Saturday, May 28, 2016

What Writers Do For their Stories: Late Nights

Saturday comes way too fast, but here I am again with another What Writers Do for Their Stories. Today, or if I'm honest, tonight we're focusing on Late Nights. I'm pulling another late night as we speak. It is 1:08 a.m. I am nowhere near ready for bed yet.

My mind is racing with my current storyline and if I stop now, I may not catch this train of thought again. I get most of my greatest writing and storyline when it's late at night. My creative juices just seem to flow at that time of day and "normal" people look at me like I'm insane for staying up so late.

*You may want to brace yourself* In all honesty, staying up until four in the morning isn't that uncommon for me. *okay breathe now* I find that if my mind is still awake I need to ride my train of thought until it crashes or else I risk having no survivors. I know it sounds corny but it's the truth.

When you find that your characters are dragging you into a deep storyline that you know will keep you up late, go for it. Write! Follow them and take careful notes. You may not remember it the next time you sit down to write. It's hard to catch up with them after they've run on ahead of you. Sit down and write no matter how late.

The hardest part of writing like this is that *sometimes* you need to wake up in the morning. This is where coffee, Mountain Dew, and other such highly caffeinated beverages come to the rescue. If this is your usual writing preference or creative time then you need to keep a stock of caffeine and don't be afraid to drink it (especially Coffee). Coffee has become my best friend on days when I have to get up in the morning and function after a long night of writing.

This is contrary to the way some writers work. Said writers, jot down their next plot points and shut down the computer or set aside their notebooks for the night. If you are one such writer, I truly envy you. I, on the other hand, can't do that. I have tried a few dozen times, but it doesn't work for me. I have to follow my thoughts and characters until they are finished with me. I can't just write down major points and shut my brain down. I really wish I could, but that's not how this girl works.

Well, it's 1:25 a.m. and if I don't get back to my storyline, it will be lost forever. I hope you enjoyed this week's addition to the series. Feel free to share it with friends, family, or whomever you like. Thank you for reading. Now, go be awesome!

-Jennifer Williams

From one of my favorite TV Series and Characters. Enjoy!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

What Writers Do For Their Stories: Conquering Writer's Block

Saturday again, time for the next installment of What Writers Do For Their Stories. This week I'm going to talk about the dreaded Writer's Block. Every writer has been there a time or two... If you haven't hit the brick wall of writer's block, wait for it. It will come to for you when you least expect it and when you've scheduled out time to write too.

First, let me address the elephant in the room. Writing about Writer's Block is the most ironic thing I've ever done. Conquering writers block is hard to do unless you have the dedication and drive to push through it and write anyway. I had a bit of writer's block trying to write a blog for today. I choose two different titles and had two paragraphs of each written before I ran into the brick wall of Writer's Block, but here I am scaling that wall.

To conquer writer's block what I usually do is... you guessed it write. I may not write what I was currently working on, I may move on to another chapter or a scene further along in the story or focus on a totally unrelated story for a while, but I will write. The key to conquering writer's block is to sit down, suck it up, and write.

It sounds simple, but it can be extremely difficult. My advice is simply this: Grab a snack, a drink, pen and paper (or computer, or mechanical pencil and notebook, whatever you write with), turn down the ringer on your cell phone, shut down the social media apps, disconnect from the world and write. Having the snack and drink nearby gives you less excuses to get up and not write.

 You may be asking: "What do I write?" That's simple enough to answer. You write down anything, everything, and whatever is on your mind. From School to Work, from Family to friends, fiction to reality. Just get it all out, every last detail of what you are thinking. I find that when I hit the wall writer's block it's not because I can't think but because I have too many thoughts running around in my head. Writing all of them down helps me clear my head of the rubbish that diverts my train of thought. Writing story ideas down will allow you to not only clear your head but also get those ideas down on paper. They don't have to be in order, they don't have to be whole, they just have to be written down.

This allows for ideas to flow and stories to start or finish without having all the information. It's more of a bullet point perspective: "Here's the cliff notes version," than story perspective: "Here's all the nitty gritty details." It's like clearing away the cobwebs so you can see everything in the room clearly.

Anyway, that's all I can really say about Writer's Block and I'm rambling on anyway. I hope that was helpful and you enjoyed it. So with that, I'll leave you for the day. Go be Awesome!

-Jennifer Williams

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Character Introduction: Kalista Iduna Tragedy

**The first of my story formatted character introductions. It was so popular that I continue Introducing Characters in this format. Click Here to view the list of characters I've introduced.**

I folded my arms over my chest and leaned back waiting for Director Ramah Highest of the Preternatural and Mythical Creatures Agency to walk into the small, dimly lit interrogation room. When Agent Grayson Agony left the room he told me that it would be a few more minutes and left my folder on the opposite side of the table. That had been twenty minutes ago and I was growing impatient. He finally walked in as I thought about looking at the two-inch-thick folder that had my name on the tab.

"Kalista, thank you for coming," he stated coldly as he shut the door. I rolled my eyes and shrugged at the diplomatic small talk. I'd been to enough Council Meetings and interrogations more times than I wanted to admit, so I knew what he was doing. He sat down across from me and I waited until he looked into my eyes to speak.

"Did I have a choice?" I rhetorically asked knowing full well that I didn't, but I wanted to hear his explanation for having all of the Council Members children interviewed. He stared at me for a minute before he folded his hands and set them on top of my file.

"The others did, but I had a gut-feeling that if you were presented with the choice you'd refuse." he matter-of-factly stated with an air of self-righteousness in his aura. That wasn't the case. He knew that and I knew that, but he wanted me to admit it aloud. I uncrossed my arms and mirrored his pose while I stared into his deep brown eyes.

"We both know that is a lie. I would have asked about the importance of the interview, especially since you have that thick of a file about me. If you had a valid reason, I would have accepted. Making this mandatory doesn't help your cause. Just remember: 'what goes around, comes around.'" I facetiously reminded him. He blinked unable to delay any longer. He pulled a tape recorder from his pocket and set in on the table before running a hand through his black hair that was recently cut. It was just enough to take the curls out of his hair and reveal his receding hairline.

He nodded adjusted his reading glasses onto the worn spot on his nose where they sat for years. He opened the file and I leaned back again waiting for him to start. I had a feeling this was going to be more of an interrogation and less of an interview. He pressed the record button and I took a deep breath to calm my nerves.

"This is a question and answer session, nothing more. I'll ask the questions..."

"And I'll answer them 'to the best of my ability.'" I finished for him. It was a blatant interruption and his left eye twitched. That was his tell. He was nervous. My mind warned me to back off and this time, I'd listen.

"I need you to state your name for recording purposes." His voice was unwavering, but his aura swirled with fear. Was he afraid of me or what the Council would do to me when they find out what I still knew?

"My name is Kalista Iduna Tragedy..." Angelic. I didn't say my real last name aloud. The Council didn't want me to know who my Packana, my father, was. I knew and they'd never change that. I saw him in my dreams, but they didn't need to know that.

"Do you have any Aliases, known or unknown?" he asked face blank. That was a strange question. Did the other's have Aliases?

"Not that I am aware of. Though Charka Aknobas, the broken redeemer, seems to be a common nickname." I seamlessly joked leaning back again. He stopped the recording and rewound it until that last sentence was erased. His eyes met mine and he paused the recording again.

"You cannot tell that to anyone. Kalista, I need you to forget that. They cannot know that you remember," he reminded me with a straight face. I nodded letting him know that I understood, but that didn't make it any easier. He started the recording again and continued, "What is your race?"

Well, that wasn't easy to answer. If I can't say what they call me, how do I answer that properly? I thought unsure what to do. "Do I have to answer that?" I asked after a few awkward minutes. He rewound that bit and stared at me unamused by my answer. I genuinely wasn't trying to be difficult, but if I didn't use my telepathy to figure out what he wanted me to say, I couldn't answer correctly.

"Kalista, if we take too long in here someone will come looking and it will not end well," he advised with a gleam of knowledge in his eyes. He just gave me permission to read his mind. I nodded again and he resumed the recording. I opened my mind enough to hear his thoughts and he continued, "What is your race?"

"Spirit." I expertly lied trying not to fidget. We both knew that was wrong, but that's the answer they wanted.

"Job?" he continued monosyllabically His thoughts were vague and unhelpful, but I gave my usual answer.

"Student and thorn in the Council's side." He moved to stop the recording, but I shook my head using my telekinesis to grab his hand before it hit the button. He grimaced a few times trying to fight the pull before he relented.

"Hair, Eye, and Skin Color." He stated quickly. That was unnecessary. A picture of me would be included in my file, but I'd play along.

"My hair is dark chocolate brown and I always wear it long. My eyes are normally purple, if they are any other color, you should probably run. My skin color is pale and doesn't tan even when I do get some sun," I rambled on trying to make the best of the situation. He rolled his eyes and shrugged that off.

"Family Members and Friends," he said monotone and it began to rub me the wrong way. This vagueness was getting old, but I continued to listen in to his mind trying not to see more than I wanted to. His mind never wandered, though it was thinking deeper about the subject than I ever wanted to.

"My parents are Anna Healer Tragedy and…" I knew he wanted me to say that Justin was my father, but my mind screamed at me to say Packana's name. When the Council found out they'd do another ritual and I'd rather not go through one again. "and Justin Tragedy. My siblings are Allistasia Grace and Aiden Merlin Tragedy. I have grandparents on Dad's side of the family and adopted grandparents on Mom's side. My friends are Freedom Spiriter, Michael Spiriter, Lucifer Ptah, and Zeldya Ptah. I had other friends, but since the Council's last edict, I've lost a few of them."

He paused the tape again but didn't rewind it this time. I leaned forward and folded my hands on the table again staring him down. His eyes shifted between both of mine and his thoughts jumped off topic: Why is she bringing that up? I'm trying to do her a favor because of who her father is and she's making this hard on me. Why am I friends with him again? 

I was perplexed. I hadn't known he and my biological father were friends, which meant Ephraim was at the root of Packana's exile from the Sky City. That brought more things into perspective. Ramah sighed and leaned back watching my eyes.

"They still change color with your emotions Kalista. You can't let them see that. The last question is going to be difficult to answer and I need you to do it as discreetly as possible or you may end up worse off than you are now," he informed me without hesitation. I wasn't prepared for the bluntness of the reminder. They usually left me in the dark. If only more of them knew who my biological father was... maybe that was the problem.

"I understand and I'll try to answer correctly," I diplomatically replied not knowing what more to say. I didn't know the question so I couldn't say how I would respond. He pressed record again and set his pen to the paper on top of the file.

"What powers do you have?" He asked watching me. I leaned back again, but his mind was completely blank. That was not a good sign. I still had some of my powers and the rest were returning slowly, which was the purpose of their dark rituals. He was leaving the answer to me. Maybe he's trying to test me.

"I have telekinesis, but beyond that, I'm not sure." He nodded then stopped the recording completely and shut my file again. His aura bled bright white with relief as he relaxed. The formalities were out of the way. I didn't see him relax often and it set off a dozen red flags in my head.

"Thank you for participating and giving us what we need to begin the database." He stood up and reached his hand across the table. I stood up and firmly shook his hand. "We could use someone like you in the field. Michael would enjoy you coming to work here and I think your mother wouldn't mind it either," he added that at the last second. He pulled his hand back and I stared up at him a bit wide-eyed. That hadn't been an option before today and I hadn't considered it. I couldn't work here at the Agency. I knew too much about the inner workings of the Council who had their hands in everything that the Agency did. It would just be another way for the Council to keep an eye on me. I wouldn't let them control me as long as I had other options.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

What Writers Do For Their Stories: Character Building

Hey y'all, Saturday is here again. This week is the third installment of What Writers Do For Their Stories and this week I'm going to talk about Character Building. It's something every writer does, but not many like to talk about.

Building a character is, as I said above, something every writer does. We create characters, a beings, from nothing, but our imagination. We decide what they look like, what they wear, what their personalities are, and how they view the world. We also have to write a backstory for them and we choose whether to write that into their story or leave you guessing.

There are various ways and times that you can and should character build. A few authors I know will write up their characters before they even start writing the book. They like to sit down and decide things like I mentioned above (looks, personalities, pasts, etc.) for the main characters then either file it away for later or put it on a note card so they can have it handy. I know a few people on the opposite side of the spectrum as well.

These writers watch the story happening as if they were spying on a world that only they can see and hear. They build the characters as they build the story. This is a great way of writing, too. I'm not saying the other way is bad, I enjoy when a character learns, grows, and advances in the story. It makes for an amazing adventure of self-discovery and self-awareness that only comes through adventures that are experienced or problems are overcome.

I am somewhere in between both categories. For some of my books, like the Kalista Chronicles (which are now number to eight rough drafts, three unfinished), I like to watch her interact with the rest of her friends and family while they all grow, learn, and have conflicts that are totally out of my control. For others, like a new series in the works, I thought about the characters for weeks before I even started writing or like some of Kalista's siblings, friends, and cohorts, I'm writing their stories based on character biographies that I wrote to help me add depth to some of the characters in the Kalista Chronicles.

When I do character building beforehand, I usually sit down at my computer with Microsoft OneNote and use a template that I have already made of questions (the same ones I use for my Character Introduction Blog Series. Here's a link to Kalista Angelic's: Kalista Angelic's Introduction, *whispers* by the way that's not the main character of my stories, that's her Aunt and namesake). I will sit down and have them answer the same set of questions and then write a short paragraph about them and their lives.

Kalista the main character of the Kalista Chronicles is actually one character I watched build herself through struggles, obstacles, and loss. She grew, learned, and developed over a series of actual years. I watched her grow from a timid girl, afraid of her powers, abilities, and talents to one who... let's leave that for the books. I don't want to give away all the details. Anyway, Kalista will be the subject of my Character Introduction for this week, so you'll learn more about her on Wednesday.

Character building is a big part of any story, but there is no magic formula. I can't tell you that A + B = the perfect character because only you can define that. I can say that conflict + character personality = what a story is, but I'll leave the explanation for next week's What Writers Do For Their Stories.

With that, I'll bid thee adieu. I hope this was intersting and entertaining. Now, Go be Awesome!

-Jennifer Williams


Saturday, May 7, 2016

What Writers Do For Their Stories: Show Don't Tell

Hey y'all, it's Saturday, which means the second installment of What Writers Do For Their Stories. This Week is Show Don't Tell. I've heard this so often and had trouble with it from time to time, but let me tell you a secret *leans in* we all have trouble with this from time to time.

Show don't tell is the technique where you portray to the reader what the character is feeling instead of telling them. For instance, when a character is sad. I'm not going to write "and he/she was sad." I may write something like this:

Tears burned the back of her eyes as she thought about what had happened. Her chest tightened and a lump formed in her throat choking the words she wanted to say about him. She blinked back the tears, but some escaped out of the corner of her eye and slowly slid down her cheek. If only she could have this morning back, she'd do things so differently.

This form of writing draws the reader into the scene and allows them to feel what the character is feeling and better imagine it in their minds. It's not saying what they were (fill in the blank); it's describing their actions. If a character is angry, they may clench their hands into fists, punch a wall, or even say things they don't mean or would never normally say. If a character is trying to stay quiet when they know someone is wrong, they may clench their jaw or bite their tongue to keep from talking. If a character is excited, they may jump up and down, scream, or in some cases cry.

I have to say that I've often stopped writing and had to think about or visualize what the character was/is doing in order to better describe the way the scene played out. This technique is often hard to master and many award-winning, best-selling authors will tell you that they haven't mastered it at all. It is well worth the effort you put into your story to show and not tell.

That's all for this week, if you have any suggestions, comments, or anything else, let me know in the comments section or shoot me an email. I hope each and every one of you have a good day and a great week, until next Saturday: Go be Awesome!

Jennifer Williams

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Character Introduction: Ivanya Angelic

**Disclaimer** the introduction is done in a question and answer style with a short biography at the end and a quote from the character that appears in one of the books. The question and answer portion is done in the characters perspective. That being said, let's begin.

Name: Ivanya Angelic
Alias: Anya H., the mister.
Pronunciation: I-von-ee-aa
Nicknames: Anya, Van, Ruthless
Race: Demon, no one really knows what kind
Job: I was the Council of Fire's Executioner, but I got bored with it.
Hair Color: Brown
Eye Color: Gold
Skin Tone: Tan
Scars and Tattoos: I have none
Parents: Makuta Angelic and Xena of the Amazons
Siblings: Hagrid Angelic, I don't consider my father's other whelps my siblings.
Significant Other: I am not giving that information to a rookie
Children: Apolos, Apollymia, Fawn, and Vengeance
Best Friend: Hagrid
Worst Enemy: Lucifer, I don't care that he 'raised' me. he must not have done a good job
Favorite Pastime: bathing in the blood of anyone who upsets me.
Pet Peeve: When no one will leave me alone
Powers: The ability to lie to anyone, telekinesis, telepathy, glamour, compulsion, and heartseeking (seeing a person's true nature).

Biography:
Ivanya was a member of the Council of Fire until just after her brother died. She abandoned them in search of blood and abandoning her twin children, Apolos, and Apollymia in the process. She does whatever she wants and doesn't care who or what she destroys in the process. She has frivolous relationships and very rarely stays in one place. She has no regrets and is adept at acting to fool whoever she has to in order to get what she wants.

Quotes:

"We don’t need her coming in here and blowing us out of the water. If you blow this, he would be more than happy to make it look like we never existed and you know it" (Kalista Chronicles Book 3)

"I know what you’re thinking Kalista: How did she get here? How did she know where I was? Why isn’t someone coming to rescue me?” (Kalista Chronicles Book 4)

“I wanted to take you from Michael. I wanted him to break off the betrothal and come back to Dad, but then you looked so much like my step mother Bernita Fawn Spiriter and I couldn’t resist... Losing Bernita was a tragedy, but she didn't understand my goals. She wasn’t an Angel like you and that small fact makes you that much more enjoyable,” (Kalista Chronicles Book 4)