A Peek at my WIP


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Hello! Welcome to my small little corner of the Next Big Thing Blog Hop Tour! The Next Big Thing is a short series of questions about a current work-in-progress. I was nominated by the lovely J. Keller Ford over on her blog. She’s working on a short story, and you should head over and check it out!

To be honest, I’m a little hesitant to participate, as the book I’m working on currently is not one I plan to get published soon. I’m still in the practicing stage, writing a book to hone my writing skills and to finish something I would not be embarrassed to let friends and family read. However, this sounded like a fun exercise to get me thinking (especially the synopsis question!) and give you a little taste of what I’m working on the past few months.


1: What is the working title of your book?

At this point in time, I’ve been referring to it as Water Chosen, though I’m not convinced this title will stay. I’ve been trying to find something more encompassing of the whole story, but it was the Water Chosen character and the events surrounding her that inspired me to delve into the story, so that’s what I’ve been calling it.

2: Where did the idea come from for the book?

I’ve been writing in this fantasy world for years now, and building its history as a result of fleshing out my stories. This book tackles one of the historical events that results in a significant change in the world that impacts later stories. As I delved more into the characters that originate from this time period, I realized I had a fascianting story that I wanted to try to explore and bring to light.

3: What genre does your book come under?

Water Chosen is an epic fantasy, though I think it is more character-oriented than some epics usually are, especially with only two point-of-view characters.

4: Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Wow, I have no idea. I haven’t really given it thought.

5: What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Some of the last of their kind, the immortals Calthjan and Athiijan must get a small group of their people–including one who is the Water Chosen–safely to their Elders, a task that becomes more dangerous and ever more important to more than just themselves as a demon-infested world continues to crumble around them.

6: Is your book self-published, published by an independent publisher, or represented by an agency?

I do not actually have plans to publish this book in the near future. I will certainly look into this at a later time, but right now I am honing my skills as a writer, finishing a book I would not be embarrassed to have friends and family read.

7: How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I wrote this book during November NaNoWriMo in 2012, so it took under 30 days to write the first draft.

8: What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

That’s a hard one… I’m hesitant to compare my work to any establish author’s, as I am still learning. However, I’m a big fan of Brandon Sanderson’s works and the way he handles character arcs, and some of that character preference I believe makes it into this story.

9: Who or what inspired you to write this book?

This book is a culmination of too many inspirations strung out over the years to name them all. However, my interest in these particular characters would not be so great at all without the encouragement and idea-bounding help of one of my best friends. I also wanted to explore the relationships between the characters during this difficult time, and how they survived and evolved through it.

10: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

This story is, at heart, a story about love, loss, friendship, loyalty, and overcoming impossible odds. Throughout the book each are tested and strengthened and explored. I think these things are close to all of our hearts, and we like to see how other people experience and handle each of them. It has certainly been a journey for me, and I hope someday it can be a journey for someone else as well.


And there we have the questions! Thanks for reading along, and thanks again J. Keller Ford for the nomination! Here are my nominations to spread the questioning bug: Jennifer M Eaton, Novels From the Ground Up, Fran Roberts (Inkings and Inklings), and Cristian Mihai.



Plotting A Mystery – Avoiding Shiny Gizmos


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Abstract chimera full of photoshop gizmos

Gizmos and shiny genre-specific elements can give things a cool factor, but can also be a crutch to distract from deeper flaws. (Like the messy drawing of a chimera here.)

I’ve finished the first round of edits for my SpoNoWriMo novel, and while I am letting it sit to gain some distance from it, I am planning my next project. It’s a mystery fantasy, and I’ve decided to outline instead of discovery-write it, for a number of reasons.

  • One, I generally write better with an outline. It helps me write a tighter, more focused story without the wandering of discovery-writing (not that wandering doesn’t work for me, as it sometimes leads to great discoveries).
  • Two, because the story is about solving a mystery, and I want to know all the details up front.

So how does one write a satisfying mystery? David Brin, author of the new novel Existence, brings up an interesting point in the advice he gives new authors:

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The Alloy of Law – A Fun Read


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I just finished reading Brandon Sanderson‘s The Alloy of Law. I’m a big fan of Sanderson’s work, so it was no surprise that I enjoyed it. If I had to sum up this book in one sentence, I would say: It’s like Sherlock Holmes with magic in the Wild West.

Set in the Mistborn world, about 300 years following the Mistborn trilogy, technology has advanced. Railroads and the beginnings of electricity, cars, and skyscrapers join the two magic systems of Allomancy and Feruchemy to shape the growing society. Oh, and guns. Did I mention guns? Add guns and flying bullets to a magic system based on metals, and you definitely have something new and exciting.

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Setting Revision Boundaries


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English: Whitman's notes for a revision of &qu...

I finished my SpoNoWriMo novel! Topping out at about 56,000 words, it’s not long. Regardless of its brevity or its chaos, though, it still feels good to write THE END on a new story. From what I can tell, it’s a great feeling for everyone (who wouldn’t want to finish a whole story?) Now I’ve reached the point where I need to figure out what I’m going to do about the mess that is my manuscript.

Oh dear. Revision.

I generally enjoy the revision process. I like rewriting prose, moving chunks around, and otherwise improving the work. I like watching the manuscript grow and shrink like some convoluted chemical reaction.

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Worldbuilding Creatures: Fit the Niche


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Anurognathus ammoni, a pterosauria from the Upper Jurassic of Germany (Solnhofen limestone) hunting Kalligramma haeckeli.

What does the creature eat? Where does it live? I’m always fascinated by these details of imaginary creatures.

When I invent creatures for my fantasy world, I use a few techniques to brainstorm ideas and polish them. I usually use the this one to polish ideas, but it can also be used to brainstorm new ones. Either way, one way to worldbuild new creatures for your world is to Fit the Niche.

As in, where in the world does the creature fit? Where does it live, what does it eat, and at what time of day? Does it hide in trees, or in the ground, or perhaps not at all? I like to carve out a niche for creatures I invent, finding reasons for why and how they would exist. As a biologist, I like my creatures to make sense, and am delighted when strange creatures find a special place in their imagined environment.

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Dreadful First Drafts


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A dreadful printed first draft, and crumpled paper.

My first drafts are always terrible. Fortunately, dreadful writing can always be improved. The important part is that it’s written.

I interrupt my sequence of Worldbuilding posts to announce I’ve hit the 50,000 word mark for my SpoNoWriMo novel! I’m so excited. Though it isn’t an official NaNoWriMo novel, it was still a blast. My story isn’t finished yet, but the climax is in sight, and I think I’ll keep charging ahead until it’s done.

And so far, it’s dreadful.

Given that I’ve been pushing myself to write it and to not second guess my writing, the prose is far from stellar. It is definitely not something I want anyone to read, at least not until I give it a good round of revisions. Not only are there issues with the prose itself, but the story is somewhat disjointed by all the times I’ve adjusted things in the story without backtracking to fix previous scenes. I can definitely see where I need to improve as a writer!

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Worldbuilding Creatures: Find the Awesome


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Chimera by Teegan Purrington

Decide what would be an awesome creature, then make it.

One of my favorite things about writing fantasy is the worldbuilding. I’m sure I’m not alone. With all the world at your disposal, you can create whatever sort of world you want, with its own cast of creatures and races, cultures and landscapes. But of all the things to invent, my favorites are the creatures. (Big surprise, coming from the biologist, huh?) So in the next few posts I’d like to share a few of the techniques I use to invent new creatures. Here’s today’s:

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Evading the Inner Editor


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Madonna_in_snow via China's Tiger on en.wikipedia

Photo Credit: China’s Tiger on en.wikipedia

It creeps behind your fingers, critiquing every word you write. It whispers behind your thoughts, takes control of your eyes. There! it shouts, jumping up and down. A typo! A misspelled word! Correct it! Correct it now!

You forgot a comma!
A run-on sentence!
No, that character wouldn’t actually say that!
That’s stupid, that doesn’t make sense!

It’s the little voice that is trying to carve details into a chunk of clay before the vase is finished. Those details are just going to be swept away to complete the vase itself, so why focus on them now? Better to start with the vase, then add the details and textures once it’s done. Editing before your scene is complete is like trying to embroider a quilt that hasn’t been sewn yet, or icing a cake that hasn’t been baked.

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Spontaneous Novel Writing


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(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is November. During that month, thousands of writers, published and aspiring alike, join together in one goal: to write a 50,000 word novel in 31 days. While I have never participated before, I know people who have, and it looks like a blast. I definitely want to give it a try this year. But who says I have to wait until November?

In late 2008, a story idea that had been bouncing around in my head finally demanded to be told. It convinced me to set aside a novel I had previously been working on so I could devote my attention to bringing this new story to life. Four years later, I am in its 7th rewrite, and things just aren’t working how I see them. I just don’t have the experience to do it justice.


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The Importance of Victories


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Hanagami Danjo no jo Arakage fighting a giant salamander.Have you ever read a book and gotten frustrated by its cycle of events? Where the characters are afflicted by failure and misfortune, Where any hope of refuge or relief is denied, and flickers of hope are extinguished? Have you ever gotten so frustrated you put the book down? Or maybe even thrown it across the room?

This happened to me while reading George R. R. Martin’s A Game of Thrones. While a brilliant writer, GRRM is absolutely brutal to his characters. Things just keep getting worse and worse throughout the book. Failures and consequences, tragedies, frustrations, and death. Sometimes it looks like something might go right–but instead things just get worse than before. I got so frustrated with the lack of success that I stopped reading. Multiple times. (The book wasn’t mine, so I didn’t throw it. I thought about it, though.)

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