Monday, July 16, 2018

Brief Hiatus Notice + Some Thoughts



I know what you’re thinking. “Didn’t she just return from a hiatus???” Erm. Yes. Yes I did. I had no intentions of going on another one, buuuuut prep for Realm Makers (the writing conference I’m going to, if you’re not sure what I’m talking about) has sucked up all my time. Like all of it. Even time I don’t have. Which means I’ve had to make time and, unfortunately, that means not making blog posts. Because I’m pathetic and it takes me almost an entire day to write most of my posts. (No joke…) And since I still haven’t found a machine to stop and/or slow down time (believe me, I’ve searched everywhere. Ebay doesn’t even have such a device. So disappointed.), I’m gonna have to let my blog rest for a smidge.


BUT DON’T WORRY.


This is just a quicky hiatus. No month-long one like my last one. I should return by the end of this month or beginning of the next. Hopefully with a post alllll about my time at Realm Makers! Which I’m leaving for DAY AFTER TOMORROW. *hyperventilates*


And on that note, I wanted to get real with you guys for a sec.


I know I’ve talked about Realm Makers a lot. Like…a lot. Like, it’s been pretty much my one and only topic all year. And I feel bad about that, because I know a lot of you aren’t able to attend this year. It’s hard seeing all your favorite social media outlets explode with excitement over something you’re not able to participate in. I absolutely get that. I was ecstatic for so many of my friends that attended last year, but I couldn’t seem to stifle that twinge of jealousy from cropping up every now and again. It’s hard.


But I want to tell you: NEVER GIVE UP ON YOUR DREAM. Ever ever ever ever.


Just because you’re unable to go to a writer’s conference this year, doesn’t mean you’ll never attend one. I don’t get to travel much due to health and many other factors. And I have a low wages, part-time job. I honestly thought finding a way to go to a writer’s conference ever was pretty much out of the question for me. I couldn’t even begin to manage how I’d swing it.


When I first heard about Realm Makers a few years ago, my desire to go to a writer’s conference exploded tenfold. RM sounded like the perfect conference for me. A laidback, fun, Christian speculative fiction writer’s conference??? I NEEDED IT. But, again, I had no idea how it’d ever happen.


But I began to feel this nudging, that maybe…maybe it could. Why not? Just because I don’t make much money doesn’t mean I couldn’t start tucking away some here and there. And the fun thing about Realm Makers is it’s in a different town every year. So maybe one year it’d be in a place feasible to drive to. And the more I thought about it, and worked toward it, the more I realized I could make this dream a reality.


So if your dream is to go to a writer’s conference one day, DON’T GIVE UP. Don’t have in your head that it can never happen. That’s the quickest way to bring those dreams to a screeching halt. I understand when life circumstances stop us from things. Boy do I ever! But we have a big God Who cares deeply for your passions and dreams. He put them there, after all! He’s got amazing plans for you. And not only that, He has perfect timing. Just because this isn’t your year, doesn’t mean it won’t ever happen. Maybe God has an agent or publisher or just someone you need that will attend one year and make it happen for you then. God is awesome that way.


I just want to let you all know I care about you so deeply, and I have no desire to ever, ever, ever hurt you or flaunt the fact that I’m going to Realm Makers. NEVER. I want this blog to be an encouragement and help for you all, and to remind you to forever chase your dreams. But most importantly, pursue God. Because He is the dream-provider.


He’s got amazing, amazing plans for each and every one of you. And if he’s put a dream within you, you chase that thing with every breath in your lungs and energy in your being. It’s going to be beautiful.


Love you all! I’ll see you in a couple of weeks! <3

 

TALK WITH ME!

Let’s spread some encouragement! Share one of your biggest dreams and then maybe encourage another commenter on theirs. I’d love to hear all the amazing things you each want to pursue! Also, if you are attending Realm Makers, make sure to let me know. I’ve started compiling a list of everyone I know who is attending because I hope to meet each and every one of you. I don’t want to miss anyone!

Monday, July 9, 2018

7 (Extremely Flawed) Literary Characters We Love and Why



Book characters are life. If you don’t have few dozen (or hundreds) of fictional characters you spend your life pinning pics of on Pinterest, making memes for, staying up late coming up with wild theories and headcanons about, and like a lot better than some of your own acquaintances well…you’re lying. People like people. And when those people are fiction, that’s just BETTER. (For some reason???)


But here’s the thing. Sometimes our fictional people tastes can get…strange. I’ve always said some of my most favorite fictional characters are people I wouldn’t be able to stand in real life. But here I am, wasting my life pinning pics of them on Pinterest.


So how does that work? How do writers make less-than-desirable people the loves of our lives? Because there’s a fine line there. As a writer, you’re always told to give your characters flaws, don’t make them too perfect, make them seem human. Buuut sometimes people can go too far with this and just make downright mean, annoying characters. Not exactly the protagonists you want to look up to. Where’s the balance? Why do we love some flawed characters and not like others?


WELL. Today I’ve got 7 very human characters to look at as examples, so we can examine what makes them so likeable and apply it to our own writing. (What do you mean is this just an excuse to fangirl over characters? Of course not! Pssshh.)

 

SEVEN CHARACTERS
WE LOVE & WHY



PARVIN
Out of Time trilogy by Nadine Brandes


Confession: I didn’t like Parvin at first. Really through the whole first book of this trilogy. She was immature, stubborn, and ridiculously impulsive. But then I realized…


That was the point.


The trilogy is about Parvin’s growth. About her learning to love and care for all people, and never, ever giving up. And that’s when I fell in love with her. Because she NEVER gave up. (And let me tell ya, this author was not kind to her protagonist…at all.) The trials Parvin went through trying to fight for the rights of humanity were unbelievable. If it were me, I’d probably eventually just curl into a ball and say forget it. But Parvin never did. She fought and fought and fought. Despite so many going against. Despite everything going wrong. Despite nearly losing her life time and time again. She just kept fighting.


Through the course of the trilogy we watch impulsive, immature Parvin grows into a beautiful leader who learns to take her flaws and turn them into gifts God can use for His purpose.


. . . What We Can Learn From Her . . .

That it’s okay to make the character unlikable at the start of the story. You guys know character arcs are my favorite, and Parvin had a wonderful one. Don’t be scared to start out your characters as rather unpleasant. Just don’t keep them that way. Let them grown. Parvin chose to take her trials as growth and learn from them, and she never gave up. And, this character who I wrinkled my nose at in book #1, became one of my greatest inspirations by book #3.

 

LIONHEART
Tales of Goldstone Wood by Anne Elisabeth Stengl


Dear Lionheart a.k.a Leo. He is one of the few characters we get to watch grow from a rambunctious child, to selfish youth, to brave man. And what a journey it is!


Lionheart has a hard time accepting his life and responsibilities. As a result, he lets his selfishness take over and hurts so, so many people along the way. And when people need him the most, he runs. But through the goodness of his friend Rose Red and seeing the devastation his mistakes has caused, he realizes he can’t run anymore. He has to face his responsibilities and do what he can to make things right.


Leo is such a complex character, it’s hard to even describe what makes him likeable. Sometimes you just want to hate him, but, somehow, you can’t. (At least, I never could.) I think what makes it work is at first, you’re drawn in by his wit and charisma. But shallow traits like that can only go so far. Yes, people love funny characters, but if said funny character keeps hurting people, their humor is going to start losing its effect. With Leo, his charm pulled us in at first, yes, but then what kept our hearts attached was the relatability. Leo did not run from his responsibilities and hurt people out of malice. He was scared. He was just a scared boy with too much thrust on his shoulders. And can’t we relate? How many times do we want to hole up in our rooms and hide from responsibility? How many times does fear keep us from reaching our best potential?


For a time, Leo lost sight of who he was, or who he should be. But, after many trials, he realized his mistakes and strived to do better.

 

. . . What We Can Learn From Him . . .

Giving your less than likeable characters humor and charisma is a great way to draw the readers in, but eventually you need to go deeper. Make their flaws relatable, like Leo’s fear of taking responsibility. Something like that can go a long way.

 

Carswell Thorne
The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer


AH YES. How can I make a list of likable, flawed characters without adding the devilishly handsome spaceship captain full of sass and wit. REALLY NOW??? Thorne’s charm gets the best of all of us. You know it’s true. But let’s be real for a minute, Thorne is selfish. He’s a bit of a conman and totally full of himself. So why do we love him?


The thing about Thorne is, he’s not a total jerk like you’d think. He’s protective of his friends, sympathizes with others easily, and is an all around pretty nice, laidback guy. I mean, when Cinder practically kidnaps him and thrusts him on a mission to save the world, he just rolls with it. So many times the “attractive” guys in fiction are just selfish jerks. Thorne makes so many mistakes and has lived a life of serving himself, but he’s not mean about it. He goes with the flow and is willing to help people when they need it. And I LOVED that. He’s just…a person. Not malicious and back-stabby. Not perfect and wholesome. Just a fun-loving guy who got roped into helping save the world.


And it doesn’t stop there. As with all good characters, we get to see Thorne become even better. Through the goodness of his friends, Cress especially, he learns to be a hero. To choose to serve others and not just himself.


Buuuut he’s also just hilarious and has the best lines in the whole series.

 

. . . What We Can Learn From Him . . .

That not all the “devilishly handsome, charismatic” male characters have to be jerks. Do something new and fun with them. Make them goofy and funny and sympathetic. Or place them with a kindhearted character who inspires them to become better. Trust me, readers won’t be able to get enough of him.

 

BRIELLE
The Angel Eyes trilogy by Shannon Dittemore


Now Brielle is a bit of a different type of character than what we’ve look at so far, because she starts out as a good person. But she’s broken. The first book opens up with her dealing with the recent death of her best friend, which of course puts Brielle in a vulnerable place.


What I adore about Brielle is that she’s soft and quiet and emotional. She’s not trying to be some tough gal or pretends to know everything and have it all together. She’s a bit of a mess, which is exactly like any of us would be in her position. She cries a lot. She questions a lot. And she’s scared.


Through the course of the trilogy, she accepts help from others, learns to lean on friends and family, and, slowly but surely, puts her trust in God even when everything is falling apart. And through this, she becomes stronger, while still staying true to her gentle, soft spirit. She even finds it in her heart to forgive people that any one of us would have a verrrry hard time forgiving.


Brielle is fragile. Which I found very refreshing, because that’s not something you see in fiction very often.

 

. . . What We Can Learn From Her . . .

Giving your characters emotions is a GOOD THING. They don’t have to have it all together. Let them cry, let them feel, let them be broken sometimes. In this day in age of “strong female characters”, it’s good to be reminded that there’s nothing wrong with being fragile and gentle spirited.

 

HOWL
Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones


You all knew this was coming! Like I’d do a list of flawed characters and not put Howl on it. HA!


Why do we all love Howl? He’s egotistical, flighty, whiny, immature, has tantrums when he dyes his hair the wrong color, acts like he’s dying when he’s got a simple cold, likes to slither out of any uncomfortable situations, and is a coward. Yet he’s one of the most endearing characters in literary history, and my personal favorite fictional character. FAVORITE, GUYS. Out of like…thousands. So what makes Howl so amazing? Goodness, there are so many things.


First of all, Howl’s antics are utterly hilarious. He’s constantly getting in trouble, and then using his charming personality to get out of it. Or just spreading untrue, terrible rumors about himself to avoid responsibility. (Laziness goals right there.) But he also genuinely loves his family and looks out for them. He made a huge sacrifice to save someone’s life, just because he felt sorry for that certain someone (being vague to avoid spoilers here). He commits a lot of good acts and doesn’t even gloat about it, choosing to keep it a secret. And, at the end of it all, he shoves away his cowardice and vanity to save those he cares about. I think with Howl, he’s pretended to be this great, evil, selfish wizard so long, he’s started believing it about himself. But, deep down, he’s just a young man that got in over his head and cares a little too much, and it scares him. He’d rather be seen as selfish and unfeeling than hold the responsibility of people’s lives in his hands.


But what’s fun and different about Howl is that he stays Howl. Yes, he faces his fears in the end, but he’s still that ridiculous, egotistical wizard we all know and love. Because he wouldn’t be Howl if he didn’t hog the bathroom for 2 hours every morning and gets involved in wild antics that makes Sophie want to pull his hair out. And that’s how we like it.

 

. . . What We Can Learn From Him . . .

There are two things I always take away from Howl. 1.) Showing a heart of gold under a seemingly aloof, rotten character will pretty much always bump them up to #1 in your readers' hearts. 2.) Even if your character goes through a major arc, you shouldn’t erase all their flaws. Sometimes it’s good to keep them who they are. Make them a better person, yes. But just because someone has a major breakthrough doesn’t mean their personality is wiped out. Stay true to who they are. Those flaws are more often than not what made them endearing to the reader in the first place.

 

PETER PAN
Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie


Because who doesn’t love Peter Pan??? But what makes this childish boy such an appealing character?


I think Peter Pan is what we all wish we could be. The boy who never grew up, gets to fly around with fairies, plays with mermaids, fights pirates, and ignore all manner of adult responsibility. #DREAMLIFE


Okay, but seriously? He awakens the child inside us. That longing of simple times and carefree days. He reminds us to find the wonder in everyday life, to stop taking everything so seriously, and to have a little fun now and again.


He’s terribly flawed, yes. He’s forgetful, a bit bratty, doesn’t think twice about putting the Lost Boys in constant danger, and extremely full of himself. But he’s a child. His nature is so real. It makes us smile. And makes us relate. Oftentimes our childish nature shows itself, amiright?


But another thing that draws us to him is the otherworldliness about his character. He’s the boy who never has and never will grow up. Who lives in a magic land of childhood wonder. Who flies and converses with fairies and steals children away to play like it’s perfectly natural. There’s something so ethereal and wondrous about his character that draws us to him.

 

. . . What We Can Learn From Him . . .

Not every character has to be human human. Giving them relatable traits is fantastic. But throwing in the occasional unique character—a type of character we can never be but wish for—really ups reader appeal and makes a story original.

 

EDMUND
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis


Of course I must end this with one of the most beloved flawed characters out there.


There is so much to take away from Edmund’s character. We first see him as a bratty child, who doesn’t like authority, lets some mere sweets cause him to betray his own family, and gets way, way over his head. As things spiral out of control, he begins to see the error of his ways and grows repentant. But it’s when Aslan sacrifices himself  for Edmund—despite all the terrible things he did—that Edmund truly turns around. Edmund learns that if someone can love him that much, even after he betrayed them, he should love others in the same way. After this, Edmund matures and becomes a kind, caring king, seeking to do good for others, not himself.


His story is beautiful and powerful and gets me emotional every time I think of it.

 

. . . What We Can Learn From Him . . .

Sometimes it takes a great action from someone else to turn our flawed character around. I personally love those stories where the kindness and goodness of others changes a character’s hard heart. It’s a fantastic way to provide a powerful messages to us readers that doing good can make an enormous impact.

 


And there we have it! This is only about 2.7% of the flawed characters I adore (I have a problem, okay???), but these really stick out to me when I’m creating my own characters and arcs. I actually hope to do a post about character arcs and the process of making them sometime. But looking at these characters is a great start. There’s so much to be learned from all of them!

 

TALK WITH ME!

Have you read any of these books and agree with my verdict on these characters? What do YOU think helps make a flawed character lovable? And who are some of your favorite flawed characters? You know I love to fangirl!

Monday, July 2, 2018

5 Ways to Conquer the Editing Dragon



As you all probably know (since I keep blabbering about it), I’ve been deep into edits for my WIP, Burning Thorns, ever since January, and only just finished a few weeks ago.


Editing was a hard and long road. But at the same time? It was kind of amazing. (Shocking, right???) And along the way, I learned a lot. Like a lot a lot! Eventually I’d love to give you guys a look at my editing process and some tips and tricks I used (if you’re interested in that sort of thing, that is?), but today I’m just going to talk about the journey and five big things I gleaned from the process.


If you’re anything like me. The idea of editing is DAUNTING. Like, lol nah I’d rather go face a fire-breathing dragon than try to untangle my monster of a novel into something tangible. I felt that way for YEARS. (Okay, I’d like to see a dragon over anything else, but that’s not the point.) I’d write one first draft after another and say I’ll edit all those beasts “one day”, as I frolic away with my lies to chase another new, shiny idea.



But guess what? One does not get published with typo-ridden, plot hole filled, disasters of a first draft.


One day I realized if I really wanted this, if I was going to respect my dream and actually do something about it, I was going to have to conquer this fear of rewriting and sit myself down and do it.


And here I am, a few years later, with the second big revision of Burning Thorns under my belt, and a whole new perspective of editing.


Turns out? Editing is not the big bad wolf whom we must cower and hide from and burn with fire. Editing is a friend (not food). A strict, sometimes overbearing friend who does often seem like an untamable dragon  you can never, ever conquer. BUT I HAVE GOOD NEWS. This dragon is conquerable, and is actually there to help. You just have to know how to approach it and make it your friend, not your monster. But how??? Well, hopefully these tips will help you like they did me.

 

Five Ways to Conquer the
Editing Dragon



STEP AWAY BETWEEN DRAFTS


When I edited Burning Thorns the first time around, I sent it chapter-by-chapter to beta-readers as I edited and got some fantastic feedback. I knew what parts of the story worked, but also what parts were big problems. Great! But then I realized…I didn’t know how to actually fix the problem areas. A couple of things in particular were giving me a HUGE headache and I simply could not work it out.


So I stepped away…for a year.


I didn’t actually mean to put off the next round of edits that long. But life got complicated, I had some emotional stuff going on, and I just wasn’t feeling it. Plus, I still had no earthly clue how to fix those finicky story problems.


Finally, finally this January I was determined to get back into the game and do these revisions, no matter what! And when I sat down to work out how to rewrite it, the floodgates opened! The ideas came. All of them. Every problem I had been agonizing over for a year that seemed so huge and overwhelming before, was suddenly small and easily fixable. And I realized subconsciously I had been working out the problems. All it took was a break.


I’m by no means saying step away from each draft of your book for a year. (Though life does happen. Take it from me, you shouldn’t beat yourself up when life gets in the way of writing. It’s okay!) But you will be shocked what spending a few weeks or even months away from your story will do. Not only will you be able to see it with fresh eyes, but you will most likely find those big, seemingly unfixable problems aren’t unfixable at all.


Seriously, time away does miracles.

 

EDITING IS NOT HURTING YOUR BABY, BUT MAKING IT EVEN BETTER


I’ve seen this concern before, the fear that editing will only destroy your beloved novel you spent months on end writing. I get it. It’s hard to think about rewriting and changing the very thing you fell in love with. What if you make it worse? Does it even need changing? (This is where beta-readers and time away helps so, so much. Not only do you need to distance yourself from your beloved baby, but you also need eyes that are not your own to find the gems and faults.)


Let me assure you, editing is not ruining anything. In fact, it’s loving on your baby. It’s giving it the time and care it needs to shine, instead of tossing the messy thing in a drawer to become dusty and forgotten. It’s growing it and shaping it into something magnificent so its ready to face the world and make a difference. Just like a parent would raise a child to be ready for adulthood. Don’t abandon your poor child! Don’t be scared that you’re going to botch it up. Get that dust rag (a.k.a the red pen) and polish that thing up until it glistens.



I learned this more than ever during this latest revision. I was quite pleased with the last draft, loved it even. But now with this second revision, I clearly see now the flaws that had been there. The story is (hopefully) even better now. And it’s thrilling. There’s such a thrilling satisfaction seeing your beloved story shape into something truly beautiful. Clearing away those typos, strengthening those character arcs, adding the depth, smoothing out the prose, filling in the plot holes.


I promise you. Editing will take nothing away from your beloved baby. It will only make it shine and cause you to love it all the more.

 

GOALS ARE LIFE, BUT MAKE THEM MANAGEABLE


Goals, guys! Goals! They are beautiful, beautiful things. If I hadn’t had set goals and a deadline for myself, I’d probably still be on chapter 3. Never underestimate the glorious power of goals.


BUT.


When it comes to editing, slow and steady is key. When I’m first drafting, I often make absurd goals (like 7k words a day during NaNoWriMo eheheheh) because it doesn’t matter. The point is to get the first draft finished. But with editing, it’s completely different.


The point is to finish well.


Editing can be a slow, tedious task. You’re combing through every chapter, every paragraph, every word, trying to make it the best it can be. This is not the time to cut corners or overwhelm yourself to the point that you’re just doing the minimum work and calling it good. Which means rewriting fifteen chapters a day maaay not be the best plan.


For myself, I set a goal of doing 3 chapters a week. That way, I was steadily making progress, but I wasn’t so overworked that I was coming to the manuscript with only half my energy. And it did wonders. This was one of the biggest lessons for me. It was good to keep up progress throughout every week and staying immersed in my story. But it was also good to allow some time not editing so I could be recharged and be ready to work my hardest when I was editing.


Half asleep and drained creatively does not a good editing session make.


And I do realize a lot of people have deadlines to make, and can’t always take their time. But I think it’s extremely important to make your editing goals as manageable as possible. Because editing takes time and patience and a whole lotta effort.


Speaking of which…

 

TAKE ONE STEP AT A TIME


Whether you’re simply doing a quick typo sweep or completely rewriting the entire manuscript, editing can be downright scary. But as we’ve discussed, it doesn’t have to be an unconquerable dragon.


The best way to tame that beast? Taking one step at a time.


If you’re looking at the whole disastrous manuscript, line after line after line marked with red ink, countless papers scattered with half a dozen editing notes, and piles of beta-reader feedback, of course you’re going to feel overwhelmed. How are you possibly going to make sense of all of this and turn it into a readable manuscript?


One sentence at a time.


Think about it. That’s all editing is—simply going from the first sentence to the next and fixing them up one at a time.


So instead of looking at the big ol’ novel and many, many editing notes as a whole, sit down, open the document, and start with the opening sentence. If it takes you twenty minutes to simply get one sentence right, THAT’S OKAY. That’s just how editing works. (Again, manageable goals are necessary.)



Whenever I sat down to edit, I would think to myself, “Okay, today I’m going to work on this one chapter and not think about anything else.” And, let me tell you, it took the entire load off! Slowly but surely, I tackled one chapter, one sentence, at a time. And next thing I knew, I was DONE.


As nice as it would be to magically teleport on top of a mountain, that’s not how things work. You gotta take that mountain trail one step at a time. (Unless you actually have a tame pet dragon, then totally just ride the dragon up the moment. But that’s neither here nor there…)

 

EDITING IS FUN


Say what now? #FAKENEWS. Editing is most certainly not fun. It’s the bane of every writer’s existence, isn’t it?


That does seem to be the stereotype. But if nothing else, these last few editing sessions has taught me something about myself: I love editing.



Seriously? The girl who avoided it for OVER HALF HER LIFE? Who wouldn’t even think of doing such a thing as the dreaded rewriting? Who has claimed for her entire writing life that first drafting is her favorite part of the writing process?


IT’S TRUE.


I like editing, guys. A lot! In fact…I think I prefer it over writing the first draft. (If my teenage self heard this she would be swearing that her adult self has been replaced by some alien imposter.) But hear me out! Yes, first drafting is an amazing experience of discovery and truly living the story as it unfolds. But good grief it’s HARD. There’s nothing there. NOTHING. All you’ve got is a blank word document and blinking cursor sitting there mocking you. You’ve got to create EVERYTHING. A setting, people, a plot, side plots, every. single. WORD.


But with editing? It’s all there. The entire foundation has already been built. Instead of doing construction work, you’re just rearranging and dusting the furniture in the already built building. (Okay, now I’m making it sound like a hate first drafting which is entirely untrue. But who would I be if I didn’t make dramatic analogies? Really now.)


Confession time: I like cleaning. I’m a total neat-freak. If there’s one thing out of place in my room, I have a heart attack. And, turns out, my perfectionist self translates to someone who rather enjoys editing. It’s so satisfying seeing my story become something clean and polished. And I also find the challenge of reworking each sentence into something better enjoyable, instead of having to individually write each sentence from nothing.


Yes, with first drafts you can be as messy and carefree as you like, which is great. But there’s also something so nice about having everything already laid out and merely shaping it into something prettier.


Back when I did the first round of edits for Burning Thorns in 2016, this crazy realization that I enjoyed editing first appeared. But this second set of revisions grew my love for the editing process even more. Do you realize out of the many, many weeks I was editing, I can only recall one of those weeks that I was just not having fun? It’s a true miracle.


So I say all this to say: YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE SCARED OF EDITING. Take it from a girl who was petrified of it for years and years and years. Is it hard work? Yes. Is it overwhelming? Absolutely. Will it give you a headache on a constant basis? No doubt about it. But is it worth it? 100000%.


The satisfaction that comes from seeing that manuscript turn into something beautiful is indescribable. And who knows, you might have fun along the way!

 


I realize basically all of these points are obvious. You’ve heard it all before. But for some reason, none of this really clicked with me until these edits. So I wanted to share in case you’re struggling with that scary Editing Dragon yourself.


To sum up it up:

  • Stepping away from your book between drafts can do miracles.
  • Editing is not destroying your baby but making it beautiful.
  • Goals = LIFE but make them manageable for quality edits.
  • No need to be overwhelmed, simply take one sentence at a time.
  • Have FUN!!! You don’t have to dread it. Enjoy the process!


Editing is just part of the writer’s life. And though there are plenty of funny memes about the terror of it, it doesn’t really have to be awful at all. So go forth! Edit those novels. Tame that dragon. Become a dragonlord and conquer the world! (Or…something.)



Also, let me know if a post about how I did this round of edits interests you. I actually did a post back in 2016 about how I did the first round of edits. But I did this one completely differently because I never seem to write/edit a novel the same way twice because ew consistency.

 

TALK WITH ME!

I must know your thoughts! Have you plunged into the forays of editing? Are you in the midst of them as we speak? What are some things that have helped you along the way? (I’d LOVE to hear them!) And am I the only weirdo who actually enjoys the editing process???

Monday, June 25, 2018

{Book Review} Horseman (Crockett and Crane #1) by Kyle Robert Shultz


 

A new series from the author of the acclaimed Beaumont and Beasley novels!

In the year 1790, monster hunter Ichabod Crane searched for a mysterious creature called the Headless Horseman. His quest ended in an embarrassing failure that marked his family with disgrace for generations.

Now, in 1891, his descendant Todd Crane is determined to prove that the Horseman is real. There's just one problem—Todd is a professional con artist and a seller of unlicensed magic potions. This puts him on the wrong side of the law and right in the crosshairs of US Marshal Amy Crockett.

As the Horseman returns to menace the western frontier, Todd and Amy must join forces to stop the monster once and for all. But if they're going to succeed, they'll have to make sacrifices that will change their lives forever.

Enter a Wild West where centaurs wear six-shooters and monsters roam the plains. Welcome to the United States of Neverica.

The Crockett and Crane series is perfect for fans of Indiana Jones, Supernatural, or Sleepy Hollow. It is a spinoff of the Beaumont and Beasley series.


AMAZON | WATTPADGOODREADS | AUTHOR'S BLOG

 

I’m pretty sure at this point you’re all aware of my utter obsession with the Beaumont and Beasley series. Ya know, the series set in an alternate 1920s-esque world where fairytales are real? YEAH THAT ONE. So when I heard there was going to be a spinoff series set in an alternate 1890s America, there may have been much flailing.


This book was honest to goodness just as delightful as the B&B series. With similar threads and the author’s trademark humor, but also overfilling with new twists and settings and concepts that made it stand totally on its own. It hooked me with that first sentence, and had me glued to the pages and grinning all the way to the end.



THE RUNDOWN


Unlike the refined London-like setting of Beaumont and Beasley, where most people believe magic is purely a myth and fairytales are just that, tales, the Crockett and Crane series is set in the wild west of the United States of Neverica (gotta love it!) where magic potions and mythical creatures run rampant.


I’m gonna be honest with you guys. I, erm, don’t like westerns. Really at all. It’s one of my least favorite genres. I’M SORRY! It’s just never been my thing. The hot, dusty setting makes me feel…well, hot and dusty. But Kyle did the impossible. He made me love a western! I mean, come on, a western full of magic and mythical beasts and retellings and humor? I can get on top of that! Yes, I like the setting of the B&B series much better, but this book was so fun and charming in its own way.


Where the Beaumont and Beasley series focuses on fairytales, the Crockett and Crane stories are more legends. Horseman is centered around The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, which was a fun and different twist. But, just as the rest of Kyle’s stories, this one takes place after the events of Sleepy Hollow. (Thus the reason the universe all these books are set in is called the Afterverse.) Well, sort of after the events. IT GETS COMPLICATED. But it is awesome! Trust me.

 

CHARACTERS


Aaaahhhh! The characters! I wanted to be part of this band of unlikely heroes SO BADLY!


TODD CRANE: Todd is our protagonist and POV character (it’s told in first person through his eyes), and was a riot all around. Not only can he turn into a CENTAUR via a magic ring whenever he likes (SO. FUN!!!), he’s also a heaping pile of dry wit and wild ideas. Todd lives on the edge—travelling around the country, illegally selling magic potions and conning everyone he crosses. But there’s more to him than that. I loved seeing his story unfold and discovering who Todd really is. Also he’ll go to ridiculous lengths to avoid talking about his feelings and just… Todd. *shakes head* I can’t with him. XD Oh yeah, and he’s the descendant of Ichabod Crane. You know, The Legend of Sleep Hollow Ichabod Crane? Yep, yep. Fun stuff!


AMY CROCKETT: The descendant of Davy Crockett. (Cool, right?) This spitfire of a girl was the perfect match for Todd. Their banter literally gave me life. Where Todd is a conman and doesn’t really pay any mind to the law, Amy is a US Marshal and lives for it. Sooo yeah. They had a biiiit of a difference of opinions. It was absolutely hilarious seeing them try to work together. But Amy is not all rules and regulations. She’s got a big heart hidden away behind that strict persona, and will do anything (even not entirely legal things) to keep people safe. I loved the complexity of her personality and seeing her become her own. (Also watching her constantly put Todd in his place was the best thing ever.)


MEG: Meg was the sweet cinnamon roll child that must be protected at all costs and I loved her. Can I just adopt ALL the cinnamon rolls in the world pleasandthankyou? I do love those female spitfires like Amy. But I always so appreciate seeing sweet, tenderhearted females like Meg as well. Her kind heart balanced out Todd’s and Amy’s rather rambunctious, sassy personalities. Buuuut Meg was not all fluff and rainbows. She’s also extremely dangerous because of…reasonssss. *grins* What she is was so contradictory to her personality and I LOVED that. It was completely unexpected!


JULIO: JULIOOOOO!!!! Easily my FAVORITE part of this entire story. He’s a young Mexican man with a sweet heart and…oh yeah, HE’S A SHAPESHIFTING DRAGON! His lines always, always had me rolling. Such as when he was insulting someone and called them a “thingy” because he didn’t think it’d be appropriate to use the word he wanted to. He was so thoughtful and innocent and precious even though he’s a DRAGON and I CAN’T. I need more Julio on my life nooooowwww!


The story centered around those four, though of course there were other very intriguing side characters at play. This whole story just came alive with colorful characters. (Such as Rex and Joy which was another one of my favorite bits of the story!)


And this story had one of my FAVORITEST tropes ever—The-Motley-Crew-Becomes-a-Family. Todd, Amy, Meg, and Julio—despite their differences—eventually learn to work as a family group and LSKDJLFKJLKSJDF. I LOVED IT SO MUCH.

 

OTHER THINGS I LOVED


- ALLLLL THE MAGIC. Like I said, in the setting of the Beaumont and Beasley books, magic is something hidden and secret. But in this one, magic is used by eeeeeveryone. The wild west is really wild. Mythical beasts like centaurs, wulvers, sasquatches, and the like are common sights and citizens. While potions and magically imbued items are used by absolutely everyone. It’s just a way of life. And I LOVED that. Todd was especially potion happy, and it was a delight seeing what spell he’d use next.


- A TOUCH OF TIME-WIMEY. Rip Van Winkle plays a part in this story. Which is awesome in its own right. But there’s also a smidge of timey-wimey stuff going on, and complicated time travel stuff is my faaaaaave so just YESSS.


- HILARIOUS CHAPTER TITLES AND DESCRIPTIONS. If nothing else, this book is worth reading for this alone. Every chapter has a title and super funny description of the chapter underneath. For example:

CHAPTER FIVE
Centaurs vs. Werewolves

In which Amy steals my legs and tries to murder me.

It was great!


- DARK AND HUMOROUS. This story isn’t all laughs. A lot of it, absolutely. But there was actually some surprisingly tragic and creepy things going on. And I guess I’m a disturbed individual because I loooove when books are kinda dark and creepy and tragic but ALSO with pleeenty of humor to balance it all out. And that’s precisely what this one was! I wouldn’t label it a dark book really at all, don’t worry. But it had enough depth to punch you in the feels a couple of times. GOOD TIMES!


- NODS TO BEAUMONT AND BEASLEY. If you have not read the B&B series, NO FEARS. This book stands entirely on its own. BUT, if you have read the B&B books, there are a couple of delightful cameos waiting for you. A couple of parts had me shrieking (in a good way). I loooved the little nods to us B&B fans!


- PLOT TWISTS. Quite a few events took me by utter surprise in the best way possible. Things especially took an epic turn halfway through. I just thought I was enjoying the story. But by the halfway point I was UTTERLY IN LOVE. Of course, I’m not revealing a thing. *zips lips* JUST READ IT!


- JULIOOOOO!!! Ahem. Just had to flail one more time…

 

THINGS I DIDN’T LIKE


Nothing…? I’m trying really hard to think of anything but… *shrugs* I really loved every bit of it!


I guess the dusty western setting still wasn’t my favorite. BUT, at the same time, the idea of the wild west being wild because everyone is using magic and there are mythical beasts running around everywhere is seriously one of the most brilliant, original ideas I’ve ever read. Besides, I’m like the only one I know who doesn’t love western settings. So if *I* enjoyed Horseman this much, you guys are gonna LOVE it!


 

CONTENT CAUTIONS


Not a thing. Perfectly clean all throughout. Although, like I said, it does get a little creepy. Though the humor kind of cancels out the creepiness. But there are still a few dark things going on.


Also there’s LOTS of magic of course. Just warning you if that’s not your thing.

 

CONCLUSION


If you’re a fan of the Beaumont and Beasley series, you’re going to LOVE this spinoff series. If you’ve never read the B&B series, you’re also going to love this series!


Where else can you get a story about a motley-crew-turned-family and protagonist who can turn into a centaur, set in an alternate version of the wild west where magic and legendary species runs, erm, wild, all centered around The Legend of Sleepy Hollow with humor and colorful characters galore???


This is a hilarious and unique novel, and if you like retellings or fantasy or westerns or all of the above, THIS ONE’S FOR YOU!


NOTE: You can read this story for FREE. RIGHT NOW. Because it’s up on WATTPAD. Of course, if physical copies are your thing (I’m with ya) you can still order one. But if you’re aching to read it this very second for free, get ye over to Wattpad this instant! You won’t regret iiitttt.




 

TALK WITH ME!

Have you read Horseman? Are you going to??? (The answer is yes.) And how do you feel about westerns and/or legends retold?



P.S.
Huge thanks to Kyle for sending my a physical copy of Horseman! I was under no obligation to write a review, and certainly not a positive one, but I HAD TO FLAIL! And convince you all to read this book. Bwahaha!

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