Arella Cline, a sixteen year old teen from Wexford Pennsylvania, finds her life turned upside down when her family summer vacation begins with a tragic car accident which kills both of her parents. Going to live with her Great-aunt Fi, Arella tries to start a new life on a tiny island off the western coast of Ireland. Everything about Tory Island, however, is objectionable to her–the gray and wet weather, the stringent academy she is forced to attend, as well as the island’s lack of modern day amenities. The only thing Arella likes about Tory is Declan McQuilan, a handsome, dark-haired boy who attempts to show her the island’s hidden charms.
But there are too many strange things happening on Tory to make Arella feel that she could call the island home. She keeps seeing shadow figures and strange auras and hearing her parents’ voices. The people on the island are very secretive. And when Arella tries to leave on a ferryboat, she blacks out only to find herself back at her aunt’s cottage as predicted by Cannon Fidelous, another teen stranded on the mysterious island.
When Arella quits The Academy of St. Colm Cille, Father Cillian, a kindly old priest, offers to tutor her using an ancient book of prophecies which is now considered the history of Tory. What he teaches her will lead to a journey into ancient magic and Tory’s cursed past. Arella is forced to face her fears and newly discovered powers to turn back the pages of history in order for her to return to the present.
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Regina writes paranormal YA and is her today to talk her personal writing process. The process turned out to be really interesting and in some ways enlightening because as a reader it's very hard to appreciate the amount of research and hard work that goes into writing a book.
The Just Right Writing Process
Like an athlete warming up for an important game, or a driver revving his engine before the big race, a novelist needs to gear up for the big job of writing his or her book. Just jumping right in and writing what comes naturally is bound to lead to a disastrous end. But over-planning and lengthy outlining can smother the brightest creative spark. What’s a writer to do? Finding the perfect balance between over-preparing and totally winging-it is a tough act to balance, but by using a few simple planning techniques, any writer can walk that fine line.
While working on my ya paranormal fantasy, Island of Tory, I was inspired by browsing Irish pictures and sites on the internet. I collected an abundance of information I thought I could use to help create a fantastic story. At first, I just printed off the pictures and articles for later reference, but soon my file became too large to keep organized. I was losing and forgetting things that could be vital to my story. I decided that there had to be a better way to structure my ideas.
I thought about how I organized snippets of information at work. Post-its! As crazy as it sounds, 3M was the springboard to my writing process. I’ve gotten into the habit of keeping a lot of ideas, reminders, and important facts close at hand by using sticky notes stuck to the chalkboard at the school where I teach. Simple? Yes. Archaic? Sure. But effective, nonetheless.
I’m one of those people who needs information in sight to keep it in mind, so I started cutting out pictures and information that were key to my story and mounted them on a tri-fold board in the form of a collage. Anything that pertained to my characters, I glued to the first section. Clippings relevant to the setting, I attached to the second section. And anything else associated to the plot such as important objects, poems, quotes, or articles, I stuck to the third section. When I was done, I had a visual aid that documented all of my story ideas--right there in front of me.
From there I created a number of story element worksheets I could keep together in one neat file folder. The first was a character inventory for each of my primary and secondary characters. On this worksheet I included a list of characteristics such as nicknames, religion, nationality, height, weight, eye color, complexion, hair color and style, notable physical features, unique mannerisms, favorite slang, flaws, favorite music, favorite foods, car make and model, education, fears, and ambitions. This sheet made it easy to keep my characters consistent throughout the book. No more magically mutating eye color or a sudden change in vocabulary. Everything about my characters was right there. I filled out as much information as I could about each character so that they would feel real to me, and in turn, I could make them real to the reader. Even if there was information I knew I wouldn’t use in my story, I listed it anyway in order to get a complete character sketch.
The next worksheet I created was for my setting. I included a checklist for time period, year, season, city, and region. I also incorporated a section to catalog sensory information for the protagonist’s home, bedroom, and any other essential buildings or rooms. Lastly, I created a map documenting where everything was located in my fictionalized world of Tory Island. Every detail and description I needed to make my setting came alive was in these worksheets--all before I ever started chapter one.
Lastly, I created a plot diagram. On this worksheet I graphed not just the usual rising and falling action, but a detailed description of how my story would flow. I started with my protagonist’s normal world, then the disruption, followed by a number of mini-goals and their resolutions. At the top of the diagram, I didn’t just have the climax of my story; I broke it down into the protagonist’s lowest point, followed by the epiphany, the final battle, and the achievement of the ultimate goal. The last part was the falling action and the change that occurred in the protagonist and her world. The completed plot diagram became my novel roadmap.
I’ve never been a lover of taking a lot of notes, but I am a visual person. Using a tri-fold collage along with story element worksheets gave me the foundation I needed to create a unique and coherent story. The writing process is a bit different for everyone, but using visual aides to get down the basic plan is a tried and true alternative to novel outlining.
Regina M. Geither
Regina M. Geither was raised on stories of legends, curses, and all things paranormal. Today, she is a teacher, writer, and published author of the middle grade short story, Swamp Stallion, part of McGraw-Hill’s Imagine It! reading series. Her most recent publication is the young adult paranormal fantasy novel, Island of Tory, a tale of Celtic myth and Irish curses. Along with being an intermediate school teacher, Regina teaches adults novel writing at Polaris Career Center. She resides in northern Ohio and is currently working on the sequel to Island of Tory, Cursing Stone. Find out more at www.reginamgeither.com
Thanks Regina M Geither for visiting.
Be sure to check out Island of Tory is available in paperback and ebook formats on www.amazon.com