I think every author probably has their favorite and least favorite characters in the novels that they write. You spend so much time with them that they truly do become real. And in the case of Portal of Vaal, they actually ARE real! Most of the characters in Portal of Vaal were based on real people on the Boss SMP server and these are their player names. Personalities may have been altered slightly. In POV, my favorite characters to write were…

Neon

I liked having to structure Neon through backstory and have him truly open up and fulfill the role of Motor’s best friend, especially near the end of the book. I really look forward to developing him even more in POV2.

Ida

I never fully imagined Ida’s character as a matriarch or caretaker until I toyed around with the idea a bit, and found that she actually fit the role quite well. What’s great about both Neon and Ida is their secrets, and having to try to both dissect the secrets and understand the characters. It’s also interesting to see them grow and change because of those secrets and traits.

Furry

It’s great to be able to connect with characters in some way, and I’ve tried to make Furry the best example. She’s from the same world as us, dropped in unexpectedly, but she found a way to make it work. She’s also experienced a strong sense of loss (which will be further explored in the next book) that we can sympathize with.

 

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Once I really got started writing, it took about 3 years to write Portal of Vaal. At that time, I was already a member of the Charlotte Writer’s Club. At 12 years old, I was the youngest member in a group made up of mostly 40- and 50-year-olds (talk about awkward!).  I had also joined Andrewone of the Science-Fiction/Fantasy critique groups that was a branch off of the Charlotte Writer’s Club. We meet once a month to help each other develop our writing and practice writing prompts.  The critique group helped me a lot by reviewing the story, making sure that that characters were fully developed and that the plotline flowed and made sense. From the writer’s club, I found a professional editor, Lorraine Fico-White. You can find out more about her on my Contributors page. She and I worked together for about a year before I submitted Portal of Vaal to Amazon for publishing. The editing process was tough – I had to scrap quite a few ideas and change one of the names to make it sound more “fantasy-like” (sorry again Oat – er, Omalic).

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There are so many people, especially younger ones, that have asked me how I started writing.  During one of my presentations at the middle school, I went through my process with them.  Here it is..

 

Find_your_voice__express_yourself__creative_writing•Write anything, anytime, anywhere – all writing can and will help you grow.

•Warm-ups aren’t just for school or sports – a quick writing prompt for a few minutes can help ease symptoms of writer’s block and encourage creativity. In fact, your warm-up for one day could just become the inspiration for your new book in the future!

•Take advice and criticism – a fresh point of view from someone else may expose some flaws and help make your piece better.

•Don’t be afraid to borrow ideas – everything offers some source of creativity that may create a great writing piece, as long as you’re not plagiarizing.

•There is no concrete way to write – whether it’s dealing with outlines, storylines, character development or whatever else, there isn’t a set-in-stone method to doing it. Write however it works for you, but make sure to tinker around with some different ways to see if there’s a new method that may do the job even better.

•Don’t be afraid to nerd out a little – being a nerd means you have a passion for something, so don’t let other people make fun of you for liking one thing that they don’t. The same should go for your writing, so feel free to put whatever suits your fancy in there.

 

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Coming up with ideas can be pretty difficult. My ideas sometimes come from video games or novels, if it doesn’t come straight from my mind. There are also the “what if?” questions (like “what if we had cats for hands?” or “what if you were shrunk down to the size of a rice grain?”)  to ideastry and frame a story around, and a dream might occasionally make a good start to a story.

 

One of writing’s greatest difficulties is writer’s block, of course. It can just be really frustrating to be unable to write with no way to fix it except to just wait it out. Another one (this may not be writing-based, but I still consider it as so) is the feeling of jealousy towards higher, more popular writers. I usually look at J.K. Rowling and Steven King and the others, and I feel proud for them, but I can’t help feeling that, in some tiny, tucked-away corner of my mind, I should be up there. At least I can get over and rationalize it. Another writing roadblock for me is just pure laziness. Some days I’d rather play video games or take a nap than write, but the trick is just to force yourself to write. Not to mention, writing antagonists and villains can be pretty tricky, especially if they only show up near the end of the book. You have such a limited space to try and develop them when the book practically only has a few pages left. A good way around this is to have a villain who starts out alongside the hero and gradually becomes nefarious, or to have the hero and villain duke it out early on in the book.

 

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My opening for a recent middle school presentation…

 

Have you read the Harry Potter series? How about Lord of the Rings?  Well Portal of Vaal is a modern blend of the best elements of those stories: magic, friendship, an epic quest, and good vs. evil. Sometimes you wake up in your bed.  Other times you wake up and you are in a mysterious land.  But you are not dreaming.  This is how Portal of Vaal begins, with a hero named Motor unsure of his identity and searching for answers. 

But answers don’t come easily, especially when you are secretly proclaimed to be a hero and enrolled in a training academy to become a knight. Fighting monsters and other evil forces though isn’t a one man job.  Motor enlists the help of several allies to help him discover the truth of what is making this kingdom downright scary.  Through battles, spy missions, training, and secret missions, Motor slowly becomes more knowledgeable, but like they say, knowledge is power, and the evil forces are attracted to power.

Many questions await: who is Motor’s real friends and who are his secret enemies?  Who is his secret guide?  And can Motor survive long enough to complete his destiny?

Find out these answers and more in Portal of Vaal.

 

 

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My opening from an elementary school presentation…

 

When you go to sleep at night, how many of you have had dreams of being a superhero?  And when you wake up did it come true?  Probably not,  as I don’t see Superman or The Hulk sitting in this classroom, but occasionally it CAN happen as in the case of Motor, the hero of my new book Portal of Vaal. Motor is a regular kid just like all of you, but one morning he wakes up not in his bed, but in a mysterious land. Motor barely has a chance to explore before he winds up in school in order to train to become a knight in order to protect the lands from the Dark Ones—the super evil bad guys.

And speaking of bad guys, Motor fights a lot of them.  I’m talking about a ton.  There are lava monsters.  There are ghosts.  There are Jell-o slime balls.  And there are…wait for it….zombie pig guards!

But Motor doesn’t have to fight them alone, as he has a whole team of friends who help him out and protect Motor on his journey.  These friends are just like your friends—funny, smart, & tough.

 

So does Motor save Vaal from evil?  You will have to read the book to join Motor on his quest and find out what happens.

 

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Shane’s NY Times Literary Book Review:

 

In a quixotic blend of avant-garde realism meets Orwellian sci-fi, the new tome from Andrew Daly boasts a protagonist faced with two colossal ineptitudes: an isolated case of amnesia as well as a preoptic streak of violent delusions.  Immediately accosted by the wastrel strumpet Shiro, this modern Beowulf dubbed Motorthud (whose name quite frankly ails from the absence of an umlaut over the first vowel) must endure the stifling confines of the Academy, clearly a thinly-veiled reference to the portly largesse and academic improprieties that plague modern American universities like the 14th century Bubonic plague. Upon becoming a crusader to fight against the oppressive and acidic cumulus cloud that is the Dark horde, Motorhead endures a Herculean struggle of systematic warfare again gelatinous creatures and gigantic nocturnal Mammalia with his diamond-encrusted Excalibur.  Through the lava pits of the coliseum where plebs rub elbows with patriarchs in the pursuit of their optical nerves being satiated with liquid curtains of arterial spray,  the hero fights to unearth his identity in one Pyrrhic victory after another.  This read will leave your brow beaded with perspiration as you invest your platitudes into the evisceration machine they call Motorthud.  And don’t forget the zombie pig guards. A literary masterpiece that defies convention and will have you Wikipedia-ing Minecraft until the cock crows in the dew-swept morn.

 

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Have you read the Harry Potter series? How about Lord of the Rings?  Well Portal of Vaal is a modern blend of the best elements of those stories: magic, friendship, an epic quest, and good vs. evil. Sometimes you wake up in your bed.  Other times you wake up and you are in a mysterious land.  But you are not dreaming. 

This is how Portal of Vaal begins, with a hero named Motor unsure of his identity and  searching for answers.  But answers don’t come easily, especially when you are secretly proclaimed to be a hero and enrolled in a training academy to become a knight. Fighting monsters and other evil forces though isn’t a one man job.  Motor enlists the help of several allies to help him discover the truth of what is making this kingdom downright scary.  Through battles, spy missions, training, and secret missions, Motor slowly becomes more knowledgeable, but like they say, knowledge is power, and the evil forces are attracted to power.

Many questions await: who is Motor’s real friends and who are his secret enemies?  Who is his secret guide?  And can Motor survive long enough to complete his destiny?

Find out these answers and more in Portal of Vaal.

 

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