Chronicles of the Sentinels – Excerpt from Chapter 10

Hi everyone!

So as promised, here is another excerpt from book 1 of Chronicles of the Sentinels.  Once more I’m over 8 sentences, but that’s okay :)

In this scene, directly following the attack in chapter 9, the trio have been brought to the Sentinel facility, and are learning about the Barrier and how magic works.

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“It’s exactly why I told you to not use magic,” Thomas glared at Chris, which elicited a gulp from him. “Every time magic is used where there is a crack in the Barrier, it weakens it, maybe even makes the cracks worse.”

“How do you track cracks now?” Emmi asked, the first time she’d spoken since they fled Sixteenth Street.

“Some sort of cool technology?” Alycia asked, hopeful. “Something that somehow tracks the electromagnetic field that the Barrier generates?”

Shara raised her eyebrow at Alycia, “You really have watched too much television.”

Alycia’s face turned red and she looked down. “Sorry.” Chris unconsciously reached out and rubbed her arm encouragingly.

———————————————————————–

Thanks for reading!  Please comment below to let me know what you think.

-Jon

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Chronicles of the Sentinels – 1st Draft Completed!

Hi everyone!

Today I finished the 1st draft of Chronicles of the Sentinels!  :D

I have been so very excited about this new project from day one, and I have worked on it at a pace I never thought possible.  However, the pace didn’t come just from how excited this story has made me, it came from a desire to prove to myself that I could write every day, and treat writing like a full-time job.  (Which means I’ve essentially been working 2 full time jobs over the past two months.)

The really awesome part is this puts me exactly 1 week ahead of schedule for my deadline!

Journal for developing Chronicles of the Sentinels.  Purchased from Barnes & Noble
Journal for developing Chronicles of the Sentinels. Purchased from Barnes & Noble

11 June 2014 was when I started this project, the very beginning when I first came up with the idea, bought a new journal for it, and started development.  I developed not just the story, but the entire background for what will be at least a trilogy, and wrote the novel.  That’s an incredible amount of work for just 2 months!

Of course, my work isn’t done yet.  I still have proofreading/revisions to go through.  Plus this novel will not be seen by any other eyes until I’ve finished proofreading, so beta-readers won’t get their hands on it just yet.

I will say this, though, I feel incredible about this entire experience!  And I am so glad that I’ve been able to share it with you all from day one.  Creating this blog when I did seems to have been inspired timing :D  And the journey is not over yet!

Image Source - http://www.rmfw.org/
Image Source – http://www.rmfw.org/

After proofreading, I’ll be sending the novel out to beta readers.  Once they give me feedback, I’ll make changes as needed and perform one last read-through.  And then I get to pitch my novel at the Colorado Gold Writer’s Conference!

I feel absolutely confident in this novel.  The plot, the characters, the writing style, everything came together so well, and I’m so excited to share this with the world.  More than that, I just have this feeling that this will be what gets my career going.  I think this could be my breakout novel :)

But, I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself.  There’s a long road ahead of me yet!  I hope you’ll all continue to stick with me along the way.  It’s like the song in one of my favorite novels and movies, “The Road goes ever on and on, down from the door where it began.  Now far ahead the road has gone, and I must follow, if I can…”

Searching for a Title

“But wait, I thought you already had a title?”  I do, for the trilogy.  Chronicles of the Sentinels will be the name for the entire trilogy or even the entire series if I decide to write stories beyond the trilogy.  However, each individual novel will also need it’s own names, starting with this first novel.

As has been the case recently, I am struggling to come up with a good title.  I’ve toyed with some ideas, like “The Shattering” or “Shadows of Babylon” but I’m not sure I like either of those.  What do you all think?

Chronicles of the Sentinels – 1st Draft by the Numbers

After my proofread/revisions is complete, I have no doubt that these numbers will change, but the completed first draft is as follows:

Chapters: 25
Word Count: 72,526
Page Count: 224

This is right where it should be for a YA or YA-Crossover novel, so I am especially pleased with that :)

I know today is Sunday and I promised you all an excerpt every weekend.  So I’ll keep that promise.  Keep an eye out for later today, I’ll be posting an except from Chapter 10!

Guns vs. Swords – Writing Modern Fantasy

Hi everyone!

Tonight I wrote the climactic scene of Chronicles of the Sentinels, and wow, what a rush that was!!

Image Source - www.fanpop.com
Image Source – http://www.fanpop.com

Of course, this isn’t the first time I’ve gotten such a huge rush from writing the climax of a novel.  In fact, The Sword of Dragons – Burning Skies had a heart-pounding final battle between two massive dragons battling in the skies above two armies.  I hope to some day see some artist renditions of that battle, because I think it was pretty incredible and the images are iconic!

This brings me to another interesting aspect that I’ve become aware of over the last few days – the difference between writing battle scenes in High Fantasy and Modern Fantasy.

Guns vs. Swords

Image Source - Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
Image Source – Lord of the Rings: Return of the King

Over the past decade or so, I have become accustomed to writing High Fantasy, and the battles involved swords, bows and arrows, Wizards casting elemental attacks, that sort of thing.

However, for Chronicles of the Sentinels, I have had to pretty much leave that behind.  While still a fantasy genre, Modern Fantasy is a whole other character.

Why?  Because in this day and age, battles are fought with pistols, automatic rifles, grenade launchers, and occasionally a knife for close-quarters combat.  Interestingly enough, I have more knowledge and experience using firearms than I do swords, so in a way it was something I should have been more comfortable writing about.

And yet, it was so radically different from what I’ve written in the past that I found I had to adjust how I wrote it.  At first I wrote those scenes like they were a military action novel.  Then I realized I needed to focus less on those aspects, and more on the characters and the action itself.  After all, my target audience isn’t the same as the Bourne novels’ audience (although those are pretty awesome books!)

Image Source - www.nexusmods.com
Image Source – http://www.nexusmods.com

On top of this, there was also the challenge of writing about modern technology mixed in with magic.  It’s not uncommon in High Fantasy (Skyrim anyone?) but enchanting an automatic rifle?  What happens when you do that?

I’m sure my novel isn’t the first one to have done this, but I’ve never ready anything like it before.  My initial thought was to go out and read how other writers did it, but then I thought, “No.  No, I don’t want to emulate other authors, I want to do this my way.”

I’m pleased to say I think it turned out pretty great :)  However, we’ll see if my opinion holds when I go through my proofreads…

In any case, I hope this is something quite original and intriguing to readers.  I love to capture readers’ imaginations, like so many novels have done for me in the past :D

Chronicles of the Sentinels Update

The final climactic battle took place in chapter 23, which leaves me with only 2 more chapters to write tomorrow :)  Keep an eye here for that announcement!

Word Count: 69,238
Page Count: 213

Good night everyone, thanks for reading!  :)
-Jon

Characters in our Hearts

Hi everyone,

Image Source - http://finalfantasy.wikia.com
Image Source – http://finalfantasy.wikia.com

As a reader, I know how invested I can become in characters.  Perhaps just as much, if not more so, with video games.  I’m not ashamed to admit that a certain character’s death in Final Fantasy 7 brought me to tears.

“But they aren’t real,” I’ve heard some people tell me.  “How can you feel so close to someone who doesn’t exist?  It’s ridiculous.”

Is it?  Sure they aren’t physically real, sure they don’t have minds of their own, but does that make our attachments to them ridiculous?  I don’t think it does.

As a writer, there’s an added level to that attachment towards my own characters.  Maybe that sounds strange in and of itself, but its true.  I mean there have been characters that I didn’t feel anything towards one way or another, but later on when I read those same stories, I realized that I didn’t develop those characters, and I wrote them poorly.

The truth is that when you invest so much imagination, so much time into developing those characters, both in your head and on paper, they earn a place in your heart as if they were real.  Or at least, they do for me.

Image Source - http://branislavboda.deviantart.com
Image Source – http://branislavboda.deviantart.com

Tonight, as I wrote chapter 17 of Chronicles of the Sentinel, I realized that I felt a little guilty about what I was putting Emmi through.  As I wrote what I think is going to be one of the most powerful chapters of the novel, I realized that I often put my characters through hell, as I think most writers do.

Which also brings me to another point – this special place in our hearts that our own characters have, it isn’t a bad thing.  Quite the opposite.  Why?  Because when our characters feel something, we feel it.  It’s that emotional barrier thing I wrote about in a previous blog article.

When we feel the emotions we want our characters to feel, I think a couple of wondrous things happen.  First, we’re able to more accurately write what is happening.  If we’re feeling it, we can describe our emotions and make them the character’s.  Second, this helps our characters come alive.  It makes them more real not just to the readers, but to ourselves.  They turn from two-dimensional characters to three-dimensional characters, figuratively speaking.

To all of my fellow writers out there reading this, do you have this same experience?  What about readers?  How attached do you find yourself becoming to characters in the novels you read?

Chronicles of the Sentinels Update

As I mentioned, I finished up chapter 17 tonight.  It was actually relatively short at only 5 pages, but it is one that resonates, and accomplishes a lot of things in such a short span.

Here are the statistics so far:

Word Count: 49,473
Page Count: 152

Chapter 17 puts me past the two-thirds mark for the novel.  Which means that while I had fallen behind before, I am now ahead of schedule again!  :D

Thanks for reading, and please, if you haven’t already, check out my facebook author’s page, and give it a follow while you’re at it!  :)

-Jon

That Insatiable Need to Write

Hi everyone!

So this past weekend, I wasn’t able to do any writing.  Aside from taking me from being ahead of schedule to behind schedule on my deadline, I also found myself wishing I could find time to write the entire weekend.

I’m not complaining, to be sure, I had a blast this weekend!  Exploring parts of Denver and enjoying the last day of the Colorado Renaissance Festival…I can’t think of a better way to spend the weekend :)  I even went back to 16th Street Mall to check out the location for one of the scenes in Chronicles of the Sentinels!

However, when I opened up my laptop this morning at Starbucks and spent an hour writing before work, I felt re-energized and alive again!  It felt like something had been missing from my life for nearly three days, and I found it again this morning :)

I’m curious if anyone else has this same experience?  Where if you go too long without writing, you get fidgity and anxious, you become distracted by story ideas (okay, for me that’s almost always happening,) and when you look at your laptop or notebook and go, “…just five minutes!  That’s all I need!”  Of course, five minutes turns into an hour, turns into five hours…

I find that the more I write, the more I love it.  I’ve been writing for nearly twenty years (I think closer to 18 at the moment, but I’ll keep rounding up :p )  And now I’m writing so much!  I mean I’m literally spending mornings and evenings writing, usually at one Starbucks or another!

Chronicles of the Sentinels update

As of tonight, I have finished chapter 14 of Chronicles of the Sentinels.  Here are the statistics so far:

Word Count: 41,859
Page Count: 128

My word count and page count are right on track for my expected outcome of about 230 to 240 pages and less than or up to 80k words.  :D

Chronicles of the Sentinels – Excerpt from Chapter 9

Hi everyone!

This has been such an incredibly busy week for me that I’ve had very little time to do anything outside of writing, and even then I haven’t done any writing this weekend :(

But while I haven’t yet joined the Weekend Writing Warriors, I didn’t want to deprive you all of an excerpt from Chronicles of the Sentinels.  I’m finding it very difficult to find only 8 sentences to post, and once again felt the need to grab more than 8, but I think you’ll all like this one!

In this chapter 9 scene, Chris, Emmi and Alycia are in downtown at the outdoor 16th Street Mall.  Emmi caught Shara, one of the Sentinels, following them, and has confronted her.  Shara insists that she is there to protect them, but Emmi is doubtful…

Image Source - Google Images
Image Source – Google Images

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Emmi almost shouted her response, but caught herself and glanced around at the crowds. In a near-whisper, she said, “There’s no way you can defend against them. Most of your team was killed last night, what do you and your boss think you can do alone?”

Shara’s jaw tensed, and she could see in the woman’s eyes that she had just said the wrong thing. “Listen to me, you spoiled brat…”

Before she could finish, a chilling roar echoed up and down Sixteenth Street. Emmi and Shara went silent, and a moment later, Emmi realized the entire area had. Everyone walking, everyone sitting on the patios of all of the different restaurants, all were quiet, even the violinist. The roar sounded like it had come from the air, but because of all of the near-by towering buildings, the echo made identifying where exactly it had come from impossible.

“What the hell was that,” Emmi whispered, feeling a sense of sudden fear creeping up inside of her. She felt goose bumps crawl up and down her arm, and her back tingled.

“No,” Shara looked down, her face full of doubt and fear. The crowd started to talk excitedly, but was once again silenced by another, much closer roar. Shara’s head snapped to her left and up, and Emmi followed her line of sight. A moment later, from over a neighboring skyscraper, a winged shadow appeared. It seemed too large to be a bird, which only served to form a pit of ice in Emmi’s stomach. “Son of a…”

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Thanks for reading, I hope you all enjoyed this snippet :)  And I plan to get right back to writing Chronicles like crazy before the end of the weekend.  I still have a deadline to meet!

-Jon

Writing Under a Deadline

Hi everyone!

Image Source - http://www.rmfw.org/
Image Source – http://www.rmfw.org/

To begin with, I have some exciting news!  I’ve registered for the Colorado Gold Writing Conference hosted by the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers!  This will be my first ever writers’ conference that I’ve ever attended…  *gulp*

Having said that, has anyone else who reads my blog attended a conference?  Any tips on what I might expect, and what I should have to be best prepared?  I’m going to research like crazy online too, but personal experiences would be helpful :)

One of the coolest parts about this is that I get a free pitch session with an agent!  Personally I think this will be a great thing!  It doesn’t guarantee that I’ll land an agent, but I think that my in-person excitement will help me sell my story.  Furthermore, I know that agents aren’t just looking for a good story, they’re looking to see if a writer is someone they could see themselves working with, and if that person would provide a positive image for their agency.

The Deadline

Image Source - http://infocus.emc.com/
Image Source – http://infocus.emc.com/

This does, however, bring me to the title of this blog.  You see, when I found out I would be able to pitch  to an agent, I had a decision to make.  Do I pitch The Sword of Dragons, currently my only completed manuscript?  Or do I try to finish Chronicles of the Sentinels in time?

When asking around, I pretty much got a consensus: the story of Chronicles (and its genre) combined with just how excited I’ve been for this story ever since I first thought about it makes it more likely that I’ll be able to convince an agent to at least ask for the full manuscript.

This puts me on a deadline.  I have to have Chronicles as finished as possible by September 5th!

I am no stranger to deadlines in general.  I was an English major in college, and that meant having essays due by certain dates.  Lots of them.  Including long and involved research papers.  I also took every creative writing class I could, and every single story we had to write was due by a certain date, as were revisions.

But I have never had a deadline for a novel before, so this is a new experience.  It is true that I could always fall back on The Sword of Dragons, but you know what?  I’m not going to.  I’m not even going to consider that an option.  Why?

First, I want the experience of writing a novel under a deadline.  I don’t know what kind of deadlines I’ll fall under when I am finally able to write full-time, but I don’t ever want to be late with a manuscript or revision.  But more than that, because I know I can do this.  I’m already well on my way to it.  I just started writing chapter 10 tonight, and it’ll be a 25 chapter novel.

So, I have created a schedule for myself, one which I believe I’ll easily remain ahead of.  It’s as follows:

17 August: First draft of manuscript completed
19 August: First proofread completed, print out hardcopy
22 August: Second proofread completed
23 August: Complete digital revisions based on hard-copy proofread.  Email copies to beta readers.
03 September: Final Revisions

I already have a few beta-readers who have volunteered to try to read as fast as possible once I get a copy to them.  I’d like to ask if anyone who reads my blog would like to volunteer as well?  I know a week and a half isn’t much time to read, but honestly I think I’ll have it ready much sooner than 23 August.  It is also my intent to make Chronicles a fun read, and being geared towards YA or YA Crossover, it’ll be relatively short.

Something Special

I don’t know how I know, but I know that this is the one.  The more I write this novel, the more I feel like this is something special.  I’ve kinda felt that way from the get-go, but now, 10 chapters into it, I am certain.

The story, the characters (especially the characters,) everything is coming together so well!  I think I’ve found that balance between serious and light, comical and emotional, the same kind of qualities my favorite novels, movies, and TV shows have always had (think Stargate SG-1 :) )

Image Source - www.stargate-sg1-solutions.com
Image Source – http://www.stargate-sg1-solutions.com

Even if I don’t get signed on to an agent in this conference, there will be valuable experiences and valuable contacts made.  But I truly feel like this is the novel that is going to make my career take off.

I’m certainly not saying that The Sword of Dragons isn’t a great novel in its own right.  Just this week two coworkers started reading it, and both of them were hooked in the first few chapters!  The email one sent me after just reading the first four chapters was so encouraging and made my day!  I know TSOD will do well once published, but getting that first agent, that first publisher, that is the hard part.

I think for the first time in my life, I truly believe that I can do this.  I can make it as a writer.  :)

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