Third Draft Complete!

I am incredibly excited to announce that the third draft of Chasing Fae is finally finished!

I’ve had a decent amount of time on my hands after working at my internship during the daytime. I’ve had many an afternoon and evening to concentrate on making this book the best that it possibly can be. Major structural changes have been made that I believe really transform the reader’s experience in the world of the Three Realms. From character arc clarification, to new plot points, and a renewed sense of urgency in the storyline, the changes I have made make me very proud to be a writer.

I tried a new technique this time of working with two drafts side by side. I started an entirely new document for draft three and wrote alongside draft two, making large changes or copying and pasting between drafts. I felt like this really allowed me to watch the writing expand and shift directions. I could really see the movement of the story much better than any other revision technique I’ve used thus far. With a very clear to-do list in hand, I wrote and rewrote and wrote anew. The novel length increased by over eight thousand words. This puts it in a fantastic range for YA fantasy without going too far.

There’s nothing more invigorating than seeing your hard work finally come together on the page.

So what happens now?

I’ve sent off my book to three new beta readers who I’ve met through various #WritingCommunity projects. I’m going to give two of them a quick shoutout here since I know them well enough to do so: my wonderful friend, Hill T. Manner over at steamblogger.com (who I’m now collaborating with in admin on his site!) and the fantastic CJ Landry who I collaborate with over at All in the Pantheon. (She’s also just released a new poetry book, which I’m going to link here.) I’m super grateful to all of them for taking this on for me. I’m really excited to hear their feedback.

While I’m waiting to hear from them, I have a variety of tasks on my author to-do list! I’m going to spend some time working on the website to build up more of a following. (So if you’ve got some friends who you know would love this site, please send them a link!) I’m going to focus on Aphrodite’s storyline over at All in the Pantheon and make some decisions about who I want her to be. Finally, I’m going to work heavily on my query letter and my synopsis to make sure that those will be ready for querying this fall.

The writing never stops! But that’s what we love about it, isn’t it? We never have to stop.

Thank you for your constant support, everyone. Much love. <3

Worldbuilding Questions: Post #14 – Commerce, Trade, and Public Life (Part Two)

Hey readers! Only ONE more post left in the worldbuilding series! It’s been such an honor to walk through the SFWA questionnaire with you all. I’ve enjoyed breaking it down into manageable pieces and providing commentary that hopefully has inspired some of you to create. Without further ado, let’s get started! Today, we’re going to be focusing on the second half of the Commerce, Trade, and Public life section.

Medicine

What do doctors and surgeons look like in your society? Do they go by these names, or are they healers and clerics? How are healers trained? How accurately can they diagnose medical conditions? What methods do they have of diagnosing the issues, physical or magical? How accessible are healers to the community around them? Are they too expensive? Having access to a doctor ultimately makes a society more healthy. Imagine if there were wars held over having access to a healer. Imagine undertaking a war without any doctors or medics available.

How much is known about the anatomy and physiology of the body? How were treatments for various conditions discovered? Do your people understand the reasons behind why treatments work, or are they sailing by just by knowing that something work? Compared to the modern era, specify where your world is in medical development. It should be understood whether your society is more medieval, more modern, or more futuristic.

Is healing a magical process or a physical process? Go back to your notes on magical spells and clarify what can and cannot be fixed by magic.

What kind of treatments are available for various medical conditions? Think about everything from the common cold to the most rare of cancers. Now, not all of these need to be specified in order for you to write a good story. Is it possible to revive/resuscitate someone after they have died, either through physical or magical means? Can healers potentially revive the dead if ever necessary. Please do not forget about what institutions are in place to address the issues of mental health. Or if there is a lack of mental health solutions in place, which may be interesting to play around with in a story.

Arts and Entertainment

Let’s switch gears entirely and discuss leisure and the arts. How important are the arts to your society? How does your society define what art is? Remember, art is quite a fluid word. It can mean the practice of visual art, or it can be expanded to encompass theater, music, and writing. How much support is there in the community for artistic pursuits? Are any artistic practices outlawed?

Are there permanent theaters and concert halls, or do buildings or rooms have to be temporarily converted to serve as such? This point can stem from how important the arts is in your society. Do artists tend to stay in one place, or do they travel around from town to town in troupes? Are they typically trained professionally, or is it a learn on your own kind of trade?

How does magic factor into the arts? In what ways is art enhanced by magic? In what ways is the practice of magic already art on its own?

What do people in your universe like to do for fun? What kind of games are well known and played across the world? This can range from card games to children’s games and magical games. What about sports? Are any sports widely popularized? Are there traveling sports teams? Feel free to make up as much as you want. Do different species have their own kind of games and activities for leisure?

What is your world’s standard of beauty? This factors into more than appearances and talent. This can play into societal splits, societal advantages,  and advantages of being a specific species or race. This can also influence portrayals of both men and women in art. Do different races and species have different standards of beauty? I think this is one of the more intriguing questions of this section, for sure.

Architecture

How are buildings usually constructed? What are the available materials for building, and does it vary by area? What are the differences highlighted between wealthier sections of town and poorer sections of town?

On the exterior side, how tall can a building feasibly be given the current state of construction technology? Are there any architectural features that buildings tend to highlight (i.e. the windows, the doors, exterior walls, etc.)? What architectural styles in the modern world mimic your world’s styles? On the interior side, how are buildings typically designed? Most likely, this will differ depending on whether it is a business building or a housing building.

How do people like to decorate their buildings, both inside and out?

Urban Factors

Most of these questions have been addressed in earlier sections. The more unique ones to the bunch focus on the city’s layout. Are there any blatant landmarks in the cities that your story covers? Are the cities laid out in a grid pattern, or have they just grown naturally in every which way? What about orientation: is the center or the head of the city oriented in a strategic location like the highest point in an area?

Rural Factors

How do the rural areas compare to the urban areas population wise? Is it primarily farmers out in these areas or do any other trades dominate? How easily can goods move between the rural and urban areas? Pay attention to this because depending on how well food can keep, it can limit the size and proximity of cities.

How is the weather in the area? Is it fairly consistent? This can help determine whether crop production is consistent or very inconsistent, which in turn influences your economy. Don’t forget to account for catastrophic weather like cyclones and dust storms!

Hope you all have enjoyed today’s post! See you all next time.

A Playlist for the Twelve Houses

1. House of the Sun: Galway Girl by Ed Sheeran

2. House of the Moon: Mirror Haus by Lindsey Stirling

3. House of the Day: The Middle by Jimmy Eat World

4. House of the Evening: A Night Like This by Caro Emerald

5. House of Fire: Radioactive by Pentatonix and Lindsey Stirling

6. House of Water: Fleet of Hope by Indigo Girls

7. House of Earth: Fairytale by Alexander Rybak

8. House of Wind: Dreams Don’t Turn To Dust by Owl City

9. House of Light: Some Kind of Beautiful by Tyler Ward and Lindsey Stirling

10. House of Darkness: No Place Like Home by Todrick Hall

11. House of Peace: Gavi’s Song by Lindsey Stirling

12. House of War: Born for Greatness by Papa Roach

Building An Author Platform: Twitter

Today’s post is specifically for those writers who have little to no experience with Twitter, but want to tap into this social media platform. And trust me, you really, really do.

Four months ago, I had no idea how to use Twitter. It was the one social media platform that I couldn’t justify jumping on to. It didn’t seem like much more than a place for people to shoot quick messages at each other or to the world without any real impact except for the cases where you said something really stupid or were particularly famous.

But after making an account, I realized exactly how wrong I was.

The #WritingCommunity on Twitter is legendary. Right off the bat, I was welcomed into the community even as a new writer. You can really connect with people inside and outside of your genre. I’ve gained writing tips and querying tips, conversed about my WIP and gotten people excited, and helped out other writers with ideas. And through that, I’ve seen my following grow exponentially. 1500 followers in 3 months. That’s just crazy.

Tips for Twitter

  1. Profile: When creating your profile, you only have a limited number of characters for your bio. Introduce yourself. Keep it short and sweet. Who are you? What are you working on? Take up as much space as you can.
  2. First Tweet: Reintroduce yourself. Keep it short and sweet, more so than your bio. (Bio is where you can elaborate a bit more on personality.) Introduce your work in progress and the genre. Then either elaborate on that or introduce your author website as well. Again, make the character count serve you. Finally, pin it to the top of your thread. It’s a good spot for people to see. My first tweet still gets likes and retweets months later.
  3. Keep It Simple: Tweet what you’re thinking about. Tweet about your work in progress. Tweet about your writing process. Talk about your good days and your bad days. Feel free to share a bit about your personal life as well. It helps readers and writers alike to connect with you and get excited about the work that you’re doing. Don’t feel like you need to overthink it.
  4. Interact: Spend some time each day scrolling through your feed. Comment on other writers’ posts. Support others. Provide motivation. Sometimes, you’ll find links to great blog posts or useful writing tools. A lot of writers in the #WritingCommunity ask questions to get to know others and their personalities or their WIPs (or both!). Get involved. Whenever someone comments on one of your posts, always reply back unless it’s entirely irrelevant. I’ve found that replies start conversations so easily, and I’ve gained a lot of support that way.
  5. Use Hashtags: Hashtags help get your Tweet and your name out to more people at once outside of your followers. #writingcommunity is the most important one. For fantasy, #amwritingfantasy gets your work out to other fantasy writers on Twitter. #amwriting and #amrevising will help you find writers in various stages of the process like you are.

These tips will help you go far in this community. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend hopping on. It’s 100% worth it. Thanks for reading!

Worldbuilding Questions: Post #13 – Commerce, Trade, and Public Life (Part One)

Hello readers. Welcome back to Fluff About Fantasy’s worldbuilding series. Today, we’ll be talking about commerce, trade, and public life; focusing on the first half of the SFWA questionnaire section. Without further introduction, let’s get right to it!

General

Pretty much all of the questions in this category have been referenced in various earlier sections. I won’t be going back over them!

Business and Industry

I’m not the best authority on this subject, but I’ll try to walk everyone through this as best I can. To start off, how is business organized in your universe? Are there organized trade unions in place, or would you prefer to create a guild structure? Is there a merchant class of people? What kind of regulations has the government placed on business, if any?

An interesting question is whether people are able to learn multiple trades, otherwise known as cross-crafting. Is it an automatic right, or can people be locked in to only one trade for the rest of their lives? This could create an interesting social dynamic where each person is tied to one trade for the course of their life. Another point to consider would be whether various industrial processes can be considered common knowledge or trade secrets. Maybe certain industries can be so locked down that it’s almost impossible to break into the trade without their explicit approval and invitation into their circle.

What would be the process of entering into a trade? Should a person get an educational degree first or enter into an apprenticeship? What kind of requirements need to be met before a person goes from a novice to a practitioner of a trade?

What types of trades would you typically see in a small town vs. a big city? Are specific areas in your world known for certain trades? What about different tribes or species? How is the balance between new industries and old industries? Is innovation high or stalled? Don’t forget to clarify which goods are available as well!

And of course, we can’t talk about trade without discussing the presence of a black market! Does your universe have one? How prevalent is it? In my novel, the black market has a prominent role in both Upper Realm and Middle Realm politics. Several of the events could not have been set into motion without it!

Transportation and Communication

What kind of transportations are available? This can include anything from:

  • Domesticated animals (oxen, horses, camels, etc.)
  • Motor vehicles (cars, taxis, buses, etc.)
  • Airplanes
  • Magical means of transportation (flying carpets, witches’ brooms, dragons, teleportation spells, etc.)
  • Water transportation (yachts, boats, cruise ships, canoes, etc.)

How common is it for people to travel?  Do people only travel when it’s necessary to shop and trade, or do people take trips regularly? How dangerous is travel? Are there good roads in place, or is it all through rough terrain? Where do people stay if traveling over night? Do they have to rely on friends, or are there inns and hotels available?

On the subject of communication, how are messages sent? Is there a public system in place, or has the practice been privatized? How fast does news travel from one place to another? How accurate and efficient are communication and newscasting in your world? Is there freedom of the press or heavy restrictions?

How are books produced? Are they considered to be common or a rare item reserved for the rich? Who produces them? Where are the libraries and large collections kept? How accessible are they?

Science and Technology

Describe the level of technology present in your world. What time period of our history can you best relate it to? What advancements have been made that benefit the common man? What advancements are considered luxuries? Are there any advancements that have not been made despite the level of technology available?

How much is known in the scientific field? Are they even related to science, or are explanations primarily made in the areas of magic and religion? Where is this type of research conducted?

How do magic and science play together? Do they interact at all? Where does magic replace technology and potentially inhibit its development? In what places has magic actually sped up the process of scientific and technological development?

Thanks for reading, everybody. Happy worldbuilding!

Building An Author Platform: Building a Website (WordPress edition)

Get ready, writers. Today is the day.

Deciding to create my author website wasn’t an easy one. I had no experience in building a website from scratch, and I wasn’t sure where to start. Building up a website with some decent web traffic would require a serious time commitment and unwavering effort. I needed to be ready to take on this kind of responsibility. As I stand now having executed the preliminary stages of my plans, I am proud to say that I did undertake this project, and I am succeeding.

An author website gives you a chance to connect more personally with your audience, whether you are a published or unpublished writer. It serves as a chance to promote your work as well as share your thoughts on any aspect of writing that you so choose. This can include your own writing process or the reviews of other writers in your genre. No matter what you decide to write about on your website, it gives you a real chance to showcase yourself as a person.

What platforms work best?

When I began to research building a website, I contemplated which website builders were the best to use. Wix, Squarespace, Weebly: I researched them all. What I came up with: WordPress.com.

WordPress.com has an easy to use interface that allows for maximum customization. You can create pages that serve as landing grounds for your readers and categories that can run across the top of a menu to carry blog posts. Even the free version offers a lot of color and theme customization options that creates a professional looking page with a little effort. Upgrading to something like the Premium or Business plans would allow you to access more customization options, support from WordPress themselves, and in the case of the Business plan, the ability to add plugins to create features like mailing lists.

What are the essentials of an author website?

1. Title and tagline

Titles are important. They are your very first impression of your website and should offer an insight into what you write. Titles can come from a multitude of places, so don’t be afraid to try something out and change your mind later. “Fluff About Fantasy” was a fun little phrase with alliteration and a very lighthearted air that I came up with on the fly to hold the URL when I first made the site. But the more I thought about it, the more I liked it.

A tagline, I personally believe, is an optional feature, especially if you’re just starting out and working on finding your voice. A tagline builds on what your title introduces: who you are and what you do. The tagline for Fluff About Fantasy is “Strengthen your work; revitalize your imagination”. It’s a sentence that is a bit of a work in progress; I’m not quite sure how I feel about it yet. But it showcases the purpose of my site fairly well, which is to inspire young fantasy writers in particular to create by taking out the guesswork in the writing process.

2. About page/Bio

If your work interests people, they will want to know more about the writer behind it. DO NOT PHONE THIS IN. Your bio should be fairly substantial, but please do not share your entire life story. There’s no need to. Instead, talk about your writing credentials, your inspirations, and don’t forget to add your contact information.

If you’re unpublished and have no credentials to your name, don’t worry about it! So did I! My bio incorporates how I started writing from a young age, my school career and where I’m headed next, and some of my interests.

3. Consistent Content

I spoke briefly about content in my introduction, so I want to talk about the logistics of putting out content here. To get your website web traffic, you need to churn out content regularly. My research and experience recommends that you post on your website twice a week in the beginning. Pick two days that you know you can put something out on 95% of the time. Again, this is going to take real commitment in order to get somewhere. Once you’ve been in business for about a year, usually you can go down to one post a week.

Tip: Search engines enjoy regularly updated sites that happen on a consistent schedule, so they will be more likely to pick up on your site and move it up the results list. Even in a newer state.

Questions?

That’s all I have for you all today! I hope that I have been of some help. Let me know in the comments below if you think that next time, I should jump right into social media setup or whether you would like to see a post of a walkthrough of setting up a WordPress site with images and step-by-step instructions. I’ve never tried something like that before, but I would be willing to try! Let me know. Much love. <3

Worldbuilding Questions: Post #12 – Social Organization: Foreign Diplomacy and the Waging of War

As promised in my last post, I’m going to be alternating between worldbuilding and building an author platform for a little while until both series are complete. Today, I’m bringing you a new set of questions dedicated to diplomacy between lands and the waging of wars.  Now these elements play quite heavily in my trilogy. I’ve really enjoyed building the stepping stones of war, in particular. I find it intriguing to see what issues can spiral out of control until the kingdoms blow up and war becomes inevitable.

As always, we’ll be working from this link.

Foreign Relations

The first step of establishing both peacetime and wartime is establishing what kind of relationships already exist between kingdoms or worlds. Make sure to pay attention to the state of both historic and current relations. Are there standard embassies that exist in other nations or do ambassadors travel infrequently without a real home base? How do the relationships between lands affect trade and commerce?

How are treaties negotiated? Do the rulers negotiate directly, or do secondary parties take care of that? Are there any treaties in place that directly affect the course of your novel? Are any currently being negotiated?

Don’t forget to establish whether any high profile families in various lands are related to each other. It could be interesting to play around with.

Waging War

What major weapons of war are available? Make sure to list everything you can think of, including magic. Think on both a large and small scale. Swords, knives, bombs, siege towers, nuclear weapons. Are any weapons restricted to specific classes of soldiers and/or citizens? Please make note of the weapons subsection of questions for more details to consider.

How has magic affected strategy and war tactics in general? Can magical espionage be conducted? Are there any special techniques that could be used to counterattack large scale magical attacks? How do you conduct a large scale magical attack? Is it a combination of individual powers and spells or a concentrated effort of merging magics together?

Now contemplate the structure of your various armies. Think about having a structured hierarchy to keep your soldiers organized within themselves. That will be especially important if you have to merge armies with others. Of course, you could make things a little more loosely defined in case you want to create conflict there. Also, who is the army made up of? Are they specially trained or is it any Joe off the street? How many people make up the armies, approximately? How are they supplied?

Who can call for the army to go to war? Is declaring war a formal declaration or can your lands just attack each other on the spur of the moment?

How do the presence of non-human magical beings affect battle strategy? Can they be recruited into the regular army or is there a special army specifically for them?

Thank you so much for tuning in this week. Much love!

Worldbuilding Questions: Post #11 – Crime and the Legal System

Hey everybody! I’m super excited to bring you a new worldbuilding post today. Today’s gonna be a bit of a short one as I’m preparing for travel to my internship this summer! Hopefully, I’ll be able to wrap that up soon and settle in for some more interaction with my followers and the ever supportive #writingcommunity.

Today, we’re going to talk about building the laws of your universe. We’ve covered metaphysical laws and magical laws that have governed the greater world. But it’s time to focus on the laws of humans and/or magical beings on a more intimate level. Crime and law can play an interesting role in a fantasy novel. It can create intrigue in a character who’s been on the run from the law for years. It can call into question a ruler’s legitimacy. Law creates a framework for what’s acceptable or unacceptable in your society and can be portrayed as both a social and a moral issue. It can showcase what is important to the people in your world or to the founders of your societies.

Let’s get started! (Again, we’re working from this link!)

Law

Before we start with a few of the more specific questions, I’d like you to sit down and make a list. The first section is going to consist of standard laws that are going to be your basic expectations. Include the magical laws you created in post #5 in this. How does your society feel about murder? Are there any situations where murder is acceptable, such as in self defense? How about theft: common theft and grand theft? Where does kidnapping fall on the scale? The second section is going to include any laws you can think of off the top of your head that will directly play into your story. Don’t be concerned if you can’t think of any at this stage. It isn’t necessary, and you can always add to it later. Now go back through that list and name the punishments for breaking each law or code.

Now, let’s get in to more specific questions. What are the typical and legal ways for gathering evidence? Does your society follow a more standard system of obtaining search warrants, questioning witnesses, and following a structured path? Or can you obtain information through more violent methods such as torture? Are there any magical methods to add to this list? In my world, the Upper Realm has a few users of forensic magic, magic that can backtrace a spell and pinpoint it to a specific magical signature. Mages who have the gift and have studied this extensively can pin down the sex, birthplace , and current location of the caster. Can evidence collected by magical means be entered into a court?

What is the status of weaponry? Can anyone own a weapon or certain types of weapons? Are any groups of people restricted from having access? Do some groups of people who are required to carry a weapon by law?

Are certain spells illegal? Why? How are magic users punished for casting illegal spells? Are there gradations of punishment? Are any magic users above the law? Keep this section in particular in mind as this can influence your characters’ minds as whether to break or not to break said laws.

The Legal System

Are there separate courts for civil and criminal cases? Do separate courts exist for humans and magic users, or are they all tried by the same system? Does a special court exist for the trials of magical crimes? Take care in the choices you make here. If your intention is to create a fair system, you have to have a system of judges that can be impartial. That would require them to have an understanding of both magical and non-magical affairs, whatever that means to you. If you want a corrupt system, feel free to disregard that and blow your whole court system to hell.

Who is responsible for catching criminals? Again, you will need to establish whether there is a separate enforcement group for magical and non-magical beings. How are these people organized? Do they work full-time, part-time, or do they volunteer for the assignment? Are they paid by the government, or has the practice been privatized? Now that I think about it, it could be interesting to see a story where police work had been entirely privatized.

Once someone is caught in violation or in suspicion of violation of a crime, how are they treated? Are they innocent until proven guilty, or guilty until proven innocent? Are they held anywhere special?  What is the procedure for arresting someone?

Who represents the parties of a case? Are there lawyers and advocates, or do the people have to represent themselves in a civil or criminal case? Are there judges other than the ruler or the legislators themselves? How are those people chosen?

I hope I’ve given you a lot to think about today. These questions are super interesting, and I can’t wait to hear what all of you do with it. I love to hear interesting ideas, so feel free to comment below!

Worldbuilding Questions: Post #10 – Social Organization: Government and Politics

Hey everyone! Welcome back to another Worldbuilding post. We’re about three quarters of the way through this worldbuilding series! I don’t know what we’re going to go into next after this questionnaire, but I know we’ll find something! Today, I want to focus on what can be one of the more intriguing elements in a world, if used properly: the introduction of government and politics.

Government and politics has a heavy influence over my novel. Conspiracy is a beautiful thing to create, but it requires a deep and intimate knowledge of how to undermine your own system. In order to do that, however, you must start with a system that you can either build on or poke holes in depending on your story. I hope that I can present these questions in a way that will be easy to understand and easy to build from.

Let’s go! (Here’s the link!)

Government: The Basics

First, we need to start with a structural question: how has magic and the presence of magic users affected the structure of government and the law? Are magic users barred for holding office, or is it mandatory to have magic to hold office? Once we know the answer to this, we can focus on the actual structure of the government.

You have a lot of government types to choose from. I’m going to outline a few options here:

  • Feudal system – The king grants land to the barons, who in turn provide money and knights to him. The barons grant land to their knights, who provide military and protection services to the barons. The knights grant lands to villeins, or serfs, who provides food, labor, and services whenever demanded.
  • Aristocratic system: a government ruled by a small privileged class of people made up of those who feel the best qualified to rule.
  • Oligarchy: power rests with a small group of people.
  • Absolute ruler: One monarch holds supreme authority. Authority is not restricted by any written laws or customs.
  • Democracy: a system of government by the whole population, or all of the eligible members, usually through elected representatives.

Pick something that fits. If one of these doesn’t feel right to you, choose another.

Government: Services

What kind of services is the government responsible for providing? These can include items as broad as maintaining an army or as specific as providing public education. Which services are then provided privately or locally?

Who has the right to levy taxes? What kind of taxes, and on who? This can help establish different social classes.

Who supports the heads of state? What kind of associates and assistants help them out? How are these people selected? Are they elected or selected by the heads of state themselves, or do they apply for the position like any other job?

Who is considered a citizen? What rights and privileges does that grant them? What responsibilities are theirs to take on? Are there any classes or groups of people have fewer rights than a citizen? Why are they kept repressed?

Government: Status and Succession

How can you advance in status? Does more money move you up further, or do you have to be placed in that position based on selection or election?

Then we need to focus on the rules of succession. Who takes over running the government if the head is incapacitated? Is there an apparent heir or successor? How many levels of succession are there? Is there potential for the land to dissolve into chaos? Who is responsible if the heir or successor turns out to be a minor? My story features this element rather prominently. Without giving anything away, I am playing around with who is expected to rule and who will end up ruling along with some ancient Fae laws that will throw the world into disarray.

Government: More Questions

The last several questions revolve around a variety of subjects. Some attest to the protection of the heads of state and the greater land at large. Others refer to coinage, education, and diplomatic relations. I will leave those to you to answer. Feel free to comment with any questions you may have.

I hope you all have enjoyed this article! It was a fun one to write. Happy worldbuilding!