Thursday, 16 February 2017

5 Factors in Understanding my Characters

I had something completely different planned for my post today, but something went wrong with Blogger and I've only got an old version of it. So I've had to come up with something new. I've been thinking a lot about character motivations and desires lately. It's one of the most important parts of a good story.

I have found I always need something in common with my characters to be able to write them effectively. I also need something that I don't agree with to make them interesting. Not that I'm a boring person, but fictional characters need several strong traits instead of dozens of minor ones. And I'm a product of my world, a world my characters don't inhabit.


With that said here are the essential things I need to relate to my characters.

Ambition. This can be a desire to help people, a theory they want to prove, even something self-centred such as raising their status or taking something they feel is theirs. The nature of the ambition doesn't entirely affect whether I like the person, but a 'good' character must have a strong ambition for something right.

Fears. My characters fears are probably the biggest part of myself I put into them. Fear or being alone, fear of never doing anything useful, fear of public speaking. Well that last one is actually a fear that many of my characters shouldn't have. I have trouble making my main characters articulate and good with confrontation. I don't make them fear it though. Maybe I should. Helping them overcome it might prove as useful to me as writing about the other fears is.

Loves. Not all my characters love the things I do. But they must have a passion for something. For Aydel it's her medicine box and her knives; Joane has her running; Natalia, philanthropy and art; Rhesa and her orphans, Leisa and her cooking and sewing. Well those last two especially are more everyday life for Leisa than passions and they certainly are one I have.

Stupidity. Not the best term for it but all my characters seem to have one thing they cling to stubbornly which probably isn't true. Some I laughed at other almost make me cry. Either way I can't stand characters which are wishy-washy on everything or characters who are right about everything. Not that they could be right about everything. I'm not.

Justification. This is especially important for villains. I may completely disagree with everything they do, but I have to understand why they're doing it. Maybe not fully because some people have a very twisted view of reality, but I usually can get my head around it somewhat eventually. It's the same with my protagonists. She might do something foolish, but it can't be blatantly so.

Now since It's already one o'clock here, I think I should just post this whether there are more factors or not. I hope you enjoyed this little look inside my mind.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Beautiful People: Celino and Cloe


So it's Link-up time of month again. And time to get back into character questions. In other words, it's Beautiful People time. And because of a 3rd (or 1st) century bishop (or priest) who may (or may not) have had something to do with marrying people against the emperor's orders, the theme for February is couples.



Now I have several couples in Lady of Courage. But I can't talk about Natalia because that's too complicated, and I'd rather not talk about her friend Eloisa who made a political marriage, so I'm going to talk about Natalia's parents. Or rather her mother and her step-father. But they're still both her parents and theirs is a lovely story, if I do say so myself.

Celino Acqui
Now I had better introduce them both properly.

Celino Acqui is a merchant and a veteran of the Third Yallici war. 
Cloe Neroni was raised to occupy a high position and was an assistant to the late Deso of Vecoa and the mother of his heir.
Besides Natalia they have Alexso who is fifteen and Sofia and Teresa who are twelve.

How and why did they meet?

Cloe: Supposedly it was the second time I met Sebastian (my first husband). I was sixteen at the time and very nervous, though excited about the possibility of an engagement. I do however remember him being with Sebastian when he visited me in between then and our wedding.

Celino: I distinctly remember being dancing with her once on the first occasion. Sebastian asked me to help entertain her, then made me promise not to step on her feet.

What were their first impressions of each other?

Celino: I thought that she would be good for Sebastian and make a wonderful Desa for Vecoa when the time came. And I'll admit I thought she was rather young.

Cloe: When I did properly meet him I was impressed by his devotion to Sebastian. And possibly a little too admiring of his swagger and skill with the sword. He wasn't so steady and cautious back before the war.If he had been I might have attempted to set him up with one of my friends and then where would we be. 

How would they prove their love for each other?

Celino: Well she listens to me and confides in me.
Cloe: I would have to say the same.

Cloe Neroni
What would be an ideal date?

Cloe: A date for what? The only big occasions to plan are all Natalia's and I doubt are what you're asking about. But late spring is preferable.

Is there something they emphatically disagree on?

Cloe: Celino still thinks I wouldn't have married him if Sebastian hadn't left a clear letter asking me to let Celino take care of me if he was killed. But though the letter may have played a part, especially in him offering, I couldn't help but be won around to him.

Celino: And I disagree with that statement. She convinced me of her story years ago. I don't understand why, but I believe it.



List 5 quirks they know about each other. 

Cloe: Celino doesn't like going into the city without his big admiral's hat. Even as a merchant he's still got that sea blood. Sometimes I think if it weren't for his commitments he'd been raging off over the sea.
Celino: But you know the war ruined me for seafaring. I'd go if there was a war, but that will be a terrible day.
Cloe: He also hates politics and is very fond of the tapping noise his wooden leg makes. Now what do you have to say about me, dear?
Celino: I have no such awkward things say about you. There's only your odd preference for Rosan partridge over our native pike.
Cloe: I grew up in Rosa. It's natural I'm partial to their food.
Celino: But you spent an equal time on the isle of Fazoe.You didn't have partridges there. And that was where they taught you to cook.
Cloe: And that my dear, is why I have never eaten a badly cooked partridge.

What’s one thing they know about each other that no one else does? (and now you will)

Celino: Cloe almost joined a religious order when she was fifteen and again straight after the war.
Cloe: I'm sure at least one other person knows that. The same with the dreadful secret I have. When he was twenty Celino helped captured an Ayutian ship and almost married a girl on it.
Celino: *raises eyebrows* Did Sebastian tell you that story? And it wasn't nearly so close as that. Her mother told me to behave or I had better marry her, but there was never anything for her to worry about.

What’s one thing that they keep secret from each other?

I was unable to ask this question so I just went digging around in what I already knew. I don't think Cloe tells Celino all of her hopes for Natalia and he has never shared a particular secret that Natalia confided in him.

How would their lives be different without each other?

Cloe: I'd be a lonely widow meddling too much in the life of her only child and Celino would be another mad sea captain. And no, that's not debatable.

Where do they each see this relationship going?

Cloe: Well we've been married seventeen years. Let's see if we can make it to 70.
Celino: I think you mistake your math. I won't live to be one hundred years old.


I hope you enjoyed that. I haven't developed them as well as I'd like yet, but I got a bit of banter going.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Yes, I Want to Change the World

There, I said I'd have another post this week. I'm hoping it'll be a little different to most of the blog posts I've seen these last couple of days. January is in every second title. If I was doing that it would be late anyway. It's February in Australia. Shortest month in the year. So I had better get onto it.


I'm much better at dreaming about the future than keeping records of the past. But mostly just dreaming, no planning. And I've been learning that to lead people anywhere you need to know where specifically that is and be able to look back to where you came from. I'm not sure I'm a leader, but as I said in the title, I do want to change the world.

Actually, I'll rephrase that. I want the world to be changed. I want it to become more conformed to God and I want to be a tool for him to use. Specifically I want to touch people's hearts and help them to the see the truth. I want to do this through my writing, and with everything else I'm called to.

Maybe it's not a good idea to state outright what I'm trying to do. People might catch on and avoid my writing, but it helps me to write about it. Besides, one author might change the direction of a few people's lives, but not the whole culture. There needs to be many of us. I want to be working alongside others. Alongside you. Writer or not, God can use you to make a difference.

How do we do this? What am I specifically doing? I don't know. The course I did last week strengthened the call I felt to do something. It brought forward some of the issues in our culture that ust be grappled with. I gained a clearer way of thinking about some issues, a completely new understanding of others, and many ideas to incorporate into the worlds of my stories. It gave me a direction for learning more, told me who God was and who I was. But it didn't tell me what to do or even what to think.

About 1% of my handwritten notes from last week.
At the simplest level, I must be faithful to whatever God has placed in front of me, I must be willing to take opportunities he offers, and most of all I must trust in him and keep close to his teachings whatever I do. After that there are the ideas I have been given for stories, the imagination I have been given, the unique circumstances that give me my particular view of the world (as opposed to all the other unique views). I must use those gifts and I must do it to the best of my ability. Our God is not a God of mediocrity. He does everything perfectly.

I do have a basic plan for what I wish to do with my writing though. I am attempting to shed the light of the gospel on certain circumstances, to provide examples of both good and bad actions, to use the grandeur of a made up story to bring clarity to the simple, but difficult issues of life. I want to reflect the way God made this world to work, and to show the goodness of what God has revealed to us.

I am also trying to show the glory of God in his creation, to evoke a beauty we can forget to notice in the world. The life of a forest over the brilliant depths of a gorge, The sweetness of birds singing by a trickling brook, and the devotion of a mother to a child. I can picture them now, a dark haired  woman looking down on a child in her arms. There is a slight expression of weariness in her face, but such a glowing look of joy as well. The baby sleeps, its little face scrunched up in peace and happiness.

I will also have to show the flip side of that. The horrors of destruction, the anguish of the death of one beloved, the remorse of a wrongly made choice. I cannot show the glories of perfection without contrasting the utter darkness we fallen humans can create. I won't focus on it, I might not even get a close look, but I cannot try to lessen it, or shut it out. I must be honest.

And that is my plan for changing lives through my writing. It's probably not the same as yours. You might never write for the public. You might think my ideas are crazy. But please, whatever your thoughts are, always be ready for God to use you. Learn new skills, try to do everything with excellence, be aware of what is going on in the world, most of all keep close to God. And maybe we'll be changing the world together.

Monday, 30 January 2017

Shadows of the Hersweald - Cover Reveal!


 Yes, another cover reveal so soon. Which means another book coming!


Shadows of the Hersweald is the third novella in the Legends of Light series by Hope Ann. It's a Hansel and Gretel retelling, something that isn't seen so often.

After her wonderful reimgining of Rapunzel in Song of the Sword, I'm really excited for this. I've had the priviledge of beta reading some of hope's other books and she's a brilliant author. but you don't want to hear more about Hope, you want to see the cover. But first you must know more about the book.


A battered soldier from a defeated army, Haydn knows the only end to the arrival of the Prince’s governor is chains, followed by punishment and possible execution. Except he hasn’t counted on the Prince himself. Or the pardon which his recent foe has declared to acquit all those who fought against him.
A pardon Haydn detests.
A pardon that refuses to punish the rebels now threatening his own village. And his sister.
Guilt-ridden from his own actions during the war, Haydn knows there are others who have no conscience at all. Others who are using the freedom of the pardon to forward their own desperate schemes.
With enemies closing in on all sides, a pardon that refuses punishment for the rebellion, and nightmares of murder and fire hovering in the back of Haydn’s every thought, can he save the only ones left he cares about before it is too late?

And now the actual cover in all its glory...

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This gorgeous cover, by the way, was created by a good friend of Hope's who just started a blog which you can find here.

Oh, and Hope has something else that I haven't had time to watch myself, but I'm looking forward to. The book trailer for Shadows of the Hersweald! 




Hope Ann is a Christian wordsmith, avid reader, and dedicated authoress. Her time is taken up with writing, reading, archery, knife throwing, creating writing prompts, helping care for the house and eight younger siblings, and generally enjoying the adventures of life on a small farm at the crossroads of America. She has self-published fairy tale retellings on Amazon and is currently working on several projects including a fantasy novel and futuristic trilogy. You can find out more about Hope and her work at authorhopeann.com.



I'll probably have amother post up later this week, but until I've got the new website running and figured out what the new normal for my life is, it will be a little erratic. I am hoping to do some kind of serial story though.

O Theós na sas evlogei ólou

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Ashen City by Sara Baysinger - Cover Reveal


 Why another post so soon after the last one? Well I'm glad you asked. This is an even more special announcement. There's a book coming out soon and it's going to have a cover.

Well that didn't sound that exciting. Let's try again. 

Ashen City, the sequel to Sara Baysinger's fabulous book, Black Tiger, will be released on April 6th! But you don't have to wait until then for everything. Today, you will see the cover of the book in all its glory.

But first I'm going to tell you about Black Tiger.

It's dystopian, set in a future where disease has eliminated most of the world's population. There is just one large city.

Ember Carter is a farmer's daughter and wants to be a farmer herself. That seems impossible as all farming careers are given to boys and for several years everyone has been recruited to the Line of Defenders, even though there isn't a hint of war around. 

Amazingly, she is assigned the career of farmer, but that hope quickly disappears when she tries to save her best friend from the Defenders.

She is sent off to the city, charged with murdering a defender and being a rebel. The sentence is death. A horrible death at the Rebels circle. Only petty criminals get a quick death by a Black Tiger.

But we all know she can't die. Not in this part of the story. She gets out, she's only an 'guest' now. A guest with a lot of power. But she's also suspected by the chief and she can't leave.


This is where things get fun. There's two young men in the city. And they're both rather contradictory. One is a nice person, the kind of person it's easy to trust. Yet, he's the chief's best friend and thinks they can work with him to fix the problems in Ky.


The other is a thoroughly despicable person, then a somewhat nice, and almost too friendly person. He keeps Ember entertained and even talks about the religion that is long gone from the city. I start to think he's a Christian of sorts ,but then he's urging her to rebel. One minute he's a hero, the next despicable again. I love having my emotions jerked around like that.

Any way I love this books. It has some amazing dilemmas, terrifying moments, great themes and an answer to why God gives us free will. Also there's the exploration of a society where religion is gone. It's  not entirely gone though, some traces will always remain and people will always have a heart to look for purpose and something bigger than them. Always. And there is also mind control. 


Now onto Ashen City.


Make your choice, Ember Carter. And make it count.

Ember Carter has escaped the flames of death. But will she ever be free from Chief Titus? When the orchard goes up in smoke and her family turns up missing, Ember returns to Frankfort hoping to find her brother and father, and to get Titus to drop the death wish he has against her.

But Titus is always one step ahead. When Ember faces him head-on, she’s captured, only to receive another death sentence. But on her way to her execution, plans go a little askew, and Ember finds herself traveling to the one place no one dares travel: Louisville. If the outskirts of Ky were a ghost town, the ashen city is the borderline of hell itself, but it’s the one place Ember can find refuge from the people who want her dead. 

In the ashen city, Ember must learn that being a hero is more than doing what is right because she can, but doing it for the good of the people. And when plans take a turn for the worst, she must decide if it’s worth risking her life to save her country.

It sounds good to me. More avoidance of death.

And now the cover!!!

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Isn't that lovely. In a rather haunting way.


And Black Tiger as well.

And if I convinced you to read Black tiger it's on Amazon.

And if you want to be part of the book launch blog tour in April, there's a sign up form here. I heard there will be prizes.

And be sure to check out Sara's website.

I just found out a cool fact about Sara today. She grew up in the Andes Mountains in Equador. How cool is that?

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

The Story of a Name and an Announcement

I expected everyone reading this blog has realized that I don't use my real name. It's also probably not a surprise to find out my real name is Brianna.

In fact it's the name I'm most used to. I didn't have a nickname as a child unless you count my little brother mispronouncing it. It was always my full name. Quite a few years back now, a friend gave me the nickname Breeze, but forgot it again. I didn't forget and took it as an internet name. Later on, I replaced that with Bria Snow.

I didn't think that would be a good pen name though. It might not matter, but I'd heard that it's better to have a name in the first half of the alphabet. So I twisted my name around all backwards to come up with something that did work. Not long after that, I started my blog. That was the impulsive decision that got me semi-stuck with the name.
Yes, I do like brie cheese.

I always was reticent about sharing the existence of my blog with people I meant in real life. I was afraid they might find the pen name silly. I'm now realizing it was because I wasn't confident it was the right name. I felt it was a little silly. The few times my mother has sent me an email with a correction I needed to make and used my pen-name it seemed strange. Maybe because she never uses my real last name.

After a while, I started to get tired of being called Anna. It's a pretty common name, and I just didn't feel it fit me. Even though I use Brianna in everyday life, I've never minded being called Bri. I rather like it in fact. But if that was now my last name I couldn't be called by it without more awkwardness.

Even though I've tried my best to be honest and real in what I say on my blog, I still felt like I had split myself into two people. Both of them were me, but they had different friends. I wanted to integrate them more, but the names conflicted. I felt as if I would have to explain it too much.

So I started thinking of getting a new pen name. It was the end of September when I found one I liked. Something with Brie as my first name. Something with a rare, but easy to spell last name which felt right. I didn't want to pick just any random last name that belonged to someone else. So here it is: Brie Donning.

You might wonder while I took so long to make a change. There are a few reasons. One is that I didn't want to make the mistake of choosing a name hastily again. I wanted to be sure I wasn't going to start hating it. Another reason was that I didn't want to appear flaky. I'd had my blog for less than a year then, and wasn't ready to change. Third reason is that I have something else I wasn't ready to announce. (And there is the fact that I didn't want to build a new website/blog then. In fact I'd still rather not do it. Web design isn't really my thing.)

Since then I've started using Brie Donning in a couple of places and been connecting to more writers using Facebook (where I go by my real name). I've been detaching from my old pen name. It doesn't feel like my name any more. Just the name of my writing blog. I can't not change now.

My other announcement is that I'll be offering my services as an editor. Doing beta reading has let me see that I  would enjoy being an editor. Helping good books be better and get published is something I love doing and I'm brilliant at noticing typos. Unless they're my own that is.

Granted this isn't the only idea I've had to help people with their books. At one point I wanted to be an audio book narrator, but I hate fixing my recordings. If there was a job that involved promoting all my favourite books I'd love that too. But authors have street teams, not paid publicists and publishers have books I wouldn't be excited about, so it's not happening.

I started thinking about becoming an editor before I decided to change my pen name, but I always felt that I wouldn't do it under the name Anna S, Brie. Once again I'd subconsciously thought it sounded less professional.

The long and the short of it is that I'm going to have a new website opening up early next month under my new name and I'll be changing the names on all my social media. I don't know exactly how long things will take, but they'll happen. As you can all see I've done most of the work on having a new look.

I am Brie Donning, signing out. God bless you all.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Beautiful Books: Goals and Interruptions

Hello readers, writer, friends and- I don't think there are enemies reading my blog. If you are, please say hi.

I was starting to write about what writing I'd planned for this month and what was really happening when I remembered the Beautiful Books link-up was waiting for me. Since it is one on goals I'll try to make it fit together.



What were your writing achievements last year?

I finished the first draft of my first novel, mostly re wrote it, wrote most of a second one, and started brainstorming a sequel. Not entirely in that order. It was a good year.


What’s on your writerly “to-do list” for 2017?

Finish Lady of Courage, get Girl of the Rumours reading to critique partners or maybe even beta readers. Probably write its sequel, though that depends on whether it is ready to be written when I have time.

As for this month, I had big goals: I was going to be writing 40,000 words, mostly on Lady of Courage. Anything else including blog post would be counted too. Otherwise my blog won't happen with a high word count goal. I thought I might do a little bit of outlining on A Brigand, No Longer, but nothing else was expected.
The Secret Story
Then two things happened. First I was given a shiny new idea that get's better the more I think about it. It's a secret project I can't talk about much, but I'm doing world building. And I'm not just mashing up bits from our world though there is a bit of that. I've finally veered off into what couldn't be in our world.

It's amazing how starting with nothing allows for more consideration of ideals. I'm not making a utopia, but I can put in more of my ideals for life, work education and government. I can actually make a clearer reflection of the truths of our world I believe to be important. I knew that stories allow one to do that before now, but I hadn't experienced it so fully.

So because of that I haven't gotten much work done on Lady of Courage. This week I'm forcing myself to get back to work on it.

The second interruption is one that actually has an impact of my word count. I'm going away for a week.  It's an intensive course on planning one's life to impact the world. I'll be writing, but it's not the stuff I count. So my goal has shrunk.

Tell us about your top-priority writing projects for this year!

I think this means add more details. Girl of the Rumours is still in a fairly rough state, but the only big changes are content added to the middle and  the climax. The rest needs some continuity checking, some serious evaluation and a little polish.

I'm hoping doing that will help me sort out what happens in  A Brigand, No Longer. For it I've just got a bunch of ideas that  I'm not sure how they fit in. It's likely there will be a third book, but the ideas aren't clear enough.

How do you hope to improve as a writer? Where do you see yourself at the end of 2017? 

I haven't gotten much feedback on my writing so far. I'm hoping the critique process will really help me figure out my weaknesses and strengths. From there I'll be in a much better place to write.

Describe your general editing process. 

I've hardly done enough editing to turn it into a process. For my first book the first edit was when I copied it from note book to computer. There were subtle changes I added as I copied. There were bigger things that happen though out it. When I actually begun that I'd just figured out the main line of the story and had to change the whole beginning to fit it. Then I go back over and tidy things up. I refine my characters.

For my other books it'll be a little different, because it is already on the computer. But I'll still be re writing things I've thought better of and making other big changes.

On a scale of 1-10, how do you think this draft turned out? 

Well it's not quite finished yet. But I'll put it at 6 overall.

What aspect of your draft needs the most work?
The complex threads. A lot of them were dropped and the subtlety was lost. I'll need to add them in and tie it all together. Also the political scenes could really do with smoother intrigue.

What do you like the most about your draft? 

The themes of friendship and communication that are coming though. And the sacrificial themes. That's something I didn't fully realize until I wrote this.There's a lot of love and mostly not the romantic kind. I'm also loving the teenaged brother inventor. He's fun.

What are your plans for this novel once you finish editing? More edits? Finding beta readers? Querying? Self-publishing? Hiding it in a dark hole forever? 

More editing. Then some critiquing will have to come, then more edits. Rise and repeat several times. Then I'll think about querying.

What’s your top piece of advice for those just finished writing a first draft?
Let is sit for a month or two. Then read it over. Don't think about it too much in between. Work on something else. But do come back. It's worth it. Also write yourself an ridiculous. encouraging letter that will help you keep on when the editing seems hopeless.

And that's that. Except I haven't shared the new name I have for the larger country Girl of the Rumours takes place in. Verlis is the main setting, but it's just a province. The whole land is called NéaElefthéri. Ne-a el-ef-THAIR-ree. NéaElefthéri. There is a chance you can talk me into explaining it.

So do you have any excitng new writing developments? Or just a stubborn unmoving goal to move towards? Tell me about it.