Hello everyone! Sorry for no blog last week, I needed a short break to finish my Self-Edit of Fire’s Hope and guess what?! I finally finished it! FH is as ready as I can get it for the professional edit and today I sent out my baby to my editor!
Quick Update for this week:
Beta reading is going swimmingly and I’m so thankful to everyone who signed up! I’m loving all my betas and your feedback is making me laugh as well as think critically of my story which I greatly appreciate.
This week I’m planning on sending FH to a small group of Critique Partners, and I’ve given my main CP (I love you Jo) a printed copy in a new binder! It’s so pretty and clean unlike my old one which is a crazy annotated mess!
Lastly, I have to compile one more Beta Doc with the last four chapters. It was keeping to my schedule as closely as I could that prevented any of my betas from getting to chapter 14 and going “where’s the last chunk?” It’s done now! So I’m ready for whatever you guys throw at me!
Just a reminder, Beta Reading will be open until March 16, so sign up now if you still want to read Fire’s Hope!
I’ve written a lot of books!
Even though Fire’s Hope is my first book I plan to publish, I have written 14 manuscripts all of which I’ve had different adventures with and take place in the same universe. In this installment of my weekly blog I will be breaking down how I wrote each of my books an in what time frame as well as my editing insights for keeping things consistent across such a huge series.
I started work on FH in October 2010 when I was thirteen after an inspiring dream, under the name THE SHADOWS and with no prior planning, I dove right in, creating for myself a massive, novice mess which I’m still cleaning up to this day. Some chapters were impossibly short, the climax arrived in the middle and the second have of the book was riddled with pointless scenes that just kept coming. The original ending was cringey, and I’m glad it’s gone. But I’ll never hear the end of the dreaded epilogue…
I finished the first draft the following year, and I wasn’t sure if I was happy with the one shot, or if I wanted to continue. but thrilled with the success of finishing a story, I jumped into another with even less planning
Under the working title THE HALOS, this story had even less planning, and it was about a quarter of the way through that I decided I wanted to “kill” my main character. This was when I forced myself to learn how to research. If I was going to injure my MC, I needed to understand how hospitals worked and what terminology I needed to know, outside of the stray hospital scene in movies I’d watched. I scoured Wikipedia and WebMD, they’re still my favorite resources. The result was a book with the most boring and petty first act, a bloody and violent second act that I found out later wasn’t as abominably gory as I thought, and a third act that effectively set up the next book. It got better and I was feeling more confident.
TS:Halo’s Rag Doll
In the fall of 2011 I hiked Old Rag with a friend and on the way up we brainstormed about an adventure story I deemed “a trek” it’s a model I still love. After talking for hours, I wrote down my first sort of outline, experimented with a few scenes, and after I had come up with a usable skeleton, I wrapped up LC to tie in the story, and dove in! Under the working title of THE NOVAS, I quickly determined I didn’t like the titles I had thus far, and decided to rename my books to Fire’s Hope, Laevatein’s Choice, and Halo’s Rag Doll. The consistent system: Posessive + object. Along the lines of writing I discovered Anime and this changed everything about how I write! within the first few chapters of HRD, I introduced the concept of a chronic disease among the Shadows, and had Kip hiding this through the story. Mark’s hair grew out, his design came to include a half shirt to show off his abs, and I gave him big feathery wings. Also I hinted at a little BL in HRD.
While I was still writing HRD I busted into outlining the rest of my series! creating concepts for NL, TA, SC, and Pre. I wanted to have seven books like Narnia. Also my then 100k word count per book started to skyrocket! Nova’s Love clocked in at 148.3K, Trust’s Anticipation beat it at 185K, and Strength’s Conflagration hit 230k! Everything was outlined, every scene, a lot of dialogue, every theme of the book, and I was having fun! In NL I experimented with mystery, which was hard, since being the author you know the ending, and I learned to be careful to not throw in hints too much. I wanted the reader to learn the mystery when I wanted them to. Writing the payoff of that mystery is still something I love to go back and read, and I’m so confident in Nova’s Love despite being 15 when I wrote it.
TS: Trust’s Anticipation
Over the summer I turned 16, I started TA, which was unnamed until the day I started writing it. I could not figure out what to name this book. I had an outline, I had a plan, and….. EVERYTHING FELL APART! I followed the basic skeleton of the book, but none of the details were the same! In the middle of writing I decided a titular character was completely blind, and I had an argument with a friend whose character I had used in the story and I had to scrap the character and start over! The character started out as a boy who was meant to distract Mark from a mission, then my friend’s character was a girl running from her dangerous ex, then our argument happened and the character became a two-year-old who could control his own age, steal Shadows, and do a load of other fun stuff. He ended up being the antagonist of the book, and I still love him, he was awesome! I guess what I learned from TA, was to not plan so much and to improvise as I write to have fun. it stayed coherent and I believe it was a better story for it. I also wrote TA in only three months, which I’m super proud of.
TS: Strength’s Conflagration
This book I had planned out while I was still writing LC, and my goals for the series changed a lot in the midst of that story so of course the end result was a lot different. ultimately I was super happy with the evolution of my ideas, and SC is a great happy closer to the first series. And then… tragedy struck. a drawing of one of my characters I had framed fell from my shelf and shattered, already debating it in my mind, unsure if I really wanted to end the series like that, I sobbed over the shattered pieces and decided I couldn’t kill him, which meant I had to rework the ending of SC. I had to figure out how to save him, and I had to rack my brain as hard as Mark did to save this poor guy’s life. In the end he survived with some scars, and he is alive to this day, BECAUSE I STILL CAN’T KILL HIM!! *ugly cries*
This book is not the book I planned! Originally called Art’s Request, it was all about Mark, it was domestic, it was the closure, and it had no plot. Mark was going to be married, grieving the then recent death. He’d reconnect with Kip aannnddd…. where was this going again. I scrapped that. The story then began to revolve around Irwin’s kid William. it’s still a very domestic story despite the super powers, but I was challenged with writing a believable 5 year old as a main character without destroying my reader’s brains with baby talk. I took some liberties with the scifi and made William a little smarter than average so that I could avoid baby talk, and I made sure his intelligent was essential to the story. I had a lot of fun with Pre, and as it was my first deviation from Posessive + Object in the title it became the first book in my second series.
If anyone dares to know what happened in the dreaded epilogue of Fire’s Hope, look no further than TS:No. Here’s the concept, a hundred years in the future, Iszeldier’s mom get’s murdered and he has to run off and survive. that was the premise, that was all I had when I was 13, and I considered making this my second book. What TS:No became was far more fabulous than anything I could have ever immagined. I outlined it to death, I color coded that outline, I gave the story many POVs, and I gave it 3 main characters, and the best antagonist I had written yet! An antagonist that left my writing buddy heartbroken. The stakes were higher, the story was bigger, and most of all, my old main characters took the back seat. it was my second book to hit 200K, and that set the standard!
My standards become more streamlined, I outlined the book about a year before, planned everything, color coded, jumped in and followed the skeleton to keep myself on track while leaving room to improvise. TS:Puri stayed the closest to my original plot but at the end I pulled a fast on and once again scarred poor Jo for life. I had gotten it, I had figured out how to emotionally hook somebody so I could then twist that hook and make someone cry into the pages. I was sadistically happy. Poor Jo, I love you, sorry I put you through this.
Like TA, KL went unnamed until the day I started writing it because in the outlining process I decided the book was too long, I had to split it. this was a new endeavor and I was worried. the whole plot was leading in a certain direction, and to break it off meant there was no pay off, I would have to redirect the story. Thankfully I had not started writing and I had time. I switched gears of the story to focus on Caelan, giving him an arc in the foreground, distracting from the main plot so that the mystery could unfold quietly. I love Caelan’s arc, it’s a beautiful emotional struggle where he comes out on top. In the last two chapters I put the plot back on track, whipped around the antag’s true motivation then created my first cliff hanger. KL was only 130K but the shorter length was so worth it, filling the necessary gap before my longest book ever!
I knew SN was going to be long, but I didn’t prepare myself for the 300k words that fell from my fingers. I knew that my splitting the books I had room to take advantage of multiple character arcs, and to flesh out my antagonists plot. with a new outline I split up all my characters, keeping them in small groups, disjointing some of the groups even more as the story progressed, and devoting an entire subplot to physically and psychologically torturing Irwin! Supernova was a darker story, it was far more fantasy oriented, and I experimented with a little more language and adult content. To say this is a teen book is stretching it.
My outline was clear, but once again I found I needed to split the book, I was a little more prepared though, since Supernova took a good year and a half to write, I had time to get my outline together. Restoration and the following book received their names slowly, but now I was a little more focused on how I wanted to heal my characters emotionally, end their stories, and prepare for the next books. Restoration is an emotional journey, an internal affair of multiple characters learning how to deal with their recovery and overcome it. However, though all the characters grow, not all of them heal, leaving the readers with not only a cliff hanger, but one of the saddest endings I’ve ever written.
My ultimate goal with the second series, was to create characters who you could empathize with, characters you would care for, characters you would want to defend even if it seemed irrational, so that when Starchild came along and the story took this turn, you’d really feel for the character’s struggle. Starchild was a lot like Precognition in how it prepared for the next book, setting up new characters lightly, and fazing out the old. Starchild was difficult for me to write because at the time, I didn’t really have an outline for the next book, I just had an idea. Where I had written books with outlines prepared months and sometimes years ahead of time, writing Starchild felt like it was the end, and I was scared. This however, motivated me to revisit the first book, and finish polishing it to perfection so that I could publish it.
TS:Dragons on Skye
Finally, last summer 2017, I started writing DoS after a spree of outlining where I mapped the whole book in two days. DoS follows two Bloodless brothers, a Dire Wolf and a winged boy who can’t figure out how to turn into a dragon as they search for their families on the Isle of Skye. DoS is a little shorter than my other books, following a plot similar to my 3rd book HRD, in that there are several goals/macguffins/people they need to fetch. once the macguffins are obtained the plot can be predictable, so I’m concluding the book with a nice big twist that will lead into the next book. I’m still writing the first draft of DoS but I’m almost done with it. and getting ready to put together the outline for the next book TS:Dark Ice
Writing has become my life, after I got the thrill of finishing my first novel, I couldn’t stop, and after being with my characters for so long, I never want to leave them. I’ve tried branching out and writing settings outside of Shadows, but nothing has grown from it. As of now, I have 4 books planned, Dark Ice, a yet unnamed third book to the Fanir Dragons series, Predecessors, and Stealth which are both prequels to FH. To the best of my ability, I plan to publish Fire’s Hope in November 2018, but nothing is set yet as FH is currently in the beta process.
Beta Reading is open to new people until March 16, so if you’re still interested in Beta Reading Fire’s Hope be sure to sign up soon! If you’re on the fence the first three chapters are sill available to read on my website, links below.
Thanks for reading, see you all next week!