(Giveaway at the bottom of the post!)
As I was sitting down to write this blog post, I got to remember some past special things about writing War of Loyalties. I think what kept War of Loyalties simmering for the past seven years, apart from the grace of God, was the fact that it found its heart very early on. In another author interview (joy-live4jesus.blogspot.com) I said that I struggled with logic and plot early on in the book. But from the first serious draft of it in 2012, I never struggled with the heart of it. The characters showed up on set, and even though they morphed over time, I had a bond with them from day one. All of this effort to bring the book to print has really been the drive to publish characters I deeply, deeply love.
Each draft of War of Loyalties underwent extensive rewriting. But the pulsing heart remained. I had the core of the story down. I knew the people inside it, even though I did not always have words to express them yet.
So today, I’d love to share with you four things that captured the heart of War of Loyalties for me.
1. The Handwritten First Draft
I will never forget the joy of crafting the first draft. It was just me, a bunch of loose-leaf lined paper, some regular pens, and a variety of folders the story kept growing out of. I generally wrote on my bed, or in our living-room recliner, and my most guaranteed time was snatching the 15 minute break we had mid-morning between our school subjects. The finished draft was 386 pages, I think—a far cry from the 750 it is now! While there wasn’t nearly enough espionage in it, it had some of the sweetest family times with Terry’s family interacting with Ben, and Ben and Jaeryn’s friendship was a lot simpler and closer than in the final draft.
I now keep the handwritten draft in a shoe box. I also have character profiles written with gel pen on cardstock, along with pictures pasted on. The first draft has little plot notes on the side, along with occasional random notes like “wash sheets” for myself! J
2. The Music Playlists
Music has always been a huge part of the process since draft two. There are certain songs that still mean War of Loyalties to me. “Now and For Always”, from the Lord of the Rings musical, was something I would listen to while I exercised and thought about my book. The journey of Frodo persevering with the ring always felt like writing WoL, and that song will always bring back good memories. “I Vow to Thee My Country”, sung by Libera (the version with the violin opening) was a piece of theme music for the entire novel. I was finishing the third draft of the book in 2014, and as I worked on the last chapter, I listened to “I Vow to Thee” along with Billy Boyd’s “The Last Goodbye” to capture the nostalgia of what it felt like to work on something I had loved so long. Ryan Kelly’s lines in Celtic Thunder’s “Caledonia” capture Jaeryn to me. I think Terry’s personality is just about perfectly expressed with “Me and My Cello” (PianoGuys) and Charlotte and Ben’s relationship is “Dancing in the Minefields” (Andrew Peterson). I like to joke that if nothing else, I supported Celtic Thunder on Spotify while I wrote this book. J
3. The Pinterest Board
The heart of War of Loyalties has always been on my Pinterest board. It’s secret. (My apologies to anyone reading this!) But it has the photos that inspired the heart of this novel—the actors and objects that made me think of each character. It’s a heart-record online of the journey that I took when I was writing the second draft in 2013. There is so much memory on there that I wish I could download it to save.
4. The Rush of a Deadline
Another one of the heartbeats of the book was trying to get a chapter a week done for beta readers in 2013. (Kaleigh prayed for and encouraged me constantly during these chapters!) At first the chapters were sent early on in the week, but as my writing rhythm shifted, I ended up sending chapters on Saturday night just before midnight (I wouldn’t let myself go after midnight because that was Sunday, and I didn’t want to write WoL on Sundays.) It was always a delightfully angst-filled rush of adrenaline, wondering if I would get it done on time. Somehow WoL has always coincided with big occasions. I finished the first draft on New Year’s Eve, and the second draft on Christmas Eve. The third draft was finished the day before Easter, and the final upload onto Createspace happened on the night before Thanksgiving.
While the timing wasn’t always convenient, it was always super helpful. I found the weekly accountability of sending the chapters invaluable. I always got to look forward to encouraging feedback, and every week I had to think about what plot threads I needed to continue. This helped me get the core of the final book started, even though it would need a couple of big rewrites before it was in its final shape.
Thank-you so much for having me on your blog today, Kaleigh! It was so fun to think about these things, and you were such a huge encouragement in the War of Loyalties writing process. This book wouldn’t be here without you. J
Purchase Link: https://www.amazon.com/War-Loyalties-Folkestone-Files-1/dp/0692970541/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1511961389&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=war+of+loyalties%2C+schuyler+mcconke
First Prize Winner:
-Paperback copy of War of Loyalties
-“Jaeryn’s Vow” 8x10 poster
-Custom War of Loyalties mug
Second Prize Winner:
-Ebook of War of Loyalties
-Real vintage Folkestone postcard (this is a postcard that has actually been posted in 1917.)
Third Prize Winner: (open to international winners)
-Ebook of War of Loyalties
Wordpress Giveaway Link:
US residents only for 1st and 2nd prizes. Accounts created solely for giveaways not eligible.
Schuyler McConkey is a writing teacher, book reviewer, and ministry leader living half of her life in happy fellowship with her family and spending the other half in angst-filled fictional worlds. She is passionate about classic, Dickensian stories and characters who encounter deep struggles touched by grace. Irish music, British movies, and chai lattes provide the fuel for her dreams.