The Snowflake Method (Becoming an Author, Part Two)

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After much procrastination, relaxation, stress-ation (aka school) and vacation, I am back! At least for today. No promises for the future, but hopefully I’ll post during NaNoWriMo, which I am…not really but kind of doing? Essentially, I’m not starting a novel during November, but I’m going to be working on planning one.

Which brings me to the subject of today’s post…the Snowflake Method, which I’m using with Battle Song! Are you excited? I am.

(P.S. Want to see my first Becoming an Author post? It was ages ago, but whatever. You can find it here.)


So what’s the Snowflake Method?

The Snowflake Method is a way of planning or organizing a novel, starting from a tiny sliver of your story (a one-sentence summary) to the full complexity of a first draft. Successive steps along the way help you expand it piece by piece until you’ve created an entire novel.

This ten step method was developed by Randy Ingermanson, and you can check out the ten steps here at his website.


Why am I using the Snowflake Method?

The first time I heard of the Snowflake Method was when my dad and I did Camp NaNo together (my first NaNo experience) in April 2013. He used this method to plan out his novel, but I didn’t really know much about it except for the basic idea (from basic to complex).

I used to shun the Snowflake Method without knowing much about it because I’m not a planner. I didn’t want to be a planner. I thought it would limit my creativity, freedom, and enjoyment–and maybe it will, but I’m going to try it out.

But lately I’ve been frustrated with how I can’t seem to finish a novel. I’ll write a few chapters or even 20- or 30,000 words…and then it fizzles away. In the past, even when I have finished, the middle of my novel has sagged. I can write a beginning just fine, but the rest? Not so much.

So, I decided I’d just check the website out. If it helped me, I’d try it out. And when I read through it, I realized that it was exactly what I needed.

I needed something to organize my work, to help me develop a functioning beginning, middle, and end, and to assist me in writing a novel that would affect other people–and that’s what it’s for.

(I didn’t worry about buying the book or the software. Like he says, everyone will do it a little differently, and I don’t think I need those things to make it work for me.)


Is it working?

Yes…as far as I can tell. I’ve only done the first three steps, so who knows? And I’m not sure if I’ll know until I actually write the first draft. Or technically, third draft? Because it will be the third time I’ve started Battle Song. But for right now, it’s helping me.

It’s not that it suddenly made me realize what everything was supposed to be–on the other hand, it revealed the problems with my story–the lack of a specific conflict, especially. When describing your novel in such a short time frame–one sentence–you have to strip it down to its very essence and build up from there.

Here’s that one sentence (or logline) describing Battle Song:

In a reimagining of The Little Mermaid, a warrior mermaid seeks divine forgiveness for her murders while forced to fight in a war.

It took me a while to figure out what the central conflict was and how to make sure it conveyed the interesting parts of the ideas (not just the fighting but also the religion and Amrya’s conflicted nature throughout the book), but now that I took the time to figure it out, I really like the logline and how it will affect my story.

Also, if you’re interested in starting the Snowflake Method or just writing a logline for your book, here’s the two sources I liked the best. (The readability is awful with a black background, but the information was clearly stated and helpful for me.)

Building the Perfect Logline for Your Book, Screenplay, or Other Story

Logline Workshop: Jurassic Park


Your thoughts?

Have you ever used the Snowflake Method? Do you want to? How do you plan (or not) your novels? Do you think that’s the right way for you, or could you improve? Do you have a logline for your current novel? If so, please share it! And what do you think of the logline for Battle Song?

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Blog Tour: Isolated by Jordy Leigh + Spotlight Excerpts

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I’ve tried to be strong… but I just can’t go on. I can’t do it. I’m forgotten. God doesn’t know what He’s doing. Our country is falling apart, and here I am. Dying.

~ from Isolated

Hi, y’all! I’m so excited to be here participating in Jordy Leigh’s blog tour for Isolated and to be able to share a spotlight or two from it with you!

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Isolated (War and Wilderness, book one) is Jordy’s debut novella and the first in a series of four YA suspense novels about–you guessed it!–war and wilderness…and God.


Within fateful hours, she was homeless and an orphan.

Fourteen-year-old Louise Stella flees into the forest to escape an intruder who would take her hostage. But by the time she returns to her house, her country has broken out in war and her home island has become a military base. Sharing the land with enemy soldiers, Louise’s only goal is to stay alive one day at a time. Having no food or water, and little knowledge of how to survive in the forests of Quebec, her biggest adversary is “the Unknown”. Her pride crumbles and she realizes that she can’t sustain herself. She must depend on someone else… but Whom?

Isolated is a Young Adult suspense novella with uncertainty lurking at every turn. It will have you asking the big questions about life and death. Will you come to the same conclusion as Louise?


I had the privilege of being able to read the novella and choose the excerpt that I wanted to spotlight. It is an short but intense novella about survival, war, and, ultimately, our relationship with God as shown through Louise–which is what I want to shine the spotlight on. (Minor spoilers ahead.)

Louise’s family loves God, but she doesn’t understand who He is–and, more importantly, she doesn’t want to. She wants to live her life her own way and be in charge of her own fate.

God, it’s just that I… I hate not knowing things. I hate not knowing how tomorrow will work out or if I made the right choice.

Of course, throughout the novella, as she is forced to survive on her own and goes through many different struggles, there are many opportunities to humble herself.

Some strong feeling reared up in Louise. Hope was a part of it. So was adrenaline. But there was something else, too. Fear? Anger? Sorrow? The enemy base was also her home – the Bible school where she had grown up; her security. She wondered which building had been attacked. Perhaps it was the office or one of the student dormitories. But when she heard the shouts, she knew it had to be her house.

God…

She had no words.

But God doesn’t give up–He never gives up, and that is such a beautiful theme of this book–that God is always there for us, and He loves us more than we can know or possibly imagine.

Louise recalled the bracelets she often made on long road trips. She was proud of them. Is that how You feel about the stars? There was a brief pause, then she ventured another question. Is that how You feel about…me?

There were so many beautiful passages that I could share, words that affected me, that Jordy used to show me–and all of us–that God is there, and that we need Him. We need His love, and we need His power–always.

“You knew.”


Isolated will be published September 11, but you can pre-order on Amazon or add it to your to-read list on Goodreads today!

Also, make sure to check out Isolated‘s landing page as well as Jordy’s blogwhere she authors both spiritual and writing-related posts! Jordy is a great friend and a lovely person to interact with–so leave a comment on her blog and tell her congrats! Also, if you’re interested in learning about her writing progress, make sure to join her newsletter group (link is on her blog).


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From as young as seven years old, Jordy Leigh filled exercise booklets with stories until her hand hurt. She loves a good book, but ultimately she hopes that hers will offer something of greater value than short-lived entertainment. In reading them, may you learn more about the God of the Bible.

Jordy Leigh hopes that Isolated will at once quench your desire for compelling fiction and nourish your soul with wholesome truth.


let’s talk, shall we?

Are you excited for Isolated‘s publication? Have you read it/do you want to? Do you prefer novels or novellas? And make sure to head over to Jordy’s blog and congratulate her!

(P.S. I have missed you all and will hopefully write up a post talking about my absence and all of that stuff soon…)

I Won Camp(!) + Discussing Battle Song’s Problems & Positives + Too Much Parenthetical Commentary

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Photo by samsommer on Unsplash–thank you!

Okay, so my Camp NaNoWriMo goal was less than any other NaNo goal I’ve had in the 4.5 years I’ve done it (only 20,000 words). But it’s been over a year since I won a NaNoWriMo event, so just winning felt awesome and like I could do amazing things.

Screenshot 2017-08-01 at 4.16.21 PMLook at my lovely chart…. Clearly, I did not do very well during the first half of the month (partly because I went on vacation for an entire week), but I pulled in by the very last day. (Go procrastination!) Not quite as awesome as the NaNo where I wrote 12K the last day to win, but still pretty great.

Also, this draft (rewrite?) is turning out much better than the first one–and also very different. It’s become more emotional (I hope) and a lot more centered on war and fighting and the results of that/how that affects people. But also still about family and religion and love and all of that fun stuff. (Not sure if I told you this, but there’s an actually semi-decent synopsis/blurb on the Battle Song page! *nudges you to check it out*)

But there’s still some stuff that I have yet to figure out. My biggest problem right now is figuring out what exactly Amrya traded with the sea witch. You see, the whole idea of this novel came about from the idea that the little mermaid traded in her beauty instead of her voice. But then…that didn’t work. It didn’t affect the story at all because it’s not about beauty or about a society that really cares about beauty.

So then I decided that she was going to trade out her fighting skills, but that didn’t work because when I began writing this second draft, Amrya’s personality changed a bit. Rather than liking being a warrior, she hates fighting and killing but feels honor-bound to do it. So giving up her fighting skills was not going to challenge her enough.

When I wrote the scene between her and the sea witch, I had her trade some heartscales, which are like tokens of war + mer currency, which worked but also doesn’t affect her after she becomes human.

Now I’m wondering, should I just have her lose her voice like the original? It would better follow the original fairy tale narrative, and I think I can make it work and still have decent character development, but I still don’t know if it will affect her enough. The story isn’t about not being able to communicate; it’s about not wanting to fight. And though having her lose her voice could work, I’m afraid that it’ll detract from the point I’m trying to get across.

(What is that point? you may ask… Well, probably something along these lines: life has value + war is sometimes necessary + family is important + faith + true love and friendship + something else maybe? But that’s what it seems like it’s heading toward.)

So…what do you think? Do you think that it’s okay to have her not trade anything that really affects her (considering that the part that really affects her is that she has to marry one specific person)? Should I have her lose her voice at the risk of it sounding like it was just put there because of the original fairy tale or would it work because it’s from the original fairy tale? Or maybe she just loses it partly (like only the magic part or only for a certain amount of time)? Or do I need to find something else entirely that would make it hard? I don’t know, but I just really need someone’s opinion besides my own.

Okay, we’ve talked about my issues with Battle Song; what about the good parts? Well, there are actually quite a few.

1. The mer culture decided it wanted to be something different and it was awesome. Like, it’s still the same basic warrior clan idea thing, and there’s still a lot I have to develop more fully, but there’s magic that’s awesome and relates to singing! (Points for reference to the little mermaid’s voice being important.) And I kind of figured out why they’re fighting…which kind of leads to the next point.

2. The big problems with the mers got figured out and incorporated into the plotline! The problems were:

  • Where did the mers come from?
  • Why don’t they have immortal souls while the humans do?
  • Why are they always fighting?
  • And I also figured out why the humans are fighting, so points for that too!

And I can’t tell you the answers (because spoilers) but they’re pretty great and are actually important to the plot.

3. The minor character becomes more important. So in the original, after the little mermaid saves the prince, some girls from a convent/temple find him and he thinks one of them was the one to rescue him (and the little mermaid can’t tell him otherwise because she can’t talk). Of course, he thinks he’ll never see her again (she is in a convent, after all), but–surprise! Turns out she’s a princess from a neighboring kingdom, just put there to learn “every royal virtue.” And then the prince falls in love with her and the little mermaid turns into seafoam and that’s the end.

Anyway, this princess (Malena is her name) made a brief appearance in the first draft of Battle Song, but she becomes much more important in this draft. Not only as the character from the original fairy tale but also as Amrya’s friend and the one who introduces her to the religion of the island (which I just now realize should probably get a name). And I wrote a scene with her yesterday and I learned some deep stuff about her and she’s a great character.

So yes, I have been having fun with it (despite all of the struggles)! Somehow I doubt I will finish this first draft before the end of summer…but I do want to keep writing every day and make this story as awesome as it can be!


let’s talk!

How much do you think I should write this August? 30K? More/less? And please help me and give me some advice for what Amrya should trade! (Or at least commiserate with me and offer me chocolate?) And what did you write for Camp NaNo (if you did)? How did it go? And have you ever read the original little mermaid fairy tale, and what did you think of it and its ending?

Also I hope you enjoyed the rambling because I did and I will probably ramble more about stuff in Battle Song, hehe.

Why Do I Write?

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This question has been rolling around in my mind for a while, especially as I went through my AP Language & Composition class this last year in school. Why do I write? Or maybe the question would be, more appropriately, What do I want to accomplish with my writing?

I’ve written stories for as long as I can remember. I have old notebooks with drawings and half-finished stories and stuff I wrote for school. Stories come to my mind, ideas, wondering “what if…?” and thinking of what people’s lives might be like.

Writing has always been a part of me. I write because I love thinking of stories, of characters, of making worlds and plots and delighting in how they all fit together. I can’t imagine life without writing (though I still manage to procrastinate it).

But as I attended my English class last year, new questions came to my mind. Should I be writing for a greater purpose? Is my writing supposed to accomplish more than just pleasure?

We read books–classics–and I realized that the reason these books were classics was because they talked about problems in our world. My teacher said once that “Many books come from exaggerating one idea or belief and looking at the results.” Racism, communism, class differences, scientific thought, and so on–we read about them. Discussed them. Thought about them and what needed to be changed.

And I began to wonder: when people read my writing, will it change them?

I’ve always loved fantasy, but I’ve never yet read a fantasy book in school. Is that because they don’t talk about world issues, or just because heroism isn’t classified as something the world needs?

Maybe both.

I love the idea of heroism–and I believe it is something the world needs. We could learn so much from reading The Lord of the Rings in school–strength, heroism, friendship, the battle between good and evil, the struggle to resist temptation. Isn’t better moral character what the world needs?

But that seems to be slipping away in books. It’s hard to find a popular book that doesn’t swear or have innuendos or bad scenes…or actually shows the consequences of bad choices.

We, as humans, are so attached to stories, and so the characters within them become our heroes. We want them to win. We want to become like them. Even if it’s not in very significant ways. Even if it’s just me wanting to be a little more selfless or a little more kind or a little more forgiving.

That is what I want my writing to accomplish. That is why I write: because we need more heroes in the world.

So my books might not become classics, and people won’t read them in school, but so what? I don’t want my books to be a social critique, I want them to be inspiring, to show that there is a difference between right and wrong, and that right is better.

What do I want to talk about? I want to talk about what true love really is or should be (not shallow, not instant, not physical), the difference between right and wrong and why, how emotions like grief, fear, and hurt can be changed to hope, how one person really can change the world, true friendship, forgiveness, love, truth

Yes, I do love writing about wars, dragons, fantasy cultures and religions, and fairy tales, but that’s the outer wrapping. In essence, those things are what I want to write about. I know that God has given me this gift of writing for a reason–and, I think, a love for fantasy. There are people I can reach and touch, and that is my goal: to change the world by changing people, one story and one hero at a time.



tell me!

Why do you write? What do you want to accomplish with your writing? Or, how do you think you might have been blessed to be able to change the world? What is your passion? Are there any topics that you think go unaddressed too much in writing? What is the strongest type of hero, do you think?

5 Random Updates

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I should make all my headers like this…it took me about three minutes. Then again, it’s rather uncreative. But it works in a pinch when you’re tired and want to go to bed.

Well, some of them are random, anyway. They’re less random and more rambly. I should’ve called it 5 Rambly Updates. So, I don’t know what to post about but I decided I should probably post before I leave on hiatus for a little bit.

So randomness/ramblyness (rambliness?) ensues.

#1: Update on Blogging & Hiatus

Okay, this isn’t random, really. But I’m going to be gone next week. *nods* And maybe longer than that because I don’t know what to blog about if I’m not writing regularly. And I haven’t been writing regularly. *hides in shame*

Also, I now have over 100 followers! Thank you, everyone, for reading. It means a lot that you read and (hopefully?) enjoy my blog!

#2: Update on Life

I’ve been thinking a lot about college and stuff and whyyy does it cost so much? Some days it seems so far away and I’m like, “Oh, I’ll just not worry about it,” and other days I’m so overwhelmed and I feel like I’ll never be ready. (I spend a lot of time between two conflicting emotions like that.)

I also don’t want to think about school, so I haven’t started my summer homework. And I have been procrastinating a lot recently. It’s a problem.

I read around 20 books in June…some have yet to see the light of a goodreads review, though. But I’m working on that. Actually, I’m reading rather than writing reviews. Probably not a good thing, but I’ll get around to them sometime.

#3: Update on Self Growth

Hm. Hopefully I’m not getting any taller, but I think I am getting better as a person. More or less. I don’t really know. I’ve been praying to have more charity, and it’s helped, but then I also have days where I get frustrated and take it out on everyone around me.

And I complain way too much. Any ideas? Say two things positive after every complaint?

#4: Update on Musicality

After all, this blog is called The Music of Words. So, what musicking have I been up to? Not much. I’ve been taking voice lessons but I haven’t practiced much since my last one…eep. So I know my voice is probably getting worse as I sit here, not singing.

But I’ve been playing the piano recently, not practicing, but at least playing. Mostly as a form of escapism from the world. I can’t escape through singing…it’s too much of me, I think. I know people hear it and they hear me. But when I play the piano, they hear the music and I hear the music, and I don’t have to worry about improving my voice or how I breathe or that I miss a few notes. I just play.

#5: Update on Writing

*sigh*

Yep, that’s a pretty good description on it’s own. Lots of sighing. Lots of glaring at myself in the mirror (and at my characters if I feel like it). Basically, I haven’t been writing much even though I’ve had time to, and that just makes me feel all guilty inside. Grrrrr.

Plus, Camp NaNo? Ha! Especially since I’m going on hiatus. I’m going to lose again. And it’s because I’m too lazy to write.

But I have made some progress on Battle Song! I’m at a grand total of 8,570 words so far and I’m having a lot of fun exploring the world and some of the magic of the world. (The mers can do magical stuff through singing, which is so fun to play around with. And traumatize Amrya with.)

I want to talk to you about it! Though I’m not entirely sure what to talk about…what do you want to hear about? Characters? Plot? Setting? A Spotlight with an excerpt or snippets? What I’m struggling with? I don’t know, you tell me what you want to hear. I’ll try to oblige, unless inspiration suddenly strikes…


Alrighty, there’s my updates & basically my tired, late night version of a monthly wrap-up post. (What happened to the Dares? I don’t know. I would still like to do them, but the posts took a long time to write, and I never seemed to accomplish much.)

Anyway, how have you been? Any updates you want to share with me? Tell me how your writing is going or what thoughts have been on your mind lately during life. Do you play an instrument or sing? How do you feel about music?

I “Finished” Battle Song–Writing With the End in Mind

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I know, I know, you got so excited when you saw this. “Whoa, she finished her novel in a month? Awesome!”

Well, not really…but I did finish the end of Battle Song(Which was only about 5,000 words long…so not that awesome.)

Anyway, a few weeks ago, I was browsing on Pinterest and I saw a writing tip that said to start writing at the end, so that you know where you’re going with the story. Since I’m not an outliner, this sounded like a great idea to try. Normally, I never have endings planed out.

So I took some time to prepare (though, not too much, since I already had a basis of the world from last November, when I originally started Battle Song). I figured out a few main scenes I wanted to happen at the end, and then I decided to write it.

But every single scene didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to.

Some might call it a waste of time because I’ll probably only use two or three paragraphs plus some phrases of that ending, but I thought it was rewarding, and here’s why.

Because the ending turned out so much what I didn’t want, I figured out what I did want.

I took a few notes while I was writing, and here’s a few of them to show you what I mean:

When this is rewritten I need to do better at the dagger her sisters giving her being more tempting or something…this is a bit not intense enough, as if everything is already decided. There’s not enough realization.


Ugh, there’s so much explaining in the scene. I want Amrya to figure almost all of it out, if possible, and have <spoiler> be the cinching moment when it all comes together. So I’ll need more stuff throughout the book.


(And a good one.)

Ooh okay so she has this ancestry line… <spoiler spoiler> So as she’s learning more about them, she’s thinking about her ancestors, realizes that…interesting, hehe. Yay!


It was a great learning experience for me. These last few scenes were supposed to be pivotalintense scenes, and they just really weren’t. Writing them told me that I needed to bring more elements of the ending throughout the entire book, so that there would be traces and hints to what would happen from the very beginning.

Basically I need to foreshadow.

Additionally, writing the ending first helped me figure out what I really wanted with this story. What I wanted the reader to feel, to come away with. I’m still figuring it out, but I have a much better idea.

In the first version I started (that is, Battle Song 1.0, (this is 2.0)), Amrya trades her beauty rather than her voice. I realized that, as I was writing 1.0, I didn’t want that. It didn’t affect her enough.

As I tried to figure out the exact aspects of her deal with the sea witch, I was having a lot of trouble, but I came up with a few ideas. Writing the ending scene, when it came up again, helped me figure it outEven though I’m still not sure about it. But it’s better.

And religion! In the original story by Hans Christian Andersen, part of the reason the little mermaid wants to become a human and marry the prince is so that she can have an immortal soul. (The mermaids don’t have souls–they drift into seafoam at death–but marriage to a human would combine his soul with hers.)

It came up in 1.0, but I didn’t really realize how important I wanted it to be, and how much it affected the story. I was really intrigued by this aspect that Disney took out (well, they took out a lot of things), and as I planned and wrote this ending, it became a very integral part of the plot line.

(Not to mention that there was a little scene that was like a fluffy bit of goodness and I love it to death.)

Writing the end was pretty awesome, and it’s also helped me as I restart with Battle Song 2.0! I’ve written one chapter, and it’s pretty great, mostly because of the development I did. Everything is a lot more important to Amrya as a character and expressed in much better ways.

So, writing the end? I’d call it a success.


let us speak to each other wonderful words

Well…that was kind of a rambly post. What did you think? It was supposed to be a writing advice post but I think it turned into more of an update post, so…oops.

Have you ever tried writing/planning out the ending to your stories/novels first? How do you plan for your ending? How do you plan your novel–or do you? What things are absolutely essential to figure out before you start writing?

Oh, and check out Battle Song‘s new pageIt’s even got a synopsis and everything. *wink wink* Don’t ask me why I winked there. I just did.

Should Books Be Made Into Movies?

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I’ve been wanting to do a discussion post where I can hear your thoughts. So, after watching the third Hobbit movie yesterday, I wanted to ask you the big question: should books be made into movies? And what are the pros and cons of doing so?

I think every author, at least once, dreams of seeing their novel on the silver screen. And yet, readers are almost always unsatisfied with the job that the movie producers do.

So, should books be made into movies?

Ultimately, I want to hear your thoughts & your ideas, but I’m going to share some of the pros and cons of movie adaptations. Tell me if you agree or disagree with them!


PROS OF A MOVIE ADAPTATION

  • It brings more people to the book and gives the author a greater reading community.
  • It shares a good story with more people. Some people who don’t read books will watch the movie and get to share in the genius.
  • It’s easier on your mind when the book is hard to understand (*cough*Lord of the Rings*cough*) or when you’re just tired.
  • It has music! Which is awesome! Especially when you get a really cool soundtrack (Lord of the Rings, again!).
  • It helps you visualize. Especially when you’re like me and you can’t visualize what characters or settings look like. Plus, there can be awesome landscapes that are just awesome.
  • It can add new meaning to the story. Sometimes movies give me new perspective on the characters and story, and they can occasionally move me even more than the actual story does, or be a companion to it and make them both feel even awesome-er.

CONS OF A MOVIE ADAPTATION

  • The producers sometimes don’t read the book! Okay, not really, but they sometimes veer so far from the actual story line that it’s ridiculous. I’m looking at you, The Lightning Thief and Ella Enchanted.
  • People don’t always read the book (which is generally better) after seeing the movie. Isn’t it so frustrating when someone says they’ve seen the movie, whether or not they like it–and then they refuse to read the book? And it’s so awesome, but they just won’t.
  • Or, people don’t know it was a book in the first place! Has anyone else read How to Train Your Dragon? (I like the movie better…)
  • The story is reduced to a shorter time frame. Except in The Hobbit, when they made it longer. This means that things have to be cut (S.P.E.W. from Harry Potter!) and sometimes those things were important to the original plot, so it changes it. Sometimes, this can be a good thing, but most of the time it’s just frustrating.
  • It’s limited to what you can see. Which means that if a book uses a lot of internal dialogue and conflicts, it’s a lot harder to show those. So either those conflicts get changed, or they develop and resolve it through different means that don’t occur in the book.

Obviously, there are good and bad things about movie adaptations. So I want to hear your opinion:

Should books be made into movies? What movies are actually better than the books, if any? What are your favorite and least favorite movie adaptations? What components are needed in a good movie adaptation? If you could make any book into a movie, what would it be, and what would you change?

Ramble away, and we’ll discuss it!

 

Blog Tour: The Dressmaker’s Secret & Ivy Introspective by Kellyn Roth + Giveaway!

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Hi everyone! I’m super excited to be helping to open Kellyn’s Roth’s blog tour for her two novels, The Dressmaker’s Secret and Ivy Introspective, books 1 and 2 of The Chronicles of Alice and Ivy!

 

Kellyn previously published The Dressmaker’s Secret, but she’s republishing it with some changes as she releases the second novel on June 24, 2017. So let me tell you a little bit about them! I’ll do a little spotlight on both books and then give you a character spotlight on Jordy McAllen, one of my favorite characters from Ivy Introspective! And then the giveaway, of course!


The Dressmaker’s Secret

The Dressmaker's Secret 1After a revealing conversation with the first children of her age she’s ever met, curious eight-year-old Alice Chattoway realizes that one ought to have a father … and she doesn’t. Having determined that his absence is making her mother unhappy, Alice resolves to find him and create a family for herself.

However, Alice’s mother, Miss Chattoway, is reluctant to answer any questions posed about a man she’d much rather forget. While Alice investigates, Miss Chattoway tries to balance her own spiritual turmoil with her need to be both mother and provider to her daughters.

Will Alice ever unravel her mother’s secrets? Can Miss Chattoway let go of the past to reach for the future?

This novel is narrated by a little girl, but it’s actually about both Alice and her mother, Miss Chattoway. It deals with love, spirituality, and family, which are all awesome themes and so fun to read about. Plus, Alice is so funny. If you’re a fan of historical fiction, then you’ll love reading The Dressmaker’s Secret!

Find The Dressmaker’s Secret on Goodreads

Order The Dressmaker’s Secret on Amazon


Ivy Introspective

Ivy Introspective 1Trapped in a world where she doesn’t belong, twelve-year-old Ivy Knight struggles to keep her head above water as her simplicity is brought to light by her new position as a young lady growing up at Pearlbelle Park.

Worried about their daughter’s inability to fit in, Ivy’s parents decide to send her to McCale House, a boarding school in Scotland for boys and girls like her. However, alone and frightened without her beloved mother, sister, and nurse, Ivy can’t seem to focus.

Will Ivy ever learn what Dr. McCale is trying to teach her? Or will she remain lost in her own mind forever?

Ivy Introspective is a fitting sequel to The Dressmaker’s Secret, though, this time, we get to hear about Alice’s twin sister, Ivy, who was born “simple.” We also get to hear about another young and irresistibly lovable girl, Posy, as she goes to her own boarding school.

I loved reading this novel and getting to know Ivy, with her love for stories and for music! (I can’t help but love characters who love music and stories!) The portrayal of Ivy’s struggles is interesting, and I loved to watch her learn and grow, even to the point where she can help other people! Ivy is so lovely and sweet–you can’t help but love her.

Find Ivy Introspective on Goodreads

Pre-Order Ivy Introspective on Amazon


Character Spotlight: Jordy McAllen

Now, for the moment you’ve all been waiting for (or at least the moment I’ve been waiting for!), the spotlight on Jordy McAllen, a minor but awesome character from Ivy Introspective.

I mean, he just somehow decided to be my favorite character in Ivy Introspective (besides Ivy, of course). Have I ever had a favorite character who was only in a few scenes of a book. Nope…until now!

Okay, so first off, he’s Scottish! So not only does he have look awesome, with his cool reddish/auburnish hair and greenish eyes, but he also sounds awesome with his Scottish brogue! It’s so fun to read his parts out loud, and it’s especially fun to say “Ivy” the way he does: “Ay-vee”. Seriously, try it. You’ll be glad you did.

And secondly, he has such an awesome personality! He’s an ESFP, so not only is he optimistic, enthusiastic, and fun to be around, but he also cares deeply about other people! Seriously, I want him to be my friend, too.

For some background on Jordy: he was born to a farmer’s family with five other siblings. At age 12, approximately four years before Ivy Introspective, he decided he wanted to be a doctor. When Jordy met Dr. McCale, he was offered a job as Dr. McCale’s assistant at the McCale House, a boarding school for mentally challenged children. That’s where he meets Ivy!

Jordy is so awesome, it’s almost worth reading the book just for him. I say “almost” because he only stars in a few short scenes, to my sorrow… But guess what? He’ll be back in Beyond Her Calling (book four)! I’m probably way too excited about that…but I don’t really care! I can’t wait!


Giveaway!

Enter into this giveaway for a chance to win a paperback copy of both The Dressmaker’s Secret and Ivy Introspective! (U.S. only.) Or, if you don’t live in the U.S., you can enter the second giveaway for an ebook copy of both books!

Enter the giveaway here!


Continue on the blog tour

The blog tour for The Dressmaker’s Secret and Ivy Introspective continues from the 20th through the 30th. You can follow along with this schedule and see all the awesome posts that are planned–and find some new blogs and blogging friends along the way!


let’s talk!

Are you excited for Kellyn’s new releases? Will you be following along/participating in her blog tour? And do you adore Jordy as well? What accent is your favorite to talk in? (I like to read Scottish/Irish out loud, but I can’t do it on my own. I can sort of do an Australian accent, and then another accent that probably isn’t even from a real country…) And…how has your summer been so far? Do you have any fun plans?

The Writer’s Tag

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I know, I haven’t done a tag since…well, since the Week of Blog Tags, and I don’t remember how long ago that was. But what writer doesn’t love talking about writing? And when May @ Forever and Everly tagged anyone who wanted to do it, why not do it…a month later? (That’s pretty good for me, actually.) Thanks, May!

So, it’s time for The Writer’s Tag! Where I talk about writing!


What genres, styles, and topics do you write about?

Lots of things, but I suppose it’s usually the same things that I like to read about!

For genresFantasy with cool plot reveals and a dash of romance. But, you know, I’ve never read epic science fiction, and yet that’s something else I’m writing about? I need to read more sci-fi…anyone know of any books?

For styles: I usually write in 3rd person, past tense, but for Battle Song, which I’m starting to work on again, it’s actually in 1st person! And my writing style is usually fairly straightforward. I would love to develop better word choice and a more beautiful writing style, but mine is pretty simple right now.

For topics: I love to write about dragons, magic, fairy tale retellings, cultures/beliefs, deep characters, and war. Probably too much war. Now that I’m thinking about it, I’m not sure that I’ve written a novel that doesn’t have war in it…I just love the strength and heroism it brings out in people!


How long have you been writing?

For as long as I can remember! I still have old notebooks from when I was in elementary school with unfinished stories in them (usually about fairies or orphans…who knows?).

However, I never really took writing seriously as something I’d actually want to do with my life until my dad suggested we do Camp NaNoWriMo together, in April 2013. That’s when I realized how much I loved writing.

Then, 2014 was when writing became more a part of my life, when I took the 365K challenge and tried to write a thousand words every day.

And now, I’m trying to make writing my career, so I guess it depends on your definition of “writing”. Maybe I’m just beginning!


Why do you write?

I write because I love it. I write because if I don’t write, my mind fills with new ideas and new plots, and my Creative Dragon awakes within me, telling me that it won’t leave me alone until I write something. (True story.)

I write because I love to express emotions through words, because I can’t always speak, because there’s a beauty in showing how people progress through difficult challenges.

I write because weaving a story is my favorite way to spend my time. I adore my characters, I can’t stop the exhilaration of coming up with a new idea, and I love trying to puzzle out how everything fits together. In short, it’s awesome!


When is the best time to write?

All the time! Just kidding. I don’t know if there’s a particular time of day that I feel more productive to writing, because that’s not something I normally pay attention to, but on my new schedule I’m writing from 3:00-5:00 p.m. I don’t know, if I did it a little earlier, I’d probably be a bit more creative, but it still works! I like having a timeframe that I have to stick to–writing, and nothing else, during those hours.


What parts of writing do you love, and what parts do you hate?

Love:love that moment when everything just fits together! After you’ve been thinking hard and pondering how anything relates, and it’s so confusing, but this flash of inspiration comes and everything makes sense!

When you think of an awesome plot twist or plot reveal.

When you’re developing a character you didn’t really connect with before, and then you figure out something about them, and you just love them to death.

When thinking about a character’s death makes you want to cry (even if you don’t).

When you write that super emotional scene and your heart feels like it’s being squeezed and your characters are all so awesome and dramatic and everything is awesome.

When you have dreams about your characters being shippy. *nods*

When you have dreams that spark story ideas.

When you share your work and someone loves it! And not only that, but they connect with it. That’s awesome.

When you look back on old writing and realize that it’s not as bad as you remembered.

When you think of a deliciously sad and emotional ending or scene.

When you get to be the evil author. All too often done by me…but it’s so fun!

When you’re so in love with your story that everyone else can’t help but love it too.

…that was kind of long…

Hate/Dislike: Being stuck and not knowing where to go next.

When you have such a great idea, and it doesn’t turn out as good on paper.

When your characters are all refusing to develop themselves. Hence all the character-glaring that I do.

When you start to compare yourself with other writers and feel like a failure.

When you feel like you don’t know how to write anymore.

When someone doesn’t like your writing that you’re really proud of.

When you feel so inadequate and like you’ll never measure up.

Gosh, why do we put the “hates” after the “loves”? That’s just depressing.


How do you overcome writer’s block?

I don’t. Umm, probably through endurance, I guess? Sometimes all it takes is to keep going when it’s hard. But I think usually it helps to take a break and do something else (like drawing or playing the piano) to calm me down. After that, it helps to find where things went wrong and then try to fix it or go from there. Identifying the problem is half the battle!

(And fixing it is the other half. *sighs* Usually something needs more development…always more development.)


Are you working on something at this moment?

Yes, I’m writing this blog post. Yup! I just started working on Battle Song, a retelling of The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen, with warrior mermaids + cool characters + cool religion stuff + wars! (See? There’s even multiple wars in this one.) I started writing it last November for NaNoWriMo, but I’m restarting.

(I’d link you to the page, but some things are changing and I need to rewrite it. And also make a better blurb. Because I’m great at that.)

Anyway, I’m still working on re-developing stuff, but soon I’m going to start writing. This time, I’m going to write the last 10K first because then I’ll know where I’m headed. Plus, there’s some great emotional/shippy/awesome scenes at the end. *grins*


What are your writing goals this year?

Well, I do have goals from my New Year’s Resolutions post, buut a few of those might be changing. My new goals are to write every day, to publish at least two short stories, and have the first and second drafts of Battle Song done.

Unless you mean “year” as in a year from today, in which case to have Battle Song as ready for publishing as I can get it.

And, of course, to always be improving!


Tag–You’re it!

If you read this and enjoyed it, consider yourself tagged. Because I only have a few people who I could tag, and I’m also not sure how many you’re supposed to tag for this…so tag if you want it!

(Also, if you do this tag, feel free to use the graphic!)


we talk and talk and talk

Are you going to do the tag/have you done it before? I’d love a link! And if you don’t want to do the tag, feel free to answer the questions in a comment below! I especially want to know what you love and what you hate about writing.

Oh, and, P.S. I’m going to be gone next week on a family vacation. I was going to write a post and pre-schedule it, but I don’t know if I’ll have time. So if you don’t see me, that’s why!

Becoming an Author — Authory Updates, Goals, and Whatnot

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Yeah, I didn’t write a hiatus post…but it’s too late now. I was gone (church youth camp), I came back, and celebrations are in order. Or a virtual cookie handout. One of the two.

Anyway…this new post! It might turn into a blog series…who knows. It’s called Becoming an Author, with the emphasis on the unspoken “not just a writer”. You see, I’ve made a few decisions over the past few weeks that mainly culminate to this:

If I want to become an author as a career, then I had better start acting like one right now.

Hence becoming an author.

And I want to talk with you about my goals! And ideas! And how I’m faring after my first day at the “job” of being an “actual” author! (Decent…decent.)

But first, some updates.

So, you know I’ve been working on my Iris novella. I finished that last Saturday (the week-and-a-half ago one) at about a total of 24,000 words. It…was pretty great. It felt really good to start and finish something and to know that I put my heart into it. It was fun. It was emotional. And I’m so happy I wrote it.

(And, you know, if you were one of the people who read the Spotlights and decided you wanted more, tell me in the comments and I’ll email the story to you.)

Besides that, I’ve had a whole bunch of plot bunnies, mostly from my dreams, oddly enough. I wrote a 1500-word story/poem/story-poem that was vaguely Rapunzel based from a dream I had. And it was fun.

But I’ve been talking…to myself, to my family, to friends…and I know that I can’t keep writing short stuff like this. If I want to be an author, I need to write a novel. Like, an actual one. That I finish, and revise, and try to publish.

So, I had a little talk/counsel/thing with my parents yesterday and worked out some goals and a schedule for what I’m going to do this summer, and in the future.

First, I needed money. Because there’s things like college looming in my near future (eek!), and who knows when I’ll actually publish something. So I’m working part-time this summer for my dad & grandpa. (I’m transcribing my dad’s journals and editing my grandpa’s history. Both of which should maybe help me with writing, and I’ll enjoy them much more than some other entry-level job.)

And secondly, I need to write like it was my actual job. Well, not necessarily, because I’m only doing two hours a day. But I’m doing two hours a day! Which means I’ll be doing something consistently with writing, which I have not done in the past.

Also, I’m working on one novel that will hopefully be ready to be published by June 2018. If it’s not publishing-worthy or if I don’t publish it by then, whatever. But I just want to have it as ready as I can make it.

Want to know what it is?

Drumroll, please…

It’s Battle Song, the novel I started last November for NaNoWriMo! And, as a plus for me, there’s already a page for it. (An non-updated page, for sure, and everything’s subject to change, but hey, it’s there.)

Besides the novel ha, I make it sound like it’s so easy to write a novel, I’m also looking to publish a few short stories, whether through magazines or contests. If you know of a good one, please tell me! I’d love to hear it! I have one or two (or maybe just one) stories I could try to publish, so I’ll probably need to write more, but I want to try to get my name out there and maybe develop my craft a little more along the way.

I want to publish at least one short story by September 1, 2017. Because that’d be cool. *nods*

Aside from writing, there’s blogging! Yes sirree, you never thought this day would come, the day when I, Lana, at The Music of Words, would actually make…a posting schedule.

I’m going to spend two hours on “writing marketing” (which is basically just talking to people online and writing blog posts) once a week, and write two blog posts & set them to post. (Probably Saturday, since I don’t have “work” that day.) And then the other day that my post comes out, Tuesday, will also be my blog response day where I respond to comments. Which is only supposed to take 30 minutes. Heh. Heh. Heh.

But, as you can tell, it is a Wednesday, which isn’t on my posting schedule at all. It’s also not in my general schedule either, but I’m writing this during my free time. So if I have a brilliant idea for a blog post, it might appear on a random day. (You can thank me later.)

Oh yes! So, today was my very first day on the job. I actually followed a schedule from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm. Crazy, I know! (And then I had free time…ahh man, I’m going to love my free time.) So, how did it go?

Well. It went well. (Wahoo for good grammar!)

Okay, it was actually easier than I thought to keep to a schedule, though I was sorely tempted to stop and just finish the book I was reading. (I finished it during my lunch break, instead. And then read another book during my after-five-pm free time. *grins*)

But it was also hard to work on writing. I’m trying to figure out world building so that it’s actually cool (not to mention I think it’ll solve a lot of plot problems), but it’s more difficult than expected. How does one take influences from a real-world culture, put it into a fake world, with certain requirements and characters, and still make it realistic? I have no idea. But at least I’m trying, and that feels really good.


talk with me!

Do you like/not like the Becoming an Author posts & why? What should I do differently in the next one? (less updates, more advice?) Are you excited for my goals as well? What are your plans for the future & what career do you want to go into/are in? What are your best tips for keeping to a schedule? Or for writing? Or just tips for life in general? I’m a willing listener here to all the sage wisdom you have to give. Especially if it’s a little sarcastic. *wink wink*