The Ideal 10 Star Rating System + Big Announcement!

At the end of this post I’ll be sharing an exciting announcement with you all, so be sure to get in on it!


I’ve always been pretty vocal about my dissatisfaction with Amazon’s five-star rating system for books, the main reason being that five stars seriously limits the flexibility I’m able to have while expressing my opinions. So I decided to take matters into my own hands and construct a template for a ten-star rating system.

Currently, Amazon suggests the following criteria:

1 Star = I hate it

2 Stars = I don’t like it

3 Stars = It’s okay

4 Stars = I like it

5 Stars = I love it

Yuck. So…basic. So pessimistic. It sounds more like one of those convenience YA protagonists monologuing about her crush than a respectable review system. Does anyone even follow those criteria? I don’t.

Allow me to propose the following ten-star reviewing method:

1 Star = I read two chapters, burst a blood vessel, and fed the book to my pet turtle Franklin II.

2 Stars = I read three chapters, got a headache, and shook my head disapprovingly in Franklin II’s general direction.

3 Stars = I finished the book, but frankly, Franklin II is more interesting. And he’s a turtle. He doesn’t do anything. And his food smells weird.

4 Stars = The book’s okay for some light entertainment if I’ve got nothing better to do. Unfortunately, Franklin II and I had a game of marbles scheduled for today, so I won’t be reading much. Franklin II is bad at marbles. This could take some time.

5 Stars = I don’t regret spending a few bucks on the ebook. I enjoyed the general story, but there wasn’t anything remarkable about it. I might recommend it to Franklin II, since, being a turtle, his literature standards are fairly low, but he’s more of a mystery novel chap.

6 Stars = It’ll probably find a spot on my shelf, assuming the cover looks nice. Franklin II is irrelevant now. He can’t even see the shelf.

7 Stars = I quite enjoyed the book. I tried to have a meaningful discussion about the character development with Franklin II, but he was chomping on a lettuce leaf quite rudely, so I got mad and left.

8 Stars = Hmm, impressive. This book really stands out, possibly enough to earn a spot near the top of the shelf, where over time it’ll acquire a Franklin II-esque aroma. Gross. Franklin II stinks.

9 Stars = I read this book out loud to Franklin II after I’d finished it. We both teared up at the end. I’ve never seen Franklin II get so emotional. It was a beautiful bonding experience.

10 Stars = This book is extraordinary. Franklin II and I built a shrine for it, and on the second Tuesday of each month, we spend ten minutes in contemplative awe in front of it. Sometimes we even split a potato chip.

I hope the King of Amazon sees this post and takes the necessary steps to make my method official. In the meantime, Franklin II escaped his tank again. Gotta go find him.


Okay, now for the big announcement!

After a week or so of careful consideration, consultation, and calibration, I’ve decided to start a Wattpad account and serialize one of my backburner novels. Whaaat? Yes. I know. I think the earth just shifted on its axis. Here’s a fancy shiny thing for you to look at and be amazed:

wattpad cover copy

A band of escaped slave children face a world that wants them back in chains…or dead. Their struggle for survival begins in the uncharted wilderness and ends in a city ready to tear itself apart.

Placeholder cover art by yours truly. 

So why take this project to Wattpad? Several reasons. I’ve been puttering away at the manuscript for the better part of five years now, never really prioritizing it, so I figure this will be a good way to stick with it and finish it. It’s also the only novel I’ve written that doesn’t follow a developed outline, so a weekly chapter system fits perfectly. Third, The Broken City of Crows is longer and more ‘traditional’ fantasy than what I usually write. Why not try something different for it? Lastly, I really like the idea of getting feedback from readers as we progress through the story.

The first two chapters of The Broken City of Crows are already posted on Wattpad. Go read them here and tell me what you think! Any shares, tweets, or promotional smoke signals are greatly appreciated as well.

From here on out I’ll be posting single chapters every Friday or Saturday (depending on which works better for potential readers). And yes, I’m still writing Where the Woods Grow in Flames, don’t worry!

Anyways, I’m really excited to try this out. I don’t have super high expectations, but I’m curious to see how far we can go! Any support from you guys means the world to me, so let’s get going. Come along, Franklin II. We’ll be late!


Have a great day, friends!

How To Be A Fantasy Character 101

Today we’ll be studying the basics of what it takes to be a full-fledged fantasy fiction character. Note-taking is encouraged.

Step 1: Wear the appropriate attire

In this class, we provide you with a starter kit which includes pre-muddied boots and a cloak carefully hand-torn by our specialists. We also recommend you complete your outfit with your own choice of shirts, pants, and hoods. Our wardrobe selections include Colors Of the Forest, A Hunter’s Garb, and Dusty Road Wanderer.

Step 2: Grow out your hair

Most of our past graduates adapt to the standard shoulder-length hair, which we recommend for its versatility. It’s long enough to catch the breeze while you sit majestically on your wilderness rock of choice, and it’s short enough to whip around just right in situations where dancing, spinning around in surprise, or hand-to-hand combat are required.

Step 3: Make sure you have adequate eye color

You’ll have to purchase your own contact lenses, but our prices are economical so you won’t have to use the last non-specified-currency coins from the pouch on your belt. As with our clothes department, our contact lens counter features an array of color choices. These include, but aren’t limited to, Emerald Green, Pools-of-Water Blue, Rich Mahogany Brown, and As-Black-as-Ebony Black. Each base color also comes with palette variations ranging from Deep to Sparkling.

Step 4: Invest in some recommended accessories

Now that you’ve completed your basic outfit and your rugged-yet-charming and/or graceful-yet-fierce appearances, we can move on to completing your look with some accessories. Should you plan on spending time adventuring outdoors, please consider our selection of flasks, weightless cooking supplies, hand-carved staffs, and lethal daggers. If you prefer to stay in town, however, you may be interested in our stealth-friendly tool belts, lock picks, just-quiet-enough grappling hooks, and lethal daggers. Not into adventuring? No problem! In the next aisle, you’ll find our embroidered handkerchiefs, leather-bound books, this-belonged-to-my-mother necklaces, and lethal daggers.

Step 5: Formulate a dietary plan

Now you look the part! Let’s get to work on your lifestyle changes. I see you’ve brought water and vegetables, but don’t worry, we won’t be needing those. There’s a Local Healer booth set up in the back; talk to any of our soothing female staff members and she’ll set you up with a new nutrition plan based on bread, cheese, mysterious chunky tavern-stew, and plenty of ale and mead. With our dietary plan, dehydration is a thing of the past!

Step 6: Learn the necessary survival skills

We know you want to start questing as soon as possible, so we’ve condensed our survival skill syllabus into a two-day crash course where you’ll learn to wield a sword, shoot a bow, ride a horse, and set rabbit traps from our team of bearded experts. However, if you present us with your certified Chosen One and/or Hero of Destiny I.D., you can take a brief placement test and skip the course altogether.

Step 7: Purchase an animal companion

Of course, all our students want horses, and we’re glad to provide you with a fine spirited stallion, or, alternatively, a stubborn-yet-loveable mare that’s too old to travel fast but fits your budget just right. However, please remember that most horse names have already been registered, and our last graduating student had to settle for Thunder_Stripes20387. We advise you consider our other available companion animals before making a hasty horse decision. We offer battle tigers and tamed wolves for our real gutsy adventurers, or, should you prefer the more cute-and-comical variant, we have injured birds of prey and a randomized forest rodent. Now, what color would you like your horse?

Step 8: Select a surviving family member

Unfortunately, our program doesn’t allow students to graduate so long as all their relatives are alive and well, so we’ll have to ask you to choose up to a maximum of three extended family members to move ahead with. For the sake of convenience, we recommend limiting yourself to siblings, wise and loving grandmothers, and/or shady aunts and uncles. When you’ve made your selection, please sign the Emotional Consequences Waiver form, which you collected at the start of the class.

Step 9: Reserve a room at the tavern/inn of your convenience

When you pass this class you’ll be enrolled in our extended learning abroad program, so make sure you choose a tavern that matches your preferences. This is the second form we gave you, the one on the faded parchment nailed to the door. Slots fill up quickly, so make sure you get your name on there right away so you don’t miss out on the isolated table in the corner, the one with the dim candle. You can still brood and ignore the noisy patrons from other tables, but it’s just not as fulfilling! We want you to have the most mysterious experience possible.

Step 10: Wait for your first quest

To complete the learning abroad program and receive your traditional written-in-the-ancient-language diploma, you’ll need to complete a quest. You’ll find a list of available quests towards the end of your syllabus, but you’ll need to wait for us to send our certified suspicious stranger to your designated location before embarking on the quest. If you head out on your own beforehand, the chances of encountering your assigned quest companions will be slim, and you will likely fail the final exam: our carefully curated sequence of incrementally-dangerous challenges which you cannot complete without courage, friendship, and at least one potential love interest.


We hope you’ve found our class instructional and inspiring. We look forward to seeing each of our students fulfill their destiny.

10 Facts You Didn’t Know About Elodie Tuck

I’ve decided to start a new blog post series in which I share fun or significant facts about the characters from Where the Woods Grow Wild, facts which aren’t mentioned or developed much in the book. These facts won’t be spoilers, so no worries there! It’s mostly just for you to get to know the characters ‘behind the scenes’ a bit more. And why not start with my favorite character from the book, the mayor’s Speediest Courier?

(For more info about the story and the characters, this in-blog page is the place to go.)

So, without further ado, here are ten facts you probably didn’t know about Elodie Tuck:

#1 Her parents are alive

Both of Elodie’s parents are presumably alive, though their whereabouts are unknown and irrelevant, as they abandoned Elodie on the doorsteps of a bakery in Aldenturf when she was only a few months old.

#2 She was raised by Mayor Clarenbald

Horatio Clarenbald unofficially adopted Elodie at the persistent request of his wife Marigold several years before he was appointed mayor of Bardun Village. They were visiting Horatio’s brother in Aldenturf (a certain baker), and Marigold threatened to put salt lumps in Horatio’s tea for the rest of his life if he didn’t agree to care for baby Elodie. Marigold became ill and passed away a few years later, and she made Clarenbald promise to continue providing for Elodie for as long as she needed it.

#3 She created the position of town courier for herself

Before she turned sixteen, Bardun Village had never needed an official courier. After her sixteenth birthday, it still didn’t, but Mayor Clarenbald insisted Elodie was well old enough to work for her room and board, and she refused to join his maid-infested staff, so she appointed herself as the Mayor’s courier, and that suited Clarenbald just fine.

#4 She once broke her arm in the apple orchard

She was eight years old the first time she tried to climb one of the trees in the apple orchard, and it didn’t end well. It was then that Horatio Clarenbald decided she ought to learn to read and write. Those first few lessons didn’t end well, either.

#5 She refers to Clarenbald as ‘Mayor Clarenbald’ on his request

While Clarenbald was willing to raise Elodie for as long as was necessary, he and Marigold never had children of their own, and he didn’t feel capable of developing a fatherly bond with Elodie, so he kept their relationship as formal as possible and taught her to always call him by his title.

#6 She tried to teach herself to swim by throwing herself into Clarenbald’s pond

It didn’t work very well. Clarenbald had to throw one of the current maids after her. Subsequently, Clarenbald let the pond dry out and replaced it with a flower garden. Elodie learned to swim in the creek north of town the next year.

#7 Martin Colter was her first real friend

The Colter family came to Bardun Village when Elodie was nine years old. She tried to befriend Martin right away, but it took him a full year to work up the courage to say a word to her, so for a long while she gave up entirely.

#8 Her birthday is on October 14th

When Mayor Clarenbald told her she ought to pick an official birthday (purely for legislative purposes, of course), she chose October the 14th because that was the very next day and she couldn’t wait to celebrate for the first time. In future years she wished she had chosen a warm summer date, but Clarenbald insisted it was too late to change her mind.

#9 She once saved Percy Durbity’s life

Though to be fair, it was her fault he rolled off the table to begin with. She was looking after a one-year-old Percy while the Durbity parents had a garden lunch with Mayor Clarenbald. Percy wouldn’t stop crying, so she put him on the kitchen table while she ran to find a sock or something for him to play with. Long story short, Percy rolled off and Elodie caught him in the nick of time. She never told him about the incident when he grew up because she didn’t want to be pestered with admiration for the rest of her life.

#10 She often dances in her room at night

Because she can, and she doesn’t need any other reason. She kept her shoes on the first time, but a coincidentally-awake, candle-wielding Clarenbald calmly informed her that dancing was for nymphs and nymphs weren’t real, therefore dancing shouldn’t be real either. Elodie decided she wanted to be a nymph, and so she danced with bare feet from then on.


I hope those were interesting facts! I’m definitely going to do more of these in the near future (maybe making it a weekly series?). Drop a comment below to suggest which character I should explore next! Or, if you have any more questions about Elodie, feel free to ask and I’ll try to answer those that I can.

Don’t forget to subscribe and follow me on Twitter to receive your complimentary fuzzy duckling. And as always, have a great day!

 

7 Truths Writers (Probably) Won’t Admit Out Loud

Highlight the ones that apply to you and go confess your sins afterward.

#1 We stalk our readers on Goodreads to see what their progress updates say

But only because we value and crave feedback. Not because we’re paranoid. Why would we be paranoid?

#2 We don’t write as much as we pretend to

Raise your hand if you’ve tweeted #amwriting when you’ve done nothing of the sort. Good, now put it down and get to work.

#3 We do care about the money

Despite a hundred wise (and obnoxious) sayings to the contrary, most of us want to earn money through our writing, and it’s frustrating when sales are constantly flatlined. Not that I’m trying to be a Scrooge, but “I write because that’s who I am” doesn’t pay many expenses.

#4 We have at least one genre we hold a grudge against, though we’d never say so out loud

For me, it’s paranormal romance (sorry?). For you, it might be fantasy, and I forgive you.

#5 Knowing someone’s reading our book scares the sock monkeys out of us

Because a fraction of our soul is about to be either approved or rejected and if that doesn’t make you break a sweat, I don’t know what will.

#6 We easily get jealous of right-place-right-time authors who pop out of nowhere and make big bucks without visible effort

Is jealousy a fault? Yes. Is it natural? Also yes. But while we applaud the writers who find success through hard work, every now and then it genuinely feels like some people get it all handed to them and then some. (Oh, and is it a coincidence that those out-of-nowhere bestsellers tend to be the mediocre ones? Maybe. I’m trying not to be too salty here.)

#7 We joke about procrastination when it’s actually a legitimate problem

Every time I scroll down my Twitter feed I spot a few tweets making some snarky remark about procrastination. And yes, I do it too. But still…if we did something to solve the issue instead of seeking mutual giggles on social media, perhaps we’d have less to tweet about and more to publish? Oops.


Disclaimer: I wrote the list based on personal experience, so take it with a grain of salt. Got anything to confess or add? Drop a comment below. Subscribe and follow me on Twitter to receive your complimentary bunny in a teacup.

And as always, have a great day!

The 5 Big Mistakes I Made When Self-Publishing My First Book

A lot of people think Where the Woods Grow Wild was my debut novel. It’s actually not, but I’m totally okay treating it as such because my very first self-published novel was a bit (fine, a lot) of a fiasco in its inception. Some of you have read it: Little One, published just about two years ago and republished (with a lot of improvements) a few months later.

I’ve written about this in past posts and random tweets, but I decided to share the five biggest mistakes I made when first self-publishing Little One. Most of them were due to an utter lack of experience, so if you’re building towards your first release, maybe I can save you some trouble.

#1 Not asking for beta readers

News flash: beta readers are amazing. They should be an integral part of your self-pub journey. They’re the first eyes to see your work, and the feedback they provide is ESSENTIAL. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can get by without that feedback. I probably don’t have to explain why. Suffice to say that your view of what works and what doesn’t will ALWAYS be limited by your investment in your own manuscript. Solution: ask for beta readers. I didn’t when I self-published Little One, and my story suffered because of it.

(Note: my beta readers for Where the Woods Grow Wild were the best, and I’m still super grateful! I feel like that story is wildly [pun intended] more successful because of them.) 

#2 Relying on self-proofreading

Freelance editors across the globe are already pulling their hair out. So did I when I realized just how many typos I had missed. To be fair, I was a broke senior in college. I couldn’t afford a vanilla coke, much less a professional proofreader. Still, my mistake was thinking that one or two quick proofreads would be enough. No…no. Can you successfully proofread your own work? Possibly, if you give yourself enough time. Do I recommend it? Definitely not. It’s not worth the anxiety of finding another spelling error or wrong word choice post-publication when people have already purchased the book.

#3 Settling for an okay cover

Some of you may remember the original cover for Little One. It was okay, as far as very basic designs go. But it really fell flat when inserted into the hyper-competitive world of Amazon thumbnails. I feel bad saying this because I’d hired an artist friend for that design. She did everything I asked her to (and did it well!), so the mistake was mine for not realizing how much the cover art mattered. Later on, I acquired a new design from a professional (and experienced, importantly) cover artist, but I’ll never be able to make up for that sub-par first impression. Mea culpa. 

#4 Not investing in a physical proof copy

If you’re publishing a print edition through a program like CreateSpace, do yourself a favor and BUY THE PROOF COPY. The shipping expenses are worth it in the long run. When I first self-published, I thought the digital review option was enough. Plot twist: it wasn’t. Not even close. When my first print copies arrived, there were chapter titles on the wrong page, awkward paragraph splits, and other glaring print errors. Some of those copies were for friends, and I had some pretty embarrassing explaining to do. Printer’s fault? Nope. Mine, for not wanting to sacrifice $25 and a few days to revise the physical proof copy.

#5 Rushing everything

I tweeted about this yesterday. Don’t rush. Don’t ever rush. Please, for your own sake, DO THINGS SLOWLY.

I think this point includes (and is the cause of) all the other mistakes I made as well. When I first self-published Little One, I was in a huge hurry. For several reasons. One legit reason was that I needed the project completed for college credit (English major perks). I needed those credits to graduate, so I had a tight deadline. The other reason, however, was a truckload of impatience on my part. I wanted the world to get my first novel, and I wanted them to get it assoonashumanlypossiblerightnowplease. I cut corners. I skipped essential steps. And the result was a mediocre product. Please, don’t make that mistake. Take the time to do things right, even if it means pushing back your intended deadlines. I want your first self-publishing experience to be one you can remember with pride.


I hope this post is of some help for those of you intending on self-publishing (or even if you’ve already got some books under your belt). Now I can look back on the experience and view it as a growth opportunity. My new books are worlds better because of what I learned from those mistakes.

At the same time, I still cringe now and then.


Thanks for stopping by today. I always like interaction, so add to the conversation in the comments or just say hi! Make sure to follow me here and on Twitter to receive your complimentary baby penguin.

In the meantime, have a great day!

Book Review | Star Wars: Aftermath

Star Wars: Aftermath is the third consecutive SW novel I’ve read this year. Previously, I had read A New Dawn and Ahsoka, both of which I greatly enjoyed. Aftermath, however, blows them both out of the water in terms of clench-worthy plot points and beautiful character arcs.

Don’t worry. This review is spoiler-free!

First Impression

I actually read about ten full pages before even realizing it was all present tense writing. Now, normally present tense novels drive me up the wall, but this was different. I didn’t mind it at all, and I think that says something about Wendig’s skills.

Which brings me to my next first-impression point: the writing style. Simply put, Wendig isn’t a fan of complete sentences. His style is clipped and concise, as if he were crafting each individual sentence to deliver an appropriate amount of punch. Trust me, it works brilliantly.

Plot

Several of the reviews I read prior to getting the book complained that the plot moved too slow. I honestly don’t see how people reach that conclusion. Not once did I get bored or put the book down because of pacing problems.

I think my favorite aspect of the plot is that we get to see multiple immediate subplots (Norra’s return home, Wedge’s capture, Rae’s plans, etc.) converge into one grand boom of events. You don’t see how they all fit together at first, but by the time things start falling into place, you’re definitely invested.

Plus, you get everything you’d want out of a Star Wars story: space battles, flying stunts, stormtrooper chases…no lightsabers, though. Which I’m okay with. This isn’t a Jedi story.

Characters

Man oh man, I love this cast of characters. Each character has such a tangible development arc as their own individual stories gradually merge into one common lane. I mean, when a Rebel pilot, her black-market-selling-droid-building son, a bounty hunter, an ex-Imperial loyalty officer, and a reprogrammed Separatist battle droid join forces, you know you’re going to have a good time with them.

Favorite character? Norra Wexley by a mile and a half. Her arc is so complete, so perfect. She’s not a Jedi. She’s not a force wielder at all. Sometimes she even doubts if she should be a pilot. But her loyalty to her son and her cause, her perseverance, and her willingness to sacrifice for the people she loves makes her an absolute legend in my Star Wars book.

Least favorite character? I’m gonna cheat here: I don’t have one. Honestly, though. Not even the bad guys. Rae Sloane is fantastic and relatable, even as the main antagonist. I appreciate the fact that there’s no great-evil-Sith-villain type character. I will say, however, that Temmin makes some pretty stupid decisions, and he sometimes gets aggravating, but he’s a rebellious teenager so at least it fits his character. I can’t dislike him too much, all things considered.

 


I ordered the next book in the trilogy, Aftermath: Life Debt the same day I finished Aftermath. I can’t wait for it to get here.

My rating: get-five-star-reviews

Would I recommend this book? Absolutely. If you’re a Star Wars fan, this seems like a no-brainer to me. I’ve said before that I usually prefer prequel-era story arcs, but Aftermath may be one of my favorite Star Wars ‘chapters’ ever. You should get this book.

In the meantime, have a great day!

22 Types of Books on Your Bookshelf

The perfect, beautiful one that has a private shrine somewhere near the top.

The brand new copy you pull out just to sniff. 

The one that always finds a way to tip over.

The one(s) with the coffee stains. 

The one with the awkward height that stands out like a pink lemming.

The mass market paperback that never looks good anywhere. 

The one you haven’t read and never will but looks nice so you keep it.

The one with the ugly spine that you try to cover with a Funko Pop. 

The one that’s part of a magnanimously uniform series (sigh of satisfaction).

The yard sale classic that makes you feel more sophisticated because it has fancy squiggles on the spine. 

The series that has to go lying down because some nincompoop at the publisher decided to print them 1/4 inch taller than your bookshelf height.

That one installment in the series that you own in a different edition so it doesn’t look like all the rest and basically says ‘lol what’ every time you frown at it. 

The one you’re embarrassed to own but haven’t taken it off the shelf for some reason.

The one that’s the only book on the shelf of a genre you don’t read but you kinda have to keep it because it was a gift. 

The tome you keep handy in case you ever need to knock out a moose from a second story window.

The one that came late to the party so it has to lie awkwardly across the tops of the others. 

The one that you own only because Booktube hyped it (even though it sucks).

The Tolkien copy you’ve never actually finished but you pull out and dust off every time you need a classy Instagram filler. 

The one with the missing dust jacket that still looks good because it has shiny gold letters on the black spine.

The paperback you’ve read so many times that the spine looks like a 1:1000 scale model of the Himalayas. 

The one you’ve kept since you were a kid and now the pages are yellowed and it smells like good memories.

The one that’s missing from the series because cousin Gustav “borrowed” it three years ago and you hunted him down but gave up when you lost his scent in a cold mountain spring somewhere south of Zurich. 

I’m coming for you, cousin Gustav. 

Free Promotion: Where the Woods Grow Wild!

Hey, guys! Today’s post will be a quick one. I’ve got an exciting announcement. Starting today, from March 1st through March 4th, you can get a free Kindle copy of Where the Woods Grow Wild!

wtwgw-ebook-cover

A forest looms over Bardun Village. Nobody goes in. Nothing comes out. The secrets in the oaks remain hidden until a mischievous escapade thrusts Martin and Elodie behind the silent trees. Separated and lost in a tangle of fantasy, they discover more than animals roam where the woods grow wild.

What’s the occasion, you ask? Well, today marks the beginning of month #3, and 3 is my 5th favorite single-digit number, so there’s always that. Additionally, I suck at marketing, so I’m going on a tactical ‘I feel like giving away free stuff’ strategy.

And no, you don’t have to do anything. You don’t have to follow, subscribe, like, or sacrifice a naked mole rat (seriously, don’t do that). All you have to do is click *le fancy link* below and download your free copy from Amazon.

Where the Woods Grow Wild Free Download

Need some convincing? I understand! I’ll link to some fabulous writer/reader friends who were awesome enough to review Where the Woods Grow Wild on their blogs. (In this case, yes, you should go follow and subscribe to them, but go easy on the mole rats).

Constant Collectible’s Review

A Tea With Tumnus’s Review

Dragonthief’s Review

If you’re itching for a copy but don’t own a Kindle device, we can definitely work something out. Just let me know and I’ll get in touch! And if you do read Where the Woods Grow Wild, I’d be enormously grateful if you dropped a review on Amazon and Goodreads. Reviews are the fuel for an author’s success engine (crazy deep metaphor alert), but they can be hard to come by. Even just a quick rating goes a long way. You have my thanks and Gimli’s axe.


Thanks for taking the time to stop by! I truly hope you have a fantastic day.

30 Questions & Answers About My W.I.P.

Recently I was tagged to do a #WIPjoy blog post. For those who don’t know #WIPjoy (as far as I know, since I’m new myself) is a Twitter tag wherein writers share insights and behind-the-scenes info about their works-in-progress via daily questions and answers. I’d rather not spend a whole month answering those questions on Twitter, but I thought doing a blog post would be fun, so here we are!

Thanks for the tag, @ateawithtumnus and @socalscribbler! Go check out their blogs for more fun writing content.

#1 Introduce your WIP…

My w.i.p. these months is a fantasy/adventure novel titled Where the Woods Grow in Flames, a sequel to my December 2016 release Where the Woods Grow Wild.

#2 Why does your protagonist pull at your heartstrings?

Martin’s a simple guy trying to do simple things, but they don’t stay simple for long, and it’s his struggle to lead his friends through difficulties and manage more…personal aspects of his life that establishes that connection for me.

#3 How do you get to know your characters?

By writing. That’s how they tell me who they really are in their own time and in their own way. You can’t force it.

#4 Share a line about your premise!

I think this exchange between Martin and Mayor Clarenbald sums up the premise quite nicely:

“More will come, you know, and we have to be ready.”

“Ready? Ready. Yes, ready. We should be. I can only do so much, though. People say I’m a reasonable mayor, and I tend to agree, but I don’t know what to do when monsters like these roam my streets. It’s not natural, and I only deal with things that are perfectly natural, like festivals and luncheons and petty squabbles among neighbors.”

#5 How easy is this WIP to write?

It’s a sequel, so most of the characters are already established. That makes the creation process simpler. However, it’s been a bumpy ride as far as the plot. A lot of hard things happen, and I want to maintain a balance of positive/negative. It’s a challenge.

#6 Which character is hardest to write?

Illo. Fans of Where the Woods Grow Wild really liked her, but in the sequel…let’s just say she goes through a lot. She’s definitely getting a lot of character development.

#7 Tell us about you and your work!

I write (generally) light-hearted fantasy stories, focused more on simple adventures than on epic wars or stuff like that. I’m snarky and sarcastic, both in writing and in person. In December 2016 I released Where the Woods Grow Wild, which has been my favorite novel project so far!

#8 Who is your protag’s best friend?

Martin’s best friend is Elodie Tuck, the mayor’s mischievous courier and co-protagonist in the book.

#9 How did the main characters meet?

Martin and Elodie have known each other since they were born, having lived all their lives in the small town of Bardun Village. Their friendship started when a shy nine-year-old Martin semi-successfully delivered a fistful of flowers to Elodie’s house.

#10 Anyone suffering from a broken heart?

Not yet.

#11 Share a line about love or hatred…

“[He} may have put on some weight, and he may have lost his memory, but if I’ve learned anything about him today it’s that he still loves you, and he can still be brave if it’s for you.”

#12 What was your protagonist’s past like?

Rather dull, to be honest. Martin spent his whole life in Bardun Village, and that’s not exactly the most exciting place to live. His mother left him to find work in the neighboring town and has yet to return. It’s a good thing he has Elodie to keep him on his toes.

#13 What’s a message about relationships in your book?

Relationships can be (and are meant to be) pure and based on mutual edification. Physical attraction is not the basis for a relationship. It should never be a driving factor.

#14 Which characters get along worst?

Probably Illo and Podgin. They’re friends, but they have a terribly cranky and sarcastic way of going about it.

#15 At its best, my WIP’s dialogue is…

Witty and snarky while still driving the characters towards deeper connections.

#16 I love how I describe things when…

The description flows along with the action. I prefer not to stop and describe objects/people. I want my description to be subtle, almost invisible, while still painting a vivid and palpable picture.

#17 I love how I depict characters because…

They’re different from each other, and that makes for a lot of entertaining interaction. They all developed naturally, some more willingly than others, but I really feel like I’m working with real people.

#18 Share an example of your best prose!

I mean, it’s a first draft still, so I’d hardly call this ‘best prose’, but it’s a short passage I had some fun with…

Later that night, as the moon framed the clock tower bells, the Cabbage Cart Inn received an unexpected visitor. He crept along the path from the main road and reached for the brass knob on the front door, only to find the place locked. Not to be deterred, he snuck around to the back and fiddled with the rickety door there. Bolted as well.

He explored the whole perimeter of the building, making sure to stay well away from the pig pen, before finding a window he could pry open. Sneakily, cleverly, he stole up onto the sill and slipped through the crack without making a sound.

Then he tripped on his own feet, fell, and landed in a shallow pan with a metallic thump.

“Oh dear.”

The pan, having been placed at the top of a precarious stack of its kin, slid from its position with its newly acquired passenger. The ensuing avalanche of pans, pots, and cooking utensils created such a clanging commotion that Bramble huddled on the floor in a trembling mass until the last bouncing spoon came to rest.

“Oh dear.” He grabbed his floppy ears and yanked hard. “Mustn’t make a peep.”

He waited, small and invisible in the kitchen’s shadows, his blinking eyes the only evidence he was even there. No footsteps ran his way, and no one pointed and yelled at him, so he scooted to his feet and made for the door. His button nose prodded the air, and his face puckered.

“Mustn’t breathe the stinky-stench. Mustn’t turn into an onion!”

#19 I love my world/setting because…

The contrast between a very simple village and a very wild forest makes for some fun plot-play. The village forces me to focus on a smidge of reality, while the forest allows my imagination to go ham.

#20 The relationship I root most for is…

Martin and Elodie, because I love them both to death and because the alternative is Podgin and his truffles.

#21 I’m most impatient to hear reader reactions to…

Some of the plot twists/reveals I’ve got in store. It’s a sequel, so a lot of the groundwork is already laid for some pretty special moments. (What, you thought I’d tell you something specific?)


From the protagonist’s (Martin’s) point of view…

#22 Describe yourself in five words:

Clumsily determined. Traditional. Uhm…attached?

#23 One thing you’d change in your past?

Having my hand back wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. But I’ve learned to live without it.

#24 Favorite ways to relax?

Anything away from the Cabbage Cart. Probably with Elodie. Walks through the clover fields or trading secrets in the apple orchard.

#25 A line you were proud to say:

I know the one, but I haven’t said it yet. I still have to rehearse a few hundred more times in my head before it’ll come out half-adequately.

#26 Tell us about where you live:

I live in a small, bare room over the Cabbage Cart kitchens. It’s not so bad once the evening cools off and the onion fumes roll out the window.

#27 Do you sympathize with (or relate to) the antagonist?

On a good day, I pity him. Don’t get me wrong, I wish he’d never interfered with our lives, but I think, way down, that I understand him. Just a little bit.

#28 What are you self-conscious about?

Ehem. My missing hand. My clumsy way of doing tasks that others don’t think twice about.


Back to the author (a.k.a. me)…

#29 How long do you expect to be working on this WIP?

A few more months, at least.

#30 What do you hope touches readers the most in the story?

The end. I’ll be wrapping up all loose ends, and I think a lot of the story lines will have a surprisingly touching conclusion. We’ll see.

Top 6 Fictional Couples

 

Happy Walmart You’ve Gone Too Far Valentine’s Day, wordmigos! Just for kicks and giggles, I’ve compiled a list of my six favorite fictional couples in order of favorite-ness. Comment below with some of yours!

Anything goes for my list: books, movies, t.v. shows, and video games are all contenders!

Honorable mentions: Han and Leia, Wall-E and Eve

#6. Shasta (Cor) and Aravis (Narnia: The Horse and His Boy)

The two protagonists from my favorite Narnia story. It’s been a long time since I’ve read the Narnia series, but these two still stand out as a dynamic duo.

“Aravis also had many quarrels (and, I’m afraid, even fights) with Cor, but they always made it up again: so that years later, when they were grown up, they were so used to quarreling and making it up again that they got married so as to go on doing it more conveniently.”
C.S. Lewis, The Horse and His Boy

#5. Carl and Ellie (Up)

Do I really have to say anything? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

carl-and-ellie

#4. Link and Zelda (Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword)

Link and Zelda characters have a long history (as in a couple thousand Hyrulian years). But the Skyward Sword rendition of the pair takes the cake for its raw emotional impact. (Also…Zelda pushes Link off a cliff, so it’s kind of hard not to pick them.)

link-and-zelda

#3. Billy Bannister and Bonnie Silver (Dragons in our Midst)

I’m guessing the vast majority of you haven’t heard of this series (shame on you). Billy and Bonnie’s relationship starts as a pure and strong friendship, and it grows into something more meaningful and genuine than 99% of today’s fictional ‘romance’ relationships. Simply put, these two set quite the example for what a real relationship should look like. Oh, and yeah…she has wings and he breathes fire.

billy-and-bonnie

#2. Taran and Eilonwy (Prydain Chronicles)

I love everything about this couple: their genesis as mutually-aggravating allies, their development into a classic fantasy couple, and the emotional conclusion to their story at the end of the series. Note: the 80’s Disney film based on these books is garbage. They missed the mark by a mile and then some. 

“I can’t make sense out of that girl,” [Taran] said to the bard, “Can you?”

“Never mind,” Fflewddur said, “We aren’t really expected to.”
Lloyd Alexander, The Book of Three

#1. Hera and Kanan (Star Wars: Rebels)

Call it my utter geekdom when it comes to Star Wars. Call it my recent binge-watching of Rebels. Call it my “finally, a Jedi gets a proper relationship” outlook. Call it the fact that Ezra, Sabine, and Zeb make great unruly kids and Chopper makes the perfect family cat. Call it the raw emotions at the end of Season 2 (no spoilers, don’t worry!). Call it the fact that it doesn’t dominate the show, but it’s definitely there. Call it the fact that they argue, disagree, disappoint each other, forgive each other, yet always care and always help each other grow as individuals. Or call it all of the above.

kanan-and-hera


Glad you stopped by! Now run along and eat some chocolate (let’s be real: that’s the true reason for the season). In the meantime, have a great day!