Monday, September 19, 2016

On Writing, Revising, and Editing

The Crannig Castle cover reveal is one week from today! So close!

So, I'm about ready to start formatting the last book of the Time Captives trilogy. The LAST book! It's insane that I'm actually at this point. As I reflected on that as I was brainstorming ideas for today's blog post, I realized I've never really explained my writing process. I keep on refining it, trying new things, going back to old ways, but I thought, as I'm bringing probably my biggest project thus far to completion, now would be as good a time as any to describe my writing process.

I get my initial ideas from lots of places: dreams, books and movies, current events, just out of the blue. I generally write down the premise and sometimes make up random scenes throughout the story which may or may not (more likely not) end up in the final version. When I'm ready for a new writing project, I pick one and get going.

For me to actually complete a story, I have to have a general outline in my head. Basically, a beginning, an ending, and a few pit stops in the middle. But those basic points are usually easy to come up with. I say usually because a story I really want to write is driving me nuts by having absolutely nothing for a climax. Trouble is, I can't get serious about the project until I have a climax.

Most of the time, I write my first draft in a notebook. Twisted Dreams is my only completed story to date that was written entirely on the computer. I'll hand it to my youngest sister constantly throughout this first draft, but she's the only one who gets to see it.

My first drafts are usually a mess, some more than others. Once I have a complete notebook draft, I type the entire thing in to the computer. For Across the Stars, The Experiment, and Espionage, this mostly resulted in minor edits. Time Captives and the Cassie story, however, are another story. For Time Captives, I wrote the basic material for the first two books, went to the computer, and wrote the first eight chapters of Creighton Hill three more times before I figured out what was wrong and how to fix it. From scratch. I basically threw out everything but my basic plotline and the Adriel stuff, and completely and totally rewrote it. By the time I'd finished the first computer drafts for those, I had it pretty much figured out, so Crannig Castle's first computer draft was more of just an edit from the handwritten version. The Cassie story is similar to the first two Time Captives books. The first draft was a horrible mess, so I scrapped most of it, and when I wrote it on the computer, it was a whole new book.

Once I complete my first computer draft, I hand it over to my mom. She identifies the plot holes, the things my small life experience doesn't realize is unrealistic, and asks questions that never even occurred to me. Then I go back and revise as needed. Sometimes, like for The Experiment, this results in rearranging the storyline, throwing out some scenes and writing entirely new ones to go in their place. Sometimes, like for Across the Stars, it results in adding multiple additional storylines to fill out the plot.

Once I'm decently satisfied with this version, I give it to my dad and middle sister. They don't usually cause full rewrites, since it's usually pretty decent by then, but with The Crossways, it did. I cared far more about Adriel than the Time Captives when writing it, and my dad noticed. So I rewrote everything with the current Time Captives, reducing the number of POVs, rearranging events to heighten the drama and add conflict, and all round make their story matter again.

After my family has given a book a pass, I give it to friends to beta read. Their feedback usually brings about minor edits, but sometimes they'll ask questions that require explanation, so I'll go in and add dialogue to expound upon things. And then, when I've finished with beta reader feedback, I'll hand it to a few more friends to proofread. I've gone over it so many times by then, there's not much left to catch, but I usually get a few notes.

And then I come to where I am now: ready to format! And that's how I turn a tiny, underdeveloped story idea into a book.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Summer 2016 In Review

Just one more week to sign up for the Crannig Castle cover reveal!

Ask questions of the Time Captives and their friends (and enemies) here!

Summer's not quite officially over, and it still tends to be hot down here in the glorious South, but since school's back in session, summer vacation is at an end. Not that I exactly have a summer vacation these days, but I am back to asking my sister if she's finished her schoolwork when I get home from work and she's turning on Doctor Who (okay, that only happened once). ;) This summer didn't feel quite as jam packed as last summer, but that's probably just because I have a job now, so I'm working instead of running around like a chicken with its head cut off.

Regardless, I actually did do quite a bit this summer.

Shortly after coming home from Conner Prairie and the Creation Museum, I played the violin for a wine tasting/art show fundraiser in my town. I love this little town. So cute. My coworkers at the library sometimes refer to it as Mayberry, which I love. Then a few days later, I participated in a book signing that was a part of the same festival.

My sister and I had a booth at an Independence Day festival in town.

The air condition at the library set off the smoke alarm...

My grandpa, grandma, and younger-than-me aunt came to visit and we took a day trip up to the Consolidated Gold Mine in Dahlonega. It was really cool.

I saw a castle!

We went hiking at Sweetwater Creek State Park, the site of a mill that was burned out during Sherman's March and one of the filming sites for Mockingjay Part 1. It was amazing! I texted Amanda so many pictures while we were there...

I actually personally took those pictures. Shocking, right?

I won NaNo with a second first draft of the Cassie story. Yes, technically it's the second draft, but since I essentially tossed my entire first draft and rewrote it all from scratch, it's all new. You wouldn't recognize it from the first draft to the second. And I made it, even though Kendra distracted me with a shiny new idea again. :) This idea is rather more likely to happen than last year's shiny new idea. And it'll be pretty amazing if we can actually do it. Sometimes I still think we're crazy, though...

Throughout August, I helped these two awesome patriots teach a Foundations of Freedom: Generation class, a class that goes through America's founding documents and explores how this nation was built. Super awesome material, fantastic co-teachers, and amazing students. Can't wait to do it again! Freedom!

Picture of my dog being cute and cuddling her toys just because. I'm really enjoying having a new pictures actually look like pictures now!

My middle sister turned 18. How is she an adult with a driver's license already?

I had a (very short) violin recital. We did a string orchestra, and played three pieces. Pretty cool, though I'm glad it's over.

Over Labor Day weekend, we went camping at Fort Mountain State Park with some friends. It was so much fun hanging out with them, going hiking, playing games, having s'mores, discussing books and book ideas, traveling through a fantasy world on the Most Amazing Hiking Trail Ever (read Katelyn's take on it here), reading books, playing Ultimate Frisbee...oh yeah, and coming down with a cold the last day with a sore throat that made it painful to talk. Do you know how hard it is not to be able to talk when you're on your last day of hanging out with friends you don't see very often anymore? There were also seven raccoons living in a hollow tree next to our camp site, and several people, including my friend, saw bears. For real. But it was SOOOOO much fun. We have to do it again sometime.

And I worked. But my job is pretty great and hey, I get paid for it, so I don't mind too much. ;)

Looking forward, I have a book release, a trip to Charleston, an election, and the holidays to look forward to. The year is almost over already! How did that happen?

How was your summer?

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Time Captives Q&A

Some of my author friends have done something really fun and awesome with their characters: let the readers ask the characters questions. The Q&A sessions are always so much fun to read. Like this one. And this one.

So I would love to do one (or more) of my own during the Crannig Castle blog tour. If you have any burning questions to ask any of my characters, or me, now's your chance. You can even be nosy if you characters may not thank you, but nosy questions seem to be the standard in these Q&As. ;)

All characters in Time Captives and Espionage are available for questioning: good guys, bad guys, minor characters who only showed up once...though I can't promise you the minor characters I hardly know will have answers... 

Now, I do require a minimum of ten questions total to hold a Q&A session, otherwise I'll show up with a bunch of characters and have nothing to ask them. But you can ask as many questions as you want. If only one person has questions, but they come up with enough, I'll still round up my characters and interrogate them. You have until October 17. Just post whatever questions you have in the comments of this post.

So it's up to you now. Ask away!

P.S. You don't need a Blogger account to comment. Just select "name/URL" or "anonymous."

Friday, September 2, 2016

Rainland Review Thomas gets caught in a summer storm, he is sucked into the world of raindrops through a tornado. He learns he will not be allowed to return until he can defeat the lightning, which has been hurling raindrops from the clouds. Many adventures await him in this strange land. Is everything just as the raindrops say it will be? Is it the lightning they need to defend themselves against, or is there a much greater foe behind the disturbing disappearances?


Rainland was a fun little book, a quick read, and quite enjoyable. It's great for kids: squeaky clean, not too long, imaginative, exciting, and even teaches a bit about the water cycle. I probably would have enjoyed it more if I was younger, but even at age 20, I did enjoy it quite a bit.

The worldbuilding was fascinating, and quite imaginative. Basically, raindrops, lightning, and fire are all people. They have their individual kingdoms, but Rainland is under attack from the lightning. Whenever lightning strikes Rainland, the water falls, and many of them are not able to come back to Rainland.

It was fairly well written. The writing style is somewhat old fashioned, and those who know me know I love old fashioned writing. :) 

As far as character development goes, I would have liked to get in Thomas's head a little more, find out who he is inside, but it's not a very long book, so there wasn't really time for it. For what space there was in all the action, the characters were fairly well developed.

Rainland was a fun, quick read, and I would recommend it, especially for kids.

About the Author
Sarah is a homeschool graduate who enjoys using her imagination to write fiction. She is working on a degree in theology and hopes to eventually work in the church. She also enjoys umpiring baseball, writing devotions and Bible studies, reading fiction, and playing the guitar.

Monday, August 29, 2016

The End of Read-to-Win

The Homeschooled Authors Read-to-Win contest is almost over! I can't believe the summer went by that fast. You still have a little bit of time to post a review and enter to win a $100 Amazon gift card or another awesome prize. In case you missed any of the fun posts I participated in over the summer, here's a recap.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Crannig Castle Cover Reveal and Blog Tour Sign-Up

*now entering panic mode*

Actually, I'm better now I've made my publishing checklist. Anyone else require a checklist to stay sane and not forget anything?

Anyway, it's that time again (already? how does this happen?) to get ready for a cover reveal and blog tour! And you're probably more than ready since I decided to be mean and make you wait a whole year between books 2 and 3 of Time Captives. Don't worry, the book will be ready on time. Eleven more weeks! What?! 

So that's why it's time for me to ask for you to volunteer as tribute again. And for being so kind and volunteering, I'm giving you the first chapter of Crannig Castle now, and an ARC if you'll review it once it's ready. But only if you sign up. ;)

Cover reveal will be on September 26 and release will be November 7. I can't wait!

Only'll be the end of Time Captives and I'll have to say goodbye. :( Maybe there will be short stories and tie-in novels in the future.

 Cover reveal sign-up ends September 19.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Your Favorite Doctor

I came across this meme or one like it quite some time ago. I laughed at it as a Whovian joke and moved on, but somehow I couldn't forget it. It stuck in my head, bothering me. My first train of thought went something like this:

I like the Doctor an awful lot as a character, but I wouldn't want to marry someone like him. I want someone better. Someone who's a Christian, first of all. Someone who would protect me as the Doctor does his companions, yes, but someone who isn't so emotionally damaged by the horrible things he's done in his past and still struggling with hatred towards his enemy. Someone who will help me grow closer to God, not get my head all wrapped up in exciting death-defying adventures. Because while the Doctor's on the whole a good guy and a hero, he does have some serious issues. Besides, he's fictional.

Recently, though, I've started realizing that this is an even bigger problem. It's not isolated to the Doctor Who fandom. It's pretty much any and every fandom. For instance, there are numerous pins about how Percy Jackson sets the bar pretty high for the "perfect boyfriend." And fangirls everywhere are always going on about how they have a crush on such and such character or such and such actor. I don't get it. And it's not even healthy.

Because, girl, you're probably never going to meet that actor. And that character? He's not even real.

I'm not saying I don't ever get too invested in fandoms because I do. I've been too into Narnia, Star Wars, Doctor Who, even Little House. But at the end of the day, I still keep in mind that it's not real. As much as I like Jace from Ilyon Chronicles, I don't wish he was real so I could marry him. He's not right for me, he's right for Kyrin. I don't want Percy Jackson as a boyfriend, he's Annabeth's and he's too immature for me anyway. Steve Rogers is an upright and honorable guy and I love that, but he's a fictional character. Captain America is never actually going to come save me.

I'm not pointing fingers at anybody; this is mostly just going off of what I see when I search a fandom on Pinterest. While it's fun to fangirl about awesome stories and great characters, you've got to be careful. Because it's not real. It's not okay to obsess about a story (something I had to learn the hard way), and it's not really okay to crush on actors or fictional characters either. Don't go imagining your life with someone you've never met and likely will never meet. They're probably nothing like what you think they're like anyway. Most actors are liberals and very few are Christians. And your favorite fictional character? He's fictional. The author can make him do whatever he or she wants him to do, and outside of the written story, you can do the same thing. Real people aren't like that. And by setting up your idea of this awesome actor or this awesome character as the standard for a boyfriend or even husband, you're doing nothing but creating problems for yourself. Just like Anne Shirley...she fell for Roy Gardner when Gilbert Blythe was right in front of her the whole time, simply because Gil didn't fit her fictional ideal of Prince Charming.

I speak a little fangirl. I have fandom boards on Pinterest. I love my favorite stories and I love my favorite characters. But I can never be completely okay with the whole fangirl culture. It's too shallow and it's too problematic (which is why my fangirling rapidly turns to literary/theological analysis). Be careful when you fangirl. Because the only thing it's okay to be obsessed with is not a story. Not a character. Not your friends or family. Not even your spouse. The only thing it's okay to be obsessed with is God.