Truthwitch characters as you’ve never seen them before… and a Truthwitch preorder giveaway!!

Truthwitch blog tour

Did you know there is only 60 days until Truthwitch is FINALLY out!!! I can’t
believe it, it has been the most excruciating wait ever, with so much excitement and fan-love dedicated to  this book! The lovely Liran over at Empress of Books asked a group of us to participate in this Truthwitch Secret Blog tour  (cue fangirling) and I was, of course,  ecstatic to join–this book you guys, this epic novel,  it is so SO worth the wait (the opening chapters are magnetic, you will not be able to put this book down).

In case you aren’t aware of what I’m talking about (where oh where have you been hiding?? And can I get a desk there so I can get some writing done!), this is the synopsis for Truthwitch by the lovely and talented Susan Dennard, and the beautiful UK Cover:

On a continTruthwitchent ruled by three empires, some are born with a “witchery”, a magical skill that sets them apart from others.

In the Witchlands, there are almost as many types of magic as there are ways to get in trouble—as two desperate young women know all too well.

Safiya is a Truthwitch, able to discern truth from lie. It’s a powerful magic that many would kill to have on their side, especially amongst the nobility to which Safi was born. So Safi must keep her gift hidden, lest she be used as a pawn in the struggle between empires.

Iseult, a Threadwitch, can see the invisible ties that bind and entangle the lives around her—but she cannot see the bonds that touch her own heart. Her unlikely friendship with Safi has taken her from life as an outcast into one of reckless adventure, where she is a cool, wary balance to Safi’s hotheaded impulsiveness.

Safi and Iseult just want to be free to live their own lives, but war is coming to the Witchlands. With the help of the cunning Prince Merik (a Windwitch and ship’s captain) and the hindrance of a Bloodwitch bent on revenge, the friends must fight emperors, princes, and mercenaries alike, who will stop at nothing to get their hands on a Truthwitch.

Truthwitch characters as you’ve never seen them before…

So many witchlanders have done super amazing blogposts about Truthwitch, and I was wracking my brain about what I could do a little differently… so I thought, you know what? I like the Simpsons, I like Truthwitch, how about a mashup!

Truthwitch characters as they may appear in the Simpsons:

Safi final (2)
iseult final (2)
Merik Simpson (2)
Aeduan (2)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately there were not many options for changing up what they were wearing, but you get the picture! (excuse the pun) These were created using the Simpsosmaker.

Also a Truthwitch Preorder Giveaway!!!!

This is international so long as the Book Depository ships to you. All you have to do is retweet here and follow!  Competition ends 30 November 2015, I will tweet who wins.

You can check out the rest of the Truthwitch Blog tour below:

November 1
Liran | Empress of Books
Alexandra | Literary Legionnaire

November 2
Kit | Let The Pages Reign

November 3
Hedvig | Sunroadreads

November 4
Em| Piplup’s Shadowy Bookshelf
Angel | Avid Reader

November 5
Stacey | Write All About It

November 6
Jaimie | Jaimiesam

November 7
Casey Marie | Little Red’s Reviews

Thanks for stopping by.

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The 7/7/7 Challenge

Thanks so much for nominating me for this challenge Kyrosmagica, you should check out her wonderful and inspirational blog on writing and books.

So what is the 7/7/7 challenge?

The rules are simple:

  • Go to page 7 of your WIP (Work in Progress)
  • Scroll down to line 7
  • Share the next 7 sentences in a blog post.
  • After the excerpt tag 7 other writers to continue the challenge.

From my current WIP – The Reason Why

Quick description:

Spero Blackburn—an epileptic misfit who experiences other world’s when she seizes—knows their is something unique about her. And she will do almost anything to find out what, even if it means stopping her medication for good. But after her foster mom finds out, Spero winds up in a psychiatric ward and must escape before the memories cease and it’s too late to learn who–or what–she is.

The excerpt: 

I shrug. “Purple flying-toads.”

“No way,” Ollie’s eyebrows perk and I love how much this intrigues him. How much he doesn’t look at me like I should be in a loony-bin with padded walls. He is my safety. I grab his arm and squeeze it, and he locks his lanky limb around my shoulder.

We grab our sketchbooks from our lockers and head to the Bit-monster, I have to get everything down before the memory dulls.

Before it all slips away.

Here are my nominations. Share a 7/7/7 of your current WIP 

Sorry, I don’t have seven, but join in if you’d like!

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3 Lessons writers can take away from (the dismal) Jurrasic World

Jurassic-World-logo1 I was SUPER excited to see Jurassic World, but came home BITTERLY disappointed. Basically before I went in I looked like a child on Christmas morning, and when I came out I looked like a sour lemon. What the hell was that gigantic dinosaur shit of a movie?

What follows are the reasons why I thought the movie sucked (spoiler alert), and what we need to remember to do as writers.

1. First and foremost, have a believable plot

Just like movie-goers, readers will be critical about the believability of the story that you are feeding them.  Now, I am not talking about the fact that dinosaurs are alive–we movie-goers know what to expect, we want to see badass dinosaurs doing their thing. What we don’t want is to be told that dinosaurs could be made into pets and follow human instruction, and could be used as a super awesome military weapon instead of drones (come one, they would just get shot in the face… ). I mean, come on! Like what? WHAT?! Are you serious?

… Well, if you buy that one, you should  at least hate the fact that when the big mean, genetically engineered T-Rex/Raptor/camouflaging frog escapes its cage the SWAT team comes in with tasers and nets instead of oh I don’t know an RPG or at the VERY least some gigantic-ass tranquilizer (we don’t want to lose our 32 million dollar investment, but we don’t care that it will destroy the billion dollar park and ruin the chances of ever opening the facility again).

Other things plot wise that irked me:

(1) The dome like hamster-ball allowing people to drive around the park where all the dinosaurs are, boasting it’s totally safe, bullet proof – oh no wait, a dinosaur can just slam it into the ground and it will break open – seriously it doesn’t take an intelligent dinosaur to stamp on the dome ball and kill people. This is unrealistic. This is stupid.

(2) When the dinosaur birds are let out of the bird aviary they head straight for all the people and try to pick them up in their talons, like they don’t just want to explore this awesome new place and fly out and do their own thing. Every single one of them wants to find people to eat. Like they weren’t getting fed or something.

(3) When the two brothers find an old battery from twenty years ago just lying on the shelf and use it to start an old Jeep, the next scene we find out that the brother doesn’t have a licence – yet he’s a whizz with cars. Go figure.

(4) Oh the painful, painful awkward kiss scene between the two leads – ill-timed and cringe-worthy. It was horrible to watch, I literally put my hands over my eyes.

(5) When Bryce decides the only way they can bring down the GE-dinosaur is by adding a T-Rex into the mix.

Lesson  learnt: no matter how cool your idea is you need a believable plot to back it up, or else, like me they’re going to want to leave the movie or put down that book. Not only that, you will have pissed off a reader and that means bad word of mouth and no going back for book 2.

I feel like I am missing a boat-load more things to add into why the plot sucked. But lets just leave it there, and move on to reason 2.

2. Don’t have clichéd characters with clichéd problems: don’t have unlikable characters

Characters –

BryBrycece: uptight workaholic who values work over hanging out with her sisters kids – sister then berates her for not both not wanting kids and then for not looking after kids. What do you know by the end of the story she’s all for kids. Her clothes become more inappropriate as the movie progress, skit ripped up the leg etc.

Older brother: obnoxious mean older brother is not interested in hanging out with younger brother, he drools at every girl he sees but, of course, comforts brother at time of need (when he finds out his parents are getting divorced, and whenBoys they’re being chased by dinosaurs).

Young brother: annoying young brother runs to all exhibits, is a know it all and yells excitedly at things – but is forlorn when brother gives him no attention, his brother stares at girls, or when his brother doesn’t know the parents are getting divorced (note this plot line never gets explained – we don’t know if this was a legit concern or not, and you know we really didn’t care).

Chris PraJurassic-World-New-Image-Chris-Pratt-Raptortt: I actually liked this guy, he was the one redeeming feature of the film, even if the raptor ‘pack leader’ plot line was a load of bollocks.

Lesson Learnt: don’t be clichéd, have likable characters that aren’t annoying. Make their motivations to act make sense, don’t just make them annoying, or obnoxious, or worker focused without backing it up with their reasons why. Or else it feels forced and your reader won’t be able to relate.

3. Don’t force your characters to feel things they just aren’t feeling 

(1) the kiss between the main characters felt forced and out-of-place

(2) the bond between the brothers also felt forced – there was often no lead up to the ’emotional’ scenes and so it felt like dialogue for the movie-goers sake, and not how the characters would naturally and act or what they would naturally say to each other.

Lesson Learnt: characters need to act as they would act, not as the plot dictates they should act so that they can have a character arc or to serve some non-existent romantic subplot.

Alright, rant over. Jurassic Park

What a disappointing movie. It made a mockery of the first, which had smart, intelligent leads, engaging characters, and character arcs that worked.

Tell me, did you like Jurassic World? Did you hate it? Did you take away any lessons of your own?

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It’s Not Just You

The Daily Dahlia

Confession: probably my biggest pet peeve on the planet is when people start a question with “Am I the only one who…?” No. You’re not. You’re not the only one who writes that way, reads that way, likes that food, likes that band, thinks Benedict Cumberbatch sounds like a Game of Thrones character or looks like someone squeezed Spongebob and stuck googly eyes on him…you’re just not. But. There’s a different kind of “Is it just me?” feeling, and that’s the stress of when you’re drowning in something and nobody’s talking about it and you feel like everyone’s got it together but you, and so you don’t wanna say a thing, and it all snowballs until you basically wanna curl up and die. I know that feeling. It’s why I wrote this post after splitting with my first agent. So in case you are wondering any of these things, I…

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EXCITED!! … I’ve won a 50 page editorial review from Paper Lantern Lit!

So TODAY  this happened:

And then this happened:

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And a bit more, like this:

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Super excited about this opportunity to receive critique from these industry professionals!

Yay!!

Thanks so much to the awesome hosts of the #YAParty – @LizaWiemer@irish_banana and @ReadingTeen for their SPECTACULAR giveaways.

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You guys are awesome!

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Taking it ‘bird by bird’ – instructions on writing and life by Anne Lamott

If you are writer then you have suffered from all kinds of horrid thoughts: the biggest of these are likely linked back to lack of confidence and self-doubt of ones own abilities, jealousy (even if we try and deny and surpress it) of friends and writers doing better than us, and telling ourselves we will never be good enough to cut it. Reading Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird is like being welcomed home; come right on in with those self-depreciating feelings, that dreadful first draft, and bring those gigantic elephants named jealousy and hatred of ones writing, they are all welcome here. Anne, is a kindred spirit. She has been through it all and lived to tell the tale, in the most raw, honest and hilarious manner.

Some of Anne’s wisdom that I particularly enjoyed (but of course, go buy the book for goodness sake, or it get it out at the library, your creative soul needs this):

“Writing and reading decrease our sense of isolation. They deepen and widen and expand our sense of life: they feed the soul. When writers make us shake our heads with the exactness of their prose and their truths, and even make us laugh about ourselves or life, our buoyancy is restored. We are given a shot at dancing with, or at least clapping along with, the absurdity of life, instead of being squashed by it over and over again.”

“Isolate one of the voices and imagine the person speaking as a mouse. Pick it up by the tail and drop it into a mason jar. Then isolate another voice, pick it up by the tail, drop it in the jar. And so on. Drop in any high-maintenance parental units, drop in any contractors, lawyers, colleagues, children, anyone who is whining in your head. Then put the lid on, and watch all these mouse people clawing at the glass, jabbering away, trying to make you feel like shit because you won’t do what they want–won’t give them more money, won’t be more successful, won’t see them more often. Then imagine that there is a volume-control button on the bottle. Turn it all the way up for a minute, and listen to the stream of angry, neglected, guilt-mongering voices. Then turn it all the way down and watch the frantic mice lunge at the glass, trying to get to you. Leave it down, and get back to your shitty first draft.”

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft.”

“You write a shitty first draft of it and you sound it out, and you leave in those lines that ring true and take out the rest. I wish there was an easier, softer way, a shortcut, but this is the nature of most good writing: that you find out things as you go along. Then you go back and rewrite. Remember: no one is reading your first drafts.”

“Don’t look at your feet to see if you are doing it right. Just dance.”

“I know some very great writers, writers you love who write beautifully and have made a great deal of money, and not one of them sits down routinely feeling wildly enthusiastic and confident. Not one of them writes elegant first drafts.”

“We write to expose the unexposed. If there is one door in the castle you have been told not to go through, you must. The writer’s job is to turn the unspeakable into words – not just into any words, but if we can, into rhythm and blues.”

“To participate requires self-discipline and trust and courage, because this business of becoming conscious, of being a writer, is ultimately about asking yourself, as my friend Dale puts it, How alive am I willing to be?”

Her book is refreshingly honest.

Go read it.

 

S.

 

How I go about plotting… using the Three-Act Structure

Recently, I lovingly shoved last year’s novel into the cavernous depths of the closet. Maybe I’ll revamp it one day, but not any day soon. There are a couple of reasons for this, the biggest one being that its dystopian through and through: a dead fish in YA publishing right now. As a result, I don’t want to invest a lot of time and energy revising, trying to make it ‘the one’. Its not marketable right now. I accept that.

To be perfectly honest, it needs a whole lot of work and that was going to be a DAUNTING task. I know novel number two will require a whole lot of work too, but at least I will be able to query it after the revision process without agents doing a form rejection because its dystopian. Gotta give myself the best shot I can.

ANYWHO, as a result of Novel 1 (lets call it, ‘The Citadel‘ – as I am still super attached to the original title, and want to keep it under wraps) being shelved I started the process of plotting Novel 2 (code name ‘Happily Never After’). So I thought I’d run through the constantly evolving process of how I go about plotting my novel:

Idea Generation

Normally a vague idea forms, for me this is nearly always about plot rather than character, and normally as result of the question ‘what if X happened because of Y and it led to Z’. For example, for The Citadel, I started with the idea of ‘what if, far in the future, as a result of world wars that had purged the world of most humans, a citadel had been created to keep the last  community of humans alive. What if they were protected by genetically engineered humans who had special abilities (once used as a weapon against other countries in the world wars), but the ruler of the Citadel lost it and decreed that no human was allowed to leave the Citadel. Those that did would be hunted (through a microchip inserted at birth) and killed.’ These were the initial kind of thoughts for my story The Citadel, note the main character hasn’t been described yet.

Notebook ramblings

Once I have the beginnings of a story I grab my notebook and write everything and anything that comes to mind. I will fill loads of pages with ramblings, arrows will shoot out across the page connecting one idea with another, post it notes will be strewn about (love this, because i can move post-its around later for when I put the ideas into the three Act structure).  I may even draw some terrible pictures. In the back of my mind, when I am thinking of these ideas, I am thinking about my key plot points and how these ideas may fit in to the three-act structure. 20150527_190923 20150527_190915  20150527_190629

Putting the ideas into the three-act structure

Now that I’ve got a sense of my characters and their world and the kind of obstacles that I want to throw in their way, I start planning what I want to happen for the main plot points using the three act structure. James Scott Bell’s Plot and Structure is excellent at describing how the three act structure works. For a hugely in-depth look at this, K M Weiland’s posts on this structure are amazing too, she uses great examples.

So what is the three-act structure? (with examples)

Act One

Forms the first 25 per cent of the book and sets up your protagonist in their normal environment before the first plot point pulls them into action. Things to do here: present character, setting, stakes and conflict, and possibly subtly introduce theme.

The hook: Aptly named, you are going to want to get your pointy hooks into the reader straight away. You do this by luring them in with a question that piques their curiosity; this needs to happen straight away, the first line if possible, if not–at least the first page.

Example“I first noticed I was missing on a Thursday” — Calling Invisible Women by Jeanne Ray

Woah, how does someone notice they are missing? Are they dead? Are they now a ghost? Doesn’t this first sentence raise a zillion questions in your mind? I don’t know about you, but after this I am dying to know what this story is about. That is what a hook should do. Do this with your story. The hook should be relevant to your plot, or else you are just setting yourself up for failure as readers get disappointed when the hook promises one thing, and the story delivers something different. Also, this can run the risk of setting the wrong tone for your book.

Inciting Event: The inciting event is crucial to your story, this is what sets everything in motion for your protagonist. The inciting event focuses on the core-conflict of your novel (it might be an inkling of whats to come, but it is the start of it all), and draws your protag into the story line.

Example: For Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (J. K. Rowling), this is when Harry Potter is set upon by the  sweet, goofy giant Hagrid and is told he has been accepted into Hogwarts. Without this, Harry would still be cooped up in that horrible little cupboard. 

The First Plot Point: At roughly the 25 per cent mark you are going to want to put your first MAJOR plot point. This is a turning point for your protagonist, she has been presented with a problem that she MUST react to. This reaction must be strong, changing something irrevocably.  This will set your protagonist on the path to the climax of your story. The stakes will be raised at this point; the protag can not go back to the way things were. This plot point marks the end of the first act, and propels the character, through how they react into the second act.  This is quite often accompanied by a total change of scenery.

Example: Continuing on with the Harry Potter example, at approximately 25 % through you will find Harry Potter at the train station,  catching the Hogwarts Express for the first time. This is the point of no return, the moment when everything changes for Harry.

Act Two

Out here in the middle… (for those ‘The Middle’ tv fans): Act Two forms the middle part of your novel, it commences roughly from 25% and goes to 75%. This is where your protag finds the time and space to react to the first major plot point, before they get to the Mid-Plot Point. The protag will face a series of challenges, flailing and struggling, learning the lessons that she needs to become badass and kick butt in the final act, and defeat the antagonist.

Mid-Plot Point: This can roughly be found halfway through your novel. This plot point needs to drive towards the core-conflict, upping the stakes. Instead of just reacting now, your protagonist is going to start to take  control and start taking action against the antagonist. This is the major moment that will push the protag from merely reacting, something big just happened and your protag MUST take action. Because they NEED to do something. If your protag is going to survive this mess, they’re going to have to stop defending themselves or burying their head in the sand, and go on the attack.

Example – Harry Potter defeats outwit the three headed monster to protect the stone and not allow Voldemort to obtain it. Harry is becoming bold, he is putting his life on the line to protect the stone. 

After the Mid-Plot Point your protag will be pissed off, something big just happened and they are now realizing that they ARE capable of fighting back, and that they want to respond, they NEED to take action. The stakes are high, your character has purpose and is highly motivated to take action, she wants to do something about the position she is in.

Act Three

This kicks off around the 75% mark and is the final act, it will round out your novel. This is where everything comes to a head, this is the moment you have been building too. This is where your climax will be. All those threads you’ve been laying out throughout your novel must come together and be tied off; all those wonderful subplots and the main plot must be resolved.

Third-Plot Point: this plot point kicks off the third act (around the 75 % mark).  It may not be as huge as the first, or the mid-point, but it should still be significant. This will set the protagonist’s feet on the path toward the final conflict in the climax. This will often lead to the protag getting all the final info they need to battle that antagonist in the climax, and come up with a plan that feels to the reader was inevitable, but never obvious.

Example: Harry realizes that Voldemort is the one behind trying to get the stone; then Harry discovers that Hagrid, in a drunken moment, accidentally told a disguised stranger how to get by the 3-headed dog. Harry is forced to take action, if Voldemort gets his hands on the stone he will be restored to his pre-Lily-sapping evil self.

Climax: Occurs very near the end of the novel, usually with only 10 % or less to go. It is otherwise known as the black moment, your protagonist is trodden by the antagonist force, and the reader believes there is absolutely no way the protagonist could get herself out of this one. The climax should have readers TENSE. Shoulders hard as rocks, tense; no finger nails left, tense; desperate to turn the page, tense. If your readers don’t find out what happens soon, they will cry out in agony. That’s your job as a writer.

Example: Harry finds the Sorcerer’s Stone in his pocket (because he is good and pure) and uses it to defeat Voldemort.

Resolution: this should not be long, normally only an extra scene or two to tie off any leftover loose ends and to leave the reader with the happy/hopeful or sad/reflective emotions you want to leave them.

How I plot my ideas into the three-act structure

I use post-it notes to play around with the ideas that I’ve brainstormed and line them up with the key plot points above in mind. To be honest, my ending is never full plotted out, I like to let this grow organically as I am writing ( though I may have a really broad idea of where I want this to go).

I also start to chronologically plot points (as in the second pic), however, again, this is subject to change once I’ve started writing; I never want to force it and try let the characters dictate where they want to go. See post it plan and bullet points in chronological order (the second one was from the Citadel). 20150527_214656 20150527_214738

 

As a fantastic follower on twitter pointed out, the photo and explanation above doesn’t really go into detail about how I line up the ideas with the three-act structure. So, after I’ve written all my ideas into the notebook (as mentioned earlier in post) I normally have a good sense (although pretty ‘high level’) of how the story will chronologically play out. I may even at this point write a bullet pointed list (as above). What I then do is assess how these plot points play out against the key components of the three-act structure (though I keep these major plot points in the back of mind as I am jotting down ideas in the note book phase).

The main points that I care about getting right are the Inciting Event, PP1, the Mid-point, and PP3 and I will know roughly what the climax is going to look like.  If PP1 isn’t strong enough to be the turning point for my protagonist, I will bolster this until my protag can only take that path. For example, the inciting event for my Protag involves a threat which she doesnt take seriously until PP1 makes it clear that she can not ignore it (the stake are raised, and it leads my protag on the path to the core-conflict).  I basically check the adequacy of the plot-points I’ve come up with, make sure they are doing what is intended at each plot-point and pop them on a chart. You are probably wondering why I have a lot of post it notes, this is because once I’ve got the core plot points down I start beefing this up with my other ideas.

(NB: if you were wondering what my colour code system was, orange was for my main plot points, yellow and pink were two different subplots that will weave into the main story line.)

I hope that helped shed a bit more light on my process, although it is not an exact science and seems to change a little each time.

Let me know how you like to plot your novels, are you a plotter or a pantser or something in between? S.

Um…where have YOU been?

Alright, this needs to be said.

I have been on a hiatus of sorts. Well, it all started with a trip to China in September of last year–what? that’s like almost a year ago! I hear you yell and scream, flinging words in my face–ah, yes *shakes head in disapproval* it has been some time. BUT, in that time, oh in that time, I have done a few things. Enough to keep me SUPER busy.

First, China pics. Because, oh WOW what an amazing place.

Oh what a wall, what a great wall. The GREAT wall of CHINA.  Then: sipping some genuine Chinese tea in Shanghai ‘mmm’ sweet, sweet jasmine AND relaxing in the Yu Gardens.

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Okay, now that’s done, where have I been. What have I been doing?

Well, late last year I purchased Holly Lisle’s How To Revise Your Novel course. Let me tell you, this course will nearly KILL you. But it will also make you a much, much better reviser AND writer. Holy, this course will chew up your manuscript, spit it out, dissect it with knives, then a blow torch, then put what remains into a wood-chipper and spit out a totally different story.

Then you get to PAINSTAKINGLY put it all back together, arranging the pieces into a MUCH, MUCH stronger, more KICKASS story: with focused characters with clear motivations that actually make sense–having eliminated those that don’t,  pacing that serves the story, scenes that have all the crucial pieces, and changing careless description into meaningful description that matters.

I could go on… for a long time… but I won’t. If you have trouble revising then this course could be a game changer. It is LONG, much longer than the 21 weeks of course materials that you get–for me at least. This will take as long as the novel needs. But it will breathe life into the revision process, giving you structure and direction.

So I began taking my WIP through this course, I got most of the way through before I realized that I wasn’t really invested in my idea any more and I knew my novel needed a total rewrite. I needed to change it from third person POV to first person to fit the story. I wanted to introduce a second POV to serve a subplot that strengthened the theme of the story. I needed to re-haul my MC’s love interest (they were way to quick to fall for one another-WAYYY). Plus the story was Dystopian, a dead fish in the sea of Young Adult novels. And the thing is, I knew I could write a much stronger story armed with the tools that I’ve learnt from writing book one, and from the HTRYN course.

So…enter current work in progress. I began plotting out this story in March of this year, let me tell you it was SO so exciting to begin this process again. I use the classic three act structure, and plot out the main plot points before I begin writing – so I outline a little to give me enough direction for where I want the story to go.  I find if I outline any more than this then it stumps my creativity, and the writing can feel forced–my characters need to have enough wriggle room to make the choices that feel natural to them, scene after scene.  So before I start drafting I like to have the following skeletal points nailed down:

  • inciting incident
  • plot point 1
  • midpoint (2)
  • plot point 3
  • climatic moment/black moment (all hope is lost moment)
  • resolution

In my next post I will be discussing each of these briefly, or at least what I think they are, and where I am up to in my first draft.

Until next time…

S.

YA Author Spotlight – Introducing K. A. Barker and her debut novel “The Book of Days”

I am SUPER excited to share with you some Q&A with Australian’s latest up and coming YA Author, K. A. Barker. Seriously, if you haven’t heard of her debut novel “The Book of Days” then you are missing out on something special, check out the blurb for the book below:
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“Most people believe the best way to forget someone is to throw them down a well. Or lock them in a room with eight keys, or bury them at a crossroad in the thirteenth hour. But they’re wrong. The best way to forget someone is for them never to have existed in the first place.

Madame Marisol’s Unreality House was where you brought people to make that happen.”

When sixteen-year-old Tuesday wakes from sleep for the first time, she opens her eyes to a world filled with wonder – and peril. Left only with a letter from the person she once was, Tuesday sets out to discover her past with the help of her charming and self-serving guide, Quintalion.

Along the way she runs into one-legged mercenaries, flying cities, airships, and a blind assistant librarian. But danger lurks amidst the steam. The leader of the merciless Daybreakers is hunting her, convinced that she killed the only woman he ever loved. Tuesday will need all her wits about her to survive long enough to find out who she is and her connection with the mysterious Book of Days: a book that holds untold power…

How COOL does this sound! I cannot wait to pick up a copy when the book releases this SEPTEMBER (you can get a kindle copy on amazon here “the Book of Days”).

And now to hear from the Author, first about the book and then some excellent advice for writers:

What an awesomely unique blurb, where did the idea for The Book of Days come from?

History!  I’ve always been fascinated by the Industrial revolution and the idea of a country struggling between two ways of thinking – the old agrarian life vs. industry, city-living, and inventions.  So I wanted to take that concept and transplant it in a world where magic was the old way and it clashed with airships and science.

Give us an insight into your main character. What does she do that is unique to her?

Tuesday is, above all things, curious.  She’s new to the world and so is fascinated by everything in it.  I think she would quite happily spend the entire book wandering around and patting everything if I didn’t take her in hand.

But that innocence was great fun to play with as I sent her on a quest to find her identity and threw plenty of bad guys after her.

If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaption of your book, who would play your characters?

This is such a fun question.  I think every writer secretly casts their own books.  Initially I pictured Saoirse Ronan as Tuesday, but I think she’s aged out of the role.  My dream casting for Quintalion, however, no matter how old he gets, would definitely be Adrian Lester.

How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning?

For a lot of characters, I do.  First off, they have to linguistically make sense within their birth country, so I’m not going to have a Fred and a Mariko.  Secondly, the name has to fit the character – a name with lots of consonants for a warrior, for example.  And if I can sneak a meaning in there, then I’m even happier.

I noticed John Marsden endorsed your book, he is awesome, and that is so cool, have you read your fair share of Marsden books and if so, what were your favs?

You know, I haven’t.  I somehow managed to completely miss the Tomorrow, When the War Began series in high school.  I enjoyed So Much To Tell You though, which is a sign of how great his writing is, because I’m not usually a fan of diary books.

Are you a plotter or a pantser? Tell us a little about your writing style

I used to be the biggest pantser in the world, but then I took part in NaNoWriMo, where you’re writing 50k words in a month, and you really can’t be a pantser otherwise your story will suddenly lose the plot and gain a couple of ninjas.  So now I plan the important story beats out ahead of time, while still leaving enough room to breathe so hopefully I can still surprise myself.

 Why did you choose to write in the YA genre?

YA is like storytelling in high gear.  You can focus on story and characters without any of the fluff that a lot of adult books are weighed down with.  I love being able to get straight into the fun stuff.

What authors have inspired you to write?

Emily Rodda and Tamora Pierce for introducing me to fantasy as a kid, and Neil Gaiman for making me try to better myself in the hope of one day having half his talent.

If you didn’t like writing books, what would you do for a living? 

I would probably be chasing the musical theatre dream.  I sang in high school and hoped to attend the Queensland Conservatorium if I hadn’t studied creative writing in uni.

What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?

  1. Write consistently. It’s so much easier to get in the right frame of mind if you’re forcing yourself there every day.  Soon it won’t even be a struggle.
  2. Enter every writing competition you can. I probably wouldn’t be published yet if I didn’t enter the John Marsden Prize on a whim because my friend said I should.  The publishing industry is about contacts as well as talent, and you can develop these by getting your name out there in competitions.
  3. Believe in yourself. Writing is long and hard and lonely.  It can be easy to want to give up.  But you have to believe in yourself… you have a story inside of you that only you can tell, and if you give up now, the world will never get to read it.

 If you want to learn more about K. A. Barker, the link to her website is here. Or you can follow her on twitter: @k_a_barker

Here’s the quick scoop:KBphoto

K. A. Barker is a twenty-something writer from Brisbane, Australia. She writes books about imaginary places and impossible deeds. Her first Young Adult novel, The Book of Days, is due out in September from Pan Macmillan Australia. She is fond of dirigibles, good books, shower singing, cheesy adventure movies, and time periods not her own.

When things get cluttered…

Sometimes when I write everything lives in cluttered piles around me: the dishes, the laundry, the papers upon papers on my desk/dining table–which have magical replicating powers allowing them to continuously overflow even when pushed into semi-organised piles. This chaos leads to stress, which leads to lack of writing, which leads to cleaning, which hopefully, will lead back to writing.

I need to remind myself to stop to breathe, because as writers we get consumed by the world we have created and the characters that give life to that world, and for the longest time I can’t see the clutter growing, and when I stop for a second and notice the mounds, it can weigh me down.  And as much as I want to continue to write and ignore the growing piles, I know that this is real life interjecting to let me know that I need to function in both spaces, the writing world and the real world, and in order to do that the things in the real world need to get sorted before the muse in the writing world will listen to my ramblings, and will organise said ramblings into a string of literary genius (or at least words that make sense).

So muse, I’ll be back, but right now I have some cleaning to do. Need to unclutter so that the writing can come freely and totally unobstructed.