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WE MADE IT!!!

HOORAY!

HOORAY!

HOORAY!

CHASING FAE WILL BE PUBLISHED!

To my followers, thank you so incredibly much! My 60-day presale campaign was a success! Chasing Fae passed its $4000 publishing threshold on the very last day for a final total of $4140! Paperback and digital copies will be officially be published by New Degree Press in July 2020!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I cannot believe it, y’all. That childhood dream I have had for so long about publishing a book young is finally coming true. And it is all thanks to you. Thank you so much for buying, liking, sharing, posting, commenting, and every other method used to get me from $0 all the way to the end.

The publishing journey has been going great so far, and I am looking forward to having some new content for you all soon. I am actually wrapping up my final revisions in the next two weeks. I can’t wait to show you guys some of the cover ideas that are being created by the design team right now! Keep up with Fluff About Fantasy for the latest updates. I love you all. Thank you again.

Happy writing! (And to my beta reader community, happy reading!)

Writing Fight Scenes

After going through my first round of revisions with my editor, I finally feel reasonably competent enough to discuss this subject! Whether it is a simple one-on-one scuffle or a full-scale battle, fight scenes are pretty integral to the fantasy genre. They make up some of the most memorable scenes that your reader will return to over and over again, if done right. Each scene should be approached with care to ensure that the scene feels natural, but intense. Today, I want to share with you my best tips to approaching a fight scene on any scale.

Tip #1: All fight scenes must move your plot and character development forward in some way. Do not include them just to have them.

Enough said.

Tip #2: Make sure you know your players.

Who is involved in this fight? Is it two people, or several, or a large multitude of characters? The more players you have, the more complex your battle is going to be. Before you even think about drafting this scene, think about each character and their fighting style. This is influenced by their size, any weapons training they may have or lack, if they are magical, etc. I also like to take into account my character’s emotions at the time. Are they fired up and ready to attack? Are they trying to escape from something, and this is the fight of their lives? There are often multiple emotions swirling around at once: fear, adrenaline, determination, heartbreak. As a writer, you have to balance these factors as you approach the actual physical process of the fight.

Tip #3: Consider the battlefield and the available resources.

Where is this fight taking place? The battle dynamics will be very different if it is taking place in an open field rather than a forest. Consider what cover is available and where would be the best place for an army to retreat to. When it comes to resources, you need to do some research into what kind of weaponry the characters involved in your fight are using. Each type of weapon comes with its benefits and its drawbacks, and in a big battle, the writer ends up showing a lot of both sides. If this is a fight between two armies, they each may have their own combat style as a group with those weapons. This requires you to understand your world’s history. Who knew so much background research could go into a battle?

Tip #4: Break down the chaos.

In actuality, a battle may only last a few minutes, or it could go on for days. Both of these situations require the writer to break down the moments into digestible pieces for the reader to absorb. That being said, by doing so, a few minutes can stretch out for pages and pages. So it is important to pick the moments to showcase and the times to step back and see more of the complete picture at once. Every movement should be written in an active voice. Make your reader feel every slash and connection of a sword to another’s body or their own. Describe the atmosphere: is the air thick with the smell of blood or smoke? The most important thing to do is to keep things active, descriptive, and fast-paced without making it too manic. Convey the chaos of the fight and the whirlwind of weaponry, bodies, and emotion without letting it all blend together too much.

I may modify this article as I move forward with writing the first draft of my sequel, which involves much more battles than the first. I am looking forward to it!

Happy writing!

Presenting… The Three Realms Maps

Hello fantasy lovers! I am so excited to share something special with you. Recently, I decided to add three maps of the Upper, Middle, and Lower Realm to the front of my paperback book. I had originally wanted to work this idea into my hardcover as a special insert, but when I heard I could do it for the paperback, I just had to jump in. I have been absolutely swamped with exams and exam studying for the past week or so (which is part of why I missed last Saturday’s post). My amazing boyfriend offered to take over the mapmaking process for me to relieve some of my stress. And boy, am I glad he did! He took my ideas and my mockup map from over two years ago and created something truly spectacular with them. He spent hours working with Inkarnate’s map-making software. I hope you all love them as much as I do!

The Importance of Balance

It is absolutely crazy to be going through revisions again!

The entire process has been a whirlwind so far, even though I’m only five chapters in to my revisions as of the time of writing this post. Every time I work through a chapter on my own, it comes back with lots of wonderful comments and markings from my editor, Kristy. She asks lots of questions that makes me think about which sections to elongate and which to elaborate on. Every chapter has new notes to work through, and I’m actually really excited that some are starting to make me sit down and take the time to puzzle them out. Revising takes time. A lot of time. Mixing schoolwork and revising and promoting the presale campaign can be challenging at times, but I really couldn’t be more thrilled doing it.

The most interesting thing about the revisions so far has been the discovery that I held myself back! As a first time author, I was determined to not make any of the pitfalls in my drafts. I wanted to keep my backstories concise and not excessive and make sure I wasn’t describing every new character’s appearance in too much detail. I wanted to make the setting immersive, but not so descriptive that the book feels like more description than plot.

But suddenly, both my editors told me that I could be adding more! I could be doing more! All of that information that I had held back in my notes and kept from my draft can start to be integrated into the book!

Do you have any idea how exciting that is?!

So, as I am learning all of these exciting things myself, let me give you a few tips about what areas are okay to elaborate on, as long as you keep a good balance.

Area One: Character Descriptions

When I was working on Chasing Fae, I was very concerned about mentioning my characters’ appearances. I knew that while it was important to ground your reader through physical description, it had to be done in such a way that it didn’t feel formulaic. You know: hair, eye color, height, etc. all in a few sentences stashed near the introduction of the character. So I actually spread out my physical descriptions over a couple of chapters.

It turns out I did need to rework some of that, particularly for my main characters in order to give more of a physical sense much earlier. Also, it is actually really important to ground your small secondary and tertiary characters with some sort of visual element so your readers can visualize. The more I see the note, the more I begin to recognize the importance of it.

Area Two: Setting

Each moment in space and time can be talked about, even if it is only a couple of sentences. Every time there is a distinct transition in location, I find myself seeing more notes about taking a breath and letting my readers know where we are and what it looks like, what it smells like, what it feels like. I find that I need to work on expanding my writing on the different senses. I am good at talking about what my characters are seeing and what they are feeling in particular, like a light breeze or the sun bearing down on them. But I could use some work on what my characters are hearing and smelling. It doesn’t need to be in every description of a setting, but I think it does add another layer to the reader’s sense of place in your book.

Area Three: Pacing and Layering

One of the most significant compliments that I received on my manuscript from my Acquisitions editor was that my level of tension throughout the book was spot on. However, I am starting to realize that just because your tension is right doesn’t mean there isn’t more to work on in terms of pacing. My editor has pointed out to me several times over the first few chapters that there are moments where I can slow it down a little bit. I can add a few more paragraphs to clarify setting or character backstory and motivation or just take a moment to let everybody take a breath. My book is on the low end of the young adult fantasy genre’s typical word count (80k), so I have a decent amount of room to work with. The story has space for more layers, and I am finding new ways to add fresh life to Chasing Fae.

I hope that this inspires you to loosen yourself up a little bit with your descriptions in your writing. There is space! And if there isn’t, trust me, someone will tell you. Happy writing, everyone!

A Sneak Peek of Chasing Fae

Hello everybody! There are only a few days left to preorder your copy of Chasing Fae! I wanted to share a sneak peek of the book today to give you an idea if you’d like to purchase now and get to read the entire book early. I hope you enjoy Chapter One!

Disclaimer: This chapter is shown in its raw form. That is, this is draft six and not draft seven that I am working on with my editor. Minor changes may be made between now and when the book releases.

Chapter One

Everyone’s time runs out eventually. Sometimes it comes quietly in the middle of the night at the end of a long life. Other times, death cuts across your timeline without warning.

Today just happens to be my time.

No, I’m not dead. But this is the end for me.

It was a week before the Winter Solstice. It’s always been one of my favorite times of the year. A full feast on the table, as large as money can buy, music pouring out of the windows of every building in Lisden, and family to spend the day with. Mom’s been accumulating canned vegetables for weeks and recently ventured into the market to bring home the best of the fresh fruits in a small bag. My mouth waters just thinking about the blackberries. We never get blackberries in this part of the Middle Realm outside of solstice-time. It’s one of my favorite treats. My older brother Leo was due to be home any day now. He had been gone for six months off on another one of his mercenary expeditions.

When Leo decided to become a soldier, my mother and I were both terrified. She tried to respectfully talk him out of it whereas I threw a fit and stormed out. I was just scared. Anything could happen out on the roads in this realm. He could have been sent to a peaceful town, or he could be sent south to the farm country where they’re fighting for whatever scraps they can get and they don’t care who gets killed. But he held out against both of us. Started training the day he turned eighteen and never looked back.

I was sixteen and he, nineteen when he was first hired to run security out in the trading ports of Bay Point. We cried when he left home, promising to be home in the spring. But we rejoiced when he sent home his first paycheck, and we could afford new clothes and fresh fruit from the market. Leo sent home every copper, outside of his own expenses home to us. He had always said he wanted to take care of us someday like Mom had for all these years on her own, and finally, he had the chance.

Leo bounced around from job to job until six months ago, when he was summoned to city hall with the other mercenaries in his company. I thought maybe the government wanted to offer him a job, but no. It was the higher higher-ups. The Fae.

The Fae have always had a hand in the politics of the Middle Realm; they control the alliances, the trade, the resource distribution. And they all just sit up there in the Upper Realm in their fancy castles and their bountiful homes with their magic and just watch us all run around down here like ants. The Fae needed their worker ants, a group of mortal soldiers, to come run security for a top-secret operation in the House of the Sun. They offered more money than anyone in this realm had ever even heard of, and of course, Leo jumped at the chance.

One more assignment, he said, and then he would be home for the Winter Solstice. Just one more assignment, and he’d bring me back something nice for the celebration. Just one more assignment.

I was lying in bed when it happened. It was late morning: not late enough to be noon, but not early enough for there to be time to get things done. I had been awake for hours, but I liked to lay in bed and just think. Sometimes, I’d read, but today, I couldn’t get myself to focus. Leo was due home in a week, and I was expecting a letter from him soon. He hadn’t written in a few days. I figured the letters must be backed up; communication in between realms is rare and therefore not always speedy. But it gave me an awful sense of foreboding.

A knock from the front door sneaks faintly under my bedroom door. I pull the covers over my head in hopes I can stay in bed. “Can you see who that is, Grace?” My mom’s faint voice calls from the kitchen.

Ugh. She knows I’m awake. I grab a robe and begrudgingly drag myself out of bed, stumbling to the door. I peer out of the hole in the top of the door, and I’m faced with the back of a strange man’s head. He stands rigidly at attention, mumbling quietly. His stance along with the navy-blue uniform marks him as a military man. Then I see the slightly pointed ears sticking out from under his rigid hat. My heart stops.

Fae.

No.

He turns slowly, and I see his face. His mouth is drawn tight into a slight grimace, and his purple eyes bore into mine. The color is too sharp for this realm.

“Mom!” I can’t hide the panic in my tone. I hear a dish clank into the sink as my mom rounds the corner in a rush. I feel guilty for making her worry before she even sees what the trouble is, but my face says it all. She peeks through the hole herself before opening the door. She opened it so slowly. Delaying the inevitable.

The man is a Fae commander. My eyes go to the medals lining his breast and the insignia marking him as such. There’s two others with him, his guards. One of them holds a tightly wrapped scroll; the other holds the universal Upper Realm flag neatly folded in his hands. I stand behind my mother, starting blankly at the lot. I can’t bring myself to move.

“I’m sorry,” the commander says quietly.

My mother collapses to the ground, and I just let her fall. She sobs wildly into her hands. The panic is rising up in my chest. I reach out and take the scroll and the flag, shaking my head over and over again. This can’t be real. I tear open the scroll, ripping it violently in my attempts. Leo Richardson – notice of death.

I drop the flag. The soldiers start when it hits the ground, but the commander stops them from moving into our home. Thank the Lady for that at least. I would have charged them both if they had tried.

Damn them. Damn all the Fae.

I kneel at my mother’s side and pull her to my chest as she begins wailing. I haven’t even begun to cry yet. I’m clinging to her as tightly as I can, trying to shush her before the neighbors come to see what’s going on. Our pain should be ours, not a spectacle for others to gawk at. I stare up at the Fae commander with some sort of dismissive glance, I hoped. His even gaze looks down on me, and when we lock eyes, I’m filled with a blinding hatred.

“Get out,” I hiss. To my surprise, he only nods, and he and his men turn and leave immediately. I wonder how many death announcements he’s had to carry out in his life. It might explain the flash of pity I thought I saw behind his glassy demeanor. I despise his pity.

I see a flash of a red coat before my uncle Nick is kneeling by our sides. His door down the hall makes an audible click as it swings close. “Grace, what happened?” He hugs my mother protectively before addressing her, “Anna, what happened?”

My mother is too incoherent to answer, and I can’t find the words to. I slide the scroll over to him slowly. Nick takes one look at it and his breath rushes out in one go. “Ohhh, Grace.” He hugs my mother tighter and holds out an arm to me. I lean my head into his hand for one small moment until it’s too much.

“Take care of her,” I say quickly as I flee to my room. I’m being selfish, I know, but I can’t take the pounding in my head. I slam the door and pace the room. The sunlight streaming in through the window is too bright, too perky for the moment. I yank the curtains closed, but the heavy fabric tumbles off the walls. More light breaks in. I have no patience for this. My hands tighten in my hair as I look for somewhere to hide. I catch a glimpse of the clothing shoved under my bed, and the rush hits me all at once.

I dive to the floor and reach far under the bed. I’m rummaging through my things, searching for that one box that has… There! I rip the lid off of the jewelry box and throw it across the room. It hits the bookshelf and ricochets off the wall. I cringe and reach to get it, but I stop short when I see the tiny seashell bracelet lying in the case, curled up in the corner.

My hands shake as I pull it out of the box. I toy softly with the pure white shell on the end as I finger the smaller shells lining the string. It was the very last gift I received from Leo. He brought it home to me from the beach on his last mortal assignment in Bay Point.

I can’t even bring myself to put it on. I try to slide it onto my wrist, but it falls to the floor. I pick it up and try again, but my shaking fingers can’t hang on to it.

Finally, my tears come. I scream in my grief, crying out Leo’s name to the heavens, praying that the Lady will see him safely to the afterlife. I cradle the bracelet to my chest and rock back and forth as I sob and heave for breath. Come home, Leo, please come home, you can’t be dead, you’re coming home, Leo; I need you to come home, big brother, please…. Please…

I cry for a very long time. I don’t remember much else of that day or that week, for that matter.

I can’t stand the wintertime now. Too cold. Too dark. Too empty.

Did you enjoy this excerpt? Make sure you order your copy of Chasing Fae today before it’s too late! Click here to head to my presale campaign. Thank you for your support!

A Childhood Dream Come True: My Journey

There are about two and a half weeks left in my presale campaign, and I’m 25% of the way to my goal! That is a really great start, but it’s going to be a hard push to get to the end. So for my website followers and frequent readers, I thought I would share a really personal story about how writing has transformed my life and about how my dream of publishing a novel is a very, very old one. I hope you enjoy!

The School Story

When I was ten years old, I read Andrew Clements’ novel, School Story, for the first time. For anyone not familiar with his work, School Story is about two twelve-year-old girls who work together to get a book published. Natalie has written a full novel, and when her friend, Zoe, reads it, she is convinced that it’s good enough to be published. Natalie eventually agrees, but she wants the book sent to the publishing company where her mother works. She wants her mom to be the editor, but in order to get the book through to the top of the pile, Natalie and Zoe have to undertake the process through a series of pen names, false names, and a agency started with Zoe’s savings account. It is a fantastic book.

The story struck me very deeply in a couple ways. First, I was fascinated by the process of getting a book from written stage to published stage. Clements did a fairly good job of running through the various steps and how a book moves through a publishing company. It showed the toughness of editing over and over again without sugarcoating it, but the main character could see the transformation with every comment and every new draft. Second, I loved the fact that the girls were young. They were my age. What if I could do that? Get a book written and published at a young age? Could I? Did I have the potential to do that?

I decided that I did.

The Marked Girl

I wrote my first book when I was in fifth grade. I spent every lunch period and admittedly, a decent part of the school day writing. Some of my classmates since I have released this book have commented on how they remember me constantly writing stories when we were kids. The book, titled the Marked Girl, ended up being about 22,000 words, which was fantastic for a ten-year-old’s first attempt. It was a cute little middle grade story set in a fantastical world with a protagonist that was very much like me. I actually ran through two or three revisions with it, and I got beta readers from within my class. I really had strong ambitions as a fifth grader!

Now, that book will never see the light of day, and I have come so far from that time. But I still have the book on my computer, and I read it every once in a while to remind myself what I am capable of.

The Unfinished Stories

Between sixth grade and senior year of high school, I attempted to write more mature young adult books. It was the kind of book that I was reading, and I wanted to emulate that as best I could. I dabbled in a few different genres: contemporary romance, fantasy, fantasy crossed with science fiction. Building new characters and new plots excited me, but I couldn’t finish the stories. There are notebooks and stacks of papers stuffed into all sorts of drawers in my room filled with unfinished manuscripts. I would get six to eight chapters in before a new idea would come up and I would switch books. Nothing gelled for me before Chasing Fae.

Chasing Fae was the one bright, strong idea that I never lost faith in. I knew I could take it all the way.

What Writing Did For Me

Writing saved me in a lot of ways.

Writing was an escape for me. I didn’t have many friends growing up, especially as I entered into middle school. I was a very lonely kid. When I was writing, I could create any kind of world I wanted to. My characters could fall in love with the people they were meant to, and life could have a happy ending. The bad boy could fall in love with the good girl. The introvert could find her voice. Even when life was rough, the world would eventually turn itself around.

Writing gave me confidence. It gave me the strength to speak out for myself and the work that I was creating. It taught me how to be concise and descriptive. Writing taught me how to dream and how to keep dreaming as I got older, despite the odds.

I think books are so powerful because they allow us to slip into a new world and connect with people that we desperately want to see achieve their goals. We relish every success and every twist and turn that the author puts their characters through. And as an author, I want to captivate with my writing. I want to thrill. I want to surprise and safeguard all of those hopes and dreams of readers out there.

I hope Chasing Fae will do that for a lot of people who are just like me.

I hope you will be a part of the journey. Thank you for reading. Happy writing.

Chasing Fae: New Things To Listen To

Hey everybody! Popping in to say hello on a Tuesday! I wanted to reach out today and offer two brand new links of new listening material for you all.

Recent Podcast Appearance

Last Thursday, I had the privilege to have a wonderful conversation on my good friend, Eddie’s podcast series, The Weekly Grind. We had a fantastic time talking about writing, his current work, and my upcoming debut novel, Chasing Fae. I would love it if you guys would take a listen!

Chasing Fae Official Playlist

I’ve been itching to share something unique, so today I’m making my official Chasing Fae playlist public! Each song on this Spotify playlist corresponds to a specific chapter or a specific scene. I used many of this songs to draft various important moments in the book. I’ll be releasing more details and descriptions of each song and its significance via my beta reader community soon. So if you haven’t yet purchased a copy of Chasing Fae,  I would highly recommend picking that up soon right here!

That’s all for today! More updates to come. Happy writing, everyone.

What To Consider When Starting A Sequel

Photo by bongkarn thanyakij on Pexels.com

Hello everyone! I hope everyone is doing well and staying safe during this chaotic time in the world. My family and I have been practicing social distancing for the last week now, and we have been doing the best we can to fill up the time. I have been working on lots of outreach this week for my preorders as well as starting the sequel to Chasing Fae, tentatively titled Chasing War. I have also been spending lots of time with my sister playing board games and working on some creative projects together. Online classes start on Monday, and it’s definitely going to be… interesting. I hope everything turns out alright.

Today, I want to talk a little bit of my experience in starting this sequel and some tips on how to start your second book as a continuation of the story in your first. I think it’s an interesting topic that I haven’t touched on yet in terms of working with a fantasy series.

Starting Chasing War

I have tried to start this sequel three times since I finished Chasing Fae. Which is pretty amusing to me because based on the outline I’ve created, this book of the trilogy is probably going to be my favorite to write. The first time was during NaNoWriMo where I got extremely ill and ended up having to cancel my attempt while I recovered. The second time, I ended up having intense midterm exams and papers that all coincided with each other. Finally, I’m having an opportunity to write during this period of isolation at home. But even now, I’m having a little trouble.

I think the simple explanation is that somehow I’ve forgotten what it’s like to write the first draft. Which brings me to my first major tip of writing your first sequel:

Don’t Forget That The First Draft Will Not Look Like Your FINISHED First Book.

The first draft is inherently flawed. And that’s okay! That’s more than okay! The first draft is about having something solid to build off of and modify and evolve into something incredible. Try to remember that your first book takes months and months and maybe even years to complete. The first draft will not represent the extent of what you can produce. Remember that. I’m trying to!

Your sequel should have its own arc.

While your sequel does build off the previous book, each book needs to have its own unique arc that gets wrapped up by the end of the story. Remember, your reader wants to see something new out of your characters and out of your universe. Your main character needs to take another transformative journey and evolve as a person. You will see the world in your novel change, sometimes in subtle ways and other times in dramatic times like the outbreak of war or a widespread disaster. Feel free to let your imagination run wild!

Bring New Characters To The Table

Time to create new voices! One of the best parts about writing a sequel, in my opinion, is to add new characters to the mix. There is always a new character or group of characters that comes in and shakes things up. Personally, I have a whole host of new voices that are going to change everything for Grace, and they are going to cause a LOT of trouble. Trust me.

Don’t be afraid to start something new. Happy writing, everybody!

Oh! And if you haven’t checked out my preorder campaign for my debut novel, Chasing Fae, please click here to learn more!