new HAVOK story: “tiger, tiger”

Although I don’t celebrate Halloween, I was still honored when my story Tiger, Tiger was selected to be released today, of all days. The Havok team must have thought it appropriately creepy and spooky!

Tiger, Tiger is the story of a young man burdened with fire-based powers over which he has no control. Will he end up hurting an innocent? Or will the innocent reach out to him instead? The story’s vibe is X-Men meets Agents of SHIELD’s Ghost Rider—read it here! (Free today only.)

As for the title…I thought the opening lines of William Blake’s poem were wonderfully (frightfully?) applicable to my main character.

Tyger Tyger, burning bright, 

In the forests of the night; 

What immortal hand or eye, 

Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies. 

Burnt the fire of thine eyes?

If you read Tiger, Tiger, I’d love to hear what you think of it—and whether or not you agree that the poem is applicable. 😉 Let me know in the comments!

Eva-Joy

new HAVOK story: “water for gold”

We interrupt this week of Tolkien-themed activities for a very special announcement…

I have a new story out on Havok Publishing’s website today, and you can read it here! Water for Gold is very special to me because it’s a bona fide, true-blue Western. Marshal Ben has to escort outlaw Jack Chase across the desert to Fort Smith. But Ben also wants to know where Chase hid some stolen gold, so he hatches a plan to find the cache en route. No fantasy or sci-fi elements, just a straight-up tale of the Old West. Honestly, I wasn’t sure Havok would accept it, as they’re more well-known for their speculative fiction. But they did, and I’m so happy!

Also, I had fun with the casting.

James Garner as Ben / Bruce Dern as Chase

Water for Gold is free for anyone to read today only—after that, you’ll need to buy a Havok membership to access it. And if you do read Water for Gold, I hope you enjoy it just as much as I enjoyed writing it! (If not more so, hehe.)

Eva-Joy

P.S. Happy Tolkien Day, everyone! And happy birthday to Frodo and Bilbo as well!

new HAVOK story: “say the magic word”

It’s that time again—I’ve got a new piece of flash fiction out on Havok Publishing’s website today! Say the Magic Word is the story of a snarky janitor on a villain’s spaceship, a janitor who mops floors while longing for a life beyond service to said villain. And you can read it for free right here! (After today though, you’ll have to purchase a Havok membership to access the story.)

Oh, and my inspiration for Say the Magic Word came from shots like this:

And this:

And this:

Because I work as a janitor, I’m always like “How???” when I see the ridiculously clean surfaces in sci-fi movies. Who cleans the floors in Starkiller Base? Or on the Death Star? And those questions sparked the idea for Say the Magic Word. Now you know. 😉

Eva-Joy

the honestea tag.

The time has come for me to bare my soul in this tag of brutal honesty. XD

Let it begin!

THE RULES

  • No lies allowed. If an answer is too shameful to expose you may substitute the answer with a gif/image of someone drinking tea.
  • There are optional bonus additions to questions but these are not for the faint of heart.
  • You complete the tag having answered every question + the bonus additions (no gifs used), you are dubbed a certified tea chugger, and you deserve a badge to show the world that you are not afraid of a steaming hot cup of TRUTH.
  • Tag at least one other person (a tea party with just one is not very fun. trust me.) Untagged persons are more than welcome to fill it out as well (nothing cooler than crashing a tea party).

THE TAG

What is a ‘bad’ (generally disliked) movie that you actually love?

I know that many people love Andrew Garfield’s Spider-Man now, but I think that his solo movies (particularly the second one) still get a bad rap. So I’ll just say it: I love The Amazing Spider-Man. And I like The Amazing Spider-Man 2 more than I dislike it. I do wish Harry had been the main/only villain, but oh well.

What is your most shocking reading habit?

This isn’t a habit, since I don’t personally do it, but I really see nothing wrong with dog-earing pages.

Tell us the number one lie you write in your posts.

I try not to lie in any of my posts. On occasion, I will hype up a book or movie a tiny bit more than I really feel like doing. (As in, I may have felt a bit more meh about a book than I let on in the review.) But I do really try to be honest with my reviews! Especially since I’ve been gypped by gushing reviews. (Don’t get me started…)

Tell us the worst character name you’ve ever thought up. {Bonus: share a character name you find ridiculous in a book/movie.}

I’m sure there are bad character names I’ve come up with, but I’m drawing a blank.

Okay, okay.

I wrote a western once upon a time where the main character’s name was ‘Edward Smythers.’ Not the worst, but what is that last name??

As for another author’s character name that I find ridiculous, Charles Dickens has a lot. But they’re meant to be ridiculous, so I doubt that counts.

What is the real reason you procrastinate writing your work in progress?

Laziness. And probably some fear of failing to write perfectly.

What is a genre of music you secretly love?

I don’t know about genre per se, but I’ve enjoyed songs from ABBA despite not listening to their music/that genre in general.

If you’re a plotter, what do you really think of pansters? If you’re a panster, what do you really think of plotters?

I’m a hardcore plotter. I don’t understand pantsers at all. But if it works for them, who am I to say nay?

Share at least three lines of dialogue from one of your first writing projects. {Bonus: give us the good stuff. your most gruesome butchering of the English language.}

From an extremely juvenile horse story I wrote a decade or so ago:

“This horse is pretty bad-looking,” Mrs. Smith was talking. “But if anyone can pull him through, you can Mr. Hardy.”

“Well Mrs. Smith, we’ll do our best.”

“Do you want to keep the horse once we’re finished with him?” Burt asked.

“Do you think he’ll be any good as a saddle horse?” Mrs. Smith queried.

“I think there’s a fine horse under all this dirt, and I’m determined to get that horse out. Just leave it to us.”

” ‘Us’, what do you mean ‘us’? I thought it was a one man operation here.” said Mrs. Smith.

“No, I do the actual training and that, but my daughter brushes and talks to the horse, winning his trust you know, and my wife is kind of the treasurer of these stables.”

Oof.

Tell us the title & artist of the last song you listened to.

Rubber Ball‘ by Bobby Vee.

Which beloved book/movie character do you dislike & why?

Samwise Gamgee.

But before you unfollow me, let me explain!!!

Although I do dislike Sam more than I probably should, I also recognize how wonderfully self-sacrificing and loyal he is. (And please note that ‘dislike’ does not equal ‘hate.’)

My dislike of Sam stems from a couple things. I resent him because he gets all (or most) of the praise from the fandom, and Frodo (my favorite!) is generally and unfairly overlooked. I recognize this is quite petty. XD But my second reason? Sam is actually horrid to Gollum time and time again. He undoes all the work Frodo has done with/for Gollum in trying to bring Gollum back to the side of goodness.

Now of course there are extenuating circumstances. They’re in dangerous territory, Gollum really is quite a fiend, and Sam feels a big responsibility to protect Frodo from any danger. All well and good. But Sam antagonizes Gollum a LOT when he could have just held his tongue and followed Frodo’s example of mercy and kindness. He didn’t though. And the fandom all but ignores that side of Sam, which really bugs me.

Anyway, just take a look at what Tolkien said in Letter #246!

Sam is meant to be lovable and laughable. Some readers he irritates and even infuriates. I can well understand it. All hobbits at times affect me in the same way, though I remain very fond of them. But Sam can be very ‘trying’…If he had understood better what was going on between Frodo and Gollum, things might have turned out differently in the end.

For me perhaps the most tragic moment in the Tale comes in II 323 ff. when Sam fails to note the complete change in Gollum’s tone and aspect. ‘Nothing, nothing’, said Gollum softly. ‘Nice master!’. His repentance is blighted and all Frodo’s pity is (in a sense) wasted. Shelob’s lair became inevitable.”

If no one agrees with me, it’s okay. Tolkien would have. =)

Tell us the title & topic of a post you have left in draft.

‘The Christian Themes of A Quiet Place

Will it ever see the light of day? Who knows!

What is a book you pretend you’ve read/would like to read but know you never will? {Bonus: share a time when claiming you’ve read a classic/well-known book didn’t end well}

I don’t pretend to have read books. (At least not anymore.) There’s no shame in not having read a book!

Tell us the title & topic of the most embarrassing post you’ve ever written. {Bonus: include. the. link.}

Too many to choose from, hehe.

I TAG…

I’m not going to specifically tag anyone. It’s open to anyone who’d like to answer these questions, as indicated in the tag rules, and I’ve included a ‘clean’ copy of the questions below, for your convenience. 🙂

What is a ‘bad’ (generally disliked) movie that you actually love?

What is your most shocking reading habit?

Tell us the number one lie you write in your posts.

Tell us the worst character name you’ve ever thought up. {Bonus: share a character name you find ridiculous in a book/movie.}

What is the real reason you procrastinate writing your work in progress?

What is a genre of music you secretly love?

If you’re a plotter, what do you really think of pansters? If you’re a panster, what do you really think of plotters?

Share at least three lines of dialogue from one of your first writing projects. {Bonus: give us the good stuff. your most gruesome butchering of the English language.}

Tell us the title & artist of the last song you listened to.

Which beloved book/movie character do you dislike & why?

Tell us the title & topic of a post you have left in draft.

What is a book you pretend you’ve read/would like to read but know you never will? {Bonus: share a time when claiming you’ve read a classic/well-known book didn’t end well}

Tell us the title & topic of the most embarrassing post you’ve ever written. {Bonus: include. the. link.}


What’s a genre of music do you secretly love? A movie you adore that critics despised? Let me know in the comments!

Eva-Joy

new HAVOK story: Wings of Indigo.

the artwork that inspired ‘Wings of Indigo’.
artist: monokubo

It’s true! Today I have a new story out on Havok’s website. Five men hunt for a rare giant butterfly in a South American-esque jungle, there’s a prophecy involved, and you can read the whole thing here. Wings of Indigo is available to read for free right now, but after today it will only be accessible to Havok members. Just so you know. 😉

I listened to ‘Dos Oruguitas‘ from Encanto quite a bit while editing the story (and my editor even said the story reminded her of that scene), so…if you like Encanto, I hope you enjoy Wings of Indigo as well!

Eva-Joy

the Jolly Genre Jubilee Tag.

I found this tag over on Christine Smith’s blog. I’ve seen it a few places before, but Christine tagged anyone who wanted to play along (thanks, Christine <3). So here I am!

THE RULES

  • Thank the blogger who tagged you, and leave a link back to their blog.
  • Leave a link back to the creator of the tag.
  • Answer the questions honestly, and include at least one (1) gif of a pelican >> it’s in the rules, folks. you have to do it.
  • Tag 3+ friends to do the tag on their own blogs! >> and make sure to give them cookies. because that’s always fun.

THE TAG

What is your favorite genre of fiction to write?

Westerns! I’ve exclusively written westerns for the last several months (excepting a few pieces of flash fiction for Havok) and it’s been wonderful. The aesthetic, admirable characters, and endless opportunities for adventures and heroism and gunfights…it stirs the blood, doesn’t it?

What genre would you NEVER get caught writing? . . .EVER.

Um…erotica? 😛 I’m pretty open to most every genre besides that. (Well, I’m not into horror either. Though I have had the sparks of an idea for a faith-infused zombie novel.)

What fictional genre feels most like home to you?

Westerns, without a doubt. When I began writing The Shoot-Out That Wasn’t in October 2021, I hadn’t written anything in the western genre for some time. But writing Shoot-Out (and then the beginnings of a sequel) truly felt like a homecoming. And I hope to write many more westerns in the years to come.

If you could transform your real life into any genre of your choosing, which would it be?

This is somewhat embarrassing, but…contemporary romance. 😉

What genre does your real life most resemble at the moment?

Family drama. Or literary fiction. Really, I don’t even know the right word for the genre I’m thinking of.

What’s a genre you’re interested in writing, even though you’ve never written it before?

I’ve written in almost all the ‘main’ genres, but I wouldn’t mind experimenting with the zombie novel I mentioned earlier. I think it would be interesting to see a concept like zombies explored from a Christian perspective. Seeing how the different characters held on to or abandoned their faith during the outbreak, that sort of thing. I’m intrigued!

What genre is your most recent plot bunny, and where did it come from?

Most recent? Sci-fi, inspired by watching Star Wars + working as a janitor. Hoping to have the story accepted by Havok! Then you can all read it. ❤

How many genres have you written thus far in your writing journey?

There is no way I’m going to remember all the genres I’ve worked with! But here goes: Regency romance, contemporary romance, historical fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, western, dystopian, fanfiction, adventure, WWII fiction, fairytale retellings…and I’m sure there are others I’m forgetting. I definitely like stretching myself as a writer and exploring different story worlds and genres.

THE QUESTIONS

What is your favorite genre of fiction to write?

What genre would you NEVER get caught writing? . . .EVER.

What fictional genre feels most like home to you?

If you could transform your real life into any genre of your choosing, which would it be?

What genre does your real life most resemble at the moment?

What’s a genre you’re interested in writing, even though you’ve never written it before?

What genre is your most recent plot bunny, and where did it come from?

How many genres have you written thus far in your writing journey?

THE TAGEES

Literally anyone who wants to do this. It’s late and I’m tired, hehe.


Did I mention any of your favorite genres in this post? What are some genres you can’t stand? Let me know in the comments!

byyyyye.

Eva-Joy

new Havok story: “SAND-DRAKE”

Today’s the day! My story Sand-Drake is now available on Havok Publishing’s website and you can read it for free right here. (After today, the story will only be available to those with a paid subscription to Havok.)

Sand-Drake is about a princess trying to save her sister’s life. The story world is inspired by Tatooine and Arrakis, and I had such a good time writing this story while listening to Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack for Dune. If you decide to check out Sand-Drake, I hope you have as much fun reading it as I did writing it! ❤

Eva-Joy

the single line story challenge.

Katja at Little Blossoms for Jesus tagged me in the Single Line Story Challenge a while back and I’m finally getting around to participating. Thanks for the tag, Katja! I’m excited to dive into this.

THE RULES

Thank the person who nominated you.

Write five single line stories that fall under any of these genres:

fantasy
romance
thriller
mystery
western
contemporary
historical
drama
dystopian
adventure
sci-fi
paranormal
young adult

You can choose the five genres that are easiest for you, or you can challenge yourself to try something new!

Nominate five blogger/writers who you’d love to see participate and leave an open nomination for all writers!

You can do this challenge more than once.


Fantasy

Deep in the secret forest lived a people forgotten to all but themselves, and so they would always remain.

Mystery

The solution to the Detective Killer case had been clear all along, but Detective Casada had dragged out the proceedings as long as he could—no matter how deserved, it is always hard to give one’s best friend up to the cold hands of justice.

Historical

It wasn’t until the end of that day that I realized I’d lost my helmet somewhere back on Omaha beach—and I was sure glad that was all I’d lost.

Sci-Fi

Astronaut McCain watched the oxygen levels in the ship drop and asked herself why—if she had to die in space—it couldn’t at least have been in a cool way, like getting sucked into a black hole or being discovered and killed by an alien life form.

Western

The Travis gang held up the bank Friday afternoon, and Sheriff Morrison decided that retirement could wait one more day.


I have to leave for work soon, so I’m not going to take the time to tag anyone specifically. But if you want to participate, go for it! And I’d love to hear what you thought of my little stories. (I tried to make them as self-contained as possible. And the western is my favorite. Because…westerns. It’s also one of the most satisfying of the stories, in my opinion.)

Eva-Joy

the ‘What’s Your WIP?’ tag.

Katja created this tag a while back, and kindly tagged me. Thanks, Katja! When I was first tagged, I thought I would talk about King’s Winter, but I actually have a different WIP right now–one that I’m super excited to share with all of you!

Here are the tag rules:

  • Thank the person who tagged you & link to their blog.
  • Link back to the creator, Katja @ Little Blossoms for Jesus, & add the tag graphic.
  • List the rules.
  • Answer the questions.
  • Feel free to add snippets!
  • Tag as many or as few people as you wish & let them know they’re tagged.
  • Add a clean copy of the questions at the end of your post for the “tagged.”

Let’s go!


Has your WIP a working title? If so, tell us! If not, have you any idea of what it might be?

My current WIP is a Western novella called The Shoot-Out that Wasn’t. I’m planning/hoping that that will be the story’s official title and not just the working title. We’ll see!

Have you a synopsis for your WIP? If so, give it to us! If not, can you give us a blurb on what your WIP is about?

After five years’ absence, Dan Harness returns to Joshua Hollow to find that his oldest brother James has become mayor–and that his other brother Lee has closed himself off from the world, and especially from James. In his search to find out why there is a rift between Lee and James, Dan discovers that James has been withholding letters addressed to Dan and Lee, from their late mother. Angered by his oldest brother’s actions, Dan (with help from Lee) sets out to ruin James’ chances of being re-elected. But not everything is as it seems…

(A serviceable enough blurb, I suppose, though far from perfect.)

Have you a working/mock cover for your WIP? If so, show us! If not, have you an idea in mind?

This is not what I expect the actual book cover to look like, but it’s something!

created on Canva.

How did you get the idea for this story?

Well, there was this tumblr post.

I added that to my Instagram story, and Rachel DMed me and said “Write this! I want to read it.” We talked a bit about how that plot would make for a good western, but then I forgot all about the idea. Forgot that is, until I was at work one day and I got slammed with inspiration for a story based on that prompt. One thing led to another and, well, here I am with a two-thirds completed novella!

How long do you think it will be? Is it longer or shorter than you thought it would be?

I’m aiming for 40K to 50K words–a nice, longish novella or a short novel. Originally, Shoot-Out was written entirely from Dan’s point of view, but I’m currently expanding the story to include both James’ and Lee’s POVs as well. The original draft was around 25K words, so I should be able to hit my goal with minimal difficulty.

Who’s your favourite character so far?

All of them?

Each of the three brothers has a special place in my heart. Dan is the youngest, an impulsive hothead who is somehow both frustrating and endearing. Lee is the middle brother, quiet, introverted, and unshakable. And James…sigh. James is the oldest brother, and he reminds me a lot of myself. He might be everyone’s least favorite character, but I really like him. (Especially as I’m in the middle of writing his POV scenes right now.) What I really love is how all three brothers play off each other, whether as a group or in pairs. Having seven siblings (and five brothers!) was definitely good experience for writing Shoot-Out.

Oh, and there’s also Virginia! She’s sweet and sharp and doesn’t miss a thing. And she and Dan have a mutual attraction thing going on throughout Shoot-Out. ❤

Writing the first draft! It was an absolute delight from start to finish. I would wake up, go to work, have my mind flooded with ideas for how the story should continue (since cleaning suites is pretty mindless work, my brain was free to live in Joshua Hollow). And then I’d write and write when I wasn’t working. I wrote the entire first draft in about two weeks.

There was a reason I wrote so quickly: I planned to give Shoot-Out to Rachel as a Christmas present, and I started writing in October. I needed as much time as possible to edit, get beta feedback, and edit again. But even with the time-crunch, the entire drafting process was so. much. fun. One of the best writing experiences I’ve ever had. (If not the best.) And I got it to Rachel in time for Christmas!

Any special person(s) who helped create it?

Rachel inspired me and Mary encouraged me (and let me ramble on about the story when I couldn’t post about it publicly for fear it would ruin the surprise). Marian, Katie, and DKoren beta-ed the story, and my mom proofread it! And, most importantly, God gave me the ability to write Shoot-Out in the first place. As is usual with stories, the creation of this one was a collaborative effort. I’m so grateful to everyone who helped!

What’s your favourite scene so far (if you can tell about it without spoilers!)?

I can’t say too much–because of spoilers–but there are a few scenes near the end of the story in which Dan and James are forced to be in the same room for an extended period of time. Those scenes are my favorites to reread, and they were great to write as well.

Can you give us a snippet? 😉

I always have difficulty choosing snippets to share because I’m not sure what sounds good out of context and what doesn’t. But this snippet comes from very near the beginning of the story, when Dan rides into Joshua Hollow after being gone five long years.

The first thing I noticed on entering the town, was that it was in a fair way to becoming more of a city than a town. My last memories of Joshua Hollow were small buildings bleached bare in the scorching Texas sun. But almost every house now had a fresh coat of paint. The church on the edge of town had an extension hammered into the side of it. A large, shiny mercantile had planted itself where the old feed store used to be, and Rafe Pollack’s saloon was bigger than I remembered it. What I’m saying is Joshua Hollow looked a sight better better than I did just then, covered in trail dust as I was.

Is the story still what you thought it would be or has it thrown you a couple curveballs?

Well, I intended it to be a light-hearted dramedy. But I think I’m incapable of writing true humor, and the story took a much more serious turn. Other than that, Shoot-Out nearly wrote itself. The story has stayed very similar to what I first envisioned (minus the comedy element).

Is there a Bible verse, poem, hymn, picture, or quote that helped shape this story?

Not really! But I think Proverbs 17:17b is a great representation of the story.

…a brother is born for adversity.

*smirks*

When and where have you done most of the writing so far?

I wrote the first draft in two weeks around the beginning of October, and I’ve worked on Shoot-Out off and on ever since (King’s Winter had to be written, and I’ve also been working on a sequel to Shoot-Out). Although I do a fair amount of writing on my laptop, I’ve also done quite a bit of longhand writing for this story. I really like the simplicity of writing with a notebook and pen. I can write pretty much anywhere! And typing up my writing gives me a chance to edit on the go, so to speak.

Where do you get inspiration for this story?

Louis L’Amour novels, the Knights of Tin and Lead trilogy by Emily Hayse, Rachel Kovaciny’s upcoming release (My Rock and My Refuge), the ‘Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs’ album by Marty Robbins, old Westerns…so many things give me inspiration!

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Definitely a plotter. And not just a plotter, but an extensive outliner. I’ll outline plots, scenes, and sometimes even the small stuff within scenes. I find that outlining helps me not to be so anxious about drafting difficult, intense, or complicated scenes. Plus, it’s fun. Shoot-Out was the first book where I did so much outlining, and that’s the method I use for all my WIPs now.

Do you have a little ritual before you start writing?

I’ll pray, if I remember. (Trying to be better about that!) Sometimes I’ll light a scented candle, though not often. Oh, and I’ll pull up the music I want to listen to as I write. These days, I’m alternating between my ‘tales of Joshua Hollow’ playlist and the ‘Chill’ album by The Piano Guys.

Are you thinking of publishing this story?

Yes. Praying and planning and hoping. I have a goal in mind that I’m working toward (of when I’d like to publish Shoot-Out). Since I truly have no idea if I will reach that goal, I won’t put it up on the internet. 😉 But just the fact that I do have a firm goal and a plan for how to achieve it? That’s pretty big, for me. Whenever publication happens, I am STOKED to introduce you to the town of Joshua Hollow and the people who live there. Both the setting and the characters have become so dear to me.

What things have you learned while writing this story?

  • Prayer makes a difference in my writing.
  • I can write anywhere. I don’t need a fancy set-up or to have things ‘just so’.
  • I can take beta readers’ critiques, sift through them, come up with a good plan/list for edits, and then actually work through that list. (This seems really basic, but I haven’t ever been so organized, methodical, and purposeful with how I utilize beta reader feedback.) Editing can be fun! In a stressful way though.
  • I ADORE WRITING WESTERNS. (I learned this before, but I re-learned it last year, and it is a glorious truth.)
  • I’m sure there were other lessons too, but those are the ones that stick out to me the most.

If this tag looks like fun and you want to play along, consider yourself tagged! Here’s a clean list of the questions:

  • Has your WIP a working title? If so, tell us! If not, have you any idea of what it might be?
  • Have you a synopsis for your WIP? If so, give it to us! If not, can you give us a blurb on what your WIP is about?
  • Have you a working/mock cover for your WIP? If so, show us! If not, have you an idea in mind?
  • How did you get the idea for this story?
  • How long do you think it will be? Is it longer or shorter than you thought it would be?
  • Who’s your favourite character so far?
  • What’s your favourite memory related to this WIP?
  • Any special person(s) who helped create it?
  • What’s your favourite scene so far (if you can tell about it without spoilers!)?
  • Can you give us a snippet? 😉
  • Is the story still what you thought it would be or has it thrown you a couple curveballs?
  • Is there a Bible verse, poem, hymn, picture, or quote that helped shape this story?
  • When and where have you done most of the writing so far?
  • Where do you get inspiration for this story?
  • Are you a plotter or a pantser?
  • Do you have a little ritual before you start writing?
  • Are you thinking of publishing this story?
  • What things have you learned while writing this story?

Are you a fan of westerns? How has your writing been going? Let me know in the comments!

Eva-Joy

know the novel: parts I & II (feat. my kingdom adventure fantasy novel!!!)

I am extremely late to the party when it comes to participating in Christine Smith’s excellent ‘Know the Novel’ link-up, but better late than never, as they say! If you’ve never heard of Know the Novel, just follow this link to get all the fun details. As the title of this post indicates, I’ll be answering the questions for both October and November’s link-ups in this post. And I’ll be focusing on my NaNoWriMo 2021 project KING’S WINTER.

#excited

What first sparked the idea for this novel?

Tolkien. I’ve been itching to write a fantasy story for at least a couple months, inspired by my great love for all things Tolkien. I had a couple characters and a whisper of a plot, but I wasn’t very excited or inspired. Things just weren’t coming together. But after I chatted for a little bit with a friend (she writes in a similar genre, and inspires me so much!) I began to get excited about the story. One thing led to another, and now I am SO in love with my characters and the world in which they live.

Share a blurb (or just an overall summary)!

WAR IS COMING.

As princess in exile in Myndor, the very country she will one day rule, Una has been on the run for almost as long as she can remember. If the king of Cuinloch, a neighboring kingdom, finds her, he will kill her.

As a ranger who spends his days in the bitter, dangerous cold of the Fell Forest, Gareth is accustomed to hardship. But his newest assignment is more difficult than he expected: find the person responsible for the twenty-year-long winter gripping Cuinloch—the princess of Myndor—and have her killed.

When the mission goes awry, Gareth finds himself dependent on the very one he was trying to harm. Will Una and Gareth be able to see past the lies entrapping them? Or has the truth been buried for too long?

Where does the story take place? What are some of your favorite aspects about the setting?

The bulk of King’s Winter takes place in the Fell Forest (and a little fortress on the borders of the forest). Before a decades-long winter gripped the land, the forest was an inviting, magical place–basically your standard, cozy, autumnal woodland filled with deer and hares and tall trees and little paths and burrows and all that. Now the forest is a frozen, tree-filled no-man’s land between two warring kingdoms, filled with huge wolves, ravenous bears, and way too much snow. There is still beauty there, but most people are too afraid to see it. I love the snowy, mysterious, dark aesthetic of the Fell Forest. It’s a dangerous and (sometimes) sad place, but there are wonders to be found and bits of joy as well. All in all, I personally feel as though it’s a pretty cool (haha) place!

Besides the forest, there are also the kingdoms of Myndor and Cuinloch. Myndor is a mountain kingdom, with the king’s fortress/castle carved out of a mountain. Cuinloch used to be a sun-drenched kingdom, with its the castle set in the middle of a beautiful lake. Flowers and bees everywhere, and fields full of summer wheat. But with winter’s onslaught, it’s become a starving, wind-swept land where every day marks a new struggle to survive. Will things ever get better? You’ll have to read the book… 👀

Tell us about your protagonist(s).

Una is the daughter of King Egan (who rules Myndor). She has been on the run ever since her father accidentally killed the king of Cuinloch’s son (on the run because the king of Cuinloch, Feargal, has vowed to kill her in revenge). Una is terrified of being found out, dragged to Cuinloch, and killed by Feargal. During her years on the run, she has become quite an experienced healer–she has a passion and focus for healing people that even her fear must bow to. Una’s compassion, empathy, and determination are inspiring to me. ❤

Who (or what) is the antagonist?

I can’t say too much about my villain, for the sake of spoilers, but let’s just say that he is NOT what he seems. At all. He is playing a tricky, dangerous game that involves several layers of betrayal, treachery, and triple-agent-ness. Also, I’ve fan-casted him as Rufus Sewell, so there’s that. But yeah, he is super devious; you can never be sure about him. I’m still not sure about where his character will end up! Redemption? Death? Imprisonment? All three somehow??? Very intriguing.

What excites you the most about this novel?

THE CHARACTERS. One million percent. I don’t know that I’ve ever been so in love with any of my OCs before. I wrote a few scenes with them yesterday (which led to me hitting 50K!) and I realized just how much I love them. As I told a friend (the same friend who inspires me), I’m so glad that none of my characters are nasty or mean or rude people (with the exception of the villains). The conflict does not come from interpersonal rivalries or rivals/enemies-to-lovers or whatever, but from events beyond the characters’ control.

Una, Gareth, Berik, King Egan, and others are all good people doing the best they can with their conflicting loyalties and their ideas of what ‘doing right’ looks like. We need more kind, honorable, good heroes! Not perfect Mary Sues or Gary Stus, but simply people whose moral compasses are working properly.

Is this going to be a series? standalone? something else?

Standalone! I love standalones, and I’m hoping that King’s Winter will be one of those thick, brick-like fantasy books. *heart eyes*

Are you plotting? pantsing? plansting?

Plotting, always. Being at work gives me a lot of time to mull over plot elements in my head, so that helps. And then I’ve also started writing detailed outlines for almost every individual scene of the story. Helps me stay on track, and it’s also just plain fun–I’m definitely a person who loves organizing and lists and all that.

Name a few unique elements about this story.

–People can control weather, animals, and plants in King’s Winter (to a certain extent).

–There are your typical rangers, BUT they wear white instead of green. (Eternal winter, and all that.)

–My secondary protagonist (Gareth) loses one of his legs very early on in the story and has to deal with that throughout the rest of the book.

Share some fun “extras” of the story (a song or full playlist, some aesthetics, a collage, a Pinterest board, a map you’ve made, a special theme you’re going to incorporate, ANYTHING you want to share!).

I am planning to make a map (maybe even today!), but for now my Pinterest board will have to do. I also have a playlist, but it’s more like a mash-up of a million different movie soundtracks that vaguely match the aesthetic of King’s Winter instead of a carefully curated selection of lyrical songs that capture the vibe of the story/characters. I also like to take one soundtrack or album and listen to it on repeat while I’m writing until I’m sick of it (and even then, sometimes I’ll keep listening). The soundtrack I’ve indulged in the most while drafting King’s Winter is Randy Edelman’s score for Dragonheart (1996). The movie is…not the greatest, but the soundtrack is GOLDEN.


Well, those were my answers to Part I of Know the Novel. Now on to Part II! (Here’s the original post about it. <3)

How’s the writing going overall?

VERY well. I reached the 50K word goal yesterday (exactly halfway through the month!) and I’m still in love with the characters, the story, and the storyworld. I know that writing through the ‘muddy middle’ can be challenging, but I’m very thankful that, so far, the plot still seems to be working/engaging me. There’s a lot more story still to cover, including a character death that I am both dreading and looking forward to (but mostly dreading *sadness*). Should be a wild ride!

What’s been the most fun aspect about writing this novel so far?

Everything??? It’s been cool to have the story and characters all come together in my mind–and then emerge on the page! The vibes have been wonderful; I think I’m really capturing the aesthetic and mood that I was/am going for. I’ve been able to listen to beautiful music, watch and read wonderful stories for research (hehehe), and get copious amounts of words written. It’s been a blast. I’ve prayed over King’s Winter–I believe that God has helped me write, and He should get all the glory anyway because He’s the one who gave me everything that makes me able to write in the first place.

What do you think of your characters at this point? Who’s your favorite to write about?

The characters in King’s Winter are some of the most-loved (by me) characters I’ve ever created. Well, at least some of them. And even the ones I don’t love are quite well-developed and I still do care about them. Gareth is the one I’m most meh about, sadly. I want to love him as much as I love the others, but there’s some kind of disconnect happening. Hopefully I figure it out soon! Because he really is a great guy. ❤ My favorite character to write about is probably Berik, Una’s bodyguard. He’s got a tragic past, and he’s very cool and capable and courageous. Love him.

Has your novel surprised you in any way?

I wasn’t expecting my main villain (the Rufus Sewell guy) to be a thing. But other than that, I haven’t been really surprised by much else. Of course, there will almost always be hidden details about characters and plot points that you didn’t see coming when you write a first draft. But overall, I haven’t been surprised by much.

Have you come across any problem areas?

Gareth, maybe? Just because I’m not feeling so much of a connection though, not because he’s ruining the plot or anything. (Thankfully! A wayward character could derail the whole plot.) My drafting process has been pretty smooth so far, which is good. One less stressor in my life. 😉

What’s been your biggest victory with writing this novel at this point?

Writing 50,000 words in fifteen days! It’s not the quickest I’ve ever hit 50K, but it’s still a major achievement–one that I’m quite happy with. On a more meta level (is that the correct use of the word?), I’m still VERY pleased that I’ve felt the vibe/aesthetic as I’ve written King’s Winter. When I open the document and continue writing, I’m instantly pulled into the world of the Fell Forest. And that’s not something I take lightly–it’s a pretty special gift I get to enjoy.

If you were transported into your novel and became any one of the characters, which one do you think you’d be? Would you take any different actions than they have?

I’d be Una (unsurprisingly, I feel). I’d probably be doing a lot more whining and complaining than she does, truth be told. 😛 But I also like to think that I’d do the same as her and save Gareth’s life, even though he is an enemy. I guess I’ll never know though…

Give us the first sentence or paragraph then 2 (or 3!) more favorite snippets!

Opening line: The small boy and the smaller girl regarded each other gravely.

A couple favorite snippets:

Another howl, even closer.

Oh, Eldùn, we need You.

Shame filled her. She had given into fear, and not thought of Eldùn once in all that time. But now that she had, prayers filled her mind swifter than the snow fell, fiercer than the howls that echoed all around her and Gareth and Berik and the ponies. Berik could not fight what he could not see. He could not be everywhere at once. She could not fight and hold fast to the ponies at the same time. And Gareth would be lost if the ponies bolted. Their only hope was in Eldùn, and she had a feeling that Berik, at least, had not forgotten that. His faith was a mountain, strong and steady, while hers was only a river pebble that could be shifted and overturned by the swiftness of the currents.


She brushed her fingers over the dried, faded petals with a touch as light as a snowflake’s fall.

When she looked back at him, he saw the knowledge, the recognition in her eyes.

“You gave this to me, I think. Long ago.” A look of wonder touched her face, and the dimples appeared again. Amazement filled her voice. “Gareth. I knew I had heard your name before, but I could not remember where. You were the boy in the garden, weren’t you?”

Denial would only sound feeble, and he did not want to lie to her again.

“Yes.”

“That day was so beautiful.” She looked back down at the rose. “And then, so terrifying.”

They were treading on dangerous ground. “I remember it too.”

Share an interesting tidbit about the writing process so far! (For example: Have you made any hilarious typos? Derailed from your outline? Killed off a character? Changed projects entirely? Anything you want to share!)

I nearly made myself cry at work just thinking about an upcoming character death. So there’s that. =)

Take us on a tour of what a normal writing day for this novel looks like. Where do you write? What time of day? Alone or with others? Is a lot of coffee (or some other drink) consumed? Do you light candles? Play music? Get distracted by social media (cough, cough)? Tell all!

Most days I wake up around six or six-thirty (that’s even if I stay up really late–I tend to compensate with a nap later in the day). I’ll drink coffee, have my devotions, catch up on blog posts and social media, and then settle in to write. I write at my desk (newly decorated for Christmas!), on my old-yet-working laptop, and I don’t really have a set amount of writing time. I’ll usually listen to music (movie soundtracks, most often), sometimes burn a candle, and always drink lots of water. I like leaving my phone on silent mode so I’m not distracted by notifications. I also want to start putting an elastic around my phone case so I can’t pick it up and scroll through Instagram so easily. 😉


Wow. That was a loooooong post. Writing it has been on my to-do list for a while though, so I’m glad I finally did. If you’ve made it all the way through, I’d love to hear your thoughts on King’s Winter, details about how your NaNoWriMo is going, or anything else you’d like to share. Let’s chat in the comments!

Eva-Joy

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