Saturday, August 26, 2017

The Epic Journey // What I Learned + Photo Dump

In case you missed it, I went on vacation!! By myself. For my birthday. It included attending the Oregon Christian Writers conference and meeting Ivy Rose and Emily McConnell. In short it. was. amazing.

I'll begin with some takeaways from the OCW conference, but then prepare yourselves for an photo dump :P The only other conference I've attended to compare to was a teeny tiny Texas one from last year (post here). But I think I can still confidently say that the OCW conference was one of the best ever.

Conference Lessons

1 // Age makes no difference. Just like the other teency conference I went to, there was basically no one else my age! (Except for the awesome 3 girls that I went with this time.) There were only a handful of people under 40, and most were over 50. Which is actually really cool if you think about it. Lots of them are just as new to writing as I am. How neat is that? Your age doesn't make any difference. It's never too late to start.

2 // Even famous people are people. Yep. They still get excited to hear you've read their books. They still need coffee to survive a four day conference. And they still get nervous and make mistakes. They're human! Which I find super comforting. Were famous people like Jill Williamson and Frank Peretti really cool in person?? Of course! BUT they don't live on a pedestal; we put them there.

3 // Writers are never alone. We may do most of our work alone, and even prefer being alone sometimes (most of us are introverts, okay?). But we really aren't alone. There were so many people that I brushed shoulders with at the conference who were genuinely interested in what I was doing. Quite a few of them were even doing something similar. Don't underestimate the power of community.

4 // Christian is more than a label. I admit that I wasn't sure I wanted to go to a "Christian" conference. What does that even mean, anyway? No one will be selling erotica? That's a bonus, but let's just say, I wanted to go to the best. And if the best wasn't exclusively Christian, then I was okay with that. BUT NO. This conference was so much more than Christian. It was godly. It was like church where you learn about writing. I'm not kidding. It was more than the Sunday School rhetoric, because everyone there was pursuing God and representing Him in their writing. Can there really be a greater calling?

5 // Writing starts with us. You're thinking "duh." Hear me out on this one. Something that really came home to me when taking Tessa Afshar's class called "Weaving Spiritual Themes into Your Book," was that I can't write what I know until I know something. If our goal as Christian writers is to connect people with truth and show them a glimpse of God, then shouldn't we be able to perceive that in ourselves first? The emotional connection people make to stories is often because it identifies something inside of them that they can't identify. Until I get to know the way I work, I won't be able to lay a finger on how anyone else works.

6 // God has to be for it. Something else I realized while at the conference was that if I'm writing for God, I'd better be including Him in the process. And I mean really including Him. I think the reason Martin Hospitality has been as successful as it has been is because God was behind it. That's why I was able to finish it and somehow get the messages I wanted to share (and even some I had nothing to do with) into that book. That is not happening with it's sequel. At all. The only thing I can conclude after several months of plodding along and literally getting nowhere is that God is not for it right now. He will be eventually, I hope. But for now, I'm going to set Martin Crossroads aside.

Obviously, my head is still swimming with everything I learned at the conference. It was an overall phenomenal experience, and I am definitely interested in attending again, even if it is in Portland.

Famous People

I met some famous people at the conference!!

Not pictured: Jeff Gerke, Traci Hilton, + April McGowan

All these people were so awesome and fun to talk to!! Like I said, they were surprisingly normal and easy to talk to ... not to mention eager to make new friends! So fun ^.^

Travel Photos

Nothing about the conference or all the traveling it took me to get there would have been half as fun without the young ladies I went with! Forget about going back to Washington and Oregon for the conference! I'm going back just to see them again!! :D

((all photos with people in them were taken by Ivy))

Mountains on the way to Spokane
Driving to Portland -- our most energetic morning for sure
Mountains. Mountains everywhere :D
One of the first things we did? Skip out on the agents' panel
Taking notes in Tessa's coaching class
Ivy joined my morning class ;)
The hotel had really good coffee!!
Lunch at IKEA
Gotta love the trees headed west
Lincoln City Beach with Emily
Literally the only seaweed on the entire beach
So windy and SO COLD
Starbucks for the drive home of course
Happy birthday to Megan!
No trip is complete without a bookstore
Name inspiration at a cemetery with Ivy!

Unpictured Adventures

  • eating mango on the back of a car
  • eating waaay too much candy
  • trying Chicharrones and Mountain Dew
  • watching the eclipse with Ivy's family
  • watching the 2008 BBC Sense and Sensibility with Ivy
  • staying up late in the Bakers' alcove
  • cooler weather!!!!
  • successfully surviving airports by myself
  • having mothers matchmake -_-
  • mentor session with April McGowan
  • brainstorming with Ivy
  • praying together every morning as we got in the car
  • and every moment in between :)
Does that not look like an amazing trip?! What writer conferences have you enjoyed? Have you met any of your writing friends or famous authors?

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Book Tag Vlog with Ivy Rose

Huge shout out to my brother for posting on Saturday without blowing up my blog! Today I'm bringing you a vlog I filmed with Ivy Rose while I was at her house.

Thanks to Victoria Minks for tagging me for this on YouTube. (You can watch her video here.) I decided the questions were hard enough for me to answer alongside Ivy and it worked out perfectly! They were fun to answer and provided a good distraction from how tired we were.


Thank you guys for watching! I had a ton of fun with Ivy, and visiting her may have to become a tradition ;) Watch for the huge writing conference, picture-filled post coming your way on Saturday!!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Writing Books VS Writing Video Games

Seeing as Abigayle is currently on a writer's conference trip with some writing comrades, she has asked me, her brother, to write up a guest post. My hobbies consist of designing and creating video games, and in this post we will explore the differences of writing a book vs writing a video game.

Video games tend to have very bad stories. I am being straight up honest. Part of this is because hardly any games begin development with a mostly baked story, or even simple idea for the story. There are many other development issues that could potentially cost too much money such as voice acting, hiring a writer, or many other things, but in my opinion that is not enough to excuse this problem.

One of the biggest issues with video game stories is that the developer hires a writer, but the writer does not know how to write for video games. Perhaps they are a book author, a movie script writer, or they make newspaper columns; even if they have had experience with any one of those, that does not mean they are ready to write video games. 

You do not write books the way you write movies because books have the responsibility to deliver every aspect of the experience through the writing alone, whereas  movies consist only of the vocal interaction between the characters and the actions they take. The point is that without a writer who knows how to write games, there will be no good storytelling in video games.

The first step of video game writing is to make sure you have an idea of what you want it to be before you begin development on the gameplay. When beginning to structure and craft a game, it is always necessary to know how your game is going to play first, but you always need to know what tone the story and world will have at the same time, otherwise it will waste some of its potential. But with a book, the entire experience is a story. Without a plot to your novel, it couldn't hardly be a book, so that is absolutely the place you need to start when writing a novel. 
There is a different art to telling a story in games than in books, and the main thing that game writers don’t understand is that the story isn’t supposed to be told completely through chat boxes and dialogue from the characters. The story has to be told through the gameplay, the mechanics, and the world just as much as the actual written narrative. This is why games have weak stories, because if the stories don’t begin production until after the world is created, there will be clash in-between the mechanics, gameplay, world and narrative so it will not create a convincing story or one that will be memorable.

So when a game developer hires a writer to craft their story, the writers are often impaired and unsure how to do it properly because they are not conveying any of the world or details, but merely the dialogue. This can be unnatural to the writer, and without the details of the world to make their characters convincing within, it becomes messy and often stereotypical.  

A good example of storytelling is the Uncharted games. You learn about Nathan Drake through running and jumping, because you see how it hurts him to fall from big drops, seeing as he is human. It doesn’t tell you through dialogue that he is great at wall climbing or that he isn’t an invincible hero, but you see that through the actions you choose to take through the games. The earlier Silent Hills games do this well also because through the mechanics of the game it instills that sense of fear your character has. Through doing a simple action like crawling, they do it frantically and are obviously scared. They don’t say “I am scared” like they might in a book, because it is much more effective to show it than say it in a video game.
Another way that storytelling is misused is through the dialogue itself. Far too many games do not script dialogue in a way that they won’t create throw-away lines. In video games, a large portion of character development needs to be told through the gameplay and not only the dialogue. So again, the writers can often be confused on what to write.  There are far too many throwaway lines that could have been told though the environment or through the gameplay. In the most simplistic of examples, you don’t need to have a side character say, “I feel like we should go right” when there could be a sign pointing to the right, or a pile of rubble blocking the left forcing you to go right. This is not a subtle example, but it can be as simple as having good level design to make the game flow well.
So how can you avoid throwaway lines and create good dialogue? There is some natural skill that has to come with that, but for the most part if you follow a simple set of rules you will be far better off than most games already. There are four different categories, and if a line you write does not fit into one of those categories then it is a throwaway line.

1.       What does this line tell you about the world?
2.       What does this line tell you about your character?
3.       What does this line tell you about other characters?
4.       Does this line move the plot forward?

One of the most common places for throwaway lines is traveling from one location to another. The developers toss dialogue in there to keep the player’s mind off the fact that they are just walking so they do not get bored. It is rare to see an example in a game where a throwaway line is not used in this situation. One of the rare successors of these moments is in the Witcher III when you are walking along a path talking to a man about whether he named his newborn son. This tells you about the world and is emotional in a way, and fills out some characters more. Even though it is not very significant, it brings real situations into the conversations to make it feel like a real living place.

Unless every line of dialogue falls under one of those four categories, or it is just so funny and classic, then it should not be in your script. 

One aspect of video game writing is that the writers should be involved in the creation of the game to make sure the environment and atmosphere fit all the things they are writing about to help them create a more real-feeling world.

If you were to go through your game script and find a throwaway line, think about your level design for that area and see how you can implement it into the gameplay or atmosphere instead of the dialogue. Because remember, the mechanics, gameplay, and world are just as important to the story as the narrative itself, because the world is also part of what makes good books, they are just told in a different manner. 

So if you ever have the chance to write for a video game, remember to take all of those details you would put into a book, and put them into the game world to make it a good world that the story will flow in and feel like an intertwining experience and not one where the story is at odds with the gameplay.     


As you can tell, I am interested in video games, and I am even creating a game design course that will be released through a blog and potentially a YouTube channel. There is currently a Kickstarter for it at this link:

Please check it out!


I hope you all found this guest post interesting, and Abigayle will be returning to you this Tuesday! 
-Albert Lee      

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Summer TBR Progress + Accountability + Giveaway

I'm writing this partly because I owe you guys an update (you're my accountability), and partly because this is a bookish post to celebrate the blog birthday of Ruffles and Grace.

Remember this post where I listed "books I must read over the summer"? Well, I gave myself until September 1 to complete that list, and since I'm supposed to write a summery book post for Victoria's blog birthday, I thought I could give you a progress report. :)

I had been faithfully ahead on my Goodreads challenge, but here's what it looks like right now.

Out of the 9 books I pledged to read over the summer, I have read . . . 4: Some Kind of Happiness, The Summer Before the War, The Great Divorce, and Pearl in the Sand. I just started This Present Darkness. To my credit, I have read some other books that weren't on my list. How can I say no to a good book when it pops up?? Apparently creating this list wasn't even enough to keep me on track, so I've come up with a new strategy.

I need a reading accountability partner so I get some more reading done! Take a look at my Goodreads to see what I've enjoyed reading. Definitely let me know if you would like to:
  • chat frequently about books (Google Hangouts probably!)
  • constantly threaten one another to read more (kidding. sort of.)
  • encourage each other to branch out in our tastes
  • discuss deeper elements of books
  • recommend books for me
  • meet reading deadlines/goals alongside me
The primary requirements are that you love to read and will constantly challenge me to read more! That's a bit of a tall order, so volunteer at your own risk ;) I think this would be super helpful for me, though, and hopefully for you too.

For now, I think I'd do best with only one person. I've tried team things and I feel like I can disappear for those because there are other people to keep talking. I can't ignore someone when they're waiting on me. :P

If you are interested, let me know in the comments and link to your Goodreads/blog. I want to see if we'll be compatible and then I'll make a decision when I get back from the OCW conference next week!

As I mentioned earlier, this post was part of Victoria Lynn's blog birthday for Ruffles and Grace. Definitely hop over there to read her post and check out the other posts (yesterday's were fashioned themed while today's were book themed). That's where the spectacular giveaway is (of which Martin Hospitality is a part!!).


Seriously, who wants to be my accountability partner for reading?? As a side note, I am currently attending the OCW conference in Portland with Ivy Rose and Emily McConnell, and HAVING A BLAST. I also turned 19 yesterday. So all sorts of new adventures ;)

Saturday, August 12, 2017

So Many Ideas // A First Look at Future Novels

Everything I've been doing of late has been leading me back to the million actually 22 story ideas I have. And those are just the ones I love and want to be published novels someday. So I'm going to share some of my thoughts on the stories that I'm really thinking I might develop soon ... ish.

With the increased traffic on My Writings page, considering pitching at the OCW conference WHICH I LEAVE FOR IN TWO DAYS, redoing my Pinterest, and brainstorming plot bunnies with the sis, literally everything has been screaming: think about your stories!

DISCLAIMER #1: Since I am in the middle of writing Martin Crossroads (book 2 of the Martin Generations Series), that project will keep me going for probably the next two years at least. Anything I talk about here today will most likely not come to be until after this current project is complete. :)

But who cares, right?! It's still fun to dream of these babies. None of these happen to be mentioned on My Writings page. And I'm pretty sure I haven't even whispered about most of these. So count yourself blessed ;) I even have an excessive amount of mock covers because I get excited XP

DISCLAIMER #2: Everything you're about to see is purely hypothetical and mostly just my excitement. ^.^

I get excited every time I think about this one!!! The Hills of Tyler happen to be my ancestors: Samuel and Melissa Pearl Hill, who raised eight children in what my family now calls the Tyler House. It's located in Tyler, Texas and is over a hundred years old! While it could be in a better part of town, and requires a lot of upkeep, it's so precious because of its history--the Hills became very influential people in Tyler! Besides that, my paternal grandfather is the. last. living. person. who can tell me all about them. 

His mother was a Hill, and Pa knows all the haunts, hobbies, and delightful trivia. He can still show me where the warehouses are, the lumberyard my great-great-grandfather began ... he remembers that Uncle Ernest went by Buddy and invented a cream for athlete's foot called BIFF. Aunt Gladys was legally blind and had her daughter tell her the color of street lights so she could drive. Sam Hill (yes, really) built row houses for the lower income families and Pa collected the minimal rent. I mean, it goes on and on! 

People were born and died in the rooms I sleep in when I stay there. And the house is full of old books and family portraits. So why wouldn't I want to document the family that started it all? I'm slowly collecting the information on them that can only come from Pa so all those memories won't be lost with him! I'd really love to see this published while he's still here as well. (Considering he just "mostly" retired at 79, I should have some time.)

This one would be something along the lines of a time travel literary serial that I would feature on my blog in "episodes." I was marveling over the beauty of certain TV shows Doctor Who and Downton Abbey, especially the way there's a huge overarching plot for each season, some the span longer than that, and then the neat little bow plots that get resolved in each episode. I would love to be able to write like that!! So I thought, why not try? I could do "episodes" on my blog and then publish "seasons." 

As far as content, it's fairly vague at the moment, but has shards of awesomeness. Here's a first draft blurb: 
Since the beginning of time, magical creatures called Keepers have been responsible for the integrity of literature. They "keep" a Library--hidden to the menial human eye--that contains one of every book ever written. With such responsibility comes the power to enter the books' timelines when necessary. After one Keeper abuses his power, and the subtle evils he seeds in the stories must be combatted, it's up to the newly commissioned Keeper Q to discover the solution before all of the world suffers as a result of a world without story.
*tada* The goal is to feature a book per episode that has something just slightly wrong about it which must be remedied before the changes to the book's timeline become irreversible and permanently damaged. I might even go so far as to have the "end result" of the meddling be the story we have now. Who's to say what the original looked like before such interventions were necessary? The point is only that we still have good books :)

Have I mentioned these spinoffs before? I can't remember ... but that could very well make the "finish writing Martin Generations" take a lot longer! I've actually already begun planning Anneliese's story, which will take place when she is in her late twenties/early thirties. It will line up with parts of Martin Crossroads, most likely. :)

As for Farris and Emmaline's stories, I just think they'd be fun to tell, as well as a way for everyone to follow along with certain characters still. Who knows, I could do origin stories as well. (Stuart and Joy Martin, anyone?) So let me know if there's a particular character you want to follow in detail! With any luck, these would only be novella length (30,000 words or so).

Before I launch into this one, can we just appreciate that cover for a minute? Please? *happy sigh* Everything about that is 150% perfect for this fledgling of an idea. And honestly this one has been downright plaguing me of late. The playlist has come together nicely. I talked to my sister about it for a few hours the other night and we nailed down the basic plot. It's going to be epic, you guys!! 

Also, it's another contemporary. I wasn't sure for a while, but it's been officially agreed upon by me and my adviser now ;) It shall also be a non-romance. You're welcome. ((And to be completely honest, I'd love to see this one traditionally published? Maybe??))

But first I'd have to get good at pitching it -_- Summing this one up kills me, but at least there's a Pinterest board and Spotify playlist that can help me do it justice.

Basically, it follows two characters who are currently named Eliza Birch and Christopher Maddon. Eliza lives with her grandfather. He even homeschools her, and the most vital part of that education is their weekly trip to matinee showings in the small-town, old-timey theatre. While hoodies, earbuds, and poetry books are Eliza's only friends (and she's happy that way), Christopher Maddon changes that when he's the first newcomer the town has seen in twenty years. While he's less than enthused to be handing out popcorn, Eliza and her grandfather intrigue him and soon their passion for cinema begins rubbing off as he spends more time with them. Their notions on God and history baffle him, not to mention worry his parents. But more than anything, Christopher wants to be a human interest journalist for People magazine. And the Birches just might be his first story. As a thank you for everything they've done for him, Christopher encourages Eliza to join him in playing crowd people in a local movie shooting. Eliza's love for acting wins over her introverted personality when the director takes special notice and offers her a more prominent part, and eventually a multi-year contract. As Eliza launches into stardom, Christopher feverishly works his way through school, and the local cinema shuts down. When he's assigned to write an article on her, he's dismayed to find that Eliza of all people has come to believe that the face she puts on for the cameras is the real her. He'll do anything to convince her she's not the person she could be, and that perhaps this whole acting thing was a bad idea.
What are your thoughts on those?? It feels so good to be able to talk about them with you guys! As I said, any of those details could change, but the point is: they will hopefully all be physical books you can hold at some point in the next 10 years xP So in case you were still wondering, I'm totally in this author business for the long run. ;)

Talk to me! What awesome story ideas do you have? Any storyboards to share? If you're interested in learning more about my other ideas, definitely check here and here. :)

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Andora's Folly // Blog Tour Day 8

Just like that, I'm concluding my second blog tour. Today is the last day!! This tour has been awesome.


It's been a fun ride thus far! While I had sold more Martin Hospitality books by this point in its tour, I had greater participation this time. On Amazon I have 13 reviews for Andora's Folly and 12 for MH, so what does that say about you awesome people?! It's totally awesome that we've surpassed the reviews of Martin Hospitality in only a week! (I'll work on catching MH up later haha.) Reviews are the best thing you can do for an author, so thank you very much!! :)

Today's Schedule

To close out the tour, I have two more lovely ladies bringing you posts for their equally lovely blogs :)

Grace Anne // Fangirly Review
Zane Jones // Final Interview Vlog

Giveaway + Snippet

I will choose a random winner of one Andora's Folly e-book from the comments on the first post in the blog tour TONIGHT. So head over to that post and comment if you haven't. The winner will be announced in the comments on that first post, this post, and e-mailed. Thank you guys for participating!

The final quote I leave you with gives you glimpse of a possibly happy ending. Possibly. Or maybe that's just what I want you to think ;)

Thank you all for following the blog tour! It accomplished its purpose in that I've connected with some new people and so has my novella. For those of you who may still be wondering what the point of all of this was, it's really simple: I can't everyone by myself! Having so many awesome friends commit to telling their friends helps me reach so many more. I really appreciate everything you guys have done for me, even if it's just leaving comments here :)

Don't forget to comment on post one here. This is only the beginning for Andora, so she'll still be around! ;) I'll see you guys next Saturday!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Andora's Folly // Blog Tour Day 7

Welcome to Friday. This marks one week on the blog tour! Let's finish strong :D


Today's Schedule

There should be some great content on these blogs today! And you can thank Lisa for many of the good memes while you're over there ;)

Lisa // Interview Vlog
Abigail McKenna // Review

Giveaway + Snippet

I will choose a random winner of one Andora's Folly e-book from the comments on the first post when the blog tour ends tomorrow!

This quote may or may not be from the conflict point where Andora commits her Pandora deed ;)

designed by me
Hang in there, guys! This second blog tour of mine is nearly finished. Hope you're having fun <3 p="">

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Andora's Folly // Blog Tour Day 6

Day 6!! The weekend is in sight and we are getting close to the end. But we have a few more awesome posts, first ;)


Today's Schedule

Today is the day that lined up with a perfect array of variety: one of each post type. Also, these are both very pretty blogs!

Ashley Bogner // Review

Savannah Grace // Spotlight + Interview

Giveaway + Snippet

I will choose a random winner of one Andora's Folly e-book from the commenters on the first post at the end of the blog tour! So be sure to backtrack :)

This quote is the very last sentence of the first chapter!

The tour has gone awesome so far! Do you have any weekend plans? I'll be helping with a garage sale as a fundraiser for the shooting club I'm a part of!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Andora's Folly // Blog Tour Day 5

Are you still with me?? I've got more posts than usual and an extra special quote meme!


In case you're wondering, I've sold 5 copies of Andora's Folly so far, but none in August yet. Let's keep that number climbing! :D

Today's Schedule

This is the only day on the schedule where we have three participants, which is awesome! Be sure to see what they have to say :)

Mikayla // Review
Soleil // Spotlight
Ivy Rose // Spotlight + Review

Giveaway + Snippet

I will choose a random winner of one Andora's Folly e-book from the commenters on the first post at the end of the blog tour!

This is possibly my favorite quote meme ever because not only is it a sweet quote, but it's hand drawn by one of my beta readers, Lisa. Isn't that awesome? If quote memes and fan art had a child, this would be it. *heart eyes*

I'm running out of original things to say down here :P How has your week been thus far?

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Andora's Folly // Blog Tour Day 4

Can you believe it's halfway over?? Or that it's August?! O.o


Today's Schedule

Two spotlight + review combos today from ladies who had the opportunity to beta read for me!

Ashley // Spotlight + Review

Faith // Spotlight + Review

Giveaway + Snippet

I will choose a random winner of one Andora's Folly e-book from the commenters on the first post at the end of the blog tour!

Today's meme embodies the quote that I (correctly) predicted would be everyone's favorite line ;)

designed by me

I have the awesome news that I posted this from my laptop. It hasn't had a working charger for almost two months now, so it's been a while. #itsthesmallthings ^.^