Writing Tip Blog Swap with Sara Jayne Townsend

Sara Jayne Townsend and I have swapped blogs to share writing tips today. She stopped by in June to talk about writer insecurity. You can read that post here. Today she’s talking about the struggles she had finishing her first novel and getting it published. Along the way, she drops several lessons she has taken from her experience.

I’ll also give some writing tips on her site. My post focuses on what I’ve learned writing a series. So after you finished reading this post, hop over there to see what I have to say.

 

LEARNING CURVE

By Sara Jayne Townsend

sara-113-Web (2)

 

My newest release with MuseItUp Publishing is a supernatural horror novel called SUFFER THE CHILDREN that will be hitting the virtual book shelves in late spring. This particular novel is a re-release and has a special place in my heart. Not only was it my first published novel, but it and I have been on a very long journey together.

 

The journey began in the early 1990s when I wrote a short story called ‘Kiddiwinks’, inspired by a creepy-looking abandoned house I used to pass on my way to work in those days. The story was about a group of children who dare each other to break into the neighbourhood’s creepy house, telling stories about the witch that allegedly lives there, and they discover too late it is indeed occupied by an old lady who eats children. I put the story to my writing group and they encouraged me to turn it into a novel. Which I did. I started the novel in 1994, and it took me ten years to finish.

 

I learned a lot of lessons in writing that novel, one of which was that anyone who wants to be published shouldn’t take ten years over one novel. One of the main reasons that it took me so long was that in those days I didn’t plot properly. I’d started with a concept and a set of characters. I knew where I wanted to begin, and I knew vaguely where I wanted to be at the end, but I’d given no thought as to how I was going to get there. Unsurprisingly, I got halfway through and had no idea what was going to happen next. I put the manuscript away in a drawer and got on with writing other things. Then I got to a point when I decided I was going to finish this accursed manuscript if it killed me. I went back through what I had and made copious notes, and then I wrote a three-page plot summary, detailing everything that had to happen, from beginning to end. From there I broke the plot down even further, into a chapter-by-chapter summary. Between that and having some time off from work one Christmas, during which time I was able to hammer out 10,000 words, I was able to get to the end of the first draft. And this was another important lesson: plotting. I am now a meticulous plotter, drafting out plot summaries and chapter breakdowns before I even begin writing chapter one. And I no longer get ‘stuck’ halfway through a story.

 

SUFFER THE CHILDREN was finally finished in 2004, and I started sending out the manuscript. Unfortunately, by then horror had fallen out of favour in the UK. Many of the rejections I collected claimed that the novel was YA, which I didn’t agree with – after all my inspiration was Stephen King, who has written many books with kids as main characters, and he’s not a YA author.

 

At the beginning of the 21st century, the increasing popularity of e-books saw an increase in the number of small e-presses who did not require an agent as gatekeeper and were more likely to take a chance on a new writer. I started submitting to them, and there’s another lesson: literary agents are not the only way to go. Eventually the novel got accepted by Lyrical Press, but they gave me a condition: the character of Leanne had to be 18, because they didn’t deal with YA. I eventually relented, re-wrote the novel and signed the contract. You have to pick your arguments – another important lesson.

 

SUFFER THE CHILDREN was released by Lyrical Press as my first published novel in 2010, but the contract was for three years. When the rights were returned to me I commissioned an artist friend to design a new cover, and self-published it. Finally, when I signed on with MuseItUp for the Shara Summers series, they expressed interest in more of my work and I sold the rights to them. SUFFER THE CHILDREN will once more be available later this year – and with the label of YA I resisted for so long. And there’s possibly the most important lesson. Don’t get too hung up on labels, especially if your publisher is suggesting how to market your novel.

 

SUFFER THE CHILDREN – blurb

 

Orphaned at eighteen, Leanne’s life is adrift in a sea of grief and drug use. She washes up on the shore of estranged relatives, the Carver family, struggling with loss of their own. The transition from her South London council estate to her new home in the Surrey middle-class suburbs is difficult for Leanne.

 

But beneath the respectable veneer of the quiet neighborhood, something terrifying lurks. Displaced and troubled teenagers are disappearing. Leanne recruits her cousin Simon and his girlfriend Carrie to help get to the bottom of the sinister mystery. Can the three of them stop a creature of unimaginable evil before Leanne becomes a target?

 

About the Author:

Sara Jayne Townsend is a UK-based writer of crime and horror, and someone tends to die a horrible death in all of her stories.  She was born in Cheshire in 1969, but spent most of the 1980s living in Canada after her family emigrated there.  She now lives in Surrey with two cats and her guitarist husband Chris.  She co-founded the T Party Writers’ Group in 1994, and remains Chair Person.

 

She decided she was going to be a published novelist when she was 10 years old and finished her first novel a year later.  It took 30 years of submitting, however, to fulfil that dream.

 

Learn more about Sara and her writing at her website (http://sarajaynetownsend.weebly.com) and her blog (http://sayssara.wordpress.com). You can also follow her on Twitter (https://twitter.com/sarajtownsend) and Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3500282.Sara_Jayne_Townsend), and buy her books from Amazon (UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B003QROE8S and US: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003QROE8S).

 

The Curse of the White Screen by Jami Gray–with a FREE BOOK for EVERYONE!

Today I’m joined by Jami Gray, and she shares a struggle of writing: a blank screen. Not only is she going to tell us about her problems with it, she’s going to give you a book. No contests. No lucky winners. Just read her post and click on the buy link to your favorite eBook retailer to get a copy of the first book in the Kyn Kronicles, SHADOW’S EDGE.

The Curse of the White Screen

If you’re a writer, chances are you’ve faced the horrifying reality of a blank screen. Generally, this terror strikes when you’ve finally completed the roller coaster ride of your last work in progress. You’re flushed with the sweet knowledge that you managed to get your characters, their world and a magnificent plot etched into electronic stone. Some writers may decide to take a small breather, a day, a week, a month, before attempting the next great journey. Others (who are much braver than I am) give themselves a whopping hour before setting fingers to keyboard. Regardless of when you start, everyone encounters the same picture—a white screen where words tremble on the edge of existence.

Since I can’t speak for all of us out there (and we are legion!) we’ll say the views stated below are solely mine.

Follow me back three books. After mending the rips and tears from my writing partners on my second Urban Fantasy, SHADOW’S SOUL, I sent it on to my editor so she could dissect it and throw it back. The apparition of my third book, SHADOW’S MOON, loomed ahead like a large writer-eating slug.

Strapped to my office chair with chains of headphone cords and superglue dusting my fingertips, the urge to run was greatly dampened as I prepared to face my nemesis—a white screen. The decision had been made that SHADOW’S MOON would follow Xander, a secondary character, so as to give our main character couple a break. As the screen mocked me, my brain whirled. Plots and subplots flew around in a maelstrom. Faced with the fact that Xander, the heroine of my third book, was actually a fairly well adjusted, not too tormented being, I panicked. I don’t do well-adjusted characters. Dark and edgy are the two biggest components of character creation for me. Granted Xander can kick butt with the best of them, but she comes from a loving family, she’s confident in herself and her abilities, she’s unique and she just happens to be involved with a not-so-well-adjusted alpha male.

Slowly, bit-by-bit I started to carve out the plot, but it was like pulling teeth—without painkillers. I got halfway through, and felt like I just completed a 5K run in flip-flops. I sent out an SOS text to my partners in word slinging.

“Do I have to do it from her POV?” I whine.

Their responses are instantaneous: “Don’t be wimpy!” “Suck it up!” “YES!” and so on.

Resigned to my fate, I set Siri aside and continued on. Years and years later, I have a plot. HOORAY! Now to come up with the opening scene.

NOOOOO!!!

I reached into my emergency stash of chocolate and caffeine. I harbor a futile hope that this edible combination will save me from the bleak fate waiting on the other side of the screen.

I spent days lost in my head running through various scenarios. It got so bad I ended up walking around my house muttering constantly, hair sticking every which way, and wearing clothes that show why stripes and plaid should never go together. It’s horrible and my husband seriously considered contacting the local psych ward for help.

Finally, I dragged my weary, abused mind back to the computer. Six hours later, all I had to show for my efforts were seven measly pages. Tears of relief played havoc with my vision as I powered down the computer. That night I’m thrilled I’ve gotten something down, and even managed to go to sleep.

Then morning came, and with it, the realization that the scene would not work—not for the opening, and probably not in this book. My creativity threatened to implode. Now my inner critic pipes up. Maybe two books are all you have. You’re all written out. My creative well was empty.

I contemplated new hobbies such as…maybe….cooking, the kind that doesn’t involve a microwave, or rock collecting…a wisp of something drifted through my mind. It teased the edges of my consciousness with subtle pokes and prods, finally it snapped me out of my self indulgent whine-fest. That teasing temptation whispered, “What if…”, and suddenly I was tripping across the floors (it’s a super talent) and stumbling to my desk. Fingers raced across the keyboard and the most wonderful sight ever….WORDS started to spread across the white screen.

With six books under my belt, I have complete confidence I will face the challenge of the white screen again, rather soon actually. Any writer will warn you, this situation will pop up with frightening frequency…in the beginning of the story, in the middle of the story, at the end of the story. No matter how many times you manage to beat it back, it will endure, but so will you, because that’s what writers do. We endure and push through all those walls and blank screens so we can share the magic of our worlds and introduce readers to our wickedly cool peeps.

Pick up SHADOW’S EDGE for FREE for a limited time and dive into the shadows of the Kyn…

Amazon     ARe     Black Opal Books     Smashwords     iBooks     Kobo     Scribd.     Google Play

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SHADOW’S EDGE, Kyn Kronicles #1
Everyone fears what hunts in the shadows—especially the monsters…

When the supernatural lurks in the shadows of the mundane, hunting monsters requires unique skills, like those of Raine McCord. A series of deaths threatens to reveal the Kyn community and forces her to partner with the sexy Gavin Durand.

As the trail leads to the foundation haunting Raine’s childhood, she and Gavin must unravel lies and betrayals to discover not only each other, but the emerging threat to them and the entire magical community.

Jami Gray Small

BIO:

Jami Gray is the award winning, multi-published author of the Urban Fantasy series, The Kyn Kronicles, and the Paranormal Romantic Suspense series, PSY-IV Teams. She can be soothed with coffee and chocolate. Surrounded by Star Wars obsessed males and two female labs moonlighting as the Fur Minxes, she escapes by playing with the voices in her head.

You can find me at:

Black Opal Books: http://www.BlackOpalBooks.com

Muse It Up Publishing: http://museituppublishing.com

Website: http://www.JamiGray.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jamigray.author

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/JamiGrayUFWriter

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JamiGrayAuthor

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/JamiGray

Google+: https://google.com/+JamiGray

Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.com/e/B006HU3HJI

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/LvoZn

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/jamigrayauthor/

BUY LINKS:
You can find all the buy links for both The Kyn Kronicles and PSY-IV Teams, in all formats at:

http://jamigray.com/kynkronicles/

http://jamigray.com/psyivteams/

Or you can use the following:

THE KYN KRONICLES:

THINGS THAT GO BUMP FOR THE HOLIDAYS (Wrapped in Shadows .5 Kyn Kronicles)

Amazon: http://amzn.com/1626940908

Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/things-that-go-bump-for-the-holidays-black-opal-books/1117680975?ean=2940148940685

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/387518

Black Opal Books: http://www.blackopalbooks.com/anthology/things-that-go-bump

Shadow’s Edge: Bk 1 of Kyn Kronicles

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0061CAXJ4

ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-shadow039sedgethekynkroniclesbook1-625433-139.html

Black Opal Books: http://www.blackopalbooks.com/shop-our-store/authors/jami-gray

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/101023

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/shadows-edge-kyn-kronicles/id482595056?mt=11

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/shadow-s-edge-the-kyn-kronicles-book-1

Scribd.: https://www.scribd.com/book/235371403/Shadow-s-Edge-The-Kyn-Kronicles-Book-1

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Jami_Gray_Shadow_s_Edge?id=ubxyAgAAQBAJ

Shadow’s Soul:Bk 2 of the Kyn Kronicles

Black Opal Books: http://www.blackopalbooks.com/shop-our-store/authors/jami-gray

Amazon: http://amzn.com/B008DIZ9OI

ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-shadow039ssoulthekynkroniclesbook2-848561-139.html

Nook: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/shadows-soul-the-kyn-kronicles-book-2-jami-gray/1111742135?ean=2940014698955

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/174291

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/shadows-soul-kyn-kronicles/id541827836?mt=11

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/shadow-s-soul-the-kyn-kronicles-book-2-1

Scribd.: https://www.scribd.com/book/235371430/Shadow-s-Soul-the-Kyn-Kronicles-Book-2

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Jami_Gray_Shadow_s_Soul?id=nb9yAgAAQBAJ

Shadow’s Moon: Bk 3 of the Kyn Kronicles

Amazon: http://amzn.com/B00K8AZZES

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/shadows-moon-the-kyn-kronicles-book-3-jami-gray/1119462166?ean=2940149437719

Black Opal Books: http://www.blackopalbooks.com/shop-our-store/authors/jami-gray

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/435674

ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-shadow039smoonthekynkroniclesbook3-1507186-140.html

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/shadows-moon-kyn-kronicles/id875444016?mt=11

Kobo http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/shadow-s-moon

Scribd.: https://www.scribd.com/book/233279819/Shadow-s-Moon-The-Kyn-Kronicles-Book-3

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Jami_Gray_Shadow_s_Moon?id=npODAwAAQBAJ

Shadow’s Curse: Bk 4 of the Kyn Kronicles

Amazon: http://amzn.com/B00RLE3PZU

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/shadows-curse-jami-gray/1121072005?ean=9781626942202

Black Opal Books: http://www.blackopalbooks.com/shop-our-store/authors/jami-gray

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/shadows-curse-kyn-kronicles/id954894551?mt=11

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/505822

KOBO: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/shadow-s-curse-the-kyn-kronicles-book-4

ARe: https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-shadow039sedgethekynkroniclesbook1-625433-140.html
Scribd: https://www.scribd.com/book/253090806/Shadow-s-Curse-The-Kyn-Kronicles-Book-4

THE PSY-IV TEAMS:

Hunted by the Past: Bk 1 of PSY-IV Teams

MuseItUp Publishing: https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore/index.php/our-authors/57-our-authors/authors-g/445-jami-gray

Amazon: http://amzn.com/B00M289FTA

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/449240

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1119776913?ean=9781771275538&itm=1&usri=9781771275538

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id890554328

ARe: https://www.omnilit.com/product-huntedbythepast-1553419-143.html

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/books/Hunted-by-the-Past/PsOHi6QaXUSjCDITW_cZ-A?MixID=PsOHi6QaXUSjCDITW_cZ-A&PageNumber=1&MixID=PsOHi6QaXUSjCDITW_cZ-A&PageNumber=1

Google Play:
https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Jami_Gray_Hunted_by_the_Past?id=u1nOBAAAQBAJ

A Quick Update

I haven’t made many posts here lately, so I thought I should leave a few words about what’s happening.

0904157First, I’d like to welcome all the new visitors from France. An article appeared on cafepedagogique.net about the project I’m working on with Marie-Hélène Fasquel and the American International section at lycée international Nelson Mandela de Nantes. This project has been an amazing experience. I plan on writing more about it as it draws toward the conclusion. Madam Fasquel and I have made plans to work together again next school year.

The Squire and the Slave Master, the first of two sequels to Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud, has entered the editing phase. As always, my content editor Katie Carroll has brought her magic to the pages. I think it’s better than Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud. I’m anxious to hear what the readers think. Look for it August 4 from all major eBook retailers.

If you haven’t checked it out yet, or if you’ve fallen behind on reading the stories, Lightning Quick Reads is going strong. If you don’t know, LQR is a collaborative short story blog of 12 authors masterminded by Kai Strand. My stories post on the 17th of each month. I’m currently in the middle of a 3 part science fiction story about genetically engineered humans. Also, it’s a great opportunity to check out the other 11 authors.

Last, the edits are finished on the paperback release of Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud. It should be available soon.

Kenneth Hicks and Anne Rothman-Hicks: Writing as a Team

If you don’t count working with editors, I’ve done all my writing alone. But I have found myself wondering how writers work as a team. Well, Ken Hicks and Anne Rothman-Hicks have kindly shared that information with me for today’s post.

How and why do we write as a couple?

We first started writing together when we were in College – Anne at Bryn Mawr College and Ken at Haverford College.  We asked one of Ken’s favorite English professors at Haverford to oversee a project course in which we would write a work of juvenile fiction over the course of a semester and he agreed.  We talked about what we wanted to do, prepared a somewhat sketchy outline, and started writing.  One of us would prepare a draft of a chapter and the other person would then work on it, then we would talk some more, plan some more, and write some more.  The process continued until we had a finished book.  That was approximately 44 years ago.

What we learned very quickly back then has remained true throughout the course of our writing together.

First, you must put your ego aside.  You must be willing to accept the criticism of your partner as valid and, even if you don’t agree, you must be willing to understand why the criticism is being made.  In other words, you may not like the change that is proposed, but you can still agree that some change to the prose is necessary.

Second, you must put your ego aside.  You must be willing to be partners, which means not taking credit for a particular sentence or paragraph or line of dialogue.  What comes out on the page is a finished product of the partnership – of the process of two people thinking, talking and working together.

Third, you must put your ego aside.  Okay, you get the message?

The benefits of the writing partnership are extensive.  During those dark nights of the soul when you wonder why you are bothering to put pen to paper or pound those keys, there is someone to pull you out of your funk, kick you in the rear end, or pat you on the back, whatever might be needed.  During the good times, you have someone to share you happiness in a way that probably no one else in the world can understand or appreciate better than your partner.  You also have the memories of the process itself.  We still laugh at a few of the things that we wrote — and regretted — over the course of our years together.

And laughter brings me back to the ego thing again.  You really have to be able to laugh at yourself and not take yourself too seriously.  You’re writing a book.  Do the best you can with the talent you have – and do that always.  But enjoy yourself.  We always have and hopefully will continue to do so for many years.

Melange pic 2

Kenneth Hicks and Anne Rothman-Hicks

www.randh71productions.com

Authors of:
Kate and the Kid, (adult fiction)(Wings ePress)Kate and the Kid - WEB II
Stone Faces, (middle grade)(on the Apple iBookstore)
Hearts (no flowers) Signs of Love in the Gritty City (on the Apple iBookstore)
Mind Me, Milady, (adult fiction)(coming in October, Barbarian Books)

Theft of the Shroud (adult fiction) (Banbury/Putnam)

Series of Ten Books on Children’s names (Banbury/Putnam)

 

The Return of Erin Albert and the Prophecy Blog Tour

Today I’m pleased to welcome my first return guest. Her first guest post, which you can find here, is the third most viewed guest post on this site as of 10:45 CST on November 10, 2013 (in other words, I just checked), and believe me, the two ahead of her are stiff competition. She is also the most frequent commenter on this blog, other than myself. Of course I’m speaking about Erin Albert. Her book, The Prophecy, comes out Friday (it’s available for pre-order here), and she’s excited to tell you about it to entice the few of you who haven’t pre-ordered it to drop the $4.40. She’s sent along two excerpts, a blurb, and a bio to go along with the blog post which finally explains how she is the only person I know who has successfully pulled 26 hours out of a day.

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First of all, I want to give a big shout out and virtual hug to my book brother, Eric, for hosting me today!! His book Unveiling the Wizard’s Shroud comes out November 22, so be sure to check it out!! Fantasy novels ROCK!

Eric asked me to give a little bit of information about my writing process. If you dare, enter the inner workings of my mind… 😉

What am I working on?

I am always working on multiple projects. Currently, I am revising the sequel, The Outlanders, to my young adult fantasy debut novel, The Prophecy (which releases November 15). I also have a futuristic thriller called Number 25598, a middle grade fiction in the vein of Judy Blume called Meet Kit: An American Boy, and another young adult fantasy novel without a title—all in progress.

Why do I write what I do?

I write young adult books because I LOVE young adult books. My friend and Dream Team member Danielle Craver (she created all of the crest for The Prophecy) got me hooked on the YA genre, and I’ve read that almost exclusively ever since. Epic high fantasy appeals to me because I’ve always loved Arthurian legend. When George R.R. Martin combined that time period with fantastical elements, my mind sprung to life. Reading fantasy allows a person to fully immerse in a totally different world, escaping this one completely. Who doesn’t need a good escape every now and then?

How does your writing process work?

I am a total pantser, which means I do not plan a thing. I have a rough idea of how I want the story to start and how I want it to end, but I let the characters take over for the middle. Sometimes that gets me in some logic trouble, but I’m fortunate enough to have my Dream Team and critique partners to catch those little snafus.

The demands on my life and time afford me a very short window to get my writing done, usually between 3pm-5pm. I have ADD, so I always have to drink something caffeinated to help me focus. Also, a little container of chocolate is a creative must. I seek to write a chapter a day (my Dream Team member and timekeeper, Kim Sharp, requires a new chapter to read each night which keeps me on task).

The creative portion of my work takes me very little time. I wrote the entire Fulfillment Trilogy in 3 months. But I am also an anal grammar freak, so editing the work takes me MUCH longer. It’s a painstaking process.

So, to recap: Afternoon writing time with chocolate and caffeine, 1 chapter a day, and edit, edit, edit!

Thanks for stopping by and reading my post!!

theprophecy333x500

Back Cover:

Growing up on a small farm in the kingdom of Vanguard, seventeen-year-old Layla Givens lives a deceptively tranquil existence. But her carefully constructed life quickly falls apart when she’s abducted by a religious zealot who proclaims her The Fulfillment of an ancient peace prophecy and whisks her away to marry her greatest enemy.

Wilhelm, Prince of the Ethereals, is reluctant to meet his new bride. He’s grown up believing Vanguards are evil, an enemy to fight and fear…not love. Can he set aside his prejudices and work alongside Layla to bring lasting peace after centuries of war?

Nash, a loner who has never fit in, carries a huge secret, one big enough to destroy both kingdoms. When he accidently meets Layla, he’s no longer content to live in the shadows, but he must resist his growing attraction—for her safety and for the longevity of the two kingdoms.

When Nash’s secret is revealed, a firestorm sweeps through both realms, with Layla at the center. Now she must choose between duty and desire while the fate of two nations hangs in the balance.

The Short:

Even though she had no chance to escape now, Layla shoved the Elder with all her might. The blow sent him flying into the baker’s door, which splintered under the force, and she darted forward.  The Vanguard soldiers moved to block her.

“We are all Vanguards,” she pleaded. “Please let me go.”

For a moment, they hesitated.  Layla used the opening to slip around them.  She ran as fast as her legs would carry her, but they proved to be too slow.  Within moments, the soldiers leapt upon her, knocking her to the ground.  Wrenching Layla up by her hair, they dragged her back to the Elder, whose face now bled from his encounter with the baker’s door.

“I see you’re going to be trouble.” He brushed the dirt off his robes.  “You can’t escape your destiny, girl.”

The Long:

“Everything must be taken down.” A rotund man, with beady black eyes, surveyed the town, disdain in his expression. While he did not appear distinguishable from the other black and purple clad men, he spoke with authority. “The First Ones and their great Prophecy must be honored properly.” He sniffed, his actions indicating the very existence of Medlin and its occupants offended him.

Layla wondered what this man considered a “proper honoring” of the First Ones. The First Ones…they’d been dead for centuries, and, as far as Layla could tell, hadn’t done much in life except start a never-ending war. She knew nothing more about them except that she was to thank them for good things, curse them for bad, and celebrate them on this day.

“That’s Elder Werrick, head of the Ecclesiastics,” whispered Samson, glancing back at Grant. Layla noticed the look that passed between them.

Grant nodded his assent. “Get her out of here, brother.”

Samson tried to steer Layla away, but she held her position to get a closer look at the man whom her family so feared. She knew they had good reason to worry—her black hair and purple eyes marked her as a Fulfillment candidate, one with the potential to bring about the long awaited peace. But she couldn’t quite bring herself to believe Elder Werrick would notice her on the crowded streets, especially with her eye drops and hood. Could he really be responsible for dragging candidates from their homes, forcing them to undergo strenuous, sometimes gruesome, testing for the sake of the Prophecy? To Layla, he looked like nothing more than a short, fat, unhappy man. The very notion that he could strike such fear into the hearts of her people seemed almost laughable…almost. As his gaze swept over the crowd, she glimpsed a sinister undertone that made her shiver.

Waving his pudgy arms at the awaiting townspeople, Werrick commanded, “Take it down.”

Suddenly, his body stilled and his tiny eyes grew wide. They briefly connected with Layla’s, narrowing with calculation. The Elder turned to his nearest black clad companion.

“Do you feel that?” Layla heard Werrick ask.

The other man looked skeptical. “Feel what, Elder?”

Werrick leaned in as the two whispered, stealing furtive glances in her direction. When the Elder’s companion pointed at Layla, Samson grabbed her arm. She heard his breathing change from rhythmic to jagged as he pulled her away from the men.

“We have to go now.” His urgency spurred her into action.

Grant moved to block them from the Elder’s view. “Get her away from here, Samson.”

The Elder looked up to see everyone staring at him as if frozen. He repeated his demand, “I said take everything down.”

The townspeople, joined by the Elder’s minion, scampered to remove their decorations, anxious to “properly” celebrate the First Ones. Their flurry of activity concealed Layla as Samson and Grant escorted her away. Layla scanned the streets, horrified, as the people of Medlin stripped the town’s center barren. In no time, everything appeared as it always had, devoid of any celebratory adornments. She looked up at the sky with its gray clouds lingering overhead. A bad omen…

On the hill, a safe distance away, Layla watched a group of Ecclesiastics erect a monstrous stage where the donkey races should have occurred. She heard the braying of the angry animals, harnessed and corralled on the orders of the Elder to avoid interfering with the “true” Day of Dawning celebration. Her ire rose. Who did they think they were coming in and changing everything?

An icy, phantom finger traced a frigid line down her spine. After hearing warning after warning from the Mantars her whole life, Layla knew exactly what the Ecclesiastics could do, what they had done to others in the past. Maybe Samson and Grant had been right. Maybe she should never have come, especially today. Layla turned her back on the town, resolved to go home, to safety.

“Layla!” Samson’s alarmed tone sliced into her, and she swung around toward him.

To her horror, two Vanguard soldiers forced Samson to the ground. She knew just how much strength he possessed, yet he couldn’t free himself. Her hands balled up into fists, shaking with their desire to unleash the full force of their fury.

“Run!” Samson screamed before a soldier’s fist smashed into his face.

His body stilled. Panic, coupled with indecision, crippled her. She should run like Samson commanded, but she couldn’t leave him lying there. To her relief, Grant ambled toward them, his eyes full of rage.

“Run!” Grant echoed Samson’s warning.

With a final glance at the two boys who’d been as close to her as brothers, Layla fled. She flew down the hill, swinging her head from side to side in alarm. Ecclesiastics swarmed throughout the city, making a clear escape route difficult to discern.

Terror rose within Layla. Why hadn’t she listened to her family? She’d been foolish to believe she could sneak around under the ever-watchful eyes of the Ecclesiastics, and that hubris put Samson and Grant in danger as well. She choked back a sob.

“Run,” she whispered.

Willing her feet to move forward, Layla darted toward the back of the baker’s shop, hoping to take a shortcut through the back alleyway. She swerved to miss a wooden box and stumbled, arms flailing to right herself. Unfamiliar hands reached out to break her fall. Once stable, Layla looked up to find Elder Werrick staring down at her. She screamed but no sound came out of her open mouth.

“I’ve been looking for you,” he said, a wicked smile on his face.

TheProphecy_ErinAlbert_AuthorPhoto_Smaller

Erin Albert is an author and fitness trainer. Since she picked up Morris the Moose Goes to School at age four, she has been infatuated with the written word. She went on to work as a grammar and writing tutor in college and is still teased by her family and friends for being a member of the “Grammar Police.” In her free time, Erin enjoys acting, running, kickboxing, and, of course, reading and writing.

Find me online:

Preorder Link: https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore/index.php/our-authors/50-our-authors/authors-a/381-erin-albert

Twitter: @ErinAlbertBooks

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Erin-Albert-Books/182769448541270

Website: http://www.erinalbertbooks.com

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18160774-the-prophecy

 

Guest Post: Margaret Fieland and writing Geek Games

Today I’m joined by Margaret Fieland. She discusses the writing process (or chain of events) that led to her soon-to-be released YA science fiction novel, Geek Games. As a writer, I still find it interesting to read about other writers’ processes, and I have to give my thoughts about one piece of this. Margaret mentions a fact she discovered about one of her characters, something she did not know when she started writing the story. In my opinion, this is the best part about writing, and I encourage everyone to write a story, even if you have no intention of letting anyone else read it, just so you can experience this. Now, before I spoil the post, I better turn it over to Margaret.

Writing Geek Games

When I wrote Relocated  for 2010 Nano, my only goal was to overcome my phobia about science fiction world building. As a long-time science fiction fan, I’d read reams of the stuff but had managed to avoid writing any. In September of 2010, I decided to remedy that. I spent about six weeks planning, mostly in the world building, and wrote the first draft of the novel in a month. It took me quite a bit longer to revise it, and I submitted it to MuseItUp Publishing. It was published in July of 2011.

Starting fairly early in 2011, I wrote what would, after several major revisions, become Broken Bonds.  In the late fall, when I was still struggling with it, I decided to start another YA sci fi novel. I chose Martin Samuels, one of the secondary characters from Relocated, as the main character. I wrote the first draft for 2011 Nano, and then started revising. The whole thing went a great deal more smoothly than Broken Bonds had. I completed both novels and submitted them. Geek Games, the YA sci fi novel, will be published on Nov. 29th. It takes place right after the action of Relocated,  and some four years before Broken Bonds. Martin does appear in the latter novel as well.

Because Geek Games used an existing character and because I decided to use the novel to tie up a few loose ends from Relocated, Martin’s age was fixed at just shy of fifteen. Martin, who to my surprise turned out to be gay, becomes involved in a romance with another boy. My concept of the relationship, and of what happens to Martin after the book ends, changed as I worked on both Geek Games  and Broken Bonds. Fortunately, I decided not to submit Broken Bonds until I was ready to submit Geek Games also. I was uncomfortable, for no reason that I could point to at the time, about submitting a novel that took place four or five years after the one I was working on.

I’ve just completed the first draft of another adult sci fi noel, one which takes place right after Broken Bonds, and I’ve started plotting out another YA novel, one which takes place right after Geek Games  — so far, anyway. I can see I’ll have to give a bit on my penchant for linearity, so I’m guessing I’ll be ready to submit the adult novel before the other is ready.

In case you’re wondering, back when we all still rented movies by dashing into the video store, I would start looking for flics starting with A. Then I discovered I’d overlooked the latest — at the time — Star Trek movie, so I started alternating by starting with Z and working backwards. I’m not particularly well-organized, nor am I particularly neat, but I am fairly linear. Each crazily obsessive person is obsessive in their own way.

And now a question for you readers. What do you think of flashbacks? For or against? How about novels that weave threads from two different time periods?  I’m not a fan of either.

Geek Games 333x500Blurb:

When fourteen-year-old Martin lets Tom, a charismatic bully, persuade him to bring down the spaceport computer network, he never considers someone will place a bomb resulting in the death of his friend’s father. Nothing will bring Captain Frey back, but if Martin can help locate the terrorists’ drug lab, perhaps he’ll be able to forgive himself.

Excerpt

“Are we able to wash up?” I asked after the all clear sounded. “I stink.”

“Come on,” Beram said. “I’ll show you the shower.”

“Come on, Alan, you too.”

Alan climbed down, and we followed Beram to the end of the corridor. A shower proved to be a popular idea, as the rest of the crew assembled behind us. Low laughter reached my ears, and I turned around.

“What do you bet they both run off?” Gamal asked in Aleyni.

Suresh threw an arm around Gamal’s shoulder and planted a big kiss on his mouth. A grin split his face as he glanced at me.

Some joke. Ha, ha. I was laughing my head off—not. Sure, he wanted to make me and Alan uncomfortable. Expected us to be uncomfortable. None of the Aleynis displayed either surprise or disgust, and my gut clenched. My father would have backhanded me if I’d kissed a man in his presence. I would have given every last credit I possessed, assuming I owned any, to make my father react the way the Aleynis did.

Gamal’s gaze bored into me, eyebrows raised, waiting for some kind of response, but the Aleyni word assembly line broke down, and my brain froze solid.

Here’s something weird. Or maybe not; I don’t know. When I spoke Aleyni, I needed to think in Aleyni, so sometimes my thoughts would stop because I couldn’t yet formulate the thought in the alien language.

Hoping to unstop the dam, I opened my mouth to tell him he could go ahead and kiss all the men he wanted, with or without me around. No go. Pathetic.

Gamal touched the door, and it retracted into the wall, revealing a synglass-coated chamber with shower heads suspended from the walls and ceiling and a spigot on one wall.

After a minute, the log jam eased up. Showers were a much safer topic than kissing guys. “How does it work?”

“You soap up, then steam to rinse off.” Beram grinned, his gaze traveling up and down first my body, and then Alan’s. “I’ll show you. The shower is big enough for three. In order to save water, we shower two or three at a time.”

Alan gulped and backed away from the door. “I’ll pass.” He ran down the corridor.

“How about you?” Beram asked.

Inside my head, the vidi of me and Beram naked together in the steamy shower played two or three times. I nodded. “Who goes first?”

Suresh grinned.“You two may have the honor of the first shower this time.”

Gamal crossed his arms and stared at me.

Remove my clothes here, with Gamal and Suresh eager to examine my every move? The air stuck in my throat. They’d have a clear view of my naked body’s reaction to Beram.

Gamal poked Suresh with his elbow and whispered something in his ear.

I’d probably been broadcasting my thoughts again. But lust overcame my fear, and Beram and I stripped and stepped into the shower. We soaped up, and I couldn’t help staring. Beram’s smooth skin showed no body hair at all.

“No Aleyni has body hair,” he said. “You didn’t realize?”

I shook my head. “How would I?” Did he find body hair repulsive? Mildly distasteful? Intriguing, the way I found his smooth skin?

Beram touched a control on the wall and blasts of steam washed us clean. While I hesitated, wondering what to do, Beram pulled my head toward him and kissed me. I kissed him back.

His warm lips pressed against mine, smooth and soft. I breathed in the fragrance of citrus soap and musk, Beram’s odor and mine. Our mouths were closed, and it lasted only a moment, but the universe tilted; and when it tilted back, everything changed.

No question remained: I loved men, always would. Period, end of sentence. The recognition started in my gut, in the center of my body, and radiated outwards.

I took a step back and grinned at Beram. He placed a hand on the side of my face, only for a moment. It was the most intimate thing I’d ever experienced .

Gamal and Suresh waited outside the shower, both leaning against the wall and grinning. Suresh poked Gamal, whispering something like, “Pay up.”

Links:

My Author page on the MuseItUp website, with links to all three of my sci fi novels:

http://museituppublishing.com/bookstore/index.php/ourauthors/56-ourauthors/authorsf/149-author-4764

Amazon author page:http://www.amazon.com/MargaretFieland/e/B008E6QBFU

website:http://www.margaretfieland.com/

blogs:http://www.margaretfieland.com/blog1/

http://www.margaetfieland.com/relocated/

http://poeticmuselings.net/

Pinterest:http://pinterest.com/margaretfieland/

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/margaret.fieland

twitter:http://www.twitter.com/madcapmaggie

goodreads:   http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4417476.Margaret_Fieland