but that's just because all the characters and nuances are being introduced. Once Darcy steps into the woods that first time though is when the speed picks up and it doesn't end until the closing page. You definitely find yourself looking forward to what comes next and there are some definite rewarding moments when you think you figure something out and then you're right. That being said, it's not predictable as I found on a couple of occasions where I gasped or said, "what?!" The details in the book are plentiful, but not to the point that they become excessive and bog down the flow. It's interesting to see the different dynamics develop and then change throughout the book between the characters.

The Six is along the lines of Chronicles of Narnia, Inheritance Cycle, Harry Potter, and even a little Lord of the Rings. However, it is completely on its own in terms of content, but you can see little flecks of those series in The Gateway Chronicles, at least in my opinion, so if you like any or all of those mentioned, I have a feeling you'll definitely like this series.

This book/series has quickly become a family favorite. My wife and I (24 and 23 respectively) love this book/series and my younger brother (16) actually finished this book in EIGHT hours! I have been telling him about it and told him to start reading it. He took a break to eat, and that was about it, if that gives you any indication of the quality and intrigue of this novel.

Greatly reccommended and looking forward to Fall 2011!" ~Ryan T.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Character Development

My productivity over Christmas break was extremely hampered by a nasty outbreak of the stomach flu, and now that I feel somewhat back to normal, I find myself a day away from going back to work. Be that as it may, my brain has been churning regarding The White Thread and my next fantasy series (which shall for now remain nameless). I managed to get the first quarter of The White Thread outlined over break, but in the aftermath of my illness, during which I did not have the energy to write anything, but I did have the energy to think, I began to seriously ponder character development. I am a big believer of the value of a story being in the characters, and for that you need well-written, fully-formed, loveable but flawed, believable characters. If a character in your story is not all of these things, I don't believe that your reader has any real reason to stick with your story. I think that so far I have a good cast of main, supporting, and fringe characters in The Gateway Chronicles, and I'm trying to determine what, if any, new characters I am going to introduce in book 3. The setting of the story is going to be rather contained compared to the first two, at least that's how I view it, and it presents me with a unique opportunity to take some of my supporting or fringe characters and develop them more fully... if I decide to include them in this installment. I also have the opportunity in the confinement of this story to put some of the existing relationships truly to the test. I'm enjoying thinking about how, for example, Darcy and Sam's relationship might grow and change if they are stuck in a confined area with each other for a prolonged period of time. (I realize that I am overusing "confined" but I don't want to elaborate more on what this means for The White Thread just yet so as not to ruin any surprises). Anyhow, I'm going to keep taking notes and do what I can before the summer to prep book 3, perhaps even start writing it! Who knows.

In other character development news, my next un-named series is going to have a serious cast of strong characters! It came to life one night with a name (the same as how The Gateway Chronicles came to life when "Darcy Pennington" popped into my head). While I'm not giving away any names, I will say that it's going to have four main characters between the ages of 15 and 18 and I feel like I know them all so well already. It's going to take place in New York City, and the fantasy element is going to be more like a world within a world rather than a departure from this world. And that's all I have to say about that. ;o)