Release Day for Lori M. Lee!

Today is the book birthday for Gates of Thread and Stone the first book in an exciting new series by my critique partner extraordinaire Lori M. Lee!

I had the good fortune of reading and responding to an early version of the book and just know you will love Lori’s blend of fantasy, adventure and romance set in an original and intriguing world. But you don’t have to take my word for it. Check out what other writers are saying about Lori’s debut.

Plus a cover this pretty belongs on your bookshelf:

About Gates of Thread and Stone:

In the Labyrinth, we had a saying: keep silent, keep still, keep safe.

In a city of walls and secrets, where only one man is supposed to possess magic, seventeen-year-old Kai struggles to keep hidden her own secret—she can manipulate the threads of time. When Kai was eight, she was found by Reev on the riverbank, and her “brother” has taken care of her ever since. Kai doesn’t know where her ability comes from—or where she came from. All that matters is that she and Reev stay together, and maybe one day move out of the freight container they call home, away from the metal walls of the Labyrinth. Kai’s only friend is Avan, the shopkeeper’s son with the scandalous reputation that both frightens and intrigues her.

Then Reev disappears. When keeping silent and safe means losing him forever, Kai vows to do whatever it takes to find him. She will leave the only home she’s ever known and risk getting caught up in a revolution centuries in the making. But to save Reev, Kai must unravel the threads of her past and face shocking truths about her brother, her friendship with Avan, and her unique power.

IndieBound | Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository

I’m so proud of Lori and hope you’ll help me celebrate her release day!

My Writing Process (Lately)

I’m sure you’ve seen this meme floating around the blog-o-sphere lately, and Fran Wilde roped me in tagged me to participate. So here we go!

Photo courtesy of Takashi of Flickr


What am I working on?

What am I not working on should be the question… Let’s see. I have two (soon to be three) short stories in circulation. I have a young adult science fiction novel that I’ve been querying off and on. I’ve drafted another YA SF project that I’m letting rest while plotting out a sparkly new story—the first one of my books that has built-in series potential, which is scary exciting. I’ve also drunk the Kool-Aid and joined Pinterest. I’ve decided to create boards for all my published stories, though I only have two going so far. It’s been a lot of fun!

 

 

Why do I write what I do?

For reasons. Oh, you want a real answer? Well then. It’s fair to say I’ve always wanted to be a writer, even if I wasn’t willing to admit it. I consumed copious amounts of books growing up, but it was usually speculative fiction or romance. Combine that with being a life-long learner, here I am.

I love writing about the unknown and exploring what-if questions in my work. As a fan of action movies and video games, I try to include action-adventure elements in my work. I’m also a romantic at heart, so sometimes that creeps into my stories as well. My background in social science research also informs some of the topics I explore. But at the end of the day, I want to write good words that mean something.

 

How does your writing process work?

My ideas usually start with a scene or situation, and I have to then figure out how that person got to that point and work my way backwards and forwards in time to construct a story around that event. I may do some exploratory writing at this stage or I may not. Once I have my starting point (or at least what I think is my starting point), I start writing. I get maybe ten percent of the way into the novel, then I put on the breaks and start outlining the book. This helps me identify story arcs, acts, and the information that needs to be layered in at the appropriate moment so the book all hangs together. Once I have a full draft, I try to let it sit before it is time to revise revise revise. I’m a chronic underwriter, so usually I have some fleshing out to do at the stage. Then I have a bunch of wonderful people who read for me and tell me what I’m doing wrong. I usually have to revise some more before I’m ready to cross my fingers and send it off into the world.

***

Thanks again to Fran Wilde for tagging me in this meme. Her first novel debuts from Tor in 2015. Her short stories have appeared or will appear in Asimov’s, Nature, and Beneath Ceaseless Skies.

 

 

 

 

Cover Reveal for Disciple Part III


Today, I’m happy to bring you the cover for the next installment in L. Blankenship’s gritty fantasy series Disciple, which I had the good fortune of beta reading.

To learn more about her work, check out my interview with her from last fall, and the guest post she did this spring on making deliberate writing choices. And if you’d like to learn more about her take on cover art, check out this post.

Saint Qadeem is looking particularly badass, if I say so myself.

 

About Disciple, Part III:
Kate fought for her place as a healer in the war’s front lines. Serving her homeland has been her goal since her magical gifts earned her a coveted apprenticeship with the kingdom’s greatest healer. She believes she’s prepared.
But nothing’s simple when defending a besieged capital city — or her heart.
She loves the prince, who means to protect her even though his duties as a knight keep him on the battlements, fighting the enemy’s monstrous army.
Kate’s husband is the one who checks on her, lingers over dinner, and slowly but surely charms her. She’s all too aware that her beloved prince threatened to kill him if he touches her.
As the enemy thunders against the city walls, the kingdom needs more from Kate than just her healing magic. All disciples must put aside their tangled feelings and stand in the homeland’s defense.
Kate believed she’s ready for a war. She isn’t.
The official cover reveal and “Next Big Thing” post are over at Disciple of the Fount.
Disciple, Part III arrives September 1st, 2013!
Part I and Part IIare available at all major retailers
Sample Part I • Sample Part II • Sample Part III

 

Interview with Fran Wilde

Today, please welcome SF/F writer Fran Wilde to the blog!

I met Fran at Taos Toolbox and was impressed by her ability to fuse lyrical writing with genre fiction. She became a full SFWA member in July 2012 and scored an agent (!) in May 2013, and I’ve asked her here to share a bit more about herself and her writing journey.

Please tell us about your journey from when you first decided you wanted to be a writer through now.
Are there children in the room? Best ask them to leave, this gets messy…
I was a writer the moment I realized you could make words stick around by writing them down.
Mine is a storytelling family (some relatives use circular breathing so they can’t be interrupted; others tell fantastic yarns that end with ‘Whelp. So that happened.’). I grew up listening to their stories – some of which changed each time they were told. When I wrote my stories down, they stayed put. I liked that.
And more than anything, I was a reader. I got my own library card as soon as possible, and I was on a first-name basis with the local indie bookstore owners. I read everything I could, especially if it had spaceships, universe-sized intrigues, computers, fantastic creatures, strange people, or, better, all of the above.  Some of what I read wasn’t viewed as appropriate reading for me – I got told that a lot. I read it and loved it anyway.
Two years after I completed my MFA, I set aside the manuscript I was working on in order to focus on three things that paid the bills: teaching, copywriting (mostly for engineers and tech), and programming. While I wrote during that time, I didn’t send anything out, and I didn’t have a community of writers, save for a few dear friends who kept reminding me who I was. Finally, one day I snapped and wrote half a story – and the next day I wrote some more, and soon I was back on a regular writing schedule. And this time around, I gave myself full permission to write what I wanted to write.
No big shock, then, that my new stories had space in them. And programming, and engineering. And poetry. And strange creatures. I found a resource online –the SFF Online Writing Workshop – and critiqued there for a while before dropping a story in to see what would happen.  That led to finding my first crit buddies – several of whom I still exchange work with.  Five months later, I went to Viable Paradise and Jim MacDonald and the instructors at the Martha’s Vineyard workshop told me I wasn’t really a short story writer. They dared me to try to write a novel in 90 days. And I met more of my community. That was fantastic.
A similar thing happened at Taos – where I met you! And I’m a better writer for it all.
You have both a Masters in information architecture and interaction design and an MFA in poetry, which are very different fields. How does this background inform your writing?
Programming and poetry share more in common than you might think. I’d love to see a poem written in regular expressions that actually compiles into something.  I love the places where the two meet: interactive narratives, using hypertext and gorgeous graphics. I love graphic novels too.  And I’m very aware of sensory stuff – particularly the sounds words make – sometimes too much so. I get caught up in nets of sound.

What piece of writing advice has been key to bettering your craft? 
Easy is the enemy. Keep writing, every day. Put that amazing draft away for six weeks, then look at it again, with a critical eye.
I had the good fortune of reading the amazing novel that got you agented. Please share a bit about the book and what you’re working on now.
Bone Arrow is a science-fantasy YA novel that demanded to be written. I love building worlds, and this one’s a lot of fun, and strange, too. Think Cirque du Soleil meets the Codex Seraphinianus. But what I love best is the characters – because once I gave them the space, they ran with it. I had all these things planned out for them and instead, they did their own things, a lot of which completely surprised me.
Right now, I’m working on a second generation story set in the same world, with different characters. There’s a related short story coming out in the Impossible Futuresanthology in August, called “A Moment of Gravity, Circumscribed”.
And I’m working on a novella set in a different universe, and revisions to my first novel, Moonmaker, which is more tech-driven.  I usually keep a lot of projects going so that if one slows down or I need to stick it in a drawer, I can pick up another.
What is important for a beginning or intermediate writer to understand about writing for publication?
Ah. This is the hard part. Rejection isn’t personal. It feels personal. It can feel like you’ve been judged as not worthy – like you’re not really a writer when you get that “unfortunately”.  But writing for publication is all about ‘Right time, right editor, right story.” Pro writers get rejections too. The key is to send that story back out – and to keep sending it out. I need to do that with a few stories, actually. [Bad writer: no biscuit.]
Another good idea is to volunteer to read slush for a magazine in your genre. Keep an eye on your favorites via Twitter and Facebook. Editors sometimes post requests for new slush readers there.  Once you see the scope of a typical slush pile, you’ll realize it’s not personal. And hopefully that will help you start to feel more confident about your writing and your submissions as well.
Thanks so much, Fran!
Thank you Lauren! It’s always great to talk with you!
You can find Fran on Twitter [@fran_wilde] and stay up-to-date with her writing through her blog: http://franwilde.wordpress.com/
                       

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Interview with Lori M. Lee

Today I’m happy to bring you an interview with my critique partner Lori M. Lee. 
In December of 2011, she signed with Suzie Townsend of New Leaf Literary, and her book deal (!) with Skyscape was recently announced. She blogs about the writing life at http://lorimlee.blogspot.com/

Thanks for stopping by today, Lori! For the uninitiated, could you give us a brief overview of your writing journey up until now?
Thanks for having me, Lauren 🙂 It’s been almost four years since I began my first manuscript-with-intent-to-query/publish in 2009. It was a NaNoWriMo, and I spent a year editing and rewriting it based on feedback from my amazing CPs (like you! :D) before querying. While querying that project, I began working on Gates of Thread and Stone. This story so much fun to write, and I was extremely fortunate to receive an offer of representation in November of 2011 after only a few weeks of querying. But the work definitely didn’t end there. A major revision and a year later, I finally got that yes from an editor!
What is something that surprised you about being an agented writer? Many aspiring writers put so much emphasis on getting an agent without necessarily thinking about what happens after reaching that milestone.
This is sort of dumb (and a good example of how my brain works… or doesn’t, in this case), but when I began my next project, I had brief moments of panic when I thought about writing the query. Then, at some point, it struck me—I don’t have to write a query. My agent doesn’t require one. The query was always such a stress-filled requisite of writing a new manuscript-with-intent-to-find-an-agent that it didn’t immediately occur to me I didn’t need one b/c I already had an agent. And believe me, when that realization hit, it felt AWESOME.

I’ve gotten the impression from other writers in the blogosphere that being on submission is kind of like Fight Club. The first rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club. What can you say about your time on submission and how you coped for other writers going through the same process?
Being on submission had even greater ups and downs than querying. When an editor loved the book, but it got shot down in acquisitions, that hurt a million times more than an agent rejection because I was so, so close. Being on sub was exciting and terrifying, but also emotionally draining. I coped with everything first by working on something new and then inadvertently by getting pregnant lol. With my mind focused on a new world and new characters (and the impending baby), I had less time to worry about what was happening with the book on submission.
The Gates of Thread and Stone will be published by Skyscape (Amazon Children’s Publishing) in 2014, and it is the first book in a series. Tell us about the book.
Going with what was revealed in the deal announcement (since I don’t know how much more I can talk about yet), Gates is about a girl who stays carefully under the radar to keep her ability—to manipulate the threads of time—a secret. But when her brother disappears, she has to risk getting caught up in a revolution in order to save him.
What was your biggest challenge writing this book?
This particularly book came really easily to me, which is not typical. The world building was probably the biggest challenge because world building, in itself, is fairly intricate, but the plot and the characters were very clear in my mind.
What excites you most about this next stage of your career?
Reader feedback. Good or bad, I can’t wait to hear what readers think. It’s definitely scary, and I’ll probably fumble through it all, but I’m looking forward to it.

Finally, what is the single best piece of writing advice you’ve received?
Work on your next book while you’re waiting for query responses. Write while you’re on submission. Write while you’re waiting for feedback from CPs or your agent or your editor. Having that shiny new idea to focus on really does make the waiting more bearable, and the bonus is if that ms doesn’t work out, you’ve got your next one ready to go.
Thanks so much Lori!

Be sure you check out her blog (http://lorimlee.blogspot.com/) and follow her on twitter (@lorimlee).

Lori’s always been an incredibly supportive writer, and I’m so happy she’ll be able to share her stories with the world!

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