Saturday, October 30, 2010

[Blog] National Novel Writing Month

National Novel Writing Month, usually shorted to Nanowrimo, is an event that takes place every November. It's a challenge to write 50,000 words in a single month, which works out to 1667 words a day, or roughly 1700.

In 2008 I "won" the challenge with 51,000 words, and in 2009 I "failed" with 29,000 words. This year I plan to win again. I'll be working on the second book in my fantasy series, since I've written the ending for the first book.

It's true that the first book still needs a lot of editing and work, but editing is the easy part in comparison to writing the story out in the first place.

I've been rolling ideas around in my head for a bit and I think I'm going to go back in time a little at the beginning and reveal more about Eshana's character through childhood memories at the beginning of the second book. After rereading the Earth's Children series I've become more aware of how important a character's background is, and how fascinating simple human interaction can be when it's done well.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

[Blog] English Class

Someone from High School mentioned that they were not surprised that I was writing a fantasy series. After all, I always "kicked their ass" in English Class.

I wrote her this reply;

"I always did love English class... Mostly because it was more useful than other classes. I never used a darn thing I learned in any history class, and thereby forgot most everything right away anyway. I could have made use of the math, but decided not to since I had other callings. But English is something we read, something we speak and something we write. This may not be true for everyone, but for me, I do all three of those a lot every day."

English Class assignments were always fun to me. It was a writing challenge, and I loved that, which pushed me to put my all into it.

There is that quote that goes something like; "When there is pleasure in the work, there is skill in the output..." or something along those lines, and it's true.

Paper after paper scored a perfect hundred, or at the least a 92% or so. I prided myself on it. Sometimes I wish I had writing assignments, but I suppose I fill the void with endless blogging on the topics I'm passionate about -- writing, health, fitness, art, experiences and other things.

As it is now, the status on my book is that I'm looking for more beta readers and contemplating what printer to buy. I need a new simple black and white printer so that I can send out my CV, synopsis and manuscript sample to my favorite publishers. I need more beta readers because I've grown so familiar with my own story that I desire outside opinions to help me refine the details of the first of this series. If you're interested in beta-reading, shoot me an e-mail at


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

[Blog] First Book Completetion

I've written the final chapter for book one of my fantasy series. The first book has an ending, and the second book is drafted out. I'm currently in the phase where I'm doing the final revisions and edits of the first book. If you're interested in helping me look for errors and inconsistencies, contact me to gain access to a google document and become a beta reader.

I begin submissions to large publishers within the month. I've written a synopsis, according to the guidelines that Tor publishing suggests on their site. I've organized my Curriculum Vitae as an author.

If no traditional publishing house is interested in a contract, that I will likely self-publish through Author House. If you have any ideas, or suggestions, or information you think I would benefit from, please comment.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

[Blog] Learning From My Favorites

"Doesn't everyone learn as they read?"

Taking Notes

I've been taking a lot of notes as I read for pleasure lately. I simply refuse to read anything that isn't well-written as I'm working on Moons of Blood. I realize more and more the profound impact of what I've read most recently upon what I write. The original idea for Moons of Blood was inspired in my third read-through of the Lighthouse Duet by Carol Berg. It's by-far my favorite story. The writing is crisp and elegant. The characters are complex and deep. The world is vivid and fantastical. The story itself is epic without coming off as overly dramatic.

The background of my story springs from my knowledge of today's economical, nutritional, corporate and sociological issues. The characters traits and thoughts come from myself and from people I've known. But the writing comes from my favorite authors. I couldn't have been able to lighten the tone and add some humor to my somewhat dark fantasy novel if it were not for Steven Brust and Terry Pratchett. Those authors (and my husband) have taught me that dark and serious is not the only way to write an intricate and fascinating novel.

If you are not, in fact, affected in this same way when you read, perhaps you're looking for an explanation of how I learn so much while I'm simply reading for enjoyment.

For example;

Rereading Parts With Impact

If I read a sentence in a book that strikes me emotionally, I'll reread the sentence several times to see if the structure of the sentence was important to the impact. If rereading the sentence doesn't uncover anything, I'll go back and reread the paragraph until I glean some understanding of why the impact was so strong and vivid.

Economy Of Words

One thing that I notice time and time again is how important an 'economy of words' is. Say it in as little words as possible. Take out needless descriptive words. And if the situation calls for it, replace them with words that are densely packed with descriptive information.

Karen Miller often leaves out words such as "but," "yet," "although," and "however," entirely. Her writing is incredibly densely packed with information. There is never a time where you can say, "oh, that word there wasn't needed." This is probably evident even in her raw style, but it's also probable that this has a lot to do with being skilled at paring down her own work to it's most elegant essentials.


I paid particular attention when reading Brokedown Palace by Steven Brust because it also used a minimalistic style to great advantage. Despite it being a solitary book that wasn't incredibly long, it managed to have a long stream of events as well as quite dynamic characters. It managed this by having many short scenes that were packed with information. I found that I actually had to read slower to let my mind fully imagine everything that was implied in each statement. Brokedown Palace is a masterpeice of implication.


When reading Jean Auel's Earth Children series I pay attention to how she manages to make such lengthy descriptions interesting. Jean Auel doesn't leave anything out. If Ayla takes a squat behind a tree, then she mentions it. If Ayla puts stones on to heat over the fire, she describes it. If the plains being traveled across have a ravine within few with very types of trees, shrubs, rocks and flowers, then she describes all of that and more.

I find Jean Auel's style of particular interest because long descriptions usually bore me. So every time I decide I feel like rereading The Earth Children series again, I pay close attention to how she manages to go on and on about landscape, daily activities and so forth and keep it interesting. One of the most obvious reasons it's so interesting is because it's so vastly different from our daily activities today while the characters are still people who are very easy to relate to.


When I'm reading something with an unusual set of vocabulary, I like to have a notebook nearby to jot down usual word usages, words I've never heard before, and words I don't remember to very often, or at all.

For example, on the notebook's open page beside me the following 'vocabulary words' are listed; "obstinate, pantaloons, pannier, scimitar, bleating, villa, enormous, gelding, besotted, flask and pinnacle."

The only word there I didn't know it's meaning to when I wrote it was 'scimitar' - a type of curved sword. The rest of those words are just words that I forget to use when writing. The level of vocabulary we understand is generally much greater than the level of vocabulary we actually use. Pantaloons and flask, for example, are two words I'm particularly fond of, but whenever I want to use them, I often can recall the shape of the object, but not the word. And hence, I wrote them down when I came across them in test.

It may feel like a silly high school English assignment, but I encourage other authors to try this. I find it very helpful.

A short teaser with no spoilers, but a tiny bit of what I think is interesting description... This bit is not edited or proof read and is subject to change;

We’re almost there,” he said softly just before he opened a door into a short hall paved in dark black marble. Or at least I had thought it was marble until I felt my feet slightly sink into the cold surface which each step. Another question I’d never have answered...

And then, we were in the incubation chamber. The same strangely soft floor spilled from the hall into the room; I decided I liked the way it felt beneath my feet. I didn’t need to be told that we had arrived at our destination. Purple pods littered the shelves, and were lined up in neat rows upon metallic pedestals. I estimated about two hundred inhabited pods. One contained a full-sized adult. I didn’t ask about that either.

Monday, August 30, 2010

[Blog] Novel Writing; The Rewrite

Every writing project has it's phases. The draft, the first edit, the second edit, the third edit with the help of your spouse, parent or friend, the fourth edit with more help, the fifth edit, the re-write where you toss out half of what you started with in the first place, the oh-my-god-when-will-this-be-finished-edit, and finally what you call your "finished work" before the the publisher tells you to make it 20,000 words shorter.

I'm in the re-write. I have 120,000 words, but no ending. Which technically means I've got enough wordage for my first book and half of my second book, since 85,000 words is what I'm aiming to submit. After all, it'll be my first-time novel publication, so I can't expect to get away with 110,000 words or something like that. Not unless a publisher falls deeply in love with my writing. Which would be nice... But they can fall in love with it at 85,000 words just as well. It's only a first in a series no matter how I slice it.

I've "re-written" the first 110 pages thus far. (110 of my 193 pages total.) I've added an important plot twist which I believe makes the story much more dynamic and interesting. An obligation as well as a deep claim on the heart of the main character, Eshana.

I just need to come up with a good conclusion to a few of the subplots and create the ending for the first novel. I have my mother (a grammatical whiz) reading and editing. My husband promises to read and help me revise as well. All considered, and at the rate of the re-write, I can expect to have my "finished version" complete within a couple of months. Then my writing focus will turn to query letters, although I'll continue working by working on the second novel, which will already be started since I've already established I need to end the first novel before I finish the re-write of everything I've written thus far.

Tiny teasing snippet (which hasn't been reviewed/edited by anyone and is subject to change):

Instead of the expected crystal-light posts that generally lined a street, there were trees with yellow-light crystals shedding a pale glow on the white marble street. I approached the nearest one and touched the the yellow crystal gingerly. It was inlaid into the tree's truck several inches. I wondered how the tree felt about that.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

[Blog] Chosing To Be An Author

It's been hard for me to settle on any project in my life long enough to complete it. As I briefly outlined in my "About The Author" page, I have been writing my entire life. I remember that my first serious attempt at writing a story was a 30-page hand-written bit of creative garbly-gook about two characters; silly #1 and silly #2. They start off in a cave and take an adventure in a boat. That's all I actually remember. This story, incidentally, was written in markers. I was five or six years old at the time.

But with just as much seriously I went about watercolor painting, and building gigantic castles with blocks. And if you had asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have said, "I want to be a mother."

Well... I'm 21 now... Not exactly ready for the whole motherhood thing yet, despite being married. Thanks anyway... But I have to commit this bit of peaceful time in my life to being creative... Before responsibility clatters onto my shoulders with a resounding crunch of my bones...!

I hope you were not expecting anything too serious from me. I tire of the ol' drama llama inside me and inside you. It's... well, tiresome. So we ought to throw tires at drama llamas now! That should scare them off.

I became deeply interesting in art during my first year old high school. I had a very good art teacher who tasked us with drawing something in pencil each week as homework, due on Friday. I liked this for a number of reasons. Firstly, it was fun. Secondly, it was consistent and easy to remember to do and get handed-in on time. Thirdly, I learned tons. Nothing like being graded on the level of shading and care you took with an artwork to get you motivated! Well, at least, it motivated me. Many of the other students were much less enthused.

During my freshmen and softmore years of high school, I was primarily an artist. I had abandoned my long-winded attempt to write a novel from ages ten to thirteen and embraced my creativity within doodles, sketches and drawing. I also developed some graphic abilities for creating basic websites.

In 2006, I began my second serious attempt at a novel. It was a great story idea, but unfortunately the scope of my plot and range of characters was too far beyond my own experiences and I was unable to convey it very well. I got lost in drawing my characters and developing my plot ideas and didn't spend nearly enough time trying to refine the writing itself.

As a couple examples of such, here is one of the main characters from that story;

And here is a clipping from a massive genealogy chart I created for that story;

click to see full size

The original attempt at this novel that began in 2006 topped out at 85,000 words in 2007 before I realized that I just wasn't getting anywhere. I went back and reread it and realized that I was trying to juggle too many characters for my level of ability to give them each a unique point-of-view. So I began a rewrite where I just completely rewrote the story, even starting in a completely different point of the story that hadn't even happened yet in the first attempt.

The rewrite topped at 35,000 words in February of 2008, which was the last time I worked on it. The idea was just too large, the characters too plentiful, and my ability to describe them was still too underdeveloped. I began to think I wasn't cut out to be a writer after all.

I ended up becoming much more focused on becoming an artist after that. I began learning how to digital paint when I was seventeen and had the sudden realization that I was capable of being a professional artist. Before then, it had never occurred to me the little ol' me could be a professional at anything, except perhaps as a writer, which I had decided I couldn't be.

I came to the conclusion that I'd like to illustrate fantasy book covers somewhere along the way, and dubbed myself a freelance artist. I found it easier to find jobs for illustrations for people's websites however. Which is fine.

When I first began writing Moons of Blood I went in realizing that I had to capitalize on my strong points while improving my weak points along the way. I decided to focus on simply developing one main character, instead of a handful of them as there had always been in my previous attempts. It was a good thing I did, because I learned a lot from that first start.

I ended up drifting away from the project for a while as I mention in this blog entry and writing another 85,000 word start on yet another novel.

I returned to Moons of Blood a few months ago and realized that what I had started was an inspired work. I found that after rereading it after all that time I was entrenched in my own story, anticipating what would happen next. I asked my husband his opinion on whether or not I should go back to the project, and he told me he thought it was an excellent idea.

And thus, I began the overhaul on Moons of Blood. Truly, I feel like I've finally reached a point I've been striving for all of my life. Deep into a creative project where there is no limitations on my imagination but the ones I put on myself; creating something marvelous and intricate to share with the world. It's satisfying.

*cough, cough*


When I'm published... You'd better buy my book so that I can continue writing without being a starving artist!

Am I being too pushy? It's okay to say so. :p

[Blog] Grand Opening

I'm writing a novel. I'm nearing the completion of this novel after several years of going on and off from it. It started as a Nanowrimo project in November of 2007. I wrote 51,000 words in that month, and "won" the challenge. But after that the inspiration slowed. I was in the midst of a dying relationship of two years at the time and was a bit heartsick.

I started writing another novel which wasn't fantasy-based. It was a real-world novel about a fictional doppelganger of myself and her love-life issues compounded by psychological issues. It was an interesting read for friends and family, but a bit depressing and one of my friends even pointed out that it "treated the reader poorly."

After becoming happily married this year I discovered that I loved the story I had started back in 2007 and began to undertake a massive overhaul on the novel. I'm confident that it's shaping up to be better than much of what you'll find in the fantasy section at your local book store.

Hence, I've started this site as a place to post updates and buzz about the project. To learn more about the story itself, read the About The Book page.

My Supportive Husband & I

~Raederle Phoenix Jacot