So we started a youtube channel. Because that's what all the cool kids are doing these days, right?
JLY and I are both technically introverts, so going in front of the camera is more or less painful at times, but we're trying to open up more and put ourselves out there. Connect with people. Y'know?
JLY and I both have slightly differing opinions when it comes to how we feel about things we've done, whether it's the manuscript for SFA, the sci-fi film project we did in high school, or the costume kimonos that we sewed ourselves for a class project. JLY is always so proud of our accomplishments. I, on the other hand, always feel... embarrassed. I hate putting myself out there for people to see. It still takes me a while to work up the courage to share something that I've written with anyone, much less The Internet. It's not so bad when you have a screen name and words to hide behind, but coming out and letting people see what we look like... Well, let's just say I've been agonizing over it since we filmed it.
But JLY and I are trying to be more outgoing, and so, we're starting what we call Tea for Adventurers. While we're getting the site back up, we're going to try to keep people updated about what's going on. And, since we're usually drinking tea when we work, we thought structuring it like a tea time would be fun!
I can't speak for JLY (well, I could, but she can probably do it better herself), but I'm going to try to explain why I've been out for the past, oh, two years or so. We halted book 2 right when we were closing in on some very exciting things. Why stop? At the very least, we owe everyone an explanation.
One thing before I begin. JLY and I never entirely abandoned SFA. Even when we were missing from the internet, we were waiting on an agent to try his hand at selling our manuscript. We were given an estimate of a month, so we thought it was worth the wait... But after over a year of waiting for that, we're done waiting. But that's a post for another day.
So back to the topic at hand. I've been told that I have a tendency of breaking things down into three parts to explain them. I find it helps me get my thoughts together, and you usually don't need more than three points. If pressed, I can condense most of my thoughts down into sets of three.
So, here goes. I call this TRAGEDY IN THREE PARTS. Don't worry. The beginning is bad, and it gets worse before it gets better, but I promise that the ending optimistic.
Tragedy in Three Parts
These past two years have been the hardest of my short, 27 year-old life.
Just days after I turned 25 in 2010, my father was diagnosed with cancer.
This is when JLY and I stopped writing Book 2.
To give this some perspective, you may need to know that JLY and I used to meet 2-4 times a week to write. We do this after working full (at least) 8 hour days. We often work until midnight. I sadly couldn't keep up this pace and be there for my family.
My time instead went to family trips to the hospital and family meetings where we gathered round to hear the latest news from the doctors, and then to grieve. We learned that my father had a very rare and aggressive form. It threatened to take his life in the first months of discovery, but after a short delay he was able to have a very difficult surgery and spent four weeks recovering.
I know I could have explained all of this on the website, and looking back, it seems easier to put into words, but at the time I didn't even tell my closest friends. I just didn't know how to talk about it.
Immediately after my father recovered from the worst of his surgery, he had an aggressive treatment plan of chemotherapy and radiation to keep the cancer from coming back. Before he even finished this preventative treatment, a little while before Christmas, his cancer returned. We were told he had 6 months.
This is when JLY and I stopped updating the website.
There were no other mainstream treatments. He tried several experimental test trials, which were difficult to get into and even harder to endure. He fought very bravely through all of it for a year and passed away a few months after I turned 26.
The year after his death was staggeringly difficult. I was very depressed. Life lost meaning for a little while. Everyone in my family was hurting.
I've had grandparents who have passed away, but I had never seen the process in such close proximity. I didn't know how much it would hurt to see my father in pain. At the end of it all, I'd done things I never thought I'd have to do, I'd watched him go through things I'd never imagined, and I'd stored all of that sorrow away for a time when I'd be able to sort it out. That time was the year following his death. At first, I couldn't even talk about it. Grief impacts the mind in many ways. I had trouble focusing. I often couldn't remember things that had just happened. I couldn't make decisions or stand to be in crowded or noisy places. When I wasn't crying, I was angry often, and at everyone. But I slowly started to sort all of that out. It wasn't easy to make sense of it, and some days it's still tough, but I'm healing.
For the most part, I'm doing better, though my family and I are still recovering from the emotional trauma. It isn't always easy. I try to take care of my mother. I try to hold our family together.
My friends have been amazing throughout all of it, JLY in particular of course. I am happier now, and what's more important, capable of happiness. I'm very grateful for the time that my family had together. We were able to go on family trips to Disneyland and Las Vegas. We said all of the things that need to be said at such a time, and left nothing unsaid.
And though I'll miss my dad every day, I'm ready for what comes next.
And for me, that means getting back to SFA.
And I'm also hoping that means this tragedy is over.
So thank you to the people who still believe in us. Thank you for the people who didn't forget. Thank you to everyone who ever read our story and enjoyed it. Sometimes life gets in the way, but we never stopped caring about SFA, and now we're going to try to bring it back, if you're still with us. Are you with us?
For those of you following along on the Facebook Group, you'll know that JLY and I are back and taking the first tentative steps to getting the website back up. This includes but is not limited to: finding web hosting, finding our backed up copy of the website, and frequently googling things that would make most tech-savy people cringe. "What is web hosting?" for instance.
As JLY and I struggle to get the website back up, I can't help thinking about back in the day--and by that I mean 7/7/07, the day we first launched the site.
JLY & KL of the past--Halloween, from back in the day.
When JLY and I set up schoolforadventurers.com for the very first time, conditions were not ideal. We were operating out of a basement. Not just any basement, but the basement of a dorm. I wish I had a picture, because words can't do it justice. We had to steal a chair from the lounge whenever JLY came to work next to me, and between the bed and the desk and two chairs, it was like a logic puzzle getting in and out of the room (often involving sliding one chair out the door so there'd be room to walk). I'd never made a website before, so there were hours of bashing my head against html and Dreamweaver tutorials trying to understand what a widget was, and what made it spry.
But on the other hand, as it turned out, there were a lot of people on hand to help: my brother was able to buy up the domain name, one of my friends had free web hosting that we leeched off of.
Now, my brother still owns our domain, but he's out of town and our friend's web hosting has been cancelled, so we're out in the cold, cruel world trying to figure this out on our own. But progress is being made. JLY signed us up for a web hosting service. We figured out how to access the domain again from an ftp. So the wheels are turning.
And, man, looking back on how I designed the old site to work, it is a train wreck. I won't go into the details, but apparently I just loved making folders and giving them super helpful names like "Update 13". Sigh. But at least it worked, and considering that I didn't have any idea how to use Dreamweaver before this, I feel like that's somewhat of an accomplishment.
In any case, untangling it is going to be quite the task. It's times like these I wish we had an intern...
Today, we opened up this blog for the first time in almost two years.
As KL put it, it was like coming into a dusty and abandoned house where you once lived.
We've been gone for a long time, partly for personal reasons. KL's father passed away a year ago, and it's been a tough year for her. JLY suffered terrible heartbreak as a serious relationship ended. And at our day jobs that pay our bills, we've had a lot of changes.
Though that doesn't mean that we stopped working on SFA.
So, what have we been working on for SFA? Well, we decided to try to get an agent and actually make living writing SFA! We wrote, we revised, and we did manage to land a fantastic agent, who has been shopping our book around, but it's been nearly a year and we're still waiting. We were hoping to have our first post back have better news, but as the weeks turned into months, we figured we should post some explanations about all that's been going on while we wait.
We were given the advice to start on other projects while we're waiting, so we've been working here and there on other things, hoping every day that we'll get some news.
In the meantime, we're kind of in a forced holding pattern. Since we're trying to sell the book, we can't post all of it online (publishers might see that as giving it away for free). So it gets complicated.
We're still trying to figure it out. When we figure out what and how we can post, we'll return home for good.
Thank you for reading. Thank you for caring about our little world. We hope we'll be able to welcome you back soon.
For those of you following along at home, you know that we've started on a marathon challenge of re-writing the beginning in a few different ways to see if we can come up with something better. Since we've been getting a lot of good feedback, we thought we'd share with you what we're thinking in rewriting the prologues.
Why not stick with the original prologues?
It was a tough decision to try re-writing. We were very fond of the original four prologues, but after looking at them again, we realized that they set up a few problems. We aren't saying that these are huge problems, but they're what we're thinking about when we try out these alternate openings. These issues are:
1. The prologues start with Fell. This is tricky because, as many people have pointed out, Fell doesn't end up being a central character to the entire plot. If anything, it seems like the story centers more around Averi and Wisteria. Of course Fell is important, but by starting with Fell, we set up a the wrong expectation about whose story it is.
2. The prologues build up a world that we quickly lose sight of. Fell's world is built on the bonded laborer system and local bullies. Averi is from a palace, and Wisteria is from the Ling Monastery. All of these are important, but maybe they aren't the most important parts of the SFA world. Maybe they aren't what we need to immediately lead with.
3. The prologues introduce four different characters. While we do like the idea of showing where everyone comes from, we're worried that it's a lot of people to meet--instead of building up a connection with one character, it feels a little scattered.
For the next few weeks, we'll be playing around with the introduction and seeing what we can come up with. The original prologues will still have a place in the continuity of the world, even if we end up going with a different opener. We know that rewriting means potentially losing some of the good things we liked about the original prologues, but just maybe we can come up with some new good things that serve SFA a little better. When you read, keep in mind that you're reading a rough draft--something we've written but haven't yet polished. We're doing this to just try out a few different ideas before we start feeling locked into one of them, but the downside is that they'll feel rougher than the original prologues.
Anyway, that's what's going on behind the scenes here at SFA. Thanks for reading, and feel free to leave any comments you have about the new openings.