The Author Extension Community

Really excited about this new writing community! Join in and start learning!

Shannon A Thompson

It’s a new year and so much has changed already. My publisher – AEC Stellar Publishing, Inc. – has cranked its gears and remodeled itself for the future. Instead of being a simple publisher, we are now an open and growing community of writers, cover artists, and editors supporting one another. You don’t have to be published by AEC or spend money to participate. The website is designed for everyone to connect in one place. This website is for you, and hopefully, by the end of this piece, you’ll want to check out The Author Extension Community and/or join it. It’s a great place for authors to support one another as well as readers to come and meet them. We simply need people to help us spread the word, and I’ll give you three, great reasons to do it:

1. The website has many places where you and your work…

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First-Draft Celebrations + What’s Next

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I haven’t blogged since November, when I waved goodbye and dove into the hectic sea of NaNoWriMo. And I have a few pretty good reasons for not being around since then–which I’m sure you don’t want to hear about.

But I will tell you this: I won. NaNoWriMo? Finished, with days to spare. My first draft of my first novel? Yeah, it has the words “THE END” scribbled at the end of it. And I might be a *little* proud.

Although I hit 50k words before the end of November, my book was nowhere near done. Working through December, I finally finished the 31st, celebrating the new year with an actual novel under my belt. I didn’t do it by myself, though. Supportive friends, family, and writing buddies are who kept me going. So to all of you: THANK YOU! A first draft may not seem like a huge deal, but it’s definitely a milestone for me.

What’s next for my writing:

  • Short stories and flash fiction, some of which I’ve submitted to different competitions. It’s definitely helpful to focus on these smaller stories as I try to distance myself from my novel (so editing can happen with fresh eyes!).
  • Although this probably should have been done before NaNoWriMo, I’ve finally been putting the pieces together and mapping out the whole series I’m writing. It feels so good to finally get all of these ideas on paper. And, it’s just plain fun to make connections and make paths cross throughout the entire series–it’s making me fall in love with my story all over again!
  • Meeting my daily writing goals with this amazing book. Seriously, you need to check this joker out.
642 THINGS TO WRITE ABOUT by The San Francisco Writers' Grotto

642 THINGS TO WRITE ABOUT by The San Francisco Writers’ Grotto

These just aren’t your average writing prompts. I don’t want to give everything away, but here are a few of my favorite ones so far:

~The next sound you hear and what caused it.

~The end of the world.

~Write a scene that begins with, “It was the first time I killed a man.”

This book was a given to me as a Christmas gift. I can’t get enough of it! There are tons of potential story ideas, for novel-length works and short prose.

And that’s that! Happy Saturday! 🙂

Twelve Qualities of a Big Story

A fantastic list to keep in mind as you write/edit!

WordServe Water Cooler

I love big books. I’m not talking about page count here, but Bibliothek_St__Florianstories that are so big in scope that the novels live on with me long after I finish reading. I’m even drawn to reread the story.

That’s the kind of book I want to write, so before I begin writing, I analyze the bones of my story to see if it has some of those big-book qualities.

Twelve Big Book Qualities

1. A Hero or Heroes: Characters who take big risks and stand up for what’s right. They may be deeply flawed, and yet, they’re saints, magnetic leaders, or they show massive courage of some kind. They’re true to life and still larger than life.

2. An Impossibly Large Role to Fill: Characters step into a role that at first seems much too large for them. It may be leading a dangerous military mission, stopping a plague…

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》Announcements + Fall Photography 《

If I had the tools (not to mention the time and money) to pursue another love of mine, it would be photography. Outdoor photography, especially. I love nature; just being outside makes me feel alive.

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“I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees.” -Henry David Thoreau

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These photos were taken with my Samsung Galaxy tablet and edited with the PicArt app.

》》》》》》》》》》》》》》》》》》》》》》》》》》》》》》》》》》》》》》》》》》》》》》》》

I do have a few announcements to share with you guys. Most of you know I’m on Twitter (@IsabellaStines ), but as of this past week, you can find me in a couple new places:

  • Wattpad. I published one of my prize-winning short stories (Thursday Morning’s Assignment), which, honestly, is an amazing feeling. If you’re on Wattpad, comment your username so I can check out some of your works! You can find me here: http://www.wattpad.com/user/IsabellaStines
  • Instagram. If you’re doing NaNoWriMo, you’ll definitely want to follow me as we’ll be going through the 30 Days of NaNoWriMoPics: Snapshots of the  struggle, the glory, and the awesomeness that NaNoWriMo will surely bring. Plus, I’ll be posting sneak-peeks of upcoming posts, as well as updates that won’t make it to the blog. On insta: @isabellastines

And there you have it. Hope you enjoyed and followed. 🙂 Have a lovely weekend!

Fall Make-Over!

Howdy! The Isabella Stines blog has just been updated with a new design and color. I played around with several different themes until I came to this lovely jewel (it’s called Forever, I believe). Plus, I felt the pumpkin colored background was a fantastic way to welcome in the fall season (autumn is my favorite, ya know).

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And that’s that! Free Writes, photography, and all things NaNoWriMo to come. Have an awesome Thursday!

The Cure to First Draft Blues: Could It Be NaNoWriMo?

Photo from Photostock

Photo from Photostock

I have a love-(mostly)hate relationship with first drafts. Especially since I’m a total rookie in this game, making this one my official first first draft.

They’re fun. You get to write out all of your ideas and scenes that you’ve been dreaming up and obsessing over. You find out who your characters really are, and how they think the story should go. You’re not just a creator or a dreamer any more; you’re a writer.

But first drafts can be horrible. Painful. Kind of like starting a journey without a destination or an ETA. Is your idea really worth writing about? Will other people want to read it? How are you going to get your characters from point A to point B? Sure, you have outlines. Maybe even a detailed story arc. But now, instead of planning your story, you want to (gasp) write the thing?

One of my very first posts was about Inner Editors and how they hold us back. Of course our critics will be helpful in our story, but after the first draft is done. My current work in progress was started and restarted eight times.

Eight. Dashed. Times.

I had completely lost it. In one sitting, I had written out the first chapter in thirteen different ways, and hated every one of them.

My inner editor was screaming for perfection. My heart was screaming for me to get on with the stupid thing.

When I returned home from Central America in August, I was ready to pen out the story that I had been drowning in for over a year. I had characters, settings, snippets of dialogue and detailed back stories; and I was tired of waiting for the perfection to appear. I was going to make it happen, no matter what it took.

So I made a plan and set some goals.

  1. I wrote every day. Whether it was a school-sport-social life-filled weekday or the sometimes-but-not-always-less-hectic-weekend, I would write in my story before the day was done. Even if it was just a few sentences. Putting words on a page is what it’s all about.
  2. Weekly Goals. For this first draft (or what I like to call my Puke Draft, since that’s what it felt and probably read like) I wrote by hand in a designated writing notebooks. My personal goal was about 20, handwritten, front-and-back pages a week. While some weeks it was a breeze, there were some times I was cramming to meet my deadline.
  3. I had a plan. “I’m going to have _______(insert number here) of _______(words or pages) done today.” Then I would break it down even more. “I’m going to write ____ pages during lunch, ____ pages during break, and ____ pages before bed.” I cannot explain how much this helped!

With this, determination and a whole lot of work, I wrote over half of my novel in one month. Since starting it, I realized the various plot holes and different things that needed fixing. With NaNoWriMo just around the corner, I thought, “Heck. I might as well start over with a clean slate and crank this baby out!”

Now that I have a clearer direction of where I’m going, I can’t wait to dive into NaNoWriMo and re-write it. I’m still a little unsure of the end—but isn’t that the whole point of National Novel Writing Month? Although this will be my first year, I’m feeling pretty confident (and maybe just a little bit nervous) about it.

How many of you are participating this year? Any past experiences with NaNo?

Honey, I’m home! – To Central America & Back

Wow, does it feel good to be blogging again! This summer has been totally amazing, serving & teaching in Central America. While I can’t share every story, I do have a few things I’d love to share about these past two months.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you…Instagram pics!

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Teaching English, working in medical/dental clinics, and distributing food and clothes were just a few of the things that kept us busy!  This was an EXPERIENCE; I for one have never been out of the country so long, and I absolutely LOVED it. It was just one blessing after another! There is seriously just too much to share. But please know: lives were changed, bellies were fed, and minds were educated. Definitely one of the best summers of my life!

I’m sure you guys haven’t been slacking this summer! Can’t wait to get back to my daily reads on your blogs. Until next post! ❤

Work In Progress Report – Meme

This is an Automated post. Find out where Isabella Stines is here:

 https://isabellastines.wordpress.com/2013/06/04/its-not-really-vacation-time/

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Before we begin, I want to give a shout out and big thank you to 1WriteWay over at http://1writeway.com/ (make sure to check out her blog!), who tagged me in this meme!

1. What is the name of your current WIP?

Well, I’m working on several different writing projects right now, but for this WIP, we’ll focus on this title: Reyna (it’s a working title, ladies and gentlemen).

I’m PLANNING (ha, emphases planning) on completing a trilogy: The Fall Of Amrynth Trilogy, with Reyna as Book 1.

2. Ready to do a cover reveal?

Let me put this bluntly (and unprofessionally).

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

I am no where NEAR cover-reveal time. I’m in drafting time, baby.

3. How many words are you into it?

Only about 6,500 words. Not much.

4. Goal word count by the end of the week?

End of the week? Can I re-write that question?

        REWRITE: Goal word count by the end of the year?

40,000!

5. Goal word count for the entire manuscript?

Oh, well.

40,000.

(I feel so unprofessional right now.)

(Probably because I am.)

(Alrighty then, back to the questions.)

6. What genre does your work in progress fall within?

Reyna falls within Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre. It’s really more fantastical than scientific, though.

7. When would you *like* to publish this project?

Before I die.

8. Go to page 5 of your manuscript and pick a sentence at random to share with us!

“Dashed baker. The plan was to make a quiet escape, not to make a show of throwing pastries around.”

9. Will this WIP turn into a series book?

Yes! A trilogy, as said above.

10. What has been the hardest challenge in working on this WIP?

Actually writing out the first draft and believing that I can do this. This is my first *real* attempt at writing a full-length book. It’s been one learning experience after another!

11. What has been your favorite part of working on this WIP?

LEARNING and CONNECTING with other authors; with those who have gone through this before for and succeeded, and with those who are going through the same (mis)adventures I am. Also, I just love the fact that I get to write something I love thinking, planning, and dreaming about.

12. Any special treat planned for when you finish the final draft of your WIP?

I’ll be holding a private dance party. Then I’ll continue the celebration by working on the next book.

13. Tag three people to complete this WIP meme!

http://dadialogues.wordpress.com/

http://susanleighnoble.wordpress.com/

http://amberskyeforbes.wordpress.com/

Throwback Thursday: “Thursday Morning’s Assignment”

This is an Automated post. Find out where Isabella Stines is here:https://isabellastines.wordpress.com/2013/06/04/its-not-really-vacation-time/

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My English Professor’s assignments and girls who wear too much make up.

The two things I hated, yet found myself staring at every Thursday morning.

Since it was all too impossible to walk into a library with swag, I flipped up the hood of my jacket and kept my face down. Sadly, this action caused me to bump into one older woman and practically knock down three others. Which, of course, led to “excuse me” and “sorry”, and eventually the recognition of former classmates.

I said former, because after all the required shenanigans for papers deemed necessary for college credit, I had planned on becoming a college drop out.

“Benjamin,” the grand Prof had said to me, “find something you’re passionate about. And research it, pick it apart; then you’ll write a worthwhile paper.”

“Is the paper mandatory?” I asked, though he had just explained to the class it wasn’t.

“If you consider making a passing grade mandatory, then, yes…I’d say so.”

And that’s how I came to the horrible experience of entering the library.

After being directed to the World Events section, I scanned the list of topics that would pertain to my subject matter. Actually, I was still looking for a subject matter, thanks to the contest rules that gave more useless suggestions than it did help. Several minutes passes before I selected a book entitled, Enslaved: The Process of Human
Trafficking.

Seemed simple enough. I was pretty sure how the whole process worked, and didn’t really relish the idea of thinking on it. I flipped to the end of the book, scanned the index until I saw the note of Survivor Stories, page 108. Interested, I turned there. Most of the writing seemed scripted and vague, as if the author cringed at the thought of giving details as much as I did about reading them. A name caught my eye; I let it linger only a moment before diving into the rest of the text.
Vallari Sengh

Kolkata, India

Survivor since 2007

I hid behind an unmoving taxi, and slumped to the ground gasping for air. I tried to calculate how much time I had before the enemy would reach me. It would only be a matter of seconds, I guessed, before I had to sneak into another dark alley and run again. I peered behind the wheel of the dirty yellow vehicle. I jerked back; the enemy was just crossing the street. I crawled under the car, for no better ideas came into my mind. There was no time for thinking; only time to act. I tried to close my eyes, but nerves kept my eyelids glued open. I studied the many feet that shuffled, danced, and scurried past my viewpoint. Then, two steady pairs of feet appeared in front of the car. They had no set destination as the others; no, these feet were sturdily holding men who were surveying their surroundings. Looking, searching, and scouting for their next victim.
Teeth clenched, I thought of the possibilities of my future. If the enemy looked under the taxi, I would be caught. If I snuck from underneath the vehicle, I could possibly slip away without being seen. But would that be taking too much of a chance? In the clatter of people and traffic, I failed to notice another pair of feet approaching. Normally, I wouldn’t have noticed this man. I had no reason too. Besides, taxi drivers had no business with girls like me.
A door above me creaked open. The driver slid into his seat, causing the taxi to slump down because of the new weight. The door slammed shut.
Heart pounding, I prepared myself for the action that was about to take place. The car started. I was determined to not be caught by the cruel creatures. I placed my blistered hands on the dirty pavement, getting ready to spring up and run like a wild cat. I kept my body flat, taking care not to be run over by the wheels. The taxi moved slowly, inch by inch, and soon became a part of the traffic beside us. As soon as my back was exposed to the hot sun, I scrambled up to my feet and turned the opposite direction of where the enemy was standing.

I ran as fast as my legs could take me, never looking back.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I hadn’t realized I was breathing hard until someone behind me ruffled some papers around. Looking up and seeing men and women carrying on quietly—while I sat on the ground, legs crossed head against a shelf—was enough to make me want to yell in rage. Had they not experienced what I had?

The details made my skin tingle. The story line made me feel as if I were actually there, running with her, for my life, across the concrete and away from the traffickers. As I read, I felt myself run with her as she scooped up her sister, whom she highly treasured and would do anything for. I continued to engross myself, only stopping to re-read the heart-stopping parts.

I ran harder. Faster. My feet seemed to pick themselves up, moving as an involuntary, independent mechanism.
Run, run, run. The word echoed in my head and exploded in my chest.
Chased like outlaws, sold like property. We were the hunted, the helpless, the abused. And because of our age and gender, Avnita and I had been marked as the most wanted. We had not just experienced life. We had been thrown into it, unwillingly learning the ways of the world and being abandoned by a mother who could not afford the burden of children.
The streets of Kolkata are not the safest places in the world. No alley is ever completely unoccupied, no shadow ever empty. And under the cover of night, evil becomes more apparent. It shows itself in its ugliest form, swimming in the darkness and festering on its prey.

Tonight, my sister and I are the quarry.

But I refuse to become a victim. After vowing the enemy would not reach Avnita, even if it meant I had to die for it, my hands shook. More than likely, one of us would have to give their life to escape this time.

And I refused to let it be her.

People of every age had become the enemy. Teenagers would show up and steal our food, clothes, and most of all, our dignity. If we didn’t immediately serve them right away, harsh punishments were always the consequence. Some of the younger ones were trustworthy. Older men and women were out of the question. Girls like us didn’t converse with them, trade with them, or even look them in the eye if we could help it.
On the other hand, none of us would think twice about stealing from them.
They would kidnap you, sell you, use you. Anything to make a profit. Some enemies would cut off a limb, pluck out an eye, or beat you until you are bruised and broken; and at the end of it, they would send you out into the streets to beg. Their horrible actions would instigate sympathy from other Indians, and in the end, a native might give you a small number of rupees. And before you can make your get away, the enemy snatches it before the coins ever reach your pocket.
Other enemies have a different strategy. Once they take you, they dress you up in fine clothes, accessorize every inch of your body in sparkly jewelry, and constantly shower you with attention.
These same adversaries were my worst fears.
And when I felt their hands grab me from behind and I heard my sister Avnita scream, I knew had failed in our attempt to flee.
We had become the captured.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The paper gave a sharp ripping sound that seemed to echo in the silent library. In my haste to turn the page, I’d torn it. Hoping there were no official “book destruction” fees at this particular library branch, I continued Valleri’s journey. She told of her captors, their brutal tactics, swarthy looks, and endless questions of their name, age, and connections. I found myself studying anyone, especially men, who casually walked by my station on the floor. Imagining they were the agents from the book, I pondered how I would get revenge on them, escape from them, and save a beloved family member all in one night.

It had been four days and five nights since the enemy had brought us there. Sounds from a temple that stood miles away carried into the concrete warehouse we had been secluded and stored in. Nearly fifty girls with varying ages (the youngest being of six years) were piled in a single room, with only a locked metal door keeping us from freedom. A single cup of water and handful of undercooked rice were our daily rations.

Hard were the days when the meals never reached our section.

Avnita was weak. Unhealthy and even thinner than before. Neither of us had dared to move from our seats of concrete we selected when we first arrived. No girl was allowed to move unless she was being summoned. The first day, when we learned what a “summons” consisted of, we were satisfied sitting with no occupation for the rest of our lives.

If only it could have been that simple. But the enemy did not capture us to sit us down. We were considered slaves that lived for the summons.

When the metal door scraped open, and two men delivered the call of the evening, the world began to go white. Then, slowly, a fading black. My fingers and lips trembled, and a girl behind me pressed her hand into my back to keep me from fainting.

“Nijita Gupta, Avnita Sengh, Yosjah Rupamajhi…”

I did not have to think about my next action. I stood as Avnita Sengh; even though I was sure they had my true name, Valleri Sengh. Certainly, they could not know the difference. When Avnita started to rise, I gently pushed her back into her place.

It was the greatest act of love I had ever performed.

I stood single file with almost ten other girls in front, near the hated door that was tauntingly offering an unauthentic escape. It would not be true freedom. We would get away from this horrible section, yes; but only to walk into a deeper kind of bondage. Even still, I felt victorious, like a savior to my only sister. I had kept her out of evil’s way for one more night.

“And Valleri Sengh,” the enemy finished, scanning the group of overheated, underfed girls.

No, no, no, my heart screamed the words and my stomach pounded. Someone stand up for me, my thoughts pleaded. Please, someone…for me, for Avnita…

My sister stood, carefully stepping over the tangle of girls.

My efforts to save my sister had been in vain.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I couldn’t believe my own nervousness. Palms sweaty, throat throbbing; what was I doing? It wasn’t as if the girl didn’t get away. She was certainly safe enough to write about her experience. Was my concern really going out to two girls on the opposite side of the world, who probably didn’t even exist?

Angry at the thoughts that kept interrupting me; I picked up where I had left off. Valleri and her sister were being led outside towards a dirty gate, with only two men to guard the umpteen number of girls…
And so I saw my chance. Out onto the sidewalk we were headed, and I didn’t have much time. Obviously, the men were carrying weapons. But how could I even think of…

I did the craziest thing I had ever done before of my life. Years of pick pocketing and outsmarting the people of the streets could not compare to my second greatest act of love.


I threw myself at the man closest to my sister, screaming, biting, and fighting with a strength I did not know I possessed. “Avnita!” I yelped between teeth-sinkings. “Avnita, run! All of you—”

And the war began.

Some girls were chosen to stay behind and help me in my efforts to fight. The rest of the girls fled, heading for the streets and away from the enemy. After a few seconds of gunfire, only seven survived.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“Excuse me, young man,” a gentleman gestured that he needed to get by. I scooped up my book, wobbled onto my feet and retreated to a nearby chair. A glance at the entrance of the library showed another group of students parading in. I returned to my book, eager to get to the finale. There were only a couple pages left now. Valleri had just rid one man of his knife while another girl engaged him in a short-lived wrestling match. Gripping the knife with both hands, she brought it down swiftly and sliced into his thigh. The man howled through stuffy air. He threw his other attacker to the ground, securing her to where she couldn’t move.

More men were called by the commotion. I strained to see the group of fleeing girls that was became smaller by the second. A herd of men stampeded after them, catching most of the prisoners and dragging them back. I tried to call to Avnita, to warn her, to scream for her to run; but my voice was strangled in my throat. Our captors had regained control.
Forced to stand, I trembled with every step as we were led out into the sidewalk, down the opposite street to where the prisoners had fled. I squirmed, twisted, and caught sight of my reward.
Avnita, with dirt flying around her as she raced towards another alley, escaping the evil I had vowed to protect her from.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
I stood slowly, closed the book and headed towards the librarian’s desk. The story had gone on to tell of Valleri’s punishments (branded, lack of food, beaten), prostitution (the different men, her averaging only four hours of sleep each night) and her escape through the organization the book was sponsored by. Up until the time that the book was published, she had still not been able to locate Avnita. Valleri had returned to India to continue the search for her sister.

I had a strange, mixed feeling about the whole ordeal. Sure, it was descriptive, and I was positive slavery did happen like this. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that the story might be…well, just a story. I decided to check out the book for further reading.

A portion of the group that had entered earlier stood in front of me, filling out library card forms. I requested one, since this was my first venture to any library since high school. After scribbling, Benjamin Thomas Lyle in the incorrect boxes, I glanced at the dark haired girl next to me, who was obviously doing better than I was. Feeling the very same way I felt when cheating on a test, I stole a quick look at her paper. Balking, my head jerked when I gaped at the way she had filled out her form a second time.

In perfect print, her tanned hand had written: Gupta, Avnita Sengh.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This is another short story that won first place in a local contest. It was different from anything I had ever written, since I wrote it from a college dude’s point of view. The story was scribbled the night before the deadline (I had my procrastinating problem at 15, too. Some things never change).  Hope you enjoyed it!

* * *

Isabella Stines spent most of her childhood diving into books and breaking the rules by reading past her bed time. Still an avid reader, she spends more of her time as a student and musician in addition to writing, fueling her creativity with Ramen noodles and sweet tea. Stines is currently working on her first trilogy.

You can find Isabella on Pinterest ( http://pinterest.com/isabellastines/ ) and tweet with her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/IsabellaStines