My flight to France departs tomorrow, so travel is still very much on my mind. Today’s “travel” excerpt is from Elevation:
As Sam reached for another branch, these contemplations still in his head, he felt a large hand on his arm. When he turned to look at Nathan, the young man gestured towards the hover
“Hey, little buddy – the first chance we get, you’re going to have to let me teach you how to drive one of those things; Sarah, too. We may stumble across another one, and I’d rather have you or Sarah driving it than one of those Controls. I still don’t trust them, exactly, no matter what Elliot says. And there’s always the chance we could get separated. If that happens, I don’t want you two getting stranded. If any more of the scholars’ men catch up to us, you may need to make a run for it. I wouldn’t want them nabbing you because you couldn’t get away when you had the chance.”
Sam shrugged, physically and mentally. He didn’t really like that idea, but he wasn’t about to argue with Nathan and his good intentions. Nathan had been technically eager from the start, at least as far as the hovers were concerned. He had tried to start one of the vehicles on Fervor after they had been abandoned by the adults on the island, before they had received the Directives at the Gathering forbidding it, and he had almost succeeded without the proper training. Sam, on the other hand, had never been interested in driving a hover. He also had found that even though the Languorite had stripped him of his obligations to follow the Directives, he still faced a slight wave of nausea whenever he had to travel in or even be around one of the vehicles. Conditioning, perhaps.
“We’ll learn,” Sarah agreed. “Even if we don’t really want to – right, Sam? It’s important. In fact, I think the first opportunity that Fiona has, she should teach us how to use any of the devices that she knows how to use. It’s not like we’re restricted by the Directives anymore. We’re free from them now; we have to get used to that, again.”
Just a gentle push, that was Sarah’s way, but that was all it took. Sam wanted to please her, not because he felt compelled to like he had with Francis, but because he wanted to; she deserved his cooperation.
Hopefully my flight will go well. Wish me luck!
As I gather my gear and ready for my trip, I thought I’d share an excerpt where some of my characters are doing the same…only I don’t have to steal any maps. Today’s excerpt is from Transcendence, Chapter 7 – Recruitment:
As soon as Nathan returned, they started out towards the combination storage unit/residence. They travelled in pairs so as not to attract any significant amount of attention, with Sam and Angela leading the way, well ahead of the others and Royce at the rear, glancing over his shoulder as he went.
As they neared the building Sam searched the connection to see if Elaine and Elliot were inside. Fortunately, they weren’t. He and Angela slipped inside and he sent her up into the loft to throw down the storm gear while he searched for the records he knew Elliot had stashed somewhere around. He found them in a crate that had been hidden underneath the table where he had first seen the maps. The maps were no longer spread across the tabletop, stored in a plastic tube off to the side. Sam slid out the one with the route to Transcendence on it before pulling the file box out into the open.
“I hope these are one size fits all,” Angela said as she tossed down her fourth set of gear, trying to move as quickly as possible.
“I don’t think it matters. It might be a problem if they’re too small, maybe for Malcolm and Nathan, but otherwise we’ll rig them to fit,” he answered.
He flipped through the records, pulling out the files relating to everyone in his alliance, as well as for Katrina, Anthony and Grace. Then he noticed that Elliot had added to the collection. There were files about the Littles and various house families, information that Royce had retrieved from the Hub. Sam grabbed anything relating to the people in his alliance that was in those files as well. He didn’t get a chance to read any of it, because of the rush, but he thought it might be useful later.
“One more,” Angela informed him. “Then we pack it all up and we’re out of here. In and out, clean as…” She paused in mid-thought, and Sam didn’t think anything of it, partially because he had just made a discovery that had him perturbed.
“The blueprints, they’re gone! We need those. They show the layout of the buildings. They can let us see the security systems. How are we supposed to get Sarah out of Transcendence without them? They were here, with the other files. Where did they go?” Sam leafed through the papers a second time, searching frantically, but to no avail. He started to go through the entire box again, hoping that the records had been reorganized or maybe shuffled around for some reason. That proved futile as well.
“Sam…” He heard Angela descending from the loft, but didn’t stop long enough to look at her.
“I saw them with my own eyes at Elevation. Where could they have gone?” He was tempted to dump the entire box out onto the floor. He was certain that they hadn’t been left behind.
“Never mind them; we’ll just have to wing it. Be quiet, Sam. We have to go, we have to…” He heard rustling as Angela hastily shoved what she had gathered from the loft into a canvas bag, but she stopped suddenly and sucked in a quiet gasp. “Oh no.”
She had sensed trouble before she had heard it, which was why she had alerted Sam to danger a few moments before he would have known it was there by other means. When he stopped rustling through the papers he could make out the sound of voices raised in hostility. He felt around in the connection, easily identifying Nathan, Malcolm and Royce. He detected anger, frustration and defensiveness on their part along with some apprehension. He also noted the distinct presence of Elliot, the lone Connected latent, and one of the ghostly minds he suspected belonged to Elaine. Their diversionary tactics were in play.
That’s it for today. I’m that much closer to my departure to France. I’m looking forward to seeing family and the beautiful sights of Eymet. – More tomorrow.
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I just finished up Chapter 13 and it’s “Lucky Seven” time again. So I’m doing my part before I start into Chapter 14.
I was tagged by Bruce Blake. Thanks, Bruce.
The rules: Go to page 7, 70, or 170, of a current WIP or recently published book. Copy the first paragraph or seven lines. Tag 7 more authors to do the same.
From my WIP ‘Endeavor”:
“Can I come out yet?”
Sam had been so distracted by Elaine being in Providence and the fuss over Leo and Faith that he had almost forgotten Three, still stranded in the hover. Elliot had not given him the okay to show himself yet. They wanted a chance to prepare everyone who had not yet met Three for what was to come. Sam hoped the fact that Royce and Elliot were willing to vouch for the Little-gone-wrong meant the others would find the wherewithal to view the mutant in a positive light, despite past clashes and appearances.
“Wait. Give Elliot a moment. Nobody here has ever met anyone quite like you.”
Tag, you’re it: Jay Wilburn, Joseph Eastwood, Suzie Lockhart, T. Fox Dunham, Tim Marquitz, Thorgil Ragnarrsson, Ren Garcia
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I have to admit, I have a hard time staying disciplined when it comes to writing posts for blogs in the summertime. I much prefer going to the beach and gardening to sitting huddled in my stifling living room or descending to the musty but cool bowels of my basement to type up something other than Sam’s latest (and rapidly darkening) adventure. Or sometimes I’d just rather hang around watching bad movies with a cold beer in hand. Nevertheless, while not posting consistently, I am posting. That must count for something.
I’ve also been working overtime and trying to hustle to get extra work done before I go on vacation next month. I’m sure many of you working desk jobs know what that’s like. There’s no one to replace you when you’re gone. If you don’t clear away more than you would on an average couple of workweeks beforehand, the backlog you come back to after “relaxing” will often seem overwhelming.
When I’m feeling overworked, I often tend to write more (but do less of the promotional things…like blogging – I feel like I’m doing enough work already.) The truth is, writing helps me relax, and as long as I’m not stressed to my breaking point, I’m better able to write when I need that escape. I’m happier to lose myself in the plot and characters. I find solace in details and background story. The fiction becomes more real for me.
So chapter 13 is coming along nicely and I can see the end of Endeavor quite clearly in my mind’s eye from here. The characters have been playing with me and I’ve had to rewrite parts of the outline, but I think it’s for the better. I have discovered plot threads that will lead me into book 6, Dominion, and beyond. I’m also laying the groundwork for the end of the series, which culminates in book number 9.
My conclusion? Summer slacking’s not so bad, and with regards to Endeavor, it’s proving to be reasonably productive.
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This posting will be brief thanks to having a heavier workload at my day job. Not that I’m working over-time hours (yet) – but when I’m maintaining the pace I have to set to keep from being totally overwhelmed by the growing to-do pile, my brain just turns to goo by day’s end. That does concern me a little bit when I consider the fact that part of chapter 9 is being written when I’m not all there, but at least this is just the first draft. There will be room for repair later.
What I can do when my brain turns to goo is play around with artwork, so that is what I ended up doing. Here’s a rough draft of drawings inspired by Endeavor. We’ll see if I can turn them into anything exceptional.
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I’m reading an interesting book at the moment that discusses the growing need for innovative thinking in our world. It points out that not only do innovators have to be creative and willing to use divergent thinking, constantly asking questions rather than just looking for the one right answer, they also have to be willing to try new things with an awareness that they are risking failure. A good innovator will fail, and often. The thing that makes a person a great innovator is the willingness to accept that failure and see it as merely another challenge – the opportunity for a new question…”How do we find a way around that next time?”
Failure can be a very important element to a story plotline as well. If the hero always succeeds, there usually isn’t much to the story. Failure builds character. Failure presents problems and creates conflict. Failure makes a protagonist someone we can relate to. Failure convinces us the story is real.
I was thinking about this because I work failure into my story threads on a regular basis. Sometimes my fallible characters are the cause of their own dilemmas, which is what happens to my protagonists in my upcoming Prisoners of Fate novel (Masters & Renegades #3). They are responsible for the accident that sets everything in motion, and forces them on to the path they follow to try to repair the damage they have caused.
Sometimes, like in my Fervor series, the failure is just the result of an unfortunate turn of events. In Providence, the latest novel in the series, the problems start to multiply for Sam and his cohorts. He tries to prevent things from escalating, but despite his earnest efforts, bad things still happen. With the spirit of a true innovator, he doesn’t give up or accept defeat, instead, he takes on the challenges as his own personal responsibility and he asks the difficult questions that eventually lead him to solutions.
But more often than not, what appear to be failure can turn out to be blessings in disguise. The protagonist in my “The Trading of Skin” novel, yet to be published, seems to fail at almost everything he tries. But when the truth comes out, many of these perceived failures are in truth just a matter of a differing nature, and not really failures at all – just a lack of understanding who he is. Once he comes to see his true strengths and weaknesses and knows from where they originate, he starts to view his achievements or lack thereof in a different light.
Failure is a part of exploration and creation, and both of these are necessary for tale-telling. They’re also a part of taking on the risks involved in trying to tell your stories to the world at large. You risk rejection, you risk criticism and you, will fail more than once. What matters is the willingness to try despite those risks, and the ability to pick yourself up and try again when failure comes your way – which will happen as you learn – with more resilience than you had when you started.
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I never intended my Fervor series to be in any way YA typical. It wasn’t meant to be YA at all, with more of a “Lord of the Flies” vibe. But I also wrote it without any plans to write anything beyond the initial book, and by the end of Fervor #1 my protagonist, Sam, was thirteen. He hadn’t quite reached puberty, hovering on the edge. He had no interest in girls – yet, but that was about to change. I couldn’t ignore the fact that as I kept writing a second, third, fourth and now fifth book, and Sam went from thirteen to fourteen, now nearing fifteen, he would start having more mature responses. I have nine books planned in total, so there will be room for much more.
With Sam, however, things are much more complicated than with an ordinary teenager. Sam had never lived a conventional life. He is unnaturally intelligent, gifted in ways the average person would find hard to imagine. He had spent all of his life either being studied or on the run, and had a hard time identifying with anyone other than his direct peers. Throw telepathy into the mix and what will happen when his hormones and emotions start going a little crazy?
I did find a few ways of introducing some of the complications being Connected might create for a young adult into the Fervor series, without putting Sam through the works first. I guess I had to prepare myself for what would be coming. I also burdened him with a typical boyhood crush – choosing an older girl who would prove to be beyond his reach. Limit the availability of girls his age (who aren’t blood kin) and I could put things off a little more. But that wouldn’t last.
So now I have to let him tackle the real threat of romance, without sinking into the usual YA love triangles and melodrama (not that what he does have to deal with is in any way simple). I’m trying to ease him into it. He is clever and pragmatic and his mind is far more mature than his body or his psyche. That actually makes things more awkward and uncomfortable, not just for him, but for me.
As a parent I can tell you that watching your kids get to this stage in life is a real challenge, but apparently it can work that way for a writer and their characters too. Just like your kids, you can’t stop this from happening (aside from offing that fictional character altogether.) I guess I’m just going to have to grit my teeth and bear it. Hopefully I can nudge Sam toward making the best choices, whatever those will happen to be for him.
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Well, I’ve made it – I reached the 50,000 word mark which means I successfully completed this year’s NaNoWriMo as of day 21. That’s a great start, but my novel still has 9 more chapters to go, so I’m challenging myself to see how far I can get by the end of day 30.
I had help getting there today. I love writing action scenes, and had one at the end of today’s chapters. Those scenes just fly by for me, the words pouring out effortlessly. I’m all about the excitement.
It was a particularly interesting scene as well because it included something I mentioned in yesterday’s post. I had talked about climate and weather, and the end of Chapter 11 involved a pretty brutal storm.
One thing I’ve noticed that can be lacking in certain books with regards to realism is the weather. Unless your story is set in a very arid area, like a desert, there ought to be the occasional scene that includes inclement weather. I’m always perplexed by a novel set mostly outdoors, like many fantasy or adventure novels, where it never rains (or snows or hails or whatever other form of precipitation can be expected in the area described. ) I consider that a bit of an epic fail, not only because it’s not realistic, but the writer is losing out on a very effective plot device. It can even be one with symbolic value.
Take Golding’s Lord of the Flies for example. Rain has strong symbolism in that story. It’s a purge, a way of clearing away trouble, washing away the residue of bad things that have happened and starting afresh.
I used storms in a symbolic way in my book, Fervor. The storms were a portent of new things, a means of delivering things to an island that was near inaccessible. They delivered information to Sam, Elliot’s messages from the Mainland, and at one point they even carry Elliot to him in person.
There are many other ways to use weather to influence your plot. Bad weather can be an omen and carry with it troublesome things. If you have two characters having difficulty relating to one another, a storm can force them to take shelter together and have a bonding experience. A storm can cause a delay in a character’s progress, forcing them to take a step back and re-evaluate the way they are doing things. Bad weather can play the role of the catalyst, forcing a character to do something they might not otherwise do.
At the same time, I can understand a writer’s reluctance to include inclement weather. It’s messy. If not integrated properly into the plot, it adds complications. It can put a damper on plot advancement in a way some writers may not deem valuable. But not using it is a lost opportunity. Rainy or snowy weather adds realism, challenge and a change in perspective.
Here’s a sample of how I used bad weather in Chapter 11:
Something wet struck Oaván’s cheek and then landed in his hair. He glanced upwards. The rain had not waited for them to reach the waiting shelter of the petroglyph’s rock outcropping. It had already begun, the wind picking up as well. By the time they arrived at their goal for the day they would both be wet and cold, with little dry tinder and therefore no means to start a fire.
“This just goes from bad to worse.” He sighed. “I was hoping we might have the gods’ favour in this.”
“We can only count on that from Laib Olmai,” Lieđđi said. “He doesn’t control the weather. That’s Bieggagallis’s domain, and apparently, right now, he feels the need to make it rain.”
“And Biegkeålmaj feels the need to make the warm season winds blow,” Oaván remarked, “Only these winds are not so warm, nor is the rain.” He noticed an added chill to the air, a reminder that the warm season would shortly be coming to an end. “Let’s just hope that Bajanolmmai doesn’t choose to join them.”
As if in answer to Oaván’s words, the skies chose that moment to crackle and boom, making both him and Lieđđi jump. She turned and glared at him as if what he had said had invoked the wrath of the god somehow.
“Perhaps he considered that an invitation,” she grumbled. The rain was getting heavier and, along with the wind, it plastered her fine blond hair to her face.
“Let’s just hurry, shall we,” Oaván said, having to raise his voice somewhat to be heard above the increasing wind.
By the time they reached the edge of the meadow, the driving rains had them soaked to the bone and they both shivered from the cold. The skies were even heavier with shadow by that point, lit up on occasion by a flash of lightning in the distance.
“This is it!” Lieđđi called out to him. “It won’t be much longer before we’re safe within sanctuary and at least somewhat drier.”
“Let’s run then.”
They started their sprint across the open, grassy terrain. Normally, they would have made the trip to the other side quite quickly, but the rain had been coming down steadily for some time. The fertile soil of the meadow had readily absorbed the water, becoming more mud than solid earth. That mud now caught and pulled at Oaván’s boots and Lieđđi’s bare feet. It slowed their advance drastically, almost tripping them up at times.
You can find the rest of the chapter here:
More tomorrow J
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As much as I would like the world to stop in November so I can get off of it and focus on NaNo, the fact is, it doesn’t. The next in my Fervor series, Transcendence, will be released very soon, and I can’t drop the ball with my publisher. So I agreed to participate in a promotional blog hop called The Next Big Thing, to help put the word out.
It was the dynamic Autumn Birt who invited me to participate. Autumn is one of those creative free spirits who seems to have more energy and ingenuity than any three other people combined. That, and she’s one of my fabulous cohorts at the Guild of Dreams. She did the Next Big Thing last week, so make sure you go check out what’s happening with Autumn at Weifarer’s Writing and Wanderings.
So this leads to this interruption in NaNo-land. Or, in other words, “and now a word from our sponsors…”
And now The Next Big Thing! (at least as far as I’m concerned.)
1. What is the working title of your book?
Transcendence (Fervor #3 – it’s pretty well set in stone at this point)
2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
It’s the third book in a dystopian science fantasy series I started because an agent had a wish-list of certain themes he wanted to see. I was inspired by a book on genetics I had been reading and used that as the basis for the story, while following his theme. Apparently, the agent didn’t want to see those themes that badly unless they were coming from an established author (I’m pretty sure he didn’t even look at my query.) Nevertheless, I wrote Fervor, my debut novel, because of him because of him, so I guess I should be grateful.
3. What genre does your book fall under?
Dystopian science fantasy with a hint of horror
4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie version?
Logan Lerman would be a good Sam, but he would have to grow his hair and dye it blonde. Steven Strait would make a great Royce (clean-shaven with longer hair), and I think Natalya Rudakova (as a short-cropped redhead) fits Angela to a T (the three characters depicted on the cover.)
5. What is the one sentence synopsis for your book
Free from Fervor, but not really free at all, Sam and the other refugees face the intolerance of Windlea while trying to figure out how they will rescue their friends from the Scholars.
6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
It is being published by May December Publications
7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Several people have compared the Fervor series to Golding’s Lord of the Flies or the Maze-Runner trilogy
9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
My real-life muse, Barb McQueen (and my publishers, who asked for it.)
10. What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
It has a futuristic feel with elements of fantasy that seems to appeal to readers of all ages. There’s political intrigue, romance, action-adventure and mystery all mixed into the story as well.
And now that you’ve seen what I have coming up, here’s the hndful of folk up next on the Next Big Thing Blog Hop, fabulous writers you might not already know. Remember, their answers to these questions will be up next week, so make sure you check them out to see what they have to show you.
E. S. Tilton
And now back to our regular programming…
More tomorrow J
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