Young Adult Dark Urban Fantasy Author ~

Posts tagged “novel writing

On Writing

A series of random thoughts.

Writing is akin to hearing a thousand voices screaming at you all at once and you trying to decipher which ones you should listen to, and which ones you should ignore. Life’s a bit like that too.


Best Of: Author Excerpt Series

There are so many incredible writers, so much talent, and too many books to ever try to read them all. I thought, in light of that fact, it would be nice to share some of the best of the best. Quick little hints of what lies inside the pages of some of the books from my favorite authors.

Neil Gaiman:

“Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn’t it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up. You build up all these defenses, you build up a whole suit of armor, so that nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life…You give them a piece of you. They didn’t ask for it. They did something dumb one day, like kiss you or smile at you, and then your life isn’t your own anymore. Love takes hostages. It gets inside you. It eats you out and leaves you crying in the darkness, so simple a phrase like ‘maybe we should be just friends’ turns into a glass splinter working its way into your heart. It hurts. Not just in the imagination. Not just in the mind. It’s a soul-hurt, a real gets-inside-you-and-rips-you-apart pain. I hate love.”
― Neil Gaiman, The Sandman, Vol. 9: The Kindly Ones


The ARCS Are Out.

So … I’m official, I guess.

Anyone who’s been reading my blog with any regularity over the last three years knows I’ve been working on my novel, TIED for quite a while. They know I went on submission about a year ago with a mixture of fear and anxiety. Somehow I made it through with a publishing contract.

Fast forward another year later, and I’m holding the print copy of TIED in my hands.

The official ARCS went out to bloggers and reviewers on Monday. The email from my publisher came over that morning, and I kind of ignored it. *continues writing TORN ignoring that TIED just released to over 200 people who are going to pick it a part.*

Wednesday night, UPS delivered the print copy (the ARC), and I just kind of stared at it while everyone else jumped around, giving me high fives, and ooh’s and aah’s.

When an author receives an ARC (ebook or print or both) the last and final round of edits are made. Small stuff really. Punctuation errors, acknowledgement page, etc … nothing too big or time consuming—or so they tell me. 😉

I haven’t started the edits yet. I’m still staring at the book.

IMG_3332

I guess I’m really doing this. Where’d the last three years go?


We Who Make Stories …

“We who make stories know that we tell lies for a living. But they are good lies that say true things, and we owe it to our readers to build them as best we can. Because somewhere out there is someone who needs that story. Someone who will grow up with a different landscape, who without that story will be a different person. And who with that story may have hope, or wisdom, or kindness, or comfort. And that is why we write.”

~Neil Gaiman — The Graveyard Book

** I am a such a Neil Gaiman fan if you guys haven’t noticed.

Neil Gaiman, signing

Neil Gaiman, signing (Photo credit: Jutta @ flickr)


Fantasy Is Hardly An Escape …

“Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It’s a way of understanding it.”

~ Lloyd Alexander

Omega Point Dark Fantasy Mysterious World

Omega Point Dark Fantasy Mysterious World (Photo credit: Liqueur Felix)


THE 8 Rules for Writing

I know most writers have seen, read or heard of Neil Gaiman’s 8 Rules for Writing. Obviously you guys have figured out that I am huge fan of his work—I am also a huge fan of his advice.

Here it is:

Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman (Photo credit: davextreme)

  1. Write

  2. Put one word after another. Find the right word, put it down.

  3. Finish what you’re writing. Whatever you have to do to finish it, finish it.

  4. Put it aside. Read it pretending you’ve never read it before. Show it to friends whose opinion you respect and who like the kind of thing that this is.

  5. Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.

  6. Fix it. Remember that, sooner or later, before it ever reaches perfection, you will have to let it go and move on and start to write the next thing. Perfection is like chasing the horizon. Keep moving.

  7. Laugh at your own jokes.

  8. The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. (That may be a rule for life as well as for writing. But it’s definitely true for writing.) So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it ­honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.


Imagination, Not Invention …

Only in men’s imagination does every truth find an effective and undeniable existence. Imagination, not invention, is the supreme master of art as of life.

~ Joseph Conrad

English: Joseph Conrad Print Collection portra...

English: Joseph Conrad Print Collection portrait file. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


St. Valentine’s Day

“No, I don’t think I will kiss you, although you need kissing, badly. That’s what’s wrong with you. You should be kissed and often, and by someone who knows how.”

Gone with the Wind

One of THE best lines ever written in my opinion. Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone. 😉


Wait … Should I Write That?

There is a moment now and then when writers may catch themselves and think … wait, should I write that? 

My fellow writer, and friend, Elena Ransley wrote a post titled, Just because I write it, doesn’t mean I did it.

I think her words are both honest and true. There is a fine line writers walk between fiction and fact. Fantasy and reality. So much of who we are is embedded in our stories. Our words, our voices, our hearts … our sometimes crazed imaginations. Elena writes,  “Just because you write about an axe murderer, doesn’t mean you are slightly unhinged and could lose it and carry out your protagonists actions in the middle of the night – just because you think it, doesn’t mean you would do it.”

People judge you as a person when you put your stories out there. And we can judge ourselves as words fly from our fingertips in a flurry of ideas. Whether you write horror or paranormal romance, people will either love your work and sing your praises, or wonder if you are indeed unhinged.

Does it matter? As a writer who has chosen to share their work with the world–it probably shouldn’t. It’s the risk you take when you decide to go public. It’s the reason every writer hears those few words of caution, “Grow a thick skin. You’re going to need it.”

Not everyone will praise or even like your work. Some people may hate your genre, your ideas–your imagination. And they will judge you. But we can’t please everyone and we can only write what moves us and hope our words resonate with readers.

So I leave you with this to ponder:

“Writers are not just people who sit down and write.  They hazard themselves.  Every time you compose a book your composition of yourself is at stake.”  ~E.L. Doctorow

So the question is, Are you willing to put yourself out there? It’s the risk all writers have to take. The difference between owning what you love and hiding it. The difference between being public or private. Published or tucked away in a drawer.

SO WRITE ON WRITERS. Take your best shot. 😉

*** Re-posted from April 2012 ***

 

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop!

Light the fireworks: www.shotsforpassion.com -...

Light the fireworks: http://www.shotsforpassion.com – New domain name for my blog! (Photo credit: Shots For Passion)

Here’s how the THE NEXT BIG THING blog hop works. I get tagged to answer a bunch of question about my current book, (while simulataneously getting more word out), thanks to J.A. Belfield for the tip, and then I tag YOU, and you get to share in the love on your own blog to get the word out about YOUR WIP.

I’m supposed to tag eleven bloggers, but I’m cheating a little and tagging all of you who have WIP’s to play. Why? Because there are a lot of you. Yay me. 

I questioned being involved in the hop considering my current WIP is kind of under wraps, while my current finished book is on its way to publication–but, I thought this would be fun.

SO …. I’m going to pretend that my current finished novel is actually a WIP–even though it’s not. K? K! 😉

Here goes:

What is the working title of your book?

The title of my book is TIED, and it’s the first book in The Fire Born Novels series.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

This is one of those questions that’s hard to answer. Ideas sort of pop into my head and I run with them. Some work, some don’t–The Fire Born worked.

What is the genre of your book?

I write young adult dark/urban fantasy, paranormal romance, with bit of mythology mixed in.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

No clue. If I had to choose, it would probably be from people who aren’t even actors. 😉 I think it’s really hard to peg the right face/personality to a character you’ve dreamed up in your head.

What in one sentence is the synopsis of your book?

Yikes! Honestly, I don’t even think I’m allowed to tell you guys that yet—-under contract and all that. BUT–soon, so very soon.;) So, I’ll leave you with the hook that’s flying around on all my social media pages:

How far would you go … to protect the one you love?

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency/publisher?

All of The Fire Born Novels will be published by J. Taylor Publishing.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Hm … first draft took three months. All subsequent drafts took — forever. Seriously. A longgg time.

What other books would you compare this story to in your genre?

I wouldn’t. Funny–I was just thinking about this. My play off fantasy and paranormal feels a bit different than what I read–and I read a lot. I guess the readers will have to decide ultimately. But, my intention is always to speak from my own voice and let it roll. Whatever comes, comes. I’m not aiming to compare my books to anyone else’s.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Another loaded question that’s difficult to answer. I’m not sure that any one particular thing inspired me, necessarily. A ton of factors led me to continue to write this book and see it through to the end. Not all my novels have made it to completion. TIED spoke to me in a way nothing else has. So I guess you could say, the story itself inspired me.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The blurb will be out very soon, and I can’t spoil that, so I’ll just say that if the hook I mentioned before intrigues you–just wait 😉

*** That’s it for me. Anyone want to jump in and let us know what all your blood, sweat and tears are pouring into? Leave me a link so I can check your book out!! 😉 ***



Publishing Thrill Ride

English: Coca-Cola Thrill Ride This was a ride...

English: Coca-Cola Thrill Ride This was a ride at the Glasgow Garden Festival in 1988. This death-defying,loop the loop,rollercoaster trip was not for the faint-hearted! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am elated. Elated!

That’s all I’m going to say. More to come. Soon, I hope. 😉


Never Let A Manuscript…

“You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you’re working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success – but only if you persist.”

Isaac Asimov

Dr. Isaac Asimov, head-and-shoulders portrait,...

Dr. Isaac Asimov, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing slightly right, 1965 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 


My Music Monday

A few of my Cocteau Twins favorites on this rainy writing day. Enjoy.


A Week In Links

Two Italian legal / accounting books (on Stato...

Two Italian legal / accounting books (on Stato Patrimoniale) lie open, one on top of the other. Only a few lines of the underlying book’s text are legible because of the narrow depth of field (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I invest a ludicrous amount of time reading. Whether I read novels, blogs, craft books or research material, I always try to find useful or inspiring bits of information each week. And then I save them.

Author Joanna Penn, creator of The Creative Penn, has a wonderfully inspiring post on her blog this week. Recommended Book For Creatives: Turning Pro By Steven Pressfield This is a must read post by Joanna as well as a must read book, The Art of War being the prequel.

Anne R. Allen’s blog this week features a post by her co-blogger Ruth Harris. An interesting and humorous read. 11 Reasons Writers Get Rejected—And Why Only 3 Of Them Matter

Indie Author Lindsay Buroker has an informative post up on her blog. Is It Harder Today for Self-Published Authors to “Break-in” at Amazon?


When Do You Become A Writer?

During my usual perusal of blogs, I ran across Joanna Penn’s interview of Jeff Goins. If you haven’t seen it, it is a must watch. Especially for those of us who are new to the writing scene. No aspiring here, just real writers writing. Watch. It’s worth your time.


A Week In Links

Two Italian legal / accounting books (on Stato...

Two Italian legal / accounting books (on Stato Patrimoniale) lie open, one on top of the other. Only a few lines of the underlying book’s text are legible because of the narrow depth of field (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I invest a ludicrous amount of time reading. Whether I read novels, blogs, craft books or research material, I always try to find useful or inspiring bits of information each week. And then I save them.

Here are this week’s links on writing and social media.

Author Kristen Lamb’s Blog, Can Facebook Hold Your Fan Page Hostage?

Author Chuck Wendig, 25 Ways To Fight Your Story’s Mushy Middle

Author Lindsay Buroker, What Does It Take to Become a Full Time Indie Author?

Author Anne R. Allen, Slow Blog Manifesto…and 8 Reasons Why Slow Blogging Will Help Your Career


Fantasy World Building. J.R.R. Tolkien

 

The vision and imagination behind The Lord of the Rings is hard to fathom. Written in 1937, The Hobbit was the first of Tolkien’s works within this series. The three remaining books followed over a span of twelve years. Tolkien gave me my first real taste of what high fantasy can be.

The Balrog, as seen in Peter Jackson's The Lor...

The Balrog, as seen in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

World building. It isn’t easy. Writers must create rules for their world to abide by, scenery perhaps never seen before, and creatures of vivid imagination. With fantasy comes conflict, and with conflict comes action. Action that makes sense, flows smoothly, and can hopefully be seen within a readers own imagination.

This can be the most difficult part of writing. Recreating the images we have created in our minds into words on paper. Words that resonate with the reader.

I see all my stories in my minds eye. Similar I’d say to a film reel. Scenes rush by in my head and try to catch them, and write them down.

Here is one of my favorite LOR scenes:

“The Balrog reached the bridge. Gandalf stood in the middle of the span, leaning on the staff in his left hand, but in his other hand Glamdring gleamed, cold and white. His enemy halted again, facing him, and the shadow about it reached out like two vast wings. It raised the whip, and the thongs whined and cracked. Fire came from the nostrils. But Gandalf stood firm.

‘You cannot pass,’ he said. The orcs stood still, and a dead silence fell. ‘I am the servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. You cannot pass. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udun. Go back to the Shadow! You cannot pass.’

“….Gandalf lifted his staff, and crying aloud he smote the bridge before him. The staff broke asunder and fell from his hand. A blinding sheet of white flame sprang up. The bridge cracked. Right at the Balrog‘s feet it broke, and the stone upon which it stood crashed into the gulf, while the rest remained poised, quivering like a tongue of rock thrust out into the emptiness.

With a terrible cry the Balrog fell forward, and its shadow plunged down and vanished. But even as it fell it swung its whip, and the thongs lashed and curled about the wizard’s knees, dragging him to the brink. He staggered and fell, grasped vainly at the stone, and slid into the abyss. ‘Fly, you fools!’ he cried, and was gone.” ~LOR, The Fellowship Of The Ring, J.R.R. Tolkien

**Here is the film scene:

Rarely do I think that movies hold a candle of the magic that books do. Especially when recreating a classic such as LOR. LOR however, is one of my exceptions. There is as much to learn from this series of films as there is to learn from the series of books. Both are incredible.

Having trouble writing action, creating worlds? Read some Tolkien, and remember to keep it clean and concise.

Related article: Fantasy World Building — Thanks To Star Wars and Legend

 


Fantasy World Building — Thanks to Star Wars and Legend.

Star Wars. My first taste of being transported into another world. I owned everything related to those first three movies. The books, the action figures, I think I even had the soundtrack. I was utterly mesmerized by that world. I owe a lot of my writing desire and curiosity to George Lucas. But I was pretty young when Star Wars hit the screen. Too young probably to start creating worlds with anything other than my vivid imagination. I hadn’t started writing stories at that point.

English: Opening logo to the Star Wars films

English: Opening logo to the Star Wars films (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Until the movie Legend came out. And then it was all she wrote. I was hooked. That movie, now somewhat of a cult phenomenon, changed the way I viewed the world (I was young, give me a break), and it triggered in me the desire to not only start reading fantasy and sci-fi like a fiend, but to start writing it.

(Give it 14 seconds)

What inspired you to walk the writing path?


Write On…

“One of the things that draws writers to writing is that they can get things right that they got wrong in real life–“

~Tobias Wolff

Tobias Wolff at an event at Kepler's in Menlo ...

Tobias Wolff at an event at Kepler’s in Menlo Park for his short story collection OUR STORY BEGINS. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Whatever  your reason for writing…..Write On.


To Outline Or…Not

English: Hot-swap states with transitions appl...

Image via Wikipedia

You had two roads to take, the gut instinct or the outline. You chose to write from your gut, let the story pour from your imagination onto the page. You didn’t think about where it was going because you knew it would get there. You’re 80,000 words in. Done. All feels great. Now what?

Now, Editing. You begin to go through your work chapter by chapter, detail by detail and you realize the transitions aren’t what they should be, could be, need to be or what you thought they were. Here is the biggest issue writing without an outline — headaches. You’ve got a great story but it doesn’t roll off your tongue quite right. It doesn’t work quite the way it sounded in your head.

Now for the rewrite. The biggest pain in the ass ever. It even trumps editing. And that is saying a lot. You rewrite from the beginning, move a paragraph here, a chapter there and think, okay, I can do this, it’s not so bad. Until it is bad. Until you have 30 chapters staring back at you asking to be properly read and all your thoughts become a jumbled, dizzying mess.

Now, let me start from the beginning. I’m not methodical. I’m a jumper. I get hit with an idea and I’m off. It’s my way, my style, my inspiration. But let me say that my style completely bit me in the ass. No outline is a bad idea.

I had notes. Pages and pages of notes, handwritten. I had documents–so many I couldn’t keep track of them all. In the beginning, I thought they were enough. In the end, they weren’t. Not even close. I had too many ideas. Ideas that I couldn’t reign in. Ideas that I couldn’t mold in the way I needed to—wanted to. I paid for those amateur mistakes in the end. Through rewrites, a staggering number of drafts, cuts, edits, and revisions. Close to two years worth.

Now my notes are in an abstract outline form, still free-flowing, but an outline nonetheless. Word to the wise: Get your idea, work it through and outline it. Even if that outline is as simple as a few sentences per chapter–a few ideas. Even if you only have a kernel of an idea of what the beginning, middle, and end of the story should be. In the end you will gain a ridiculous amount of time, a better story and with any luck, your sanity.


What’s In A Beta Reader? Part 3

Expressions.

“So jump,” he sneered up at me.

Apparently one of my characters sneers a lot. Who knew? My beta pointed out that unless I meant for him to be laughing at the MC with contempt, maybe I should reword it.

SNEER: To smile or laugh with facial contortions that express scorn or contempt. (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

Ouch… Um, no, that was not my intent. At all.

Sometimes, it’s better to stick with said.

*related posts: ** What’s In A Beta Reader?

**What’s In A Beta Reader? Part 2


A Week in Links

Two Italian legal / accounting books (on Stato...

Two Italian legal / accounting books (on Stato Patrimoniale) lie open, one on top of the other. Only a few lines of the underlying book's text are legible because of the narrow depth of field (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I invest a ludicrous amount of time reading. Whether I read novels, blogs, craft books or research material, I always try to find useful or inspiring bits of information each week. And then I save them. Here are this weeks links:

Joanna Penn has a great post up on her blog, The Creative Penn. Tips For Writers: On the Importance of Persistence. You can find the link here: The Creative Penn

Anne R Allen has an interesting post on her blog. 12 Myths about being a Writer. You can find it here: Anne R. Allen’s Blog

Lastly, Steven Lewis has this post up on his blog, Taleist, Do you have the storyteller’s intelligence? Here’s the link: Taleist

WRITE ON, WRITERS.


Revisions. Listen to the Voice.

You know that feeling you get after you’ve logged in hours revising your novel, and then it dawns on you that you have to scrap chunks of it?

Yeah, I’m there.

I wanted to label it as a block. Pin it down to being “brain tired.” Chalk it up to, “I’ve been working on this piece too long, so now I’m just sick of it.”

Revision notes

Revision notes (Photo credit: jez`)

Reality?

That little voice in my head, the one that helps guide me down these cray writing roads I find myself on, that voice told me something was wrong. And it wasn’t because I was too tired, or blocked. It wasn’t because my story was too ingrained, or that I was sick of it. The voice stopped me in my revision tracks because something was wrong.

Scrap is a harsh word. Rewrite is a more appropriate one, and something I had not anticipated needing to do. But as I’ve said before, sometimes the story simply doesn’t work. Sometimes the ideas in your head don’t play out on paper in the grand scheme. Sometimes you need to rewrite a few chunks, so the rest of the chunks, work.

Listen to your voice. It doesn’t lie, and it won’t lead you astray. If something in your story doesn’t feel right, it’s because it isn’t.