MO4 Update!

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Oh, by the way, I made it into Mossflower Odyssey IV! I’m not going to admit who I am here until the end, or unless I’m voted out, whichever comes first.

We just finished Round 2 last night. One of the 10 contestants has passed and we have today and tomorrow to vote on the next death.

I have no idea which of my friends I’m going to vote for, but if I don’t, I’ll risk a glare of disapproval from a matey from last contest who I “could have saved” if I’d voted.

So, yes, I will vote, but with much tears and anguish.

If you want to jump in and read the contest, hop over to the Redwall Survivor forums. Click on ‘The Story,’ read the Prologues first, then in Round 1 start at the bottom with “Letters From a Thief” by Adeen Pinebarrow and work your way up from there. Always go from bottom to top to have the story make sense. 😛

And if you read, let me know what you think of our collaborative story. I’ll be sure to pass on comments to the cast. We love commentary!

 

Creation of a Redwall Survivor Application

I’ve been meaning to put this together for a while, but, well, life, you know.

As of this moment, we’re in the final hours of voting for Mossflower Odyssey IV: The Beasts In The Crater. Over the last couple weeks, everyone has been reading and reviewing the top 30 applications sent in and voting on their favorite of each category. Ten categories, with 3 apps apiece (except that two categories only had two apps, so technically, it’s top 28….) all judged and weighed and debated on by the audience.

We’ll know the official cast for MO4 soon, then the story will really begin!

I wrote three apps for MO4, though much to my surprises, only one of my apps got in. Since I’ve been somewhat disappointed, I thought I’d share my favorite app and also share the process I used to create it. Every author has their own system and way of doing this.

This is simply mine.

Bear in mind that this app did not make the Top 30 cut, but I think I worked the hardest on it.

I started out by using How To Write Flash Fiction That Doesn’t SUCK, a free course offered by Holly Lisle.  Since in her flash fiction course, she’s walking you through writing 500 word flash fiction, I figured that’d be just perfect for coming up with a 750 word application. I brainstormed for a while, going through the worksheets, but really struggled with the ideas.

Eventually, I had two of the concept sentences kind of merge in my mind. They were:

  1. A usurped horde leader is imprisoned and about to be executed.
  2. An exhausted refugee struggles to find shelter from an oncoming storm.

With those powers combined, I came up with: A usurped horde leader struggles to find shelter from an oncoming storm.

Next, I switched gears, because I wanted to find out more about this horde leader, specifically species, since this is set in the Redwall universe of animals, after all.

So out came the notebook and I started brainstorming.

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I wrote Horde Leader, drew a line, then wrote Species. From there, I drew lines to every vermin species that came to mind, and added more lines for reasons why or why not. The last line I drew, going down, was Bird Species. Something about that peaked my interested. Perhaps because the first Redwall book I ever read, Mattimeo, featured a bird horde leader. I went online and did a search for “birds in Great Britain”, then narrowed it down to “birds of prey”.

When I saw the first picture of a male Hen Harrier, I fell in love. I switched to a red pen (as seen above), and continued on brainstorming for a bit longer, toying with names and background. While I did this, I also pulled up pictures from the internet and put them into Scrivener.

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Scrivener itself was a bit of an experiment, since the program was new to me, but it proved very useful to organizing information on my characters. I was able to pull up a bunch of images and even download a PDF file on Hen Harriers from Wikipedia.

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With my background worked out, I was able to start writing my first draft for Sarek.

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My first draft finished with 1069 words. By the way, I love Scrivener’s on-screen word counter, which is nearly visible at the bottom center of the picture above.

Next I printed it out and used an abbreviated How to Revise Your Novel (also by Holly Lisle) setup to go through my draft and polish it up. I took pages of notes…

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And took a red pen to a printout of the draft. One of my two-year-old twins tried to help with a black one.

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Then typed it all back into Scrivener, with a few more tweaks here and there to fix rogue spellings and get the final word count below 750.

With my word count at 748, I then fixed the formatting and sent it off. With one app done, I then started the brainstorming process all over again and came up with two more apps to send off.

Unfortunately, Sarek didn’t make the cut for “A Beast Driven by Revenge,” but I’ll include the app below for anyone interested in reading the final product.

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Mossflower Odyssey IV

Nine beasts, enslaved in a distant coliseum. The terms are simple: fight until you die. Glory awaits the strong while the meek shall perish, their cries drowned by the roar of the crowd. It’s survival of the fittest and survival takes many forms. Let the games begin.

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Mossflower Odyssey IV is happening! After all the great experiences I had with MO 3, I’m pretty pumped to get into it again. If Redwall Survivor is a new concept to you, check out the official forum or look at my earlier posts on it. I was a part of Mossflower Odyssey III in 2015 and it was one of the best writing experiences I ever had. Not only did I grow as a writer, but I made a group of fantastic friends.

We’re all gearing up for this contest, writing applications and hoping to first make it into the 27 potential contestants, and then to make it in as one of the 9 beasts who will be in the crater.

If you’ve ever enjoyed Brian Jacques Redwall books, or if you want a chance at a fun writing experience, make sure you check out Mossflower Odyssey IV: The Beasts in the Crater. For now, I’m on the forums as Vera Silvertooth (my character from the previous MO).

If I make it into the contest, I’ll keep you posted here. If I don’t make it in, well, I’ll probably still talk about the contest from the sidelines.

 

 

One, Two, Cha-cha-cha!

I like to think of myself as an optimist. Always looking for the silver lining. The glass is half full.

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It’s hard to keep that mindset. Sometimes I take things too much to heart. Sometimes I get down on myself for areas where I’ve failed. I run a vicious cycle in my mind of how I’ve screwed up.

In 2015, I decided to take my writing seriously. I was done making excuses. I was done playing around. I was going to finally make progress. I was finally going to win. I even coined a little phrase for myself. “I Win 2015!” I had two big goals for that year. Two things I was focused on.

  1. Publishing a book of short stories
  2. Publishing Sentinels of Mysera

I started out strong. Ran through Holly Lisle’s Flash Fiction course and got a bunch of short stories done. Sent Sentinels of Mysera to a couple people who were willing to content edit. Waited and tried to keep myself busy with the shorts, telling myself I was making progress.

Then I ended up in Redwall Survivor as Vera Silvertooth and my regular writing got put on hold as I did that. Redwall Survivor ended up being one of the best things I could have done, because on a weekly or so basis, I was writing a 1000 – 2000 word story, revising it, getting it critiqued by the cast, doing final edits, then posting it for the audience, where it was further commented on and critiqued. After finding out I’d survived another round of voting, it was back work on the next post.

Not only did I gain valuable experience as a writer, but I built relationships with a core of other writers who have different strengths that I do and were able to point out flaws and weaknesses in my writing.

By the time the end of 2015 hit, I’d grown in great ways as a writer, but I had failed to meet my two major goals.

One step forward, one back.

2016 was the year of revising Battle of the Bargaws, which is Sentinels Book 2. Through Holly Lisle’s How to Revise Your Novel course, I finally found myself learning the tricks and strategies that I needed to turn a wreck of a book into something good. While that was being done, I assembled notes on Tales of Mysera (my collection of short stories) and Sentinels of Mysera and had in my mind that edits and publication of those would happen in the later half of the year.

But I hit a wall, burned out a bit, and didn’t do much between finishing BotB revisions and NaNoWriMo.

My 2016 NaNo dragged into 2017 and now I find myself in the middle of April, two years behind my goal of “Publishing ToM and SoM.” In fact, both of those projects are now further back that I thought.

I spent two weeks going over SoM using HTRYN’s Lesson 1 and my dusty notes from my friends. At first I was frustrated with how long it took me, because I got through BotB in a week, not two. Reminded myself that SoM was almost twice the length of BotB, and kept going.

I’m less than encouraged by the results.

There are holes in SoM that I forgot to fill. There are errors. There are spots where I’m cringing at what I wrote. I’m almost embarrassed that I let anyone read it. The book that I thought was finished in 2015 is far, far from it.

One step forward. Two steps back.

My plan, at the beginning of 2017, was to have a revised, update version of SoM done by June 1, with a target publication date of January 2018.

I did not realize how broken the book was. And I didn’t anticipate that it may take me longer to revise, since it’s longer.

My June 1st revision date is not doable in the time I have to spend on the project each day. If I can manage the HTRYN lessons faster than last year, I’m still looking at finishing revisions by mid-September. But it’s highly probable that I may be working on this for the rest of the year.

Redwall Survivor is gearing up to kick off a new contest. I’m going to apply again, but if I make it in and if I last as long as I did in 2015, that’s going to slow down progress on SoM, because I have learned that I struggle with running two creative projects at once.

Plus I just signed up for Holly Lisle’s How To Write a Series course, and I’d like to work through that, too.

Of course, I don’t have the time or the energy to do everything. I have to juggle my family and those responsibilities in addition to writing. I’m still trying to figure out the balancing act to doing what needs done without burning out, because for me, that is a concern. When I push too hard for too long, then I burn out and everything stops. It’s not fair to me, my husband, or my kids when that happens.

Where does that put me and SoM? Well….

I’m going to keep plugging away, doing my darnedest to complete one lesson a week in HTRYN, but knowing that I’ll likely need to extend it to two weeks for most lessons. If I make it into Redwall Survivor, I’ll reevaluate my schedule and figure out a juggling act.

If I don’t get into Redwall Survivor this year, then I’ll know I can focus everything on SoM.

Tentative new deadline is to have SoM revisions done before NaNoWriMo 2017, so I have November free to write something new.

 

 

Bringing Stephen Home

We interrupt the regularly scheduled writing updates to bring your attention to something close to my heart.

From December 2002 through June 2003, I lived in Ghana, West Africa with a missionary family named the Icenogles. I joined a family of 10 — Steve and Jen with their 2 kids, Steve’s mom, 3 Ghanaian students, and a young mom and her 1-year-old son, Stephen.

Stephen was one of my special little buddies, getting excited every time we saw each other in the kitchen for breakfast and snuggling with me during family nights on Fridays.

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Over the last 14 years, a lot has changed for Stephen. His story is shared on the GoFundMe page, Bringing Stephen Home, but long story short is that more than two years ago, the Icenogles adopted Stephen in Ghana, and shortly afterwards, had to move back to the U.S. Since then, they’ve been caught up in the U.S. adoption system and they’ve been unable to bring Stephen home to live with them.

I want to boost the signal for the Icenogles and Stephen, so I’m sharing their story here. I’d love to see him back with the family that loves him so much. Check out Bringing Stephen Home for more information.

On To The Next!

I completely forgot to mention it or update anything concerning Crafting the Badger’s Head until today.

It is done. It has 112,600 words. It still needs to be run through spell checker to catch all of the spellings that I’ve trained myself to ignore when writing a rough draft, but it’s done.

After I finished it, I kinda took some time off mentally from the Sentinels world. I did no writing at all for a while. Then, I wrote a short story for a Mini Contest on the Redwall Survivor Forums and now… on to the next, I suppose.

The Next in this case being… *gulp* Sentinels of Mysera.

Again.

I pulled out the notes I got from a content editor 2 years ago (prior to my insane learning experience at Redwall Survivor), as well as notes from my Survivor shipmate, Tooley.

I’m not sure I can make these fixes short and easy on me.

I’m thinking I need to take SoM through Holly Lisle’s How To Revise Your Novel course. Run it through the the grinder which is HTRYN and finish it, once and for all.

I don’t want to, but I need to, because the book is not publishable as it is and I won’t see any further progress on the Sentinels Series until Book #1 is done.

2017 Reading Challenge

I’ve been meaning to work on this post for the last 4 weeks. Each time I sat down to write, I’ve gotten distracted by something else (some of which I hope to talk about later).

I’m once again trying a Reading Challenge. Over the last few years, I’ve done the yearly reading challenges as a way to expand my reading choices. If left to my own devices, I never read anything other than fantasy.

Last year I only got 8 of the 40 books on the list. Part of that was due to being mentally caught up in the Battle of the Bargaws revision, and the other problem was that I didn’t want to start on another book until I’d written a review for the previous one, and I kept putting the reviews off…

This year, I’m not going to worry as much with the reviews, unless there’s a huge outcry that I do them. I’ll do my reading when I wish and if reviews happen, they happen.

In fact, since 2017 started, I’ve already read 7 of the 52 categories on the list and I’m part way through the 8th book.

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The 2017 Reading Challenge taped in the back of my Passion Planner

Here’s what I’ve read so far!

  • An audiobook: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
  • A book involving a mythical creature: Hunter by Mercedes Lackey
  • A book with a red spine: A Beauty Refined by Tracie Peterson
  • A book with a title that’s a character’s name: Silhouette by Justin Richards
  • A novel set during wartime: Wrath by John Gwynne
  • A book with pictures: Legendary Locals of Bozeman by Rachel Phillips and the Gallatin History Museum
  • The first book in a series you haven’t read before: A Treasure Concealed by Tracie Peterson

As always, I’m open for suggestions for anything on the list that hasn’t been read. Please comment with any books you’d recommend for the challenge. There’s still plenty of time to jump in to the 2017 Reading Challenge. Let me know if you’re joining me and what you’re reading, too!