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.

 

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Moving On

In the course of a single week, I’ve finished the second draft of my novel, and moved into a new apartment.

To say its been a bit of a week would be an understatement.

First, the book.

Finishing this draft was a very different feeling than the first. When I finished the first on New Year’s Eve 2015, it was like ending with a bang. I’d written 11,900 words in a single day, and as I finished, I immediately left my house to go to a friends New Year’s party. I rang in 2016 standing on the corner of 11th and Chestnut, watching fireworks in the distance, the joy and adrenaline of finishing coursing through me as the song ‘My Shot’ from Hamilton played in my headphones. I was as high on life as is possible to be without any substances. I had done what I thought was impossible, and it the words of my buddy Mal Reynolds, I felt mighty.

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But draft two? It was the lamb to draft one’s lion. I finished at just around 3:45am on August 1st, having written about almost 8,000 words in the course of a day. Because it was so very late at night (or early in the morning depending on how you spin it) there was no one to celebrate with, and so I found myself typing the last phrase, to be continued, and then sitting back in my chair with a heavy, happy sigh. I looked at my computer screen for a good couple minutes, just in disbelief that I’d done it. Start to finish, draft one took six months, but draft two? Start to finish took nineteen months. In that time, I started and failed a campaign to publish it. I moved apartments and changed jobs. I went through every phase of imposter’s syndrome, self-doubt, and disappointment, some days thinking the first draft had been it—I’d never be able to get it right and actually get this book done. But that moment alone in my apartment, starting at the finished count and the words to be continued, I felt something I hadn’t the first time—this time, the story was whole.

The first draft had been entirely without a second act, and was RIDDLED with some of the worst plot holes and gaps in character development, mostly because at the time, there was still so much I’d yet to learn about writing. And while I am by no means an expert at it now, I’m certainly better off than I was then. Finding the close knit group of writing friends I’ve always longed to was game changing. Spending months and months reworking things and scrapping drafts and making detailed outlines and developing richer backstories informed the work in immeasurable ways. Every minute I spent in that year and a half was necessary to get me to that moment in the early morning hours of August 1st. And somehow, sitting there with the draft finished, I managed to have all of this hit me at once, but in a way that felt like a calming wave of emotion.

Finishing this draft wasn’t fireworks, it was stargazing—still beautiful, powerful, and inspiring, but peaceful.

The months ahead will now be focused on edits. Some of the chapters towards the end may need a bit of rewriting, and other chapters towards the middle will certainly need some tweaks and touch ups, but I don’t know that I’ll need another rewrite like this one. As I said, the story felt more whole this time. I feel like I’ve largely got to paper the story I’m trying to tell, and now its a matter of fine tuning it so it comes across the way its meant to. I’m incredibly excited for this process, because once I’ve finished the polishing, I begin a whole new phase—finding an agent.

2016 was the year where I tried something different. I thought non-traditional publishing was an exciting and perfect way to go about getting my book out there. My experiences since then have showed me that may not be all it is cracked up to be, and while self-publishing is still always an option on the table, I think I owe it to myself and to my book to try the traditional way. Who knows if that will pan out? Maybe I’ll get dozens of rejections like my girl Madeline L’Engle and when I’m about to give up, find the right person. Or maybe rejection after rejection will lead me to putting the story out there on my own terms. I’m not sure what will happen, but after all I’ve been through on the journey to tell this story, I’m certain that things will pan out exactly as their meant to. My faith in that fact is stronger than ever.

And so to my move…

It is perfectly fitting that I should move apartments after finishing the second draft, because now in every possible way, I enter a brand new phase of my life and this book’s production. It was living at my old apartment building that I came to the conclusion to go back to working on Alteria, and so as I close that chapter and move on to somewhere new, so too does my story move on.

I can’t wait to see what comes next, but until then, there’s work to do.

Almost There

Late night blogging, whatup!? (Apparently me…)

Felt compelled to pop in with an update because I’m almost there. It’s almost done.

Only six chapters left on the rewrite of They Are the Last, and then at long last, the second full draft will be done.

It has been a long time coming to this moment, so I won’t waste too much time in this post talking about the journey or what it took to get here, but I will say this… I’m literally on fire with excitement right now.

There’s a creative flame that always seems to come for me towards the end of a project–when I know that the completed thing is near, lying just around a few corners ahead of me. I spent so much of the last year and a half wandering and feeling lost in this process, but to have gained my sense of direction, to know exactly where to go and what is left ahead, knowing it will only be a few more days before I cross this new finish line… its like there’s fireworks exploding in my chest, and not in that weird Katy Perry way.

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It me…sorta…

This magnificent burst of creative energy is a wave I look forward to riding out all the way to the end of the month, especially because of all that lies ahead for me in August. For not only will I be concluding the second draft of my book, but I’ll also be moving out from the building I’ve lived in for the past three and a half years, the place that in so many weird and unexpected ways, brought me back to this story.

I’m looking forward to going out with a bang, and can’t wait to share more about it here when its finished. If there’s one thing you can be sure of with me, it’s that there will be feels.

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#MyBodyIsntReady

But for tonight, it’s back to the write space and back to the words. Excited to see how far I can get into Chapter 17 before sleep decides to kidnap me. See y’all at the finish line…

Lots of Magical

The last two months have gone by in a big, messy, life-altering blur, and I feel remiss to have not written in so long. But had to get in at least one post before the month is out, and with everything that’s been going on, I think it was high time for an update on my life and my book.

Let’s start with life.

For those who don’t know, I’ve spent three long years working a job that, well, to be candid but also respectful, was not very great. Lots of management changes and stressful days doing something that wasn’t very creative or along the lines of what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Some days, it made my depression and anxiety unmanageable, and I spent much of that time so monetarily broke and feeling emotionally broken that I honestly don’t know how I made it. But if my heroes who came before me taught me anything, its that strength comes from struggle, and I can say with conviction, while I might not be unbreakable, I am certainly a much stronger human than I was back then for having gone through it all.

But in good news, playing the long game paid off, because as of May, I finally started the job I’d been wanting and pitching during that whole time I was here. Its been a lot to take on, with its own new challenges and responsibilities, but I can honestly say that it has been a very long time since I worked a job I enjoyed doing this much. 90% of my job relates to social media, which I love contributing to. And to make things even better, I’ll be moving soon, into a new place with one of my best friends, which will start a whole new chapter for me. It’s terrifying, but also pretty damn exciting.

Then there’s been IndiePen Ink.

I haven’t had much chance here yet to talk about the website for writers that my dear friends and I launched back in February, but after a few months of getting our feet wet, we’re soon rolling out some really big and exciting things that has me more jazzed than I can describe. It feels like we’re at the beginning of something really beautiful, and after spending the most wonderful week in recent memory with the two ladies I co-founded this site with, I can genuinely say that I believe we have something really special we’re creating here, and that’s just magical.

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The savvy, snarky, sassy founders of IndiePen Ink. (Aka, mah girls.)

Speaking of magical things, SpeakBeasty just turned 40! Well, sorta…

We just recorded our 40th episode… fortieth. When I think about where we are and where we started, goodness, it gives me so many emotions. Our show certainly hasn’t been without its bumps in the road, but we’re getting to make something that’s just so much fun to create, and the more comments we get like “thanks for helping me power through this week“, the more full my heart is. It’s living out a childhood dream for me to get to contribute to this show. Being a professional fangirl is, and always shall be, #goals.

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Recording the 40th. Can’t believe it.

And for one more magical thing, how about an update on my book?

As you might know if you’ve been following along on this journey, I spent pretty much all of 2016 reworking and reworking the first parts of the book, all while trying to run that campaign on Inkshares. After that crashed and burned, I took it hard. I didn’t finish NaNoWriMo, a bigoted orange got elected president, and I ended last year/started this year with next to no positive creative energy. March 1st of this year though, I finally decided to take all those reworkings and incomplete chapters and set them on a shelf to start a fresh new draft, which came with a shiny 22 chapter outline, which built on the Frankenstein version from last year.

Since then, I’ve been trying to get through this second full draft, and making what has felt like slow, but is actually pretty steady, progress. As of this writing, I’m through 13 chapters, and have 9 left to go. And with it officially being Camp NaNoWriMo again, I’m reeeally looking to finally get this draft finished.

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Me at the cafe earlier today, revising that Ch 7 bit & intermittently working on Ch 14.

This will be my third July Camp in a row in which I’ll be working on this book, which feels very strange. The version I did in 2015 got scrapped. The version for 2016 was more me beating the same chapter to death without making much progress. But this year, I go into July with 13 (sorta?) solid chapters, and have a strict trajectory of what needs to happen form now through to the end of the book. I’m more prepared than either of my previous July Camp attempts, so really what I need this coming month is just going to be lots and lots of focus. If my estimates are correct, there’s about 30,000 words to go before I get to finish the last chapter and slap that exciting ‘To Be Continuued…’ on the end of this book. (I’d especially like this to happen so that this November, I can take a wild, crazy, pantser-style stab at the first draft of Book 2 in The Alterian Trilogy, but let me not get ahead of myself…)

This road has been long and weird and winding, but even on its worst days, I’m still so happy to be doing it. I spent today having several writing friends look over some pages I’m using for a writing residency I’m applying to, and I was mortified to share it with them, because the scene I had them looking over was one of *the most* important scenes in the book. (Your only hint is that its in Chapter 7.) And while the mark-ups and edits were many, the consensus among them was pretty similar: still needs work, but you’ve got something here. Can a writer really ask for more?

So to bed I go. Want to be up early so I can get in some words before work. Because I’m resolved friends: this draft is getting done this month. No matter what, I’m making it happen. I think it is finally time.

See you on the other side of Camp!

 

Half My Life

Half my life ago, I started writing a story.

I won’t go into the details of that particular 2004 morning in which Piper and her story arrived in my head, since you can read all about that here. The short version is that it was just a regular day, but one which in retrospect turned out to be one of the most important ones in my life. In a way, when Piper’s story began, so too began my life’s quest to become what I really believe I’m supposed to be—a writer.

When I wrote last February 9th, I was filled with such a profound hope because I had just that week launched a campaign to publish the book through Inkshares. (Which in case you missed it, didn’t end so well…) As sad as I felt though when I had to close that chapter on Alteria’s story, the experiences had while trying to get the story out there shaped my year, and helped me grow tremendously as both an author and a person.

This anniversary comes on the heels of a tumultuous week, as sadly last Friday, one of my Uncles passed away. While we hadn’t been close in a number of years, it still shook me. It reminded me of something Lin Manuel Miranda said during his speech at the Tonys…

“Not one moment here is promised, not one day.”

It was a wake up call that life is precious, important, and very, very fleeting. It forced me to pay mind to my own mortality, and whether it was that, or just the sheer amount of sadness and emotion all hitting me at once, I started writing again. Writing like I haven’t been able to in months. 1000 words Monday. 1750 words Tuesday. 600 words yesterday. Words to come tonight. I’m unloading the pain in my heart like rounds of artillery, and emotion is pouring out from my heart like a river overrun from a storm. It reminds me of another quote I heard recently, this time by Carrie Fisher via Meryl Streep…

Take your broken heart and turn it into art.

Those words embody what this story has always been for me. Writing is the therapy I can afford. It is how I react to and reason with the world. When I was 13, I was bullied enough that I hated myself. Whether it was the thickness of my body or of the books I carried with me, they always had something to make fun of me for. Discovering Piper, creating a fictional world for her to save—it was the only way my imagination could figure out how to deal with it. If I could tell a story even a tenth as good as the ones I read and loved, then perhaps someone else might be emboldened. Someone else might be reminded not to give up, just like Harry Potter or Pendragon reminded me. All I can hope for is that Piper can be a light for others one day, like she has always been for me.

As I sit here, with the knowledge that more than half of my life has been spent on this story, my heart feels full. More wordless days of doubt and frustration are sure to come down the road. There will be hardships that will cripple my creativity, and there will be hardships that will remind me to keep fighting. I look forward to them both as much as I look forward to the joyful days that nourish my soul and give me hope. I look forward to all of it, because all of it is part of my story, and thus Piper’s story too.

So whether it takes just a few more months or a few more years, whether it is via a traditional publisher or I decide to publish it myself, this story will be shared with the world one day. Even as life remains full of uncertainties, in this the one notion upon which I stand sure.

SUPER SECRET SURPRISE!

Over the last few months, I’ve been working on a new full draft of They Are the Last, and as a surprise to celebrate 13 years since the story’s beginning, I’ve decided to do something special! You can now read the latest draft of the first chapter of They Are the Last! Simply visit theyarethelast.com/read & enter the secret code below to read it!

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(Highlight between the arrows to view, then copy & paste)
–> PipersStory <–

This isn’t a final draft, but its as close as I’ve been able to get to one yet, so I hope you enjoy it. Share this blog post with your friends so they too can use the secret code to read Chapter One! Thanks as ever for supporting this story.

Failures & Dreams

This morning, I’m waking up at the crack of dawn for a moment I’ve waited almost a year for. As the sun rises, and the crisp November air bites with both a chill and a promise, I’ll be off to see Hamilton in New York City.

Today also begins another NaNoWriMo adventure; my twelfth attempt in thirteen years. I’ll be taking the month to punch my rewriting efforts to warp speed, with the intention of completing the new draft of They Are the Last before the month is out. I’ve spent months chipping and hacking away at bits and bobs of a second draft, but now’s crunch time. Do or die. Write or—well, there really is no other option. There is no try, there’s only the words.

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And lastly, today is the day my Inkshares campaign should have ended, had I not cancelled in back in September. On the verge of such excitement and success and fulfilling of dreams, there is also a small sense of sadness that I didn’t accomplish what I’d set out to back in February with my campaign.

So many people, my hero J.K. Rowling included, have spoken on what it means to fail, and how it builds you as a person. Hank Green recently did a video about his own experiences “failing” at a convention that’s adored by hundreds. I “failed” at a campaign to fund a book, but made friends and connections and gained experiences that already have, and will continue to shape me. Some of the things I learned haven’t even fully hit me yet, and won’t until the moment is right. But here’s what I do know.

This year has been immeasurably incredible. I’ve fallen hard—my campaign, my financial instability as I search for a job that’s right for me, my depression and anxiety flaring up and making some days feel impossible to function through. But I’ve also seen and done things this year that I could NEVER have fathomed possible, with two whole months more of that to come with who knows what sort of magic.

I’ve dreamed of things, sometimes things bigger than the world has told me I should dare to. Last year, I said I wanted to see Hamilton. “IMPOSSIBLE,” cried everyone. Yet here I sit here with my ticket on my desk. I wanted to get my book published, but instead managed to be part of an anthology to be published by Nerdist Industries. I dreamed for so, so many things, because in my heart, a dreamer is what I always have been and always shall be. But in the process of bringing these dreams to life, there have been, and will inevitably be, more moments of failure.

I will fail, so I can savor the dreams. I will dream harder, so I know that when I fail, there’s still something to fight for.

“We do not need magic to transform our world. We carry all of the power we need inside ourselves already.” —J.K. Rowling

Happy NaNoWriMo, everyone. Here’s to the failures sure to come, and to the courage to strive for our dreams in the face of them. After all, there’s a million things we haven’t done, but just you wait…

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Editing So Far

A little over four months ago, in my post So It Begins, I wrote about launching into the brave new world that would be editing the first draft of They Are the LastI can say now with much certainty from the experiences thus far: editing is weird.

I thought then it would largely consist of combing through what I’d already done and just tweaking things and chopping bits out. What I’ve actually found is that I’ve had to rip the poor thing to shreds, tossing the bulk of it to the wind only to salvage the few gems that lay hidden in a good line of dialogue or a piece of important structure. At that time, I also had no idea I’d be discovering Inkshares. While I’ll admit that at times that has diverted my attention from the draft so I can focus on campaigning, Inkshares has also been a great service to the draft by way of providing me with the support of other writers who’ve given me some of the most insightful and helpful feedback I’ve thus far received.

Really, there’s been less editing than I expected and more just all out rewriting. Some days I get little glimpses of that special NaNo creativity where I just type like a maniac until the story’s been freed from me, but much of the process now is careful writing. It’s taking the ideas I’ve spewed out before and making them more coherent and beautiful. It really is like the refining of a diamond. I know that the story I’m trying to tell is this lovely thing buried somewhere in there, but I’ve got to cut and polish and cut and polish all of the roughness away to get there. It’s not anywhere near as easy or freeing as the initial draft, but I’ll tell you what, it’s making me a much stronger writer, and for that I’m grateful.

All of this is really coming out right now I guess because just this week, I made a pretty big decision regarding my editing process. The second draft I’d been working on since January 3rd? Baby is getting put in the corner and I’m starting it over.

During April’s Camp NaNoWriMo, I managed to make it to 35,000 words on that draft, but much of it didn’t get to incorporate the many aspects of feedback I’ve been receiving as of late. I’ve also in an exciting turn of events, begun reading again. I finished the AMAZING novel Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, and am about half way through reading Gary Whitta’s book Abomination (an Inkshares book itself!) and just seeing other people’s finished novels has me realizing that my story has a long way to go, but it needs a new start.

So I’m scrapping what I’ve done and starting anew. This will be the second time in the last year that I’ve done that, but if we’re looking at my track record, this bodes well. I spent July to October of last year getting done a 44,000 word draft of They Are the Last which on October 31st, I decided to scrap in favor of starting the first draft over for NaNoWriMo proper. The draft I started the next day went on to be the first completed draft of the book. I’m taking this new beginning as a good sign for this rewrite draft that I’m about to hurl myself into.

There’s no possible way I could have known when I started revisions on January 3rd that before the year was half way through, I’d be in the throes of trying to get the book published. I mean seriously: the book currently has 133 pre-orders. Remarkable. Given that, God only knows where I’ll be come five months from now when the campaign for the book concludes. While I dream that by that day, I’ll have reached the pre-order goal to be published, I’ve no way of knowing which way the wind will blow. One can only hope that if nothing else, my draft will be further along and I’ll be ever the little bit wiser for it.


PS,

Speaking of the book, if you happen to see this post prior to the evening of Monday May 23rd, I’m running my first promotional contest! You can visit the official They Are the Last website for more details, but the prize is NAMING A CHARACTER IN THE BOOK! Plus every person who enters will receive a handmade bookmark. Click the image below to visit the official website, or click here to directly visit the CONTEST page!

contest promo

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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?

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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?

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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.

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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!

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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 . . .

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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.

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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.