Category: Writing (page 2 of 4)

Beautiful People: Celino and Cloe

So it’s Link-up time of month again. And time to get back into character questions. In other words, it’s Beautiful People time. And because of a 3rd (or 1st) century bishop (or priest) who may (or may not) have had something to do with marrying people against the emperor’s orders, the theme for February is couples.

Now I have several couples in Lady of Courage. But I can’t talk about Natalia because that’s too complicated, and I’d rather not talk about her friend Eloisa who made a political marriage, so I’m going to talk about Natalia’s parents. Or rather her mother and her step-father. But they’re still both her parents and theirs is a lovely story, if I do say so myself.

Celino Acqui

Now I had better introduce them both properly.

Celino Acqui is a merchant and a veteran of the Third Yallici war. 
Cloe Neroni was raised to occupy a high position and was an assistant to the late Deso of Vecoa and the mother of his heir.
Besides Natalia they have Alexso who is fifteen and Sofia and Teresa who are twelve.

How and why did they meet?

Cloe: Supposedly it was the second time I met Sebastian (my first husband). I was sixteen at the time and very nervous, though excited about the possibility of an engagement. I do however remember him being with Sebastian when he visited me in between then and our wedding.
Celino: I distinctly remember being dancing with her once on the first occasion. Sebastian asked me to help entertain her, then made me promise not to step on her feet.

What were their first impressions of each other?
Celino: I thought that she would be good for Sebastian and make a wonderful Desa for Vecoa when the time came. And I’ll admit I thought she was rather young.

Cloe: When I did properly meet him I was impressed by his devotion to Sebastian. And possibly a little too admiring of his swagger and skill with the sword. He wasn’t so steady and cautious back before the war.If he had been I might have attempted to set him up with one of my friends and then where would we be. 

How would they prove their love for each other?

Celino: Well she listens to me and confides in me.
Cloe: I would have to say the same.

Cloe Neroni

What would be an ideal date?

Cloe: A date for what? The only big occasions to plan are all Natalia’s and I doubt are what you’re asking about. But late spring is preferable.
Is there something they emphatically disagree on?

Cloe: Celino still thinks I wouldn’t have married him if Sebastian hadn’t left a clear letter asking me to let Celino take care of me if he was killed. But though the letter may have played a part, especially in him offering, I couldn’t help but be won around to him.
Celino: And I disagree with that statement. She convinced me of her story years ago. I don’t understand why, but I believe it.

List 5 quirks they know about each other. 


Cloe: Celino doesn’t like going into the city without his big admiral’s hat. Even as a merchant he’s still got that sea blood. Sometimes I think if it weren’t for his commitments he’d been raging off over the sea.
Celino: But you know the war ruined me for seafaring. I’d go if there was a war, but that will be a terrible day.
Cloe: He also hates politics and is very fond of the tapping noise his wooden leg makes. Now what do you have to say about me, dear?
Celino: I have no such awkward things say about you. There’s only your odd preference for Rosan partridge over our native pike.
Cloe: I grew up in Rosa. It’s natural I’m partial to their food.
Celino: But you spent an equal time on the isle of Fazoe.You didn’t have partridges there. And that was where they taught you to cook.
Cloe: And that my dear, is why I have never eaten a badly cooked partridge.

What’s one thing they know about each other that no one else does? (and now you will)
Celino: Cloe almost joined a religious order when she was fifteen and again straight after the war.
Cloe: I’m sure at least one other person knows that. The same with the dreadful secret I have. When he was twenty Celino helped captured an Ayutian ship and almost married a girl on it.
Celino: *raises eyebrows* Did Sebastian tell you that story? And it wasn’t nearly so close as that. Her mother told me to behave or I had better marry her, but there was never anything for her to worry about.

What’s one thing that they keep secret from each other?
I was unable to ask this question so I just went digging around in what I already knew. I don’t think Cloe tells Celino all of her hopes for Natalia and he has never shared a particular secret that Natalia confided in him.
How would their lives be different without each other?
Cloe: I’d be a lonely widow meddling too much in the life of her only child and Celino would be another mad sea captain. And no, that’s not debatable.
Where do they each see this relationship going?
Cloe: Well we’ve been married seventeen years. Let’s see if we can make it to 70.
Celino: I think you mistake your math. I won’t live to be one hundred years old.


I hope you enjoyed that. I haven’t developed them as well as I’d like yet, but I got a bit of banter going.

Yes, I Want to Change the World

There, I said I’d have another post this week. I’m hoping it’ll be a little different to most of the blog posts I’ve seen these last couple of days. January is in every second title. If I was doing that it would be late anyway. It’s February in Australia. Shortest month in the year. So I had better get onto it.

I’m much better at dreaming about the future than keeping records of the past. But mostly just dreaming, no planning. And I’ve been learning that to lead people anywhere you need to know where specifically that is and be able to look back to where you came from. I’m not sure I’m a leader, but as I said in the title, I do want to change the world.

Actually, I’ll rephrase that. I want the world to be changed. I want it to become more conformed to God and I want to be a tool for him to use. Specifically I want to touch people’s hearts and help them to the see the truth. I want to do this through my writing, and with everything else I’m called to.

Maybe it’s not a good idea to state outright what I’m trying to do. People might catch on and avoid my writing, but it helps me to write about it. Besides, one author might change the direction of a few people’s lives, but not the whole culture. There needs to be many of us. I want to be working alongside others. Alongside you. Writer or not, God can use you to make a difference.

How do we do this? What am I specifically doing? I don’t know. The course I did last week strengthened the call I felt to do something. It brought forward some of the issues in our culture that ust be grappled with. I gained a clearer way of thinking about some issues, a completely new understanding of others, and many ideas to incorporate into the worlds of my stories. It gave me a direction for learning more, told me who God was and who I was. But it didn’t tell me what to do or even what to think.

About 1% of my handwritten notes from last week.

At the simplest level, I must be faithful to whatever God has placed in front of me, I must be willing to take opportunities he offers, and most of all I must trust in him and keep close to his teachings whatever I do. After that there are the ideas I have been given for stories, the imagination I have been given, the unique circumstances that give me my particular view of the world (as opposed to all the other unique views). I must use those gifts and I must do it to the best of my ability. Our God is not a God of mediocrity. He does everything perfectly.

I do have a basic plan for what I wish to do with my writing though. I am attempting to shed the light of the gospel on certain circumstances, to provide examples of both good and bad actions, to use the grandeur of a made up story to bring clarity to the simple, but difficult issues of life. I want to reflect the way God made this world to work, and to show the goodness of what God has revealed to us.

I am also trying to show the glory of God in his creation, to evoke a beauty we can forget to notice in the world. The life of a forest over the brilliant depths of a gorge, The sweetness of birds singing by a trickling brook, and the devotion of a mother to a child. I can picture them now, a dark haired  woman looking down on a child in her arms. There is a slight expression of weariness in her face, but such a glowing look of joy as well. The baby sleeps, its little face scrunched up in peace and happiness.

I will also have to show the flip side of that. The horrors of destruction, the anguish of the death of one beloved, the remorse of a wrongly made choice. I cannot show the glories of perfection without contrasting the utter darkness we fallen humans can create. I won’t focus on it, I might not even get a close look, but I cannot try to lessen it, or shut it out. I must be honest.

And that is my plan for changing lives through my writing. It’s probably not the same as yours. You might never write for the public. You might think my ideas are crazy. But please, whatever your thoughts are, always be ready for God to use you. Learn new skills, try to do everything with excellence, be aware of what is going on in the world, most of all keep close to God. And maybe we’ll be changing the world together.

Beautiful Books: Goals and Interruptions

Hello readers, writer, friends and- I don’t think there are enemies reading my blog. If you are, please say hi.

I was starting to write about what writing I’d planned for this month and what was really happening when I remembered the Beautiful Books link-up was waiting for me. Since it is one on goals I’ll try to make it fit together.

What were your writing achievements last year?

I finished the first draft of my first novel, mostly re wrote it, wrote most of a second one, and started brainstorming a sequel. Not entirely in that order. It was a good year.

What’s on your writerly “to-do list” for 2017?

Finish Lady of Courage, get Girl of the Rumours reading to critique partners or maybe even beta readers. Probably write its sequel, though that depends on whether it is ready to be written when I have time.
As for this month, I had big goals: I was going to be writing 40,000 words, mostly on Lady of Courage. Anything else including blog post would be counted too. Otherwise my blog won’t happen with a high word count goal. I thought I might do a little bit of outlining on A Brigand, No Longer, but nothing else was expected.

The Secret Story

Then two things happened. First I was given a shiny new idea that get’s better the more I think about it. It’s a secret project I can’t talk about much, but I’m doing world building. And I’m not just mashing up bits from our world though there is a bit of that. I’ve finally veered off into what couldn’t be in our world.

It’s amazing how starting with nothing allows for more consideration of ideals. I’m not making a utopia, but I can put in more of my ideals for life, work education and government. I can actually make a clearer reflection of the truths of our world I believe to be important. I knew that stories allow one to do that before now, but I hadn’t experienced it so fully.

So because of that I haven’t gotten much work done on Lady of Courage. This week I’m forcing myself to get back to work on it.

The second interruption is one that actually has an impact of my word count. I’m going away for a week.  It’s an intensive course on planning one’s life to impact the world. I’ll be writing, but it’s not the stuff I count. So my goal has shrunk.

Tell us about your top-priority writing projects for this year!

I think this means add more details. Girl of the Rumours is still in a fairly rough state, but the only big changes are content added to the middle and  the climax. The rest needs some continuity checking, some serious evaluation and a little polish.

I’m hoping doing that will help me sort out what happens in  A Brigand, No Longer. For it I’ve just got a bunch of ideas that  I’m not sure how they fit in. It’s likely there will be a third book, but the ideas aren’t clear enough.

How do you hope to improve as a writer? Where do you see yourself at the end of 2017? 

I haven’t gotten much feedback on my writing so far. I’m hoping the critique process will really help me figure out my weaknesses and strengths. From there I’ll be in a much better place to write.

Describe your general editing process. 
I’ve hardly done enough editing to turn it into a process. For my first book the first edit was when I copied it from note book to computer. There were subtle changes I added as I copied. There were bigger things that happen though out it. When I actually begun that I’d just figured out the main line of the story and had to change the whole beginning to fit it. Then I go back over and tidy things up. I refine my characters.
For my other books it’ll be a little different, because it is already on the computer. But I’ll still be re writing things I’ve thought better of and making other big changes.
On a scale of 1-10, how do you think this draft turned out? 

Well it’s not quite finished yet. But I’ll put it at 6 overall.
What aspect of your draft needs the most work?
The complex threads. A lot of them were dropped and the subtlety was lost. I’ll need to add them in and tie it all together. Also the political scenes could really do with smoother intrigue.

What do you like the most about your draft? 
The themes of friendship and communication that are coming though. And the sacrificial themes. That’s something I didn’t fully realize until I wrote this.There’s a lot of love and mostly not the romantic kind. I’m also loving the teenaged brother inventor. He’s fun.

What are your plans for this novel once you finish editing? More edits? Finding beta readers? Querying? Self-publishing? Hiding it in a dark hole forever? 
More editing. Then some critiquing will have to come, then more edits. Rise and repeat several times. Then I’ll think about querying.

What’s your top piece of advice for those just finished writing a first draft?

    Let is sit for a month or two. Then read it over. Don’t think about it too much in between. Work on something else. But do come back. It’s worth it. Also write yourself an ridiculous. encouraging letter that will help you keep on when the editing seems hopeless.
    And that’s that. Except I haven’t shared the new name I have for the larger country Girl of the Rumours takes place in. Verlis is the main setting, but it’s just a province. The whole land is called NéaElefthéri. Ne-a el-ef-THAIR-ree. NéaElefthéri. There is a chance you can talk me into explaining it.
    So do you have any excitng new writing developments? Or just a stubborn unmoving goal to move towards? Tell me about it.

    Beautiful Books: NaNoWriMo Update!!!

    So I started writing this post in the first week of November. Now I’ve finally finished it. I also finished NaNoWriMo for the first time half an hour ago!!!

    So I’m doing the Beautiful Books link up by Cait@Paper Fury and Skye@Further Up and Further In.


    Overall, how is your mental state, and how is your novel going?

    My mental state is fine. (Read elated and hugging everyone now)I went into NaNo expecting to fail. On Day two I changed my mind. It hasn’t changed back yet. I am almost there now and completely confident I can make it. Now I’m done!!! My novel on the other hand is a mess. The middle came together better than I expected at the start, but there are huge bits I haven’t written and entire plot thread I’ve missed. It’ll probably need to be rewritten in entirety. But I don’t care. Keeping the story in my head is rather pointless.

    What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?

    I didn’t start at the beginning, and the beginning I do have I’m not happy with.(and I’ve already written two versions) Further more I’m not 100% sure what bit I wrote first this month. so I’ll share both. 

    This month: The ambassador bowed, showing a bald patch in his greasy black hair.

    Very beginning: However nice it is to be surrounded by sycophants, sometimes a girl just needs the presence of a good strong man. Natalia rose to the tips of her shoes and scanned the milling crowd.


    Who’s your current favourite character in your novel?

    Early in the month, Natalia’s half brother Alexos. he’s kind of inspired by my brother and is very adventurous. there’s also a couple of tertiary (I think. My secondary and tertiary characters like to get mixed up) characters, who are fun. A super enthusiastic, irrepressible maid and a mad sea captain.

    Since then I’ve become rather fond of Luca and Lorenzo in particular, but all my character are working their way into my affections.
    What do you love about your novel so far?

    New ideas for what should happen keep coming. I never intended to have all my characters pretending to be someone else, but it happens. (a good number at least)

    Have you made any hilarious typos or other mistakes?
    Nataia, Natlai, Natali, Matali, Natatalai, Naltai, Nalatai; I can’t type my main character’s name, It’s a bit of a nuisance. Natlai is the most common mistake. (When trying to type it wrong it came out right somehow.)
    What is your favourite to write: beginning, middle, or end — and why?
    I like it when things go really well and pull together in surprising ways, and that happens most in endings. but all of it can be fun.
    What are your writing habits? Is there a specific snack you eat? Do you listen to music? What time of day do you write best? Feel free to show us a picture of your writing space!
    Shelves new yesterday!

    I often, but not always listen to music. Getting a good bit of writing down in the morning is a goal, but I do it later in the day as well, including quite late.

    How private are you about your novel while you’re writing? Do you need a cheer squad or do you work alone?
    I don’t tend to share much because my work is full of typos, but being able to talk about the joys and trials is important. And sometimes I just need someone to help me focus. Kendra E. Ardnek has been great with that. She does share it, and that also keeps me from getting too stuck in my own head. And when I felt like procrastinating she was great with that too.

    What keeps you writing even when it’s hard?

    Determination and word sprints. Some with Kendra and Erika Mathews, a lot with the lovely people in the Realm Makers Consortium, and a couple with my little brother. I tried using Write or Die a bit, but if either my internet or computer is too slow it doesn’t register my writing quick enough and dies instead.


    What are your top 3 pieces of writing advice?
    1. Write something you’re enthusiastic about

    2. Study the craft

    3. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself.

    And here’s the graph of my monthly wordcount:


    And that is that. What have you all gotten done this month. Tell me, even if it’s small. There’s plenty of achievements other than writing a horrendous 50,124 words.

    InNoWriMo: Change of plans

    *International Novel Writing Month. That’s what it really should be called.

    Hello everyone,

    I know I had promised more world building for Verlis, but it turns out I’m not actually going to write A Brigand, No Longer for NaNoWriMo. You see, in that book there will be a war. A war that turns offensive and might involve fully conquering the other country and setting up a new government. And I’m not quite sure of the ethics of that. Something is necessary, but I don’t know how it should be carried out.

    Between that problem and generally not being very certain where the book should go, I think I need to let it sit. I’m not ready and though I doubt I’ll hit 50,000 words even if I know exactly what I am going to write, I don’t want this to be a waste. So I’m writing something else.

    In fact I’m going rebel and continuing Lady of Courage which I started in April. I’m really looking forward to working on this again. I thought I’d go through some of the Beautiful Books questions again.

    What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?

    It was actually inspired by a couple of review of the movie Brave. It’s not going to be much like it, but that’s were the seed of the idea came from.

    Describe what your novel is about!

    It’s a gearpunkish, political fantasy/alternative history about a girl who inherits the throne and must marry. Only there aren’t any eligible and capable men around. Except that guy who trying to take over the whole region and is a just a generally nasty person. Or maybe that person, but the council doesn’t like him. Or that guy, wait, why did he just die? And where are all the ships vanishing to?

    What is your book’s aesthetic?

    Despite my lighthearted description, this book is actually more tragedy than comedy and will make people cry. Maybe even me.

    It’s very brown,  there’s a lot of a light dusty brown and smaller amounts of mahogany. Also deep reds, greens and blues. And touches of black and silver.

    Introduce us to each of your characters!

    There’s a lot, and I did introduce some of them back in this post. So I’ll just give a couple.

    Natalia Rizzetti is basically a princess. She grew up expecting to rule sometime in the future, and has a keen interest in whats going in politics. She’s the center of the social events of the nobility, but feels somewhat alone. These people don’t really like her, they’re just courtiers and flatterers. I think she’s an ESTJ, so very dutiful and good at organizing people.

    Rheas Masi is a poor girl who is part of a charity group. Her role is picking up gift and gettinhg the rights to distribute the handouts of the nobles. She has a heart for orphans and tries to get them good jobs as servants. When Natalia sees her being harassed by a man in the market place one day and asks her to become her maid, she’s a bit scared, but takes this great opportunity.

    Alexso Acqui is Natalia’s half brother. He wants to be and inventor and explorer. he also wants to prove that he’s not a foolish boy, but can be a bit irresponsible and impulsive.

    What are you most looking forward to about this novel?

    I love the worldbuilding and the complex political situations. I’m also looking forward to discovering how it all turns out in the end. I didn’t start with a particular husband in mind for Natalia, and though I think I know now, it could turn out differently. I might decide to let her be happy.

    List 3 things about your novel’s setting.

    They have sky rails and factories.

    It’s inspired by Venice and other Italian, maritime, city-states.

    I’m borrowing women’s fashion from India. (Maybe men’s too. Also kurtas and kirtles aren’t all that different, so it’s got medieval elements too.)

    What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in the way?

    She wants to stop too much political power falling into the wrong hands. This means marrying in the next few months. But she also wants to find a truly good man to rule beside her. And there aren’t many of those. Also someone is sinking their ships and her suitors are being killed off if she pays them too much attention.

    How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?

    She must learn to trust and respect men and realize that people can’t be perfect. Also that she really does need to let those around her help.

    What are your book’s themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?

    Men need the respect of women, even when they don’t deserve it. We must build one another up and allow opportunities for growth  rather than belittling one another. Neither men nor women can make it alone.

    I’m really not sure how I want people to feel. I’m not even sure how I feel about the expected ending. But I do wait to inspire hope, courage, love and grace.

    The World of the Verlisi: Natural Features

    Peace to you my friends.

    Plotting a story is hard work so I didn’t feel like doing some deep post about writing. Instead I thought I’d share some bits about the world that Girl of the Rumours is set in. I think it’s interesting (otherwise I’d have invented something else) and telling you about it will help me solidify my ideas.

    I’ve already shared the common local greeting, so now I should introduce the world.

    Suppose many, many different things had happened in the past of our world, and that something had happened in South America that depleted the population a lot. Also the geography formed differently. Then in 1343 a group of people from many different nations arrived there and settled the land. My story takes place about 300 years after this arrival. There are many different entities, but the most important to my story is a union of kingdom of many provinces and another nation that separated from it about a hundred years before. That nation is Nalanza, and the most important provinces are Verlis and Amra.

    Geography and climate:

    This is all based loosely off Peru, Ecuador and Paraquay. Imagine mountains, jungle, sweeping plains and waterfalls. It’s still a bit hard to figure out. I should have looked at the geography and then figured out where everything should go, but I got an idea in my head first and it doesn’t really fit. I’ll figure it out somehow. I can tweak it if I want. This is supposed to be fantasy after all.

    I’ll just give the basic of what I do know. The province of Wherm is coastal and a bit on the dry side. Then Verlis is made up of large valleys among mountains. There are plenty of small rivers cutting through and lots of farm land. There is a very long, warm wet season. It mostly dries up in the winter, so that’s the best time to travel if you have any choice. And the dragons are less active in the coldest weather.

    Along one side border the mountains become very tall and very difficult to navigate. And one end is an area of very rough jungle. It runs right up into the big mountains. On the other side of the jungle is Amra. There’s a big river separating the two. Amra is more rugged and mountainous, but still gets about the same rain. Finally over the mountains we have Nalanza. it’s mostly savannah and a bit arid in places.

    Fauna and flora:

    Such eyes. How could they kill such a creature?

    I mentioned dragons above. They’re not your typical, big, fire breathing dragons. These creatures are
    small, and mostly eat bugs and small rodents. They have been know to make off with young poultry as well.

    I also have smallish wild cats inspired by ocelots, but more colourful. They’re a menace when traveling, but it’s illegal to kill them without special permission. They’re not likely to kill you if you have a weapon, but they can give nasty scratches. So rather a lot are killed illegally.

    There are herds of a creature that is somewhere between alpaca and buffalo, which are used for fiber pack animals, and occasionally meat. In Nalanza they have donkeys as well.

    There are myriads of parrots, insects and small mammals including rabbits. In some areas they have various messenger birds. I’m thinking something fiercer than pigeons.

    For plants I have not invented much that is unique. There areyour typical rainforest plants, and for crops they have corn and potatoes and many varieties of beans. There are also many plants used for dyes. Textiles are a big industry in Amra, so these are in high demand.

    I hope you enjoyed this. Next week I’ll be talking about culture, custom, clothing and cities.

    Beautiful Books: A Brigand, No Longer

    It’s the time of the month when I usually do the Beautiful People link up. But it’s also the time of the year when we take a break to talk about books. In particular, books we’re about to start writing.

    This book I’m about to write is tentatively titled A Brigand, No Longer. It’s a sequel to Girl of the Rumours. There may or may not be another book coming after it. I really didn’t want to write a trilogy, but I cannot fit all of my ideas into one more story.


    What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?

    It was probably about a year ago that I came up with an interesting twist to Girl of the Rumours that would leave a couple of characters in a very interesting situation. That twist is not the same anymore. It actually involved a character, who has changed a lot of the course of the first draft (sometimes she was a young woman looking after her brother and sister, now she is their mother). Also there were too many coincidences in the story. Anyway there still seems to be some complex situations, and I wanted more room to play with some themes and relationships.

    Describe what your novel is about!
    Joane, the former lady brigand, is having trouble adjusting to her new circumstances. It’s clear that she was meant to live out in the wilds and most people agree. So when shes hears that her former followers are forming into small warring factions and generally causing trouble, there is a strong urge to run away and get them back into line. But she knows her duty lies elsewhere. And that’s about what I can write from the little I know. It’s vague, but I can’t give away spoilers for the previous book. Many other characters make a return though. And Arthen and Leisa marry.
    What is your book’s aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like!
    I’m really not sure how to answer this one. I don’t even no how to describe it as a room. But it’s more town than forest. Formal garden terraces, people sewing uniforms, an apothecary shop. A strategy planning map, arrows through windows, making bandages. Mocking laughter, a burning village, a formal dance.

    Introduce us to each of your characters!
    I really can’t do this very much. I’m not yet sure how much to let out about who continues. But I’ll describe Joane and a few fairly minor characters.
    Joane doesn’t smile much, she’d rather stare daggers through you. She can take charge of a room, but is in her element outdoors. Her black curly hair is too short to stay up well and she always has a weapon hidden about her.
    Lady Naida Harly is a small, sprightly old woman. There’s always a twinkle in her eye that says she understands you even when you don’t say a word. But she’s also ready to make you talk about it, and extremely hard to say no to.
    Marcon Keresh is the second son of the Noble of Whern. He’s slight pretentious, means fairly well, but thinks he knows how things should be done. (Also I didn’t know he existed before I started writing this)
    How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)
    I fill in things like this, throw random ideas around and try to organize them into something useful. And I’m getting writing books from the library again.
    What are you most looking forward to about this novel?
    Putting Joane into many uncomfortable situations. Letting my characters grow more. Figuring out who Marcon is. Having father-daughter relationships.

    List 3 things about your novel’s setting.
    It takes place in a city much more than the first book.
    There will be some opulent surroundings at times.
    It’s summer, so lots of heat and the early harvest.
    What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in the way?
    She’s trying to save her old followers from themselves, and help people survive a war. A new leader among the brigands and a lot of stubbornness and fear all round is making it difficult.

    How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?
    I really hope she becomes more humble, trusting and forgiving.

    What are your book’s themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?
    One theme is learning to trust, when things seem out of your control. Also learning to obey when when another path makes more sense. And being willing to live with people who ridicule you.
    I want people to feel glad that they read it. And encouraged. Certainly encouraged.

    5 Responsibilities of Christian Writers

    Hello friends,
    Here is one of the more serious posts I’ve been promising. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while and bounced some of the points off my friend Kendra several weeks back. And speaking of Kendra she’s still looking for a few more people for her blog tour of Lady Dragon Tela Du in a months time. It’s an awesome book. Head over here or click the button on the side bar, if you’re interested. Now, onto the points.

    As Christians and writers we have a great responsibility. We are writing things we hope will be read by people and have an impact on them. We are trying to affect people’s minds. Or even if some of your aren’t trying, it’s impossible to avoid. If you don’t want to affect people, perhaps you should make pizzas instead. But one of my points still applies to Christan pizza makers so keep reading.

    We must not portray evil as good

    This one looks pretty clear. We must not redefine morality. We cannot portray murder or theft as good. (Though we might explore some dilemmas around those crimes.)

    But actually how to do it can be trickier. I think it can slip in more subtly. For example, if there are not suitable consequences for evil, we make the line less clear. What the consequences are, whether or not to show mercy, are of course left up to the author of each individual story to figure out. They may be natural consequences.

    But if your protagonist does wrong, it must be made right. It cannot be ignored, or else it may appear to be okay. Even if your protagonist is truly trying to do the right thing and is boxed in between two bad choices, there must be some consequence.

    However those situations are often not realistic and can be constructed for the express purpose of making writing look right. Don’t do that. Perhaps give them a difficult, hard to see third option. Or perhaps let them realize that this other choice was there later, and that they did the wrong thing. And have a consequence.

    Also ‘evil’ is broader than we may think. This is somewhere many of us may blur lines. Disrespecting parent, being unkind, being lazy, simply thinking bad thoughts are all wrong. Yes, these things will happen in our books, unless we’re writing about perfectly perfect people (=boring). But we shouldn’t normalize them as being okay.

    We must reflect God’s reality

    This point is an extension of the one above. Some stories are just a superficial shadow of the way God made the world. They ignore the big things of the world. Yes, seemingly trivial things can be important to individuals, but it is not the purpose of life to simply eat, drink and watch movies, or even make enough money to live. God created us for a purpose, a battle between good and evil is going on. Please show some of that. It can be on a personal level or a worldwide conflict, but show it.

    We should portray love, mercy, justice and other abstract concepts accurately. Also good character traits, such as courage, honesty and humility. These things are not always understood by the world. Courage is not the absence of fear, but doing what’s right despite it. (Okay, so that might be a well understood concept, but my point still stands.)

    We should show relationships accurately. Siblings can and should get along well, teenagers don’t have to be rebels, friends can have a bad influence and sometimes it’s selfish to tell a person that you love them. Marriage isn’t just about ‘love’ and having another person to make you happy, it’s also about commitment, and working together. And marriage doesn’t doesn’t instantly turn you into a better person. (So I’ve heard, I have no experience in that.) So don’t show it that way. Show some examples of how things should be, and don’t do what never really happens. (This will also make your story more relate-able and therefore better.)

    And we should portray God accurately overall. Not everyone has to see him that way in your story, but God is not evil, he is in control and he doesn’t change. We shouldn’t try to say otherwise.

    We must spur people to action, not distract them

    This was the point I got the post idea from. I was thinking about how people get very caught up in books at times. But though reading a book can be thought provoking or relaxing it is not entirely productive. 
    If we create a world that readers like better than the real world and it pushed them to make a difference and improve our world, that is a success. But if instead they wish they lived in that other world and spend all there spare time dreaming about it and reading your books that is a failure.
    The same applies to characters. If people wish they were more like your character is good qualities and are inspired and encouraged, that is a success. But if they wish they were actually that person in that position and do nothing that is a failure. If someone wished they were your heroine just because the hero is amazing there’s a problem.
    This might be off the overall topic, but there is a talk by Anna Sophia and Elizabeth Botkin called Jane Austen and Vampires. It’s about what girls read. And they said, quoting very roughly, “If your life is boring and you feel the need to escape into books, maybe the thing that’s missing is you doing things in it.” And we want people doing things in theirs lives not just reading our books.
    So even though we want our books to be engaging, we need to be careful to not trap people in them. God should be the centre of people lives, not anything we have written.

    We must point people to God

    Making people happy or moral without pointing them to God isn’t doing them any good in the end. Even if we’re writing a book that doesn’t clearly mention God, doesn’t have someone come to faith, or isn’t about a believer, we can still do this. Even if we don’t give the answer, the question must still be asked. Show people that there’s more to life than what can be seen. Make them realize the emptiness of life without God. Give them a bit of hope, something to make them search. And trust God.

    Or if you are writing for Christians, then you should certainly show God. Remind them of things they might have forgotten. Encourage them and build them up.

    We must follow God in our lives

    So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.– 1 Corinthians 10:31

    Whatever you do, do it from the heart, as to the Lord, and not to men. – Colossians 3:23

    Being a Christian doesn’t just impact what we write. It impacts how we live. Follow the Lord with all your heart and mind and soul and strength. Love his words. Read all of it. Think about it obey it. And it will affect your life. 
    We need to be a follower of Christ when we talk to a publisher, buy stationery,  and deal with interruptions. And we must be ready to follow him wherever he leads. We may be writers, but that doesn’t mean God won’t call us to do others things. In fact most of us do.

    Conclusion

    And that is what I call a serious post. I hope this is useful to someone. I know writing it down has helped me. You may think that I had more than five reasons or that I could have grouped them into less. I completely agree. That’s why I didn’t number them.

    I’ll be back next week with something. I don’t know what yet. Perhaps someone will inspire me. Perhaps I’ll see some tag floating around and steal it. Or perhaps I’ll come up with something at the last moment out of desperation. (Yes, that is where many of my posts come from. This post is an exception by being written the day before. I’d like that to become the new rule though. It’s less stressful the day before and stress is bad.)

    Game: How do names affect our perception of characters?

    Hello friends,

    I have a serious post in the works, but it’s not coming as quick as I’d like. So while that’s not happening i thought I’d do a little experiment. Sometimes characters have a especially villainous or heroic name. Other times they’re more subtle. And I was wondering just how much effect they have on perception of character.

    Speaking personally, I tend to carry on traits between characters with the same name. I think I even start imagining some similarities that aren’t really there. And when they are similar, well, Marcus shall always mean soldier and protector in my mind, because of several characters with those traits.

    Anyway I wanted to see what you all thought of the names I have in Lady of Courage. There are a couple of villains in the book and there are a few especially noble people including the one who ends up marrying Natalia, my heroine.

    So I’ll give you a list and in the comment you can tell me who you think the villains are and who the hero is. Feel free to add any other comments about them if you like.

    Celino Acqui                  Justini Rizzetti             Demetrio Pavone

    Taddio Orberti               Lorenzo Falco                    Luca Mondo

    Orsini Rizzetti                    Ivano Naldi                Rodrigo Baldini 

    Also there is a female antagonist. Guess who that is?

    Eloisa Muertas                Rhesa Masi                  Valentina Orberti

    Rubina Falco                Cloe Neroni                   Bettina Baldini


    And in case you hadn’t noticed the names have an Italian feel to them. But you had noticed because you’re all smart people and I made it kind of obvious. And the women do not change their last names when they marry, so if people have the same last name don’t assume they’re husband and wife.

    I’m looking forward to telling you bits and pieces about these people in the future. Some more than others, because of secrets and the fact that some are more significant than others. To keep those secrets for now, I’m not going to tell you what the right answers are. But I will give you all points for correct guesses of any sort and announce them at the end of the month. And I’ll add one extra question; who do you think dies?

    Beautiful People: Nylf the Slightly Handsome

    So, I had trouble choosing a character for Beautiful People this time. Probably because it was external beauty or lack thereof, that it focuses on this month. I’ve already done most of the characters that are that significant. So I thought I’d do the character who goes by Nylf, despite the fact his looks aren’t that important.

    As I begun, I realized I’ve never done Aydel, my heroine and that it would work well for her, but the character development is good for Nylf. Even though it’s mostly externals, He’s a very important character, but sometimes a little awkward to explain. This way I don’t need to worry about keeping secrets.


    Give a brief overview of their looks. 

    Straight dirt coloured hair, it’s short to begin with but he doesn’t really cut it over the course of the book. He does keep it tidy and shave though. Quite pale skin, though it is reddened by sun and wind, greenish-brown eyes. He has a open, friendly, teasing look about him. And he’s young, early twenties.

    Share a snippet that involves description of their appearance.

    Skin and hair contrast ought to be higher.

    ‘As they came into sight, their voices died away. Probably realizing there was a chance they could be heard. They weren’t dressed in the usual soldier uniforms but soft forest colours instead. One was tall with hair slightly darker than hers in stark contrast to his pale face. Even paler than Leisa’s. 


    What is the first thing people might notice about them?

    That’s he’s very quiet and good at blending in. And that they should have seen him before. Other than the fact he’s rather good at sneaking up and vanishing, it would probably be his height and his easy way of standing. And probably the hair/skin contrast.

    What are their unique features? (Ex: freckles, big ears, birthmark, scars, etc.)

    He’s actually pretty ordinary. No scars in places that are regularly visible, His ears do stick out a little though and he’s got common, random skin imperfections.

    How tall are they? What is their build?

    Pretty tall, a little over 6′. He’s got a long distance runner’s build.(’cause he actually is a long distance runner) So not overly muscular.

    What is their posture like? How do they usually carry themselves?

    He tends to stand in a lazy yet controlled manner. He walks and runs quite purposefully unless he doesn’t want to be seen in which case he kind of slinks along quietly.

    Your character has been seen on a “lazy day” (free from usual routine/expectations): what are they wearing and how do they look?

    He’d actually kind of look rather like that picture, slightly dishevelled. Clothes would be shirt, trousers and possibly a vest and/or wide belt. It depends on exactly how lazy he’s feeling and who is around.

    Do they wear glasses, accessories, or jewelry on a regular basis? Do they have any article of clothing or accessory that could be considered their trademark?

    He always has a knife or two about him and a small leather satchel. A rope hung from his belt or over his shoulder is common.

    Have they ever been bullied or shamed because of their looks? Explain!

    No. Because of his manners and actions, yes, but not his looks.

    Are they happy with how they look? If they could change anything about their appearance, what would it be?

    Perhaps he’d like to be more handsome. But also more ordinary. Being pale with dark hair can stand out at times. And if you could change his appearance more dramatically, he could be a completely different person. That could be useful, since a few too many people know him.

    And that is that.

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