Thursday, September 18, 2014

Blog Hop: My writing process - take 2

I first took part of this hop about six months ago, but with full blown, third trimester preggo-brain, I completely forgot. When I realized I'd already answered these questions, I nearly declined the opportunity. I read over the answers I gave back in April, and realized that drafting Wildwood - the final book in the Moonlit Trilogy - has changed a lot about my process. So I answered them again, if only to chart my growth, and I enjoyed reflecting on how much I learned while writing book 3.

Thank you, Brittney Joy, author of the Red Rock Ranch series and fellow equestrian, for inviting me to follow her on the hop. I adored the first book in Brittney's series, Lucy's Chance, and can't wait to get my hands on the sequel, which is coming out this fall. With a tagline like this: "Sixteen year old Lucy Rose is spending her first summer away from home and she has two things on her mind: an abandoned, violent horse and a blue eyed cowboy... only neither is hers." How could I resist? We also both have an obvious love for writing a lead female character with grit and a feisty streak. Learn more about Brittney Joy and the Red Rock Ranch series on her blog:

Now for the blog hop writing process questions:

1. What am I currently working on?

I am currently working on "Wildwood," the third and final book in the Moonlit trilogy. At this point, two dimensions are at play, so I'm using a multi-POV approach to braid the sides together. Characters on both sides are gaining different pieces of information - and not all of them are true. The reader will see their mistakes/wrong turns long before they do. Using the multi-POV approach has been the most challenging thing I've done with my writing so far/ It's so important to have a reason for why the next POV is chosen, and to layer the plot lines in a way that is seamless and natural. I'm really excited for readers to experience how this tale concludes. The paths and endings of several aspects/subplots took me completely by surprise

2. How does my work differ from others in its genre?

The Moonlit trilogy is a very different read in general. The first book (Moonlit) is not a straight-shot plot, but more like a puzzle. Once you reach the final chapters, I think you experience Tanzy's moment of shock with her when she realizes how far she was lead from where she believed she was going. The second book is more like a bullet- it's direct, fast-paced, and action-oriented. The third book goes back to the elements of mystery I used in the first book, but the characters are kept more in the dark than the reader.

Also, two major thematic differences are the use of love/romance as a sub-plot and not the main point of the story. Horses are used as a setting; the main character, Tanzy Hightower, was raised on a farm, and has working knowledge of the equine industry. In books 2 (Windswept) and 3 (Wildwood), the wild/feral aspect of horses is explored, as Tanzy's blood has been replaced with that of an ancient wild stallion. Her environment and the use of horses in it reflects what's happening inside of her.

3. Why do I write what I do?

Sometimes this world seems too sharp at its edges, too mean or cruel, and in the depths on my being I know beyond all reasons there has to be something more. I explore the thoughts of what that more could be through my stories. My mind is quick to leave this reality and scurry down a path of what-ifs. I use horses as a vehicle to take these journeys because they've always possessed a kind of magic for me. They are excellent teachers, and they ground me and make me feel like I'm flying at the same time.

4. How does my writing process work?

My writing process evolved a lot for book 3. I used to tear apart each sentence as I was drafting, and that slowed me way down. I'd get so involved in how to say it I'd forget to just say it and move on. Also, since I used five POVs in book three, I had to use what I call a "short-projection," where I outlined the main purpose of the next 3-4 chapters before writing them. This was my first attempt at any kind of an outline, as I've been a total panster before this manuscript. I wrote the entire first draft before incorporating any edits, and kept a separate word document where I made notes to myself regarding any edits to what I'd already written, large or small. Once I began the second draft, I tackled that list first, and then reviewed the story as a whole, editing as I went. I just sent the second draft to beta readers to make sure the story is solid before I spend a lot of time/energy polishing the actual writing.

Another key part of my writing process is not writing. If I'm not feeling inspired, I don't force it for the most part. Every now and then I can tell it's just me not focusing or seeing a scene clearly, and then I make myself slog through it. But getting outside, especially to the barn, is a critical part of my creative process for bigger-scale plotting. My imagination works much better in the open air.

Time to Tag!

I'm tagging the lovely, one-of-a-kind, force of nature Sarah Ashley Jones, who I had the pleasure of meeting at Indie Girl Con this past February, and thoroughly enjoyed seeing again at UTopYA. She just revealed the cover of her newest book: Rebel Souls. She's crazy busy, so I'm not sure when her post will go up, but her blog is worth checking out regularly, so check back if it's not up yet!

Click here to go directly to Sarah's blog.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Work in Progress (WIP) Blog Hop - giving you a tiny sneak peek into Wildwood, book 3 in the Moonlit Trilogy

First, thank you to Colleen Story for inviting me to join the Work in Progress blog hop, which gives me the chance to offer Moonlit fans a tiny peek into the third book of the series. I can't wait for my tribe to experience the conclusion of Tanzy's journey. I'm honored Colleen chose me, as I'm a huge fan of hers, and I'm appreciative of her commitment to exploring how to maintain mental, emotional, and physical wellness while working in the creative field. Check out a glimpse of Colleen's WIP on her blog HERE. She also provides a fantastic analysis of the mental/emotional process of drafting, which I found myself nodding along with as I read it.

Here are the rules of the hop: Provide a link back to the person who nominated you (done!) 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.

Here we go!

WIP Title: My wonderful publisher has already christened book 3 in the Moonlit trilogy "Wildwood." We added a sneak peek of book 3 into the back of Windswept (book 2) so we came up with the official title early on this one. But before my publisher named book 3, the working title was "Ascent."

A little bit about the story: My current WIP is the third and final book in the Moonlit trilogy. I can't tell you too much about it without giving away spoilers for book 2, but I'll tell you what I can!

In the final book of the trilogy, both sides of the veil are at play, and several characters step into the spotlight for a turn front and center, continuously blurring the line between good and evil. Asher and Vanessa's motives and histories are explored in depth. They truly took me by surprise, and I'm curious to see how readers react to their part of the story. This book goes back to the mystery feel of Moonlit, except I keep the characters more in the dark than the reader, who will realize when a character is acting on a false lead long before the character does. The pieces of the puzzle and prophecy are woven together primarily by four characters: Tanzy, Vanessa, Jayce, and Hope, with one of the last chapters coming from a very special voice. And I promise nearly every thread I've pulled along the way will be tied in and resolved by the last page.

Here are the opening lines of the first three chapters. These are from the second draft, and are totally devoid of an editor's polishing, so bear with me :)

Chapter 1 (Tanzy's POV): If I lose ground to Asher, I will not regain it. This basic fact screams through every muscle like a commander to an army. Prepare to hurt. Fight through the pain. Asher will kill me the moment he detects a chance.

Chapter 2 (Jayce's POV): Clouds pass overhead, murky grays laced with slivers of pink. They remind me of a charcoal sketch. My left hand tingles and a memory of smudging pencil lead from line to shadow flitters across my mind.

Chapter 3 (Vanessa's POV): "You must have missed something!" I slap the closest canvas from its easel. The sound of it clattering to the floor does nothing to release the pressure brewing in my chest, nor does the reaction of my Mouse, a blind Unseen creature, who jumps back as if I struck her instead of the painting.

My turn to tag! I nominate:
Charity Bradford
Paul Anthony Shortt
Kerri Cuevas
Elisabeth Wheatley
Lori Ann Robinson

I opted not to give my nominations a deadline for their posts, as we are all furiously working on new pieces, so make sure to check back if they don't currently have up their WIP posts.

What are the most memorable opening lines you've ever read?  I don't know if a book has ever hooked me as fast as Gillian Flynn's "Dark Places: A Novel." Check out the opening lines, told from main character Libby Day:

I have a meanness inside of me, real as an organ. Slit me at my belly and it might slip out, meaty and dark, drop on the floor so you could stomp on it. It's the Day blood. Something's wrong with it. I was never a good little girl, and I got worse after the murders.

How could you read those sentences and then STOP? I couldn't. I think I read the whole book in two days.