Easter Greetings and Ramblings

Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed.

Photo by Evie Shaffer on Pexels.com

Have a happy and blessed Easter, everyone!

As I look back on my blogging journey thus far, the blog entry population along the roadside is pretty sparse. It’s like we’re driving through Wyoming, or the Dakotas, or someplace similar. Few towns, but lots and lots of “empty” wilderness.

On this day that Christians celebrate the resurrection of our LORD, Jesus Christ, I would also like to celebrate writing and publishing another blog entry. Another bright and shiny town alongside the dark and empty highway. Another colorful bead on the string of my aspiring authorhood. Whichever metaphor serves best on this day, in this life. Every day that we rise from the little death that is sleep is a bead on the strand of our lives. Stream of consciousness writing is generally not friendly to the reader’s eyes, so I will quit before yours cross in exasperation.

An update on Wyldling Snare

(Ha. Ha.)

After submitting revision four (R- 4) to ten literary agents, I decided to stop the submission process right there. Thus far, I have been rejected outright by half of them and the others have not responded yet, if they ever do. It was not receiving the rejections that changed my mind; I expected the rejections and the non-responses. Beta reader responses made me realize that I was not done revising. I swapped manuscripts with a friend of mine and she very helpfully pointed out some sticky plot issues (and I did the same for her). Around the same time, I submitted my manuscript to a professional beta reader on Fiverr to get her $100 opinion (most of the others reading in my genre were charging twice as much for a 100K word document). She also, had some very good comments and advice that I took. In fact, both readers agreed on some of the same things.

Hence, revision 5 (R-5) was born, hastily squeezed out in time to submit for another, less expensive critique by a literary agent/author through a writer’s organization that I recently joined. Yes, I am now doing that. Paying a fee to join writer’s groups online. It seems to be the best way to find a variety of beta readers within one’s genre and earn some credibility with publishers – when I get to that point again.

Looking back, R-4 sucked as much as I feared: like my Kirby vacuum in its heyday. Fortunately, it did not suck as much as a black hole. It was still salvageable. You see, Wyldling Snare suffered from convoluted plot syndrome. There were too many things going on in the storyline and my narrative was far too coy, keeping information secret while hinting at things for far too long. Something had to go. Correction: a few somethings had to go and a few things were changed. I ended up chopping out over forty pages (gasp!) but keep in mind the darn behemoth was already over 350 pages and pushing 110K words. R-5 is 290 pages and nearly 88.5K words. And I already know that I left out some information I ought to have included. That’s what happens when you’re in a hurry. So, there will definitely be a revision six (R-6) after the current critique sends her results. R-6 might very well expand to 300 pages, give or take a few.

That is the present state of Wyldling Snare, thus far. Naturally, this means that a few things in the massive tome of Book 2, Wyldling Quest, will have to go or change, as well. But that, as they say, is another story.

Blessings on your week.

Birth Pains

Why do I write?

You know what? Writing a book is hard work. Getting anything accomplished when your internal editor is screaming at you the entire time is like trying to do a month’s worth of grocery shopping while three mischievous toddlers are stealing things out of the cart and then hiding them in all the wrong places around the store.

Actually, I’ve never had that experience but it sounded really good – before I put it down on virtual paper.

Oh, well…

You know what else? Writing a book is also a lot of fun and rewarding on a personal level. It’s especially nice when your beta readers tell you that they enjoyed reading it and are looking forward to the next installment.

black trunks of leaf-bare trees set against a lurid sunset with red-tinted clouds.
I would like to use a photo like this for the cover of the second novel, Wyldling Quest.

There are so many elements that I want to incorporate into the Wyldling Series. I have had so many ideas over the years that finishing the series was a daunting task, because my conception of what the story was really about kept changing as I matured. Finally, I had to put my foot down and say: “That’s it. Enough’s enough! Just write the blasted thing, already!” Breaking it up into six or seven books instead of writing it as a single novel has also helped.

Once I made a decision to turn it into a young adult fantasy series the path became clearer. I had defined my audience. But how to make it different from every other YA fantasy out there? Well, how many fantasy series do you know about that have a strong and overt Christian theme? By overt I mean that there are direct quotations from the Bible and characters that talk about Jesus Christ and believe in Him as their savior.

Please let me know if you find any fantasy books like that. I mean it. I would like to read them. I figure that there aren’t that many out there because I can’t find them. They certainly aren’t on the bestseller list on Amazon.

No, not anything by J.R.R. Tolkien or C.S. Lewis. I’m talking about recent young adult Christian fantasy.

I am aware of fantasy series that have good moral themes and point vaguely toward Christianity or have characters that resemble Christ as an archetype. However, there is no mention of the real Jesus or how badly people need to be saved from their own depravity. Many of these stories promote the idea that most people are basically good with some bad tendencies that can be overcome with hard work and the best intentions -with some help from our Heavenly Friend, of course! – because that is what we all truly want to believe, isn’t it?

I realize that these authors – even the ones that are Christians -probably did not intentionally set out to write a book that included Christian themes for the purposes of leading others to Christ. When it comes right down to it, there just doesn’t seem to be much of a market for that type of fantasy novel. In the publishing business, like in any other business, money talks. Very loudly.

I like to think that authors write books because they want to tell an entertaining story that was burning in their hearts and crying out for release into the world. It’s a like having a baby (and I can honestly say that because I have given birth to and raised children).

“There is no greater pain than bearing an untold story inside you.”

Maya Angelou

Quite frequently, I find myself thinking about my story and what I am going to write next. It is an obsession. I should be finding more work to do for my job, but I’m day-dreaming up plot points. I should be trying to fall asleep, but my brain is busy constructing witty dialogue and dramatic scenes. I should be doing housework, but I need to write. I should be weeding the garden (such as it is) but I need to write. Presently, I look at the clock and realize that it is past dinner-time, I should really cook something for my boys …

But I need to write!

I need to write because the people living inside of my head are begging me to tell their stories. And they won’t shut up until I do.

When I hear people talking about current events, or T.V. shows, or debating the strengths and weaknesses of sports teams, I often cannot relate, because my mind isn’t even on the same planet.

I am wandering around somewhere on Tehara.

People have gone into therapy for help in managing smaller obsessions, I’m sure, let alone an entire planet.

Other writers out there: do you know what I’m talking about?

On with the Quest

Tentative cover art for the second novel. It needs something…I don’t know…maybe some characters?
I decided to take a risk by making the plot less boring.

While the first installment of the Wyldling series – Wyldling Snare – is out to be ripped into shreds by the beta readers, I have not put my writing on hold. On the contrary, I have continued writing the sequel, tentatively entitled Wyldling Quest. The narrative picks up where the first book leaves off – on a cliffhanger. If you hate that sort of thing, do not fret, because I will most likely publish the second book within six months of the first, God willing. Based on my outline thus far, it will have roughly 25 chapters, plus a prologue and an epilogue. Currently, I have written the prologue and four complete chapters and even now I am in the midst of crafting a fifth chapter.

Naturally, this is a first draft of the second revision of the original work that I finished over a year ago. Maybe someone would have found the original version an entertaining read; I, however, thought that the heroine was spending too much time moping around and not accomplishing much of anything. Sitting around and bemoaning her impotence to effect change for three chapters is not the way to write an adventure story! BORING! A heroine ought to be out doing things as quickly as possible in the book, don’t you think? She needs to ACT.

As a result, I decided to allow her to misbehave a little – with a little nudge from the most mischievous of the supporting characters. In the original version, the heroine was in the main a sullen passive observer who was kept in obedient ignorance by her guardians. Yes, she is new to this world (a fish out of water character type) so there will still be that observatory element in the new version but I plan to make her less whiny and more proactive in proving her dependability to the other characters. She still begins as the character I made her to be – a sensitive and cautious sixteen year old girl with self esteem issues – but if she is really so anxious to rescue the hero from his captors, then she had better put on her big girl pants, stop complaining, and get on with it!

I can laugh at myself now for being so rigid as to adhere to my original expectations for the story – which were unrealistic, to say the least. And I don’t mean in the sense of fantasy or magic, I mean unrealistic as to character actions and interactions. Yes, the action takes place on a different planet, but even in a fantasy novel people should still behave in recognizable patterns. For example, if you were a military leader and you wanted to keep it a secret that the heir apparent to the throne has been abducted and a girl from another world has simultaneously appeared in the place from whence he was taken, you wouldn’t allow your underlings to throw a party and invite everyone in the village to meet her. Apparently my twenty year old self believed that a reader would suspend their disbelief in this circumstance.

Inevitably, by making the changes that I did, I changed the course of a story. I chopped out nearly a quarter of what I had worked so hard to craft and hone over the years. However, when you are a writer you must make sacrifices so that the story can flow in a direction that is entertaining while somewhat plausible. Were there instances of humorous, quirky dialogue and darling creative descriptions that did not escape my chopping block? Of course there were. And I do not delude myself into believing that everything I keep will survive a professional editor’s critical eye when the time comes.

So that’s my update. As always, I hope that in sharing my progress, somewhere in my rambling, shameless self-indulgence that there was something that might help another aspiring author.