Tuesday, 23 August 2016

My Writing Software

Hello readers, I hope you've all had a productive, blessed week. Except it hasn't been a week since I last posted. I'm not sure how regular my Friday posts will become, but that wasn't meant to just be a one off occurrence.

Anyway, today's topic is writing software. I don't use a heap of software, but I do have three favourites.


1. yWriter

 This is the program I actually write in. It's a little like Scrivener, from what I understand, though less powerful, easier to learn, and best of all, it's free.

The main reason I use it is because it breaks everything up into scenes. Since I often skip around with my writing, it's almost essential. If I were writing straight through it wouldn't be so useful, though being able to find things is always an advantage.

The biggest drawbacks are that it doesn't allow for much formatting and there's no automatic spell checker. There is a spell checker hiding in one of the menu, but I never remember it exists. On the other hand both those things could be considered advantages. There are less distractions while actually writing, and afterwards it's always an option to copy it in MS Word and tidy it up.

Other features include the ability to associate characters, locations and object with each scene.(A feature I sometimes use and sometimes don't.) Also you can mark what kind of scene it is, how long it takes, whether it belongs to the main plot or a sub-plot, what stage of writing it is in and a few other things. I never use that feature though. It takes too long to think about it. Lastly there is a word count feature, that tells me how much I've written that day and how fast I type. That is useful.

You can find it here.

2. Aeon Timeline

This one I only got recently. It's a timeline software designed especially for writers. I use it for plotting and figuring out backstory. It's useful to know exactly when things are happening and doing this also solidifies things, that I have a tendency to leave loose.


There a two basic views. timeline view, which shows all the event in order with their dates, and relationship view, which shows how each event connect with what they call entities. In the default fiction set up, these entities are: arcs, places, and characters. These can have various data entered, including birth and death dates.




Another very useful feature is the customizable calendar. That means anything from changing the names of the days and moths to Italian, to changing the length and number of anything. So it's perfect for fantasy and sci-fi, or for using any historical calendar.

Aeon Timeline isn't free, but it does have a twenty-five day trial and there was a discount offered with Camp NaNoWriMo. Once I'd tried it, I didn't want to try to manage without it and bought it pretty quickly instead of asking for it as a birthday present in a month. So be warned. It's a handy tool, but if you're to willing pay the $40 or so, don't try it.


3. My Family Tree by Chronoplex

I didn't initially get this for writing, and don't use it for everything, but it can be useful. Lady of Courage has a whole lot of interconnected noble families and the family tree just makes it so much easier to visualize. Many of the connections were actually formed while making the tree, because I like to be able to stick everyone in. And that's given me some interesting dynamics. 


It is by no means the only family tree program out there, or even the most powerful one. I know because I've tried a lot. But it has a good visual display and all the features that are necessary for the amount of detail needed for fiction.. It's easy to use, has a few cool features such as a tool for calculating how people are related and various reports. 

There is more than one viewing option and other options about who is shown. Another really handy feature is that you can add unrelated people and have more than one tree in the same file. That is particularly useful for writing.

While writing this I looked up to find the website for the software and discovered that a new version was released just two days ago. I've tried it and it has improved. So if you write or read books that have any kind of complex family in them, this might be useful. (The very first thing I ever made a family tree for was the Elsie Dinsmore books, and I haven't stopped, though I've never dealt with anything so big and complex since, even with my own family.) You can get it free here.
And that is that. In case anyone was wondering I am not getting paid for talking about any of these and all opinions expressed were my own. I hope this information will be useful to someone.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Beautiful People: Nylf the Slightly Handsome

So, I had trouble choosing a character for Beautiful People this time. Probably because it was external beauty or lack thereof, that it focuses on this month. I've already done most of the characters that are that significant. So I thought I'd do the character who goes by Nylf, despite the fact his looks aren't that important.

As I begun, I realized I've never done Aydel, my heroine and that it would work well for her, but the character development is good for Nylf. Even though it's mostly externals, He's a very important character, but sometimes a little awkward to explain. This way I don't need to worry about keeping secrets.




Give a brief overview of their looks. 

Straight dirt coloured hair, it's short to begin with but he doesn't really cut it over the course of the book. He does keep it tidy and shave though. Quite pale skin, though it is reddened by sun and wind, greenish-brown eyes. He has a open, friendly, teasing look about him. And he's young, early twenties.

Share a snippet that involves description of their appearance.

Skin and hair contrast ought to be higher.
'As they came into sight, their voices died away. Probably realizing there was a chance they could be heard. They weren't dressed in the usual soldier uniforms but soft forest colours instead. One was tall with hair slightly darker than hers in stark contrast to his pale face. Even paler than Leisa's. 

What is the first thing people might notice about them?

That's he's very quiet and good at blending in. And that they should have seen him before. Other than the fact he's rather good at sneaking up and vanishing, it would probably be his height and his easy way of standing. And probably the hair/skin contrast.
What are their unique features? (Ex: freckles, big ears, birthmark, scars, etc.)

He's actually pretty ordinary. No scars in places that are regularly visible, His ears do stick out a little though and he's got common, random skin imperfections.

How tall are they? What is their build?

Pretty tall, a little over 6'. He's got a long distance runner's build.('cause he actually is a long distance runner) So not overly muscular.

What is their posture like? How do they usually carry themselves?

He tends to stand in a lazy yet controlled manner. He walks and runs quite purposefully unless he doesn't want to be seen in which case he kind of slinks along quietly.

Your character has been seen on a “lazy day” (free from usual routine/expectations): what are they wearing and how do they look?

He'd actually kind of look rather like that picture, slightly dishevelled. Clothes would be shirt, trousers and possibly a vest and/or wide belt. It depends on exactly how lazy he's feeling and who is around.

Do they wear glasses, accessories, or jewelry on a regular basis? Do they have any article of clothing or accessory that could be considered their trademark?

He always has a knife or two about him and a small leather satchel. A rope hung from his belt or over his shoulder is common.

Have they ever been bullied or shamed because of their looks? Explain!

No. Because of his manners and actions, yes, but not his looks.

Are they happy with how they look? If they could change anything about their appearance, what would it be?

Perhaps he'd like to be more handsome. But also more ordinary. Being pale with dark hair can stand out at times. And if you could change his appearance more dramatically, he could be a completely different person. That could be useful, since a few too many people know him.

And that is that.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Writing is Not My Highest Priority

Just what the title says. It isn't. It might not even make the top five.

Hello readers, I've noticed on occasion people talking about how you need to make writing a priority if you want to actually get anywhere. And sometimes my writing gets shoved away by many things. But that is not a bad thing and I'm going to tell you why.



The first thing is to be expected. As a Christian I try to put God before everything else. That's what everyone would expect. And I must set aside time to spent with my creator and redeemer. And of course my family comes before writing. But that doesn't just mean spending time reading the Scriptures and talking with God, or spending a bit of time with my family every day. It means much more than that.

If I felt that God had something for me to do that stopped me from writing, I hope I would stop. I certainly do for short periods of time. Things with my family might mean a holiday on which I don't have time to write. It might mean spending days working in the garden or building.  It includes the work I do in our family business. There are times I'll put writing before that I admit, but only sometimes. Besides I certainly will never be able to afford anything like writing software or conferences if I don't work.

And then there are just other interest I have. I might spend a few days researching how to dye fabric. I might spend a week or two sewing a skirt or dress. (I probably will even give you photos when I'm done.) Or I might decide to do a free course on biochemistry or some other subject of interest. I think those other passions come from God as much as the writing does. I'm not going to put them aside just so I can finish a book.

So sometimes I might drop writing for a few weeks, or work on it very slowly. Because in the end I want to serve God and writing isn't the only way I can do that. I have no intention of dropping it entirely now. I want to finish my stories. I want to come up with more to write. And I mostly likely will.

However, if an opportunity to do some kind of missions work or outreach I wouldn't let my desire to write stop me. Not because that's necessarily better than writing, just because I wouldn't resist adventure, the chance to do something new. Or when I someday have a family of my own, i may have to drop my writing, to properly serve them. Especially if we're involved in the kind of things I think I'd like to be involved in. God has so many things we can do. I don't want to just stick to one. There are things I'd drop writing for. Maybe not forever, but quite probably for a long time. I'm a person, before I'm a writer.

And in case you're wondering, I haven't written a lot in the last two weeks. I editing my first chapter and actually sent it to a few people for feedback. That was a big first for me. And overall it was a good experience. Now I can't decide whether to try and finishes rewritten the whole thing, or try and edit it more at the beginning. The first choice would probably be smarter, since I'll probably just end up changing anything I do at the beginning. But I want it to be read and I do want it to be edited. I'm certainly not stuck, possibly just a bit burnt out from Camp NaNo. I did 25,000 words, without difficulty and without putting my blog on hold, I know I can write a lot if I put my mind to it. But right now I haven't. I think I need the accountability.

How about you? What do you put before writing and how is it going at the moment? I'd love to know.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Song of the Sword Review

This post was supposed to be up a few days ago, but life happened and I forgot about it. That's the trouble with putting things of 'til the last minute.

 But better late than never. Here it is Song of the Sword, a Rapunzel retelling.



Welcome to the launch of Song of the Sword, the second novella in the Legends of Light series! Although the history of Aslaria and the conflict between the Prince and the rebel, Tauscher,flows chronologically though the series, each novella is a stand-alone retelling of a favorite fairytale. Each story in this nine novella series focuses on one of the nine aspects of the Fruit of the Spirit while also retelling popular fairy tales in a clean, exciting, and inspiring manner.


A glittering sword.

An ancient oath.

A blackened rose.

And a melody which ties it all together.

Evrard and Roinette, twins separated at birth, are caught in a battle beyond their own limited powers. With their ability to walk in the melody realm, catching glimpses of the light and darkness underlying Aslaria, comes even more danger.

Deadly mistbenders. Writhing walls of blankness. Hateful drumbeats. As a warrior in the Melody, Evrard has seen it all. But his own ability in the melody realm pales in comparison to the Prince’s melody, the legendary prowess of past Wingmasters, and even the depth of his sister’s song.

To rescue Roinette and evade the trap almost certainly set for him by those who want his power, Evrard knows he’ll have to be careful. Even if he can find the Wingmaster’s sword, there’s no assurance he’ll be able to defeat a mistbender on his own. In the end, will his and Roinette’s efforts matter if the Prince brings an ancient oath to fulfillment, shaking the very foundation of Aslaria?

Available on Kindle, iTunes, and Smashwords

Add it on Goodreads


Review

I found this book intriguing. It's quite a different take on Rapunzel. But it's still recognizable, certainly more so than my own Rapunzel inspired story. The whole idea of there being an invisible realm made of song is fascinating, I think it's a way of visualizing spiritual forces. 
This story is about find joy and courage in Christ rather than ourselves. That is the power of the song.
The characters were well developed. Roinette is full of joy despite all that has happened in her life. She is not the person to complain about captivity. She'd reasonable and kind. Evrard is one of those heroes who doubts his own position. And with good reason. He has weaknesses that are realistic. And they both have close friends who provided advice, company and humour.
The plot is good. I could not see a whole in it anywhere. There were no spots were the character was too stupid to live. Everything makes sense. I appreciate that.
Anyway I highly recommend this book. Yuo should read it.

About the Author


Hope Ann is a Christian authoress who lives on a small farm in northern Indiana. She was homeschooled and now helps teach several of her eight younger siblings.

She has been writing for over five years, and has so many story ideas that she doubts she will ever stop. Her favorite genre to write is high fantasy with a touch of the allegorical. A close second is futuristic suspense. Her goal is to not only entertain with her stories, but to provide inspirational fiction for young adults.

Predictably, she loves reading fantasy, fairy tales, mythology, and futuristic suspense. Her favorite authors include J. R. R. Tolkien, Charles Dickens, Frank Peretti, Mark Twain, and Serena Chase. (who is cool)

Her hobbies include photography, movie making, knitting, tree climbing, writing e-mails to friends, listening to Celtic music, and collecting shiny trinkets for story inspiration.

You can visit Hope’s blog at authorhopeann.com, or follow her on Facebook, PinterestInstagram, or Twitter.



Interview

I didn't do a long interview, just a three questions.


Which is your favourite part of the writing process?

The inspiration process is definitely my favorite parts of writing. The ahhhh moments, when everything fits together. They don’t come very often, but when they do it is so exhilarating and makes the hours of pounding my head against the wall worth it.

Especially when everything still fits together in a few days time.

Which of your characters (from any book) do you find most intriguing?

Well, there are a number intriguing characters, but currently I’d probably have to say Jasper from my Scarlet Rose trilogy. Which may be a funny choice because I barely have him in the first book (the only one I’ve written a rough draft on) but his backstory and the emotions which surround his later story…I’m looking forward to writing it.

I'm looking forward to reading it. It's futuristic suspense, which I too enjoy from time to time.
One bit of advice for prospective authors?

Read a lot. Read authors you love, but also read a mix of various other genres. Learn what good writing looks like. Figure out how other authors draw out your emotions and write compelling stories. Or critique what they could have done better (this becomes second nature after a while, whether you like it or not). You can learn a lot just by reading. Besides, then you get to call your pile of to-be-read books ‘research’. *smirks*


Giveaway!!! 

Hope is giving away a beautiful, one-of- a-kind mug with the Legends of Light logo emblazoned on its side, along with a Song of the Sword bookmark. Due to shipping costs, at this time the mug giveaway is limited to the USA. However, She does have a second giveaway of a $10 Amazon gift card, along with another Song of the Sword bookmark, for international readers! Please only enter one of the giveaways.










I hope you like this. Next week my blog should be back to normal. No more telling talking about other people books. Well at least I haven't planned any of that for any-time soon.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Lady Dragon, Tela Du Cover Reveal

Yes, we've finally come to the end of Bookania. There will not be any more until the next time. And I don't know when the next time will be. Instead I'm showing you the other thing Kendra had been working on: the cover for Lady Dragon, Tela Du, Book 2 of The Rizkaland Legends. The book I've been beta reading, the twisty book. I believe I've mentioned it before. It's good. Well what I've read so far has been and I'm pretty certain it will continue.



~About the book~


~~~
Two girls with one face

Two girls with twisted fate

One in purple, one in red
One shall speak the other’s death
Who shall win their final war?
Lady Dragon or Tela Du?


Amber, the Lady Dragon, has been promised a fifty-year reign over Rizkaland and nothing can stop her from claiming it. But when you've lived six thousand years, fifty is such a pitiful number. Only one person can keep her from making this reign permanent - the Tela Du, a girl who shall share Amber's face.

The last thing Petra wants is a magical world interrupting her plans for a normal life, let alone an ultimate battle against the Lady Dragon with only one prophesied survivor. She has her childhood best friend, Reuben, at her side, but she's not sure if he's more of a help or a hindrance right now. Though she'd much prefer to just return home and forget about this whole crazy affair, things change when she discovers that the world has surprising connections to her own family - including her sister who disappeared without a trace two years before. Still, Rizkaland can't possibly expect her to risk her very life, can it?
~~~

Well it seems that Rizkaland does ask it. And that matters are even more twisted than hinted at there. At three fifths through the book I have no idea how it's going to play out. But I'm sure she couldn't do it without Reuben. She needs his optimism to balance her and his love to calm her down. Even when he's the cause of the annoyance. Besides it would have been awkward if he hadn't been there. How could she explain that she went to a fantasy world without him, when he's the one who reads books about them?

And now we have another picture Kendra has a huge collection of pictures for the series. 
Let's see what she has to say about this one.

~~~
One of my blogging friends has a link-up known as “Quote Queste” where you write a bit of flash fiction based on a quote of her choice. I had already pinned this particular quote when she chose it one month, so I knew I had to write one with Laura and Petra. The scene did get into the book, though it played out a little bit differently.

~~~


~Interview~

I got to do a mini interview with Kendra, Petra and Amber. This was the question I put to them: If you could change one thing in your past what would it be?

Kendra: I'm not really sure. While there are a lot of things in my life that I regret, I'm not sure what elements I could change that wouldn't take away the things I don't regret. Maybe my dad not losing his job so many times... or no. I made a small business mistake in the early days of my publication that has cost me very dearly financially, and I wish very much that I could go back and fix it. 

Petra: Not have my sisters disappear and everyone else forget about them. And Reuben's brother, while I'm at it.

Amber: When you live six thousand years, you gain many regrets. There is no one thing that I wish I could change ... but in six thousand years, you also learn that it's pointless to worry over those changes. Instead you must learn to make the best of them for a better tomorrow.

             Or a worse tomorrow. Amber's view of better isn't the same as mine. What's better for her isn't always good for other people. She is an extremely interesting nuanced villain. And slightly insane. Also very dangerous. Among many other things, she has the ability to turn people into statues of ice. And it's summer time so they melt. But if that isn't quick enough she can always turn into a dragon and use fire. Yes, the Lady Dragon.


~The Cover~





Isn't it lovely? All purple and red and amber. Or is the background gold? I'm not completely certain myself. I think amber is a slightly darker, richer colour. On the other hand Amber's colour is red. And Petra's is purple as you can see below.



Actually that's Kendra and it's more of a blue. But Petra and Amber both look a bit like that, so it will work well enough. Except in my mind Petra looks like this pin. But she should have glasses. Reuben has glasses too. And so do I, despite the lack of them in my picture.

And just in case you were still unaware of exactly who Kendra is, we have this lovely bit of writing:

~~~
Kendra E. Ardnek is a homeschool graduate who picked up a pen at an early age and never put it down. The eldest of four, she makes her home in the Piney Woods of East Texas with her parents, younger siblings, giant herd of giraffes, and honor guard of nutcrackers. 
~~~

From what I understand the giraffes are in general, no bigger than the nutcrackers.

You can find Kendra at her blog and she also has an official website.

Lady Dragon, Tela Du will be coming in out in October I believe. That's two months. Which might sound like a while to wait but it will go very quickly. 
Meanwhile you can add it on Goodreads, preorder it on Amazon and if you haven't read Water Princess, Fire Prince yet, check it out. The ebook is free today. 
Also read the snippet below and the first chapter here.

The cover design was done by Kendra's cousin Benjamin Ingalls 
https://www.behance.net/BenjaminIngalls


~Snippet~

"We shall see if your words are true," said Laura, taking a step backward. The Hall rumbled, and from the floor where the Doorkeeper had stood rose a red table. Its top opened to reveal two knives, one with a blade of jade, the other of jasper.

"These are the only weapons that can pierce the immortality that shields your parents," Laura explained. "Step forth and take them up."

Amber let go of Granite's hand as they both instinctively stepped to opposite sides of the table, and did as Laura bid. Amber took the jade knife, Granite, the jasper.

"But before they can claim your parents lives, they must taste your blood, that your bond may be formed," Laura continued.

Amber gave a small gasp and glanced at Laura in a slight panic. "Blood magic? But you forbid my experimentation with this foul art!"

"Experimentation, yes, but this is no experiment," Laura answered, her voice suddenly heavy.


This is a very interesting snippet. It's actually from back thousands of years before when Amber was once good. Now she is immortal and is going to be killed. There's a connection there. I'm looking forward to finding out exactly how it ties together.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Bookania Interview with Robert



So today I have another Bookania interview for you. No I didn't get to do two. My brother who prefers not to disclose his name, is interviewing Prince Robert of Locksley. So he has a story. Enjoy.


Today I shall tell you all the tale of a time I met with with a prince named Robert, and what he told me that day.
'Once upon a time in a land called Bookania, in the country named Locksely, two men sat before the hearth in a small cabin. I, Aposhipolepo, traveller of a thousand lands, turned from staring at the mantel piece to the young man who had just sat down across the table, "Welcome Prince Robert, " I greeted him, "what is your opinion of your position as the heir to the Locksely throne?"

"Government is a responsibility not to be taken lightly," the prince replied, "Locksley is a larger country in Bookania, which means that I will someday hold a lot of power and sway. No sane person desires power, but I have every intention of doing my best with what is given to me and ruling my people to the best of my abilities."

"Prince Robert, is there anything you see as in need of improving in Locksely?"

"My father, and great-grandfather before him, have been good kings who have governed our people well. I'm sure there's always room for improvement, but really, I just hope that I can live up to them."

"Are there any changes you foresee in the politics of Bookania? I would think the awakened royals from a century ago must effect the situation?"

"It has been interesting. The biggest change, so far, has been Briton, Fronce and Englund, though Kendra tells me that I can't tell you what happened in Fronce and Englund. Kendra also says that we can expect some changes in Normandy and parts of Winthrop soon, but she won't give me details on what."

"That sounds very intriguing, authors are very secretive people. What is your opinion on whether your sister will make a good queen when it comes time for her and Eric to take Winthrop's throne?"

"I don't think she'd make a bad queen, but ... they're hoping that Lukas can be found before that time comes so he can take the throne instead."

"If I understand correctly you are the best tapestry maker in Bookania as well as being gifted in the organic, what skills does that give you that you know of?"

"Um, archery for one, and handwriting, apparently, if I'm using a quill. Also, and I'm not sure on this one, falconry. I could also probably do gardening, but I've never attempted that."

"I heard that Robin Hood was not completely impressed at your skill with archery. What is one of your greatest regrets about your past choices?"

"Robin Hood was impressed with my archery, he was just joking because of how fast I had picked it up. Uh, biggest regret... I don't really have any regrets, I've lived a good life, but I guess, if I have to name something, the fact that I spent so much of life trying to organize Robin. I mean, yes, she's disorganized, but she also had servants to attend to her, and I could have spent all of that time on things that I wanted to pursue."

"May you continue without regrets all your days. Robert, would you please tell me your full name and title? I am not certain that I have heard it all together."

"Prince Robert Michael of Locksley, and that's all. I'm told that names and titles tended to be more pretentious before the Change."

"I personally think that simple names are best. Thank you for your time, I am sure you have useful things to occupy your time other than talking to me"

"Thank you for having me. It was no problem. Rulers should devote time talking to the common people."

And with that we rose and I saluted him before escorting him out the door.
And that is all I shall at this time tell you about the occasion the prince of Locksely came to my house.'

And that was that. I found it quite entertaining and informative. Robert is one of Kendra's quieter characters. Quite the opposite of his twin sister Robin.

Head over to Kendra's blog to see the most recent posts for the party.Also Tears, Frogs and Laughter and  CinderEddy are still free for a few more days. Even though neither of them have  Robert they're still fun. I especially recommend CinderEddy.