Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Crazy Journey of Writing Novels (What Was I Thinking?)

On Sept. 1, 2008, the idea for The Soterians series dropped out of the sky. I was sitting with my family, having a lazy weekend, when suddenly the idea struck me. What if there were people who developed special powers in response to the balance of good over evil shifting too far in evil's favor? What if evil could never be destroyed, only brought into balance? What if the main character was a heroine, strong and independent, but battling her own inner demons, struggling to create that same balance within herself? What if she could fly?

I got on my computer and started writing, and a year later, Rising Shadow was in my hands, all printed and looking ever so lovely. I knew nothing about writing novels or ISBN numbers or the Creative Commons License. I only knew that this story was pouring out of me uncontrollably, and I had to show up and write it. I wrote it mostly on the train during my commute, but it also ate into my evenings and weekends when I probably should have been doing something else, like spending time with my family.

Let me say right now: I consider myself a storyteller, not an author. I do not have an MFA, have no aspirations to write the Great American Novel, and will never hold a candle to my idols Rowling, Salinger, Twain, Tolkien, and Faulkner. I am trained as a technical writer, whose approach to writing is to have no voice at all, to get the information into your brain as quickly as possible without you even being aware that you're reading.

But I love my stories and my characters. I laugh out loud as I write their dialogue, and I yell at them when they're doing something stupid. I gasp when they get themselves into hot water, my eyes bulging as my fingers fly over the keyboard. "Really? You're going to do that now? Huh!" And away they go.

My stories are not for everyone. If you like to savor the words in a book as if you were eating an especially fine meal, you'll be reaching for the salt when you read my book. But if you like to lose yourself in a story, root for characters who quickly feel like old friends (even when you want to slap them), and maybe think a little bit about some of the demons you have to battle on a daily basis, give The Soterians series a try. After all, in real life, the bad guy doesn't fall off a cliff or get blown to smithereens in the end. He's always still there, day after day, driving you crazy. I love writing about an enemy that can't be destroyed, instead of the same old suffer suffer suffer until finally the bad guy gets it between the eyes and everyone lives happily ever after. If you're interested in exploring this theme, check out Rising Shadow (you can download it for free as a PDF file, or purchase the paperback).

And while you're at it, have some fun and take the quiz on my site to find out what kind of Soterian you are. Once you do, you should also check out the Missions page to learn about some cool charities you can get involved with. And if you want to network with other Soterians, check out the bulletin boards off the Network page.

I have four more books to write: the first draft of the second one is already done, but I spend a long time editing, so don't expect to see it before the end of 2009. The first draft of the third book is halfway done, and I've outlined books four and five. If you want to join me on my quest, you can check out my Facebook page (The Soterians), follow me on Twitter (Soterians), or come back to this blog. One thing's for sure: it's bound to be a crazy journey.

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