Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Introducing the Condemned Patriot Series

Four years ago, my family and I were on vacation on St. George Island in Florida. We had rented a house and brought our Wii so we could watch Netflix. While we were there, we watched a popular movie Glenn Beck had talked about on the radio. This movie was The Hunger Games. We really liked it, and when we got home, my sister checked out the books from the library and we read all of them.

Before I read Mockingjay, my sister told me about Peeta's hijacking. Even though I was prepared for it, I didn't like how he was treating Katniss, so I quickly set up a fanfic in my head to yell at him. (It was a weird habit I had at the time. I'd set up my own characters and situations to provoke characters in books and movies that were annoying me.) In order to provoke Peeta (as the true writer I was) I gave the girl yelling at Peeta a brainwashed friend that she had grown up with (because I really liked childhood friends that wound up falling in love). I named her friend Peter since it was close to Peeta, and I named her Katherine since it was close to Katniss (but decided to call her Katie since I didn't like the name Katherine).

I quickly took my new characters away from their task of yelling at Peeta Mellark and threw them into my own story. I had been wanting some childhood best friends that fell in love that had actual conflict around them, and jumped on them as my chance. In order to escape cliches, I made brainwashed Peter an idiot, not evil. Partially because I had just read The Hunger Games and partially because I just liked the concept, I made Peter and Katie young teenagers fighting to free a declining America. Then I started making up stories about them in my head. (The first one involved Peter getting un-brainwashed and then getting injured in a plane crash.)

I never intended to write about Peter and Katie. I just made up stories about them to amuse myself. But as I developed their story and their world more and more, I just couldn't keep it in anymore and had to write it down so I could share them with my family. The very first time I tried to write about them, I quickly realized Peter had replaced Katie as the protagonist, a realization that was made easier by the fact that my sister had just written an entire draft following the wrong protagonist. So I erased the paragraph I had written and started anew.

I wrote the beginning of their story several times and gave up. Then I wrote some short stories about later in Peter's life and the war which tricked me into first being longer than I thought, and then turning into a series. Through the process of the several drafts I half-finished, I expanded Peter's family from two siblings to ten (all of whom I ended up killing), developed many side characters (only a few of which have lasted), took Peter on many adventures which revealed a lot of his personality, developed his romance with Katie, gave him a future, and learned a lot about writing. I also named the potential book series: Condemned Patriot. Then I got involved in other things and let the Condemned Patriot series simmer in my mind for a while. I removed many of the Hunger Games elements, scrapped childish and cliche plot lines, and decided I needed to rewrite the series from the beginning so it would make sense.

I started the first book on January 1, 2016, fresh with a new name and everything: Awakened. I got to the First Major Plot Point (after Peter's dad revealed that he wasn't as great a guy as I thought he was) and...got stuck. Majorly stuck. I had no idea where I needed to go with the story. So I put the draft away for a while and shoved the story into the back of my mind.

In June, I read this post on K. M. Weiland's blog about plotting your book by starting with the antagonist. I realized that my protagonist was driving the plot instead of my antagonist, who should have been the catalyst. So one day I sat down at the piano and brainstormed the plot (and had many, many characters refuse to die on me). Elated, I sat down again and started a new draft of Awakened, this time starting with the First Major Plot Point. I liked how it went until I hit halfway, where I...had no plan. I wound up taking rabbit trails, some of which I liked, but most of which I hated. Then I got stuck in the climax. I tried filling in the beginning, but that also failed to help. I scrapped the second half of the story and rethought what I did and didn't like about my second draft. I drew on the feedback my mom and sister had given me when they had read my unfinished draft. I took my mom's suggestion to make Peter fifteen instead of twelve, and then aged him even more to eighteen when I realized I didn't like writing about him as a kid. I also took my sister's suggestion of giving Peter's twin sister, a very new addition, her own subplot. I scrapped the elements I didn't like (the trial, the mental hospital, Peter's extraneous little sister, and the absence of Katie for most of the story) and sat down and rethought the entire plot...again. This time it took me two months to rethink what had taken me the second half of 2016 to accomplish.

Finally, in February, I had a breakthrough. I plotted the entire story and realized I would have to rewrite it...again. So, in February/March I started draft three of Awakened. So far, I really like the way this draft is going. It bears almost no resemblance to the story it was in 2013, and hardly any resemblance to even the second draft. I've had to scrap the outlines I had for the future books and have changed the number of books in the series from 6 to "we'll see." It's been a long journey with these characters which I will be on for a while, but I'm excited to share Awakened with the world when it's ready.

I'm currently participating in Camp NaNo in an effort to make myself sit down and actually write. Hopefully soon I'll be done with this draft and start with editing. Until then, here's a short description:

In an America torn by revolution, a desperate freedom-fighter is forced to choose between keeping his family safe and struggling to lift the oppression of his people.

And if you want to learn more, you can browse my Pinterest boards for the series and the first book.


  1. this is almost as confusing as talking with you, but I love it and can't wait for the book.

  2. Thanks! I can't wait to release it. It's not ready for publication, though, so you'll have to wait to read it. :)