13 April 2014

One Thing Leads to Another

Last time I talked about where the initial idea for New Sight came from.
(Spoilers—if you haven't read to the middle of the book)

Kids addicted to magic.

I don't even remember how many ideas I went through. A friend at work used to run one of those outdoor camp places where people send their behavioral and drug addict kids. For a while I thought that's what the story should be about. But my mind had it set in a totally fantasy world where those blue people from Avatar kept flying through on their dragon things.

BOTH of those things stressed me out to the point where I had to put the aside. While a story about kids in a magic rehab camp sounds awesome, it felt too dramatic for me.

If you don't know me, you should be informed that I'm NEVER dramatic. Well, hardly ever. Only when I don't get exactly what I want. You understand, yes?

Anyway, in my heart and mind I loved both of the above ideas, but as I started to write, the story became so much more about the adventure of the kids finding out about their magic and all of the horror, wonder and issues it would lead to. I'm an action addict, and the emotional side of the story kept dragging it down.

In my mind anyway. I'm not the one to write that story.

So I scrapped the totally fantasy world and set it in our world. Magic is almost dead, hardly anyone knows about it, and those that do should not be trifled with. This made writing the novel so much easier. Introducing a whole new world takes time and experience, neither of which I had in abundance when I started. Simplicity won that round, but I don't think an almost normal world takes away from the story.

Y'all will have to tell me after you read the book!

I do admit to a little bit of sadness when I gave up the flying dragon things. I'll have to pull them out in a different novel.

10 April 2014

The True Power of a Deadline

What kind of a psycho decides to get their first ever publishable novel written in a year?

Er, yeah, that would be me.

I vowed, after a writing conference (see last post), that I would have a novel to pitch the next year.

Before the conference ended, during the closing remarks if I remember correctly, I started scribbling ideas for the novel.

At this point I didn't know what story I would use. I had three or four that I'd already done some work on and had some great ideas about. One I love, love, love, but didn't feel like I was a good enough writer to tackle it yet.

So I wrote a list of ideas and let them sink in.

Yeah, that whole sinking in sometimes never happens.

None of the stories I'd written down sparked my interest. And when I figured out that I should start something new, I was not happy.

Starting from scratch is not one of my strong points. I can edit until the cows come home—don't have cows, btw—but the creation process is hard for me.

So I pouted.

Oh get off it, everyone pouts about silly things. Don't judge me.

Well, I knew I wanted to write either science fiction or fantasy. I knew I wanted to write a YA novel. I probably jotted down a hundred different story ideas. None off them really tickling my fancy.

Okay, the next bit is a spoiler. Sort of.

I remember quite clearly driving north on I-215 coming home from work. The Ivory house neighborhood sat to my right, and the sun warmed the left side of my face. Music played, but the air whooshing through the opened windows drown it out.

I was still pouting about the lack of inspiration/spark on which story I should write, when this came into my mind clear as the day was outside.

The story is about kids, addicted to magic.

Huh? What?

Well, the idea stuck in there. I couldn't get rid of it. And New Sight ensued. After a whole lot of ideas, trauma and rewriting. More on that next time.

06 April 2014

In the Beginning

I've told this story before, but figure I'll tell it again.

After all, it is the beginning of New Sight.

A few years ago I went to a writing conference. It was the first real writing conference (not a convention with people dressed up as Dragonball Z characters with authors on the side) and the experience opened my eyes to a whole new world.

A big world.

A world where I could get a book published.

Oh, I'd been writing for years. I'd probably typed out five horrendous novels at this point. The latest had been an off-shoot story from what ended up being Babes in Spyland. I had actually gone through my Nanowrimo of the tale, re-outlined it, researched locations and technology/weapons and had rewritten the thing.

It wasn't great, but it was finished.

Not publishable, but finished.

I'd never been to an official convention of any sort before this. Apparently lots of people come by themselves (or at least hang out by themselves) and go to classes. Two loners sit near one another and start to chat about what they have written, are writing or hope to write.

I swear that every person I sat next to had a novel that had either just come out or was about to come out. Real books. Some of them were on sale in the bookstore. When my newfound friends smiled and asked me what I wrote, I told them (somewhat sheepishly) that I'd just finished the edits on a super secret spy novel that should never, ever see the light of day—too cheesy.

They all smiled and laughed and we had a great time.

But through all of those conversations, and the meals and the hallway visits, my mind started to churn. Why didn't I have a novel ready for this? What had I been doing all this time? Just playing around?

A friend of mine actually met with an agent to pitch her book—I'd never before heard of this terrifying experience—and got an invitation to send them her manuscript.

Well, that cemented my fate. I vowed right then and there that the next year, at this very conference, I would have a novel written and edited and ready to pitch to an agent.

And I did.

Oh yes, I did.

03 April 2014

The Cast

Every main character needs a support crew. The crew can be populated by one friend, a dozen cheerleaders (literally or figuratively), the chess club, the main character's family or...well...just about anyone.

Lys, I introduced her last post, starts off quite alone, but throughout her adventure, she picks up a few friends. Some more, er, friendly than others.

This story, after it settled in my head, screamed for an international cast of characters. The nature of what is happening to the world and these kids is such that it would not be a localized cross section of the population. So I got to think way outside of the USA. I pulled out a map and started picking countries. I also retrieved my baby name book and began searching for names.

Without the right name, I can't write the character. They come alive only after I have a name and a face for them.

Read on.

I pulled the pictures off the web ages ago, so I'm sorry to say that I don't have any credits to go with them. And besides, they're more like guidelines. If anyone wants to claim them, know that I've been picturing these faces (ish) as I write.

Meet Kamau (he usually wears his shirt)

 Kamau comes from Mozambique, and can squeeze water out of rocks, track foes through any terrain, eat bugs when the situation calls for it and has the table manners of a Jane Austin character. It doesn't take long for his eye to wander to Lys. In more way than one. Not to give too much away, but Kamau is very good at smelling rats.

Next is Brady

Brady is the youngest, as well as the geek of the bunch. Everything is a pop culture reference for him, but being from England, not everyone gets all of his jokes. Lys thinks he's adorable and likes to listen to his accent. Who wouldn't? Brady fancies himself a ladies man, but doesn't exactly have a soft touch.

Inez is our last crew member

It's kind of a rule that someone has to be grouchy, right? Well, Inez gets to be the angsty one. However, you can hardly blame her. She grew up poor, had to run away when she was young and now lives in a bit of Las Vegas that shouldn't even be inhabited. Lys is her polar opposite, and the two girls have their moments of, shall we say, animosity? Inez's little talent is talking boys into doing exactly what she wants, but not in the way you're thinking.

There are plenty of other characters in the novel, but these are the ones to watch out for!

31 March 2014

Meet the Star of New Sight

When I first scripted New Sight, I knew I needed a teenage girl protagonist/main character.

I’m not going to lie, I don’t feel like I was a very normal teenage girl—I hardly ever squealed, and I never pined for more than about thirty minutes. Plus, I was extraordinarily boring. My friends were cool, but also not terribly exciting. So I was a little nervous to write an entire novel from inside the head of a California girl who grew up rich, went shopping for fun and loves to take pictures and draw.

First problem, a name. Right before I got married, my fiancé came over to help me pack. I put him on the book shelves—hello, big strong and manly—and at one point he stops and says, “Uh, Jo, why do you have this?”

I turned around and saw him holding up a baby name book that I’d bought not long before starting New Sight. I laughed and told him it was for finding good character names. Because if I have to pick them, everyone will be called Jennifer, Brad and Bernice. Or worse.

If I remember correctly, I flipped open the book and thought, “what letter should her name start with?” The “M” section came into view. Nothing jumped out, so I flipped back to the end of the “L” section and found Lysandra.

Thus Lys (like bliss, NOT lice) was born. Ish. A week later, after writing a few chapters of New Sight, I decided I had to have a last name and a face to go with the Lys. The last name Blake popped into my mind—easy. The face, not so much. I looked up and at my DVD shelf, spotted the movie Easy A, and decided that Emma Stone with dark brown hair (less red than in the picture) is what Lys looked like. Mostly.

Her personality came out in the script after that.

At the beginning of New Sight, Lys finds herself strapped down in a psych ward with little to no hope in her life. Horrible things have happened to her—thus the psych ward—and she has no reason to carry on.

But she does.

Because giving up isn’t her style. She doesn’t flaunt it like a pair of 6” glittery red high heels, but she quietly sorts through her circumstances, grits her teeth and moves forward. Even if that means leaving her family and going off with a sketchy fellow named Jeremiah Mason who leaders her into even more trouble than she had originally stirred up.

Lys is like so many of the girls and women I know. She is awesome in her very own way.  A way that no one else can pull off. Lys can steer a motley crew of confused and traumatized teenagers she’s barely met out of danger and back on track.

Well, she has help. We’ll meet the rest of the crew next time!

24 March 2014

The 21 Month Pregnancy

For those of you who only read the Pregnancy part of the title, don’t get excited. I’m talking about a book. Sheesh, nosy people.

Most traditionally published authors can lament a long pregnancy before their first book comes out. It’s the nature of the beast—you write a manuscript (like 18 drafts of said manuscript), revise it, revise it again, query it, get polite rejections, revise it again, more queries, toss said manuscript into the “I don’t want to think about you ever again” pile, finally get an acceptance letter, pee your pants (optional, a huge squee can be substituted), try to maintain a cool demeanor as you send your acceptance speech (er, e-mail), and then you wait.

The publisher will taunt you with things like links to secret Facebook pages for the publishing house, info for other authors, contracts, informative phone calls, and—if you’ve been a very good author—a release book for your baby!

Er, book.

A release date that may, or may not, be subject to change. Oh joy.

And so you wait. And wish. And envision just how much your book is going to revolutionize the world!

Because it is. It has too. You’ve poured time, effort, tears, pains, missed social gatherings, most of the sleep you could have gotten and your soul into this book.

I don’t have kids, but it sounds pretty similar to me.

Like a good friend, your publisher will distract you with things like edits. Those will get your heart pumping. The e-mail might say, “Hey, just a few things to look at. We need this back in two weeks.”

A small heart attack will surly ensue, and if you’re brave you’ll click on the attachment. If bravery isn’t your forte, then you’ll wait until you’ve drown yourself in either alcohol or chocolate before you open it.

Because the mental image that comes to you is that of a really big “X” through most of your manuscript with notes saying, “This doesn’t work,” or, “You lost your momentum on page 3,” or, “You should consider taking this character out or turn him into the bad guy.”

Thus the numbing agents beforehand.

Those two weeks meld into one big writing fest. Your loved ones shoo the rest of the world away and simply throws food and caffeine into the office through a small hole in the wall.

I won’t go into the gruesome details, but you get the gist.

The poor author once again has to pour life, limb and soul into the manuscript, somehow making it better than it was in it’s already perfected state, and then they send it back to the editors.

And wait.

Editors are notorious for silence when you really want them to speak, and too much information when you just want to curl up and cry.

Love them. Really.

At this point, as an author, you’ll probably feel like those adorable ladies who are 8 ½ months pregnant with twins—barely waddling about and with little interest in anything but “Get it out!”

Or so I’ve heard.

Then, for various industry reasons (which are out of everyone’s control, but you’ll still want to kicks someone in the face) you’re due date will move.

This generally provokes a mental break down or two. Lots of tears, and the loved ones backing away slowly.

Once you’ve recovered, and the publisher isn’t afraid to call you  anymore, a cover reveal comes along. You’ll print out copies and cover one wall of your office with them. Much like a baby shower, you get oohs and ahhs from all sorts of people, but nothing to do with them yet.

Finally, if you’ll allow me, your water breaks, and the Advance Reader Copies (ARCs) arrive.

Oh the joy! It’s like a book—YOUR book—but not quite. It’s real, you can smell it, stroke it, love it, drool on it, sleep with it as a pillow and randomly open it to see if each and every sentence is as stellar as you remember, but it’s still not quite the real thing.

So close, but so far away.

And then, like every expectant mother will tell you, the time comes.

It’s here.

Holy cow, how did that happen? Don’t I still have months and months to put together a blog tour, clever Facebook campaigns, funny Tweets that are sure to draw every single reader of your genre in the world?

The nursery isn’t even ready!

Oh, sorry, I mean I don’t have a fancy pen for signing. Or an outfit for the launch party. And I don’t even want to think about my hair.

Can’t someone else handle all of this while I work on book 2?

My 21 month pregnancy is almost over. My first YA novel, New Sight, comes out in less than a month!

I can’t wait.

And I’m not ready!

But here we go. Hold on folks, because this is going to be awesome!

Check back later this week for some character bios.

08 March 2014

Daddy Doin' Work

Here's another great cover from Jolly Fish Press.

Meet Doyin Richards and his soon to be published book, Daddy Doin' Work

So I'm not terribly into non-fiction, BUT, I just got married, and if we have kids this might really come in handy. For those of you who have kids and such, look forward to the release of this one!

Doyin Richards’s Daddy Doin’ Work: Empowering Mothers to Evolve
Fatherhood answers questions about fatherhood that many women
want to know, and does so in a no-nonsense and entertaining style that
ladies will enjoy. Similar to how Steve Harvey’s best-selling title Act Like
a Lady, Think Like a Man empowers women to make smart relationship
decisions by entering the minds of men, Daddy Doin’ Work empowers
new mothers to enter the minds of new dads to change the perception
of what should be expected from a modern father.

Readers will be exposed to the manipulative secrets of deadbeat dads,
moms will learn practical tips to help hard working dads understand that
being a father encompasses more than paying the bills, and women in
relationships with amazing dads will learn methods to ensure their men
stay on-track while inspiring more fathers to be just like them. Most
importantly, women will be forced to take a long look in the mirror to
determine if they are part of the solution or part of the problem in
shaping the behavior of modern fathers.

Check out...er see Doyin below.

DOYIN (pronounced “doe-ween”) RICHARDS is a father, husband,
writer, Daddy Consultant, and public speaker inspiring new mothers and
fathers to think, laugh, and learn while evolving as parents and couples.
He authors the popular and well-respected parenting blog Daddy Doin'
Work, and since creating the blog in June 2012, it has rapidly grown in
readership with no signs of slowing down. Doyin has appeared on
national and international television several times, and is a regular
contributor to Huffington Post. He currently resides in Los Angeles with
his wife and two young daughters.