I’ve been keeping a secret… one year ago today, I wrote the first words to a book I never dreamed of letting anyone else read. I had the time of my life writing it, but deep down I told myself I was crazy and weird and that I was the only one who liked dramatic, action-packed, thrilling stories. I could imagine anyone else reading it and just cringing in disgust or furrowing their eyebrows and going, “Whaaa?”
But then a month later I began to read the awful first chapter to my Floridian best friend on a bus ride during a three-day ministry expedition called The Journey with an elite ministry-training group called Next Level. I figured she’d nod and say it was nice like most people did when hearing me read my terrible writings, but… she…. loved it?
Two of my fellow Next Level members around me heard it, too, and begged me to read it louder so they could hear more. After I had read the first chapter, they told me that besides the Bible, my book was their favorite book in the world.
Flabbergasted, I began to think that maybe my book did have a future. Maybe I wasn’t the only one who liked drama and action and thrills and suspense after all. Soon, the entire bus was talking about my book – even my fellow guy Next Level members were requesting that I send it to them and asking which character I had created is the most like them! My pastor was proud that I was writing a book and asked if I could share some chapters with Next Level at a future meeting sometime, and the adult chaperones were impressed – one of them actually read some of it herself!
In the summer, I took a month-long vacation to my home, Texas, and read the 20 chapters I had so far to my BFFs there. They, too, told me that besides the Bible, my book was their favorite.
I was shocked. I couldn’t believe it. Right then and there, I decided that yes, I would finish this book I was having the time of my life writing. Yes, I would publish it, and yes, God would bless since it’s clean and God-honoring and I would even give 100% of the proceeds to world missions.
In late summer, I edited it a little bit (before knowing that you shouldn’t edit until after writing the entire first draft) and condensed a few of the chapters together, giving chapter 1 almost a complete re-write (it was bad – though nothing compared to the notorious chapter 2! *crumples to the floor in a heap of despair at the very thought of what it used to be*). After writing a couple more chapters, I had 19. By October, I shockingly realized that I had over 80k words and that it was an official novel!
I could not contain my excitement at that fact – I had never written so much in one story. I wanted to know more of what other people thought, so I enlisted my first round of beta readers (actually, since the first draft was still a work-in-progress, they were alpha readers, but I unknowingly called them betas).
My secret, seemingly crazy and weird writings were secret no longer! A huge thank you to Grace, Liz, Bella, and Blue for beta reading all 122k words of my first draft and for giving me feedback. Thank you to Loren for reading what you had time for and to Lydia, Alyse, and Daisy for signing up. And of course, thank you to my amazing real-life readers: Naomi, Sierra, Ariana, Destiny, Alena, Fortune, Allie, and Piper. (I should probably list my younger brother, too, since he is constantly giving me ideas and begging me to read him chapters with his favorite character in it and screaming at me if I write something corny or unrealistic and is demanding I give him the first copy…)
On January 31st of this year, I finished the first draft with a huge smile. It felt so surreal – I had spent ten months pouring my heart and soul into this book and had the time of my life doing so. And then there I was, finishing the first draft at 122,764 words!
Editing began at 11:45 PM that night and was a crazy process that all added to this unforgettable journey. I documented how it went from here on, but I highly advise that you don’t go and read it all. I don’t know how much of my insanity you can handle. I definitely wouldn’t want you to faint innumerably, barf four times, die twice and scream while writhing in anguish and pain the entire time you read my caps-locked updates.
I finished editing the first draft on February 28th with just one last tiny pothole to fix that I planned to do yesterday… but…
… unfortunately, at almost 11 PM last night when I researched with my mom the history I needed to know for that last plot hole, I discovered – literally – about fifty others. My entire novel and practically 50k of its entwined plot didn’t make an ounce of sense! While racking my brain for how to fix the numerous colossal potholes, the moment I would come close to plotting out the solution for one of them, another one would pop up. And then another one. And another even worse one! For a frustrated hour straight I would discover plot hole after plot hole as I tried to come up with a way to fix previous ones and tie it in to what actually happened in history. I soon had over a thousand words just in the problems I needed to fix – over half of which I now realize that with the way I planned to fix them actually would’ve created even bigger plot holes!
WHICH IS REALLY, REALLY BAD.
So much so that when I was actually discovering the plot holes, I was literally wailing random lamentations about my plot holes at 11 PM at night, complete with moaning and groaning and banging my head against my desk, to which my mom miraculously endured with patient smiles at me. I had to take a mental break and go outside and swing while listening to music (one of my favorite ways to chill) before I lost my insanity, although I’m pretty sure I’ve already passed that point a long time ago.
I came back inside at 12 AM and tackled the first chapter, then the next, then the next. I worked all the way until 4 AM this morning, when I finally decided I needed to stop after finishing chapter 17. I was so worked up about it, though, that I couldn’t fall asleep until 5 AM, so I made good use of my sleepless time and spent it in fervent prayer over everyone who has sent me prayer requests the last few days. I can truthfully say I was praying for and believing God with you guys at 4 AM this morning. ?
I’ve finally just finished the last of the plot holes (during which publics-schoolers came to our door and sold us chocolate – I bought a bar and was able to eat chocolate while writing / editing! I love doing that ?) and I seriously can’t wait to enlist my second round of beta readers – which I’m doing now! I’m indescribably excited about my book and cannot wait to hire illustrators, send it out to publishers, and see where God takes it.
Would you like to be a beta reader for my no-longer-secret novel?
If you don’t know what a beta reader is, I’ll tell you! A beta reader reads your work and then gives you feedback. Their feedback could be very detailed and descriptive from rewording sentences and paragraphs to deleting entire scenes or even suggesting plot changes. Or their feedback could be very broad and they simply give you what they overall thought of each chapter. Or they could peruse through the entire thing and simply spend an hour screaming at your cliffhanger at the end before dropping dead. I mean, not that anyone does that…
Once you get all the info from your beta readers, you can begin editing your work, keeping note of their suggestions.
If beta reading sounds like something you’d like to do, read on to discover more on what my novel is about!
Here is the mock cover. (As you can see, I haven’t decided on an official tagline yet. It used to be a terribly corny one that the world will thankfully never have the horrors of hearing. My beta readers deserve a gold medal for surviving it!) The mock cover looks corny and horrible, I know. Resist the urge to scream at its horribleness; you’ll need to save your breath for screaming in agony while you beta read the actual novel’s horribleness. I found this image of how the main character looks from a free background site and turned it into a cover that I’m using for now. But I’m actually going to be hiring illustrators and end up with world-class cover for it. ?
(By the way, Loyalty, Book I: Tagline TBD is the first book in the Loyalty trilogy series. So there will be a book 2 and 3 that I’m extremely excited to begin writing and have the gist of the plots for.)
Here is the very unofficial synopsis that is totally subject to change and sounds pretty bad, haha…
___My heart sank. What? I was grateful to be able to live, but swear loyalty to no one but the government? What about my loyalty to Sensei Kira? And the dead serious oath I had taken?
___I had to face the toughest decision of my entire life. With whom would my allegiance reside? Would I die loyal to Sensei Kira, who saved me from the streets as a mere orphan girl and offered me a chance at a better life? Or live under the rule of the advisors who had done nothing but offer rewards for my dead-or-alive capture?
___“What will it be, Xiang-Su?” Masatoshi demanded. “Take a mere oath and live, or die a criminal?”
___My eyes swept from Hinoki to Masatoshi. I had to make a decision, and I had to make it fast. Who would I be loyal to?
___Ari Xiang-Su, an intensively trained ninja living during the time of the Tokugawa shogunate in Japan, has to make some life-or-death decisions regarding her allegiance. It doesn’t help that her arch nemesis, a samurai warrior by the name of Hinoki Ajinomoto, continually surprises her with his questioning actions all the while she undertakes the most potentially fatal missions of her life. When allegations are made and trust is lost, Ari must once again prove her loyalty not to a single human being, but to her very faith.
I know it sounds extremely corny. ? That’s where I’m begging you to come in and help me. ?
Ari is a Christian westerner whose parents moved to Japan from the west as missionaries. Her parents died and her sensei takes her in and trains her as a ninja, but because she honors God, she doesn’t believe in murder and refuses to accept any assassination missions. Because of that very important decision… well, it’s a huge part of the plot, if you can’t tell by the end sentence of the synopsis. And I know it all sounds really corny, but my goal is for it to be exciting and thrilling and dramatic and all that stuff, and you can help me by telling me what you think of it. ?
I also set out writing my novel with the set-in-stone purpose of NOT making two characters of mine fall in love, but…
A few very important things you should know before signing up:
- My novel does deal with ninja, samurai, and warriors, so there are some really cool, action-packed fight scenes. 😉 Well, that’s the goal for them to be really cool and action-packed, anyway. There is some violence but nothing of the extreme – for comparison, the Star Wars movies are more violent than my novel. By a lot. 😉 My youngest reader was a very mature seven-year-old who got bored of me reading it to my Texas BFFs. XD But I would definitely suggest you be at least 11 or 12. Any younger and I ask that you please ask a parent or guardian before signing up. ?
- Of course, my novel is 100% clean, God-honoring, and totally awesome, not 100% dirty, devil-honoring, and totally lame. (There is no bad language, either. That’s lame. Two characters do have a funny, childish name-calling battle during an argument for comic relief, but the worst language is “nincompoop”. XD) It’s an epic devil butt-kicking novel, you can be sure of that!
- Beta reading will work like this – you fill out the form below, making sure you put an email I can contact you by in the comment form (but not in your actual comment, of course. And your email is never shared). I will then send you the links and password to private pages on this blog where my chapters are located. After you read each chapter, please comment your suggestions and / or what you thought about it on that page before moving on to the next one.
- If you sign up to be a beta reader, you will need to have read the entire novel and have commented your suggestions by anytime on April 30th, 2017. I mean, I’m not forcing you to do that, but I do begin editing the second draft on May 1st and would love to be able to know what you think about the entire thing.
- My novel is 25 chapters and now 123,025 words long.
- The last day to sign up is anytime on March 31st, 2017.
Would you like to help me out and become a beta reader for my novel Loyalty? I’d LOVE for you to be one! I never dreamed that one day I’d be sharing my secret, crazy writings, but God had other plans. If you’d like to be a part of them, just fill out this form and comment it below.
Name / username:
Permission granted / over 11:
Are you commenting with a valid email I can contact you by?
That’s it! I’m so very excited and I really hope you will sign up to beta read my novel Loyalty!
Even if you aren’t interested in beta reading yourself, maybe check around and see if any book-loving friends you know are. I’d love to have as many beta readers as possible to help make my novel the best it can be!
And of course, if you have any questions, well… I like questions, so ask away. 😉
Also, if you were a previous beta reader for the first draft when I had it on Delightful World of Dolls, you are totally welcome to beta read a second time, too! I’d love that!