I want a Dragon!

Welp, I just finished my third first chapter.

Come again?

Let me back up. After spending many hours writing out a detailed outline of my sequel to the Gifted Sisters and the Golden Mirror, I knew I had to be ready to start writing in chapter form. Except my mind had other plans. After writing the first two chapters, my ideas begin to change. So instead of scrapping what I had so far, I started over in hopes to use what I had already later on. So I begin again. I knew exactly where this story was going to go.

Wait.

Hold on. 

Ooh, a dragon sounds really cool. What if she has a dragon? Okay, let’s start over. La la la….uh, wait, no a dragon doesn’t belong here….what if the other sister has it instead? Why do I need a dragon again. Ugh. Okay. No dragon.

So I carry on again with the outline I had originally laid out. Except once again, another idea comes to mind….no, wait. Doh! It’s a dragon again. This is when I start telling myself that I can’t have everything I want. Some things just can’t be forced. That’s when I allow myself to relax and just let the story flow naturally.

Thus came the first third chapter of my book.

Exhausting right? This is the constant battle that ensues during my whole writing process. Some authors don’t use outlines, it makes them feel confined. While others rely on them to keep their ideas on track. I have found that I do a combination of both. My outline changes constantly. As long as I know where I will end up, the in between can be anything I want it to be…correction, anything my characters want it to be. Because let’s be real, they are the ones in charge.

Telling a story, breathing it into existence, is one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had. It’s like your own life, with so many decisions that need to be made and adventures that make you decide what kind of person you want to be. You can make an outline for your life, but I promise you it will change. Just make sure you stay true to yourself and your story will end exactly as it should.

Except in the real world I don’t get a dragon. Which is totally unfair. But that’s a story for another day.

Until then I will now begin my third second chapter.

Or watch Harry Potter….yes, that sounds good too.

(There are dragons in those…)

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Jeeping Is A Thing

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Many years ago I got married. It was one of those where I met him and three months later we married. Life was good until he asked if he could start playing World of Warcraft. Knowing nothing about this “world” I said sure. It’s just a computer game….right? Well, the game became his life. I tried to understand, and even played myself. It pushed us apart.

I know, I know, what does this have to do with Jeeping. I’m getting there. Stay with me.

Then I got married again. This time we dated for three years instead of months. I learned his hobby of hunting. And though I don’t hunt myself, I go along for support. (And it sets a great writing atmosphere.) So after a few years, he came to me and asked if he could buy a jeep. Surely this wouldn’t be anything like World of Warcraft, right?

All of a sudden my world changed. He told me about a community of jeepers who hang out together and go on trails. I was not thrilled about this. It sounded awful. Plus, his jeep was turning out to be a very expensive potato head on wheels.

Well I went to a jeeping event called a Novice Run. Where all the newbies are put into groups and taken through trails. My husband was excited. I kept my grumbling to myself and sucked it up. I would not let him do this hobby without me. I couldn’t lose him.

Then I met Sharla. A woman who isn’t afraid of anyone. In fact, guys are scared of her. She talked me through every obstacle that I was sure we were going to die on. I fell in love with her. In a platonic loving sister way. (Don’t get any ideas.)

Then I met more jeepers. And more. Kept going to other events. Discovered it is a huge charitable group, working closely with the Kai Warrior Foundation. Kids with cancer. It is so much more than I thought it ever would be.

At the beginning I thought for sure it would take my husband away from me, like the silly game did my first marriage. Instead, it has made us closer than ever. We have met some of our best friends through jeeping. They are crazy, caring, inappropriate, and supportive people. I will forever be grateful to this group. They are my family. Thanks Jeepers Anonymous!

My Top 10 Favorite Books

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As I approach a year of when I embarked on my writing journey, I thought I would give you a list of some of my favorite reads. Books that I could read over and over again. Books that developed my creative mind and whispered in my ear, a journey I too could have. If you haven't read any of these, I encourage you to add them to you list. Who knows, maybe they will become one of your favorites too!

1.) Wizards First Rule by Terry Goodkind.    

    The first book to an adult fantasy book series (Sword of Truth). It follows the story of a woods guide, who encounters a mysterious, powerful woman he comes to love. Learning his true identity, he must accept his destiny. Hands down my all time favorite read. Terry Goodkind is brilliant with painting pictures inside your mind, and convincing you these characters are real. It’s the toasted toads truth.

2.) Harry Potter Books by J.K. Rowling.

    Do I need to explain this one? I mean, there is a theme park built on these books!

3.) Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

    A 19 year old human girl, taken by force to a magical land to discover her captor is a             lethal, immortal fae. Her icy hostility eventually turns into fiery passion and must help save him and his world from a wicked shadow. Believe it or not, the second book to this series is my favorite. A read that I find my cheeks turning red from after the steamy scenes. Sarah J. Maas puts her words together beautifully, placing the characters passion inside of you.

4.)  Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

    A convict with a thirst for revenge. A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager. A runaway with a privileged past. A spy known as the Wraith. A heartrender using her magic to survive the slums. A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes. Put all these outcast together for one impossible heist, and it calls for an action packed story. Love love love the dark and dinginess of this telling.

5.) Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb 

    Fitz, a bastard son of the noble Prince Chilvary, raised in shadow. Treated by an outcast except for the devious King Shrewd, who has him trained as an assassin. For in Fitz’s blood runs the magic Skill—and a darker magic, forbidden by all. You can’t help feel sorry this boy, and you will root for him time and time again. 

6.) A Thread in the Tangle by Sabrina Flynn

    A nymph in a realm of humans. Coveted by men, she is destined to be sold when she comes of age. Her formidable guardian flees with her to the Isle of Wise Ones beseeching refuge. Three powerful kingdoms vie to own her, the fire in her blood however awakens, sparking a cataclysm that spirals into disaster. This read is in depth, another adult fantasy book that paints an in depth world of beauty. The author also happens to be my mentor and I adore her. Never would I have thought to ever become friends from an author I loved. 

7.) The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson

    Princess Lia’s is supposed to marry a prince she has never met. On the morning of wedding, she flees to a distant village. Two mysterious handsome men show up, and she is unaware that one of them is the jilted prince and the other an assassin. A great heroine story of a girl determined to be herself, and not let the rules of a kingdom dictate her life.

8.)  The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

    A book I discovered from a book club, I fell in love with the richness found in another culture. Li-yan and her family are tea farmers, ensconced in ritual and routine. Until a stranger appears, bringing the modern world in their lives. Having a baby out of wedlock, she leaves the baby near an orphanage. The story follows both the mom and the daughter growing up countries apart, and their trials in tribulation to one day reunite.

9.) Twilight by Stephanie Meyers

    Another one I do not need to explain. I am not a fan of vampires and werewolves, but I did love this series. 

10.) Divergent by Veronica Roth

    Even though I hated how this series ended, I still find myself in love with Tris and Tobias. A society with five factions where at the age of sixteen, you get to choose which one to be a part of. Holding on to a secret, she is determined to keep it hidden, because what makes you different makes you dangerous.

What are some of YOUR favorite reads??

How Far Would You Go To Find Death?

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On my way to write about a teenage girl who has suffered loss after loss, in my side project, Deaths Shadow, I have had to research a realm that I am unfamiliar with. Death. When one thinks of death, we think of loss. Death is that middle ground, the first to greet you when you are no longer alive. It is the place that stands between heaven and hell. Deep stuff, right? I have been reading over many documents that circle around the meaning of life. From different cultural views, and others myths and what seems to be made up worlds. It has been beyond interesting and more than eye opening for what little I actually need for my project. 

 In this book project, I will be creating a world that mixes between truth and fiction. It has made me take pause, and has me worrying of what people I know might think of me when they read what I will write. But I am also new to this whole writing thing and I realize it is fiction. My intention is not to offend anyone, and I can't go into this thinking that way.

In saying all this, I would love to hear your thoughts or references on your view of death. What is death to you? Has it ever been something that you have thought deeply about? With Genesis, the girl in my project, she wants to hunt death. Stop him from taking life of the people in her own life. Have you thought the same? Would you stop something that others say "it's just part of life."? Comment. I would love to hear your thoughts. 

If you want to follow my journey with Deaths Shadow, go to my facebook page and follow me. I post each chapter after I finish one. Or sign up on Wattpad and follow me there. rachelcrist11

Are We There Yet?

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I wonder what the original story read as on all of my favorite books. The more I go in and perfect my story, I realize my story must be changed to remain consistent. I thought writing would be simple steps. 1. Write Story  2. Edit Story. 3. Publish Story.

Here is the reality. 1. Write Story  2. Rewrite Story  3. Send to Editor  4. Cry  5. Take a chainsaw to story  6. Rewrite Story  7. Editor again.  8.Adjust writing.  9. Publish

I believe I have four different versions of my book now written. I have skillfully mutated them all together now and it's beginning to actually excite me again. When I hear that some novels take years to write, I now know why and I believe it. I have found that at first, I had to get it out by this summer and I was unintentionally stressing myself out. But I changed my thinking and I pushed aside the need to rush through it just to get it out to the world. Even though I keep a thin layer of the pressure on me, I use it to help motivate me. 

The Gifted Sisters and the Golden Mirror is my first novel, and with the hard work, dedication, and money I have poured into it, it deserves to be the best it can be. I want you, my readers, to understand this journey so that you understand why it's been shortly delayed from when I originally wanted it to be released. Thank you for your patience. 

The Waiting Game

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Drumming my fingers along my keyboard, I try to think of that feeling that won't let me sit still. Anxiety? Nervousness? Impatience? Any day now, I will be receiving back my first content edit. How many plot holes will she have found? Are my relationships between my characters meaningful? Will she tell me to burn it? ......ok, ok, I am being dramatic, she would never do that. I can say however, that I am really excited to work on whatever she gives back to me. Instead of looking at her constructive criticism as mistakes, I look at them as opportunities to make me a stronger author. Sure I am aware it's going to have plenty of flaws. Is anything perfect? 

So I am waiting. In that wait, I have outlined my next book and the beginning of my third. I have also spent more time with my family and friends and it's been an out of body experience to not be living in my fantasy world day in and day out. Like wondering, "hmmm, I wonder what Livia and Reddick are up too today?"  Even my cat has noticed that I haven't been writing anymore. The moment my laptop opens, she meows and runs over to lay across my left arm and stretch her paw out, thinking she is about to help me type the next greatest hit. Sigh. Poor Shota and her neediness to thrive off my attention.

The biggest thing that I have got to do since I sent my novel off, is that I have finally got to read other things. I finally got to start the fourth book of Sarah J. Maas's Court of Thorn and Roses Series! Court of Frost and Starlight. I still haven't finished, which is odd for me. (I am used to reading a book in a few days.) But I am finding it hard to concentrate on the story, like I am cheating on my own characters. I hear Vera saying, "why can't I fly and do cool things like that?" and I'm like, Vera, you can crush bones and stop hearts with a single thought...is flying really that much cooler? My characters are so needy. I have to constantly remind them that I made them and I can easily remove them......(geez I sound like my mom....love you mom!)

This whole process has been interesting and a huge learning experience. I can't wait to look back and call myself a newb, because that is exactly what I am in this moment and I am proudly embracing it!

So I wait.

 

One Door Closes Another One Opens?

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I have recently just experienced a loss in the land of employment. The initial shock was devastating and downright depressing. The things that go through your mind, are almost identical to an actual break-up with a friend or lover.

Shock- Fear- Denial- Anger- Rejection - and the daunting closure you may never get.

These are phases that can come at you one at a time or all at once. I remember sitting in my vehicle after this, kick in the gut, termination. My vision blurred and all I could do was stare at the building, knowing there were so many inside that I will never see again. People who became a work family and took seeing them everyday for granted. So how do you pick yourself up after having the rug pulled out from underneath you?

You close that door and you OPEN another.

Even though I had my weak moments, I found that I also had an inner strength that told me, Rachel this failure does not define you and you WILL be ok. And you know what? I got that other interview and I got that job. So inner strength? Thank you! But it isn't all inner strength. It's also my faith and a group of people who were behind me, cheering me on. 

That "other" door is wide open and I am excited to see what it will lead me to.

Good idea. Bad idea.

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Good idea: Throwing a penny into a fountain.  

Bad idea: Throwing your cousin Penny into a fountain.

Okay.  Breathe.  Writing a book is a huge deal.  An accomplishment, many can not even fathom.  So why do I feel like chucking my computer across the room and smashing it to bits?  Anyone?  It isn't even the story inside that has me wanting to crawl in a hole.  

Formatting, cover design, book description, blurbs, ISBN, copy editing, line editing, proofreading, trim size, and costs.  Combine all of those and it is a miracle I am not sending myself to a psych ward.  If I didn't have my mentor helping me organize my thoughts, I would have drowned in frustration.  

What is great about having a mentor, is they have the experience to let you know those good ideas and bad ideas.  Even though you don't have to do everything they suggest, it's nice to throw things their way and see what they think.  The writing world is vast and brutal but also beautiful and inspiring. 

Here are some ways that keep me a float.

1. Reaching out to those who are willing to help.  You are always tougher on yourself than you need to be, they will keep you grounded.

2. Breathe.  

3. Google is your friend.  Even though all the information can be overwhelming, there is always something out there that can help guide you in your steps.  

4. Sleep.  This is the toughest one for me.  I find myself awake hours past my bed time.  Find a mindless game that can numb your thoughts.  I color by number on my iPad.  Refreshing, tedious, and colorful!

5. Self confidence.  Grab onto it and use it at the most frustrating steps of your journey.  You got this!

What helps you gather your thoughts and keeps you from exploding?  Feel free to comment and let me know!  Positivity and encouragement can move people to do great things.  Let us all jump aboard this moving train and travel the distance to greatness!

Beauty Behind The Mask

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How many of us judge others so easily?  I am the first to admit that I am guilty of this wrong.  We are so quick to look at another persons life and compare ours with theirs.  Especially when it comes to our looks.  Why do I constantly weigh myself when I do nothing in my life to make a change?  Why do I watch youtube videos on how to sculpt my eyebrows?  Why do I pluck the hairs from my face that some would not approve of if I did not?  

Everyone is quick to shame one another.  Why am I pointing out someones flaws?  Am I that insecure with myself that I have to put others down to make myself feel better?  These are serious questions and concerns that I daily face.  I am lucky to be married to a man that could care less if I have perfect eyebrows, or the small bulge of my stomach that I usually groan at.  Unfortunately I have to leave my house and face the scrutiny of others who do not have my husbands views.  

Every so often we hear about the young people who commit suicide due to being bullied.  I was lucky not to be exposed to social media as I grew up.  I escaped the trolls of the internet.  I still had the bullies in my days, but I could go home or be with my friends and not have to read others comments.  I had a bowl cut for goodness sake!  I question my own life choices but I survived so I count those moments as lessons learned.  Those lessons allow me to overcome the bullies I still face today.  If you have those positive people in your life, hold on to them tight.  They will be your positive beacon of light to pull you through the storms.  You will survive.  No matter if you accidentally shave your eyebrow off....it WILL grow back.  Love yourself and others will see it and want what you have.  Smile at that person who is having a bad day.  Be their good day.  Learn corny jokes and tell them.  And above all else, keep your judging in check.  No one is perfect.

Time and The Big Bang Theory

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Sitting here with my husband, enjoying some Big Bang Theory.  My laptop is in front of me and I try to continue rewriting my first draft.  I write a sentence, then I backspace.  I write again.  I backspace again.  I can't stop looking up to the tv as Amy tortures Sheldon in a test of unfinished tasks.  I laugh as he twitches and squirms at not being able to finish blowing out birthday candles before Amy stops the last candle from going out.  

Big Bang has been a show that me and my husband have bonded over for the last eight years.  We can rewatch these episodes over and over again and laugh every single time.  When he doesn't want to watch, This is Us, with me or The Voice, we change it to Big Bang Theory.  When I don't want to watch Walking Dead or Street Outlaws, we change it to Big Bang.  

What is your Big Bang?  What gets you away from the mundane ways of your life and brings you to the clear mindlessness of pure joy?  I have been struggling with my time to write and then to spend time in a mindlessness of pure joy.  Don't get me wrong, I love to write and I love getting lost in my fantasy world and hanging out with my characters.  But it's also that screen that sits in front of me and separates me from my reality life.  I can't let my work interfere.  Now I will stop typing, close my laptop, and hold my husbands hand as we sit and laugh.  

 

A Teaser? Why didn't I think of that?

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My rewrite is definitely coming along, but there are moments that my eyes cross and I have to stop.  I decided to bring up my kindle app and look for a book to read.  Now as a writer, I am finding it hard to be able to read while writing a book. Soooo ignoring this problem, I searched anyways.  Lo and behold, I discovered Terry Goodkind released a short-length teaser of an upcoming book.  Now, for those who do not know me, I LOVE me some Terry Goodkind.  The Sword of Truth series that portray Richard and Kahlan, gets me excited.  So when Goodkind released the Nest, I was sketchy.  Because it had nothing to do with my loving characters.  But loving his writing, I gave it a try. And. I. Loved. It.  Okay, so now I have found this teaser story.  What a brilliant idea to do.  How many times have you waited for the next book of a series and wished to have any kind of information about it?  All the time!  And what better way for me to read something not too heavy at this point of my writing journey, than to read a short teaser?  So I bought, Troubles Child.  It is a teaser to his upcoming novella, The Girl in the Moon. Now that I have talked about it, I am super excited.  I will now sign off here and start this teaser!

Rachel Crist