Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Gift-Giving

Happy Holidays from SFA!

Just for fun (much like everything we do here at SFA), we've decided to post another scene from the world of SFA Modern, which pretty much writes itself.

We don't know about your high schools, but ours had an annual Secret Santa gift exchange. This could mean many things. If someone nice was your Secret Santa, it was a week full of excitement. In JLY's case, she got secret notes with candy every day that week and a big present at the end. On the other hand, if you were like KL, you might not hear anything from your Secret Santa until two months later when he hands you an open Excel Saga DVD with a lackluster apology.

Oh, high school.

In any case, that Secret Santa exchange program was the inspiration for this holiday bonus scene.

Happy Holidays from all of us at SFA!

Gift-Giving

Wisteria was feeling smug. She had finally been assigned to give Rakam a gift for the holiday gift exchange at school which meant she was finally able to pay him back for last year. On the appointed day, he had presented her with her present: a pair of men’s sneakers in size 12. When she rejected them, he’d widened his eyes and feigned disbelief. “Wisteria, you don’t like them? And I spent so long picking them out for you,” he had added. “I suppose I’ll just have to take them myself.”

But this year, she would have her revenge. She’d found just the thing: a gold, heart-shaped mirror. She’d even practiced what she would say. I wanted to get you the thing you loved the most, she would tell him with a smirk.

It would be perfect.

When it finally came time to exchange the presents in the gym, she marched up to him, ready to shove her wrapped gift at him. But to her surprise, he was standing there holding something out to her.

She looked at it suspiciously. “You weren’t assigned to me,” she accused. “I made sure of that.”

“Does it matter? Maybe I’m making up for past crimes,” Rakam said with a shrug.

She took it from him hesitantly, almost sure it would be a joke as snide as the one she had planned for him.

“It’s not going to bite you,” he prodded her, prompting her to tear off the wrappings. The last thing she would ever want was for Rakam to think she was afraid.

She pulled away the bits of silver paper and revealed a metal rectangle with a soft square back. “It’s a picture frame,” she stated, perplexed.

“Good job, Sherlock,” he said. “Are you going to turn it over?”

“I imagine it’s a picture of you,” she said dryly.

He smiled as she flipped it over. “You could say that.”

Wisteria’s eyes fell on the picture, and she got quiet. She had expected to find a cheesy, glamour-shot of Rakam, the kind you took in a mall picture booth for a dollar. Instead, it was an old photograph, yellowed with time and worn at the edges. In it, a much younger version of Wisteria’s mother sat beside a much younger version of Rakam’s mother, and in front of them, two toddlers were playing on the grass.

“It almost looks like we used to get along, doesn’t it?” Rakam said ruefully.

Wisteria laughed. “I’m sure this was taken right before you took my doll and kicked sand in my face.”

“I was toughening you up,” Rakam objected.

Wisteria rolled her eyes and punched him in the shoulder.

“See how well I’ve trained you?” Rakam teased.

“Seriously,” Wisteria said, looking down. “Thank you.”

“Didn’t you have something for me?” Rakam asked, grabbing the wrapped package from her backpack and dangling it in front of her.

“I wouldn’t—That’s not—” Wisteria stammered, fumbling over the words as she tried to grab it back. After what he’d given her, her present hardly seemed just.

Her reluctance only made him more enthusiastic as he ripped into the present. He tore the wrapping and opened the box to find the gilded, heart-shaped mirror. He looked at it blankly before turning to Wisteria curiously.

Wisteria shrugged. “I wanted to get you the thing you loved the most,” she said lamely, though the phrase she had once thought would sound triumphant and clever was now caught in her throat. “Rakam, I—”

“It’s perfect,” he said, cutting her off. “You know me too well.”

When she looked up at him, she saw the familiar cocky grin on his face.

“Merry Christmas,” she said weakly as he turned to leave.

“And a happy new year,” he called over his shoulder.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Behind the Scenes: The Warrior Faculty

Today we've got part-two of the Professor series. The Warrior faculty is led by Kherif Halden, Rui Halden, and Ivan Trowe.


Professor Halden is the head of the Warrior department. He oversees the day-to-day affairs of the program and deals with the Warrior majors and minors. He is brash, blunt, unsympathetic, and serves as an appropriate introduction to the Warrior major as he teaches first-years Sparring. He doesn't place as much value on the rules as the heads of the other departments.

Professor Rui Halden, often referred to as "The Firecracker of the North" both for her fiery temper and quick blade, is the second-in-command of the Warrior department. Even more so than her husband, she is hot-tempered, impatient, and impulsive. She teaches endurance training, Nornese fighting styles, and upper-classmen studies with an emphasis in rune magic as it applies to weaponry and combat situations.

Professor Ivan Trowe specializes in teaching weapons work to first-, second-, and third-year students. Providing balance to the Warrior faculty, Professor Trowe has a calming effect on the students and is known for his limitless patience. Composed and contemplative, Professor Trowe is one of the few Warrior teachers capable of conducting class without raising his voice.

Any questions?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Behind the Scenes: The Mage Faculty

Today, we're bringing you a look at the fine instructors behind the Mage program at Eastridge. The Mage faculty is composed of Eleanore Beven, Isabella Colwyn, Joe Valint, and Violanna Laurel.




Eleanore Beven is the ever-respectable leader of the department. Level-headed and pragmatic, Beven provides a stable foundation for the Mage staff. Though the personalities of her staff vary greatly, her strong leadership unifies them, and she's more than capable of settling any conflict.


Isabella Colwyn, more commonly called Isa by her colleagues, is the powerhouse of the Mage department. She specializes in Combat-Casting and has a no-nonsense approach to students that even the Warrior faculty respect. Her impressive height adds to her already imposing presence.


Joe Valint is the first Mage professor that most first-years encounter. He teaches many of the introductory courses, but he also oversees Magical Ethics and a few higher-level seminars. The most laid-back of all the Mage faculty, Valint is the most approachable and charming member of the staff.


Violanna Laurel's first passion is teaching Decorum, and she's often single-handedly responsible for encouraging the students to have any sort of social lives; however, she has a natural aptitude for animal sympathy magic. She has a gentle demeanor, and she generally avoids conflicts unless anyone threatens her beloved Decorum classes or the Winter Ball.


Any questions? =)


--KL & JLY

Easden Never Looked So Delicious...

To continue on with our dessert theme, we thought we'd share this Map of Eastridge cake that KL's friends made for her birthday! On it, you can see all of the main continents. Also, it was delicious.


(Mmm Eastridge!)

Sooner or later, we do plan to make some newer, better maps. These were made by KL on one of those days when JLY left her alone for too long. Had she been there, the name The Middle Sea probably wouldn't have made it past her, despite KL's insistence that it's in the middle. (Never mind that on a globe, there wouldn't really be a middle...)

Take care,

KL and JLY

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Finishing the Second Book

Things are busy here at the SFA office, also known as KL's place. It's been a year since we started writing Book 2, and that means our demanding, entirely arbitrary, and self-imposed schedule requires us to finish it within the next couple weeks.

Today, we got to some of the more exciting and fun scenes that we've been looking forward to for quite some time. Sometimes writing is hard, and you have to fight for every word, but sometimes writing is easy, and nothing feels better than writing when it feels right. We like to joke that, once we got past the Winter Ball, the book would write itself. Luckily, in all honesty, it is starting to feel that way. Hopefully this good streak of writing will last.

To that end, we've been working overtime, both so we can take advantage of this bout of inspiration and so we can get it done before our deadline and before JLY goes back to school. Not that we were slacking off before, but we've gone from meeting two or three times a week to virtually meeting every day (including weekends, though there tends to be more cheesecake and video games during those meetings).

(KL's Beautiful Homemade Cheesecake)


We also recently celebrated KMRicker Day as she visited us just this past weekend. She's got some great artwork coming up for you to see. There just might be some second-year profiles in the works. =)

Things have also been busy with Phase II: Tales of Eastridge. We're really proud of our beta group. They've been responding well to our various prompts, and we're really excited about how their stories are developing. Once we have a little more time, we're still hoping to figure out a way to open the beta up to more people... But that's probably still a ways off.

We'll keep everyone posted.

Best,

KL and JLY

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Archived

If you'd like to see the original blogs, you can find KL's here and JLY's here.

We're sad that we had to lose all the comments in this transition, but hopefully, there might be some new ones. =)

Take care,

KL and JLY

What I'm Reading

(Reposted from 03/31/09)

I've noticed that a lot of people talk about what they're reading... I guess what you're reading can say a lot about you. In my case, these days what I'm reading is World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War, and Phase Two Applications. I can thank JLY for World War Z-- a late Christmas present-- and for the Applications, I can thank all of you. ^_^ Actually, World War Z has technically been put on hold so JLY, KM Ricker, and I can cram every free moment we have full of application-reading. It's been a couple of weeks, and we're nearly through all of them, and I have to say that it's been a fun couple of weeks.

To say that we're enjoying the Phase Two Applications would be a horrible understatement. Without exception, the applications have been thoughtful and interesting to read. We spend so much time talking about SFA and thinking about SFA, I sometimes feel like we're in our own little world. It's like JLY, KM Ricker, and I have been having a party and suddenly we look up to realize other people are there, standing in the room with us. Which is cool. We spend so much time building that world... It's nice to be able to share it with people who are just as excited about it as we are.

That being said, for anyone who applied, you're probably curious about just what's going on behind the scenes over here. Well, I'll tell you.

First, JLY catalogs everything. You know how she likes spreadsheets. I half suspect she doesn't really need them--when we were printing them out, I'd call out each person's name so she could check them off the list and she'd offhandedly reply with the character name and a fun fact about that person. That's how good she is--she knows each and every one of you.

Anyway, after JLY, KM Ricker, and I printed out each application, we sorted them according to majors.

After that, well, let me describe the scene for you.

JLY sits at my desk, at the corner. She's in her chair--aptly appropriated by her since it's the chair that she sits in every time we work on SFA. She has the stack of Thief applications as well as the stack of Cleric applications. KM Ricker is on the couch flipping through the Warrior applications. Me, I'm in a chair at the table, taking a look at the Mage applicants. We've each got a slice of chocolate cake, because, why not? I felt like baking.

Two of us read through each application. We go through about a batch of ten, and then we discuss whether or not the applicants might be a good fit.

I really must say, I'm pleasantly surprised by how awesome all of the applications are. And I applaud everyone's bravery for applying. It's not an easy thing to write like this, to bare your innermost thoughts. When you do academic writing (essays, or the stray thesis), there are "therefores" and "thuslys" to hide behind. But to write fantasy... That's putting yourself out there, vulnerable, and saying "I think this is cool" or "I think this is funny". And that takes guts.

Personally, I don't think I would have had the courage to put SFA up on the internet or out in printed form if it weren't for JLY. I can hide behind her and see all of the good parts that she's written instead of worrying over all the flaws I've introduced...

Anyway, the point of this post is to thank everyone who has applied... Thank you for all of your courage to put yourselves out there, thank you for your time and effort in writing your characters, and thank you for the entertainment. =)

Take care,

KL

"I like how you turned my stalkerish nature into something endearing."

-JLY, after reading this post

Drowning, and the Results of Averi's Test

(Reposted from 02/13/09)

As they say in Firefly:

When you can't run, you crawl. And when you can't crawl, you make JLY carry you.

(Well, something like that... ^_^)

95% of the time, I need a project to work on. I can't just watch TV... If I'm watching TV, I need to be writing, reading, drawing, wrapping a present, cooking a meal, eating that meal, or sipping a tall glass of hot chocolate.

It might be high school that did this to me. I've talked about it before, but if you haven't read those posts, here's the basics: The high school JLY, KM Ricker, and I went to had some strict rules about how tough of a course load a student could take... So of course, JLY and I petitioned to take the maximum course load-- AP English, AP Bio, etc. etc. The end result was much too much homework, far too little sleep, and a merciless need for productivity. During those years, I found out just how much I can get done in 24 hours, and I developed a lingering feeling that I always should be meeting that peak productivity.

So 95% of the time, I want to have something to work on. This somewhat compulsive desire to be productive allows me to get quite a bit of work done on any given day. On the other hand, when that 95% wears out, I hit the 5% of the time when I'm flat-out exhausted, mentally burned out, and ready to curl up in a corner somewhere and just watch some mind-numbing reality TV.

I guess the way I would describe it is that it feels like drowning--at first, it's just a tiring, aching of the limbs. Then it starts to dawn on you how much you've spent of yourself, just treading water. Movement becomes harder. You need to convince yourself that it's worth the effort to push your limbs through the water. Your muscles ache; it's a struggle just to breathe. But you keep churning water, because you know that all you need is to keep your head above that water line.

So that's what I've been doing lately... Just treading water.

Luckily for me, I've got a JLY. She recently wrote a post titled "Co-Authors Are The Best". I would like to reply, "JLYs Are The Best". If JLY and I each have a specialty, I would say that one of JLY's specialties is in caring about our world... Every little detail of it, which she meticulously chronicles in various Excel spreadsheets... So I fully admit that I'm not really pulling my weight right now... I mean, JLY is practically dragging me uphill over rocks. Big rocks. Sure, I try to help sometimes... It goes something like this:

KL: Okay... Let's work on... Our guide to the world.
JLY: Are you feeling okay?!
KL: ...No... But we should...
JLY: This is like my dream!

And a typical day of us working on answering questions on the forum more or less follows this pattern:

KL: Hmm... What 'Age' are they in?
JLY: Oh. They're in the Iron Age.
KL: What's the difference between the Bronze Age and the Iron Age?
JLY: Well... (Smiles!) The Bronze Age is like the Mayans...
KL: Whoa, whoa. Okay, as long as you understand what's going on.

Well, my point is that if you see JLY on the forum, be sure to shower her with praise for her dilligence... ^_^

For my part, I've been trying to get back to normal. To that end, JLY and I have tried to do a few more fun things lately. JLY and I don't make it a practice to schedule in fun, but when we burn out, it becomes inevitable. That's one of the nice things about co-authoring/co-projecting with your best friends. When we've pushed ourselves too far, JLY and I (and KM Ricker, when she's not toiling over her drawings) get to have fun.

So what do JLY and I do for fun? Well, recently we had what I'd call a 'Left 4 Dead Party'. This consisted of 2 flat-screen HDTVs, 2 X-Box 360's, 2 copies of Left 4 Dead that I borrowed from various sources, and 2 very accommodating friends to keep JLY and I alive as we run into walls, fire, and zombie hordes. The night was spent passing two of the campaigns, and to summarize, it involved a lot of JLY and myself shooting our FPS-savvy friends in the back of the head. ^_^* Heh. Our friends have assured us that in the event of an actual zombie apocalypse, the first thing they will do is take our guns and leave us far, far behind.

But there's only so much zombie-hunting a person can take... Especially when JLY spends about an hour to figure out how to get up each ladder... Our latest distraction was a game based off of Battlestar Galactica. Having not watched much of the series, I wasn't too enthusiastic about trying it, but it turned out to be one of the funnest boardgames I've ever played. I think what I love about it is that the emotions end up being real. There are two traitors for every five-person game, and when I had to stab one of my friends in the back, I felt genuinely terrible, and he felt genuinely betrayed. That game is an emotional rollercoaster, but it's definitely a good time.

Anyway, that's what I've been up to-- trying to relax, breathe, and just have some fun without feeling like I need to be doing seven other things at once. My bills are paid, my work gets done at my 9 to 5 job, and there's gas in my car. Everything else can wait, because every now and then, you need to make time for fun. Right?

Speaking of fun, by popular demand, I put Averi through the Mary Sue Litmus Test today. She scored a somewhat chagrining 39, which in this test equates a Mary-Sue, although not a hopeless one. You can see the full results and read for yourself what a 39 means.

All right, so admittedly, the SFA characters are meant to play off of many of the fantasy tropes. There's just no getting around a few of them, like:

Is the character related to royalty or nobility?
Has everyone significant heard of the character?
Is the character rich or well-to-do, although she/he doesn't work?

(Warning, Spoilers for Book 1!)

There are some others that could have been avoided:

Was the character ever abducted?

I read that and thought 'curses, book 1!' They weren't even trying to abduct her... -sigh-

Then there's this one:

Is the character's name an unusual spelling of a more common word or name?

I think 'Avery' is normally how the name is spelled. In my defense, I only swapped the spelling because I was ripping off one of JLY's characters from a previous story. That character is named Avery, and I thought changing it to an 'i' would be fun... It started out as a place-holder, but when JLY nick-named Wisteria 'Raven', all bets were off--I previously had a character named 'Ravenly'--so more or less, it was a fair trade... Right?

<3

KL

A Parting Quote-- for context, we had been laughing over something, rather than working:

KL: Okay... We need to listen to a calming song so we can work.
JLY: No! Not calm! UN-CALM! UN-CALM! *Shakes fist!*
KL: I'm putting that on my blog.
JLY: That's not funny... It's not funny to anyone but us.
KL: Yes... Well, that's never stopped me before.

Co-Authors Are the Best!

(Reposted from 01/30/09)

I thought I should update with something more substantial since my last post was an incredibly short post on how pretty my book is and also since KL's faithful blogging has shamed my lack of such.

I've entitled this blog 'Co-Authors Are The Best' because I have KL, and KL really is great.I don't think I would've published anything without my co-author. Plus, the question I've gotten most frequently so far from the fans who know me in person (read: my family) is: How do you and KL write together?

And the answer to that is: 'very carefully'.

Mainly, I set up my computer next to hers in what we like to call our office, and we furiously type at each other's sides while debating the merits of doing one scene instead of another or having this bit of dialogue over that bit of action, etc. This all usually happens over a stout hot chocolate and a turkey sandwich, and after about four hours of typing for three or four times a week, we have some scene or other to show for our efforts.

For anyone who thinks of co-authoring, make sure you get along together (well, perhaps this is obvious) because you will probably be spending a lot of time with that person.

KL and I write quite well together and continue to do so for about 12-16 hours every week. It might have something to do with the fact that we've been writing for 10 years together and are quite familiar with the other's writing style. It might also have to do that we complement each other, as KL enjoys writing our fighting and action scenes and I enjoy too much our social scenes and world details.

But, I actually think our writing well together also has plenty to do with the fact that we're on the same wavelength for the most part, and if we're not, we happily and comfortably discuss what our options are and what we should do. Our best scenes come from both of us, in the discussions where one of us presents a scene or an instance we'd like to write about and we think about how best to substantiate it. That's what writing SFA is after all--writing about something we really enjoy, or, barring that, something we think would be really funny to do to our characters...

Speaking of writing SFA, I wanted to thank everyone who's been requesting and sending us their applications! KL and I are enjoying meeting all your new characters, and we look forward to see how they develop!

Best,

JLY

Note: Having SFA on Amazon.com has been a real adventure (hah) in and of itself. For some reason, they have us posted as "Eastridge Academy: School for Adventures" rather than "Adventurers" and have listed KL as a "Contributor" rather than as an "Author". *shakes head* Silly Amazon.

Quotation of the Week--on figuring out the symbols on Easden's coins:

KL: "Maybe he should toss a coin to see who goes first. It can't be heads or tails. Should it be, like, fireworks or wheat-shafts?"

Quotation #2--KL being helpful

JLY: "What should I end my post with?
KL: "Hm...with something clever?"
JLY: "-_-*"

The Perfect Book

(Reposted from 01/24/09)

"This is why I'm not good at being witty in real life. I think I'm so clever that I start laughing before I finish what I'm saying."

-JLY

It's probably no secret that JLY and I both enjoy writing SFA quite a bit... That should probably be reward enough for toiling over our pages... But I do take great delight whenever I see on the forum or in an email that someone is enjoying reading our work.

On the other hand, it makes me sad, sometimes, to know that some people... okay, possibly a lot of people... aren't going to like our book.

There are many reasons for this, some of which have already been elaborated on in various comments, and others that are simply reasons I know, reasons that keep me awake at night every now and then, wondering if we should have done things differently.

I should probably admit that this is in no small part my own fault. I've developed a bad habit of reading the Amazon reviews for other books. It's oddly fascinating to read the 5-star reviews, and horribly terrifying to read the 1-star reviews. Even great books, amazing books that are given 5 stars by reviewer after reviewer can be ripped to shreds by a single scathing 1-star review. How can some people hate a book so passionately, and other people love it so entirely?

The answer, I think, is both reassuring and unsettling. It's just that people have different tastes, different things they look for, different things they love and hate.

For example, with our story, I know there are going to be people who don't like the pace, people who don't like the characters, and people who don't like the plot (or lack there of in the beginning). But I also know-- or at least hope-- that there will be people who love seeing the school before we launch into the story, people who delight in watching the simple stereotypes blossom into deeper characters, and people who read foreshadowing into the early events that prepared the way for the main plot.

Writing is about making choices, and those choices come with trade-offs. The trade-off to getting a big, fun cast is that you might lose people when you introduce so many new faces at once. The trade-off to spending time on bullies, social events, and all the high school details is that there's less time for the epic fantasy elements. The trade-off for entertaining ourselves with funny jokes and twists is that we undercut the dramatic elements.

One of my friends recently read our story, and he commented that he was taken by surprise when everything in the ending started happening, since up until then, it's a happy little story without much danger.

Part of that is intentional. We wanted the twists to come as a significant surprise, but the trade-off is that there's less urgency early on. Wisteria having a bodyguard, for example, seems completely superfluous at first. Rakam comes off as a slacker tag-along set on annoying her and making an easy buck... But we all know how that one ends.

Ultimately, there are many different ways that we could have told our story... I strongly believe that the published version is much, much stronger than the draft that is on the website. Even so, sometimes I still wonder if we should have told it a different way...

But if writing is about trade-offs, then I think the best we can do is to write from the heart, and write what we love... Because there's no such thing as a Perfect Book that everyone will love... There will always be people who like a book, and people who don't. And if you write for someone else, for what you think other people will like, at best you'll still end up displeasing some readers, and at worst your writing will ring false to your readers and to yourself as well. The best I think we writers can hope for is to write for ourselves, and if someone else happens to like it, then we can consider ourselves very, very lucky.

And on that subject, I have a confession.

If you couldn't tell, last week's post is one of my favorites. JLY and I have had this scene planned for quite some time, so we've been looking forward to finally getting here. We've debated for a while how we wanted to play this scene... Ultimately, we had had to do it this way... It was just too much fun.

There are a lot of different ways that this scene could have happened. Perhaps more dramatically, perhaps with more suspense. But here we are, and I happen to personally like it the way it is.

You see, here at SFA, we write because it's fun. We wouldn't be able to sit inside on a Friday night and write for hours if it weren't fun. We can be serious when we need to be, but our default setting is 'have a good time'. And I can imagine that a lot of our choices aren't very traditional, or might be very different than how other writers would do it... But maybe (hopefully?) different can be a good thing?

So that's my rambling for today, but before I go, my sincerest thanks to everyone like mjkj and Mary who has helped so far with The Great Tagging Project (I'm compulsively checking to see if we ever claim the #1 spot for "Young Adult Fantasy" or "Young Adult"), to everyone who has bought the book, and to each person who has posted a review--Generic Pen Name, Charvale, Aiden Naecea, G. DiStefano, Larry Liang, and Drucilla Shultz--you definitely made our day, week, month! I'm savoring the time while we have a 5-star rating, since I know it's doomed to not last for long...

<3

KL

Quote for the week:

JLY: We have option A and B.
KL: What should we do?
JLY: Well, 'A' sounds funny…
KL: Yeah, let’s do that. Like we usually do. Whatever personally amuses us.

Eastridge Academy on Amazon.com!

(Reposted from 01/24/09)

Doubtlessly, KL has beaten me to it, but our book is on Amazon!

I'm absolutely ecstatic...and even more so to see that we have six reviews on the page! I want to extend my special thanks to the people who wrote those (Larry Liang, Drucilla Shultz, Charvale, Aiden Naecea, G. DiStefano, and Generic Pen Name), as well as to those who took the time to view, order, and tag our book on Amazon.

Your support is so greatly appreciated!

Asking a Favor - The Great Tagging Project

(Reposted from 01/07/09)

As you might have heard, the book is now available on Amazon.com! I know people are busy, and not everyone has time to give us a review. But here's an extremely quick way to help us out, and we'd really appreciate your help with it!

Amazon categorizes books through tagging the products. If you look at our page on Amazon and scroll down about a page, you'll see the heading: "Tags Customers Associate with This Product". If you tag us (by clicking the checkboxes there, or adding a new tag), we'd be very grateful!

So please please be super awesome and help us out? Be part of The Great Tagging Project of '09! Our goal is to get 200 tags by the end of the month! All it takes is a few quick clicks.

<3

KL

Inside Jokes

(Reposted from 12/12/08)

First, in answer to everyone who's asked about buying the book-- It's not quite available yet. With hope and much luck, it'll be available in a couple of weeks! We just finished proofing the entire book and KM Ricker has graced us with some high-quality cover art. Now we just have to wait for Booksurge to send us a physical copy to approve.

To get a personal notification emailed sent straight to you from myself and JLY the second we know it's available, you can send us an email with the subject line "Book" to eastridge@schoolforadventurers.com

Thank you very much to everyone who has emailed us so far, and to everyone who has expressed interest or encouragement! It really means a lot to us. Probably more than you realize. =)

Anyway, I have a trick that I use to prompt JLY into posting on her blog. I usually tell her "people are going to think you're dead", and she magically pulls out a post. I realized today that since I haven't posted on my blog in quite some time, people are going to start thinking I'm dead. So, here's proof that I'm not.

You might have caught on by now that, while we do take the story seriously at times, we're not above being silly when the occasion calls for it. However, some of the silly things we like to talk about never quite make the cut of being in the story... So they end up on our blogs.

One of the particularly funny things that's come up lately is that we use some current day slang and terminology, even though SFA is set in a fantasy world. JLY's explanation for this is that the slang and terminology just happens to be a coincidence, and that the sources have nothing to do with our modern sources.

JLY: So we should have the same months, but for totally different reasons.

KL: Like the month February... Named after the february bush.

So, if you've read this week's post, you'll notice that a 'febuary bush' did manage to slip in and make the final cut... And now you know why. ^_^ This is something that JLY and KM Ricker and I would usually just chuckle at quietly to ourselves, but today I thought it was worth sharing... But perhaps you had to be there? ^_^*

Well, that's all for me.

- KL over and out.

Outtake while considering creating a new term for 'dating':

“So what’s going on with you and Averi?” Wisteria asked. “You haven’t been wearing your matching bracelets.”

“I’m not exactly going to wear a bracelet around school,” Rai said. “If the Thieves don’t steal it, then the Warriors would never let me live it down. Besides I didn’t keep it. After everything that happened, we weren’t exactly thinking about schnoffelhoffendaaz,” Rai said somberly. “It was the furthest thing from my mind.”

The Mary Sue Litmus Test

(Reposted from 11/2/08)

Due to our forum's discussion of Mary Sue characters, I was curious and ran Wisteria and Rai Ravin through the Mary Sue Litmus Test.

Wisteria scored a 36, and Rai Ravin scored a 29, placing them both squarely into Borderline-Sue territory, which makes them only marginally more believable than an actual Mary Sue.

I think it's the "Raven" name that really does me in.

On a related note, it's been pointed out to us that our characters are stereotypical.

Well, we know that.

They're supposed to be.

We're not laboring under the delusion that our characters are reinventing the wheel of the genre here.

Really, the initial conception of SFA was that it would be like a traditionally cliche, high school drama. In medieval times. With swords. And magic.

The Clerics would be the nerds, the people that study a lot, don't get out much, are looked on with some disdain, yet will be the ones saving everyone else later. The Warriors are one-dimensional jocks: not so big on brains, often bullies, and popular for their good looks and reputations. The Mages (particularly the nobility) are the in-crowd: the popular girls who vie for social power and status and talk about hair and boys. As for the Thieves, they're the ones you'll see in detention, the ones that just don't quite fit in and are probably going to create theirown breakfast club or something at the end of the day.

When we started talking about SFA, we created our characters as stereotypes. Fell is the clumsy nobody that becomes somebody; Averi, the Thief princess with "rebellious princess syndrome"; Wisteria, the reclusive, angsty girl; and Rai, the ever-popular and attractive charmer who all the girls want to chase after.

That said, having truly stereotypical main characters would be boring to write and painful to read.

While they can be generalized into neat little categories, the fun part of having Wisteria, Rai, Averi, and Fell is that they don't always fall so nicely into their assigned roles.

Fell is the clumsy nobody that becomes somebody, but the choices he makes to become somebody in the brutal Warrior major conflict with his nature. Fell not only has to grapple with the hazing and the prejudice he finds in his classes towards those perceived as weak (or, often, just female) but also has to figure out how he's going to behave as a result of his stance on those issues.

Averi is the rebellious princess, taking actions that are in conflict with and arguably threatening to people's perceptions of her position as a royal representative. She struggles with identity--whether she'll choose to follow what's expected of her or whether she'll choose to do what she wants. This conflict has resulted in a rather interesting set of personal choices whose results will undoubtedly come back to haunt her later (no pun intended).

As for Wisteria and Rai, they stick to their salient characteristics the most. I can count on Wisteria to be sardonic and ornery and on Rai to be charming and eloquent. And while these traits define both characters well, there's more to them than that. Both Wisteria and Rai hide behind their stereotypes. It's easier for Wisteria to be apathetic and guarded because she's introverted and placed in a highly undesirable situation, just as much as it's easier for Rai to always put on a good face because that's what he thinks people expect of him.

On a slightly unrelated note, I'm so thrilled SFA is being published! KL and I received the proofs for the book just in the last couple weeks and have been editing until we've become cross-eyed. Apparently, I've been holding onto a lot of misconceptions about the placement of commas throughout my school life that have made editing a true pain.

But SFA looks like a real book, at least.

We're hoping to release the book in time for Christmas (fingers crossed the timing'll work out right).

Anyway, in America, it's November 26, which means that tomorrow is Turkey Day! So Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Please eat lots of pie.

Love,

JLY

The Origin Story of SFA

(Reposted from 10/23/08)

So, I don't think I've talked yet about how JLY and I decided to start writing School for Adventurers. Here's the tale.

It was a dark and wintry night in early December almost two years ago. JLY and I were up late discussing what sort of writing project we should embark on. JLY, KM Ricker, and I are always working on something or another -- ever since high school, as a matter of fact -- so we usually have something we're thinking over and writing or drawing for.

We somehow ended up talking about some of our mutual friends from high school... And later, we came across the topic of young adult fantasy books that we loved or hated. We realized that there were two distinct genres that we were interested in for our next project: a high school story or a fantasy story.

And then came the big moment when one of us said, "Why not both?"

The more we thought about it, the more interesting it seemed.

The mission statement of SFA is to answer two questions. The first is "What would a high school for adventurers look like?" The second is "What would happen if all your favorite fantasy characters met each other in high school?"

Answering the first question makes writing SFA particularly tricky. We're not just telling a story, we're building a school. We wanted to fill it with fun and interesting classes and people, but we also had to balance that against the plot line-- which is why you've probably noticed that the main plot is a bit meandering. But, the book is as much about the school as it is about the characters, so it's important to JLY and myself to keep the focus there. We want SFA to be a world that has tons of possibilities, the kind of story that you would want to live in. It's difficult, but I think we've struck a good balance, which we're improving with the revisions of the book for the publication.

Answering the second question was a little bit more fun, for me at least. We started by mapping all of the high school stereotypes onto fantasy stereotypes. Of course, the characters aren't that simple... Or at least, we've tried to show the subtleties for some of them. Admittedly, we didn't have enough time in the first book to get into all of the back story and character development that we'd wanted to, since SFA is primarily plot-driven. Also, we rely a lot on our readers to read between the lines and to be patient as the plot slowly gets to exploring the characters... By the way, the character profiles that we've posted on the website are our "public" notes. The files that we keep on each character are far more extensive, with much more depth, but we don't want to have any spoilers out there, so unfortunately we can't share all of that information with you.

By the way, while we're on the subject of stereotypes, I want to put in a defense for all the stereotypes out there in the world. I've read some reviews of our story that mention the stereotypes as though it's a negative... I can understand that opinion. For some of my other writing, I try to avoid stereotypes at all costs. But for SFA, we consciously wanted to play with all the stereotypes we could think of.

Because before anything else, SFA is meant to be a fun young adult fantasy novel. While the title "School for Adventurers" may go a long way in conveying that, I just want to say that we're not exactly trying to write the next "Madame Bovary", "Grapes of Wrath", or "Villette". Nothing against Flaubert, Steinbeck, or Brontë-- those are all masterful novels-- they're not the type of novel we happen to be writing. We don't want this story to be a character study, and in particular, we -wanted- to try our hand at some stereotypes, and see what fun we can have in playing with them. Besides, when it comes down to it, that's why we're writing this-- because it's fun.

When JLY and I sit down to write a scene, we have a test. If we're not excited about writing it, if we don't think it's going to be fun, then we cut it or change it. Of course, in these changes, we always hold true to the core plot... And more than that, I like to think that being flexible and throwing in new elements is also true to the foundation of SFA. From when we started planning it two years ago to last week when we sat down to write the Rankings scene, if we're not looking forward to writing it, we brainstorm until we come up with something we're both excited about. So SFA might take some unexpected turns, or it might be whimsical at times, but at the very least, we hope it's always a fun ride.

<3

KL

By the way, you can thank JLY for this line: "Fell looked at the little girl in front of him. He couldn’t imagine raising a hand against her, let alone fighting her."

-I- wanted to go with: "Fell looked at the little girl in front of him. He could no sooner punch her than he could punch a kitten."

Other outtakes:

JLY: The top three Warriors will receive…
KL: Can we say purses? Or would it be too girly?
JLY: Yes, purses. They will be in the season’s top colors—blue, purple—
KL: Shut up! The top three will receive..
JLY: Gold?
KL: Moneybags?
JLY: Gold bags?
KL: Yes, gold bags…filled with more gold!

Also:

“Maybe he should toss a coin to see who goes first. It can’t be heads or tails. Should it be like... fireworks or wheat-shafts."

The Funniest Story Possible

(Reposted from 10/15/08)

When KL and I were younger, we used to participate in an acting/improv group that had us write a script based on a certain set of parameters (i.e. Create a play complete with props and costumes that incorporates the cultural event or tradition of a different country and costs less than some dollar amount). The most fun part about being in this group was getting to figure out how to juggle what we had so we could make the funniest story possible with the most ridiculous props and the best costumes at the lowest possible price.

Relating it back to writing, the most fun part about writing SFA with KL is that, while we’re always sure of what we want the end product to be, we’re not exactly sure how we’re going to make it. Writing SFA is trying to juggle all the pieces of what we know about our characters and world and to weave them together to make the best possible story.

In picking and choosing scenes from characters’ lives, though, we end up missing moments. Wisteria, Rai, Averi, and Fell have so much more going on in their lives that KL and I don’t even get to imagine, much less write about (though side scenes are written enough that some of the blanks are filled).

I suppose, when you’re writing a plot-driven story rather than a character-driven story, some of the character elements you’d like to explore get pushed to the side in favor of what elements will move the story along.

Thank goodness for blogs.

Then, I get to indulge in all my writing whims…and post things like this excerpt from the chapter, “The Easdenian Compendium” in The Guide to the World:

“THE TERM: MONASTERY: Monasteries are isolated groups of people who adhere to and live by a certain code dictated by a common system of belief. This system of belief is usually the basis for that monastery’s study of a specific Rune set. Every monastery has its own set of norms, rules, and laws.

THE LING MONASTERY:

On Location: The Ling Monastery is located on The Divide, a plains-land located geographically smack in the middle of the Northern Ridge, a jagged and dangerous mountain range on Easden’s northern coast.

On System of Belief: The original founder constructed Ling Monastery at this site because it was the perfect representation of balance—serenity and life among turmoil and death. It also was a place ideal for the teachings of the monastery: the focus on the balance between creation and destruction.

On Language: Being a convenient place for mountain travelers, the people of Ling Monastery cherish and know both the Easden northern languages and Norn coastal languages.

On Names: While it may seem that Wisteria’s last name links her to power because she is a Ling in Ling Monastery, her last name (or variations of it) are quite common. Also, when people who are raised in Ling Monastery leave for sabbatical, they tend to attach the name “Ling” to signal their origin and method of training. This may or may not be true of all monasteries.

On the Culture: The Ling Monastery tends to be more isolationist with respect to the royal court than other monasteries may be. This is, in part, due to its location. The people don’t tend to be xenophobic, however, and often encourage their eldest children to go on sabbatical or on a journey for betterment of self…”

Anyway, blessings to those who suffered through that. I always wondered why fantasy authors delighted so in creating glossaries and compendiums about their worlds.

It’s deliciously fun.

Best,

JLY

Unediting and Appendices

(Reposted from 10/01/08)

In a mad-dash attempt to get our book published before Christmas, KL and I have been working to finish editing the first book. While it's rewarding to see the book become a much better product, it's also hard to keep up the break-neck pace we've been setting. I think at some point KL said that she didn't know if we were improving the book so much as making it different. -_-*

We've been debating whether or not to push our deadline past Christmas to give SFA more attention. I think it might be a good idea, as I'd like to put the book away for awhile and look at it later with a new perspective. I want to be very meticulous with editing so that SFA will be as perfect as we can make it, but having to look so closely at the text for grammatical or continuity errors is seriously giving me a headache.

Enough about editing.

I've been working on sprucing up and filling out our Guide to the World, a set of documents that describes our world and the people in it in more detail. This is one of those areas where KL and I vastly differ, as she's more of a big-picture person while I enjoy random details (for instance, Wisteria's middle name or the full student registry of Eastridge). Being a perfectionist makes me enjoy organizing, and instead of organizing my room or my office even, I organize things like...comprehensive lists of rune characteristics and character details.

KL and I hope to include our Guide to the World as a set of appendices in the back of our published book so we can share our Book of Runes and our Student Registry with people who would be interested in such information. Also, hopefully, we'll be able to put it up on the website for all to admire (well, mainly me to admire, really)!

Ah, so much work, and so little time...

Best,

JLY

Favorite Quotation of the Week (or month, I suppose):

As KL has said, "You like to keep meticulous details of every rune we've ever used, while I like to create new ones without telling you."

Massive Rewrites, You Say? Why Yes, We've Got Those.

(Reposted from 09/25/08)

As you might know, JLY and I finished writing Book 1 on 7/7/08. And then, began editing it. That means we've been editing for over two months now. Two months. Of editing.

If you've read JLY's blog at all, you know she's the perfectionist. She likes it when things are perfect. Me, on the other hand? I like it when things are done.

Which is why editing is painful for me. I wanted to power through it and finish it and submit the book so I can put a big metaphorical DONE stamp on SFA Book 1... But luckily, JLY and KM Ricker (amongst other people) have talked sense into me... So it looks like we might delay publishing until we can go over the entire book again and make it... better...

Sometimes, with editing, I get the feeling that I'm not making things better, I'm just making things different. I hate that feeling... It seems unproductive.

But, JLY and I did have a good round of editing lately, where we rolled up our sleeves and cleaned up some of the Annalise sub-plot (which gets a little messy at times)... Hopefully, what we're doing is making it better, and not just different.

After some discussion, JLY and I decided to share one of the changes-- an added scene, in this case-- for the update last week. This scene is in rough-draft (and by that, I mean it hasn't been gone through any rounds of editing yet). If you read it, I hope you liked seeing what we've been bashing our heads against for the past two months or so... The process of ripping open the story and then putting it back together. So to speak.

Oh, to answer the question in the comments, JLY and I have opted not to use a professional editor... Since we've already got the two of us, plus KM Ricker's opinion, I tend to think we've got enough opinions floating around... Also, I'm not sure that the quality of professional editing we'd get with a self-publishing company would be that worth it, since the editors don't work with you for as much time, or as closely. But maybe a professional editor would be a good idea in the future, at some point...

<3

KL

Reviews, Deadlines, New Favorite Hobbies.

(Reposted from 09/10/08)

First off, I really can't thank everyone enough for joining the facebook group, posting comments, joining the tangler forum and overall reading the book. My new favorite hobby is checking to see who the new members of the facebook group are, and hoping we break 100 people. ^_^

Also, I'll admit that every now and then JLY, KM Ricker, and I spend a couple of hours sorting through all of the places where fans have posted SFA links on forums, or mentioned it on blogs or profiles. It's always a jolt of encouragement to see that someone out there has taken the time to share our story with other people. We really appreciate it!

So... along those lines, JLY and I have submitted our site to a couple of web fiction websites, so I wanted to let everyone know that you can now find a listing of our book at Pages Unbound and the Webfiction Guide. We've had so many thoughtful and amazing emails/comments that I thought I'd throw those two links out there to see if anyone would be interested in giving us a ranking/writing a review at one of those sites. (Who wouldn't want to write a review for SFA? No one, presumably... Right? =D)

Anyway, apparently the only way JLY, KM Ricker, and I can manage to get anything done is to set some strict deadlines... The latest one we've set is to try to submit the manuscript to Booksurge by Sept 15th. Given how long the formatting, etc. takes, that should mean the book will be ready to buy in time for the holidays... Hopefully. So, as per usual, we're scrambling to get everything done, tighten up anything that needs tightening, and add in all the scenes we think make sense to add.

As JLY and I have mentioned a bit, we're planning on filling in Fell's arc somewhat more completely, so you can look for a couple more Fell scenes in the first book. Honestly, one of the main reasons that Fell was neglected was the steady-progression nature of his character. Warriors take their lumps and grind through the first year, so that's what Fell is doing... and unfortunately, that's not particularly eventful, or plot-relevant... (We can really only have so many scenes where Fell gets beaten up again, right?) But, looking back, we did end up skipping over some parts... So, I can now definitely say that we're going to round all of that out a little more, particularly the social side of Fell's first year.

Other than that, just more of the same type of work that we've been talking about for the past couple months... the Fell additions are the last major thing on our list, along with a couple other scenes that need looking at... and, realistically, probably going over the entire thing one last time... But, after that! We can submit it! I feel like I've been saying that for awhile...

Anyway, I'm looking forward to submitting it, and finally really moving on to work full-on for book 2. We'll keep you updated as we go along... With hope and much luck, the next time I post, I'll be congratulating the SFA team on successfully submitting our book to Booksurge by September 15th. ^_^

<3

KL

Publishing and Editing

(Reposted from 08/25/08)

I wanted to take the time to thank all the readers who have been loyally following the book, sending us emails, and posting to our blogs to give us feedback and encouragement. KL, KMRicker, and I are so glad to hear that you've enjoyed reading School for Adventurers. =)

To give us more contact with our readers, KL and I have created our basic but lovely RSS feed. We've also created a new facebook group called Eastridge Academy: School for Adventurers. Shameless plug: Join our group, if you're so inclined...and tell your friends too!

For the past month, aside from earnestly trying to stay ahead of the Book 2 updates, KL and I have been working on publishing Book 1. We've decided to go the self-publishing route and have been putting the agents of various self-publishing companies to work to impress us with their features, options, and marketing packages.

It's certainly a learning process, as I've never had the experience of self-publishing a book before. There were a lot of factors to think about: what size we wanted our book to be, what we wanted our retail and wholesale prices to be, what our royalties might be, as well as what types of marketing and advertising strategies we needed. I don't think I've ever really given a thought to the sizes and shapes of books before, but after a month of research, I can proudly say that I am able to identify different genres by their book dimensions alone.

KL and I decided to go with BookSurge in the end, mainly because publishing through them makes our book that much more affordable (I didn't realize that 350-page, *paperback* fantasy novels can get to be as much as $21.00, yikes!). Also, it feels like BookSurge might give us more control of how our book looks, which is important particularly because KMRicker has conceded to give KL and I a pretty book cover if we're very good. Anyway, if everything goes well, we'll be able to have a paper copy to sell in a couple months' time.

In the meantime, KL and I are editing and improving our first book before we send a final draft off to print. We're tightening the narrative and throwing in new scenes. We're also typing out more descriptions about the world and characters in an attempt to really round out the SFA universe. By the time Book 1 is given to the publisher, it'll probably look different than what is on the website now. Hopefully, all the grammatical and continuity errors will be hammered out, our plot pace will be more fluid, and, yes, there will be more scenes of Fell. =)

Anyway, keep reading and telling us what you think!

Best,

"Jae Elle Whye", or JLY

Self-Publishing, RSS, Facebook, and Fell

(Reposted from 08/24/08)

Thanks again to everyone who's been commenting and emailing. KM Ricker, JLY, and I were very encouraged by all of the feedback!

We've spent the last couple of weeks working on the non-writing side of SFA. We called a couple of self-publishing companies and spent a few hours talking to each of them so we could figure out what the best company for us would be. After much debate, we decided to go with Booksurge (as David Dunham even recently recommended). We picked Booksurge for several reasons, including the book size (smaller, and more like real fantasy books), and the price buyers pay (which should end up being lower than other companies). The process takes a couple of months to complete, so when it's available to buy, we'll be happy to let everyone know!

On top of the self-publishing research, JLY and I also spent many (too many?) hours bashing our heads against the RSS feed, but we finally got it working, so SFA now has an RSS feed. Sign up and stay on top of all the upcoming SFA news. =)

Lastly, you might have noticed that SFA has a shiny new Facebook group, so you can join up and discuss SFA on facebook with other readers, or just show your support. =D Thank you to everyone who has signed up so far!

Whew. Well, hopefully this week it'll be back to writing. Rai's prologue will be posted on Friday, so we can see how Eastridge's resident charmer spent his summer. After that, it'll be time to dive into the first chapter!

By the way, there have been a few emails and comments asking about why Fell isn't more involved in Book 1. Originally, we had a few more things planned for him and for the Warrior major, but as it was we felt we were taking too long to get to the actual overarching plot, so we decided to push some of it to the second book.

So, JLY and I have previously talked about this imbalance, and as we're editing the book, we've been looking to see if we can balance the narrative a bit more evenly while still making sense and without getting too side-tracked. So, it's something we've definitely been thinking about and looking into, although I'm not sure what the end result will be. I can, however, say that we've got lots of plans for Fell this year.

<3

KL

The Second Book

(Reposted from 08/14/08)

KL and I posted the first part of our second book, as several people might have noticed. =)

It's always exciting and a little terrifying to start a new book. It seems as if we're starting over. However, at least, with the second book, we already have our characters and our world in place, so it's not as intimidating.

One of the more amusing jobs that KL and I face as writers is naming our books. As KL and I never got around to deciding the name of our first book, we were faced with the task of titling both. Because there are several main characters and several threads running through our novels, it becomes hard to summarize into simple titles and taglines.

Do we name our characters in the title? The Adventures of Fell, Wisteria, Averi, and Rai seems a bit long and uninformative. And, what would Book 2 be called? The Further Adventures of Fell, Wisteria, Averi, Rai, and Friends? ...no.

Or, should we stick to the relevant nouns and concepts that our book addresses? The Thief, The Princess, The Farmer, and The Mage is like one of those logic puzzles. The Princess must be Averi, and no one knows more about farming than Fell. But, who is the Thief, and who is the Mage? Rai's not all that good of a Thief, but he's certainly no Mage. And, Averi's also a Thief, but there's no way that Rai's the Princess. At any rate, we abandoned this title.

We also thought about following the Harry-Potter-title format. However, Wisteria Ling and the Magical Mystery Sword didn't strike the right chord, especially since it cuts out three of the main characters. For that matter, Averi and the Diplomatic Relations Disaster also failed on multiple fronts.

So, we ended up talking about what we were both looking for in a title. Like the sucker I am, I knew I wanted alliteration, and, ideally, some sort of connection to our plot. KL, on the other hand, wanted something that sounded exciting, or had to do with fighting, which led to her throwing in a lot of words such as, "Fight! Sword! Battle! Adventure!"

The end result of hours of brainstorming was a compromise. Book One ended up being the title we've been using all along as a placeholder--Eastridge Academy: School for Adventurers. And, Book Two became Eastridge Academy: The Stolen Sword.

And, our tagline is:

"Eastridge Academy: School for Adventurers...where adventurers are made."

(A serious title for a very serious book.)

=)

JLY

08/08/08 and Thanks...

(Reposted from 08/08/08)

As we're posting the beginning of book two, I want to take a minute to say thanks everyone who's commented on the blog or sent us an email. I have to admit that there are days when JLY and I start to feel burned out, and hearing that there are people out there who like our story gives us the motivation to push ourselves to work harder, make the scenes better, and keep writing instead of taking a break to play Soul Calibur IV. ^_^*

You might have noticed that SFA doesn't have any ads, anywhere. And, while we certainly wouldn't mind someday making ridiculous amounts of money off of our writing, for now, we're just writing for the love of telling the story. When we hear from readers, it makes the hard work worth it, and inspires us to keep at it. So, thanks to everyone for the emails and the blog comments. We appreciate it more than you know.

To answer Lana's question (in a comment on the previous post), JLY, KM Ricker, and I have thought about self-publishing the novel, and we're hoping to pick a publishing service and get a physical copy of the book out there in circulation. We spent part of the last month going through and editing the entire novel-- adding some scenes, polishing some of the rough places, and (hopefully) catching all of the typos. If we do end up publishing it, I hope everyone picks up a copy!

But, in the meantime, if anyone out there enjoying the story would like a way to support us, I'd like to put in a shameless plug for you to tell a friend, or a couple of friends, or everyone you know, about SFA. ^_^

In other news, it's 8/8/08, and that means that we've started posting the second book, which actually has a title, and a good one, at that--The Stolen Sword. It took JLY and I longer than I'd like to admit to come up with that title... Someday we'll post up the outtakes, but probably when they're no longer massive spoilers for the plot...

We're starting off this book with a look at a few of the adventurers' summers, and writing these prologues has been a lot of fun. I hope it's as much fun to read as it was to write. While the big scenes that JLY and I write have more energy and more excitement, there's something nice about stepping back, focusing on just one character, and meandering through his or her life, picking up details at random to examine.

Also, in scenes with more than one character, we usually don't get to spend much time inside any one character's thoughts, seeing how they see the world. It's nice to have the freedom to ditch the neutral perspective once in a while and jump into a character's perspective.

So, this week, it's Fell. Next week you can catch a glimpse of Averi's summer. Hope you enjoy it!

<3

KL

Ending and Beginning

(Reposted from 07/31/08)

We've timed our posts on the SFA website so that the ending to the first book will be posted on 8/6/08. And, as you might have heard from JLY's post, we're planning on starting the second book and posting the first scene by 8/8/08. Hopefully this isn't too ambitious, considering JLY and I have spent the last few weeks editing and polishing Book 1, instead of starting Book 2...

At any rate, the beginning of Book 2 also coincides with the end of copious amounts of free time-- JLY is off to get some more book-learnin', I'm headed back into the working world, and even KM Ricker is returning to the trenches of art school.) So, we'll be returning to once-a-week updates that will most likely take place on Fridays.

Even though starting the second book is a little daunting from this side of it, there's something exhilaratingly about standing at the edge of this new book. Writing the end of the first book was a lot of tying up loose ends and pulling the plot together. There wasn't too much room for random scenes or whimsical asides, and for that matter, the story was mostly in place so we didn't even need to do that much creating. It was mostly just finishing out the road map that we had put in place.

But! Now that we're starting the second book, it feels like there's nothing but time and freedom. There are a lot of fun questions to be asked and answered. How has summer changed each of the adventurers? Will people relate the same way as they did before? Yes, we've got an outline for where the plot is going, but there's much more freedom than we've been used to operating under.

The feeling of starting over with a new book, is, I suppose, one of possibilities. And what I love about SFA is that these possibilities are everywhere. It's fun to try to figure out which possibilities to run with, and where to take them. Well, hopefully by 8/8/08, we'll all know where these possibilities lead.

<3

KL

As Though We Planned It

(Reposted from 07/11/08)

If you're following along on the School For Adventurers website, you'll be reading Chapter 11: Final Examinations over the next couple of weeks. This chapter was fun to write, so hopefully it'll be at least equally fun to read. ^_^

By the way, if anyone is wondering if we planned the last names to work out so that there would be certain groups for the Final Examinations, I can honestly admit that it was one of many fun coincidences that JLY and I luck into every so often. We have a saying whenever we stumble across something that we didn't plan, but that works out perfectly and just makes too much sense. We say: As though we planned it.

Because, in all honesty, we both know that the kinds of things we're pulling together for the end of SFA should have been planned and set up months in advance, and somehow, some of these things are just falling together. And even though there are things we have been setting up for months and months now, it's sometimes more exciting to realize there's something hiding in our text that we ourselves didn't even plant there. It makes the writing feel true-- like we're just transcribing something that's not arbitrary or made up, but something that had to be called into existence in just this way, to work out and tie together in all these places.

By the way, maybe this is only funny to me, but you'd be surprised how long it took us to come up with the line:

“Not bad, Wisteria.” Lyre said. “But, this isn’t sparring class. [...] You forgot about Sariil.”

For about twenty minutes, we were stuck on:

“Not bad, Wisteria,” Lyre said, “But you forgot one thing. Sariil’s-behind-you-with-a-rock!

<3

KL

Finished.

(Reposted from 07/08/08)

Around 1AM, I wrote this entry in my journal:

"Today marks the 1-year point of SFA. Exactly 1 year ago today, we started posting the prologues and chapters, and we've held to posting at least one scene per week for the entire year...

That's something that I'm proud of, to make it a year.

And now we're finishing the book. Aside from the daunting task of delivering a good ending that doesn't disappoint, there's also a certain sense of... not loss, not closure-- something in between. A good bye, of sorts.

Well, at least, luckily, I'm not particularly employed at the moment, and JLY has more free time than usual, so we'll be able to devote 7/7/08 to the writing marathon that it deserves.

And, if nothing else, I have absolute faith in our ability to sit down and churn out work for as many hours as it takes.

JLY and I spent all of high school learning exactly how much we can accomplish in any given day-- and the answer is staggering. You never know your limits until you're pushed, and high school definitely pushed us to our breaking points. I've never worked harder than in high school, not even in college, although perhaps at that point, I had learned my limits.

At any rate, I have faith that we can finish this thing, and finish it out right. Working hard and fast and with a good work product? Why, that's exactly what we've been trained to do..."

And, as it turns out, after that journal entry, JLY and I proceeded to meet up today and write, write, write until, at last, we finished. Finished! Maybe I'm still a little giddy with disbelief. It was only about twenty minutes ago that we typed in the last sentence, looked it all over, and realized we were done.

So, I guess that's how this story ends. ^_^

<3

KL

Countdown to Disaster, Part Deux

(Reposted from 07/07/08)

I named our timeline to finish the end of the book "Countdown to Disaster" as something part poke, part joke. A motivational poke because KL and I still need inspiration to get through the final preparations for tomorrow; a joke because I know, of course, hands-down, without a doubt that we're going to finish everything on time. Ne, KL? =)

Anyway, as KL and I are write our free time away trying to get SFA into shape for our 7/7 deadline, I'm getting the opportunity to reflect on everything we've done. Watching everything come together is both stunningly startling and sumptuously satisfying.

The end of a book has always been my inner-writer's weakness. It's *hard* to finish a book, and quite difficult to tie all your characters and plots together and make meaning out of all the writing that has come before. It's something that I've never really been able to do, so as the first time actually writing and finishing an entire book, the end comes as a rewarding and pleasing surprise.

As KL has pointed out, all our scenes are falling together quite easily because of the pieces and clues we've laid throughout the rest of the book. Our hardest task is, well, firstly, remembering all those pieces, and secondly, weaving together something that comes out quickly but still retains the high quality of writing we've managed to maintain throughout the book. I think we're doing a good job. An old proponent of waiting for inspiration to strike, I used to be skeptical when I read in writing books that you should set aside time for writing every day and practice it. Now that KL and I have been writing pretty much every day, I have to say that coming up with and phrasing our ideas is becoming much easier because of the time we spend on it. Not that we don't have our blocks every now and then, but we still manage to work through them.

At any rate, I look forward to being able to share the rest of the book with all its readers as we start updating more frantically.

I hope everyone comes back to read the second book, coming out 08/08/2008!

<3,

JLY

Countdown to Disaster

(Reposted from 07/02/08)

JLY and I have been writing at a break-neck speed to meet our 7/7/08 deadline for finishing SFA. We've finished writing Chapter 10 and Chapter 11, which is currently titled Final Examinations. We've started on Chapter 12, and we're making good progress on it. I think we've actually got good odds of finishing by the deadline. I'm pretty optimistic, even though I recently discovered that the document we use to keep track of our time line for what we need to write is titled "Countdown to Disaster.doc"-- clearly JLY has tons of faith in our ability to write quickly =P (Alternate nicknames for it include "The Time Line of Doom"...)

Yet, somehow, we're writing and writing and almost done. And, it's actually been a lot of fun. One of the many great things about writing the final chapters is that the story is falling into place much more easily than I would have expected. Even JLY and I had forgotten some of the elements that we'd purposely set in place earlier in the story, and when we rediscover them, we're usually delighted. Now it's just a matter of tying it all together and not being lazy-- and by that, I mean pushing ourselves to make every scene interesting, fun, and exciting. Which I think we've managed to do lately, hopefully, even though we're writing at such a frantic pace. Well, not too much time left, and we've still got the biggest scenes to tackle, so wish us luck!

<3

KL

Working Backwards and Thoughts on Creating

(Reposted from 06/24/08)

JLY and I had some time over the weekend-- about 7 hours in a car, to be exact-- so we ended up discussing the last few chapters of SFA. Oddly enough, we mostly ended up working backwards. We know right now how the last two chapters go. We've known that for some time, so mapping out the ending was easy. Turns out that it's getting to those last two chapters that will be a bit tricky, but I'm optimistic that we can get there soon.

We've got this arbitrary goal-- like all of our goals, it's a combination of silliness and mild compulsion. We'd like to be done with SFA by 7/7/08. Which will be the 1-year mark for when we first began posting SFA. Aww. ^_^

On the other hand, that's a pretty aggressive deadline for us to meet. I can only imagine that the next two weeks will be busy. In thinking about all of this, I ended up reading an old entry in my diary about the scary side of writing. Because as fun as it is to write, when you're working towards something, and trying to be clever, you can't help feeling a little scared.

Anyway, here's an excerpt of the entry. It's over-dramatic, silly, completely rambling, and, since it's my journal, there's not much sense of grammar. Also, I've probably tipped my hand about how much I enjoy using an ellipses every other sentence... JLY would never let me get away with this in our professional writing. =)

"Writing is such a... strange thing. It can't be formulaic, so there's no real formula. It can't be repetitive or cliche, or draw too much on anything else, so while skill and craft help, they can only get you so far.

That's why, I imagine, we have the mythology of muses and inspiration, why there are books on how to write and writer's block... because writing is half magic and half miracle, and completely out of our control.

Maybe that's why many writers are insecure. Because as many times as we reach into the ether and pull back a story, we're worried that the next time we reach, there'll be nothing there... and that this part of us, this fundamental part, this power that we've somehow been handed, will be gone.

Because there's nothing so terrifying as that moment before creation-- that moment when there's Nothing, and you want there to be Something, and you stand at the edge of the abyss, reaching and reaching, and hoping, desperately, that this won't be the time when you come away empty handed.

I can say I've written a couple of good things in the past. I can say that I've been writing almost my whole life. But there's still that other half-- the half that has nothing to do with craft and experience, the half that's so elusive... the half that makes it fun and unexpected. It's that part that surprises and pleases you. The terrible moment of creating, where it starts to feel real. The part where it's magic."

<3

KL

The End Game

(Reposted from 06/12/08)

So, JLY and I have reached that tricky part of writing where not only are we more done than not-done, but done is actually in sight. I don't know about JLY, but it's always this point in writing where it gets tempting for me to look back at the beginning, and start questioning whether or not I should be re-writing some of the earlier parts instead of finishing up.

For me, my writing style is always changing-- mostly in small stylistic ways, but over the course of a year, those little changes add up. And, looking back, JLY and I have been writing SFA for just about a year now.

Every now and then, when JLY and I can't remember things about our own characters, we somewhat sheepishly go to the website to check the facts. It was while checking some facts about Rai Ravin that I ended up re-reading some of the early chapters of SFA. It was a strange experience. I don't remember writing most of it, and I'll admit that I'm actually looking forward to tightening up the plot when we make it to the rewrites.

But! I'm holding myself and JLY to the policy of finishing this story all the way through before we look back at anything. One of the benefits of posting the story online is that it forces us to forge ahead, whether or not we're feeling reluctant. And, since I can't count the number of stories that I've never finished because I got stuck fixing the beginning or the middle, I think it's a good idea to get it all finished before we start second-guessing ourselves.

If I had to estimate, I'd say that we're about 80% through SFA. That other 20% is starting to feel pretty far away right now, particularly since we're beginning to tie up all of the different subplots... and we're at the point where it either comes together in a way that makes sense, or tangles up into an impossible knot that takes weeks of rewriting to sort out.

Well, in high school, JLY was fond of saying with hope and much luck, and I think that sentiment applies well right now: with hope and much luck, we'll be able to pull together the right kind of ending for SFA.

<3

KL