Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Rokkir Saga Book 2 Title Reveal + Progress Bar!

Hello there peeps, fans, curious bystanders, and welcome to the title reveal for Rokkir Saga book two! The last year and a half since Overshadowed's release has been a wild ride of the Mr. Bones variety. I moved three hundred miles away from where I'd lived for eight years, got into an MFA program that starts next week (eep!), and of course, I've been working hard on my second book. I'm extremely excited to share it with you all.

So without further ado, the Rokkir Saga book two title is...


The Rokkir lost the battle, but not the war. 

Two months after the events of Modnik, Tayel is still being hunted by the Rokkir. When a desperate situation forces her to choose between staying hidden or Shy's life, Tayel reveals herself, and the Rokkir come in force. After months of training, fighting them back should have been a breeze, but Tayel's escape goes wrong. The Rokkir chase her and her friends to the raider-controlled planet, Sinos, where she soon finds herself caught in a three-pronged war between the Rokkir, the Raiders, and an insurgency that wants nothing more than their raider oppressor's heads.

In addition to this title reveal, I've added progress bars! You can check out my writing progress in the side bar whenever ya like!

But what's a bunch of bars without an explanation of my process?

Currently, I'm working on draft three, which will be the first draft I present to my writing partners for critique. For me, the first draft is about getting to know the story - what should happen, how it happens, who grows or regresses, and in what way. Draft two is me finally settling on those answers, and tying all the various plot threads and arcs together. Draft three is where I polish and make things readable, so that my writing partners don't throw my manuscript across the room.

After draft three is done, and my critique buddies have their hands on it, I'll take a break from the story for a few months before coming back. That allows feedback to accumulate, and also gives me the space I need to come back to the material with fresh eyes. 

Draft four will be born of many long writing hours based on the feedback draft three received, and then it will go up for yet another round of critique.

This is where things get weird.

After the feedback on draft four, I turn it into draft five, and then it's a bit of an unknown. If there were still major problems pointed out in the feedback of draft four, it'll probably go for another round of critique. And another, if the feedback comes back mostly negative again. 

While all creative things have some level of subjectivity, I put a lot of trust in my writing partners and beta readers. If issues keep popping up for them, I feel it's in the story's best interest to keep working them out. That said, at the end of the day, when I feel good about the draft and the feedback it's getting, I move on to finalizing the manuscript and pushing toward publication.

But that's a post for another day. ;)

Some of you are probably wondering: well, then, when the heck will the book come out? And that's a fair question. The reality is: when it's done. There is a date I'm aiming for, but because of the possibility of a sixth, seventh, maybe even eighth draft, I don't want to promise anything just yet. 

But someday soon, I will.

Until then, hope you'll all stick around for Overthrown updates, teasers, and crazy blog posts in between. Thanks for swinging by!

Monday, August 14, 2017

(Almost) Saying Goodbye to My Favorite Comic Series Ever

I needed the luck of the Old Gods and the New to get into San Diego Comic-Con this year, but I did, for one glorious day. I've been to the convention a couple times before, each time a four day stint, so packing a long weekend's worth of geeking out into a sparse 8 hours (I also had to catch a plane that night) was quite the task. Needless to say, there was a list of priorities. On that list of priorities was the one thing I do every time I go to a comic convention: bum-rush the Archie booth for a con exclusive of my favorite comic of all time - Sonic the Hedgehog.

It's a fairly typical routine for me. Get into Comic-Con, find the Archie table, get the con exclusive, pray I get to meet Ian Flynn (I did back in 2013!), and then walk expeditiously to a panel I'm about to be late for. 

This time however, no amount of searching the exhibition floor led me to the Archie booth. The convention app said it was supposed to be where some other booth actually was, so I took to twitter. The start of all good things, I know.

Rather than helpful directions to an updated booth location, I stumbled across an official announcement by Archie that they were dropping the Sonic the Hedgehog comic. Cue supreme devastation.

Listen, I know the world is going to shit and that there are literal Nazis patrolling the streets. There are many worse things in life than never reading another 'hog comic again, but I grew up on those things and have been a lifelong fan, and so reading this news stopped me dead in the middle of a twenty thousand person crowd to stare at my phone and maybe cry a little.

My husband had to introduce me to a booth stacked with nothing but dice to make me smile again.

Seriously, look at that. The D&D player in me justifies every new set of dice with "it'll be perfect when I play that character."
Now this is the part of the post where if it hadn't been for the source checking I did this morning, I'd be going into a somber eulogy about how I started with a Princess Sally mini series when I was six or seven, how Sonic Comics have hugely influenced my writing with its love of action, cliffhangers, and contentious characters, and how Antoine and Bunny really are the OTP.

But - and this is why you double and triple check your info, kids - this morning, as I sat down to pen this tribute to the Blue Blur, I came across the best news ever: one day after I left comic con, IDW announced that Sega had granted it the license to the Sonic the Hedgehog comics. 

You sly bastard.
They're not dead! I mean, the Archie ones are dead, but the Sonic Comic isn't dead! Sure, they might be different. Sure, that means there's potential for disappointment, especially after leaving behind the publisher that fought constantly for a fan-adored 24 year run. But this is far better news than reaching The End, and a new publisher gives me hope for a strong revival.

As a person who was once a very young writer inspired by this franchise (and who still totally is), I'm stoked to see it continue. Comics are renowned for their tight storylines, but the Sonic ones in particular always drew me in with their grandiose plots about the fate of the world. That Sonic even found time to sleep between the deluge of catastrophe is quite impressive. The series taught little me a whole lot about building story, and as a reader, the comics are just pure, action-packed, beautifully illustrated and thoughtfully written badassery.

Looking forward to the new series, IDW. Let's do it to it. 

Oh, and Sonic Mania tomorrow! Woo!

Saturday, August 12, 2017

On The Black Witch and Calls for Censorship

I've had this post knocking around my head since Monday, when I first read that toxic YA twitter drama article. I've been thinking about how I would delicately state my opinion that every book should be read before it be judged, that fiction is a mirror to life, and how life has its ugliness and is not a bubble of protection from things we don't like, don't feel comfortable with, and don't agree with (just look at our current political climate).

I've thought about how to assert the fight against institutionalized racism, ableism, and homophobia that The Black Witch allegedly represents while also defending a fiction author's right to pen her world as she sees fit, through a fictional perspective she saw appropriate, no matter how rooted in a real world view it was.

How does one say fiction is important, fiction mirrors the real world, but also, fiction is fiction?

While fiction itself can be uncomplicated, its themes and portrayals often laid bare, interpretations of fiction are complex, subjective, and as many in number as there are people who read it (or who haven't, in this case).

Good fiction should challenge its readership, ask them questions, and confront them with ugly truths. It's great that passionate people rally behind or against a book's themes, sparking discussions about fiction's very real effects on people. What is worrisome however, is when these discussions turn to calling for the mass panning of, denouncement of, and censorship of a book, drawing a line for what they think should and should not be allowed within fiction.

As an author myself, and as someone who grew up reading a number of problematic books, some even school-assigned, I believe that everything should be fair game in fiction. 

I won't talk about The Black Witch specifically, as I haven't read it yet and don't want to presume too much based on articles and out-of-context quotes, but regardless of what this book does or doesn't do, my opinion is unchanged: fiction should be free to tell stories, even if those stories are about things that make us uncomfortable.

There are stories about child abuse, about alcoholics beating their spouses, about murderers and psychopaths and serial killers. There are stories that make us sympathize with these types of people. I recently read a book that contained a graphic rape scene - something I am incredibly uncomfortable with and fearful of - where the rapist felt justified raping a room full of young girls because of the atrocities those girls' fathers committed upon his people. I didn't like it. I was sickened by the justification and that a character I'd followed through hundreds of pages had to undergo the atrocity. But the book isn't endorsing rape. It isn't justifying rape. It's simply showing a character and saying look, in this fictional world - and maybe in ours - there are people like this, there are people who think like him one way or another, and look at the harm they do.

Fiction reflects the real world, and sometimes the real world isn't just. There are racists. There are sexists. There are bigots and animal abusers and rapists. Fiction is an exploration, and whether that fiction is about space wars, women gettin' it on with bears, or racism against werewolves, it should be allowed its freedom. Authors are not endorsing the acts of their fictional characters. They are telling stories, often about worlds as broken and unjust as ours.

That doesn't mean you have to like it. It doesn't mean you have to buy the book, nor recommend it to your friends. Criticize it if you've read it - that's your right as a consumer - but don't go after your peers for liking something you did not. Don't harass reviewers for having something positive to say. And certainly don't misconstrue the ugly part of the truth for being the whole truth in a piece of fiction.

I myself have not read The Black Witch, but just picked myself up a copy this morning. I'm not reading it to be defiant, or because I'm super excited to read a book about a racist character, but because no matter what side of the debate you fall on, this uproar is important. This piece of fiction is important. I'm looking forward to reading the book for myself and forming my own opinion on its themes.