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Weird Tenses: Writing in First AND Third person at the same time

First: The outpouring of support and love over my last day at Pub Crawl has been heart-touching. None of you owed me anything, and the fact that so many of you went out of your way to say kind words and let me know that I’ve affected your lives was incredible, humbling, cathartic, and encouraging. I didn’t fully tear up, but it was close ;-)

Now here’s a thought from my ACORAS revision:

Recently in my revisions on the sleeping beauty story I’ve run across an interesting situation I haven’t heard of anywhere else. That’s not to say that I’m the only one, but I’m pretty sure this type of scene is rare:

I  have somehow managed to create a scene that is written in both first AND third person.

Let me explain: This is a flashback scene, aided by magic so that the MC is viewing the past through the experience of another character’s body. Therefore, she is describing what is happening in the body as ‘he’ (third person), but also viewing her past self, which she refers to as ‘I’ (first person). For example:

[Character]’s blood chilled, and my hand squeezed his tight. The golden glow surrounded me in the image, and a silver circlet appeared on my forehead.

So you see, she can sense what’s happening in his body like an omniscient narrator, but also describes her reactions as she sees them through his eyes.

I love first person because it’s so much easier to describe how someone feels, and give that emotion to the readers. I’m not the greatest at third person, and having to sprinkle the third person’s emotions with the first person’s actions only is throwing me quite a curve ball.

It may not be the first time this has ever happened, but it’s definitely new to me. Have any of you read about a situation like this in other books? I’d love to see how other writers handled it.

<3,

Savannah

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More Fake Covers for Sleeping Beauty!

My friend Mathilda Stenmark has finished up her school art project, which used my sleeping beauty story for inspiration. Below are her two latest covers, done in themes.

(For the first covers she made me, click here!)

The first one is supposed to be ‘hipster’ style:

I love how she used the fold line for the horizon line. And guys, that’s Gile on that horse! Gile!! Remember him from this excerpt (He’s the one Rose calls ‘Redbeard’)? Ahhh seeing my characters is so fun!

This next cover is meant show all the trends the artist dislikes in current book covers. To quote Mathilda, she chose “a model wearing a dress that doesn’t quite fit the historical era, a dead-like and helpless pose, no face and lots of flowers. “

Even if it IS supposed to be ‘bad’, I do kind of really love that picture of that girl. So dramatic. :-)

If you click on either of these pictures you can see them in large sizes!

A Few Updates and Notices

I know I need to do a large, personal update because it’s been mostly philosophical talk on here lately. But I’m also planning an article on effective magic systems and why you have to limit them or society as a whole will collapse, and of course we have to continue the series on community.

Today is also the last day you can enter a giveaway I’m sponsoring, for a fabulous book called The Thorn and the Blossom. This book is bound accordian-style, and if you don’t know what that means you should totally check it out!

In my writing life, I submitted and received notes back from my agent on The Dead-Filled Halls. It seems I wrote the middle of the book, and now after adding a new beginning I also need to continue the story and add a new ending. How funny is that? My agent was even brilliant enough to expand on the twist at the end to leave room for a possible sequel, so as soon as I’m done with the sleeping beauty story I’ll go back to that.

And speaking of sleeping beauty… I’m just going to go ahead and change the title over to A Curse of Rose and Snow here on the site. A while back my agent and I changed it but I didn’t move everything over in case it changed again, but it seems to be holding steady.

Right now I’m finishing up work on a new piece for the story, one I’m very excited about. Originally there’s a huge explanation scene about 3/4 through the book, when Rose finds out the truth at last. Instead of having Rose relay everything she discovers to the reader, I decided to borrow on the Pensieve idea from Harry Potter and actually have her witness flashbacks from one of the other characters.

You guys, it’s… deliciously tragic. We actually get to see what happened to this one character that makes it such a tragic story. It’s been really enjoyable and soothing to go back to what I’m best at, and I’m beyond excited to one day get to show you guys the actual backstory.

I’ve also made a Pinterest board which helps keep me inspired for this story :-)

Today is also Chris’s birthday <3

I will talk to you all again soon!

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Sleeping Beauty Fan Art – Fake Covers!!

Some of you might remember this fan art about NAMELESS, by one of my first fans, Mathilda Stenmark. Mathilda and I met [virtually] when she started following an old blog I had which was basically devoted to complaining about Christopher Paolini. God alone knows why she thought I was awesome :-)

But she followed me over the years and approached me last year about using the sleeping beauty retelling as the basis for an illustrative school project. I couldn’t tell her ‘yes’ fast enough!

Mathilda sent me her first sketch of Rose, which totally tugged on my heart strings. Also, is she insanely talented or what?

Then, a week or so ago, she sent me some fake covers for the book. And I just about exploded from awesome!!

The title you see below is currently what the book is going as publicly, though I know you all remember it as ROSES OF ASH :-)

(I have this one as my current desktop background!)

Then today Mathilda put the icing on the cake. There’s a monster in the book you guys haven’t met yet, but it’s a cross between the abominable snowman and that famous internet gif of the running’ llama’. With this direction, Mathilda made me the most amazingly hilarious book cover ever:

When I saw it for the first time I was speechless with giggling and the squee-factor. I love it. I love it, I love it, I love it.

Thank you so much, Mathilda, for bringing a lot of happiness into my life! Are these illustrations/covers not absolutely beautiful and amazing??

~~~

From a personal standpoint, things are progressing much the same. Working on the zombie book edits, working on the sleeping beauty story edits, and business-woman-ass-kicking at work.

If you’re totally obsessed with me like Mathilda (kidding) and some other fans I could name (*cough*CaitlinV*cough*), you should friend me on Facebook where I make witty little updates periodically. Here are some of my recent statuses:

  • Some drunk woman told me I was the tallest woman she’d ever seen. I KNEW people thought that when they saw me. :)
  • Oh thank God, the future is here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5rlTrdF5Cs
  • The people who absolutely loathe and despise Twilight have just as much of a problem as those who worship it.
  • I’ve reached the middle of this cold and discovered it has a mucusy center. o.O
  • Pro tip: don’t make jokes about cooking meth when buying Dayquil and Niquil for your cold.

So as you can see, my life is filled with glamour and wisdom, and you shouldn’t miss out on a single thing I have to say. ;-)

I’m hoping to have some cool news soon, so I’ll be in touch!

<3, Savannah

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Dropping out of NaNo, and I’m taking the Big Apple!

Well I might as well make it official. Despite how much I love it and how outspoken I’ve been about it this year, I have to drop out of NaNoWriMo.

My reason is simple, and the best one of all: revising other projects to make them more sell-worthy.

After speaking to my agent, I’m putting down NAMELESS for a bit and preparing  my zombie book, THE DEAD-FILLED HALLS for her eyes. I need to add a few chapters to the beginning (the first chapter excerpt I shared will no longer be the first chapter).

Then it’s moving on to the sleeping beauty retelling :-) I’m adding in a few things, doing some slight world-building changes, and modifying the somewhat-heavy middle section. If I’m a very good writer I think I can be done by the end of the year and return to writing brand new NAMELESS stuff.

Which leads to my next point: I’m going to NYC! My sister and I will be in the city from Dec 8th to 12th. I’ve already made plans to meet up with my fellow LTWF Sammy Bina, who works for a high-profile literary agency.

I went to NYC once when I was 13 and did all the touristy stuff; this trip is more about visiting family and hanging out (read: shopping).

I’m not really one of those people that romanticizes NY. True, I had the bug when I was 17 for about 6 months, but it’s passed. I blame Sex & the City. Yes I know how pathetic that is.

And yet NY is still one of those places I visit frequently in my dreams, so I’m particularly excited about going back and seeing it now that I’m an adult and can wander off and explore on my own. Plus it’s a city known for growing writers and hosting both publishers and agencies, which makes it part of the culture surrounding my passion. You could call it the holy land for American writers.

I guess it’s about time I made the pilgrimage :-)

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Life and Novel Update!

Today I sent the finished version of Roses of Ash to my agent! Hooray! It feels so good to finally get it off my chest. ROA went through four CPs and underwent some small character modification and word choice issues. Definitely the easiest draft of something I’ve ever had to edit.


Thank you Rose, for being the easiest character to work with :-)

With it went a few ideas for new stories, including the Steampunk Cinderella, but also one I haven’t told you guys about yet. So I’m going to do so now :-)

Chris and I have been playing Left 4 Dead, and one night when I had what I think is my first case of insomnia, the plot for a book just jumped into my head: It’s a YA about a girl struggling to escape from her high school after it is locked down during the Zombie Apocalypse. Sort of like The Breakfast Club with zombies :D

After ROA and Nameless, I think this might be the one I work on next, postponing Steampunk Cinderella (provided Teh Agent gives her approval, of course). The reason being that Cinderella still needs a lot of world-building I don’t have quite yet, and the plot is still a little fuzzy, whereas the Zombie novel has a complete plot and will be of a genre and POV I’m more comfortable with. Plus I’ve wanted to do a contemporary for a while, mostly because I feel disinterested in contemporary as a whole and want to test myself by seeing how well I do writing in the ‘real world’.

Side note: Here lies the reason why lots of writers don’t talk about what they’re working on until it’s finished… projects get reshuffled and cancelled all the time.

Plus, did I mention I’m MIND-BOGGLINGLY EXCITED about working on a zombie book?! I’ve had a fascination with zombies for years (you can read about my zombie issues in this article here). What I love about zombie pieces is the tension that flows through them… you never know what’s going to be around the next corner. World War Z by Max Brooks is one of my absolutely favorite books of all time… I have zombie anthologies, zombie movies… I even watch zombie short films on youtube. I’ll post a longer book summary later on this week so you guys can have knowledge of the awesomeness of this plot :-)

In other news… I’m going on a writer retreat! With the other girls from Let The Words Flow! Next week!

I’m meeting up with Kat Zhang, Susan Dennard, Sarah Maas, and Biljana Likic in Jacksonville, Florida. We’re staying in a beach house on the coast and going to Harry Potter world!

I’ve been looking forward to this for seven months. I lost 15 pounds for the summer and have collected fabulous sangria and cooking recipes to make for the girls. Can’t even contain my excitement! While I’ve never been to Jacksonville, I imagine it looks something like this:

I will definitely take tons of pictures of HP World and share them with you :-)

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After Roses, with a Birthday Vlog!

Firstly, thank you to everyone who commented with love and support on the posts about finishing ROSES OF ASH. You have no idea what kind of confidence that gives me to keep moving forward. <3

Savannah and Heart
This is me trying to make a hand heart. But I’m bad at it because my thumb skin is naturally really curved…

Since it’s been a couple days I thought I’d update and let you know what’s been happening since the official finish:

I sent ROA to my first CP, and finished her edits last night. Thankfully the book seems to be in pretty good shape, and her comments had more to do with specific scene modifications than huge plot errors. Among her comments: “I love the fairytale tone of this. It really reminds me of the legends of old.” That sentence has pretty much carried me through the last week.

After a brief mishap where I lost a night’s work (thanks Open Office), ROA is now in the hands of my second CP. After her notes (and potential revisions), I will send it to my agent.

Now that ROA is off my plate (again), it’s time to return to NAMELESS revisions. I’m a little more than halfway through the book, and frankly feeling a little burnt out. Have you ever worked on a project so long you just get sick of it? The analogy I’ve been using is that NAMELESS is like a new adult who won’t move out of the house. I’m so ready for it to be out on the world and living on its own, but it still needs just a little more time and attention.

When I’m not working on NAMELESS (or ROA), I’m plotting and sketching out a brand new story, the pitch of with I’m excited to share with you today!

Here’s the one line pitch: It’s a Middle Grade magical steampunk Cinderella retelling, where instead of a slipper there’s an invention everyone is desperate to find the creator of, and instead of a Prince the goal is a scholarship to a Tinkering school.

I’ll share the full pitch soon (SOON!) in a later post once I hash out some of the later plot details. I already have the first chapter written and it’s adorable. But, I’ve never written a Middle Grade before, and this requires some research. If you guys could let me know your favorite MG books, particularly if they have magic in them, I would super appreciate it. I have some gift cards to B&N from my birthday I’m planning on using for research. I’ve already purchased a book called Creating Characters Kids Will Love.

Oh, did I not mention I had a birthday? Yeah, that happened on May 25th. Totally forgot to tell you guys. It was pretty neat. I even made you a vlog I planned to share, but then I forgot, and then it was out of date (it talked about me finishing up ROA and the plans for that, which you already know). However, I will share with you the intro I made for the vlog, where I sing and dance. Eep!

 

<3, Savannah

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ROSES OF ASH Deconstructed

As I let you guys know the other day, the sleeping beauty retelling was finished on Sunday. Here are some stats for the book, the origin story, and my feelings about the process.

~~~

Original Idea: Conceived in September 2010 because of this song by Florence and the Machine. It was clearly about Sleeping Beauty even though it directly references Snow White. At first I fell in love with the song because I thought some of the lyrics went ‘No more dreaming like a ghost/So in love with the wrong world.’ I loved the idea of the dead still in love with the living world. Then I realized the lyrics were actually ‘dreaming like a girl’, and that pretty much just made my mind explode.

What world was the girl in love with? Was it the past? Then came The Question: What if Sleeping Beauty woke up and didn’t remember her former life? Would she even believe whoever told her what really happened a hundred years ago? What if they lied to her? How would she know?

Previously I’d had a story idea sort of inspired by the relationship between the Hatter and Alice in the Alice in Wonderland movie that came out recently. Two characters in an abandoned castle, almost in love but haunted by relationships in their past. So when I started the first experimental writing, I borrowed the abandoned tower and the sorrowful nostalgia. Everything grew from there.

As I moved through the first few chapters, I realized I’d written myself into a mystery that even I didn’t know the answer to. There were so many possibilities and motivations that it seemed overwhelming. So I shared my tentative story ideas with my boyfriend, Chris. We were in a video game phase, and played Tetris against each other for hours, talking through plot options and how the different character related to each other. Then we watched the movie Charlie Wilson’s War, which inspired the insight into some groups of character’s motivations. A plot was born.

Idea Approved: I didn’t have a fully-planned-out novel at that point, but I had an idea I was in love with, and about 7,000 words. At the same time, I’d also been working on a concept called SOULMANCER, about a boy whose soul gets snagged on the soul of his female best friend after a magical ‘execution’ of sorts that should have killed him. But something wasn’t quite right with the story. I sent my agent both ‘pitches’ anyway (long queries that didn’t tell the ending). She wrote back that she was leaning more towards the sleeping beauty story, and in that moment I realized that’s what I’d been hoping for. I literally jumped up and down with excitement because I had approval to work on the idea that I really wanted.

That was in January.

The Writing: But despite how much I loved the story, I had a first obligation to my novel of 7 years, NAMELESS. And after my agent gave me her thoughts on the revisions I’d sent her, I had to go back into the editing cave and leave ROSES OF ASH alone.

But it didn’t really work like that. When I was frustrated with NAMELESS I found relief in the plot twists of ROSES OF ASH. It’s the first young adult novel I’ve written with actual fight scenes and a rapidly-moving plot. Something was always happening, someone’s loyalties being challenged, some secret being revealed. I fell asleep thinking about sleeping beauty and her struggles. So when it was time to send off a partial of NAMELESS to my agent to make sure I was on the right track with voice, I relished the opportunity to give non-guilty focus to ROSES.

Over the long weekend, I decided that I was absolutely going to finish working on the book. I had recently figured out the ending (after a few delicate days where I thought I’d be stalled on the book forever), and knew precisely where I was going. This allowed me to write 6,000 words on Saturday and 4,000 words on Sunday.

And then I was done. I wrote each scene when I was really feeling it, which had me alternately getting goose bumps and flashes of adrenaline and crying. I finished up the ending which resolved itself on that hopeful note I’m fond of, then went back and added in a secondary character I’d needed, then it was done, done, totally done.

Cue huge sigh of relief. :-)

I thought I’d end up at about 70k, and it came close, at 66k. Maybe with revisions it’ll climb up there and be firmly in the middle of the ‘sweet spot’, but 66k is definitely respectable for YA.

The Reflection: ROSES OF ASH is the first book I’ve written since signing with my agent. Everything has been NAMELESS focused for the past two years, and at times I thought I’d never have another idea. When I was working on SOULMANCER I even remember struggling moving on from NAMELESS. At one time I told SOULMANCER, inside my mind, that I would never love it as much as NAMELESS. Talk about self-destructive tendencies. Because subconsciously I knew there was something not quite right. I never had that problem with ROSES OF ASH.

ROSES OF ASH reminded me that I’m a writer through and through. I fell absolutely in love with this story, and have been rereading it non-stop since finishing. Plus, holy cow, 6k in one day?! That’s definitely a personal best. I sat down and wrote for 6 hours straight. It was incredible.

This is also a project that hasn’t had much outside influence. By that I mean that no one was reading it as I went. Yes, I kept Chris updated on all my plot changes, and yes I did post some excerpts, but I didn’t have a CP I was sending chapters to and waiting for comments every time (like I do with NAMELESS revisions). I’ve been thinking a lot about what writers mean when they say that they have to feel like a work is private before they can work on it.

Because my work has never been ‘private’. Even when I was writing the first draft of NAMELESS I was sharing chapters on Fictionpress, sometimes just moments after I finished them. I’m always thinking of my audience as I write, but usually it’s thoughts like ‘Omg I can’t wait to share this with everyone; it’s so awesome and I know they’re gonna love it!’. It’s never ‘What if they don’t like it?’ or ‘What if I can’t pull this off?’ I guess I’ve had such positive feedback from readers over the years that I have faith your approval will be there; that’s not even something I worry about at all.

Lately I’ve been reading a non-fiction book about writing that talks a lot about how our writing is an expression and reflection of ourselves, and we sort out our own issues through it. When I came upon the final chapters of ROSES OF ASH, two of my characters had an argument that threatened to leave them separated forever. One of my MC’s constant complaints in the book is that people keep lying to her, to ‘protect her’. Even when the lies are made in order to prevent her pain, she can’t stand it.

And I realized I’m the same way. I had a few experiences growing up that taught me that I absolutely cannot stand to be lied to for my own protection. Living a lie is far worse, to me, than the pain of knowing the truth, whatever it is. Living a lie means that not only are my experiences false, but my emotions are too. And there’s a sense of embarrassment that goes along with it: I feel this way, and was confident in the way I felt, but if I had known the whole truth I would have felt completely different. Whoever lied to me took that dignity away from me.

The past is incredibly important to me. I try to make sure I honor my younger self, and don’t violate the intentions and dreams I had. When my MC would do anything to get back what she lost, she is carrying my fears and desires with her. I would fight like crazy to get back the memory of someone I loved and can no longer remember. In the end, memory is all we have. If no one can remember someone, they might as well never have existed. Memory is a fight against death, in a way. And my MC is someone who clings to life.

The Future: So what’s the plan? I’ve sent ROSES OF ASH to begin making the rounds with the CPs. When I have their approval, off it shall go to my agent for her thoughts. In the meantime, I’m finishing up NAMELESS revisions notes and tentatively planning a sequel to ROSES. The deal with sequels and trilogies is that you shouldn’t write them until the first book sells. So I’m creating outlines and working on the scenes I absolutely MUST, but not planning to focus on it seriously until I get approval.

So, that’s the complete story. Any questions?

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Sleeping Beauty Retelling Finished!

:D

I finished writing the sleeping beauty story on Sunday! I decided on Friday that I was going to finish the book over the long weekend, come hell or high water, so I wrote 6k on Saturday and 4k on Sunday, finishing at a total of 66k.

This is how I looked when I finished:

Later on I’ll do a ‘Novel Reconstruct’ and talk about the experience, but I just wanted to get the news out to you guys that it’s done and safely resting in the capable hands of my first CP :-) (This will be Friends-Only, so if you haven’t added me yet, go and do it!)

Thanks for everyone who supported and encouraged the process; it felt just like the old days when I posted chapters for the reviewers on FictionPress.

Stay tuned for more!

<3, Savannah

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Last Day on Earth

In honor of the Fauxpocalypse, I thought I’d share one of my favorite songs (as well as some tidbits about my projects):
This song always reminds me of Chris. If it was the last day on Earth, he would be the person I would want to spend it with. And, considering that today might have been, this indeed became my plan. We hung out and did our usual stuff: errands, cleaning, and working. He on programming, me on writing.

Chris was one of the first believers in my Sleeping Beauty retelling. We would play Tetris for hours and discuss possible plots. If it weren’t for these discussions the book would never be as far as it is today – over 51k!

I wrote nearly 2k today and hit a bit of a snag: As I’m approaching the ending, I realized I didn’t know… precisely… how it ended. I knew who died and lived (and yeah, I’ve totally had the death scenes written out for weeks, because that’s how I roll), but beyond that… not a clue.

But we just went outside and walked around the yard in the dark, and figured out the whole, twisted ending, with hidden motivations that could surface in a sequel. And that made me incredibly happy.

The process of coming up with a plot is long, slow, and yes, magical. It’s a type of faith, to go into a story with only the most basic of plot points, and trusting your own subconscious to fill in the rest. Often I go into a story with no real idea of what will come next. But it does come. Miraculously, the story works itself out.

Of course, it does help when you have someone to bounce idea off of :-)

One of the better Fauxpocalypses, I believe…