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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Reverse Engineering

When I first conceived of writing six books in this series, I really had no idea what I was getting myself into. The story seemed so blissfully simple when I outlined the overall series. I knew, of course, that there would be unexpected twists and turns along the way, but knowing that and navigating my way through it now that I am there are two entirely different things. As I buckle down this week to begin serious work on book 5, I'm faced with the task of making sure that all the subplots I introduced along the way begin to work toward their expected - and unexpected - conclusions. I am once again thankful that I plan before I write, because at least I do know how the story is going to end, and there wasn't a single subplot introduced without that in mind. The difficulty really becomes simply making sure that I don't forget anything as I draw the story to a close. Two books might seem like a lot of space in which to do this, but when you're writing a novel, it always ends up being far less space than you think it's going to be. All along I've put off plot points that I couldn't get to in one novel to the next novel, but now I can't do that any more. I also need to be careful not to introduce too many brand new plot points in book 5. If the story arc is a hill, I crested it in book 4 and it's time for me to start working my way down the other side. After thinking about how I'm going to do this for several weeks, I've come to the conclusion that the wisest thing for me to do first is to reverse engineer the story. I'm not going to write it backwards from the end of book 6, that would be insane, but I am going to make a detailed plan of the climax of the whole series (a plan, keep in mind, of an ending I figured out long ago), then I'm going to lay out all of the prophecies and oracles side by side with this plan and make sure that the dots connect. That way I'll have all the BIG stuff accounted for. Then I'm going to take each of the main characters' story arcs and make sure that they connect properly with the plan in the end. If I get all this straight, the rest of the subplots should fall nicely into place... if I've been as careful about what I've introduced along the way as I think I've been. This should dovetail nicely into the document I wrote up last year detailing all the subplots and their necessary conclusions, so it's not as though I'm starting from scratch on this. (I'm a woman with a plan!) Truthfully, though, even with all my careful planning, I am a little daunted. I feel like a juggler with about fifty balls up in the air, and each one needs to be caught and carefully lowered to the ground. If I let any of them fall, I will feel like a failure. So now I need to go and collect about five writing journals, consolidate and analyze about 100 pages of typed notes, and stack the first four books beside me (gotta fact check!) to begin this task of reverse engineering the last two books. In writing, when you know where you're going, you can more easily figure out how to get there.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

5 Reasons Why...

Investing in a new book is sometimes a risky business. I know that I typically want to be absolutely certain that I have a good chance of enjoying a new read before I invest money into buying it and time into reading it. As I've had a lot of new visitors to my blog lately (hello!), I thought it might be good to provide a little overview of my books as a way to introduce you to what I write. So here are 5 reasons why you should read The Gateway Chronicles...

1. Unlike anything else out there right now
          I love Young Adult literature, and I love that fantasy has made a sweeping comeback in the young adult world, but it struck me as I perused the YA shelves that the preponderance of fantasy material out there right now is paranormal romance. Not that there is anything wrong with paranormal romance as a sub-genre, but the market seems to be flooded with it at the moment, and for someone like me, who was raised on a diet of more traditional fantasy like Narnia and The Hobbit, paranormal romance isn't quite isn't quite what I want to read. The Gateway Chronicles gives you a modernized fantasy option that contains elements of the paranormal and elements of romance, but without those two things being the main focus of the stories. The Gateway Chronicles is really more fantasy adventure with romance mingled in, and I haven't seen anything else quite like that on the bookshelves as of late. If you crave an updated version of some of your childhood favorites, written with a focus on teenagers rather than children, then The Gateway Chronicles is what you're looking for. 

2. Family friendly
          Teenagers, you won't find anything in The Gateway Chronicles that you would be uncomfortable having your parents read over your shoulder. Parents, you won't find anything in my books that I would consider inappropriate for your teenage or middle grade reader. I've had children as young as 8 and 9 read my books, and I keep that age spectrum in mind when I write them.

3. Something for everyone
          While I wrote these books with young adults as my target audience, I've been pleasantly surprised to note that they have appealed to a crossover audience. As I mentioned above, 8 and 9 year-olds have read and enjoyed them, as well as people as old as my grandparents. Neither are these books just for girls. Although my protagonist is a girl, I've had many boys read The Gateway Chronicles and respond very enthusiastically. Some of the best reviews I've gotten have been from adult men. There are plenty of battles and adventure, as well as relational issues and romance, to appeal to any reader.

4. Escape to a new world
          My favorite thing about good fantasy is that it enables you to escape to a new world, and it encourages imaginings about that new world long after you put down the book. I believe The Gateway Chronicles can transport you, and everyone needs an escape from time to time. And not only can you escape into my new world, Alitheia, but you can also grow with it. Each book takes place one year after the last book, so that you start the series with the characters at 13, and end the series with them at 18. I love series where I can watch the characters grow and mature before my eyes, and so I wrote The Gateway Chronicles in that fashion.

5. Be an early part of the experience
        Part of the joy of starting a new series of books is the agony of having to wait for the next installment in the series. And while some people prefer to wait until all the books are out in a series to start reading it, I think the anticipation of waiting for another part of the story makes the whole experience richer. If you start reading The Gateway Chronicles now, you're still getting in on the front half of the experience! Books 1 and 2 are now available, with book 3 coming in August. Book 4 will be out this fall, and then there are still two more books to come after that. I love hearing my students discuss their theories about where the story is going to go next, and sometimes I even incorporate reader feedback into a later book. It's simply fun to be an early part of a book series.