December Update

Hello all,

It’s already December, and where I live, snow covers the ground. I apologize for not posting more often, but school is sort of time-consuming.

But, on a positive note, using the scraps of time not dedicated to school, I’ve finished editing Retreat! Woo-hoo! Now, it’s on to proofreading.

While the end of this publishing cycle definitely seems closer, this next step could take quite a while since I have to receive my proof copies, distribute them to my proofreaders, and then input their notes into my Scrivener file. And if my proofreaders don’t like my storyline, it’s back to the editing phase.

Alright, so basically I have no idea when Retreat will be ready for publication, but I’ll make sure to post here when it is!

Have a blessed Christmas!

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Writing Update

Hi there everyone, I have not fallen off the face of the earth. It has been a busy summer, but I haven’t had much to blog about.

For any of you that are in college or planning to go to college, you know that preparing for college is daunting, and that is what I’ve been doing this summer. Taking CLEP tests for college credit.

In addition, I and my two brothers have been bean-walking for a local organic farmer. Bean-walking is basically weeding the garden but on a massive scale.

Now, on to writing. I haven’t done as much writing this summer as last, but my two brothers are beta-reading Retreat and I’m inputing their suggestions.

Have a great last month or so month of summer, everybody!

Benton Barracks

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This is a post not on writing, or self-publishing, but on history I’ve dug up during research for my books.

Benton Barracks appears in my current WIP Retreat. These barracks were constructed out of boards at the beginning of the war in St. Louis, Mo.

As you can kind of see from the above drawing, Benton barracks was arranged in what one soldier said was a ” big oblong square”. Barely visible, on the side facing outward are cookhouses.

I believe that the center two-story building was the sort of “command center” of Benton Barracks.

The different quarters were all connected together, with frame partitions dividing up the different companies.

Unfortunately, none of this barracks currently remains.

One of the commanders of Benton Barracks was a general later to become famous or infamous, depending on your side, William T. Sherman.

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William T. Sherman

There was a controversy about paroled prisoners that took place at Benton Barracks. At times in the Civil War, prisoners from one side would be released on the promise that they would not fight against their captors until they were exchanged. After the battle of Shiloh or Pittsburgh Landing, some Union parolees were encamped at Benton Barracks.

The controversy erupted when a superior officer commanded them to stand guard duty. The troops thought doing guard duty was a violation of their parole and refused. Many were then promptly put in the guard house.

Some of those soldiers were from Iowa, my home state, and they sent a letter to the governor of Iowa, Samuel Kirkwood.

Necessity compels us, the undersigned, this Sabbath evening to state to you that we have orders this evening from General Schofield to be fully armed and equipped so that we can relieve the Twenty-third Missouri, now on duty. Guards to be detailed this evening to report at guard mounting tomorrow morning at 8 o’clock, and there is not a man who has signed this paper but would prefer to return to their Southern prisons before perjury.

The commander here has given orders for us to stand guard. This every one of us will not do even to a man, believing it to be a violation of our oath. Already forty of us are in the guard-house and the rest are ready to go at a moment’s notice to be tried by a court-martial. 

Their objection were overruled by Major-General Henry Halleck. He said that guard duty, policing of the camp, and fatigue duty were for the soldier’s own good.

I just thought that these little tidbits were interesting, if you want to learn more about Benton Barracks visit this site. Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

Sneak Peek into Retreat

Recently, I rewrote parts of an early chapter of my WIP Retreat. (Notice the hook sentence) This where I re-introduce readers to the MC, Ben, and introduce them to his interior conflict, as well as the setting.

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Also, notice how much conflict there is.

I killed him. Ben glanced through the window at the swirling eddy of dead leaves. He stood, a twinge of pain darting up his leg. Fire spurted through his chest. He smacked the kitchen table with his open hand.

His mother turned from the stove. “Benjamin!” Her blue eyes widened. “What’s coming over you?”

Ben plopped into his chair and laid his head on the table, a headache blossoming in the back of his skull. If only he had been able to save Mr. Jim. He could have, he could have, but he had rescued Fred instead.

“Ben?”

“I’m sorry, Mother. I’ve just not been myself lately.”

Cool hands kneaded his shoulders. “You haven’t been the same, ever since you got back from the war two months ago. I thought it would get better once your leg healed but ….”

“If we’d just hear from him. Mr. Jim’s still missing. I … I don’t know if he’s still alive.”

She kissed his head. “Just have faith.”

Ben nodded, more out of habit than belief. Faith in a fallacy wasn’t faith, but denial. And the time for denial had to end. Maybe John would have some advice. He stood, grabbed his coat from the back of his chair, and plodded toward the door.

“Where are you going?”

Ben dropped his head. Of course she would ask that. “John’s.”

“Going to ask him to go with you to deliver Shelby’s letter?”

A sigh hissed from Ben’s lips. “No, I don’t think so.”

“You really should.”

Ben turned his head around glaring at her, hoping that she’d stop. “Go ….” Her eyebrows drew together. Angry or hurt, really didn’t matter. His chest ached. If only he could just mourn in silence, without hurting anybody else.

What do you guys think? Would you keep on reading? Do you feel for Ben or is he too much of a jerk 🙂 ?

Have a great Wednesday, everyone!

Five Writing Podcasts

I’m not sure about you, but whenever I have to a chore, I like to listen to something. Here’s several writing podcasts that you should check out.

untitled-design-3-e1445105278110#1 is the Very Serious Writing Show

In all seriousness 😉 , this podcast is never always about writing, but it’s pretty much always entertaining. This is definitely my favorite podcast.

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#2 is the Helping Writers Become Authors podcast

It’s hosted by K.M. Weiland (who has become one of my favorite authors). If you’re looking for tips on writing, check this one out. She is a plotter and story structure aficionado, so this podcast is slanted toward that style, but pantsers will learn things as well.

#3 is Writing Excuses

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This is another show that explores the craft of writing. It’s jointly hosted by four authors, so you’re basically listening to them discuss. Certain episodes do contain bad language and other possibly objectionable content.

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#4 is the Creative Pen

The predominant topics on this show are those that pertain to self-publishing, so if that’s the direction you want to take, this one’s for you. Some episodes contain bad language and objectionable content.

#5 is Grammar Girl Quick and Dirty Tips for Wrting

I haven’t listened to this one as much as the previous four, but if you have a question about the nuts and bolts of sentences, listen to this podcast or visit her website.

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Bonus Podcast: Verses in Vox

This last one isn’t really related to helping you write better, but if you’re a fan of classic poetry, you’ll enjoy these dramatized edition of these poems.

If you have any other writing related radio shows or podcasts please share in the comments below.

A Man Called Outlaw: Book Review

This is another book by K.M. Weiland, set in the wild, wild west.

51hqveud3nl-_sx320_bo1204203200_All his life Shane Lassiter had revered the man who stood in place of the father he had never known. Nathaniel Wilcock had taken Shane into his own home, loved him as a son, and placed within his grasp one of the largest ranches in the Wyoming Territory.

But Shane had heard the family saga. He knew the whispers about the fugitive gunman who stood against Wilcock during the land wars that had rocked the valley almost thirty years ago. In Nathaniel Wilcock’s eyes, the gunman was nothing better than a vigilante and an outlaw, and as such he had died. To the people of Hangtree, he was a hero—a martyr who had stood against corrupt power and injustice.

When Wilcock’s greed moves him against the only woman Shane has ever loved—a woman who holds the secret that could resurrect everything for which the outlaw fought—Shane finds himself forced into a place not so very different from that of the western outlaws thirty years ago. He must make a decision, the shadow of which will forever be cast over the lives of all those he loves. It is a decision between truth and power—between honor and life—between right and wrong.

Before I get into the review, I first have to say that there are two storylines, one twenty or so years before the other.

Characters: 

Andrew, the MC of the first storyline was a man with a violent past. Yet he settles down in Hangree and does his very best to do the right thing. He was definitely my favorite character.

Anna Cassidy, owner of the targeted ranch (during the second storyline) is stubborn, yet sweet.

Judge Wilcock is a man who will stop at nothing to grow his ranch, yet he loves his daughter and Shane.

Shane was an interesting character. He wanted to do the right thing, yet he didn’t want to be disloyal to Judge Wilcock.

4 stars

Plot:

Like I wrote before, the plot is divided into different storylines. One twenty or so years before the other. K.M. Weiland did a good job of including the essential parts of story structure in both storylines (both had midpoints, climaxes, etc.).

In my personal opinion, I enjoyed the older storyline more, basically because of the climactic scene.

Much of the conflict in this story is between Judge Wilcock and the other ranchers in the area, with Anna Cassidy’s ranch, the Sundally, in particular.

The dual plotlines were vital for this story, but I’m not sure if I really liked it, though it was neat to see how the different characters fitted together.

3.5 stars

Romance:

There were love stories in this book, something I’m absolutely fine with. There is some kissing but nothing really objectionable.

4 stars

Action:

This book wasn’t a constant gunfight, but when the characters came to blows, it was great.

K.M. Weiland uses what may be trope in Westerns, the good guy runinnng out of bullets in his six-shooter. But it’s different because the character thinks that he’s used his last shot, but he shoots once more before the revolver’s empty.

4.5 stars

 

Setting:

This book is set in nineteenth century Wyoming, in a small town called Hangtree. I’ve not read a whole lot of Westerns, but the setting seemed to be pretty standard.

I thought the attention to detail in relation to horses and how they would be mounted, or their unsaddled was interesting. It added a sense of realism to the story, though I don’t know hardly a thing about horses.

The irony about the name of the town “Hangtree” was pretty cool, though you’ll have to read it for yourself to see what I’m talking about. 😉

4 stars

Theme:

Standing for justice and making the decision to the right thing, even when you know that the whole system is rigged against you.

This is a serious book, with a bittersweet ending.

4.5 stars

Should You Read this Book?

Yes, I would rank it below Storming, but it’s still a very solid book. If you’re a fan of Westerns, then you should definitely read this book.

You can buy the book on Amazon or at K.M. Weiland’s website.

I received a free digital copy of this book in return for an honest review.

 

Conquering Writers Block and Summoning Inspiration: Book Review

I recently finished reading this short book by K.M. Weiland. If you’re like 510s4fkeigl-_sx311_bo1204203200_me, you have some writerly mood swings. One day you feel that your writing is  A+, and another that its only destination should be the garbage can.

Who Will be Helped by this Book:

Either plotters or pantsers will be able to use this book. This book is aimed more at full-time writers, but most of the advice is just as applicable to wannabe full-time writers (which I am one).

What You’ll Learn from this Book:

For one, you’ll be inspired and know that you’re not alone when you feel that you’re writing is worthless and a waste of time.

K.M. Weiland writes about ways to improve creativity, techniques for pushing past writer’s block, and makes you ask the question, “Why do you write?”

You may only think that writing includes the punching of keys on your computer, but you’ll learn how to use downtime to your advantage.

Should You Read this Book:

This a nonfiction book, of course, but I personally found K.M. Weiland’s voice and choice of words very entertaining. Conquering Writer’s Block and Summoning Inspiration is the best nonfiction book I have read for a while. I highly recommend this book!

I was given a free digital copy in return for an honest review.

 

The Giver: Book Review

The Giver by Lois Lowry is certainly a book that raises moral questions in the guise of a 51usrhmubkl-_sx331_bo1204203200_children’s story. It’s a story about a boy, Jonas, who becomes the “Receiver of Memories”, a task which brings joy but also pain.

Characters:

The two most well-rounded character are the Giver and Jonas, for the obvious reason that they are the only ones that can see color and have the memories of ages past. 4 stars

Setting:

The story is set in a utopian community where color, deep emotions, and music have been replaced by “sameness” in return for security. No one is ever hungry, there are no wars but beneath the surface, there is evil.

Instead of stating all this outright, the author did a great job of allowing the reader to discover this along with Jonas, the MC. 5 stars

Theme:

Whether security is worth the loss of feeling and colors. As well as how people can become inured to evil things done in their midst. 5 stars

Plot:

I thought that the midpoint was a little late in the story, and that end of the second act as well as the beginning of the third act were rushed. The very end had a nice tie-in to earlier in the book, but it didn’t seem to be very realistic. 3 stars

Should You Read This Book?

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book that forces you to think things through. I read The Giver as part of my history curriculum and finished it in two days. You can buy it here, though before you fork over the moolah, I’d check your library, since they probably have this book on their shelves.

 

Stronger than the Sword Update

I am almost done!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (With the first draft)

Right now I’m in the middle of a dilemma. I wrote the scene where my MC completes his character arc, except that I added in a huge explosion *maniacal laughter* and now I’m torn with letting my characters escape relatively easily or having one final climactic scene. One of the problems is that a scene that I envisioned putting into this book, doesn’t fit unless I keep on going, but if I keep on going, I run the risk of losing readers, since they might think that the main climax is over. Right now I’m planning on putting that scene in, finishing book, look at how everything reads, and possibly cut it during the editing process.

Before this book is ready for any type of reading, I must edit, severely. Several scenes will have parts cut off. Whether I just don’t like it, or I changed the direction of the story (did that at least once).

In case you’re wondering, I haven’t hit my goal of 80,oo0 words. Right now I’m a little below 72,500, so the chance of me reaching my goal is slim, unless of course I decide to keep the above controversial scene I was talking about and I may be short even then, but I’m just going to let the story finish itself out, even if it’s well below my goal.

Once the rough draft is finished, it’s on to editing, Retreat, my Civil War sequel. So, it’s going to be a long time until Stronger than the Sword is ready for publication, and it will take even longer since I am thinking about pitching the book to a traditional publisher.

When I started this Stronger than the Sword, I categorized it as a futuristic, medieval dystopian. Now it seems more a fantasy book, set in a futuristic medieval culture, with the oppressive government characteristic of dystopias.

One dystopian cliche I want to crush is the depressive series ending. In all fairness, I really have only read one secular dystopian series (The Hunger Games), but the last book in that series was terribly disappointing!

Recently, Stronger than the Sword has been a long slog, but the end is finally drawing near!

Keep on writing for His glory, everyone! Have a great Monday!