Currently Reading: The Wicked King

CR - Wicked King

When I read CRUEL PRINCE by Holly Black, I enjoyed it but wasn’t on the level of hype as everyone else until around the last third of the book. And then I read WICKED KING. I’m officially fully invested. Which is not to say that the first book isn’t good, I just really, really like all the court intrigue, conniving, and back-stabbing that takes place at the end of book one, which, to my immense delight, is the primary focus of book two.

Black’s world of faerie is dark and lavish and full of intricate details. The court machinations are such a joy to be surprised by. As someone who typically guesses plot twists before they happen, I’m always pleased when I’m surprised.

This is also a GREAT enemies-to-lovers trope. Jude is a mortal girl brought to live in faerie after a faerie kills her parents. In order to survive, Jude learns to play the game of court from a young age. The youngest prince of faerie, Cardan, torments Jude constantly to hide his feelings for her. (This is a little yikes, but bear with me.) Jude is awful. She is cunning and ruthless and will do anything to gain power for herself in a world that wants to give her none. Cardan is also awful. He is the youngest prince, will likely never rule, and he is spoiled and indulgent and the one thing he wants (Jude) he can’t have. The reason this works so well where other enemies-to-lovers fail is that neither of them is suddenly ‘forgiven’ for all their awfulness. They’re both still conniving, and they’re still enemies. Which makes for some very charged moments. And Black draws it out, makes you wait and long for them to just-kiss-already, and it’s so, so worth it.

Pick this up if you like: faeries, lush worlds, enemies-to-lovers, court intrigue, morally gray characters, and complex sibling dynamics.

Currently Reading: Wicked Saints

CR - Wicked Saints

WICKED SAINTS by Emily Duncan was one of my most anticipated reads of the read and it did not disappoint. The story follows Nadya and Serefin, who are on opposite sides of a holy war. Nadya is the last cleric to whom the gods speak and imbibe with their powers. Serefin is the High Prince of the neighboring country that practices blood magic, which is considered heresy by Nadya’s peoples. After Serefin hunts down Nadya and she narrowly escapes, Nadya joins forces with the enigmatic, can-we-really-trust-him Malachaisz, a blood mage who defected from his home country and is now determined to kill the king. There are so many ways anything and everything can go wrong with this plan, and the will-they wont-they chemistry between born enemies Nadya and Malachiasz sucks you in and keeps you reading to the very end.

Pick up this book if you like: theology, enemies-to-lovers, goth af magic, LGBT reads, Polish/Russian-based fantasy settings. You won’t be disappointed.

Looking Back

I’ve been posting gratuitously about #ThursdayAesthetic on here, but last week’s theme was a really cool learning experience for me. The theme was “past project”, and I decided to go all the way back to the first manuscript I ever completed: OF MONSTERS & WOMEN.

Now, this isn’t the first thing I ever wrote, and it’s best that my early days of Harry Potter fanfiction are lost to antiquated fan forums and dead hard drives, but finishing a full manuscript was a big hurdle for me. I started writing when I was around 13/14, and didn’t finish an entire story until I was 21.

I used to write out of order, simply writing whatever scenes I felt inspired to write. This ended up with a lot of half-finished stories, because once I ‘discovered’ the ending of a story, I didn’t have much motivation to go back and finish the journey. OM&W was the first story were I wrote chronologically, and I think that’s why I actually managed to finish. I’ve continued to write chronologically ever since.

Anyway, as prep for this week’s aesthetic challenge, I went back and revisited this manuscript. I braced myself for the worst, and surprisingly, it wasn’t as bad as I expected. Sure, there were lots of comma splices, run-on sentences, and paragraph-long dialogue tags. The fact that I could identfy these flaws, however, just shows how far I’ve come as writer since writing OM&W. The plot, however, was so much stronger than I remembered. The subplots were all necessary and subtly interwoven. There were far too many secondary characters, but I fell in love with the main characters all over again.

OF MONSTERS & WOMEN is about two girls:
Veronica: The dreamer. She hoped this was going to be a love story. Instead, she discovers she’s the last descendant in a long line of witches. As such, she is the only one who can break the curse placed on the pack of alpha wolves that now stalk her and her roommate.
Blake: The realist. With the werewolves go, hunters follow. Blake begins training with the hunters to protect herself and her roommate. When she stumbles upon lore of warrior women sworn to protect the witches, she realizes that her and Veronica’s fates might have been entwined all along–and it might be the very key to breaking the curse.
It’s a silly, tropey self-insert paranormal romance with more love insterests than you can shake a stick at, but it’s a fun read (if I may say so myself). I’d love to revisit/rewrite it one day and let these girls kick ass, take names, and get the guy in the end, too.

 

[AES] PAST PROJECT

top mid: veronica hale; bottom right: blake bennett

 

 

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currently writing 04.19.18

!CW

Slowly but surely, DB’s sequel is now at 24,000 words! I had to rewrite a scene three times to finally get the right vibe and pacing, so hopefully, I can pick back up the pace again. The sequel has evolved a lot in this rewrite, and the subplots are much stronger for it, but I’m excited to get back to the core of the action in the coming scenes.

It’s Thursday, which means #ThursdayAesthetic!! aka my favorite writing twitter hashtag. This week’s theme was ‘antagonist’ to juxtapose last week’s theme of ‘protagonist’. I struggled with this one as I didn’t want to give away who my villain was, so I went with a broader theme, that of Alba vs. the gods. So, here’s an aesthetic for the gods, who are far too extravagant and very fond of golden decor, secrets, and getting away with murder.

[AES] TA VILLAIN CHALLENGE

What In the World Did I Just Write

editing

It’s been 10 months since I wrote that elated post about completing Death Becoming. And boy, has it been an editing rollercoaster. Writing? I love. Editing? Not so much. I got about 30,000 words into writing my sequel before I forced myself to stop getting ahead of myself and get back to the nitty gritty of editing what will (hopefully) be my debut. (And without it, the sequel will be dead in the water.)

First, I secured myself a few betas readers via reddit. This has been one of hardest yet most rewarding parts of the editing process. I’ve always had friends read my writing, They’re the best cheerleaders you could ask for, and I couldn’t have gotten to the finish line without them. But… They’re completely biased. Which is where a good beta comes in. Nothing like having a complete stranger rip your baby to shreds, line by line, all while you smile and say thank you. The weirdest part is I enjoyed it. Brutal honesty that makes my story the best it can be? Yes, please!

After getting beta feedback, I went back and did almost a full rewrite of the manuscript. I allowed myself brief glances at scenes before settling in in front of the blank page once more and seeing what stuck and what superfluous storylines went by the wayside. Sounds like a lot of work (it was) but just making line edits felt like I was creating Frankenstein’s monster and somewhere along the way the heart of the story got lost. And in the end, I’m glad I did it.

Now, I didn’t go to school for this, so I’m basically flying by the seat of my pants at all times and hoping no one notices. Every book’s editing process is different, and every writer’s process is different, but I’d love to hear what others are doing. I’ve done JK Rowling’s plot point flow chart and I’ve made countless lists. For my next run through, I’m thinking about tackling Susan Dennard’s hefty, yet beautifully color coded, revision system. Has anyone tried it? Any other methods you find useful?

Four Novels, Four Years

Last night, February 6, 2017, at approximately 11:15PM, I finished my fourth novel, Death Becoming. I can’t fully describe the feeling that accompanies writing the final words of your novel, this digital amassing of letters and words that formed ideas that created characters and plots that often feel more real to you than the earth around you, all accumulating into this world that exists only inside your own brain, spilling out of you onto digital pages in sluggish sentences or unstoppable surges.

I’ve come to describe it as a “writer’s high”, where your hands are shaking with the words itching to burst forth from your fingertips, your vision going blurry at the edges as you tunnel vision into your fictional world. (Though perhaps that’s just my terrible eyesight.)

I had that high as I completely scrapped the final scene of my novel, one that had been sitting unfinished for nearly a month, haunting me like an old ghost. The road ahead is full of editing, rewriting, and the painful process of scrapping scenes near and dear to my heart, but not the plot. But it’s done. It’s all written down.

As “done” as I can feel, considering it’s only the first book in the series. But hey, baby steps. The dreaded final scene is done, and the stage is set for book two. Today, I celebrate.

What do you do when you find yourself stuck on a scene? How do you beat writer’s block? Do you scrap it and start over? Do you force yourself forward, one painstaking word at a time-half of which you delete as you go? Do you have a pre-writing ritual that gets the inspiration flowing? Let’s chat.

writers-block