Living at the Speed of Light

I can’t believe how fast things are happening! Look what I found on 😀

Whispering Hearts by Cassandra ChandlerWhispering Hearts is already up for pre-order!

It’s so pretty… I’m absolutely in love with this cover by Kanaxa. And the characters. And the whole book. Working with Holly Atkinson and everyone at Samhain has been an amazing experience.

I’m really excited for people to be able to read the blurb for Whispering Hearts and learn more about what’s in store for the characters come January (I know, it’s a long wait, but Gray Card will be out in October—if that helps 🙂 ).

For those of you who haven’t read Wandering Soul yet, the blurb for Whispering Hearts contains big, big spoilers. You have been warned.

I’ve heard from several people who don’t know what a poppet is. Poppets are human-shaped dolls used in sympathetic magic. I explain them in the book, but wanted to let you all know here as well since they’re mentioned in the blurb.

It’s going to be another three-post week and there will be even more news next week. So much is going on and I am so incredibly grateful!

First Drafts

I just finished the first draft of another full-length novel. Toward the end, I could see that I wasn’t going to make my projected word count. It wasn’t that any particular chapter was too short. Most of the chapters came in right about where I would expect—a good sign that the book is balanced and the pacing is where I want it. They’re all just a little light (it’s about 5k short at 72,000).

Toward the end of the piece, I read an article. A particularly ill-timed article about first drafts. It extolled the virtues of cutting down a first draft to make the piece stronger. I went back to the page nervous, watching the words not add up to my initial goal of 77 or even 80k—where I expect the finished novel to land.

It psyched me out. As I wrote, it lingered in the back of my mind, distracting me, pulling me out of the story. Not good for the process. Pushing the book aside to deal with it, I thought over how I write from nascent idea through finished product and compared it to the process the author of the article described. I recognized a vital difference.

The author is a pantser—someone who comes up with the story at the page as they’re writing. I am an outliner.  Not just an outliner, an OUTLINER. I pore over my stories for weeks before I sit down to write, making calendars of events, tracking where characters were leading up to the first moment of the story, thinking out all their back-story, doing the freaking math, for crying out loud, to make sure my pacing stays right. on. target.

Do my characters or plots still surprise me? All the time! Both while outlining and at the page. But with all this background work, those ecstatic moments of realization don’t derail the story—they enrich it.

When I sit down to write, I expand on my outline, getting down dialogue, key setting elements, actions, and the big overarching thoughts and emotions driving everyone in each scene. I don’t go into detail. I don’t spend words on description. That comes in the first edit. The result? My first drafts come in light. The first edit pads them, and then the second edit cuts them down.

I lost valuable time thinking that I was doing things wrong because I was comparing myself to someone else. I think that’s a trap writers often fall into. How do we best get these ideas out of us and into the world? We look for ideas from fellow writers, and that’s good. I’ve learned so much from others. But in the end, it’s how I synthesize all that knowledge and put it into creative practice that makes me the unique writer that I am.

What about you writers out there? Are you pantsers or outliners? Do you live for those moments of epiphany that strike your story ideas like lightning? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.