Monday, March 25, 2013

January/Febuary/March Giveaway ;)

So I realized I never kept up with my Stories in the Mind Giveaways!! In fact, I have been falling behind on everything for this blog the last few months. I plan on getting back on board here. Really. :D I have been feeling a little more bloggerly inspired the last few days, so hopefully that will carry through and I can get back on my feet. :D

THIS giveaway will end the 31st of March. I am excited about the next one because I have something really fun I know you will all love to giveaway!

{This month's giveaway: a small wooden chest}

Rules to enter:

1: must be a member of Stories in the Mind
2: loves to read!!! :)
3: comment on the blog in one post other than this one
4: tell me what your favorite book is and why! {if you have done this, feel free to skip it and I will add you in for the 4th tag anyway, just let me know you have completed it}
5: give me one reason why I should pick you. JK!! share the giveaway on your blog and send me the link

The giveaway is open internationally.

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask!


Sunday, March 24, 2013


So I have more or less finished nothing on my book.

eh he... yeah, and I have how many more days until the end of the month? Don't remind me. I don't want to hear it. It will mean I will be cramming a million pages of editing into the last few days. Just be warned, you will probably not be hearing from me.

To be honest, I have simply been procrastinating. I have the time. I just have a million other things I'd rather do. Like play with my new puppy. Go outside with friends. Watch the Hobbit {which we have on DVD now}... I mean, the list goes on. I'd even rather go do the dishes and mop the floor right about now. Only because I know I have to finish now. Do any of you ever get like this? No? Well, I'll be fried. In hot oil. Maybe with a few eggs and bacon.

I thought for a while it would be cool to show you what editing for me looked like. I would pull a random piece from my book, post it here, then go edit it, and show you the result. Until I realized what that would mean...

My writing is changing soooo much right wouldn't even recognize the two pieces. Most of what I have done has been rip out selections and put them back together totally differently. I completed a chapter that was killing me. {Finally!} It is now a compilation of what was two chapters... So yeah, that wouldn't work.

So, now would be a good time to pray for me. Really hard. I mean, REALLY hard. Because I am about to die. Of sleepless nights. And something like drain-bamage... SAVE ME!!!!!


Sunday, March 17, 2013

the issue of a challenge...

Call me terrible. Say I'm a loser. I can take it. Because it's true...
After all, how many weeks has it been since I did a proper post? Too many, to say the least. But I am here now, and I guess that is what counts.
Here, and issuing a challenge.
I am doing the impossible. At least that's what I am telling myself. Really, had I thought about this a month ago or even a few weeks ago, I would have freaked out and wept into the carpeting. But today I am strong. Today I am going to do it.
I am going to finish my book, In the Shadow.
This month.
Yes, you heard me correctly. That is my goal. Impossible, to say the least.

I am excited because I only have about one third of the book left and I have been working hacking at it pretty well the last few days. I've switched a few of these later chapters around and now I am reworking their progression and the entire middle part of the book. But the goal is to have the entire thing finished by the 31st and then to do one final editing. At that point, I will seriously be giving it to my beta-readers, get some good feedback, and start trying for a publisher!!!
I am mostly afraid of not finding anyone who likes my book. Since I began it at thirteen, a lot of the storyline and character progression are cliche and simplistic. While that is not entirely bad, it is still less of a masterpiece than I hoped to bring to the world. I know, this first book ~ in fact, no book ~ can be perfect. But I want it as perfect as I can get it... So I am aiming for as possible.
I was very tempted for a while to just ditch the whole book and start on one of my other ideas. But after 6 years spent dedicated to it's cause, I decided {with advice from my Dad} to keep at it. I'm glad. I am very fond of this book. It has been by my side through the hardest part of my life. It has been through five title changes. It has changed and changed and changed some more, sometimes more a reflection of how I have grown than anything else.
But that also put me in mind of all the time I have spent on this book and how much I'd like to go on. I am determined to finish this book {really finish it, to publishable standards} before embarking on a new novel. So many times during these last six years I've been sidtracked with secondary ideas and neglected this mammoth project for weeks...sometimes, even months. And it has dragged out for far too long. It is time to be finished. That is why I decided to challenge myself and get it done THIS month.
I know I am crazy. I have about a hundred pages of editing left. But I am sick of just picking at it. The time is here. The time to finish.

 And now for my challenge...
Do any of you have unfinished projects that you have been working on forever that just *need* to be done? Come join me in my adventure and try to finish it THIS month!! You won't regret it! In fact, I have a serious feeling you will relish the completion. There is always a sweet feeling of satisfaction when you have finally finished a project.
I am looking forward to that feeling.


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Friday, March 1, 2013


Backstory is important. REALLY important. It sets the stage for your characters and makes them who they are. It shows you why they are to be pitied, gives them loveable personalities, or legitimate reason to be scared to death of what’s going on in the world. Every character will have their own backstory, with its own purpose.

How do you create a backstory?
Take a look at your character. Do they have weaknesses? Desires? Do they understand something so deeply it’s uncanny? Pull them out of their shells and figure out why they have these traits. And create a story about it. Is Miguel terrified of escalators? Perhaps he tripped and fell out of one once. Does Brianna evidence strength, when we know she is not? Maybe she was hurt before and tries to protect herself by pretending to be strong.

Backstory as a history.

There is also the side of backstory that creates a better comprehension of the setting, the personality, or the way the character interacts with others.

It is usually slipped in during a part of the story where things won’t make sense unless you KNOW why a character is doing something or love/hates another character. And it will be important for the rest of the story. 

EXAMPLE of backstory being slipped into the present story: from In the Shadow, my current WIP.

Ancient Rome, during the reign of Emperor Nero.
Two slaves, Cyrus and Merrie, whispering together in the dark of the stable.
Cyrus is trying to convince Merrie to share important information she has learned with their master. Merrie is scared to death of their master and doesn’t want to do it.

Pinned Image

Word count: 415
© Pure Grace

Cyrus’s hand felt cold against her shoulder.
“It is the only way. You must see that! If you cannot go to Messalina and you do not want to speak to Claudia, you have to go to their father.”
Merrie’s breath streamed out and fogged in the damp stable air. “It won’t work,” she protested.
“You just have to try. Trust me. Very little works in Rome, when you are a slave.”
Merrie glanced at him sharply. He had not spoken like that in a long time. Almost since she had met him. She still remember the day he had been dragged into the Antistius courtyard, rough, angry, his raggedly uneven black hair blown over his forehead and into his eyes, wrists bound behind him, a spitting, red-hot flame burning in his eyes. She had been with Messalina, preparing to go to a party, and their litter was late. She had watched silently as he fought against the men who struggled to haul him toward the center of the courtyard, where Kaderus awaited them. Then one of the men struck Cyrus, sprawling him on his face. Blood gushed from his nose. Merrie had seen enough. Grey eyes large with distress, she had sprung away from Messalina and skidded to her knees beside the wild boy, covering his head and shoulders with her body.
“Out of the way, child!” one of the men shouted at her.
“Don’t hurt him!” she plead, helping him to his knees.
“Hotheads will get what they deserve. We will deal with him.”
“He won’t cause any more trouble.” She had looked up into Cyrus’s eyes and watched the flame slowly flicker, fighting against her, and then gently give up.
“Nay,” he had whispered huskily. “I won’t cause any more trouble.”
She had helped him to his feet, wiped his bloodied face and elbows with her clean sash, and then skipped back to Messalina, feeling light and exultant inside. His eyes had trailed her until one of the men prodded him in the ribs, reminding him to move. From that day on, they had been best friends.
“You just have to try,” Cyrus leaned back in the hay, wincing slightly as a straw pricked him. “It is your only chance.”
Merrie paused, trying to make sense of the mixed fear and longing inside her. She wanted to tell someone, so badly! Yet she dreaded facing Antistius. The darkness pressed around her. She stood up and planted her feet. “What you say is impossible.”

Backstory can be very pretty. It can impact you and help you feel more familiar the character. It can leave you feeling grief for them, make you relate to their anger, dig deep in your heart, or cause you to laugh at their outrageous stupidity.

But it can also be used unwisely. It can tell too much, solve too many plot intrigues, and explain more of the characters faults or virtues than need to be yet known. Sometimes too much is explained away too early and there is no more desire to read because we have all the answers about why the character is behaving the way they are.

Personally, I love a good backstory. I enjoy learning about the characters and feeling more akin to what is going on. I really like backstory that draws me into the character, and makes me wish things hadn’t happened, or at least happened differently, even though you can’t change them {and you know it’s just a story and can’t help wishing it had ended up different}. Stories such as Katniss’s father in The Hunger Games. You hate the fact that he died. When you read slips of the past slide between passages of compelling story, you cannot help but feel the depth of meaning behind what is happening.

How to construct backstory.

First of all, you have to feel the need. Is something missing from your character? Is there a trait that is unexplained or a part of the story void?

Then you need to decide what kind of backstory will fill it. Do you want the readers to be saddened by what happened? Confused? Maybe angry? Or maybe you need them to laugh. Create the backstory according to your hole.

A few weeks ago, I was editing a portion of In the Shadow. I was in chapter 17 {over half-way through the book!} and reached a place where a character was telling his own backstory. The purpose for the story was to make my MC feel a greater contempt for another character and a consuming pity for the storyteller. The backstory was neither compelling nor humorous. I ditched it, did my research, and came up with a story that is powerful, frustrating, and breathtaking. Something that will leave you in as many tears as the MC. {But I can’t share it, or else I will spoil too much. ;)}

Where to put your backstory.

Most of the time backstory will flow out of the story itself. When that moment arises that you need an explanation or emotion for your characters OR readers, it will just fit in. But other times, you may already have a backstory planned for your character and just pitching it in will confuse the reader. It will feel like a misfit and as much a throw in as it is.

First, decide what the backstory fulfills. What is its purpose? Why is it necessary? Then find out where in the story that need arises. Where does the character face that need? That will be the place to put it.

Making backstory captivating.

The best way to make your backstory interesting is to interrupt it. Fling the reader into the middle of a great history and then cut it off short by springing them back to the present. So, just as they get to the reason for the character’s pain, or distrust, or any other purpose for the backstory, it is cut off and unanswered. Not only will they be frustrated fascinated, but they are going to want to know what happened and why, how it was solved and who did it…and keep reading.

And that of course, is every writer’s goal. ;)

Because backstory is so important, it has to be done well. Be careful about what you chose to put in and where. In most cases, you can feel safe in taking more out than leaving more in. Too much story can destroy the book. Too little? It might confuse your readers, but it will not take away from the story.
I hope you have fun creating your backstories!