Let's start the week with something fun, because the next two posts are going to be... well, kind of angry rants. Fair warning. But we won't rage on Monday, it's already tough enough. Save it for tomorrow. For now, lets jam out to some Pentatonix!
Whenever people asked what I wanted to be when I grow up, I’d shrug and say “I don’t know.” I had some ideas in my head, but I knew they weren't what anyone wanted to hear. My answer would never be "right," so I played dumb. I just didn't understand people who dreamed of being ordinary things, despite how great they might be. I wished I could be satisfied with those things, but nothing was good enough.
I wanted magic. I wanted adventure, danger, and the kind of relationships that only develop out of experiencing these huge, life changing situations together. Basically, I wanted to live inside a book.
I didn't know how to put all of this, even to myself, at that age. Instead, I thought I was dreaming about being in movies. Not in the "I wanna be a star!" kind of way, but because I wanted to live in fantasy worlds. I wanted to experience life in stories, and play different characters. I'd taken some acting classes, and it was a ton of fun. Being a "movie star" was, I thought, the closest I could get to leaving reality behind.
But some things weren’t right.
Starting out as an actor means taking any job you can get. You don’t get to pick the parts you play, and the worlds you live in. And even if I did make it big, I still wouldn’t have complete control over what I was in. I’ve got the look of the classic creepy girl in a horror movie. I’d probably get type-casted, and never get to be a Hannah or an Eva. I realized I needed control of the fantasy world I wished to live in.
And even if I became a huge star, Hollywood fame isn’t the kind of fame I want. I don’t want to be on magazine covers with paparazzi all up in my business every day. I don’t want people focused on how I’m dressed, if I’ve gained/lost weight, what I look like without make-up, and when I’m going to have babies. I don’t want fame for an “image.” Let’s face it, I’m the biggest introvert on the planet.
If only I could somehow put the fantasy world, the story, and the characters before me. If only I could be known for a story while continuing a peaceful, quiet life. Think about it. When was the last time you saw an author in the tabloids?
The pieces started to come together. So, you want to live in a fantasy world, one that you control, and you want your world to be more famous than you are? You want to make actual magic that you can share with others? Hm... I wonder what you should do?
The story itself answered my questions before I even reached the word "author." I already had Ellie and Savannah chatting at me inside my head. I already had what I didn't know what a book series forming. I wasn't a writer, but finally I thought, hey, why should that stop me?
Even when I started writing, I didn't consider myself "a writer." Which is why it took me longer than it should have to realized the answer to "what do you want to be when you grow up?" was "An author."
I'm glad I finally got there.
Wow, it’s been way too long since we’ve reviewed any of our Tuesday Tips. This post might be a little less “quick” than usual.
Here we go:
Even though that was a lot of info, I can’t let the chance to say this again slip by: Never forget your golden rules. Read, read, read, and write, write, write!
It's an acapella group from my hometown! It's an acapella group from my hometown!
You might remember "On The Rocks" from The Sing Off. Their cover of "Bad Romance" was particularly memorable. I don't think they sang this song on that show, but I've always loved it. So, I searched for the "original" (non-acapella) version, because I'd never heard it before. But this is the original version! This group is so lit, they've got original songs (well, at least the one)!
Anyway... I don't relate this to any Crossworlds couple in particular, I just find it incredibly romantic. Also, very exciting, because it's 1) lovely 2) acapella 3) original and 4) from my hometown!
Featuring special guest author, A. L. Wright!
I’d love to share my favorite 3-star review, for my short story Marigold. It’s a quick 20 minute read, so if you like the review, too, you can check out the book it was for here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01FY2BC50
3 out of 5 stars This was an interesting read.
By AMAZON CUSTOMER on January 22, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was an interesting read. I saw a posting for this free Kindle ebook online and thought I’d give it a try. It’s a very short read, well-written and engaging. It builds up suspense nicely, and while not completely shocking, the ending was satisfying. It was clear from the start the story was building up to something; what it delivered was intense. While I don’t read a lot of steamy books, I don’t shy away from steamy content when done well and in alignment with a fully developed story. Not what I was expecting, but not off-putting either.
Recommended to those who can appreciate good quick fiction and enjoy a bit of steam. Not suitable for teens and younger children.
Whenever I attend an event where I can speak to readers in person, I seem to get asked one particular question the most; “What advice would you give a new author?” Glad you asked!
My first piece of advice is always the same. Join a-no-holds barred Critique group and grow a thick skin. I have a couple of books that would not exist if it weren’t for my critique group. We pass around 7K words of each others’ manuscripts to devour and give constructive and honest feedback on.
This does a few things: It keeps me writing, even if it is only 7,000 words a month! It gives me real feedback from several different perspectives, from others also honing their craft. These folks are great at pointing out discrepancies, repeated words (of which I am a repeat offender), things that don’t make sense and pull them out of the flow of the story. Things that would keep a reader from enjoying the book fully.
Reading other authors works in progress gives me the chance to think critically, and I tend to take away thoughts and ideas of how to do things differently with my own work. I learned how to take real tough feedback. And this has made me a much better author and a more objective thinker when it comes to reader reviews. Now I appreciate ALL reviews for exactly what they are. One person’s opinion.
So, in closing, without having had this group of amazing writers to help me perfect my words, I never would have finished or released Agent Colt. Never would have felt good enough to submit it to contests. Never would have found out that I could win awards with my words.
Featuring special guest author, A. L. Wright!
When I was writing the first two books of my current Trilogy, Blood Price and Blood Ties (Noble of Blood Trilogy) I listened to a lot of melodic metal to stay in the melancholy mood I needed to channel for the "feel" of this story. Here's my favorite song to listen to, to start off that mood:
Check out (some of) A. L. Wright's books below!
I told you today was a Crossworlds holiday! Today is the Celebration of June! The Fifth of July!
I always knew there had to be a Celebration of June, the queen of the East. I also knew that day could not be in June (the month), because where's the fun in that? But any other day of the year would have been appropriate. So, why the fifth of July?
I'm sure some other families have had this happen: one of the kids got invited to a fourth of July party, so they all couldn't celebrate together. Instead, they decided to celebrate on the fifth, because lets face it, if fireworks are legal where you live, they'll be going off all month. They've probably been going off since the middle of June.
I was quite a bit younger, and found it very entertaining to shout "Happy FIFTH of July! HAHAHA!" So, the date sort of stuck in my brain. I also thought it would be hilarious to have June's celebration so close to the actual month of June, but (haha!) not in June. *silent judging of past self*
But whatever the reasons leading to the decision, this is the day June became queen. This is the day the first big war ended, with June's people victorious.
June was the mansion's leader for some time before the first war with the Ambrosi family. However, she refused to accept the title of queen until she felt she earned it. She feared falling to corruption like the first queen of the mansion. Even though she doesn't consciously remember most of what happened there, the fear stuck.
Yet all the mansion's people still looked up to her. So, instead of trying to rule over them, she sought to bring them together so they wouldn't need a queen. They would be one strong, united family. This, of course, reinforced everyone's belief that June would make the best queen, and when war threatened their family, they all eagerly followed June to the fight.
After battling the Ambrosi family, and defeating every last one of them (or so they thought), June was finally willing to believe her people, and realized, hey, I'm pretty good at this queen thing after all. Can't let it go to my head, but might as well give them what they want.
I imagine they were nearing victory all through the month of June, and everyone was hoping the battles would end, and June would be victorious in her month... but then, things just never work out that way, so the war ended in the beginning of July. Oops!
Anyway... Even after accepting the title, June has never been a traditional queen. She doesn't wear a crown or sit on a thrown. As she says, "I don't bother with formalities." All of her reasons why are a story she can't remember. All will be revealed in Stories of the Early Days.
So. Long live queen June (HAHA! It's funny because she's already hundreds of years old! Wow, what is wrong with me today?) Happy Fifth!
Today is a special day here. And by here, I don't just mean America, I mean in this reality vs another. Hm... What an odd thing to say.
Anyway, happy fourth of July today, and happy fifth of July tomorrow. Because tomorrow is a Crossworlds holiday--the Celebration of June (I'll tell you all about it tomorrow).
If you're writing in a fantasy world, an important part of world building is the cultural differences. One easy place to start is holidays. I find that determining holidays in your fantasy world is a fun way to discover more about that world's history and culture.
How do you determine what holiday traditions to implement into your story? Think about traditions unique to your family. Ask your friends what their special traditions are. Already, you'll find a lot of differences. Research the most traditional ceremonies. How many do you participate in? Then, expand your research to holiday traditions in other countries. You can pull inspiration from anywhere. Put your own twist on holiday traditions, and adapt them to your fantasy world. Remember, there should be reasons why they do what they do, based on history, superstition, etc.
You can also take holiday traditions you don't like, and flip them into how you think they should be. For example, one December I found myself particularly fed up with the materialistic craze surrounding Christmas. I wrote the Winter Celebration in Crossworlds to be one of the smaller holidays, more family-focused and less anticipated. Also, the Summer Celebration is the biggest because duh, summer is the best season.
You don't always have to include the actual holiday in your story. I wrote the Celebration of Fall in the beginning of The Mansion's Family not only to let readers experience more of the culture, but to reintroduce all the characters and get my readers centered in Crossworldsland once again. But it does take a lot of pages, so ask yourself if it's really necessary to include the entire thing. Brief mentions of certain traditions are often all that's necessary. Mainly, you want to learn as much as you can about your world's culture so you can accurately describe the people who live there.
Now, these tips may not be relevant if your writing a book in this world, but it's still something to think about in reference to your main character. What days are most significant to him/her? Later on in the Crossworlds books, there's a sort of holiday called "Talia's Day." I say "sort of holiday" because it's only significant to one family. What days are holidays in your main characters world?
It's often hard to know where to start in worldbuilding. Holidays are an easy in, and lots of fun. Plus, once you've determined days in your world that are special, you can celebrate them in this world! It's not crazy, you're an author!
Happy fourth, everyone!
I don't have a specific Crossworlds moment for this song. It's just a good pick-me-up, and I can imagine it at multiple points in the stories. It's good for celebrations. Holidays. And there just happens to be some special days this week.