Friday, November 20, 2015

Back Cover Poll! Jeweler's Apprentice

Okay, all you brilliant peoples!
  We've done a whole lot of work and have gotten things to this point, but there comes a time when the brain runs out of steam and can no longer make Big Important Decisions like... which way should the back cover copy be arranged?

So, we turn to you folks!

   Help us out! And tell us which arrangement appeals to you most?

A) Left hand Ponies.

B) Right hand Ponies.

 A) or B) ?
Comment below!
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Friday, September 11, 2015

I Found Them!!! :-)

 Well, here we are in September already, and life has just been barreling past at a zoom-zoom rate!

 But, I did get my 20k in for August, and am well on my way to get my Sept. goal as well. (currently at 9k out of the 20k.)
 I had a languishing bout in August, which is always a bit scary, a word-dearth/inspiration sapped/hopelessness feeling episode is always potential for a minor panic attack in a writer!!!
 BUT!!! Never fear... rescue was on its way!! Friends lent me The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge, and all writerly gloom was banished in the glowing aftermath of that darling story!!!
  (See my review of it here)

It restored my hope in all things literary, and reminded me what caliber of enchanting tales I'd love to create... and thereby kick started my ambitions and inspirations in one fell swoop!

 From thence, I clattered the keyboard as scenes and plot points fell dazzlingly into place on the page.

    I always love a good spurt of "writer's fire" like that!!!

 Anyway, but on to other news!!!

 While writing Jeweler's Apprentice and Traitor's Knife I had gotten little snippets of scenes that happen in the 3rd book in that series, and had tucked all those delicious little tidbits away as fire-starter for when the time came to write that book.

 But, then, early this year, when I'd thought there was a good chance I could get to work on King's Ward (#3) I discovered that all those notes were lost.

  I could not find them ANYWHERE!!!

  I looked and looked and it all was impossible, and so, so.... disheartening, I couldn't even begin to contemplate starting King's Ward in the face of such devastating loss.

 (So, I did other things, and wrote on other stories... mainly Beaded Slipper, Runzella, and Twelve Dark Knights, as well as a few others, and also thrashed around in the behemoth that Reindeer King is fast becoming -over 100k at the moment, and it's story arc is not complete- Ack!!)

 Anyway, I'd bottomed out on RK, (needing some feedback on the opening chapters, to get some of the tangle straightened out in my head) and also had exhausted most pressing scene ideas for the other tales.

 (The way I manage my creativity to best production is to let it write whatsoever scene -from whatsoever book- it has a fancy to, thereby pinning down whatever fleeting images are in the cerebral cortex before they vanish. My creativity is a fickle thing, and not at all interested in performing on demand, so pouncing on scenes "wild caught" so to speak, from their natural, persnickety habitat is the best way to ensure that each scene has punch of it's own accord.
  I can summon a grim-reaper sort of creativity for those final, hard to nail down scenes, which is required to actually finish a book, since "natural crystal" scenes arrive willy-nilly and hither and yon, and never, ever comprise a complete, finished, start to finish storyline. So there inevitably comes a time when the jewel-scenes stop showing up for this story, in fact become exclusively arriving for other stories altogether, and that is the point where I must unsheathe my sword, gird up my loins, and wade into the fray all stern-faced: pinpoint what exact information still needs imparted, coldly deduce how best to inject it, and hammer out a scene that serves the purpose.
 I need not tell you these are not my favorite scenes, and they rarely contain any lyrical prose at all. They are carpenter scenes, constructed for purpose alone, and if I had to write the whole book this way I think I would not bother to do it. Too much work, and not any fun at'all.
 Many times I heartily dislike these framed scenes, but if they are cleverly surrounded by the shiny "wild caught" ones, a reader's eye glosses straight over them without noticing how brutally uninspired they are. Even my own eye does this, after time has forgotten precisely which ones were which, and the hand-hewn pieces blend with the landscape and escape notice.
 And that, my dears, is how I write books, and actually finish books.

 I write books for the moments of glittering, inspired words that pour forth.
  I finish books by teeth-gnashing, determined plodding. -Which, thankfully, doesn't last too long, possibly the last 6th. of the process.)

Anyway, in a temporary dearth of glittering scenes cavorting in the ferns, and not enough courage to go frame up ugly, spiritless scenes, I sat down at my desk. I had writing time, but no writing that was promising to do itself.

 So, all empty headed of words, I took the session and quietly explored the nooks and crannies of my laptop...
 (keeping a calm heart-rate and languid manner, for lost things can smell fear and it makes them turn invisible)
  ...vaguely convinced that the missing scenes must be somewhere on it.
    How could I have ever deleted them? Impossible to think!

 I've been down that agonizing road too grievously in my early, hastier years, for me to even entertain the idea of permanently deleting anything I might remotely like in future... and I am so crippled by this terror that I have a great deal too many copies of copies of my manuscripts laying around in my folders. (Too many, that is, for my hard drive's complete comfort, and also, for my own ability to correctly identify the precise differences in nature between various versions of any given ms.)

 Therefore, I had a hard time believing, truly accepting, in my deepest heart of hearts; that I could ever have conceivably deleted those scenes.

 Even by accident... because I'm practically phobic about that!

 So, there I was, clicking cautiously around and delving further and further into the darkened recesses of the laptop's folder-in-a-folder keeping system, when I opened a creaky old door and stood boggle-eyed and breathless, staring at the objects of my long despaired search.

 I'd found the "lost notes" on King's Ward!!!
   *Cue triumphant laughter, echoing in dim and dundgeon-y halls*

 So, they're back.

 You can bet I quickly transferred all bits and snippets into a proper project, and promptly labeled it King's Ward, and now I have solidified their claim on an actual story. A story that will be written, and hopefully between now and springtime, first draft complete at the very least.

  Altogether they added up to well over 10k, which is a very jolly start to a book. I always hate the "blank page" of a book I know I must write... it invariably sends my mind into a fit of "I don't know where to start it!" (somewhat true)  and "I don't even know one single thing that happens!" (which is of course a most blatant fallacy, but the mind is capable of the meanest kinds of tricks,) and also, "This book is sure to be no good at all! I'd be saving the world a great deal if I simply didn't write this one at all."
  Which my readers assure me is also a grave piece of swindling, and that in fact, there are people out there very glad that I persisted past this stage of mental self-intimidation and actually got the books completed,
  (For which, of course, I am most heartily grateful to those darling readers, and I cannot possibly express how much they mean to me!!!!)

 Anyway, having a nice, cushion-y ten thousand word start on a project is always so much more pleasant; you reach the mile posts that much faster, and therefore more heartening. The "it's 20k, nicely started now!" and then the "40k, well, well, almost halfway there!" then "50k. Well done! This is officially novel length, -though of course we all know this story isn't nearly 50% actually complete-..." and so on.

 Generally speaking, at 80k I begin to feel as if I've accomplished a great deal, and possibly might even finish this book. Then each increment up from that I start feeling a little light headed, and as we near 100k mild panic sets in that "this monster will never be finished! Ever!"
 After this I have heretofore been so fortunate as be allowed to send it out to beta readers, who take the beastie off my hands and let me breath and regain composure. (While working on a different book, with different word count levels.)
 After returning from betas, the ms always seems so incredibly much more like a book, and it ceases to be "a project" and becomes "a story", which is always tremendously heartening, and we go forward finishing from there.

So this is why I try to never refuse an "early arrival" wild caught scene for a book I still have far in my future. I take a moment and capture that little glittering thing, and set it nicely in a quiet house with a soft nest to sleep sweetly, slowing joined by anything else that wants to volunteer, until such date as I have time to actually start on their book.

 It can get confusing, having so many books flitting in and out of your head, but it's the best way to "wild catch" scenes and have them waiting, fresh once more, by the time you need them. (Up to years and years later!)

 It's so much more encouraging to start a book and have it already partially written "for free" so to speak.

 Do you ever "wild catch" scenes?

 Anyway!!! So now I'm inspired to start concocting King's Ward!!!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

2 Month Update...

Hey Guys!!!

 So... hi! Yes... I've been silent on the blog since May, it would appear... which is interesting. It hasn't felt like that long.

 Clearly, if someone wants to keep close tabs on me and what I'm up to, it'd be a great idea to stalk me on FB, (makes one wonder more deeply about who else might be, also, doing the same? But then this is the internet, so pretty much, don't post it if you don't want the world to know! Right? ;-) )

 Okay! Back to the subject at hand!

 I actually have gotten a ton of stuff done between my last post and this... so a quick recap of the past 2 months goes thusly:

 20k in June: Check!!! Yep, got that done, even though June turned out to be a busy month, and I faltered a bit in the middle, but I got 'er done!
 In fact, I was introduced to My Write Club through some connections made in Camp NaNoWriMo, and I've been using that to chart my progress every month. It's a huge boost to my determination, when I can watch that little chart going up, and the time/space shrinking... really puts the progress into perspective. :-)

 20k in July: for Camp NaNo in July I wanted to boost my usual monthly 20k up to a 30k, which I was able to accomplish. I did have to resort to counting in a blog post which I wrote for The Book Creators, who have invited me to post advice-y stuff there, and it's been an interesting challenge, one that will continue.

Mostly though, I've been trying to keep Real Life in order while working on updating and finalizing the five novels I have out at this time, in preparation for increasing their exposure. So editors and betas have been the order of the day, and there always seems to be a truly astonishing array of corrections to be made each time through!!!

 Also, I've been trying to bring along several art projects as we go, whose requestors have been very good at understanding the weird schedule that my projects usually run on! Also, they've got very busy lives, too, so we're all in the same boat!!! :-)
 It's good to know we're not alone, at least!

 Anyway, so here at the beginning of August I've gotten 5k started on my 20k for this month, so that's not too shabby, and I hope to be wrapping up some of the art stuff and getting that off to the very patient peoples whom await it! That'll be a great feeling, on both sides!!!

 Okay, well, here's another vote.

  Since I was gone from the blogosphere for about 2 months: Did you miss me?

 And how often would you really want to hear updates on my various projects?

 Finish anything up recently? If so, congrats to you!!! That's an accomplishment! (Both literally and figuratively!)

Sunday, May 31, 2015

20k in May: Complete!

  Well that was very down to the wire, but I've finished up my monthly goal of 20k for May just right now.
   So that's a great feeling!!!

  Want to know what's even greater?

      I have the urge to keep going on this scene that came to mind as I desperately needed one to finish out my word count for the month!

   That's one of the wonderful things about having a monthly goal, for me it allows a lot of flexibility within the month, but if assures that at least at some point, I will have to really push myself beyond the "comfort zone" of writing only when and if I totally, completely am inspired.
   And sometimes in those "reach zones" there is real treasure to be found!

  This scene is a perfect example... I had not thought to have the Tree King show up in the #4 Thaw book, but suddenly here he is and he's answering a lot of questions that have been sort of floating around all through this series so far. The profundity of his replies are setting up a whole slew of information, further enriching the world for this series to go forward in, and laying a foundational hints at some of the things that are to come.
   Though Ilise is totally oblivious to the clues... I think readers who read this series twice will catch a whole ton of suggestion here!!!

   I love moments like this. Gifts from the pinch-points, so to speak.

   What goal have you finished this month?
     Do you have a long range goal you're working on?

  You all take care!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Author Interview: Faith Blum, Amazing Grace release tour

Hey! Today we have with us indie author Faith Blum, stopping by on her release tour for her latest book, Amazing Grace, number 3 in the Hymns of the West series.

 E; Okay! So when writing a series like this, at what point in the process did  you get the idea of this book's plot?

F; When I started writing "Be Thou My Vision". I was writing it in first person and Caleb's character started to grow on me and I wanted to write more about him than I could in the first person account of Anna, Caleb's sister. So, I started coming up with a rough plot idea for "Amazing Grace" and the plot grew as I wrote it.

E; So you don't necessarily have things planned before you begin a particular book?

Tomorrow is the last day to get "A Mighty Fortress" for free! Get it here:
F; In that case, no. When I started writing "A Mighty Fortress", I wasn't even thinking about doing a series. Then one of my beta-readers asked what book two was about. I told him I didn't have a book two, but my brain kind of took off from there. The original idea I had for book two ended up being book five now because I kept coming up with idea after idea after idea. All of which had to come before book five. 

E; AhahAh!!! I feel you there, Faith! 
 So, "book two idea" still isn't written?

F; No, it hasn't been. It's also a mystery and slightly intimidating, so I may have procrastinated on it slightly. Not much, but a little. Although, with the new idea I have for the mystery part, the procrastination was a good thing.

E; And where in the process did this current book's idea come up?

F; Which one? Amazing Grace or book five?

E; The one you're releasing now, Amazing Grace. 

F; I think that happened while I was writing "Be Thou My Vision" and wanted to do more of Caleb's side of the story.

E; So how much of a plan did you have when you started writing Amazing Grace, and how much of it occurred to you as you wrote?

F; I knew the story would be about Caleb and his mail order bride and have a lot of Caleb's father in it. That's about all the planning I had. The rest came as I wrote it.

E; So you're a certified "fly by the seat of your pants"-ter, hm?

F; Sometimes. I sometimes plan it out more. But then, even if I have a plan, my characters sometimes change things on me. Quite a bit. With book four, the one I'm currently writing, I had a rough outline for the last few chapters, but a new character crept in and kind of inserted herself into the story. I think it was a very good thing, but I hadn't planned it originally.

E; Sounds like a good mix, to me!

F; I think so!

E; So how did you come up with the theme of naming the books after songs? And what made you choose these certain ones?

F; As I edited "A Mighty Fortress", I realized my characters sang or quoted the hymn a lot. So that title was born. "Be Thou My Vision" has Irish roots as do Anna and Caleb Stuart, so Anna's story was naturally that hymn. "Amazing Grace" is one of my favorite hymns and really fit the story or grace and redemption that I weave into "Amazing Grace". And of course, all of the hymns I pick would have actually been around during that time period.

E; Started out very organically, then. That's terrific! I love it when a title comes easily. Yes, the historical aspect to them is wonderful. So have you decided what the one you're writing now will be called? 

F; Yes, I have and that was the hardest one so far. I was originally going to name it "Come Thou Fount", but that didn't fit as well as I wanted to. Then when I was picking music one day for church, I decided I wanted to sing "The Lily of the Valley". As I read the words, I knew I had to look and see if that hymn could possibly work as a novel title. It did! And the best part is that it is based off of Song of Solomon which is where I plan to quote from at the beginning of my novel. So, the short answer is yes. Book four's title is "Lily of the Valley".

E; Beautiful title for Book 4!! These are all set in the American West during the 1870s. Having grown up in several different parts of that West, there's a wide range of area... "the West" is a huge region! What particular place have you set these, and why did you choose that route? Also, was there research to be done, or were you already familiar with the territory?

F;  Book one was set in Illinois, Wyoming, and Montana. Books two and three are set in Tennessee and book four is back in Montana. I chose Montana because I've always wanted to go there. I chose Tennessee because it worked well for the story. I didn't do much research of any of the places, just enough to put in a few descriptions. And I am not familiar with any of the places.

E;  Well, you know, Wisconsin in the "old days" was considered the West for a long time there. Have you ever thought of setting something in that area?

F; That's true. I haven't. Book six might end up being in Chicago, though. So that's close to Wisconsin!

E; So what was the most fun part of writing something set in the west, as an author? The thing you just loved the most that another setting wouldn't have given you as much rein on?

F; Being able to live vicariously through my characters as they travel the West.  Plus there was so much that happened in the Old West that it isn't as strict as say, the Regency era.

E; So, if there was one thing you'd like strangers to know about you from reading this book, what do you think it would be?

F; That it is only by God's grace that any of us are on this earth or that I was even able to write and publish this book!

About the Book

Caleb hurried to the post office. He had to get in and out before his sister finished at the general store. “Any mail for the Stuarts?” he asked the postmaster.
The postmaster took a lazy look at him over the top of his eyeglasses and gave a heaving sigh as he turned around to check. “Yep. Somethin’ from Ohio and somethin’ from Montana.”
Tapping his foot, Caleb waited until the large man put the letters lazily in his hand. As he left he wondered why Anna had written someone in Montana and who she knew in Montana. It was really none of his business, but he was still curious. He folded the Ohio letter in half and stashed it in his back pocket. It would get wrinkled, but at least Anna wouldn’t know about it.

As Caleb struggles through some inner battles, he secretly starts a correspondence with a widow and her daughter. Their unabashed faith in God convicts him and increases his inner struggles.

Unable to find a steady job, Maggie places an advertisement to become a mail-order bride. Her daughter, Rachel, is her motivation and encouragement, but if Maggie doesn’t find a job or husband soon, Rachel might not survive through the next year.

Can Caleb learn to trust God despite his past? Can Maggie and Rachel hold onto their faith despite all their trials? What will happen when they meet in person?

About the Author
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, Captaining 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.
You can find Faith on her Website, Blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

Blog Tour Schedule

April 27………Faith Blum……………….Introducing the Tour
April 30………Jess Strong……………….Book Spotlight
May 4………...Annie Douglass…………..Character Interview
May 7…………LeAnne            Douglas………...Book Review
May 11……….Shanna Hatfield………….Character Interview
May 14 ……….Dee Strawbridge…………Book Spotlight
May 18 ……….Dawnita Fogleman………Book Review/Author Interview
May 21 ……….Elizabeth Kaiser…………Author Interview
May 25 ……….Emily Kopf………………Book Review
May 28 ……….Kathryn Fogleman……….Author Interview
June 1…………Raechel…………………..Author Interview
June 4…………Faith Blum……………….Novella Cover Reveal
June 8…………Carlene Havel……………Book Spotlight
June 11 ……….Amanda Tero……………Book Review/Author Interview
June 15……….Jaye L. Knight……………Character Spotlight
June 18 ……….Claire Banschbach………Author Interview
June 22 ……….Tricia Mingerink…………Book Spotlight
June 25 ……….Karilyn Putt………………Book Spotlight
June 29 ……….Morgan Huenke…………..Book Review/Author Interview
July 2…………Faith Blum………………..The Wrap Up