My Forever Library

My Forever Library

My dad joined the military when I was six years old, and we’ve been moving from base to base ever since. This might horrify a lot of people, but staying in one place for the rest of my life is equally horrifying to me. I can’t imagine being stuck in a single town, in a single state, and in a single country for the rest of your life.

But there are plenty of people who disagree. At one base, we met a family who talked about a “forever home.” It was the house that they were building that they would live in after he retired from the military.

Naturally, I wrote it off as a “Never Home” in my case. If I can’t move again in three years, no thank you. But my mother, as she always does, found a practical application for my life. A Forever Library.

I loved the idea and started right away.

It’s a meager thing now. A couple books sitting along the top of my desk.

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And each one has a story behind the book itself or how I got it.

The Giver helped me learn to see things from a different point of view. From something as simple as the miracle of color or as complex as the possibility of authority figures being wrong.

Percy Jackson and The Lighting Thief was the first book I read that really made me go, “Oh my goodness books and reading are the bestest to ever best.” I used to be a little upset that I didn’t have the series with the lovely covers featuring Percy’s New York skyline, but now I’m glad to have the covers that I grew up with.

That tattered Pilgrim’s Progress was a gift from one of my oldest friends and mentors, Chaplain Gilbert. He gave it to my dad, and my dad gave it to me in turn. He used to read it out loud to us at night.

The Jane Austen compilation was picked up by my parents at–of all places–a Costco. I’d been a fan of Pride and Prejudice, but I really wanted to read Sense and Sensibility. I loved Emma as well, although I still need to read Northinger Abbey. It awaits me in the Forever Library.

Then I have a Reader’s Digest with The Scarlet Pimpernel (one of my favorite classics), Tom Sawyer (one I believe I’m required to like as a Southern Person™), The Good Earth (as suggested by my mother) and Robin Hood (who doesn’t love Robin Hood?)

Next is the obligatory Tolkien tribute. A beautifull illustrated Atlas, an equally beautifull illustrated The Hobbit, and a lovely faux-leather bound LOTR.

Last are two little known books. One is The Secret of Ms. Snickle’s Class, and the other is Zoo School. While considerably younger than my other books, these two helped cement my love of reading. And I so, so wanted to attend a zoo school myself.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a messy reader. I turn down corners, I read while eating, I turn around the covers of paperbacks to hold more easily when I’m in public. I can hear some of you screaming in agony right now, and I apologize for my horrible treatment of books.

But I do love a nice set of books. And that’s what my Forever Library is for: the immortalization of some of my favorite books.

So what books would you like to have in your Forever Library? Do you already have one? Let me know in the comments, or email me at j.a.apricity@gmail.com!

Query Shark

Query Shark

I’ve always been one to put the cart before the horse. Planning things is just so much fun. And sometimes I forget to actually do the things I planned about.

In any case, this week’s Procrastination Tool is Query Shark. I skimmed literary agent Janet Ried’s blog a year or two back, but this time I did the full dive into the shark tank. I read every single query, all of her comments, and read (and reread) her rules for submission. I don’t know if she plans on taking any in 2017, but I plan on giving it a shot.

Obviously Beast needs a ton of editing, and I wouldn’t dream of sending in a query to The Shark before Beast is as polished up as possible. But here’s what I’m thinking so far:

 

Dear Query Shark, 

Belle never planned to love the monster who took her as payment for saving her kingdom. The Assassin never planned for anyone to love him again in spite of his bloody past and shattered mind. 

And his curse never planned on Belle’s true-love kiss causing her to take it upon herself. 

Belle runs before the curse forces her to massacre a kingdom. The Assassin makes a deal with a former employer: if she helps him track down Belle and the curse, he’ll help her take down an evil queen. 

As they play games with hearts and magic, someone else is playing games with their minds and monsters. 

BEAST is a 72,000 word fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Its sequel, QUEEN, will soon be complete at 80,000 words and continues the story of the curse through a Snow White retelling. Thank you for your time and consideration. 

Sincerely, 

Jane Apricity

 

Paring down the plot and trying to make it as enticing as possible has also helped my writing not just for the query’s sake, but for editing Beast as well. I’m getting back to the basics of the plot, the feel, the tone and underlying themes that are important to me.

In essence, I’m going back to good old fashioned storytelling. Which, in the end, is exactly what I’m trying to do as an author.

Book Blab – Ink & Bone

Book Blab – Ink & Bone

I’ve had this book on my wishlist for quite some time. What book lover wouldn’t adore it? The title is riveting, and the cover alone could give me shivers of ecstasy.

 

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Ink & Bone by Rachel Caine

 

Basic Summary- The Great Library (*more happy shivers*) controls everything in this world. It is forbidden to own books. In fact, everything is centered around books, which are gathered up and taken care of by Scholars. Jess, the loveable MC, comes from a family of book smugglers. They sell books to anyone with enough money, from Inklickers (who eat books to prove they own them) to Burners (who burn books to prove the Great Library is evil and that human lives matter more than books.) Jess is chosen to become a worker of the Great Library, but learns that there is much more to his world–and his heart–than smuggling books.

 

My Thoughts- That summary, of course, does nothing to really capture this book. It’s a stunning work, and I absolutely cannot wait for the sequel. (Paper & Fire, another fantastic title.) Caine writes quite unlike anyone else I’ve read before, which made reading Ink & Bone an experience not just for the riveting characters, world-building, and story arcs, but for the writing itself.

 

What Can Authors Learn From This Book?

 

Don’t Stress So Much About Your MC… But Do Stress About the Minors 

Jess is nearly perfect MC. Not because the person himself is perfect. He has plenty of faults, all of which work perfectly in the story. But he doesn’t have a show-stealing personality or center-of-the-attention-all-the-time actions.

Minor characters had a major role in Ink & Bone. Each of them was distinct and unique, and had as much say in how the plot progressed as Jess himself. That’s not to say that Jess was replaceable. He was very much the main character, and not just a narrator. (I’m looking at you, Nick of The Great Gatsby.)

But likewise, the minor characters weren’t replaceable. This is an aspect of writing that is much glossed over. I’m so happy with Rachel Caine’s portrayal of all her characters.

 

Pacing? What Pacing? 

Caine’s pacing was unlike anything I’ve seen before. At first, it irritated me about. She flew by what felt like weeks of important world building as Jess and the other Postulants studied. Then I realized that it was irrelevant to her true plot, which then blew me away.

Caine spat in the face of most pacing I’ve seen, and did so pretty eloquently. I stand in awe. I’m still struggling to see how I can apply this to my own writing (and horrible pacing) but I believe that the ultimate lesson is play around. Don’t stick to a strict formula. You might find something amazing.

 

Overall

This is bloody fantastic. I loved every word, and tried to savor it as long as I could. (A struggle for a speed-reader. And a reader who has the tendency to fly by multiple pages without comprehending a word when the plot thickens.) I absolutely loved Ink & Bone and look forward to the sequel.

 

Have a favorite book you’ve received this Christmas? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

 

 

 

Stepping Into the World of Freelance

Stepping Into the World of Freelance

Project Freelancer. Those words jerk me back to the days of roleplaying with friends, when they were obsessed with the internet show “Red vs Blue.” But while those Freelancers were from the world of Halo and sent off as mercs for hire, I’ll be doing something a little more legal. Specifically, freelance writing.

It should have occurred to me much sooner, really. I enjoy both the creative and the technical parts of writing, and my friends (and total strangers) have been asking me to help them with writing many times before. From simple revision and proofing to practically ghost writing and collabs, I’ve always been doing the same thing.

If you’re good at something, never do it for free.  -The Joker

While that quote was taken from one of the most heinous villains to grace comic books, it seems pretty solid. So after stumbling across this conclusion, I joined Upwork.

Upwork seems to get mixed reviews. “Real” freelancers seem to dislike it, but they have no qualms concerning age, and it looks like a good springboard for someone with limited billable experience. It may not be perfect for everyone, but it seems like a good fit for me.

I spent this weekend setting up a profile, as well as linking it up to a shiny new email, Twitter and matching profile pics all across. (I’m going to be just as bad at Twitter as I am at Facebook, I assure you.)

Am I all dressed up with no place to go? I certainly hope not. As quickly as I got around to doing this, I hope it sticks around much longer. The freedom it could give me financially would be a real blessing, especially as I near the “getting kicked out of the house” age.

And if it does flop, at least I now have consistent profile pictures.

Bessings!

-J.A.

 

 

 

 

Pick Your Stereotype – Poetry

Pick Your Stereotype – Poetry

You don’t have to be who they say you are,

We are told when young.

 

See what all you can be,

They say, and they show us

Templates from which to choose.

 

Why be judged for how you are born?

Pick your stereotypes.

 

Because why dare attempt to change a system?

History will cycle on,

Only the players change.

 

Choose your character, they say.

Pick your stereotype.

 

 

When I was younger, I despised free form poetry. But I’ve come to appreciate it a lot more in the past few years. This came to me when I overhead some airmen talking about how he can either choose to be a hood black guy or a white black guy, even in the most progressive of circles. 

I hope you enjoyed this, and please feel free to leave constructive criticism. 

-J.A. 

The Images of Writing

While I’m definitely not my sister, I’m a relatively artsy person. Which is incredibly handy for worldbuilding. Example:

 

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I swear I’m a mature author.

Okay, okay, not really. But in all honesty, a map can make the writing process so much smoother.

This is a real example of the map above, which will be used in KISA/Legends of Galdre/Sorcerers Familiar. (My trilogy that is in desperate need of a unifying title.)

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It’s still in the works, obviously, but it’s coming along pretty nicely. And I love that I could use Skelside Tower as the Compass Rose.

(For anyone interested in fantasy maps, I used this book by Jared Blando, which is also free on Kindle if you have the right cred. I promise I make no money off of telling you this.)

I’ll be making a map for Tale soon as well, and want to make more detailed maps of individual countries on each.

World building isn’t just restricted to mapping it out, however. This sketch of Naiporl, an important city in Tale, was a blast to do. I got to have fun portraying the architecture based a little more on the Middle East, which is an important part of Naiporl’s–and a lot of the world of Tale’s–identity.

 

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I have part of the Delumbrum (religious center for the Clergy) on the left, and the “Black Market” straight ahead, under the silk canopies. The mosaics and statues of saints become more intricate the closer you get to the Delumbrum. The windows and doors of the buildings are open air to elleviate heat, but are secured by grates.  

 

This is my first attempt at a cityscape… I really enjoyed it! I’m going to try sketching the Assassin’s castle next, and am working on a map for this world as well as touching up KISA’s.

I also want to try sketching the characters, although that’s really more my sister’s area of expertise.

I used to try and avoid doing anything other than writing because I felt like it was cheating. It was time spent not writing, and shouldn’t I be able to express it all in words anyways? I’m an author, not a storyteller.

Oh… right.

In any case, I no longer give myself grief for taking the time to build up my worlds a little more in multiple mediums. If you guys do the same, I’d love to hear about it! Link me to some pictures below, or just blab to me at apricitydefine@gmail.com

Blessings!

-J.A.

 

Kiss 2016 Goodbye

Kiss 2016 Goodbye

I’ve recently been reading a book called Ink and Bone, about which I will write a book review as soon as I’ve finished it. (Keep your eyes peeled for a blog post titled Book Blab!) In it, the main characters who work at the Great Library are constantly writing in their journals. They might use it to vent about their day, or scribble down theories and plans.

I’ve struggled for years to keep a journal, but I liked the way this sounded. Write whatever you feel that day! I could write about something I don’t want to forget (like a funny quote or my grocery list), write a scene that won’t get out of my head but doesn’t fit in a story, or write about “feelings” and similar things.

I wrote this on December 31st, just before the new year. (If you think it sounds at all mature or dramatic, I’ll have you know that I wrote it with a Sonic Screwdriver while wearing llama pajama pants.)

I wonder what fuels inspiration.

One moment, I’m struggling with every other phrase, and the next my fingers glide as images, music and soul all pour from my mind.

I’m inspired by ink and leather and memories stolen from the long-gone. I’m inspired by the culture of society’s heathens, and the heathens of society’s cultured. By time, places, people, as well as art’s pale imitation of them and the caricatures that paint them all the more vibrantly.

I am inspired when emotion takes a form, however brazen or subtle. I am inspired by the fantastic, and the things so real that I can taste them, like one has pointed out my breathing.

The exclusive, the universal. The beautiful, the treacherous. The exotic, the commonplace.

What am I not inspired by?

Of course, I later went on to rail on 2016 and place a few tentative hopes for 2017, but I think that bit will resonate with most authors. I thought I’d throw it out here, in all it’s Sonic-ed and llama glory.

Have a fantastic new year!

-J.A.