Moving Day

KL and I have decided to merge our blogs.

You can find the new one (along with pictures and new updates!) at:

http://turningphrases.blogspot.com

Come visit, please. =)

Best,

JLY

Rune Days: An Introduction

KL and I have been working very hard on the Book of Runes, which we had been hoping to release to aid writers in the application part of Phase 2. However, compiling the version in its entirety is taking rather a long time, so we thought it might be fun to release the information we do have as it becomes available.

Thus, ‘Rune Days’ will be blog updates that give either details about the rune system or characteristics of individual runes.

And without further ado, an excerpt from “Theories of Rune-Casting” in The Book of Runes:

“..It is theorized that at the beginning of the world, magic was abundant, and people were able to use it more freely. However, because such free use was not reliable, people developed techniques in order to be able to control magic. These techniques came to be called rune-casting, and runes were created for that end. Runes became extensions of will and confined the magic into specific energies to perform specific tasks. No one currently alive really understands exactly why people have affinities, just that people do.”

and

“Runes are the alphabet of magic in the world. Everyone has the capacity to use runes, though some are better than others.

The ability to use magic relies on both the caster’s connection to the celestial plane (“affinity”) and the caster’s will (“will”). Affinity is something relatively stable–though it can increase on decrease on rare occasions), while will is something that can fluctuate depending on the person’s personality, experience, fortitude, and stage of life. For the most part, a spell caster’s ability to improve, given a strong affinity, is only determined by his or her own will.”

– JLY

Co-Authors Are The Best

I thought I should update with something more substantial since my last post was an incredibly short post on how pretty my book is and also since KL’s faithful blogging has shamed my lack of such.

I’ve entitled this blog ‘Co-Authors Are The Best’ because I have KL, and KL really is great.I don’t think I would’ve published anything without my co-author. Plus, the question I’ve gotten most frequently so far from the fans who know me in person (read: my family) is:  How do you and KL write together?

And the answer to that is: ‘very carefully’.

Mainly, I set up my computer next to hers in what we like to call our office, and we furiously type at each other’s sides while debating the merits of doing one scene instead of another or having this bit of dialogue over that bit of action, etc. This all usually happens over a stout hot chocolate and a turkey sandwich, and after about four hours of typing for three or four times a week, we have some scene or other to show for our efforts.

For anyone who thinks of co-authoring, make sure you get along together (well, perhaps this is obvious) because you will probably be spending a lot of time with that person.

KL and I write quite well together and continue to do so for about 12-16 hours every week. It might have something to do with the fact that we’ve been writing for 10 years together and are quite familiar with the other’s writing style. It might also have to do that we complement each other, as KL enjoys writing our fighting and action scenes and I enjoy too much our social scenes and world details.

But, I actually think our writing well together also has plenty to do with the fact that we’re on the same wavelength for the most part, and if we’re not, we happily and comfortably discuss what our options are and what we should do. Our best scenes come from both of us, in the discussions where one of us presents a scene or an instance we’d like to write about and we think about how best to substantiate it. That’s what writing SFA is after all–writing about something we really enjoy, or, barring that, something we think would be really funny to do to our characters…

Speaking of writing SFA, I wanted to thank everyone who’s been requesting and sending us their applications! KL and I are enjoying meeting all your new characters, and we look forward to see how they develop!

Best,

JLY

Note: Having SFA on Amazon.com has been a real adventure (hah) in and of itself. For some reason, they have us posted as “Eastridge Academy: School for Adventures” rather than “Adventurers” and have listed KL as a “Contributor” rather than as an “Author”. *shakes head* Silly Amazon.

Quotation of the Week–on figuring out the symbols on Easden’s coins:

KL: “Maybe he should toss a coin to see who goes first. It can’t be heads or tails. Should it be, like, fireworks or wheat-shafts?”

Quotation #2–KL being helpful

JLY: “What should I end my post with?
KL: “Hm…with something clever?”
JLY: “-_-*”

Eastridge Academy on Amazon.com!

Doubtlessly, KL has beaten me to it, but our book is on Amazon!

I’m absolutely ecstatic…and even more so to see that we have six reviews on the page! I want to extend my special thanks to the people who wrote those (Larry Liang, Drucilla Shultz, Charvale, Aiden Naecea, G. DiStefano, and Generic Pen Name), as well as to those who took the time to view, order, and tag our book on Amazon.

Your support is so greatly appreciated!

The Mary Sue Litmus Test

Due to our forum’s discussion of Mary Sue characters, I was curious and ran Wisteria and Rai Ravin through the Mary Sue Litmus Test.

Wisteria scored a 36, and Rai Ravin scored a 29, placing them both squarely into Borderline-Sue territory, which makes them only marginally more believable than an actual Mary Sue.

I think it’s the “Raven” name that really does me in.

On a related note, it’s been pointed out to us that our characters are stereotypical.

Well, we know that.

They’re supposed to be.

We’re not laboring under the delusion that our characters are reinventing the wheel of the genre here.

Really, the initial conception of SFA was that it would be like a traditionally cliche, high school drama. In medieval times. With swords. And magic.

The Clerics would be the nerds, the people that study a lot, don’t get out much, are looked on with some disdain, yet will be the ones saving everyone else later. The Warriors are one-dimensional jocks: not so big on brains, often bullies, and popular for their good looks and reputations. The Mages (particularly the nobility) are the in-crowd: the popular girls who vie for social power and status and talk about hair and boys. As for the Thieves, they’re the ones you’ll see in detention, the ones that just don’t quite fit in and are probably going to create their own breakfast club or something at the end of the day.

When we started talking about SFA, we created our characters as stereotypes. Fell is the clumsy nobody that becomes somebody; Averi, the Thief princess with “rebellious princess syndrome”; Wisteria, the reclusive, angsty girl; and Rai, the ever-popular and attractive charmer who all the girls want to chase after.

That said, having truly stereotypical main characters would be boring to write and painful to read.

While they can be generalized into neat little categories, the fun part of having Wisteria, Rai, Averi, and Fell is that they don’t always fall so nicely into their assigned roles.

Fell is the clumsy nobody that becomes somebody, but the choices he makes to become somebody in the brutal Warrior major conflict with his nature. Fell not only has to grapple with the hazing and the prejudice he finds in his classes towards those perceived as weak (or, often, just female) but also has to figure out how he’s going to behave as a result of his stance on those issues.

Averi is the rebellious princess, taking actions that are in conflict with and arguably threatening to people’s perceptions of her position as a royal representative. She struggles with identity–whether she’ll choose to follow what’s expected of her or whether she’ll choose to do what she wants. This conflict has resulted in a rather interesting set of personal choices whose results will undoubtedly come back to haunt her later (no pun intended).

As for Wisteria and Rai, they stick to their salient characteristics the most. I can count on Wisteria to be sardonic and ornery and on Rai to be charming and eloquent. And while these traits define both characters well, there’s more to them than that. Both Wisteria and Rai hide behind their stereotypes. It’s easier for Wisteria to be apathetic and guarded because she’s introverted and placed in a highly undesirable situation, just as much as it’s easier for Rai to always put on a good face because that’s what he thinks people expect of him.

On a slightly unrelated note, I’m so thrilled SFA is being published! KL and I received the proofs for the book just in the last couple weeks and have been editing until we’ve become cross-eyed. Apparently, I’ve been holding onto a lot of misconceptions about the placement of commas throughout my school life that have made editing a true pain.

But SFA looks like a real book, at least.

We’re hoping to release the book in time for Christmas (fingers crossed the timing’ll work out right).

Anyway, in America, it’s November 26, which means that tomorrow is Turkey Day! So Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Please eat lots of pie.

Love,

JLY

The Funniest Story Possible

When KL and I were younger, we used to participate in an acting/improv group that had us write a script based on a certain set of parameters (i.e. Create a play complete with props and costumes that incorporates the cultural event or tradition of a different country and costs less than some dollar amount). The most fun part about being in this group was getting to figure out how to juggle what we had so we could make the funniest story possible with the most ridiculous props and the best costumes at the lowest possible price.

Relating it back to writing, the most fun part about writing SFA with KL is that, while we’re always sure of what we want the end product to be, we’re not exactly sure how we’re going to make it. Writing SFA is trying to juggle all the pieces of what we know about our characters and world and to weave them together to make the best possible story.

In picking and choosing scenes from characters’ lives, though, we end up missing moments. Wisteria, Rai, Averi, and Fell have so much more going on in their lives that KL and I don’t even get to imagine, much less write about (though side scenes are written enough that some of the blanks are filled).

I suppose, when you’re writing a plot-driven story rather than a character-driven story, some of the character elements you’d like to explore get pushed to the side in favor of what elements will move the story along.

Thank goodness for blogs.

Then, I get to indulge in all my writing whims…and post things like this excerpt from the chapter, “The Easdenian Compendium” in The Guide to the World:

“THE TERM: MONASTERY: Monasteries are isolated groups of people who adhere to and live by a certain code dictated by a common system of belief. This system of belief is usually the basis for that monastery’s study of a specific Rune set. Every monastery has its own set of norms, rules, and laws.

THE LING MONASTERY:

On Location: The Ling Monastery is located on The Divide, a plains-land located geographically smack in the middle of the Northern Ridge, a jagged and dangerous mountain range on Easden’s northern coast.

On System of Belief: The original founder constructed Ling Monastery at this site because it was the perfect representation of balance—serenity and life among turmoil and death. It also was a place ideal for the teachings of the monastery: the focus on the balance between creation and destruction.

On Language: Being a convenient place for mountain travelers, the people of Ling Monastery cherish and know both the Easden northern languages and Norn coastal languages.

On Names: While it may seem that Wisteria’s last name links her to power because she is a Ling in Ling Monastery, her last name (or variations of it) are quite common. Also, when people who are raised in Ling Monastery leave for sabbatical, they tend to attach the name “Ling” to signal their origin and method of training. This may or may not be true of all monasteries.

On the Culture: The Ling Monastery tends to be more isolationist with respect to the royal court than other monasteries may be. This is, in part, due to its location. The people don’t tend to be xenophobic, however, and often encourage their eldest children to go on sabbatical or on a journey for betterment of self…”

Anyway, blessings to those who suffered through that. I always wondered why fantasy authors delighted so in creating glossaries and compendiums about their worlds.

It’s deliciously fun.

Best,

JLY

Unediting and Appendices

In a mad-dash attempt to get our book published before Christmas, KL and I have been working to finish editing the first book. While it’s rewarding to see the book become a much better product, it’s also hard to keep up the break-neck pace we’ve been setting. I think at some point KL said that she didn’t know if we were improving the book so much as making it different. -_-*

We’ve been debating whether or not to push our deadline past Christmas to give SFA more attention. I think it might be a good idea, as I’d like to put the book away for awhile and look at it later with a new perspective. I want to be very meticulous with editing so that SFA will be as perfect as we can make it, but having to look so closely at the text for grammatical or continuity errors is seriously giving me a headache.

Enough about editing.

I’ve been working on sprucing up and filling out our Guide to the World, a set of documents that describes our world and the people in it in more detail.  This is one of those areas where KL and I vastly differ, as she’s more of a big-picture person while I enjoy random details (for instance, Wisteria’s middle name or the full student registry of Eastridge).  Being a perfectionist makes me enjoy organizing, and instead of organizing my room or my office even, I organize things like…comprehensive lists of rune characteristics and character details.

KL and I hope to include our Guide to the World as a set of appendices in the back of our published book so we can share our Book of Runes and our Student Registry with people who would be interested in such information. Also, hopefully, we’ll be able to put it up on the website for all to admire (well, mainly me to admire, really)!

Ah, so much work, and so little time…

Best,

JLY

Favorite Quotation of the Week (or month, I suppose):

As KL has said, “You like to keep meticulous details of every rune we’ve ever used, while I like to create new ones without telling you.”

Publishing and Editing

I wanted to take the time to thank all the readers who have been loyally following the book, sending us emails, and posting to our blogs to give us feedback and encouragement. KL, KMRicker, and I are so glad to hear that you’ve enjoyed reading School for Adventurers. =)

To give us more contact with our readers, KL and I have created our basic but lovely RSS feed. We’ve also created a new facebook group called Eastridge Academy: School for Adventurers. Shameless plug: Join our group, if you’re so inclined…and tell your friends too!

For the past month, aside from earnestly trying to stay ahead of the Book 2 updates, KL and I have been working on publishing Book 1. We’ve decided to go the self-publishing route and have been putting the agents of various self-publishing companies to work to impress us with their features, options, and marketing packages.

It’s certainly a learning process, as I’ve never had the experience of self-publishing a book before. There were a lot of factors to think about: what size we wanted our book to be, what we wanted our retail and wholesale prices to be, what our royalties might be, as well as what types of marketing and advertising strategies we needed. I don’t think I’ve ever really given a thought to the sizes and shapes of books before, but after a month of research, I can proudly say that I am able to identify different genres by their book dimensions alone.

KL and I decided to go with BookSurge in the end, mainly because publishing through them makes our book that much more affordable (I didn’t realize that 350-page, *paperback* fantasy novels can get to be as much as $21.00, yikes!). Also, it feels like BookSurge might give us more control of how our book looks, which is important particularly because KMRicker has conceded to give KL and I a pretty book cover if we’re very good. Anyway, if everything goes well, we’ll be able to have a paper copy to sell in a couple months’ time.

In the meantime, KL and I are editing and improving our first book before we send a final draft off to print. We’re tightening the narrative and throwing in new scenes. We’re also typing out more descriptions about the world and characters in an attempt to really round out the SFA universe. By the time Book 1 is given to the publisher, it’ll probably look different than what is on the website now. Hopefully, all the grammatical and continuity errors will be hammered out, our plot pace will be more fluid, and, yes, there will be more scenes of Fell. =)

Anyway, keep reading and telling us what you think!

Best,

“Jae Elle Whye”, or JLY

The Second Book

KL and I posted the first part of our second book, as several people might have noticed. =)

It’s always exciting and a little terrifying to start a new book. It seems as if we’re starting over. However, at least, with the second book, we already have our characters and our world in place, so it’s not as intimidating.

One of the more amusing jobs that KL and I face as writers is naming our books. As KL and I never got around to deciding the name of our first book, we were faced with the task of titling both. Because there are several main characters and several threads running through our novels, it becomes hard to summarize into simple titles and taglines.

Do we name our characters in the title? The Adventures of Fell, Wisteria, Averi, and Rai seems a bit long and uninformative. And, what would Book 2 be called? The Further Adventures of Fell, Wisteria, Averi, Rai, and Friends? …no.

Or, should we stick to the relevant nouns and concepts that our book addresses? The Thief, The Princess, The Farmer, and The Mage is like one of those logic puzzles. The Princess must be Averi, and no one knows more about farming than Fell. But, who is the Thief, and who is the Mage? Rai’s not all that good of a Thief, but he’s certainly no Mage. And, Averi’s also a Thief, but there’s no way that Rai’s the Princess. At any rate, we abandoned this title.

We also thought about following the Harry-Potter-title format. However, Wisteria Ling and the Magical Mystery Sword didn’t strike the right chord, especially since it cuts out three of the main characters. For that matter, Averi and the Diplomatic Relations Disaster also failed on multiple fronts.

So, we ended up talking about what we were both looking for in a title. Like the sucker I am, I knew I wanted alliteration, and, ideally, some sort of connection to our plot. KL, on the other hand, wanted something that sounded exciting, or had to do with fighting, which led to her throwing in a lot of words such as, “Fight! Sword! Battle! Adventure!”

The end result of hours of brainstorming was a compromise. Book One ended up being the title we’ve been using all along as a placeholder–Eastridge Academy: School for Adventurers. And, Book Two became Eastridge Academy: The Stolen Sword.

And, our tagline is:

“Eastridge Academy: School for Adventurers…where adventurers are made.”

(A serious title for a very serious book.)

=)

JLY

Countdown to Disaster

I named our timeline to finish the end of the book “Countdown to Disaster” as something part poke, part joke. A motivational poke because KL and I still need inspiration to get through the final preparations for tomorrow; a joke because I know, of course, hands-down, without a doubt that we’re going to finish everything on time. Ne, KL? =)

Anyway, as KL and I are write our free time away trying to get SFA into shape for our 7/7 deadline, I’m getting the opportunity to reflect on everything we’ve done. Watching everything come together is both stunningly startling and sumptuously satisfying.

The end of a book has always been my inner-writer’s weakness. It’s *hard* to finish a book, and quite difficult to tie all your characters and plots together and make meaning out of all the writing that has come before. It’s something that I’ve never really been able to do, so as the first time actually writing and finishing an entire book, the end comes as a rewarding and pleasing surprise.

As KL has pointed out, all our scenes are falling together quite easily because of the pieces and clues we’ve laid throughout the rest of the book. Our hardest task is, well, firstly, remembering all those pieces, and secondly, weaving together something that comes out quickly but still retains the high quality of writing we’ve managed to maintain throughout the book. I think we’re doing a good job. An old proponent of waiting for inspiration to strike, I used to be skeptical when I read in writing books that you should set aside time for writing every day and practice it. Now that KL and I have been writing pretty much every day, I have to say that coming up with and phrasing our ideas is becoming much easier because of the time we spend on it. Not that we don’t have our blocks every now and then, but we still manage to work through them.

At any rate, I look forward to being able to share the rest of the book with all its readers as we start updating more frantically.

I hope everyone comes back to read the second book, coming out 08/08/2008!

<3,

JLY

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