Rest in Peace Alan Rickman

Alan RickmanWhen I came into work at the library today, Sean had set up a memorial to David Bowie and Alan Rickman…

I will be perfectly frank. I like Bowie, but he never influenced me the way Rickman did. Alan Rickman was a sub-theme of my WMU years. I think the same could be said for my friends Megan and Jessica as well. His performances and work really inspired me with my writing. I have played with a piece called The Moonlight Noon Chateau for years and years. Rickman was my inspiration for the character of Millar. To me in my mind and memory, he will always be Millar. I told myself if Lore became a movie, I wanted him to do the voice of Remicade because it is described as being so distinct. It saddens me that I will never be able to hand him those pieces one day and say, “I wrote this for you.”

When I read that he had passed away yesterday, I screamed. I’m pretty sure I scared Peter and made him think that the cat was dead. I was so shocked and brokenhearted. I said my prayers as I fell asleep last night and wiped tears from my eyes.

read alan rickmanToday I am sad and a bit regretful. I’m glad I’m reading and writing again. I’m glad I’m getting back to work and using my talents and gifts. I will always love being Adrianne the Librarian, but it is honestly a professional means for me. I will always be, first and foremost, a writer. I feel relief knowing that I haven’t died and that Lore: the Legend of River has been released to the public. At least I know that if I do meet my end before it’s expected, my opus is out there for everyone to see.

So upon seeing this memorial at work this morning, I added to it. I added both of Rickman and Bowie’s READ posters, my favorite Rickman quote, and Bowie’s list of his 100 favorite books. It helped. I contributed to something to show how much the man meant to me and it helped me realize that his inspiration will always be with me. Bowie’s inspiration will always be with those who loved him. I hope both men rest in peace because they meant so much to so many and made many people who they are today. And until it is my turn, I shall continue to write.

Amen.

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PUBLISHED! Lore: the Legend of River

Well, it’s been a long time coming, but finally. Here it is. My first published novel…

Lore: the Legend of River by Adrianne M. Karpo

Cover preview

As of this morning, it is only being released on the Create Space eStore. However, it will be on Amazon and Amazon Europe by the end of the week. That being said, the price per book is the same across the board at $24.99, so if you feel like you can’t wait for Amazon, then by all means check out Create Space! They’re the ones that helped me get published after all.

Thank you again to everyone for being so supportive of my work! It means to world to me!

Day 5: Tips for All Writers, Big & Small

I realized I first wanted to be a writer when I was in about the fourth grade. It took a bit of time for me to figure out what exactly I wanted to write about (and even now I’m not so sure, so I write about anything that piques my interest), but one thing I was positive of was this; if I was going to be any good at it, I would have to keep up with it and practice. Easier said than done when you are going through adolescence and have a full load of homework, play for the school basketball and softball teams, are an altar server for your local Catholic church, then have obligations to friends and family. Even now I have a hard time finding the time to write while finishing up on my masters, keeping a house clean (barely), working on the adoption of a child, checking in on a weak immune system with a combination of diet, daily workout sessions, and regular doctors’ appointments, and then still obligations to family and friends.

My point is this. If you want to be a writer, and a good one at that, you need to designate time for yourself to regularly write. One of my favorite comedians, Lewis Black, started out studying drama and writing plays before he took the step towards standup. In his first book, Nothing’s Sacred (which I would rate in the PG-13/R area for younger readers), he had this to say about writing:

Lewis Black, comedian and playwright
Lewis Black, comedian and playwright…

“All you had to say was, ‘I am a writer,’ and you became one. You didn’t even have to write anything. You could just sit in a coffee shop with a notebook and stare into space, with a slightly bemused look on your face, judging the weight of the world with a jaundiced eye. As you can see, you can be completely full of s*** and still be a writer.”

My goal with this post is to give you some guidance to not just say that you’re a writer, but to actually make you become a writer, and with practice, a good one!

In my earlier posts, I have mentioned National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo. What is it you ask? NaNoWriMo is a non-profit program that takes place during the month of November. From the 1st to the 30th, each participant must write a novel/book that totals in 50,000 words. Yes, you read correctly. 50k. I have been an avid participant of this program since 2007 and since then, not only have I completed the event four times, but I am now one of the Municipal Liaisons for the region of Detroit. So I am literally one of the people in charge that the good folks of Metro Detroit come to when they have questions or concerns. Let’s just chalk that up on my list of responsibilities above, shall we?

The NaNoWriMo Crest
The NaNoWriMo Crest

So why do I recommend this program so much? Because not only is it a great way to get started writing that novel you’ve been toying with writing for so long, but it gives you a solid goal, it connects you with different people who are doing the exact same thing, and there are local events and “write ins” that you can attend to help push you. Lore: the Legend of River is a novel that is a success of two years of participation in National Novel Writing Month, and I have the USA::Michigan::Detroit and USA::Illinois::DeKalb regions to thank for that! If you have questions about National Novel Writing Month for this coming year, you can visit www.nanowrimo.org for more information or contact me at adriannemkarpo@gmail.com.

With all the writing insanity that NaNoWriMo has to offer, it might be hard to keep up sometimes. Yes, this can be very true. But there are also programs designed that make you keep writing until you are done. My favorite happens to be a delightful little application called Write or Die by the devilish Dr. Wicked. The application is quite simple to use.  You set a time limit and a word count goal in the settings and hit “go.” Then you write. You write and you don’t stop until your time limit has run out or you have hit your set word goal. If you stop before that, you know what happens?  Horrendous alarms will go off and not just startle you, but annoy the living heck out of you (and those around you) as well. Trust me on this one. It once played “MMMBop” at full volume in a room full of people on me. I don’t go to that Starbucks anymore. And if that isn’t embarrassment enough, it will begin to delete everything you have written thus far, word by word! There’s a reason the program is called Write or Die!

The application has a simple online version that can be used for free or a downloadable version (known as Write or Die 2) that can be purchased with more features for all of your writing pleasures. Say instead of being punished for not writing you would rather be rewarded for what you had done? Then you can adjust the program to show you a cute photo of kittens after you reach a certain goal! Or puppies! Who doesn’t like puppies?  The point of the program is that it gets you writing, strictly, and concentrating on what you are doing.  For those interested in this program, visit www.writeordie.com.

For some of us, it’s not lacking in the desire to write, but more that there is no place to write.  Some of us can’t write if the dog is sitting and staring at us while his food dish lays empty. Or if we sit outside a restaurant or cafe, we’re too worried about the wind picking up and blowing our notes all over. All writers are different. Each of us is going to have our preference when we write.  My dear friend (and fellow NaNoWriMo ML) Owen Bondono addresses this in an article he wrote for Writer’s Digest about finding one’s niche in the writing world. He states in the article:

Every writer needs their own specific combination of factors to thrive creatively. Some people like quiet, while others like noise. Some write first thing in the morning, others write after everyone else has gone to bed. Finding your writing niche is key to upping your productivity. 

I write the most and my best during November with my fellow NaNoWriMo participants. We like what we do and instead of making it work, we make it fun and a game. We eat food, we laugh, and we compete with each other to see who can write the most words in a short amount of time. If I’m by myself, however, I usually do well with the WiFi turned off, some quiet instrumental music going in my earbuds, Write or Die open and set to a reasonable amount (usually 2,000 words at a 15 minute span), with some kind of soda sitting at the side of my laptop while hanging in the local library on a typical afternoon. That’s my niche. Then I just go and I get in my zone. Check out Owen Bondono’s article “NaNoWriMo Prep Work: How to Prepare to Write Your Book in 30 Days” if you would like to learn more about finding your niche and an environment that is conducive to your writing.

Lastly, there are a couple of little tricks I have picked up that help when planning with what you want to write.  Here are some simple tricks of the trade:

  • The Character’s Glove Box: While this trick has been known by many names, the results are the same. Make a list of questions for each of your main characters. What would they have in their purse/car glove box? What is their view on a certain political topic? What’s their favorite drink? What is their biggest pet peeve? What this is designed to do is make the writer think about their character’s reactions and give them some traits they may not have known they had in the first place and make them seem more real and well-rounded.
  • Roll a Paper Cigarette: This trick is designed to make you (the writer) get into the
    Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
    Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg

    mindset and voice of your character. In her book Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg talks about using a prop to inspire the writing of your character. Maybe your character wears a particular hat. You should find that hat and wear it. What if they always sip a particular glass of wine after dinner? Pour yourself that glass of wine (grape juice for the little ones). I used to write about a particular character who smoked when she was bored or stuck waiting for someone. So since I wasn’t a smoker, I took three sticky notes, rolled them into the size of the common cigarette, taped them in place, and played with that paper cigarette between my fingers and lips as I wrote.

  • The Magna Carta: Chris Baty, who founded NaNoWriMo, put out a book a few years back about writing a novel in a month entitled No Plot? No Problem! In it he talks about writing two Magna Cartas before writing your novel. In the first one, you write down everything you want your novel to be. In the second, you write down everything you do not want in your novel. Whether they turn out to be short lists or long, keep them close so you are able to consult them easily as you work.
  • Storyboard: One of my personal favorite methods of setting up a plot is to storyboard. It’s what professional movie makers do all the time. Animated movies storyboard with drawings even! Maybe you don’t exactly know where you want your novel to go just yet. You just have a couple of events and scenes in mind that you
    Walt Disney working on storyboards for a film...
    Walt Disney working on storyboards for a film…

    want to write about. That’s your queue to start storyboarding. Pick up a pack of index cards and take out a few. Write out the basic elements of one scene on an index card and place it on the table (or in some larger cases, like mine, the floor) in front of you. Write out all your ideas for this particular project on cards and soon you will have a layout of your ideas before you.  Now that the cards and ideas are displayed, you are able to rearrange them into a timeline of your choosing. Maybe you want to divide up a certain scene. Take that original card and rewrite it on two instead. This method gives you a simple visualization of your plot to work with.

Writing a novel can be a massive task. But with the right tools, it doesn’t have to be a daunting one. Writing can be like traveling.  You are about to embark into a foreign territory. Why wouldn’t you do a bit of research and pack your tools to take with you before you leave? Otherwise, you could be scrambling to make it home and learn the language. The lesson: emersion is one thing, but preparation is another.

Day 4: Music & Setting & Character & Theme

Well, tomorrow’s the big day! Is anyone else excited besides me? I’m actually a little nervous. Those I have let read the script thus far say it is fantastic, but are they saying that just because they are friends and family? I don’t know. Either way, when you read it I sincerely hope you enjoy it!

Music goes with writing like cream goes with coffee. It blends and sets a flavor and mood. So it’s really not a surprise to find that a lot of writers listen to music while they are working on their projects. I am an avid participant in the annual event National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo to the veterans). Sure as anything, every year there is a post in the forums about soundtracks and what one listens to while they write.  There have even been programs arranged where writers will exchange music with each other, just to add to the fun aspects of the marathon.

As you might have guessed, I am going to talk about music in this post because the honest truth is music played a large part in the construction of the novel, Lore: the Legend of River.

As I have stated before, Bill Whelan’s soundtrack for the Broadway show Riverdance provided a basis for inspiration for the novel.  The show, based on Irish folklore and dance, provided a lot of Celtic themes for me. There was a wide range within the soundtrack that could be very dark at times, and then climax to moments of great celebration. There was a story line within the music itself that I desired to expand on. Because of that, I tried to stay focused on those Celtic themes throughout the novel.  In addition to the music of Riverdance, I also found inspiration in the Hans Zimmer soundtracks for Sherlock Holmes and the work of the Irish band, Lunasa.

Reel Around the Sun being performed...
Reel Around the Sun being performed…

The piece that really established the mood of Lore for me was “Reel Around the Sun” from the Riverdance soundtrack. The novel begins with the prologue of how River, the queen of the gods, raises up her brethren after a century long slumber as the earth lay in ash after falling in destruction. As this happens, she tells the gods and especially her brother, Verselus, the earth must be rebuilt. They set to work. Soon, however, there is conflict. River’s lover, LaXiva, takes the sprite, Dervish, in an attempt to steal her innocence. Verselus steps in and LaXiva flees, Dervish unconscious under his spell.

This is what I visualized as I listened to the music of “Reel Around the Sun.” The song is delicately divided into three parts, known as “Slow Air,” “The Chronos Reel,” and “Reel Around the Sun.”  Given these titles, it seems to be no surprise that I would think of such events during the entirety of the track. During “Slow Air,” the earth is settling into place as River raises everyone from their rest, ready to make the world whole once again. “The Chronos Reel” plays as the gods work to renew the earth and make it fruitful. “Reel of the Sun” plays as Verselus (whom I deem in the novel as the god of the sun) pursues LaXiva (whom ultimately comes to represent darkness). Within the span of eight minutes, Whelan manages to paint a picture with a variety of beats and tones.

Knowing that I wanted to stay with Celtic themes for the remainder of the novel’s inception, I was rather amazed in 2009 and 2011 when I picked up the soundtracks for the movies Sherlock Holmes and Sherlock Holmes: a Game of Shadows how well Hans Zimmer produced a range of music that worked not just so well for the films, but on a multifaceted front. I was quickly informed by a friend (coughBRIDGETcough) that anyone familiar with Zimmer’s work would know that this is not out of his reach. But I was surprised as I started to take pieces from the soundtracks and applied them to different introductions of characters.

Ickus, who is mad and has rather odd tendencies, seems to be defined quite well by “The Mycroft Suite” as the piece has a rather simple, yet heavy edge to it. One may not be sure what to expect as the sprite hops from corner to corner, tilting his head at odd angles as he attempts to understand certain situations. With the human Cattaran befriends whom refers to herself as Audience, he finds himself in the presence of an older woman who is anything but a traditional lady. She is hands on, brusque, and has the boy figured out within a manner of minutes. The repeated theme of Sherlock Holmes in the track “It’s So Overt It’s Covert” seems to fit her introduction as Cattaran tries to decide how to handle himself with his new acquaintance.

Lunasa, however, takes the working soundtrack right back to heavier Celtic themes, as they are a Celtic band. The track “Eanáir,” besides being obviously Irish, is dark and foreboding, starting with a very slow pace that picks up into an alarm of strings and whistles. In the chapter of the novel entitled “Rian’s Tale,” River’s daughter finds herself transforming as a god and becoming very sick in a span of moments. The commune of gods go into a panic, immortal in themselves, but never having dealt with such an occurrence. The music fits and sets the mood and theme for the plot of the novel.

Music has the power to add emotion when all other is not present. I myself always find chills rolling down my spine as I watch the character of Robert Langdon bow before the Louvre at the end of the film The DaVinci Code, having found the resting place of Mary Magdalene to the track “Chevaliers de Sangreal” (which was also written by Hans Zimmer). Would any of us feel the same emotion as we watched Col. Robert Gould Shaw lead his soldiers into battle in Glory without the choirs singing in soprano? Would any of us have shed a tear as Frodo left Samwise as he sailed for the Grey Havens in The Return of the King without the soft melody of “Into the West” sending him on his final journey? Some of us would possibly be different. However, if music could have that much of an effect on us in movies, think of what it could do to us when paired with books.

Day 3: Dystopia – The Hunger Games & Lore Study

I don’t know if anyone has noticed, but somewhere down the line humanity has become obsessed with the end of the world. Sure, you can say that it has to do with religious scripture, but I’m talking more of what people expect the end of the world (and after) to be like. For quite some time, this topic has found its way into pop culture, both past and present.  Mel Gibson is memorable as Mad Max. That franchise is getting a revival with

A Springfield newscast of the encompassing dome...
A Springfield newscast of the encompassing dome…

Tom Hardy with an expected 2015 release date. The Simpsons Movie poked fun at the concept as the town of Springfield was forced to fend for themselves under the prison of a glass dome. ThenArmageddon and Deep Impactbrought to light the impending doom one would feel knowing that the earth could be destroyed and there would be very little human kind could do to change that. It could be a very scary concept to think about.

Then we come to what we read. The genre of dystopia has greatly presented itself in Young Adult literature since the new millennium began. With the popularity of books like The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and Divergent by Veronica Roth, readers going through adolescence can be gaining a very bleak outlook on society as a whole nowadays. Some can argue, however, that this is just a good dose of reality for a growing child. True. In the last fifteen years the world has had to deal with Hurricane Katrina, the Indonesian tsunami, earthquakes in Japan, the Ebola outbreak in Africa, and lest any American forget the attacks on 9/11. As they were such huge world events, it’s hard to hide that knowledge from children. Then there’s dealing with school, homework, and growing up wondering whom of your friends you can trust. Thanks for that Mean Girls. With so much on their shoulders, why would a young adult reach for a book with such dramatic issues such as the end of the world?

Because for a lot of them at this stage, reading is about escape! It’s about adventure! It’s about being someone that isn’t you! Think back to who you were as a child. Now try to tell someone with a straight face that you never played “dress up” and pretended to be a princess or a super hero, or that the playground equipment wasn’t your fort while your friends tried to climb on during a game of tag.

With dystopia working its way into the general reading repertoire, Lore was my way of adding to the concept. I decided to be someplace and someone I wasn’t! I have a big difference in view from the typical genre, however. While many view dystopia as being ruled by technology and government, I took it in the complete opposite direction. WithLore, I took the human race on a path leading back to simplicity, nature, and spiritualism. Now for the record, when I say spiritualism, I do not mean any specific religion or set of beliefs. Anything I put in the book I made up from my imagination and do not expect anyone to follow as creed. Just as Dan Brown said of his work The DaVinci Code, this is purely a work of fiction.

That being said, there are some similarities I have come to realize when it comes to the dystopian genre and Lore: the Legend of River. For the sake of argument, I am going to use The Hunger Games as my counter example as many people have become familiar with the novels and films.

FAIR WARNING FOR NEW FANS OF BOTH THE HUNGER GAMES AND LORE:

SPOILER ALERT!

Jennifer Lawrence at Katniss Everdeen
Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen
  • Issues with trust: In a dystopian world, it seems that loyalties can be questioned daily and no one knows who is on their side or who can keep their secrets. One sees this from the start with Katniss Everdeen even before she enters the arena in The Hunger Games. She questions who is there for their own amusement, who is trying to save her life in the arena, and who wants to kill her themselves. InLore, Cattaran must deal with the fact that the sprite, Dervish, does not trust him simply because he is a human being. She contemplates the murder of his character.
  • Abuses of power: Often with this genre, there are leaders with too much power who do not know how to use it properly. As a result, it is abused. Collins creates a tyrant out of President Snow that is worthy of Adolf Hitler. He reaps children from their parents, placing them in battle to the death against each other, only to call it “keeping the peace.” Then there is LaXiva, who disconnects himself from the commune of gods, only to use humans as a weapon in order to attempt to gain ultimate power over the earth.
  • Standing up to terror results in suffering: There are those in the genre who question the authority of those in power. However, when that happens, there are consequences. Katniss’ friend Gale is whipped in the town square as he tries to
    My first drawing of my main character, Cattaran
    My first drawing of my main character, Cattaran

    protect innocent bystanders from rebel soldiers. When Cattaran tells LaXiva he will not betray River, LaXiva swears he will die and attempts to torture and murder him on more than one occasion.

  • Madness as a result of the social situations: With the stress and anguish associated with a dystopia, it is only natural that some psychological abuse will result. Wiress, who is seen as a genius in the nation of Panem, is reduced to muddled, raved answers when placed in the arena multiple times. Ickus, a god who had spent a century in the center of the earth, waiting for the other gods to find him, used music to calm his nerves. Even centuries after his release, the music is used as a therapy and earns him the moniker “The Mad and Wild Piper.”
  • Death is inevitable: With lack of trust, abuse of power, the use of force, and psychological warfare all being part of the dystopian genre, it is only natural that death is a natural consequence. This is a result for multiple characters in both The Hunger Games and Lore: the Legend of River.

To speak of dystopia and the genre it presents in writing is a bleak subject. However, a lot can be learned from it if it is examined in the correct way. Some scoff at it for being too violent, while others, many of which are children, take away lessons that they use as they grow older, besides being a form of escape and entertainment. By reading such stories and associating them with real life events, yes, kids can learn that the world can be a very cruel place. But by making associations with characters such as Katniss and Cattaran, they can also learn that there is good in the world and they can lead by example. Fred Rogers had a wonderful quote from his show long ago.  It went, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” If there’s anything that can be taken away from the dystopian genre, let us hope it is sentiments like this.

Day 2: Classification and Self-Publishing as an Art

My apologies being a day late with this post. Sometimes life happens and gets in the way of the best intentions. Anyways…

Once I figured out the general plotline of Lore, I was trying to figure out a way to present it. Sure, it was going to be a novel, but how to make it a bit…adventurous? With all of the little storylines of gods versus humans, my original intent was to give each god their own unique short story as a chapter, and then as I laid out the stories and chapter after chapter, it would all turn into the novel as a whole. Think of Edith Hamilton’s Mythology.

A fantastic read, but not for me.
A fantastic read, but not for me.

…the idea was a disaster on the scale of the Titanic.

So then I thought of when I used to play Magic. When I was a kid, I used to play the card gameMagic: the Gathering with friends. I remember seeing on the cards random quotes from some scripts. I honestly could not recall the sources. I’m pretty sure it’s not The Holy Bible by any means. But with the way the scripts were cited, they seemed to read that way. Since then, I had always thought how interesting it would be to write a book that could be quoted and read in that same style. Not as a holy scripture, by any means. But as a book that imparted wisdom in that way.

These were my original ideas when I set out to write Lore: the Legend of River.

Once the script was done, I began to ponder just what I held in my hand. Besides being concerned with faith and religion, some of the subjects touched on torture, necromancy, rape, death…not exactly easy subject lines to talk about at times. Prime topics to get your book challenged and on the Banned Books List (not that I’d mind that as it seems to be a great way to get easy publicity). But on the other hand, the storyline also includes positive themes like moving beyond appearances, seeking truth in turmoil, commitment, forgiveness, and sacrifice.

When I weighed the options, I finally decided to classify it as Young Adult – Science Fiction/Fantasy. Despite some of the heavy themes, the story follows Cattaran, a young man who grows among the gods. During the first few pages, Cattaran is only six-years-old. As he grows, he has questions and situations that young adults can relate to: first loves, contemplating friends versus enemies, and finding where your loyalties lay, all while dealing with adolescence. As much as some try to ignore these issues, these are subjects and topics that human beings of all ages address on a cognitive level at some point in their lives. Lore: the Legend of River would be first published as a Young Adult novel.

With my completed physical script, I began to ponder just how to get it out to the world. A dear friend of mine, Sal, owns a steampunk-themed bookstore called Off the Beaten Path Books and Emporium (if you live in the Metro Detroit area, I highly suggest you check it out). After some discussion with her about working with agents and publishers, she confided in me that most don’t make contact by the writer’s invitation. A lot of them hate solicitations and specifically don’t ask for them. This was actually good news to me because the idea of “selling” and “pimping” myself did not sit right with me. I have always wanted my work and art to stand for itself. I’m a firm believer of if you don’t like me for me, then shove it. I’m very stubborn that way. With self-publishing, a writer and artist are able to make their work all their own and then sell it! Instead of chasing down agents and publishers, I could make them come to me! It was perfect!

That being said, there are two points to be made about self-publishing that have really stood out for me: one, the editing process sucks, and two, formatting is an art form.

Editing can be very hard when you are the primary writer of a document. You could read the same thing over three times and not see the blatant spelling or grammar mistakes you have made. I believe it is because you are so familiar at that point with what you wrote that you don’t see it anymore. It’s committed to memory and it, in a way, doesn’t matter. What is my advice for getting past this?  Another two tips…

First, hire a friend to do the editing for you. Sure, you could pay a couple hundred bucks to have someone online do it for you, whom you’ll never see and never know if its man or machine and run the risk of having your work (which probably doesn’t have a copyright set up just yet) stolen from you (a legitimate fear for any writer). But I’m willing to bet that you have a trusted friend who is dying to read your brand spanking new script anyways, don’t you? It’s quite possible they would love to get into editing work professionally and don’t have the resources or experience to do so. See where I’m going with this? Because this is what I ended up doing.  Not only did I get a thorough editing of my first script, but I also got notes, feedback, and a first review on the script as a whole. Two for the price of one and my friend was happy to do it!

Do not trust this charming character!
Do not trust this charming character!

Second, as excited as you may be, you need to put the script away for a period of time, whether it’s a week, a month, or year. Any writer needs to do it at some point. This allows the brain to relax and give it more of a fresh start when you come back to it before publishing it in any way. This is what I did while Ray, my friendly personal editor, read overLore. When she came back with the script marked up and scribbled to heck, I was able to pull up the original document on my computer and marvel at what I missed! Like I said above, you can read over what you wrote and will miss your mistakes, especially if your word processor doesn’t pick up on them, no thanks to Mr. Clippit!

When you’re done with the editing, however, formatting tends to get you excited once again. Just like choosing specific words for your script, choosing fonts and visual themes for it adds an element of what you want the reader to feel as they pick up your book for the first time. Lore has both elements of darkness and light, so while I chose the font “Chiller” for my headers and chapter titles, I chose a book cover that was open and gave the reader some luminosity to associate with. What I am hoping is that it’ll be a way to draw in someone’s interests.

Here’s the bottom line. When you begin to write, you may not know what you will end up with. Novels and different forms of writing can take drastic turns that the author does not expect when they sit to work on them. I honestly didn’t think Lore would end up in the Young Adult genre, but I certainly have no doubts that it belongs there now that it’s completed. Not to mention that with editing and formatting the final product, I was able to make it into a true piece of art. This is one of the beauties I have found with self-publishing and I recommend that fact to any debut writer who is not connected to an agent or publisher. That debut novel you are writing is going to be all you. You are going to turn it into a beautiful piece of art and it is going to define you in so many ways in this profession that you can’t imagine. So don’t stress yourself out and take your time with it. Make that novel as much of you as you possibly can. You’ve worked that hard on it. You deserve for it to be that wonderful.

Day 1: Character Development in the Novel

As promised for the release of my novel, here is your day one post to get you ready for the big day! Enjoy my friends! ~Adrianne

When I first started building the world of Lore, it was much less complex than originally anticipated. My work had been greatly inspired by Bill Whelan’s music for the stage show Riverdance. My original intention was to have the story follow three young villagers (one female, two male) who took a liking to a travelling storyteller, who was an enchantress in disguise. In the end, the enchantress would save their village from war and win the heart of the older male villager and they’d all live happily ever after.

Riverdance by Bill Whelan
Riverdance by Bill Whelan

It quickly became apparent to me that not all fairytales are that simple. I decided to develop the characters before pursuing much else in the line of theme.

The enchantress of the original story morphed into River, the guardian of her realm and queen of the gods. In the original story, the enchantress was young, light, almost emitting the golden heart of a child. As I began to develop a more solid, war-driven, plotline, I knew the little enchantress wouldn’t fit into the realm I was slowly starting to create.

The character quickly underwent a makeover and was given stronger shoulders to take on the weight of the world she would bear. River would be pensive and firm, but would grant mercy when appropriate. I also displayed this in her appearance as well. The enchantress would no longer be a young, blond beauty. I transformed River into a middle-aged woman with long raven hair with strands of gray, displaying that weight of the world and the wisdom and strength she gained through ages upon the earth.

Ultimately, I played with some of River’s former personality traits and gave them to River’s daughter, Rian. But as the story progressed, I realized Rian would have to give up those tendencies as well.

The older male villager of the original story quickly underwent his own drastic transformation. In the original storyline, this character would converse with the enchantress as though they were colleagues, pondering the world away as if it were there purely for their utter amusement and nothing more. On the other hand, this character would also find an attraction to the enchantress that had nothing to do with affection or sexual attention. More of a wanting to pick at the woman’s brain to see what made her tick.  As I thought this character over, it didn’t sit right with me. The question that I kept asking myself is how could someone converse so much with a person in this way and have/not have such feelings for them? Nothing I thought of made sense.

My solution to this question was to split the older male villager into two separate characters: Verselus, the wise, charming brother of River, and Cattaran, the inquisitive human seeking answers to his existence.

Not Verselus, but close!
Not Verselus, but close!

Verselus quickly became my favorite character in the realm to the point that all my social media screen names bore his name during undergrad. My mission with the character was to literally make him spew “wisdom beyond his years.” As a result, Verselus quickly took shape as a tall, thin being with silvery white hair (despite his younger appearance) and a smug grin on his face when it was appropriate. His voice would be that of a favorite professor who would lecture on about everything and nothing, having those around him hang on his every word. A bit like the character of Dr. Gregory House, but not a jerk and without the limp and Vicodin addiction. As a result, he became River’s second-in-command.

And Cattaran. This young lad ultimately made his way to being my protagonist, which really stunned me when it happened considering my focus had been on the story of the enchantress.  Ultimately, what ended up happening was that River/the enchantress became the goal while Cattaran worked to seek her out. The roles of these two characters had flipped.

What I needed to figure out was how to give Cattaran that push to pursue her in the first place. I made Cattaran go through a number of sacrifices in a very short amount of time. Slowly, each of Cattaran’s family members fall to henchmen of the antagonist until he is sent into exile. Left with nowhere to go and desperate to not have the same fate, Cattaran suddenly goes from a young man who lives a quiet life into an adventurer who must venture into the unfamiliar. Because of this, instead of living the life of an arranged marriage (put together by his mother), he instead focuses on survival and faith in that he can do so. In the matter of a few chapters, the character goes from someone who has his tongue in check to someone who has his tongue in cheek.

Just as stunning when it came to character development was how the female villager evolved into Dervish, the sprite granted mercy by River when she was saved from the end of the world. The original character was actually not someone I found all that appealing or attractive to the reader, but I knew I needed her for some kind of substance to the story. One of the reasons why the original “fairytale” story fell apart and became what it is now was because I turned her into part antagonist. The original character would complain and whine very often. What I ended up doing was making her someone who would protest with reason.  She doesn’t trust Cattaran for legitimate reasons that she states to anyone who will hear them. Is she a pain in the butt? At times, yes. But because of that, she feels real. The character ended up becoming more and more stubborn as writing went on, and the main reason for this is fear. Just as Cattaran is working to understand his past, Dervish is doing the same, and it is one of Dervish’s most maddening qualities.

My intent with that other male villager as I reworked the story was the send him away and never hear from him again. But alas, it was not meant to be.  As I worked on those first fifty pages, he jumped back onto the scene. I could almost visualize him with his dark hair pulled back tight, sneering at me as if to say, “You will never get rid of me,” meanwhile, casually playing with the dagger in his belt, just to prove his point. It became apparent that he needed a name and I dubbed him Ballant. But what to do with Ballant’s character? What would he say? What would he do?

As I asked myself this, I realized that Ballant wouldn’t need to say anything at all if I didn’t want him to. A fantastic punishment for his intimidation. Not to mention a fantastic plot point! And that’s the way I kept it. Ballant would’ve just been another character in the world of Lore if I had given him line after line to sneer through his teeth like a knock-off Severus Snape. But I knew he was too good for that and that would be an insane insult to the greatness that is the character of Severus Snape.

So I stole his voice. I stole it and swore I would never give it back. Ballant never says a word through the entire novel and I love it simply because it makes his actions as a character so much more stunning! Not exactly an easy feat considering that if River had an army, Ballant could easily be considered her Captain of the Guard.

This is a blog. Don't make blobs.
This is a blob. Don’t make blobs.

Character development can be a very time consuming process. Sure, you can sit with a pencil and paper, draw out a couple of figures and say that they will have these personality traits and this happened to them and this is what will happen to them in the future. But it takes time to develop personality, sense of being, reasoning, voice, et cetera for each one you create. It takes skill that without which characters begin to sound alike, blending into each other and just becoming a huge blog of a mess.  Some tend to speak to writers more than others. And the same thing can be said for readers as well.  I cannot name one person I have had a conversation with about the Harry Potter novels who hasn’t said, “It broke my heart when [fill in the name of the appropriate Harry Potter character] died.” To be able to do that is to hold the reader’s attention in the palm of your hand.