The First Tag

Hi hi! Okay… we’ve officially hit REALM MAKERS MONTH and… I’m supposed to be on blogging hiatus this month. And I will be… shortly… maybe… I love this blog so much, though, it’s hard to let it just sit here, all lonely and sad and dealing with abandonment issues and things.

If I’ve learned a single lesson from blogging over the past 6 years it’s this: the quickest way to come up with a plethora of blog ideas is to announce you are going on hiatus. :nods:

Anyway, I’m actually writing this particular post in June. So it doesn’t count. Haha!

And Madeline @ Short and Snappy tagged me… (thanks, Madeline!) and it looked like fun, so I’m doing it! Huzzah!

Who was the first character you ever wrote?

Hmmm… that’s a tough one. The very first character I remember writing was a dog name Rogtu. I was about 9 or 10 and my best friend and I decided to write a story together about the adventures of two small puppies named Rogtu and Scamper. Rogtu was my character, and Scamper was hers. They were mischief-makers and got into all sorts of adventures.

What was the first story you ever finished?

Sadly, I don’t think we ever finished The Adventures of Rogtu and Scamper. The first book I ever finished was a story I called “Snake Dancer” (which is super cool sounding, and nope, I didn’t make it up… totally stole it from a book I read… I don’t remember which one). I don’t know if any copies of this awful, terrible, ridiculous manuscript still exist out there… I certainly don’t have it anymore… so I am thrilled sorry to say that I can’t share any snippets. However, the basic premise was about two sisters who ran away from the terrible orphanage in which they were living, found a forest on the outskirts of town, built a little cabin (because the owner of the hardware store was willing to give them scraps of lumber and leftover nails and some of his old tools, no questions asked). The younger sister found a wild horse, tamed it, learned how to ride it, and entered it in the Kentucky Derby… of course they went on to win the Triple Crown… because, obvs, that’s what you DO when you find an awesomely speedy wild horse in the woods.



Is it awful that a part of me still loves that story?

What was the first piece of writing advice you ever heard? Or what was the first piece of writing advice you used and it actually worked?

Hmmm… these questions are dredging the earliest glimmerings of my memory. I honestly have no idea. I received a lot of great writing advice in high school from my truly wonderful English teachers.

One of the most helpful bits of writing advice that I have used and it worked, not only in the story I was working on, but continued use has helped me grow as a writer was during the edits of Stone Curse. Time and again throughout the story, the editors asked me to include specific mannerisms for specific characteristics in my characters. I was at a loss, so I asked for clarification. The response and explanation I received were so helpful that I’m just going to share them verbatim:

As to your question about character reactions–You need to do a blend of both showing reactions via body language, etc. and telling reactions, via narrative. This is a constant balance and really depends on the individual circumstance. No one way is better than the other, but you should be using both means to communicate who Karyna is. Body language and physical reactions are great for more active scenes in which you’re not too concerned with getting into the heart of WHO Karyna is. But narrative reactions are better for more emotional, character-building scenes (such as the scene in chapter 2 between Karyna and Barend when we’re seeing what their chemistry together is for the first time).

Be vivid and descriptive with such narrative, however. Instead of “Karyna felt anxious as she spoke,” you might say instead: “Karyna felt as though she balanced the weight of the world upon her shoulders. One false step, and she’d send the whole of it tumbling, never to be recovered. No one should be forced to bear such a burden, yet bear it she must. Her voice thick with anxiety, she said . . . .”

Do you see what I mean here? Get down into the real heart of her anxiety. The likelihood is there’s a lot more going on behind her anxiety than pure anxiety. Everyone feels anxious. What makes Karyna’s anxiety different from Ritter’s? Or from Setella’s or Barend’s or Bellenya’s anxiety?

Ritter’s anxiety might look very different from Karyna’s. Instead of saying, “Ritter felt anxious as he spoke,” you might say instead: “Ritter felt as though he climbed an unclimbable mountain; as though every time he attained what he thought might be the peak, he only discovered another looming cliff-face, another slippery slope. But this time . . . this time might be different. This time he might just get the answer he needed, if only he managed to ask the right question. Anxiety laced each word as he spoke . . . ”

Karyna’s anxiety is much more focused on other people. “If mess up, other people suffer.” Ritter’s anxiety is more focused on himself (and I don’t mean that in a selfish way . . . what he’s trying to accomplish in and of itself is unselfish). “I’ve got to get there eventually . . . but it feels so impossible!” –Anne Elisabeth Stengl

This advice has been absolutely invaluable to the crafting of my characters ever since.

Who was your first Villain?

I’m pretty sure my first Villain was a man named Nefario. Yep. Bask in that for a moment.

He was the main villain in the sci-fi story (which we called Starfire for a long time, then changed to Skyfire for a while… something with skies and stars and fire was the basic gist we wanted to convey) my friend and I co-wrote in high school. He had usurped the throne from the rightful king of the galaxy and his reign of terror was complete. Unbeknownst to him, however, a small group of young rebels was forming (called, brilliantly, the CHALLENGE), and among them was the prince and rightful heir to the throne – who had escaped the palace coup as an infant… somehow… and grown up in secrecy and hiding.

It was such a plagiaristic blend of Star Wars and the Star of the Guardians series. Sigh. I’d still kinda love to rework it… maybe someday… but probably not. It’s too… really awful, really.

(I am currently re-reading a section of the story and… wow. Oh goodness… it’s bad. I remember it being a whole lot better…)

What was the first storyworld you ever built?

It would have to be the galaxy of Starfire. One of the planets we created had people who were born with various “talents” or gifts. Our main protagonists from that planet could fly and were awesome at gymnastics and martial arts. Because: reasons.

What did your first attempt at worldbuilding or mapmaking look like?

Pretty sure it was a pencil or pen drawing of a sort of oblong-ish country with a couple of spots marked for forests and rivers and a mountain range. The world sort of grew as I wrote the story. A friend made a map for me the summer I was writing the book, and that was very helpful. World-building is something I have gotten a lot more intentional about over the years!

When was your first crush-on-your-own-character? I know it happened, don’t lie to me!


I was totally in love with Raoul, our sci-fi heir-to-the-throne Starfire character. I mean, he was mysterious and stoic and intense, he could cook and fly a starship and sword fight, sure he was a little broody (his entire family was killed when he was an infant, who wouldn’t be a little broody?) but he was also kind and patient and a good teacher and encourager of his companions. So… what’s not to love, really?

What was the first character death you ever had to write and how did you handle it?

Hm… well… that might be a bit spoilery.

I’m fairly certain that the first character who had an actual death scene (as opposed to non-up-close-and-personal occurrences, like Raoul’s parents dying when he was little and him relating the story) would be Seamas. The original version of that death was much different. There was no glimmer of remorse for his actions, no chance for forgiveness or redemption. However, as more of the series came together, I realized I needed to adjust that moment… and turn it from an ordinary death into something far more overarching and powerful for Brant’s story to unfold properly.

When did you first decide that your story needed a full-blown series?

That just kind of happened gradually… honestly. I wrote King’s Warrior to be a stand-alone. But then I had so much fun writing it, and there were so many questions revolving around Brant, that I knew it needed a prequel – thus, Second Son. Then Kiernan Kane showed up in the prequel, and I NEEDED to know more about him, so I wrote Yorien’s Hand. I thought the trilogy was complete, but there were still so many loose threads around Kiernan, and my dad kept insisting that there needed to be another story… Minstrel’s Call was the slowest of the books to unfold, but I’m glad it did! So I guess… I never really decided this story needed a full-blown series… it just sort of happened.

With Turrim Archive, I knew right away the story was more than just a single book or even a trilogy. The world is so big and the cast is so complex that I knew I couldn’t do it justice without a full-blown series.

When was the first time you stepped out of your comfort zone to write a new genre?

Um…. I mean… can we count moving from ridiculous horse-stories to speculative fiction?


Well, then… do fairy tales count as a “new genre?”

Um… never. I guess. But I’m good with that. I am a happy spec-fiction writer.

Though some have suggested I try my hand at romance.

No thanks.

What was it like using a prompt for the first time?

I don’t know. Interesting? I took a creative writing class in high school and we used a lot of prompts. I enjoyed several of them, and hated others. I like music prompts and picture prompts. I’m not a fan of written prompts, usually.

Opening line: share your first, your favorite, and your most recent.

I don’t remember or have access to my FIRST first line. But I can share the one from Starfire:

“It was a perfect world. Too perfect, Jade thought.”

My favorite:

“It was dawn when my brothers and I awoke for the first time.”

And my most recent… well, this is the current first line…

“Lord Adelfried studied the three men assembled before him, wishing they were not so young.”

What was your first ending like?

Snake Dancer won the Belmont, completing his Triple Crown victory and the two girls earned enough money to live happily ever after with their horse on a beautiful ranch, the end.

What was the first ship you wrote, and… be honest… did you make them a ship name?

Kamarie and Oraeyn were my first ship.

I have not made them a ship name. But I recently saw a reader call them Kamraeyn…. I’m good with that.

What year was your first Nano?

2012, according to the info on my horribly neglected nano dashboard. I have never completed a Nano, because I just don’t do a lot of writing in November, or I never am really at a good place to begin a project. Maybe this year… I’m hoping to be in the middle of (or at least starting) Turrim Archive book 4.

Which novel is memorable for being the first one you ever gave up on?

Probably the very first story I ever tried to write. I was about 8 or 9. This was just pre-Rogtu and Scamper. I don’t remember much about it, except it was about a girl named Jessalyn who lived on a ranch. Something to do with horses. No idea where it was going.

When did you first share your work with someone else and how did they react?

I wrote Snake Dancer as a birthday present for my friend’s 12th-? birthday. She liked it. We were 12 and horse-crazy. That tends to make a person understandably less than a book critic.

Okay, time to tag some people….

I tag…. Kyle Robert Shultz | H.L. BurkeTracey @ Adventure AwaitsChristine @ Musings of an Elf | and YOU if you think this looks like fun!

~ jenelle


Nancy Walker

I just MAY have a copy of “Snake Dancer”. . . somewhere around here. . . ;)
I won’t find it if I look for it. . . so I shall not look, and then I shall find it. :D


Hehehe, that happens to you, too, huh? Must be some law of the universe… if you look for it, it shall not be found…. until you stop looking. Works great when you’re building Legos.


I think I may steal this tag. It looks fun. (I am also supposed to be on semi-hiatus this month, but whatever. xD I can work on it and post it in August?)

My first NaNoWriMo was in 2012 too! So cool! And I enjoyed hearing about your early stories. Even if they were bad. xD (Can’t possibly be worse than mine, so . . .)


Steal away! I always think of people to tag when I’m NOT actually tagging anyone. When the time comes, my mind goes, “Uhhhhhhhh….????” LOL

Hey Nano-twins! Though I’m sure you’ve probably been more on top of things with your Nanos… mine are all super half-hearted. LOL


I have the exact same problem, trust me. :P

Mine are definitely not half-hearted. Honestly, I may be slightly obsessed. XD


This is SUCH a fun tag! I absolutely loved seeing your answers. I’m so glad I’m not the only one who started out writing cheesy horse stories. Ah, such is the life of story-loving little girls, am I right? XDD

That advice from AES is so, so good. Wow. Very though-provoking. Thank you for sharing that with us!

Your Starfire story honestly sounds really fun! Lol. Lovin’ the villain’s name. XD

Okay but ALL your first lines are SO GOOD! I love all of those!

Thanks for sharing all these fun facts. I loved this! And thank you so much for passing this my way. I will definitely have to find time to do this one sometime! :D


:-D Yes… I was book crazy and horse crazy… the two just sort of seemed to go well together.

I loved that advice so much. It was such a ray of sunshine in the midst of my banging my head against the wall trying to figure out why all the editors hated all my characters so much and what exactly they were asking me to do. I know it’s a piece of advice/instruction that improved my writing by leaps and bounds.

Yeah, Starfire still has my heart. I fiddle with it every now and then… but it needs a “from the ground up” rewrite. And then there’s the whole, “I wrote it with a friend… so who owns the rights to the story?” issue.

Awwww, thanks :)

I’m glad you enjoyed it. I look forward to reading your answers when you find the time!

Abbey Stellingwerff

What a fun tag! I enjoyed reading about some of your “firsts.” It makes me think of some of my stories before I was ten… a lot of them had to do with friendships between two girls who would have a fight and then become best friends again.

Madeline J. Rose

Aww, you’re welcome! ^_^ Haha, well, I would say Nefario is a better name than Villan, the name of my first villain. I was so creative. XD

Loved reading your answers, Jenelle! :D

Tracey Dyck

This is so fun! Makes me think back to my cringey first stories… I have a number of horse stories in my portfolio too. XD “Snake Dancer” sounds very much like the kind of story I loved to write (and read) as a kid! Like “The Boxcar Children” and “Thoroughbred” mashed together. :P Thanks for tagging me!


Yes, very Boxcar Children meets Thoroughbred. I think our childhood selves would have been besties. :)

Can’t wait to read your Firsts!


I love hearing from you, dear Reader!