|Veronica Belmont (@Veronica)|
These are all the best ever and I want all of them to come back into common usage right now.
|Veronica Belmont (@Veronica)|
As one of the last Untamed humans left in the world, Seven’s life has always been controlled by tight rules. Stay away from the Enhanced. Don’t question your leader. And, most importantly, never switch sides, because once you’re Enhanced there’s no going back. Even if you have become the perfect human.
But after a disastrous raid on an Enhanced city, Seven soon finds herself in her enemy’s power. Realizing it’s only a matter of time before she too develops a taste for the chemical augmenters responsible for the erosion of humanity, Seven knows she must act quickly if she’s to escape and save her family from the same fate.
Yet, as one of the most powerful Seers that the Untamed and Enhanced have ever known, Seven quickly discovers that she alone holds the key to the survival of only one race. But things aren’t clear-cut anymore, and with Seven now questioning the very beliefs she was raised on, she knows she has an important choice to make. One that has two very different outcomes.Seven must choose wisely whose side she joins, for the War of Humanity is underway, and Death never takes kindly to traitors.
This is one of the most common questions I get asked!
The first draft (70,000 words) took just under a month to complete in June 2013, and it was so messy and poorly written. It needed A LOT of work done to it. In the first half of September that year—after a few months’ break—I read through the whole draft and made a long list of stuff that needed to be changed: characters that needed to be cut, useless scenes, sub-plots that needed development. That sort of stuff.
By November 2013, I had a completed draft that I was reasonably happy with, after countless rewrites and editing. Still, in January 2014, after feedback and critiques, I did another major rewrite, adding in a new sub-plot and character, which took about six weeks in total and brought the manuscript up to just over 100,000 words.
By the end of June 2014 I’d received four contract offers from publishers, and I signed with Prizm Books, an imprint of Torquere Press. Then, in January 2015, the editing began. I was assigned a lovely editor (Deelylah Mullin) by my publisher, and she really helped me develop UNTAMED into a book that is a lot more concise—cutting out 10,000 words—and stronger in its overall plot, ready for its release on May 20th 2015.
So, all in all, the writing and editing process for UNTAMED has taken just under two years.
Madeline Dyer is a fantasy and science fiction writer whose work has been published by a number of small presses. By the age of 16 she had her first short story acceptance, and by the time she was 19 years old she’d signed a contract with a publisher for her first book, UNTAMED.
My favourite parts of writing are always the early stages—the thinking, the plotting, and production of the first draft. I love the freedom that a first draft has, and how it doesn’t have to be perfect at this stage. I can write messily—I can write badly—but it doesn’t matter at all. No one else is going to read it. It’s only a first draft and it’s where I get to have fun and not care about what I write. But most of all, it’s an experiment.
And that’s what writing UNTAMED originally was: an experiment.
Before, I’d always written in past tense. But I wanted to try out present tense. I already had an idea for a new dystopian plot, so I thought why not write this in present tense? And that’s exactly what I did.
I found that writing in present tense gave a different sort of momentum, and it spurred the plot along at a greater speed. Before I knew it, I was really engrossed in this new world I’d created. The characters evolved into seemingly real people and I just couldn’t stop writing about them. Nor could I leave them in danger for too long—typically, I end a writing session when the tension’s high and the characters are in sticky situations, as this makes it easier to get back into the flow of things the next day.
And, within a month, I had a 70,000 word draft done. And, sure, I’ve done that before, as I love to get my first drafts down on paper as soon as possible—but UNTAMED felt different. I was so caught up in the world and the characters that I kept writing. In fact, I wrote the first drafts of books two and three in the Untamed Series in the next two months that followed, before going back to rewrite and heavily edit book one to get it ready to begin querying publishers.
But it was this experiment with writing in present tense that really got me hooked on writing. And, although, I’ve gone back and written a new manuscript in past tense since, I’ve also written two others in present tense—and the ones in present tense feel more ‘real’ to me. I guess it’s because my past tense and present tense writings have completely different styles….
I found that when writing in present tense I focused much more on the immediacy of things, as well as the body language of different characters and how meaning was conveyed through methods other than dialogue. Writing in present tense really helped me with the whole ‘show, don’t tell’ thing, and I found it a lot easier to avoid instances of passive voice, as well as cutting straight to the action and the scenes that readers actually cared about. It gave me a new perspective on writing, and I feel that it’s greatly benefited me, making my writing stronger than it was before.
In short, I think that only by experimenting and writing UNTAMED in present tense, was I able to find my own voice—a voice that now carries through to my other works, even those that I’ve written in past tense. Writing UNTAMED has allowed me to sort of ‘find myself’ as a writer. And I’m glad. It turned out to be the best kind of experiment.
When an Untamed girl is kidnapped and converted by the Enhanced Ones, she must remember who she was meant to be, or else risk the extinction of her people.Where to find UNTAMED:
I write speculative fiction, with an emphasis on dystopias and science fiction.
Madeline Dyer is a fantasy and science fiction writer who keeps dragons and is never far away from a notebook. In fact, at least one notebook is known to follow her wherever she goes, and she can frequently be seen scribbling on its pages.
A life-long reader, Madeline has always loved reading, and, due to her love of mythology and folklore, the fantasy genre soon became her favourite; it seemed only natural that she would write her own short stories, and aged 16 she received her first short story acceptance for “The Silent Siren”, which was subsequently published in Iron Bound Issue 3. Since then, her short fiction has been published by a number of presses, including Mirror Dance Fantasy, Mad Swirl, Yesteryear Fiction and NonBinary Review.
By the age of 19, Madeline had a book contract for her debut novel with Prizm Books. UNTAMED, a fantasy dystopia novel for young adults, will be published at the end of May 2015, and is the first book in a predicted series of four.
Madeline is a regular participant in the NaNoWriMo and Camp NaNoWriMo events, and has found that penning the first draft in less than 31 days is the best way forward for her. Indeed, the first draft of UNTAMED was written in 28 days, and then reshaped and edited for a further eight weeks, before it was ready for submission.
Untamed (Prizm Books, 20 May 2015)
When an Untamed girl is kidnapped and converted by the Enhanced Ones, she must remember who she was meant to be, or else risk the extinction of her people.
Part of what I enjoy about writing the first draft is getting my characters into as many sticky situations as possible, and then desperately working out how to get them out! Once I’ve got a character stuck in a corner, and if I really can’t work out what comes next, then I usually sleep on it.
If there’s still nothing there the next morning regarding how I’m going to rescue my poor characters, then I tend to skip ahead and write the next part of the manuscript—and I don’t always write in chronological order. For that reason, my first drafts often resemble a patchwork of sorts, with a few gaps and lots of overlapping fabric.
It’s during the rewrites and editing when I’ll sit down and write in my notebook all the plot holes that have come about through writing myself into corners, and then I have a long think about how I’m going to sort it. Sometimes, I have to change details that I’ve already established earlier on. Sometimes, I move that scene to a more convenient place where characters’ motives are more apparent. Or sometimes, I find that having now written a rough draft to the ending of the manuscript, I know exactly how to fix the problems.
This varies a lot, depending on what I’m writing. Strangely enough, if I’m writing in past tense then I prefer to have a playlist or background noise. If I’m using present tense, then silence works best. I don’t know why!
Okay, so I have two very different writing styles, depending on which tense I use. My present tense stories focus a lot more on building up tension and realism, as well as the immediacy of the situation and getting properly inside my main character’s head; because some of the stuff I write is quite dark, these stories do end up quite ‘gritty’.
On the other hand, I’ve noticed that when I’m writing in the past tense, my writing (usually) tends to have a lighter, ‘friendlier’ tone, as well as being more stylized to specific genres.
But I do like to experiment with different styles and genres.
The short answer: A LOT.
The long answer: I honestly don’t know. I didn’t keep count, unfortunately. But I really wish I had. In fact, I’m trying to this year having just discovered the goal you can set yourself on Goodreads and how it logs your progress. I love charts and graphs like that.
But I know I read a lot of books last year. I tend to read series, and I tend to read quickly. I try to read something for myself (as opposed to the books on my uni reading list) as often as I can, aiming for at least a few pages everyday before bed as a minimum.
Now, this is a tricky one.
I think partly it depends on what the individual person believes. If he or she believes they are a talented writer because they have the innate ability, then that person’s not going to necessary agree that talent can only be taught, and that anyone can write something brilliant. And vice versa: if someone really wants to learn how to write and believes that’s the only way to be a good writer, and that person willing to put in the time, then yeah, I think talent can be taught because that’s what that individual believes, and what they’ve found to be true for them.
Overall, I think it’s likely to be a combination of these two things, as well as having the motivation to write and keep writing. Only by writing a lot—and writing regularly—do I think you can improve your ‘talent’, regardless of whether it is initially learned or innate. And I think everyone can improve.
But I also think it depends on what you mean by ‘talent’. The ability to write breath-taking prose? Or the capability to come up with an intricately designed plot that holds suspense? Being able to complete a first draft? Successfully rewriting and editing and polishing your manuscript? Having the perseverance to keep going after rejection after rejection?
There are a lot of things at play when it comes to writing and being ‘successful’, so I don’t think that talent can simply be defined as either innate or something that can be learned.
I think to be a ‘talented’ writer you’ve got to have a passion for writing already inside you, the motivation to keep writing, the desire to improve and build on what you know, as well as time to read a lot of books—including those outside your genre. And there’s probably a hundred other things too that make up a writer’s ‘talent’.
Hmmm. This is tricky. I don’t think anyone’s asked me to what extent writing controls my life, so I think I’ll go with that.
For me, writing is a part of who I am, and it’s there in every decision that I make. I can’t escape from it. It’s part of me. I feel like I have to be a writer, that I have to get these words and stories out. All the time, I’m thinking about writing—even if it’s only subconscious. I see a nice car: oh, this character would totally drive that. I see some new food: oh, so-and-so wouldn’t want to try that no matter what he was offered.
It’s almost like I live with all these people—uh, characters—in my head; depending on which story I’m writing, (and which characters are most prominent in my mind that day), I think I react slightly differently to situations than I might otherwise react. I suppose it’s because of my mindset—if I’ve just finished a sad scene, or killed off a character, then my emotions tend to be a bit darker than usual. (Now, if that hasn’t made me sound absolutely crazy, I don’t know what will… but I’ve spoken to other writers, and they’re like this too, I promise!)
But, as writing is a part of me, it’s something I have to do. When I don’t write, I almost yearn for the time and place where I can write. I feel this drive within me—that I need to write—and I have to write. And when I do write—although I often moan and moan about how difficult I find it—I do feel a lot better afterwards. Especially if I’ve just finished a draft. I suppose it’s therapeutic, in a way.
Kristina writes fantasy and horror, and occasionally dabbles in the world of digital art and comics. She has an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University and is adjunct faculty for the English department at North Central State College. Say hello to Kristina on her website or follow her on Twitter.
I like to dabble in haiku! My latest poem’s at First Class Literary: Victor Stitches; Or, the Haiku Prometheus
While I’ve dipped into other genres, I regularly read nonfiction, fantasy, literary fiction, science fiction, and horror. Since wrapping graduate school at Seton Hill, I’ve opened my mind to genres I wouldn’t normally consider outside of my own. I’ve read mysteries, romance, erotica, historical fiction, middle-grade YA...and it’s because I want to support my classmates and fellow writers. On top of that, though, SHU forced me to confront the reality that every genre has merit, and writers can learn so much just from walking outside of their comfort zone.
I like to call myself a writer of fantasy and horror, but I need to be a little honest with myself about what it is I write, and rethink that title. Fantasy is my predominant genre. But I’ve always liked works that have elements of horror to them, and although I enjoy reading straight horror from time to time, I don’t actually write it.
It’s more realistic that I scrap the “horror” title altogether and just call it for what it is—dark fantasy. Author Alan Baxter defines it best: “[...] a work is dark fantasy if it deals with any elements of fantasy and/or the paranormal in a way that studies the dark and frightening side of our nature, psychology and the weird, sublime and uncanny.”
Although I haven’t seen bookshelves in stores labeled “dark fantasy,” if I flit between the horror and fantasy sections, I’ll find what I’m looking for after some digging. As for what I’m into currently? I’m obsessed with Sui Ishida’s Tokyo Ghoul series, which I think fits the dark fantasy genre perfectly. The fact that it’s Japanese manga is irrelevant to me. I’ll consume a good story no matter how it’s packaged.
“White man fantasy” and its outdated tropes need to call it in. While there’s the hullabaloo over the Hugos and geeks reacting against diversity, the outcry is not enough to stop the genre’s progression towards inclusivity.
While many could argue that fantasy means “inventing whatever the heck I want to, because it’s fantasy,” or even worse, “it’s fantasy, it’s not supposed to be real,” one of the main components of successful fantasy is the suspension of disbelief. Samuel Taylor Coleridge (all the way back in 1817!) was right to suggest that a fantastic tale must contain "human interest and a semblance of truth” in order for readers to accept the absurdities that occur elsewhere in the story.
In order for fantasy to endure, it must suspend disbelief by embracing reality. Fantasy must continue to acknowledge that readers of the genre are all ages, all races, and all genders, and to include characters and plots in fantasy that acknowledge this truth.
At one point, I stopped reading genre fiction altogether, and that was from the end of middle school all the way up to my freshman year of college. All I can remember is that I felt disconnected from the genres and their books, and felt tired of all of it.
I don’t even know how this happened anymore, but at the end of freshman year, I found Juliet Marillier’s Daughter of the Forest and it reinvigorated the genre for me. It’s a work of historical fantasy, so while there are fantastic elements, the majority of the story is good, old-fashioned Celtic history, and feels very much based in reality. That might’ve been what drew me to the story in the first place—it was a fantasy that felt real.
There were also some things that surprised me when I read it. There’s darkness in the book, and cruelty; but there’s a clear, constant presence of romance. I always hated romance because, like the genres I briefly abandoned, I was tired of it, and felt disconnected. Maybe it’s the tropiness of genre fiction that turned me away from everything during that period overall. But the romance in Daughter of the Forest felt real, and spoke of a love that endured. There was a presence that felt authentic, because such love was conveyed in simple imagery and gestures. It made me realize that deep down, I actually adore romance (if done well).
While Marillier’s book turned me on to fantasy again, it was also the first book that made me want to abandon playwriting and consider the possibility of writing fiction seriously. It took a while for me to end my ties to theatre (for most of my life I wrote plays and musicals), but once I enrolled at Seton Hill, I knew fiction was the true dream worth pursuing.
In elementary school, the first traditional fantasy I read was “The Chronicles of Narnia” by C. S. Lewis. The first traditional horror novel I remember reading was “IT” by Stephen King in the 7th grade...although, looking back on it now, I remember being a fan of everything R. L. Stine put down; not just Goosebumps, but Fear Street, too! Oh, the memories are coming back, because now I’m remembering Christopher Pike as well...
I would like to try my hand at science fiction, but I don’t think I can pull it off. Same thing with romance.
...But if I could figure it out, I enjoy science fiction that deals with AI and robotics; as for romance, it would be something adventurous and historical.
Um...this is really hard...
I suppose, deep down, I’ve always wanted someone to ask me to justify my interests and how they relate to what I write. Maybe it’s just another trope—the writer who feels misunderstood—but I’ve always wanted to have the chance to defend my choices and interests, and how they all fit into this bigger picture that allows me to grow as a reader, thinker, and writer.
...But, that’d be several pages long, probably.
What's next for Liz Coley, author of the international best-selling psychological thriller Pretty Girl-13?
Pretty Girl-13, published in 2013, was a dark tale about uncovering the secrets you can't even tell yourself, of literally putting yourself back together after shattering trauma. And now for something completely different...
The new Tor Maddox series comes from "the lighter side of Liz." The stories are still page-turning thrillers, but of the adventurous variety. In the first book, Tor Maddox: Unleashed, a contemporary teenage girl who cares deeply about people and her world topples into conspiracies, pandemics, and forbidden love. Releases May 1 in print and Kindle editions. Good news--you won't have to wait a year to see what happens next because Tor Maddox 2: Embedded releases June 1 and Tor Maddox 3: Mistaken releases July 1.
Two years ago, Chloe lost her sister to a crack in reality; now, the cracks are picking up pace, and she's figured out a way to track them--but she's not the only one, and there's a lot more going on than she realizes.
On Mars. Seriously guys. It's time to take this gig off-planet!
I'd like to see the boom of new independent bookstores continue relentlessly. I also hope that people can still earn a living of sorts producing content. We've been brainwashed into thinking content should be free and completely on demand. Advertising has made that possible for so many things, but do you really want to see commercials in your books (ahem Kindle screen saver!). The only way free content works long term is if housing and food and clothes and education and medical care are also free. Homeless, hungry, naked, ignorant, sick authors don't work very well. Buy a book! Save an author.
Me personally? In YA? Plausibility. I like my dystopias as well as the next person but for me to buy it, that future needs to be something that we could conceivably stumble into for reals. I'd like to separate "fantasy" elements from "sci-fi" elements more in story telling.
Oh wow. When the Muse comes and sits on my shoulder, writing becomes exactly like reading. The words and scenes spin out fast and smooth and I feel like the my fingers are incidental to the writing. I'm reading the story as they type it. When I finish that burst of inspiration, I walk away with that same feeling I have putting down a book to do something else. I can't wait to get back and see what happens next. This is not something, however, that happens frequently or predictably, but it's a real high.
I wrote my first novel entirely longhand during the kids' piano and TKD lessons and typed it in each evening. After that, I began creating on the computer, printing out the pages to review and revise as I went along. Now I do everything on the computer and maybe at some point I think about doing a full printout to store in a binder in case civilization as we know it collapses.
I suppose the first creations all for myself were maudlin middle school poems about butterflies and that sort of thing. The first really good (you know, for a kid) poem I wrote was in a flash of inspiration when I was babysitting. The little girl had gone to bed, and I finished reading Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar. In one of those muse moments, I wrote a poem about being institutionalized. Cheery.
Who do you like--MaryAnne or Ginger?
Does anyone even know what that means anymore? Google Gilligan's Island. It's supposed to be a litmus test for guys to figure out their values. I'm not a guy. However, for me, the answer was always MaryAnne--a cheerful, optimistic, nice, can-do kind of girl next door. That's the species of heroine I like. She's the soul of Girl Scout of Pretty Girl-13. She's the spirit of Tor Maddox.
They came to a branch in the hall and were forced to stop holding hands.
“Which way?” Cassie asked.
“That way–should be the third door on the left. Go there, cut the power, stay hidden. Then get out. Don’t follow me.”
“We have to at least try!” Cassie threw her hands up in the air and did her best not to throw something, but he was being stubborn and it was scaring her. He’d never turned that wall of solid denial against her before; it was always for her, with her. Against everyone else.
The scavs would be through their defenses soon, and if Jones was to die, she wished it to be on her own terms. And so she retreated to her own chambers, locked all the doors between the hall and her office, and opened her trunk. All that remained of her old life–all that remained of her whole world, and of the only few things she’d loved–was in this trunk. Hannah’s blanket, the one she’d brought her baby home from the hospital in. Pictures of everyone who had died around her. Her favorite books. Her parents’ wedding bands.
And an envelope she’d never opened.
Jones had just decided not to smoke another cigarette and was still sitting on the porch when the man in the suit stepped out of the car and strode up to her. She’d never seen him before, but he looked like he knew where he was going, and she saw recognition on his face. She didn’t know him, but he knew exactly who she was.
They hadn’t been able to get much from the bookstore–and there wasn’t much to get anymore–so they’d left as soon as they were sure no one saw them. Cassie drove, looking straight ahead, her knuckles white on the steering wheel. Behind her, Cole scrabbled into new clothes in the back seat. He moved easily for the first time in who knows how long. Weeks. And his skin was smooth and undamaged, all his scars smoothed away. All but a solar-flare shaped burn on his chest where the needle had gone in.