Writer’s Block// How to Escape the Scrape

A new writing post has emerged!

The last one that was similar to this was 5 Reasons You Should Keep Writing. 

Today we’ll be talking about writer’s block.

Escape the Scrape (1).png

Your inspiration is non-existent. You don’t feel like writing…or maybe you do and can’t think of anything to put on that blank page (or screen 😀 ). Congratulations!

You have writer’s block.

Now that I’ve diagnosed your writing problem (which you most likely have already diagnosed 😉 ) and also given you a deceptive blog post title…we may proceed!

What??! You gave us a deceptive blog post title?

Well, yes I did. You see…there’s no one way to fix this problem. I can’t just give you tips and say “This one will totally work for you!”. Because…every person is different and what works for me may not work for you. Yay, aren’t I encouraging?

While that may sound like bad news…guess what? It can also be very good news! Putting it positively- your solution may be right around the corner waiting to be discovered. So see, it’s not hopeless!

Ideas to destroy this beast…

  1. Remove anything and everything that’s distracting you from your presence. We have so many things in life that could potentially distract us from the one thing we want to do right now. I know for me personally- I go from writing a school assignment to just- not. Whether that means I’m checking my email or doing somethin’ else- It’s distracting me from writing. So. GET. RID. OF. THOSE. PESKY. DISTRACTIONS. ONE. BY. ONE. !
  2. Find a book to read that will get the imagination flowing. If you’re trying to write something in the fantasy genre, maybe read something in that genre. For instance, my current project is a retelling of The Little Mermaid. I keep on reading the original story to get the creative juices flowing. 
  3. Find a new angle. Were you telling the story first person? Try this out: tell the story in second person. Or you can take another character vital to the story and tell it in his/her perspective. If you’re struggling to put those first words on the paper…think about a way to make the story opening something totally different than what you’d intended. Was Willemina a princess once? Why not turn her into an ugly young woman afraid she’s never going to be realized for the princess she is? Now–true, this may just ruin the story. But there really are limitless possibilities. And it’s always possible you assigned the character the wrong role. 😀
  4. Make a pinterest storyboard. This may not be for everyone. But I can attest to loving this. Sometimes images inspire the mind when nothing else can. They visually transport you into the realm you’re writing about. They help you envision what you were trying to write. If you want an example of one you can check out mine for my dystopian story Watchful here. I love doing this, and it’s especially helpful to look back on when I’m stuck or uninspired. 
  5. Story Prompts. I’m not sure when this became a ‘thing’. But I just started getting into it. One thing I used to worry about was the possibility of plagiarism. Not anymore though. Because, I have discovered that different minds think differently. And while, yes, we sometimes tend to think similarly—you’d be surprised at what I come up with VS what others come up with. So don’t worry! Story prompts are an amazing way to help you step it up. Why not try angling what you have of your story into a prompt to enhance the plot? Or start your story with a prompt!
  6. Write. There is a way that may make you upset. It’s called writing. 😀 You’re not going to beat this writer’s block without doing some writing. Most of the things I’ve suggested up until now–have been ways to get the writing juices flowing. Because I don’t want you to think that the solution is NOT to write. True, you may need a little break. You may need to go outside where the air is clean to think about it. But the solution isn’t to quit writing indefinitely until you’re inspired. That’s a sure way to either never write, or when you do–to go back off it just as soon. 
  7. Try listening to epic music. I wouldn’t recommend pop or anything where the beat is louder than the words. If you’re writing a romance novel…imagine the scene while you’re playing some soft, sweet music. Try instrumental. If bigfoot is about to stomp on littlefoot…then play something tense. Will littlefoot be trod underfoot? 🙂 I personally love listening to movie soundtracks for epic fight scenes and the like. But you may need something smooth and calming. I do too, sometimes. 
  8. Make a writer’s schedule. This is one that I’m awful at, but really need to try. If you pace yourself so that you’re writing at a certain time for a certain amount of time- it may help. Put it in a place in that busy schedule where it’s not so likely to be loud. Make it fit at a ‘smooth’ part of the day where your work load isn’t there to bother you. 

 

I hope this was helpful to you! Keep writing!

Have you tried any of these?

Name a way not listed that’s helped you in the comments!

A you a writer, or more of a reader?

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Chop the Adverbs!

chop the adverbs!.png

 

You’ve probably heard this dozens of times. But it’s worth repeating: most editors dislike a lot of adverbs in creative writing. You’ve probably also heard the horror stories of the poor victims that showed up to the editors office and were told: “I need you to remove around 100 adverbs. I would recommend either completely changing the structure of the scene or adding a good strong verb instead.”

That is scary to me! I hope when I finally get around to having an actual editor that I won’t have the worry of extra adverbs on my plate. And so that is my primary focus in my writing right now.

But let’s ask the important question first: “Why do I have to cut out my adverbs anyway?”

Why You Need to Chop Adverbs…

  1. Because it can turn the reader off by being repetitive or excess. It really can do that. Have you ever read a book that was just so…*yawn* worthy? I’m not just talking about boring. I’m talking about over-the-top descriptions.

Example:

Jill and Jackson rushed quickly about the house.

Let’s take a look at this. Jill and Jackson rushing around is fine. It gives you a sense of the urgency of whatever is going on in the scene. So why  inclusion of the adverb- quickly?  That just distracts the reader. You should always stay away from extra/excess/unnecessary modifiers and descriptions. In the above example, I just restated the verb using an adverb. Instead, I ought to have just stuck with my strong verb-rushed. The next example is a sample taken from the scene of one of my books- before I removed as many adverbs as I could.

 Example:

“Rohn?”

A short grizzly looking man with sinister eyes and a foul expression asks.

The tall man he addresses looks annoyed.

“Vice President Cain, how many times do I need to tell you I am President Rohn?”

Cain trembles slightly at the tall man’s obvious annoyance.

“I apologize, President Rohn. I am simply wondering what you plan to do about the Christian uprising that’s been occurring. It’s all over the place! Just yesterday we had to kill an old man who was making a fuss about repenting because the kingdom of God…”

“Stop! I know all this! Can’t your men even keep one old man from making a racket? I tell you to keep all the Christians in the city from proclaiming that garbage and you just allow him to do it until you must kill him? In front of all those people, too?”

“He won’t be spreading his religion any longer.”

The vice mutters in an injured tone.

“Cain, we must find the root of this rebellion and terminate it. Send someone to find the source. Do whatever you must do to end the resistance! Ever since that Paul Liberty had to defy me!”

“Paul Liberty? Isn’t that the man who refused to conform to our laws and bow the knee to you? He was a troublemaker!”

“Yes, that’s him! I never could understand him. He was offered every luxury imaginable and he chose death.”

“How irrational, Sir.”

“I know.”

“I think I have just the man to find the source for you.”

“Who?”

“He’s a ruthless man who will do anything for money. He fits into our society. He’s the same man that killed Paul Liberty, I believe. He’s a conformist, and will do whatever is best for his own welfare.”

A sly grin comes onto President Rohn’s face as his vice describes the man.

“His name?”

The president inquires.

“Martin Ashveld.”

 

You only see four ‘ly’ adverbs in this exchange. It’s been a while since I’ve actually looked at the sentence structure of this for a while. I am not sure if I should remove the adverbs I have there. I would say yes, because it seems that they’re unnecessary.

 

2. We need to focus on displaying what we’re trying to display. I write a whole lot in first person perspective. I have a big problem. I’m not so great at showing the reader what I want to show them- so I end up telling them instead. Adverbs can really be a cheap way to go. Instead of going all out…I can get away with some easy navigation.

 

Example:

The man leered at me threateningly pointing his gun at my head. I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand on end…In a flash I managed to tie him up rather skillfully.

How could we have prevented telling this? I mean we want the reader to get involved in the heat of the scene. So we want to show them what happened, not tell them.

The example fixed:

The man leered at me (threateningly is removed, because it’s obvious he was threatening the girl- he was pointing a gun at her head after all!) pointing his gun at my head. I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand on end… (In a flash removed) I managed to tie him up (I dumped skillfully as well, because it’s falling into telling them how. I stuck with the good strong verb.).

*

So that’s not near all the reasons I thought of…but I would recommend checking out Emily Tjaden’s post on cutting adverbs: http://www.thisincandescentlife.com/2015/05/9-reasons-to-cut-adverbs-from-your-writing/

Here’s another post I like on the same topic as mine and Emily’s: http://writetodone.com/shoot-adverbs/

Yet another post on the (same) topic: https://www.writingforward.com/writing-tips/writing-tips-abolish-adverbs

Another post that I think is good tells about HOW to get rid of your adverbs: http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/how-to-eliminate-adverbs

 

Please don’t ‘shoot’ me when you notice that I use adverbs a lot in my posts (you might even find occurrences in THIS post! 🙂 ). I don’t have the time to sit editing my blog posts like that, but when it comes to writing—I think we can agree it’s way more important to be polished.

 

What are YOUR thoughts on cutting adverbs?

Do you tend to use adverbs a lot?

What is your stance on modifiers in general?

If you were to revisit a writing draft you wrote from long ago, would you find more adverbs or less?

 

 

~Emmaline

 

If at First You Don’t…

if-at-first-you-dont-succeed

 

Hello!

Today I’m doing something a little different. A post on failure…(so popular, right? 🙂 )

In my albeit short life, I have undergone a lot of (what I would consider) failures. Mostly in my crazy craft life. Other failures include:

a. writing endeavors.

b. drawing endeavors.

c. picture-snapping endeavors.

d. etsy business endeavor.

ETC.

Thankfully, I’m told we all make mistakes. But…that doesn’t make an excuse for mediocrity. So…how should we handle the failures? First off, I would say…

  1. DON’T QUIT!!!!

In my humble opinion, quitting is the true failure.

2. Observe the ‘failure’ and try to figure out where you went wrong.

This may be the singularly most helpful thing you can do. There have been so many things like this for me personally. Let’s take a pretty popular high-school example: math. (There are plenty of people who like it, I know…) I for one, am going through geometry. And I’m finding that it’s getting harder. I have to apply this tip to geometry all the time! I go back and observe where I went wrong…and I study so that NEXT TIME- I won’t make the same ole’ mistake.

3. Keep it in your mind that this should be done for God’s glory.

Too often, I think we make the mistake in thinking that everything we’re working for is for us! Talk about needing a shift in focus. I’m always wishing I could remember this in my hour of frustration. If I was setting my mind on higher things, I probably WOULD remember this whenever I’m frustrated about something.

To close this brief study on failure I will share a quote that I love on failure (funny that I love something relating to failure 🙂 ).

failure-quote

 

NOTE: Just so y’all know, I do NOT consider myself an expert on any topics I pick up on this blog. Really, writing all this out helps me more than anyone. As I write my thoughts, I am able to think more clearly about things. This blog really is talking to myself most of all!

 

What are things YOU have ‘failed’ at and want to ‘try, try again’?

Do you have any additional things that have helped you deal with failure?

What are your thoughts on failure?

 

~Emmaline

 

 

The Brown Recluse

Howdy, howdy!

No, this is not me turning into a cowgirl. This is me messing around with different openings. But anyways…I’m back with another one of my books! My writing posts, I call them. Today, I’m telling y’all about a fun one I’m writing. I don’t know about y’all…but I love ALMOST superheros. What do I mean by that? Well…people with great fighting abilities that want to help people…but minus any powers. No super strength, no climbing walls because you got bit by a spider, you get it. I’m more the Captain America type- minus the serum. 🙂 I do enjoy powers…but I don’t really want to write about that. I want to give this story a more realistic feel. I want readers to feel that this might actually be able to happen. So without further ado, I give you- The Brown Recluse.

 

 

the brown
One of the very earliest covers I ever made for my books, was this cover for The Brown Recluse. Talk about a creepy cover, guys! 🙂

 

Genre: Young adult, thriller, elements of mystery.

Synopsis

A prison boat sinks, supposedly drowning all the prisoners.

A young woman suffers from a spider bite, nearly dying.

A mysterious mentor, trains a woman to fight criminals…

…and Svetlana Ivanov lives a ‘quiet’ but mysterious life in a big city.

 

Excerpt

Prologue

Svetlana groaned, nausea gripping her insides. The constant tossing of the ship increased the sick feeling in the pit of her stomach. Beside her- Valentina stirred. How in the world is Valentina still asleep when this ship is about to sink? Svetlana wondered to herself.  Valentina opened her eyes. “Where are we?” she asked with a long yawn. “In a ship, below deck, and behind bars- just as we’ve been for the last two days.” Was Svetlana’s not-very-positive response. “Why am I in prison?” Valentina inquired blankly. “Valentina! You ought to know this by now. I already told you that you were suspected of murder…” Svetlana’s voice trailed off and she covered her face with her hands. “Sorry.” Valentina apologized with a sheepish look. “It’s okay.” Svetlana responded in a weak voice.

*

“Captain, we need to abandon ship. She’s about to go down!” a frightened sailor pleaded. “Prepare to launch the lifeboats. The prisoners will just have to stay below deck. We haven’t enough room or lifeboats to fit them anyway- besides, I don’t want to be in a lifeboat with any serial-killers.” The captain mumbled- reluctant to abandon his ship. “Is no effort to be made to save the prisoners?” another sailor asked overhearing the words of the captain. “Some of them aren’t serial-killers, sir.” Offered a tall man in a drenched sailing suit. “You and Abel were ever the compassionate ones, Cedrick. No! There will be no saving of prisoners! It’s every man for himself now. Abel, go and get the jailer and tell him we’re abandoning ship. And another thing- tell the jailer that he’d better shoot the prisoners.” As he spoke the captain began lowering the lifeboats. Cedrick accompanied Abel down the stairs that led to where the prisoners were being kept. As they went down Cedrick hit Abel hard on the back of his head so that he slumped over unconscious. Then Cedrick went down. He found the jailer asleep. Svetlana hopped to her feet when she saw Cedrick. “Cedrick, what news?” she asked in a whisper. “She’s going down- the Captains given orders to shoot the prisoners.” He whispered back grabbing the keys from the jailers. Svetlana groaned.. Why must death come to me so soon in life? She wondered.

He sorted through the keys until he found the key marked ‘7’ then went to Valentina and Svetlana’s cell and opened the door. Svetlana shook Valentina. Valentina- who was pretending to be asleep fell to her knees at sight of Cedrick. “God bless you!” she said. “Valentina, stop talking! We need to go or else we’ll be shot dead with the rest of the prisoners.” He whispered to Svetlana something about hiding below deck while he ‘took care’ of the other prisoners. Svetlana and Valentina exited and found a convenient nook to hide and wait. “Jailer, you have orders to shoot the prisoners.” Cedrick said. The jailer stirred and opened his eyes. “Oh, would that their blood would be on someone else’s hands!” he said, starting to shake. “Get moving, jailer. We’re abandoning ship. Unless you want to go down with the carcasses of the prisoners.” The jailer groaned. “Yes, that’s it! My fate will be their fate. I’m going down with the ship- you go and save yourself, Cedrick.” Cedrick snorted angrily. “No, we’re shooting the prisoners. Much more humane than choking them to death for lack of air.” The jailer nodded. Soon all the prisoners were dead- except Valentina and Svetlana. Svetlana listened to all that occurred- at last it seemed okay to stir. Valentina shivered. “What-what’s going to happen to us?” Valentina whimpered. “We’re getting out of this ship!” Svetlana gasped. She grabbed Valentina’s arm and pulled her through the door of the jailer’s cabin. After turning several times, they were on the main deck. Waves crashed and foamed all around them. One solitary lifeboat offered her welcome. “God bless Cedrick!” Svetlana praised aloud. “He’s left us the last lifeboat!” Valentina exclaimed. Yes, he’s left us the last lifeboat, and at risk of his life! Valentina hobbled into the lifeboat and Svetlana crawled in after her.

 

One

My fingers move, and Val’s pencil taps time to the movement. Everything about Val has changed these last two years. From the little things, to the big. Things like her hair, for instance. In the old days, it would’ve been cut short- right above her ear. And her hair would’ve been slicked. Now her jet black hair falls in soft waves just above her shoulders. Another thing is makeup. She barely wears any of it now. One coat of light mascara and a touch of light pink lipstick. She looks so innocent and sweet without all the dark, heavy makeup. And then she has changed. She’s almost never fussy, and whiny. Now, she’s just quiet. Barely talks to anyone except me.

“What’d you think, Val?” I ask, holding up a light red carnation. Val smiles, and rolls her eyes.

“I think, Svet that it looks like a well-groomed carnation.” I poke her. She pokes me back. Then we both laugh.

“Hey Val, will you pass me that hairclip?” I point at a teeny weenie gold clip across from me.

“Sure.” She answers in a nonchalant tone. I brush back the front of my hair, ‘losing the part’, as Val would say. Then I stick in the hairclip.

“You’re going to be late for work, you know.” Val says.

“I know. That’s why I asked for the clip, silly.” I poke her once again. She just grins. I hop up, and grab my handbag. I turn to go out the front door.

“Aren’t you forgetting something?” Val’s voice startles me. I instinctively reach to my leg. My gun’s not here. I look around, and yes– Val’s holding it. Ever since Val found my gun one night, I haven’t kept secrets from her. I first only got the thing to feel protected. My past makes it difficult for me to feel secure without a gun. It bothered Val at first. She was abused as a child, much the same as I was. One time I got it out of her that her father beat her whenever she didn’t do what he asked fast enough. But now as I see the gun in her hand, I know having it means much more. It’s my way of getting even with the government. I was falsely accused of murder. My father, who was the real culprit-, turned me in. My gun is carried illegally. That’s not a secret between Val and I. There’s no way I could get a concealed carry permit with a record like mine. And also, the fact that I and Val are supposed to be dead could make it potentially much harder.

“Thanks.” I say, extending my hand and taking it from her. I carefully pull up the right palazzo pant leg, slipping the gun into the hidden holster. I turn to go again.

“Svet?” Val’s voice stops me once again.

“Yeah?” I answer back.

“You look nice.” Her words are simple, but undeniably sweet. I glance down at my 1940’s palazzo pants, and then finger the hem of my classy white tuck-in, button-up shirt. We love world war two clothing. It’s our disguise, so to speak. I figured out that it’s not unusual to find a small group of people who like old-fashioned clothing. There’s really some of everything here in New York.

“That’s sweet of you to say.” It really is. Val always looks perfect no matter what she wears. I, on the other hand, have to work hard just to look ‘presentable’. Then I walk out the door. Val and I never say ‘goodbye’. Perhaps there’s a part of us that’s afraid if we say goodbye- it really will be just that.

*

I pull on my apron and stand at the old-fashioned cash register. I love the coffee shop I work at. They try hard to look vintage. The tablecloths, the waitresses, and the menu- everything smacks of the 1940’s. That’s one of the reasons that I decided to work here. I fit in here. Clara, a fellow employee, and my friend- steps toward the old radio.

“Hit me with it, Svet! What should we listen to today?” she asks.

“Hmm…put on the swing music. But remember Clara, it’s background music- not central.” She laughs; no doubt remembering the time where she flipped it on and the radio volume came out full blast. All the customers were covering their ears.

“Gotcha’.” She giggles. That’s the only thing I don’t like about her. She’s giggles too much.

__________________________________________________________________

Well, that’s it. Sorry about the roughness. This is literally the entirety of the first draft…and I haven’t edited it in forever! 😦

 

Do y’all like ‘almost’ superheros?

Are any of y’all into Marvel or DC?

Who’s your favorite superhero?

Have you ever tried to write a ‘superhero’ story?

~Emmaline

 

 

The Quest for Queen Rii

Hi again!

Why in the world am I writing another post today? The lovely reason is that I am going on vacation with my family! And so I will be absent for the rest of the week… 😦 But this is another writing post. Another one of my books. The story behind this book is simple: I was doing an assignment for my writing class. It was the very last assignment in the book. The task? Write a short story/novella from scratch. I quickly found inspiration and got started. And uh-yeah, I’m still not finished with it. I am exceedingly bad at writing short stories. I always end up with a full-length novel (if I ever finish the particular story).  But anyways, I present the cover and the information for The Quest for Queen Rii.

endless
I am actually rather proud of this cover. I love the way it turned out. It took a while to please me, but after a while- VICTORY!

 

Synopsis

One immortal fairy must give a baby to Jennisaar every year…

An Unwanted  Princess… and an unusual one at that!  Is a heroine who is a princess normally also a centauress? 

An Exiled Skinchanger/Shapeshifter… Bror knows what it is to be different. On his first hunt he was exiled for turning into a lamb–instead of the lion he should have been.

And a Fairy Queen… Every year I am forced to give a baby to the land of Jennisaar. I am cursed. I only wait for another person to set me free that I may resume my throne and have my children returned to me.

WILL BE THROWN TOGETHER… here now our paths intertwine. Can we overcome the woes that await us? Will we be freed from the curses that plague our lives? We must find peace, for it is truly what we were made to enjoy.

The magic fire here is drawn, sweet voice lift up in ancient song.

Ilarminine douran (open to me the ancient flames)

Ishaka! Ishaka! (Mother! Mother!)

Imaadula Vescarii (I call unto you)

Ishaka ven douran (Mother of ancient flame)

Excerpt

 1.

ADELINE

Who I am, Unwanted Centaur Princess

There she is-will she remember me? Will she fail the quest? Will she even answer the call? She is discouraged for now- confused. But soon she will know what she needs to know and she will have a chance to free me from this curse. I need her. I NEED her.

I travel on in silence. My mother says I came in silence. It’s a fitting conclusion, really.  Tears stream down my cheeks anyway. I’m unwanted. I am a centaur princess. Born to privilege, raised to advantages. Why does my father hate me so? I brush my mane through with the tips of my fingers- I’m determined to stay clean and beautiful. No matter what, I will not forsake my breeding. It had all happened to me but a day ago. I smart as I remember what happened:

“Adeline, you must leave. Your father is very angry, worse than I’ve ever seen him. He wants you dead. You have become too powerful for him, my daughter.” My mother had pleaded with me to leave, but I would not. “Dear mother, I am a princess. My father cannot exile me. I must stay as is right for the centaurs’ princess to do.” I had insisted. Then my mother had left- and it happened.  Father rushed into my room with ten centaurs and ten centauresses. They soon surrounded me. “Escort the Princess Adeline from the palace and see to it she never returns!” he had yelled, spent of all decorum. The centaurs glanced around awkwardly. Apparently, they at least- had some feelings. They had a sense of dignity and propriety. Grofan and Groros, the twin centaurs, looked at me. I could see the despair in Grofan’s eyes- and the devastation imprinted clearly on Groros’s face. We played together as children, I always won our races. And since we had grown up, Groros had been seeking my hand. But father hated me, and I didn’t love Groros anyway. At last, the centauresses decided they would act. Grabbing me by the arms they dragged me out. Kiver, the Centauress who has always hated me- gave me a look of pure joy. I caught Groros’s eyes before they dragged me out, and I knew by that look- that he will never forgive Kiver. But all that matters little to me, for I have more problems on my hands. I have only a little food, menial water, and no place to go or stay. And I still don’t really know why my father hates me so. I am the fastest of all in our kingdom, it is true. But how does that make me more powerful than father? I must seek shelter. No, I must find it. I will find it. And when that’s done, I will discover why my father is afraid of me, as my mother said.

 

 2.

BROR

Who I am, Exiled Skinchanger/ Shapeshifter

Ah, look! I see her helper…the chosen one’s helper. She is the antidote- he will protect her. Neither of them knows it yet or is aware. But soon they’ll both know-and when they do…quick! I must speak to him, and soon. He has seen me many times before this. He just has no idea it’s me.

Chop! Chop! Chop!  This has become one of the many sounds I am accustomed to. I enjoy chopping wood. It’s a way to forget momentarily that I am in charge of guarding a wishing well instead of hunting with my pack. But they threw me out. It was many years ago- but I have lived on. I suspect my pack has lived on as well. I wouldn’t know; it’s not like I ever see them. That’s probably a mercy- is my dour thought. Perhaps you know someone who is different and is looked down on or treated badly because of it. Perhaps they’re even kicked out for it. Such is my fate. I was born into a shapeshifting pack. What did my pack shapeshift into? Lions. Those majestic creatures. But we (of course) also could be humans. When I was but ten years old, it was time to hunt with the pack. My father was the pack leader, and I wanted him to be proud. But instead of shapeshifting into my lion form- I changed into a lamb. My father was both furious and embarrassed. His son…turned into a lamb? It was not only unheard of, it was dangerous! What blood must be flowing in my veins to turn me into a lamb? And so the matter went before the council- and I was exiled. But my father who did love me…softened the blow. And sent me to guard the wishing well. He said it was an honorable task. He said all I had to do was await a time when I would be freed from my exile and able to return to the pack. He said a woman would free me from changing into a lamb. But after I was exiled- I discovered that I can also change into a lion like the rest of my pack. I prefer to think of myself as special instead of cursed. And then I made the discovery that I can also be a Skinchanger. Perhaps you think there is no difference. But I assure you, there is. A Shapeshifter has shapes that are a part of him that he can take on. A Skinchanger can go inside another animal and stay inside for a limited time. I’m not saying this is exactly the truth for all who are Skinchangers- but it is for me. So now I’m waiting for…I don’t know what. I’ll figure it out. I have faith in my father’s promise. I pick up the stack of new cut wood and dump them carelessly on the larger pile. Now for my chore: check on the wishing well. As I walk, I whistle. It makes me feel better- and helps me when I get close to the wishing well to remain composed. Why do I need to be composed? Because every time I get close to the wishing well, no matter how hard I try- I always am stunned by the breathtaking beauty before me. As I walk forward I see it is no different today: positioned in the middle of a quiet forest is the wishing well. Light comes in beams from the trees surrounding… the water of the wishing well gives off the usual blue sparkle. But as I approach…I see it- her.

“Who are you?” I gasp. “I am the spirit of the wishing well. I have seen you often before- though I doubt you knew it was I.” she replies in a soft voice. “Don’t you have a- a name?” I stammer. I don’t like the idea of a- whatever she is not having a name! To my surprise she bursts into a tinkle of silvery laughter. I shiver. Her laugh seems to cut through my very soul. “My name- ah! I have not heard anyone say my name in years.” She says. “Why not?” I decide to be a little more in control of this unusual situation. I am a Shapeshifter of royal birth- of the lion tribe. I am not of mean blood. I am a lion. By now I am peering inside the wishing well and looking at the spirit’s face. She looks very like a woman- a beautiful, queenly woman. “Oh, that tends to happen when you are as old as I and all those who knew you are dead.”This is really getting out of hand. “You said you’ve seen me before.” The spirit smiles. “Oh yes…yes. I have, in the form of a doe.”I gulp. The other day I shifted into lion form and went on a hunt in these woods. There was a doe- and I naturally tried to catch her. But she disappeared and I didn’t see her again. The strange thing about this doe was that she was pure white- much like I myself am, when in lion form. “I didn’t know it was you, whoever you are. I didn’t mean…” I stop when she laughs again. “It’s okay, you know.  You couldn’t have caught me anyhow.” Somehow, I don’t doubt that’s true. “But no more beating around the bush…Bror. We both want something dreadfully- and have both been waiting for it.” I stiffen. Yes, there’s one thing I want. I want to go home and join my father in the hunt. Soon- I would have to take his place as tribe leader. “We have both met with sorrow. But I am come to tell you…that the promised woman is come. She will free us both.”I shiver- this time in excitement. “Then- you are the promised woman!” “No, not I.” “No?” “No.” disappointment takes me. “Then who is?”The spirit’s eyes fill with sympathy- then with tears. A thought hits me- can spirits cry, and shed real tears?  “You’re not only a spirit, are you?”I ask. “No. I am an immortal fairy. I am cursed.” She replies. “How are you cursed?” is my next question. “I am cursed with having to give a baby to Jennisaar every year- my own child.” No wonder she cries. My mother cried when I was sent away. “Who will save us? Who?” I ask again. “A woman who is a centaur. She will come here soon- and she will need your help. She will want to use the wishing well.” This is too bizarre! What in the world would a centaur want to use the wishing well for? Centaurs are content in themselves. They’re never discontent with who they are and what they do!  “You don’t believe me, then?” her voice to me sounds understanding-yet reproving. Yet I feel guilty even speaking to her. So I simply remain silent. “Did you truly think that the promised woman’s coming would make sense? That it would be obvious that she was the one? You thought-Bror- that it could only be a woman who was wholly human?” “I hardly know what I thought at all.”

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Well, that’s it. All I have for the rest of this week. As always, feel free to comment all your feedback, advice, questions, comments, etc.

Have you ever written anything in the fantasy genre?

Do you enjoy fairy tales?

What’s your favorite person to write in? (Mine is 1st person 🙂 )

 

~Emmaline

Watchful

Hello there!

I am working on a series of posts dedicated to my writing endeavors. I have at least ten novels ‘in progress’–but operating this way kinda’ shoots me in the foot. Because I have so many ideas and almost no time to spend working on all of them at once. But I have to or I lose my ideas. So I have decided to share this one. I currently have about a chapter typed out (but the whole plot in my head). I am going to share an excerpt in this post somewhere. I am also going to share the cover I designed for the book (I did it in a hurry, so it’s not my best)–which as you will notice has the pic I drew of an unfinished eye (which you can find here). Here’s the cover and the information follows it. 🙂

amazonjungle
I personally think there’s too much green showing in the picture. I also don’t think the image is as enhanced as it should be. And I probably should’ve cropped the image first. And the title is in a strange place. But, Hey! It’s all good, and it works for my purposes. 🙂

Genre: Dystopian, Scif-fi, (possibly some elements of…) Fantasy.

Synopsis

In a world built after the fall of a once-prosperous civilization, the six cities were founded.
Beacon, the city built so that the world would never lose light. Sunrise, the city built that the world might not lose its hope. Combatant, a city built that the world might never lack protectors, the city of warriors. Data, the city built that the world might become wise- that the world would not fall. Jollity, the city built to ensure that joy and worldly happiness might not be lost. And Vigor, a city built that the world would be healthy and thrive in its new environment. Many years after the cities were founded, the world was falling once again. From the seeming peace- the school was built. A school dedicated to finding the gifted- the superior. A school dedicated to putting the people in their proper rankings. And from the danger that was nearing- a seeing force was rising. A team- WATCHFUL.

Excerpt

Chapter One

Sweat trickles down my face. I rub sweaty palms on my gray pants-and swallow hard. It’s okay, it’s okay. They can’t hurt me. It can’t be bad- Mom and Dad sent me here!

“You okay, kid?” the girl next to me asks. I lift my head just enough to see a girl with short, red curls and green eyes staring at me.

“Sure, I’m okay.” I declare, craning my neck to see what’s happening at the front of the line.

“They’re all squawking like a bunch of chickens up there. You’d think we were at a slaughterhouse.” the red-haired girl mutters. I sneak a quick look at her. She’s pretty tall for a girl, and seems very social. Too social, for my tastes. To my embarrassment she looks at me, and before I can look away sticks out her hand.

“I’m Prisl Smith, from Beacon.” I hesitate. In Vigor, where I lived, it’s a huge act of faith to give out your name. And to shake someone’s hand pretty much makes you their friend. Then, somehow I’m shaking her hand. I trust her.

“Jessica Graye, Vigor.” She smiles. I look at her, trying to pierce through the layers of her character.

“My friends call me Jess.” I add after a moment.

“My friends just call me plain old Prisl. In Beacon, no one has nicknames.” Do I detect a hint of longing in her voice? Yep, she wants someone to care enough to give her one. Now isn’t the time though, I don’t know her well enough yet. At last we reach the front of the line. A woman with an impassible face shows me something. A ring? The woman slips the ring on my finger- it fits perfectly.

“Your paperwork.” I take the folder from her outstretched hand, but focus on her name tag.

“Thank you, Maud.” Her eyes flicker- she is quite suspicious. Obviously she doesn’t remember that her name is pasted for all to see. ‘Maud’ gives me a brisk nod. Almost immediately I am whisked away by a tall man into one of the waiting trucks. As I enter I notice only one person- Garth. He’s really all that reminds me of home now. I gravitate toward him without a second thought and squeeze into the open seat between him and a brown-haired girl. Garth turns toward me and smiles, a warm smile that sends heat surging through me.

“Rough day today, huh?” he asks.

“Tell me about it. I feel about as well-cared for as a sheep going to get sheared. And it’s so crowded in here!” I complain in a quiet voice.

“Yeah, I know. I think we’ll only be in here for an hour or two though. I’ve heard talk of planes to take us to the school.” I nod, for some reason not really wanting to talk anymore. The thought of the school we’re all headed to fills me with dread. And something else, fear? The door to the train slams shut from the outside and we lurch forward as it starts down the bumpy tracks.

“Neat ring you got. From your parents?” he inquires, in a tone that asks for me to acknowledge he’s speaking. I hold out my hand instinctively- and gaze at the ring in depth for the first time. A twisting sterling silver band, a circular center gem which has what looks like an- eye– engraved on it. And one word, so tiny I can barely see it. I’m almost certain my ring says ‘watchful’ on it. What does that mean?

“No, I was given it by a- friend.” I stammer. I don’t think I want him knowing that a lady with a less-than-pleasant face named Maud gave it to me. That would just make him curious and I’m not in the mood for talking.

“Hey, what’s the matter, Jess- I do something?” he suddenly is studying me a little too closely for comfort.

“No, I’m okay. I’m just tired.” I shrug away his concern.

“Miss your parents?” Stop it Garth! Can’t you take a hint?

“Not really, no.” he frowns, obviously not convinced. Don’t ask me again, please. I beseech silently. Finally, he gets the hint.

“Okay, I’ll leave you alone- but I’m here if you want to talk.” I smile gratefully. Garth may not be the best at taking hints, but he’s kind anyways. And he doesn’t push when he sees it’s pointless. I spend the next hour with my head resting on the back of my chair- dozing. But soon Garth is nudging me awake.

“What?” I grumble.

“Something’s happening.” Sure enough a woman’s voice comes in over the loudspeaker.

“All students are requested to stay in their seats. We have almost reached our destination. A nurse will be coming back to inject each of you with a micro chip which will ensure your safety should you get lost. We are being held personally responsible by your parents for your safe arrivals, and must take these measures for their comfort.” Garth frowns slightly. Kids in the train car begin murmuring. My apprehension heightens. Something akin to terror seizes me, and I shake violently. I grab Garth’s arm impulsively.

“Is it safe?” I blurt. Garth relaxes- probably for my sake.

“Oh yeah, I mean what harm can it be? It’s only until we get to the school, right?” I nod my head. I hope that’s all it’s for- safety. The nurse comes in through a door which separates our train car from another room. She’s carrying a big syringe- and an evil looking metal box. You’re acting childish. You grew up around needles! Why are you scared? Despite reproach of myself- my palms start sweating again. But I’m not shaking anymore at least. Slowly the nurse makes her way around the car until she’s next to me. I bite my lip and hold out my arm- steeling myself for the worst.

“What’s your name, dear?” the question from the nurse startles me.

“Jessica Graye, what’s yours?” I fire back, determined that if I’m to give out my name- she’ll have to give out hers. She does look surprised.

“Well…” she begins (I look away as I realize the needle is ready to go),

“…my name is Ashley.” I draw in my breath at the sting. Much bigger and sharper needle than any I’ve ever gotten stuck with. A tear of pain slides out of my eye. She wipes it away with a tissue.

“You did very well, Jessica- is it? How old are you, dear?” Ugh. Why does she want to know all this?

“I turned seventeen this May.” I answer. Suddenly, without even thinking about it- I fall into an old habit. I look deep into her eyes- and I realize she’s just a kind person. She’s not probing, or trying to find me out- or get me in trouble. Ashley’s mouth twitches once again.

“You did well, dear.” Then, her eyes suddenly train on my ring. She freezes.

“Where did you get that?” Is it hers or something?

“Um- a friend gave it to me. Do you recognize it?” I ask. Ashley shakes her head quickly, and then just moves on to Garth. Confused, I sit and wait. Soon, Garth’s attention is on me again.

“What was that about?” he asks me.

“Uh- I don’t know. It seemed weird to me, actually.”

“Yeah, to me too.” I notice his eye gravitating back to my ring. I jerk my hand away, while at the same time pulling the ring off and sliding it into my pants pocket. Garth just shrugs. He’s quite used to my guardedness obviously. The rest of the trip is a blur. I remember walking around- in a daze to keep from falling asleep. Then there was the airplane. But I was just too tired to care much. And then, before I knew it- we had arrived at the school. The institute. I pull my hair out of its braid- and brush it until it shines. I look in the mirror of my new room. I see her for the first time- me. I’m healthy, of course I am- I lived in Vigor. But it’s the plainness that startles me most. The normalness. I have soft, long brown hair. Blue eyes and freckles. The other girls I’ve seen are beautiful. Blond hair, bright blue or hazel eyes, tall and attractive.

“I’m just me.” I say aloud.

“Duh, get some sleep- silly.” Prisl Smith, who is my roommate-, giggles. I look in her direction. I like her; I think she’s my friend. And with those final thoughts, I climb into bed.

 

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And that’s the info. Thanks for taking the time to read this, please comment any feedback you might have.

What genre(s) have you been writing lately?

Any projects you’ve shared recently?

What’s your absolute favorite genre to play with? (Mine’s dystopian 🙂 )

 

~Emmaline

Characters Who Die

girlygoingawayparty
Note: Just because there are images of certain characters on this graphic, that doesn’t mean I have watched the movies.

JUST A NOTE! The header image contains spoilers to several movies.

Have you ever fallen in love with a character only to have them killed off later? Oh, the sting-the agony!

But let me just tell you–you haven’t experienced true downfall until you become a writer and kill off your own characters. I was depressed for a week after killing off a character I had come to love. Killing off a character affected my mood that entire week. No kidding.

All this to say…what? I am going to be the evil villain who gives you some tips I picked off from the web–on effectively depressing other people. That’s right. I killed my beloved character- now I want YOU to kill one of yours. You pick. But first I’m going to give you tips on how to make you character likeable (yep, so you can twist the knife as you insert it- otherwise people will rejoice at the death of an average/or unlikable character.).

  1. Create SYMPATHY for the character. Make your readers identify with them- put in links.
  2. Get your character in trouble! Throw some mud on your character (false accusations), make them the victim of something, put them into some kind of jeopardy.
  3. Make the character likeable. Don’t go ‘duh’ just yet. Here are examples of making the character more likeable:

i. Make him/her good or nice.

ii. Make him/her funny.

iii. Make the character talented at what he/she does.

4. Introduce the character as soon as possible. That’s right- make sure that you make them the center of interest quickly. If it’s not really a main character- then don’t worry too much about this. Instead, just introduce them as fast as possible.

5. Show the character in touch with his/her own power.

i. Power over other people. (manipulative?)

ii. Power to do what needs to be done, without hesitation.

iii. Power to express his/her feelings regardless of what others think.

6. Place the character in a familiar-ish setting. Yeah, I know. Some of us write fantasy and you create your own world. In my novel I created my own world but gave it modern tendencies. You may want to experiment with your world to make the character more identifiable.

7. Give the character flaws, sins, and defects that we all know. If she’s perfect it’s hard for us to identify. Because, if we’re truly being honest we sin all the time/ make mistakes.

“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

~ 1 John 1:8

 

8. But if this is a story about a superhero…you may find it more attractive to give your character perfection or special powers. Another story I’m writing, The Brown Recluse, is a superhero-ish story. But I’m making her an ex-criminal. I’m also adding Biblical themes to the story to add a redemption flavor. So my superhero has flaws. Marvel superheros have flaws (well all except Cap, haha!). Just play by ear.

9. The eyes of the audience. Try to only give the readers information when the main character gets the info. It will make them need to know the truth. They will BE the main character–and experience the main character’s frustrations. The character will be more likeable if they feel strongly about what they don’t know yet.

NOW WE’RE READY TO TALK ABOUT COMMITTING A CHARACTER’S MURDER…

(I’m mostly going off of another blogger, I’ll include the link to that post at the bottom of the post.)

How should you kill off the character effectively? How shouldn’t you kill off a character?

You Should if it:    

  • Advances the plot
  • Fulfills the doomed character’s goal
  • Motivates other characters
  • A fitting recompense for the character’s actions up to this point
  • Emphasizes the theme
  • Creates realism in the story
  • Removes an extraneous character

 

You Shouldn’t if it:

 

  • Shocks readers just for the sake of shocking them.
  •  Makes readers sad just for the sake of making them sad. If you don’t have a good reason to murder a character–don’t do it! Readers will get a bad kind of frustration which will just make them mad.
  • Cuts an extraneous character. Yes, I know. I just said that was a good reason. But you better make sure the extraneous character really belonged in the story in the first place.

 

And now I’m going to quote the blog:

How to Kill a Character: A Checklist

Lucky for our sadistic little souls, roles and archetypes can shift from character to character or be shared by several characters. In short: when a character dies off, his death doesn’t have to mean his role will be left vacant for the rest of the story.

With all this knowledge in mind, here’s a quickie checklist for figuring out if you can get away with murder:

  • You have scrutinized the list of good reasons to kill off a character.
  • You have identified one of the reasons as being present in your plot (or come up with a new good reason).
  • You have identified what role and archetype your character fills in your story.
  • You have created and positioned another character(s) to fill the hole left in your story by the doomed character’s death.

–or–

  • Your story ends in a thematically satisfying way that doesn’t require the character’s role to be perpetuated.

Sometimes the death of a character can raise an ordinary story into something special. If you can justify a character’s death, then go for it! Special may be just around the corner.

~ http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/kill-a-character/

 

So there you go! Off to your desk to commit the murder of YOUR character.

 

How many characters have YOU killed off?

What’s the worst you’ve done to a character to bring about their death?

Who’s a character in a movie or a book that was killed of that you loved?

 

~Emmaline