One woman's amazing journey from hobby writer to published author

I totally laughed when rolling the d20 on my list of characters gave me Karin’s husband the week after I highlighted her.  Also a character whom I would like to develop further in the future.

Name: Dagon Averill
Project: Soldaris Saga
Occupation:  Paladin, instructor at the Academy and later Commandant
Physical Features: graying dark blonde hair, neatly trimmed beard/mustache, soldier’s build, shorter side of average for a man, lingering limp from an old injury
Personality:  Demanding, disciplined,  almost cold while at work, and passionate, relaxed, easy-going when he’s not working
Strengths: able to identify and bring out the strengths in others, good leader
Weaknesses: Sometimes doesn’t know when enough is enough, cares too much about those under his command, speaks his mind when maybe he shouldn’t
Favorite color(s): black, gold, gray
Accomplishments: One of the most respected instructors at the Academy, later becomes Commandant of the Academy
Biggest Fear(s): That the people he loves will suffer, that his choices will lead people to disaster
Dreams: To make the Academy better than it ever has been before, to have a happy life with his family
Family:

  • Karin Menette-Averill, wife
  • Karin’s as-of-yet-unnamed children
  • Ella Averill, younger sister
  • Darios Averill, older brother
  • Lana Averill, Darios’ wife

Friends:

  • Thorven Soldaris
  • Taerwyn Davies-Soldaris
  • Nikolai Darbon, the Paladin Bard
  • Levanda, Mistress of the Academy Kitchens
  • Commandant Perrus, previous Commandant
  • Lady Skye, most famous Lady Paladin at the start of the saga
  • Commander Hartley, Taerwyn’s unit commander at the Academy
  • Niveon Davies, Taerwyn’s brother
  • Mikael Helron (deceased)

Enemies:

  • Anyone who threatens the safety and stability of the Academy
  • The big bad and minions, of course

This week hasn’t been as physically productive as I’d like with the fibro kicking in again, but it has been full of creative energy.  I will so take it.  I’m excited about some of the developments that I’ve made.

What I’ve accomplished the past week:

  • Everything on the blog except an excerpt.
  • Started getting the GLIIH sorted out and projects named.  (And in the process discovered that I want to do more webcomics/graphic novels than I have artistic skill for.)
  • A LOT of work on the planning/pre-writing side of the Soldaris Saga, including some very important epiphanies that break down most of the blocks that have had me stalled out.
  • Started a new draft of the Soldaris Saga that accounts for the expanded/divided books that were previously just the first book.
  • Figured out some of  what I need to do with the YA project formerly known as Shadowfighter.
  • Made a new playlist for a project that’s been floating around in the back of my head since 2009, but realized that the collaboration I want to do on this idea with people who are much more famous than I am means it’s a very long-term project.  Need to build up my own credentials first.
  • Went to a book signing/reading by Tracy and Laura Hickman, and had a nice chat about writing with some real pros.

What I’d like to accomplish this week:

  • Finish sorting the GLIIH.  A lot of the ideas are fairly generic and can be used as short stories or elements of bigger stories, so I’ve been having a hard time classifying them into distinct categories.
  • Finish the last draft of the Soldaris Saga that I was working on (because it was maybe 5k words from the end when I got disgusted and stopped) and send it out to my beta readers.
  • Come up with a new name for the YA project formerly known as Shadowfighter.
  • Somehow maybe convince my very artistically talented brother that he wants to help me with my more visual projects?
  • Catching up on beta-reading projects for friends that got put aside during the depression.
  • Write and post some fanfiction.  I’ve missed it.
  • Do some visual updating of the blog.  Not sure I like the theme I have right now.

Playlist: Karin

Lots of sorrow and triumph mixed up in Karin’s playlist.  It’s another mostly instrumental one, as all my characters for the Soldaris Saga tend to be.

In no particular order:

  1. End Titles- Christopher Drake (Wonder Woman 2009 Movie)
  2. Hurt- Thomas Bergersen
  3. Protectors of the Earth- Two Steps From Hell
  4. Moonlight Sonata- E.S. Posthumus
  5. Eternal Sorrow- Two Steps From Hell
  6. Kingdom Celebration- Alan Menken (Tangled)
  7. Song of Freedom- Murray Gold (Doctor Who) 
  8. Deliverance- City of the Fallen
  9. A Small Measure of Peace- Hans Zimmer (The Last Samurai)
  10. Dreamer- Epic Soul Factory

LTUE 32: Saturday

Saturday, 15 Feb. 2014- Sessions Attended

  • Who Influenced Me As a Writer- Holli Anderson, Tom Carr, Jessica Day George, L.E. Modesitt Jr., Peter Orullian, with Eric Swedin moderating
  • Wrapping Things Up-  Bree Despain, Megan Hutchins, Janci Patterson, Brandon Sanderson, Michael Young, with Chad Morris moderating
  • Reading: Janci Patterson
  • Verisimilitude: How Illusions, Confidence Games, and Skillful Lying Can Improve Your Fiction-  Presentation by Deren Hansen
  • Banquet- with Toastmaster Brandon Sanderson

 

Best points picked up from Who Influenced Me:

  • Read outside your genre, and read people who are doing things well
  • Learn to be your own best critic
  • Know the difference between valid criticism and internet traffic-seekers
  • If you don’t like the book in the first five pages, don’t waste your time

Best points from Wrapping Things Up:

  • If you can’t end your story well, what’s the point?
  • Fulfill your promises
  • Make your ending make sense
  • It is okay to have something besides a happy ending- as long as there is sense to it
  • Ending doesn’t have to be good in the first draft
  • Don’t get obsessed with the “perfect” ending
  • Always listen to what your beta readers still want to know at the end
  • Don’t force it
  • Always answer the narrative question

Best Points from Verisimilitude:

  • How well does the story create the illusion of reality?
  • The art of illusion is directing the reader’s attention
  • In late, out early
  • Sustain the illusion- don’t jar people out of it with incompetent wordsmithing or botched details

Overall, had a blast, got a lot of good things out of it.  Looking forward to LTUE 33 in February of next year.  And if I’m lucky, I might even get to present a paper of my own.  We’ll see….

Today I want to touch on a subject near and dear to my heart.

I have been an avid fan of science fiction and fantasy probably since my dad sat there and watched Voltron and He-Man and She-Ra and Thundercats with us on Saturday mornings.  (Shhhh, I know it dates me.)   Disney movies were a staple.  And so it was no surprise that when I started reading that it was fantasy toward which I gravitated.

Now, some people say that fantasy “isn’t literary enough”.  And that adults shouldn’t be reading YA because we’re grown-ups.   That well-known fantasy and sci-fi authors could be so much more if they were to abandon their genre for a more literary approach.  Things of that sort.  (I would hate to hear what these critics think of fan-fiction.)

All I’ve got to say to that is “haters gonna hate.”  I’m going to keep liking what I like, and writing what I write.  And I think that the success of fantasy and science fiction books that become movies speaks volumes about how the rest of the world feels, too.

io9, of course, has a much better-worded response, although it’s much along the same lines.  And the comments are pretty fabulous, too.

But my question still remains:  why all the genre-hate?   Those who know me know that this subject can inspire all sorts of lengthy rants about what makes “literary” fiction so much more “valid” than any other genre and other less complimentary things. I am the first to acknowledge that there is plenty of good literary fiction out there to be studied and learned from.  Many of the works considered “classics”, for example.    But there’s also a lot of junk, just like any other genre.    To me, literary is a genre where the books that don’t fit any other genre on the bookstore shelves go.  Not any indication of quality or how enjoyable it will be.

And if I’d rather read or write something else?  That’s my right.  Just as it is the right of any other reader or writer.

Yeah.  I’m doing a comic book for my book of the week.   DC’s New 52 Wonder Woman Vol. 1: Blood, by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang.

I am an unashamed lover of comics, especially the Wonder Woman franchise.   I love what they’ve done with New 52 Wonder Woman.  They’ve taken the iconic character we all know and love and turned her into even more awesome.    So as you might imagine, if I’m going to talk about it in a reading-as-a-writer sort of way, I want to talk about reboots and retcons.

Every writer does this.  Whether they know they do or not.  Every major rewrite of the story, every draft where some element of the story changes significantly, could arguably be called a reboot.  But what makes a good reboot successful?  I think we could definitely get into a huge discussion about reboots, especially in the movies these days (and if you want to utilize the comments section, by all means!).

But as far as I’m concerned, there is one major thing that makes a reboot successful: characters.

The Wonder Woman reboot has been as successful as it has because the writers have remained true to the character.

Now when it comes to those drafts-as-reboots, a writer doesn’t always know the character as well as they could.  I know I’m not the only author who can write and write and write, and still learn something new about the characters years later.  Good characters are complex, and just like real human beings, they can surprise you when you least expect it.   But when you get down to the essence of things, when the writer is true to the characters, the reboot will be successful.

So that’s what I got out of Wonder Woman as a writer.  Is that I need to be true to my characters in my revisions, and the story as it’s meant to be will reveal itself even if I missed something the first time around.

Today is one of my favorite secondary characters that I’ve ever had.  :) She’s one of those who could have a novel all of her own.  And might, someday.

Name: Karin Menette (Averill)
Project: Soldaris Saga

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