Monday, July 15, 2013

Blog Hop Interview for KidLit/YA authors

I was invited by my friend, Margo Dill, to participate in a “blog hop interview.” Margo sent me some interview questions, which I will answer here on my blog. Following my answers, I tagged 3 other writers who will, in turn, answer questions on their blogs next week. It’s been fun checking out the Blog Hops to see what other authors have posted. Margo posted her answers to the questions last week. If you like, you can leave a comment on her blog and tell her that you connected to her through me.

Here are my answers to the questions I chose from the list:

1. What are you working on right now? I am in the middle of the Moonlit series, and just submitted the second book in the series to my publisher for acceptance. While I wait to hear back, I am drafting specific scenes for the third and final book. It’s going to be a huge challenge to write. I’m hoping to tell the final installment from many different perspectives, and I’m also waging a gigantic, supernatural war. So it’s a little intimidating. I’m going to take it piece by piece. I want to make sure I do it right, and give my readers something to remember long after they’ve read the last page.

2. How is it different than other books in its genre? Moonlit is very different from other books in the YA genre. For starters, there is a love story, but love is not THE story. My main character, Tanzy Hightower, is flawed, and is strong in her own right, even before she becomes supernatural. There’s a mystery element to each book, which readers either really get into, or it puts them off. I love a little mystery, and I wrote what I like to read. The first-person present perspective makes readers pick up clues along with Tanzy and piece them together as they go. One reviewer called Moonlit “an explosion in reverse,” which is a perfect description. The sequel is a tad more straight-forward, and it moves at breakneck speed from page one. I’m writing the third book from many different perspectives because I have several endings I’m deciding between, and I’m not yet sure who will be there to bow for the final curtain call.

3. How does your writing process work? My writing process is… chaotic and spontaneous. I have two other jobs and I’m a full-time mom of a two year old, so I write where I can, when I can. Usually it’s after she goes to sleep. I write notes to myself during the day. I don’t outline, but I really REALLY should. My brain does not operate in a straight line, and it makes revisions challenging. I’m going to attempt at outline with book three. I’m very comfortable with the reality that my outline will likely be in hundreds of tiny pieces thrown every which way by the time the true arc rises to the surface, but it’s a good place to start.

4. What scares you? The idea of bad reviews used to scare me. But now that I have a few to my name, they don’t bother me anymore. Some of them are actually helpful, and some of the make me laugh. After a reviewer literally said she hated me, I got over the hope of making everyone happy. What scares me more are the people who truly love Moonlit – who dove head first into the beginning of Tanzy’s journey and are eagerly awaiting the rest. I am terrified I’ll let them down. So many sequels fall flat in comparison to the first installment, and I really want to defeat that statistic.
Tag! I am tagging...
Kerri Cuevas, YA author of "Deadly Kisses." The sequel was just picked up by WiDo Publishing. Congrats, Kerri! Kerri's Blog:
Aviva Orr, YA author of "The Mist on Bronte Moor." I read this book a few weeks ago and was completely swept away in the time travel and Bronte history. Aviva's blog:
Charity Bradford, YA author of "The Magic Wakes." This book is at the very top of my TBR pile, and has scored rave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. Charity's blog:
Kerri, Aviva, and Charity will choose four questions from the master list and answer on their blogs next week, and will tag three more kidlit/YA authors. It's like a never ending chain letter of goodness for book lovers. :)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The story of the sequel

The sequel did not at all go like I planned.

For starters, I had to do a major rewrite - scrapping 60K words I'd written before we finished the plot edits on Moonlit, because part of those edits was cutting a character who didn't play a big part in Moonlit, but was spotlighted in the sequel. Oops.

So I began again, and somewhere in there, I got lost inside Tanzy's head and forgot her feet. In Moonlit, Tanzy comes face to face with some of the darkest places of her soul. She even shocked me, and I know she scared herself. So I think we had to acclimate to each other again, who we both were, emerging battle-scarred from the grenade dropped at the end of Moonlit. In the process, we wandered over the choices she made without moving forward. I wasn't really inspired. I was just sad, and more than a little despondent.

Around the time I sent a draft of the sequel to beta readers, Moonlit was making the rounds on a couple of blog tours. I read a couple of feverish posts, new members of the Moonlit tribe who understood Moonlit and Tanzy, and were eager to dive into the sequel, and I started to panic. The sequel isn't right. It's wrong. WRONG. But how? Why? What is missing?? My beta readers felt the same way. They loved the plot I'd crafted, but the fire that lit the "explosion in reverse" fuse of Moonlit hadn't carried over into the sequel. It was a hard truth, but it was the truth.

Then I read a couple more posts from other new fans, and several mentioned how they thought the coming war would play out. ...... war? what war? there's a war? ..... HOLY $#*%! There's a WAR!!! Inspiration struck like a freight train. That night, I gutted the sequel again, saving only about 20K of the original words, and started over.

This pushed my self-imposed May 31st deadline back A LOT. A war between a few people would be boring and over in a paragraph or two (maybe a couple of pages if there's a lot of witty dialogue exchanged between the blows.) So I had to explore all the sides of this war, this brand new, breathtaking, crystal clear moment in my head when all sides converge on the veil. It's a spectacular sight, and I can't wait to write it. But not yet... when you have a WAR on your hands, you have to thoroughly understand each side's motivation, the complexities of alliances and traitors, the gray that exists between good and evil.

I'm so excited to introduce you to this growing cast of new characters. I wrote the first book for myself - to get the story out of my head and to explore Tanzy's voice. But this second book is for my tribe, for those readers who took a leap of faith and dove head first into Tanzy's life and saw the shifting world through her eyes. I want it to be perfect for my tribe. I want to give them what they're hungry for.

Years of working mostly alone around horses inspired Moonlit. But my readers - my tribe - inspired the sequel. I think it's the coolest thing to happen to me since becoming published. I submitted it to my publisher a few days ago, and I'm eager to see what my fantastic editors think. They loved Moonlit as much as I did - even though they helped me work on Moonlit, I also consider them members of the Moonlit tribe. Their opinion means everything to me, both professionally, and as readers. I'll know I did right by my readers if my acquisitions editor gives me the green light. You better believe I'll let you know as soon as I hear back - either way.

Until then, I'll do my best not to stalk my inbox. To keep myself occupied, I'm drafting a scene to add where Tanzy and readers alike will be able to see exactly what Lucas is capable of when someone he loves is in jeopardy...

Enough about me. What are you up to? :)