Writing Update: March 2016

So my life kinda-sorta fell apart this month. (And then stitched itself back together, thankfully. Loved ones in the hospital, pet’s health declining rapidly, etc.) As such, I’m behind on basically everything. Homework, housework, study abroad forms. . . and of course my writing goals. In fact, I only have two stories to give you updates on. Eek.

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It’s the 23rd as I type this, and I have yet to hit 3,000 words this month out of my 6,000 target. Yikes, am I right? However, now that spring break has wrapped up and now that life isn’t so chaotic, I can hopefully get back into the routine of things. I am however 16+k into THE IMMORTAL at this point, so around 20% of the way to my goal length.

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The In-Between? What the heck is that, another new story?” Alas, no. This one used to go by the title The Cradle, but has been changed to The In-Between on account of it sounding less. . . well, less like a nursery item, and more true to the content of the book.

I’ve also decided to change up this story in a big way. I’ve had the full four page outline for this novel for over two years, but something about it just felt off. Finally I identified what it was, and to fix it requires a big overhaul. Essentially the story lacked a clear goal or tangible end-point for the main character to aim towards. (This is why outlines are great, kids, but I digress.) Before, it was about a guy plagued by ghosts and oddities trying to teach him lessons about his life before it’s too late. Interesting, but a little vague. The outline’s feel reflected that. Now, it’s about him being stuck in limbo and traveling over to Death’s side, only to encounter bizarre beings and events along the way, all of which attempt to turn him back around.

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How has March been treating you? Have you gotten a lot done or have you fallen off the wagon like myself? Comment below!

MEMORIES OF ASH [Cover Reveal]

IT’S. FINALLY. HERE. (Well, almost!)

For ages I’ve been eagerly awaiting Intisar Khanani’s second installment in her Sunbolt series, Memories of Ash, and am privileged enough to have her on the blog today to revealing the cover for her newest novel. This cover was designed by the amazing Jenny of Seedlings Design Studio, and there’s also a Kindle Fire giveaway, so make sure to scroll down to the end of the post to enter. First off, a few questions!

Describe Memories of Ash in 3 words.

Walk with courage.

What compelled you to write your first book?

I always wanted to write a novel, so my senior year of university I decided I’d better buckle down and try. I chose a fairy tale (The Goose Girl) to give me an over-arching plot and narrative structure, and then went to town with it. I really wrote it as an exercise to test myself, not intending to do anything with it when I finished. But, by the time I finished, I loved my characters so much that I ended up working through over a dozen revisions to take it from “writing exercise” to my debut novel, Thorn.

If you could live in one of your books, which one would you choose?

Definitely the world of the Sunbolt Chronicles. Sunbolt follows Hitomi, a street thief with a propensity to play hero when people need saving, and her nemesis, the dark mage who killed her father. Although there is a lot of darkness in Sunbolt, there’s also a lot of light. It’s a real world, in its way, and I love the diversity and vibrancy of the cultures and creatures that populate it. I’d have my choice of living in a tropical island sultanate reminiscent of historic Zanzibar, or among the nomadic desert tribes that eke out an existence alongside the cursed Burnt Lands, to name my two favorite options. Then again, in Memories of Ash, there’s the decaying grandeur of the capitol of a fallen empire that feels a lot like an Istanbul of old, right at the heart of the Eleven Kingdoms. Plus, I wouldn’t mind having shape-shifting friends and charms to keep my bread from burning.

What authors, or books, have influenced you?

As a young duckling, I imprinted on Tamora Pierce and Robin McKinley’s earlier works. I read pretty widely, but those are the authors I kept coming back to, especially McKinley’s Damar books. I am also an incorrigible Jane Austen fan, but my books don’t reflect that very much!

 

Your first reaction to the cover in GIF format.

 

 

And, at long last, here it is…

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In the year since she cast her sunbolt, Hitomi has recovered only a handful of memories. But the truths of the past have a tendency to come calling, and an isolated mountain fastness can offer only so much shelter. When the High Council of Mages summons Brigit Stormwind to stand trial for treason, Hitomi knows her mentor won’t return—not with Arch Mage Blackflame behind the charges.

Armed only with her magic and her wits, Hitomi vows to free her mentor from unjust imprisonment. She must traverse spell-cursed lands and barren deserts, facing powerful ancient enchantments and navigating bitter enmities, as she races to reach the High Council. There, she reunites with old friends, planning a rescue equal parts magic and trickery.

If she succeeds, Hitomi will be hunted the rest of her life. If she fails, she’ll face the ultimate punishment: enslavement to the High Council, her magic slowly drained until she dies.

Amazon Pre-order | Barnes & Noble Pre-order | Add it to GoodReads

A Special Treat For Those Who Pre-order…

Not only is the pre-order of Memories of Ash on sale for only 99 cents, but anyone who buys the pre-order will receive a free digital art print of Hitomi by artist Grace Fong. Just email your proof of purchase to moapreorder@gmail.com!

Haven’t read Sunbolt (Book 1) yet? It’s been knocked down to just 99 cents to celebrate the release and is available at most major e-retailers. That’s two fantastic books for less than a cuppa joe.

MoA_PreOrder Special

About Intisar Khanani

Khanani_Author_PhotoIntisar Khanani grew up a nomad and world traveler. She has lived in five different states as well as in Jeddah on the coast of the Red Sea. Until recently, Intisar wrote grants and developed projects to address community health with the Cincinnati Health Department, which was as close as she could get to saving the world. Now she focuses her time on her two passions: raising her family and writing fantasy. Intisar’s current projects include a companion trilogy to Thorn, featuring the heroine introduced in her free short story The Bone Knife, and The Sunbolt Chronicles.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Are you as excited as I am? (IMPOSSIBLE) Comment below and pre-order now!

Writing Update: February 2016

(It feels so weird to not have a No Angels section of this anymore! I suppose I’ll adjust.)

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My monthly progress with this one has been halting, mostly due to essays and midterms. That being said, I’ve written 13k thus far and plan to be at 15k by the end of the month. It’s still wildly fun to write, but the fact that school has been getting in the way had been less than satisfying. I’ve also missed the previous two writing-treat-weekend sessions because of life’s hiccups. It’ll be nice to feel on-track again!

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Still subbing. Still no response. *Bangs head on desk.* Waiting is just part of the game!

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Again, this one is still out with no response. I’ve been toying with the idea of reworking it a little since my writing has developed over the years and I want to bring it up to par, so next time it comes back that’ll be what I do!

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Ah yes, my sci-fi/horror short. It’s decided to take a very different, more compelling turn from what I originally intended, one that makes for lots of morally-gray areas. (A definite plus!) Again, this one feels halting in its progress, but that’s just how this month is going I suppose. I can tinker with the flow once I have a finished draft!

How is your month going? Are you working on any projects or goals? Comment below!

Stop Giving Me ‘Strong’ Female Characters

I’ve been seeing more female characters lately, which one would think is a good thing. Unfortunately, female characters don’t mean much when they’re barely characters. Instead, they’re often one-dimensional props. You know the type I’m thinking of. Extremely sexy clothing & figure, sarcastic, literally kick ass aaaaaaaand . . . not much else. Deep background? Nuanced characterization? Complexities? Almost nonexistent.

In my experience, this doesn’t pertain as much to books, but then again I tend to mostly read books by female authors who aren’t as guilty of this (because women are *gasp* people!) That’s not to say this isn’t an issue, though. Because it certainly is.

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Damn it, Tifa. You better be glad I love Final Fantasy so much.

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It doesn’t help that Abrams straight-up admitted this scene was solely for the male viewership.

I don’t mind sexy, slim women. Truly I don’t. Physically fit and empowered women are by far my favorite characters to write, and are even inspiring in a way, but women are more than that. They are their backstories, their emotions, their inner conflicts. Instead of saying “okay, we have a walking pair of boobs that throws punches; diversity, check” and stopping there (please, please do not stop there–don’t even go there to begin with), instead give me more Furiosas, more Dana Scullys, more Marthas, and more Eowyns. (Also pls give me more PoC and LGBT+ characters thx.)

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I want women who are developed, fully dimensional characters, with flaws, backstories, and who’s importance isn’t relegated solely to her beauty or sexual prowess.

In short, don’t give me a female character who can throw punches, is therefore considered progressive, and stop there. Don’t give me a physically strong female character, give me a female who has strong characterization. That’s what makes all the difference.

Who are your favorite female characters? What do you like best about them?

The End of an Era

Warning: a lengthy post, gif usage, many sappy feelings lie ahead

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The Final Advent has at long last been published. The reality of that still hasn’t quite seeped in for me. Why, you ask?

Turn back the clock to 2005, eleven years ago. For me that meant fourth grade in Mr. Leeland Looper’s class, Girl Scouts, and a crazy amount of playing make-believe.

Mr. Looper always gave us at least thirty minutes each week so we could write whatever came to us. (He was big on childhood literacy. Woohoo!) In those thirty minutes, something came over me and I wrote an eleven page story, the basis of what would become No Angels today. My parents encouraged my writing, and so then I expanded it to thirty pages. Then I wrote a second one, clocking in at 50 pages. You get the idea.

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Actual photo of me after finishing a draft.

Over the course of the next few years, I dreamed up plot ideas and character concepts and so on to flesh out my writings, and in eight grade I completed what would become today’s No Angels. In my sophomore year of high school, I completed Collapsed Cathedrals, and in my freshman year at university, The Final Advent. While all of the aforementioned have undergone a massive amount of editing and reconstruction, still the effort stands and boils down to one truth: working on the No Angels trilogy had been a constant in my life for eleven years, by my side from childhood to adulthood.

Now the last book has been published. I will never again work on No Angels.

It’s immensely satisfying to have seen this project through to the end, yet it’s also bittersweet. Finally I can release this story and continue down my journey’s road, but I would be lying if I said I won’t miss it. These characters have become my friends over the years. My own life story has been threaded into the pages. And now it’s time to move on. The phrase “thanks for the memories” has never been more apparent to me than it is now.

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Yet more actual footage of me.

I want to thank everyone who’s helped me reach this point, who’s helped me achieve my still-startling reality of completing and publishing a complete trilogy by age 20. Never in my wildest dreams could I have done it without the following:

JD Hinze – My dad, the person who introduced me to storytelling and fantasy in the first place. He read over eight (horrific) versions of my first book, but with each of his edits I learned and my skills grew. Without his belief in me and his fostering my abilities and telling me to go and just do it, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.

John Nagle – I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Nagle about eight years ago, and we’ve kept in touch ever since. He was the first person to introduce me to the idea of independent publishing, and has offered his assistance and feedback in many of my efforts to this day. Without his suggestion and encouragement, never would I have taken the plunge into indie publishing.

Elizabeth Wheatley – Elisabeth Wheatley and I met at the Texas Book Festival a few years back, exchanged contact info, and have been writing buddies from then on out. We’ve beta-read one another’s novels, talked about story ideas, and supported one another since. She’s cheered me on and given me incredibly valuable insight for years, plus gave me the confidence and motivation to continue on my journey.

Intisar Khanani – Much like Elisabeth Wheatley, Intisar has beta-read stories of mine and given me great insights into the craft of writing. (Once she even mailed me a signed copy of her novel Sunbolt, which I LOVED.) Without these writing friends, it would have been near impossible to see this trilogy through to the end.

Matthew Bogard – I met Matthew nearly over a year and a half ago, and from day one I knew he was endowed with a sharp wit. I’ll admit to you (we’re close, right?) that we’ve also been dating for just as long. (Anecdote: I wiped the floor with him during a sparring match and he immediately asked me out to dinner.) One of my beta readers was too busy to go over The Final Advent, so Matthew volunteered in their stead. I was hesitant at first (it took him MONTHS to convince me to let him near it), but he ended up being fantastic.  Not only that, but he’s been an incredible source of support throughout my endeavors.

You – Yes, you, reading this right now, long-time reader or complete newbie who just stumbled across this post. Without the support of those in the background (especially my lovely commenters and like-rs!) I’d feel and be fruitless in my efforts, without support save those I’ve mentioned above. Knowing that my blog followers and readers are here makes everything worth it. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

For me the publication of The Final Advent marks the end of an era. And so, here’s to the next one, where ever it may take us!

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Find The Final Advent on Amazon.

TFA-Cover-Reveal Death overshadows everyone at some point, but for Liz Patrona that time comes far too soon. Word comes that Wily, her ruthless enemy, survived being thrown into the Black River and crossed into Geminus to usurp the kingdom’s throne. Now his sights rest firmly on her world. Knowing Liz is the only threat in his path, he curses her to die in one year’s time—unless she can kill him before the clock runs out. In the months she has left, she must travel into Geminus, forge precarious alliances with those who’ve survived Wily’s reign, and battle for her very survival. Yet what lies in Geminus may be more than she bargained for. In these foreign lands looms a sinister secret about her own past. Something that has been guiding her from her first breaths to her final steps.

In the long-awaited conclusion to the No Angels trilogy, Liz is pushed one last time to discover the bounds of how far she’s willing to go to protect those she loves—even if it means losing herself along the way.

Writing Update: January 2016

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At long last, The Final Advent has been published! This brings the No Angels trilogy to a close, which is a bittersweet moment for me. (There’ll be an entire blog post on this later.) This is a huge accomplishment for me, and is a promising way to start off the new year!

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I’ve finally started drafting The Immortal! I plan for the first draft to clock in around 70k, and have already knocked out 6k. To be honest, while first drafts famously suck, I am having a LOT of fun writing it! I hope you guys will like reading it just as much. ;)

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The Stolen Sun

Still subbing away on this one! It’s at Tor right now, a place that can take months to respond, but hey, we’ve all gotta play the game at one time or another, am I right?

Where Gold is Born

Yep, this piece has already been published. I know. But! Since the previous place didn’t have exclusive rights over it (the window for their rights have since expired), I’m trying to squeeze another credit out of this one by subbing it as a reprint.

Heartless (WIP title)

My current sci-fi/horror piece! To be honest, drafting this one is . . . laborious. I feel like the story is quite literally dying under my fingers with each sentence, but that’s also how I used to feel about TSS, and look where that is now! I’m holding out hope for this one. I’m aiming for 6k for the first draft, and am at about 2k as it stands.

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Stay tuned, everyone! What progress have you been making on your goals?