Look Where I’m Writing Now!

•January 16, 2016 • Comments Off on Look Where I’m Writing Now!

Image by lamichad

I just joined the crew over at Professional Fangirl! as one of the writers. I’m super excited about the opportunity.

My first post just went live and I’m bouncing all over the place in glee (despite the fact that it is now WAY after my bedtime).

I’m going to try to come back to this blog more now, even though I neglected it for a year and a half. I want to breathe new life into UnwrittenLands and make it more fun to write, and (hopefully!) more fun for everyone to read.

Thanks for sticking with me!

When I Left You, I Was but the Learner

•July 6, 2014 • 2 Comments

Now I am the Master.

A building on campus where I graduated

A building on campus where I graduated

Hi everyone!

I realize it’s been nearly nine months since I wrote my last post here and I apologize for neglecting this blog for so long… there was just something really important I had to do. Well several things really.

First was not dying of pneumonia. I contracted it early in November (2013), not too long after my last post. That put a real damper on my ability to write blog posts.

Second was wrestling with the class work for my graduate degree and coming up on my last semester and the final edits on my thesis.

And guess what! I graduated! I officially have my MFA. Feel free to address me as Master or Magistra if you like. Actually, don’t. I think that would probably get old pretty fast.

It feels oddly significant that it’s been nine months. I did two more drafts of my 120k Epic Fantasy novel in that time. I gave birth to a book. It’s out there, on file at my college, showing that I accomplished my master work.

In a few more days, the first three chapters and synopsis will be out in the world too since I have a couple of requests for it. Exciting, right?!

I’ve been working on the synopsis for a while now and then I’ll polish those chapters as much as I can without wearing holes in them. I’ve also been working on a new project -military science fiction this time – so I’ve been doing lots of research as I write. The learning curve has been pretty steep, but incredibly satisfying.

And in the middle of all this excitement, comes a trip to Europe, a graduation gift from my grandparents. I think this blog is going to temporarily exist as both a writing blog and a travel blog so that I can keep you folks up to date on my grand overseas adventure. Just the thought of this travel is making me feel even more keenly what a small-town girl I am. I mean, I change my own oil for heaven’s sake and I’m, going to be getting on an airplane and crossing an ocean!

My horizons are expanding like crazy all of a sudden and I’m trying not to fall over from the vertigo.

Any advice for the country mouse who’s headed to the Old Country (and by this I mean the one where my grandparents live) soon?

Revising Fiction – Review

•October 30, 2013 • Comments Off on Revising Fiction – Review

revising fictionRevising Fiction: Making Sense of the Madness: The Comprehensive and Practical Guide to Self Editing is one of the most useful books on writing that I’ve ever read. Though titularly about revision, the book would also be very helpful to someone just starting into a novel, whether it’s their first attempt or one of many tries.

The author, Kirt Hickman, divides writing into its many aspects and then touches on each one with clarity and useful hints. His voice and perspective are fresh and lively, and he writes with the authority of someone who’s published, but without the stifling assuredness that some well-known authors bring to their how-to books.

One of the things that I really like about Revising Fiction, is the way the author includes prompts, exercises, and worksheets. To be honest, it took me forever to get all the way through the book because of this. I kept stopping to do the worksheets or the exercises, and I’d get halfway through one and then be too busy to properly finish it. Then, I’d feel like I needed to finish it before I moved on to the next chapter. Though this sounds negative, it’s actually an indicator of how useful the worksheets and exercises really were. I’m the kind of person who won’t put the effort into that kind of thing unless I can see immediately that something’s going to be helpful.

I think my favorite exercise came from his chapter on plot and the mythic journey structure. It involved creating a chart with characters running along the top and plot events running down the side. Then, in each square where a character’s column intersected with a plot event’s row, I had to write the impact that the plot had on the character. Doing this for the three main heroes and the two villain characters really let me see where my character arcs needed work, and where I could let the plot be influenced more by the characters than the other way around. I’m still working out how to apply everything I’ve figured out from this.

I’d love to show off the chart, but I lost it when my computer died (the second time in two months, alas). I mean to recreate it even though it was a lot of work to put together. It’s just so useful that it’s worth it.

When I mentioned earlier that I thought this book could be useful to folks who were just starting on their novel, one of the things I meant was his technique of doing scene cards. Now that I’m revising, I really wish that I’d been doing this the whole time because those cards would be really useful to have. As is, I made notes on card about things that I wanted to go back and fix or change once I’d finished the first draft, but putting those cards into a useful order was hard. If I’d created the scene cards as I went, I could have organized my notes that way. I’ve now done the first few chapters in scene cards and it’s been nice to lay them out and look at the way things are progressing. I mean to finish doing this and to use it as I continue on turning my manuscript into the second and then third drafts.

There are many more helpful ways of organizing and executing the revision process, and a lot of chapters toward the end that could help someone just starting out to keep from making a lot of mechanical and stylistic problems for themselves as they go. I really recommend this book for prospective and experienced writers alike.

I give it five owls

five owls_dark

Neglected, Not Abandoned

•August 6, 2013 • 2 Comments

DustMeSmallIt’s been a while since I posted here, hasn’t it? About six months actually.  I had to give up my blog for a while because I developed tendinitis in both arms. That was a nightmare.

A lot has happened since February. I’ve learned to manage chronically inflamed tendons. I’ve cut and rewritten 40k words in my novel, and finally written the end. I’ve been to three weddings, and four of my cousins have had babies – one of whom I still need to finish making a blanket for.

I’ve also been job hunting because my nanny job has ended. The kids’ grandparents retired and they want to take over as caregivers. Joblessness leads to stress, stress leads to anguish, and anguish leads to writer’s block. Even Yoda wouldn’t know how to get around this one.

On the plus side, my garden looks amazing. There are cosmos taking everything over, scarlet runner beans, and morning glories climbing the fence, and lots of vegetables thriving in their little sections. The annual race to eat the zucchini faster than the plants can produce them has officially begun.

I’m also really getting into the revision stages of my novel now that the ending works. I’ve rewritten the beginning so many times that it hardly resembles what I started with, but at least I like it now.

Hopefully, I’ll be back on again soon to post a reviews of several books I’ve read recently and to have a little fun talking about writing, revision, reading, and maybe even the MFA program that I’m in.

See you soon!

A Conspiracy of Alchemists — Review

•February 27, 2013 • Comments Off on A Conspiracy of Alchemists — Review

Liesel Schwarz’s debut novel, A Conspiracy of Alchemists, blends the aesthetics of Steampunk historical fantasy with a dash of urban fantasy for a unique world with just enough grittiness for verisimilitude. This young adult novel is available for preorder, and comes out on March 5th.

Eleanor (Elle) Chance isn’t the typical young lady of her time. Instead of preparing to marry and run her own household, she runs a freight company with her helium filled transport zeppelin.  Her business brings her into contact with people who realize who she is, the oracle — the only individual who can balance the world of Light and the world of Shadows — something Elle doesn’t even know herself.

She’s quickly swept into danger and intrigue when her father, a genius scientist, is abducted and she is targeted for a sacrifice that would break down the veil between light and shadow, transforming the world into a place of powerful darkness.

Her quest is complicated by her growing feelings for a dashing warlock who agrees to help her, but who may have plans of his own that Elle wouldn’t appreciate.

The book is well researched, but not weighed down with extraneous details from the era in which it is set. Though the themes it deals with are somewhat cliche (women’s rights in the Victorian era, science vs. magic. vs. religion), Schwarz does a good job avoiding beating her reader over the head with it, something I appreciate.

I think the book’s greatest weakness is the dialogue, which, for the most part, is quite appropriate to the period and sounds very genuine, but occasionally pops out of the more formal sounding discourse, or comes out with a word that just doesn’t fit, like referring to the kidnappers as “blighters” — a term that lacked the usual formality of the speaker and didn’t convey the seriousness of the situation.

Other than that, I’d say this is a very strong debut novel, and I hope to get the chance to read and review the next book in the series, which is coming out in August.

I give it three out of five owls.three owls dark

SEAL of Honor – Cover Reveal

•February 4, 2013 • Comments Off on SEAL of Honor – Cover Reveal

Author Tonya Burrows just revealed the cover of her novel, SEAL of Honor, first book in the HORNET series. The book is coming out from Entangled Publishing on May 28th. It’s available for pre-order on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

I’ve had the pleasure of reading Tonya’s work in the past, so I can tell you that she writes strong characters, builds good atmosphere into her stories, and knows how to tell a satisfying tale.

I can’t wait til my copy of this book arrives so that I can read about her hot Navy SEAL, his daring exploits rescuing hostages in the jungle, and the romance that will change his life.

The book is listed in Goodreads, and you can follow Tonya on Facebook or Twitter @TonyaBurrows.

The Next Big Thing

•January 30, 2013 • Comments Off on The Next Big Thing

Image by lamichaud

So, I’ve been blogging for about a year now, and have been tagged for a couple of these “pass it on” type of things. At first, I didn’t do them since I had no clue what I was doing, then I was really busy for a while. In December, Rachel Robins tagged me to do this, and I meant to, but just forgot. Heather Sedlak just tagged me, reminding me that I’d forgotten to do it when Rachel tapped me for it. So here I go now, in honor of both of them.

The Next Big Thing

Here’s how it works: Each week an author provides his or her answers to the ten questions below and then tags five additional writers, each of whom answers the questions on the subsequent Wednesday, again tagging five writers, and so on.

1. What is the working title of your next book?

The Chronicles of Errahtyre Book One: The Demon’s Gate

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

Oddly enough, it came from another book. OK, so that’s not odd after all. In the story, there’s a girl who was raised by a sorceress who says she made the girl out of wax (a lie). It got me thinking about what it would be like to actually be the construct of a witch or wizard, and not to know it at first. Right then, my first character was born, from there, I developed  the antagonist, the supporting characters, and then the plot and setting.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

It’s high/epic fantasy, but I write so much science fiction that I can see it turning my story in to science fantasy. I’m trying to decide if I want to get rid of that influence, or if I should just let things stand.

4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Hmm… I didn’t actually imagine any of my characters looking like any of the actors I know, so this is a tough one. I did some searches and the only two characters I could find decent matches for were two of the secondary characters that become more important in book two. I thought Lily Cole would have been great for Eedie when she (Lily) was twelve. Saoirse Ronan would be really good for Todanny. They’re both lovely women with the kind of spunk they’d need to pull off my girls. They aren’t what I imagined, but they’d work.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Seeking vengeance for their mother’s murder, Beryl and Nickel join an anti wizard army, but are soon in over their heads when they save a girl who’s not what she seems, the wizard becomes possessed by one of the few free demons, and they’re the only ones in the right place to stop him from opening the demon’s gate and unleashing fiery destruction on the world.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I understand that self publishing can be a really good way to go, but that it’s a lot of work. I get pretty overwhelmed with everything in life as it is, so I’d like to have it represented by an agency, just to simplify things for me. Letting an agent and publisher do the technical stuff sounds pretty ideal to me.

7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

The first draft took about a year since I was writing about thirty pages a month (and not always that much). I know I could have written it much faster, but I was learning so much that rushing through it without giving myself the chance to avoid making mistakes that I’d only just learned about seemed counterproductive. Next book I mean to churn out in less than six months. ::crosses fingers::

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Another hard question! Honestly, there isn’t a lot of recent high fantasy to compare this to, and it’s pretty different from the books I used to read. There, are of course, some of the standard tropes like dragons, magic, hidden lands, demons, a journey, etc. But these aren’t the dragons from Eragon, or The Hobbit (I told myself I wasn’t bringing Tolkien into this, but it just happened, I guess). They’re more like the dragons from one of  Patricia A. McKillip’s books, The Cygnet and the Firebird.

My characters are also different from the usual heroes of high fantasy. They aren’t the chosen ones, they aren’t weathered adventurers coming back for another journey. They are the heroes because they were in the right place and had the fortitude to do what was necessary to save the world.

I also have two strong girls in my three POV characters, which is still a new thing in high/epic fantasy.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

This particular story? All my favorite authors, my passion for writing, my love for epic fantasy, my fear that epic fantasy was dead, my dislike of some of the stifling patterns of epic fantasy, I could go on. Mainly, I’m just writing a book that I would have loved to read if I’d found it at the bookstore.

10. So who’s up next?

Amarilys Acosta, Katie Kenyhercz, Tiffany Avery, I choose YOU!