Month: May 2016

Writing Oomp for you in June + a podcast interview

Who needs a little motivation with their writing this coming month and wishes Camp NaNoWriMo was on already? I don’t want a huge goal, but I know I need something to keep me accountable. And Kendra was thinking it was happening in June. I made that mistake last year so I remembered last year. So I thought we could make up our own little group of people who want to write in June.

You don’t have to have a big goal to join in. Mine is 15,000. Kendra’s is 30,000. My little brother might be doing 12,000. You can do 10,000 or 100,000. (though I will think you are mad if you attempt the latter)

If you don’t know much about Camp NaNoWriMo it doesn’t matter. What we are doing here is having an an author chat and accountability group.

And if you think you might be working on multiple projects that should be okay. I’m not sure whether I’ll be writing Lady of Courage or rewriting Girl of the Rumours. Just make sure it’s something with an increasing word count.

We’re going to do it through a Google hangouts group and a spreadsheet to  keep track of everyone’s word counts. It’ll be rather like a cabin for Camp. I’ve even got graphs that look a little like Camp ones. And you don’t need a gmail address to do this.

If you see this any where in the  first half of June you’re welcome to join in. I’ve made this lovely Google form for you to sign up. I promise I won’t use your email for anything apart from this without your permission.

Speaking of Google Forms, I just got interviewed on The Very Serious Writing Show and talked about beta reading. And I mentioned using Google forms for signing up for beta reading and that I’d never made a Google form. And here one is. They’re as easy as I expected.

You can check out the interview at thatguywiththehat.com 

Tell me what you think. And tell me what your writing plans for the month are, or reading plans if that’s what you have.

MYSR: The Five Unnecessaries

Hi everyone, I have another book recommendation.

The Five Unnecessaries is book one of the 27th Protector series, by Laura Campbell. I found it simply amazing. It’s a book that deseveres to be better known.

This book would appeal to those who like dystopian. It’s not a traditional dystopian though. The main character doesn’t live in that bad a place, and those that do… haven’t realized it. But it is bad, scarily bad in that I can see our society slipping into this place. This is its blurb.

I am Aislyn. These are the sad facts of my world. Any child born in the Republic who is unscheduled, imperfect, or inconvenient is labeled an Unnecessary. Any pregnant woman, or Vessel, is targeted as an enemy of the state for harboring an Unnecessary. Their only hope is to be rescued by a Protector, one of 26 girls trained to infiltrate the Republic and get them safely back to the Territory. These girls are chosen because they are strong, smart, and heroic. They train for years in medicine, technology, physical agility, and espionage. They never choose girls like me. Except…they did. I am a threat and a risk because I don’t comply with the rules and expectations. I am a target because the Republic is more determined than ever to destroy anyone who crosses the border. I think my trainer has a secret. I am the 27th Protector of the 188th generation, and I’m terrified I will fail.

So Aislyn trains, Eventually she passes her exams and it is time to go. Into the Republic, risking her life. She finds an Unnecessary to take back with her. She is caught. But the guard lets her go. And she doesn’t know why.

This is not one of those books with a blatant Christian message, in fact there’s not a single bible verse that I can remember. However what it does have is a powerful message about the sanctity of life, and about what we can do. Even if we feel powerless, God can use anyone to show his love. We just have to be alive enough to make a difference. To show the world that there are no unnecessaries.

It is a truly beautiful story, One that almost made me cry. (And that’s not easy to do.) There are so many profound statements in it. And just the way things are described, it pulled me in and made me feel like I was really there. (Except for the occasionally editing mistake that distracted me.) The first line is one of those beautiful memorable ones. “Grey shouldn’t be a color. It’s a void.”

It’s realistic. Even gritty on occasion. The Republic is a decadent society and that does come into the story, but not to much. Just enough to show what it is like, but not enough that it would bother squeamish people. Though some of the medical stuff might, There’s blood and people dying, Emergency c-sections and stuff like that.

Aislyn is a character I can relate to well. She isn’t anyone special, despite having to do a very difficult job. And she has just as much trouble coping as anyone would. And the other characters, they vary a lot and there is great development. We don’t get to know all 27 protectors, but the ones that do appear are wonderful.(Or not as is suitable) Brie is highly committed and caring with a tragic backstory, Tessa wants to be the best protector ever, Megan is the only person her father has left and Eva is so young and scatter brained. Then there is Eldrige, Commander Patterson, Collin and other trainers and the tech guys. And people in the republic.

A few of my favourite lines, just to give you an idea of  some of the characters and the writing.

Eva: “So ‘yay’ for incomprehensible circumstances that point out the incompetence of underdeveloped legislature. Candy?”

Patterson: “Never apologize for seeing beauty. In fact, you will need to, or you will likely go mad from everything else you have to deal with.”

Eldridge: “My dear, I am slightly important or so I have been told. I’m technically running a county and an undercover operation to steal forsaken children, however unnecessary they are deemed to be. This does come with some competition for my time. But when you can track me down, Please do. Being in charge also gives one some clout to do things like choose 27th Protectors and talk to them when I want.”

Cassidy: “I knew you were gonna be fun”

Brie: “Do you remember when I said that nothing could ever make me hate them more?” “I was wrong.”

And I think that’s enough. There’s a sequel, The First Traitor. It’s on my wishlist. Let me know what you think if you decide to check it out.

Samara’s Peril Blog Tour: Review and Interview

Hey people,
Jaye L. Knight’s newest novel, Samara’s Peril, has been released! I got a chance to read the book for review and to interview Jaye. And she’s doing a lovely giveaway. Don’t forget to check that out below.
About the Book
Samara’s Peril is the third book in the Christian fantasy series, Ilyon Chronicles
When news arrives that Emperor Daican has been in contact with his chief war strategist, it signals potential doom for the country of Samara. Determined to intervene, the resistance in Landale, headed by Lady Anne, embark on a covert mission in hopes of unearthing further information. However, a shocking discovery leads to complications no one could have foreseen.
Armed with their newfound knowledge, they set out for Samara to warn the king. War is inevitable, and they must face two desperate battles—one on the walls of Samara’s great stronghold, and the other on the battlefield of Jace’s heart, where victory might only be achievable through great sacrifice.
Available now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iBooks!
My review


Samara’s Peril is excellently written as all Jaye’s books are. She continues to tell a story of amazing faith through trials. But the struggles that are faced are not ignored either.
This book surprised me a lot. It went places I didn’t expect it to go yet. This is the turning point of the series and certainly in Jace’s life. The way Jaye went about bringing him to a place of stable faith is amazing, and there was great development of the other main characters. And even minor characters weren’t dropped, but instead came up naturally. I didn’t have any trouble with following what was going on.
Also there are some amazing new characters introduced. Some lovely, and others perfectly despicable. I am looking forward to seeing more of them. The King of Samara is such a contrast to Emperor Daican. A humble servant king.

There were some great interaction between Kyrin and her brothers. This book has family as a big part of it. It’s lovely.
I don’t think it’s my favourite so far in the series, but I did have a great big smile on my face for several days after. Though it wasn’t quite what I was expecting, the first part of the book especially was amazing. Not that the second part wasn’t good, it was, but sometimes I like my ideas of what could have happened better than the author’s.
Samara’s Peril does have some mature themes, perhaps more than the previous books, but they are dealt with very gently. There is violence, but never without a reason for it to appear. It just shows how bad evil is and the reality of war. I think that there is actually somewhat less than the previous books, despite there being more fighting. Those people who hating kissing in books, might be annoyed. There is one kiss, rather impulsive and not in detail, but a source of surprising controversy. Also there are a few non descriptive sexual references.
If you love Resistance and the King’s Scrolls you should read this continuation. I wish I could say you’ll love it, but there have been mixed opinions.  If you haven’t read them I would recommend them for about 16 up and you certainty need to begin with Resistance.
(I find it hard to write an interesting, sensible, and spoiler free review. It’s hard to talk about it without going into specifics and that would give things away. Especially in this book.)
My Interview with Jaye

Me: Who was your favourite author as a child?

Jaye: My all-time favorite would have to be Jeanne Betancourt, author of the Pony Pals series. I was your typical horse crazy girl and most of the books I read were horse stories. Hers were always my favorite. Even now, I’m working on completing my collection of them because they were such a big part of my childhood.

Me: What was your favourite school subject?

Jaye: History. It was always the most enjoyable for me. I probably retained more of what I learned during our history lessons than I did from any other subject.

Me: I love history too. Learning about the past is the best way to understand the present.
What was the hardest part about writing Samara’s Peril?

Jaye: Probably the intense emotion in it. It’s a very emotional and heavy book at times, and as a writer, you really try to put yourself in your characters’ heads. About the time I started the second half of the book, I went through a period of about a week and a half where I was having bad anxiety attacks and felt like Satan was really trying to sabotage the story. That was definitely the hardest part.

Me: That does sound very hard.
Do you ever cry while writing?

Not easily, but yes, sometimes. I actually cried several time while working on the death scene of a particular character in The King’s Scrolls.

Me: I can complete understand that. I’d almost be worried if you hadn’t. It’s the probably the saddest thing I’ve read of yours. (Almost because I didn’t quite cry myself. Conflict is more likely to make me cry.)
Do you have any plans for books after the Ilyon Chronicles are finished?

Jaye: Too many. 😛 Yeah, I have quite a few projects floating around in my mind. The biggest question is always which one will be next. I think I’ve narrowed it down to one smaller project that seems to be demanding to be written. It’s a fairy tale retelling, which is something I never thought I’d get into, but the story just showed up and won’t leave me alone. After that, I have an assassin trilogy that has been on hold for several years now. Maybe it finally be time to get back at it.

Me: I love fairytale retellings.
How does the reality of being an author compare with your dreams?

Jaye: Well, it’s a lot more work than you dream it will be! A lot of the time, I’m so busy doing the work part of it that I feel like I don’t even have time to write. That can be frustrating. But, on the flip side, it is also pretty amazing. I’m still shocked when I find out about an award or get a message from a reader about how much they loved my book.

Me: I’m beginning to see how much work it is myself. Just basic life sometimes takes up a lot of time. Just writing this post took me a while. I really appreciate the time you have put into this blog tour.

About Jaye
Jaye L. Knight is an award-winning author, homeschool graduate, and shameless tea addict with a passion for Christian fantasy. Armed with an active imagination and love for adventure, Jaye weaves stories of truth, faith, and courage with the message that even in the deepest darkness, God’s love shines as a light to offer hope. She has been penning stories since the age of eight and resides in the Northwoods of Wisconsin.
You can connect with Jaye on her website, blog, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Etsy.
She is also one of the writers I look up to the most. She started this when she was younger than I am and has shown me how hard work and dedication can bring great improvement in one’s writing.
Check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour at: http://jayelknight.blogspot.com/p/samaras-peril- blog-tour.html
Share in the excitement of the release and enter to win a themed giveaway pack! Prizes include an autographed copy of Samara’s Peril, a John 3:16 necklace by FaithWearDesigns, and a green wire dragon bookmark by Wirelings! (Giveaway is open to US residents only. Cannot be shipped internationally.)

What I love in books

(Also known as how to make me happy, if I’m reading your book)

Hello everyone, I decided to borrow an idea from Christine Smith and Tracey Dyck and tell you about what I love in books.

Worldbuilding

A unique world is a certain draw. I love interesting political structures and societies. But historical elements are also good. I don’t like anything too weird. At least not a lot of weird things.

I also love well done portrayals of God and the church. Especially names for God. The Eye’s of Everia books by Serena Chase are great in that way. So many names for God. The First, Loeftryn de Rynloeft (Highest Reigning from the Reign Most High), Embral e’ Veria.
I also love the general system of naming in that. I wish I’d thought of it myself.

Characters

I love clever, witty characters. But also strong and honourable. People who are a little out of the ordinary, but not because there’s something inherently special about them. And in leaders I like confidence.
And I really love it when when there’s a sense of mystery about a character. If I can’t be certain that they’re trustworthy. I love it when the author makes me like them, but keeps planting little bits of doubt. Or if someone suddenly turns out to be a traitor. It must make sense though.

Plot

I love layers. When a book is very different when read the second time. (usually when there’s a traitor or someone else with a big secret)

I like my plots tightly knit. When it’s following more than two people who don’t seem connected, I don’t like it quite as well, even when I can see how they might meet eventually. Yet I do like it when seeming unrelated people have their lives converge. They don’t always have to know each other, but there has to be a clear interaction between their stories.

I was going to say that high stakes and particularly action are important, but that’s not always the case. Something important going on is a must though. Some of the things I wanted to say are actually contradictions, so I think I had better leave it unsaid, maybe try to untangle my thoughts in more detail another time. But a romance centred story is one I probably won’t read. As for other things, it depends on my state of mind.

Relationships

I like sibling and friend relationships. People truly working together or the pain of being opposed. The struggle between  loyalty to your side and loyalty to your family.

As far as romance goes, I prefer the emphasis to be on sacrifice or commitment, than warm fuzzy feeling. We need more stories that show true love, putting others needs first, doing what is best, not what is most comfortable.

If characters are forced (more or less) into marrying (or promising to marry), and then have to learn to love each other, you’re probably made me happy. As long as it is actually turning out well. In fact I love any situation where people are forced to work together.

But friendship slowly developing into love can be beautiful as well. When it’s about really caring for the other person, instead of just selfish attraction. Not that having a little attraction show is is bad. It’s realistic. But don’t take it to far. I hate relationships without commitment

Themes

If a story has no depth to it, no message, I feel that I’ve wasted my time. It can be subtle, not clearly stated, even hard to articulate. But it must at least illustrate something good.

If it does have some profound statement in it, that can be even better. But only if it comes naturally.

Other Things

It must be clean or I will be very annoyed. And wrong better not be portrayed as right. And having families is a plus.

And that’s that. I hope you enjoyed this and find it as useful as I did. I think I’ll have to do a post about what I read when I was younger though. Might help clear up my contradictions. I’m reading different stuff, but I still have fond memories.

Beautiful People: Natalia Rizzetti

It’s Beautiful People time again. And I found a way to make it take much longer than it had to. But here it is only a few hours later than I like.

After a little thought I chose to tell you about Lady Natalia Rizzetti of Vecoa this time. Since I don’t know her quite as well as I should, I’m going to travel to Vecoa and and ask her the questions personally.

Since she is unaware of my existence and might be uncooperative if I try to explain, I will take another tactic. I dress myself in the traditional flowing blue and white of the legendary guardian of the Maretegna. (The region of sea that Vecoa has a share in.) I think that will open her up a bit, though no one believes such a person ever really existed.

I arrive for her mid-afternoon walk on a day when Eloisa would be elsewhere. Also a few weeks before I will begin the the book. She’ll be less wary that way. Nobody had died for a while.

I spot her quickly, a bright red spot among the green of the forest terrace. I walk closer. She is sitting on a wooden bench, staring up into the trees, yet not looking like she actually sees anything. I scraped my foot against the ground.

“Is that you, Teresa?” She whirls around and her mouth goes slack at the odd sight of me. Then she gives a little laugh. “Well you certainly aren’t Teresa. What are you? The Guardian herself?”

I nod. “I just came to ask you a few questions. You can see I can’t exactly attack you well in these drapes.”

“You probably could,” she says dryly. “But you’re not going to and you wouldn’t get away. Now about those questions.” She drops back onto the bench and points for me to sit next her.

“This is going to sound odd,” I say, trying to keep her gaze, “But how often do you smile?”

“Too much. Sometimes the corners of my mouth get sore. But I can’t just frown at everything I’m not perfectly happy with.”

“Of course. I’m less likely to frown with a stranger than a close friend.” She frowned a moment, but it didn’t last. “I won’t smile at you if I don’t want to.”

I nod slightly, averting my eyes. “You probably won’t after this next question. What- what was the cruellest thing someone ever told you?”

“Oh!” She scrunches up her eyes and leans back against the seat. It creaks and bends. “Well when- no, not that.”

She stops talking. I wait. Finally she opens her eyes and speaks making each word deliberate.

“When Signa Murtas and Grandmother told me that my real father had died before I was old enough to remember and that Father wasn’t really mine at all. That I was different to the rest of my family.”

“What did you do?”

She shrugged and smiled. “I refused to believe them at first and went and hid in the garden where even Eloisa couldn’t find me. Then I wouldn’t smile at them or even talk to them for a long time.”

I sigh with relief. She dealt with that one pretty well. It wasn’t quite the answer I though she might give, but I couldn’t do much about that. “What about the kindest thing someone told you?”

“All about what my real father had done and how he and Father were so close, almost like brothers. I found it extremely comforting at the time.” A dreamy look comes into her eyes. She seems to still find it comforting.

“Who told you all that?”

She frowns and brushes a bit of hair out of her face. “I’m not sure. It may have been Lorenzo and Filippa, in fact I’m pretty sure it was. Not that she remembered a lot.”

I nod. “She wouldn’t have. Do you have any other strong childhood memories?”.

She scowls. “I remember when Demetrio Pavone knocked me into the harbour on my first visit to Doranto. He probably didn’t know I could swim. My rescuer splashed him badly.”

I try to keep myself from smiling. I hadn’t heard about that before.

“Have you ever been seriously injured?”

She shook her head. “Never. Well not physically.”

I’m about to ask her to elaborate, when I realize what she is talking about talking about. And I do not want to go into that now, even if she did seem open. (Spoilers)

“Do you get along with your neighbours?”

Natalia blinks. “Do you mean neighbouring states or the people who live close to the Palazzo?”

I shrug. “Either or both if you like.”

“Well I can’t very well be disagreeable, but I like some of them more than others. And we get on well with Trione, alright with Doranto, hardly at all with the others. Why are you here anyway? If you were a spy or looking for gossip you wouldn’t do it like this.”

I smile. “It’s kind of complicated, but it will never hurt you. Now are you usually this easy to get on with?”

She makes a quick motion with her hand. “Oh always, the other person is being demanding or foolish or ignoring me. Which is fairly often.”

I raise my eyebrows at the slight contradiction and she shrugs. “It’s true.”

“You’re right.” I say. ” Now, if you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go?”

Natalia leans forward, eyes shining. “Anywhere? I’d go everywhere. At least to all the grand cities where women are respected. I’d really like to go to Ingiltere and see the works of Queen Elisabetta.”

“I’d like to do that too. I’m more interested in Vittoria though.”

She gives me an odd look. “Vittoria?”

I look down at my feet. I shouldn’t have said that. I’m already mixing her up enough without talking about an uncertain future. “Never mind. I’ve just got one more question. Who was the last person you held hands with?”

She crosses her arms. “I’m not answering that one.”

“Why not? Was it Taddio at your party two days ago?”

Natalia gives me a queer look. “No, of course not. It was actually Alexso, just after lunch. Now, won’t you stay for afternoon tea.”

I stand up, shaking my head. ” I really can’t stay any longer. The Maretegna has been left unguarded long enough.”

I vanish, leaving her stunned. And I really think she needs to read It’s (Not That) Complicated or A History of Venice. They’d both help her.

What did you all think? Does Natalia come through as an interesting person? Did you like me writing it that way?

Camp NaNo Recap, I’m writing a sad book

Hello everyone,
I hope you didn’t miss me too much last month. I actually enjoyed the break from blogging a little (Enough that this post is late), but I’m glad to be back again.
I just managed to reach my goal of 21,000, without too much hard work. Last July I had a goal of 18,000 and wrote 20,139. I wrote about one third by hand and just under a third was brainstorming and notes. Since I hadn’t had enough time to plan before hand, I allowed myself to count that.

I felt the writing was a little less smooth than it had been previously. Some days it was an effort to come up with something to write, but I know I didn’t actually spend as much time per day as I did last time. I love doing some of the writing on the computer. Those times happen when it’s evening and you’ve barely written anything, and when they do it’s much easy to catch up by typing. I haven’t given up on writing by hand though. I still love that too.

On the story development front, I really just got some important things fleshed out. I’ve still got a way to go though. I had been exploring the basic idea behind Girl of the Rumours for almost a year and a half when I started writing. Even then the story has changed dramatically throughout the first draft. This time I hadn’t thought about it a lot, until a month before starting.

I hadn’t thought about the mood of Lady of Courage much, but it certainly wasn’t supposed to be tragic. It still isn’t really, but I do plan to have some simply wonderful characters die. When I actually realized that I was going to make people very attached to a particular character and then rip them away I almost cried. But it has to happen for the story to go the way I intend at the moment. Of course since I haven’t actually written it yet, there is still a chance that they will survive, but it’s highly unlikely.

This month I’m planning to begin rewrites for Girl of the Rumours. I read thought most of the first draft on Monday. The beginning will need to be completely rewritten, because I’m changing a few characters and the way in which certain events happen. The layer parts however have some bits that I love and will be able to mostly reuse.

I’m not exactly sure how working on two books at the same time is going to work, but I’m sure I’ll figure something out. If any of you have some tips they would be very welcome.

How was your April? If you did Camp NaNo how did it go? I’d love to hear.

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