Monday, February 25, 2013

February Features: My Lovely Editor!

I know that many of you readers are eagerly pursuing the creative writing life and hoping to some day step into the wild, weird, wonderful world of publication. So I thought, as part of these February Features, to introduce you to a slightly different side of professional fiction.

And my lovely editor, Rochelle Gloege, has agreed to do an interview!

I have been working with Rochelle since Heartless first sold. She has been an invaluable help getting my books to the very best possible level of polish before they go to print. She has an excellent eye for details, a great sense of pacing, not to mention boundless supplies of grace and encouragement . . . all necessary skills for a good editor. I have loved working with her for every manuscript and learned so much from her experience!

So please give her a warm welcome, and be certain to leave comments thanking her for her time. (Editors work under crazy schedules, so I was thrilled she managed to squeeze an interview in!)

INTERVIEW

Welcome, Rochelle! I'm so thrilled to have you here today on the Tales of Goldstone Wood blog! First of all, please tells us a little about yourself! What hobbies do you enjoy? Favorite music? Tea or coffee? Big or little family? Any pets?

Rochelle: Well, if you’re sure your readers really wish to hear about me… I’m an editor, after all, and so naturally less fascinating to the public than an author!

You’ll scarcely be surprised to learn that reading is one of my favorite hobbies. I also enjoy cooking, gardening, spending time with my family and friends, hiking, cross-country skiing, and traveling, though I don’t get to do a lot of the latter right now. As for music, I listen to a wide variety of genres—Over the Rhine and Storyhill have been longtime favorite bands—but if I were forced to pick one album today, I’d choose Gungor’s Ghosts Upon the Earth.

Tea is my drink: a blend of Assam and Ceylon in the morning and jasmine green pearls in the afternoon. If I’m really tired and need to be on alert, I’ll drink a latte with a little honey.

My husband and I have two inquisitive elementary-age children, a girl and a boy, to keep us on our toes. And our fifteen-year-old long-haired dachshund keeps a watchful eye on all of us!

Can you tell us a little about your work? What is the job description of a line editor, exactly?

Rochelle: My actual title is senior fiction editor, and I’ve always thought substantive editor or content editor better describe my job than line editor, since I often work with authors from before the time they have a manuscript. Once the author submits a partial or complete draft, I comment on the big-picture items of character development, plot, viewpoint, structure, pacing—all of the elements that give a story its life and dimension. It’s my job to stand-in as the intended audience and alert authors to both strengths (which I hope they build on) and potential weaknesses, things that might stand in the way of the story they want to tell.

Only after an author revises the manuscript do I begin the finer, more detail-oriented work people frequently associate with line editing: editing for clarity and author intent (what does the author mean?), continuity (within a book and, when it applies, a series), coherence, and conciseness. Since I edit fiction, the emphasis on brevity varies more than it might with nonfiction; some genres simply require more detail, and not every author is meant to be as spare a writer as Hemingway! Generally I leave questions of grammar and fact checking to the copy editor, though of course I tend to those items as well when I notice them. It’s unwise to assume someone else will catch a mistake!

Ultimately, my goal as an editor is to help authors write their best possible stories, and I pray for wisdom in that task. Readers should only notice the work I do insofar as they don’t notice my editing at all; a good editor doesn’t leave tracks.

When did you decide that a career in publishing was for you? How did you get started?

After my freshman year, I did an unpaid internship at the publisher where I now work. I loved books, and the idea that I might be able to make a living by working with them was energizing. I tailored my major (communications with a concentration in writing) to the end goal of getting a job in publishing and took coursework in everything from writing (creative, essay, journalistic, ad writing, technical) to English literature, philosophy, logic, theology, and art and music history. I even took a course focused on the Chicago Manual of Style, the style Bible for most book publishers.

Were you a bookworm growing up? What were some of your favorite books?

Absolutely I was a bookworm! I read whenever I could, and I read aloud to whomever would listen—my four younger siblings provided a usually willing (I hope!) audience. Because we lived twenty miles from the nearest library during many of my growing-up years, I read whatever I could get my hands on, and I reread my favorite books multiple times. The genres I found myself most drawn to were mystery and fantasy, and the books I returned to most often were those by Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, as well as Watership Down, The Secret Garden, and The Little House books, which I found surprisingly easy to relate to, being I lived on the edge of a big woods!

How did you end up working for Bethany House? Did you work other editing positions before the one you have now?

My initial internship was invaluable in exposing me to many aspects of the editorial process: For eighteen months, I evaluated fiction and nonfiction manuscripts for their publishing potential, proofread, and entered editors’ corrections (some substantive or line editors still edited only on paper in those days, something almost unthinkable now!). That last aspect gave me a window into the true nature of an editors’ work—it was extremely helpful to see the choices respected editors had made and consider why they might have made them. After that, I put in my time, working for a publisher of nonfiction self-help books and then a publisher of gift books, moving further up the ladder of responsibility with each position. Nearly twenty years ago, Bethany House hired me to edit their young adult and children’s books, and eventually I became the editorial director of that area of their publishing line. I missed working more directly with manuscripts, however; for the past ten years, my focus has been on editing fiction for adults.

What sorts of skills do you think benefit someone wanting to become a fiction editor?

Read widely and deeply; take a closer look to find out what makes books work or not. Good reading involves thinking, and an observant eye and a good memory are key! It’s also vital to be able to communicate well and tactfully: You are working with people who have (hopefully) poured their heart and soul into their manuscript, and it’s important to respect and be sensitive to that while also upholding the standards of the publishing house one represents. The editorial process isn’t meant to be adversarial but to enhance an author’s gifts and story. Editors should also be flexible, since no two manuscripts or authors—or publishing houses—are alike. A background in diplomacy wouldn’t be amiss!

Of course there are some majors that are more obvious fits for an editorial career: English, journalism, or communications are always wise choices, but depending on what one is editing, a more specialized major such as theology might be just as useful or even expected.

Any of advice or encouragement to those out there who might like to pursue a career in publishing?

If you can secure an internship to get some practical hands-on experience in what the real-world business is like, do it! Publishing is definitely in a state of evolution right now as people migrate from brick-and-mortar bookstores to alternative sales channels, and from printed text to digital formats—there are more books available than ever, yet also fewer traditional publishers. Find creative, proactive ways to make yourself stand out from other would-be editors; gain experience wherever you can find it. While your heart may be with fiction, remember that all kinds of writing can benefit from editing and can be used as a starting point.

Can you break down for us what your basic work on a single manuscript might look like?

What my work looks like necessarily varies from book to book, which is one reason why I enjoy my job! The more time and thought an author has been able to put into a manuscript, the less there is for me to do. (You, Anne Elisabeth, are a case in point!) But the editorial process itself follows a set pattern: I (and often at least one other editor) read the draft and comment on it, the author does revisions, and then I begin the hands-on process of actually editing manuscript. Typically I read through a manuscript twice at this stage; once the surprises of the initial read are past, I can really see what is there and what still might need refining. After that, the manuscript goes to the copy editor and then on to the author for another look. It’s also my role to address any queries the copy editor, author, and subsequent proofreaders might have, as well as to shepherd the book through the typesetting process all the way through to the digital text proofs that arrive from the printer. One thing is certain: I will see a book many times and in many forms before it goes to press!

When you read for pleasure and not for the job, which authors do you find yourself turning to?

With two elementary-age children, my free time looks different than it used to, and I’m thoroughly enjoying this stage of life. I’m rereading many childhood favorites to my children; it’s so much fun to see them drawn in by the stories I loved at their age. My daughter shares my bookworm tendencies and often asks me to read books that have especially resonated with her so that we can talk about them. How can I resist? As a result, I currently read a lot of middle-grade and young adult fiction. Some particular standouts have been Jeanne Birdsall’s Penderwicks series, When You Reach Me, and So B. It. Terry Prachett’s Dodger awaits me on my bedside table, as does Katherine Boo’s All the Beautiful Forevers and Todd Boss’s Pitch (yeah, poetry—nothing else quite like it to cut to the essence of something). I like to mix up genres—keeps me thinking!

Any final thoughts with which you'd like to leave my readers?

Whether you are a writer, editor, or reader, be thoughtful and engaged in the process, and invest your gifts as fully as you are able. As 1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “…whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.” You won’t regret it!

______________
 
 
What a fabulous interview! I learned a lot from reading that, and I hope all of you did as well. As you can all see, Rochelle is a woman after our own hearts . . .
 
Are any of you interested in pursuing the editing side of fiction? Do tell!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Fantasy Authors of Tomorrow: Camryn Lockhart!

A warm welcome to Camryn, another regular commentor on this blog, and a lovely young woman! Camryn just signed up with my mentoring program this last Christmas, so we haven't been working together long. However, she has already impressed me with an enormous imagination, ready to tackle epic and exciting storylines that are sure to thrill boys and girls alike! You can tell within a few sentences of Camryn's story that she grew up with a passel of brothers. Her work is full of action and adventure enough to keep a reader breathless and eager for more.

Camryn has kindly agreed to share a little of herself and her work with us today. She's also offering a fun giveaway, so be certain to check that out at the end of this post! But now, the lady herself . . .


Camryn Lockhart lives in Maryland with her parents, five little brothers, little sister, and a Great Dane. She likes to sing around the house and draws in her spare time. Writing is her passion among all her interests. She strives to put God first and implement her faith in all she does, including writing.



And now a little information on the wonderful story Camryn has been working on with my mentoring program! Presenting . . . .


“Starting at sunset, the banishment is in place. No longer shall this pestilence plague us. No longer will they implement laws that we do not wish to follow. No longer will we have to tolerate . . . the Falcon Masters.”
 
With a ban against their very existence, the Falcon Masters are forced into hiding or risk losing their lives. In the ensuing chaos, twins are born—a girl and a boy—who are swiftly separated, growing up with two different lives. After the daughter, Saige, turns seventeen, a hurtful comment about her heritage sends her running into the woods, but she unknowingly runs into a spellbound faerie portal and falls into the clutches of a Wild Hunter
 
In the whirlwind of events that follow, Saige learns about her long lost brother and that her father might still be alive. More than that, according to an ancient prophecy, the civil war afflicting the land of Muireach can be stopped by her alone. Will she be up to the challenge? Or will she fall in the face of evil? Can Saige learn in time the value of family and how strong faith can be?


Doesn't that make you want to dive into the adventure right away? Camryn is here with us today for an interview, so you can learn more about her and her work. Happy reading!

INTERVIEW
 
Hi, Camryn! First of all, why don't you tell us a little about yourself. Are you an extrovert or an introvert? Do you like tea or coffee? Cats or dogs? Indoors or outdoors? Sports or crafts? Anything you want to tell us!
 
Camryn: Wow, where to start?  I am the eldest of seven children, five boys and two girls.  I am homeschooled, in my senior year of high school and hoping to make writing my career.
 
I think of myself as an introvert since I like time alone.  Although, I can be pretty outgoing when the time calls for it, such as making friends after I’ve moved into a new area.
 
I don’t like tea or coffee, but I like hot cocoa and sweet tea!  I love cats (they make me laugh with their antics!), but I prefer to only visit them, not take care of them.  I love dogs (again, antics, laughing, etc.), but I absolutely adore wolves.  If I could have one as a pet and not be concerned about my well-being, I would do it in a heartbeat!
 
I like being indoors and outdoors, depending on the weather.  Reading inside while it rains or reading outside sitting in a blooming tree makes no difference to me!  I dislike intense summer heat or intense cold and autumn is my favorite season.
 
Sports aren’t my thing, but only because I’m not as good at them as everyone else is (I’m a bit vertically challenged, so any tall guys at my youth group would trounce me at Ultimate Frisbee).  I enjoy them, otherwise!
 
I am into crafts!  I like to knit, crochet, make friendship bracelets; and drawing (that counts right?).  Anything that piques my interest, I learn how to do.  But I doubt I’ll ever be a professional in those things.
 
I play piano and guitar and dabble in a few woodwinds like the penny whistle, but for the life of me I can’t figure out the flute.  I love to sing and my dream role on Broadway is Eponine from Les Mis√©rables.  And, of course, I like to write!
 

When did you first decide you wanted to be a novelist?
 
Camryn: When I was 11, I saved enough money to buy my own laptop. On it, I discovered a Word Pad.  I asked my mom if I could write a story on it and, with her permission, proceeded to do just that…it wasn’t very good.  Then again, I was eleven!  I have been writing ever since then, whether little short stories, fanfictions or novels in the making.
 
What was the first story you can remember writing down? Did you ever finish it?
 
Camryn: The story I started writing on my laptop at 11 years old was actually the first story I remember writing.  It was about a girl named Penny (short for Penelope) who went on a journey visiting strange creatures and people.  There was some sort of intrigue with this masked man following her, and I think he was a bounty hunter sent by her father, but I never finished it so I can’t remember and I lost it in cyberspace long ago.
 
 
What are some of your favorite books? Have they influenced your own writing?
 
Camryn: The Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan was and is one of my favorites!  It inspired the story I am currently working on.  Touches of his work might influence the costume of my characters. 
 
Robin McKinley’s The Blue Sword and The Outlaws of Sherwood were my also some of my favorite adventures in my early teens and I still hold them dear now.  My inspiration for adventure stories most likely came from her; or maybe my own thirst for adventure spurred me on to write about such things.
 
Les Mis√©rables by Victor Hugo is a recent favorite of mine due to a friend a year ago doing a play adaption his senior year.  I read it and fell in love with Hugo’s style of writing.  I found that after I read a chapter or two from Les Miserables, my writing followed after Hugo’s long descriptions and explanations.  He definitely motivated me to aspire for beautiful descriptions that make people cry!  Well, perhaps not cry.  Tearing up will do.
And then of course, Anne Elisabeth’s wonderful Tales of Goldstone Wood!  Her books showed me that I can write something exciting and write about my faith in Christ. 
All in all, I think these authors influenced me toward the fantasy genre that I have stuck with the past few years. 
 
What is a one-sentence summary of the manuscript you are currently writing?
 
Camryn: When civil war breaks out the Falcon Masters are caught in between—their leader captured, his newborn twins are split at birth—and when the eldest daughter, Saige, grows up, she has to come to terms with who she is and stop the civil war that has plagued her country her whole life, learning that a little faith goes a long way.
 
What is the most important lesson you've learned in your first few weeks of mentoring?
 
Camryn: Location, location, location!  In my writings, I sometimes focus too much on situations and the emotional turmoil, and then lose sight of the setting itself.  It’s actually something that I struggle with a lot.  I’m a very visual person, so when I have to describe a place I’ve never seen, I run into quite a few challenges. 
 

What tricks do you try when you face writer's block?
 
Camryn: Usually when I am stuck with a scene or a story, I step back and ask myself, ‘Where do I want to go with this?  What do I hope to accomplish by the end of this scene/story?’ Once my main goal is back in perspective, I forge ahead with my writing.  But what do I do when I have a case of writer’s block and I don’t know what I am going to do next?  Then I turn off my computer or shut my notebook and go play video games with my brothers or help my mom cook.  Sometimes your brain simply needs a break! 
 

Who is your favorite character in your current manuscript and why?
 
Camryn: I haven’t been attached to one yet, but if I had to pick it would be Caedmon.  He is a part of a small group that originated as pranksters but became mercenaries during the civil war.  Caedmon is a gentle and strong man who has only loved one girl his whole life.  He has internal struggles that I have in my own life and I find that I like him for how he is able to handle them. 
 
Would you share an excerpt from your current work-in-progress?
 
The Falcon Master
Excerpt
 
Saige cried but didn't want to admit it.  She hadn’t cried since she was fifteen. Why should she start now?  Angrily, she wiped her tears away with the back of her hand.  She couldn’t see through the rain and her tears and had absolutely no idea where she was going.  Arrowynd, her mount, trotted along at her leisure.  Eventually, Saige had the good sense to rein her horse in and take account of her surroundings.  Her mouth fell open in surprise.  They were much closer to her village of Kething than she thought.
 
The woods she had grown up playing by loomed before her in the cold mist.  Though the sight of her childhood playground should have comforted her, a chill was gradually working up her spine to the nape of her neck.  She shivered and rubbed the reins between her fingers in thought.
 
After the day her best friend, Jareth, disappeared into the woods, her foster parents forbade her from ever going near Sparevan Wood again.  Her freedom was further restricted when reports reached the village of disappearances similar to Jareth’s all over Kilfatar and Muireach.  One hundred and thirty children in total had vanished into the woods, all around the same age.  They were not seen again.  Saige was kept close to home until it was ingrained in her to never approach the forest.
 
And she hadn’t.  Saige had been a good, obedient child, listening to what her elders said, doing as they told her.  She was stubborn for sure, but good-hearted, which was why the fact that she still stood before the forest and hadn’t turned back yet baffled her.
 
Long after that day, when she would look back and try to explain what happened next, Saige would blame her rampant emotions, or say that she missed Jareth.  Truthfully, however, she could not pinpoint quite why she went into the woods.  Perhaps she did not see the floating lanterns of the will-o’-the-wisps dancing around inside the tree line, or perhaps she did not feel their magic draw her into the enchantment they spun.
 
For on that day, Saige decided to enter the imposing forest.  She did so bravely, riding in with her head held high, her horse prancing in excitement.  The trees hidden by the curtain of rain moved aside silently at the will-o’-the-wisps bidding and welcomed the long-awaited girl into its enveloping arms.
 
*****
 
A man descended a steep incline.  The rain blew in his hooded face, eradicating the purpose of his thick, fur cloak altogether.  Regardless, he pulled the edges of the cloak further around himself, attempting to keep warm.  The ground leveled out into a flat forest floor.
 
He glanced back up the mountain and saw the silhouette of a village in the rainy mist.  The reason he had been summoned there was obscure, to say the least.  A messenger bird had come to his cabin two days ago with a note saying to come to the Twin Summits as soon as possible.
 
When he arrived, he made his way directly to the Nest, the council room of the Falcon Masters.  The falconer captains and generals sat in their crescent of seats with him at the center as he waited for their explanation.  He sat there for nearly an hour before one of them spoke.  It was an older man with long silvery hair.
 
“Bowen,” his rough voice said, “Travel to the border of the forest where the villages Keld and Kething are one.  Wait there until you see the White Falcon fly.”
 
Then they dismissed him.
 
So now he stood at the mountain base in cold weather that chilled him to his bones, heading somewhere with only a vague clue as to why he was there.  Bowen sighed and turned his face up to the weeping sky.
 
“Why me?” he muttered.  There was no answer.  He sighed and resumed his muddy trek downward.  It was going to be a long, wretched day.
 
*****
Something’s wrong…
 
Saige peered at the trees around her as she passed them.  The bark was as black as pitch, but looked as smooth as marble.  A moment ago, she could have sworn the bark had been brown.  The leaves that she could see hanging from the lower branches looked like teardrops of emerald dangling from the boughs.  But it was autumn and the leaves she had seen before entering the wood were orange and gold.  She had never seen trees like these before.
 
There was no more wind; not even a breath of a breeze existed, and yet the air was not stale.  It wasn’t raining anymore either.  In fact, it was as if it had never rained in the first place.  Saige looked up to the sky, but the branches of the trees interwove to make a tightly-knit canopy, blotting out the sky and any rain that might fall through.
 
"That must be what is blocking out the rain,” she muttered, as if to reassure herself.  But even she, deep down inside, could tell that she was not in the Sparevan wood of her childhood.
 
The trees were mere handbreadths away from each other, but parted wherever she went.  Clawed branches stuck out like they were trying to catch her hair.  Saige slowly became unsettled.  She felt like something--or someone--was watching her.  Regretting her hasty decision to enter the wood, Saige sat back in her saddle and pulled Arrowynd to a stop.
 
“Something isn’t right.  Maybe we should go back…”
 
Suddenly, an owl came screeching down.  It stretched its sharp talons out and began scratching the horse’s face.  Arrowynd neighed shrilly and reared, lashing out her hooves at the bird.  Saige gasped and tried to keep her seat.
 
“Whoa, girl!  Steady!”
 
Her soothing was in vain.  The large owl kept attacking and the mare kept rearing.  Then the powerful beast lunged several feet in one stride.  Saige screamed and clung desperately to the saddle horn.  The great-horned bird pursued.
 
***** 
Bowen huddled between the roots of a giant tree, his fur cloak wrapped around him to keep him warm.  He had been waiting there for a day and a half now, with no sign of the White Falcon.  He ground his teeth and crossly readjusted himself in his uncomfortable niche.

Before he settled, he heard an inhuman shriek.  Bowen leapt to his feet, ready for anything.  He listened intently to the silence of the Ebony Weald looming to his left.  That sounded like a horse.  The tall man peered into the dark trees and listened.  Another scream rang out; this one decidedly human and female. 

A whooshing sounded above him and when he looked up, he saw the pale belly of a white bird flying into the depths of the ebony trees.  The White Falcon… he thought.  With a deep breath, Bowen dove into the thick trees, following the pale bird and the echoes of the feminine cries.
 
 
 
What an exciting selection! Thank you so much for sharing, Camryn.
 
And now, Camryn has offered a lovely work of original art as a giveaway to one lucky winner! Here it is:
 
 
If you would like to win this Falcon Master poster, enter your name in the drawing below. And be certain to thank Camryn for sharing with us today. I'm sure we will all be eager to read the final product as soon as Falcon Master is complete!
 
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/0cd5244/" rel="nofollow">a Rafflecopter giveaway




Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Fantasy Authors of Tomorrow: Hannah Williams!


Many of you faithful readers will recognize Hannah as one of the regular commentors on this blog. She always brings insight and cheerfulness, not to mention her love of books and gift of art! Many of the fan art pieces to be found on the various Goldstone Wood web pages were done by Hannah . . . and they are all, without exception, beautiful.
 
What you might not have known is that Hannah is also a talented storyteller! She signed up for my mentoring program a few months ago and impressed me with a vivacious writing voice, full of lively expression, wit, and charm. But a dark thread weaves through it all, adding a dimension of seriousness that makes the story all the more interesting.
 
I've invited Hannah to come share a little bit about herself and her current manuscript with all of you. First, her author bio:



 
Hannah Williams is a sixteen year-old homeschooler living in the lush valleys of Oregon. She doesn’t mind the rain because it gives her an excuse to stay inside and write. She lives on a house on a knoll with her parents, big brother, her Grammie, and three dogs, five cats, six chickens, two guinea pigs, and one goat. Her passions are writing and illustrating epic stories of good and evil. She is a geek of all things Tolkien and Stengl. She hopes to one day publish her books, and she hopes her stories will bring glory to God.
 
And now I know you're eager to hear what her story is about! So here is it's short summary:
 

 
He alone could save the world . . . but only if he is saved first.
 
Long ago, the elven king hid away his most precious book, the Moonscript, for it held the secrets of the unreachable Higher World. Evil has long sought htis knowledge . . . and now the heir to the Moonscript has vanished . . . .
 
Such stories should have nothing to do with Tellie.
 
Young Tellie is a simple orphan girl with one desire in her heart--to find a family. But on her journey, she discovers a mysterious treasure and is suddenly pulled into the outside world. Her dreams of family and home are forced aside as Tellie is plunged into an adventure she may not survive. If she is to escape, she must resceu a fellow prisoner, the only person left alive who can keep the Moonscript a secret.
 
But which will be harder--rescuing him from the dungeons . . . or from himself?
 
 
Hannah is here today with an interview, so you can get to know her and her writing a little better. Enjoy . . . and be sure to check below for a chance to win a fun giveaway!
 
INTERVIEW
 
Hi, Hannah! First of all, why don't you tell us a little about yourself. Are you an extrovert or an introvert? Do you like tea or coffee? Cats or dogs? Indoors or outdoors? Sports or crafts? Anything you want to tell us!

Hannah: Hi, Anne Elisabeth! Thank you SO much for featuring me on your blog. It is such a privilege!
I really love staying home with my family, but when I do go out and about, I like to think of myself as a friendly, sociable person. As for tea or coffee, I’d have to say…hot chocolate! I know, I know, that wasn’t an option. Tea is preferable over coffee, if you must know. I have both cats and dogs, and I don’t know which are better. I love the beauty of outdoors, but I tend to be lazy and stay indoors.  I’ve never been particularly fond of either sports or crafts, but besides writing, I LOVE to draw! I live in Oregon with my Dad, Mom, Grammie, and Big Brother. 

When did you first decide you wanted to be a novelist?
Hannah: I’ve always loved coming up with stories, but when I was around nine I came up with an “epic” story. My older cousin encouraged me to write it, and so I did. When I was finished, it was a hundred pages. Excited, I read it to my long-suffering brother, and two cousins. And of course, they complimented it very sweetly. Though I now know that the story must have been difficult to listen to (at least without laughing) their encouragement convinced me that I could be a writer. I haven’t stopped writing books since. J

What was the first story you can remember writing down? Did you finish it?
Hannah: Oh dear. One Christmas when I was four I got a huge stuffed tiger.  I adored it and decided to write stories about it. I dubbed him Shere Kahn. Realize that I was not a fan of the evil tiger in Disney’s Jungle Book. I simply saw it as the only name that could belong to a tiger. I must admit, I don’t remember what the plot of the story was. I think it was a love story between Shere Khan and a beautiful tigress. I think the villain was a black lynx. (Yeah, I know, big competition for a tiger.) It was a few pages long, illustrated, and bound in colored paper. It went on to become a trilogy about his son, Bagerea, and his granddaughter Ruby. (Finally, some originality!)

What are some of your favorite books? Have they influenced your own writing?

Hannah: The Lord of the Rings launched me forth in my love of fantasy. Tolkien’s work still inspires me today. Since then, favorite books have come in and dropped out of my favor. More recently, I discovered your Tales of Goldstone Wood. I adored these books instantly because you wrote stories exactly how I wanted them to be written. (Happy endings are a must for me!) My current three favorites (excluding the Lord of the Rings) are:

1.      The Tales of Goldstone Wood by Anne Elisabeth Stengl
2.      The Lost Conspiracy by Frances Hardenge
3.      The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley.

The last two books have cultures I don’t explore a lot in my stories, but they totally inspired me! I cannot recommend them enough.

What is a one-sentence summary of the manuscript you are currently writing?
Hannah: A simple orphan girl must save an elven prince from a darkness that desires to destroy the sinless world he is descended from.

What is the most important lesson you've learned during these last few months of mentoring
Hannah: The very first month held the biggest changes in my story. While the plot was basically the same as it is now, my main character was not Tellie at all, but a boring young man named Mirn. I pretty much had him just to be our window for looking at the story. I took little interest in Mirn. My mentor, Anne, saw this with eagle-eyed clarity right away. She encouraged me to try Moonscript with a different main character, a character who I could know and love. She wanted me to write a character I could understand so that I would write with conviction. My new character, Tellie, abounded with life, and suddenly I was just as interested in her story as with Errances’. This led me to better understand Errance and the rest of my characters in my books.

What tricks do you try when you face writer's block?
Hannah: I haven’t faced serious writer’s block a whole lot yet, but just a few weeks ago I slammed into a writer’s wall. My wonderful mentor, Anne Elisabeth Stengl, wrote me a very encouraging e-mail that lifted my spirits, and I started seeking ways to jump this writer’s wall. Luckily, I have an older brother who I consider to be the funniest person in the world.  I asked him to help me, and he glibly launched forth on his version of my story. After sorting through random things like navy seals and Kohl gift cards, I discovered that there were a few things he said that inspired me. My new idea leapt over the wall, and now it is an important theme in the story.

Who is your favorite character in your current manuscript and why?
Hannah: I adore my elf prince, Errance. He’s SO complicated. He was raised by a wise and loving father in a beautiful land for his first twenty years. Then—Spoiler—he is captured by demons and imprisoned for seventy years. Thus he is conflicted. He still is a noble man, dauntless and heroic, hating evil and refusing to aid it under extreme penalty. Yet after seventy years of VERY negative influence, Errance has darkened. He’ll say things or do things you don’t expect of an elf prince. He distrusts almost everybody and hates touch. He is often depressed and pessimistic. I really dove into trying to understand Errance. For the most part, I’m like Tellie: unaware of everything he’s gone through. But I really feel like I’ve captured his struggles well. He was almost more comfortable being in prison—at least there he knew who he was and what the intentions of everyone around him were. Now—back out in the outside world—he is afraid, but determined not to let anyone know it. As the book progresses we see how characters and events slowly draw him out of his self-made imprisonment. It’s so wonderful to watch him relax, lighten up, become attached, and learn to love again. He has a surprising sense of humor! J

And this doesn’t quite have to do with the question, but I really wanted to make it clear that there is no romance with Tellie and Errance (except for Tellie’s initial crush). Actually, Tellie tries to become a matchmaker for “big brother” Errance and hopes to pair him up with a special young lady.

Would you share an excerpt from your current work-in-progress?

Hannah: Oh my goodness, I’d love to!


Excerpt from

Moonscript


“Aren’t you looking forward to seeing home again?” Tellie asked.
Errance shrugged. His silence shocked Tellie, who was expecting an instant confirmation. “Aren’t you?” she repeated.
“I don’t know,” he murmured. “I can barely remember it. If I return—I’m not sure I’ll…fit in.”
The girl went still and her eyes widened. That was her problem, not his. He was the prince; he didn’t have to worry about fitting in. But he did. The seventy years had mauled him into a completely different person. She staggered past the idea and said, “Well, this is your chance at a new life.” She tried to make her voice perky and confident, but she felt like the tone simply hit him and dropped dead.
Folding his arms, Errance pressed his lips together tightly. His bitter laugh choked in his throat. “Life. What’s that?” he spat.
The last of the day’s sunlight slipped behind the cloud cover, and the forest fell under shadow. A light rain began to fall, and the remnant of Tellie’s good mood fell with it. “Please, Errance,” she pleaded. “Don’t say things like that.”
He huffed a breath, but with the little light she had, she thought she saw him wince, almost as if he was sorry for upsetting her. “All right. It’s just…I’m finding living difficult.”
“Most people think death is worse,” she snapped back.
A scowl flashed over his face. “So I’m accustomed to death.”
The shower turned into a downpour and Tellie’s clothes and hair started to stick to her skin. She shook her head and hoped the water in her eyes came from the rain. “But Errance, isn’t life, no matter how hard—worth it?”
His gaze dropped. “I…” He took a deep breath. “I don’t know.”
She hunkered into herself, wrapping her arms in tight. She found it difficult to speak. “Errance,” she moaned. “You’ve completely lost your sense of self-worth.”
“Tell me something I don’t know,” he said bitterly.
His sharp tone scraped against Tellie’s heart, but at that moment she suddenly thought of a clever reply. “All right then,” she said. “You’re ugly.”
“WHAT?”
She laughed. She couldn’t help it. His startled, almost-hurt, expression could have amused anyone, even someone at a funeral. “Well, at least you still have your vanity!” she gasped between her giggles.
But the prince seemed to find nothing amusing or clever about her joke, and he turned his head away to fix his gaze on some random tree. His cold expression drowned Tellie’s humor, and in that instant, Tellie suddenly realized she was getting wet. “Uh,” she gasped. “Let’s get out of the rain.” Forgetting herself, she went to grab his arm.
Instantly, Errance jerked his arm out of her grasp.
Tellie planted a fist on her hip and shook a finger at him. “Errance, come on, you don’t have to act that way with me. I’m only fourteen!”
            “Really? I thought you were all grown-up?”
She stared at him. Was he teasing her? He was still looking away from her, but she almost thought she could see a twinkle in his eye, though it might have been rain-water. It was too dark for her to tell. Could it be possible that he had been amused by her jest? That he had actually made his only little witticism in return? “Yes, well, I’m sort of grown-up,” she hedged. “Can we please get out of the rain?”

 



Thank you so much for sharing with us today, Hannah! I know we are all eager to see this story play out . . . and hopefully find it on bookstore shelves in another few years!

In the meanwhile, you readers may continue enjoying little bits nad pieces of Hannah's writing via her brand new blog: The Writer's Window. Go take a look and follow her blog! Right after you've entered your name in the giveaway below . . . .

And now for the giveaway. Hannah has made a GORGEOUS bookmark to offer to one lucky winner! Take a look at this artristry:
 
 
 
If you would like to win this lovely Moonscript bookmark, be sure to enter your name in the raffle below! And take a moment to thank Hannah for her time today.
 
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