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.

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.

What Motivates

I had a conversation with my son this last year that was intriguing. He told me that he wasn’t motivated to do anything. He’s in scouting, sports and school but felt no real drive to excel at any of it. He wanted to know what he could do to be motivated to do something…anything.

It was a great question. One that I think a lot of people struggle with. I’ve struggled with a lack of drive for short periods of time in my own life. So what do we do when that happens? How do we get up off our butts and get going? I’m certain there are as many answers to that question as there are people. For me, however, it’s been my faith. So that is the answer I gave to my son.

I told him that if he had no desire to excel then he could start by praying for desire. We aren’t meant to flounder. Each person is an amazing miracle that is meant to explore their creativity and possibilities. Each of us has so much potential. We shouldn’t let the possibilities of what we can accomplish, create, lives that we can touch, things that we can learn and explore go to waste in this life.

…So pray for the desire to accomplish great things and then get up and do it.

Hard Work

I made a goal to write 50,000 words in one month. I struggle with making writing one of my priorities. I have seven children, six of which are still at home. I’m busy with church, volunteering and keeping my house and small farm running and in good order. I’ve felt for a long time that I need to write more but haven’t seen how I could possibly fit it into my busy schedule.

So I challenged myself to see if I could do it. By midnight on November 30th I ended with almost 48,000 words written. I wrote 18,000 of those words on the 30th.

This is what I discovered. I can easily carve out two hours, five days a week, without jeopardizing my other responsibilities. I no longer have the excuse to tell myself that I’m too busy to write.

I need to get to work and get my stories written. Funny how I need to prove to myself that I can do it. My progress is halted or pushed forward by my one fears and desires. This goal was just one more step toward my road to success.

So what is it that’s keeping you from succeeding?

Writing Marathon

I have a little over a week to write 25,000 words. The task seems very daunting, especially since it’s taken me twenty-three days to write the first 25,000. At first I was very excited. Even getting up at 4:30 in the morning just to make sure I had time in the day to get it done. My enthusiasm, however has dwindled considerably. I find that I really don’t like what I’ve written which makes it hard to continue. I want the quality to be better, but when you’re working on quantity it’s hard to achieve success in quality. I keep telling myself that I’m doing this to prove to myself that I can write more then I think I can. I’m a little stubborn that way. I will finish this just to prove that I can.

Okay, now that I’ve finished my little rant it’s back to writing I go…I just can’t forget to wake the kids up for school…