watching, reading, and writing stories

Sneak Peek #3

I haven’t posted any sneak peeks for my new novel “Finding Home: The Lost Brother” in quite awhile, so I thought I’d share one of my favorite moments from the new book. If you haven’t already read them, there are two other sneak peeks:  and
You should probably read them first, so this scene will make more sense. And if you haven’t read the first book in the series yet “Finding Home: The Orphan’s Journey,” check it out on Amazon:

And now without further ado, a sneak peek:

Finding Home
Caleb sighed audibly. “I hope this doesn’t take too long.”

Adrian shrugged and turned towards the house.

Caleb reluctantly followed Adrian inside the worn structure. “You know we can’t wait on that kid too long, only a few minutes.”

Adrian sighed, “I know.” He began to study the home’s interior quietly. He touched an old wooden-framed bed and the stones of the soot-filled fireplace.

Caleb looked at the poorly furnished home and wondered what was so special about it. He looked at Adrian for some kind of clue. After seeing Adrian smile at odd objects, like spoons and a wooden sword, Caleb spoke up. “This is where you grew up, isn’t it?”

Adrian nodded as he held a worn bowl in his hand. He glanced around the small room. “It hasn’t changed much.” He set down the bowl.

Caleb nodded but didn’t say anything for several minutes. Finally he broke the silence, “I’m sorry Adrian.”

Adrian turned to look at Caleb. “What for?” he asked, confused.

“I didn’t realize this was your home…. I shouldn’t have pushed you to leave. I know it can be hard… to say goodbye.”

“That’s alright Caleb, you didn’t know.”

Caleb studied Adrian’s face. “So are you alright?”

Adrian nodded. “Yes, I just…” he trailed off.

Caleb waited.

“I just don’t want to forget them…. With all the running around, getting ready for the coronation, and clearing the land of any remaining Unguls, I’ve felt like I’m losing them again… it’s like I don’t have a family.”

Caleb waited for a minute, then hesitantly said, “But you do have a family; King Richard.”

Adrian smiled. “Yes, I know. And I’m thankful for that… but it’s different. I don’t know. Does this make sense at all?”

Caleb shrugged his shoulders. “Makes sense to me. When you were growing up you had a father, a mother, several brothers… wait did you have a sister?”

Adrian laughed, “No, I did not. Serina says that’s why I have horrible table manners.”

Caleb nodded, then continued, “So you had this big family, and now you just have Richard. And I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with Richard, but he is just one man. I think it’s understandable for you to feel like you’ve lost your family.”

Adrian nodded. “Thank you Doctor Caleb. Now what do I do about it?”

Caleb shrugged. “Not a clue. But I’m sure you’ll figure something out.”

Adrian shook his head and laughed. “Thanks Caleb.”

Caleb stepped back outside, “You know everyone’s waiting on us.”

Adrian sighed as he followed his friend, “Yeah I know. I just don’t want to break a promise.”

Caleb nodded. “I understand… but it is my job to get you to the coronation and… well we are running out of time.” He climbed onto his mount and looked expectantly at Adrian.

Adrian nodded, “You’re probably right. He walked over to Midnight and prepared to hop on.

“Wait!” Alex’s voice called from down the hill.

Adrian stopped and smiled up at Caleb, “Right on time.”

Caleb rolled his eyes, “I guess we can wait a few more minutes.”

Alex soon crested the top of the hill with another boy right beside him.

Josiah suddenly stopped in his tracks.

Adrian too froze in place.

Alex glanced from one to the other with a huge smile plastered on his face. “Surprise!” he yelled.

Caleb looked on confused. “Adrian?” he said quietly.

Adrian paid no attention to Caleb’s words, “Josiah?” he said so quietly, it might have been only to himself.

Josiah blinked and rubbed his eyes, making sure what he was seeing wasn’t one of his imaginations. But when he looked again, Ben was still standing there, staring back at him. Suddenly the world melted away, and Josiah was running.

Adrian could hardly believe what he was seeing, but once Josiah began running towards him, his hesitation disappeared and he ran too.

The two collided in a massive hug, with Adrian lifting Josiah off the ground. They both held onto each other tightly, too overcome with emotion to say a word.

Caleb cleared his throat and turned to Alex, “Who is that?”

Alex giggled, “Isn’t it obvious? They’re brothers.”

Caleb looked back at the two with wonder, “But that’s impossible.”


Writing Tip: Have a Confidant

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As I’ve continued to write, I’ve found how helpful it can be to have someone I can talk to about what I’m writing. It may just be my personality, but I’ve found that getting another person’s opinion on what I’m writing is very helpful and often times is the spark I need to get excited about writing again. I think that’s why writer circles and workshops exist. Using other’s feedback and questions helps the writing process go much faster, and also makes it more fun.

Not only do I have someone I can talk out my ideas to, but I am also the confidant for another friend who is writing. So if you’re interested in writing I would suggest finding someone who you can talk to about your ideas. It really helps to hear from someone else if what you’re planning makes sense and is interesting, or is boring and full of discrepancies. Because ultimately, you want your writing to be something that someone else will want to read, and if it’s only interesting to you, that purpose will not be achieved.

Here’s a few things I tell my confidant:

-I explain a portion of the plot and ask if it sounds interesting.

-I give a few possible scenarios and ask which one is the best.

-I let her read what I’ve written and see if there are any flaws or plot holes I missed.

-I share my inspirations and ask if they would work with what I’ve already written.

-I ask if what I’m planning for a character to do aligns with their personality.


Here’s a few ways I’ve helped another writer:

-I listen to story ideas, and make suggestions for what a character could do or say in a specific situation.

-I help come up with names for characters or places.

-I’ve read through books or short stories and corrected misspellings and grammar issues.


Here are a few things to keep in mind when picking your confidant:

-Make sure the person is someone you trust

-Make sure the person is honest and won’t just tell you want you want to hear

-Make sure the person is easily available (not someone you never see and rarely talk to)

-Make sure the person wants to and enjoys giving feedback (not everyone wants to be a sounding board)


Good Luck with your writing!

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A Sneak Peek

So I’ve been working on a sequel to my first novel Finding Home: The Orphan’s Journey. And I’m still in the editing phase of the book. But for the few of you out there who have read my first book, I thought you’d appreciate a sample of the next one in the series. This book will be titled Finding Home: The Lost Brother and I hope you enjoy this little sample from Chapter 1. Who knows, I may post a few more sneak peeks before I publish this next book.

Finding Home

Josiah stepped into the weather-beaten barn. The small lantern in his hand illuminated a damp structure with several stalls where quiet animals stood staring back at him. It was more unnerving in the dark than it ever was when he had to feed the animals in the light of day. Josiah clung to the thick blanket in his other hand and took a deep breath. “Alright, nothing to be afraid of in here,” he tried to reassure himself.

The wooden panels creaked as a sharp gust of wind came in from the sea. Little streams of air whistled through the cracks in the siding.

Josiah gulped and took another step inside. He jumped as the wind slammed the door shut behind him. “Calm down,” he said quietly. “It’s just wind, it can’t hurt me. He settled down on the damp hay of an empty stall and snuggled in his thick blanket. Josiah wasn’t sure he’d be able to fall asleep in the dark barn, but he tried to get comfortable all the same. It’s nothing like sleeping on the hard ground, and I’ve done that plenty of times….

* * * * *

“Josiah? Come on, we’re moving on, you can’t sleep anymore.”

Josiah saw his father leaning over him. He yawned and wiped his eyes, “Where’d our roof go?” He asked confusedly.

His father laughed, “We don’t have a roof out here. We’re not at our house, remember?”

Josiah stared up at the trees, “Oh yeah. When will we get to go back?”

“Soon, very soon…. Come on now, up you go.”

Josiah sat up and looked around at his brothers also stirring out of their slumbers. He tried to focus on their faces, but they all looked fuzzy, and the harder he looked, the more blurred they became. Soon everything around him was nothing but a haze of colors.

* * * * *

Josiah opened his eyes, everything was dark. “Father?” he whispered.

Something stirred next to him.

Josiah turned and his eyes adjusted to find a chicken snuggled up next to him. “Ah!” he yelped as he jumped up.

The chicken clucked and flapped away.

Josiah sat back down with a sigh, “It was just a dream.”

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Rewriting a Story

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I have done several posts about what I’ve been reading or watching lately, but I haven’t had a post about my next big writing project. About a year ago I finally finished my first novel Finding Home: The Orphan’s Journey. It’s not like I’m a big time author, and not many people have even read my book, but it was something I really wanted to do and I actually finished it. Well, as many authors do, I started writing a sequel to my novel. I started the process during a NaNoWriMo competition. But the result has been sitting off in some lonely part of my Laptop’s hard drive for sometime. Now that school is back in session and everyone around me is headed back to the grindstone, I figured it’s time for me to do the same.

So I got out the word document and started ‘revising’ but it really is more like rewriting. You see when I started this sequel I had a very vague idea of what I wanted the story to look like. And most of what I had written for NaNoWriMo was spur of the moment inspiration. Now that I’m rereading it, there’s a lot I want to change. But I am not used to cutting out big chunks of story and throwing them away. When I wrote my first novel, everything was planned, or at least a lot more than this one was, so most of what I wrote, I kept. But with this sequel, I’ve had to add in a whole other storyline. It’s like I’m starting over, but I still have all these chunks of old storyline that I don’t want to delete.

It’s a touchy process of me trying to figure out what can stay, what can be reworded and touched up, and what just doesn’t make sense anymore in light of the changes I’ve made. It’s like I’ve entered a whole other world of writing, and it’s a lot harder than the last one. There’s always that little voice in the back of my head saying, “no I liked the old story better, why are you changing it? You’re making a mistake!”

But even though it feels more time-consuming and it is hard to let go of what I’ve already written, I think this is a growing experience for me as an author. And I do find the new direction of my story much more compelling than my initial idea.

Maybe I’ll post a sample of what I’ve been working on one of these days, but it would make more sense if you have already read my first novel. So for now, I’ll just post a link to where you can find that:

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A Busy Author

So, I’m looking back over the past couple weeks and wondering where has the time gone? I think with Mother’s Day, and two birthdays in my family all rolled into one week, I just never got to post. So I apologize for the wait. I toyed with doing a few posts with poems in honor of my family. But I’ve decided to do something else. I still might do the poems some time soon, just not today.

Today I had my second Visiting Author presentation at an Elementary School. The kids were great and asked a lot of good questions and listened very well. At this school I was given about 45 minutes to speak to the kids, so I ended each session with reading a section from my book.

So I’ve decided that in honor of the kids I talked to today, I would like to share that same section with you. I hope you enjoy it, and check out “Finding Home: The Orphan’s Journey.”

Here’s a link to it on Amazon:



“This one’s still alive” an unfamiliar voice said.

Ben opened his eyes only to squeeze them shut again to keep from being blinded by the sun’s piercing rays. “Ow” he moaned as he turned his head to the side and it began throbbing.

Ben tried to relax and the headache died down. He opened his eyes again, and blinked hard, trying to focus. All he could see were pebbles and grass blades with a few little ants crawling around. Ben turned his head back to facing forward and tried to sit up but a hand pushed him back down.

“Take it easy now” the voice said.

Ben blinked and tried to focus on the man in front of him. He saw the bright metal of the man’s helmet reflecting the sun and the scratched and faded paint of a guard emblem on the breastplate.

The man gingerly touched Ben’s head where the throbbing was coming from.

Ben winced.

“You’ve got a nasty bump there, but there’s no blood. I think you’ll be alright.”

Ben tried to sit up again and the man helped him slowly get to his feet. Ben looked around the gorge. He noticed several horses and other guards walking toward the bend in the road but he didn’t see the cart, or any of his family. He focused back at the guard “Where is everyone? Where’s my family?”

The man’s young face looked pained. “Now don’t work yourself up, there was nothing we could do….”

Ben’s heart started racing, he walked unsteadily toward the bend in the road where the barricade had been. Then he gasped, all his family was lying in a heap next to a hole that two guards were digging. Ben screamed and tried to run.

The guard caught him and held him tight. “Calm down, it’s alright.”

Ben struggled with the guard and started crying. “No, let me go! Father, father….” He pushed and twisted and screamed but the guard wouldn’t let go. The strong arms held him and turned him away from the scene. Tears stung in his eyes and he suddenly felt very weak. His head throbbed again and spots started to dance in front of his face. Ben fought for breath through the sobs. This can’t be real, this can’t be happening. The darkness closed in again.

* * * * *

Ben felt something cool and wet on his forehead. He opened his eyes and saw the same guard leaning over him.

“Feel better?” he asked.

Ben nodded, sat up and pulled the wet cloth from his head. “So they’re all…?”

The man nodded. “I’m afraid so.”

Ben’s eyes fell to the ground.

“Do you want to say goodbye?”

Ben nodded. He walked to where the soldiers had dug the grave and piled rocks on top. He stared at the white stones and tears started to fill his eyes. You were the best family anyone could ask for. Thanks for everything….

The guard stepped up behind him. “You ready?”

Ben didn’t respond. He couldn’t tear his eyes away from the grave.

“Here, I think this belongs to you.” The man pushed a sword into Ben’s hand.

Ben looked down at the beautifully ornamented sword that had belonged to his father. He nodded and tried to hold back the tears.

“Come on, it’s time.” The guard turned Ben away from the grave and led him to a heavyset dappled gray mare. He easily lifted Ben onto the horse and climbed up to sit behind him.

As the guard steered the horse to follow the other soldiers out of the valley, Ben looked back once more at the rocky piles that covered his family. One last tear streamed down his dirt strewn face. Slowly, he turned his head to face the line of soldiers leading the way through the gorge. Ben felt numb as he silently watched the horses move rhythmically and listened to the guard’s small talk. It was like he was living in a dream world; aware of what was happening but not able to interact with it.

As the day wore on, the tall cliffs melted into gently sloping hills. The fading sunlight danced over the landscape, lighting the bright green grass atop the hills’ crests and leaving deep shadows in the valleys.

* * * * *

The band of soldiers reached a small town by nightfall and decided to stay at an inn. They ate heartily as the innkeeper brought them tray after tray of sweet-smelling food.

Ben sat by the fire, refusing to eat. He stared into the flames, listening absently to pieces of the guards’ conversation. There were lots of comments praising the food, and a few questions about what was to be done with ‘the orphan’ but Ben found his thoughts kept drifting back to his family. He closed his eyes and tried to focus on the heat from the fire instead.

“You have to eat something,” a voice broke into his concentration. Ben looked up at the same guard that he had ridden with; the man was holding a small loaf of bread. Ben stared at him for a few seconds then turned back to the fire.

“I’ll just leave it here, in case you change your mind.” The guard set the loaf on the bench next to where Ben was sitting and turned to leave.

Ben studied the loaf’s browned crust. The tantalizing smell of fresh bread wafted into his nostrils. He wanted to eat it, but every time he thought of his family, his stomach formed a tight knot.

Finally Ben stood up and left the dining area, hoping that getting away from the enticingly sweet smells would make the tightness in his stomach less noticeable. He found the room the guards had paid for and curled up in the corner. He tried to sleep, but couldn’t. Even when the rest of the guards had come in and found places for themselves he couldn’t sleep. He just sat in the corner and waited for the dawn.

* * * * *

When morning did finally come, the soldiers all ate and prepared to continue their journey. Ben didn’t know where they were going, but it seemed obvious that he wasn’t going to be accompanying them.

The man that had been taking care of him came over to say goodbye. He pressed a gold coin into Ben’s hand. “Go on home now.” He smiled at Ben and walked back to his horse.

Ben frowned as he watched the man mount his horse and follow the other soldiers out of town. What home? He stood in the inn’s doorway and silently waited until the riders disappeared from view.

The innkeeper also stood silently on the inn’s porch, but he was staring at Ben, not the riders. A deep scowl crawled over his face as he approached Ben. He poked a fat finger into Ben’s stomach. “If you want to stay, you’ve got to pay! I’ll have no leeches in my inn.”

Ben felt a rush of anger overwhelm him. He threw the gold coin at the innkeeper’s feet and ran. He sprinted past people, past shops, past houses and animals. A few people yelled at him to slow down or watch where he was going, but he paid no attention to their words. The tears were streaming again. He ran and ran, barely seeing where he was going as his legs pumped and his lungs heaved. He tore out of the village and didn’t stop, couldn’t stop. The need to get away was overwhelming and forced him to keep going. Faster and faster he ran as his heart pounded and legs began to shake.

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How do you decide when something is finished? Whether it’s writing a report for a class, or refurbishing your house, all projects eventually need to be “done.” I’ve had friends and relatives, and I admit I’ve fallen into this category too, who are perfectionists. We want everything to be perfect, we want our best effort to be seen. And well this makes it hard to ever be “finished.”

However, I’ve started to overcome this obstacle to finishing. I think it started in my first painting class in college. I had painted before, and well… it took forever. Every dab of paint was important, I had to use tiny dots of paint on my brush so I didn’t have too much and mess up all my work. It seriously took me at least four months to finish one tiny little picture.

Well the first day of class I come in to find that we will be painting 6 pictures in one semester, all on large canvases. My world was turned upside down. I couldn’t paint like a perfectionist anymore, the limited amount of time wouldn’t let me. And so, I changed. Instead of putting tiny dots of paint on my brush, I’d scoop up a big blob. Instead of dabbing the canvas, I’d make big strokes. It was hard to relearn, to change, to be uncomfortable with “the mess.” But thankfully I had a good teacher. He showed me that if I just went for it, and got all the basic shapes and colors arranged, then I could come back in with details later and still end up with a beautiful painting.

October 2009 030
I think the same thing can happen with writers. We start off wanting to write something, a novel perhaps, or a poem, or whatever. But we want it to be perfect, to perfectly express what’s in our minds. And that makes it hard to start. We can spend so much time on little changes, on using “the perfect word” to describe something, that we end up never finishing.

Instead I’d challenge writers to just start. Spit out whatever is on your brain, even if it isn’t very good, and then come back later and “touch up.” That’s what editing is for anyway. And then when you finally finish that paper or project, celebrate! Don’t critique yourself with little errors you missed, just enjoy the final product and relax.

So here’s a poem I “finished.” Hope you enjoy it. 🙂

Lydia Hill

February 2, 2012

Life’s Gait

I used to take riding lessons

in the dust of a parched Texas summer.

The steady beat and swift breeze

kept me circling the worn path.

Click of the tongue,

nudge to the stomach,

tug on the reigns,

up and down with the motion.

Sometimes we canter quickly,

sometimes we walk slow,

but always we must move.

We cannot stop the flow

round the earth,

round the sun,

the motion of time,

since life first begun.

We like to think

we have control,

that our choices determine

where we will go.

Then in the air, all

power stripped away

hit the hard ground

wondering what went wrong

Did I lose control

or ever even have it?

Legs shake as I rose, to face

my choice.

Do I sit out on life?

Or jump back in?

It will keep moving,

whatever my decision.

I could fall again,

and break more than my pride.

But is security worth the price,

of losing out on life?

I climbed back on,

determined to keep in mind

that despite my lack of control,

life is still a fun ride.

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Well it’s about time!

Hello everyone!

This is Alicia, and this is my first blog post. I seriously fail at blogs, I never seem to write in them and when I do my posts are usually boring. Maybe I can break that streak with this one, because I’m not the only one writing this blog, but we will just have to see.


There are a few things on my mind at the moment, but right now I’m going to talk about names. Or more specifically, coming up with names, because you need a few good character names to get your audience interested. Now don’t get me wrong, there are no bad names, and common names are fine to use, but if you want to change it up some I have a few ideas that I use to come up (or find) unique names.

First off is the ever helpful Google translate tool. There are many languages that basically have the same letters as English but have a much more unique ring to them. I personally have used Swahili and Latin the most, but you can play around with it! And the cool thing about translating is that you can use common words to get a cool name. For example, in a roleplay group I used the Swahili word for tear, which is Chozi. Now I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a pretty good name, and it connected with my character’s back story, which is quite sad, thus ‘tear’.

The other main tool I use is mishmashing, which doesn’t sound like a good tool, but it really is. I used this for pretty much all of the names in my novel. All you need to do is pick a name you like, for example, I always liked the name Seth. It’s a simple name that could totally work for your character, but if you want to spice it up some, play around with the letters. Add some in the middle, play around with the endings. I did this and came up with Senith, the only difference about the name compared to Seth are the ‘n’ and ‘i’.

If you can’t think up a good starting name, just pick a letter and start messing around with it, trying to come up with something that sounds like a name. You may go through a lot of bad sounding ones, but in the end you could get a really unique one.  A few of my background characters got their names this way, and to me they don’t sound that bad. One of them I came up with was Kendren, it’s a mix of elements from different names, but it really works.

I have one more tip on writing names before I go. Don’t be afraid to go into the strange sounding words, they could even be describing words, or just random words that you’ve always liked. I came up with one of my favorite characters this way. Vista had always struck me as a cool word, it sounded unique and I liked it as a name. But something seemed off, so I used a little mishmashing with it as well, and you know what the result was? Vistina. I love that name, it fits my character so well and I’ve never heard it before in any book. That makes it feel special, it’s seems to make my characters stand out to where I know I will remember them, and my readers will too.


Look at Vista...haha, I'm clever xD

Look at Vista…haha, I’m clever xD

That’s all for now I suppose, until next time!


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