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Welcome to the Lost At Sea Scavenger Hunt where we are helping the Kinsman people find a new home. If you’ve just found us, be sure to start the adventure at Stop #1, which is Jill Williamson’s blog.
Collect all the clue words in order so you can enter to win the Kindle. If you want to enter to win the second Kindle, you’ll have to take a quiz at the end, so take your time and read each post carefully. The main prizes in the hunt are open to international entries. Individual author contests, however, might have different rules, so please read the parameters on each site. You have until Sunday night, February 19, at midnight, Pacific time to finish.
If you need help, or get lost along the way, click here for assistance.
Seultrie seemed far too dangerous for the kinsman people to settle at this time. They have wars of their own going on. The kinsman party follow the coast north until they reach a massive beanstalk. It’s so huge they can climb it like a spiral staircase. Curious where it goes, the kinsman party begins to climb. It is a long ways up, and when they reach the top, they find themselves in a strange, futuristic land. They keep to the unpopulated areas, but they are very uncertain this is the right place for their people—or if they will ever be able to find their way back! Their journey leads them to Stop #4, a small town called Stratus in a realm called Oregon from Shannon Dittemore’s Angel Eyes trilogy.
The author of the Angel Eyes novels, Shannon Dittemore has an overactive imagination and a passion for truth. Her lifelong journey to combine the two is responsible for a stint at Portland Bible College, performances with local theater companies, and a love of all things literary. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys mentoring teen writers–both online and in person. Since 2013, Shannon has taught mentoring tracks at a local school where she provides junior high and high school students with an introduction to writing and the publishing industry. She also blogs for Go Teen Writers, posting encouragement and instruction on a weekly basis.
One thing the kinsman people notice right away in Stratus is the feel of otherworldly creatures present. They have their own problems with shadir from the Lowerworld, and are instantly concerned that these so-called demons might be problematic.
Welcome hunters! Shannon here! Thought I’d share a little about the fictional town of Stratus, which is the setting for much of the Angel Eyes trilogy. The incarnation of this little town was inspired by several such communities in both California–where I live–and the Pacific Northwest where I attended college and was married. Because I drew so much on real life, I can’t help but see Stratus everywhere I look.
Here are a few things that always remind me of my story world:
Main Street, USA: Whether it’s Sutter Creek, California, or Forest Grove, Oregon, small towns always seem to have a main thoroughfare. A couple stoplights down a stretch of road where the storefronts are a mix of old and new, weathered and shiny. Almost always there’s a dance studio and a sweet shop, an old theatre with a marquee sign and flickering globe lights, curbside parking and seasonal banners strung light post to light post. All these things scream Stratus to me and I can almost see Brielle and Jake wandering the streets, ballet slippers dangling over her shoulder and a doughnut in his hand.
Coffee and doughnuts: The Pacific Northwest is famous for their coffee culture and I couldn’t imagine crafting a story set in Oregon without including it. Jake, in particular, is constantly trying to push a cup of steaming coffee into someone’s hands—especially when he’s asking them to spill their guts. He also has a deep infatuation with doughnuts which, in the spirit of transparency, he inherited from my own father.
Volkswagen Beetles: Brielle’s car is a hand-me-down Volkswagen Beetle—1967, black, with a rack on top. She calls it Slugger and I am always on the lookout for the two of them driving down the road. Though, sadly, Brielle’s not allowed to drive Slugger out of town—a rule she almost always obeys.
Lighthouses: Stratus is a bit of a drive from the Oregon coast, but in Dark Halo invisible forces draw Brielle and crew out to the fictional Bellwether lighthouse, inspired by the real life Heceta Head lighthouse in Florence, Oregon. I read somewhere that they’ve converted the Keeper’s House into a B&B and I’m determined to visit it someday soon.
Orchards: There’s an apple orchard on Brielle’s family property and it plays a significant role in Dark Halo. Apple and walnut, orange and pear, the west coast has no shortage of orchards. Whether I pass them in the car or wander them picking fruit with the family, my eyes are always wide open looking for the invisible.
I hope you’ll keep your eyes open too.
A few things before you go:
You can order Dark Halo on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, CBD or at your local bookstore!
CLUE! Write down this clue: they
The next stop on our map is Stop #5, Redmond, WA, on
ALSO! To celebrate Jill’s release, I’m giving away a copy of Dark Halo to three lucky winners. To enter, use the Rafflecopter below. I’ll randomly choose three names on Tuesday, the 21st and contact the winner via email.
Thanks for visiting Stratus, Oregon! Enjoy the rest of the hunt!
Just popping in quickly to tell you all that Dark Halo is on sale! For a limited time, you can grab the e-book on all major platforms for just $2.99.
Angel Eyes and Broken Wings also have special pricing right now, so if you’ve been waiting for a good deal, this is about as good as it gets.
Annnnnd. Since we’re all together here . . .
Did you know there are two things you can do to ensure your favorite authors keep writing? Pass the word about books you love and leave positive reviews on sites like Amazon and Goodreads.
You can’t imagine how much these two simple actions do for an author and her stories. So THANK YOU! Thank you, thank you.
Happy reading, friends!
It’s fall, you guys! My favorite of the four seasons.
Pumpkin-spiced everything and hay rides and damp chilly mornings. Sweaters and boots and skinny jeans that aren’t quite warm enough. Fingerless gloves with a snag in the seam–a snag that always reminds you of that trip to the apple farm and your clumsy attempt to climb the squat little apple tree.
Ahhh! Fall! My absolute favorite.
It’s still too warm here in Northern California to feel properly like fall, but I thought I’d speed things along with a fun little giveaway.
My favorite social media platform of late has been Instagram, so you’ll have to hop over there to participate. But, PLEASE DO! All you need is an Instagram account and the entry is as easy as pie.
And spread the word, will you? I had some fantastic Angel Eyes mugs made specifically for the occasion and a gorgeous necklace with book cover charms. And of course, I’m giving away books! Because fall just would not be fall without the books.
I’m not one of those Word-of-the-Year folks. You know, the clever people who pick a word on January 1 and hold it tight the whole year through. As an author, the whole idea of it is intriguing, but on the one occasion I gave it a little effort, it felt silly. Very contrary to my wiring.
On January 1, when some are making resolutions and others are doing the word thing and still others are simply trying to sleep off the night before, I find myself wondering.
That’s who I am. I wonder. And I watch. And I hope.
I hope a lot of things, really. That those in my circle facing hard times will find the next year softer on their souls. That our own efforts throughout the past year will have planted something lovely that will flower in the years to come. That I’ll be a better giver and a better friend and a better believer than I was in days past.
And while the beginning of the year is full of these kinds of hopes, it’s the end of the year that demands I find a word. Something in my nature wants to put a label on the past 365 days. How did I do? How did I handle 2015? Which word best describes the twelve months leading up to now?
As it happens, it was not at all hard to find that word this year. It floated to the surface of my holiday-addled mind with no effort at all. There wasn’t even a runner-up vying for the privilege.
My 2015 word: Waiting.
This entire year was spent waiting.
In nearly every aspect of my life, I’ve had to wait.
I’d love to report that I’ve been the most patient of waiters. It’d make me feel so much more grown-up to say the waiting has brought with it a sense of deep-seated joy. But the truth is, it’s been hard. I’m a selfish and spoiled girl, living in a fast-food, pampered culture and it’s amazing how little we wait in our day-to-day lives. When we are asked to wait–to truly wait–on something that matters, on something that we want desperately, we find ourselves out of practice.
As least I do.
And so I circle back to the girl I was on January 1 of this year. The girl who hopes. The truth is, I’m still waiting on near-everything I was waiting on a year ago. If I were to jot down my hopes for 2016, I’m absolutely certain the list would match perfectly my hopes for 2015.
With one marked difference.
I’m a year wiser now.
And this Bible verse makes a lot more sense to me than it did a year ago.
I’m under no delusion that waiting has earned me anything at all. But as we approach the dawning of a new year, I hope that anxiously waiting will grow into patience and that, regardless of how each situation turns out, the waiting itself will have completed me in a way that instant gratification never could.
I truly hope the end of this year, and the beginning of the next, is full of peace. In your families. In your homes. In your hearts. And if you’re looking for a sweet little Christmas read, consider giving Pearla’s First Christmas a try. It’s a short story that follows a beloved character from the Angel Eyes trilogy as she experiences the very first Christmas. It’s my gift to you, free to read and share.
Merry Christmas, friends!
Hey all! It has been FOREVER since I blogged here. My apologies but I’ve been working on something big and bright and all sorts of exciting. I’m hoping to share it with you soon. Fingers crossed, everyone!
While I haven’t been blogging here much, I’ve been doing all sorts of gabbing on the Go Teen Writers website. The fabulous Stephanie Morrill and Jill Williamson are really the mad scientists over there, but they let me chime in on Fridays with tips and tricks and all sorts of inspiration. You should swing by sometime and join the conversation. We’re a friendly bunch and are always on the lookout for writerly souls to chat with.
Today, I thought I’d pass along something fun. Angel Eyes is on sale right now. $1.99 at just about every e-book retailer I can dig up (Kindle, Nook, iBooks, Kobo). The sale ends on 5/25, I believe, and I’d love a little help passing the word. If you’ve considered giving my books a try, I can’t think of a better time to start!
As always, I’m active on social media, so feel free to drop in and say hello. My favorites are FB, Twitter and Instagram. And I dabble a bit on Pinterest. It’s a time suck, but goodness, it’s so pretty. 😉
Alrighty! I’ll go now. Friday night means pizza at our place. And I NEVER miss out on pizza.
Talk soon, friends.
School is in session! And that means the littles have vacated my home office. I spent the day scraping goldfish crackers and peanut butter off my keyboard and sorting through their arts and crafts. Beneath it all, I found a couple boxes of books and it got me thinking. It’s been a bit since I’ve done a giveaway!
So, here’s what we’ll do. To enter, you MUST leave me a comment on this blog post with a little story about your first day of school. Because I’m a HUGE believer in fiction, your story does NOT have to be true, just entertaining (and clean!). It doesn’t have to be long; a few sentences will work. Once you’ve shared your story in the comments section, Rafflecopter will let you rack up entries in a few other ways.
Here are the prizes I’m offering:
Three lucky ducks will be drawn at random and will receive a signed copy of Dark Halo with a couple bookmarks to share.
And one VERY lucky duck will be chosen BY ME. From the comments section, I’ll choose my favorite first-day-of-school story. The winner will receive his or her choice of any book in my Angel Eyes trilogy as well as my pal, Jill Williamson’s, upcoming book on writing, Storyworld First.
I’ll let the giveaway run until 9/1 (which just happens to be the day Jill’s book releases!) and I’ll notify the winners via email.
So, let’s have some fun, tell a few stories, and win some books!
UPDATE! I’ve chosen my favorite Back To School story and it was written by Sara Bennett! It was the toilet seat advice that did it for me! ALSO, the three random winners are listed below. EVERYONE CHECK YOUR EMAIL!
Hey all! WELCOME BACK! We’ve got a new blog series going here. And by WE, I mean ME and the quotes of some of your favorite authors.
Since writers are notorious for giving others advice, I thought it would be fun to dig up some of the most recycled tidbits on writing and share my thoughts with you. Not because I’m an expert. Not at all, but well, I covered all that self-deprecating stuff in my first post.
Today, I have a piece of advice from an incredibly prolific author who’s given us a zillion one-liners to chew on. This is a personal favorite.
Stephen King just kind of says it, doesn’t he? He’s good at that. And he’d better be with all that editing-is-like-murder business. But, I absolutely agree with him. And the longer I write, the more I appreciate this point of view. In fact, it’s increasingly difficult for me to turn off my internal editor now and simply read a book. I’m always editing other authors. Something I’m sure they appreciate. It’s okay; I know they’re doing the same to my books.
The liberating, albeit terrifying, truth is this: it’s not only the writing of a story that makes your stuff uniquely you, it’s also the ruthlessness with which you edit.
You should be overjoyed by this fact. It means that if you’re true to yourself and true to the process, your story will be unlike anything anyone else is creating. I know the crushing pressure to churn things out quickly. The haunting terror that someone, somewhere has already thought of all your ideas and written all your stories. It’s not true. It can’t be. Your voice is distinct, but so is that internal editor of yours. Find freedom in that.
There are ways to lessen the pain of editing, but one more thought before we go there. That phrase Stephen King uses, bare essentials, is entirely subjective. There are books that meander more than others, stories that do not walk directly from A to B. There are authors who set out to lead you on a delicious, slowly unfolding stroll. I think of Cornelia Funke’s Inkheart trilogy and The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater. In each of these books, there are scenes that could have been sacrificed for pacing. But during the editing process, the authors decided those words were essential. And, honestly, who are we to argue?
What I’m trying to say is that regardless of a story’s pace or word count, every good author cuts. They delete. They whip out their almighty hatchet and they swing it. A well-edited manuscript is not necessarily a manuscript void of description and full of short sentences. A well-edited manuscript is one that uses only the words necessary to tell the story trapped inside the author’s head. But necessary is entirely a matter of style and preference.
That said, most of us meander more than we should. We need to unshackle our inner editor. The good news is that once you get a taste for hacking up a manuscript, there’s something very addicting about the whole bloody thing.
But it can be painful. As the mother of two, I’m not convinced it approaches the despair of murdering children, but for the sentimental author, it can be a lot like shooting paintballs at puppies. And that is quite painful enough.
Here are a few ways to dull the pain:
1. Consciously celebrate this stage of the writing process. Treat yourself to a slice of cake and a balloon bouquet. You have drafted a novel. Being IN EDITS means you’ve accomplished something only a fraction of us ever will. YOU WROTE A BOOK! You now have the privilege of brandishing your shiny new machete and hacking it to bits. You’re in an enviable place. Let yourself appreciate that for a moment.
2. Stop monitoring your word count. You did that all the way through the drafting process. You posted it on Twitter and all your followers squeed! I’m glad. Truly. We need others on this solitary journey of ours. But, now, stop watching those numbers. They will fall. You will lose a few brave soldiers, but this is war. Keep your head down and your eyes on your own work. It doesn’t matter that Suzy Floozy just tweeted out her impossible word count. What matters is that you’re past that now. You’ve been promoted. YOU GET TO EDIT!
3. Keep what you cut. Not everything. Not the four billion adverbs you used. Strike those down and move on. But if you’re cutting the bulk of a chapter, keep it. When I’m editing, I have two Word documents open. One is my manuscript and the other is called CUTS. Whenever I decide to scrap a large portion of text, I cut and paste it into this other document. There are three reasons I do this. One, like you, I can get attached to my darlings and I don’t like to vanish them entirely. Even if I don’t use the actual words, I may need to reference them again. It’s good to keep them close at hand. The second reason is vanity. I like to see how glorious a word slasher I’ve been. For example, my current manuscript has about 80k words that I’m almost certain I’ll keep. But, on my CUTS document, there are over 15k words. I wrote those words. They cost me time and energy and they moved my writing forward. They taught me what WON’T work and that’s just as important as what will. And finally, I save what I cut because some of it may work as an ‘Extra’ later. Once my book is published (optimism, people!), I’ll have pages of deleted scenes that I can share with readers during the marketing effort. This saves me from having to generate new material down the road.
So those are my thoughts on Stephen King’s advice. What are yours? How do you dull the pain of cutting the excess fat?
Writers are in LOVE with words. We go out searching and when we find a few morsels worth savoring, we form them just so, and then we spit them out for others to digest. That doesn’t mean though, that everything we say has equal value. Nor does it mean that all well-intentioned advice has a place in your world.
If a thought does inspire, even if it does look rather nice on you, the words may fit you in a way the advice-giver never intended and that should be celebrated as a glorious turn of events.
New authors, especially, are on the lookout for the very best, most beneficial advice an experienced author has tucked beneath their keyboard. Some golden nugget that will spur them on in their journey. I do it. Constantly. With only three books on the shelf, I am still in the very early days of what I hope will be a career in writing and I am always looking for a new wind of inspiration. Words that will bring clarity to my writing.
I’ve collected thoughts in this way. They’re pins on my Pinterest board, quotes shared on Twitter. They’re purple scrawled sayings on index cards around my office. Advice is everywhere. And I thought it might be fun to take a look at the tips most often given and share my thoughts on them. Not because I know more–because I certainly don’t. And not because I’m set in my ways–because wouldn’t that be nice. But because I remember how ugly I looked when I wrapped myself in ill-fitting advice like it was a one-size-fits-all uniform and tried to pretend it worked for me.
So, over the next little bit, I’ll share some of the advice I’ve picked up and I’ll get real with you. I’ll tell you why it works for me and why it doesn’t. And while my experience with someone’s words should neither deter nor encourage you to try them, I hope it will at least free you from the idea that all writers write in the same way. We don’t. We are unique and that adds to our value, both individually and as a creative whole.
So, let’s get started. Here’s a good one.
This quote is by Nora Roberts, but variations of it have been given as advice by nearly every published author out there. That, in and of itself, tells you one thing. It’s good advice. It works. And I can find nothing of fault in it.
Except . . .
The problem I have with this advice is that it weighs very heavily on an author who finds herself in a busy season. We feel that if we can’t find the time, we must not be doing enough, being creative enough, being awake long enough to be a REAL author. It’s a struggle I know very well. My kids were on different school schedules this past year and I spent half my life driving back and forth, up and down the same roads, and sitting in overcrowded parking lots waiting for my munchkins. And while I absolutely agree that we have to MAKE time for the words, I decided a while back to MAKE kids and regardless of my passion for story, those kids have to come first. And not out of some moral obligation, but because I want them to be first. I want them to be more important than my stories.
It may not be children for you. It may be employment or another relationship. It may even be another art form that demands your time, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t a REAL writer. Do real writers write? Absolutely. Do they make time? Most certainly. Will writing always be at the top of their priority list? Nope. Probably not.
And that’s okay. I say, celebrate the season of life you’re in. Really, REALLY live it. Write whenever you can and when life slows down, you’ll have all the more stories to tell. You’ll have life experience and that is something you don’t get huddled in your writing cave. So, yes, I absolutely agree with Nora Roberts and everyone else who has given this advice, but I refuse to let it weigh me into depression. When I’m busy and enabling my children to live their lives and exercise their creative souls, it’s okay to take a deep breath and tuck the words away for later.
It’s okay for me.
And it’s okay for you.