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Happy Novel Anniversary! Two Years Ago!
Sess and Rin under the stars
Happy Novel Anniversary,

Two years ago I started a little writing project on January 6, 2011. I had a simple premise with a simple question to explore, and I figured it'd be a nice little short story to get back into the habit of playing with words after a few years away. I'm a bit old fashioned when I start a writing project, so I took out a notebook and a newly sharpened pencil and I shook off that vicious critic all us writers have. I started to write a little opening, trying to figure out who these characters were.

It was freeing, exciting, and frightening all at once. I hadn't really written anything in years---anything completely original at least---and I was stepping off a cliff into a great abyss alone without any guidelines or safety nets. I didn't have a preconceived notion of who these characters were. I had written fanfiction for a number of years in a couple of fandoms, so I had ideas on how to write description and such, but that's with already established characters and universes. Fanfiction, in my view, is not much different than artists going to the museum to create their own copy of some famous artwork. It's in trying to duplicate it yourself that you learn how to do it yourself.

Here, in this little writing project, I had none of those crutches. I had to figure out just who my characters were, what universe they would live in, and what their conflicts would be. I made a sketch of each character. I had two in mind, a brother and sister. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what they looked like so I could easily visualize them on the page. I'll admit, being a big Supernatural fan, it was easy to cast my main lead as Jared Padalecki in the big brother. I cast Leighton Meester from Gossip Girl as the little sister. It just seemed to fit and I found it much easier to write about these two on the page, see how they move, hear how they spoke, imagine how they'd feed off each other's personalities, and shape my characters into something more than cardboard cutouts plunked down into a scene.


Even so, the characters totally took on their own form, becoming their own people on the page, and as I spent more and more time with them I found more layers that surprised me.

Here is a brief excerpt from that fledgling piece I wrote about two years ago:

Jared shifted and winced as his knee smashed up into the table. He clenched a tight fist to his side, choking back the curses that threatened to tumble from his lips. His knee smarted from the impact with the metal bar holding up the table. Rubbing it gingerly, he resigned himself to the fact that he was likely to have a nasty bruise for the next week or so. Stabbing his chopsticks into his food, Jared shoved a piece of meat into his mouth, chewing slowly as the pain subsided.

Looking up, Jared caught his sister's amused expression. Pointing at her with his chopsticks, he whispered, an irritated scowl on his face, “Don't you dare laugh, Mandy.”

Mandy fluttered her eye lashes, feigning innocence. “Why would I laugh, big brother?”

Continuing to rub his knee gingerly, Jared tilted his head, his eyebrows knit together tightly and his lips twisted into an irritated grimace. “Because I know you, little sister.”

Mandy took a bite of her snow peas and giggled softly. “It's not my fault that you're some sort of moose and that they don't make furniture to accommodate giants like you.”

“You know what?” Jared narrowed his eyes. “Next time you're stepping on your tippy toes and can't reach something, I'm going to remember that you laughed at this and then I'm going to laugh at you.”

Instantly, Mandy's eyes narrowed and her nostrils flared. “It's not my fault that you got all of the height, you big oaf.”

“I did, didn't I?” Jared laughed low at first until it bubbled out loudly. He shook his head, long chestnut locks falling into his eyes. “Laugh all you want at my bruised knee, Mandy. You're always going to be a munchkin.”

“You're an ass, Jared.”

“I know.” He turned sad eyes towards her and stuck his bottom lip out into a pout. “Still love your big brother?”

I found that these two had an easy relationship. They played off of one another well and I could feel them becoming real on the page. I could sense a deep love that I didn't quite understand there. They were close, they cared about one another, but they weren't above teasing one another. There seemed to be a tangible thing between these two. I debated momentarily about making them a romantic couple, but I liked that they were siblings keeping that aspect out of the equation. It could simply be about what was going to happen to them, not about their romantic feelings.

That doesn't mean there wasn't conflict between them, as this excerpt shows:

“It is.” Jared sighed, looking down. He brushed a hand over his black slacks. Shaking his napkin out, he draped it over his lap, covering the bottom of his snow white sweater. Running a hand through his hair, Jared lifted his hazel eyes to meet his sister's brown. “And I don't want that to be you. Listen, you ever need help out there, you call me. Anytime. Day or night.”

Anger ignited in his sister's eyes. Mandy leaned forward and hissed, “You know that I'm not that stupid. I wouldn't end up in some frat house alone. It's not like I'm a huge party girl.”

This conversation was not going the way he had hoped. Jared should have known better the moment he had seen his sister's petite frame tense up. All the alarm bells in his head told him that he had to tread carefully or risk alienating Mandy for the rest of the night---the last thing that he wanted to do.


“No. You listen. I'm not a kid anymore, Jared. You can't keep treating me like I'm your responsibility.” Mandy tore her spring roll in half forcefully. It's time that I take responsibility for myself.”

“Responsibility?” Jared huffed, running a hand over his face. He said, his baritone voice dropping an octave to express his frustration, “Is that what you think you are to me? A responsibility?”

“Isn't that what I am?” Mandy took a bite of her appetizer. She inclined her head towards his soup. “Your soup is getting cold, Jared.”

“No.” Jared said it a bit more forcefully than he had intended. He was grateful that they were secluded for the most part. That didn't mean he didn't notice Mandy visibly flinch. Sighing in exasperation, Jared scrunched his face into a displeased expression, his lips forming a thin, tight line. Softer, Jared said, “No. You're not. You're my little sister, and I just want you to be careful at school. That's all.”

Mandy fixed him with a stubborn gaze. “I'm a big girl, Jared. I”ll be fine.”

Gripping his spoon in a tight fist, Jared smashed it into the table, his quickly cooling soup sloshing in the square bowl. “Amanda Naomi Oaks, I want you to promise me that you'll be careful.”

Mandy's dark eyes flashed defiantly before she dropped them towards the table demurely. “Fine. I promise that I'll be careful.”

“Thank you.”

Mandy took another bite of her spring roll. She frowned at him, obviously furious that he had forced her to promise him. Under her breath, she muttered, “Can we just enjoy our dinner?”

I spent six months writing and rewriting this little chapter. I had originally meant it to be a short story. I had mean it to be a quick exercise to get back into writing. This simple piece had a totally different idea in mind. In July of 2011, I realized I was wrong. This chapter was not really a chapter at all. It was the backstory I needed to write the actual story and that I should start it after it ended.

Jared Oaks gets attacked at the end of this little "chapter" and then the real story starts to take shape and place. The start of the novel I have right now is largely the second chapter I wrote after this false start. I don't regret writing that false chapter, and looking at it now two years later it's not half bad. It let me get to know Jared and Mandy Oaks a bit before launching into their tragic story and know them without having to shove all of this into the actual novel and bore people while they wait for the action. So I threw away this chapter---saved of course on my computer---and moved on with the new first chapter.

It was at this point I realized I was writing a fully length novel, not a short story, and that if I wanted to see to the end of Jared and Mandy's story I would have to follow it through. So I sat down and put together a story board that plotted out each chapter. It changed frequently as I moved through the writing process. Due to that, themes and motifs emerged that enriched the text. It wasn't just about a brother attacked and in the hospital brain dead with his sister by his side. It was about love, forgiveness, grief, and more.

With the writing process, I had a goal in mind. I wanted to give a copy to Jared Padalecki in Chicago at a Supernatural Convention. I had told him about working on it in 2011 at a different convention, and it just seemed like the right thing to do, besides it made me get off of my ass and finish it, rather than just play with it. I accomplished this goal. Since completing the draft I handed to him, I haven't looked at it since. It's been nearly four months.

The new goal is to get this novel published. I don't really know quite how to do that or where to even start, but I think with fresh eyes I can make the novel I've completed even better and that's the intention. I don't know what shape it's in yet. I have to sit down and read it. Then I have to start taking a nasty red pen to it and reworking things I felt didn't work on the page. I intend to take the first and the last and work on those two first and make sure the beginning and the end mesh together so I can then work on the middle to make sure they bridge that gap perfectly. I have a full draft to truly play with and I just hope what I have there doesn't need to be totally thrown out to be better.

I also need to learn about literary agents, editors, and submission processes. It's so daunting and scary and I have no idea how long it might take for me to actually get my book off of my computer and into the hands of readers, but I intend on making it happen. I just hope it doesn't take a million years to make it happen. I know my little novel "Non Omnis Moriar" or "Not All Of Me Shall Die" will never be The Hunger Games or 50 Shades of Grey in terms of attention and sales. I just hope that it gets out there to more than just a handful of people.

And who knows, 2013 might bring luck and Jared himself might let me know his thoughts about it. One never knows what might happen in this crazy world, after all.

Far Away Eyes


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I just loved your two little intercepts. It was very well written and i loved it. I can practically feel the love between Jared and Mandy. I hope you do publish this story, since I'm a fan of your Inuyasha fanfic, i love your writing style and i can see how much you have improved with the intercepts. :D if you want, you can always self publish (like from amazon) or if you want a print copy of your book to be available also you can also try to self publish through smashwords or createspace (which i would recommend if you want your book in both ebook and print) :D hope to read your book soon ^_^

Thanks. I'm glad you liked the little snippets here. I'm working on figuring out all that publishing stuff so we'll see. It's been quite the experience working on this novel and having a complete story with its own characters and universe to navigate. Hopefully someday in the near future everyone will be able to get their own copy and read it.

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