Back Again

NaNoWriMo 2018, Day 5, Elayna’s Log

Current Word Count: 12,065 words

Current GIF Mood

Bp8Y3rX.gif

It’s that magical time of year again friends, and even though I’m terrified of the election tomorrow and it often feels like the world has gone beyond dumpster fire into full on eldritch dystopian hellscape, I’m trying to find a tiny piece of hope to hold onto, and right now, that hope is NaNoWriMo. That hope is, as it always seems to be for me, Alteria.

You may recall a few months back when I made the whacky decision to try and write a third draft of book one at the same time as a first draft of book three. In retrospect…

tenor

Not the best idea.

It was a great idea in theory, but I burned out on that faster than a cheap t-light candle, and fell into a bit of a hole as I went through some stuff in my personal life. I wasn’t working on the story, book one OR three, and I was to be honest, feeling a bit trapped.

But then I applied for Pitch Wars 2018. I was more hopeful than I’ve been in a long, long time, thinking THIS IS IT. THE THING. IT IS HAPPENING. And then when I got a full manuscript request from one of the writers I was most stoked about pitching, I was bursting. Everything I’ve ever hoped and dreamed was so close I could taste it and friends it tasted like your favorite ice cream mixed with homemade cookies and goddamn rainbows.

When I got another email from that same writer, asking me specifics about the history of the manuscript and other questions of import, it felt like it was just a matter of time. I was drunk on hope, anxious with nerves, and really, really thought that my name was gonna be on that list on October 12th.

And then it wasn’t.

And then I broke a little.

Added to the six rejections I’ve gotten from agents in the last calendar year, that brings me to seven. When I got rejected from ANOTHER mentorship last week, that brought me to eight. I was feeling so kicked down, and scared that maybe I should quit. This manuscript will never be ready. The book will never be finished. I tried staying positive, but internally, the breakdown was more like an implosion.

Leave it to National Novel Writing Month to save the damn day and remind me to have hope in humans, existence, and my story.

The last five days working on this new draft (after an astronomical overhaul of the outline, plot, and even chopping some characters) I feel fan-bloody-tastic. Is this the honeymoon week of NaNo talking? Maybe. But who the hell cares if it means I feel rejuvenated in my writing?

7yAW

This draft, while in some ways very scary and new, is honestly one of the best decisions I’ve made creatively in a long time. Its outline came after talks with some closest friends about why I was getting stuck, and looking over rejection feedback, and a lot of it came down to this… there was something about my book that wasn’t personal enough.

If y’all have read my poetry, you know I go in. I lay myself out and say, this is what my soul looks like. But it turns out my fiction writing was full of just a little too much fiction, and not enough of my own voice. I was trying so hard to tell the plot of a sweeping epic trilogy, without telling the story of a girl who learns she’s got light inside of her. And so writing this so far has felt more authentic and honest than any drafts prior.

I’ve included places from my hometown. Woven in my own memories to Piper’s narrative. And if you can believe, I found a way to include poetry into my YA fantasy novel. I described the writing of this version as feeling like, “adding new plot elements, but talking to an old friend”, and so far, its been a magical decision.

I’ve got zero way of knowing right now if this is gonna be the one. I could still be in for a draft four, five, six, and twentyteen. Maybe this one will end up being too personal and I’ll have to go back and do this all over again. God only knows. But right now, I’m letting the delightful fire of a new draft fill me up and keep me warm. I’m enjoying the bejesus out of writing fiction, which I haven’t felt in some time. It’s a nice feeling. Just so nice.

giphy

Though now it’s time to get back to it. I’d love to try and stay as ahead as I can on this word count, so I can make the most of the end of month when I have some vacation days tucked away just for writing.

If you’re participating in NaNo as well, sound off in the comments so we can encourage each other! And as ever, thanks for listening to my ramble about this thing I love doing so dang much.

Advertisements

The Adventure Continues…

So the last two years in a row, I’ve written blog posts to commemorate the anniversary of when I started writing the first book in my Alteria trilogy, They Are the Last. Seems only fitting that I should continue the tradition, giving that this year, I’m working on book two’s first draft, and even better, I’m almost done.

What a journey this story and I have been on in the last twelve months.

In that time, I managed to AT LAST finish the second full draft of the first book, which I wrapped up with insane amounts of joy on the night of July 31st/the early AM hours of August 1st. The story became more concise, despite the addition of some new chapters and characters. I grew so much as a writer in that time period and felt so accomplished that this was the first time I’d ever completed a second draft of something. It was a draft nineteen months in the making, and while it still needs another round (or several) of revisions, it is in the best shape it has ever been.

It was the completion of that story that finally led me to begin to plan Book 2, which is currently titled You Are the Dawn. This book got considerably darker, and also split into a few different perspectives. (More so than the first book anyway.) This book includes a deepening of Alteria, with the introduction of new characters, new world elements, and even new dimensions. I planned the heck out of it from August to October, and then rolled ’round another season of NaNoWriMo, which I was happier than words can say to have finished in the final hour.

Since finishing that first 50,000 words of the books, I’ve been slow-walking the completion of the book, since there’s been a bunch of other creative endeavors, and also some intense personal life events, that kept me from finishing. But recently, I’ve felt incredibly inspired by a number of authors I’ve been following on twitter (looking mostly at you Tomi Adeyemi and Julie C. Dao) and it has me on a path to complete the draft. One step better, I will hopefully be finishing it this weekend.

As of this writing, I’ve got three and a half chapters to go, a whole battle sequence to write, and a cliffhanger ending to pen, which hopefully will leave any future readers both very excited and angry with me. *author side eye smirk*

Looking ahead to what comes next—as I try to grapple with the fact that this story’s now older than I was when I came up with it—once draft one of book two is finished, it’ll be back to working on the third round of edits for book one. Then comes the brave new world that is querying to get the book picked up by an agent. I am both horrified for days and excited to infinity for this process to begin.

I sent out a few queries in the fall, not long after I’d finished TAtL, but was met with my first three rejections. One of them was from one of my top dream agents, so that was a sad pill to swallow. But I’m glad for it, because it made me realize the draft still needs work, and that is not a bad thing. I want my book to be the very, very best it can be before an agent decides to take it on. And even though that means taking longer than I’d like, I’m willing to take that time and care if it means a better outcome awaits.

With the completion of They Are the Last draft three, and You Are the Dawn draft one, a completely new and uncharted part of this journey will begin. I’ve no idea if this will be the year I finally get an agent or not, but I’m praying hard that this is the one.

Till then, however, I am just so, so happy that after all these years, I’m still trying to tell this story. I feel so blessed to get to explore Alteria and its universe in my imagination, and every moment spent writing about Piper and her companions is something that fills my soul with hope. Even on the hard days, when the words don’t come easy, or when life comes at me hard, I’ve still got this story inside of me. And until the golden day when I get to share it with the world, having it in my heart is more than enough.

 

What I’m Going To Do

Current NaNoWriMo Word Count: 12,522 words

Current NaNoWriMo Mood (via a GIF):

tumblr_inline_n12kxrpQzY1qgp297

Kind of kicking myself for waiting till the 12th day of the month to update y’all on my NaNoWriMo progress, but the timing works I suppose since yesterday was the best writing day I’ve had in a long time, for a lot of different reasons.

For one, it was 11/11, which is my favorite day because my favorite number is 11. Good mojo from the jump on that front. Add that to the fact that we had an extended Write In with some of my friends from the PhillyWrimos group, and you have the recipie for a very good writing day.

And boy howdy was it.

Wrote just over 5,300 words yesterday, definitely my best writing day since the summer, and by a long shot my best one of the month so far. Not only was the quantity of words exciting to reach, but the content of those words was so wonderfully unexpected and important to the core of the story I’m trying to tell. Obviously the writing of it itself is probably swiftly written garbage that will need lots of revising, but the ideas are there. The framework has been laid down, and I feel as if yesterday’s writing is something truly thrilling that I will get to build upon later.

The month as a whole has gone pretty well, even though I did have a several day dry spell where I couldn’t get anything down. (Though to be fair, that was less about not being inspired to write and more about being too busy/tired to actually sit down and try any writing.) The month goes on though, and to be honest, it goes a little too quickly for my liking. I can’t believe we’re almost half way through it.

But even as time flies by, I have to say this experience so far this November has been like 90% blessed and 10% stressed, because there is a indescribable thrill that comes with first drafting for me. Its like the one Terry Pratchett quote, “The first draft is you telling yourself the story.” That has largely been how I’ve felt. Its like I’m an archaeologist of my own subconscious, digging around in there and uncovering characters and plot points and moments of meaning. My love for the exploratory nature of first drafts knows no bounds in this or any universe.

I know that the writing process is made of many hills and valleys, and so I don’t expect things with this draft to stay lovely forever. I know I’m going to go through times of writers block, plenty of low points, and if I haven’t tried to defenestrate the manuscript at least a half dozen times before its done, I’m doing something wrong. But every part of the process, both the good and the bad, is what makes me love it. For every murky moment of self doubt, there’s a time for clarity and confidence. When I one day hold the finished thing in my hands, it’ll be worth every second of it, because I didn’t give up on it, and I made a thing that didn’t exist in the universe before. Even in the darkest of times, the little spark of hope inside me holds onto that thought, and it is what keeps me writing. No matter how many times I think I’m going to quit, I just ask myself the one question that’s been my guiding light this year… WWWWD? (What Would Wonder Woman Do?)

Not give up, that’s for damn sure.

tenor

Back to the words. I’ll check in again soon.

 

It Ain’t Over Till Hamilton Sings

Well everyone, it’s official! My Inkshares campaign has been extended to allow for more time to reach the pre-order goal of 750! In other words: They Are The Last being published is a very serious likelihood.

tumblr_nwg4rvMm3I1s27ctto1_500

The whole reason for launching this campaign was because I didn’t want to throw away my shot to get published, but if it means I have to be willing to wait for it, that would be enough.

By this point (if you’re a fan of the musical Hamilton) you’re probably wondering why all the references, both in the title and the above paragraph. Simply put, its because of when my campaign ends.

November 1st. The day I’ve got tickets to Hamilton.

tumblr_nx9dz82wyM1ukhudfo1_1280
Me every time I remember I’ve got a ticket…

However, that’s far from the only reason I chose that day. For one, I needed a date far enough in the future that would allow me ample time to spread the word. I’ve got a few possible conventions I’m attending (can’t wait to share more on that later) I am planning to host some local events at cafes and libraries, and growing a following online takes time. All of these elements require playing the long game. None of this is going to happen overnight for someone like me who’s just starting out in the world of publishing.

But I’m okay with that. Alexander Hamilton himself started out as the bastard, orphan, son of a whore. If he could rise up and become a founding father, surely I can become a published author. As I said, I’m willing to wait for it.

ham7

However, unlike Aaron Burr, my waiting for it doesn’t include waiting around and seeing which way the wind will blow. It’s going to require me to write like I’m running out of time, and to work NON-STOP. I’m ready for that. In fact, I thrive on that.

Another big reason why November 1st is perfect is a bit more obvious. That’ll be the kick off to NaNoWriMo 2016. If you’ve been around this blog for a while, you know that I tried writing They Are The Last in July 2015, and then started over on November 1st, 2015. The draft I started that day would go on to become the first completed draft of the story that I’d spent over 11 years working on. As a matter of fact, the night I finished that story was New Year’s Eve. I finished shortly after 10pm, and then headed downtown for a friend’s New Year’s party. However, since I had waited so late in the night, buses were running behind, so I rang in 2016 on a Philadelphia street corner, with fireworks bursting in the sky over the skyline, feeling on top of the universe, and with a song blaring in my headphones.

The song was My Shot from Hamilton.

151106_2933377_Lin_Manuel_Miranda_Explains_Why_Alexander_Ha
I mean COME ON!! Symbolism, anyone?

Everything comes into our lives for a reason, and at times that we could have never anticipated or orchestrated. Basically, I think it is no accident that I should discover a musical about an orphaned writer who rose above all adversity to make a mark on the world. Do I think I’m gonna go on to become a treasury secretary? Hell no. But I know what I want to do with my life; always have. Tell stories. I want to write like tomorrow won’t arrive, because the truth is, I need it to survive.

So the next six months are going to be major. In that time, I’m probably going to go through enough emotions to put me on the border line of spontaneously combusting, but I’m excited for it. I’m excited to see where I succeed and where I fail, and how I rise above any of those failures that may be thrown in my way. If Hamilton teaches us anything, it is that we are none of us perfect. But we all can do one thing – the best we can. Nothing can stop us from that.

tumblr_mm9rzwnpnc1r1lowzo1_500

I’m ready to take this book to 750 pre-orders, and I hope if you’re reading this, you’re willing to help me get there. Alexander surely would not have gone on to leave his mark on the world without Eliza, Angelica, or his friends. The musical Hamilton would be nothing if no one cared about it enough to listen to it, see it, or talk about it. And so They Are The Last will remain nothing but an idea in my mind if no one wants to read it.

Here’s to the next six months. Right now, I’ve gotta get back to writing. See you on the other side of the war.

tumblr_nsq8qjj9mN1qgggqfo3_250

(Psst, if you want to check out the Inkshares page for my book, click here…)

Trusting the Path

If all else fails in the universe, there are at least two things of which I am always certain.

The first, is that Book Ron and Book Ginny will always be better than their film counterparts. (Even though I love Rupert & Bonnie. They couldn’t help bad character development in the scripts, poor dears.)

The second, and what this post is actually about, is that nothing in this universe gets me more excited or filled with hope than NaNoWriMo.

Growing up, NaNoWriMo was always a frantic rush to 50K during November. It came when the air was cooling, the leaves were crisping, and the hot chocolate cravings were calling. But as with most things that we do for many, many years, NaNoWriMo has changed, and last year was the first time I decided to increase my yearly amount of noveling shenaniganry by participating in my first two Camp NaNos.

The idea behind Camp NaNoWriMo is simple. You get the same creative rush, but you use it towards a word goal you choose for yourself, or you can use the month to edit. It’s more loose in its creative restraints, but no less thrilling than November, when you get to share in the energy of lots of people all creating at once.

My very first Camp NaNo attempt was supposed to be last April, but due to uncertainties about the story I was trying to do at the time, and a certain trip that changed my life, I didn’t get past a few thousand words. It didn’t feel like a real crack at it to me. It did, however, end up being the month that set me on the path back to Alteria. That call made in a small cafe in Edinburgh ended up informing the rest of my year, as I would come to spend July’s Camp NaNo, and November’s official NaNoWriMo 2015, working on versions of They Are The Last.

Funny how you can start off thinking you know precisely where you’re going, and life can be like NOPE, RIGHT THIS WAY PLEASE. IN THE EXACT OPPOSITE DIRECTION OF WHERE YOU PLANNED. Kind of like a story, if you ask me.

All that being said, the plan I’m attempting to carry out will involve me writing 50K this April, something I’ve never achieved outside of November. While time is running short, I’ve actually yet to decide if the 50K I write will be towards my second draft, or if it will be 50,000 words worth of backstory short stories. We’ll see what happens. Regardless of which path I choose, I’m sure I’ll end up right in the place I’m supposed to be.

In the meantime, I’ll be over here, being alarming levels of excited by the fact that I have no idea where that place will be.

WSSF: Deus Hex Machina

TODAY ON WOMEN SLAYING SCIFI

Deus Hex Machina by Amanda Orneck

It is a refined skill to take radically different worlds and combine them together into a single seamless story, but honestly, Amanda Orneck is currently doing it brilliantly in her novel, Deus Hex Machina. The writing is rich with vivid imagery that paints a picture of an ancient Cloister, but not like the familiar kind that dot the European countryside. Hers is one filled with computers, where the Code replicates eternal. The Church of Technology is the religion of the day, and among its sisterhood, we find our heroine, Isidore RAM.

We meet Isidore on the Grid, experiencing an ancient version of New York City’s Harlem that is made up of numbers and code. Isidore is a Hexer of seemingly incomparable skill, who encounters something unexpected, and seeks out her mentor for help. In that way, it’s a classic tale, but the telling of it is something you’ve never seen done before. There’s ancient mystery mixed with advanced technology that’s beyond our time.

It had me immediately hooked, and if you give it the chance, I hope you’ll find the same for yourself. This Bechdel-crushing adventure isn’t one to be left unread.

From Amanda Orneck

Women Slaying SciFi is about women supporting women, therefore each featured author is asked the following question about why female narratives and authors matter . . .

Why do you think female authors and protagonists are so important to the future of sci-fi?

“I think female authors and protagonists are essential to the future of SciFi because, really, they are essential to the future.  The female mind is just built differently than the male one, is more collaborative, faster to make nonlinear decisions, better and handling complex multithreaded tasks.  It’s how we are built.  It’s exactly these sorts of minds that our future world will need.  We are living in a global economy, one that is pushing toward interstellar flight and habitation. In these situations having women making quick decisions will be key to our future success as a species.

Now how do you build a future populated with strong, stakeholder women making important decisions that will diversify our people and spread them amongst the stars? You plant the seeds of inspiration in today’s fiction.  In some way I think that we are creating the literature that will inspire the next generation (or even that beyond the next) of women to dream of being the leaders and the achievers.  That is a powerful position to be in as a creator.  We can build worlds that get the future of our reality jump started.

It’s all in the power of the reader’s imaginations. We can shape what they perceive as normal by providing strong, complex women as lead characters, and as stepping up as women who can build complicated, important worlds. This is where I want to take a moment to defend liberal arts.  Yes, STEM education will help our girls to learn to be scientists, but it’s creative writing in the hands of women scifi authors that will show them what is possible with those educations.” —

Follow Amanda Orneck on

Inkshares  |  Twitter

– – – – –

 

Screen shot 2016-03-26 at 11.28.13 AMAmanda Ornecks’s novel, Deus Hex Machina, is currently available on Inkshares! Check out the links below to read the first chapter and pre-order the book in e-book or paperback form!

Read Chapter One

Pre-order Deus Hex Machina

WSSF: Lucky

TODAY ON WOMEN SLAYING SCIFI

Lucky by RH Webster

The thing that makes me marvel at Webster’s space opera, Lucky, is just how quickly she manages to pull you into the story. The current first four chapters take all of 17 combined minutes to read, but by the time you’ve finished, you’re distraught that there isn’t more! I don’t remember the last time I read something that made me care this much about fictional characters in so short a time frame.

Lucky begins with Felina, a bartender who’s happy to have her brother come see her at the cantina where she serves as an indentured servant to a mysterious woman named Rosa. Within the first few paragraphs we learn that people on this space rock speak Spanish, which immediately lets you know you’re in for a diverse and inclusive narrative, which is so incredibly important. #WeNeedDiverseBooks

From there, the story takes a sharp turn for the worse, and Felina is thrown into a terrifying situation. If the story hasn’t captured your attention by this point, you might want to check that you’re still among the living.

Lucky is everything you loved about Firefly, except its the crew of the Rosebud that you fall for. Trigg Donner is a Malcolm Reynolds for a new generation, and the titular character, Lucky, (full name Cassandra Luckenbach) is so relatable, despite the fact that her attempts to get into grad school just happen to take place in space.

Webster’s story is absolutely worth every minute of your life it takes to read, and is the kind of book I can’t wait to hold in my hands and add to my shelf. So seriously, what are you waiting for?

From RH Webster

Women Slaying SciFi is about women supporting women, therefore each featured author is asked the following question about why female narratives and authors matter . . .

Why do you think female authors and protagonists are so important to the future of sci-fi?

“Firstly, I consider science fiction to be an important literary and film genre. I think in a way, science fiction is as much of a reflection of the author and the time in which it was written as it is a vision of the future to come. So many science fiction and dystopian future novels have been written that have either predicted what was to come (Fahrenheit 451) or have scared the populace into avoiding that fate at all costs (1984) that it’s impossible to ignore the impact of science fiction on our culture.

Secondly, as for female science fiction authors, I feel that it is a mistake to exclude nearly half of the world’s population from writing and publishing in a specific genre because it’s just not a “girly” thing to do. I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve been in the science fiction section of a store only to get eyeballed by the guys in the same section. Most of them thought I was “faking” my interest in science fiction to pick up dates. (AS IF.)

The importance of female protagonists in science fiction is tied closely to the need for female authors. Think about it: as girls, who did we want to identify with in science fiction films? Princess Leia. Ripley. Sarah Connor. But, to be honest, the majority of strong protagonists have been male while women have been used for eye candy or plot twists (think James Bond movies). In a genre where anyone can be anything, why are the boys getting to run around and play hero and the girls are wearing tight clothes and just there for fanboy gratification?

I want to see a future where young girls and women can watch TV and read books where a strong female protagonist is present because she has value to the story, not because she looks sexy in a jumpsuit. I think that future starts with us, as women and female authors, and I think it continues with our protagonists that we create. I have created three female protagonists now (Lucky, and two unpublished characters named Jael and Allegra). They have their flaws, true. Sometimes they get squeamish if they see something gross. But at the end of the day, they’re as intelligent and as brave as the men they work with. And those are the sorts of women I want my little sister to be able to look up to and say, I can do that.” -RH Webster

Follow RH Webster on

Inkshares  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

– – – – –

Screen shot 2016-03-04 at 6.37.13 PM.png

RH Webster‘s novel, Lucky, is currently available on Inkshares! Check out the links below to read the first chapter and pre-order the book in e-book or paperback form!

Read Chapter One

Pre-order Lucky

Women Slaying SciFi

For a myriad of reasons and a great deal of deep seeded issues that would take years worth of blogging to unpack, there seems to be a pretty sweeping misconception that Science Fiction stories are for men. From guys who think we’re all just interested in SciFi because we’re trying to get their attention, to executives at Disney thinking no one would want Rey merch, (REY IS EVERYTHING, HOW DID THIS HAPPEN??!!?) its something that’s hard to ignore. Who wants to have their passions called into question because of someone else’s insecurities. Seriously, who I ask you?

765563035164ac7d9276af76da49870c.jpg

The truth is, women fucking love science fiction, and this is a stereotype that needs to end like, 50 years ago. Not only do we love these kinds of narratives, we also love creating them. For goodness sakes, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is considered to be the first science fiction novel – how can you tell women we can’t be part of a genre we invented?

tumblr_mxvvueaQnb1qhnavvo1_500

So given all of that – AND the fact that March is Women’s History Month – I will be doing something special here at Elayna Musings by highlighting the works of some of my fellow female authors participating in the Nerdist Space Opera Contest on Inkshares, where my book They Are The Last is currently in the running be published.

When I first joined the contest, I couldn’t help but notice that women make up pretty small fraction of the 89 authors currently competing for publication, and so I thought what better way to show these incredible stories some love than by featuring them here! There are several author’s books that I’ll be featuring, and each post will not only tell you about their story and why you should support it, but you’ll also get to see these amazing ladies answer the following question:

Why do you think female authors and protagonists are so important to the future of sci-fi?

Nothing excites me more than discovering new, complex narratives written by women and about women. It’s become easy for so many men (and sadly even some women) to throw in an obligatory female character to support the men around her, usually have her wearing some kind of skin tight spandex, and then most likely, kill her off to further the man pain. I’m not about it y’all.

do-you-think-rey-should-use-the-force-746671
Rey ain’t about it either.

These authors you’ll be seeing featured are forces to be reckoned with, and their representation of women in the genre is so tremendously on point. First post in the series goes live tomorrow, so be sure to check in to hear all about RH Webster’s book, Lucky!

– – – – –

Book

Elayna’s debut novel, ‘They Are The Last‘ is currently available on Inkshares! Check out the links below to read the first two chapters of the first book in this upcoming space opera trilogy!

Chapter One
Chapter Two

Pre-order They Are The Last

12 Years in Alteria

Get your flux capacitor and TARDIS ready, everyone. For today’s post, we’re going back in time. To when, you ask?

February 9th, 2004 at 10:13am. Room 107 of East Norriton Middle School.

I was 13, sitting in class with a teacher I didn’t much like for a subject I was rubbish at. The few days prior to that, I’d made the decision that I wanted to write a story. Heavily influenced by the magic of Harry Potter and the space and time travel in The Pendragon Adventures – a YA series you should absolutely look up if you’re unfamiliar – I knew that I wanted the story I’d be writing to be some combination of the those elements. Science-y magic, if you will.

I came up with a character to lead this universe, Piper Anderson, who was so named because Piper was my favorite girls name, and Anderson was my 7th grade English teacher’s name. Next, I realized Piper needed a universe to belong in – a world. Sitting in that math class, I tried to come up with a name. Something original. But with nothing around me but other disinterested classmates and a teacher droning on, there wasn’t much for inspiration. So I worked with what I had . . . my math worksheet.

I started using different words from the instructions on the page, combining them in scribbles at the bottom of a piece of paper that I have sadly since lost. I rearranged words and letters, until at last, I jotted down a word that just worked. It clicked.

My world would be called Alteria.

And so I opened my notebook to a blank page – a page I still have – and jotted down the date, time, place, and just above it a phrase. Alteria: The Adventure Begins. Below that, a chapter title. And below that? A horribly cheesy first line that only 13 year old me could have come up with.

Piper Anderon looked like your typical 17 year old girl. But she wasn’t.

Yes, in the first line of my first book, I spelled my own character’s name wrong. DERP.

The rest of that year was spent coming up with alien races, doodling notes, and handwriting pages upon pages of story. That November I decided to write a prequel to this first Alteria story, and the result was very first NaNoWriMo novel called The Waters of Nen. As anyone who’s read this blog before knows, NaNoWriMo is the other thing I’ve been spending the last 12 years doing.

The ensuing years after 2004 saw much of my free time being consumed by coming up with grand ideas, some of which stayed, and some of which went back into the communal creative consciousness for someone else to grab. But even when I came up with something bad, I’d just scrap it and keep going. Most people are still surprised when I tell them the story is as old as it is, usually asking things like, why didn’t you get distracted and just stop writing? I can without a doubt say one of the biggest reasons was an incredibly kind and endlessly encouraging middle school librarian who told me to keep at it. (Spoiler: When I get to write a dedication to this book one day – you can bet she’ll be in there.)

High school saw me getting into other projects, trying new things, and you know, learning how to be a person. Then in college, I was so caught up in the incredibly exciting task of learning to be a filmmaker. While those years were amazing and shaped me so much as a storyteller and creator, Alteria spent much of that time on a shelf, waiting until I was ready to tell the story as it deserved to be told.

Flash ahead to 2015. At the conclusion of one creative project, I found myself wanting to take up the mantle of another one. I debated relentlessly in my head as to which story I should work on, and carried the dilema with me when I went to London and Edinburgh in April for my own adventure. I sat in the very cafe where JKR wrote her much of Harry Potter, thinking about Piper and Alteria, and wondering: is it their time? Am I finally ready? As I walked home that night, mulling it all over, I stopped by a shop, looking for a souvenir for the friend who helped me get there. In that store, I saw this . . .

11391389_10204223077165023_2390355554872196265_n

I took the hint. I went back to Alteria.

I spent July to October writing the first 44K words, then November and December I began a new draft which I completed with less than an hour to spare of New Year’s Eve. I rang in 2016 standing on a street corner waiting to catch the bus to my friends party, because I HAD TO finish my book first. Watching fireworks explode over the city skyline, happy drunken cheers all around, and with Hamilton the Musical‘s song My Shot blaring in my ears, I gotta say – that was one of the most surreal and profound moments of my life.

Which brings me to 2016. A new year, new beginnings, and a new chapter in the life of my story. And now – a new challenge.

This time last week, I was working on revising my draft, with no idea when I’d ever be published, or hell, even how I’d be published. Would I self-pub? Find an agent? I was preparing myself for all possible avenues I could think of. But as I’ve discovered is the pattern in my life, God usually tends to answer my prayers in the one way I that I could have never expected or prepared for.

Along came Inkshares. My friend – bless her heart – sent me a link to a contest called The Nerdist Space Opera Contest, run by the magnificently wonderful Inkshares website. The rules? Get my book to be one of the most pre-ordered books by March 15th, and I get published. That’s it. I’d be a real live published author, and one of the top 3 items of my bucket list would get to be checked off when I’m only 25. Talk about blessed.

So here I sit. My story turns 12 today. 12 years of my life spent with my head lost across the stars in a world I love, which no one ever used to know existed, until now. Now, Piper’s story isn’t just mine. It can be yours too. I imagine this must be what a parent feels like seeing their kid off to school: thrilling, exciting, nerve-wracking, happy, overwhelming, etc.

I don’t know what’s going to happen with this contest or my story will find itself in the winners circle, because to be honest, SO MANY OF THESE BOOKS SOUND SO GOOD. But the great thing about Inkshares is, even if I don’t win the contest, I still have until May 4th to sell 750 pre-orders, and if I do that, my book will finally be on your shelves.

Suppose it is fitting that a post with the words 12 Years in the title should take a while, but if you’re still reading, thanks for sticking with me. Not just in this blog post, but in life. On this crazy journey I’m on to live passionately and fiercely pursue my dreams. I hope that if you’ve gotten this far, you’ll take some time to check out this story that’s meant all the worlds to me. You can read Chapter One here.

If you’ve been there at any time in any way for these past 12 years, I thank you. You’ve become part of the story between the lines inherently by being in my life. As for the rest of you, Alteria will be waiting.

iP5_8j1J


Update: As of September 14th, 2016, Elayna cancelled the funding campaign for They Are the LastRead her official announcement here. Readers can still visit theyarethelast.com to learn more about the story.

So It Begins

Today marks the start of a new part of my journey, one I’ve never embarked upon before, but which is sure to be about as exciting as it is nauseating. Today, I set down to start editing my novel.

As I sit with notecards scattered about me, about to delve right back into the story I’ll be spending the next goodness knows how many months combing through, I can’t help but feel the same sense of thrill I felt for the first time last year. It’s not a feeling many might associate with an activity such as sitting down in front of a computer, going through a word document, but the feeling still stands:

This is the same kind of feeling I got the first time I was on a plane that was about to take off. Weird maybe, but follow me on this one . . .

Last year, when I first hopped on a plane, ready to go to England, it was something I’d never experienced before, but which I had heard about from others numerous times. Some had bad experiences, others had great ones. Some felt the need to vomit, while others might have felt exhilaration. That very much captures what I’m getting at.

I’ve had so many supportive and amazing people reach out to me these last few days, saying things like Congratulations on your novel! You finished it! Awesome! Can I read it? And while all of this is LOVELY to hear, the idea that finishing draft one means this novel is done, could not be farther from the truth.

Finishing draft one was merely the end of the beginning.

Now the real task begins.

Am I scared of what’s to come? Sure. A little. That’s how I know it’s going to be exciting. In a conversation with a close friend I had earlier today, I described that I feel much like Bilbo in that scene in the first Hobbit movie, when he’s running down a road through Hobbiton, waving that piece of paper and screaming to someone, “I’M GOING ON AN ADVENTURE!!”

Ya know? This one. (Gosh I love this gif…)

That’s really what I’m doing. Telling the adventure that is my novel is an entirely separate adventure that I must embark on. The road will be long and hard (and hopefully I run into at LEAST one dragon…) but it’s a road that I know will change me and make me a better person at the end. And hopefully, dear reader, the end of this journey will allow me to finally put this book I’m writing into your hands.

*downs last of my coffee* Let’s do this.