Character Spotlight: Grel’zi’tael the Sky Talker

I thought I’d take a little time to give a brief look at one of the supporting characters in the Adventures of Keltin Moore.

How did he come to be?

The Loopi refugees in The Beast Hunter needed a leader and Grel’zi’tael was it. I felt it was important to show that the Loopi followed Grel’zi’tael primarily because they trusted his wisdom, rather than blind obedience like the soldiers follow Baron Rumsfeld. This contrast was a minor and more subtle reflection of the larger conflict between the soldiers and the beast hunters in general, one of the more important subplots in the novel’s second act.

What purpose does he serve in the story?

Grel’zi’tael is definitely a wise advice-giver in the story. He’s there to be the voice of calm reflection, full of compassion and insight. There’s almost a theatrical formality to the way he speaks, which is probably a throwback to all of the Shakespearean theater I’ve participated in over the years. On the other hand, he’s also got a genuineness that keeps him from feeling too melodramatic  or stiff. He’s like the old family patriarch that sits quietly in the corner during family reunions, happy to simply smile and watch the great-grandchildren play while ready to give a sympathetic ear to an adult that wants to talk about how things are really going for them.

There are a few moments where it seems like he’s got some sort of precognitive powers, but I’ve purposely left those vague and undefined. I like to leave it unanswered how much of that sixth sense is a result of his abilities as a Sky Talker vs. his natural insight and wisdom.

How did my vision of him change over the course of writing him?

Honestly, not very much. Most of the supporting cast and minor characters in The Beast Hunter stayed fairly consistent from conception to their published form, and all of the returning characters for Into the North were pretty firmly established already.

Where might his arc be headed in the future?

I see a great deal of Grel’zi’tael’s original purpose being assumed by Bor’ve’tai as the younger Loopi continues to grow and mature. Beyond that, it’s hard to expect that this much-older character will be going on too many more physically taxing adventures, so he’s probably going to be gently fading into the background to some degree.

Are there Holidays in the World of Keltin Moore?

Yes.

Wow, that was an easy blog article. See you next month!

…oh, did you want me to say more? OK. 🙂

Actually, I’ve thought about holidays in the Keltin Moore stories for a long time. I think that the values of family and spending quality time together would fit in well with this series, and I’m actually planning on including the first officially recognized holiday in book three. Called the Harvest Celebration, it’s meant to commemorate the last day of bringing in the crops and the start of the winter season. While it is most commonly celebrated in rural settings, plenty of urban households across Riltvin, Krendaria, Drutchland, Malpin, and elsewhere also observe this special holiday. While some cities have standardized the specific day of observance, nearly all rural households observe it on the actual day after the harvest is officially over.

The observations of the Harvest Celebration are pretty flexible depending on the household. Decorations prominently feature elements of locally grown crops and are meant as a sign of plenty and prosperity. The majority of the Celebration centers around a feast. The traditional dishes vary from region to region, though they almost always feature a large meat dish as the centerpiece with plenty of sweet and savory dishes to accompany it. While it isn’t strictly a religious holiday, there are traditional prayers of gratitude which are offered and a general spirit of good cheer.

You’ll get to see all of this play out in book three of the Adventures of Keltin Moore, which is coming along nicely, by the way. Definitely out by 2019.

In the meantime, you might consider giving the gift of one or more of my books to somebody for this Christmas season. Just a last-minute shopping idea. 🙂

Merry Christmas!
-Lindsay

Cosplay Advice for the Characters of Keltin Moore

Halloween is coming up soon, and with thoughts of costumes and cosplay on my mind, I thought I’d answer a question that literally swarms of a couple of people have asked me: How to dress up as the characters from the Adventures of Keltin Moore.

Keltin Moore

I’m purposefully vague in a lot of my character descriptions, just because I want to make it easier for readers to put themselves in my characters’ shoes. That being said, Keltin does have some distinct articles and accessories. Most distinctive is his hunting coat, which could be a duster or similar style long-coat in earth tones. He also wears a hat, which I always envisioned as somewhere between a fedora and a cowboy hat – I’m still trying to find one for my own costume. If weapon-props are allowed, Keltin carries a long hunting rifle, a revolver in his belt, a hunting knife, and of course the Ripper, which is essentially a sawed-off glaive or similar pole-arm.

Jaylocke of the Weycliff Wayfarers

The Weycliff people are nomadic entertainers, so Jaylocke’s outfit is likely part-traveling clothes and part-stage costume. He’s described in The Beast Hunter as wearing a vest covered in buttons, which is actually a secret tribute to a gypsy character from the first stage-play I ever wrote called Love’s Folly. Jaylocke’s props are less defined than Keltin’s. He could carry a rifle, the Ripper, or a similar medieval pole-arm weapon. Oh, and a grin. He needs to be grinning. 🙂

Elaine Destov

Elaine comes from a higher class of society than most of Keltin’s associates, but she’s done her fair share of killing beasts as well. A mix of fashionable, yet functional clothes would be good (see General Tips below for the appropriate time period and location). Her weapon of choice is a rifle.

Bor’ve’tai

Good luck with this one! Bor’ve’tai is a Loopi, a sort of ape-man based on the gibbons of southeast Asia. Unlike Chewbacca, he wears the clothing of a laborer on top of his furry body. His favorite weapon is a woodsman’s ax.

General Tips

While the world of Keltin Moore is steampunk fantasy, the steampunk elements tend to be more subtle then other works in the subgenre. A lot of the more fantastic accouterments that punks enjoy (mechanical arms, over-sized wrenches, googles, etc.) don’t really fit in the reality-based world of Keltin Moore. Use late-19th century fashions of both rural United States and Eastern Europe as a general style guide.

Oh, and if any of you come up with a costume for any of the characters of Keltin Moore, please send a picture! I’d love to see it!

Big Changes Ahead!

You may have seen my latest blog post where I expressed some concern about how things were going in my writing world. I’ve taken the time to figure some things out, and I feel like I’ve come up with a plan that will be productive, fun, and sustainable. Here are the most important updates…

New Publishing Schedule

I no longer have a set release date for the third Keltin Moore novel, though my goal is to have it published within a year from now. I’m also working on a separate novel intended for literary agents and traditional publishers, which should also be done within a year.

Audio Books

After several successful book-selling events, I’ve been able to save enough money to invest in the equipment necessary to record audio book versions of all of my published titles. This process will take some time, however, since I’ll have to do my recording at night after the twins go to sleep.

Blog and Mailing List

Many people know that I frequently struggle with any kind of nonfiction writing, which includes blog posts and newsletters. To conserve valuable time and focus on my strengths, I’m planning to do the following:

  • Sending out a quarterly newsletter e-mail, rather than a monthly one
  • Reducing my scheduled blog posts to once a month, rather than once a week
  • Reserving most announcements and future updates for my mailing list and Facebook, while focusing on more meaningful content for my monthly blog features

YouTube?

Now that I have some higher quality recording equipment, I’m considering expanding my YouTube channel to include more fun and interesting content. I could do videos answering fan questions, giving bonus content to my stories, sharing writing tips, and maybe even some fun stuff involving the life of a writer and the stories in video games. Be sure to let me know if this is something you may be interested in!

Summary

  • Keltin Moore 3 is still coming!
  • Audio books are coming!
  • Sign up for my quarterly newsletter for future updates
  • Let me know what sort of things you may want to see on my YouTube channel

Yes, I’m Still Here

I’ve been lying low for a while now, but I wanted to write a brief update for two reasons. One, to silence all these rumors that I’m either dead or hiding out in darkest Peru (I’m sure SOMEONE suspected either of those); and two, to give a brief explanation of how things have been going in the world of Lindsay Schopfer, Author-At-Large.

Unfortunately, there’s been some disappointments. I’ve had to cancel my book tour for 2018, and I’m not sure how soon the third Keltin Moore novel will be coming out. My mailing list has also been hit hard by the new GDPR law as everyone who has signed up in the past has to manually opt-in or be removed.

As a result of these difficulties, I’m taking the time to reevaluate a lot of what I was doing in my efforts to be a successful author. I’m not ready yet to share what may be changed, but I will say that I’m trying to find ways to promote myself that won’t burn me out or take too much time away from my family, teaching job, and writing. I’ll be making more announcements once I’m through researching, experimenting, and praying for guidance.

One experiment I can share now is something I’m trying out at the Brass Screw Confederacy next month. Reaching back to my days of writing and acting for the theater, I’m planning to do a short, one-man-show in character as Keltin Moore where I’ll be telling some never-before heard tales of his adventures. I have no idea if this will be a one-time-thing or if I’ll expand this idea in the future. For now, it’s simply exciting to try something new and blow the dust off some skills and talents I haven’t used in a long time.

I want to thank all of my friends and fans for your patience as I work to figure some things out. In the meantime, you can show support by reading and sharing my stories, subscribing to my mailing list (be sure to opt-in!), and checking out my Guild of Adventurers. Thanks again, and see you all soon.

-Lindsay

Writing Update April 20, 2018

Those of you who follow me on Facebook will already know that I recently finished the first draft of Keltin Moore’s third novel. I’m very excited for this one, as it explores some characters that haven’t gotten much attention in the past, as well as introducing a much larger cast to the series. Right now I’m in the midst of the initial review before the actual work of the second draft begins. So far, it looks pretty straightforward, though I anticipate that the majority of the work will be in the first five chapters when I was still struggling to figure out what the plot was going to be.

In order to meet my ambitious release date for this novel, I’m temporarily putting all other projects on hold. This includes the new anthology I’d been planning on releasing some time this year. Instead, my plan is to release those stories in 2019. Whether it will be an updated version of Magic, Mystery and Mirth or a completely new title is yet to be determined, but I will say this… If I do end up combining all of the planned short stories with the existing ones in Magic, Mystery and Mirth, it will more than double the size of that collection!

There is one more project that I’m thinking about which many of you have been asking about for some time. Yes, I do plan to do an audio-book version of The Beast Hunter some time in the future. Ideally, I’d like to narrate it myself, but putting all the pieces together is going to take some doing. Right now, I’m working to find a sound-proofed recording space as well as getting the funds necessary to purchase the required hardware and software to ensure that this project is of the highest quality. If you have any resources you know of or are willing to contribute to this cause, please let me know! You can also contribute to my Patreon account to help me save up enough money to make this dream a reality.

I hope you’re as excited about these developments as I am. I can’t wait for all of my fans to return to the world of Keltin Moore!

Top Ten JRPG Playable Character Tropes

Japanese role-playing games have traditionally been associated with complex storylines, linear plots, and a cast of colorful characters. Of course, there’s a limited amount of time for character development in a video game, and developers will often use familiar character types to quickly establish who everybody is and how they will fit into the group dynamic. When I play these types of games, I always try to pick out who is playing which role (no pun intended) and decided to make my own top ten list of the most common tropes that I’ve seen.

Keep in mind that all of my examples come from JRPGs that I’ve played and am already familiar with. Also, these are just my opinions and are not necessarily meant to be criticisms of these games, although some of them definitely do a better job of character development than others.

10. The Tomboy
Examples: Aika – Skies of Arcadia, Penelo – Final Fantasy XII, Lucca – Chrono Trigger

Description: What male hero wouldn’t like to have a beautiful friend since childhood who can be one of the guys and has nursed a secret crush on him all this time? Pigtails are not required, but they don’t seem to hurt.

9. The Demure Female
Examples: Yuna – Final Fantasy X, Fina – Skies of Arcadia, Sophia – Star Ocean: Till the End of Time

Description: With all this killing and looting of monsters, every party of adventurers needs a softer, gentler side. Bonus points if she’s pretty and can cast healing spells.

8. The Perky One
Examples: Oerba Dia Vanille – Final Fantasy XIII, Rikku – Final Fantasy X, Jansen – Lost Odyssey

Description: Lest we forget we’re playing a game, this character will always be around to make jokes and generally try to lighten the mood of any setting, regardless of how serious the situation really is. You do realize nearly everything here is trying to kill us, don’t you?

7. The Overly-Sexed Character
Examples: Queen Ming –Lost Odyssey, Fran – Final Fantasy XII, Vashyron – Resonance of Fate

Description: Is the objectification of women, either through costume or attitude, significant enough to be a major character trait? Maybe. Do we need it to enjoy great gameplay and an engaging storyline? No. No we don’t.

6. The Old Person
Examples: Sazh Katzroy – Final Fantasy XIII, Auron – Final Fantasy X, Eldore – White Knight Chronicles

Description: When nearly every playable character is 17, just being in your early thirties could qualify someone for this trope. Of course, since everyone performs exactly the same, the only way we can tell that one of the characters is slightly older is if they mention it. Over and over and over.

5. The Child
Examples: Peppita Rossetti and Roger S. Huxley – Star Ocean: Till the End of Time, Cooke and Mack – The Last Odyssey, Hope Estheim – Final Fantasy XIII

Description: How do you explain an eleven year old who can kill dozens of trained soldiers and/or ferocious monsters? “The needs of the story.” That’s how.

4. The Tourist
Examples: Tidus – Final Fantasy X, Leonard and Yunie – White Knight Chronicles, Fayt Leingod – Star Ocean: Till the End of Time

Description: We all know that dialogue is one of the easiest ways to give exposition. Result? We get a character that knows absolutely nothing about the world around them, regardless of whether they’re a native or not.

3. The Tour Guide
Examples: Fran – Final Fantasy XII, Eldore – White Knight Chronicles, Cliff – Star Ocean: Till the End of Time

Description: What’s a tourist without a guide? This inevitably helpful character is always ready to give the player a brief description of a location, magic system, or type of monster. Fluency in mystical languages carved into ruins is a plus.

2. The Brooder
Examples: Auron – Final Fantasy X, Basche – Final Fantasy XII, Captain Drachma – Skies of Arcadia, Kaim – Lost Odyssey

Description: Every team needs a man or woman of mystery. Someone with a tragic past, a dark backstory. Someone who will offset the obnoxious jokes of the Perky One.

1. The Bland Protagonist
Examples: Chrono – Chrono Trigger, Fayt – Star Ocean: Till the End of Time, Edge Maverick – Star Ocean: The Last Hope, Leonard – White Knight Chronicles, etc. etc. etc.

Description: I get it. It’s hard to make the player feel like they are the hero in a game where they have no direct control over the protagonist’s personality. Nearly every JRPG that I’ve played solves this problem by giving the hero as little personality as possible. While they may have other dialogue, it always seems like most of their vocabulary is based on three themes, “Whoa!” “Huh?” and, of course, “NOOOOOOOOO!” Oh well. At least we have this colorful cast surrounding him…

 

Did you think of another example of someone falling into one of these tropes in your favorite JRPG? Leave a comment below and we’ll see how many we can list!

Thanks to Raven Oaks for giving me the idea for this blog post.

Top Ten Lame Reasons to Not Write a Blog Article

10. My dog ate my laptop.

9. I’ve got a computer virus that turns all my periods into commas.

8. Every time I upload a picture, it’s facing away from me.

7. I’m only typing with the backs of my fingers until next Tuesday. Don’t ask why.

6. I tried dictating my article to my computer, which worked great, except I was dictating into Notepad.

5. There’s a squirrel out my window.

4. For some reason, I can’t type the word “the”. Wait…

3. All of my followers (except you) asked me not to post today.

2. Cat videos.

1. I changed my font color to white and now I can’t find my article.

There’s a New Keltin Moore Short Story!

Keltin and Jaylocke have traveled to northern Riltvin to investigate reports of beast attacks. Something has been terrorizing the small village of Riksville, and it’s up to the nation’s best beast hunter and his trusty apprentice to stop it. But when Keltin decides that it’s time for Jaylocke to take the lead on a hunt for the first time, the Weycliff wayfarer soon learns that there’s more to beast hunting that just fighting monsters. Fans of Keltin Moore will love this adventure featuring two of Schopfer’s most beloved characters and including never-before revealed details of Keltin’s past.

Loss of a Legend takes place shortly after the events of Into the North.

While this story will no doubt appear in a future anthology at some point, right now the only way to see it is by joining and participating in my Guild of Adventurers. To learn more about how to join this great group of fans, check out my Guild of Adventurers Q&A.

A Writer Needs Wisdom More Than Confidence

I’m a member of a number of online writing communities where writers from various genres and backgrounds gather to share successes, talk shop, and sometimes commiserate together about the difficulties that come with our chosen profession. Recently, I saw a post that was a perfect illustration of the last of these topics. A developing writer told the group that she had realized that not only was her first novel not as good as she thought it was, but she now felt trapped in a series that she didn’t have the skill to write. She felt like the bottom had fallen out of her confidence as a writer, and was seriously considering giving it all up.

This writer’s situation was not unique. Over the years, I’ve heard from many of my peers who have also experienced a “crisis of faith” about the quality of their work and whether they should continue writing or not. Of course, my first instinct as a friend was to give encouragement, and that’s certainly what happened to this writer. Within hours of her original post, she’d had more than a dozen replies of sympathy and encouragement from other writers. I hope that she got the emotional boost that she needed to return to her craft, but her situation also got me thinking.

As an independent author, I meet a lot of other self-published writers. Some of them are exceptionally skilled, while others are hard at work on improving their craft. But unfortunately, there are also those who have a distorted self-image about their skills and their work. These are the authors that think their work is better than it really is, and will publish their stories long before they are ready to be seen by the public. These writers don’t have a problem with confidence, they have a problem with overconfidence. They’ve worked so hard to convince themselves that they really do have talent that they have completely silenced their inner critics and convinced themselves that their early drafts are much better than they actually are.

Does this description seem particularly harsh? Of course it does. Writers have a reputation for possessing thin skins, and industry professionals rarely risk making any statement other than “you are special” at workshops and conferences. But the truth is, if the writing isn’t good, then someone will eventually let the writer know. If it isn’t friends and family, then it’s the editor/agent/beta readers. And if it isn’t them, then it’s the readers, who either don’t buy the book or give it one-star reviews. Even if the book becomes wildly successful, public opinion will eventually wear down the hype and show the flawed product for what it really is.

Unfortunately, just as the problem is difficult to address, the solution is not easy. An author must do more than simply educate themselves on the craft of writing. I’ve known longtime conference goers and workshop attendees that have been writing for years and yet still don’t apply the principles that they have learned. Does this mean that they should quit? Of course not. While blind confidence in a writer is a mistake, a wise author knows how to be both confident and objective about their writing.

The key to developing objectivity is to seek out informed, non-invested critiques and feedback. This can be harder than it sounds. While most writers know that their family and close friends will likely be too nice to be useful, the truth is that a lot of writing groups are equally biased, and not always in the author’s favor. In fact, there are some group members that seem to get a perverse pleasure out of tearing down their peers and finding fault where there is none. Neither of these extremes will help the author gain objectivity towards their own work.

As an alternative, an author should consider choosing readers that are fans of the author’s genre and work as opposed to being a fan of the author as a person. These kind of readers will have a working knowledge of what the story should sound like as well as a passion for making the story better. It’s also necessary for the author to find readers that are both honest and comfortable with expressing their views.

One way to get this sort of feedback is by organizing a beta read. Street teams and book clubs are also a great place to find beta readers. I’ve also had success during my test reads by putting some space between my readers and myself, giving them the security to speak their minds without hurting my feelings. This can include getting a third party to moderate the beta read, providing critique forms with specific questions for the reader to answer, and even giving the option to give feedback anonymously.

Another option for quality readers is to seek out the services of a professional editor or writing coach. In this case, it’s best to choose a writing professional that is both familiar with the work’s genre and who is willing to have an open dialogue about the piece, rather than simply correcting what they perceive as being wrong with it. This kind of open discussion is invaluable to an author who wants to really improve their craft, rather than fixate on problems in a single manuscript.

Whatever source an author uses to receive feedback, the most important part of the process will be the authors plan of action based on the feedback that she’s received. The wise author will identify her weaknesses with two purposes in mind. First, to focus on and improve that aspect of her writing. Second, to reduce that element’s frequency in her writing, such as focusing on the action or dialogue in the narrative rather than setting description, or writing in a genre that emphasizes flights of fancy more than relying heavily on historical research.

Put simply, all authors, no matter their level of achievement, should continue to grow and develop in their craft. No author is either too gifted or too challenged to become better.