Celebrating the Battle of Illaria Release!

Tomorrow is the day! Battle of Illaria will be out in the world!

It’s a pretty great feeling when you launch a new work into the world. Especially when you finish it early and get to bump your release date up by nearly two weeks! Of course, there’s the fear that you missed something, the questioning of yourself as an artist, and all the doubt that goes into letting strangers read and evaluate your work, but let’s face it, it’s mostly a celebration. This book is even more of a celebration than my others in some ways, because it is my favorite (so far). This was the second book I ever wrote…remember how I took that random detour and decided I needed a book in the middle? Yeah, I don’t recommend that, but I wouldn’t change it because I was able to set up a lot of things in book 2 that I wanted to cover in book 3.

Here’s a few random facts about Battle of Illaria:

  1. The first draft was 112,000 words – yikes!
  2. I cut around 30,000 words
  3. It was originally the second book of the Illaria Series and got moved back for Oracle
  4. I wrote the first draft in about six weeks
  5. The first draft was finished during National Novel Writing Month in 2016
  6. It went through six round of editing by me, 2 rounds of editing by my editor, and 2 proof-readers
  7. The cover has been ready since October 2016. (The cover for book 4 is already done)
  8. One of the characters died in the original first draft and when I made cuts during editing, I changed the structure and that character ended up getting to live
  9. This is the first book I’m releasing that doesn’t have the next one already written
  10. All of the Max chapters were written after the second draft – and they were my favorite scenes to write.

And, because you still have one more day to wait and you might not want to wait that long, I’ve included the first chapter of Battle of Illaria below. Please note – the first chapter for this book contains spoilers. If you have not yet read the first two books, you may want to skip this part. (more…)

Creating a New Story: Part 1

Cinderella Cover3I have a million story ideas in my head and I want to write them all. The problem is, there are only so many hours in a day and I have to do things like sleep occasionally. Instead of waiting to start a brand new story until I finish editing my other finished works, I decided I’d reward myself with time to write new words on the side. I created a brand new story on Wattpad that I will be adding to exclusively there. Unlike Rose Circus, this story hasn’t been written yet. You will be seeing a true first draft in all it’s imperfect glory. Curious what my process is like? This is your chance to follow along as I create something new. I’ll post a new scene or chapter 2-3 times per week and will work on creating a regular posting schedule as the story evolves. This is a fun story that I wanted to play around with and I’m excited to get it out there. It gives me a break from my other work (including editing).

I have found that there are people who are interested in the process an author takes when creating a work. While every author is different, I thought it would be fun to share with you how I do things. I will post updates on that as I work on this story.

Process Update 1: All of my works usually start with a simple idea or a what-if. I LOVE fairy tales and I love when they are adapted in new, fun ways. I have also read my share of Vampire books and come from the school of thought that Vampires are supposed to be scary. But this story was actually triggered by the picture of the girl in the mask. When I saw that picture, I thought it would make a great cover for a Cinderella story. So I added it to my stock photo list and figured I’d go back to it when I had a better idea for it. A few days later, the image was still nagging at me and I went back to look at it. I started to think about how Cinderella could be modernized. Why would she put up with the mental and emotional abuse of an evil stepmother? Then, the wheels started turning and the idea came together. So I made a quick cover and wrote a description for Wattpad.

Story Description: After a tragic accident costs Ella’s father his life, she spends the next ten years living under the rules of her terrible stepmother. Forced to do the housework and living in the damp basement of her family’s home, Ella can’t wait for the day she turns 18 so she can leave it all behind. Everything changes when she discovers her father’s secret study and her family’s past. That’s when she realizes, her father’s death wasn’t an accident, he was killed by the very thing he hunted: Vampires. Now, Ella wants revenge against her father’s killer. Drawn into a world of magic, wealth, and superstition, Ella learns that the world wasn’t what she thought it was. The deeper she gets, the more dangerous it becomes. Can Ella learn how to fight against the creatures her father gave his life to hunt? Or will she become the hunted?

Usually, I outline stories before I write them. This time, I am starting with just the description. I’ll keep you posted as to where I go next!

Click here to find me on Wattpad and follow along!

Rose Circus – Legacy of the Fae, Book 1

Rose CircusI’m trying something a little different with the first book of my newest series. I’m publishing it on Wattpad a chapter at a time before I start editing it. This freaks me out a little bit, but I figure it’s good to try things that scare you.

The first draft is finished, but there are a couple of little story changes I’ll be making as I post. I’m excited to share this new book in this format before I publish it later this summer or early fall.

You can follow the link here to read it on Wattpad.

Make sure you follow me on Wattpad so you get updates about new chapters!

My Editing Process

It’s editing time again!

Editing is my least favorite part of writing, which makes sense. I’m guessing most writers write to create new worlds and live in new stories. When you stop to edit, you aren’t creating anything new. I even took a break from Illaria, thinking I’d finish one more new book in a different series before I started editing. However, the completed Illaria book is calling to me.

This book was finished in November. That’s right. It’s been sitting there, waiting since November. When I started writing a short story from Max’s point of view, I ended up down a rabbit hole that became Oracle of Illaria. Now, I’m in the position where I need to make sure the second book I wrote – which is now book 3 in the series – fits with the world. Thankfully, this book started 2 months after Heir of Illaria ended so there was room in between.

So where does that leave me now? Starting the editing process for Book 3.

Everyone has a different process and I’ve found it interesting to see how other authors go about this stage. So I figured I’d share what I do. Here’s how it goes down:

  1. Create a Kindle File of the book and read the entire thing for content. At this stage, I try to read the book the way a reader would. Looking for any plot holes, places I skipped things, or need to add more info. Really, anything that would leave a reader confused if I didn’t put it in there. Notes in this section are minimal. Unless it’s a major problem, I don’t allow myself to make notes during this stage.
  2. Print the whole thing. Yikes. It’s a big document. I print it out and get it bound at Kinkos in a nice little sprial thing. It looks official and makes me feel like it is complete. Kind of a nice part of my process.
  3. Red pen time. I read it again, on paper this time, and make notes on everything major. I make notes on plot issues, places to add detail or remove unnescessary things, and any grammer / usage / sentence structrue things that are too big to ignore. However, I try not to do much with the grammar, etc. stuff at this stage. This is just notes to myself. I don’t actually fix things here.
  4. Back to the computer. Time to add in my notes from the paper into the actual draft. This is where I actually type in the changes. While I’m doing this, I might even catch more things to fix.
  5. Read through on the computer to check for grammar, punctuation, spelling, typos, etc.
  6. Send to editor for comprehensive edits – check for story flow and overall feel of the work.
  7. Make changes based on editor recommendations.
  8. Send back to editor for line edits – checking grammar, spelling, word choice, sentence structure, etc.
  9. Make changes based on editor recommendations.
  10. Create updated kindle file – read through for any typos.
  11. Update file based on my proof-reading.
  12. Send copies to proof-readers.
  13. Make corrections based on proof-reader comments.
  14. Format for Kindle again. Send to ARC team.

Note: I didn’t create a step for my procrastination blog post….looking back, I’ve noticed that I write a lot more blog posts while editing. So, I suppose that’s part of my process, too!

Oracle of Illaria – Sneak Peek

Oracle-of-Illaria-GenericI wanted to share a scene from Oracle with you all as we prepare for its release next week. I’m so excited about this book! It was tough to choose a favorite scene that wasn’t too much of a spoiler. The scene I’m sharing with you is one of my favorite in the whole book. When I wrote the last line, I got chills. That’s one of the amazing things about writing. When it is going well, there’s nothing like it. I hope you enjoy the scene and I can’t wait for the book’s release! Less than 1 week!

 

Sneak Peek from Oracle of Illaria

The silence was deafening and goosebumps rose on my arms. Thousands of people had gathered. All of them were quiet. I’d never seen a crowd this large before and couldn’t figure out how they all unified enough to wait for me to speak.
Say something, Etta. Swallowing back my fear, I stepped toward to the front of the platform. I lifted my chin and pushed my shoulders back. I needed to feel in control somehow.

“The king is hunting me. You’ve seen my face on the posters.” I waited a moment, expecting the crowd to react. Instead, they stayed silent. “The king is afraid of me. And he should be.” When nobody spoke, I continued. “Because I am the true heir to the throne. Rightful Queen of Illaria. And I will reclaim my throne. We will have peace again in Illaria. You have my word.”

I stared out at the crowd, feeling defiant, powerful, strong. “He can come for me, but I will fight.”

The crowd erupted in applause and cheers. I took a deep breath, trying to make the knots in my stomach subside. It was not easy to speak in front of people but I knew it was part of the job. And I’d accepted the position the night I sent Max away.

Movement in the back of the crowd drew my eye and I strained to see over the heads of the gathered people. A large group of King’s Guards were pushing their way through.

“Etta!” Celeste was behind me, a sword in her hand. I took it from her and stood my ground, waiting for the guards to come to us.

They never drew nearer, though. The crowd was pressing in on them, pushing them away from the platform. A murmur rose and grew to a chant. “Down with the king, down with the king.”

I lowered my sword and watched in awe as the people of Campari fought back against the guards. They outnumbered them and the guards were fleeing the square. Another cheer rose through the crowd and I joined in, fist in the air, crying out in unison with the crowd.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. The people were turning. Down with the king.

On Editing Oracle of Illaria

For some reason, writing the second book in the Illaria series has been harder than anything else I’ve written. Keep in mind book three is already written and stands at 100k words (it may be getting some cuts). That might be why it was so tough. I had to fit this story in-between two already existing works. I’m also feeling a bit of pressure because I want this book to be just as exciting and fun to read as my first book in the series. Second books are tough to write!

But, I prevailed!

The first two drafts are finished and now it’s time to move on to draft 3. In this part of the process, I use the feedback and notes provided by my editor. Her notes are tough for this book. At least they feel that way. It could be that this book scares me a bit because it’s been such a challenge to write. But whatever the cause, it’s time to get over that and move on.

After a week away from writing, I opened her notes so I can begin the next round of editing. Draft 3 will officially be underway this evening! Then, it will head to the editor again for a second round and I’ll do it all over again. Editing is my least favorite part of writing a book. To help motivate me and get me through it, I set up a pre-order for it before edits were finished. By doing this, I created a hard deadline. My first book took 4 months to edit and much of that was procrastination. I know I can do it faster. So cheers to the process. The sooner I finish, the sooner I can get back to doing the fun part – writing a new story!

Oracle of Illaria

Oracle-of-Illaria-GenericIt has a cover! It has a title! Book 2 of the Illaria Series has officially launched for pre-order! It will be released on May 30, 2017 and I am so excited to share the next book in the saga with you all. This book has been the most difficult one for me to write so far and I’m very excited that it’s in the final editing stages. Then, I get to tackle book 3 – but that’s another post.

I’m celebrating with a few giveaways – check out TeacherofYA’s Book Blog for details!

Finished First Drafts – TWO Books!

First, I want to start this post by saying thank you to those who have been supportive. It is crazy hard to put your work out there in the world for all to see and all to judge. For those of you are going along on this ride with me, thank you for believing in me and believing in Illaria.

On to book 2 – I wrote the second book in the Illaria series in the four months following the completion of the first book. I even got to finish during NaNoWriMo (I know, I cheated a bit and continued work on a work in progress instead of starting something new…but I guess I’m a bit of a rebel that way).

After finishing that beast of a book (105,000 words!) I started to work on a short story for in between the books for fun. The story was written from Max’s perspective and was supposed to be a short story. It grew. Sadly, the Max portion has now been cut, but what came from that story evolved into a new book 2, making the original book 2 into book 3. Still with me?

When I stopped typing at the coffee shop I was writing in on Thursday night and realized I was finished, I was wrapping up book 2 with book 3 already written. Both books are shorter now, some of the original book 2 found its way into the new book 2. And they are both ready for editing! I’ve got a deadline with my editor for this week – yikes! My cover artist is also scheduled for this week to start working on the cover! Can you believe it?

If all goes according to schedule, and I can limit my sleep, I’m hoping to be able to share book 2 with all of you by the end of March. Stay tuned for updates on pre-orders and all that fun stuff.

Tales of Illaria: Max and Saffron

It’s here! The first prequel novella in the Illaria series is finished and available for download. It will be free from February 14th – 21st. It’s my Valentine to all of you!  Want to learn more about how Max and Saffron met? This is the beginning of their story. I hope you have as much fun reading it as I did writing it.

Follow this link to get your free copy today!

On Writing Heir of Illaria: Part 1

When you tell people you wrote a book, one of the surprisingly common responses is “I’ve always wanted to write a book!”,  followed with a variety of excuses as to why they can’t write a book. Ignoring the excuses that come across as condescending, there are often some pleas for help buried in their excuses. Writing a book is on a lot of people’s bucket list, but it isn’t easy. Now that I have finally published my first novel, I can tell you, it was was worth the pain and tears it took to make it into a finished product.

The story of how this book came to be is littered with a series of incomplete manuscripts that will probably never find their way off of my hard drive. And that’s okay. In fact, the version of this book that saw the light of day is miles away from the first outline I wrote in 2011. All books have  a different path from idea to completion. There is not one way to go about it. Some writers can take an idea to completion in weeks. Yes. Weeks. Others take years. Some take a lifetime. Often, it’s hard to tell the difference between the books that were written quickly and those that took years once they’ve been through proper editing.

So how did Heir of Illaria go from idea to finished novel? For me, it began as a dream. (Yes, I know. Just like Stephanie Meyer. But that’s how it happened.) I had a dream about siblings who were kidnapped and had to escape. They were fleeing an evil king because they were the rightful heirs to the throne – though they didn’t know they were. If you’ve read my book, you can see the foundation for the story that would come later. The original outline was typed up five years before the book was finished and it evolved a lot between drafts and had a lot of starts and stops. It isn’t the same story that I ended up writing, but it was my starting place.

I tried writing it for a while, but at that time, I didn’t yet know anything about how to write a book. I dabbled. And that’s okay. It works for some people. It didn’t work for me. Eventually, I put it down for a couple of years…and had a baby…and didn’t write for a while. Life happens.

After I figured out how to juggle working while being a mom (which took about two years) I started to write again. I attempted, and failed to complete my first NaNoWriMo. I needed help. So I joined RMFW and started to learn about writing as a craft.

I was working on two novels when I joined my first critique group. Illaria, and a dystopia that will never see the light of day. After my first chapter for Illaria was ripped apart at critique, I focused on my dystopia for a few months. (Critique group disclaimer: Yes, you need one. Yes, they will criticize your work. That’s how you get better. Yes, it can be painful, but you get over it.)

Anyway, dystopia…I did not have an outline, and eventually wrote myself into a plot hole I couldn’t write my way out of. While talking through the plot with my writing friends, we ended up talking through Illaria, too. I found that that story  was much more developed and I created an updated outline that changed a lot of what I already had written. The new outline made me excited to write. The dystopia went into a drawer, where it will probably stay – and I went back to Illaria, which at the time was titled The Kingdom. Good, right?

Which meant, I started over. Like throw out the first 15,000 words, over. In the grand scheme of a novel, that’s not the worst that could happen – it turned out to be the best decision I could have made. Because I jumped in with both feet and I went for it. I wrote every single day. And finished that draft in 6 weeks. SIX weeks. To finish something I’d started 5 years earlier. Sometimes you just have to go for it.

So what changed from when I was struggling to write to when I finally finished my novel? The big thing was support. I joined a writing organization, joined a critique group, and started to learn from other writers. I started to learn about writing and learned about HOW to write. In my next post, I’ll share some of the stratgies that I learned that allowed me to write a strong outine and increase my word count. Also, mindset. But that’s a big one that I’m not ready to tackle yet.