Breakthroughs.

I’ve got some fantastic news from the world of Stormriders! Recently I completed a full chapter-by-chapter plot synopsis, to fill in any plot holes, etc. … and ended up with several new fully-developed characters AND a plot that works! 

Hooray!

Disclaimer: Please don’t worry… I headed into the writing process absolutely determined to make the plot work, and had a general idea of where I wanted my characters to go and why. However, “best-laid plans” etc. … whatever the expression is. It was a little thought, in the back of my mind, in that dark corner that all writers know about, where the doubt hides. The little thought nagging me every time I finished a chapter: “Are you CERTAIN you know where this is going?”

This was the first time I’d actually written everything down. And I mean EVERYTHING. Timelines for every single character. Travel times for distances that haven’t been used before (my folks use tall ships to get from point A to point B, crossing a huge ocean where the Midwest used to be). Motivations for why people end up where they do, and why they do the lovely or the terrible things they do. And friends, IT WORKS. It all works.

OH YEAH I ALMOST FORGOT THERE IS SOMETHING ELSE.

Conceptual cover art © Copyright 2017 by Jen Lynn Anderson. All rights reserved.

The plot worked so well for Stormriders that it morphed and evolved into this 3-book trilogy monster! Not my intention, but upon reaching the end of the synopsis I realized the fates of my MCs were left hanging. There is much more of their story to tell. And tell it, I shall!

This month is National Novel Writing Month’s “Camp NaNoWriMo” event (for those of you familiar with NaNo and recognize it in November, the founders host a spring event as well!) and I’m aiming for 2,000 words per day during the month of April. I want this story in your hands ASAP. I’m ready for it to be out there, and I can’t wait for you to read it! This chapter synopsis reaffirmed that fact.

I’m also working on a dialect manual (the Tiders speak in a creole dialect of Appalachian English, Scots English, Gaelic and pirate… oof!) because my heroine has to start speaking soon and I need to understand her if you’re going to be able to do the same. 😂 I’ll be including an annotated version of this in an appendix at the back of the book once we’re at the point of publication. I have a ton of rich material from my world-building exercises, so let me know if you’d be interested in learning more about Tider culture, and I can maybe make something happen!

For those of you who have generously donated to my Patreon: thank you so so much! Your first tangible reward, a short story set in the world of Stormriders, is currently in the editing process, and I hope to have that out to you by mid-May.

More updates to come!

If you’d like to check out my Patreon and donate to the Stormriders Publication Fund, click here.

 

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The art of being happily alone, a “Stormriders” update, and some other miscellany.

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No Internets mean much writings.

A solo weekend getaway would usually be considered an odd choice for me. I like people, generally. However, being bombarded with so many distractions (of political and sporting nature) this summer has not been conducive to fulfilling my commitments as a writer, and to myself. The distractions add up. With all the negativity and stress hanging around society lately, a weekend away from humans (physically and digitally) sounded like a phenomenal plan. An uncle owns a gorgeous piece of land on Little Alden Lake, a stone’s throw northwest of Duluth. And so, last weekend I ventured into the Great Northern Wild Pine Forests of Minnesota, with only my dog Layla (with the very real title of Bear Scarer bestowed upon her) in tow, and with the very real intention of disappearing from the rest of humanity for 72 hours. Minimum.

From my journal, the morning after I arrived:

Twenty-five minutes outside the city, and the pavement turns to dirt and gravel. The forest presses in on you as you take the winding road, which you begin to think is taking you into the bowels of a forest purgatory, or toward some hidden backwoods colony of survivalists; you try to ignore the banjos playing the theme from “Deliverance” in your head. You shouldn’t have started the journey after sunset… what were you thinking?
 
The moment when you are absolutely, hysterically certain you have lost your way and your fate is to be eaten by the bears, you are there. Ahead lies a little idyll of certainty in the heart of darkness. An A-frame cabin and a few outbuildings nestle between fully grown pines that soar into the black overhead. A precariously handmade stairway of stones create a path down a shaded slope to the lake. The property is surrounded by a thick ring of pine trees and underbrush, muffling the presence of the few neighbors who live there year round.

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Little Alden Lake, a.k.a. The Perfect Place On Earth

You turn off the ignition and are immediately aware of the utter absence of sound. The nocturnal creepy-crawlies, momentarily disturbed by the intrusion of bright car headlights, have fallen silent. You look up, and as your eyes adjust, you see the blackness has dissolved into a cacophony of the brightest stars you have ever seen. You could swear they are only a few inches from your face, for how bright and clear they are.

Your dog’s low, uneasy growl snaps you back to earth. She stares intently beyond the circle of light from your high beams, as if she can sense something out there, waiting beyond the trees. And, then out of nowhere, the unearthly shriek of a loon warbles up from the water, echoing through the trees. Your heart jumps into your throat. You run inside. You will unpack tomorrow.

You may be thinking I was thinking I’d made a big mistake. Nothing could be further from the truth. Being utterly alone for those three days was exactly what I needed.

Some people call it recharging their batteries. I call it an exercise in focus.

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Nature + wine = happy tingles. Thanks, Science.

Aside from the massive amounts of writing I was able to accomplish in the massive void left behind by the Internet, there are several moments from the weekend I can pinpoint, where I was not doing a whole lot. Waking with the morning and walking out onto the deck that faces the lake, watching Layla chase frogs in the grass, feeling the sun’s warm kiss on my skin, drinking in the scenery with my coffee, merely thinking about my novel… and I would feel this strange tingly buzz that started somewhere under my ribs and spread through my arms and legs, to my fingers and toes, flowing up my spine and prickling across my scalp.

I don’t know if there’s a word that can accurately explain that feeling (“Endorphins?” asks Science), but maybe I’ll call it the body’s reaction to the brain’s realization of pure and utter joy. Contentment. Confidence in the knowledge that when I did sit down to write, I would write and write and write. I was so happy I was tingly. Everyone should be able to feel that feeling.

So, I say, seek out the places that make you tingly. Take a break from the places that squeeze, that apply pressure, that weigh down, that pull apart. Unplug. Be by yourself for a weekend, a day, an hour even. Give yourself the space to rest, “recharge,” refocus. Let your senses take in the small things in those moments. The fluid sparkle of sunlight on the water. The surprising complexity of loon song. The squelch of mud between your toes. The hilarity of a hound dog learning what a frog feels like in her mouth (the frog survived). The late summer wind that already has a crisp bite to it, hinting of an early autumn. On a tree branch of a thousand green leaves, espying the one with a reddish tinge. How the wine in your glass tastes different as you breathe in the scent of fresh pine.

Allow yourself the pleasure of being alone.


STORMRIDERS UPDATE:

During my voluntary absence from human contact, I was able to complete the next chapter in “Stormriders.” For more information about the story, and to read the first 4 chapters free, you can visit my Stormriders page.

 NEW STUFF

While some of my other writing projects have taken a backseat to Stormriders (I’m only human, and just one!) I am still incrementally moving them forward. My Tanzania travel memoir survived its second edit, and I’m working on the specifics for getting that out into the world. Namely, to Amazon.com or not to Amazon.com. I would be appreciative of any feedback from my fellow indie authors, regarding alternative print-on-demand and e-book vendors. Which vendors are your favorites? What as worked for you, and what hasn’t?

I’ve also got a few short story ideas in my head that I will undoubtedly make available for free here, on my site, in the near future. More on that down the road!

New and beautiful things.

file_003-6I got new ink today! Thanks to Mike Grant at Saint Sabrina’s in Uptown Minneapolis, and thanks to Neil Gaiman for dreaming up the source material, I have a beautiful new reminder to keep taking risks with my writing and to keep jumping off proverbial cliffs, even when it seems like the only inevitable direction is down. Because sometimes… during the pursuit of dreams… sometimes, when you fall, you do fly.

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