Posts Tagged ‘guest post’

Guest Post: Writing Process with Erin Zarro

Hey, squiders! Happy Tuesday! Let’s take a break from PPWC and hear how Erin Zarro wrote her latest book, Ever Touched. I love hearing about how other authors work, and I hope you do too!

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Writing Ever Touched was interesting because I didn’t use my usual method of pantsing as I did with Fey Touched and most of Grave Touched. Instead, I tried out the “writing from the middle” method by James Scott Bell. In it, you figure out your main “signposts” to write toward: Doorway of No Return, Opening Disturbance, Mirror Moment, Doorway of No Return #2 (Clue/Setback/Discovery), and Transformation.

Ever Touched coverThose seem kind of vague, but really, they are great. You see, I absolutely need some mystery in order to write a book. I’ve been pantsing for years, but that usually led to rewrites after rewrites because I was discovering things as I was going and had to make it all fit together at the end somehow. Grueling work. I’ve also went to the other side of the spectrum, and plotted stuff. And that worked… until I started adding in things because the muse told me to. Sure, overall it made the story richer, but that particular story also ended up in 12 separate pieces. I’m about to embark on a rewrite, and it’s already giving me fits.

So this method works better – and produces a cleaner draft – because I have some of it figured out, and I’ve left the rest as a mystery. And I really enjoyed the process, which is super important when you’re writing 120,000 words on a deadline.

I also added one additional point of view to the usual 3-POV structure of this series. I felt it was important to have a certain character’s viewpoint because she was completely different, with completely different origins as the others. And I wanted her story, too (I may, at some point, write a novella with her as a main character. She intrigues me that much). So I got to see her grow and evolve throughout the book as well.

As for the day-to-day writing, sometimes I didn’t know exactly where to go from where I was. Especially with the climax. I knew there’d be an epic confrontation with the villain and a fight, but the how of it eluded me. It took me several tries to get that right. And I ended up only doing quick written sketches of a few pivotal scenes toward the end because I literally ran out of time. One part was added in final edits because of something my editor said that I agreed with. That was probably the hardest – I wouldn’t have another shot at it before release, so I had to use my judgment as to whether or not it worked. I think it did, and I hope it does for the readers, too.

And then there was the theme song, which refused to show itself until 107,000 words in – that was interesting. It is “The Sound of Silence” as covered by the band Disturbed. It was playing during a very emotional scene between my two main characters and everything kind of clicked. Now, every time I hear that song, I will always think of that scene and those characters.

And finally, Brianna and Cobra’s romance. I knew sometime around Grave Touched that I wanted to put these two enigmatic characters together. They both had very big secrets, and lots to lose. And as I started writing them…they made sense. Every scene built on this beautiful, epic love story I was creating. It worked perfectly. I never had a single doubt about these two. They fit. And they loved each other deeply, and truly, and it was breathtaking to watch unfold.

But it’s tragic, too, due to some things I can’t reveal. Don’t worry, it ends happily. But they have to work hard for it (hell, all my characters have to work for their Happily Ever Afters. I’m a cruel mistress).

I also enjoyed creating the Ascended (no spoilers!) and exploring some of the aspects of who and what they were. That came to me literally in a flash as I was closing up at work. I’m glad I paid attention. It took a bit of writing to figure them out, but once I did…they were awesome. And they came from my brain!

All in all, I am very happy with how Ever Touched came out. It challenged me at times, made me cry at others, and excited me. I really loved writing using the writing from the middle method. My next novel will definitely be written this way, too.

Sometimes you have to break out of the routine, and do something completely different. With Ever Touched, I did that and more.

So I hope you enjoy Ever Touched, Brianna and Cobra, and the Ascended. There are others, but that would be a spoiler. I really loved writing it and think it fits very well within the Fey Touched world.

Stay tuned. There may be more coming. 😉

Guest Post: Realms of Edenocht by DS Johnson

Good morning, Squiders! Today I’ve got a guest post from DS Johnson, who currently has a tour going to promote her fantasy novel, Realms of Edenocht.

Realms of Edenocht cover

Shazmpt has been prepared his whole life to complete the prophecy; however until recently, he was unaware of his true identity as a powerful war wizard.

Hidden on an island in a time realm not his own, he must now search for ancient relics in order to stop the growing evil in the world. All he wanted was to hunt in his beloved forest, but is thrown into a world of sea serpents, dungeons, enchanted castles, miniature men, and air buffs.

Driven by duty and hindered by self-doubt, he is sent on a quest to unite the magical realms once more. He must learn to harness his good and evil powers, but will he survive the shadow…?

Bio:

A little about me, first I want to tell you a story, about a young girl who thought she was dumb. Yes, in the first, second, and third grades this little girl, was in the ‘Resource’ program or ‘Chapter 8’ as I have also heard it called. Even though she was then put in the regular class, she knew all too well by then she was not a smart child. All the way through high school this girl struggled. She graduated with a glorious 2.9. Yes, it was heart breaking for those little numbers to reflect the great struggle and all the efforts she had put forth.

She went on to start beauty school, figuring she wasn’t college material. Suddenly, she learned that she wasn’t dumb after all. She was what is called a kinesthetic learner or ‘hands on’ learner. She LOVED it. She went on to do very well, for many years. Until, life got complicated. She had five children, a husband, and a disabled mother who now required constant care. While contemplating how to earn a little bit of extra income, now that doing hair wasn’t an option, a thought came to her, ‘Write a book’ it said.

She replied by looking around and with her finger pointing at herself, she said, “Who me? I graduated high school with a 2.9 remember?”

The little thought came again, “Yes, you. Write a book.”

It so happened, that she had been telling her children nighttime stories for some time, so she did. It took five years to learn from the internet, a few writing classes, some great blogs, a lot of practice, one very good editor and the awesome support of her family. But she did it, and now I bring The Realms of Edenocht Series to you! Yes, that little girl was me, but no longer.

Contact Information

Website: www.dsjohnsonbooks.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/suzanne.johnson.12532

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/44211843-d-s-johnson

Guest Post on Writing Inspiration:

I shared a room with my younger sister growing up and she would make me tell her bed time stories every night until we fell asleep. Everything from pink unicorns to scary witches. When my parents divorced I lost my love for stories because I had to ‘grow up’. It wasn’t until many, many years later that I remembered I loved to tell stories. Now that I was a grown up and lived a long time without the child like imagination, I turned to things I knew about. My husband is a big gamer and he introduced me to the world of MMORPG’s. The vibrance of the characters and races, the fun worlds and story lines started to bring back the love of it all.

It took some time but I learned the craft of storytelling (showing) and now I try to bring in elements of our gaming, old forgotten legends and bits of history. I love watching documentaries and digging up forgotten tales. My writing is character driven so I like to use those close to me to take from their personalities, weakness, flaws and fears to give my characters life. I also like to people watch, so I observe their movements and how they interact with body language to add an extra element of depth to my characters.

I love to listen to soundtrack type music and letting the emotions of the music take me on a journey. I try to imagine my characters inside the same emotion I feel and how they might feel within the same music as it would apply to their situation in the book. Sometimes the scenes flow easily and others not so much but I always seem to have a deeper connection with them. I establish what their likes, dislikes, and such are at the beginning so that when something comes up I already know what they will or won’t do. Little by little my imagination takes shape and I surprise even myself.

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If you’d like to pick up Realms of Edenocht, it’s available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

[Guest Post] Chris Mandeville on the Inspiration Behind Her Post-Apocalyptic Seeds

My friend Chris Mandeville’s debut novel, Seeds: a post-apocalyptic adventure, was released on April 18, 2015. One week later it shot to number 6 on Amazon’s Top 100 list of post-apocalyptic books, and it’s been in the top 100 since. She’s agreed to share her inspiration here with us, Squiders.

SEEDS FINAL LARGEMy inspiration for Seeds: a post-apocalyptic adventure was two-fold: a “practical” inspiration and a creative one. The seed for both came in the form of a phone call that woke me from a dead sleep.

Early one morning my husband phoned me on his way to work to tell me about a news story he’d just heard on the radio about a seed bank. The story was about the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a storage repository for crop seeds in Norway. My husband was convinced that this “Doomsday Vault” would make a great basis for a post-apocalyptic novel, and since he’s not a writer, he figured I should write it. I politely told him “no thank you, I have my own story ideas” (though according to his recollection I wasn’t quite that polite), then I hung up and went back to sleep. Needless to say, I wasn’t feeling the inspiration.

At that time in my writing career, I was unpublished but had completed a fantasy novel, The Spider Prophet, a quest tale that takes place in a Native American dreamspace. When I received the Doomsday Vault phone call from my husband, Spider Prophet was in the submission phase. This means I wasn’t actively writing or revising the story, but instead spent my writing time sending query letters and sample pages to editors and agents. The process of submitting work isn’t very creative, so despite my “rejection” of my husband’s story premise, my very bored creative mind began playing around with the concept of a story where stored seeds would play a crucial role. I still wasn’t feeling inspired by the concept, but something about it had taken hold in my subconscious. I could feel it trying to germinate even as I resisted.

During the course of submissions for Spider Prophet, I queried an agent with the Harvey Klinger Agency, Andrea Somberg, who I really respect and admire. She asked to see “a full” (i.e. the complete manuscript). While she was reading it, I continued to submit the manuscript to other agents and editors, but found myself growing antsy and impatient waiting to hear back.

My critique group strongly suggested I start writing a new story while I waited. It was hard to shift my mindset to an entirely new story, but eventually I acquiesed. You might think this is the part where I embraced the idea of writing Seeds, but you’d be wrong. I still wasn’t “feeling it.” I suspect I was resisting at least partially because the idea wasn’t my own. So I started writing scenes for a time-hopping, reincarnation, love-triangle story.

Ultimately Andrea came back with a rejection of Spider Prophet. However, it was the best rejection I’d ever received. She said great things about my writing and gave me suggestions for improvement. Encouraged by her comments, I decided to respond to her email with a note thanking her and asking if she’d be interested in seeing my next project.

Here’s where you’re thinking I pitched Seeds, right? Well, not at first. You see, I still hadn’t embraced the Doomsday Vault idea, so I tried to come up with a logline for the story I’d just started working on. But despite my best efforts, I couldn’t manage to produce a coherent, compelling pitch for my time-hopping, reincarnation, love-triangle mash-up. So here’s what I pitched her instead:

In “Seeds” a nomadic journeyman is confronted with knowledge from a past life that could save the remnants of his post-apocalyptic civilization….

To that Andrea replied with an enthusiastic “Yes, send it!” Knowing I needed to send Andrea a story about seeds provided me with a very real, practical “inspiration” to write that story. I still wasn’t feeling creatively inspired, but I didn’t have the luxury of sitting around waiting for the muse to find me. I had to take action and get the story rolling despite my lack of creative inspiration.

At this point I asked myself “what kind of apocalypse would make a seed vault valuable?” Since I don’t have the background necessary to answer this question scientifically, I went to my scientist husband for help. That seemed fitting since he was the one who got me into this whole mess in the first place. Together we gathered a small group of scientist-friends, provided them with food and beverage, and began brainstorming the apocalypse.

That’s when I got my creative inspiration. The past life/reincarnation element of my pitch was quickly discarded (it was really just a ghost of that time-hopping love-triangle story anyway) and I got totally enthused about the idea of a solar storm that wipes out all the plants, animals, and technology on the planet, with the only survivors being those who were underground. It wasn’t long before the survivors inside Cheyenne Mountain (NORAD) became the object of my focus, and the story sprouted and grew from there.

I did eventually send Seeds to Andrea Somberg, who really liked the story and the writing, but ultimately didn’t take on the project because of market considerations—she had recently tried to sell a similar story to publishers without success, so she didn’t think she’d be the best advocate for me. After this, I sent Seeds to quite a few more agents and editors, and received rejection after rejection with similar feedback about the marketplace.

Ultimately I came to accept that the traditional publishing establishment was not going to embrace Seeds, and I had a decision to make: self-publish or stow it in the bottom drawer alongside The Spider Prophet.

I sought advice from one of my mentors who suggested I consider a third option: indie publish with a micro-publisher. That led to a deal with Parker Hayden Media, where I landed a phenomenal editor and cover designer, and couldn’t be happier!

The moral of this story? I suppose it’s two-fold like my inspiration:

1. don’t automatically shun another person’s inspiration when it’s given to you; and

2. when you don’t feel creatively inspired, do the work and inspiration may follow.

20120414_70 aChris writes SF/F and nonfiction for writers. She served as Pikes Peak Writers’ president for 5 years, and has taught writing workshops for 10 years. Her books include Seeds: a post-apocalyptic adventure and 52 Ways to Get Unstuck: Exercises to Break Through Writer’s Block. chrismandeville.com

If you’d like to learn more about Seeds or pick up a copy, go here!

Why I Chose to Write About Ghosts and Sci-fi

Today with have a guest post from Erin Zarro, whose new book, Grave Touched, comes out today! Without further adieu, I’ll let her take over.

GT-cover-Y-PRAC3 copyGhosts and sci-fi, you say? Really?

Yep. I’m a big fan of ghosts and the afterlife, and when something [redacted] happened to one of the characters in Fey Touched (book 1), a light bulb went off in my head and I was like, “hey…that could work nicely.”

I’m also a big fan of blending and mixing things. Fey Touched came about when I decided to blend the Fey with sci-fi, making my Fey based in science instead of myth. Now ghosts are considered paranormal creatures, and I can’t think of anyone off the top (or bottom) of my head who’s done it before, so I thought, why not?

But I needed them to make sense within the framework of the Fey Touched world. I couldn’t just slip ghosts in and not have a reason, so that’s where the Nether came into being. The Nether is a frozen wasteland inhabited by the grave touched — restless dead who possess the living for bodies and sensation. Their existence is hellish, and they will do anything to get out. Even possess innocent people. And when they possess people, they take them over completely, erasing who they were before. Sound creepy enough for you?

What’s really creepy is a grave touched could be anywhere, inhabiting anyone — and you wouldn’t be the wiser. They’re good at blending into their surroundings and they use the memories of the poor soul they’ve possessed to fill in the gaps. So, if you really want to get whacky, you could have a grave touched sitting next to you on the bus, or it could be inhabiting your sister or your spouse (which is really nasty). You’d never know. Sleep tight.

There are also Queens fighting over who’s going to rule the Nether, and who is strongest, and who deserves it more. That part was pure fun, and not very scientific, I’m afraid. Both Queens came to me as I was writing the book, and they weren’t planned at all. They just showed up and attempted to take over. It was really creepy how that happened. 😉

Come to think of it, I could be inhabited by a grave touched, but fighting to get free, and wrote Grave Touched to warn the public of the coming takeover. Maybe I’m deep in the Nether, in a prison of ice and dead things, and this is my only way to keep my sanity.

It could happen, right?

Right?

Oh, no, here she comes…

*screams incoherently*

Erin Zarro is an indie novelist and poet living in Michigan. She’s married to her Prince Charming, and she has a feline child named Hailey who she’s convinced is part vampire. She loves all things scary and spooky, and is on a mission to scare herself, as nothing lately has scared her. She writes in the genres of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. Her first published novel, Fey Touched, is a blend of sci-fi and fantasy. She is currently working on the sequel, Grave Touched, and is trying to stay out of trouble. Mostly.

The first book in the series, Fey Touched, is currently on sale in ebook form for $.99 at fine retailers such as Amazon. And you can pick up a copy of Grave Touched here!

With Great Technology Comes Great Responsibility

Good day, Squiders. I am out of town this week, and originally I was just going to abandon you to your own devices, but then a friend offered to guest post for me. So aside from this, you will actually get a real post on Thursday as well. You may thank Di for that.

Di is nicely setting up a new WordPress theme for me to use at Kit Campbell Books, which I think we can all agree needs it. Aside from that, she is also an aspiring author.

I be Dianna. I am coding a new theme for Kit’s site thingy. And because apparently ‘guest blogging’ falls under ‘coding new theme’, I am here to provide a blog post.

I stand by what I have said: I don’t write genres, I write ideas. However, of late my ideas have fallen into two genres, fantasy and sci-fi. I can’t explain why this is, but it is. And it’s making me realise how little I actually know about sci-fi, which, believe it or not, makes it a leetle hard to write it. Apparently there is much more than just ‘technology’ to it. Which makes me realise how little attention I pay to things in one sense.

Star Trek, for instance, has a bunch of technology and I could name a lot of it, but beyond obvious things, like transporters, I wouldn’t know what it does. Apart from what is important for the plot, I don’t think I could tell you what technology was used in Star Trek: Into Darkness. However, it’s not only Star Trek. Plenty of sci-fi books have been written, so they have stuff too. And I, regrettably, likely skimmed over it. “Oh, they have gizmo. Whatever.”

This is important. It says a little about me; I quite probably care more about the plot and the characters than I do about whatever technical gizmo the heroine is using. It can also say a little about the writers: they knew when to give details and when not to (although that is speculation because I can’t name a book).

Don’t overload your story with so many gizmos that all semblance of a plot and characters is lost. Please. If your story is becoming “This gizmo brought trouble, this gizmo got them out, but this gizmo interrupted them in the midst of celebratory shagging and of course, brought trouble, which other gizmo…” I would definitely rethink the story.

Use the accoutrements of sci-fi to enhance. Not dominate.

Dianna is a twenty-something girl living in Australia. It may be the future, but there are no robots–yet. She writes, she games, she reads. She blogs at Echoes of Dust, tweets at @moredibell and is okay with not being normal.