Devin Andrew Steele

In the coming weeks I will be finishing my 2nd book of the “Soul Conquest” Series, “The Refiners Fire.” At the same time I will be reworking “The Ultimate Trial” and releasing a 2nd edition. During this process I thought I would create some posts about these two books and my journey in creating them. So here goes.

Devin Andrew Steel is the main character in “Soul Conquest.” His journey onto paper was a rough one. He is, I guess, my guinea pig for character development. I had tried to write down my stories prior to “Soul Conquest” and, being an avid reader I recognized poor writing when I saw it. So consigning myself to the stark fact that I could not write, I stuck with daydreaming. At least, until, one day my husband asked what it was I daydreamed about. At the time of the question, the story I had banging around inside my brain was this very story. After some insistence on my husband’s part, I sat out on the frustrating but rewarding journey of extracting a character and plot from a brain that had no idea how to translate such a project.

So in comes Devin. In my dreams he never had a name, or a childhood. He appeared at the most exciting part of the story. He was who he was. My mind automatically knew how he would act under any circumstance. Sometimes when I was daydreaming he would respond or act a certain way and I would backtrack because it wasn’t true to his character. How my mind does that . . . I don’t know.

So in comes the tricky part. How do I get readers to know him the same way I do. First I needed to give him a name. Names are a big deal to me, so I found a name that felt right and then did some research. If I like the name but not the meaning than It’s a no go. So . . . I named him, now the harder task was giving him a past, a journey, really, into the hearts of the readers.

That is truly one of the hardest and most exciting parts, for me, in writing. Think for a minute, about how you would describe all the different complex parts of your personality to a stranger. Complicated, right? I’ve had discussions with my children about Devin that got pretty deep. There is so much more to him than what is written in my book. I keep my stories pretty simple, and that much information on Devin would turn my books into something that belongs in a psychologist’s office. Which means, each reader will add their own depth to Devin’s character. He will always be Devin in my mind but the exciting thing about the imagination is you can create right along with me.

I love learning about how other people see Devin and why. If you would like to share your favorite things about him or just have specific questions, please comment. I would love to hear and respond.

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Deadlines

I realized recently that I’ve been going about my writing goals the wrong way. I have always tried to set time aside for my writing. Sadly, I allow other priorities to encroach on that time.

I’ve discovered a new approach. Deadlines. Just to be clear, I hate the very idea of deadlines. I’ve always felt it restricts the fluidity of my time and schedule. Also I am not a lover of stress. I despise it in fact. Deadlines create stress. Well, at least they do for me. However, I’ve learned that if I don’t set a deadline the goal is unlikely to be completed.

So, I’m excited to say I have decided to, bite the bullet, and be more successful by making deadlines for my books.

I will have Soul Conquest the Refiners fire ready to print by the end of June as well as a 2nd edition of the first book finished and reprinted.

I’m also working on two more books that I plan to have ready for release by the end of the year. One is about a wizard and the other one is about a boy that inherits a curse.

I’ve also decided to write some children’s books that I hope you enjoy.

Please join my journey as I work on releasing the many stories that have been circulating in my head.

Time

Time is such a mysterious thing. According to our clocks it moves at a constant pace. Ticking away the seconds minutes and hours of our day. Yet in its mystery it can speed up and slow down. As a child, I used to wait for Christmas and in frustration exclaim that it was so far away. Now at summers close I stress because I know that in a blink of an eye it’ll be here.

Managing time is a constant process. My Life changes, my plans are readjusted and time seems to slip through my fingers. I try to prioritize, making sure that my time is spent in the most meaningful ways possible and yet minutes still slip through the cracks unaccounted for and impossible to reclaim.

I second guess myself, “should I have spent my time doing that.”  I reevaluate and then move forward only to question myself again. Being busy isn’t a bad thing. But it could be if I’m filling my time with things that don’t matter in the end.

So as the seconds tick I hope that at least my progress in managing something as precious as the time of my life is getting better. I hope that in the end I’ll be able to look back on my time, smile and be able to say “I did alright.”

Beauty

As a mother I have watched each of my children learn to create. They play with play do and color amazing works of art and then comes the sad day when they start to notice art created by siblings, friends and parents and everything changes. They stop believing me when I tell them that what they have made is amazing. They get frustrated with themselves and crumple up their drawing after seeing something they assume to be better.

I have reflected many times to my own youth. As a child I loved to draw. My parents always encouraged me, they even signed me up for a drawing class. I loved that class and at its conclusion I had a finished drawing of a tiger in charcoal. My parents were very proud of that drawing. Then came the day in middle school when a girl sitting next to me showed me a drawing she was working on. I don’t remember anything about her picture but my thoughts I remember with clarity.

I can’t draw. My parents were just being nice, because I’m their daughter, but I have no real talent.

I’m sad to say that I gave up drawing after that. Now when I look back I see the folly in my thinking. But even worse I watch my own children come to similar conclusions. Nothing I say seems to convince them otherwise. One day I was holding my sons bearded dragons with my daughter. She commented on how beautiful they were and I agreed with her. Then a thought entered my mind and I knew I had an opportunity.

I explained to her that many people detest lizards and don’t see them as beautiful. I then explained that God is the best creator. Yet not everyone appreciates all that he has created. He knew that some people would see beauty in some things and not in others. We are all different and knowing this he created a very diverse world so that all could enjoy it and find beauty in his creations. I then explained to her that if someone doesn’t like her art don’t get discouraged. There will always be someone that appreciates it. She just needs to keep working and improving.

As I’ve gotten older I’ve discovered that I’m my own worst critic. I have learned to handle criticism from others but still struggle with outing the critic in myself. My own doubt cripples me. It is my own voice that tells me that what I’m doing doesn’t matter and that no one would appreciate it. It’s an ongoing battle. Time is precious in my busy lifestyle and I tell myself that writing takes too much of that time and I’m really not that good anyway. So I put it aside for what I deem to be more important tasks. Then something inside pulls me back. I love to write. It fulfills a certain part of me. The battle is constant, but I’m beating the critic within, because my unique ability is worth sharing, even if it doesn’t compare in context or quality to someone else’s. There are people out there that will appreciate my work for what it is. A unique work of art. And art is meant to be shared.

Characters

I had a conversation with my son today about how I develop my characters. It was an interesting discussion. Every writer does things a little different and it’s interesting to see different ways to do the same thing.

My characters always just appear in the story. As I start daydreaming or writing the story they’re just sort of formed. I know how they’ll act in any situation I put them in. I have occasionally had characters confront a situation in my story and find that it doesn’t feel right for this particular character. At that point I’ll backtrack and make it right.

I do have character cards to help me keep track of my characters. They’re really not so much cards, as they are a word document with the characters and their names. The facts I keep about each of the characters has much more to do with details of their past, their family and their description. Their is almost nothing written on their personality. This is because I intuitively know each character and what they’ll do.

I’m curious as to how you develop your characters? Please comment and let me know.

My Box of Dreams

I love this quote from Erma Bombeck:

“There are people who put their dreams in a little box and say, ‘Yes, I’ve got dreams, of course I’ve got dreams.’ Then they put the box away and bring it out once in a while to look in it, and yep, they’re still there. These are great dreams, but they never even get out of the box.”

I’ve accomplished many of my dreams. Yet there are still many in my box. Don’t get me wrong, I think we should always have dreams in our box so that when we accomplish one we can work on another. The problem occurs when we think some dreams belong forever to remain in the dark secret inclosure of our little dream box. So why do I let some dreams escape and others stay hidden.

Here is my theory. Fear. If I take my dream out, then others can see it. It leaves me open to criticism. Fear of failure is another big one. What if I don’t succeed? I tell myself the big fat lie that not trying is better then failing.

Strangely another one of my fears is success. Why, you ask, would I be afraid of success? Because success would bring with it responsibilities, growth and new challenges. I tell myself that I’m satisfied the way I am. What a fool I can be. A caterpillar that told itself the same thing would never know the beauty and wonder that awaits it as a butterfly.

So here I am taking out a dream that was hidden for years. Attempting to do what I thought was too hard, so that my dream has a chance of coming true. Will there be criticism? Absolutely. Will there be failure? Of course. Will there be success? Only if I try.