Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Books as Rooms Challenge

Hello friends,

Hope Ann tagged me for a writing challenge that Writefury started. I had said someone might tag me and this looks like a very fun one.
I, not paying attention, went and made my own tag graphic.

Rules:

  1. Link back to Writefury and the person who tagged you. 
  2. Write 3 of your own books as rooms. They can be finished, works in progress, or even just ideas, but they have to be your own. 
  3. Write 1 of your favorite books to read as a room. 
  4. Tag 5 other people.
At least, that’s the basic idea. It seems that these are actually guidelines, more than the way it must be done. But I´ll try to follow it anyway.

My Books:

Girl of the Rumours

An old, low broken down room of wood and stone. There are cloth wall hangings that may have been bright jewel tones once, but are now dingy and torn. A single oil lamps burns brightly on a table in the center of the room, illuminating a jeweled knife and a silver necklace. Sacks sit in the shadows of one corner, low bench seats in another. And around the window openings, vines are creeping in.


Lady of Courage


An enormous paneled room with a vaulted ceiling and a set of ornate, curving staircases opening onto a platform at one end. In the centre of the carpeted floor is a massive oval table surrounded by silk upholstered chairs. The table is covered by maps, papers and writing implements, with small lit globes at intervals. The rest of the room is occupied with small clusters of chairs and a few small tables. Along the walls are curtained alcoves and door ways with magnificent paintings hung in between them. At the opposite end to the stairs is an gigantic clock.

A Maretegna Mystery (something I may write one day; this is not the title)

A small room with wooden slat walls. At one end is a kitchen with neatly stacked dishes, bins of food in a corner and a brightly burning fire with an pot bubbling away over it. At the other end is a table with odds and ends laid out over it along with small neatly written notes. Chairs sit askew around it and underneath a doll rests against a crude wooden horse.


Not My Book:

The Victor by Patricia St. John

A dark, one-room hut with a dim oil lamp sitting on the floor. To one side there is a sleeping mat, to the other a fishing net. A few bloody shards of pottery lie scattered around.

And now I tag people. this is when I wish I had more blogging friends. So I'll tag some people who don't know me so well, along with a few who do.

Victoria Grace Howell


And if I forgot anyone and you want to do it, please consider yourselves tagged.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

5 Responsibilities of Christian Writers

Hello friends,

Here is one of the more serious posts I've been promising. It's something I've been thinking about for a while and bounced some of the points off my friend Kendra several weeks back. And speaking of Kendra she's still looking for a few more people for her blog tour of Lady Dragon Tela Du in a months time. It's an awesome book. Head over here or click the button on the side bar, if you're interested. Now, onto the points.


As Christians and writers we have a great responsibility. We are writing things we hope will be read by people and have an impact on them. We are trying to affect people's minds. Or even if some of your aren't trying, it's impossible to avoid. If you don't want to affect people, perhaps you should make pizzas instead. But one of my points still applies to Christan pizza makers so keep reading.

We must not portray evil as good

This one looks pretty clear. We must not redefine morality. We cannot portray murder or theft as good. (Though we might explore some dilemmas around those crimes.)

But actually how to do it can be trickier. I think it can slip in more subtly. For example, if there are not suitable consequences for evil, we make the line less clear. What the consequences are, whether or not to show mercy, are of course left up to the author of each individual story to figure out. They may be natural consequences.

But if your protagonist does wrong, it must be made right. It cannot be ignored, or else it may appear to be okay. Even if your protagonist is truly trying to do the right thing and is boxed in between two bad choices, there must be some consequence.

However those situations are often not realistic and can be constructed for the express purpose of making writing look right. Don't do that. Perhaps give them a difficult, hard to see third option. Or perhaps let them realize that this other choice was there later, and that they did the wrong thing. And have a consequence.

Also 'evil' is broader than we may think. This is somewhere many of us may blur lines. Disrespecting parent, being unkind, being lazy, simply thinking bad thoughts are all wrong. Yes, these things will happen in our books, unless we're writing about perfectly perfect people (=boring). But we shouldn't normalize them as being okay.

We must reflect God's reality

This point is an extension of the one above. Some stories are just a superficial shadow of the way God made the world. They ignore the big things of the world. Yes, seemingly trivial things can be important to individuals, but it is not the purpose of life to simply eat, drink and watch movies, or even make enough money to live. God created us for a purpose, a battle between good and evil is going on. Please show some of that. It can be on a personal level or a worldwide conflict, but show it.

We should portray love, mercy, justice and other abstract concepts accurately. Also good character traits, such as courage, honesty and humility. These things are not always understood by the world. Courage is not the absence of fear, but doing what's right despite it. (Okay, so that might be a well understood concept, but my point still stands.)

We should show relationships accurately. Siblings can and should get along well, teenagers don't have to be rebels, friends can have a bad influence and sometimes it's selfish to tell a person that you love them. Marriage isn't just about 'love' and having another person to make you happy, it's also about commitment, and working together. And marriage doesn't doesn't instantly turn you into a better person. (So I've heard, I have no experience in that.) So don't show it that way. Show some examples of how things should be, and don't do what never really happens. (This will also make your story more relate-able and therefore better.)

And we should portray God accurately overall. Not everyone has to see him that way in your story, but God is not evil, he is in control and he doesn't change. We shouldn't try to say otherwise.

We must spur people to action, not distract them

This was the point I got the post idea from. I was thinking about how people get very caught up in books at times. But though reading a book can be thought provoking or relaxing it is not entirely productive. 

If we create a world that readers like better than the real world and it pushed them to make a difference and improve our world, that is a success. But if instead they wish they lived in that other world and spend all there spare time dreaming about it and reading your books that is a failure.

The same applies to characters. If people wish they were more like your character is good qualities and are inspired and encouraged, that is a success. But if they wish they were actually that person in that position and do nothing that is a failure. If someone wished they were your heroine just because the hero is amazing there's a problem.

This might be off the overall topic, but there is a talk by Anna Sophia and Elizabeth Botkin called Jane Austen and Vampires. It's about what girls read. And they said, quoting very roughly, "If your life is boring and you feel the need to escape into books, maybe the thing that's missing is you doing things in it." And we want people doing things in theirs lives not just reading our books.

So even though we want our books to be engaging, we need to be careful to not trap people in them. God should be the centre of people lives, not anything we have written.

We must point people to God

Making people happy or moral without pointing them to God isn't doing them any good in the end. Even if we're writing a book that doesn't clearly mention God, doesn't have someone come to faith, or isn't about a believer, we can still do this. Even if we don't give the answer, the question must still be asked. Show people that there's more to life than what can be seen. Make them realize the emptiness of life without God. Give them a bit of hope, something to make them search. And trust God.

Or if you are writing for Christians, then you should certainly show God. Remind them of things they might have forgotten. Encourage them and build them up.

We must follow God in our lives

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.- 1 Corinthians 10:31
Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as to the Lord, and not to men. - Colossians 3:23
Being a Christian doesn't just impact what we write. It impacts how we live. Follow the Lord with all your heart and mind and soul and strength. Love his words. Read all of it. Think about it obey it. And it will affect your life. 

We need to be a follower of Christ when we talk to a publisher, buy stationery,  and deal with interruptions. And we must be ready to follow him wherever he leads. We may be writers, but that doesn't mean God won't call us to do others things. In fact most of us do.

Conclusion

And that is what I call a serious post. I hope this is useful to someone. I know writing it down has helped me. You may think that I had more than five reasons or that I could have grouped them into less. I completely agree. That's why I didn't number them.

I'll be back next week with something. I don't know what yet. Perhaps someone will inspire me. Perhaps I'll see some tag floating around and steal it. Or perhaps I'll come up with something at the last moment out of desperation. (Yes, that is where many of my posts come from. This post is an exception by being written the day before. I'd like that to become the new rule though. It's less stressful the day before and stress is bad.)

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Beautiful People: Wil is NOT a knight

It's this time of the month again. Beautiful People with Cait and Skye. If you want to check out what other people have done click on the picture.


Today I'm telling you about Wil from Girl of the Rumours. He is often called Blue Wil, to distinguish him from anyone else who might have that name. Other names are Sir Wil and Preacher Wil. He says they're both wrong. He is certainly not a knight And his full name might be Wilothi, a name my little brother helped me invent, which once belonged to another character.

Now onto the questions.

How did you come up with this character?



I thought Nylf needed a friend, a sidekick of sorts. I filled in a few basics, Took a leftover first name from one place and a last name from another. decided to give him the colour blue as a reference to Will Scarlet. (Robin Hood is also where Arthen Stute's last name came from, though it initially belonged to someone else.) And then my subconscious took over and came up with a fascinating backstory, He doesn't even like Nylf anymore. I don't even remember how it happened.

Have they ever been starving? Why? And what did they eat to break the fast?

Probably yes. When you live out in the jungle with no fixed occupation and others relying on you, sometimes you have to go hungry. And a likely food would be a tapeti (rabbit).

Do they have a talent or skill that they’re proud of?

He's good at hunting, the roundup and making shoes.

List 3 things that would make them lose their temper.

Wil doesn't tend to lose his temper. But if someone repeatably did something he'd asked them not to he would. Also if someone did something Wil thought was completely unjust and claimed the problem was with Wil's moral code, well I'm glad I wasn't around that day. And he has a tendency to beat himself up over what he should have done.

What is their favourite type of weather? Least favorite?

Cloudy days are good. Torrential rain is bad.

What is their MBTI personality?

I'm not quite sure. Wil is trying to ignore bits of his life and not get involved with other people though that would be more natural to him. Right now I'm thinking ISTJ. It fits with the even temper. Yesterday I said ISTP, and a few days before I was considering the possibility of him being an INFJ.

Are they more likely to worry about present problems, or freak out about the unknown future?

Probably present problems. Wil isn't a worrier in general.

What is their favourite thing to drink?

Chocolate? I haven't thought about drinks at all in my world building.

What is their favourite color? Least favorite?

Favourite is blue. He has gotten his nickname for a reason. And he has a distaste for yellow and black together. And the colour white. It's impractical and shows up dirt, or blood far too well.

What is a book that changed their life?

The Bible. But that's a long story. Even I don't know it all.


Now it's just so happens that it's my birthday today. So I'll be nice and share a snippet. In fact the first bit with Wil in it.

  "Listen," Wil leaned forward and a beam of light fell across gold brown hair. "Mirfwoods isn't a good place for young ladies to be around, Lass Aydel. If what Nylf has told you is true you should find someone of good status who can take you to Verlis. I-" He hesitated a moment. "Elind and I would even take you to Noble Linsti if you want."
  "Noble Linsti!" Aydel spat out. "Are you mad? He's the last person I could trust. Arthen and my parents are working for him. He doesn't care about any of you. All he wants is  an opportunity to gain power over Verlis."
  Wil frowned. "Perhaps he doesn't care as much as he should but I'm sure it isn't as bad as all that. He is honour bound as a noble, to help another noble's daughter. Nylf and the sort who you'd find hanging around Mirfwoods, don't have that honour. They'll do what is to their advantage. It might be to yours, it might not."
  "So you don't trust him." Aydel glared across at Wil. "Well I don't trust you, so that makes two of us. But despite that fact I will still allow you to escort me to Mirfwoods if you will."
  "And if I won't?"
  "Then I'll ask around and find it myself. I'm resourceful. But I would be much happier to have someone else who Nylf must trust at least a little."
  Wil sighed. "Very well, Elind and I will take you there, Lady Adlayda." He gave a deep bow.
 Don't forget you can make guesses in my character name perception game until the end of the month. I'd appreciate getting as much feedback as possible.

Also I'm wondering if anyone noticed what fact about Wil I left out.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Game: How do names affect our perception of characters?

Hello friends,

I have a serious post in the works, but it's not coming as quick as I'd like. So while that's not happening i thought I'd do a little experiment. Sometimes characters have a especially villainous or heroic name. Other times they're more subtle. And I was wondering just how much effect they have on perception of character.

Speaking personally, I tend to carry on traits between characters with the same name. I think I even start imagining some similarities that aren't really there. And when they are similar, well, Marcus shall always mean soldier and protector in my mind, because of several characters with those traits.



Anyway I wanted to see what you all thought of the names I have in Lady of Courage. There are a couple of villains in the book and there are a few especially noble people including the one who ends up marrying Natalia, my heroine.

So I'll give you a list and in the comment you can tell me who you think the villains are and who the hero is. Feel free to add any other comments about them if you like.

Celino Acqui                  Justini Rizzetti             Demetrio Pavone

Taddio Orberti               Lorenzo Falco                    Luca Mondo

Orsini Rizzetti                    Ivano Naldi                Rodrigo Baldini 


Also there is a female antagonist. Guess who that is?

Eloisa Muertas                Rhesa Masi                  Valentina Orberti

Rubina Falco                Cloe Neroni                   Bettina Baldini


And in case you hadn't noticed the names have an Italian feel to them. But you had noticed because you're all smart people and I made it kind of obvious. And the women do not change their last names when they marry, so if people have the same last name don't assume they're husband and wife.

I'm looking forward to telling you bits and pieces about these people in the future. Some more than others, because of secrets and the fact that some are more significant than others. To keep those secrets for now, I'm not going to tell you what the right answers are. But I will give you all points for correct guesses of any sort and announce them at the end of the month. And I'll add one extra question; who do you think dies?



Tuesday, 30 August 2016

August Wrap-up and Future Plans

I've never actually done a wrap up post except for when I've done Camp NaNo. I may never do one again. But this time I am.



My writing has been quite slow this month, but I've made a bit of progress. Girl of the Rumours is now sitting on 42,000 and has somewhere around a third to go. I'm not quite sure about the pacing yet. so that could change things. My goal is to roughly finish this draft by the end of the month, so that I can prepare for NaNoWriMo the next month. As for how that will go, I really have no idea.

This month I took the bold step of giving my first chapter to a couple of writer friends for feedback. It was mostly encouraging. One person found my main character a bit annoying and immature, which I was afraid of, so I know I need to do some fixing there. The other reader seemed to connect with her fairly well though. And I now know a few other ways I need to tweak my characters to make them across right.

The marking are hardly visible to the camera.
One of the best parts was actually getting mailed  a printed copy of the chapter covered with red pen marks. Calling that good might sound strange, but it really was. Firstly, some of the marking were really positive. Secondly, I knew it was far from perfect and I got to see what improvements another pair of eyes can make. I'm less worried about it being badly written, editing will improve it. And there wasn't really a huge number of marks. Just looking at it again I can see other improvements.

There's a chance I'll be looking for beta readers in February. But that really depends on how much time I spend on other projects. I had hoped to have Lady of Courage at least half written by now, but I hadn't planned on doing all these rewrites. And my NaNoWriMo project could flow on into December if it goes well, but isn't short.

Now that come to the question of what I'm doing for NaNoWriMo. Joane, from Girl of the Rumours, had caught my attention so much I decided I needed a sequel to continue her story. Once I got that idea into my head, I came up with other reasons a sequel is needed. So that's what I'm hoping to do and that's why I've had to do these rewrites. It's hard to write a sequel if the first book hasn't got a certain ending.

Another thing that might slow my writing down is my sewing. I'm making a fancy dress which I'll be wearing to a couple of weddings. It's been really fun so far. Over the last couple of weeks I drafted a pattern and sewed up a test in cheap fabric. (Though both it and the dress fabric were actually gifts.) Then on Friday I dyed my fabric to change the dreadful salmony pink, to a pretty lavender. That was fun and a bit smelly. And yesterday I cut it all out and did the same from a purple sheet for a underlining. And that's enough because this isn't a sewing blog.

Lastly I'm participating in a challenge all September. Read no fiction. That should give me more writing time, and more time to read the kind of serious books I get a lot of ideas from. I'll let you know how that goes. It might help me refocus on what's really important.

God bless you all and you have an amazing week

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.