Monday, September 30, 2013

Walking Darkened Paths

Good morning. I hope you're all doing well this morning because I am not. I do not feel well at all. Yes, it's the same problem that has been plaguing me since march. Yeah, you know, the one that the doctor's say is nothing.
Nothing sure feels like crap.
Anyway. It was a long weekend, not exactly the most pleasant, other than I found my writing grove again, so happy about that. I learned some startling news that is leaving me a little dry-mouthed and thinking "oh no! not again!" I'm not going to say what it is yet. It's still trying to sink in. It was so out of the blue, my siblings and I were left sitting there with blank expressions when we were told all of us probably thinking, "no that really can't be it."
Now I'm a little worried. We've seen what can happen when things go wrong. I'm terrified that they'll go REALLY wrong.
Adding to my lovely weekend, I had an emotional breakdown. I couldn't handle the stress of my own kept secrets and worries. I feel like I'm trying to swim in freezing water without a life preserver currently. Everything come at me and I don't have time to duck!
I'm worried about my book (nothing new)
I really want a horse (also nothing new)
I'm terrified about college.
And now this news.
It doesn't all have to be bad, I know, but you know when you get shocking news and you kind of have to sit there in a daze as your mind tries to put it together.
I'm not quite out of that daze yet.
I'm also not very fond of school today. I'm tired of the endless pacing of school days where I'm told to do this and then that with teachers who don't really notice my existence. I don't like being referred to as Student #24, or "that person" or "those people" I find it annoying when people do that. When they look right at me, and I know that they know my name but they still call me like they don't. I like being called by my name.
Yes. It's all kind of building up. Emotions...worries...lack of sleep or too much of the precious's going to explode.
On the flip side though, it's almost October. I'm not terribly fond of Halloween. Especially the ugliness of it. The undead shouldn't be flaunted like that. Anyone who jokes about such a pitiful existence really doesn't understand what it's like to be without light. I went through a time where I felt like I was partially dead. I know. It's not fun. I don't mean where I was physically half dead, but emotionally. It got really bad. My behavior turned destructive. Thankfully my sister intervened. I love my sister.
My younger sister always asks me if wraiths actually exist. We have this game that we play that for lack of other names is called "walk in the dark" where we play in the world if Twisted. I've gotten several ideas for the story while playing and character development for several characters whose POVs I generally don't write from. From this my sister learned about wraiths and just about everything it takes for a person to become one.
Don't get me wrong. Her understanding is purely innocent. She's under 10 years old. If she were any older I'd insist that she didn't joke about it falling to a state of such darkness isn't something to be laughed about.
Sometimes she gets scared and she asks me if wraiths actually exist. I don't want to take the fantasy out of her life (thanks teachers who told me Santa Claus isn't real, actually I don't remember how I learned that, but blame public school, obviously) but at the same time I don't want to scare her out of her mind.
I have to say no.
I actually believe that they do exist. Now before you go thinking I've popped some nugget in my head let me explain. I believe it's possible to get to such a state where you breathe and feel but you're dead. The Secret Keeper refers to this as "the living death." How a person gets to a state of such darkness...I'd need several novels to list every single way. In essence, it's by shunning light. I don't mean by closing your blinds, but by taking away from your soul everything that is good and human.
I think this is why the Nine (Nazgul, saw it coming right?) are referred to as Sauron's greatest servants. It's because they began as men, great men. I look at the intro showing them as men before they fell and I can't imagine them becoming wraiths. I mean it! Several of them look like grandpas I'd want to spend time with. Or a person I could and would call king and I don't trust most people in authority. Everyone has the chance to either do great good or great evil. And those who choose to do great evil with every knowledge of good are worse than those who do evil because they don't know any better.
The Nine certainly knew better.
So do those who willfully choose to walk down darkened paths.
Eventually they walk so far it is difficult to return and return cannot happen without aid. They sleep in death where there is no light. No hope. No peace.
The exist among the living, but their world is of the dead.
I've been exploring this since while writing from the Secret Keeper's POV I came across the term "sleeping in death" which is how he describes himself as being. I cannot find out how a person would wake up from such a state. It blew my mind when I realized that for the Secret Keeper to have a complete character development I couldn't get away with cheap things. He has a Darth Vader type metamorphosis. He goes from dark and everything that is dead and decaying to light and life.
It begins in the first book when a girl who represents the innocent in Twisted whispers the name his living soul was known by. As it is with those who walk down darkened paths. Names have power and when we can truly adhere to our names and leave old titles behind, we have mastered ourselves.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

My Mistake

This is me a couple hours later and calm. I'm leaving this post up as a reminder to myself to not panic anymore. Not everyone is going to stab me in the back!
For those of you returning you read my raw emotions. I may seem strong on the surface, but inside I can be watery and scared.
The truth is I'm not very social. I don't like being around loud people and watching them with their friends. I've tried several times to make friends, but unless they reach out first, nothing seems to happen. I have tried to befriend the lonely people, the friendly people but none of them seemed to want anything to do with me or were friendly until their friends showed up and suddenly I was the background, a chair.
Now I panic when things happen. The way Pat Parelli phrases it, it's like I turned right brain and there is no longer any logic, just a firm desire to protect myself and get out.
It was my mistake, though I feel stupid to admit it.
To my friend, GAH! I feel really dumb. I'm sorry. I went right brained this morning. I hope I haven't hurt you, I'm sure I have some explaining to do in person. I am not as strong as you may think. The wounds from my past have scabbed, but they're still raw and pop open now and again.
I'm sorry. It's my fault. What can I do to make it better?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


I feel mildly guilty for my scatterbrained post last night. I was tired, sore and a little cranky when I wrote it. Now I'm tired, nauseous, but less cranky. :)
I spent 15+ hours on my cover over the past two weeks. My reason behind that is that I went onto Facebook where there was a cover design group where they'd critique my cover. They tore mine apart saying that it had no contrast, no visual interest. Nada.
I walked away with steam in my ears.
At first I was ready to toss my hand in the air saying "Forget it. I'm clearly not meant to do this! I'll take up knitting!" I even asked what the price of knitting needles were.
Fortunately my family and friends took compassion on my poor soul. I spent days trying to figure out what to do. I had no idea! I felt petrified with nothing. My family spent hours coming up with ideas, silly ones, but hey, the thought process can be full of silliness. Like Lindsey Stirling said, "Don't be afraid of the bad ideas."
My idea came to me while driving to my grandparents. I had been toying with the idea of taking a picture of a key, slapping the title over that and calling it good. I tried, here's the result:
Pretty good picture if you don't mind me saying. But it didn't add the visual appeal I was looking for. I mean it is interesting to look at (and yes, it follows the rule of thirds and framing! I didn't add the blackness around it on the computer, I was holding a flashlight between my knees and the key with ribbon in front of my jacket hanging in front of the chair I sit to write in.)
This picture sparked an idea. Yes, a key is intriguing. What are keys used for? To unlock things. And if you think about it, there are things in Twisted that need unlocking, such as a front door, a cell door, or a soul.
From there I had two ideas. Everyone that has heard about my book and read the blurb about it has told me that I need to put the Secret Keeper on the cover somewhere. I never tried because he is really difficult to draw! But I decided I wasn't going to draw, I was going to take a fancy photo and go from there.
My two ideas are as follows (ooh, fancy today aren't we Tayla?)
1. to have a hand holding a key with the form of the Secret Keeper in the background.
2. A key hanging from something with the wraith in the background.
Both ideas sounded good, but I didn't have a clue on how to do them, plus I'm kind of lacking a costume for it (someday! Someday I tell you, I will make it!)
From these two ideas was born the one I would go with. The Secret Keeper walking through a forest with a key. I thought this would perk interest. What is a faceless being doing with a key? Where is he going? As hard as he is to draw, the wraith draws the most attention. I pay attention to books with beings like him on the cover. As of yet I haven't found any I want to read...but still, they  drag my eyes in.
I tried several times to put together a good cover. I attempted it on the computer. I walked away in utter frustration until my brother told me to do it step by step. Stop worrying about the whole composition and draw each individual piece.
I love my brother.
This idea worked marvelously. I drew each little piece starting with the Secret Keeper. Since I've been practicing drawing wraiths since summer I think he turned out marvelously. From a stick figure to a hooded being, the persona of death itself.

This is the shaded version. Truth be told? I've never drawn anything like it before! I used a variety of shading techniques, most of which I've never attempted.
I also learned that when I have his hood tilted to the side like that, it draws attention. From the front, he's threatening because it looks like he's going to run you down, but like this he's mysterious.
I remember telling my grandmother about him. I was blabbering away and said, "He's called the Secret Keeper, scary right?" (positively terrifying, gosh.)
My grandmother thought about it for a moment then said, "Sounds mysterious."
Bingo. I don't want him to be so scary people are too afraid to open my book. It's not him. His personality doesn't always scream, "I'm a scary wraith! Fear me! Raah!"
Sometimes it's, "I'm not what you think I am. Why can't you see that?"
I think I captured that in this drawing. And no, he's not dropping the key. I spent FOREVER drawing his hand and didn't want to erase it over the string.
BTW, this was my reference for his hand, amazing picture. I wish I knew who it belongs to, I'd give them thanks in abundance.

Then came a part I was dreading. The forest. I've always lived under the assumptions that I just don't DO backgrounds. I was proved wrong. On a Sunday night where I took a four hour nap and wasn't going to sleep, I drew it.
And here it is! Voila! A forest! If you look closely, the trees in the front are twisted (get it? Haha, I'm such a nerd!)
And this is where it changed from a forest in bloom to a forest in death. I realized that I wanted to go more for a "seasons of the soul" type thing. A soul in winter will be a cold one indeed. At this point this is where the Secret Keeper is.
Truthfully, though I go on and on about my other characters (not on this blog...I think) the story is really about the Secret Keeper. It follows his journey from death back to life. That's why the first cover will be a cold winter scene. His soul is breathing winter.
If I didn't call my book Twisted it would probably be Winter Soul. It just has a nice ring to it. =D

I put it together to get this rough sketch of how the entire cover would look

After I got done with the sketches I got a little paralyzed. I've tried doing pictures on the computer in the past. If you go onto my YouTube account I have a video called "Fantasy Horses" all of those are my failed attempts at it. They look decent, but I didn't put much effort into them. I was afraid that my cover would end up looking cheesy and stupid. I do judge a book by the cover, if it looks like crap, I'm sorry, I'm not going to invest much time into reading it. You know those covers with the flat people with the elbows that bend like circles? Yucko. Not opening it.
Here's the movie. Yep. They're all scans. Back then I had no idea how to turn a .xcf into a .jpg.
I was a little paralyzed at the idea of trying, but I read this quote "doubt kills more dreams than failure ever did." I wish I could remember who said it! I'll look it up. It was NOT me!
Anyway, I took it to heart and tried.
First attempt.
I walked away steaming.
Then I stopped being stupid and tried to figure out what I did wrong (look, I'm learning!) I realized that the image was too large and I didn't start with the subject. You ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS start with your subject. It gives your drawing personality and thereby YOU are more interested in drawing.
The next day I came back and I filled in the Secret Keeper. I put every ounce of drawing skill I had into drawing him. I started by blocking him in red. Then, with my fingers crossed (at least figuratively, kind of hard to use a computer to draw with crossed fingers) I began filling in color.
Bit by bit he began to take shape.
Here's how it went.
 Rough concept drawing right now. I highlighted him in red so when I turned the background layer off I could still see him. It gets difficult to see what you're doing when you used the background layer as your blocking especially if you're using similar colors. I tried it in the past...that's why I did it like this now. :)

Roughly four hours later I was done. I didn't copy every step I took even though I said I would. I got excited and stopped. :)

And then I panicked as I realized I had no idea what to do for the background.
I realize I knew someone who could. My good friend and pal Bob Ross. Last year I loved watching his program. I saw a lot of ideas of how to paint. When I tried them myself, ehh, not so great. I'll save paintbrushes and paints for later, but the same ideas could be used on the computer.
I tried looking for episodes online. There weren't any that I wanted. I went to the library with my mom after taking pictures for my photography class. I struggled a bit to find where the movies were. I knew at least one of them was there, I'd looked it up online.
When I found where they were I saw that there were two. Both had drawings I needed to see. I watched them both.
Feeling much more confident I came upstairs the next morning. Finished my schoolwork. Forced myself to feel calm and began.
Step one, blocking everything out. I did. I drew a mountain in the style of Bob Ross. If you look close it looks like one of the Wasatch Mountains, oddly enough the one that ended up being the subject of my panorama picture for school.
Yes, my horrible stitched photo. Mountain furthest to the right is the one I'm talking about. Funny story NEVER taking photos while the sun is setting, unless you're a pro. You can see the colors getting progressively darker. Oops. Oh well I got 100% anyway. :)
Back to my cover. I drew in two mountains, got a little stalled for the foreground. That's where I ALWAYS run into trouble. So I went with what I knew. I drew a little snow covered hill in front of my mighty mountains (LOL Bob Ross, he has such a soothing voice) and then I pushed my brush up, creating what looked like teeny tiny mountains in the distance.
Then I attempted trees in the foreground. YUCK! It was too abrupt. I backed up a bit and drew trees in the background. Much better. They looked pretty decent. My brother came in and suggest I add a little fog around the edge of the Secret Keeper's robes. I sighed wondering if I'd ever get to that point.
Then I tried foreground trees again. I was losing patience. It was beginning to look (in my mind) to look yucky. I kept going, smudging, adding color, backwards forwards, until I got a result I wanted. I used two trees to frame the Secret Keeper and branches overhead so your eyes are drawn to him. Then I added the fog, curling it up to finish the frame. Voila! Here's the result.
I thought it was great for a stand alone picture. It's now my profile picture for YouTube. I'm so proud of his hand! On GIMP (the program I used) it looks very pixelated up close, but I kept adding color. Then I began smudging. The result was instant, a hand! And a hand that looks dead no less!
But it's missing something. Yes. This is a good stand alone, but not cover.
I began adding text.
For all my other cover versions it was always black or silver. Looking at the cover scheme here it's easy to guess why that wouldn't work. This is a very cold picture. I kind of want my coat just by looking at it. (I'm so proud of it! It looks as though he's pausing to look at something while traveling down a snow covered road) I wanted it to look a bit warmer so that people would feel comfortable picking it up.
If you look extremely closely you'll see bits of gold flecked in his robes. Most of my characters have a signature color. It's like in Kung Fu Panda 2 how Po and Shen (is that his name?) have signature color. Po is bright gold, Shen is a brilliant red. Watch the movie again and look for it. They did a very good job of showing who was the good guy and who was the bad guy. Even without sound you can tell.
Red is a very aggressive color, makes you want to go out and hit something.
Gold is pure, it makes you feel calm and inspired.
The Secret Keeper's color is a dirty gold. I decided that years ago.
I used gold as my text color. Voila. It worked brilliantly. I put in text using the same color of gold as the key (which by the way went in marvelously. It looks like a freaking key!) and the result was amazing. It looks like something I'd be interested in reading.
Here it is.
The finished picture.
Yes. Every single little detail you see was drawn by me. I did it freehand by pencil, then by mouse on the computer. I don't have one of those fancy draw tablets (though, I wish!) and I used a heck of a lot of references for this. I wish I could thank every single person for sharing their pictures.
Overall learned experience from this? Just because you fail once doesn't mean you need to quit.
"...No failure ever need by final." --President Monson.
I firmly believe that.
No failure is final. It's final when you quit.
A quitter NEVER prospers.

Monday, September 23, 2013


I apologize for taking so long to post something. I've been super busy working on my book, getting ready to publish it. This is going to be a long post either, we're getting ready for dinner, I just hopped on to post this.:)
Anyway, yes, I did finish my cover! I think it looks really cool. I'm not on the right computer or I'd show it.
Another thing that I can boast of is that I met Elsie Park. Her book, Shadows of Valor has really great suspense. It kept me from practicing my violin because I was entranced. I have another signed book. :) Next month on the 15th I can boast that I have a third. Sign my own book. Geez. :)
Yeah that's about all I have to write for now. I'm tired and hungry, so I'm going to go take care of those problems now.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Painting horses

Hey! So working on my cover is harder than I thought! I had to walk away today because my eyes were frying in my head, and I was getting too critical of artwork that wasn't even finished. (Oops) I'm hoping that when I'm done it will be somewhat decent, you know, something people would at least consider reading.
Anyway, so my violin teacher was on TV with her horses. Yes. The two horses featured below are none other than the Gypsy and Cheyenne that I've mentioned in my blog before. They are two AMAZING girls and yes, the competition between them is very real. I've seen it between them, so funny. :)
I'm feeling pretty happy today because I finally found a book that I was happy with writing. For about a month I've skipped between books unhappy with them, but finally I got one. Woo.
And here's the clip of Gypsy, Cheyenne and my amazing violin teacher Amy Miller.

I think Gypsy's mane looks lovely. :) I did not put it in. If I had you'd wonder why she had a mop on her neck.

Monday, September 16, 2013


I'm sorry for not posting anything! I was sick all week (still not 100%, but no longer resting at 45%) anyway, this will be a short post because I just remembered I hadn't posted anything and I'm STARVING.
Anyway, so I did work on my cover all night last night. I took a four hour nap so it was the happy alternative to staring at a wall all night wishing I could sleep. Running on about 3 hours worth of rest, I think.
Here is my brand-spanking new cover versus the old one.
Old one first
There's nothing too bad about this cover, it just doesn't tell enough of a story. I worked hard on it, but I don't think I'd even look twice at it in the library. I liked it, but I needed something better. Something more secretive, if you get what I'm saying.
So lots of searching on Google Images and I came across an idea for a new cover. Here it is.
I blew it up large so you could see it. It's a scan so it's kind of cruddy in quality. I think this one's better. It tells more of the story. And no, the wraith is not dropping the key, he's holding it, I just didn't draw the strong because it took literally FOREVER to draw his hand, so I didn't want to draw the string, hate it and have to erase his hand.
Yes, the colors on the side are my palette, what colors I'll (roughly) use to fill it in. It's a little rough right now because I'm waiting for feedback from a few friends. I like this a lot better. Makes you curious right?
Oh and the T no longer looks like a C so I'm happy about that. :)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Gotcha, Nevermind, Don't Wantcha

I have fallen victim for a classic prank that your immune system likes to pull...yes, the common cold. I've been wheezing, coughing, croaking, and not sleeping since Tuesday. Not so marvelous, especially since a headache has kept me from writing (thankfully it's gone today, thus explaining this post) I'm better today (because it's morning) just a little tired and nauseous. This cold has steadily gotten worse everyday. It better not leave me bedridden. That is so boring.
It's cooled down here in Utah. We went from 100 degrees last week to 77 this week (this is Fahrenheit, and yes, I had to Google it to see how it was spelled) it's been really nice not to turn into a sweaty pile of goo every time I step outside. I HOPE the weather has finally figured it out that it is no longer August and thereby does not need to be so hot! I happen to like the winter months, I'm kind of addicted to wearing long-sleeved attire (I hate showing off my freckly arms) and look kind of weird in the summer. I can get away with longer sleeves now that it's raining. (Evil laugh.)
I have changed the idea for my cover. I'm no longer going to take a photo of it. I can't really control anything about the photo, I'm learning how to edit one, but I prefer to draw. My characters have distinct personalities that can only be shown off by pencil and until someone professionally decides to dress up as them and take pictures, well I'll stick to drawing them.
I'm a little terrified that I'll mess it up though, but one cannot live with fear. You cannot survive existing in a world where horror is your only companion.
Sorry, I just realized how many parentheses I use.
I know this really doesn't have anything to do with my regular posts, but I cantered a horse yesterday! Gypsy has a wonderful, slow canter, and I wasn't on a line. It was a freehand canter. Granted my balance was terrible and I nearly collided with another rider when Gypsy decided the wall was no longer good enough for her...but overall, it felt like flying. Amazing.
My suddenly horsy life happened because last year at about this time I watched one of Lindsey Stirling's (if you click on the link (I linked it) it will take you to the song I was probably listening to) and somehow I ended up on Amazon possessed by a sudden urge to play the violin. I don't remember opening a new tabs or typing anything in, I was suddenly looking at violins.
A year later, my violin playing has blessed my life more than I imagined last year when I asked my mom if I could take lessons. I still don't have the dents in my fingers though, despite nearly 365 hours worth of playing. Maybe after 3,000 hours (five years? Don't ask me, I suck at math!)

Monday, September 9, 2013

Cover Flip Flop

I apologize for my lack of a post in the past couple days, I got bored of sitting in front of a computer and therefore went a little haywire and berserk. My brain is on fire, I mean this not literally (though my hair would make it appear to be that way, last year in a windstorm when my hair was curly my little sister told me it looked like my head was on fire, nice right?) because I CANNOT for the life of me figure out a cover for my bloody book that will work!
I'm sure you've seen the cheesy, unprofessional cover over the "about me" thing. I put it in front of a book cover critique and they all proceeded to tell me that they didn't like it, that I didn't have enough contrast. I walked away steaming, and went "okay FINE! You want contrast, I'll give it to you!"
So far I've come up with an idea that would work brilliantly if only the Secret Keeper were real. I could use his gross, dead hands right about now. Of course, when has he ever worked WILLINGLY with me?
So I'm going to do a bit of fancy sewing and make myself a wraith costume, loosely based off of the Nazgul. I'll post my progress (and pictures!) as I go along. Currently I don't have enough $$$ to make one and I'm coming in on my deadline (one I made for myself) in a month and I can tell you that I am FREAKING OUT.
Hence my use of capital letters.
The manuscript is done. I finished the final read through this morning. My last two things on my checklist are as follows,
1. Make a catchy cover
2. Redraw the map
Yes, I had a map, then I realized I left out about half of the important things like HELLO! The legend and compass would be nice right? Though it helped so I could tell where everything was. I've found a new photo editing program which you can view here it's called Pixlr and looks pretty awesome. It's like a free copy of Photoshop and has grass brushes! I have been longing for those since I watched people on YouTube using them. Gimp is great but it lacks the ability to make nice new brushes. Or I haven't learned how. And yes, I learned how to link things, maybe. If they don't work...sorry, I just closed the tabs. My brain is not working very well today, but what can you expect from someone running on 5 hours and 30 minutes of sleep?
Stand by for my probably impressive attempts to make a costume. Fortunately wraiths aren't known for their fashion sense (unless it's Madam Shazaar, one of my characters. An insanely vain wraith. More on her later...) and I can get away with slipped stitches and no hem!
And finally something on my violin! I've been looking for the sheet music to a song for nearly a year! I found it yesterday and my younger sister and I are going to collab piano and violin. It sounded awesome last night for two people who had barely looked at the music thirty minutes before. We have 'till December 1 to get it right.
Here's the song I was talking about. It's called I Wonder as I Wander. I don't know who wrote it, but it is beautiful.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Ah What a Graceful Creature...NOT!

For those of you who remember my epic ninja move into my bookshelf won't be surprised to read this post. I have turned into the world's biggest klutz! Take today for instance. I was trying to take pictures for my photography class (something I'm failing at BTW) and as I was trying to get a good angle of the stupid key, I whacked the camera against the wooden playground I was balancing on, then as I tried to pull up, I smacked my head on it.
I wandered around for a good while, taking stupid pictures and getting my socks wet for nothing. When I came back in my mood was suffering. It got worse as I pulled the camera off and whacked my eye with it. For those of you who have never hit your eye socket (the bony hole around your eye) I'd suggest you try to avoid it. I'm going to have a black eye to add to all this loveliness tomorrow. (Prediction.)
On top of that, I tripped over the garden boxes, bruised up my shins while doing so, and I keep tripping over EVERYTHING. When I tried to be sneaky to turn on the Wi-Fi at five in the morning the stairs creaked and then the door to upstairs screamed and I couldn't find the stupid switch and GAH! I AM DRIVING MYSELF CRAZY!
I am about as graceful as a sick cat.
Is this a new phase that you go through when you turn 18? If so, I don't like it at all. I've never really cared about my klutziness before, but now, every move I make seems to be inches from some clumsy movement and I'm tired of it! I'm bruised and bleeding. I've NEVER been accident prone before in my life!
Yeah, I know, I'm whining. I apologize for that, but I feel so self-conscious especially when I look at others who never trip over their own feet and are effortlessly beautiful even if they take a little stumble over their effortlessly small feet. My teeth are grinding. I feel like a stubby dwarf next to a graceful elf.
On top of this (calmed voice) my odd symptoms have returned. You have noticed a lack of writing about them, that's because they went away for a bit and me in my gracefulness didn't even notice until they rose again. It was subtle at first. Slight stab of pain there, fluttering heart here, and then it came back full force and now I'm in pain with every clumsy move I make. More so, especially when I smack a heavy Canon PowerShot 10IS into my own face.
And I found a weird bump by my ear. I thought it was a pimple (you know those horrid volcanoes that teenage girls are prone to getting. I'd say ZIT but that's kind of embarrassing) until I looked in the mirror as saw that it wasn't. My bangs cover it so you would never see it. It's been there for months. Should I be worried?
I'm not sure if I should tell my parents. I mean SERIOUSLY, telling them in the first place didn't do anything. I got dragged to doctor after doctor who proclaimed me perfectly healthy as I was hunched over in pain. This just add to this graceful creature I have become.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


I apologize in advance if this post makes no sense. I'm tired (woke up at four) and feeling kind of sick. I'm on the final reading of Twisted, and I'm going backwards, starting at the last chapter and working my way up from there. My friend suggested this to me and I decided, sure, why not. I know it very well forwards, but how about backwards?
I'm also reading it to my dad. He thinks I've done a good job at portraying my characters as they are. Meaning, I don't try to force them to be something they're not. For instance, in the past few drafts (except maybe the first one) I was unknowingly forcing the Secret Keeper to be a blabbermouth. In reality, he's quiet! He hardly if ever speaks. What voice does come from the shrouded hood is whispery and unnatural. A blabbermouth? No, I'll leave that to Aster and Allie.
I mentioned a few posts ago that I didn't think I had anything to write. I finished the final edit of Twisted (!!!!!) and took a week off.
It was a good week.
Anyway, I sat down yesterday and I started writing about one of my favorite characters. It was scene that kept popping back into my head and I decided to finally put it on paper.
I have one word for it.
I've really tried to throw in everything I learned from my editor. No repeating words (can't help that until you reread) keep the action going, show actions between dialog!
The final one was the real killer for the fifth version of Twisted. (Yes, six drafts! The second book is going on eight.) I rarely put action between dialog, it was always he said she said. Or since I write in present tense, it's she says and he says. Action between dialog can be a great way to show character emotions. Rather than adding a tag line (hold on! I'll explain this!) You can show instead.
For instance. I'm going to use two of my characters, Aster and Allie. They don't get along very well and I'm going to have them fight, which happens so easily, but it's a good way to show you.
This first example is full of tag lines. A tag line is what you see at the end of dialog. It runs something like this, she said cattily. Cattily is the tag line. It shows how she said it.
Here's the scene. Aster and Allie are standing by a forest. Snow is falling. It's cold, their breath steams. (Just to set it up, *smiley face.)
"You should've come sooner!" Allie cried.
Aster rolled his eyes. "Stop being so dramatic, kid," he said tiredly.
"I'll stop being so dramatic when you stop being late!" Allie snapped angrily.
"I wasn't late. I was delayed. There's a difference," Aster said.
"Yeah? And what is it?" Allie sniffed.

Okay, that's the end of the example. It hurts. I just got done editing endless lines of that (except it was all from first person, third person with these two is a new experience for me) and my inner editor is screaming at me to fix it.
Didn't it drive you crazy? There's so much ly running around if you read it aloud it would start to sound funny. I only had one line of action! Rolling of the eyes doesn't mean much unless you put an emotion behind it. I once got in trouble for rolling my eyes at my third grade teacher. It wasn't on purpose, (I was ten!) I certainly didn't mean any harm, but she nearly blew her top for an emotionless action. Had I thrown emotion behind it, she would have seen it. My body posture would have said something like I disrespect you and everything you stand for. That is a bit extreme, but you get the gist right?
Also it was an endless world of said and Aster and Allie. Names can be overused! I probably used names up to seven times in one paragraph! Eep! That gets tiring especially when your character has a long name. Said can also be overused. It is disappearing text, meaning it vanishes among the dialog, BUT if you use it too much it can drive you CRAZY. I noticed this in the Black Stallion and the Shape Shifter by Steven Farley. Every line of dialog ended with said. It stuck out to me and I lost track of the story because I was to busy focusing on said!
Also, too many !!! exclamation points can be overwhelming! They sound like they're barking at it each other! It's tiring to read!
Sooo, to fix this, what do you do?
I'll write the scene again.
"You should've come sooner." Allie's voice was stretched taut. Her fingers picked at the buttons on her coat. She didn't seem to notice that she had nearly plucked one of the silver circles off the fraying fabric.
Aster lifted his eyes to her face. She was tense. He faked an eye roll hoping she'd read it as everything was okay. "Stop be so dramatic, kid."
Her brown eyes dimmed. The shaking hands dropped from the button. "When you stop being late, I'll stop being dramatic," Allie said.
"I wasn't late. I was delayed. There's a difference."
She clearly wasn't buying his act. Aster sighed inwardly. He was too exhausted to try and convince her otherwise. She'd learn sooner or later.
"Yeah? And what is it?" Allie's voice held an edge of stress. Her brown eyes screamed in silence. She was guessing.

Tada! I hope that was easier to read. Makes you want to know more right? I'll spare you the suspense. Aster is about to tell Allie that one of her friends passed away. I tried showing his apprehension about telling her. I never came outright and said "he was apprehensive." Showing grabs your readers. It makes them care. I hope you cared. It's a sad scene. (Sorry, first one that popped into my head.)
I went low and slow on exclamation marks. You shouldn't have endless lines of them. I have a rule. I either put one after the first line or the final one.
"I wasn't sure what to do! I grabbed hold and hoped."
"I wasn't sure what to do. I grabbed hold and hoped!"
It all depends on the dramatic emphasis you want to create. I don't think an exclamation mark is appropriate in the scene above. A hero has died. The mood should be quiet and respectful. The only place I'd consider putting it is when Allie whispers no.
"No!" Her mouth barely uttered the word. Her eyes screamed it.
There should be no screaming, unless I want her to go into a mad raving rage, but hello! The girl is seventeen, I think she's a bit old for that. ;)
I know. In this knew example, I put said in once. I've gotten into a habit of that and have to reign myself in sometimes. I'd say (as a rule for myself) that you can put said in about three times before you should plop some actions into place.

One last bit, then I'll be done.
My biggest challenge for dialog was when I discovered that the Secret Keeper isn't a real speaker. I mean think about it. He's undead. They're not natural speakers. The ones blessed with speech have to struggle to make themselves heard. Their voices are whispery and faint, like death itself. When we talk we punctuate almost every word with breath. When someone is talking right behind you (I mean literally, on your neck) you can feel their breath, warm and slightly awkward.
The undead don't speak like that. It's why they sound hoarse, forced, whispered, and quiet. The Secret Keeper rarely speaks unless he has to. His language is elsewhere. Wraiths speak with movements. For TSK a hood tilted away can mean he doesn't want to look at you, he doesn't trust himself to look at you, or he's thinking about ditching you. That was hard to manage, it took a lot of thinking and studying. I'm not ashamed to say that I watched a lot of LOTR, studying how the Nazgul moved. After time I could pick out individual movements, like on Weathertop. If you watch how they approach the hobbits, you can tell that they are lapping it up. The poor hobbits are terrified, wraiths feed on fear. The more afraid you are, the more power you give them. It's why most people die during wraith attacks. Aragorn survived because he refused to give into his fear. He was afraid. Who wouldn't be! But instead of cowering, he reacted. Wraiths hate that.
It was not natural for me to think like that. The Secret Keeper blahed, yakked, and yammered until it finally clicked in this draft. It was almost like he grabbed me, shook me a little and snapped, "Hello? I would not say that!"
I was like, "Okay! I got it. Let go!"
More than half of his dialog disappeared. He began acting. The shrouded head lifted, the spidery fingers flicked. He (not in so many words) came alive on the page. Before this draft it was hard to tell how the Secret Keeper was different from humans, now I'm slightly afraid of him, but that's only because you're viewing him from a human vantage. Wait until you see him from his own vantage point.
Here is the Flight to the Ford in LOTR. There's one scene in particular I want you to pay attention to. It's where the Nazgul snaps "Give up the Halfling, she-elf!" His voice is clearly forced, no breath between words, nothing how I would say it if I had just galloped a horse wearing about fifty pounds of armor.
"Give up..." great gasping heave. "the Halfling...hold on, gotta catch my breath! She-elf!"
Then Arwen's voice is pure and living. There's a difference.