BEAUTIFUL BOOKS ~ 2017 Writing Goals

Beautiful Books is a monthly feature hosted by Her Bookish Resplendence, Cait, over at Paper Fury. Click here to join in the link-up and don’t forget to check out Cait’s aesthetically divine bookstagram account! Now…on to the questions!

What were your writing achievements last year?

Not to pat myself on the back, but I did pretty darn well. I drafted three manuscripts and published three others. 😀 I’m feeling pretty good about myself.

What’s on your writerly “to-do list” for 2017?

Well, like I said in my “resolutions” post, I want to do a repeat. Draft three books, publish three books, and  then decide whether or not I want to query this other WIP. That last one has been quite the internal debate. Grr…

Tell us about your top-priority writing projects for this year!

Fanged Rebel (Haddie’s fourth adventure) is currently being drafted and Janir’s fourth book, The Temple of Tarkoth, are my priorities for this year. No more three year waits between books!

How do you hope to improve as a writer? Where do you see yourself at the end of 2017?

I see myself at the end of 2017 with only one year left of school, nine published books, and at least two more in the works for release in 2018. Exciting stuff! From a craft perspective, I want to explore character relationships and complexities more. That never gets old for me!

Describe your general editing process.

I generally have an idea of some things I will want changed while drafting, but I just plough through. After taking a break from the manuscript (anywhere from weeks to months), I do a few rereads and mark-ups in both electronic and finally print format. The last step is sending the manuscript to other writers whom I trust and adore who (lovingly) offer me brutal critiques.

On a scale of 1-10, how do you think this draft turned out?

For my NaNo project, Fireblight, I’d say 9 and 3/4. 😀  (Sorry, couldn’t resist.) I’m pretty proud of it.

What aspect of your draft needs the most work?

Fireblight started out as just a fun book to relieve stress, so there are some inconsistencies in world building and character relationships because, like I mentioned, I tend to edit as I go. That’s definitely what needs the most work, I’d say.

What do you like the most about your draft?

Again with Fireblight, I love how the characters took charge at certain points. I love how the whole story took an unexpected turn. I just love the adventure of this piece! It’s fairly unique compared to my usual stuff and tested me a bit. It’s a blast!

Also, DRAGONS!

What are your plans for this novel once you finish editing? More edits? Finding beta readers? Querying? Self-publishing? Hiding it in a dark hole forever?

Unless plans change, I plan to queue Fireblight as an indie release in two or three years. (My release schedule before that is booked. LOL. Get it? Booked?)

What’s your top piece of advice for those just finished writing a first draft?

Put it down for a week. A month. Four months. Then edit it before you do anything. PLEASE EDIT. We all write crap on the first go and exposure to raw, first drafts (including my own) isn’t something I’d wish on my worst enemy.

Beautiful Books 2016 ~ Novel Update

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This latest edition is devoted to an update on my current WIP! Check out my answers and click on the link-up at the end to submit your own post and see all the other awesome NaNo projects!

1. Overall, how is your mental state, and how is your novel going?

Surprisingly well, actually. I’ve crashed a dragon (like crashing a plane, but with more roaring and fire) and gotten into some great character insights. Yay for NaNo!

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2. What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?

“The whole world had gone cold. Even with the after echoes of Blythe’s power dwindling through her, she could hardly move without shivering.”

3. Who’s your current favourite character in your novel?

Darn. I’m torn between Melora and Zoran. Melora is a badass and Zoran is a fun challenge. (It’s okay, Blythe. Your character will be back in the story soon. It’s okay, I promise.)

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4. What do you love about your novel so far?

The relationship dynamics! We’ve got a man trying to save his daughter by teaming up with the husband of the baby’s mother (awkward); a woman forced to help the man who caused the death of the man she loved (super awkward); and a pair of ex-in-laws caught between a political alliance and the people who want to burn their ex-daughter-in-law at the stake (not sure how this even happened). Fun stuff.

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5. Have you made any hilarious typos or other mistakes?

“In the white mist, the black aura seemed that must more dramatic.”

*shuddering and gnashing of teeth from writer*

6. What is your favourite to write: beginning, middle, or end — and why?

The end! It means I can start the next thing! Forward, onward, and INTO THE OBLIVION OF ENDLESS PROJECTS.

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7. What are your writing habits? Is there a specific snack you eat? Do you listen to music? What time of day do you write best? Feel free to show us a picture of your writing space!

This little nerd writes in her dorm with a cup of tea and no music/snacks/time of day restrictions. (She tends to use all those things as procrastination mechanisms.)

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Where the magic (or lack thereof) happens.

8. How private are you about your novel while you’re writing? Do you need a cheer squad or do you work alone (like, ahem, Batman)?

I am more like a groundhog. I go into my writing cave and repeatedly pop out for food/word count updates/food/whining/encouragement/food.

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9. What keeps you writing even when it’s hard?

For personal reasons, I once swore to myself that writing would be at least one thing in life I’d never quit. That combined with pathological ambition and masochism keeps me going.

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10. What are your top 3 pieces of writing advice?

  • Write the thing
  • Edit the thing
  • Write another thing

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Seriously, though. It’s worth it. 😉

Here are the questions and if you’d like to join in, just hop over to Cait’s blog and get started!

  1. Overall, how is your mental state, and how is your novel going?
  2. What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?
  3. Who’s your current favourite character in your novel?
  4. What do you love about your novel so far?
  5. Have you made any hilarious typos or other mistakes?
  6. What is your favourite to write: beginning, middle, or end — and why?
  7. What are your writing habits? Is there a specific snack you eat? Do you listen to music? What time of day do you write best? Feel free to show us a picture of your writing space!
  8. How private are you about your novel while you’re writing? Do you need a cheer squad or do you work alone (like, ahem, Batman)?
  9. What keeps you writing even when it’s hard?
  10. What are your top 3 pieces of writing advice?

Beautiful Books: Introduce Your Novel

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Thanks to Cait @ Paper Fury for this month’s edition of Beautiful Books! I’d like to let you guys in on my Nano Wrimo project and hope you’ll join in with yours! You can find the questions and link up over on Cait’s blog.

1. What inspired the idea for your novel, and how long have you had the idea?

I was reading a book last year with the “knight who falls for the queen” plot.  I started wondering how that would play out if it were gender bent and I’ve always wanted to write about dragons, so…viola!

2. Describe what your novel is about!

A young knight and her sister’s intended husband who find themselves in a forbidden romance. Meanwhile, an exiled dragon shifter must destroy them both if he is to spare his unborn child.

3. What is your book’s aesthetic? Use words or photos or whatever you like!

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Behold!

4. Introduce us to each of your characters!

The three perspectives in the book are:

Melora—shieldmaiden and captain of a battalion of knights.

Blythe—young dragon shifter who has recently come of age.

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Zoran—traitorous dragon shifter who betrayed his people to save his daughter.

5. How do you prepare to write? (Outline, research, stocking up on chocolate, howling, etc.?)

Eh. Mostly I just grab myself some tea, hunker down with my laptop, and tell myself no food until I meet my quotas. I have to be rough with myself!

6. What are you most looking forward to about this novel?

Blythe and Melora’s relationship! It is a romance after all, and I really like writing the female lead as the jaded one and the male lead as the innocent ray of sunshine. <3 Zoran and his storyline have also been incredibly interesting for me.

dragon-1234534_960_720_edited-17. List 3 things about your novel’s setting.

1. Mountain forests

2. Violent religious factions

3. DRAGONS AND WARRIOR PRIESTESSES

8. What’s your character’s goal and who (or what) stands in the way?

Blythe and Melora have had the terrible bad judgment to fall in love and want to be together. A marriage contract, looming war, draconic magic, and religious faction stand in their way—some want them apart, some want them dead. Zoran is trying to protect his unborn daughter, but the limits of his powers and the superstitions of his lover’s people prove harsh antagonists.

9. How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?

Blythe and Melora are central to the story and it’s really about them learning about love. Blythe is discovering it for the first time and Melora is learning to accept it again after her husband’s suicide. They both learn about pain and loss, too, and become better for it. Zoran has to learn about hard choices and what it means to sacrifice, but most of all, what things are worth the sacrifice.

10. What are your book’s themes? How do you want readers to feel when the story is over?

The nature of love and the complexity of it. Not just the experience, but how other people’s loves can interact and conflict with ours. Melora and Blythe love one another and that is threatened (unbeknownst to them) in part because of Zoran’s love for his child.

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All in all, I want my readers to be reflective and sympathetic. Besides giving them what I hope is a good story, I would like to have them question the motives of people around them. Sometimes your enemies aren’t out to hurt you, they’re just protecting  someone else.

Did you enjoy this edition of Beautiful Books? What do you think of my WIP’s themes? You can join in over on Cait’s blog and check out all the other awesome featured stories!

The Key of Amatahns ~ Debut Novel Blog Hop

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To celebrate the re-release of The Key of Amatahns by Elisabeth Wheatley, Inkspelled Faery is hosting ten days of visiting your favorite authors as they talk about their very first novels, topped off by an all-day Facebook party with fun, games, and giveaways. Check out the full line up of authors and don’t forget to join the Facebook party on the 25th!

thekeyofamatahns_LARGEIn a land where those with magic are esteemed and revered, Janir guards a secret that would send her to the headsman’s block at a word. As one of the reviled Argetallams, she has the power to destroy enchantments and steal others’ magic—an ability that has caused bloodshed for generations.

Raised as the illegitimate daughter of an influential lord, she was determined to turn her back on her heritage, but when her power manifests, leaving a nobleman dead, she has no choice but to flee her adoptive home. In exile with the help of a fearless young enchanter and an elf sworn to protect her, she finds herself entangled in a quest to hide an ancient artifact from the kingdom’s enemies.

But they are not the only ones after the relic and soon their paths cross with a rival from Janir’s distant childhood. With no hope of help or rescue, the fate of nations will depend on a fifteen year old girl and her mastery of powers she doesn’t understand.

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To start us off, can you sum up your first novel in a tweet, 140 characters or less?

The heir to a legacy she hates is forced to flee her adoptive home and fight monsters, brothers, and other horrible things to save the world

What are you most proud of in this title?

Um…I think I’m going to have to go with Lucan, the brother I mentioned up there. I’m very proud of how much more developed he is now versus the original version, but that’s reediting for you.

Do you think your writing has changed since your debut? In what way?

My writing has changed A LOT since I first wrote this book. I’m much longer-winded for one and have been churning out epics lately, but more importantly, I would say I’ve definitely gotten better. At least my stories have a sense of logic from the beginning, not like the Helenistic drama that was in the very first drafts of this one.

If you could give one piece of advice to yourself when you were writing your first book, what would it be?

Get it done already, girl. Really, I think I learned a lot of things just through writing this book and others that I couldn’t have learned any other way. It took me years to write this because I didn’t take it seriously at the time, but that’s not the case now! I feel like I could have learned much faster if I had been serious from the beginning, but who knows?

What was the first thing you did after finishing that very first draft?

I hid it on my computer whilst dreaming of the day it would be adapted into a multi-film franchise.

Actually, that’s not far from the truth. I was scared my dad wouldn’t approve of my literary endeavors, so I sat on this story forever until my mom finally persuaded me to show it to him. (I was 15 at the time, so what he thought was still a freaking big deal.) He asked around for advice and as a result a family friend introduced me to indie publishing. There was no coming back after that and here I am!

 If you thought this was fun, drop by the Facebook party going down on the 25th for more interviews with your favorite Fantasy authors as well as games and goodies galore!

The Seventh Magpie: Book Launch Celebration ~ Outlawed magic in fantasy

As part of the online release event for The Seventh Magpie by Nancy Chase, me and eleven other fantasy folk are getting together and posting to our blogs in honor of this momentous occasion. Check out the all-week Facebook party to get in on the fun and prizes!

Illegal magic is a widely explored element in modern high fantasy. In fact, at the moment, I can’t think of a series in which free magic is the norm. It’s common to have supernatural powers banned, usually as an extension of an overlying tyranny where the reigning despot doesn’t want people to have a means of deposing him or wants everyone with that means to be in his service.

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Niccolo probably never thought he would be referenced in quite this context.

Like Machiavelli said, a ruler who takes care of his people will allow them to have whatever armaments they wish because he won’t give them a reason to boot him from office, but a tyrant or a conqueror has to disarm them or risk his life. Machiavelli was talking about swords, but I think the same can be applied to magic. Therefore, it makes sense that fantasy worlds featuring evil dictators and dark lords would also feature a magic taboo.

Or you can just have lots of rules.

The alternative to this is regulated magic—like in Cinda Williams Chima’s Seven Realms series or Intisar Khanani’s Sunbolt. Both worlds have a magic restriction because of evil done by past mages.

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In this case, the reader is brought to understand just why someone would collar the spell weavers, but at the same time begins to question if maybe things have begun to go a bit far. The enforcers of the rules have become so legalistic that they hunt fledgling magicians while in both cases a diabolical mastermind is preparing to take over the world.

Then you have the miscellaneous category.

There are plenty of fictional worlds that follow either pattern or a culture of free magic depending on where you are in the respective world. The Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind is a good example of variance scattered across a map and then there are those that are more or less in a classification all their own.

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Much of the story in my Argetallam Saga takes place in the country Brevia. There magic is revered and those born with it are glorified. Unfortunately, this means that the Argetallams, the people who are not only immune to magic, but can steal it or destroy it, are outcasts at best. It is one of the large driving factors to the plot of the series and it wasn’t until recently that I realized how different the paradigm was from everything I tended to read.

But so long as there’s magic…

In the end, I don’t think we readers much care whether magic in the story is outlawed, restricted, lost, or put on a pedestal, so long as it’s there. That is, after all, one of the defining elements of fantasy and I find myself drawn into a world’s enchantment paradigm no matter what it may be. All we need is sorcery and a good story to go with it and writers can get away with more or less anything.

My Year in Review: Writing in 2014

I have been tagged by the lovely Eli Hinze along with the awesome Intisar Khanani to do an update post, detailing my literary exploits of 2014. Hence, I am here to confess to twelve months of general lack of focus. This year has seen me publish absolutely nothing at all, but that does not mean I haven’t been writing. No, I have been writing a great deal.

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Here we have me with a cup of Early Grey in my natural habitat, seated before a laptop.

I did some stuff with the Argetallam Saga
This year saw me complete the drafts of the fourth and fifth books in Janir’s story and begin the sixth. I have mostly finished editing on the fourth book and that should be published early next year (God and my support team willing) along with the shiny reedited editions of the first three books with pretty, sparkly new covers gorgeously designed by T.L. Shreffler.

I hope to finish drafting the sixth and seventh books in 2015 to release them sometime early 2016.

Around St. Valentine’s I sort of brain-dumped Fanged Princess

The first draft of Fanged Princess 3 was completed *coughcough* January of this year. So why haven’t you gotten it yet? A very good question. An excellent question, in fact. The truth is, it’s not ready. I was distracted with drafting the fifth Argetallam book and then I got distracted with what has been become my guilty side project since spring 2013.

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My favorite mug joining me in my favorite spot (yes, in front of my laptop).

Daindreth’s Assassin is my current vice

I have had a lot of readers tell me they’re excited for this series and asking if it’s published yet, which translates to a lot of pressure since I’m not planning to unveil it until summer 2016.

Writing the first book in this series was my 18th birthday present to myself. I worked on it off and on through the autumn, exploring the characters and the storyline and all of a sudden, everything clicked. I had the plot, the premise, the ending, all of it worked out.

Next thing you know, I’ve completed most the editing on book 1 with ginormous drafts of books 2 and 3 with book 4 more than halfway finished. When I say “ginormous,” I mean that the shortest book caps it off at well over 132,000 words (500-ish pages) and the longest is more like 260,000 words (900-ish pages).

There’s still lots of editing to do on those books (I mean LOTS), plus I’ve been reediting the first three Argetallam books. In other words, I am swamped. I’ve given myself a whole bunch of stuff to get done before I go back to school on January 20th and it’s freaking me out just thinking about it.

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The forecast for 2015?

With a study abroad trip planned for next summer and a full course load at school, it’s anyone’s guess as to what’s actually going to happen. I just know that right now I’m planning to release the first four Argetallam books in the first four months of the year and the third Fanged Princess novella at some point in the summer.

As you can see, despite my lack of publication this year, I have by no means abandoned storytelling, quite the opposite. You people have got a tsunami of Elisabeth’s books headed your way. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a whole bunch of drafting/editing/screaming/panicking to get done.

Work in Progress (WIP) Blog Hop ~ bringing you a glimpse into a story you probably won’t get until 2016

Holy crap, I haven’t posted in over a month. I had no idea it had been that long, but hey, I’m a full-time student now, that’s my excuse.

I was tagged by the lovely Jadie Jones for the WIP Blog Hop because she is awesome. (Read my review of her books Moonlit and Windswept, they were both 5-stars!)

Here are the rules of the hop: Provide a link back to the person who nominated you, write a little bit about your WIP, and give the first few sentences of the first three chapters. Then nominate a few more writers to do the same.

And we’re off!

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My WIP currently in editing is called Daindreth’s Assassin. I’m technically working on the third book in the series while the first is with a beta reader, but since the first isn’t even published, I’m going with the one that started this mess.

Daindreth’s Assassin is what I like to describe as an Epic Fantasy Romance. The basic plot is a killer for hire falls for the prince she was paid to murder. Over the course of the story, she finds herself the only one who can save him from a demon coming to possess him.

I am madly and irrevocably in love with this story and am already planning a spin off series that will take place about one thousand years after this one’s timeline ends. The first two books are drafted and I just finished up the third—which currently has a word count of about 260k. (So, yes, these are very fat books. I did say epic, right?)

Here are the opening lines of the first three chapters of Daindreth’s Assassin. This is only the second/third-ish draft, so be nice. These opening lines also don’t give nearly as much action as the rest of the book. Something to take into account for editing, perhaps.

Chapter One: The stench of fish, sweat, and filth weighted the air like smog.

Chapter Two: Amira made her way across the rain soaked streets of Cadrene, her boots fully splattered with mud by the time she reached the warehouse district.

Chapter Three: It took nearly a week’s hard riding to reach the outskirts of the fiefdom.

Hope you liked it! Check out my Daindreth’s Assassin Pinterest board for a better idea of what the story’s about. 🙂

I am tagging Intisar Khanani, Eli Hinze, Kaitlyn Deann, M.A. Bronson, and Melissa Sasina. Tell us about your WIP’s, ladies!