So this post is long overdue, but after my recent Scarred Beauty revision marathon, I needed a break from words. I’ve still been reading, (determined to finally finish Stephen King’s It) and sketching, etc. But I had to take a break from words I write. Tonight, I’m getting back in the saddle again, starting with this blog post.
Wylder Tales isn’t the first series I’ve written. I started with my Heaven’s Edge Novellas, Qeya and Tamn. However Qeya and Tamn, as the titles suggest, are told from two different characters POV. It was fun spinning the same story through a different set of eyes, but that’s also a different kind of story telling. With Wylder Tales, I knew I would be writing mostly from one perspective and she would carry us through the rest of the series.
Craving Beauty is from the “beauty’s” perspective. But her old nickname is a joke. Vynasha is a very scarred, often weak character in the beginning. Her greatest strength is her love for her nephew and willingness to do anything she has to in order to save him. By majikal and possibly nefarious means, she and Wyll are led to the Wylder Mountains. She continues alone to the castle in search of a mysterious a cure-all called the “Source”, convinced it’s the only thing that can save Wyll. She meets more than one beast in the castle, maybe falls in love with one of them.
The first edition of Craving Beauty was published under a different title three years ago. But I kind of just threw it out there at the world without any marketing plan or any drive to write more than a two-part series. Wolfsbane’s Daughter wasn’t even in the works at that time. Still, I wrote out a couple of chapters for the potential sequel or part two to my part one. A year later, I decided to revamp things and make this series really happen. I essentially rewrote my Part One, adding characters and plot elements. Wolfsbane’s Daughter came about during that time, which is how I was able to publish it a couple of months after the re-release of Craving Beauty, Volume 1.
If you have read Craving Beauty, you know I left off on a major cliff hanger. I know it’s kind of mean and evil to end on a cliffy. Which is why I’ve been bending over backwards this past year to write a worthy sequel. If you follow my website, you have seen the “Wolfgirl Quotes” and “Tuesday Teasers” featuring the second volume of Vynasha’s journey. I haven’t teased y’all quite so much lately since I’ve been so busy with the story (and an infant). So much of Scarred Beauty is filled with answers to questions and plot bunnies I started in Volume 1. Since I don’t wanna reveal too much in this post about the overall plot, we’re going to focus on the writing instead.
I published Craving Beauty and Wolfsbane’s Daughter back to back. I also had a baby during that time and then a couple months of recovery from surgery, plus the worthy struggle of new parenthood. They say your life changes when you have kids. Turns out they mysterious all-knowing they had it right. No longer could I write to my heart’s content. Now there was the constant tide of baby needs plus finding my own sanity again. I tried to write the beginning of this last year, but it wasn’t until April or May when my kid was old enough and I had enough of a grip to really look at what I was writing.
The outline changed a couple of times, but as I started really writing and diving into these characters again, it quickly became clear this was no longer a two-part series. I have a confession to make here. I have technically written a series, but not since high school when I spent hours on Lord of the Rings fanfiction. Yep, I totally am that nerd. Point being, I knew how characters could surprise you and transform over the course of a fully-fledged series. Kind of like how I knewhaving a baby would change my priorities completely. Writing a trilogy as an adult, with the past four years experience under my belt, however, was a totally new experience.
I know authors like Susan Dennard, of Truthwitch fame, who plan out their novels with note cards and highlighters and all manner of amazing intensity. I have so much respect for these kinds of writers. I follow her writing blog because the woman is a genius IMO, and super fun in real life as well as her books. While I respect that kind of skill, I’m a pantser at heart. But for Scarred Beauty, I did write a very detailed, bullet outline. I even screen-played certain scenes out to make sure the conversations could carry the story.
But the biggest motivation I had to keep going was my 2K a day goal. I kept track using a spreadsheet kind of like a writer’s time card. Then I made myself write. There’s no secret to writing 2 thousand words a day. You have to write to be a writer and the more time you spend pushing out those words, the easier it gets. Whatever muscles in the brain help with that get flexed every time you sit down and work on your manuscript. I did take a day or so off in between, but I finally finished the book. Then I jumped right into revisions. Trouble was, we were traveling at the time and I had a deadline looming overhead. I don’t know if that makes me an adrenaline junkie, but it seems like I’m always down to the hour when it comes to turning in revisions.
When I draft, I still do that thing some pros tell you not to. I go back a chapter or scene and tweak things as I go along before writing the new material. Part of this habit comes from my fanfiction days. I used to get together with my besties and we would read chapters aloud. Almost every time they would ask me to read the scene before, sometimes more if it had been a good bit of time between our “story time”. And almost every time I would catch mistakes. So my first drafts have always felt like a weird hybrid between 1&2.
Because I hadn’t actually sat down and read through Craving Beauty since last year, I decided I needed to make sure I carried the voice and spirit into Volume 2. So with my proof copy and a highlighter and notebook I went back through all those fine details. It’s amazing the things you pick up with a fresh perspective. I found a couple of small mistakes and plot holes that needed answering. Perfect opportunity arose to answer those in Scarred. So for those of you who threw up your hands over certain scenes, never fear, your questions shall be answered.
I had a week left to go when my laptop decided to stop charging. The machine claimed it didn’t recognize my charger (which we bought maybe three months prior). You ever have that moment when it seems technology and the world is out to stop you? Every time tech fouls up on me I feel my inner Sarah Connor rising up against the machines…
So I started panicking inwardly, outwardly trying to sound chill as I told my husband all the dates I had to push back. In my mind I thought I would need to publish next year. What else could I do if the computer just stopped turning on the next day and I had no way of sending my manuscript? And sweet man that I married, wouldn’t let that stop me.
We were already on the road with our baby for his work (a totally other conversation), but he swung by a local tech store to get an adapter to use in the truck. I sat in the passenger seat, reviewing and revising, staying up late in hotel rooms on top of the usual exhaustion that comes with parenthood. But we were able to order a new charger. My computer clung to life at 2% long enough for me to complete the final draft and send it to my editor.
And after weeks of cramming as many words and circling plots and delving into character psyche’s, I was drained. Which is probably why it’s taken me until now to write this post and to begin work on my next manuscript. Words are my trade and my passion, but like all art, it’s important to be inspired. I’m still traveling on the road with my husband and our baby, drinking in the sights of other towns and listening to different people. Most of all I have been loving on our sweet baby. He lights up our lives with his many kisses and jibber jabber. He started walking on his own without falling every couple of steps and likes to throw his hands in the air and run now. I still read books to him at every opportunity and he loves turning pages. I’m determined to make a bookaholic out of him yet. 😉 Beautiful moments with him inspire me just as much as beautiful nature and music. It took a couple of weeks, but I’m happy to report the bug is back. I must create, pour some of that beauty back into the world if I can.
My editor will come back to me with revisions sometime this next week. Then comes the mad rush of formatting and publishing prep before the big tour December 1st with Prism Book Tours! I’m super excited to share all the teasers Najla Qamber Designs made, the new map of Wylderlands and the new swag you’ll have the chance to win. Hope you stay tuned as we take the next step of the journey.
To all my fellow writers, happy National Novel Writing Month! To everyone, I’m thankful for your time and in many cases your words. You all are my inspiration.