Monthly Archives: April 2013

Announcing: Madeline Claire Franklin’s second novel, THE HIEROPHANT, Book I of the Arcana Series

It’s been almost 2 years since the publication of my debut novel, The Poppet and the Lune, and nearly just as long since I’ve published anything at all. Oh, I’ve written things. Lots of things. A couple of really big things, and a couple of really great things. But it’s been a difficult two years for me, and the thought of putting my work out there when I was feeling do disempowered just did not jive with me at all.

But then, a few months ago, I went on a magical vision quest in the dead of winter, in the wilds of E(e)rie, Pennsylvania. I holed up in a monastery and conversed with the gods. I lived on rice and tea, and meditated for hours in two feet of snow. I battled demons, and slayed dragons, and emerged from my quest with my own truth glowing, clutched before me, pulsing like a heartbeat, like a drumbeat, like a beacon. I made a choice, and it changed everything.*

And in a moment of beautiful serendipity, the universe allied itself with my truth, and made the path to my dreams become manifest. (I got fired, and I liked it.)

Shortly after that, I began to work in earnest on a new novel. And as I progressed in the composition of that rough draft, a previous novel waited for its fate to be decided, while all around me I gathered information from agents, and authors, and publishers–the better to strategize my plan of attack. And shortly, a second choice was made, in secret. This clandestine task has been before me for several weeks now, and everything has fallen into place, as if by magic.

But I can contain my excitement no longer! (No longer, I say!) So today I am making the announcement! And I am freaking PUMPED about it.

Coming June 18, 2013: THE HIEROPHANT – Book I of the Arcana Series, a young adult contemporary fantasy trilogy.

And here’s a little taste of the cover page:

title page

Demons are watching you. They move invisible through our world, hunting for rare prey–most humans don’t see the monsters that lurk in the dark, and as long as you can’t see them, they can’t hurt you.

But Ana sees the demons. Creatures once found only in the bedtime stories told by her late mother have crept from the shadows, whispering her name and stirring ancient magic in her veins.

On the day her tarot deck foretells a disturbing change, Ana encounters an uncanny young man who literally stops her heart. Trebor has strange powers, and an even stranger quest, and for some reason wants to help her. But the closer Trebor gets to unlocking Ana’s power, the more important–and dangerous–his own quest becomes. And in a world haunted by demons determined to find the key to their empire, there is much more at stake than one girl’s soul.

The Hierophant is the first extraordinary adventure in the Arcana series, a young adult contemporary fantasy, coming June, 2013.

~*~

Mark your calendars ladies and gents, devils and dames! And be sure to sign up for my mailing list to be the first to know when The Hierophant becomes available!

Cover reveal, pre-order information, and a fancy schmancy book trailer COMING SOON!

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*only two of the things mentioned here are metaphors

Rambling: On Milestones, Stories, and Happily Ever After

Bear with me, this might get strange.

So, as a writer and a reader, I think a lot about imaginary people, and I think a lot about story, and what aspects appeal to humans, and how, when things are taken too far, maybe people sometimes expect real life to be like stories, which isn’t impossible, but unlikely. And I think sometimes about these characters that go through so much and finally achieve their huge, massive goal—and then what? What drives them forward? Do they get their happily ever after? Or does the story go on? Or rather, do they begin a different story?

Happily ever after is widely accepted as a myth these days, because we know that time and life doesn’t stand still. You can’t stay at the top forever. Problems arise, solutions must be sought. Stories must be lived.

Anyway, I think about that a lot: what are the characters’ lives like after the story ends?

And then I hit my own milestone/climax-resolution on Thursday. I finished the first draft of GHOST CITY, the first novel I’ve started and finished since 2010 when I posted the last chapter of The Poppet and the Lune (unless you count my massive rewrite of a novel that came before TPaL). I felt like I should have been more exuberant, more over the moon for my accomplishment. I had to check to make sure I wasn’t suppressing the vulnerable state of joy in favor of the safety of doubt (as I do). I wasn’t. I was excited, but no more excited than I’d been the days before. I’m excited for the book! But the story goes on, well after the first draft, as any writer knows. And I’m more excited to move forward onto the next stage of crafting this story than I am excited that I finished one stage of it.

It’s a little bit like me getting fired. I’m far more excited and enthusiastic about being free and living my life as I’ve dreamed, than I am excited to be free of my terrible day job.

That’s not to say that when I do finish a final, polished, ready-for-submission draft that I won’t be exploding with joy, but that’s a slightly larger milestone to meet.

Relief is more the feeling I had Thursday. I was relieved that I made it through the whole thing. I was relieved that I had it in me, another story, another novel. I was relieved that my decisions about the novel, whether they were the “right” ones or not, were good decisions. I was relieved that I could do it. I can do it. I can write novels, and more than just the ones I’ve already written.

I have a feeling I will feel that same relief with the first draft of every novel I will ever write. And I’m okay with that.

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Things I Love: Internet Based Productivity Tools Edition

Call me Martha Stewart (thank you!) but I have to start sharing with y’all some of the things I’ve discovered that I LOVE. I know I made a post a little while back on cool documentaries I think everyone should watch, and now I’d like to discuss two of the tools I’ve found on the internet these past couple of weeks that are AWESOME. Not just awesome, either: they’re also FREE.

Mind42.com

I am terrible at outlining. It’s not that I don’t get it–I mean, I think I get it–I just have a really hard time taking a story I’m wanting to tell and breaking it down into EVENTS, especially when a lot of events happen internally. I don’t know why–maybe it has something to do with the reason why algebra took forever to click, because LETTERS IN MATH? is kind of like REMOVING SOUL FROM STORY? in my poor, tired brain–but I am envious of all you writers who just seem to know how to do it.

Part of my problem has always been in organizing the outline itself. I can ramble on (and on) about what happens in a story, but that doesn’t help me break it down. But then I discovered MIND-MAPPING. Mind-mapping is basically a way of spewing your thoughts onto a page, rearranging as you see fit, and nesting events within events. So I can write 1) Girl meets boy 2) Girl falls in love and then go back and add 1.a) Girl realizes she has no interest in boy 1.b) Girl realizes she has romantic interest in her lab partner Lizzy. And I can flesh it out even further.

For me, mind-mapping is the solution I’ve been looking for. It helps me dump my brain contents out into a digital page, chop it up into manageable, bite-sized pieces, and rearrange, expand, and delete as necessary. Mind42.com happens to be the program that I use. It’s free, easy to learn, and saves everything online so you don’t have to worry about losing it. I highly recommend it, especially if you have trouble outlining like me!

Coffitivity

I’m not very good at working from home, even though I wish I was (much like I wish I was good at outlining, I guess, but you can’t always get what you want, etc.), because it’s cheap and convenient. But it just so happens that when I go out into the world and find a nook in a coffee shop somewhere, buy a hot beverage and open my laptop, I can bang out words like a freakin’ champ. I was a municipal liaison for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo if you’re cool, WHICH YOU ALL ARE!) for four years, and in those four Novembers alone I was able to write over 250,000 words (there was one year where I was feeling sassy and made a goal of 100k). I attribute that mostly to the fact that it was my responsibility to go to all of the write-ins hosted during the month, each write-in yielding me several thousand words.

See, there’s something magical about writing in a cafe, something that’s absent from silent libraries, from moderately quiet homes. It’s the magic of ambient sound. Studies have shown that the right amount of noise, loud enough to drown out details of sounds, quiet enough to think, enhances your ability to focus and makes you more receptive to creative insights! Unfortunately, we can’t always get to a coffee shop, or drop money on beverages to make us patrons instead of just loiterers.

But lo! Some saintly person(s) created a website with a looped recording of the sounds of a coffee shop that you can listen to AT HOME, to help drown out the neighbors kids or your kids or your husband’s video game sound effects, without giving you a headache. Coffitivity is that brilliant website. Since my career situation improved/I got fired, I’ve been using Coffitivity any time I find myself working at home, and the difference between before I knew about the site and after is astounding.

That’s all I’ve got for you today, but I’m sure more will come up as I expand my work-from-home routine.

What about you? What free tools do you use to increase productivity?