My Writing Process – Blog Tour

So I sort of jacked this blog tour up. Four awesome writers asked me to take part in the past month at different times, so I’m breaking the rules by just posting in the middle of all of them. The first tag was by the talented YA/NA author Deirdre Riordan Hall a few weeks back now! Last week, NA/YA SFF author and CP Jessica Harvey tagged me, too. Sorry for the belatedness, ladies! And for those who invited me for future posts, apologies!IMG_8012

I have two completed novels under my belt, and am currently seeking representation for one (A BREATH OF SILVER, or ABOS). My WIP is speculative fiction, possibly New Adult.

I’m so grateful for the writing community. Over the past five years, I’ve been blessed by it time and again. I’m so thankful for my CPs, beta readers, and all the amazing, hard-working contest hosts and hostesses, agents and writers running workshops and webinars, and everyone on Twitter who posts encouraging words for each other and shares their ups and downs.

When I began writing full-time, I worried the solitary aspect would be difficult. But I’ve since learned that writing is not and can not be solitary. Not for me, anyhow. Interacting with other writers, even if it’s mostly via the internet, is integral to feedback, growth, and support. So thank you all!

1. What am I working on?

My active WIP is fantasy, possibly NA as I said, and possibly based in the same universe as A BREATH OF SILVER (though not in any way related, story-wise). A SIGHT OF NEVERSEA (working title) follows 25-year-old Luma Grey, born in Edinburgh and raised by adoptive parents in America. She returns to the UK, to make her third attempt at graduating from university, in Cornwall. She’s burned a lot of bridges and still has the ashes in her hair to prove it — then things get worse thanks to her rebound crush on a university lecturer.

Luma Grey has lived with disturbances that dance like demons on the fringe of her vision throughout her 25 years. Ocular migraines, doctors claim. While photographing an abandoned tin mine in Cornwall, England, she senses the macabre visions begin to dim. But a slip sends her sideways. Emerging, she finds herself in Unseelie, the Realm of Fey, where the demons leave her at last.

Their work is done, but Luma’s is just beginning.

Fleeing the limp loose ends of life in California, she thought starting over in Britain would give her much-needed focus to make something more of herself than the birth parents who ditched her in an Edinburgh orphanage at 2 weeks. Instead, she rebounded with a debilitating crush on her department head. Desperate to impress, her extracurricular research led her to the mine.

The door between realms has been sealed for decades, and Unseelie’s residents are as surprised as Luma. The Fey are living legends, creatures of reverie who have poked their heads into the world of men since time began. From these fleeting sparks and ephemeral sightings throughout the spinning of our globe, humans have spawned countless fairytales, myths, and works of art. Minstrels, storytellers, and even conspiracy theorists have taken the credit.

The Fey want it back. Now thanks to Luma, they have a chance.

I’ve also got a space opera on the back burner, SAPPHIRA RISING, a sort of Romancing the Stone against the backdrop of a space empire.

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

Whether fortunate or not, the voice that has grown through my initial manuscript (a women’s fiction I still very much believe in, SOMEBODY THAT I USED TO KNOW, previously known as NICE GIRLS DON’T DATE MUSICIANS) and throughout the revisions of ABOS is not one I’ve seen in other recent fantasies, either adult or YA — a little tongue-in-cheek with a (I hope) twist on some typical fantasy tropes while still paying homage to the tropes I love the most. Whether fashionable or not, my voice is definitely growing roots and I’m actually happier with it as time goes on!

While the tone is dark, I like to inject relatable emotions and relationships from a modern perspective within these universes that have parallel realms or fantasy elements. ABOS travels from London’s near-future to Britain’s past, and while the fantasy is light and the time travel aspect is based on ley lines and Celtic folklore, some might consider this a blend of SF and Fantasy (I don’t). I’ve been told this makes it unique, mixing the imagined future and the known past.

3. Why do I write what I do?

I primarily write SFF because that’s what I grew up on. I began playing fantasy-type computer text adventures when I was 4, when my family bought our first computer, a Tandy TRS-80. I was obsessed with Infocom games like Zork, Enchanter, and Wishbringer. I devoured every fantasy/adventure book I could get my hands on. I loved drawing out maps of these worlds, and my thoughts were constantly invaded by the creatures and settings of these games and books. And I totally related to Jennifer Connelly’s character in Labyrinth.

My voice and stories’ tone is influenced heavily by the fantasy authors I was entranced by from my early teens: Simon R. Green and Patricia C. Wrede. If you’re a fantasy fan and haven’t read Green’s BLUE MOON RISING, or a SF fan and haven’t read the DEATHSTALKER series, you’re totally missing out. Please read them!

I wrote my university dissertation on Tolkien’s definition of a fairy story, and the success of films that have been adapted from such. Tolkien is my ultimate hero (along with Jim Henson), and I believe wholeheartedly in his opinion that stories of other realms — where men are enchanted by the beings and goings-on there — are the stories that can tell us the most about our own lives. Escapism, but not as the world tends to apply that term; escapism that’s used to reflect our own lives and how to better live them.

But the creatures and settings help, too 😉

4. How does my writing process work?

It’s flexible, and ever-changing. I get sparks of ideas, however tiny, and keep them in a file. When I’m ready to work on a new story, I pick the one that won’t leave my brain, often encouraged by a song or piece of music, Pinterest images, and news articles. I sketch out a 3-act structure diagram and mark the plot points, and fill in those blanks. I’m trying to briefly outline the main points of each scene before drafting it.

IMG_8011I listen to classical, film scores, and jazz while drafting (mostly Craig Armstrong; Austin Wintory; Clint Mansell; John Barry; Jerry Goldsmith; Assassin’s Creed, Elder Scrolls, and Dreamfall scores; Two Steps From Hell; a LOT of Celtic music). When revising, I tend to listen to a mix of this and wide-ranging playlists that include Radiohead’s In Rainbows, Taylor Swift, Christina Perri, Birdy, Ben Howard, Karine Polwart, Jayme Dee, and many more. Sometimes I need silence, but only when I’m stuck on a tricky part. I try to read a lot of genres, not just what I’m writing at the time.

Then, ideally I’ll send the MS after an initial one or two passes through to CPs and betas. Based on their feedback, I make changes, do a full read-through, and either send questionable sections or the whole thing back to them. It doesn’t always work out that way, but that’s what I aim for. Sometimes I send a few chapters as I’m drafting them, when I’m less sure of the story’s direction.

During ABOS, I did an AWESOME LitReactor course with John Skipp while revising it. He was vital to getting my action scenes the way I wanted them. So I love taking part in courses and seminars in that stage. Constant opportunities for growth is a necessity.

 

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So that’s where I’m at. Hopefully the next time I’m asked to answer similar questions, I’ll be a bit further ahead with my writing aspirations. Thank you for inviting me! 🙂

 

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6 thoughts on “My Writing Process – Blog Tour

  1. Chy! This new WIP sounds **fantastic**! I can’t wait to read it 🙂

    I have the same ideas folder. Thing never seems to stop growing…

    Thanks for posting! So fun to learn more this way 🙂

  2. I have to say, you come up with the most beautiful titles for books. “A Breath of Silver” and “A Sight of Neversea”–those are so full of prettiness and intrigue. I read your query for ABOS, along with your first 250, and I am so into your story world already. I can’t believe that young Bryn is already at mid-life at the mere age of 22! It really makes me want to know more about her society.

    Would you ever consider self-publishing? A friend of mine is desperately trying to convince me to go that route, but I have my heart set on old-school publishing (though I might change my mind once my book is finished–we’ll see).

    1. Wow, well, thank you! Thank you so, SO much for your kind words about ABOS!! That completely makes my week. I posted it for a contest last month but figured leaving it up might not be a bad thing.

      I’ve not yet really spent much time considering self-publishing. I attended a conference last year and sat it on a seminar about it, so it gave me food for thought, and I wouldn’t rule it out… But like you, I’m so focused on the traditional route. I was offered a deal from a small publisher on my women’s fiction last year (I was approached through Twitter), but I wasn’t ready even for that. I really crave a long-term relationship with an agent I can grow with, who specializes in the bits I don’t 🙂 Thanks so much for your comments!

      1. Yeah, there’s just something about traditional…the little girl in me really wants to see my book on a shelf in Wal-Mart (even though I don’t shop there). Last night I spent hours reading articles and discovered I can still go the traditional publishing route for a self-published book. I was like, “Wait, I can have my cake and eat it too?” I kind of always thought it was one or the other. So now I’m pretty sure I’m going to self-publish, and then try to go for traditional.

        Off topic, but I just noticed you added me to your links. Granted it was perpetuated by me, but still–what a thrill to see my blog listed! Thank you!

        1. I’m the same… no matter how much I enjoy downloading and reading books on my Kindle, the magic of walking into a bookstore and discovering beautiful covers and tantalising back-cover blurbs will never fade, and I dream of being part of that 🙂 And I just thought I’d publicly say (though I did on Twitter as well) that I completely would’ve added you — eventually, but as I say, I spend way more time staring at my blank Scrivener screen than updating this website, sadly. Once every 6 months or so! 😉

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