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Sydney Witbeck

We have Plymouth Rocks and a few Sussex chickens! They’re all so pretty!

Plymouth Rocks are what my mom wants to get one day!

Yesss!! I’ve always been a horse girl in blood and bone honestly XD They’re… horse? XD They’re both mixed breeds, so you can’t categorize them as much else than small horses XD I have two right now, one is my riding horse, his name is Djadon! He’s… Very fun XD He’s something of a clown and hardly an easy ride XD I’ve learned SO much from riding him though, mainly how to sit out bizarre bucks. He probably has some Hafling and/or Welsh Cob blood in him. Anyway, there’s some kind of baroque breed mixed in there because he has the most gorgeous mane. He’s a flaxen chestnut and his mane comes down to his knees. I love him a whole lot if you couldn’t tell XD Lightning is smaller, also a flaxen chestnut, and mostly just retired. She’s 29 and doesn’t really have to do anything anymore. She’s the sweetest bombproof pony, even though of the two she’s more likely to cause chaos by escaping. (This happens on a fairly regular basis) I’ll stop now but my horses are another thing I could talk about endlessly XD

Aaaw!! They both sound lovely! (And funny! 😂😂😉) Oh my word, Djadon sounds like he’s a handful! That’s hilarious though 🙂 Flaxen chestnut, by the way, is absolutely gorgeous!!!

Well yes and no XD Because it’s a trilogy I had a bit more room. Liorah, the princess and my true MC, is the narrator for book one. Faye gets introduced in book 2, and it’s a dual POV between her and Liorah. In the third book, it’s a dual POV between Liorah and this character, Aydin. So, he’s kind of a main character! As aforementioned, his name is Aydin, and he’s… morally interesting. I don’t know whether to label him morally gray, an anti-hero, or an extremely traumatized hero. Probably the latter XD You know that one character who always seems to be on the receiving end of traumatizing character development? Yeah, that’s Aydin XD I almost feel guilty about it. (It’s just so much fun though…) Anyway, his existence is kind of a spoiler, but I’ll obscure the spoilery details. Anyway, really long and traumatic backstory short, he starts out as a villain, mainly because he’s trapped on the villainous side. He used to be an assassin too, and absolutely hated it. He does wrong things, and he knows they’re wrong, but he doesn’t see any other way than to do them. Throughout the story, he slowly gets redeemed. It might be my favorite character arc I’ve ever written. He’s pretty much the opposite of what you’d expect of a dark, morally gray assassin character. He’s an incredibly good person. He messes up and has no idea what he’s doing most of the time, but he’s trying so hard, and he’s ready to take responsibility and fix his mistakes. He’s also just fun to write because he has this dry, dark sense of humor. He’s really anxious and kind of shy. Besides that, he’s disabled. In the second book, his right hand becomes paralyzed, and he’s also autistic. I didn’t figure out that until I’d finished the third book XD Fortunately, I was writing him as such accidentally right from the start XD Now I just have to go back and do it on purpose. (This isn’t even the first time this has happened, I have so many accidental neurodivergent characters XD) Yeah, I really, really love him XD

I can see why you like writing about Aydin! From a reader’s perspective, I would love reading about him!!! I just love his character arc!! That sounds so cool! Ah! Poor guy!I’ve never written an “accidental neurodivergent character.” Is that tricky? Yes, *Ethan* is always kind of on the receiving end of traumatizing character development as well. I feel bad for him and then at the same time I make pretty much everyone doubt him because of his past and not trust him. So he pretty much retreats into himself for the most part and tries to build a wall around himself.

That’s fascinating! I love that backstory, and I bet that affects him in a really cool way! And I love those annoying characters who put up exteriors to defend themselves! My MC, Liorah, is like that too! She’s… quite a character. To give you perspective, my favorite pet names for her include “Feral brat” “Chaos child” and “Arson gremlin” That last one isn’t even an exaggeration, she commits arson at least three times in canon. Anyway she has the same thing where she feels like she’s in her older brother’s shadow. His name is Gavril and he’s pretty much the archetypical hero. Poor kid, I feel so bad for him. He’s working so hard to be perfect for everyone else. It doesn’t go well.

Oh thank you! He drives me crazy sometimes, but my favorite part of writing him is finding those moments when he lets down his guard – mostly when he’s by himself – and you see how vulnerable he really is. I love the name, Liorah, by the way! All my conflicted characters of that type have been male so far, so a girl like that would be really interesting I think! Oh wow. Since it’s a trilogy, does she commit arson once per book? XD Aaaw! Poor Gavril! Is he the king? That must be so hard!! Are he and Liorah conflicted in their relationship since she feels like she has to compare with him?

Thank you! I’ve been working on it for just over two years now! It’s actually my very first writing project. Hmmm, biggest change… I think that would be in the second draft of book one, I had to add a huge section (At least 20k words) and change the outcome of a plan. Besides that, Aydin’s perpetual changes. He’s practically done a 180 turn from what I first planned for him! Oh and that one character who started out an antagonist and turned into Liorah’s love interest. That was odd XD I love him though, and it worked out! I had to completely rewrite his character.

Wow! Ummmm…..it took me about that same time to write just my one book!?! Yeah, I’m a slow writer, I know.

20K words!?! Wow!! I’m sure from what you said, Aydin has not only undergone a lot of changes, he’s put a lot of changes in the story itself! I think that’s a good thing though because I bet it really has strengthened your plot and your skills as a writer! That, and changing the other character for Liorah XD Two of my characters – Esther, my MC, and another person – are married in the second book, but I didn’t really plan that in the first book. That is, I knew they’d end up married, but I haven’t tried to write any romance yet.

Oh goodness *Weeps in sympathy* battle scenes are the bane of my existence. I wrote two in the first book and did everything in my power to avoid them in the latter two books. I actually managed to pretty well XD There was only one brief one.

YES!! I grew up with two sisters so battles aren’t exactly my forte… I kind of knew I needed to have one, but well, I tried to avoid it as much as possible XD Then I got my first draft back from my editor and I had to devise and execute a battle plan XD

Ohhh!! That sounds epic! Do you have any ideas for it yet?

No unfortunately I don’t yet! I just really want to write one. I think the symbolism would be so fun to write!

I have a story I really, really want to write one day! I’m still in the plotting stage, but I already love it so much! It might even be the book I want to be my debut!

That’s wonderful! 🙂

LOlll, that’s them XD That’s what those characters are like!

😂😂 I know! Drive you crazy and yet you can’t stop writing them! XD

That moment when a new character reveals themselves to you, and they just stand there in all their new and shiny glory, and then they start talking to you. I love that feeling! Or when you discover a new part of a character and everything just clicks into place! Also just knowing your characters like friends and getting to make fun of them and cry about them. It’s like reading a favorite book but ten times better!

Aah! My characters!! I love them! And at the same time, I’m terrible to them, you know what I mean? I shoot them, tear them from their families, give them doubts, and clap them in jail. I once put two of my characters in prison and I had no idea how to get them out. I knew they wouldn’t starve or die, but other than that, well, they were on their own. Oooh! Discovering new parts of their personality is so fun! Finding what makes them tick, getting into their heads and letting them get into yours…. XD

That moment you realize you’ve been projecting onto a character XD That’s more funny than anything else, but it can be kinda disconcerting. Like “I thought I’d gotten over that, but apparently not”

lol yes!!

Hmm, I think pushing myself too hard! That happened earlier this year, when I was drafting book 3. I got so set on finishing it as quickly as possible that I lost perspective and it stopped being fun for a while. It gave me massive writer’s block that lasted several months. I just started getting back into it again! I learned from it though, so that’s good!

I think I’m the opposite sometimes, if I don’t push myself at times, I can stay stuck longer than I want. Ugh, writer’s block! The bane of every author’s existence!!! 😣 But it’s great that you were able to overcome it and get back into your writing!

How about you?

Hmmmm….probably that I when I wrote my first book, I never planned out the whole plot. I just let the story take me where it would. And then in the middle – when my two characters were in jail, by the way – I had no clue what to write. I knew the end but I didn’t know how to get there. Also when I had all my book typed except the last couple of chapters….and I neglected to save it….and then my laptop crashed…. 😫😠😖😞 At least I had the handwritten version!

I really like the longsword, it’s super satisfying when you get a complicated technique right! But I think my favorite technique is ringen, which is basically Medieval battle wrestling. It has a lot in common with judo and regular wrestling, but it’s also a bit different from both of those. It’s just really fun to me, even though it’s much harder than longsword!

Is the longsword different from a regular sword? Ringen sounds so cool! I bet it’s a lot of fun!!! 🙂

It’s also incredibly fun to write! Since starting HEMA I’ve been writing a ton of the techniques into my fight scenes, it’s way easier to write now!

Did you start HEMA before or after you wrote your battles? I know that it’s easier to write about things you have experienced yourself, so I bet HEMA has added a really neat level of realism to your fight scenes/battles! We just watched Prince Caspian before I wrote my battle so I paid really close attention to how they fought! XD

And bow and arrows are so cool! I would love to learn archery too someday!

I think being able to shoot a bow would be amazing! But aim has never exactly been my strong point….. I can always hope though!

Here’s the link to subscribe if you think it might be interesting!

I just subscribed the other day! I can’t wait to read what you write! 🙂

Do you have a blog or newsletter where I could follow you?

Sadly I don’t. Yet. I think someday I might try to do a blog but as of right now I don’t.

My quote is a lyric I wrote for something from Gilded Blood, my trilogy!

Well, I think it’s lovely!!! I would put a quote under mine but I can be notoriously undecided at times….

Also, where in the process are you with your story? I’d love to read it if you need beta readers! I’ve beta-read a couple of times before, and I really love doing it! Your story sounds right up my alley!

I’m halfway through the writing it. (the first draft) I’ve never worked with a beta writer before. How does that work exactly? My plan is to have it finished by October/November and have it out and published by early 2023.

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