History of the Author Part 5

Posted on March 30, 2010. Filed under: About Me, Books, My Writing | Tags: , , |

Here it is, the story you’ve all been waiting for!

History of an Author:

As it’s the last Tuesday in March, I’ll be posting today about how I got into the world of long, original fiction. Obviously you’ve read about my start in poetry, my love of books, my foray into fanfics, and my short stories. Now I have to admit the truth.

All of that was just the path I took to novel-length fiction. It’s true. I’ve always wanted to be a novel writer ever since my first look into a Lori Wick novel. Even as a little kid, I knew I had what it took to be a novelist.

I admit that I’ve taken a rather circuitous route thus far to achieving my goals. A lot of that is due to my grandparents who always made a point of telling me what I could and (more frustratingly) could not do. I’ve always been easily influenced by the opinions of those closest to me, and knowing that my grandparents thought I would not make it in an artistic field has shaped a lot of my choices.

Thus I earned a Bachelors of Science instead of a Bachelors of Arts. I majored in business and am now qualified to run your business as a manager, and I’m sure I’d do a darn good job of it. I know the ins and outs, have taken the financial classes, the logistics courses, and the information technology classes to give me the edge. I’ve made presentation after presentation and learned business communication techniques to make me formidable in the office.

But my heart isn’t in business, and it never will be. Give me pen and paper, and I’m at home. Offer me a computer and word processor and I’ll be happy as a clam.

That’s why I am where I am now: lack of confidence due to family opinion. But I’m getting to the point that I believe in my own writing, and I’m willing to pursue it.

With that in mind, let me tell you a little about how I started writing my first novel.

It was through NaNoWriMo, as you might have already guessed. I had some harsh circumstances hit me in the middle of fall 2008, and I’d dared two friends to do NaNoWriMo with me. I figured they would back out and I wouldn’t have to do it. They didn’t back out, though, so I was stuck on November 2 trying to sign up for the event and figure out a plot.

I needed some catharsis after some personal trauma, so I started writing my story. I changed names to protect the innocent and wrote in the style of a diary entry. The story wasn’t completely autobiographical, but it was definitely heavily influenced by my circumstances and relationships at the time. And as it was supposed to be a novel, I came up with a title for what I was considering “Chick Lit” in the genre category. So what did I call it? Insert Witty Title Here. Yeah, it was a cop-out, but I actually like that title and think it would be great for a book someday.

During NaNo2008, I managed to write about 34,000 words before life happened again and I quit. To be fair, the two friends who were writing with me also quit that year, too. It didn’t bother me either considering it wasn’t a novel I believed in.

By the early fall of 2009, I was in a much better place. Lots of things had finally come together for me, including a graduation date from the school I hated. And I dug out some old notebooks while cleaning that led me to my notes on a fantasy novel I wanted to write. I even had my friend come up with symbols and character sketched for me. Two of my friends had created characters for the book, and I had the basis for a pretty involved story.

I started looking at my notes and realized I wanted to write this story. It wasn’t just for myself, but my own selfish pride was definitely a big part of why I wanted to write it. I already had a number of characters mapped out, and my only problem was figuring out a plot. I’m sure when I first started brainstorming for this story a year or two ago I had a great plot idea. Unfortunately I never wrote it down, so I began brainstorming again and came up with a number of different ideas that were pretty viable with the world I’d created.

I titled my story Fire and Ice Bound, and I made plans to write it during NaNo2009. By the end of October 2009, I had a blog dedicated to the story to keep me motivated, several friends agreeing to participate with me, parents who wanted to see how the story would play out, and the piece de resistance: a 12-page Word document full of outline, plot, character, and miscellaneous notes. I also typed up a separate character profiles page as well as various other related sets of notes. I had the whole story outlined in my mind, and it was enough information to comprise three different and distinct books.


The forum banner I made for my novel - I'm obsessed; yes, I am.

Synopsis of Fire and Ice Bound:

Brenn Redoix is a 19-year-old fire-bonded living in Devalt, Ezer Kenegdo. She’s been attending Devalt’s elite preparatory academy since she was 7 and is preparing to graduate with a number of her peers. All that’s left for these exceptional element bonded students is to take their legitimacy exams. Once they’ve received the legitimacy certification, they’ll be eligible for government service.

In Ezer Kenegdo, the government is ruled by a number of ‘old’ families, including the family of Brenn’s best friend Levi Devalt. Brenn and Levi, however, have always entertained the notion that the government is slowly tightening its grip on the rest of the country. Policies concerning inter-element marriages and laws declaring a person can only bond to one element have solidified the two friends’ stance on their government, and while neither particularly wants to work with the shady electorate, they have no choice now.

As the legitimacy exam draws nearer, strange things begin to happen. A negotiator from Ezer Kenegdo is killed by neighboring Pridemos Nald. A state of heightened alert is sounded throughout the city, and the electorate begins discussing changes to the legitimacy exam. When Brenn and her 13 classmates hear from their instructor that the exam had been changed to a more practical version, she and Levi know something’s amiss.

That’s when Levi overhears a conversation between his father and Devalt’s representative: the exam has been changed in order to oust a student they believe is multi-bonded, or bonded to more than one element.

Now in even more dangerous territory than before, Brenn and Levi begin training doubly hard for their mysterious exam. But what is it? A harrowing trek through Centrale Foraois, a no-man’s volcanic wasteland in the center of three bordering countries. The students are divided into two teams on a competition to answer a set of clues, but what they encounter in the forest is more deadly than any of them expected.


Because I’m still trying to pin down a good synopsis, that’s what you get. 😛 I figured some of you might be interested in hearing what my novel was about. Ezer Kenegdo is a world of 10 elements. There are a lot of technical terms that I didn’t use in the synopsis because it makes more sense to simply read the story.

This first book is more of a coming-of-age tale. It’s tragic and dark, and my main character, Brenn, learns more than she expected. But it’s also the lead in to the sequel: Water Based. That book will be even darker with mentions of warfare and runaways, dangerous chases and deadly enemies. I’m not sure when I’ll write it at this point, but I want to give Brenn her due in Water Based because there’s a lot I didn’t cover in F&IB.

With that said, now you know where I’ve come from. My stories are all rather odd, and my background is fun. I don’t know how interesting a book like Fire and Ice Bound would be to the mass market, but I like the concept. It’s been fun to write, too, and if I never sell it, I’ll still be glad I wrote it. After all, this was a labor of love for myself, not for anyone else.

Thoughts? Comments? Questions? What do you think of the synopsis? Let me know!


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History of the Author – Part Three

Posted on March 16, 2010. Filed under: About Me, My Writing | Tags: , , , , |

Surgery is not fun business. My mom’s currently ensconced in her darkened bedroom, curled up in bed under covers and a robe, trying to sleep off the rest of the nasty anesthesia medications she received yesterday.

I’ve been trying to help, but it’s hard to know what’s best to do. My dad hovers like crazy, trying to make sure she’s got everything she needs, and my grandparents are making sure to have food cooked and talking to her when she’s downstairs.

Eventually it’ll be just me and mom when the grandparents go home and dad has to go back to work. Maybe then I’ll feel more useful than I do now.

Anyway, today is Tuesday, so it’s time for:

History of the Author

We’ve covered a bit about my creative writing past, but I’ll bet you didn’t know that before I graduated college I had a double major. For those of you who don’t know, I majored in something called “enterprise management.” And while I like to crack jokes that my major qualifies me to captain the Starship Enterprise, it really only qualifies me to do some general management and entrepreneurship.

But before I finished that major, on a lark, I decided it would be fun to double major in journalism as well. Let me back up a step, though.

In my junior year of high school, I joined the newspaper class. I liked writing and didn’t have many opportunities to practice otherwise, so I figured it would be fun to join the newspaper class. The blissful thing about this was that high school newspapers are generally nothing like real, for-profit newspapers. By senior year, I was the only senior in the class and was elected by the older group to be the editor-in-chief.

Jump to sophomore year of college: I remembered how much fun writing was but didn’t want to deal with all the excess general education classes I’d have to take for a regular B.A. degree, so I jumped into some basic journalism classes. It was a whole different world.

I went from writing cutesy stories about new high school principals (i.e. “The Big Red Dog Meets The Big Blue Beaver” – yes, an actual article title for the school paper) to learning about AP Style and carrying the hallowed handbook around. I learned editing tips and the key to writing concise sentences. (I obviously don’t use that rule here!)

What were the results of this year and a half excursion down the journalism major road? Published writing.

Yes, that’s right. I can claim to have been published and not just in some two-bit high school newspaper. Or even in some online college newspaper, though I was published there as well. I scored, through a fair bit of serendipity, an internship with a local community newspaper that lasted a year.

I’ve got piles and piles of newspapers under my desk that I kept on the off chance I’d need them for a portfolio. There are articles about churches and red lights, volunteer fire departments, and giant garage sales, all stacked in the pages of these newspapers. For what it’s worth, the papers are widely read around here and are distributed once a week.

I got very used to working under a deadline, and I really fell quite in love with it. Interviewing is a breeze, and while I worked for the paper, I got the chance to interview a local talk show host who complimented my interview skills. He mentioned I had a knack for turning an interview into a comfortable conversation.

And my work with the newspaper wasn’t without its adventures.

It came with a side job of organizing the high school intern program. During the summer, we had about 15 high school juniors and seniors (and one sophomore, I believe) who joined us and wrote pieces on their excursions learning about the world around them.

Long story short? I was almost required to catch a fainting boy when he passed out in a hospital during a tour. I started to grab him because he looked rather pale and was swaying with these very vague, unfocused eyes. When he fell, I and two orderlies who happened to be walking by, managed to grab him before he could hit the ground.

And let’s also not forget: that was the job where I learned about lecherous old men.

“Excuse me, sir? I was wondering if you could come with me to get that picture of you in front of your painting?”

“Of course. I’ll come with you, but it’ll cost you.”

I studiously ignored that last comment and walked into the library with the man whose hand rode dangerously low on my back. I took a step to the side; he followed. We arrived in front of the painting.

“I told you it would cost you.” A pause for effect. “The cost is seduction.”

Needless to say I didn’t stay at the library much longer.

On the bright side, though, my venture into the journalism world also landed me a freelance writing position for a few months. Nothing big, mind you, but enough to get my writing out in bright, shiny publications.

What about you? Have you had any jobs that bring back savory and not-so-savory memories? What about serendipitous positions? Tell me about it!


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History of the Author

Posted on March 2, 2010. Filed under: About Me, Poetry | Tags: , , , , |

Since I’m doing some more themed posts for the month of March, I thought it would be fun to regale you with tales of my own writing history. Or at least to give you an idea of how I started writing.

For Tuesdays I thought I’d post a little of my own history as a writer for your viewing pleasure. So if it bores you, feel free to read the other posts and ignore the Tuesday ones! 😀 But it’s a little more about me as an author and what I’ve done over the years.

With no further ado, let’s begin!

I’ll go ahead and say that I’ve been a reader from a very early age. I had Peter Rabbit memorized by the time I was 2, and I’d literally stop my mom in the reading if she skipped a part of turned ahead a page. Apparently I was very dedicated to Beatrix Potter’s characters, especially if they had the name Peter.

So I grew up on books like Peter Rabbit, The Monkey and the Crocodile, and Adventures in the Big Thicket. As far as I know, we still have those three books as well because I couldn’t bear to part with them. I figure if I ever have kids I’ll read those same stories to my children.

But my love of reading was fed by parents who like to read and grandparents who love to read as well. And it blossomed mainly due to the fact I’m an only child. With no brothers or sisters to interrupt or play with, I contented myself with reading lots and lots of books as a child and playing make believe on my own. I credit my zany imagination to hours and hours of alone time as a child when I’d come up with story lines that had more complexities to them than what most children dream up.

So if you’re wondering what kind of kid I was, that should give you a clue, but couple it with a perversely outgoing personality, and I was a bit of a handful. I was always thrilled to go to school and daycare and whatnot because there were other kids around; the downside to this was those kids didn’t have the same imagination or vocabulary as me because I was always around adults. Either way, I enjoyed myself, and I learned quickly how to entertain myself in the absence of excessive TV or other playmates.

But my reading bug was something I’ve held onto, and out of that grew a love of writing. Of course, it didn’t really start till I was in middle school. Like a lot of people, I had problems in middle school. It didn’t help that I attended a private Christian academy with very few other students because I managed to become the school outcast.

Can you guess where this is going?

I’ve read that many writers began their craft under great duress, producing beautiful works that draw tears and evoke painful emotions because the writer himself was going through such hardships. Perhaps it’s a bit of a romantic notion to put myself in the same class considering I started as a seventh grader who was incredibly depressed, but I’ll throw in my own frustrations here.

By seventh grade, I’d already been the school outcast for two years, had more people gossiping about me than I cared to experience, and even incurred the wrath of teachers who saw my eagerness to please as vanity. I was the smart kid, too, always bringing in the highest grades and getting on the Principal’s List. And like many smart kids, I learned it was a double-edged sword. No one likes the kid all the teachers praise.

So I started a journal in seventh grade. I still have it, too. It was this bright green, half-inch binder full of notebook paper that I covered in stickers and wrote messages that no one could read what was inside. I’ve flipped through it since then, and it’s amazing what things I wrote. No, I didn’t come up with profound insights about life or anything like that, but I did write remarkably clearly about my frustration and pain.

And when the time came that I really suffered more than I had before, I began writing something different: poetry. Yep, tattoo a couple of stereotypes on me because I surely fit them! But in all honesty, poetry became my outlet when I was hurting and unable to tell anyone about it, and it grew from there.

Now I’d say I have a couple hundred poems I’ve written since then, and my style’s improved dramatically. I started out writing free verse, which I know sometimes catches the more critical eyes as showy and amateur, but I fell in love with it. And my own writing style really fits free verse because it’s a creation of rules by the author rather than someone else. (I’ll post later about how rules and I don’t get along according to my personality type.)

Eventually my poetry writing tapered off, but I still write the occasional poem, and it comes so much easier to me than those first poems did. Though I admit to having a few poems that wrestle with my brain, taking several days to write.

The thing about poetry is that I write it for myself. It’s the one thing I write solely for myself, and it’s the one part of my writing that really bares who I am. I can hide myself in other forms of writing, but poems bring out my vulnerability, insecurity, low self-esteem, and fears in ways that are almost palpable. And I’ve been told my poems also tend to draw those feelings out of others as well.

But I’m going a little too far in this post, so I’ll end it by saying that poetry, for better or for worse, is where my writing adventures began. It’s my first love in terms of writing, and I’ll always have a fondness for it.

Where did you begin? Was it writing journals and prose? Or did you start in poetry, too? Let me know!

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