Posted in The Ponderings of Life

Onward and Upward

It’s that time of year again.

As 2017 comes to a close, I’m looking back on my New Year’s resolutions and patting myself on the back for the ones I reached…and crossing my fingers to do better next year with the ones I didn’t reach.

Here are my 2017 New Year’s resolutions I posted a year ago:

  1. Read 40 books.
  2. Finish writing one book (probably Endeavoring).
  3. Edit Bridget Returns.
  4. Edit and self-publish The Whistler Daughters.
  5. Year after year, I want to become more like Christ–as Colossians 3:12-17 says so perfectly.

How did I do?

Continue reading “Onward and Upward”

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Posted in For Fellow Writers, Words Upon Words

Less is More

Well, here I am after a whole summer of no blogging. In my last post (in May!!) I mentioned wanting to get better at blogging more frequently and proceeded to do…not that. However, I have realized time and time again that we can do nothing to fix how we have acted in the past…but we can attempt to do better in the future.

This month and last I have thought a lot about different posts I’ve been wanting to write up about a plethora of topics. And then there was a day when I wondered if my blog needed a more distinct focus. Looking over the collection of blog posts I’ve made over the past two years, I have written everything from an account of my summer adventures, book reviews, writing updates on current and future projects, NaNoWriMo, mission trips…the list goes on and on. The only recurring theme is my desire to follow the Lord’s lead in my daily life and to continue writing the stories that are constantly buzzing in my head. And I recently decided…that that’s okay. So, my blog is a little bit random in both the timing of its posts and its topics. My personality is kinda like that, too–I like and do a variety of things at a variety of times. Why don’t we just go with it? 🙂

What I want to focus on today is a phrase I’ve been dwelling on for a number of months. Pretty much ever since my aunt edited Everlasting with me two years ago. Any of you who have read my work recently know that I have a habit of being…a little wordy. The more I write, the longer my novels get…which is a natural process–but to an extent. The first book I ever finished was perhaps around 60 pages. My second was closer to 100. Bridget’s Journey was 200 pages once printed and so on.

When I finished writing Everlasting in 2014 (I believe) it was around 125,000 words long. Aunt Andrea helped me get it down to 120,000, but regardless, when printed, it is close to 350 pages. Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily. When I hold that thick book in my hands, do I feel a sense of accomplishment? As in, I wrote ALL of this? Yes, of course, I do! But is there a time and place for it? Another yes.

When reading through the red notes Aunt Andrea sent me for Everlasting, the phrase she repeated most often was: remember, less is more. I’m not sure I fully appreciated what she was trying to tell me until long after I had published Everlasting. I know not all writers are like me, but I personally get very attached to certain scenes and paragraphs. And when someone (who is obviously outside of my head) shakes their head and says… “that’s a little convoluted” or “I think you could say the same thing in half the amount of words”…I take it as an offense. Or I just don’t want to let go. “But I worked hard to put those sentences together!” I think. Or, “But isn’t that such a great sentence?” or “doesn’t it sound so good, though?” Maybe. Maybe it does. But is it necessary to tell my story? Not always.

Why is the phrase Aunt Andrea had to repeat to me over and over so important? I think the main reason is this: when I’m trying to tell a story with a certain set of characters going through a certain set of circumstances, in my attempt to tell my story in a beautiful, exciting or descriptive way, the true message or meaning of my story (in part or as a whole) can get lost. Lost in all those words. For example, when I was describing Azalea’s wings transformation or her farewell speech to her friends at Fairy Meadow, the true awe of those wings or the poignancy of her speech can lose its shine if I go on and on either about things that don’t matter or about something I’ve basically already said ten times over. If I take twelve okay sentences to say something that I can write in three to five, then are my readers really understanding the importance of the main message?

I am a visual person and I like to be mentally prepared for anything I come across. When I’m reading a book, I like to know exactly where my characters are, how old they are, what they look like, etc. Only then do I feel at peace and ready to go on whatever adventure lay ahead of them because I can picture them clearly in my mind. Hence, that desire leaks into my own writing. So, I over-write.

When I finished writing Bridget Returns almost exactly one year ago, it was 136,000 words. But as a sequel to a 50,000 word novel, I knew it didn’t need to be longer than Everlasting. So I went back and edited in January. Now, I’m editing again. I started several different subplots when first writing this novel, but many either didn’t come to a conclusion or the conclusion wasn’t very satisfying. How much better could Bridget Returns be if I spent my time solely focusing on a main three to five plots instead of having scattered attention over ten to twelve? That’s what I’m hoping to find out.

I hope I’m slowly (quickly??) learning to apply the concept of “Less is More” in my writing life and that the next time I edit a book with Aunt Andrea, I will be better able to accept her comments and be willing to see what my story could be instead of what I think I want it be. Because it can always be better.

The more talk, the less truth. The wise measure their words. Proverbs 10:19

Posted in Words Upon Words

Light…

Last night, my sisters and I went to WAFFLE at my cousin’s house and spent time with other writers in the area. We talked about our individual projects, did a writing prompt together and spent some time at the end working on those said individual projects or talking about them. This was my second time going to WAFFLE, but it had been a long time since I went the first time. It was fun and so great to talk to Erin about my story and get her feedback on how The Whistler Daughters should end (or not end 😉 ), which I’ve missed so much this past summer. I look forward to many writing sessions together in the future to prepare for and during NaNoWriMo in November!

Needless to say, I have since yesterday finished my first of many edits for The Whistler Daughters and am now going to hand it over to my aunt for her thoughts. Until I hear back from her, I’m going to be re-reading the 50K I wrote for BJ2 and getting ready to finish writing that novel.

And just for fun, here is the prompt I wrote in 30 minutes last night, stemmed by two images Jeremy and Erin found on the internet. Keep in mind, I wrote it quickly without looking back on it, so there will definitely be a mistake or two in there! 🙂 Enjoy!

Light.

Not blinding light, or glowing light, or faint light, but real light like I’d never seen before. You know the rays that come down from the sun and shine over the earth? It’s always sort of yellow or orange depending on the time of day. This light wasn’t like that. It was as pure as light could get. It was white, as if it had it just been born.

It didn’t hurt, in fact, I hardly felt anything besides a slight tingle in my fingertips, but that might have just been me. After all, goosebumps were crawling up and down my body as I stared at the light coming from my hands. Tears were gathering in my eyes.

My fingers twitched and for a second I was afraid the light might disappear and I would be left standing alone in the coffee shop like I always was. Not that I was really alone. Other people worked there, too. Alone because the light would be gone.

But it stayed. It might have even shined brighter. A smile was forming on my face.

It wasn’t a dream after all.

I didn’t know how it had started or how to make it stop, but finally my day had come.

They couldn’t call me useless anymore. Finally, I had something and not only that, I had something no one else had had in years. Decades. It held the power of light in my hands.

“Anna?”

The light vanished. I jumped up in surprise as Matt stared back at me.

“Hello? Are you there?” He knocked lightly on my head. “Get back to work before boss returns. Do you think she’ll be happy to see you standing around like that?”

Normally I would have thumped his head back or at least stuck my tongue out at him, but I was too happy to care. I just smiled at him and said, “You’re right.”

I held my hands behind my back as I walked to the cash register and took a customer’s order. I bit my lip, trying to hold back my excitement.

All these years and my parents thought I would never amount to anything because I was born without a special ability. In a world where you can only make a difference or really matter at all if you have super powers, it’s really hard on those who just happen to be born without them. Actually, it’s really 50-50, I’d say. But every one of my five brothers and sisters and both of my parents had powers. It wasn’t common to have so many special abilities in one family…and still have one member without.

But everyone knew that some people inherited their powers late in their life. This was more of a 10% chance type of thing than anything else and if nothing happened by the time you were 20, you were done. You weren’t getting any powers. You’d live the rest of your life being less than ordinary. In a world where everyone is extraordinary, if you don’t have that extra, you don’t have anything.

Having the power of light, though? No one had heard of anyone controlling light since the 1970s. Since the best superhero that ever lived came on the scene. I hadn’t really ever understood why, but for whatever reason, having the power of light was the best power there was. Better than invisibility, strength, flight, time travel or even mind reading. I don’t think it was so much because of what you could do with it as much as that was what fascinated the public…and it was so rare.

I guess I was too naïve to figure it out. That having the power of light wasn’t all it was hyped up to be.

I guess I should have known better. But I was only 17 then. I just wanted to be like almost everyone in my community. I just wanted to be acknowledged, special.

Too bad for me.

 

Let’s just say, the next thing I knew there was a blackout. I looked around, trying to find a source of light from outside. For some reason, all the blinds were closed and so little light shone out the windows.

“Hey, Matt, what’s—”

A hand covered my mouth and a knee kicked me in the stomach. I half-shrieked and doubled over in pain. I tried to bite the hand that held my mouth or at least hit the guy in the face, but something grabbed my arm and was tying my hands behind my back. They threw me over some guy’s shoulders and I kicked and screamed.

“Matt! Matt! Matt!”

Someone punched me in the face and I was knocked out.

 

When I woke, it was already dark, so I must have been out for a few hours. I looked around me carefully, trying not to alert the man carrying me that I was awake. I was still hanging over his bulky shoulder. My eyes adjusted the darkness pretty quickly and I soon realized that I was at the forsaken railroad. Forsaken because of the accident that had happened back in the 1970s. The one that killed that superhero I was telling you about.

A train was sitting patiently on the tracks, one strong blue light shining from the front. As eerie as the train looked in the darkness, in the prairie that I knew was miles from home, what creeped me out more were the group of lantern holders. It was bright enough for me to tell there were many people waiting, but not bright enough for me to see their faces.

For all I knew, this was just some crazy nightmare. I had been knocked out after all.

If only. Because this was all too real.

I panicked and started kicking again, only then realizing that my legs were tied together like my hands and my mouth was covered. The motion, at least, was enough for my captor to loosen his grip in surprise. I rolled to the ground and tried my best to crawl away. Why did I even bother?

One of the men grabbed me by the back of my shirt and pulled me forward to the crowd. Someone pulled on my hair so that I looked up at the man holding the brightest lantern. I squirmed and squealed but to no avail.

The man above me smirked. “Is this her?” he asked my captors. I think there were only two. They must have answered positively because he smiled and looked down at me. The light from his lantern made peculiar shadows on his face. “I’m sure you’re a little unnerved at the moment, are you not?”

I tried to spit in his face, forgetting that my mouth was tied. Now I just felt embarrassed.

He laughed, which made my blood boil.

What was going on? If this wasn’t a dream, then why did these people want me? Why bring me here of all places? Where did they get that train?

“Don’t worry, everything will be revealed in time. Welcome, Anna. Welcome. We are the light hunters.”

 

Posted in The Ponderings of Life

One Year Anniversary!

One year ago today I published my first blog post on For a Thousand Words.

In one year I have written 30 blog posts exactly (not including this one) and I have 30+ e-mail/Wordpress.com followers. It has been one fun year filled with accomplishments and failures, hard work and rewards! I enjoy blogging more than I thought I would, but even more, I found a lot more to say than I ever thought I would. Over the past six months I have not posted as often as I would have liked, though, so I will try and do better this semester.

To celebrate my blog’s anniversary, I’m going to give you a brief variety of information.

First, I would like to give you an update on my reading and writing. I just finished book #16 of 40 and I have four library books to work on, so I hope to catch up on my reading soon! As for writing, it’s a bit of a longer story. To start off, I recently gave myself a sort of scheduled plan for the next few months. I have a lot of different projects in the works, so I wanted to organize and prioritize. For the month of August, my goal is to finish going through The Whistler Daughters once and then send it my excellent editor, Aunt Andrea. I only have three chapters left, so I think that goal will be completed in time! For the month of September, I want to finish re-reading what I’ve already written for Bridget’s Journey the Sequel (my NaNo 2015 novel) and finish writing it. Even though I would love to finish this in a month, I honestly don’t know how long it will take me. I’m only halfway through the sequel, so there is still a lot of story left to figure out and write before it is finished. But as long as I stay focused, I should have it done in time for NaNoWriMo in November. Assuming I finish writing the sequel in September, I want to outline my NaNo novel during the month of October. Then, I would be able to start writing it during November. I’ll keep you updated on how it all goes!

Second, I have some great news! Bridget’s Journey is FREE once again on Kindle this weekend ONLY! Today, tomorrow and Sunday it’s available to download on your Kindle or Kindle app for free, so go get it and tell your friends! 🙂

Bridget's Journey Free on Kindle.jpg

Third, I would like to finish this anniversary post with a few of my favorite quotes from some of my favorite authors. Enjoy!

Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world. ~Lucy Maud Montgomery

The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid. ~Jane Austen

I’ll not listen to reason… reason always means what someone else has got to say. ~Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell

The thing is, if in your life, you never got any bad news, never got weary, never got the wind knocked out of you, well, there would be nothing left in this world to move you. And there would be no reason at all to well up in a teary smile and hold on tight to everything you love. I know now that that’s the whole point. That’s the whole point to everything. -Beth Seidel Levine

Posted in Words Upon Words

Proof Ordered! ~ Update on Everlasting

I am SO excited to announce that the proof copy of Everlasting has been ordered! Thanks to my family’s hard work, the map is complete (besides a few finishing touches), the cover is uploaded and the book is only missing a few more editing details!

Mom and I worked hard yesterday afternoon getting the “interior text” (the document) all ready to go for the file review. This morning I received an e-mail saying that the review had been completed successfully, and I promptly ordered the proof! We paid for super fast shipping, so it should arrive this Thursday. In the meantime, Mom and I will be editing fools as we quickly finish up making this book the best it can be and hopefully it will be ready to self-publish sometime next week!

Everlasting should be available for purchase on Amazon by Christmas.

The excitement is hard to contain!

To help tide you over until then, here is the official description of the book and its official cover! Thank you to my editor, Aunt Andrea, for the awesome description and thanks to my sister Sandrine and Dad for working on the beautiful cover!

(Everlasting, Back Cover) Long ago, the world was filled with creatures of all kinds, and divided into two kingdoms: Memiana, ruled by the humans, and Orutia, ruled by the fairies. Over time, the humans came to resent the fairies, and gradually took away more and more of their land until the fairies were relegated to a small section of the kingdom. But when Zechariah was crowned king of the land, and married Crystal, the beautiful queen of the fairies, together they vowed to restore peace.

All that changed when Queen Crystal died, not long after the birth of their daughter, Mertia. The king’s brother, Sebastian, filled with jealousy and malice, put into motion an evil plot to get rid of the king and the princess, and take over the kingdom for himself.

Years later, amid rumors that Princess Mertia might still be alive, young farmer Malachi Thlop sets out on a quest to find her and bring her back to the castle. His search results in much more than he had bargained for, and soon he joins a motley band of creatures on a mission. Together they are caught up in an exciting and dangerous adventure, as they seek to restore the rightful king to the throne and finally usher in an era of unity and peace.

Everlasting_Cover_for_Kindle