On Writing: Worldbuilding

Hello, everyone! These past couple of weeks have been wild with things going on, with the publication of the final volume 7 and my brother’s wedding ─ which was gorgeous, by the way. Here, I will show you a picture of them:

Aren’t they the best?

Anywho, things are finally beginning to settle down around here, going through the last stages of activity before regular routines are picked back up (for some, anyway) My brother (the married one above) goes back to Japan on Sunday, which is a super bummer, but that’s how it is in the service and we’re looking forward to his next visit. Our new couple are coming over tonight for dinner, so in between preparing for that I want to share with you a little bit about a subject in writing, fiction in particular: worldbuilding.

The concept of worldbuilding is exactly as the word describes: building a world, a template, an environment in which your story takes place, things like history, geography, mythos (legends and superstitions and whatnot), culture, wildlife (if your story involves fantastical creatures), and so on. The more in-depth you go the more realistic a place becomes, and sometimes (most the time) it’s the little details that make the biggest impact.

When I set out on this TJT project, I did not begin with worldbuilding before I started writing. There were a lot of things I did poorly and backwards when I began this project, actually, learning as I went, and I think now that doing even rudimentary worldbuilding beforehand is important. It helps dimensionalize the setting, and even influences aspects of the characters ─ this is the world they live in, after all. How is their home town/city structured? What sort of culture were they raised in? What history did they learn in school or were a part of? What is the land like around them? Arable? Arid? Prairie? Mountainous? The geography also influences the climate and weather patterns (which I’ve personally put into the category of serious worldbuilding, but it is a detail to keep in mind).

There is a lot of freedom in worldbuilding, giving your creativity ample room to stretch its muscles and make perfectly sensible just about whatever you want. For example: The people of Dalyss celebrate annually the Duck Festival, wherein they eat lots of duck-shaped food, dress up like ducks, and enter into the Duck River Run, where participants race their homemade ducks down the river’s current to a finish line some half mile downstream. The Festival was first instated thirty years ago by Baron Hans, whose life was saved during the Tinker’s Rebellion by a flock of ducks that caused a raucous when the rebels tried to pursue his flight, distracting them and allowing him to escape. The event was commemorated and made a local holiday.

Who knew ducks could be so influential? The above mentions 1) a cultural event, 2) an history of how it came to be so, and 3) an allusion to another event that took place in the town of Dalyss’s past. It also hints at how the townsfolk felt about their Baron, that they’d make such an holiday. These things give a place (and a person) depth and dimension.

I, personally, really enjoy the worldbuilding aspect of writing, more and more so as I’ve explored Sekon’dome and other places of Jasinda and all the possibilities available there, as well as thinking ahead to other stories I hope to write in the future. Regardless of on what scale your story’s world is built, from scratch or a preexisting environment (such as modern day or historical NYC or London) it will stand all the stronger for the extra thought and effort. You, and your readers, will fall into your world that much more thoroughly ─ and who doesn’t want that?


Don’t forget! The giveaway for An Odyssey’s End is well underway, so if you haven’t entered yet, now’s the time!

Volume 7 Giveaway is now Alive!

Hello, everyone, and happy July! The days are dwindling down to the publication day, and I am both thrilled for it to come as well as anxious — it promises to be a wild weekend, after all! But until that day comes I have here a pre-present: the seventh and final giveaway celebrating the run of The Journey Taken! You’ve all been so encouraging and supportive along this road, and I can’t help but feel a little surreal that it’s coming to an end after what? Has it been five years already? I believe so — how crazy is that? Thank you so much for walking this path with me!

On Role Models: A Skim off the List of Favorite Authors

Hello! How is everyone’s May coming so far? A little cooler than we were hoping for, no? The 85 days are coming. Until then, enjoy the sunshine when it’s here and not roasting you to a crispy potato chip ─ those days are saved exclusively for haying, it feels like!

Later this month I’ll be divulging some long anticipated information on volume 7 (so exciting!) but today I wanted to share with you a (very brief) list of some of my favorite authors:

Andrew PetersonAndrew Peterson ─ Author of the Wingfeather Saga, a tale that transcends age genres. Mr. Peterson, based in Nashville, is a storyteller through and through, sharing his gift through many different mediums. Not only has he written a fantastic series of four books, but he is also a singer/songwriter who travels the country and (sometimes) the globe spreading his love for stories and Jesus through music, creating albums like The Burning Edge of Dawn  and Light for the Lost Boy. He is currently in the process of turning the Wingfeather Saga into an animated short, and I cannot coherently relate how thrilled I am at this prospect. What I admire most about Mr. Peterson’s writing is his whimsy. It may sound silly (and in many ways, that’s the very definition), but his turn of phrase and usage of words is so creative that it gives the feeling of a finger painting ─ but a finger painting that’s as captivating as anything Michelangelo or Monet ever put to canvas. His ability to communicate deep subjects in a format any and everyone can understand without being heavy, crafting a tale with power and scope that inspires the imagination in both children and adults, is a truly beautiful experience.

Visit his Goodreads Page and website to learn more (and sample his music!) And don’t forget to watch this trailer of the animated short and check over at the Wingfeather page for news, art, and conversation – all about the saga!


Megan Whalen TurnerMegan Whalen Turner ─ Mastermind behind the Queen’s Thief series, the fifth volume of which is coming out next week (ah!) The day I discovered her was a fateful day, indeed. I heard someone say of her writing in the Queen’s Thief series that ‘it reads like a political historical fiction’, and I could not agree more. Each book is so chocked full that I can read them time and time again and never get tired, because how she crafts the story is so multi-faceted that no information is given too early. Just because you’re reading from someone’s POV doesn’t mean you’re privy to every thought and reasoning that would spoil the suspense and surprise. That’s what hooked me on both her story and her writing when I first read The Thief. How she developed her characters, and the personality of each, sent me head over heels as both a reader and a writer, because even though we experienced the story as Gen, we didn’t learn that he was actually Eugenides, Thief of Eddis, until the Magus and Sophos did, and how everything unfolded and came together to reveal a plot that was bigger than you thought just wowed me. I’d never read anything like it before, and I have to admire Turner’s ability to take that puzzle, scatter it, and put it back together so randomly that you never get an idea of the full picture until it’s staring you in the face, sitting back and marveling. I love her puzzle box writing, and you’ll be gathered to the fold as well, from page one.

Visit her website and Goodreads page to learn more, and check out these book trailers for The Thief!


Stephen R. Lawhead ─ Architect of such tales as the King Raven trilogy, Song of Albion trilogy, and the Pendragon Cycle, just to name a few, Lawhead easily fits in with the greats like C.S. Lewis and Tolkein for the depth and richness of his stories. As a scholar and award-winning wordsmith, spanning several genres, much of his work (including and especially the three series mentioned above) is based on and influenced by Celtic history and legend, bringing to vibrant life such renowned characters as King Arthur and Robin Hood in a new and realistic light. Even his original characters become so authentic, with their struggling, failing, and prevailing, that I felt more in tune with them, like they were real people and not just the glorified pawns some heroes and villains become in roles they play. The symbolism he puts into his stories and the artful way he speaks on the page has made him a staple on my bookshelf and an author I repeatedly return to for a gripping, well rounded, and inspiring story.

For more information and a complete list of his bibliography, visit his website, and check out this trailer for The Skin Map, the first book in his Bright Empires series!


Image result for wayne thomas batsonWayne Thomas Batson ─ Author of the Door Within trilogy, the Dark Sea Annals duet, and the Dreamtreaders trilogy, plus several other works, Batson is actually the first author I claimed as a ‘favorite’, and because of that he holds a special place in my heart. I was first introduced to his work years ago through the Door Within trilogy, which I happened to find while browsing the shelves at my childhood library. I read the first book, The Door Within, in one sitting, staying up past two in the morning because it engulfed me so completely. I wasn’t writing much back then, but his craft certainly helped me along toward where I am now. Not only did he make a story, characters, and plot that carried me away to a wonderful place, but I deeply admired the biblical truth and analogy with which he wrote, synonymous to both Stephen R. Lawhead and Andrew Peterson. Similar also with Megan Whalen Turner, it was an experience I had never had before, and I remember still now how it impacted me, how it made me want to be able to write like that, a good story ─ in all its layers. Someday I would like to meet this man and thank him for following his dream, which has in turn helped me follow mine.

Visit Batson’s Goodreads page or weblog for more information about his books and what he’s up to!


My own work hasn’t yet reached the level of excellence these masters have attained, but I always say that nothing worthwhile is ever easy, and I’m hoping that every drop of blood, sweat, and tears I put into forging my own style, every word I punch out on this worn keyboard, will bring me one step closer to what and where I want my writing to be.

On Characters: “. . ., I Choose You!”

Good day to you, readers, from the far hidden corners of the realm! Has the undulating weather of this March made you mad, yet? Bonkers? It certainly feels indecisive, doesn’t it? Warm and even balmy to overcast and blustery in a matter of hours, and then back again ─ if spring came as abrupt and resolutely as winter does, how different might things be? Ah, but there’s no sense in complaining, as it doesn’t serve to change a single thing.  All we can do is take it as it comes and trust in the Lord to carry us through!

Anywho, today we’re continuing on the theme of characters. The question I have here is:

Of all the characters you have created, which is your favorite and why?

Well I (personally) resent that question ─ we don’t play favorites in this house! So I’m going to ignore that one and move on to the next:

If you could spend time with a character from your book, whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?

Tough. Question. To narrow down the vast spectrum of characters I have thus far, I’ve decided to limit this inquiry to within the context of the Journey Taken. Although, having made a list (roughly 200+) that doesn’t make it a whole lot easier. That said, I thought about ignoring this one, too, or putting it on the back burner for later, because I couldn’t possibly choose. That’s like picking a favorite, right? And I’ve already said we don’t play favorites in this house. Nevertheless, I couldn’t help but think it an interesting question, so I gave it some consideration ─ just whom would I like to spend a day with? And it happened that, as I was thinking, my thoughts kind of muddled from ‘who I would rather spend a day with?’ or ‘what I would do with this person if I had a day to spend with just them?’ into ‘what would they do, if they had a day to just chill, do whatever they want?’

Intriguing idea, no?

Well, I think Iris might like to go out to the town and spend the day looking at all the wares, maybe do some shopping. She probably wouldn’t mind having Jonquil along, too. Jonquil, on the other hand, if he had a choice, would most likely want to get away from town, probably go on a meandering hike type thing alone in the woods by himself with no one around to disturb his exploration, hunting, and nap in a spot of sunshine. Teryn would probably wander around town, too, until she found an alehouse and/or archery range. Maybe dominate the archery range and then hit the alehouse. Fwip would tag along, though for different reasons. His day of just doing whatever he wanted would leave him a wealthier man and lot of others less so. Keeping him otherwise occupied would protect the more honest side of the economy, I believe. We all know Thock would keep an eye on him, and outside of making sure his younger brother doesn’t get himself into horrible trouble, I don’t think he’s ever given much thought to what he would like to do given a day to do anything he wanted. He’s a very focused man. Sergil might just relax and knock a few back at the alehouse (and preferably not the one Teryn’s patroning), but he’d most like to spend his day with Lyla, whatever it is she might be doing. To not be rushed away and hounded by world-shattering responsibilities would be a dream come true, he might say. And Lollen? Pft. Well, Lollen would only be found at the library, tucked behind a mound of manuscripts. It’s how he grew up, after all, and old habits, old inclinations, die hard. As for Raleigh and Xanthus, Raleigh might not know what to do with himself for a while, actually. For so long his life has been directed by others that the freedom of choosing what to do with his time would baffle his brain. He’d then proceed to scramble for a way to spend his day (every idea likely involving work of some sort. Helosite leisure time, when it rarely shows its face, is usually spent doing something else productive). Although, deep down, buried under all that indoctrination and learned habits, some time with Robin, Ryner, and Xanthus, unbothered, would be his favorite. A day where he could be with them and forget what all he’d been through and bask in the company of his loved ones without the nagging possibility of being pulled away for some task elsewhere. Xanthus wouldn’t mind doing any of that, either. I don’t think he’d know what to do with himself, overwhelmed by the possibilities of what all he could do and all the things he didn’t think he could do. His first reaction would be to find a familiar face and stay with them. But if asked, and after some intense consideration, he’d spend his day with Raleigh, and probably wouldn’t mind having Robin and Ryner along, too. At least for now, until he learns more about himself as a person ─ and a free person at that.

So if you asked me who I would spend a day with (in the context of TJT), I still couldn’t tell you. So let me turn this question around and ask who would you like to spend some time with? And please, let me know in the comments!


Also, don’t miss out on the opportunity to enter for a chance to win a FREE copy of Adventures in Isle! The giveaway ends the 27th, so there’s only a few days left! Each copy comes autographed and with a series bookmark.


And now, starting today and running until the 27th as well, you have the opportunity to own free of charge an ebook copy of Adventures in Isle! Already have one? Why not tell a friend? Books are best shared, so spread the word!

The Pen, Archenemy of Forgetfulness

Hello, and happy Saturday! There’s been a lot happening this past week, so here’s just my two cents on a subject that hits pretty close to home with myself as a writer.

I once read a quote somewhere that said ‘The greatest lie people tell themselves is that they don’t need to write it down because they’ll remember it.’ I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t think truer words have ever been spoken.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come up with an idea for a story or a quote that (I thought) was awesome or a name I really liked and might use for a character and proceeded to not write it down right then because I thought I could remember it until later. WRONG. So, so very wrong, because then I (without fail, usually) end up getting distracted and forgetting it. It’s not until later that I remember I had an idea, and by then I can never remember what that idea was, and then I hate myself.

As writers it’s very important to write things down (kind of in the job description, actually) because inspiration has a tendency to strike and random and our next greatest story might come (and usually does) while we’re in the middle of scrubbing the bathroom floor. Or some other activity. It’s a good habit to jot those things down while you have them, instead of trying to remember it until later. Your memory will betray you and hide it away or toss it out the window. This is very important, so much so that I now have a notepad with ‘write it or lose it’ printed on every sheet, which I then tack to my doorframe (for lack of a better place, but at this point I might have to branch out because I have so many).

Even if you’re not a writer, it’s not a bad idea to write things down when you think of them, then even if (and when) you forget that phone message you were supposed to pass on three days after you took it, you have it on paper to help you remember and not make a total shmuck of yourself. It’s why God gave us pens and paper, I’m pretty sure.


Don’t forget to enter the Goodreads giveaway for a chance to win a copy of The Northward Expedition, volume 2 of The Journey Taken! Each copy comes signed and includes a series bookmark (how fun is that?)!

Perks of Nerd-dom

Hey, everybody! Work on vol. 6 is coming along swimmingly, but I wanted to drop in and share with you about this cool stuff I got in the mail yesterday!

Throughout the books there’s mentioned various constellations, and in vol. 2, The Northward Expedition, a very enthusiastic librarian in Marblheim explains to Thock and Fwip the Greater Stars constellation, or the Sky Prophecy. Earlier this summer I spent some time drawing up symbols to represent those Greater Stars (learning a lot about Photoshop in the process ─ double score!).

Just this month I was given the opportunity to turn those images into my very own memory game! And as providence would have it, I had exactly enough images to fill all twelve spaces (meant to be or what?)!

Check it:

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I thought it was really neat to be able to put my own art into a form like this, to draw and design something beyond pencil sketches – I’m not used to it and it’s awesome!

Now that I have this new game within my grasp, I need to wrangle people into playing it with me. Fortunately (for me) we have family coming over this afternoon (unbeknownst to them, they walk into a trap – mwahahahaha!!)

The Bookmark is Coming, the Bookmark is Coming!

Hello! I’m popping in to say that I’ve hashed out a bookmark design and submitted the order just this morning! This stuff is always so nerve wracking for me, because you never really know what it’s going to look like until it comes in the mail. But all in good time – there’s no going back!

So, as promised, here’s a peek at what they’re supposed to look like:

bookmark-front1

Super cool, huh? I thought so. I’ve had the background image squirreled away for a while, having wanted to put Bill and Kai’Tor in the scene for . . . gosh, ages, when I think back. This somewhat mysterious-y picture is the result, and it makes me super pleased to showcase these two Faenari and share their awesomeness.

As for the progress on vol. 6, it’s coming along! I should be finishing the edits (yay!) and digging into formatting (ugh) THIS week. Things are really coming together now that we’re winding toward the finish, and it’s always such an exciting time!