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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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(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.

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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?

Q is for Questions #AtoZChallenge (Also: Time for Y’all to Ask Questions!)

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]

If I could ask each character in Echoes a question, here’s the questions I would ask:

To King Dalan: How would you respond if you you found out that Princess Rylie was actually echoes?

To Queen Lena: Keeping Princess Rylie’s echoship a secret was a huge decision on your part. Do you ever wish you would have announced it to the public to see how King Dalan would respond?

To Princess Rylie: How does it feel to be a fake?

To Nicolette: How in the world would you ever respond if you did end up liking one of the suitors who comes around to try and impress Princess Rylie?

To Raquel: What would you do if you found out the truth about your mother?

To Teah: If you had a day to anonymously fill King Dalan’s ears with the truth, what would you tell him?

To Marina: Do you know your excessive chattering annoys the princesses?

To Mikalya: What was it like winning Teah’s trust? Was it a game to you, or did it feel serious the entire time?

To Uncle Izaac: Did you ever suspect the truth?

To Keagan: Which one is your favorite?

Oh. My. Goodness. As I was writing the question for one of the characters one of those nearly mind-blowing plot twists popped into my mind and legit made tears come to my eyes. I suppose this is really a fantastic way to brainstorm. My Echoes world is being rocked yet again, folks….

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And, on the note of questions, I’ve decided to do a Q&A vlog!

So, that means y’all get to ask whatever questions your blessed heart desires. I’ve wanted to do a Q&A vlog for probably about four or five years now, so I’m looking forward to this a lot. *cue excitement*

You can ask questions about:

  • The Echoes trilogy
  • My writing
  • My life in general
  • My favorite books
  • My favorite writerly memories
  • How I get ideas for blogging….
  • Or pretty much anything else under the sun.

So please, ask away!