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.

A Whole New World

Hey all, sorry for the relative silence! I’ve been busy with classes starting and everything, but I am trying my best 🙂

I’ve said before that characters are the most important thing in a story. What is the second most important thing? Not plot, but world. But how can it be a story without a plot?

The reason I say world is more important than plot is because I think plot is relatively easy. Yes you have to come up with something different and interesting, but it’s point A to point B to climax to end. I say world instead of setting because I think it is just that–a world. It is the living,  breathing world that is not only where this story takes place, but could go on with its own stories afterward. I think world-building takes a lot more skill, and is a crucial part of the story that a lot of writers miss.

There can be many different approaches to world-building, but they all basically have the same goal: create an environment that feels real, no matter how imaginary.

When I first started writing books, world-building was something I more or less neglected entirely. Yes there was a setting–a futuristic city–but there was no world. There were a lot of nondescript hallways and buildings and places that probably made no logical sense but I used them because they worked for my plot (which I always put first). They did not have a world, but a shell. They were actors on a stage, with only a flat backdrop behind them.

Through reading, I learned that the stories I fell in love with were not the exciting ones, but the ones that completely enveloped me in this other world, so much so that I lost myself in them. Two of my favorites are The Hunger Games and Shadow and Bone. Shadow and Bone is probably my favorite example of world-building. I mean, wow.

Here are some of the things I have noticed that great world-building books use:

1. Details. The kind that you probably don’t even notice. The line about a rat scampering off into the darkness, or the smell of the salt air. These flesh out the world, and give the reader a sense of the world being alive, tangible. A good tip for details is to use senses, especially those other than sight, ones you don’t always think about when writing, like smell or taste.

2. People. No, your characters don’t count. This is a big thing I have noticed in successful books like The Hunger Games. There are mentions of people we never learn the names of, but they are there. Specific people, not just a crowd or group. A young woman and her children at the market, an old man sitting on a stoop playing cards. Your world does not just have your story, it has a hundred other stories in it as well, each with their own protagonists. Your characters cannot be the only real people, or their world feels empty.

3. Location. This one is a little bit trickier. What comes to mind for me is Shadow and Bone, when they are travelling, and each town or village has a name and something memorable about it. Some are harbor towns, others farming villages, some trading towns. But I think what makes it feel real is that each one of these places is established. The characters are not going from point A to point B, they are going from Townville to Villagetown, and each one has its own set of people and details to go with it. Think of each place as its own little world, with its own stories that will continue on as they always have, with or without your characters there.

4. Culture. This one is huge, but can be difficult. Every world and every society has some type of culture. This is everything from art and music, to laws and crime, to language and social expectations. It is difficult because it can be complex, and hard to be unique. It doesn’t have to be completely out there, though. You don’t have to create an entire language and law code and unique method of art. I think considering social structure and expectations is the easiest and most effective way to establish culture. It can be simple, such as how women are treated or how separated the classes are, but just taking the time to think about how these people live their lives can make a huge difference.

These are the four main things I have noticed, though each one can have different elements within it. I will write another couple posts on world-building, specifically how I have learned and used it in my WIP, Nightfire, which is something I am pretty excited to share with y’all 🙂 I hope these have helped. Do you agree? Did I leave something out? Let me know what you think!

To Build A Story: Plotting and the Unexpected

So, you might have noticed the sidebar hasn’t been moving very much. In the wake of CampNaNo, I haven’t been able to get very many words down. I’m still chipping away some, but I still need some time to get back to my old self. But don’t worry, I haven’t been idle. I’ve been very busy actually, just not in words.

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve reached the Twilight Zone that is the middle of the book. I’m at the point where I’m starting to wonder where the story is going, and honestly, before today, I couldn’t have answered that. I had a general idea, but the dots didn’t connect.

I had two long sessions with my amazing CPs, with a lot of coffee, brainstorming, and brilliant ideas (brain babies, as we call them) the pieces have come together.

My CP Rebekah and I talked about climax and resolution a lot, and she said a lot of things that really struck me (I’ll write another post on that later) but from listening to her feedback from an agent on her own story, I realized I had too much going on in my own story. Too many plotlines. I needed to reexamine my core conflict, my climax, and resolution. I needed to step back and look at the story arc, as a whole.

After I talked with them, I came home and wrote for three hours straight. I decided to focus on one plotline, instead of the many I had intended as subplots (but became much more important than intended) and pared away everything else. I wrote down the climax for this plotline, and then doubled the drama and the stakes. I created a resolution that tied off this conflict and plotline, but led to the next.

Which led me to the next book.

Yes, the next book.

From the beginning, I’ve intended for Nightfire to be a standalone. But through CampNaNo, I realized how much more story was there than I had thought. And these stories couldn’t just be side lines and subplots, they had to be told.

So then came the second book, and its story arc. Then the third. And the fourth.

Yes,  the fourth book.

I meant for Nightfire to be standalone, but as I wrote out the conflicts and arcs for each story, it led right into the next one. Sometimes (a lot of times) the story makes itself be told the way it wants to, not always the way you wanted.

So now I look forward to four books. A series. It will be the first series I’ve ever written. It’s somewhat daunting, but exciting at the same time. I really love the story of each one, and the progression of my characters and how the big picture unfolds over the course of the series.

My passion for this story has been reignited. Not that I ever stopped loving it, but I slowed down when I lost my way, and couldn’t see the end. Now I can see the end, and the next one, and the one after that, and the one after that.

When I finished CampNaNo, I thought I was halfway through this journey. But the story had different plans. This is just the beginning 🙂

 

I’ve been throwing around some title ideas for the other books, and wanted to get your input just for fun, though it’s obviously too early for anything definite 🙂 Feel free to throw out other ideas, too!

Book Review: ALTAICA

Altaica by Tracy M. Joyce is the first in the Chronicles of Altaica series. I received this from the publisher, Odyssey Books, through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Summary on Goodreads

“Look at her – she’s Hill Clan. Even the Matyrani don’t like them …”

Isaura – little is known about her race, but much is whispered. Born to refugees, she grows up enduring racism and superstition within a community that fears her. She has few friends, and those she treasures. Trapped, she longs for escape to a different life. 

Escape is only the beginning of her troubles. Having fled an invading army with her friends, Isaura is faced with heinous choices in order to survive. Secrets from her past emerge to torment her and threaten to destroy all she holds dear. Her struggles forge a bond with an ancient power – a power which may transform or consume her. Old hatreds and superstitions are renewed and at her most vulnerable she learns the true nature of those around her.

Her only hope lies in a foreign land – a land rich in tradition; ruled by three powerful clans. A land with a history marked by warfare; where magic as we know it does not exist. Instead what is here, in abundance, is a more primal power.

Survival carries a high price.

Welcome to Altaica.

The Good: Everything. A brilliant, wide cast of characters, unique, rich world, and interesting, exciting plot. I’ve read a lot of fantasy and this was a nice break from the usual canned storyline. Though Isaura was a good protagonist, I found myself attached to and invested in a number of other characters–there were plenty I thought could have been the protagonists themselves. I tore through this book, page by page, and my only regret is that I read it so fast, and I have to wait so long until the next one! 

The Not-So-Good: I had a hard time with this one–there really wasn’t much I didn’t like. Only thing would be a couple of the subplots and characters felt a little juvenile, like petty teenager drama. Contrasted against a complex world and storyline, it didn’t seem to fit for me.

My Favorite Part: I love Asha’s character, and Unmiga and Pio made me laugh aloud on several occasions. The end scene was beautiful and breathtaking–I also loved the tenderness between Karan and Isaura–and I can’t see where Joyce takes this story next. 

The Verdict: Altaica left me speechless. It is a brilliant YA epic fantasy, definitely among the best I’ve read. There are many characters to love, a rich and believable world, and unique and interesting plot. If you love fantasy, you need this book in your life. 

Weekend Writing Warriors #3

This is a continuation of my first chapter, so if you haven’t read the previous posts (or need a reminder) check out the first here and the most recent here. To meet some new authors, read some great writing, or join in the 8-sentence fun, stop by at Weekend Writing Warriors!Image

Asa pressed his lips into a thin line, but turned back to the table, where one of his beloved plants sat in the center. Sludge spores had begun to creep up its stem, its edges browning and tainted with rot. “First, you need to focus, steady your breathing, center your energy.”

He closed his eyes, and both hands reached out for the defiant blot of green. “Find your core, then the sickness–you’ll be able to feel it, reach out for that.”

As I watched, the silver-blue glow of Amaranthine radiated out from his chest, weaving down his arms and into his fingertips. It ventured from his fingertips onto the leaves, enveloping them in blue.

The sludge began to evaporate, wiped clean without a single touch–the plant straightened, and stretched as if waking from a long sleep.

——–

Now we’re finally starting to get somewhere 🙂 This is the first introduction to the world’s magic, and in the next post, you will see what makes magic a conflict for Falcon. With such short snippets, getting through the first chapter is taking longer than I expected, but I do hope you’ll stick around to find out what’s next. Thanks for stopping by, looking forward to all your posts, and Happy 8sunday!

 

Blog Post and Novel Excerpt © Victoria Davenport & the Coffee.Write.Repeat. blog