Friday, November 21, 2014

How To Plot Your Novel: Into the Arc Theory

Third post in How to Plot Your Novel series. Here we explore an in depth look at the "Arc Theory" technique introduced in the last episode of my very own tips; Plotting For Pansters.

 Q: How do I know where to put my plot points? How do I know what plot points to put there?!!!

A:  Never fear! Stay calm. There is absolutely no reason to panic.
 Even though we're pansters here, and there is that mean, growling word "plotting" hanging around a lot, I'm going to show you that ol' shadow monster is actually the reflection of a puppy dog in front of a bulls-eye lantern.

 (No idea what a bulls-eye lantern is? Here you go. >

Okay, on to the meat of this post.

 So, as I was saying... think about getting your plot-lines figured the same way you approach arranging food on your plate at a buffet. There's no hard and fast rule about the mashed potatoes going in the upper right corner... but you do know that the potatoes had better be between  the creamed corn and the roast with gravy.
 It'll just taste better that way.

 In the same vein,  the exciting dramatic points in your story taste better when dividing up the less sparkly, thoughtful stuff. So keep that in mind when you're spreading your ideas around the arc that you made last time.
This is a real arc I'm in the early stages of using... so I've blurred out specific words! *Spoilers!*

 Boil down your plot points to a spare few words. Two is good. One is even better!
 So, say it's that robber/mystery in Texas from our Road Map post.
 The City would go over here at the left hand corner, 'cause that's where they start from. Pencil in "Meet" next to it. You'll have to figure out how they meet later... or maybe you already have an idea. (Is at a cafe, where they both order lunch? Or when the one fender bends the other at a stop light?)

  Maybe the Shabby Hotel would go at the top of the arc, at the midway point. Cause right after that scene our mis-matched protags break up in disgust with each other after the argument... and then travel their separate ways to each find out a different clue which they will use when their paths cross again, (and they've simmered down enough to forgive each other.)

  So put "Shabby Hotel" up  there, sticking out from the arc. Then scribble "argue - split up" underneath that.

 There you have it! Your climactic middle scene.

 So... then, the "Prison" part would be half-way between the two. This is at the place where the Rule of Arc, (or Story Beats) dictate entering the Uncomfort Zone.
  Well, say one of them has a jailbird past, and going back into the pen as a visitor gives him a bad case of raised heart rate.
That's a definite Uncomfort Zone.
 (Poor character. They're just going to get more Uncomfortable from here on out!)

   (Write that. Write the reaction and the self control it takes to make themselves go back behind those iron gates... a testament to their drive and dedication to solving the case.)

Keep Updating the Arc Plotter

Do you have an end scene in mind? No?

 Not a problem. Do you have any idea how it'll work out?
Yes? Good. Maybe put "Robber Caught" at the other end.

 And when you get the idea; "Oooo! Must write that argument scene at the shortcut!" jot that scene down in it's approximate place. This will remind you what you have so far, and can keep you from writing the same scenes twice.
 (What?! You've never done that? I'm the only one???)

 And if you get a nifty idea, and write a real whip-cracker of a scene, then boil it down to one key word and jot it in on the arc. That way you can easily see your progress at a glance.

 Keep this with you, and whenever you get a really sparkly idea, whip this little plot arc out and jot down the one or two word code that will recall that idea whenever you read it. Then the next time you are at your writing place, just take a gander at this handy little arc sheet, (or big arc sheet, which is better, with more room for jotting.)

 And there you have it!
            Off you go, fingers flying like the wind!

                                      No fears! Just writing!

  Writing... writing...!!!!

  (But seriously... have you ever written a scene, then forgot you'd written it, and then wrote it again, slightly different? And then couldn't decide which scene to keep, because they each had good parts, but totally cannot ever, ever, ever mesh????)

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Plot Arcs: How to Use Them in Your Novel

Example of the Basic Arc
Second post in How to Plot Your Novel series. Here we explore a another technique I use, which can help you Pansters Plot your Novels.

Q: How do you plan a plot arc?

 A: Okay! People have been asking me about my methods of tracking plots, and since I'm a panster this is a big topic with me.

   All of you plotters can take your Excell spreadsheets and binders full of detailed notes for each scene and step outside with those now.

 (...Or you can hang around. You know, just for fun, and to laugh up your sleeve at other people's problems.)

  All right! Onward to glory we go!  (Props if you recognize that song...)

 As a major panster, I've had a hard time coming up with a plotting method that actually works with my "all over the place" writing style. I can't tell you how many different ones I've tried, but most of them failed miserably.

Okay, so here it is! The What Works For Me deepest secrets.

  We all know by this point that story arcs basically kind of have a similar shape all the time.

Like, beginning, middle and end.

   Or Act 1, Act 2, Act 3, if you're into that. (Personally, it always really bugs me that Act 2 has three parts, and they still call it a "Three Act Structure". What?! Who did you get to do your counting for you?)

 Or some people get all into the Hero's Journey, and the book that shares that name.

 Myself, I just want to write the story.
   So here's the "Arc Plot" that enables me to do just that.

 Draw a half circle. (All right fine, it's more than half a circle! Just make a big loop out there that covers most of your paper.)
  Divide this arc in half with a little line at the top. Then divide each half in half with another mark.

 You start at the Ordinary, move to Uncomfort Zone, on 'til you reach Confrontation/Greatest Fear. That is your climax, or the midway point of your story.
 (Some tales' climax is longer than others, and so it can slide into the Deepens Problem territory. That's totally okay.)

 Half way between the middle and the end of the book you come to Hits Bottom. This is a great place where you can have fun with making things look really bad for the protagonists and their dearly held dreams.
 Really turn the lights out on this!

  And then... oops! They turn things around! It's not that bad after all, and they all go home and be cozy in their caves.

   They have faced their fears and mastered them, (as well as the Big Bad). This makes them not only safe once more, but they actually have grown and have a bigger comfort zone than they had before.

  So... everybody wins!

Hope it helps, everyone! :-)

 (And while you're at it, you can get really creative and use the brightest, most diverse range of colors! Make one stand for one thing, and so on, that way you're creative muscle can easily see what's going on and get inspired!!! :-)

 Next time we'll get into the details of how to really make this Arc Plotter your own.

Monday, November 3, 2014

How to Plot Your Novel with the "Road Map" technique

Okay! In honor of November being NaNoWriMo, with all those writers determinedly writing, I thought now might be a good idea to break down and put up those novel plotting posts I've been asked about. 
     (Also, a good idea to write them, first.)

  I'm thinking I'll call this series "How to Plot Your Novel ... or Plotting For Pansters".

Q: I know specific plot points my novel is wanting, but I'm unsure about how to figure out what goes between them. Any suggestions?

A: As a died in the wool panster, this is what I'd recommend! :-)

 Start writing madly with every plot point you have in mind. You can make a "road map" on a piece of paper, jotting down the main important destinations. Big City  - - - -  Visit Prison (to check up with incarcerated witness) - - - - Shabby Hotel - - - - etc.  Then, when you're writing along, and suddenly in the Shabby Hotel your MC yells, mid argument, "I told you we shouldn't have taken that stupid short cut! If you'd have listened to me, we would have been here hours ago, and that little girl never would have been shot in the bank robbery, 'cause we would have stopped it before it happened!!!"
Real, actual road map plot I've been writing from for a couple years now, off & on.

 Then make a note in your road map.

 In between Prison and Shabby Hotel jot down "Short cut - argue about". There you have another scene that you will need to write so readers will know why your MC is so mad about not being listened to.

 You can use symbols, or scribble pictures... whatever will spark your memory later on.

 This is the method I use, and it works really well for me. So long as I am faithfully following the story by putting down on paper the scenes I DO know, the others will generally follow... like clues on a mystery case. As the writer/detective you get a feel for where you need to go, (and take your readers along with you) next.

               Hope this helps!!!
                          Have a good NaNo!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Hymns of the West... and Faith Blum as a Secret Agent? ;-)

Hey! Has anybody here read anything by author, and homeschool alumni, Faith Blum? Her latest book is on blog tour, going on now.
(Wow! Doesn't "on blog tour" just sound so much neater then expected?!)

 And.... *drum roll, please,* ...E. Kaiser Writes-A-Blog is part! 

 *Low tones* Here, we speak with Faith about her deepest fears... um, desires... well, more like... some kind of regular writer chit-chat kind of things,  actually. (At first. Stay tuned for delving deeper behind her mask, though.)

E: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
F: Definitely editing. I can edit other people’s books and pick out typos, but with my own stories, I have a hard time doing so.

E: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
F: This is like trying to pick your favorite book or the limb or body part you would most like to live without. I guess I’ll say Jaye L. Knight. I don’t typically like fantasy books, so when I heard about her new book, I was a little hesitant to read it. I’m hooked on her books now. She wrote fantasy that works and doesn’t have magic in it. She also manages to mix God into her stories without beating you over the head with Him.

E: Do you have to travel much concerning your books?
F: I wish! I would love to travel to the places I write about, but finances would definitely not allow that at this time.

 E: Okay! Now that those boring questions are out of the way to sort of break the ice, how 'bout we take this up a notch, just 'cause we can do awe-inspiring things like that, hm? Now for some off the wall, shoot from the hip, knock-'em dead 'cause they never saw that coming, sort of Q&A!

E: Since you wish you could travel as part of your job; how 'bout if you were a super-secret-agent-spy type character? Where would your first dangerous mission be to?

F: Awesome question! I love the idea of being a super-secret-agent-spy type character. I’ve always been fascinated by Scotland, Russia, and Israel, so I would love for one of my missions to be there. And since Israel is the current hot spot, I would say either there or Russia. But maybe I could stop in Scotland for a quick sight-seeing trip/training mission? *hopeful grin*
 E: Hmmm... only if the enemy is hot on your tail, and you simply HAVE to unexpectedly change flights last minute at the airport. Then... how could HQ object? Right? And is it your fault if you are spotted as soon as your plane lands in Heathrow, and you are forced to hide on a flight to Scotland? And then you have to lay low for a couple weeks; translate= moving from place to place, disguised as a tourist. What could be more clever? Right?!!! 

 F: *laughs* I love it! Sounds like a great idea! That could totally work and totally be feasible!

 E: 2nd Fun Question: Would you be, 1) infiltrating enemy ranks to steal back top-secret data files kept on a chip embedded into a Ming dynasty vase?
 2) Cat burglaring their safe to retrieve the gems they intend to sell and finance their nefarious plans? 
or 3) Planting false documents on the head honcho to make him look like a double agent, so his cohorts no longer trust him, and they all start shooting each other instead?
F: Ze answer, Madamoiselle: Oh wow. That is a hard one. Um… *thinks* I think I would rather do #3 and plant false documents. Although, the second one sounds like something I would enjoy, too.
  Okay! Sounds like a plan... so... the heart of a cat burglar secretly beats behind those ribs, hm? I shall have to go check my valuables... be right back. 

Here's some stuff about Faith's book while I'm gone...

Excerpt & Description:  "The church was empty when I dragged myself out of the pew and headed out the door.  As I opened the door, the corner of my eye caught a flicker of movement which I chose to ignore.  I walked down the steps and was nearly bowled over by two wild boys.  With arms grown strong and quick from man-handling two brothers growing up, I grabbed the two boys before they had a chance to escape me."  ~  Anna Stuart is comfortable with her life.  She may be a 30 year old spinster, but she has her routine and enjoys taking care of her father and older brother.  One letter shatters all her routines, comfort, and enjoyment.  After learning of her brother’s death, Anna feels like her life will never be the same again.  ...  Then she meets two motherless boys.  Did God place them in her life to lead her to a new vision of life?  Can she trust God to give her the desires of her heart before she even knows what they are?

Bio:  An avid reader, Faith Blum started writing at an early age. Whether it was a story about the camping trip that summer or a more creative story about fictional characters, she has always enjoyed writing. When not writing, Miss Blum enjoys reading, crafting, playing piano, moderating on the Holy Worlds Historical Fiction Forum and playing games with her family (canasta, anyone?).  As a history enthusiast who has been fascinated for years with the Old West, Faith has endeavored to create a clean, fun, and challenging Western story. Faith lives with her family on a hobby farm in the Northern Midwest, where she enjoys the many cats they have.

Faith Blum's Website:

E: Thanks for stopping by, everybody!!!
 And thanks for chatting with me, Faith! Someday we should go be super-secret-agent-spies together... Hey! Can we free-lance? That way nothing would be safe from us....

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

How would you live with one year left?

I’m participating in the “A Time to Die” Blog Hop!

  This hop is to spread the word about Nadine Brandes’s new dystopian novel, A Time to Die, releasing September 23rd. It is also to encourage myself and others to look deeper into how we would live if we knew how short our time was.
Nadine Brandes "A Time To Die."

 Personally, I’ve actually thought about this subject a lot, ever since I was a little girl. (The Little House books kind of started a fascination with the dreadful, I guess… I used to pretend I was blind Mary, just to see how that would be. ‘Till mom forbade it… ;-) )
 The sudden losses of almost all my extended family didn’t help things, I’m sure. (Grandparents, uncles… my last, and youngest, uncle died in an accident at 30 years of age. I was in my mid teens.)
 I kind of went through each day as if I was only separated from the grave by a hair… which definitely is a realistic view, and kept me concentrating on the important things, such as my spiritual walk, and relationships with my family.
 But it was a rather oppressive life perspective, and I’ve been able to grow into the view of being given an infinite amount of time, who can tell when my time will be up? It could be long and lengthy! ;-)
 Anyway, I kind of put my life on hold even as a teen, I felt unsure of being able to finish any big project, and so just kept “to the ruts in the road” kind of thing.
 So, now, I’ve concentrated on living: I want to take my mom and sis to Florida one winter, and visit the Disney park there. 2016 maybe? (My parents went after they got married, and Mom has always talked about wanting to take us kids there. Now that we’re all grown, I’d like to take her, instead. :-) )
 And I want to finish my books. I’ve got a second series started this year, (3 ms. completed, 2 more to go! ;-) ) and I want to clear out the WIPs on my hard drive from the past ten years. :-) I’ve come to the “finishing season” of my writing career, and so I’m anxious to get those unfinished jewels cut, polished and complete. :-)
 I have a year to live… and many more after that! But if I should wake up one morning and have that be my last, there is nothing I’d regret. I am safe in the hand of a King much more capable and important than anything I could ever do, say or think, so if He’s okay with my going home…. I’m WAY more than okay with it!

Parvin Blackwater believes she has wasted her life. At only seventeen, she has one year left according to the Clock by her bedside. In a last-ditch effort to make a difference, she tries to rescue Radicals from the government’s crooked justice system.
But when the authorities find out about her illegal activity, they cast her through the Wall — her people’s death sentence. What she finds on the other side about the world, about eternity, and about herself changes Parvin forever and might just save her people. But her Clock is running out.
This is the first book in the Out of Time Series. Released September 23rd from Enclave Publishing.

   Nadine's Website:

Other blog hoppers! :-)
 9.03.14 – Nadine Brandes
9.08.14 – Ashlee Willis
9.11.14 – Caitlin Schesser
9.15.14 – Jennette Mbewe
9.17.14 – Heather Fitzgerald
9.19.14 – Kristen Stieffel
9.22.14 – Rebekah Gyger
9.25.14 – Lydia Thomas
9.26.14 – Ashley Olson
9.27.14 – Angel Roman
9.28.14 – Rosalie Valentine
9.29.14 – Aubrei Crooke-Adams
9.30.14 - Sarah Grimm
10.01.14 – Jon Del Arroz
10.02.14 – Amy Brandes
10.04.14 – Kathrese McKee
10.07.14 – Karen DeBlieck
10.09.14 – Bethany Jennings
10.10.14 – Angie Brashear
10.13.14 – Adam Collings
10.15.14 – Bree Courtney
10.20.14 – Gretchen Engel
10.24.14 – JC Morrows
10.30.14 – Lisa Gedfries
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Monday, October 13, 2014

October Update: 20k is Down and OUT!!!

Okay, peoples!!!
 I'm just as thrilled as pink peaches to announce to the world today that my 20k for October is
Found at FrontPorchCandles; don't they look scrumptious?!
 (Post-scriptus: I wrote this on Saturday, but since my poor blog already had a post that day, I set this to post on Monday. Wink)

   I had several thousand words left over in September from that month's 20k goal to "pay forward" towards October's... which was a good start for "Month Before NaNo Crunch Time".

   ...And then I had a good sit down with my main-brain side-kick and plot-planning partner, and we roughed in some timelines and got several sticky details nailed down.

 (P.S. Snapp and Snurr are some long lived reindeer! They're treading 13 years old now, at this point. And still going strong!!! I tell you what,  does Kai really know how to treat his team or what? He's a master herdsman! )

Current Mock-up Cover Art
 (P.P.S. What do you think of those names for a pair of reindeer? Sound reindeer-y enough to you?)

 So, jet-fueled with all the new scene ideas richocheting around in my head I plopped down in the chair and typed madly for the rest of the day! I held out against distractions, against movies being watched in the next room over.
 I even held out against naps and... food. (Kinda. Wink)

 And I did somewhere in the neihgborhood of 5-7k that day!
  And then I hit the keyboard in the days that followed, putting in late nights, and middle of the night writing sprints and anything you can imagine to be sure that I
 A) Got these good ideas down, and
 B) got to 20k as soon as possible.

 Now, I have.
   My 20k for October is accomplished, so I don't have to worry about that anymore.

 And most of my good ideas are down, and I'm feeling very confidant in this book's future as NaNo project starting next month.

 So, with those two worries off my mind, I can now concentrate on the one obstacle that remains: Prince of Demarken, Mission Code Word:WRAP-UP.

 Like seriously, Wrap-UP!!! I've been talking about getting that thing finished off for months now, and I'm deadly determined to make sure it happens before November.

 'Cause I can't start on Reindeer King with the clear conscience it will definitely require if Prince of Demarken is STILL lurking unfinished in the background.
  Come one, now, WIPs!!! This is NOT funny by now!

 So... that's my plan for the rest of the month.
   What about you?

  ( And do you think it is remotely possible that I will actually finish off this long-haunted project at long last??? Wink)

Saturday, October 11, 2014


Clean Indie Reads, the home of Flinch-Free Fiction, is having a Fall Sale October 5 thru October 11!

Check out all the sale books here.

To celebrate, we are having a blog hop where you can learn more about some of our authors and their books.

Our bloggers will also be answering the question:

Do the changing seasons influence your writing and/or choice of books to read?

Please join the discussion on the following blogs, and you might win a prize or two!

Happy Hopping!

Hey! I'm participating in the Clean Indie Reads Fall Sale Blog Hop, and so the question I need to answer today is: how do the changing seasons affect my writing?

Well, I can tell you right away that they mostly don't. 
Exept when they kind of do...

Here's the thing. I write whatever season, temperature and landscape my current Work In Progress requires, so that isn't affected much by what's going on outside my window. 

 But, I can also tell you that I hate heat. And also cold. 

 So I really don't want to work on heat-stroke-inducing desert scenes in the middle of August, when heat stroke is a very real option here and I'm trying not to think about it for fear of priming events for it to actually happen.
 (I'm an "attack-first" thinker; not to say that my thinking about something will make it happen, but I have been victim of my powerful imagination before, and find my poor little mind very suggestible to it's influences. So it's best to stay very strictly away from mentally listing "worse case scenarios", unless it's absolutely a state of verifiable crisis and we have to.)

So this also means that in the middle of the blooming cold of winter, I DO NOT want to be imagining myself in the middle of a blizzard, and describing that in vivid detail. (I have been there and done that, and on a hot day in August, recalling all the sensations can actually be enjoyable. In the middle of January...? No. It is not.)

So there you go. I generally try to write opposite to the extreme season I happen to be in... call it a case of authorial wishful thinking. Wink

How about you? Do you "transport" yourself into a different time of the year to escape the current discomforts? Or am I unusually strange? 

(You don't have to answer that!!!! Wink )

Other Hoppers:
October 5:
Linda Covella
Mary Ellen Bramwell
Tina Webb
Logan Crowe
October 6:
Tara Fairfield
Barbara A. Martin
Shanna Hatfield
October 7:
Sally Sue Fleischmann Ember
Chrystal Lynn Miles Gauthier
Zelda Benjamin
October 8:
Kelley Crandall
Jennifer Pitkin
Mari Barnes
October 9:
Sharon Skretting
James DiBenedetto
Melanie Snitker
October 10:
Felicia Rogers
Ruth O’Neil
Debbie Brown
October 11:
Faith Blum
Kristin Wallace
Elizabeth Kaiser


Friday, September 26, 2014

September Update; 20k In the Bag!

Okay, folks!

 Here's my 20k notice for the month of September.
 Yes! I did it.

   I was able to start out fairly strong in the beginning of the month, and so I built up a lot of my word count before we hit the middle. This allowed me to be able to get the tail ends of my goal wrapped up before the complete end of the month was here, so I'm gald to report I'm done for my September writing goal!

   I did not finish Prince of Demarken, again. I had hoped to, but... I DID get some really key scenes in, ones that had been getting me stuck for a while now, so we are making progress. 

   So I ended up letting it soak a bit while I worked on other things; mainly Twelve Dark Knights and The Beaded Slipper.  Yes, those are the two chronologically-first spin off novels, so it was decided that working on them would be a good relief, (but still in the same world and therefore self-informative) for Prince of Demarken.

 We've got some good times ahead with Twelve Dark Knights, let me tell you! :-) The set-up is just riff with fire-crackers and ready to blow in a million different ways! Wink Going to be lots of fun in there!!!

  Now that my goal is finished, I'm hoping to keep wrangling with the last stubborn scenes in Pricne of Demarken, and get them ironed out. I've let them "soak" long enough, I have a hunch they'll relent under pressure.

  And of course, October is the month before NaNoWriMo, and I can't afford to be strangling the last drops of inspiration out of my brain in the dwindling light of October's end.
 No, NO!!! That would be something worhty of a horror story!
 I must have a fresh batch of creativity to tackle the long haul of 50k in November.... so that means I really need to have my alotted 20k for October done up very early in the month.
 So I'm going to get working on it this month, in the week that we still have left.

 The goal is to have 20k new words for every month, and if they're written early... WHO CARES? Wink Certainly not I!!!

 So, there are my plans for the next three months.

 What do you think of them? Sound doable to you?
   Do you have any big projects you're tackling? Have you planned it out? Wink

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Are You As Mixed Up As I Often Make People?

 Everybody who is anybody probably already knows all about the Extrovert/Introvert dilemma and the various tangents different people can go off on.

 I've always considered myself an introvert... but people who meet me shake their heads in disbelief and practically call me a liar when I share this small fact.

   I understand what makes them respond this way, but the fact is: I've put a lot of hard work into my "out-going personality" and friendly smile.
    I enjoy people, I really do, and I love to have deep and meaningful conversations with old friends and new ones alike.
 But I've always felt no one really understood me... including, sometimes, a sneaky feeling that neither did I.

  So I was very intrigued when I learned about the alternative category of Ambiverts.... this was decidedly me.
 And now I've run across a blog post on the Introversion Effect that basically sums me up!

19 Struggles Of Having An Outgoing Personality But Actually Being Introverted

So, what say you all? Do resonate any of these "struggles"?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Writer Interview: Jo M. Coleman!

Joining us for today's Writer Interview, we've got Jo M. Coleman, from Southeastern Arizona!

  Thanks so much for joining us, Jo! We're so glad to have you here this time, and we hope to get you back for a reader interview sometime later. Tell us a little about yourself and what you've written.

Jo M. Coleman: Hey! I'm so glad to be here, and it is honestly my first time doing an interview like this, so that's pretty exciting! Anyways, I grew up in Arizona with lots (and lots and lots) of siblings, and tried to write my first book at 10 years old. It didn't get more than 2 pages, but it was fun drawing up fan art for it. At 14 I really got serious and wrote a book that was a WIP up until I was 17, when I finished it. I have written 2 more novels since then, so 3 in all, two of them are fantasy novels and the other is a Christian Western. I'm currently working on my fourth novel making good use of NanoWrimo 2012! :D

E: How about this for a quick writing challenge. Using a few sentences, how would you paint a description of the setting/your world, (either where you are or where you grew up,) as if you were setting the scene for a book about you?

J: It's that moment when you step outside and the sky stretches so far and blue above you, the sun wrapping you in its warmth. The green is more of a brown, but the air hums with the comforting buzz of june bugs. Clouds dance across the sky in a symphony of pure white beauty, almost as though you could run through them. This is home.
E: Great description, Jo! Sounds like a great place to be.
   So, let's get started. What's your favorite genre/genres, and what do you think really draws you to that/them the most?

J: I absolutely love fantasy. I have read many different genres and I like books from each of them, but overall, I just really love fantasy, especially young adult fantasy. I think what I like about it is that it is pure creativity... creating an entire world/laws/people groups/creatures that don't exist in our world! I love the “royal culture” as well as the idea of virgin land stretching as far as imaginable, forests, plains, mountains, rivers, waterfalls, and hills. Untouched land just waiting for me to revel in its beauty. Plus, I just really, really love dragons and unicorns. :-D And the thought that I could own a White Siberian Tiger.
E: Ooo... I like your description. I think we're on the same page there! Myself, I'd take a regular, orangey tiger. I just love that color!
  What's your most favorite writing related advice?

J: “Write the book that you want to read.” I don't remember where I first heard it, but I have taken it to heart ever since. It is great fodder for ideas and keeping me going in the middle of a work in progress. What is it that I want to read? What book have I wanted to read but have never found one quite like it? Write it myself! I think that's one of the best ways to maintain writerly inspiration (which, like middle school crushes, can be so fickle!), and come up with great ideas and characters! What do I want to read in a book? What character do I wish I'd read before? That is one of the main reasons I did my rewrite of “Beauty and the Beast”, because I'd always wanted to see it done from the Beast's point of view (and there may be some out there, though I haven't read any), so I figured... why not do it myself?
E:  Great advice! And I like how you've really taken it to heart and gotten a great writing attitude out of it. And, yes, that writerly inspiration can be so vanishing when you need it most!

 What is your favorite type of character to write? Why do you think that especially appeals to you?

J: Hmm... I have written quite a few strong women characters, so I think that definitely appeals to me. A woman who will do what needs to be done, but is not afraid to be vulnerable at the end of the day. A woman who fights fiercely, loves devotedly, and dreams big. I guess the reason that particular type of character appeals to me is that I see it as sort of a “larger than life” version of myself – the woman I would hope to be if I were to encounter the situations my characters do. I also like to write a character who, in the face of the right (hard) choice or the wrong (easy) choice, will choose the right! So characters with character! I do also like to write a bad guy that the reader (and I!) really really want to see beaten in the end. Although I do like to make my antagonists sympathetic in some way, they generally are also so far deep in evil that despite feeling sorry for them, you also just want to see them pay for their crimes.
E: Where do you like to get your characters? Do you like to draw off of people you know, other books, or just pull them put of the blue?

J: It's a mash-up. I do like to give every main character of mine an interest that I share with them, because it's one level that I can really add realism to. So, I would make them an artist, or give them a love for reading, or have them be a seamstress. Other elements may be taken from people that I know, or myself, such as that person who's always making silly jokes that nobody laughs at, or the way you just laugh and laugh with someone, or how someone always inadvertently knows how to make every situation completely awkward. 
E: Some writers talk about their characters getting out of control and things happening that they didn't intended to happen; have you ever had this happen?

J: Actually, I don't think I can honestly say this has happened to me! It kinda makes me feel somewhat abnormal... but my characters generally will do what I've set for them to do. I am something of a pantster though, so often the plot will end up going down some random deviation of a rabbit trail and my characters will skip along with it. But I see that as more of a plot deviation leading to character deviation, not really the other way around.
E: How do you write, is it 'start with page one, scene one' and go through it in order; or just "whatever scene pops into your head"
(and that might mean that you have the entire middle of your book written before you even start on the beginning)?

J: A general overview is always in place in my mind before I begin writing, and usually the ending is pretty clear as well. Once I actually begin writing it down, it is completely written in the order it will be read (though I may switch some things around once it is all written down). Unless there is a particular scene in which I have something very specific in mind (such as a piece of dialogue, a section of prose, or the like), and I have to write it down ASAP or else I will forget it. But generally it is written from Chapter One in order through till “The End”.
E: How do you plan your stories' "bones", or do you?

J: I will “Pants” the first draft, just hacking it out however it comes. Then I will sit down for as long as it takes (weeks to months) and write down a solid outline (a friend of mine has written a FANTASTIC book about outlining), then I will begin the rewrite. But I will still end up “pantsing” on some parts even with the solid outline.
E: Have you tried any plotting, outlining, methods; and what works best to your way of thinking?

J: I outline in a notepad with a black pen (Pentel R.S.V.P.). My first draft I will type up (generally during Nanowrimo), then I will write out my outline in a notepad as well as the second draft once the outline is done. After that, I will type up the third draft, print it out and read through to edit. I only just started outlining in January of 2012, and found it was very helpful with my third novel, so that is going to become a solid part of my writing process.

E: What is your worst writing trouble?

J: Finishing what I've started. I really, really hate going back through and editing, so it's been a struggle for me to get that work done! The initial drafts aren't so difficult (I like to start with a blank slate each time I go to write a new draft, just using the previous one as a springboard), but once I have a solid draft and just need to go through with more specific edits rather than total overhaul, it seems really overwhelming to me.
E: What is your worst writing fault? How do you identify and rectify its effects?

J: Procrastination, also named Facebook. :-P I looooove to procrastinate, though not just with writing but just in general. It's a fault in general for sure. I have to set a specific day and time that I will sit down and GET SOME WRITING DONE, and then I have an easier time doing it. Also with writing, I tend to repeat the same words/phrases a lot, I definitely have to keep a regular sharp eye out for that, as it can get very mundane as a reader to be reading the same things over and over.
E: Hey! It's been great having you here! We've so enjoyed learning more about another writer's mental workings! Thanks for participating.

J: Thank you for having me! It's been fun and I'm looking forward to seeing what other writers have to say as well. :-)

Monday, September 8, 2014

Monthly 20k, and August Update!

 Hey there!!!
    Yes, we made it through August!
 August to me is one of those difficult months... it's too hot to enjoy summer any more, but we're still not ready to acknowledge that it's almost fall. It's like something inside is screaming "I wanna go back to May!!!"

   Which isn't possible... so, everything just slides into a long, sticky string of events, like molasses. Black strap molasses, in fact.  Wink

 But by the time we reach Semptember everything is better. The temps are cooler, the weather more gorgeous, the harvest is coming in and from time to time you can almost catch the smell of fall in the air. And that's okay, in fact, by this time, we're looking forward to fall.
 Hey, by mid-canning-season: we're even looking forward to winter!!!

  So, the big question is: Did I make my 20k goal for August? 

    After the creativity draining Camp NaNo in July, where I over shot my original 20k goal to produce 32k.

          ...Let me tell you, August did not start out with a thunderclap of writing frenzy.

 In fact, August didn't start out with any writing at all.

 My batteries had to seriously recharge.
 And then some Real Life stresses stepped in and messed things up in their own sweet way, and then it was the middle of the month and I had hardly written anything at all.

 So of course, there was mild panic, because I don't want to break my "20k monthly goal" success
streak! Ever since January '14!
 This is the 8th consecutive month that I've produce 20k words in.

 And yes.... I did get them produced. Wink

  It was tough, but I finished the final 2k needed on the next to the last day of the month, and then I just called it quits.
    I seriously need to recharge my batteries!!! Wink

  Progress So Far This Year

     So, on the flip side, I do want to take a minute and publicly consider what this commitment to "Monthly 20k" has resulted in.
   August was the 8th month!!! Can you believe it???  (I can't hardly! Wink)

    Here's the math:   8 x 20 = 160

      That means that I have written a minimum of 160 thousand words, so far.

 A minimum! 

  That is 3 novel's worth. .... Or 6-to-8-ish novellas... or... 

    Well, actually, it's two 30k novellas, one 90k novel, and I've got the follow-up novel at about 50k, with a couple of thousands tossed into roughly three of the later in the series. 
  (Yep, all new since January '14!!! Yes, I am kind of freaking out. It seems I've finally closed in on the secret to letting the stories out of my head in a smoother stream!)

  Since I have overshot 20k on more months than not, the total word-count is at least 200 thousand new words.

  That is... to me... pretty amazing. I wouldn't have thought it possible even just a few years ago, and now...? It's still pretty amazing.

 But, having the flexible-timed, large-monthly goal has helped me keep motivated without getting discouraged.

       Discouraged is a horrible place for creativity.

       And learning how to refine the quality of my writing time has hugely affected the words-per-hour.... since I no longer sit at the computer beating myself up for not having a clue what should happen in this scene.

 And having a truly gripping set of plot-lines has inspired a much better conversion rate of time-in-chair. Wink
   So, thanks to expert, knowledgeable, professional folks like Rachel Aaron, Dean Wesley Smith, and Hugh Howey for publicly sharing their hard-won perspectives on the realities of being a writer... and particularly, an indie writer.
   You have each inspired me!

   (And if you don't know them yet, I heartily recommend checking them out! As writers, they are truly great role models to watch, and learn from!)

  Future Progress

  Also, in August, to get me through to the goal, my first reader and I did a lot of plot brainstorming. We now have the next four-to-five novels lightly sketched out, and the possible spinoffs nailed down enough so that their possibilities will not be impeding forward motion on any of the next up books.
   This is huge!!!

 And I'm so grateful to have a sister like that who can bring clarity to the muddle of my inspirations! Wink

    (Also, I do intend to make a post about my/our plotting process to share! ...Soon... ish... Wink)

  So... that was my August. How was yours? 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Blast from the Past: Why I write.

Click here to Pin!
   I was searching for something the other day in my various stacks of repositories, and came across a paper with this written on it.
   I remember writing this... but I can't remember exactly when. I think it may have been as far back as eight/ten years ago... or maybe not that many, I can't place it for sure.
 Anyway, here it does:

"Why do I write?

 Why do you dream?

 When I write, life recedes a distance and I am on a different level... where the temperature drops on the mist of my thoughts, condensing then into drops of words.

  Then, like dew on a spiderweb... stringing into sentences and paragraphs. Images and feelings, swirling and fading, in and out.
 I wanted to write because I loved reading so much as a youngster. I wanted to contribute something good back... and that's never changed.

 When I emerge I am refreshed; renewed.

 Day-to-day returns and I can face it with a cleared perspective.

 ...I have learned something from myself."

  What do you think about that?

       Why do you write? Hm???

Thursday, August 28, 2014

ICA Blog Train: David Bergsland Interview!

 Welcome to the next stop on the Independent Christian Authors Blog Train! 

I'll begin the "linked blogs" on this train by interviewing fellow indie author, David Bergsland. We both belong to the online group
ICA and connected through there... a great place to learn from the many experienced members on there who happily share of themselves, and David is right in among those!

 So I am glad for a chance to introduce him to you all, and hope others will be encouraged, blessed,  and perhaps even challenged by his story!
  If you're a writer looking for a warm, helpful place, I'd highly recommend joining ICA on Facebook here. 

We'd welcome the chance to get to know you!

So, David; what or who inspires you to write? Is there a “real person” you pattern either your protagonist or antagonist after?
It’s just part of who I am. I began as a scientist when I got out of high school in 1961. In full rebellion, I was one of the early flower children [pre-hippy] in the 60s. All the drugs gave me a strong desire for a creative outlet. I graduated from college with a fine art degree. 3 years later I met the Lord. 
It became quite obvious that the Lord had no plan to bless my art career even though the desire was still there. He led me into graphic design, then art director, then teacher, font design, and finally dropped writing into my lap.
So, writing started as a ministry supporting my teaching of digital publishing. The state school I taught in [Albuquerque TVI] didn’t allow me to mention Jesus in my class or coursework, but He blessed my time there and I ministered to many students over the years. 
My technical books on book design, using InDesign, font design, typography, so on are still what He blesses for me, primarily. When I was forced out of teaching [the school dropped the degree], I happened to be 65—so I “retired” early—accepting this as the time where the Lord would finally let me write for him. It’s a financial necessity for me to work at my trade. So, I began writing Christian books: Bible studies and creationist books. They’re beginning to sell, but they’re a small part of my income.
I also had two relatively complete novels almost completed. They were released as The Righteous Perish, a radical, edgy, non-conventional endtimes thriller patterned after what I knew as a prophecy teacher and Bible teacher for 40 years, and as an associate pastor supporting my wife’s ministry.
The 2nd novel was released as Daniel’s Mighty Men. It’s an epic technothriller with the heroes and heroines roughly fantasized out of people I know. It shows a privately owned black ops company made up of over the top, Charismatic/Pentecostal/Fundamentalist Christian warriors. It’s wonderful to read—but it’s a massive book, so it’s taking a while to get traction.
Where do you want to be in your writing career five years from now?
Serving Jesus in power, following His lead. I have no idea what His plans are.
What one piece of advice do you have for other authors?
We don’t need more entertainment. We need more books which the Lord can use to transform lives.
Which author, either living or dead, would you most like to meet?
The Apostles Paul & John
The prophet Isaiah
What book project/s are you working on right now? 
An inspirational book on what it takes to be a Christian author with a strong call called Writing In Holiness: While Keeping It Real.
An epic fantasy about a world where political control is a fight between an apostate church and occultic evil. The true believers are being slaughtered by the church. The hero is a calligrapher/artist called by God to strengthen the true believers and the heroine is a princess running for her life from her brother who has sexually assaulted her physically and demonically. It’s the first book in a series called Staff of Light.
Plus new editions of my technical books on font design and book production for Christian self-publishers.
Author Links!
Amazon Author page: David Bergsland
    My latest release is Designing ePUBs With InDesign. It’s the ebook production portions of my main book design offering Writing In InDesign CC 2014 Producing Books
   My books are in the iBooks Store, NookBooks, Kindle, Createspace, Kobo, Books-a-Million, Scribd, and many more.
Social Media:
Twitter [Christian]: @radiqxpress
Twitter [technical]: @davidbergsland
Google+: +DavidBergsland

I’m also active in:, and several private or secret FaceBook groups.

My technical blog: The Skilled Workman focused on book production, font design, and typography for the Christian author

My Christian blog: Reality Calling specializing in Reviews of Christian speculative fiction

My normal email:
  Thanks for joining us, David, and we look forward to seeing who you interview on your blog Sept. 2nd!