Posts Tagged ‘Issym’

A friend and I decided that last night was the perfect opportunity for a girl’s movie night, so after dinner we bought excessive amounts of junk food and watched in Tangled. Sometimes it is the simple things that make the wonderful memories… Like last weekend’s Bible Quiz Retreat. My dear pen-pal Abi and her family came up from Virginia and she was able to be my co-official. Together we bribed students with oreos and chips-ahoys to sing, dance and act their answers. It was pretty much awesome. By far my favorite memory was in the middle of the semi-finals, one of the students (perhaps my number 1 fan) asked me to ask a bunch of Issym-related questions instead of normal practice questions. I could have gone on like that for hours…

I received a letter today with a payment and a donation for Rebirth Publishing. Donations always revive in me a courage I forget in the long-stretches of everyday authorship and publishing. A kind word and a small blessing can add incalculable blessings to other people’s lives. I hope to bless others as I have been blessed.

These little, almost everyday things, are my favorite memories. Those are types of things I remember from college too. The simple experience of having an almost-stranger sit on my lap to perfect my makeup for my first Formal ever… going to Chick-Fil-A close to midnight… talking before accounting class… And its the simple things that make books soar. The quiet conversations between friends, the laughter of stress-relievers, the joy of happy endings… getting to experience the real-life of characters is what makes readers most happy. This is why the character who offers comic-relief is almost always an audience favorite. When I wrote Issym I worked so hard not to get stuck in the rut of boring teenage books. I probably cut more of the everyday life out than I should have to keep teenage melodrama from touching my precious work. In Asandra I allowed realities–good, bad and mediocre–to be weaved in and it made for a much better product. The book felt so much more alive.

I may be able to write this post about the value of simple times, but of course I want my life to be dramatic. A night in seems boring–but that’s where memories are made, where the opportunity for conversations that will shake the foundations of my life occur, where character is built. So despite my recent, desperate need to break free from small-town Maine I am going to try to enjoy the wonderful blessings of simplicity–because it won’t last forever…


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As I edit Xsardis I often have to stop and write or rewrite whole pages. Several characters get skipped in the initial writing process. It is bound to happen. In Asandra, Sasha,–my villain–got left out for over a hundred pages and I had to weave her back in. This type of thing happens because I know generally the outcome and lesson I want to teach from the characters, but the characters themselves are either distasteful or confusing.

In Xsardis there is a set of three characters that I have been working with. I know the outcome I want them to have and I know the backgrounnds of the characters, but the day-to-day seems impossible to think up. When I wrote Issym it was pure inspiration. I hopped from one train of thought to another and left the synchronizing for the editing process. This was probably not the best approach. Asandra was so thought out it was stifling. That was probably not the best approach either. For Xsardis I realized it had to be a little of both. I had to know the exact layout for some things and I had to just start writing for others.

Today I attempted my free-thoughts writing style for the set of three characters as I sipped my Dunkin Donuts French Vanilla coffee between classes. And you know what? It worked! I not only wrote, but I learned about the characters. I discovered the naturally interplay and communication. I saw them instead of directed them. It was nice to get back to the basics.

The advice I have from this for my fellow authors follows: think things out as much as you can. Process the scene, act it out if you have to, and then write it. But if you are stuck, if you have not written in a long time, just start typing away. You might have delete your first couple of tries, but it is a wonderful way to get back to the true nature of your characters.

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Today I finished the draft of Xsardis. Each novel that I have written takes on a unique personality (not its content necessarily; but it and my’s interaction). Issym was like a child-hood friend. Always there for you; constant; fun. After a while you might grow out of it, but there will always be a special place in your heart for it. Asandra was what I envision a dating relationship to be like. It mattered so much to me but I couldn’t tell if it would come out brilliantly or fall flat on its face. There was a lot of tears and laughter (mostly tears). Now for Xsardis it might be a little early for me to peg its nature, but I can tell you it and my’s interaction was VERY different. Our friendship started off wildly than fell apart. I was stuck in the relationship but I didn’t want to be. There would be days when I would remember why I loved him, then weeks I loathed the very mention of his name. And it took me a very long time to complete the manuscript.

Part of the problem, I believe, was that I was failing where I told all young authors to make sure they succeeded. There are three parts to a great story. (1) A beginning and an ending (who needs the middle? that’s what inspiration is for!) (2) Two main characters (can be hero and villain, two heroes, whatever) and (3) A moral. The moral is key. It gives direction to everything. It is like a compass. Without it, a map will do you no good. I had a moral for Xsardis, but not until late in the novel and I didn’t like it. (The other part of the problem has simply been my health has not allowed much room for creativity but let’s forget about that one for now.)

Today Xsardis shared with me the moral that he (and yes, it became a he today too) really had. It is the perfect moral to sum up and end my series. It is so right, so perfect, it must have come from Above. My sister Kate asked me during one of our many kitchen-table discussions about writing what note I wanted to leave the series on. I guessed at an answer, but she really got me thinking. I prayed today that God would give me a story to consumer my thoughts and chase away the nightmare that was haunting me. He gave me the moral that has inspired this deep appreciation for Xsardis that I never thought I could have.

So I finished the draft today. I know there is a lot of work ahead of me (especially considering I am going to try to fit summer school in and there is another upcoming book under Rebirth’s logo; more about that later), but I am so happy. I love Xsardis for the first time ever! I think you will too.

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It seems like when my posts have been absent I always come back to you and say that I have been sick. And every time, including this one, it has been true. But the expectant fans of Asandra have no need to fear for things are progessing along rapidly for the November release date–largely thanks to the incredible efforts of my mother, manager, assistant, editor and friend, Judy.

Issym is now available for purchase at Borders in Bangor, Maine. Asandra will be there as soon as it is released. The book signing will be November 26–Black Friday–from 9-1(tentative) at Lambs Book and Bible. We are still hoping to hold a book release event sometime that weekend for friends, family and interested members of the local community. Asandra’s cover is almost finished and is looking great. I was very excited to see a draft and am flying back to Maine to meet with the illustrator next weekend.

I was also asked to come in as a guest speaker for a media class that I took as a student last year. This is a thrilling time, indeed! And although everything seems to be going well I am not saying that it has been or is easy. Mixing college and company is not simple. It takes dedication and the ability to say no to a lot of fun stuff. It takes late nights, early mornings, short lunch breaks and no restful Saturdays. It takes persevering through your paper and then your next chapter, while answering an email that you might not want to answer well into the early hours of the morning (I am thankful for an understanding roommate). Be warned! But it is so worthwhile.

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Embraced in a warm, mosture-filled hug I said goodbye to my best friend, my sister, my Kate (to whom Issym is dedicated). I told my parents I loved them and could not watch them go. A nice lady walked with me into my building and gave me enough pleasant conversation so that I could dry my tears. I wanted to be here, I remembered. That did not make it easy to watch what I had just realized was my whole world, what I truly valued (on this Earth) ride away. The students engaged me and I was soon myself. The rest of the day was good. We were kidnapped by our floor leaders and taken to a Sonic (a new experience for me). For the record, I know I am supposed to be here and I am very glad! God has plans for me and I will follow them. The people here are wonderful and the classes will be too. After the fifteen painful minutes of goodbye, I was happy again.

All week, we have been asked to think about leadership. Perhaps that (and the need to recall the past) are what brought out the following random memory:

At a birthday party at McDonald’s as a young child, a friend and I were approached by a younger kid who wanted to be in our club (like we actually had a club!). We asked him to ‘guard’ one of the entrances to the tunnel (it sounded cool. I did not actually mean for the kid to allow no one else down the slide.). He was on a mission and would not listen when we tried to tell him to let others down. It was then that I began to realize that I had a power for good or for evil. And that sometimes that window of influence is very small. By the time I realized that I actually had influence, it was too late to influence for good. I never wanted to make that mistake again!

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Research can be a pill, but with the right attitude it also can be lots of fun (I imagine that Rick Riordan really enjoyed the research for his Percy Jackson and the Olympians series). I spent yesterday afternoon looking up a certain kind of monster that will appear in my third book, Xsardis. I first looked at images to gather ides for the structure of the monster. Then I used Wikipedia to gather ideas for its mannerisms. My research has only just begun but it was fun. The best part will be when I mix the legends, facts and my own imagination to create the monster you will meet in November 2011 (if all goes according to plan).

When I created Smolden in Issym, I knew a fair bit about dragons so I did not do as much research as I probably should have (back then I thought research was boring; I was wrong. It is like a game.) but I did use one source–the Bible. Job 41 does a really good description of the leviathan so I used that as a base.

My advice for research is not just to look at measurements and statistics but to read into legends and gather inspiration from pictures and conversations you have with others. Draw on what you found interesting, what caused dreams after you did the research. My dragon appeared in my dreams twice–just about scared me to death, but it gave me a better concept for him. I knew how he moved, thought, breathed and stalked. I knew the fear my characters would feel and their wonder at the mighty beast. Do not skip on research. Making your book believable is really important!

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The internet is not always good, but sometimes it is. People who do not know each other can unite to accomplish tasks because of the internet. Heroes in books are thrust into the same circumstances, are forced to bond with each other and then take on the enemy. But now we can choose to collaborate with people we do not know. On that note, check out of the song, Mathew 7. If it gets in the Top 5 views in the contest, its composer, Andrew Cunningham–a fellow rebelutionary, will donate $10,000 to a student-led missions organization. Most heroes have to give months of their lives to a cause. You just have to give a few minutes and be refreshed along the way. Here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eAfych1zWsc

One of the hardest things for my generation of fellow teenagers (and everyone, really) is realizing that it is not okay to be passive. And further realizing that we are actually in a war. The first verse of Mathew 7 talks about problems and questions and selfish impatience–where the typical character starts out. Self-absorbed and yet aware that something is not right. The second verse says, “This is a me generation. I am selfish to the core. I want to put your kingdom first. I want to know you more. There is a battle that’s inside of me. God, I need the key to victory. And looking in Your Word is where I’ve found…” I will let you listen to the song to find the answer in the chorus.

The battle is raging around us and a few people and teenagers (like Andrew Cunningham) scattered across the world realize this. You do not have to step into a fantasy book to make a difference or to wage a war. Its waging around you and you are being drawn into it. Pick up your sword and fight! I may never fight a real dragon like the characters in my book, Issym. And I may never battle alongside a talking frog. But God has put me on this Earth for a unique purpose in a war that has raged for centuries and beyond and I had better do my job. But be encouraged by the chorus of this song because my God is a mighty God, Who is fighting right alongside us and never gives us more than we can bear.

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