This Writer’s Journey . . .

Writing is a journey, one I truly love and enjoy, but it can sometimes feel rather lonely. Hour after hour, alone, at the computer, pouring your heart and soul into each word. But I’ve learned I’m not alone, in fact, I’ve been blessed to be in contact with some amazing people, both writers and non-writers.

I want to share a bit of that with you. Each week I’ll be spotlighting someone I’ve come in contact with during my journey. Thanks for stepping along side of me—all of you—during this exciting time!

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Jill Williamson

I met Jill through an online crit group while she was getting published with By Darkness Hid and To Darkness Fled. I even got to help with some of the critiques!

Boy, she’s a great writer. I learned so much from her.

What inspires me about Jill is her tenacity for young people, her dedication to the craft, and her tireless encouragement of other writers.

She saw a couple of my early manuscripts when I was first starting out. And boy, they were ugly *blushes.* With patient, loving care and honesty, she helped me hone the craft a little more with each and every critique she gave me.

Thanks, Jill.

Jill Williamson

I don’t do many interviews here, but I had to have Jill, author of To Darkness Fled, on the Light of Truth blog. I just LOVED her book.

WELCOME JILL WILLIAMSON!

Tell us about your latest book.
To Darkness Fled is the second book in the Blood of Kings trilogy. It’s about Achan, a young man who wanted to become a knight, and Vrell, a girl who is dressed as a boy to hide from the man who wants to marry her. Book two picks up where By Darkness Hid left off.

Here is the back cover copy for To Darkness Fled (Blood of Kings, book 2):

They have no choice. Chased by an evil prince, Achan, Vrell, and the Kingsguard knights flee into Darkness. They head north, for Tsaftown and Ice Island, where they must free an army that can help them fight for Er’Rets.

Darkness sickens Vrell. How long can she keep her secret without being caught? Achan already suspects her of lying. If she is not careful, he will suspect her of treason as well. She hopes he will let his suspicions go until they reach her home.

Achan wanted freedom, but this new journey has bound him more than ever. Sir Gavin’s claims are so far fetched. First, that there might only be one God, and second, that this God chose Achan to push back Darkness, the magnificent curse of Er’Rets. Him. Achan. Barely a man himself.

Each setback Darkness brings seems minor compared to the one choice only Achan can make. What will he choose?

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
I loved slowly revealing Vrell’s secret here and there. Vrell is a girl, but in the first book, she is in hiding, dressed as a stray boy to avoid having to marry the evil Prince Gidon, who only wants her inheritance. Then she meets up with Achan, who thinks she’s a scrawny boy. It was so much fun to dangle Vrell’s secret out there to be nearly discovered time and again, only to save her at the last minute each time. But the secret does come out in this story, and that was a fun scene to write too.

Do you have a favorite scene?
My favorite scene is when Achan finds out that Vrell is a girl. ☺

What did you dislike most about writing this book?
It was a challenge to write a book where much of it takes place in pitch black darkness. You can’t describe people or surrounding as easily without light. I had fun at first, but it was hard to keep it up for most the story. I used lanterns and torches and candles sometimes, but often, my characters travel in the pitch black darkness so that no one will be able to track them. That was tough to write.

Who is your favorite character and why?
Achan. He tries to be tough. At sixteen, he’s a man by Er’Retian standards, though he feels insecure about stepping into that role and taking charge. He’s stubborn and that trait often causes him a lot of heartache. His sarcasm and heroic nature work well together, I think. Sometimes you want to scowl at him—boys will be boys—but you can’t help but love the guy.

Which character is most like you?
Vrell. She is more intense than Achan. She likes to do things properly, if she can. She is kind and loyal and hardworking. She likes learning new things. She likes order and rules and wants everything to be fair and right in the world. She also stresses out too much, too.

What kind of planning do you do before writing a novel?
I outline a basic plot. I need to know where the story is headed. I also need to know how each main character’s story will end. I use a spreadsheet, since I am dealing with two point of view characters. I write Achan’s scenes in one column and Vrell’s scenes in the next column, so I can see how their journeys will mesh. Once I feel good about where I’m headed, I start writing.

Is there any one thing or reference you keep handy when writing? Anything you kept around for this particular book?
I keep my Er’Rets binder close at hand. This is a three-ring binder filled with all my storyworld notes including my character charts, maps, sketches of castles, sketches of characters, crests for each town, pretend languages, lists of knights that serve which lord, a timeline of Er’Rets, lists of herbs and their medicinal uses, and things like that. I am lost without that binder because it keeps me organized.

I also use two online sources all the time. www.dictionary.com is an online dictionary and thesaurus.

And www.etymonline.com is an online etymology dictionary that allows you to type in a word and find its origins. This is really helpful for historical writers. This way you can use words that people would use during a certain time period. I use this to help me find out whether a word goes back far enough to be medieval.

What are you currently writing?
I am working on From Darkness Won (Blood of Kings, book 3).

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
My husband is a youth pastor and he and I do a lot with teenagers in our free time. We have teen events, teens over to hang out, Young Life. I enjoy playing the guitar, playing games with my family, and helping my son learn the piano.

How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)
I’m everywhere! My website is www.jillwilliamson.com. I’m also on Facebook, MySpace, Shoutlife, Shelfari, GoodReads, Twitter, Amazon

On top of that, I run two blogs. The first is Novel Teen Book Reviews at www.novelteen.com. It’s a website that reviews clean teen fiction. This is a great resource to see what books are available in the Christian market for teens. The other blog is for teen authors, though adult authors may find some useful tips too. www.teenageauthor.com.

And if you are looking to buy one of my books, online go to Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, or MarcherLordPress.com. You can also buy an autographed copy from me through my website. Many libraries have the first book and if they don’t they would likely order it if you ask. And you can request your local bookstore order my books too.

THANKS, JILL. It was awesome to have you on the Light of Truth blog again. You’re book was fantastic. I wish you the BEST on this second book! Anxious to read book 3!!

By Darkness Hid

Jill Williamson PICYou might have seen my post on Saturday about the book called, By Darkness Hid, by Jill Williamson.

I loved it so much, I thought I’d mention it again and post a little interview with the author. I hope you enjoy it.

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Q: Tell us about yourself.

I grew up in rural Alaska with no electricity, an outhouse, and a lot of mosquitoes. Thankfully it was the land of the midnight sun. In the summer I could stay up and read by the daylight that wouldn’t go away. But in the winter there was nothing better to do than daydream.

I went to college in Idaho and met my husband, Brad, who wanted to make movies. Since I’d always wanted to be a fashion designer, we made a deal. We’d go to Manhattan for one year—so I could attend the Fashion Institute of Technology—then we’d move to Los Angeles. We did just that. We lived in LA for nine years. About halfway though that time we both discovered God was calling us to different things. Brad went back to school and became a youth pastor. I began to write. We currently live in Eastern Oregon. My husband is a youth pastor and we are both involved with Young Life.

Q: How and why did you become a writer?

Back in 2004 I started writing articles for magazines. I wanted to be a speaker at teen events, so I focused on periodicals for teens. Then the new Harry Potter book came out, and another barrage of debates within the church community flared up as to whether or not the books were evil. I remember wishing there were more options for Christian kids whose parents didn’t want them reading general market books. There was quite a variety of Christian novels for teen girls, but little for boys. This inspired me to write that kind of a book.

I worked on that first novel about three years then I wrote another. Then another. By Darkness Hid came out in April 2009. It was my first published novel, but the fifth one I wrote.

Q: Where do you get ideas for stories?

I got the idea for By Darkness Hid from a strange dream. And later, as I was pushing my boy in the stroller on a walk, we passed under a tree that was half burned down. Half of it was black and dead and the other half was green and leafy. I was inspired. I brainstormed a plot about a world that was half dead and half living. Another story I wrote popped into my head on a drive to an apple orchard near Rochester, New York. I thought, What if some crazy scientists were growing people instead of fruit? So the idea of Jason Farms was born, which is a suspense story about a girl who discovers a cloning lab. Ideas are everywhere.

Q: Tell us about By Darkness Hid.

Achan is a fifteen-year-old stray. Strays are socially lower than slaves in the land of Er’Rets. Achan serves his master in the kitchens of Sitna manor. A Kingsguard knight approaches Achan and offers to train him as a squire. Such ambition is forbidden for strays, but Achan jumps at the chance to try and make a better life for himself. He begins training in secret with the sword, axe, and dagger. But when Achan begins to hear voices, he wonders if he might be going mad.

Vrell is a noblewoman who has gone into hiding dressed as a stray boy to avoid being married to a horrible man. But Vrell’s own gifts make her a target for greedy men. Two Kingsguard knights arrive to escort her to Mahanaim where she is expected to use her gifts to serve the Council of Seven. Vrell strives to keep her true gender and identity hidden as she and her escorts journey to the great city. Her path eventually crosses Achan’s on the battlefield.

I originally wrote By Darkness Hid for the young adult market, but it was published as a book for all ages. And you don’t have to be a fantasy fan to enjoy this book. It’s fast-paced and suspenseful and even has a bit of romance.

Q: What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

Researching sword fighting was really fun. The training and fighting scenes in my book improved greatly as a result of that research. I also enjoyed researching medieval medicine.

Q: What message do you hope to convey in your writing?

That God is the desire of our hearts. No matter what we face, knowing him will make life more worthwhile. He created us for a purpose. If we want to know our purpose, we must discover him.

Q: What advice would you give to an author just starting out?

Make yourself write until you finish a book. Then write another one. The more you write, the more you’ll learn. Then you can go back and see what needs rewriting. But most writers never even finish that first book. Some start lots of books and never finish one. You can’t be an author if you can’t finish a book. Set a goal and don’t give up.

Q: What new projects are you working on?

I’m polishing up To Darkness Fled (Blood of Kings, book 2). Then I’m going to start writing the third and final book in the trilogy. I also have a few other projects that my agent is shopping around. The New Recruit is about a Christian spy organization. Jason Farms is about a girl who discovers that her dad is working at a cloning lab.

Q: Where can readers buy your book?

You can purchase it online from Amazon or Barnes and Noble. And if your local bookstore doesn’t carry it, they’ll order it for you. If you’re interested in an autographed copy, you can purchase those though my website. Also, many libraries carry my book. If yours doesn’t, ask them to order it.

Q: Where can readers find you online?

My website is www.jillwilliamson.com. I’m also on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Shoutlife, Shelfari, GoodReads, and Amazon. I have links to all these pages on my website.
And there are also my other two websites: Novel Teen Book Reviews at www.novelteen.com and www.teenageauthors.com. By Darkness Hid PIC

Q: Is there anything we can do to help your book do well?

If you liked it, tell everyone you know about it. And go online to any and all places that allow you to post a book review and post your thoughts. You don’t have to write an amazing review. Just be honest and saw what you liked and disliked. Those two things are the most helpful things you can do. And if you do write a review, email it to me and I’ll post it on my website as well.

Thanks,  Jill.  Looking forward to the next book!!

By Darkness Hid, by Jill Williamson

By Darkness Hid PictureBy Darkness Hid, by Jill Williamson

Barnes and Noble Synopsis:

Given the chance to train as a squire, kitchen servant Achan Cham hopes to pull himself out of his pitiful life and become a Kingsguard Knight. When Achan’s owner learns of his training, he forces Achan to spar with the Crown Prince–more of a death sentence than an honor. Meanwhile, strange voices in Achan’s head cause him to fear he’s going mad. While escorting the prince to a council presentation, their convoy is attacked. Achan is wounded and arrested, but escapes from prison–only to discover a secret about himself he never believed possible.

My Review:

I’m impressed with Jill Williamson’s writing. I’m not a HUGE fan of fantasy novels. Give me a good paranormal romance and I’m happy. But Jill’s ability to draw me into the characters compelled me to read on, and on, and on. I read it in one sitting. Okay, I took breaks, but in one day I’d read the entire story.

Achan was a fantastic character. I love those who are unlikely heroes. It makes them all that more appealing to me. She painted this character so vividly, I was immediately drawn into his world.

And there was a hint of romance too, which sufficed my need to read romances, but it wasn’t the central theme of the story. Just enough to keep me enticed.  ☺

Great read. I’d recommend it.

# Pub. Date: April 2009

# Publisher: Marcher Lord Press

(Per the FCC rule: I bought this book from Barnes and Noble, read it, reviewed it on my own.)