Saturday, September 24, 2011

The End?

Now that my editor has fully edited all 25 chapters in the Dragon Forest sequel, I have to go back and rewrite the ending.

So, when is it truly "The End"??

I have come to realize now that I am working on my third book, that the rough draft is just that: rough.

As an artist, I had to learn early on how to let go of my work. I had to learn that my artwork isn't me, but only an expression of me. If I decided never to let it go, then I would never have the pleasure of knowing that my work hangs in the homes of dozens of people all over the country. I have the distinct pleasure of knowing that a friend or family member looks at my drawing or painting and for a moment, thinks of me. How great is that??

I am realizing now that it is the same with writing. You have to be willing to let it go....and remember that your story isn't you, but an expression of you.

As I sat with my editor yesterday, he bluntly told me my ending was flat and anti-climactic. I already knew this since I had written the ending almost 2 years ago. I knew that since I went back and added so many new scenes (and 6 more chapters...) that the ending no longer reflected the story within. My characters had developed in such a way that the ending didn't match up with who they were.

The revision process can be so very daunting, but also exciting! I had the chance to go back and add more depth, challenge, conflict, and choices to my characters that now I like them so much more than previously. I added more drive and ambition to the characters, but also vulnerabilities. They are people I would like to know in real life.

I had a chance to go back and escalate the plot....heighten the action and drama to entice the reader to want more. There's more progression now toward the resolution.

But then the ending spoiled it all.

So, after meeting with my editor, together we held a brainstorming session where we talked about endings to other "second acts" in movies and plays. What makes a second act so compelling? Even though there will be a third act, the second act still has to have a satisfying resolution to the story. Readers need to enjoy the ending yet still want to read what happens next.

My favorite example is "The Empire Strikes Back" from the Star Wars saga. I remember well sitting in the theatre when the final credits rolled. People all around me were so disappointed that it was over. They wanted to see their hero, Luke, go after Han Solo! But now they would have to wait 3 more years to find out what happened!

Yet when you ask Star Wars fans which movie was their favorite, 9 out of 10 times they mention "Empire Strikes Back" because of the plot, the big reveal, the ending, and how it left them wanting more!

A second act ending should have that impact.

So, after our brainstorming session, my editor and I threw around some endings until I mentioned a few things I had in mind and ....BAM! That was it! We both sat up in our chairs and realized we had found the ending the book needed!

How fun is that??

When does a revision truly end? I knew my first book was absolutely finished when I wrote "The End" after that last chapter. I knew I had given the reader a satisfying climactic ending that hinted of the sequel and left them wanting more. People who have read my first book have asked me what happens next, and that is a good sign!

But with the sequel, I have had to go back now and rewrite several scenes during this revision process. I still cannot say that I am ready to write "The End" yet. I will know when I know.

There comes a time when you just know. And you save your work, close your lap top, sit back, and smile as you imagine your readers reading that last sentence wondering what happens next.

All because you took the time to let it go....rework your work...and take a chance.

Did I mention writing is fun?? :)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fantasy Art Workshop

My Fantasy Art Workshop will be held Saturday, October 15th at:

Foothills Branch of the Glendale Public Library

This FREE event runs from 2pm-4pm


  • Introduction
  • Chapter reading from The Dragon Forest
  • Discuss Fantasy Art
  • Live demonstration
  • Break
  • Discuss live demonstration
  • Create art together!
  • Dismiss

Registration opens Oct. 1st!! Only 20 seats available!!

Hope to see you there!!

Friday, August 5, 2011


I am happy to say that the second book in my trilogy is FINISHED!! Now I am working with my editor and will proof read it.

So exciting!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Book Review

My first book review!!

"Like all good fiction writers, she is able to draw the reader into the story, allowing you to “see” her world and making you want to know what happens next. About a third of the way in, Douthitt hit her stride, and I found myself running beside her, eager for more." - Mark Sommer

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I Can Only Imagine

As a writer of children's fantasy, my goal with The Dragon Forest was to create an entire world. I wanted to not only create it, but describe it for kids to visualize. I didn't want to get too descriptive throughout the entire book, so I focused more on the first two chapters.

But how could I describe something I have never seen? For example, a castle? I decided to check out some children's books on castles from the library and devour them. I chose children's books because they are written for the visual learner more than any other type of learner, in my opinion.

These books had ample amounts of drawings along with detailed descriptions of the innards of the castle. That helped jump start my imagination.

Once I had the idea of how a castle worked during medieval times, I was easily able to begin to "construct" King Alexander's castle in Illiath.

So how important is it to develop the imagination as a writer of fiction? Very important.

Since I grew up watching movies over and over again as a child in the 1970's, I was a visual child who grew into a visual adult. Even now, I learn better by seeing and then by doing something rather than just reading about or hearing about something.

Fantasy writing came easily for me since I can usually imagine a fantasy world and picture that world I have created inside my head. Putting it down on paper was the challenge. My editor often asks me to reiterate what I was trying to say in a certain scene because although I had it finished in my head, what I wrote didn't make sense to him as the reader.

That's why it is important to have a good editor. He is she will slow you down and make you retell something if it isn't making sense in the story.

But sometimes creating a fantasy world, whether its dragons and castles, vampires in modern days, or wizards flying on broomsticks, is rather tedious because of all the detail. Structure is still vital.

I find that a writer must always strive to have a strong introduction to the issue or problem and a strong conclusion or resolution so the reader will not be left hanging. That is the challenge. Readers can only read so much about fantasy lands, languages, or creatures before they begin to desire a quality tale that takes them on an adventure. My son commented yesterday about how sometimes all the fancy digital effects in a movie can falter the entire movie if there is not a good solid story behind all the action and effects. A solid story is foundational.

Knowing how to blend fantasy with a solid story is what C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien accomplished. I know I haven't reached that level of writing just yet, but it is my goal to have that balance within my stories. I want to take my readers on an adventure in a land they can see in their heads as they read.

So, continue to imagine!! Create that fantasy world!! ...but remember to always have a good story holding up that fantasy world. Take your readers on an adventure through your world they will never forget. Make them wonder what is behind every corner of your world. Cause them to use their imaginations over and over again.

But most importantly.....just write!

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Editing Process

Ok, met with my editor this week to go over some chapters of the sequel to The Dragon Forest.

The best part about hiring a professional editor to edit your work is that they won't tell you what you want to hear...but what you need to hear.

For instance, my editor showed me in my work that sometimes I am trying to hard to "show" something to the reader that it distracts from what I am trying to say. And other times I am not showing the reader enough action so the scene isn't moving along or is skipping over actions so the scene doesn't make sense.

Does that make sense?

Well, it is never easy to have someone tell you that your paragraph isn't working! It is tempting to take things personally. But I do appreciate it when my editor does point out to me that something isn't working in a scene.

I try hard not to edit as I write. It isn't easy, but I can accomplish this task once in awhile. I recommend it to any writer. Just write! Let your editor help you work out scenes later. Just get those thoughts down on paper and WRITE! Otherwise, you may hit writer's block or spend too much time worrying about the perfect adjective to insert in the perfect sentence, etc. Before you know it, hours and then days and then weeks have gone by and you haven't written anything down!

Don't fall for that trap.

Another thing my editor told me in our meeting was that I was failing to communicate to the reader an important aspect in my story. After ten chapters! I was shocked because as I wrote scene after scene, I thought for sure I was hinting at the importance of this one aspect in the story. But a good editor doesn't just point out mistakes or flaws without providing solutions. If he or she is not providing you with's time to find another editor.

My editor does provide quality solutions that never fail to make the story a better one. He has a great way of helping me think of adding mystery or intrigue to a scene. He helped me stand back, so to speak, and take second look at my story. As an artist, I have had art instructors do that very thing: they would always have me step back and look at my canvas or paper to see my painting or drawing from another fresh perspective. And it never failed to reveal to me the flaws in the work. This trick works with writing as well. Step back and take a second look at a scene or an idea in your story.

I am grateful for a great editor! I recommend that you find that professional editor to help you see your work through the eyes of your readers...and eventually become a better writer.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Writing a Scene

So how does a writer write a scene?

I know for me, I have to be inspired to sit down and write...anything! Right now I am polishing up scenes for the sequel to The Dragon Forest. The first draft was pretty easy since I had an outline, but once I went back and read through it, I realized some things were missing:

In the book, 101 Best Scenes Ever Written by Barnaby Conrad, he brings up the "5 C's".


and the "s":


Character-I found this book immensely useful in developing my scenes. Conrad forces you to take a look at your characters. Is your protagonist interesting? Is he/she a well developed character? Will the reader care about him/her?

For Peter, I wrote him as a 10 year old boy because that's how old my son was at the time I sat at the computer and wrote the book's first 10 chapters. I cared about Peter, so I wanted the reader to care about him.

Conflict-Conrad also stresses the importance of conflict. If all the characters are in agreement with one another, the story can get rather boring. I had to go back and add some conflict between my central characters in order to add another dimension to the story. I found it fun to write conflict. I have plenty in the sequel!

Choice is another element that is important. In the Harry Potter books, the protagonist has to make some tough choices. In the Lord of the Rings, the Hobbits have to make some very difficult choices...this element adds interest to your story. Put some hard choices into your story!

Change- Conrad mentions that your protagonist or even your antagonist must go through some sort of change from beginning to end. My story is a bildungsroman-type story where my protagonist is a young man who goes through a psychological and emotional change from beginning to end. The reader is privy to this change and it is up to the writer to make sure the reader is interested in what happens to your character.

Compassion- Conrad stresses the need for a character to have some sort of compassion for something in your story. Compassion is something your reader can identify with. If your main character has a lack of compassion for anything, that can be an interesting twist as well. Think No Country for Old Men! The antagonist had no compassion and that helped the reader believe the character all the more.

And finally, the "s" for Surprise. Surprise doesn't have to come at the end of a story as the final "ta da" moment. Adding surprise somewhere throughout the story can add that depth to your book you may be lacking. Causing a reader to stop and say, "Whoa! I wasn't expecting that twist!" will make your scene and your book memorable.

As for me, I am inspired by what I read or watch. Scenes from movies or books help me to develop plot twists and interesting elements to my characters. That's what I love about Conrad's book. He not only lists memorable scenes from books, but from film, and plays.

Although I have an outline for my book, I do tend to add scenes here and there if it helps the story move along or adds depth to the characters. Placing characters in harms way and then providing a way for them to escape is a great way to cause a reader to care about your characters.

Anyway, I hope you are inspired now to go and write that scene you've been putting off for days! If anything....just write something!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Christian Writers of the West

Attended my first meeting with the Christian Writers of the West club members today!! It was great to sit among fellow writers and dreamers.

Our speaker was famous author, Donis Casey. She is a local writer with Poison Pen Publishing. She writes historical mysteries! Can't wait to buy one of her books!

She gave us all encouragement and advice. Basically, what it comes down to is write what means most to you. Write what you know, and if you don't know it- find out! She also said that while a Christian is writing, the Lord does take over and makes your story what He wants it to be.

I couldn't agree more! I distinctly remember sensing the Lord taking over my story, The Dragon Forest. As I read it now, I can definitely see His hand in it.

She encouraged us not to give up, but to be aware of the publishing business and all its intricacies. It helps to hear that from an experienced author who has been through the process many times.

She also said to have a good editor. I am blessed that I have my friend, Chris, edit my work before I send it out. He is so good at picking apart a scene and giving me advice.

So, I am glad I attended the meeting today! Thank you, Lord. I hope I gave the members some encouragement too.

Looking forward to the next meeting!

Book Signing Event!!

Last night I had my first ever book signing/reading event. I was sooo nervous, but everything went well. I had a great turnout of about 30 people and a gorgeous cake to eat!

We had so much fun! I was able to read chapter 7 to the crowd and left them hanging in suspense.

Needless to say, all the books sold!

I am so grateful to my family for their support, to my friends for their encouragement, and to the Lord for His mercy and grace!

Looking forward to the next event!!

Friday, May 13, 2011

StarStyle Radio Interview

My radio interview with Cynthia Brian at StarStyle radio show went very well! She really had pleasant things to say about my book and even compared it to the Narnia books. What at treat that was!

I enjoyed how enthusiastic Cynthia was. That sort of enthusiasm is contagious, no doubt. Now my head is spinning with all these projects in the works...the sequels, making the series into picture books, the fairy book project.


Tonight I have to complete 2 scenes in the sequel. Gotta get back to writing!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Had my first interview about my book today with Grand Canyon Events!! It was so exciting to talk about how my book came to be. They will assist me in advertising the Reading/Signing event on May 20th.

Woo hoo!!

Next? The radio interview on World Talk Radio this Thursday. I will post the link when it is finished.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Ok, the radio interview with hostess, Cynthia Brian, is set for May 12th at 3:30 pst. I am a little nervous! This self-marketing is tough, so I hope this interview will start the ball rolling. I have sent out some emails to other radio shows asking for interviews. I hope something comes of it...

My book signing event is set for May 20th. I am a little scared about this too! I have never conducted a "reading" before. I have shown my artwork in different venues and NEVER felt nervous because I am very confident in my art. But my writing?? Now that's another story....

So, much prayer is called for. I want to appear relaxed and confident in my story. I know this story like the back of my hand! I have lived with it for many years. I feel as though Peter is my second son and Illiath is a place I have actually been to.

I hope my enthusiasm and love for my characters comes through!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Dragon Forest

FINALLY!!! My book has been released! My release party will be at Ethington Theatre at Grand Canyon University, May 20th at 6pm.

Come celebrate with me and my family!

Hope to see you there!!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Book Cover Design

It's here!!!! The Book cover design......