Writing as a Superpower

Superhero movies are everywhere right now. Spiderman, Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, you name it. I mean, who wouldn’t want to watch stories about often ordinary people becoming larger than life and saving the world? They capture our inner child, and the part in every one of us that wants to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.

Which superpower would you want to have? Flying, super strength, x-ray vision? I’ve always thought that flying would be the best superpower. I could go anywhere I wanted in the world, anytime. Not to mention I’d never have to deal with traffic again.

But while those are all great superpowers and would be so super cool to have, I think we have a pretty great superpower of our own.

Writing.

How could writing be a superpower? You couldn’t stand in Godzilla’s path of destruction, hold up your pen, and command him to stop. Well, you could but you’d just end up a little human bug squashed on the bottom of his foot. You couldn’t do much of anything in a big screen superhero world except be one of the many citizens running for their lives.

But off the big screen, in our real world, writing has a lot of power. A lot more than we realize, sometimes. I bet every one of us can name the book or author who sparked our love for words, or who inspired us to change in some other way. For me, it was Tamora Pierce. I’d always loved reading, but her books started a fire in me that I couldn’t put out, and haven’t been able to, to this day. Not only did she inspire me to write, but she taught me so much about myself and life at a time when I was so young and trying to figure everything out.

Writing has the power to change lives. Books can inspire a new generation of writers. They can shape or even redefine someone’s perception of themselves, or the world. Books can open eyes, and call people to action to change the wrong in our world.

I’ve heard countless stories and have friends who say that books saved their lives. I myself am one of them. You can read my full story here, but writing is what got me through my illness, and through the absolute darkest moments of my life. Writing was that one beam of light, when everything seemed hopeless. It has given me strength, motivation, and hope.

Sometimes I am just so amazed at the power books can have to truly change lives. Isn’t it beautiful, how words and stories are one of the few things that can affect us all, no matter age, race, country, or language? And by affecting all of us, they bring us together, unite us, in a way that nothing else can? Stories are the world’s most powerful tools.

By changing each of these lives, by affecting us and uniting us, writing has the power to change the world.

Just look at the Hunger Games series. While they are undeniably brilliant, I doubt that Suzanne Collins expected to create real-world impact when she wrote those books. Real-life protesters in Thailand adopted the three-finger salute to challenge a military coup in their country. I got chills seeing some of the images from those protests. And very recently, the Ferguson protests, which happened to be the same week as the Mockingjay release, I kept thinking of the movie when watching news coverage. Katniss’ words to Snow replayed in my mind: “If we burn, you burn with us.” And then, those exact words appeared tagged on a wall during the protests.

This is one of the many things I love about books. There really is nothing else that can have so much power. But this is also something we have to consider as writers, the same way superheroes have to consider how to use their powers. How will we use writing for good? How will we use it to change lives, or even the world?

Your writing doesn’t have to be epic or grand, with some sort of deep, lasting, philosophical message. Even if your writing is just a scary story for a thrill, or a love story, or just for fun, your writing will still influence someone. You have the power to change a life, even if it’s as seemingly simple as falling for a new genre, or learning about relationships and love, or finding a passion for writing. Because if every single one of us changes just one life, together we have changed the world.

So writers, assemble! The word signal is lit, our writing senses are tingling, and it’s time to save the world, one word at a time 🙂

Advertisements

TBAS Snapshot

Hey all! With the semester almost over and the holidays coming up, things have been a little crazy but I’ve still managed to get some editing in. If you hadn’t heard, I finished my WIP Nightfire! You can read my post all about that here. But I know that y’all have liked the snapshot posts, so I thought I would continue them as I dip my toe into the editing phase, and eventually get into major revisions where I’ll be picking apart my beautiful shiny MS completely.

I created To Build A Story to take you through the writing process and journey with me–which doesn’t stop when I’ve finished the first draft. I’ve changed up the snapshot a little bit so I can give you a better look into my editing process.

Title: Nightfire

Current word count: 67,505

Words written this week: 500

Words cut this week: about 100

What I’m working on: My first full read through of the story start to finish, with some light edits and tweaks. I’m actually surprised by how well it turned out. I expected I would have to destroy most of it since it is only the first draft. But I think that the beginning is very strong, though it does start to change around the middle, with the parts I wrote for CampNaNo. They’re not awful, but they’re not entirely working, though I need to figure out exactly where I want them to go before I try to fix them. I also finally divided (most of it) into chapters! So at least there is some sort of organization and logic now.

Favorite lines: 

In this ever-shifting world, only two things are sure. Tangible, unchanging.

The breath in my lungs, and the drumbeat in my chest.

I sit crouched in my vantage point, my muscles stiff with cold yet poised to strike, an arrow notched in my bow. My breath crystallizes as it meets the frigid night air, swirling clouds from my lips. Here in this austere silence, instinct pulses through my veins and my humanity falls away.

I am a predator, born to kill.

Goal for next week: I’m a little over halfway through, and I hope to have finished this read-through by then!

Crossing the Finish Line

I apologize for the lack of posts this week, but I have a good reason: my sister is having a baby! By the end of this weekend, I am going to be an aunt, and I couldn’t be happier 🙂 So life has been a little crazy in between classes, social life, and getting ready for the new addition to our family. But I have some big news for you all today!

Despite the craziness, I was struck with a few good sessions of manic inspiration, and I finally did it.

I finished Nightfire! 

It has officially gone from a WIP to an MS, with a final word count of 67,154. I can’t even begin to explain the feels I have right now. I was crying while writing the final scenes, which I hope is a good sign (or maybe just means I have issues). I feel very strongly about this manuscript. I think it has a lot of promise and could be my best yet. Though it is still very raw, I can’t wait to share it with y’all, and I am so looking forward to all of the plans I have for it and the rest of the series.

Writing Nightfire has been a whirlwind. I started in the end of June this year, wrote 20,000 in July for CampNaNo, then took three months to write the next 20,000, and by November, five months later, I’m finished. It has by no means been a smooth ride–which if you have been following me, you are well aware of. (If not, you can check out my posts tagged either To Build A Story or CampNaNo). But everything is so worth it in this moment. Because though it is still raw and imperfect, I have a shiny, new, beautiful manuscript.

I’ve been enjoying it as much as I can, as long as I can. I read almost half of it in one sitting, cozied up in a blanket fort with a cup of coffee and my dog curled up beside me. At this moment in time, no one else has read this story, known this world, fallen in love with these characters, but me. I love that. And I love everything about this story, even in all its imperfect glory.

Though it’s not the first time I’ve fallen in love with a story, I am still head over heels for this one, and I never want it to go away. I know it will, when I get deep into the edits and start picking it apart into pieces and have stared at it until I want to gouge my eyes out with a spoon. That day will come, but it is not this day. This day is for cuddling my fresh, pink little baby and shielding it from the world as long as I can.

Five months is by far the shortest time I have ever taken to complete a novel. I have learned so much about myself in this process, and grown so much as a writer. This is the first time I have written a novel while connected to the online writing community, and it is a completely different experience.

There are both positives and negatives to this. On one hand, I had to consider others’ opinions and the context of publishing, which I’ve never really had while writing before. On the other, I have never had such amazing support through both the highs and lows. I’ve had all the wisdom and advice of the entire blog and Twitter-verses combined, right at my fingertips. Needed a word? No problem. Advice on a scene? Got it. Without word sprints and words of encouragements from my fellow bloggers and Twitter peeps, Nightfire would not have happened. Well, it would have, but most certainly not in five months. With everything that has been going in my life lately, I doubt I would have finished in a year, or maybe even at all.

So as much as this is a moment for me to feel proud and accomplished, you all should too. Without you, I couldn’t have done this.

In a way, we all wrote Nightfire together. And one day, when it is on the shelves, you’ll be able to pick it up and say, “I helped make this.”

We did it.


I had planned to do another snapshot post for y’all, but I had most definitely not planned to finish before I could. So I thought I would leave y’all with a final snapshot in this post, and maybe do some more as I begin the editing process.

Title: Nightfire

Current word count: 67,154

Words written this week: 3935

What I’m working on: I finished that pesky battle scene, wrote a transitional romantic scene that was so perfect for these characters, and wrote the climax and resolution. I really surprised myself, and I love how everything turned out. I pushed Kera and the others to their brink, and farther. And I ended with a little bit of mystery that alludes to events in the next book, which I am so excited to explore.

Favorite lines: 

His words fall on the austere silence, with only me and the black stalks of the trees as witness. I look up, searching his face. The raw, unnamable pain rooted in my chest is mirrored in his features. “I am sorry,” I breathe.

“I promised him that I would find a way to bring him back. But every year I get older, and he gets older, just rotting in that tank, waiting. And I’m no closer to finding a cure than I was six years ago.” Torren’s voice catches and he clamps his jaw shut, his temple trembling.

“I know the feeling,” I say.

Our eyes meet, and something unspoken intertwines us, binding us through this shared, unnamable ache. We have both known joy and the desolation that comes with having it taken away. Grief deeper than words can touch, lodged beneath our hearts like parasites.

Words left to write: Zero! *throws confetti*

How We Fall Book Blast

Hey all! I am so glad to get to share this with you today. Kate is such a talented author and when I started to read the first chapter of her upcoming book, HOW WE FALL, I couldn’t stop. After you read the first chapter below, I know you’ll be hooked too.

The #YAlaunch book party in celebration of HOW WE FALL and Nikki Urang’s THE HIT LIST is happening November 10th (today) from 6-9pm central. It will be a great opportunity to connect with other readers, hear from some great authors, get your questions answered, and possibly win one of 100 books they’re giving away! Not to mention, I’ll be there, so now you have to come 🙂


 

How We FallHow We Fall
Kate Brauning
Merit Press, F&W Media
Releasing November 11, 2014
Hardcover: 304 pages
ISBN-10: 1440581797
ISBN-13: 978-144058179

Ever since Jackie moved to her uncle’s sleepy farming town, she’s been flirting way too much–and with her own cousin, Marcus.

Her friendship with him has turned into something she can’t control, and he’s the reason Jackie lost track of her best friend, Ellie, who left for…no one knows where. Now Ellie has been missing for months, and the police, fearing the worst, are searching for her body. Swamped with guilt and the knowledge that acting on her love for Marcus would tear their families apart, Jackie pushes her cousin away. The plan is to fall out of love, and, just as she hoped he would, Marcus falls for the new girl in town. But something isn’t right about this stranger, and Jackie’s suspicions about the new girl’s secrets only drive the wedge deeper between Jackie and Marcus.

Then Marcus is forced to pay the price for someone else’s lies as the mystery around Ellie’s disappearance starts to become horribly clear. Jackie has to face terrible choices. Can she leave her first love behind, and can she go on living with the fact that she failed her best friend?

Praise for How We Fall:

Kirkus Reviews: “Debut novelist Brauning tells a touching story of young, star-crossed lovers caught in a drama they have tried hard to avoid…. A sweetly written mix of mystery and romantic turmoil.”

School Library Journal: “Heartbreaking and well-paced, this mystery novel challenges readers to look past preconceptions and get to the know characters, rather than focus on an uncomfortable taboo. Brauning’s characters are well developed and their story engrossing. An intriguing thriller… this title will raise eyebrows and capture the interest of teens.”

ALA Booklist: “…an unusual combination of romance and suspense…There is also something universal about Jackie’s struggles with her feelings and her desires, and readers will identify with her emotions, while going along for the plot’s ride. This quest for identity, wrapped up in an intriguing mystery, hooks from the beginning.”

How We Fall is available through:

Barnes & Noble Indie Bound Walmart.com Book-A-Million Book Depository Powell’s

Amazon.com Amazon.ca Amazon.co.uk

All book lovers are invited to attend #YAlaunch, a giant book party for How We Fall and The Hit List on Monday, November 10th, from 6-9pm central time. Broadcast live over video, the party will allow you to see, hear, and interact with the authors. 10 YA and adult authors will be discussing everything from writing a series to how they write love interests. They’ll also be playing book games with the audience, taking questions, and giving away 100 books to guests attending online. Authors attending include NYT bestsellers Nicole Baart and Tosca Lee, Kate Brauning, Nikki Urang, Kiersi Burkhart, Bethany Robison, Alex Yuschik, Blair Thornburgh, Kelly Youngblood, and Delia Moran. It will be a fun and interactive evening for anyone who loves books and wants to spend some time with great authors. For more information and to sign up to attend, please click here. We’d love to see you there!

Author Bio:www.jenniophotography.com

Kate Brauning grew up in rural Missouri and fell in love with young adult books in college. She now works in publishing and pursues her lifelong dream of telling stories she’d want to read. This is her first novel. Visit her online at http://www.katebrauning.com or on Twitter at @KateBrauning.

Why I Said No To Nano

NaNoWriMo is not for the faint of heart.

I had always heard stories, but finally got a taste of it myself when I participated in CampNaNo this July. Though I only had a goal of 20,000 instead of the standard 50,000, I learned a lot about the process–and myself.

CampNaNo was a great experience. My favorite part was by far the community. I made new connections, and became closer with some I already knew. The support was amazing from my fellow writers, both those participating and those not. I also challenged myself, and I made my goal even though I didn’t think I could.

So, if CampNaNo was great, why didn’t I join NaNoWriMo this year?

I’ve been telling people that November is too busy in the semester for me to possibly do it. Which is true, but it is not my only reason for not participating.

While CampNaNo was a great experience, and I learned about myself, I also learned that I do not work well in that setting. Yes, I met my goal, and yes I got the words out, but it was painful. And when they were out, they were awful. Those awful words sent me into a battle with my writing, that lasted three months after CampNaNo. After writing 20,000 words in one month, it took me three months to write the next 20,000. Not only was I burnt out, but I lost my way, and struggled because I didn’t know how to fix what I had written, or where to go from there.

I love the concept of NaNoWriMo. I love the community and the challenge. But even if it is possible to do it, should you? I learned that yes, it was possible for me to do–but maybe I shouldn’t, because in the long run, it hurt my writing more than it helped me.

NaNoWriMo is awesome, and I’m cheering on all of you crazy brave enough to do it this year. But just know that it’s not for everyone, and it’s okay if it’s not right for you. That doesn’t mean you’re chicken, or any less of a writer than people who do NaNo.

Some people can churn out 5k+ words a day, and write for hours on end. Not all of us are like that. If you’re like me, you can go days without writing, then write two chapters all at once. Or write a few days in a row, but only get a couple paragraphs down. You might not have the luxury of being able to write for hours a day in order to meet that word count, or maybe you just don’t want to. Maybe that’s not how you work as a writer, and that’s okay.

If you’re participating in NaNo, you should get a medal. But if you’re not, be proud of your choice. We Non-Nanos have to stick together, and cheer our friends who are running  the NaNo marathon on. Because at the end of the day, NaNo or not, we’re all writers, and we’re all on the same team.

Good luck, and keep writing!

TBAS Snapshot

Hey all! So I thought the snapshot last week worked out pretty well, so I’m going to try it again this week. It is finally starting to feel like fall here, which I am loving, but I haven’t gotten many words down with Halloween weekend and trying to catch up in school. Not to mention I’m starting to get sick, but I hope it will give me some time later this week to write some more, and hopefully I’ll have a better word count for y’all next week. 🙂

Title: Nightfire

Current word count: 64,134

Words written this week: 1345

What I’m working on: Still working on the same battle scene (sigh). I haven’t written much this week though, either. But I am very close to the end of it! I have the action all down, I just need to fill in some details and the aftermath. I also surprised myself with some awesome bits of gore.

Favorite lines: 

She is gone.

I cry out involuntarily, a strangled mix of frustration and grief.

“Kera?” Torren says from behind me.

“Hana,” I manage, my voice raw with a sudden, searing ache. “Hana!”

My voice is swallowed by the clash of metal and bone, by the garbled cries of dying men. I throw aside the bow and take up the sword, running headlong into the fray, only one thought in my mind. I have to get to her.

I can’t lose her again.

Words left to write: Around 4k, maybe even less. It really depends on how long the climactic scene ends up, but it shouldn’t be too long. Really looking forward to the next couple scenes!

Resisting the Urge

As writers, we constantly have inspiration and ideas floating around. Most of the time, they’re just fragments of ideas that we jot down for later and then forget about. But sometimes, we are struck like a bolt of lightning with an idea we can’t ignore. What happens when  you’re struck in the middle of another project?

I already wrote this post about the struggles of working on two manuscripts at once, and the difficulty of keeping the voices and stories distinct from one another. Of course, now I’ve been struck with an idea for an entirely new story, and though I’ve tried my best I can’t ignore it.

I already scribbled a brief outline of all my ideas, just to get them on paper in the hopes that it would make them leave me alone and I could still save them for later. Of course, nothing is ever that easy. This morning I had some words rolling around in my head and I couldn’t get them out, so I decided to jot them down. That turned into the opening scene, which turned into culture research, which turned into more ideas, which turned into character development, which turned into characters. Now I have two more voices, shouting for my attention.

When we’re faced with a competing idea, we either have the choice to ignore it or give in. At this point, with two current projects–one manuscript, Ember, I am preparing for publication, and the other, Nightfire, I am so close to the end of the first draft, with three more books to write in the series–I can’t possibly start another.

I’ll admit, it’s exciting. I am starting to see the bare bones of this story come together, and I love it. I’m excited about this idea, and this world, and all the possibilities. But I can’t get excited over a new story when I need to stay excited and devoted to this one in order to make it through three more books.

I tried ignoring it, but that didn’t work, so I wrote what I can to save it for later. Now it feels like I’ve opened the floodgates, but I’m still trying to plug the holes.

How do you resist the urge, when a new story is tugging at you? Do you give in, or do you stop the holes and hope that is enough?