Come on, You can’t have a forest without wolves, now, can you? I love wolves. On one of my backpacking trips in behind Banff, we got to listen to the wolves howl as they moved through the valley. That was an experience of a lifetime.
My favourite part of the Zoo is the North American animals. These are the animals I grew up seeing. The wolves were always one of my favourites, because I never actually saw them in the wild, only heard them. I also adore watching the river otters and can watch them all day, but that’s just an aside. In fact, today’s Instagram picture is from a Zoo trip many years ago. I love wildlife photography, and the Zoo is a great place to practice.
Aili also loves wolves, and so do all Scouts. In the first book, you meet the wolves on the non-magical side of the border. In the sequel, coming soon, you meet the wolves that inhabit the forest Aili grew up playing in. They play a much bigger part of the story, even letting you see one of the main characters in a new way as they interact.
Wolves have a complex and fascinating social structure. Demonized through story throughout history, many people fear or hate wolves. That’s a shame, really. They keep an ecosystem healthy and prevent overpopulation among the grazers. That’s why all healthy forests should have wolves.
It’s been a crazy day here, but I finally have a moment to sit. Today we got our next hay delivery for the horses, so now we’re good for a couple of months. Still, we need to move the hay from a big pile outside to a stacked pile in a building for its protection. We’re finally done...
I got some great writing done before it showed up, so even though the day was crazy, I still feel productive. I’m having fun with the sequel as the story unfolds before me. By far the hardest part of the story to write is the part from midway to just before things hit the fan near the end. It’s going well, though.
I’m also learning how to use social media to share and connect with readers and other authors. I’m having fun with twitter, but I very recently started using Instagram. I love photography. It’s fun being able to share pictures of the places I’ve been that inspired me for the Forest Guardians series. I grew up hiking in the mountains and in a provincial park right nearby, so for me, like Aili, the forests are home.
I also adore wildlife photography. While the zoo is the easiest place to photograph animals, I’ve had a few opportunities to get them in the wild, too. We even have elk and deer right outside our property occasionally. Aili loves the animals that live in her forest. I understand that. I love seeing the local wildlife, too.
I think the hardest part about being an author is that we get better every time we write and work at it. That means that now, only two weeks after getting my first novel published, I’m already a better writer. Now, I happen to think it’s great, that no matter where we’re at, we can always get better.
I love my characters. I love my world. I enjoyed writing the story a lot. Now, two weeks later, I already can see how I would have improved it if I wrote it again. See, no book is ever perfect. We always see things we’d change or do better when we look back. That’s because we’re better writers now. I can still love my book, even as I see it’s strengths and weaknesses.
As a person and author, I seek excellence, not perfection. Excellent for me on my first book will be very different than excellent for me on my twentieth book. If I wait for a book to be absolutely perfect, I’d never get a book written and published. I try to get the best story out that I can when I’m ready to publish it. Will it ever be perfect? No. That’s okay, in my opinion.
What I know is that the later books in the Forest Guardians series will be written with more polish and experience. I don’t just write, I study writing and word-craft. Self-compassion allows me to enjoy my early works, knowing I’ll get better as I go. I do love my first book, for a multitude of reasons. I always will. Is it perfect? No book is. Still, it was an adventure to write, learning how to actually make a novel!
What’s the hardest part of writing? Every author will give you their own answer. Mine? Choosing a book title. What the heck am I supposed to call that thing, anyways? How do I make it snappy and something inviting while capturing the essence of the story?
I didn’t know the title to Runaway Magic until the book was done and I was working on the cover. Well, the sequel is well underway. I’m beginning to pick a title for it. What the heck am I going to call it?
I’ve got a file where I keep promotional material for the Forest Guardians series, like possible titles, possible book blurbs, and so on. One method that works is for me to start listing possible titles. I just put out whatever comes to mind and see if something really strikes me as being perfect. The other thing I do is a quick search to see how many other works share the title. I had one I loved for the sequel, but I’d be competing with so many other books that I’d get lost in the mix.
The good news is that I have time to decide. I have until the book gets submitted for publishing, really. While I also have to assign my ISBN number, and I do that myself, again it’s a thing done during the publishing process.
That’s also why the coming soon title on the main page has no title yet. I know the basis of the story, but I don’t yet know what it’ll be called. Oh, well, I do have time!
What’s your writing challenge, your own hardest part?
Routines are great. They can help us be better writers, triggering our brain into work mode. However, they can also start to wear us down, too. After the last few weeks, which have been a right proper whirlwind, I felt tired and dragging.
Now is the time to take a break. I could do that by taking a day or more completely off, but I really do love writing. Instead, I’m going to change things up so my brain feels fresh and ready to tackle something different.
I love writing about Aili and her adventures, as well as other characters in other books I’ve got on the go, but today was a good day to focus on editing another book I have close to publishing. The editing is going quickly and easily, a wonderful way to change things up. I still worked a little on Aili’s next adventure, but after that I set my stories aside and pulled out the romance novel. The first half is written and the second half is almost done. It’s more like two related stories, so I can tackle them separately.
I also let myself enjoy a different breakfast, just for pleasure, and didn’t start writing right away today. I’m slowly working throughout the day, giving myself as many breaks as I want. It’s a great way to decompress and relax after everything that went into getting my first book out.
Routine is powerful, but shouldn’t be put ahead of the actual writing. Use it to great benefit, but when you need a break, one way to get it is to let your routine change for a day. Write somewhere new, or at a different time. Enjoy a different drink while you write, or whatever you like.
Now, let your imagination play!
I’d heard that sequels can be hard to write. I didn’t know if mine would or not. I’m still finishing the editing of my first book and am getting ready to publish soon, but the sequel is now almost a third written.
Initially, I plotted and outlined as much as I could. The ending was sort of eluding me. What exactly was the main conflict? What was the nature of the item that complicated her life? Not having the answers, I did what I always do. I write what I can.
As I was writing the first section, my characters started interacting with their world. Things started happening that I didn’t expect, but that I could work with. Challenges appeared, and new villains emerged (though they didn’t know at the time they would be the villains).
I had a few spots in the plot/theme that I wasn’t sure how to fix or fill in properly. I knew as I got writing, it would present the answer for me. I never fully know how things are going to turn out until after the second draft is done, anyways.
Well, today everything fell into place. In many ways it was more like writing the second half of the first book and not a whole separate book, and in other ways everything is new and fresh with familiar characters. While the plot is related, it’s not exactly a continuation. That gives me freedom in the writing.
I was writing some new details into scenes I’d already thought I’d finished, as I was clearing up a plot point, and that got me on a roll. Then I added new scenes, and those new scenes handed me my ending. New characters were added, needed characters, and depth and backstory were added to familiar characters a bit. It’s like watching my characters grow and evolve before my eyes. Why was he so gruff in the first book? Here’s the answer. Will he find healing? At some point, now that I know why he needs it.
What about her, my main character? Well, I remember how hard it was to grow up different. I remember how confusing some things seemed. I know how she’d feel in similar situations, and what kind of support she’ll get. I have some ideas how people around her might react, and who will help and who won’t help. After all, growing up takes a while and is full of challenges. Add magic into the mix and things can get confusing for her really fast.
Well, now that things are worked out, the rest of the writing will go quickly in comparison. I intended to spend a little time on a second story, too, but the sequel grabbed me and hung on. I’ll spend some time with the first story this afternoon and do some more editing and proofreading, too. Almost there!
Why do I write? I love to explore new worlds and meet new people. I love magic and adventure and possibilities. I love that when reading as well. I have authors I love who write book series in fantastic worlds with amazing characters.
Tomorrow I begin my hopefully final edit of my novel. To be truthful, I can’t wait to make everything as quality as I can and have an actual paperback book. I want to page through it and adventure with my characters all over again, again and again. I have done this with other authors’ books as well, with characters I love.
It’s one of the big things that drew me to writing, actually. I always get myself lost in a world, whether one of my own design or with my fanfiction. Designing my own world for the series I’m writing has been an adventure in itself. He got me a notebook so I can make notes on everything, from the places I make to the people involved.
Now that I’m getting the sequel on its way, I can develop the world more. Things that played some role in the first book get explained and explored more in the second book, and probably more books after that. Being able to flesh out aspects of a world is exciting. What do I want to happen? Is it a nice place? Are there social issues? It’s all up to me. Do I want to make the world more mixed, with some desirable and some less desirable traits? It’s all up to me!
Alright, I admit it. I really am a writer now. I started another story, mostly outside my official writing time. It’s a story I want to tell, hopefully with some surprises and twists. I love writing about martial arts, so it’s going to be another Young Adult book one day.
I do love writing about friendship and mentors, love in all its forms, including platonic love. Buddy love, as it’s sometimes called. Even when it’s not the main theme, or secondary theme, I do love including that level of connection between characters.
I also miss the process of the writing flowing, making the story complete and letting it come out as it will. Now that I’m editing my two books, I miss the writing. Sure, I’ve been writing some personal stories, but I miss the process of starting a novel already.
Amazing how something so new only a couple of months ago is already a part of me. I can’t not create. Stories are within me and demand that they come out. I’m still spending my mornings focusing on the stories that are almost done, but this next one wants out, too. I’ll play with it in my free time.
I have it outlined already. I do use the Save the Cat method, which I’ve already discussed, and it makes the story take shape. I know what the story should say and how and where things will be revealed. Later, the real fun begins and I add in characters and start writing scenes.
I am brimming with story ideas. Worlds move inside my head. Characters who want to come to life charge around in there, playing and exploring, battling dragons and storming castles. Sometimes the castles are magical, sometimes they’re not.
I guess that’s why I became a writer. I’m writing books I want to read. Books that speak to me and whisper my name at night. Adventures I’d love to have and places I want to go. Most importantly, I write about people I want to meet. Men I’d like to romance, or the mentor I always wished I had. Friends who will stand in front of the dragon with me while I try to talk to it.
Editing takes longer than the original writing, as I’m not just getting ideas down but trying to make them come alive. It’s not just what I say but also how I say it. In some ways I’d rather be on my next book already, getting the adventure down. When I’m in that stage, my first/second draft, the adventure unfolds before me.
On the other hand, in this stage of editing, it’s where I get to know my characters better. I delve further into what they experience and how. They become more real, and in some ways I could edit forever, just getting to know them.
Neither place lets me actually finish a book!
There’s something sad about finishing a book. It’s exciting, too, but the babies you gave life to will be heading out into the world to face their fates. Once the book is done, the characters’ adventure is fixed, unless you write a sequel or a series. I just might, for my Young Adult book. Her adventures are only beginning. When I release her into the world, I’ll have a whole new adventure to write, hers or someone else’s.
I have so many places to go and so many things to do that I’ll probably be a writer for the rest of my life. Journey on, fellow writers!
I’ve heard the saying that we should write what we know. That may not necessarily mean we need to know about magic to write a fantasy story. It means we should know something about courage, if our hero needs to overcome odds, or love if there’s a romance.
If we want to write about something happening, it helps if we’ve experienced it. I love horses and riding, and can write with authenticity about horses. I enjoy multiple martial arts, so I can write with some authenticity on those, too. I sew and cook and do all kinds of activities.
Some activities and themes are closer to my heart than others. I tend to write about love and loyalty, sometimes the love being familial or friendship instead of romantic. I prefer to write about adventures and being a warrior, even if it’s a modern warrior. I wouldn’t write about skydiving, as I have no experience with it and no intention of learning.
When possible, I like to do what I want to write about, even if it’s at a lesser level than what I might put in the book. I don’t have to hang off the side of a mountain to know what climbing feels like. I’m an indoor climber, but I know how it feels to have your arms get tired and risk falling. I have hiked and backpacked, so I know what it’s like to sleep in a tent with the wolves howling nearby and the bears passing through the campsite.
When I’m not writing, I like to live a life that I can write about. I like to experience some form of adventure. I know what it’s like to train for something, getting up early for something I love, and care for someone I love immensely, even someone who is ill. I’ve experienced spiritual growth and had transformative experiences. I’ve had the love of my life and lost him to illness.
I write about things that mean something to me. Even when I’m writing fantasy or adventure, I use that as a scene in which I write about love or pursuing goals or finding their place in the world. I write about friendships and community, even when that’s a side story, because those themes resonate with me.
Go and write what you know and feel is true. Write for you first and foremost. Just write.
I’ve been writing stories for myself for years. Now, I’m a published author. No genre is off limits, though I have some favorites.