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.

 

Advertisements

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.

Next Chapter

Last night (December 31st, 2015) at 10:23pm, I did it.

I finished the first draft of my novel that I’ve been developing for the last 11 years. It’s done. I did it. See?

But is it actually done, done? Like ready to go off to the presses?

Sadly not. Before any of that kind of exciting stuff can happen, there’s the perilous journey of editing this baby, which is going to be about as emotional an experience as it was writing it, though perhaps for different reasons.

Over the next few months, some of those closest to me will read it and give me feedback, I’ll get some people who are actual editors to help the process along, and I myself will have to be critical of the work and rip some things in it to shreds. I’ve heard many a writer exclaim that the real novel comes out in the editing process, and lots of things that you may have found so important in draft one become unnecessary once you’ve gotten to the end and can see the big picture that is the novel as a whole. It’s going to be a new – and very different – experience compared to the creative rush that comes from filling a blank page with something. But as arduous a phase though it may be, its one I am incredibly excited for.

It’s the next chapter in the book of my life as a writer.

Which brings me to 2016. What will this year hold for They Are the Last? Will I find an agent? Will I change my mind and decide to self publish? Will I end up having to scrap it and start anew?

Who freaking knows?

It’s going to be thrilling and scary and fun and exciting and nauseating and probably lots of other emotions that I can’t fathom right now cause my brain is kind of mush after all I accomplished yesterday . . .

In short, 2016 is going to be quite an adventure, and while this book is taking up about 145678% of my headspace right now, there are also many other exciting things to come for me this year as well! (Some of which I will be writing about in blog posts to come later this week!)

I’m just really happy to say I’ve kept at it with this blog, and hope that 2016 brings about even more posts and continues to give enjoyment to the life of anyone who might be reading. And now I leave you with this, a delightful post I saw on tumblr this morning that perfectly captures how I feel about me, my book, my life, and this year.

Have a safe and blessed new year, everyone!