Category Archives: the tower

2015 Year In Review!

2015! What a Year! Let’s take a look.

As 2015 dawned, I was working full-steam ahead on a little sequel that would be known TOWER-smallas The TowerWhile that took up most of my creative attention for the first few months, come spring I found out I was among the ten incredible writers selected to attend Nova Ren Suma’s Young Adult Novel Writing Workshop at Djerassi! Basically my head exploded and I rode that high until halfway through summer. <3

In the meantime, I was finishing up edits on The Tower AND working with the incredible Maria Marquis on the audiobook version of GHOST CITY. I also started work on the novel that I brought with me to the workshop, (working title:) SAVAGE CASTLE, which I discovered was Too Fast, Too Furious a pace for me to continue with that precious gem. I know myself, I know my stories have a longer gestation period than some, and I conceived the idea and churned out the first 75 pages way too quickly (as much as I am still in love with the words I’ve written and the idea of the book) without letting all of it take firm root in my head and my heart. (Soon, though. Soon.)

ghost city audiobook imageOver summer, I attended Nova Ren Suma’s Djerassi workshop where I got to meet not only the author of my favorite YA novel to date (who is also an amazingly lovely person! Er, Nova is, not her book. That would be weird, if her book was also a person. Although…*jots down story idea*), but also nine other incredible and talented lady authors whose books I can’t wait to read when they are published! I had the thrilling, if harrowing, experience of doing my first reading (public speaking, blech), and the invaluable experience of talking about craft and industry with other authors from around the world.

Then BAM–the Ghost City audiobook was released!

BAM–The Hierophant read-along! 15 poorly planned days of insanity wherein I revealed read-along-rounded2little known facts and insights about The Hierophant, and even somehow got over my fear of being on video and posted a few vlogs where I got to read from the book and ramble about what I liked about writing it.

BAM–The Tower – Book II in the Arcana Series was released! Finally, after two years of writing and revising and editing until my brains fell out, my very first sequel was set loose upon the world.

AND THEN…rest. Lots of rest. Because it turns out I can’t keep up with the pace I was setting for myself in writing/publishing, in addition to working a full-time job.

And then…some sadness, too, because I made the mistake of comparing myself and my process and my speed of writing to that of other writers, faster writers, more accomplished writers.

And then…some writer’s block, as well, because what I want my books and my writing to be does not fit into the molds that others have shown me, and when I ignore the wild, outrageous ideas that inspire me to write, I end up listless, lost, disconnected from the story (and ignoring wild, outrageous me is specifically why I haven’t been able to work on SAVAGE CASTLE, something that’s only obvious to me now as I type this).

In short, 2015 was a very busy year that started with a bang and ended with a much-needed nap. But I’m slowly getting back on track, I think, reminding myself to trust the story, to trust the little inspirations that come along the way, and stop thinking about what one “can” and “can’t” do when writing a novel, or a sequel, or within the nebulously defined category of “young adult.”

So what am I working on, now that the bleak fog of writer’s block has finally lifted? As promised, finishing up the first draft of Book III in the Arcana Series is my main focus for the time being (when I’m satisfied with it, I will announce the title! Oooh what tarot card could it be??!!). I don’t want to be a mean author and make people wait years for another sequel. But after that, SAVAGE CASTLE has my full attention. I have…*strong feelings* about that book and, without putting too much pressure on myself, I know I need to get that novel written, for myself, as much as for my career.

It’s true, those novels are two utterly different creatures, but they both possess a different part of my heart. And I dare to hope that, someday, they might touch the hearts of a few other people, too.

So that’s it for 2015! Happy New Year everyone! May 2016 be a year of incredible stories for all of us. :)

 

Some Good News! And Some Philosophical Rambling About Making Art.

After months of waiting with bated breath (okay, bated breath was really just the last few days before I got the email), I finally received word that I have been accepted into Nova Ren Suma’s YA novel-writing workshop at Djerassi! I’m incredibly honored and grateful for the opportunity to work not only with an author that has deeply inspired me as a writer and as a person, but also to be working with 9 other talented writers! I’m looking forward to some inspiring people and conversations, and learning whatever I can from each and every person present. My brain is ready for your wisdom! And I guess to share whatever wisdom I might have (lol).

I’ve said it a million times before, but one of the reasons why I continue to work towards having a traditional publishing experience is because I want to always be working towards becoming the best writer that I can possibly be. I hope that, with the right agent and editor, I can learn and grow as a writer and a storyteller. Lessons from the traditional publishing world are one of the few unexplored frontiers for me, as someone who’s been a self-proclaimed writer since before I could spell my own name. You see, (and you’ll have to pardon the unintentional humblebrag) all my life I’ve had the unsatisfying experience of being a “really good writer for my age” when I was younger or “extremely talented.” Which means that, in every creative writing class and every writing workshop, even up to an agent-fishing-type conference just a few years ago, I’ve always been a big fish in a small-to-medium pond, and the focus was always on teaching those smaller fish. That’s awesome when two agents are fighting over you at a conference–not so great when all the full manuscript requests over the years never seem to pan out.

I’m lucky. I know I’m a good writer. I believe in that wholeheartedly, even when I also know that what I’m writing is shit (I know I can fix it. Revision is glorious). Just having that in my core belief system puts me miles ahead of a lot of creative types. But I know I have plenty left to learn, that my writing can always be even better, that there will never come a day when I am done perfecting my voice, my craft, my process, my method.

I am not a religious person, but for me, everything in life rests on a spiritual foundation. Every choice I’ve made; every relationship I keep or dissolve; the food I eat, the products I buy; the way I see everything in the entire world–it all comes down to the things that I believe in, deeply, when nothing else can be known for certain. Choosing to self publish, despite the criticism I knew it would invite, was based on those core beliefs (and a handful of editors validating my work but telling me, essentially, “as good as it is, no publisher will take a chance on something so strange.”). I love the freedom of self publishing, the possibilities it presents, and, you know 70% royalties on ebook sales doesn’t hurt either.

But I didn’t do it for money. I did it because unpublished novels that I know are good feel like deaths in the family–far worse than an abandoned manuscript that wasn’t ever going to get better. And besides, just because a novel doesn’t necessarily have a broad appeal doesn’t mean it’s not a great novel with the potential to change someone’s life.

Admittedly, that sounds really defensive. I’m not here to defend my choice to self-publish my early work in this ever-changing landscape of publishing. But consider this: have you ever loved the shit out of something no one in your life had ever heard of, that never gained in popularity (or if it did it took a very long time)? Have you ever loved a person that no one else even notices, or wanted to get to know the super shy kid in class that everyone else ignores? Have you ever found an old book at a used book store, a novel or a book of poems, or found a piece of art and fallen completely in love with it and then found out there is ZERO information on that poor author/artist who probably died in obscurity?

Okay, well, maybe you have and maybe you haven’t. These probably aren’t universal experiences. Maybe there are just some people who live a kind of universal experience themselves, and there’s nothing obscure about them. Hipsters weep for them, and chances are good that they probably wouldn’t like the books I’ve self-published. There’s nothing wrong with that.

But let’s be honest–the mark of a great piece of art, including fiction, is that it speaks to us. And the more people a work of art speaks to, the greater it is, in history and theory. And, also, let’s be more honest: the more people it speaks to, the more appealing it is to anyone who stands to profit from representing it.

How to appeal to the masses (or a large enough mass to make your art lucrative, anyway) is probably the hardest thing for any artist to learn, if indeed it is something that you can learn. Some people have it–some people, who probably already enjoy things that appeal to larger groups of people, naturally tell stories that fit into that world and appeal to those masses. For other people, like myself, we tend towards things that may be excellent, but unmarketable. Remarkable, but strange. This shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me, since my whole life people have repeatedly told me the things I say and do are “lol so weird” and my response has always been “Really? That’s weird? Not the spoon cult I started in eighth grade, or the comics I used to draw about my sociopathic alter ego?”

I don’t know if you can actually learn how to write stories that appeal to more people–and if you can, I don’t know that it would actually serve your writing. I’ve experienced myself, and heard countless tales from other authors, how writing for mass appeal can cause devastating depression and creative blocks. But I do believe that as we grow into our art, we connect more and more with that deep undercurrent of raw humanity that lies at the foundation of all creativity. I believe that if we follow our hearts and hone our craft and keep writing our words, no matter what, that the stories we write will naturally evolve into things that are bigger than our quirks and fascinations, our talent and our vision. A great story–and great art–is always much more than the sum of the artist’s parts.

Anyway. I’m finishing the second draft of The Tower and starting the outline for my next stand-alone YA novel, I’ve got an AMAZING narrator contracted for the Ghost City audiobook, and I’m really looking forward to the conference in June. So that’s where I’m at right now. :D