Hello everyone! Today's post is all about my book, World War III: Human or Foe. I'm going to share a summary, characters, my inspiration for this, and the writing process. This book has gone through storyline transformations and three title changes to go with each one. It's a science fiction novel with a possible completed word count of 80,000 words.
Summary: Two CIA agents, a former Canadian Securities Director, Three tech experts, a historian, a management consultant, and the President's daughter. In the year 2110, what do they all have in common? This group of unlikely individuals is in a mission to save Exceptionals, humans with special abilities being hunted by people in their respective countries who either want to weaponize or destroy them. It has caused an uproar in almost every country, something close to a civil war inwardly, and a world war III as countries come against each other. The venture does not come without its challenges as each person must face a different kind of danger then they were expecting to face. Despite the turmoil, they find family amongst strangers.
There are two options for the book cover. Feel free to comment which one is your favorite!
This is an old story I started in high school and never finished. I read a lot of science fiction back then, and it inspired me to write a sci-fi story. I don't know how I came up with the plot though. There is whole outline for this story which makes it easier to write because I know where to go next... literally. The characters are travelling to multiple countries. I've had to research how long it takes to fly to one country to another, and how countries detect aircrafts, and army ranks. It's a wild story about superhumans needing saving instead of saving others. I'm writing it in third person omniscient and it's the first time I'm using this POV. This way, the reader can get a taste of multiple characters at the same time. My goal is to complete a first draft by the end of 2020. I can do it!
Here are my characters in the order they appear in the book:
Dominic Atwater is 25 years old. Dominic is a pretty quiet and usually tries to stay neutral on hot topics. He's a historian that knows Latin and studies other cultures in his spare time. His role in this group is to be the translator and to be as invisible as possible. He has a hard time making friends due to his long isolation which built up his social anxiety.
Sienna Michaels is 26 years old. Sienna is a leader. She is proactive, intelligent, and adores her family. In her spare time she enjoys exercising, especially running. Her parents and brother are all fighting overseas and every since college she has been protesting on behalf of the exceptionals. She has a big heart for those disadvantaged and overlooked in society.
Shannon "Shane" Ingram is 20 years old. Her mother died from a disease when she was four and her father is a Colonel in the U.S. Army. She loves running and has been to several survival camps. Shane never went to regular school, but instead a military boarding school her dad taught in sometimes. Shane acts as a scout for her father when searching for exceptionals in the U.S.
Bethany Francine Blair is 17 years old. She is an only child of the President and First Lady. Bethany loves shopping, movies, and ice cream. Since she was little, she wanted to become a nurse or veterinarian. People see her as an airhead (which she kind of is) but sometimes she exaggerates it. She can't expose her parents' secret.
Julia Styles is 37 years old. Julia is an artist. She loves to sketch just about anything. She went to an art school in Paris, France at age 16. She received a scholarship to attend the conservatory which was great since her parents were not rich. She has two younger brothers, Charles, and Louis. Yes, they are twins named after kings. Julia does not mind that her name is not royal. She hates monarchs. Julia loved art, but she also loved kickboxing and staying up to date with politics. She dreamed of growing up to be a kickboxing, art enthusiast, political official. She was fierce and went against anyone head all. Julia joined the CIA to make a difference and protect her fellow citizens. Julia knows it's a privilege to help policymakers make decisions on the US national security.
Donovan Miles is 39 years old. Donovan worked with Julia at the CIA. He's a mystery. Grew up with his grandparents that didn't care much about him, enlisted in the military to have a sense of purpose in his life, then ended up with the CIA. Now he's helping Julia look for Andrei. Donovan is an arrogant, ill-tempered man with little compassion for others.
Maya and Simeon: These twin siblings are 22 years old. They work for Donovan and Julia. They are great with technology and always up to date. Their parents are inventors and learned all of technological advancements from them. Maya is the more outspoken one while Simeon is reserved. Maya always has a smile on her face. She is optimistic, quick on her feet, and intuitive. Simeon is a thinker, more pessimistic, but always ready for a challenge.
Shawn Taylor is 45 years old. He is the former Director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. He met Andrei during his employment. Shawn has no family and created security in his work. He built up a name and a reputation for himself. He is compassionate with a kind smile.
Alec Rios is 20 years old. He is an excellent hacker employed by Andrei to do some work for him. Alec is very much removed from society and into the computer world, specifically the dark web. Though, much of his work is for positive use. He loves to eat, spend time with his family, and watch movies.
President Jeffrey Blair is in his second term has President of the United States. He has found himself part of Andrei's team while injured. He feels personally responsible for the trauma that come upon the world. Him and his wife sought out a scientist to produce a child, Bethany. President Blair loves Bethany and would give his life for her.
Doctor Anahi Mendez works at a local clinic in Montero, Bolivia. She is the ex-wife of Andrei. Dr. Mendez is courageous and passionate about her work in medicine. It takes up most of her time and she has no gripe about that. Dr. Mendez has been pulled into the team almost unwillingly, but soon agrees to help fight for the exceptionals.
Andrei Nicolae Cretu is 36 years old. His birthday is July 6th 2074. He was born and raised in Romania as an only child and came to the U.S. at age 18. He has a bachelor’s in International relations and a minor in economics. He became interested in journalism after interning at a newspaper place his aunt worked at. He loved the idea of traveling and writing stories about different countries. His parents were both teachers of history and economy. They instilled him the love of politics. He became a travel writer, focusing more on government and economy. He also used photography to help to create scenes during civil wars, poverty, or protests. He started in the U.S., then branched to various places. He was a U.S. diplomat for Romanian for a while. When WW3 began, he covered it in his journalism work. It wasn’t too bad at first. As it heated up he decided to work for the CIA. That is when he met Julia. At first, he had the notion that the US was harboring a dangerous secret and was the enemy, so he began spying on them. Then he started working with the Romanian government. Then he started to piece things together.
Zola Nkweli is the leader of the South African sector for the organization saving exceptionals on behalf of the Safeguard. She is a woman well grounded in culture, headstrong, and lives up to her name which means "Be calm". Zola has a caring and fierce nature about her. She can lead an entire army of soldiers if she so pleased.
Do you know what it means to write a book?
I didn’t when I first started taking writing seriously. I didn’t realize how grueling the process was, and how much detail and research went into writing. I saw writing as a light-hearted activity, not something that would cause me grief. Not something that would cause me to doubt my abilities. Maybe I’m not as good as I think I am. Crying over a lost flash drive. Stunned and disappointed over a crashed flash drive (this time I had some of it backed up). It takes up your time and energy, but it’s all worth it. Once that draft was complete, I felt relieved, a bit saddened, but more importantly, proud of my effort. I was proud of the characters I created and developed. I was proud of the storyline that began as a small idea into a full-blown plot. I was proud of my ability to carry out a project and see it through. The process is rewarding. You go through hours or days of research, editing, fashioning chapters together, and adding in little details that make the story sound realistic if it’s fictional.
You’re not always going to have inspiration. You’re not always going to have the motivation to write thousands of words. Some days you may barely get out a few hundred. Don't let the grueling part of this process scare you. Have confidence in yourself.
What excites other people to want to write a book? Is it to tell a story? Share their insight? Maybe try something new? I hope anyone who wants to write book sets lots of realistic goals, enjoys the journey, and keeps a support system around them! If you have any questions about writing, please email me, comment, or DM me.
Photo by Rashtravardhan Kataria on Unsplash
Why do I write poetry?
It’s a way to express emotions and words that don’t process in my mind through thoughts. I love telling a story in the stanzas and using words to create a picture. It’s like writing fiction, but this has a constant flow to it. A rhythm that beats throughout the poem and I’m not referring to rhyming. Even ones without rhyme still have a constant flow. I can use descriptive words right after another. I don’t have to use punctation. I can have stanzas of three sentences or four or make it into a paragraph. There can be rhyme, some rhyme, or none (free verse). I used to think all poems had to rhyme, but they don’t. I discovered free verse a few years ago and since then it’s been my subconscious first choice when writing a poem.
How do I get inspiration to write?
Most of my poems are not about my experiences. They are my version of a short story. I write topics that can relate to people in that situation. I want my words to touch your heart and mind. These ideas are sometimes inspired by songs I’m listening to at that moment. Maybe a word they used, the tone of their voice, or the tempo of the song can give me words to write. The process feels like I’m listening to something and transcribing it as it’s going. The poems are not planned and outlined. They rush out my brain like a waterfall. Graceful and moving quickly.
What is the writing process?
Keeping up with the words popping up in my head is the difficult part. I make spelling or grammar mistakes and can’t help but fix them before moving on. Sometimes if I’m brave, I’ll skip it. Writing is a grueling, but fun process. Even after everything is written down, I still have to reread the poem to fix errors, re-write or delete some lines, and possibly re-organize the sentences. Rereading is fun because I’m seeing it as a full piece, how all the descriptions fit together, if the flow is there, and how the message is received. So much symbolism, analogies, metaphors, and blunt endings! I love it.
The past two months I have been writing poems in the morning before work. I got an idea to compile them into a poetry book with other old poems that may fit the themes. I’m eager and nervous to do that and share it with everyone. More people deserve to read at least some of my poems.
*Photo by Shuttersnap on Unsplash.com
I began this blog almost two years ago. I used to watch a lot of channels on YouTube and wanted a similar platform so I could share my thoughts and ideas. Creating a YouTube channel seemed a bit scary though. I didn’t want my face out there. The next idea was creating a blog to share my poems and short stories that I could post on social media. I am passionate about writing. I have been for fifteen years. The plan was show people how exciting but demanding writing a fictional story or poem was. I wanted to expose the small details that go into creating characters and a plot. Going in depth with my stories also helped me to understand them more. I did research for my stories so I could write a post about it. My favorite one was the Misconceptions of the Modeling industry. Of course, it wasn’t a scholarly article, but I was proud of that post. It took hours to complete.
There are a multitude of topics out there to discuss. I thought, “why focus on writing only, when I could talk about other topics?”. Many people like to hear experiences that relate to them. Writing about the struggles of being a college student or wanting to travel are things people can grasp easily. I stopped posting short stories because I am not advanced in that art. It’s quite difficult. I’d rather draw out a storyline into a long novel. As time went on, I added Positive Affirmations and Review and Reflect to my blog. Review and Reflect helps me to be more introspective. Positive Affirmations are there to encourage and uplift the listeners in their daily lives. There was more to give to my readers and listeners. There was more they could gain from my blog.
This was also a great way to step out of my comfort zone. People are constantly reading through my work. It’s daunting! What if I sound incoherent or have spelling mistakes? Sometimes the formatting changes and makes the post look disorganized. Doing this helped me gain confidence in myself and my writing which was one of the reasons why I started Disorderly-Thoughts. You will never discover your capabilities if you don’t venture into new land. I completed a novella in three months, self-published it before I graduated high school, and have since completed two other novels in the editing stages. Those accomplishments gave me confidence to try new things. Before I created this blog, I never thought of myself as being able to maintain something like this. Now, it’s my special project that I am extremely proud of.
During this month I have been designing an online class for Skillshare, an online platform that gives you access to classes on various topics such as writing better poetry, entrepreneurship, how to use a camera, etc. I participated in their Teachchallenge to create and publish my first class by April 30th. They provided participants with deadlines for a small component like creating an outline or sharing your intro video. It helped me stay on track.
My class is titled How to do Research for your Novel and I give you a method to use to effectively find information. This process was nerve-racking for me. Sitting in front a camera filming videos for people to watch, finding great lighting, the process was stressful. It's a bit scary to put yourself out there especially for something you care about. Trying new things isn't easy, but the outcome is always worth it. As we acquire new skills from the many activities we partake, we should showcase and utilize them. I work at the front desk in a freshmen residence hall at my university. Through this experience I have gained interpersonal skills from interacting with people on a daily basis. Those skills are useful during networking events, grocery shopping, even parties! I can use them now. This is why I decided to create a class on doing research because I have a method -taken from my own experience during writing stories- that writers will benefit from. Once the class is published, I will share it on my social media pages so be sure to follow me @abbyakyiaw on Instagram and Abby Akyiaw on Facebook if you want to watch it.
*Photo by The Climate Reality Project on Unsplash
Creative idea: A story about a woman with Alopecia who finds out she is adopted from Madagascar. She tries to find her biological parents, but ends up becoming a Queen and dealing with Alopecia and self-consciousness about losing her hair.
Story title: The Other Side of the Mirror
-Word Count: aiming for 50,000
-Malagasy culture and traditions
Story introduction: Everything seems to go well for Volana when receives her first job offer months after completing university. Unfortunately her Alopecia resurfaces, causing a larger chunk of her hair to fall out. This prompts her parents to tell her she is adopted and her biological parents live in Madagascar. Volana then embarks on a journey to Madagascar in hopes of locating her parents and possibly finding a cure or solution to the Alopecia. During this search, she meets and falls in love with a King, becoming Queen of Fleur Fanjakana. This new position creates new problems and brushes away old issues as she deals with keeping up appearances and hiding her falling hair, while feeling frustrated at not finding her biological parents.
Story description: Volana has dealt with Alopecia her whole life. It comes and goes as it pleases, taking away chunks of her hair. Alopecia Areata is an autoimmune disease which means the body sees itself, more specifically, hair follicles as foreign and attacks it/ This causes a person's hair to come out. After finishing university and landing her dream job in a transportation company, Volana's alopecia comes back. This prompts her parents to reveal that she is adopted. Volana decides to save up for a year, take off from work, and travel to Madagascar. She thinks this will be a simple journey doesn't plan on the detours in her path, including marring a King and becoming Queen of the five kingdoms in Madagascar. During her reign, she deals with tensions with her husband due to the unsuccessful methods of curing her alopecia. She becomes more self-conscious about it, hiding her hair from the kingdom. Volana will soon come to realize loving yourself starts within, not with what you see in the mirror.
Story overview: A first person POV of Volana and Thulani (her husband), and a third person POV (kingdom). A woman has alopecia areata and finds out she is adopted. She attempts to find her biological parents but ends up marrying a king and becoming Queen of a kingdom. She has troubling acclimating to this new position while dealing with old problems.
This Skillshare class I watched was taught by best selling author, Preeti Shenoy, and she gave tips on the fundamentals of creative writing. Here are the prompts and my project:
1. Use a timer. Set it for three minutes. Now write down all the ideas that you get.
2. Create three characters using all that you have learnt. Remember to add the details!
Idea #1: 13 year old sculptor. Black hair. Lives in a village. Makes beautiful sculptures to sell. A local drug lord (King Caesar) employs Mitchie (Or he asks the drug lord) to puts bags of cocaine inside his sculptures ans ship them across the world. He makes enough money to help his village and his family. He moves into a house with his family. Of course they don't know what he really does, they just think his sculptures are in high demand.
Mitchie loves to sculpt. He started with pottery, making jugs, cups, plates, and other things for locals in his village. He's 5'4 and is in secondary school. Mitchie had mud brown eyes as he likes to describe them. He loves playing freeze tag with his friends. Mitchie also like to be alone. To gain inspiration, Mitchie takes walks at night when everyone is asleep. He stares at the stars and the moon. Mitchie wants to travel and help people in his village.
Idea #2: Old Lady Martha is lonely. Both of her children died in a train crash four years ago on their way to Greenwich. Old lady Martha as the neighborhood calls her, has a cursed diary with various entries in it. Those entries are made from the lives of people that become trapped in the diary. Then, she reads them at home and can them come to life.
OL Martha is a short lady that wears different capes depending on the day. She has burgundy, blue, black, red, purple, and glitter. Little kids love and abhor her. She makes breakfast at six thirty in the morning everyday except Sunday. She makes breakfast at eight. OL Martha lives by a strict routine of breakfast, a walk through the park, staying at the library for two hours, eating lunch at a nearby sandwich shop.
*Photo by Nong Vang on Unsplash.com
I watched another class on Skillshare by Morgan Lindsay Nelson and she explained the difference between suspense and surprise. Here is my project:
In the forest i saw
Rays of sunshine poked through the small gaps, illuminating my path just enough. The trees swayed in sync as if dancing together. I took a deep breath, chilly fresh, piney air, filling my lungs. Branches crunched and snapped under my feet as I continued down the path.
What is that?
A tremor overtook me as my heart beat hard against my ribs. A hand stuck out from behind a thick, gnarled tree. Tears welled up in my eyes, as I crept closer. The fingers were bloody with dirt stuck underneath the fingernails. The palms upward and bloody. A hand turned into an arm, and the arm became a body of a young woman. She had on yoga pants and a T-shirt, an I-phone wrapped in white earphones lying by her side. I dropped to my knees, my stomach about to hurl up the breakfast from this morning. Her eyes were closed, head turned towards the sun.
Rays of sunshine poke through the small gaps, illuminating my path just enough. The trees sway in sync as if dancing together. I take a deep breath, chilly fresh, piney air, filling my lungs. Branches crunch and snap under my feet as I continue down the path.
This is a lovely day for-
I stop in my tracks, a foot hovering in the air. My eyes widen, pulse racing faster than a racehorse on Sunday. My stomach warms and gurgles, this morning's breakfast of oatmeal and granola corralling its way up.
Drops of blood sporadically splattered over grass and branches lead down the path. My foot lowers. The trees sway forward, directing me on where to go.
I should call the police! I should- wait, what if someone is hurt?
The thought is enough to send me sprinting forward, hopping side to side avoiding stepping on the evidence.
Evidence? Oh no, this is a crime scene. A possible murder!
"No, no, I shouldn't jump to conclusions. Maybe someone fell or got hurt."
But the blood splatter... I've watched enough crime dramas and Dateline to know what that means.
"H-hello?" I call out.
Oh no, oh no, oh no! Maybe the person went home?
The blood trail ends at a thick gnarled tree to my right. A tremor overtakes me, my heart beating hard against my ribs. A hand sticks out from behind it. Tears well up in my eyes, as I creep closer. The fingers are bloody with dirt stuck underneath the fingernails. The palms are upward and bloody. A hand turns into an arm, and the arm becomes a body of a young woman. She has on yoga pants and a T-shirt, an I-phone wrapped in white earphones lying by her side. I drop to my knees, my stomach about to hurl up the breakfast from this morning. Her eyes are closed, head turned towards the sun, its rays kissing her pale, blue lipped face.
Skillshare is a platform where you can watch classes on anything you're interested in and learn a new set of skills. They have four categories: Creative, Business, Technology, and Lifestyle. Within these categories, they have specialized fields for you to choose from. I use the Creative category and click Writing, which gives me countless videos- made by real people from those fields- on how to write characters, pitch stories, plan a plot, etc. This is a great tool for someone who cannot go to a physical classroom. For each class, there is a "project" you do to try out the tips given in the class AND the teacher will give you actual feedback on it. You can explore it for free for two months by clicking this link: http://skl.sh/2pjW1B7
Now, as an example, I will share a project I did for a class called "Brainstorming Your Story" taught by Steve Alcorn. The objective was to write a summary of a new plot you could create a story from. The story I did wasn't new, but I wanted to write a revised summary and incorporate my new ideas. Here it is:
Mai Jenkins moves to New York to pursue her modeling career and faces hardships in this journey that test her character. She grew up with a single father in small town Venolia, Texas. She dreamed of walking down runways since she was five years old. Fifteen years later, she makes those dreams a reality. Mai expects the model life to be luxurious, filled with free fashionable clothes, champagne all day, and jobs coming in hot. Unfortunately, she soon realizes the modeling industry isn't all glitz and glam. Through hardships, lost friends, and expensive rent, Mai tries to stay afloat above the ever churning waters. In this journey Mai learns not to trust everyone who says they want to help her, and she begins to trust in her confidence. Not only does Mai's new life in New York bring hardships of the modelling life, but it causes her to grow as a young woman and find her place in this world.Not all that glitters is gold.
This isn't a finished product, I have always struggled with writing summaries, especially in school. Either I add too much or too little information. The teacher of this class message me and told me to add more of her challenges and how she overcame them. I didn't expect a quick response, but I'm glad he had a chance to look over what I wrote. Skillshare is a really helpful website and my writing is going to grow for sure.
*Photo by Kari Shea
This past week was Writer's week at UC Riverside. Writers of all kinds -poetry, non-fiction, fiction, essays, and others, came out to speak and share with the rest of us. Due to my busy schedule, I was not able to attend until the very last day. I'm glad I went. It wasn't about what I learned, but how I felt leaving the theater.
Sometimes when I leave workshops or events I don't remember much. Instead, a feeling is embedded within me. A surge of encouragement and inspiration to write better, study harder, laugh longer, or dream bigger. I could take notes all I want, but they'll just end up in the bottom of my bag or in the trash weeks later. The reason I go to these things is to gain something to apply to my life. They help me to stay motivated and remind me why I do what I do. For any career people think there is a secret, a shortcut, or a quick fix to get them ahead. We rely on others as a guide to our own lives, but they can't tell us how to live our lives. These professionals don't know us and everyone's path is different. It's the same with asking people for help. They will recommend the "best" plan without understanding your background. Options that work for someone else may not work for you. Person A may need to take a quarter/semester off school, or get a second job, or move to another state for better opportunities. Person B might take a gap year, delete their social media accounts, or start a new business. I take what they with a grain of salt while acknowledging what I am capable of. Don't limit your aspirations and possibilities based off another person's life. Their limit is not your limit. Their footsteps are not your footsteps.
*Photo by Ali Yahya on Unsplash.com
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