Beautiful Books (Out of My Head and Into Yours)

Somewhere, out in the blogosphere… specifically, on the blogs Paper Fury and Further Up and Further In… a meme is under way…

Just like every year, we’re giving our monthly link up “Beautiful People” a small rest so we can focus on “Beautiful Books” [and] our NaNoWriMo projects. The format is the same as Beautiful People. We’ll post 10 questions to answer about your WiP — aka your beautiful book.  Answer the questions in a blog post of your own and then come back here to link up!

Consider this the sequel to last month’s Beautiful Books post, in which I gushed about the pair of novels scheduled to release (and re-release) in March of next year – “Inspired” and “Out of My Head”!

*

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

*laughs and laughs and weeps and laughs at my current mental state* But hey, let’s not blame the novel! After all, I had the good sense to make myself NOT do NaNo this year, leaving me free to have internal breakdowns over other things – like my baby sister’s recent wedding, and my imminent move across the country, and the fact that I had a clear plan to read 3 specific books this month, but then borrowed 4 million different library books instead…

I don’t know what to say about that one.

As concerns “Inspired”, though, I’ve reached out to quite a number of bloggers, asking if they have any interest in an early read ‘n’ review of the book. Some have even said yes! The reviewer hunt’s stalled out, for a bit, while I focus more on trying to land a job in the state to which I’m relocating. (And, y’know, reading 4 million library books.) But if YOU – yes, you reading this blog post – want a review copy of “Inspired”, let me know! We’ll make it happen!

What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?

Of “Inspired”:

There are people, Luc found, who are very good at having ideas.

Bonus! Of the sequel, “Out of My Head”:

There are muses, Luc knew, who are very good at developing ideas.

(As readers of my Wilderhark Tales and Outlaws of Avalon novels may have observed, I’m big on first lines following a pattern within a series.)

Who’s your current favourite character in your novel?

While drafting Book 1, it was Wilbur, since he’s based on my favorite character of the time. Then for a while, in the neighborhood of Book 2, I think it was Yves, since I’d grown closer to the character he was based on. XD Now it’s probably Uri – not because of who she’s based on, but just because I enjoy her as a person. A hardass with a heart willing to learn to soften, when necessary. Sayer of things I wish I gave few enough lip tricks to utter in public. Also, one of my small batch of characters who inherited their author’s asexuality. (Or, in Uri’s case, her author’s author’s asexuality. Though, I mean, Annabelle’s ace, too, and sexuality isn’t hereditary, so what am I even babbling about anymore.)

What do you love about your novel so far?

– How the characters’ relational dynamics grow from Book 1 to Book 2

– The narrative’s uniquely changeable style; keeps things interesting for me, even during my umpteenth read-through of the manuscripts

– All the little things from my own life I get to include, since Annabelle’s life is so closely based on mine

– When the language EVOKES THE VERY SOUL of what I’m trying to convey

– Mach x Annabelle (I sibling soul mates ‘ship it)

– Wilbur x Uri (I bromance ‘ship it)

– Yves x speaking (compared to the rest of the cast, he doesn’t do it much, but I like what he says when he does)

– The “Phantom of the Opera”-esque short story in Book 1

– The surprise solution chapter toward the end of Book 2

– I’m not even the illustrator, but can we give it up again for the books’ covers, tho???

Covers 1 and 2, side by side

Have you made any hilarious typos or other mistakes?

None that I haven’t already caught and vanquished, I hope!

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

Probably middles. Beginnings are often shaky, because every new book is its own beast that you have to learn how to handle. And my sense of urgency tends to kick in toward the end, since I can feel how close that finish line is. Whereas in the middle, I’ve had time to get to know the project, and can just enjoy sinking into the story as it unfolds.

What are your writing habits? Is there a specific snack you eat? Do you listen to music?

Back when I was in the habit of writing, you mean? <_< I basically just had to shut out the distractions of social media until my brain got lost in building the story’s scenes, word by word. I almost never draft to music – with the notable exception of #CamelotWIP (as I’ve dubbed it on Twitter). For some reason, I really needed noise reminiscent of a Faerie isle for that one. As for snacks, lol, I generally forgot to eat breakfast ‘til 2pm…

What time of day do you write best?

I liked to get cracking first thing in the morning.

My muse liked to show up just after I’d turned off the light for bed.

#rude

1 Light Bulb, Inspired Countdown, long

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 don’t prefer to let anyone see my work until the first draft feels finished. Then I run it all by my writing bestie. Beyond that, I’m okay with sharing short snippets here and there – so long as they don’t give away any important surprises!

What keeps you writing even when it’s hard?

If my characters need me to. I’ll push myself to my limits and farther, for them.

What are your top 3 pieces of writing advice?

1) Find out what you love about the writing process

2) Chase that

3) Tell yourself that you can do the hard thing (whether that hard thing is pushing forward, or giving yourself a break)

*

And that is that. To any o’ y’all doing NaNo this year: How’s the first half of November been treating you, and how ready are you and your characters to tackle the last two weeks? ^^

Advertisements

In Which the Author Interviews the Reader

Once upon a time, a young lady known as Sarnic Dirchi read a book.

“…And I was like, wow,” she says. “This is amazing! I really want to go all crazy questions to the author about so many different things that happened, but I also would love for the author to ask me questions, too! I mean, when I have people read stuff I’ve written, I have a million and a half questions for them. So wouldn’t it be fun if an author interviewed a reader and asked them the questions that they want to know the answers to?”

To that end, S.D. posted a Tweet suggesting that very thing, secretly hoping that the book’s author would take her up on the offer. “Cus I didn’t want to go all crazy fan girl on [the author] and out of the blue message [her] saying HEY INTERVIEW ME AND ASK ME HOW I LIKED YOUR BOOK!, as that would be rather freaky methinks,” S.D. confesses. “But [the author] read my mind and took me up on the idea!”

And that author… *solemn nods*… was me.

Sarnic Dirchi tweet

And that book that inspired it all is, appropriately enough, INSPIRED.

And between reader, writer, and book written, a lovely dialogue was born.

“Reading. Love it to pieces,” says S.D. “It’s always been important in my life…though I didn’t get into serious reading ‘til 4th or 5th grade when I discovered mysteries. Plus it helped that my school started up an A.R. program and I just had to get those points! Whoosh I was off! Tearing through the pages so fast people assume I skim read…which I don’t. I just read fast.”

From there, S.D. went on to become a fantasy fan. “Dragons, magic, different worlds, shape-shifters, epic adventures. That sort of thing. I love stories about the ‘underdogs’ like thieves, slaves, poor peasants and their triumphs at the end.  I do occasionally venture out into other genres, but it’s not often.”

Though not strictly a part of the fantasy genre, S.D. found plenty of fantastic characters in INSPIRED. Musing on muse Lucianíel, she says, “At first he seemed like the ‘father figure.’ The ‘high and mighty’, the ‘all knowing.’ He felt removed from the story; part of it, but not really part of it. The shepherd to the flock, etc. And then he went down the dark path…” Some of Luc’s actions got a real reaction out of her, driving her to cry at the pages, “No! Bad choice! Bad Choice! Don’t do it! … Yikes. Totally scary muse. But oh, the feels!”

Inspired_Cover_Draft_Final_web

While the character of Jean had a smaller role with far less page time, “From the brief glimpses I got of her, I liked her,” S.D. relates. “She seems a lot like me. Taking inspiration from dreams for possible story ideas. Hasn’t gotten quite around to writing them yet in hard form. … Reading her sudden death was what piqued my interest in this book. … If the author is gone…what then? It also sent me to that ‘AH!! I NEED TO GO WRITE!!!… BUT I WANT TO READ!!!’ tug of war when I actually started reading the book for a bit before I decided to keep reading.”

With the special place in S.D.’s heart for shape-shifters, it’s no surprise she enjoyed the character of Abishan. “I love how he was able to change to different cats,” she enthuses. “He wasn’t just a jaguar, he could be a lynx, a lion, a house cat…and then he can turn human like? Oooo! … Most [shapes-hifters], stick to one shape; him, not so. He’s much cooler than that. … [And] he was excellently portrayed like a cat.”

Of Wilbur’s character, S.D. says, “I loved his introductory chapter. It’s just the sort of story that I gravitate to. Farmboy becoming the great warrior! I loved the writing, the scenery, the details. … It’s like Ranger’s Apprentice, but of course, different. And how Annabelle continues to write him, was great. Adventures all around! … I admit I don’t quite get Annabelle’s obsessiveness over [him]…okay I do get it, but the way it came across, I was like O.o But, but there are more characters! Focus on them too! I want to find out their story! However,” she goes on to theorize, “considering she has ‘angelic Luc’ as her other muse…Wilbur seems so much more forgiving. So I often placed them as Ying and Yang in my head. Wilbur is the sort of muse that Annabelle wants. Luc isn’t.”

Uri, she labeled, “…A surprise. Lol, she seemed like such an out of place character in the beginning of the book. I mean, what teenager goes around thinking in biblical verses and signs and such? Especially when she doesn’t come across as the religious sort at first? I really just marked it down as an author’s idea for a character quirk.” Until S.D. reached the revelation of Uri’s surprise backstory, which she declares to be, “AWESOME.”

As for S.D.’s favorite character, that honor goes to Yves. “He’s the sort of character I gravitate to. Quiet. Has a secret. Could be a dark secret. May have a power that could be harmful. To know that he’s aware of it, and doesn’t share. … The mystery of his background, of what his story was? Interest caught, and not leaving until it has an answer. And then to get the answer. ()_() … Yes. [He] is my favorite. No hesitation.”

Which isn’t to say there wasn’t some love left to throw Annabelle’s way. “I totally admire her…for being able to interact with the characters like they’re real people standing right there in front of her. I’ve only been able to do that with a couple of my own, and so to have her so freely having them surrounding her, interacting with her on a day to day basis, doing activities with her, encouraging her when she doesn’t want to do things, or helping her through problems. Wow. Props to her.”

Standout scenes/images for S.D., who loves getting ahold of mental visuals when she reads, include, “Wilbur’s practice yard. Abishan’s jungle. Yves dancing on the bridge and then high above the ground… Oh! And definitely I enjoyed how you described each character. It wasn’t a list of characteristics, but you worded things in such a way that the image just stuck in the mind. It made it easy to keep picturing them and not have to think ‘Wait…what color was Uri’s hair?’ But definitely the one that stuck in my head and had me replaying it for a couple of days afterwards was [*spoilers, spoilers, move along, nothing to see here*] …  I keep repeating that scene, hope it’s not sounding like a broken record, but I really liked it. Seriously, I can’t get that out of my head.”

When asked if she was struck off the top of her head with songs that matched INSPIRED’s cast, S.D. admitted, “I’m not one of those people who matches characters to music, often. …I’m lucky if I know the name to a song…even luckier if I know the artist. Most of the time I just know the lyrics.”

Even so, she was able to come up with a bit of music for a handful of the characters. “When Wilbur is first introduced in the practice yard I think of the song: “United We Stand” from the movie Quest for Camelot. Uri gives me the impression of: “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons. With Luc a song that comes to mind is called “Home for Me”, by BYU Vocal Point. … But the rest, it’s overall impressions of scenes, most of them, unsurprisingly centering around Yves.”

OneMoreDay_Cover-blog

I owe S.D.’s discovery of the novel to a mutual friend: Kimberly Kay. Says S.D., “When she was working on the One More Day anthology, she talked about you a lot, and if she likes someone, they’re definitely someone to like! Especially if they’re funny, and the interviews between the two of you are great! So I meandered my way over to your blog, Facebook, Twitter…etc. And tada! That’s how I found out about you.” Whether or not that alone would have been enough to make S.D. pick up the book for a read, there was one factor that pushed her over the edge. “The beginning sequence of the book, that you shared on your blog, ending with Jean dying sparked my interest. It sounded like my type of story. What happens when your creator suddenly dies? No idea, but I was about to find out!”

While S.D. enjoyed INSPIRED a great deal, she’s still on the fence about delving into my fairytale novella series. “Knowing what Inspired is like makes me want to try out your Wilderhark Tales, especially Edgwyn’s part of the stories as he is my type of character! But at the moment, the series as a whole hasn’t really struck my fancy. However,” she goes on to say of my someday-beyond-the-Wilderhark-Tales Outlaws of Avalon trilogy, “I would love to read about Will Scarlet and the Robin Hood Gang; again, that sort of tale is up my alley in ‘things I like to read.’”

Regarding the possibility of an INSPIRED sequel, S.D. is of two minds. “I’m totally intrigued to see what crazy antics can happen next! But then I’m like O.o why do you need a sequel? As really, Inspired felt like a standalone book. I was happy with the ending (as happy as a reader can be when they want to know more about characters and don’t get the info they crave…), and that it actually felt like an ending and not a ‘wait another year and you can see book 2!’ sort of thing that’s become all too common. That being said, I’m hopeful that a book 2 will expand out the current set of characters…and introduce new characters. I’d also love to see how everyone has evolved since the first book. So yah! I’ve decided that I would look forward to it. What will happen to them next???”

Also on S.D.’s INSPIRED wish-list, “I wish to read everyone’s stories as a whole! The tantalizing pieces I read in Inspired have me wishing to actually have everyone’s books in my hands. Wilbur, Yves, Uri, Shan. I want more!”

Time will tell what my own muses prompt me to deliver to S.D. and her fellow readers next. I can only hope that getting the chance to chat with the author about the story has helped to sweeten the wait. Her closing words would suggest that is the case.

“Thanks so much for the interview D.S! This was a ton of fun. ^^”

The pleasure was mine, S.D.! You’ve been a wonderful audience, and I am nothing but delighted that reading my work filled your imagination to bursting. Now get out there, write your own masterwork, and do it all over again for some other reader. ;D

P.S. – If any other readers o’ mine out there are ever interested in doing something like this, you know how to reach me!

Pics or It Didn’t Happen

The “Inspired” blog tour marches on! (Or Aprils on, by now.) Why, just look at what went down this past week:

Friday saw me interviewed on the JeanzBookReadNReview blog, talking writing, inspiration, favorite characters, and more!

Monday on the blog of Julie Antonovich Reece, I guest posted on my favorite type of hero. (Spoiler alert: Robin Hood’s name may come up. …I may also have used the term “spoiler” somewhat loosely.)

And Wednesday, I reminisce with The Parasite Guy on “Inspired”s fulfillment of ancient prophecy.

We’ve still got a few tour stops still to come (full schedule available on my website’s homepage), and the fantastic book behind it all is still gloriously available for purchase. So if you feel thus inspired, make sure to get your copies!

And don’t forget to enter my giveaway for a chance to win awesome free “Inspired” goodies…of which I now have pics! Check out the charms on these bookmarks, baby (photographed with tons of love in an effort to make up for any lack of skill)!

Inspired Bookmark, Abishan

One lucky winner’s bookmark will come with this sweet kitty – the great jungle god Abishan, portrayed here in housecat form.

Inspired Bookmark, Wilbur

Another’s bookmark will sport the figure of a chess set knight, a fitting representation of the chivalrous Sir Wilbur.

Inspired Bookmark, Uri

Our gal Uri may not be overly endowed with charm, but with this rockin’ little skateboard  attached, this bookmark couldn’t scream “Uri” louder if it had a set of lungs!

Inspired Bookmark, Yves

Finding the right charm for Yves took some doing, but I think those who know him will agree that this little bird in its pretty cage suits the boy quite well indeed.

Inspired Bookmark, Annabelle

I haven’t forgotten Annabelle! What better for a young lady of letters than a charm like a journal in which to scribe her beloved words? ^.^

And for Luc… oh, for our muse Lucianíel, I could scarcely believe my good fortune when I happened upon this little gem. Whichever muse inspired the making of this entirely perfect trinket, thank you! A dozen-dozen times, thank you!

Inspired Bookmark, Luc

Like I said, folks: This is a giveaway you don’t wanna forget to enter!

Psst. Just curious: Which of the bookmark charms are your favorites? ^^