A to Z Challenge – YOU CHOOSE

Untitled-167.jpg

Y’all! It has arrived!

I’m really not sure how April snuck up so fast, but it’s time to pull out that dusty folder of A to Z Challenge ideas and choose one I really want to do this year. What is the A to Z Challenge you might ask? Good question. It’s where a huge group of bloggers choose each choose a theme to focus on in April and then write a post corresponding with a letter of the alphabet for each day. (Read more here.)

Last year I blogged Behind the Scenes for my work in progress Echoes. (Perhaps my favorite theme ever.)
The year before I wrote ideas of how to be more creative. (Which included doing things like tying my hands together for a whole day to see how I’d have to be more creative in life when I couldn’t move my hands more than a foot apart from each other.)
Before that, I wrote faux “back cover blurbs.” (Which was gobs of fun and pretty stretching.)
The year before (which, shhh, was my least favorite), I wrote about various ideas regarding success and goals.
And the first year I blogged about Lyme disease, which was actually rather life changing for me.

Untitled-168.jpg

Idea # 1: Letter-Form Book Review
I’ve seen it before where people write book reviews in letter form, and that’s a pretty intriguing idea to me. They’d all be kept nice and short (which is the name of the game when it comes to the A to Z Challenge), and it would be a great way for y’all to get a different look at 26 cool books. Some of the letters would be addressed to you, the reader, some would be addressed to the author, and some would be addressed to younger me. 😉

Idea #2: Book or Character or Author Spot Light
A tea party with an author, taking a character from the 1800s on a plane ride out west, or just discussing a book that has changed my life. This is the theme to find it all! If you choose this idea we’ll get an out-of-the-box look at a bunch of bookish happiness.

Idea #3: Book Related Short Vlogs
Rapid-fire challenges, 60-second book reviews, bookshelf trivia, fun various author facts, and the list goes on. These vlogs would be one to two minutes long and share my enthusiasm for all things bookish to the world.

Idea #4: Writing Tips
Let’s be real: I’ve already shared SO MANY writing tips with y’all, but if we went with this theme it would be a place where I could gather them all together, tweak them, and share them with a new twist.

Idea #5: Kitchen Hacks/Recipes
Okay y’all. My other passion besides writing happens to be cooking/all things kitcheny. I would have such a delightful time getting to inundate y’all with gobs of food-ish posts. (So eloquent, right?)

Idea #6: Why do the A to Z Challenge? Let’s just skip it this year.
I think that’s pretty self explanatory. 😉

And now! You choose! Which theme do you think I should go with this year?

Z is for Zephyr #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to the A to Z ChallengeThis year I’m blogging about the Behind the Scenes for the Echoes Trilogy – a story a started writing about six years ago.

A2Z-BADGE-100 [2017]

 

One of Kios’ boards is the ocean, and often times people will go there and dance on the green hills that overlook the rolling waters and enjoy the delightful zephyrs that are accompanied by the healing saltwater. (Zephyr = a light breeze.) In fact, one of the most important port cities in Kios is called Zephyr.

When Nicolette and Raquel are discussing where they will spend the Year of Proof, Zephyr is one of the cities that both of them would love to go to. It’s one of the most visited and up-and-coming cities in the entire country, and although vacations isn’t a word they use in Kios, if people did have vacations, Zephyr would be the top destination choice.

And there we have it, folks! The very last post in the A to Z Challenge! Thank you to everyone who has joined me. I’ve had so much fun answering your comments and visiting so many of y’all’s. I visited 200 posts during this month, which was so much fun and provided some great reading.

Y is for Year of Proof #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to the A to Z Challenge. This year I’m blogging about the Behind the Scenes for the Echoes Trilogy – a story a started writing about six years ago.

A2Z-BADGE-100 [2017]

Y’all. Today is the second last day of the A to Z Challenge, and also the second to last day of April. Say what??? That means I’ve got to skedaddle along with my day so I can work on finishing up my goals for the month.

The Year of Proof plays a rather important part in Echoes, but strangely enough I have absolutely no idea where it came from. In the first draft I think it literally just showed up on the page (with me typing of course), but with no previous mention in the plot, etc…. It made so. much. sense to me, that as soon as I had typed it out, I was like “Well duh! Of course this is what they should do.” In fact, it kinda made me wonder why countries in real life don’t do it? Or do they, and I just don’t know about it? (Of course, if anyone wants to grant me princess status in a country then I can help institute their very own Year of Proof into that society.)

8c9ea-533261_379587705394783_433295737_n

So, what exactly is the Year of Proof? It’s where the heir to the throne chooses any city in the entire country and moves there for a year along with her entourage to rule the city. This is to prove to the land of Kios that she’s ready to rule when the crown is placed on her head. If something happens to the current ruler before the Year of Proof has taken place, then the heir to the throne assumes rule in title only, and has a council who does the actual ruling until the heir has completed more training.

It’s a huge privilege and honor to have your city be chosen for the Year of Proof, and the honor is accompanied by a bunch of festivities, holidays, and people coming to meet the heir to the throne. It’s by far the biggest year in the heir to the throne’s life until they actually become the king or queen.

And there you have it folks. What are some potential benefits or problems you think would accompany the Year of Proof?

X is for Xerxes #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to the A to Z Challenge. This year I’m blogging about the Behind the Scenes for the Echoes Trilogy – a story a started writing about six years ago.

A2Z-BADGE-100 [2017]

Queen Esther’s account in the Bible has long been one of my favorites, and as I mentioned before, it was one of the inspirations for Echoes. In fact, in the second half of the book (which was originally going to be Book #2), there’s a set of Echoes who are named Esther and Hadassa. Esther and Hadassa are the Esther’s from the Bible Greek (I think?) and Hebrew names, and I always thought it would be rather neat to name twins after them.

King Xerxes was a historical figure that sometimes I think I’d like to know more about, and other times I’m quite happy with my lack of knowledge about him. To make a long story short, this guy (who happened to be a very powerful king) got mad at his wife and disposed of her, then had his men gather up hundreds of girls who then spent a year or so readying themselves for meeting the king. Then, the king choose one of them to be his queen.

In my Echoes book, King Dalan wasn’t supposed to be like King Xerxes, but he ended up being a bit of a villain anyway. Thankfully King Dalan at least tries to have a good relationship with his daughter. King Xerxes was the kind of king that if his wife approached him without him asking for her to come, then she’d be put to death unless he extended his scepter to her. #ouch

I’m pretty sure Echoes has my first ever human villain – the rest of my books contain villains like Lyme disease and such, so this book has been a fun challenge.

Do you generally read books with human villains?

W is for Water (And No Tea) #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to the A to Z Challenge. This year I’m blogging about the Behind the Scenes for the Echoes Trilogy – a story a started writing about six years ago.

A2Z-BADGE-100 [2017]

Thanks to posting a review today (see it here), for the A to Z Challenge post I’m simply posting a small snippet. I hope y’all enjoy!

The food the woodcutters provided was by far the worst I had ever dined on. The bread was thick, tough, and made with a black flour that contained small hard chunks. After the first day I learned to eat slowly and carefully to avoid chipping my teeth. Potatoes were also one of our staples, but the fact that we had to pick worms out of them before partaking of them was enough to make me lose my appetite. The meat wasn’t much better, since it was all dried and had been preserved with far too much salt. I could barely choke down my pieces, even when I took little nibbles of the meat, paired with huge mouthfuls of the bread and potatoes. I was ever so hungry for tea, but plain water was all they provided me with. Determined to fit in and be strong I didn’t complain or let my face show my distaste, but it was a challenge to be sure.

“Now, ye said King Dalan will know who you are?” Titus asked the question as he chomped open-mouth on a piece of meat. He scratched his nose with the same hand that held the meat, a feat that looked nearly impossible and sent waves of nausea through me.

“Aye.” My sour mood had dissipated a bit as the days dragged on, but I still refused to spend too much energy socializing.

“Might you tell us what your plan is now?” Thurston asked, then took a few loud slurps from the common water pouch. When he was done he wiped his hand across his face, then down the front of his clothes.

V is for Vacillating #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to the A to Z Challenge. This year I’m blogging about the Behind the Scenes for the Echoes Trilogy – a story a started writing about six years ago.

A2Z-BADGE-100 [2017]

When it comes to certain elements, plot twists, characters, and scenes in Echoes I’ve vacillated like a pro. (Vacillated = wavered back and forth.) In fact, six years into the project the change I’ve made or plan to make are somewhat amusing to me. Here’s a compilation of some of them:

  • I’m planning on merging Farrow and Gage, two of the lesser-talked-about guards, into Chadwin, a guard with a lot more air time in the novel
  • I changed the City of Outcasts into Island of Outcasts
  • One of the guards from the City of Outcasts is instead going to be a smuggler in the Island of Outcasts
  • Instead of being loosely based on a Scottish/Irish/English countryside, Kios is set in a country that bears a remarking resemblance to New Zealand
  • Originally there were three maids: Wren, Mekayla, and Marina. Eventually I narrowed it down to two maids, excluding Wren. Then some beta readers said it was confusing to have the two maids have names that were about the same length and started with the same letter. So, the maids are now Wren and Marina #nowlookwhosconfused #spoilerthatwouldbeme
  • The story was originally named “The Guardian’s Secret” and then I realized that the title implied that Teah was the main character, and that happens to be false, so I changed the title to Echoes 
  • I’m contemplating there not being any music in Kios, but that’s still one of those things I’m vacillating about

1

There are more things – especially dealing with plot twists, but of course I can’t exactly tell y’all about them without ruining the storyline.

One of the things I enjoy about writing is all the surprises that take place. You might have heard the quote that says something about “No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.” I don’t 100% agree with that quote, but I will say that if it’s true, then my readers will be exceedingly surprised. I’ve been so surprised while writing this book that it’s rather amusing.

What is something you’ve vacillated about recently?

U is for Uncle Izaac #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to the A to Z Challenge. This year I’m blogging about the Behind the Scenes for the Echoes Trilogy – a story a started writing about six years ago.

A2Z-BADGE-100 [2017]

Today I’m sharing another snippet with y’all. It takes place after Raquel is on the Island of Outcasts, but before Nicolette has joined them. This snippet features a missive from Uncle Izaac, who I’m featuring for the “U” word for today.

1

A knock sounded at the door and Mekayla opened it to find a messenger on the other side.

“We have a missive for the High Guard Keagan.” The messenger held out the paper that was sealed with wax and had Uncle Izaac’s stamp on the back.

“Thank you.” Keagan strode over to the door.

“What does it say?” I asked as soon as Mekayla had closed the door.

“Patience, Raquel.” Keagan’s words were abrupt. “Most likely he’s just making sure we’ve received word of their arrival.” He slid the seal open and his forehead crinkled as he read the words.
“Bad news?” My voice rose in pitch. “Is Nicolette alright?” I felt a spasm of panic.

“She’s fine.” Keagan did not sound convincing.

“Give me it!” I made a grab for the paper and he held it up out of my reach.

“What is it?” Even Mekayla looked worried.

“It’s a minor change in plans.” Keagan opened his mouth and then closed it. Finally after what felt like forever he nodded his head in a decisive manner. “Uncle Izaac writes to say Nicolette has taken the fever but is quite alright. In an effort not to alarm the citizens of the City of Outcasts, and to give Nicolette time to recover, he has proposed that we take Raquel out in disguise and bring her in as Princess Rylie.”

“What do you mean she has the fever but she’s fine?” I stamped my foot. “I want to read the missive for myself.”

Keagan glared at me and then softened his face into an understanding look. “I know tis hard for you, Raquel, but in truth, Uncle Izaac says it’s a light case of the fever and she’s only had it for a few days. She’s been resting in the carriage and will doubtlessly return to health soon enough. You know how the people tremble at the word fever though, hence the reason he doesn’t want them to know.”

“There’s reason the people tremble.” I narrowed my eyes. “My concern is not for the people at this moment but for my sister. She’s all I have and I can’t risk loosing her.”

T is for Tenacity #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to the A to Z Challenge. This year I’m blogging about the Behind the Scenes for the Echoes Trilogy – a story a started writing about six years ago.

A2Z-BADGE-100 [2017]

When it comes to the craft of writing, I have a lot of skills that still need to be honed. Like, a lot of them. Looking back to the first fumbling attempts at writing Echoes makes me want to facepalm. It also makes me smile at my adorable little self, and be thankful that I realized even back then that the book was in need of more skills than I possessed at the time. (Cause, let’s just be real: if I would have kept going it not only would have been a waste of time, but it would have also been pretty embarrassing.)

Years ago when I first tried to find an editor to help me with one of my books, I was encouraged by professionals to wait and learn and grow before pursuing publication. It was good advice.

The last six years have seen lots of changes in my writing style, in my writing knowledge, and in my writing level. Yet, at the same time I’m so thankful that I did try and start the Echoes series when I was eighteen. The idea was a winner (literally – I won second place with a pitch contest), and trying my hand at it back then helped give me a passion for the series that hasn’t abated over the years.

FullSizeRender-368

It’s not always easy to be tenacious – especially when spending four or so years just formulating a plan in your head. (Although please, that’s not all I did. I also lived life, wrote other books, and accomplished a lot of stuff. That’s all I did on the Echoes book, though.) But, when a dream is really worth it, then having tenacity is key to accomplishing it. And enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is a pretty important element when it comes to being a writer.

This last week I waded into the third draft of Echoes, which is in reality would be more than the third draft if we counted my attempt from back when I was eighteen. I wrote the first draft of this version of Echoes in November of 2015, and then the summer of 2016 – because yes, I’m doing it again: combining the first and second books in a series. (Apparently I haven’t quite figured out where to start and stop books yet?)

So yes. I’ve learned that having tenacity as a writer is pretty important. Plus, it’s a pretty cool word – maybe one day I’ll name a child or character or pet “Tenacity.” Who wouldn’t like such a strong name?

(Just kidding. I wouldn’t name my kid that.)

(Probably not, at least.)

S is for Snippet #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to the A to Z Challenge. This year I’m blogging about the Behind the Scenes for the Echoes Trilogy – a story a started writing about six years ago.

A2Z-BADGE-100 [2017]

Today I’m going to share another snippet from Echoes. This scene originally took place in the second book, but for various reasons after listening to the beta readers who read the first book, I’m combining books one and two.

That means that this is a-never-before-shared-with-the-public snippet – not even my beta readers have read it yet. (Well, except for Hosanna who has read everything.) Enjoy!

The man strode across the room and roughly lifted my chin until I was staring him in the eye. I shuddered and looked away. “Look at me girl.” His command was gruff.

Shaking, I did so.

“She’s the right one, alright.” His disgusted words came out with a volley of spittle that hit me on the face. I flinched and cowered, needing to add nothing of an act to my performance.

“What’s your name?” The young man sat knelt on the floor next to me so we could be at eye level with each other.

“Raquel.”

“Raquel?”

“Aye.”

“No, she’s the princess Rylie as sure as I’m Turston the woodcutter.” He gestured at my dress. “Does that look fitting for a Raquel to wear?”

I stayed quiet, although it was hard; I didn’t know what would give me the better chance – to stay quiet or to defend my position? Surely if he knew anything about Princess Rylie than he wouldn’t be expecting compliance, but if he didn’t know what to expect than acting unlike wouldn’t help matters.

“Do you know who the princess Rylie is?” the young man asked.

“Of course.”

“Get me a drink, boy.”

A minute later Thurston was gulping down water from a tin cup in a animalistic manner, I turned my gaze away, repulsed.

“Here, Raquel.”

“Th-thank you.” I took the cup offered by the young man in surprised gratefulness and sipped it, the cool water was a balm to my throat. Even though, to the best of my judgement, it had only been a handful of hours since my capture, it felt as if it had been a lifetime since I had last had anything to drink.

R is for Raquel #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to the A to Z Challenge. This year I’m blogging about the Behind the Scenes for the Echoes Trilogy – a story a started writing about six years ago.

A2Z-BADGE-100 [2017]

For the letter “N” I wrote about Nicolette, and now for the letter “R” I get to write about Raquel. While Nicolette is sweet, diplomatic, easy-going, and a peacemaker, Raquel is the sister who helped her learn how important all those traits are. 😉

Headstrong, passionate, capable, active, loyal, confident, unyielding, and a touch of arrogance… That pretty much sums Raquel up. Born with an unwavering desire to prove her point, Raquel is a dedicated, full-thottle, nothing-is-going-to-stop-me type of girl. With too much snark and wit for her own good, Raquel is nearly as capable of fighting with her words as she is with a bow, javelin, or throwing knifes.

To the endless amusement of the Inner Chamber Family, Raquel takes after King Dalan to a great degree. Unsurprisingly though, she steadfastly refuses to be associated with him while not playing the role of Princess Rylie. If Raquel needs to learn one lesson, it would be forgiveness – specifically for King Dalan.

q

(Just imagine her with blonde hair…) source

Driven by bitterness, Raquel sometimes drops into the grumpy doldrums, other times she becomes restless. It’s during times like this that talking to her yields few results, and instead Keagan generally takes her out to the practice arena so she can work on her marksmanship.

Raquel is extremely proficient with horseback riding, self-defense, and of course things like archery and javelin throwing. Yet, at the same time she is thankful to be a princess and takes her job seriously – ruling in Judgement Hall and learning the laws and codes with a diligence that is commendable.

The very most surprising part of Raquel to me is how much I’ve enjoyed writing her side of the story. Granted, I haven’t worked on it since September of last year, but back then I was amazed at how her scenes flew onto paper. So, while she may not be a favorite with the readers, she happens to be a favorite with me. And that’s despite the fact that I know she’s going to do something pretty horrible in the second book.

*****

Is it only me, or are y’all also disgruntled with books where the princess/prince always bemoans their station in life and wishes they were average instead of taking hold of the opportunities their position affords them?