[#reviseandrevive] Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered

Those are the three things that my favorite character, Ikala, makes the rest of the cast of The Final Rose feel. It’s part of what keeps her always at the forefront of my mind when I think about characters I’ve created in the past years. Her personality, talents and character arc are one of my favorites.

So who is Ikala?

She is a summoner. In my universe, those are magic-users who can tap into the hidden energies of living (or non-living, in some cases) things and use those powers for their own means. They figure out what power an object holds by seeing through it to the crystalline structure of its parts (think of the carbon structure in a diamond). By recognizing the specific patterns and junctions, a summoner can draw out certain aspects of light, darkness, fire, water, whathaveyou. Above all, they credit this to understanding the word of the Gods, all life having come from them at the start. These are the closest to loyal clergy that I come in the novel.

They are in direct competition with mages, who are magic-users who tap into their own energy to “level up” their magic. Summoners are without; mages are within. I have a mage – Kyr – who probably is my third favorite character, but his story arc is far less interesting to me than Ikala’s. They don’t think the Gods have much to do with anything and that magic is inherent in every living being.

Ikala is asked to join the party early on and from the first introduction, when she catches Task trying to escape, her gentle, no-nonsense attitude is revealed. She almost always has answers to questions (which actually is important to the plot) and has more to lose by going up against the Gods during the big battles. Her crises are more than physical; they’re spiritual and mental. A few times, her hesitations cause problems.

I won’t reveal the dramatic character arc involving her, since it is vital to the novel, but I will say – it was something I hadn’t expected to do.

Why isn’t Task, my main character, my favorite? Well, he’s close. He’s a very close number two. But when I think about characters I’ve made, my thoughts always go to Ikala first. The novel wouldn’t work from her POV, which is why I keep her as a secondary character. Seeing her, and what she does, from Task’s and Geir’s POV is vital to her mystique. And her mystique is vital to her.

[#reviseandrevive] More Prompts, More Problems

Here are your Week 3 prompts for #reviseandrevive :

Week Three

April 15 – How did your plot go wrong the first time? How are you fixing it up? Or was it the characters that ruined it last time?

April 17 – #WIPWednesday: What was the hardest scene to write? Give us a final product glimpse.

April 19 – Prompt: Suffering

Still in Peaceful Dreams, I See the Road Leads Back to You

(Today may be a two post day because I have the #reviseandrevive prompt about which I plan to write).

As I think I have harped on about enough, this year is dedicated to shaping up and querying my novel, The Final Rose. The very first draft was written in 2011. The second draft, after it had been through a bit of critiquing, was in 2013. And now, five years after that, I am finally prepared to write the third (and hopefully final) draft.

#reviseandrevive was created to tie into a few projects, one of which is Resurrection April on WriYe. The concept behind that is to look at your older work that remained unfinished or written at the wrong time, and try to restart or finish it.

When I created the challenge years ago, I was hesitant. Sometimes, stories remained unfinished for a reason. Some need to be abandoned for issues involving plot, characters or execution. Major injuries to these can be recovered from with stitches and time; fatal flaws mean the story needs to be put to rest permanently. I’ve had stories ending due to both. Only the former can be revived.

How do you know when a novel is salvageable? This is my little cheat sheet (which I present as salted as the Dead Sea):

  • Do you remember the characters? If you have to reread the novel to get the names of side characters, that doesn’t count as not remembering. What I am talking about here is whether or not you remember your main characters. What did they want? What did they do? Could you slip back into their voice easily?
  • Do you remember the general plot? Again, you don’t need to remember every scene. What was the plot you intended to do? Do you remember the inciting incident? The climax? Does it still excite you?
    • If the answer to this last one is no, can you find a way to fix it that would make it exciting?
    • If the answer is still no, is this the right plot for these characters? Pitch it to a few friends and see if they can help you.
  • Can you re-immerse yourself in that world? This may be for only some writers, but can you jump back in and feel the world? Do you remember the important parts of world-building? The unique qualities that will draw your reader in?
  • Are you looking to write this to avoid something else? Like editing?

That last one is a bit personal.

Those are the things I usually ask myself when I look at reviving a novel (or rewriting). Sometimes, the answer is yes, like the novel I am writing now. Everything was still fresh. I wrote my first added in scene for the revision last night and Task’s voice was as clear is it was the first day I wrote for him. The scenes played before my eyes with a fully constructed setting. And the plot was what I had worked on the whole previous month.

Sometimes, the answer is no. Like a novel that will remain unnamed, but those who have known me awhile have listened to me complain. I tried to write this novel four times. The characters are nebulous, changing between drafts, because I could not pin them down. The setting is strong, but the alchemical/magical system is something that needs improvement.

The plot? Oh the plot. The overarching plot is there. But the inciting incident, the ordinary vs. extraordinary, all if it has never solidified.

Do I think the novel has promise? Yes. I really do. But the problem is either I am not prepared to write this novel, or I am not the right author to write the novel. Every time I try, I come a tiny step closer to distilling the essence. But somewhere along the way, the train jumps the tracks and crashes into the words I’ve previously written.

Will I try again one day? I am going to say no here, but I know it’s a lie. I’ll always go back to trying to fix this bane of my existence.

Until I get it down, though, there are other plots to chase.

[#reviseandrevive] I’m a Lover and I’m a Sinner

A brief introduction to Task Tannes, the MC of my novel. Task is a thief who is cocky, self-assured and selfish. These are scenes from the first chapter (draft two, so pre-revision). Just a small excerpt:


[…] Anyone that came into White Nymph Tavern before noon was bound to be lost to the cups or the cards. Task just happened to be an expert at both, as well as the most ancient art in the entire town of Thornin: pickpocketing. […]

He counted out the coin in his hand, adding the fee to the barkeep that he’d already removed. He’d stolen quite a bit of money that morning, but what was the use? It had practically fallen out of the man’s pocket and there was no true deception. A stuttering fool was easily mimicked. He wanted to strive for something higher. To achieve something unachievable.


He was going to steal from the king himself.


[#reviseandrevive] An Introduction

This year is the year I’ve decided to get serious with my writing. And to do so means editing, revising and eventually publishing. Last month was editing – developmental on my side – so this month is putting those edits to work in my revision.

My novel is the same I was doing last month for #editnfriends.

The Final Rose is an epic fantasy novel that I hope feels like a Final Fantasy game has been written in prose. It’s currently long at 137,000 words and is only looking like it’ll get closer to 150k that I’d like.

The basic premise is:

Every seven years, droughts hit Adomar. To appease the Gods and bring rain, a tribute bearer is chosen by the divine to travel to the Floating Islands and barter for blessings. Never before had a tribute bearer returned.

This time, the chosen tribute bearer is the princess of Adomar, Ziove. In an effort to save her from the fate of the others, a traveling part is established. The strongest knight. A well-known mage. A summoner with knowledge beyond time. And a peasant to serve as bait and barter.

To choose the peasant, the king frames it as a challenge to be won, complete with prize purse. Task Tannes, a local con artist and thief, decides that the purse is worth the trouble it will take to flee his responsibilities.

But when he can’t escape and is forced on the journey, his life changes completely. It turns out that there are things more important than gold, and it is worth the sacrifice to save it.

The main character is Task Tannes. The other POV character is his rival, Sir Geir, the knight master of Adomar. In alternating (not symmetrical or in any given rhythm) POVs, I hope to show how each goes closer toward the middle (and beyond) to understand each other and help save the princess.

Right now, my romance is lacking. I need a lot more set up scenes. And there are parts I need to revise and expand (many). So that’s my focus for the month.

Your mission, if you choose to accept, is to watch me suffer through it by reading along. Bonus mission? Participate as well. Use the hashtag on social media. Bother others to do it as well.

Writing and editing may be solitary, but venting is communal.

[#editnfriends] Paths of Victory, We Shall Walk

Editing Update:
Chapters: 24/24
Pen Refills: 1
Scenes Sliced: 10 (including a whole quarter chapter)
Darlings Killed: 7
Tears: 3
Final Thoughts: A bit of concern with this being the first novel to query, though I think it has commercial appeal. It’s a lot of work to do, but I am finally prepared to do it.

I can safely say that for the first time in my writing soon-to-be career, I have edited the longest piece of fiction thus far. Roughly 140,000 epic fantasy words. Twenty-four chapters out of twenty-four chapters (though really, it should be over thirty. Those last chapters were a ridiculous amount of pages). Through the Hero’s Journey rife with romance, betrayal and plot twists.

There were parts I hated. There were parts I loved. There were parts that I forgot I wrote that didn’t take me fully by surprise but made me go, “Oh!” Hell, there were parts while I was making notations where in one chapter, I would write “remember to reference this again” and two chapters later, I had. Past-me knew what to do. Makes revising easier.

And that is my next step: revising. I don’t think I need to do a full overhaul of the story. The skeleton is solid, despite a few cricks in the bones. Some fat needs trimming and a lot more muscle needs to be put on to make it a fully functioning story. It needs to walk, talk and breathe on its own among agents, publishers and book reviewers (I hope).

So I have developed a revising plan (that I’ve already started because this is set to post on Sunday) which will give me a strategy for my Camp NaNoWriMo goals:

  • Character Cards – Color-coded index cards to track character development and progression. Along with this, tracking scenes about romance and developing interest because two relationships just appear out of nowhere.
  • Scene Cards – I have a number of scenes to add (and some which may still be cut). Plan is to write that all up (on white cards) with what chapter they go into, what character(s) they involve, and how it progresses the plot. I can then shift things around.
  • Hero’s Journey – Most of my novels follow the Hero’s Journey (sometimes more loosely than others). So I am going to take twelve index cards, label them with the steps of the journey, and make sure everything seems to be in order there.

With hope, I can get this finished by the time this is posted (and I’ll share pictures on an update post). Because I plan to start the revision – whether it is adding, cutting, or pasting scenes – on April 1st. It’ll be interesting to see how my Camp NaNo progress moves along, being revision instead of words. But at least something will continue holding my accountable besides myself!

So, last month was very successful for me when it comes to blogging, and I owe most of that to the #editnfriends challenge by Liz. Now that we’ve reached the end of the month, I offered to host a challenge for the month of April. With some help from Liz, I decided to call it: #reviseandrevive

As you readers may know, April is one of the Camp NaNoWriMo months. It’s not a month for 50,000 words but a month with various goals, one of which is revision. This ties into the WriYe challenge of Resurrection April where the goal is to rewrite, revise or finish a novel that you haven’t touched in awhile. For me, my editing and revising of The Final Rose counts.

I know many others may be doing something similar, so a blogging challenge might help keep people going. That’s where #reviseandrevive comes in. The basic weekly premise is this:

The Weekly Layout

So what does that mean? Every Monday, answer the question regarding some aspect of your story process. The writing, the revising, the editing, the crying… All is fair game.

Wednesday, there will be a themed excerpt to share. Wednesday on Twitter has #WIPWednesday which I think you can tie in on most weeks.

Friday is an optional prompt to write a piece of flash fiction (<1000 words) about and share on your blog. This doesn’t need to be related to your WIP at all. We’re all building platforms here and it would be good to let you readers know how I write. As terrible as it may be.

My plan is to have the weekly prompts for the following week posted the Sunday before. So, today I will post for week one AND week two to give you plenty of time. I’m a big fan of pre-writing blog posts so I understand for those of us who don’t have this elusive “free time” in abundance.

Without further ado, your first two weeks of #reviseandrevive:

Week One

April 1st – Introduce Yourself and Your Novel. What are your goals? Are you tying this into any other challenge?

April 3rd – #WIPWednesday: Share with us the first time you introduce your main character.

April 5th – Prompt: Lightning Bugs

Week Two

April 8th – Tell us a bit about your favorite character in the novel. What makes them so interesting to you? If they’re not the MC, why not?

April 10th – #WIPWednesday: Share with us the most dramatic scene you’ve written so far. Just a small bit of it so we’re all hooked for more.

April 12th – Prompt: Forgotten clothes

Wake Up… Run for Your Life with Me

Or just for your word count. (And sorry, the Foo Fighters are my favorite band so you’ll see them referenced often throughout the year.)

Back in 2015, I took up running. I had to lose weight and as much as I loved P90X3 and all of that, there was something freeing about lacing up the shoes and just leaving. One foot after the other, out the door, no one to bother me. What started with a run/walk 5K those years ago has lead to multiple marathons and triathlons. It’s rare when I’m not doing some sort of running every weekend, even if my weekday running schedule has been adjusted post-child.

But I digress. This isn’t about what I’ve done but how I use running to help me with my writing.

I will say, when I took up running, it was for mental health reasons as well. Times were dark. I wasn’t writing much. Work was overly stressful. I was planning on moving out to live with the spouse (unwed then but together ten-ish years). Everything had piled up and things except for running, spouse and dog were unimportant.

I really missed an opportunity to combine some of the things I loved together to try and help myself out.

Running, for me, is the perfect complement to writing. It’s me, the pavement, and my mind. Thirty minutes to four hours (depending on what my training run is for the day) of music and working through problems. And lately, these problems are all fictional.

That sort of solitude, even during public races, allows my brain to wander into realms it normally wouldn’t. With my left brain focus mostly on moving one foot in front of the other, breathing correctly, and why-are-my-hands-clenched-again, that right side of my brain can pick through the snarls in my plot and go, “Hey, stop thinking of how you’re dying. What about if we did XYZ?”

Most of the time, it’s some ingenious solution to problems I either didn’t know where there or didn’t know were causing bigger issues down the line. The Notes function on the phone has been a lifesaver for breakthrough moments like this, where I can jot down a few key words or phrases and continue my pavement pounding.

So I’ve started to take advantage. Frustrated with editing? Go run 5K and slam those words into submission. Not sure how to solve the weird plot hole that I hadn’t noticed developing? Hit the trails (I am an avid trail runner). Too sad to kill a darling? Speed workouts on the track because they’re painful and you’ll start to hate that darling by the end.

My suggestion? Find some sort of exercise you can safely do, whether it’s outside, inside or whathaveyou. When things get tough, put the physical body through some work and let the creative mind do its thing. The ideas that come out might surprise you.

Takin’ Care of Business and Working Overtime

Let me just share, for a moment, my weekday schedule:

6:00 am – Up for work, getting myself and baby ready (with assistance from the spouse).
7:41 am – Train one to work.
7:59 am – Train two to work. Baby has stopped napping on the train. Yay. No freedom from the punishment of Peek-a-Boo!
9:00 am – Work. Both lab and teaching every day but Tuesday and Friday.
4:00 pm – Out of work (I don’t take lunch!). Except Thursdays, because then I teach until 7:00 pm.
5:30 pm – Home with baby. More punishment.
6:30 pm – Spouse comes home to take baby while cooking. Baby enjoys “the sizzlies” of the stove. I get to destress.
7:30/8:00 pm – Baby asleep. Free time until bed, preferably by 10:30 pm.

So, on a normal weekday, I don’t start my writing/editing journey until after 8:00 pm.

Are there exceptions? Sure.

Can I write at work? Sometimes. Benefit of my own office. During the summer when there are no classes, I often write a bit.

Does this all cut into my productivity? Oh hell yes.

Before the baby, I used my hour commute both ways to write on the phone or tablet. Or in my stream-of-consciousness plotting journal. I could work through snags or finish up an easy 1k words while blasting music.

Not anymore. This, of course, was my decision to have children so I should have taken that into account.

Before I became and adjunct alongside my main administrative work, I had the time to write at work. I’d have a few hours while a professor lectured before I had to go assist in the lab. Now that I’m the professor?

Not anymore. This was not my decision, really. It was the only way to afford to live.

It’s strange to see what used to be at least four or five hours during the day to write be reduced to two (or less). Years ago, I could join crazy challenges on WriYe or participate in word count goals that are far higher than I have now. (I wrote nearly 200k a month once!)

Having just two hours to really play with (if I take out the hour of destressing and eating, I could have three) means I have to get serious about it. Once the nightlight goes on and the door is shut, my laptop is on my lap. Work has to start. And words should flow and red ink should be spilled.

And what I’ve found is that this makes me not more productive, but more successful. So far this year, I’ve written one novel and four short stories. I’ve put up two novellas for critique. I’ve finished editing/preparing for revision 137,000 words. I’ve never edited more than 20k before now!

I’ve become less voluminous but more focused. More serious. And hopefully more ready for getting this writing career off the ground. It just goes to show…

“If you want something done, ask a busy person.”


(Of course, weekends are a different story. I can foist the baby on the spouse and lock myself away for a few hours to work on something. It just means watching her on my own to give back the same time.)

[#editnfriends] Ain’t No Stopping [Me] Now!

As of this writing, I have two chapters left to edit in my March (Editing) Madness novel, The Final Rose. I have successfully made it through (nearly) 140,000 words without hating myself, throwing up, or throwing the novel in a fit. I think I deserve a reward.

The content edit has proven to be actually refreshing. I objectively looked at my novel, made notations about what was missing, and found it fun to brainstorm new scenes to fill in the gaps. And slicing scenes didn’t make me weep. It was more of a relief than a stress.

So, the #editnfriends topic for this last week is the most appropriate: winding down and next steps. There are a few things I have planned between now and March 31st (like finishing the last two chapters) but my goals for the rest of the year with The Final Rose are:

  • In April, I will revise and rewrite what I need to do. I actually joined Camp NaNoWriMo (you’ll see my November post on why I shy away from NaNoWriMo normally) as a sort of accountability. More than that, on WriYe, April is known as “Resurrection April” where you take an old story you need to revise, rewrite or finish and work on it. (I invented that challenge years ago because I obviously needed to finish something)
  • I hope to have all revision/rewriting done by June. That should be in time for #pitmad, where I will actually feel ready to go for it. Which means in May, I will start devising pitches and bothering people with them. (erin, Ana and Liz)
  • I’ll also be passing out the novel to my beta readers in June with hopes that I can get some feedback by the end of July. It’s a long novel so I don’t expect a really quick turn around.
  • Come August, I hope to be querying or participating in Pitch Wars. And it will be queries from there on out…

In the meantime, I am doing a few other things: looking for a critique partner, beta-ing my friends’ novels (because I have been remiss), reading, and writing. I think I’ll be switching gears and work on my thriller series for a little while to refill the fantasy battery. There are a few fantasy novels that I have in the planning/plotting stages that are just waiting for my attention.

Will these plans change? Maybe. You’ll have to keep reading to find out.

Editing Update:

Chapter: 22/24

Pen refills: 1

Scenes sliced: 7.5

Darlings killed: 8

Tears: 1 (very moving scene)

Current Concern: The romance between two characters seems too sudden. I remember getting the idea while writing and just sort of shoehorning it in. Obviously, I have issues with developing romance in this novel.