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Saturday, August 27, 2011

Student Questions, Take 1

Last week Monday I had the opportunity to speak at my school before an assembly of our Logic School students. During this time, many of them asked me questions pertaining to my books, and I had a blast answering them and getting to chat through various aspects of the my stories and the writing process in general. I knew, however, that I would have time to answer all of the questions, so I sent around a clipboard on which students could write some questions that they desired answers to. I thought I would take a few blog posts to answer some of those questions. This is the first of those blog posts.

Q: Have you written any other books?
A: Other than the first two books in The Gateway Chronicles, I have written a stand alone fantasy novel set in an entirely different world. It is called The Seventh Kingdom and is a pretty standard swords and sorcery type novel. I do not, however, plan on ever publishing that book as I started writing it when I was very young and worked on it for so many years that it does not work well as a consistent story. It was great practice for me, however, and it helped me to identify mistakes that I tend to make and what sort of author I am. In the future (after The Gateway Chronicles are complete) I do plan on writing many, many more books. You can probably plan on seeing one new book from me a year for as long as I continue to have story ideas.

Q: How do you come up with such great ideas like Yahto Veli?
A: I'm very flattered that so many of my readers have considered characters such as Yahto Veli (the narks) and others to be "great ideas." I guess the answer to this question is that I never know if an idea is going to turn out to be "great" when I conceive it... does any author, really? I always say, write what you know! Every great idea has some basis in reality. To address Yahto Veli in particular, I first had to conceive the narks. I think that every fantasy story has to have some unique creature, and I wanted mine to be the narks. At the real camp on which the story is based, there is a silly form letter that you can buy in the camp store to fill out and send home. The last option on the letter reads, "I have to go now because:" and then four reasons are listed, one of which is, "the night narks are coming to get me." I never knew what a night nark was, but that line captured my imagination from the time I was a child. So I took the name "night nark" from the form letter, and it only seemed logical that if there is a night nark, then there must be a day nark. And I went on from there, figuring out that I wanted night and day narks to share the same body, etc.... Yahto Veli is unique because I always loved the character Puddleglum in The Silver Chair, and I wanted a character who was rather glum and pessimistic like that, but really very good natured at his heart. I thought it would be funny to give Yahto that personality and Veli exactly the opposite nature. And then once I figured that out, it opened up all sorts of other things for me to do with him. I was worried about the narks in general, feeling as though they were a gamble and people would either love them or hate them (finding them too cheesy), but, thankfully, people have loved them!

Okay, that was only two questions, but I went on a little long in my responses. I'll wrap this up and come back with some more later this week.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Back Cover Summary!

Okay, I'm still working on this, but I decided to go ahead and post my draft of the back cover summary of The White Thread:

For a year, Darcy Pennington has agonized over the fate of her dear friend Yahto Veli who sacrificed himself to set her free at the end of her last year in Alitheia. As her third trip to the magical land approaches, Darcy wonders if the daring rescue she desires to launch will be allowed to go forward. Darcy soon comes to realize, however, that much more is at stake than merely the rescue of her friend. Her return to Alitheia is marked by the mysterious disappearance of Colin Mackaby, and a new message from the Oracle adds to the riddles that the Six must decipher if they are to expell Tselloch from the land. Along the way relationships will be created and destroyed, and for some characters, the deepest scars are those you can't see.

I agonized over writing this for some reason, and it might stay just as it is... or it might completely change. For you die hard fans out there, though, it at least gives you a little sneak peak and addresses the question you've all been pestering me about all year!

I finished adding the changes from the outside editing last night and sent it off to two more people. My friend (and fellow indie author Schledia Benefield) is going to write a review blurb for the back cover, and my "student" reader Katie Foust is going to give me the intended audience perspective. (I have to say "student" because she's technically not my student any more as she graduated this past spring, but she still falls within the intended audience range of 13-18 years old). Once I hear back from both of them, I can begin the final fact-checking and polishing up that needs to take place before I order my first proof copy. Overall, I can't believe how fast this has gone this year! If you had told me six months ago that I would be through my outside edits before the first day of school, I would have laughed. Speaking of school, I have more planning time during the school day this year than ever before. I'm hoping to be able to take less work home as a result and am toying around with the idea of beginning on either book 4 (The Enchanted) or the outline of my next project during the school year. Anyhow, we'll see how things go. Hope you enjoy the back cover summary! Let me know if you have any thoughts.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Outside Edits... Complete!

I heard from my second outside editor today, and she said that she has finished my manuscript, that the story is "incredible," and that I can get it from her tomorrow! That's very exciting for me to hear, not only that both of my outside editors really loved it, but that they got it done so quickly that I can move on to the next stage of the process well ahead of schedule. When I receive the manuscript back tomorrow, I will begin working on incorporating their changes and suggestions, and then I will send it off to a student reader and also a friend who is a fellow author who is going to write a "blurb" for me for the back cover. I still think that a September release date is a possibility.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Hunger Games

I find myself in the curious position of having arrived home from work only to discover that I left everything I needed to work on at work, and so I have an hour or so of luxury this afternoon to work on other things. Okay, perhaps not luxury (as I can hear my children awaking as we speak), but I can probably blog with a cartoon on in the background.

I was searching for something new to read in the wake of finished writing The White Thread to hold me over until I get the edited draft back. I found what I was looking for in The Hunger Games trilogy. First of all, I have to rescind my previous blogged comments about hating books written in the first person present tense. I still think that it is an awkward tense, but I now think that if it's done well, as it is in The Hunger Games, then it can be very effective. I enjoyed these books so much that I didn't even notice the tense anymore after a while. I read the complete trilogy in three and a half days, a process which involved me walking around my house with my nose in the book, neglecting my household chores, and throwing food at my children as though they were dogs (just kidding). Because I don't want to give away any spoilers, I won't go into any details of the series, but I would recommend it for readers age 16 and up. I might have to revisit reading I Am Number Four.

My manuscript of The White Thread, by the way, is with my second outside editor. My first editor finished it very quickly and expressed that she loved it, so that was very encouraging! I'm hoping to get all the editing and revising done by the end of the month.