Realm Makers 2013

This was so big, I couldn’t list it with the rest of the newsy items on Monday. Coming August 2013. Early Bird Registration started May 1st and will go through until June 1st for a cost of $189. Check it out!RealmMakerslogo


Realm Makers is a writers conference geared specifically to creators of speculative fiction who consider their faith-based world view their highest priority. The event will present panels and classes appropriate for authors of all experience levels, from the beginning writer to the seasoned industry professional.

Have a great weekend y’all!

The Next Big Thing

I’ve been tagged! Thank you, Aaron DeMott. I’ve been seeing this “The Next Big Thing” around cyberspace for awhile, and it has finally made its way to my little corner of the web. Once we’ve been tagged, we’re supposed to copy and answer the questions, then tag five other people. So without further ado:


1) What is the title of your next book/work?

Something dragon something or another.

2) Where did the idea come from for the book/work?

Honestly, a friend of mine had read through my first book and said, what if what they thought was one thing, but turned out it was the opposite. Totally paraphrasing. So I started thinking…

3) What genre does your book/work fall under?

YA Fantasy

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Funny you should ask. I usually don’t think along these lines, but to help get the creative juices flowing I’ve been trolling the internet and pinning images on my secret Pinterest Board. I had a bunch before I deleted them all awhile back, so now I’m slowly building again, but I haven’t decided yet.

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Lily Delaney’s father, the world’s famous elven explorer, disappears on his last expedition, and she is determined to find him, but she soon discovers that some things are best left unfound.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Maybe small press, maybe agency. We shall see.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

A month. Thank you NaNoWriMo.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?


9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

My friend Preston. 🙂

10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

Swashbuckling adventure, dragons, other winged animals, flesh eating merpeople, elves, humans, dwarves, lizard people, pirates, true love, secrets…Now I can’t very well giveaway the heart of the story, now can I?

And now I tag:

Clare Davidson

Gabriel Meyers

Lynn Donovan

Melissa Lee

Raewyn Hewit


Amazing how a couple of months pass and our direction changes. I’ve been feeling a little like Captain Jack Sparrow staring at his compass, but the needle just keeps spinning. Ha!

Yo ho ho…well…lookee here…

Back in May, I told y’all (yes, I’ve been converted, but you’ll still see you guys every now and again) that I was shelving my first novel and starting something new. But nine years of writing, rewriting, editing, reading, learning don’t let go so easy. So, what’s this got to do with National Novel Writing Month? Well, I’m taking my first book off the shelf and writing book three in the trilogy. I figure if I can write the big ending, then I’ll know better how to improve the first book. I can make sure plants have payoffs, and payoffs have plants from the very beginning. I can clarify the overarching plot and the plots for each individual book as well as the character development throughout the whole trilogy. Book two is already written and is awaiting edits, which I’m thinking of applying in the next two weeks before I hit book three. Am I insane?

When I think up story ideas, I don’t think in terms of one book plot. They tend to stretch out to three and beyond. This story world has three trilogies that take place in it. But since this is my first trilogy, I’m thinking I need to finish what I’ve started to learn to write better stories. So this November I will attempt to hammer out at least 50,000 words of book three. I’ve already got an outline, we’ll see how it will unfold. And now that I’ve told y’all, there’s no going back. 🙂

So who’s with me? Are you writing anything for NaNoWriMo?

Participant 180x180 (2)

The Q Factor

James Scott Bell says: Utilize the Q Factor as a strategic weapon for motivation at just the right time.

I’ve never heard of the Q Factor before, so I thought I’d do a little research. Ack. I came up with physics and engineering lingo and got a brain cramp. No, its from James Bond. You see, there’s this dude called Q. He’s responsible for giving Mr. Bond his cool gadgets, which becomes very important later on in the movie.  It’s a lot like plant and payoff except way more specific.

No one likes to read a story where all of sudden something appears and resolves the story. That’s a payoff without a plant. Or we’re reading along, collecting all sorts of clues to try to figure out what’s going to happen, how they will resolve everything, except nothing ever comes out of it. That’s plant without a payoff. Frustrating and confusing.

The Q Factor is deeper, an emotional element, an icon of sort. It could be: an item, a mentor, moral sentiment, or even a negative character. But it has to be “planted” early in the story and alluded to in the middle of the story. Then right when our hero is at his lowest of lows, darkest of darks, the Q Factor shows up, and he finds the strength to keep on keeping on.

So what say you? Have you utilized the Q Factor? I think I need to go review my manuscript. 🙂

Characters & Their Thoughts

The other day I was on Twitter and came across a tweet from author Rayne Hall about how so many newbie writers begin their novels with their character looking out a window, thinking.  Um…guilty as charged. Except, my character was outside, walking, looking, thinking. Not very exciting, is it? Which brings us to today’s topic taken from The Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell.

Characters all alone should do more than just think.

When our characters go through the wringer, they need some time to process. It’s the whole Scene & Sequel, Proactive & Reactive scenes kind of thing. Of course, at the beginning  of the book, what would our characters really need to process? Ha. But aren’t we sort of starting in media res, right? Maybe, maybe not.

So, granted, our characters need to think, process, but how do we do that without boring our readers to tears? We’ve got to add some action, make the character do something while he or she is thinking and, as Hall suggested, make it “an urgent task which makes undisturbed thinking difficult.”

Examples always help me better understand concepts. Unfortunately, I’m real bad at finding them, partly why I started Yo Ho. But I couldn’t ask you all for an example without finding one myself.  So, without further ado,  my example is taken from The Book of Names by D. Barkley Briggs. In the opening scene we have our main character, Hayden, thinking, staring at the sky and his distasteful surroundings, but Briggs gives him a hatchet and a large briar patch while we return to earlier thoughts that day and days gone by, setting the tone for the story and Hayden’s struggles with their move to the country and his mom’s death.

So, what say you? What do you think are some good examples of a character, alone, thinking, yet doing something?

In the Beginning

Don’t begin with weather, dreams or “happy people in happy land” as James Scott Bell puts it in The Art of War for Writers. Last week we discussed the first line, the hook: bring us in and engage us quickly. Today we talk about setting the mood of the opening scene without using “clichĂ©d or predictable story beginnings.”

What are some of your favorite opening scenes from books? Does it involve any of the aforementioned no-no’s? I’ve read several novels that start out with the weather, but as Bell points out, they usually are tied into the characters point of view. So what makes the opening scene good? I’m sure extended descriptions of weather without a reason to care would bore us, and we wouldn’t read on. Or if we discover the beginning was a only dream, we might feel cheated and throw the book aside. The “happy people in happy land” is what Bell calls an opening that feels like “pure setup”, but the complaint is that the engaging action doesn’t happen soon enough.  If we want to use an opening like that, we must weave in a “breath of disturbance to carry us along” as Bell puts it.

So, how then shall we begin our story? How do we set the mood? Here is where art meets craft. We choose words in order to create the feeling we want the reader to walk away with. Bell gives the example from Tick Tock by Dean Koontz. The author chose words like shadow, swooped, shade, frantic, & then the character thinks he should see something but he doesn’t. Kind of gave me chills and intrigued me enough to want to read on.

So what say you? Disagree or agree? What are some other clichéd beginnings? What about prologues? Do you think they should follow the same restrictions?

Opening Lines

This week in Yo Ho a Writer’s Life for Me, we are discussing first-liners. You know, those first lines of a novel that grips you and you want to know more.  In The Art of War for Writers, James Scott Bell says it’s about engaging the readers as soon as possible, giving them something to worry about. As a reader, I can’t really attest to this. I mean, I’ve sat down and studied the first lines of my favorite novels and some best-selling novels, and I can’t really say that I was “hooked” by the first line.

So let’s have a looksee…

“Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.”

Yes, I know. Harry Potter. I love the author’s voice here, but it’s not really giving me something to worry about, except of course, knowing that these “perfectly normal” folks were about to be surprised with an unwanted bundle of joy. I would have to say it was her style/voice that drew me in at the beginning.

I Am Ocilla“The darkness of my abyss consumes.”

I am Ocilla by Diane M. Graham. Now, doesn’t that just grab you? Of course this is the beginning of chapter one. There is also a prologue. “Two dark forms glide across the open field.”

“Two children, a brother and a sister, played down by the Old Bridge nearly every day, weather permitting.” Heartless (Tales of Goldstone Wood Book #1)

Heartless by Anne Elisabeth Stengl. I love this book, as some of you already know, but this opening really didn’t hook me, although, at the end of the prologue, that golden cat with no eyes, yeah, I was engaged. As I’m typing this, Heartless is free on Kindle, so check it out!

The Book of Names: A Novel (Legends of Karac Tor)
And some opening lines are so short, you have to read on just to get an idea of what’s going on, such as the case with, The Book of Names by D. Barkley Briggs.
“In short order, the afternoon sky cooled from blue to marbled gray.” But as we read on it builds to: “The perfect day for magic. Hadyn Barlow would have none of it.

That intrigued me.

Then there are some openings that stretch on forever like Terry Brooks’ first line in The Sword of Shannara.The sun was already sinking into the deep green of the hills to the west of the valley, the red and gray-pink of its shadows touching the corners of the land, when Flick Ohmsford began his descent.

Not sure if that hooked me, but I have to say this book introduced me to fantasy and the rest is history. 🙂

So what say you? Do you agree the opening line needs to hook us? What are some of your favorite books and their first line? What about the book grabs you and makes you want to read more?

Speaking of opening lines and being hooked, there’s a contest over at Reader’s Realm for the best hook. If you’re a writer and would like to test out your opening paragraph, check it out!  The contest ends September 20th.