Monday, September 25, 2017

Vannie, Kyle, and Plantsing a Book

I had a general plan for the Espionage sequel. I had a few basic plot points I needed to hit, some snippets from throughout the book, and an ending. It was going to be a middle grade in the vein of the first book, about the same length, political, a story that was similar, but different.

And then the book said "Nope."

I'm still following the general storyline I originally had, but it had SOOOOO many gaps I had to fill in as I went along. But more than that. It just can't be the fun, middle grade book the first one was. It's its own book.

It's far more complex.

Via Pinterest

Espionage had a very basic, straightforward storyline. It was coherent in my head from the start. With this sequel (which still remains nameless, and I may not even go with a one-word "e" title), I've got plot threads everywhere. I've got Vannie's personal story of being forced into a marriage with Kermit when she's very much in love with Kyle. I've got the "action" side of the story where villagers are disappearing and the young people suspect Stipland's interim (Gordan Holbrook) is involved. I've got Flanna Leland whose father, fiance, and future father-in-law were all killed in a freak accident leaving Leland with no representation. There's Violet Wyland who was forced to marry the crooked Edward when she was in love with Esmond Fairfax. I've got a thread involving Edmund Herb which I haven't yet found the space to deal with but very much want to. I've also got an inkling that Holbrook may have been involved in Sir Stipland's death. That's something I didn't come up with until part way through writing.

Via Pinterest

I thought I could just write a simple book, but as I write, the complexity tries to force itself in. It's going to take another draft or more to let it, but if I don't--if I keep it to a 30,000 word middle grade like the first one--it'll fall so far short of its potential.

There are a lot more characters.

Walter Stipland
Via Pinterest

Espionage had a small cast, which was fabulous because it gave me a break from the Time Captives. The sequel simply can't. Kermit and Rosie are far more central to the plot than in the first book, and Walter Stipland and Callie Holbrook are pivotal characters, making up the main six with Kyle and Vannie. I haven't had room to deal with Kate--who now has a boyfriend whom Vannie rather resents. I want to delve into Flanna, but I haven't had room. I'd like to deal with Violet, but again, haven't had the room. Captain Herb figures in the story, and once I find the place, I want to explore his son Edmund. Sir Cumberland has a role to play that I don't want to stay "off screen."

Callie Holbrook
Via Pinterest

And I've come to the conclusion that using primarily Vannie POV with an occasional bit of Kyle just isn't enough. I'm not figuring out who Walter and Callie are very well without delving into their heads. Kermit's POV, I don't think should be relegated to bonus scenes. And there are too many important plot elements Vannie isn't privy to. I still hope to keep Vannie in 1st person, but as I write, I find I need a more comprehensive view of things to do this story justice.

The romance.

Via Pinterest

Vannie Cumberland is no Laura Ingalls Wilder. It is what it is. I had originally intended to keep the romance very Little House for the sake of keeping it a middle grade book. Very sweet and innocent and something you would have no qualms reading to a four-year-old. But...that's not working.

Via Pinterest

Fact is, Vannie is very much in love with Kyle Roland and he with her, and it's becoming more of a (clean) YA romance. Something a lot more along the lines of Ilyon, Rizkaland, and DragonKeeper than Little House. Considering Vannie's personality, it's just not realistic otherwise. I don't want it to feel like a stretch for Vannie and Kyle to be in love, because it's not. I have more trouble holding them back than making them act like they love each other.

I want this story brought to its full potential, which isn't easy when you're trying to make it something that it's not. But as I've plantsed my way through this book (something in between plotting and pantsing), I've discovered the sort of story it wants to be. And I may have to give up my original vision of what it was in order to make it what it needs to be.

How do you feel about the sequel to Espionage being more YA? What do you think of the different plot threads I've discovered?

Monday, September 18, 2017

Why I Like History

I'm sure if you've been around here for any length of time, you know that I'm rather a history nerd. Rather a major history nerd. So how did I get here?

My sister and me at Plum Creek
  • My parents read me the entire Little House series when I was really little and I absolutely fell in love with everything pioneer.
  • When I was five we took a road trip--tent camping--to visit all the Little House historic sites. I only remember the now-collapsed dugout, but I have a huge smile on my face in all the pictures.
  • We took numerous trips to Conner Prairie, the most amazing living history museum ever. It really feels like stepping back in time!
"Doing laundry" at Conner Prairie
  • Oregon Trail. Yes, the computer game. My sisters and I were obsessed. Wasn't everybody?
  • My honorary uncle told me and my family stories of American history all the time, in such a way that I was immersed in history and couldn't help but love it. He's a fabulous storyteller, and so is his daughter. You can read some of his stories in his book.
  • American Girl. I especially loved Samantha and Felicity. It's sad to me how the popularity of American Girl has shrunk...I blame the de-emphasis on history. That's what made it cool! History Mysteries and Dear America fit here too.
  • Yearly pictures in
    pioneer dresses
  • About a million amazing historical fiction/classic books I read and my mom read to me. Patricia Beatty, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Elsie Dinsmore, Old Yeller, Swiss Family Robinson, Five Little Peppers, All-of-a-Kind Family, Betsy-Tacy, Elizabeth George Speare, Johnny Tremain, William O. Steele, The Tree of Freedom, Nelly in the Wilderness, Calico Bush, Henry Ryder Haggard, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, etc. So many amazing books about or from bygone eras.
  • My family has visited many historical sites over the course of my life, local and along the east coast. We've been to tons of battlefields, and even went to Williamsburg and Jamestown. Going to Mount Vernon was the best. I can totally understand why George Washington was always wanting to go home. It's beautiful. And we learned some fun things that really made him human. Like when his dogs stole Martha's ham. George was amused. Martha wasn't. And I really want to go to Plymouth.
  • Plus, history is just plain cool.

And what effect has history had on me?

My Civil War era ball gown
  • I like wearing dresses--always have--because pioneers wore dresses.
  • I wore sunbonnets with modern dresses a lot as a kid.
  • Reading the Declaration of Independence is fun. I did it once instead of school. I love that thing.
  • I want to churn butter.
  • My sisters and I once played Oregon Trail with our Barbies.
  • We never just played "house," we were always pioneers or living during the Revolution or something.
The lady at the Indiana State Fair
invited me over the ropes to try
her spinning wheel
  • I have a life-long obsession with spinning and weaving.
  • I want chickens. (because Caroline Quiner aka Ma Ingalls took care of their chickens)
  • I want to try doing laundry in a washtub. But just once. For the pioneer experience.
  • I have made numerous historical costumes for myself and for others.
  • I helped to teach a class on America's founding documents.
  • If I ever found a time machine, I would have a long list of historical events to visit before I ever tried to go to the future.
  • I like throwing bits of history into my books.
My Barbies' covered wagon...Bekah
was the one who had actual horses
  •  I really want to write a historical fiction book. I'm just scared of getting it wrong and of the mountain of research I'd have to do to make sure I got every last little historical detail exactly right. From the timeline of historical events to the way people talked to the atmosphere and layout of the town to the people around to the details of fashion...
  • My dream house is a log cabin in the long as it has electricity, running water, and wifi.
  • I'm reading a book of original documents from the Constitutional Convention as a part of self-inflicted school. And it's amazing. I must read more source documents.
  • My family would love to open a living history museum.
  • I tried really hard to convince my dad to build me a floor loom. I did research and everything. It didn't work.

How do you feel about history?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Jefferson Lies Review

America, in so many ways, has forgotten. Its roots, its purpose, its identity―all have become shrouded behind a veil of political correctness bent on twisting the nation's founding, and its founders, to fit within a misshapen modern world.

The time has come to remember again.

In "The Jefferson Lies," prominent historian David Barton sets out to correct the distorted image of a once-beloved founding father, Thomas Jefferson. To do so, Barton tackles seven myths head-on, including:

Did Thomas Jefferson really have a child by his young slave girl, Sally Hemings? Did he write his own Bible, excluding the parts of Christianity with which he disagreed? Was he a racist who opposed civil rights and equality for black Americans? Did he, in his pursuit of separation of church and state, advocate the secularizing public life?

Through Jefferson's own words and the eyewitness testimony of contemporaries, Barton repaints a portrait of the man from Monticello as a visionary, an innovator, a man who revered Jesus, a classical Renaissance man―and a man whose pioneering stand for liberty and God-given inalienable rights fostered a better world for this nation and its posterity. For America, the time to remember these truths again is now.


Every American should read this book. Carefully researched and loaded with notes and citations so you can seek out the source documents for yourself, this is an excellent book debunking the lies so many people believe about Thomas Jefferson.

Did you know that most of what we believe about Jefferson these days comes from blatant lies fabricated by his enemies in the unbelievably nasty presidential campaign of 1800?

Did you know that the initial report "proving" that Sally Hemmings had children by Jefferson (a story with its roots in the aforementioned nasty campaign) was retracted just weeks later because it was false? Or that the line most strongly believed by oral tradition to be fathered by Jefferson has no Jefferson DNA whatsoever?

Did you know that there is no such thing as a "Jefferson Bible" and that the closest you can come to such a thing is essentially a Bible tract Jefferson wrote for the Indians and a topical compilation of Jesus' teachings for his own personal study?

Did you know that the phrase "a wall of separation between church and state," which does not come from the Constitution but from Jefferson's letter to the Danbury Baptist Association, was a commonly used phrase that meant the government could not interfere in the church, not that religious activity was to be excluded from the government? And that Jefferson had no say in the writing of the Constitution because he was in Europe at the time?

Did you know that Jefferson fought mightily for emancipation and only held slaves himself because he inherited them and Virginia law made it increasingly more impossible to free them?

Did you know that the university Jefferson founded was not secular, but, in fact, trans-denominational?

Did you know that the only clergy Jefferson despised were the ones who defamed his character from the pulpit and he had many friends who were clergymen?

Did you know that though later in life Jefferson subscribed to the teachings of the Primitivists that swept Charlottesville (a sect that, in trying to return to the fundamentals of Christianity, deemphasized anything other than the Gospels and rejected some orthodox Christian beliefs because the term used to describe such doctrines was not used in the Bible or because they hated John Calvin so much that any belief to which he subscribed was automatically false), he never once stopped considering himself a Christian who believed in a personal God?

Read this book. Destroy the revisionist history with the truth.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Never Forget

I was five years old. I was at the library with my mom and sisters when we heard. It was years before I truly understood what had happened that terrible day.

We must never forget.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Practice Makes Better

     She spread the cards into a ribbon again, all facedown except for two in the middle faceup, the king and queen of hearts, side by side.
     "You're very good at that," Bernadette observed.
     "Daddy showed me."
     "You must practice a lot."
     "Do you ever feel the need to do something over and over until it's perfect?"
     "Practice doesn't make perfect. It makes better. Daddy told me that too....He didn't know a whole lot of tricks, but he got me started, and he always told me, 'Don't worry about getting perfect, just keep getting better.' And he wasn't just talking about card tricks."
     "Those were wise words."
--Illusion by Frank Peretti

People like to say "practice makes perfect." But it doesn't.

When I read Illusion, this passage stuck out to me. Because nothing I do is perfect. Nothing I do will ever be perfect. But I can keep getting better.

I look at my book covers, and they aren't perfect. Not by a long shot. But they do keep getting better. The Twisted Dreams cover is heads and shoulders above the cover for The Experiment. Does it look like a professional did it? No. But it's better, and if I keep practicing, I'll keep on getting better.

I play Autumn from "The Four Seasons," and I make lots of mistakes. I hesitate on the shifts and some of the double stops are off. But then I pull out concertos I learned four years ago and they're easy. I'm no concert violinist, but I've gotten better. And if I keep on practicing, I'll keep on getting better.

I look at my old stories, and I cringe at the bad writing. I look even at my earliest published books and I see that they're not up to the standard of my later books. Time Captives is far better than Across the Stars. Am I up to the level of C. S. Lewis and Charles Dickens? Certainly not. But if I keep writing, I'll keep getting better.

I look back on my life and I see my stumbles. I see where my faith was weak, where my character needed serious work, where my maturity faltered. But I look at myself now, and I see how far I've come. Am I perfect by the standard of Jesus Christ? Not even close. I have a long way to go. But I've come so far and as I continue to seek Him and He continues to work in me, I will get better.

Until we get to Heaven, nothing we do will be perfect. But while we are still here on earth, we can keep getting better.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Kendra's Bookshelf Overhaul

My good friend Kendra is getting brand new covers for all her books! They're all very cool and so much better than the original covers. Makes me almost wish I'd waited for the second editions. 

Kendra's also holding a giveaway of not one, not two, but ALL SIX of her books in their shiny new covers. How do you enter? Comment on any of the cover reveal posts or any post on Kendra's blog, post a review, write a fanfic, ask her characters questions... Find out all the details here

I'm combining this post with a tag Kendra's doing, so in between covers, I'll be answering some of Kendra's questions.

1. How long have you been following Knitted By God's Plan and how did you find me?
A long time. I can't remember exactly, but I noticed your books through Homeschooled Authors, downloaded The Ankulen for free and read it in an evening in 2014, we derailed GR threads together, and the rest is history.

Tagline: Two twins in a fairy tale world must find their Fairy Godmother before their eighteenth birthday, lest they forever be stuck with the other’s gift.

Revision notes: I sent this book to my kindle, tore it to shreds, then retyped the whole thing, making every word fight to stay in the book. I completely rewrote one chapter, and added/expanded several scenes, focusing on character development and pacing, in particular Robin’s character.

2. If you've read any of my books, which? And which are your favorites?
I've read them all, even the short stories, and Lady Dragon, Tela Du is my favorite by far. Though Love and Memory may fight for that position, if you ever finish it.

Tagline: A prince’s quest for allies against his misery uncle and a madcap race to get home for a wedding
Revision notes: This book has one added chapter, a few (potentially) added scenes, and a severe edit. Again, focus is going to Robin’s character development. I hadn’t the maturity to completely handle her emotional situation when I wrote this book, and now I intend to fix that.

3. If you could redesign any of my covers, how would it look? Feel free to photoshop something, or just describe it.
WPFP to have more fire and water. Maybe kinda like that one pin on your Pinterest board. Or something like that. I'm not feeling very artistic right now.

Tagline: Prince Arthur’s quest to take back his kingdom, and Casperl’s quest to find out how, exactly, he’s a prince.
Revision notes: This book was mostly clean … but it’s getting a part two. AKA, book 3.5, The Quest for a Quince, AKA, Casperl’s story. There will be a edit to part one, though.

4. Of my WIP's, which are you most eager for me to finish and publish?
Love and Memory. Obviously. Who couldn't have guessed that?

5. Which of my Pinterest Storyboards do you find the most intriguing? 
That would probably have to be Rizkaland. Though I have to admit, I haven't looked extensively at any of the others.

The following three books were designed by Alea Harper:

Tagline: Jen knows she had an imagination once – how far will she go to get it back?
Revision notes: Mostly just a thorough edit. I don’t foresee any great changes.

6. Pick a fairy tale and tell me how you would like to rewrite it.
Rumpelstiltskin. Either to involve time travel where Rumple is actually the miller's daughter's firstborn child, or to work it into one of my current WIPs. You know the one.

7. Recommend a book for me to read. 
The Giver. I think that's the one I was most recently shocked you hadn't read yet.

Tagline: When two teens are pulled into another world, fire and water must work together to defeat a dragon.
Revision notes: Again, mostly a thorough edit, but there will be a few continuity fixes, and I’ll be adding a bonus scene to the extra stuff at the end.

8. If you and I were stranded together on a desert island, how long do you think that we would survive?
Probably not very long because Gilligan's Island doesn't really work. I don't have much confidence in my survival skills, despite having read both Robinson Crusoe and Swiss Family Robinson.

Tagline: Only the Tela Du stands in Amber’s way for ruling Rizkaland forever. Petra would much rather find her long-lost sisters than fight a Lady Dragon. 
Revision notes: Edits mostly.

9. What is a project that you're working on that you can't wait to release into the world?
They're all a mess, so I don't know. The Storyless Storyboard Story is one that I'm pretty much always excited about, but it's probably the furthest from being presentable.

10. What is a burning question that you have for me?

And there you have all of Kendra's new covers. What do you think?