Posted in Words Upon Words

Tiny Tidbits: The War Within

I have lots of different writing projects going on right now–so many that I don’t often blog about it anymore. There isn’t really one thing I’m working really hard toward at the moment. I’m just constantly going back and forth between different stories and writing and editing. So I decided recently to create a new way of sharing my WIPs (works in progress) with you–Tiny Tidbits. In a Tiny Tidbits blog post, I will share either an excerpt from one of my WIPs or maybe give you some insight into my current writing/editing process (i.e., the struggles and/or victories I’m currently facing with that project). I hope to make this a semi-regular thing. But I say that about so many things, so…I better make no promises. 😉

Today I want to share a scene from The War Within, so before I continue, I’ll give you some background information. For those of you who don’t know, I wrote The War Within last year and entered it into a short story contest for a Snow White retelling (I didn’t win, but I did get an honorable mention, which was super cool!). My retelling is historical and takes place during the Civil War era. Lillian Clark is an only child whose mother died when she was a baby. Her father owns a very prosperous cotton plantation in Virginia and he remarries when Lillian is six years old. Lillian is determined to like her new mother–in fact, she’s determined to live a good life–under her terms. When her father arranges her to marry her best friend, Clifton Young, she does everything in her power to break the match. For she believes she has the right to choose who to fall in love with and when.

Now that I’ve gotten you introduced to Lillian’s world, here’s a sneak peek into Chapter One when Clifton and Lillian first meet.

It was a beautiful day in September. Lillian reveled in the feeling of the wind in her hair as she raced through the cotton fields to the apple orchard, her cheeks beginning to hurt from smiling so widely. When she reached it, she collapsed onto the soft grass and looked up at the blue sky through the swaying trees.

Something interfered with her view and her eyes focused on a bee flying a few inches above her head. She waved it off, but two more quickly replaced it. She sat up and heard a subtle buzzing nearby. She looked behind her to see a boy poking a fallen beehive with a stick. No, not just any boy.

Clifton Young.

Lillian rolled her eyes and stood up. She wasn’t sure what she thought of this grubby next-door neighbor who was almost three years older than her. He seemed to always be getting into some kind of trouble. She usually tried to steer clear from him, even though their fathers were good friends. So, she was turning away when she heard a yelp.

When she looked back at him, Clifton dropped his stick and started backing away from the broken hive. A swarm of bees was rising from the mess a few feet away from him.

This would certainly not end well.

“Clifton,” Lillian whispered. “Back up toward me. Then run!”

Without responding, he bolted toward her and shouted, “Run, run!”

Lillian screeched when she saw the bees following close behind him. She turned and began running again. But when she reached her favorite tree in the whole orchard, the biggest one with the most apples, she stopped and looked up. Then she called over her shoulder, “We’ll never outrun them. Hurry and climb this tree!” She jumped and grabbed hold of a sturdy branch.

Clifton was yelling, but he followed her lead and started climbing the tree. Lillian was only a few branches ahead of him when she heard a loud crack! She glanced behind her and saw Clifton grasp a thick tree branch with both hands as another broke under his feet. He held on, screaming as bees began stinging him. Lillian carefully inched down and held out her hand.

“Hurry!” she yelled.

He looked up at her, eyes wide and knuckles turning white, but didn’t budge.

Lillian leaned forward a little closer, her hand less than a foot away from his head. “Reach!”

Reluctantly, Clifton released the fingers from his left hand and thrust them toward hers. She seized his hand and pulled him up. He swung his legs toward the trunk and started to maneuver up the tree until his feet settled on firm branches again. They climbed a little higher and rested on the top boughs of the apple tree. They sat against the trunk, trying to catch their breath. Unfortunately, their plan only partially succeeded. Many bees still managed to find and sting them, but after a few minutes of torment, the rest flew off. She and Clifton worked through their faces, necks, arms and legs, searching for stingers and removing them. Bright red bumps were forming, but Clifton had obviously bore the brunt of it.

“What were you thinking?” Lillian asked bluntly.

Clifton shrugged. “I’ve never seen what a hive looks like on the inside. I didn’t think…”

“What? Did you think there weren’t any bees in there just because it had fallen off the tree?” She sighed.

“Well…” He scrunched up his face. “All right, so I was stupid. Thanks, I guess.”

“You guess?” Lillian asked incredulously. “You’re welcome, then…I guess.”

“You picked a good tree.”

Lillian smiled. “Of all the apple trees in this orchard, this one is my favorite to climb.”

“Do you like apples?”

Like them? I come almost every day each autumn to pick some. I love apples!”

Clifton immediately looked over his head and reached for the nearest apple. He tugged and when it gave way, he handed it to her. It was small and not quite ripe, but she accepted it anyway.

“A thank you gift…I guess.”

Lillian smirked. ” ‘You guess’? Well, I ‘guess’ I like it.” She took a huge bite.

“Do you…want to pick some…together?” Clifton looked at her hopefully.

“Well…”

Clifton blushed. “It’s just…there’s no one else…”

“No one else will play with you?” She knew what that felt like. Sometimes it seemed like Daisy was her only friend in the world.

“It’s just…there is no one else.” His face was pale.

Lillian didn’t know what he meant exactly, but as she started to decline his offer, she thought about the long walk back home…and realized that as much as she enjoyed playing in the woods like she had just now…it was lonely. Maybe, as silly as this boy was, it would be better to be his friend than to continue to play alone. After all, as Daisy was a slave, she wasn’t always free to play. “All right, then. I bet I can pick more than you!”

Clifton’s freckled face broke into a grin. “We’ll see about that.”

Let me know in the comments below if you enjoyed this Tidbit and I hope to share some more with you soon!

Advertisements
Posted in Book Reviews

Highlight: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

There are many things I write about on this blog, most pertaining to my own novels. But I also love sharing how I feel about the books I have and am currently reading. Which is why when a good friend of mine, Rayleigh Gray (a fellow Lumerit student), asked if I wanted to join the Literature Approved reviewing team a few months ago, I jumped at the opportunity! So, I’m excited to announce that I’m now officially a Contributor Reviewer on Literature Approved–and my first book review is up on the site today!

My first review with Literature Approved is of one of my favorite novels: The Book Thief. You can start reading it here…

Continue reading “Highlight: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak”

Posted in For Fellow Writers, The Ponderings of Life

My Journey as a Self-Published Author

As most of you saw on my Facebook page, yesterday marked my fourth anniversary of self-publishing Bridget’s Journey on Amazon and CreateSpace.

Wow. It really seems like yesterday I was editing this book with a friend of Mom’s in her kitchen, pestering Sandrine to finish painting the cover and crying over how difficult it was to get the formatting just right. It seems like yesterday that I held this book in my hands for the first time. It seems like yesterday that friends and family overwhelmed me with their support and encouragement. For once, I believed in myself as much as they believed in me.

Now, four years later, I’ve sold probably about 40 (or 50? I’m not good with numbers) of paperbacks, countless Kindle editions and I even published a second novel. Four years later, my books are still up on Amazon for anyone (friend or stranger) to pick up and read the words that I wrote. Four years later, my books are in my church and public libraries. Four years later and I’ve written three and a half more novels. Four years later and I still love to write.

Continue reading “My Journey as a Self-Published Author”

Posted in For Fellow Writers, NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo 2016: Novel Reveal

Tomorrow begins my favorite time of year.

National Novel Writing Month! Or as I often refer to it: NaNoWriMo.

For those who haven’t already got wind of my November obsession, NaNoWriMo is a personal challenge for any and all writers to write a novel in 30 days. To be more specific, 50,000 words (because let’s be honest, since Everlasting, I’m never going to write a novel as short as 50K. I tried and it’s just not physically possible anymore). This is my fourth year participating and I can hardly contain my excitement! But some of you might be wondering…why? Why do I enjoy this intense writing challenge SO much?

Throughout next month, I hope to blog about my progress as well as how I write during NaNoWriMo (my writing environment, writing buddies/supporters, what I listen to, etc.). Until then, I’ll try to explain what’s so compelling about NaNo in the first place.

There are several reasons, but the main one is the motivation. Whether or not I reach 50,000 words in one month, the excitement that fills me as I outline in October and the push it gives me to keep writing despite writing blocks or lack of inspiration is what I enjoy experiencing year after year. There’s something so thrilling about planning my next big project for November and getting it ready in time. Writing a good half of my novel during November is just so fun and reaching the 50K word mark is such a fulfilling accomplishment.

Another reason I love NaNo is the community. Each year, more and more people join the NaNoWriMo “family” and I have more and more friends to encourage/be encouraged by. When I first started doing NaNo, I had maybe one friend nearby who was also doing it. Now, I have so many friends, near and far, who can help push me to the finish line! It’s so much more fun to do something like this with other people. I also love how encouraging my family is to ask how my words are coming, to remind me that I need to write and who understand when I’m at my computer all day that I’m not trying to ignore them. Even now, both my sisters have joined the NaNo wagon!

The first year I participated in 2013, I wrote the bulk of Everlasting, finishing it in January of the following year. In 2014, I wrote the first half of The Moonrose Sisters (tentative title); last year, I wrote half of Bridget Returns. This year, I am so thrilled to announce that I am writing…

…a prequel to Everlasting! A book I am currently calling Endeavoring.

Everlasting-Cover-Final

When I first finished Everlasting a few years ago, I had no intention of writing another book in that world (much like what happened with Bridget’s Journey and Bridget Returns). Everlasting had always been just one story. But the idea of a prequel popped into my head (I think from Mom, but I can’t remember exactly) soon after I finished writing and by the time I was preparing Everlasting for publication last year, I started putting some ideas together. After deciding officially that Endeavoring would be my next NaNoWriMo novel after Bridget Returns, I let the characters sit in my head for a year. When I finished writing Bridget Returns a month ago, I started plotting, character sketching and some major outlining. Last week, I finished the foundation of the plot, all the character sketches and most of the outlining. I plan to finish my outline this week as I start…WRITING!

To give you a little idea of what this prequel will entail, I’ll submit the description I wrote for Endeavoring on the NaNoWriMo website:

Long before Malachi ever rode on Bonnie into Fairy Meadow and met Azalea for the first time, King Zechariah of Memiana and Queen Crystal of Orutia were attempting to bring peace to their kingdoms.

But Zechariah and Crystal hadn’t always been friends. Zechariah was raised by his parents to hate fairies. But as he continued growing up without his father and alongside his younger brother, the mischievous Sebastian, Zechariah started to create his own opinion on fairies and their beautiful, but tragic kingdom of Orutia. Crystal, on the other hand, was taught by her parents that humans were not enemies, but long-lost friends who were confused and afraid.

Both young heirs to their parents’ thrones, both seeking a better future for their people, King Zechariah and Queen Crystal begin to change the course of history. Fairies and humans had hated each other for hundreds of years, but all that was about to change because of two people and their strong desire to bring peace.

To put it more simply, the prequel is going to be an extensive prologue to Everlasting with much, much more detail than the actual prologue the novel has. I want to show my readers who Zechariah and Crystal were, what they did to bring about peace and why they fell in love.

I am so excited to start writing this book. I don’t think I’ve been this ecstatic about a book since…probably The Whistler Daughters (though, don’t get me wrong, I’m always excited to start any and all of my books. I would never start writing a book reluctantly. That would be no fun! It’s just that the emotion comes in varying degrees). Endeavoring is going to be different than any book I’ve ever written before. The main characters have personalities I’ve never explored in the past, the plot is much more political than anything I’ve dared try and the major themes and points and more complicated than the usual black and white issues.This book is going to be just as much a challenge as an adventure; just as much a learning experience as a joy. I am so looking forward to sharing more as NaNoWriMo begins and I wish the best of luck to all who endeavor to reach 50,000 words in November! 🙂

 

Posted in NaNoWriMo, The Ponderings of Life

Bridget Returns~Seventh Novel

On Saturday, October 1st, I finally finished writing the recently titled Bridget Returns.

With 137,000 words, I finally completed my NaNoWriMo 2015 novel. The feeling of finishing a book really never gets old. A feeling of exhilaration starts tingling down from my heart to my fingertips as I type every author’s two favorite words: The End.

Now, while there is still much work to be done before I am ready to present Bridget’s sequel to you, I’m just so happy to have finished it. This is the seventh book I’ve finished writing and hopefully will be the fourth to self-publish. What a journey it was from November of last year to today. This book has hands down given me the hardest time in more ways than one. I don’t think I truly knew what writers block was until Bridget Returns. 😉 Even though this book was probably the most plotted out before I began writing, for some reason, I just had a hard time delving into the story. It took me about halfway to get really passionate about the plot and characters. After November ended and NaNo’s motivation sizzled out, I dragged on in the spring of 2016, writing a scene here and there when I had time. By the time the summer started, though, I was burnt out and didn’t care anymore.

It’s strange, now that I’m on the other side, to remember asking my sisters (in July, I think) whether I should quit on Bridget Returns and move on to other stories. Man, am I ever glad they said, “No!” and reminded me that I always finish what I start. So, I took their advice and plowed through. In August, I decided to go back and re-read what I’d written already, to remember what the goal of the book was and find where it went wrong. Once I figured that out, I started writing again. It wasn’t easy, but it did get easier. And then, I finished it, writing almost half of it in September.

So, was it worth it to bite the bullet and just finish it? Absolutely! Even with my major outlining, Bridget Returns really changed a lot from what it was in the beginning to what it ended up being. It also turned out twice as long as I planned, but at the same time, the story became a lot more important to me as I continued writing. It was no longer just a sequel to a book I’d written in middle school. I guess just as I grew up, so did Bridget. Bridget’s Journey, don’t get me wrong, is a sweet book, but Bridget Returns brings in a lot of elements that the first doesn’t have. There’s more at stake, decisions hold more weight and relationships are both more delicate and stronger. The character developments were bigger and better than I’d hoped. And who would have thought it possible–but the characters themselves ended up teaching me some valuable lessons.

I hope whenever this one is published, my readers will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it (mostly 😉 )!

P.S. Now that I’m done writing Bridget Returns, I have been going back and forth between reading through it for the first time and plotting my NaNo 2016 novel. More details on that to come soon…