Category Archives: Personal Work

Thoughts on Publishing – Infinitas Publishing Status Report and First Chapter of Magic’s Stealing

Where does the time go? My day job started up again a couple days ago, and I’m currently readjusting my schedule to be able to be productive and not spend all my time daydreaming about what happened in the role-play campaign that my husband and I just finished this week. (A main character got a bittersweet ending… not the ending he was hoping for (he’s a fourthwaller), but an ending that left him reasonably happy and with his mind intact).

Anyway, while I’m readjusting my after-work patterns,  I thought I’d do a quick status report on the projects of Infinitas Publishing

When Isaac and I started up our business this summer, we created a rough schedule of when we would like to release our books and games. It’s something we created for our own personal use, which gives us an extra push to actually publish things, rather than getting into an endless loop of editing. It’s also a good measure for us to use in terms of how much time we have until we complete a project, even if we don’t release the prospective dates to the public. This should give us a little more wiggle room for when our planning inevitably goes astray.

For Magic’s Stealing, I’m about a month behind on my goal (Shh… don’t tell anyone), but I’m in the final phase. I’ve already got it formatted as ebook, except for the table of contents (easy to do, but needs to be different between Kindle and Smashwords editions), and I’m working on the final proofread for typos on printed paper. Once that’s done, I’ll put it up for pre-order and reveal the cover. Look for that coming soon… which I also need to update on the main website. A few months after that I am hoping to make the paperback edition available.

For Battle Decks: Trials of Blood and Steel, we’re on par. We’ve already ordered the initial proof copy (which I posted about a while back), got feedback, and made edits. I’ve updated the box title to Trials of Blood and Steel instead of Multiverse: 1953, based on further feedback, along with updated the rules (still needs to be proofread) and fixed the cards for consistency (cards now say +2 ATK instead of +2 attack, etc). Once we have the rules proofed, we plan to order a second copy of the game to make sure all of our edits are input correctly. We also need to recreate the trial edition of the game with rules specific to the trial (that way we don’t confuse players with irrelevant rules, such as how to choose heroes for each faction). Based on our current schedule, we should be able to release Battle Decks as planned.

For The Multiverse Chronicles: Trials of Blood and Steel, we should still be on par, but we’ll see as we get closer to our planned release date.  Isaac is currently working on the rough draft of episode 19 of the 24 expected episodes, though some of those we’ve planned to split, so we may be a bit further ahead (and there may be more than 24 episodes). I’ve gotten ten of those episodes edited and semi-polished, ready for us to do the full read-through and see how everything meshes together. I’ve got partial edits done on episode 11. However, once those are complete we will need to send out the episodes to beta readers to look for errors, and then polish the first few episodes to release online. We also need to prepare the blog site where we’ll be publishing the story. The first four episodes need to be ready to go before we release Battle Decks.

Beyond those projects, which are up for release by the end of this year, I also have plans for The Shadow War, (book two in The Wishing Blade series).The first draft is partially written (but requires changes), and I’ve been plotting the rest of the story and making sure it will flow easily into book three. The upside of my day job is that I have plenty of time to plot while I do greenscreen work on photos.

Once I have a definite date for these projects, I’ll make them public.

In the meantime, please enjoy the first chapter of my upcoming YA fantasy novella, Magic’s Stealing. 🙂

Magic’s Stealing


The Wishing Blade - Section Break - Magic Swirl ONE The Wishing Blade - Section Break - Magic Swirl

Darkness flooded Toranih Covonilayno’s sleeping chamber as she mentally extinguished her magic crystal’s light. She tossed the crystal onto her dresser and hurried to her bed. The silk covers rustled as she slipped underneath, where she felt for the leather hilt of the knife under her pillow.


The last few nights had brought strange creaking noises from the attic, soft footsteps and the brushing of rough wool on the edges of the wooden floorboard above. She listened now, waiting to see if the footsteps returned.


They did not.


Instead, wind whistled through a tiny crack in her bedroom windowsill. She peeked over the covers. A shadow passed by the heavy curtains and she clasped the smooth fabric between her fingers.




She kicked off the covers, knife in hand, and hopped out of bed. She waited, just in case the shadow returned. Then she walked to her dresser, picked up the crystal, and carefully raised the light again.


The dresser was pristine, with only an oil lamp sitting in the dustless corner. A small oak chest at the foot of her bed remained locked with steel. Heavy brocade curtains obscured the window.


No sign of intruders.


So why couldn’t she shake the feeling that someone had been watching her?


She dimmed the crystal’s light until the room was cast in an eerie twilight, but the only magic present was her own. The crystal’s faint light revealed thin, lime green ribbons of magic floating around her, while glowing turquoise ribbons darted in and out of the crystal.


Her older sister, Siklana, had created the artifact for Toranih when she was little. Few could see magic without a crystal. Whenever a mage used their ribbons to do… well… anything, she couldn’t see the cause.


And what she couldn’t see, she couldn’t fight.


Toranih sighed. She was seventeen now, and she wasn’t afraid of magic. She just didn’t like it. There was a difference.


Something tapped the glass. Toranih shrieked, fumbling with the crystal. She clutched it to her chest and spun toward the window. A cluster of ribbons danced around a small form on the other side.


Well, are you coming? Daernan’s telepathic voice flitted through her mind, amused.


Of all the times for him to show up unannounced—


She dropped the crystal on her dresser, sheathed the knife, then flung open the curtains. “Don’t scare me like that!”


A small, brown, ostensibly cute owl peered at her with bright yellow eyes and giant black pupils. Daernan, judging by the white ring of feathers crowning his left eye.


The owl shrugged and puffed out his plumage like a feather duster. Not my fault you’re so jumpy.


Toranih crossed her arms. Though dim in the moonlight, the crystal’s twilight revealed various blue and yellow and pink ribbons swirling thick through Daernan’s owlish body.


Coming? The pink ribbons carried Daernan’s thoughts to Toranih’s mind, and she fought the urge to swipe them away.


Toranih knelt beside the window so that she was eye-level with the owl. He tilted his head and blinked. She snorted. “I’ve been expressly forbidden from attending the festival,” she said in the most high-and-mighty voice she could muster. “So, no. I’m not coming.”


Not that she minded missing the event. Too much magic and too many people teasing her about when she and Daernan would make their courtship a formal engagement.


She turned from the window, lit her oil lamp, and then mentally killed the crystal’s light.


The ribbons vanished.


Let me guess. Your father wasn’t happy that you challenged Lady Ikara to a duel, then respectfully threatened that she ought to let her fiancé fight for her, lest you knock her off her high horse onto her—he mentally coughed for effect—her lazy ass?


Toranih shrugged. “She insulted you. Good excuse not to go.”


The owl sighed, best an owl could, before tapping the window with his beak. Can I at least come in?


She obliged him with a flip of the latch. Then she plopped onto her bed. The owl swooped inside, changing as he went. By the time he landed, the owl had morphed into a young man with shoulder-length brown hair. A patch of white hair ran through his bangs above his left eye.


Daernan stood from his crouch and shook himself like a dog that had just run through a pond. He looked as he usually did, no more dressed for the festival than any other day. Only a simple cotton tunic and loose fitting breeches, along with a leather belt that Toranih had helped to etch and dye. That belt had been an experiment, to say the least. Daernan proved much better at drawing the various creatures than she had. An owl, a shaggy dog, a horse… his favorite changes.


He tossed her a green velvet satchel. “I know you don’t like this holiday, but that’s for you.”


She scowled, dangling the satchel by its cords. “Really?”


If Daernan had brought her spicy cocoa flowers, like last year, she would swear to Shol that she’d make him pay the next time he tried to duel with her.


Daernan shrugged and leaned against the dresser, perilously close to her oil lamp. “Don’t worry, it’s not flowers or ribbons, or anything silly that you wouldn’t like.”


“I didn’t get you anything,” she said. Well, technically she had, but she’d planned to give him the owl-shaped ginger cookies she’d bought for him tomorrow, when the gift wasn’t linked to Aifa’s Night.


“In that case, you could make it up to me by coming to the parade.” He smiled hopefully.


Toranih raised an eyebrow. She dug into the satchel and paused when her fingers touched cool metal ridges. She withdrew a brooch made of sterling silver. The metal had been crafted into a raven that held a wreath of flowers in its talons. Small and not particularly gaudy, the piece would look nice pinned on the pouch she normally wore on long horseback rides.


Daernan rubbed the back of his neck self-consciously. “I might have lied about the flowers. I hope you don’t mind.”


“It’s…” She let out a breath and smiled. “I like it. Thanks.”


He grinned. “I commissioned the crafter whose goods you keep eyeing.”


“I do not!” Toranih had done her best not to let anyone catch her eyeing the metalsmith’s jewelry… just his weapons. They might think she’d gone soft.


“Sure you don’t.” Daernan chuckled, then glanced around the room. “Redecorated?”


“The room was cluttered. I cleaned it.”


“You? Clean something?” Daernan raised an eyebrow. “Who are you and what have you done with Toranih?”


She scowled. “There were too many things someone could hide behind.”


His smile faltered. “You still think someone’s watching you?”


“I heard noises last night. I checked the attic, but nothing was up there. I even used the crystal to look for magic.” She kicked her feet against the bed and sighed. “I know I don’t have enemies, but someone’s been in here.”


“Lady Ikara, maybe? She isn’t exactly friendly towards you.”


“Oh, please. She could run my ear off but I don’t think she could tell the difference between a dagger and a dirk.”


“She doesn’t have to know the difference to stab you,” Daernan pointed out.


Toranih punched his shoulder.


“Ow! I’m just saying!”


She snorted. He wasn’t helping. Lady Ikara wasn’t the kind to go snooping around the manor, and Toranih’s father, Lord Covonilayno, had relatively few enemies. Though he was officially a viscount who oversaw the day-to-day proceedings of Viyna, he was also tasked with guarding the kingdom’s armory, so most nobles chose to stay on his good side.


Daernan sighed. “The parade is starting soon. If you really don’t want to be seen, we can go as owls. There’ll be dancing…”


“Which we can’t enjoy since we’ll be owls.”


“Free food…”


“As owls? Do you want mice? Besides, you get free food anyway. Everyone likes you.”


“They like you, too,” Daernan protested.


“They bow and curtsy to me.”


“Unless you challenge them to a duel.”


“There is that.” Toranih grinned and eyed the raven brooch. Lady Ikara could sniff the air all she liked, but she wouldn’t keep calling Daernan a street mutt. Besides, he did have claim to noble lineage, even if his father wasn’t around to prove it. His mother permitted the commoners to tend to their estate in return for access to a small cottage inside the city. No one paid attention to the fact that she had married into nobility.


Seemed that was how she liked her life.


“And we’ll get to watch all the mag—entertainment.” Daernan closed his mouth quickly.


Toranih rolled her eyes. “Magical entertainment, right. Know what? You go. Report to me in the morning about all the beautiful light showers and flashy streamers, and don’t forget to tell me how the gracious Aifa blessed the newlyweds. If you get back here before sunrise, you might even beat Siklana to the story.”


Her sister always did like magic. She cast enough for the two of them.


Daernan groaned and tugged Toranih’s arm. “Come on—it’s no fun if I go by myself. And everyone’s expecting us, even if we are owls. You should come.” He beamed, giving her his kingdom-class puppy-dog eyes.


She swallowed uncomfortably. “This is a bad idea.”


“Please? It’ll be fun. I promise.”


Toranih sighed. Sometimes she wondered if he had ribbons of the persuasive nature, though she’d never caught him. Wasn’t likely, anyway. That kind of magic was rare.


She rose from her bed and set the raven brooch beside her prized lamp. Then she raised her crystal’s light until it was just right for seeing magic. After she extinguished the oil lamp, she focused on her royal blue ribbons and stretched her arms, her palms open to the ceiling. Tickles rolled through her fingers, then her hands, then her body. Blue ribbons swirled around her, merging into a thick smoke that rushed to her toes. She shrunk. Her bones mended into the form of an owl. Her magic glowed bright, twisting and fading with a heartbeat of its own.


 Ready? Daernan asked, already perched on the windowsill.


Toranih killed the crystal’s light and hopped toward the window with her leathery feet.


She preferred raven form— though it wasn’t much better—but at least now she could see.


Daernan hooted. Let’s hurry—the show should be starting! He dropped off the windowsill, his wings outstretched, and caught the air with a quick swoop.


Toranih cringed. What would happen if she hadn’t made the change properly? What if she didn’t actually fly?


The ground teetered beneath her, perilously far from the ledge. She spread her wings, prayed to Shol she wouldn’t crash, and dropped into the night.

* The Wishing Blade - Section Break - Magic Swirl *


A cloaked figure knelt beside a sprawling sycamore near the young woman’s sleeping chamber, her eyes trained on the two owls.


Finally, they were gone. She climbed the tree, bark catching on the tips of her leather boots, then slipped inside the open window. The room was dark, save for moonlight, but it was just enough for her to see that the young woman had rearranged the furniture since the night before.


No night table or pile of books, and her usual set of sparring knives didn’t hang from the wall. Probably locked in the chest at the foot of her bed, or buried under the mattress.


She didn’t bother to check, though, instead stopping beside the dresser and stroking her fingers across the light crystal. It responded eagerly, and turquoise ribbons flared to life.


She quickly extinguished the crystal and peered into the distance, waiting to see if her own sight revealed the magical ribbons that would signal the two’s return to investigate.


The night remained empty.


The only magic she saw was her own. The rest of the family was at the parade.


But there was something new in the room. Ashen moonlight shone through the oil lamp at the edge of the dresser. Skewed light reflected onto a metal brooch—a brooch with a raven and a wreath of flowers.


The intruder held her breath, reaching her fingers toward the jewel piece, then quickly withdrew. She couldn’t leave any trace that she’d come. That meant leaving objects where they’d been found.


She left the sleeping chamber for the hallway. Bronze wall sconces flickered with pale, turquoise light across elaborate tapestries. The crystals cast shadows along the crimson throw rugs, each one embroidered with curling gold patterns.


She paused, recalling the two owls flying into the night.


Always strange to see the young woman, but stranger still to see Daernan alive.


She wrapped her cloak tight around her shoulders, then traveled the familiar stairs downward, downward, and deeper—under the manor and into the kingdom’s dwindling armory.

Stay tuned for cover reveal and release date! 😀


Filed under Business Ventures, Personal Work, Writing

Thoughts On Writing – Foreshadowing

I was talking to one of my beta-readers the other day and they got me thinking about foreshadowing. Foreshadowing is important to having a satisfying ending, especially if the reader doesn’t see that ending coming. Without foreshadowing, readers may feel confused and lost. That’s okay if that’s the effect you’re going for, but be warned, sharp turns, like on a really rough, old, wooden roller coaster (I’ll take the smooth metal ones, thank you), can leave a reader nauseated if they aren’t prepared.

For example, I once critiqued a short story which started out sounding like a pleasant memoir. Kind of happy-go-lucky scenes, but the story rambled. It lacked direction. A couple plot points seemed out of place with the tone of the rest of the story, but they still felt… normal. Then, out of nowhere, there was a rather graphic scene that scarred the character (and the unsuspecting reader). In all fairness, I don’t mind stories that have some graphic violence, but in this particular story, that scene came out of the blue. It wasn’t satisfying. Had the foreshadowing been stronger, I think the scene could have worked perfectly, but the author wasn’t inclined to make changes to the manuscript that would allow such foreshadowing to take place. Their story, their say, but that incident did get me to start thinking about how important foreshadowing is to a story’s plot.

Some foreshadowing happens intentionally. You leave clues for the reader to create an expectation about what’s to come. This can occur within a short scene, across a book, or across a series. You might see this in the form of a prophecy. An example of this can be seen in Lord of the Rings movie, when the leader of the ringwraiths tells Eowyn (who is concealed by her armor), “No man can kill me,” and she replies, “I am no man,” then proceeds to defeat him. Prophecies are ripe with foreshadowing, and my favorites are the ones that seem clear but have double-meanings. The Sight, by David Clement-Davies, also uses prophecy to foreshadow events, and then twists the prophecy’s meaning to have a different ending than expected. With foreshadowing, those twists are exciting, rather than confusing. Take a look at any Twilight Zone episode. These shows often take unexpected turns, but those endings were cleverly foreshadowed so that the viewer has an ‘ah-ha!’ moment. Suddenly all the puzzle pieces fall into place and the viewer understands.

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury also has several examples of foreshadowing. The story revolves around two twelve-year-old boys who discover a dark secret about the carnival that has come to their town. Throughout the book, the tone is dark, sinister, foreboding. Before the carnival arrives, we know a storm is coming because a lightning-rod salesman announces the coming of a storm and proceeds to gift the boys with a lightning-rod that has been adorned with various ancient, mystical symbols. But when the storm arrives, it’s not a lightning storm, as predicted, but the mysterious carnival with a dark, illustrated man and his tricks. The lightning-rod’s ancient symbols hint at the coming dark magic, and even (as the story later reveals) that the magic is ancient. Later in the story (Warning, spoilers ahead!), Will’s father (who has been foreshadowing the sinister purpose of the circus through his unease and concern) discovers that his laughter hurts the dust witch (who is absolutely creepy in her own right). Faced with the chance to confront her during a so-called ‘bullet trick,’ he carves a crescent moon into the bullet before firing. The crescent moon isn’t a moon, however, it’s a smile, and it kills her. (As a side note, the end of this book had me daydreaming an entertaining My Little Pony crossover where Pinkie Pie must face off with the Illustrated Pony…)

Foreshadowing allowed the ending to make sense, and for the reader to anticipate how the main characters would defeat the evil carnival. Readers keep reading in hopes of seeing if their theories prove true.

In a sense, foreshadowing is a shadow cast by the future. It can be a pale shadow, a single line or reference that hints at what’s to come. Or it can be a heavy shadow, a constant application of tone and mood and imagery. Characters may have suspicions (incorrect or not) about the future, which you can use to foreshadow events and to create lovely twists when the reader least expects them. Foreshadowing creates questions that entice a reader to keep turning pages. If you have a genre shift in your book, foreshadowing may be immensely important to keeping readers on board. Foreshadowing is a way to help readers suspend disbelief. Same with characters. If they’re going to need an obscure skill later to save the day, showing this early on, even in passing, allows the reader to believe in the character when the time comes.

Another kind of foreshadowing is the kind you don’t mean to add. Sometimes you write subtle hints into the story that you read later, which point at the outcome even though you didn’t realize you wrote them. There’s a line in Distant Horizon that stopped me cold after I’d written the rough draft of Glitch, a sequel in which one of the main characters dies rather horribly to save their friends. I remembered writing the line, but I hadn’t realized the potential impact it would have and how true it was. Granted, the line only has impact if you read Distant Horizon after Glitch, but it does provide a little bit of set-up for the character in question.

I also use foreshadowing heavily in The Little One, a prequel novel for the Distant Horizon series. Little One is a childlike spirit who has a number of chilling visions which eventually come to pass in one way or another. In several of the scenes (as they currently stand, since I still need to do edits), she references a rising sun. The rising sun is a reference to a symbol in the later stories, but, aside from being an Easter egg for readers, these scenes are meant to add to the story’s mood. The scenes start off lighter and become progressively darker. I’ve truncated a few scenes and edited them to make sense out of context:

First scene where the sun is referenced as foreshadowing…


One morning, Knight had gotten up early to use the restroom and found Little One staring out the window in her make-shift bedroom. Tiny rays of pink sunlight flickered across her face through the trees.


“It’s pretty,” she said absently.


He wandered around the foot of the bed and squeezed in beside her. The air conditioner tickled his feet from the floorboards, and early light twinkled across his eyes. He blinked. He hadn’t really watched the rising sun lately. Most the time he was sleeping. Or if he was headed to work, he was planning out his day. Not watching the sun slowly grow and ascend.


“It’s changing,” Little One said.


He glanced at her. “Yeah. It’s because of the earth’s spin and–”


“Not that. It’s different.”


He tried to tell if there was anything different from this sunrise than all the other sunrises he’d ever seen, but it looked the same as any other sunrise.


Little One shook her head. “It’s different. Just a little. Small. But it’s different.”


Knight twisted his lips. The kid seemed attuned to the subtle variances an adult couldn’t see, and he didn’t want to think about what those variances might be if she had insight for a power.




Knight sat down the drawings. There were images from Little One’s dreams, but there were other drawings, too. Swirling night skies and rising suns. And each time, Little One drew the sun just a little bit darker.




Hawk looked one more time at the drawing scribbled on his wall. On the far side, scribbled between the happy images of trees and squirrels, was a rising red sun, with five rays extending from it like spokes, but each cut off halfway through their usual extension.


Later… (One of Little One’s visions)


The poster was blurred to Little One. She paused, taking a second look. She couldn’t see it well, save for the red, rising sun of her usual vision. Then reality shifted. The normal colors downgraded, passing through a dark veil. The sun twisted and darkened, shrinking on itself until only five tiny rays remained, red as fresh-drawn blood. The buildings loomed and darkened, and the crowds thinned… as if a film had been placed over them, and the people raced and ran as flames consumed the new night, warping the street until the colors ran together and bled into one dull, monotonous grey.


Later… (near the end of the story, after a major battle scene)


Behind the city, like a crimson cog, the storm sun rose, its light sending spoke-like rays through the dark thunderheads, and basking the city in a bloody glow.

Note… that’s from the rough draft. I still need to go through and do edits.

There’s a lot of foreshadowing in The Little One for the entire Distant Horizon series. The Little One is a prequel, and the character has ‘insight,’ a power which lets her know more than she should, so it’s to be expected. Those scenes were a lot of fun to play with, and I wonder how different readers will read the various scenes…. especially depending on whether they read The Little One first or the other stories first.

Alternatively, let’s look at Magic’ Stealing. The antagonist has a lot of room for foreshadowing, but beta-readers have pointed out that the references seem odd and pulled them out from the story. There’s a reason those references seem odd, but I want the story to read smoothly, and as much as I don’t want to cut the references, I’m planning to do so (leaving the less obvious ones). Foreshadowing should serve the story, and in this case, beta-readers confirmed that I needed to try a lighter method.

I hope you enjoyed this post and found it helpful. What are your thoughts on foreshadowing? Have you read anything where the foreshadow did or didn’t work well? 🙂


Filed under Personal Work, Writing

Thoughts on Publishing – A Blurb for Magic’s Stealing

As I get closer to publishing Magic’s Stealing, I’ve been compiling the various elements meant to catch a reader’s attention. While a lot of emphasis is placed on the book cover (and I’ve realized the current version I’m considering may be better suited to the third book, so I’m debating what I might use instead for the first), after the cover, a reader inevitably sees the blurb. The blurb should show what the book is about and entice a reader to either buy the book, or at least take a look inside.

However, as a writer, we’re so close to our stories that it’s hard to see what will draw the reader’s attention. I’ve posted my current idea for a blurb on Absolute Write (which is a very useful source of information for authors), and I’ve come up with two slightly different versions. The question is… which works better? Short and snappy? Or more details about the world?

In order to get a little more insight on the subject, I read through a few articles that discussed what makes a good blurb (see the links below if you’re interested), and came up with a list of elements to consider:

  • A sense of the main character(s). Who and what kind of character are they? (For Magic’s Stealing: Toranih is a young noblewoman who would rather have a sword in her hand than use magic to heal or throw fireballs.)
  • Just enough detail to show the type of story and what makes this book different. (For Magic’s Stealing: there’s a kingdom, magical ribbons, mages, shadows who are impervious to mortal weapons… and this is where I start to wonder if I need to hone in on the description)
  • What the main conflict/plot will be. (For Magic’s Stealing: Almost all magic is stolen from the kingdom, leaving two young mages–one of whom doesn’t like magic–to protect their home.)
  • A question that entices the reader, or leaves them wanting more. (For Magic’s Stealing: Will Toranih successfully adopt the responsibilities of a mage so she can fight the shadows? Or will she fail and cause her home to perish?)
  • Offer a taste of the writing style. (Maybe I can include a tiny clip at the beginning of the description. You know, those story bites usually seen in italics?)

These are the current versions of the blurbs that I’m considering for Magic’s Stealing.

Short Version:

Toranih would rather have a sword in her hand than use her powers to heal or throw fireballs, and as a result, her magic skills are lacking. But when the kingdom’s magic is stolen, she’s one of the few whose powers remain. With former mages dying from magic withdrawal, and the looming threat of an army of shadows who are impervious to mortal weapons, she must either adopt her neglected responsibilities as a mage or watch her home perish.

Long Version:

For centuries, ribbons of magic have provided the kingdom of Cirena with light, healing, and protection. Then, in a span of minutes, those ribbons fly from their masters, stolen, save for the ribbons of two young mages. One of these mages is Toranih, a noblewoman who never liked magic to begin with. The other mage is her best friend, Daernan, a gifted shapechanger who uses his magical sight to track the vanishing ribbons. Toranih would rather have a sword in her hand than use her powers to heal or throw fireballs, and as a result, her skills are lacking. But with former mages dying from magic withdrawal, and the looming threat of an army of shadows who are impervious to mortal weapons, she must either adopt the responsibilities of a mage or watch their home perish.

So my question to you is this: Which blurb, if either, holds your attention, and do they entice you to ‘look inside?’ Why? Or if you neither holds your attention, why not?

I’m concerned that the shorter one may read too fast, but that the longer one may loose readers with unnecessary information. One solution I’m considering is that Smashwords offers both a short and long description for retailers, and as such, I could use both descriptions in their respective sections. Anyone who wanted more information could click to read the longer description. In the meantime, if whichever description I choose for Amazon doesn’t seem to be working, I can try switching it out for the other and see which one works better.

I hope you enjoyed the post. Are there any blurbs that worked well for you? Anything you’ve found that didn’t?

A few articles I found particularly helpful while researching the subject:


Filed under Business Ventures, Personal Work, Writing

Thoughts on Writing – Aging Up Characters

I’ve been getting feedback from beta readers for Magic’s Stealing, and one of the comments that has been fairly consistent is that the characters (which I intended to be around twenty years old) feel like they’re twelve- to sixteen years old, effectively making the story sound like it’s aimed at a middle grade or the lower end of the YA audience. Which isn’t a bad thing… if I meant for my characters to be younger. However, I’m hoping to get them to sound like they’re at least eighteen, so it’s time to consider what’s making them sound younger, and what can be done to make them sound older. 🙂

To start with, once I knew that their age was an issue, I sought feedback from the beta readers. I needed to know why these characters were sounding younger.

1. Their actual age isn’t mentioned until later in the story. This leaves their age open for interpretation, and by the time a reader gets to the point where their age is mentioned, readers already have a solid idea of the characters’ ages in mind. (As a side note, there’s a book I read recently, Renegade by J.A. Souders, in which a certain intimidating character is revealed to be a child. The story is told in first person by a character who is brainwashed into thinking nothing of this, so she’s not surprised, but it is a twist for the reader. As a reader, I personally loved that twist. However, it did take me a little while to hold the image of a child in my head, rather than that of an older teenager. In  my current manuscript, I don’t want this kind of surprise for the age of my main characters, so I may need to bring up their ages sooner).

2. The characters act younger. In the opening scene, my main character, Toranih, is nervous because she’s been hearing footsteps and thinks she’s being watched. As soon as she ‘turns out the light,’ she dives under the covers of her bed. Personally, I love the image. However… this isn’t what we typically picture an older person doing. Therefore, the first impression is that Toranih must be younger. An option to fix this may be to have her consider diving under the covers, but she forces herself to walk calmly to bed. Or she may walk calmly to bed but reference that she’s going to bed with a knife at her side. Or… some combination thereof. Haven’t decided yet.

Darkness flooded Toranih Covonilayno’s sleeping chambers as she mentally extinguished her magic crystal’s light. She dropped the crystal on her dresser and rushed to her bed, then dove under the covers.

Silly, she knew, but the last few nights had brought strange creaking noises from the attic, soft footsteps and the brushing of rough wool on the edges of the wooden floorboard above. She listened now, waiting to see if the footsteps returned.

3. Lack of romance. The current draft doesn’t show much in the way of a romantic interest between the main characters. Now, that’s not to say you must have romance in a story to make it YA or adult, but without romance, this story seems like a more likely candidate for an MG novella. When I go to edit, I plan to hint a little more at the (lack of) romance between the main characters. I’m toying with the idea of having Toranih and Daernan ‘technically’ courting (mostly so Toranih can keep her father from trying to point other suitors in her direction, since she’s not necessarily interested in Daernan romantically), while Daernan actually does like her. Increases tension in the story, and gives a better clue about their age.

4. Expectations for the type of fantasy. Especially in YA, we seem to get a lot of hints that the teenage main characters are either actively seeking (or avoiding) marriage. These worlds have their characters finding partners at a younger age. In Magic’s Stealing, I’m going with the idea that the characters live longer and have a tiny bit more ‘modern’ of a society (with magic taking the place of electricity, but in an older setting with kingdoms and lords and ladies). However, to pull this off, I’m going to have to show more of their world. We need to see older characters walking in the streets. Maybe a reference to food spoiling when their ‘magic refrigerator’ no longer has magic to keep food cold. Maybe a reference that going to an academy for magic, versus sticking around and getting married, is a common occurrence. I’m considering having Toranih’s sister, Siklana, already be accepted into an academy (think college), rather than expecting to be accepted at the end of the month. Maybe she’s back at the manor because she’s visiting, and she’s planning to oversee the festival that takes place at the beginning of the book. And maybe Toranih actually is studying swordsmanship, rather than dreaming about it, but her lessons are private since she can’t convince her father that being a guardsman is fitting for a lady of her status (but she can’t pass her magic exams, so… what else is she going to do?). There’s a lot of world building opportunities here, and the great thing is that these changes don’t have to be major alterations.

5. Lack of (graphic) violence. Though there are a couple battle scenes, we don’t really see much blood spilled, and nor do we get graphic depictions of the shadows who are burned. Now, this doesn’t mean it isn’t for older readers, but it makes it more open to an MG audience. That being said, I’m  considering adding a bit more detail to these scenes, partially for the impact they have on the main characters, and partially so that once we get to the second book, it doesn’t come as a surprise when we actually start seeing more violence coming into play. Doesn’t mean it’s going to be gratuitous. Just means that the MC is going to be distinctly aware of what’s going on around them.

Her friend had backed into a rocky cove, but he was using that to focus his attention on the growing force of shadows in front. He shifted back and forth, thrusting each hand separately and delivering a blast of air or a blast of fire, to which they ducked and dived away.

The shadows shied from the wind, but they hated fire. They scuttled aside when his magic seared their hands and scalded their weapons. They sent new shadows to fight while they nursed their burns. Those burns healed, but slowly. And one shadow lay dead on the floor, burned beyond recognition, and did not appear to be healing at all.

Toranih shuddered. If these were mortal men, Daernan wouldn’t be using fire like this.

But fire did hurt them, and they weren’t mortal men.

6. How other characters perceive them. The antagonist refers to the main characters as the ‘boy’ and the ‘girl.’ Granted, from a god-like character who can’t die, it makes sense that she’d view these characters as being childlike. But with this scene placed early in the novel, it doesn’t help the perception of the main characters’ ages as being younger. I’ll probably keep these kinds of references for the actual deities, but at that point, the actual ages for the MCs should be established, so the reference should hint more at the internal thoughts of the deities in question.

A cloaked figure knelt beside a sprawling sycamore near the girl’s window, her eyes trained on the two owls.

Finally, they’re gone, the figure thought to herself. She climbed up the tree, bark catching on the tips of her leather boots, then slipped inside the open window. The room was dark, but the light crystal glowed with residual energy and lit the bare essentials.

The girl had rearranged the furniture since the night before. No night table or pile of books, and her usual set of sparring knives didn’t hang from the wall. Probably locked in the chest at the foot of the bed, or buried under the mattress.

There’s a lot of little things that could affect the perceived age of the main characters, and with a few tweaks here and there, I think I can have them sounding like they’re at least eighteen. And it’s worth noting that I do read a lot of YA and the occasional MG book. Therefore, it isn’t surprising that my narrative voice would lean that direction.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post, and now it’s your turn. Have you had any experiences with your writing or reading where characters don’t sound like the age that they’re supposed to?


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The Infinitas Publishing Site is now Live!

I’m happy to announce that Isaac and I now have our Infinitas Publishing site live. 😀

Took most of yesterday (including a couple photoshoots) and a few hours here and there to get it up and running, but after finally figuring out how to get the domain properly mapped, it’s now up. You can read about the behind the scenes process on our first blog (written by Isaac):

A few parts of the site aren’t quite working yet (the upper banner doesn’t want to resize for mobile devices), but I’ve sent an email to the web host to see if they can help.

Also, we have a new twitter account where we’ll be making announcements in regards to the books and games we’re publishing:

Not much up at the moment, but it’s a start. We hope you enjoy it, and we have more plans for it as we continue to move forward. 🙂

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Thoughts on Writing – Consistency of Style

With Magic’s Stealing out to beta readers, I’m trying to avoid working on that story line until I get the collected thoughts of the readers. That way I can evaluate all the comments and figure out how best to apply them. In the meantime, I’ve switched gears. I’m working on Isaac’s and my Distant Horizon story line. The first book is written and mostly polished, so I’m working on plot consistency in the second book. To do that, I’m rereading the first book to refresh my memory on what changes were made. (Seriously… my notes suggest I’ve read the first book twenty times. Granted, some of those rounds only involved skimming for minor edits, but some of those included major overhauls, and needless to say, I’m starting to get a little tired of rereading it.)

During my read-through, I realized that there’s a shift in the writing style from the first few chapters to the later chapters. There’s less description, more every-day action, and the slow set-up of things starting to go wrong for the protagonist. Events are happening, but I’m worried that they aren’t as enticing as they could be. Now, one possibility is that I’ve read through these first few chapters so many times that it’s all kind of a gray blur. I know the plot too well, but the story may be fine as-is. The other possibility is that there’s a definite shift in writing style that needs to be corrected, or risk turning away readers who might otherwise be interested in the story.

When the story first starts, its sounds very much dystopian:

The first time I flushed adominogen, the oblong capsule tumbled from my hand and bounced off the bathroom sink, once, twice, then fell into the toilet with a finalizing plop.


I waited all day for someone to ask why I didn’t report accidently losing my pill. But no one did, and I didn’t have any of the hallucinations that I might have had for not taking adominogen. Instead, the world around me felt so much more alive. My attention improved, not that it was bad to begin with, and I could think clearer. Be more efficient.

After that, I stopped taking the pill. I graduated high school and moved into my first year of college, no sign of theophrenia. But when our hall advisor announced that the annual Health Scan would take place in two days, I panicked.

I needed three things to graduate: excellent grades, as many efficiency points as possible, and to pass the scan. It wasn’t often that someone failed, but it did happen. One of my friends in high school had a sister who failed. Galina. She took the scan at the clinic downtown, and Special Forces escorted her away, all while assuring her everything would be fine.

I didn’t want to end up like her, so right after the announcement yesterday, I took the pill. It was like throwing a clear, plastic tarp over my world. I couldn’t concentrate, but I couldn’t go to the doctor for the symptoms.

Not taking the pill was an international offense.

And a little bit later, still in the same style:

After the incident with Lady Black, I had this constant, nagging feeling that someone stood right behind me, watching me. Stalking me. If this was the plague, then I could only guess this was the onset of paranoia, the delusion that I was somehow important enough to warrant special attention.

Or I maybe I was just paranoid; the Health Scan was less than twenty-four hours away.

My bedroom door rattled and I looked up from my biology book. Faint, golden light traced my desk, highlighting the leaves of my plant and trailing along the edge of my bookcase.

The doorknob rattled again, followed by a new, chinking sound of metal.

I scooted from my chair, then sidled against the wall before checking the door’s peephole.

No one was out there.

Maybe the air pressure was playing with the hinges.

I opened the door and stuck my head into the hall. A couple students passed by, but they’d been too far back to affect the door.

But, as the story progresses (leaving act one into act two), the style shifts, bringing on more description:

Pops led us into a dark, narrow hall, a far cry from the neatly glowing dorm corridors. What might’ve gleamed with bronze reflections was now a dull, dented bit of metal. Yellow lights ran the length of the ceiling in small round inlets, casting a weird, brownish glow over the area. One of the lights was burnt out, and another was completely missing, the socket bare.

We headed up the second flight of stairs. The elevator we passed had a piece of yellowed paper with a DO NOT USE warning taped across it.

“We’ve been running on minimal repairs,” Pops explained. “We have decent funding, but we haven’t had a chance to resupply, and Crush only has so much time to work. He usually monitors the computers for signs of enemy activity.” Pops stopped at a plain, bronze door at the top flight of steps. “This is Jim’s office. My room is across the hall.”

Inside, a dusty world globe sat on the corner of an ornate, wood desk, obscured by various file folders and papers. Books were piled high, their spines haphazardly stacked like a puzzle game. An ancient, faded rug lay beneath the desk, so worn that its vibrant, geometric shapes and numbers were barely distinguishable. Bookshelves surrounded us from floor to ceiling, organized and decorated with models of antique stealth planes and trinkets. A giant, arched window graced the far wall, overlooking the night sky, and two red, plush chairs sat opposite the desk, where a reading lamp blanketed the room in a warm glow.

Later, part of an action sequence:

I followed Lance, since he was closest, and we huddled in the leaves, taking shelter from the fight. A local rushed the monster, and the beasts grabbed him by the throat and yanked him from the ground. Bones snapped and his screams fell short.

“We’ve got to help,” Lance said.

I wasn’t sure if it was his heart or mine pounding double-time in my ears.

No wonder Inese gave me her gun.

Behind us, there was no sign of Jack or Matoska, and I couldn’t hear anything more than a mingled mass of screams and shouts. Ahead, more beasties darted through the field, half-loping, half-running. One was lanky and pale, what little clothing it wore hooked over its bony waist. Crusted blood and clods of dirt plastered its skin. A feline eye stared my direction, while the other was swollen shut.

Other beasts were bulky and heavily muscled, swinging swords or metal clubs, bashing in the locals’ skulls if they got too close. A large glob of water hovered around a beast that stood straighter, more human than the others. The creature lunged at a man and water splashed onto the electric spear. Static traversed the metal shaft. Both man and beast crashed to the ground as electricity coursed over the beastie’s water-slick skin.

In the long run, I see a potential benefit of keeping the story the way it is because, as the style shifts, it suggests that the main character, Jenna, opens her eyes and really starts to see the world as it is, not how it’s portrayed by the sheltered Community. The story goes from being light on description to heavy on description, and the writing style includes thicker paragraphs. In addition, at least in the examples I’ve posted, the character goes from reflecting on the world around her (distant), to becoming heavily involved, a participant. Which might not be a bad thing. I won’t know until I have it available for readers to read.

I hope you enjoyed this post (and the sneak peek at Distant Horizon), and I’d love to hear your thoughts. Have you experienced any issues with keeping the style and tone of a story consistent? Have you read any books where the style shifted subtly, or even dramatically?

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Thoughts on Publishing – A Novel or Three Novellas?

In general, I write novels. Then I trim said novels because their early drafts are excessively long. However, I’ve recently become fascinated with the concept of serial novelization. You release the novel in several parts, with the idea that readers know they aren’t getting a complete work at one time and that the next installment will come in a timely manner. I toyed with the idea of doing this for my current manuscript, The Wishing Blade, with each installment between 10,000 to 15,000 words. But as I started the rewriting stage, I realized that each section didn’t feel complete. The sections left on a cliffhanger, and weren’t really satisfying.

The other serialized option I’d studied was to write a complete short story (or novella), and make sure it had a full beginning, middle, and end, even if it was part of a larger work. At the moment, I’m thinking that might actually work well for The Wishing Blade. Each installment would be around 30,000 words, maybe more, with an expected three installments. I could release the story sooner, while still producing a reasonable quality work. Each story would be complete in itself, so there would hopefully be fewer unhappy readers who aren’t satisfied with the ending. With each installment, the reader should feel the series has made progress. Think about the show Avatar: The Last Airbender. (I think Legend of Korra and Fullmetal Alchemist where this way in their first seasons, too, but it’s been long enough since I’ve watched them that I don’t remember). For the most part, each episode (or set of episodes) felt complete, even though there was a larger story arc in progress. Granted… I’m still in the second season of Avatar, so that might change.


So here’s how it would work.

1. I separate The Wishing Blade into three novellas. They’re tentatively called Magic’s Stealing, The Shadow War, and The Immortal Realm. (What do you think of the names? Good? Bad? Neutral?)

2. I then figure out the story arc for each individual novella. This is crucial, because while reading them in order would be preferable, I also want readers to be able to pick up book three, enjoy it, then go back to book one. I personally have a habit of grabbing whichever book interests me… even if it’s in the middle of the series.

So the novellas would look something like this:

  1. Magic’s Stealing: Focus on the loss of ribbon magic in Cirena. Main character who hates magic is suddenly one of the few who can still use magic, and she’s trying to figure out what happened to the magic and where she fits into the whole scheme.
  2. The Shadow War: Main characters get separated. One works from within the shadows to foil the trickster god’s plot to kill the gods and get magic for himself. The other seeks out glass-stone, a material which has been proven to kill shadows and not be susceptible to shadow magic, then seeks to protect and warn others in the mortal realm. (For those of you who read my post on creating fantasy languages, this is where word magic shows itself).
  3. The Immortal Realm: Character in shadow realm escapes into ‘immortal realm’ and seeks out artifact (from book one) which could wipe out shadows for good. Other character defends Cirena’s capitol city from the shadows’ massive onslaught. They’ll either succeed in their separate goals, which serves to aid the other, or they’ll fail and the shadows will take over the kingdom.

3. Edit book one and make shiny. Send to beta readers for feedback. Work on a different story in the meantime (either finish the rough draft for The Wishing Blade: The Shadow War, or work on long-overdue edits to book two in my husband’s and my Distant Horizon universe). Once beta readers return comments, I’ll review said comments, make edits as necessary, then set book one aside for a while. Work on The Shadow War in the meantime.

4. Polish book one. Do what editing I can, maybe get an additional beta reader to proofread for errors.

5. Begin publishing process. Upload to Kindle and Smashwords, and consider other markets (I’m currently considering Drive Thru Fiction and Draft2Digital, but I haven’t had experience with either). For now, The Wishing Blade will be in ebook format only. I hope that once I have all three books out, I’ll be able to earn enough from them to purchase a block of ISBNs. Then I’ll need to decide if I want to make a collected print edition with all three books, or make a separate edition for each story. (If you’re looking for a length comparison, I’ve been looking at the old Animorphs series. Wrong genre and age group, but the word count is about right.)

6. Continue process with book two. I’m hoping to release each book around two months apart, though I may change my mind on that once I get further into this process.


Granted, there’s a lot more going on in the background (my husband and I setting up a partnership to publish this, and we’re picking up the DBA, EIN, and trying to figure out tax forms, etc…) but this is what I’ve got going on in the front end. Hopefully you found this post to be interesting, and I’d love to hear what your thoughts are regarding this process. 🙂


Filed under Business Ventures, Personal Work, Writing

Thoughts on Writing – To Time Travel or not to Time Travel

In my current manuscript, The Wishing Blade, I’ve been streamlining the original story while striving to maintain the overall tone. I started the original draft in 2003, and I set it aside for several years before pulling it out again this year to revise it into a workable manuscript. While some plot points have been easy to keep or discard, there’s one point I’ve been going back and forth on… whether or not to keep the time travel incident in the novel or whether to remove it all together.

Now you get to have a first hand look at my thinking process regarding revisions… all while I try to work this out for myself.

First, let’s look at reasons to remove this incident:

1. Potential Confusion: I have a tendency to confuse people once I start talking about time and dimensional travel in my stories, and I’ve seen agents list ‘no time travel’ in what queries they accept. (However, the last point is negated since I intend to self-publish this particular story. And technically, while some agents might not want time travel, others might. So this bullet revolves entirely on whether or not the incident is confusing to readers and pulls them out of the story.)

2. Potential Loss of Tension: One of the main characters must ‘die’ if the time travel incident remains. The other character goes back in time with the aid of the gods, and they prevent the death of the other character. There are complications that arise once the character returns to the present, but those complications are minimal. Worse, by showing readers that there’s an object that does allow time travel in this particular universe, any future sequences threatening the main characters’ lives is moot, because readers may then wonder why the characters don’t just go back in time and fix it?

3. Unnecessary Plot Point: At this point, the time travel device only allows time travel once in the story. It does do other things, but I could pretty easily remove the time travel incident and chalk up its bizarre powers to other magic.

Possible solutions:

1. Streamline the sequence: Make sure what happens is clear to readers (or is as clear to the readers as it is to the main characters…).

2. Consequences: To avoid loss of tension, I could make sure there are consequences to going back in time. (In this case, I need to make sure those consequences are clear to both character and reader). Also, I could make the complications that arise from time travel a little more immediate. This was actually the case in the original draft, but was removed when I didn’t find a reasonable place to reinsert the point. (And this is a good example of where having fresh eyes to look at a manuscript can be useful, because you might remove an important tidbit without noticing the resulting effects).

3. Increase Relevance: Similar to the point about consequences, if I can better tie in the time travel incident to the main plot, along with making the incident crucial with what’s to follow (along with the irony of the incident regarding the antagonist), the incident shouldn’t feel out of place. Linking the antagonist further into this scene could also improve the overall story.

Besides the reasons I might remove the incident, I’m also considering reasons to keep the incident:

1. Character Development and Increased Tension: We get to see the antagonist step forward to protect one of the main characters– and get a hint as to why, and what she’s willing to do if that character dies (and remains dead). The goal? Tension rises as the character she’s trying to protect risks their life time and time again, because if the antagonist loses said character, all bets are off in regards to what she’s willing to do to achieve her larger goal, and what she isn’t.

2. Magical World Building: We have an explanation of why the ‘time travel device’ reacts a certain way to the bad guys later. Cause and effect comes into play, and the world gets a little more exploration. And we get to see more of the various character relationships.

3. Time Travel Is Cool: I like time travel and dimensional world travel. I know, that’s not a good excuse. But really… we’ll get to see the effects of time travel first-hand in the story. We don’t just hear about it from a side character.

4. Paradoxes! Or so the characters think…: The incident sets up tension between the antagonist and protagonist, because the protagonist knows who the antagonist is but doesn’t know how they got there…

This is a case where beta readers will come in handy. They’ll help decide if the time travel plot point should be removed altogether (requiring a light restructuring of the plot), or whether the plot point works. For now, (thanks in part to having a friend enthralled by the backstory of the antagonist), I’m going to keep the incident.

So… onward to editing, and I hope you enjoyed this post. Let me know what you think, and please let me know if there’s any topics you’d like me to cover. 🙂


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Thoughts on Writing – Creating Fantasy Languages

One of the topics I’ve been thinking about recently is creating fantasy languages. Reason being, I’m creating a language for use in my YA fantasy manuscript, The Wishing Blade. Now, in the original draft (and even across several drafts for different books in that world), I only had a handful of made-up words sprinkled into the story to give it flavor. This time, however, the use of the language system suddenly had a reason to shine– I actually intended to show ‘word magic,’ one of the magic systems in my Cirena stories coming from the Cantingen Islands. Suffice it to say, creating a language has been fun, if not a bit difficult.

When I attended ConQuest, one of the panels I attended was about creating alien languages. Some of the topics in the panel included: deciding how in-depth you wanted the language to be– do you want to have a word here and there, or will there be full sentences in this language? How does it look? How does it sound to the ear? Might it have odd sounds (like clicks) that you might not normally read? Do you base your new language off of a current language, and if so, how do you change the language to fit the needs of your story? For example, does a word or phrase mean something now that it doesn’t mean in the future where your story takes place?

All of this is food for thought and can be applied to a fantasy language of your creation. For example, I like the idea that language changes over time. We can portray this in our stories. An example of this in The Wishing Blade is the name of a town, Shuhritan Fritarando. Which no one says because it’s ridiculously long. Most characters, unless they happen to be upper class or a particular linguist (I’m debating on my word mage correcting my main characters about the city’s name), are simply going to call the town Shu Frit. It gets even more fun, because the full name isn’t entirely exact. Shuhritan is an ancient Cantingen word for ‘male royalty’ or ‘king.’ Fritarando translates to ‘small male kin.’ Which could mean nephew, cousin, son, etc., but in this instance refers to ‘son.’ Shu Frit becomes ‘Little King’ in the terms of cultural history, even though neither word actually means that. It’s a colloquialism, informal and a pain to translate, but a natural part of how languages evolve.

Of course, this whole explanation may never show up in the story itself (and probably shouldn’t), but it shows how you can play with language to create cultural history in your novel. It’s a way to add flavor.

However, not everyone in my story is going to use such colloquialisms. In the example I gave, the characters are referring to a language that’s outdated. Outside of naming conventions, the language is only used by word mages. Due to the nature of word magic, these mages need to make sure that what they say is exact– or risk the consequences of having a fireball light them on fire instead of their opponent. Pronounciation is key. Which is why, when I went to place all the words and phrases I had thus far into an Excel spreadsheet, I realized that I needed to change one of my words. I had qui meaning ‘as,’ quis meaning ‘good health,’ and ki being an emphasized word that connects an unusual modifying word to what it is modifying. And they were all pronounced like the English ‘key.’

That could get dangerous for a word mage who is trying to say something about ‘good health’ and instead has his word translated to ‘as.’ (As what? Something deadly?)

So I changed qui to li and did a word search in my manuscript to make the changes. Small details, but hopefully fun for anyone who pays attention to the language in the novel. Eventually I want to make symbols that represent each phonetic pronunciation. (Oh, IPA (international phonetic alphabet)… so fun in high school theater).

If you decide to create a language for your story, I highly recommend writing down the words in a spreadsheet and keeping track of your rules. I recently updated my word document of notes into an Excel Spreadsheet. When I did, I saw several potential problems that I went ahead and fixed. Primarily verb conjugations. (Spanish… French… these classes are starting to be rather helpful, even if I never did become a proficient reader of either language). The Cantingen language is supposed to be precise. Repetitive, even. And I really didn’t want to mess with irregular verbs. So I adjusted each verb that I ran across. As long as you know the ending for “I did something” versus “you did something” or “he did something,” you’ll be able to tell who or what the verb refers to. None of this irregular verb mess we commonly deal with in English. In addition, a single add-on to the word will signify if something is past or future.

Is this a simplification?

Oh yeah. Definitely. But I’m not trying to be Tolkien (though I did try to learn Sindarin Elvish several years ago. Didn’t get far, but I got a few words of Enya’s “May It Be” translated into Sindarin beyond what was already translated). My goal is to add flavor to the story, and keep the language consistent.

And maybe try writing a song in pure ancient Cantingen. That would be fun, though that’ll be after I get more words and verbs ironed out. There’s plenty more that can be said about creating languages, but I’ll leave that for a later post. Let me know what you think, and I hope you enjoyed my ramblings. 🙂


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Thoughts on Writing – Writer’s Block

Writer’s block… that pesky concept that makes writing difficult and that everyone loves talking about. How to break writer’s block, how to deny writer’s block…

When it comes to writer’s block, I find that trying to write something, anything, is better than writing nothing at all, because it pushes me to another point in the story. But how to work through ‘writer’s block’ is different for everyone. For plotters, this is where having that outline is handy. You write what’s next on the outline, even if you’re cringing as you write. It might not be as terrible as you think once you go back and take a second look. For pantsers, this is where deviating from what you thought you had planned and saying ‘Forget what’s supposed to happen next. I’m going to write whatever comes to mind.’ comes in handy. It might end up leading you to the break-through you need.

One of the things mentioned at ConQuest was that you can’t always force a novel to do what you want. Having trouble writing a scene can be a sign that what you’re trying to write doesn’t fit the novel you’re writing. On the other hand, one of the most important things I took from my creative writing minor in college was that the difficult scenes we tend to avoid writing can also be the best ones to read. With a little polish (or a lot), these scenes can be fantastic. Or… you might read back through the scene and wonder what you were thinking. This has happened to me, especially in my Distant Horizon manuscript. *Cough.* So you learn from trial and error which scenes are causing difficulty because they’re taking you out of your comfort zone, and which scenes are causing difficulty because they simply don’t fit.

For example, I’ve run into a set of scenes in my current manuscript, The Wishing Blade, which are completely new to the story line. These scenes aren’t in my original manuscript, but with the edits I’ve written, they are necessary to keep the story moving forward. Ultimate goal: The good guys want to stop the bad guys from gaining enough power to attack the gods and successfully plunge the country into shadow. Literal shadow… the bad guys’ magic consumes the mortal realm and thrusts it into a dreary half-dimension where the bad guy have complete control over everyone in it. There are two main characters, Toranih and Daernan, and a goddess has granted them some of her magic in an effort to fight the bad guys. Thing is, Toranih absolutely hates magic and would rather be a swordsman. But she gets caught by the bad guys, turned into a shadow, and she has to deal with resisting the bad guy’s magical commands. Daernan isn’t particularly gifted with weapons, but he’s got a decent skill when it comes to wielding magic, and he’s working with a group of people in an attempt to help refugees escape from a city under siege by the bad guys, all while trying to figure out how to get Toranih out from the shadow realm.

Problem is, in the original version of this story, Daernan thinks Toranih is dead, and there is no one else to help him with magic, so he ran along to the king to warn the country about the attacks and put up a defense at the castle. Now he has different motivations, which I’m trying to sort out before I write the next few scenes. I need to know how much he’s going to do to help save the innocent townspeople, which will help for a time, and at what point will he abandon them to go retrieve a weapon that will defend against the shadows in the long run. As for Toranih, she’s trying to slow the spread of the shadows, but I’ve been having a terrible time trying to get through the scene where she acts against their leader. (Because she’s overconfident and actually thinks she might be able to assassinate him. Yeah– that’s going to work so well).

But every time I sat down to write the scene, I wasn’t sure where to go next. My plotting sort of… stopped.

Then my husband, Isaac, gave me the solution that I needed all along. Toranih doesn’t like magic, but she likes swordplay– which is something the bad guy is good at. In the original version of the story, she’s caught in the shadow realm and forms an uneasy friendship with the bad guy, learning from him as she tries to foil him. In this version I have her trying to assassinate him, but I wanted to have her fail miserably. Unfortunately, I wasn’t sure where to go once her attempt failed and he got her back in line. But when Isaac suggested that she attempts to attack the bad guy, who then casually tosses her one of his swords and more or less starts training with her (much to her confusion), this opened up a whole new possibility. Because now she’s not the moping and following the bad guy around because she’s being magically commanded to. Now she’s having to deal with inner conflict. She can learn quite a bit from the bad guy if she sticks around, and it puts her in a position to be close enough that she might be able to strike him later. However, she still doesn’t like being a shadow, and as long as she’s nearby, he might order her to do something she doesn’t want to do.

Which keeps the story rolling and keeps me interested in writing what happens next.

The whole point of this example is that when you’re stumped, you may want to explore new options, or step back and consider character motivations. Or maybe step in and examine character motivations. For my story, there’s a lot of other stuff happening off-screen that affects the main characters. But if I put too much attention there, the task of writing becomes overwhelming and I forget to focus on the characters who are actually important. So try approaching the scene from a different angle. Stop worrying about what the rest of the story world is doing and write what matters to your main characters. Once you’ve got the rough draft written, then revisit the rest of the world.

That being said… it is entirely possible to be stumped on a scene and to use your procrastination as a tool to get chores done. I think this is how I actually remember to do laundry.

Anyhow, I hope this post was helpful, and please let me know what you think. 🙂

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June 1, 2015 · 8:00 pm