Why Game of Thrones Failed Me (And Why It Matters)

May 18, 2015

Spoiler: I’m an avid Game of Thrones fan. I’m an avid A Song of Ice and Fire fan (especially when it’s read in that dry British dialect that makes the sex scenes just so, so hilarious).

Another spoiler: I’m not sure if I’ll keep watching after last night’s episode.

I can handle a lot. I understand plot devices, and I understand that sometimes as a writer you have to break a character for them to become better, stronger, more kick-ass. I understand that sometimes to make every moody movement, every drop of blood spilt, every spirit broken matter, you have to get your hands dirty. That’s just part of writing. I get that.

Really, I do.

And sometimes you just want to take the easy road. Sometimes it’s easier to fridge a character to push along a “more prominent” character arc. Sometimes it’s easier to throw a lesser character under the bus to push your Main Character over that hill.

But in that, you should refrain.

As writers (novelists, TV writers, playwrights — all of us), it’s not our job to write an easy story. It’s our job to write a good one.

Last night, Game of Thrones failed me. Instead of ranting about it, I’ll just post what I did on Twitter last night, because I’m still shaking. After last season’s scene between Jamie and Cersei, you’d think the writers would have stopped and asked themselves, “Is this the easy way out? Who does this benefit? The main character who’s having the act done to them, or the tertiary male character who had to watch?”

Too bad they didn’t care.

[WARNING: Trigger warnings for sexual assault. If you find yourself in need of support for sexual abuse, please visit RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization.]

 

 

 

If you want to read more about last night’s episode, The Mary Sue has a really good post about why they will not be supporting GoT anymore

With all that said and done, however, I can’t say I won’t watch next week’s episode. Because sadly, I will. But I won’t watch it next week. Or the week after. I’ll watch it sometime down the road when I’m a little less hurt for Sansa, after the heat of this episode has been (hopefully) addressed in-show. While I don’t have any faith that the writers of Game of Thrones can rectify last night’s episode, here’s to hoping they’ll learn from the backlash it issued.

Whether or not that’ll happen, after last season’s controversy over the “love” scene between Jamie and Cersei… that remains to be seen.

Battling the Vampires

May 15, 2015

I have a weird method of writing (I think). I write two stories at once, constantly in rotation. One is heavier than the other, one is light-hearted, the other fun.For me, contemporary is a lot easier to write than fantasy and sci-fi, so when I draft I cycle between one of each. One contemporary, and the other sci-fi/fantasy/supernatural. When I can’t figure out how to slay a dragon, I write about kissing blue-eyed, shaggy-haired chess club presidents and best friends. For some odd reason, I can’t draft one story without the other, and with each draft and cycle I complete, the more I learn about myself and the way I write.

This last cycle, I learned that I’m more comfortable in first person, but I enjoy the challenge of third.

I learned that not every SUPERBLY WONDERFUL idea is an idea I should keep.

I learned that the situations and the scenes that make me uncomfortable, because either they breach the norms of writing, or because I’ve never read the likes of them before, should be embraced. They should challenge me. I should love the challenge.

But I also learned that some challenges I should love, I don’t. And to not force myself to loving a scene or a character or a trope that everyone says the story needs.

I learned that sometimes I have to let a character go, even if I don’t want to. Even when I think I can salvage them.

I learned that explosions are one of the best ways to both cover up a plothole while simultaneously exposing others. Use dynamite wisely.

And, most of all, I learned (and am still learning) that no matter how many times I rewrite the first sentence because does it really hook the reader? Really?, there will always be this critical, crawly, festering part of me that whispers in my ear that this is not good. You are not enough. This is trash. Why try?

And this voice–this small and festering voice–no matter how small it starts, gobbles up the rejections and bad reviews, the off-handed remarks from co-works, the advice from my family that, “Oh maybe you can do something else with your time if this doesn’t pan out?” until the whispering voice grows fat and comfortable.

It becomes the one thing I fear the most, the monster lurking over my shoulder, no longer whispering, no longer coy. It sinks its fangs deep into my heart and squeezes every time I open up my word document, every time I reach for my pencil. No matter how many books I sell or how many manuscripts I complete, growing more and more with each word I write, it breathes into my ear and says loud enough so it drowns out the universes in my head, “You aren’t good enough.”

And maybe, I start to think, it’s right. That this monster might be telling me the truth. That I’m not good enough. It doesn’t try to reason with me, this dark and roaring creature at my throat. It just is. It exists, a monster.

You’re not good enough.

Your writing is trash.

You aren’t worth anyone’s time.

Stop writing.

We writers know this voice. We all do, in some form or fashion. We know how sweet it sounds, how tempting, how truthful (because why would you doubt it?). And, as a writer, sometimes the hardest part is not killing a character or pulling off that hoodwink or typing THE END. The hardest part is learning to ignore the voice that tell you the character is trash anyway, that everyone’ll see that plot devicine coming, that you’ve wasted months of your life to get to THE END. The hardest part is plotting it out. Picking up your pencil, the callouses on your fingers cradling it like a sword–or perhaps a stake–and pressing the lead tip against your paper. The hardest part is driving that sword directly through those whispers, the you’ll never be good enoughs and the this is a waste of times, straight into the heart of the monster.

That’s always the hardest part, and the most taxing, and the least rewarding, because this is the kind of monster that will never die. The voice will be there, whispering, like the last remnants of the Twilight fandom.

But you will be there, too, writing. Because that is what we do. We write. And we write some more. And we scream and kick and howl and yalp into the void, chanting I am good. I am growing–and I am enough, because what the monster doesn’t know is that your imagination is like a lighthouse, and even in that monster’s darkness, it will always lead you home.

 

Is My Life Real? [aka How I Got An Agent]

May 9, 2015

So! Guess what guys? For those of you who haven’t been stalking me on twitter (which, if you haven’t, then none for you Glenn Coco), I signed with Holly Root of Waxman Leavell.

It’s really kind of surreal, still, when I think about. Having gone solo for so long, it feels good to have someone on my team–and not just anyone, but an agent. A flippin’ agent!

Here are my final stats:

Queries Sent: 21
Partials/Full Requests: 12
Offers: 3

Image-sets like this pulled me through four drafts of Heart of Iron [my babies with their sigils <3]

Image-sets like this pulled me through four drafts of Heart of Iron [my 3 babies with their sigils]

Looking back on it, I started querying Heart of Iron last May. It took almost an entire year to get an agent. It was a pretty rocky year querying. Between life and life and a little more life… I didn’t have time to send out a lot of queries. So I hunkered down and just did what I could when I could, no stress. Then in February, Holly Root sent out an #MSWL tweet requesting a YA space opera.

I tweeted back, “How about… PIRATES?”

She requested a query. Then a partial. And then a full.

I never understood the blog posts where authors say that “they just knew” the moment they spoke with their agent. That “something just clicked.” I wasn’t sure if they were exaggerating or if I was just the ABSOLUTE BEST CYNIC IN THE WORLD but…

I can honestly say those blog posts weren’t exaggerating. At all.

And that’s my story, really! How I found my agent.

I’m still smiling like a doofus even a month later. After almost a year of queries and fulls and rejections, something good happened. No–something great. Because while I’ll be sad if nothing ever comes of Heart of Iron, I can say with honesty that someone believed in it, and believed in me… and to be honest?

That’s pretty ballin’, too.

 

WE OWN THE NIGHT + All the Feels

April 30, 2015

So, if any of you’ve been monitoring my Twitter for the last 48 hours, you’d know that Cuddlebuggery revealed the cover for WE OWN THE NIGHT on Tuesday (you can still enter to win a copy of THE SOUND OF US! Ends Friday!). And the outpour of love and support was amazing.

I just… I don’t know what to say, y’all. WE OWN THE NIGHT is very special to me, for reasons I hope you’ll find special too when you read it.  I just. I don’t know what to say, y’all. I truly love every one of you for helping spread the word about this novel, and I hope when September comes, all of you will love the story just as much as the cover!

But for those of you who haven’t seen the cover yet….

WeOwnTheNight_FC_FNL2

THE SOUNDWAVES! THE MOON-RECORD! THE CITY! THE FREAKING TITLE TREATMENT!

AAAAH I’M SO HAPPY! Jenny over at Seedling Designs did an amazing job with it. I couldn’t be happier. I teared up when the final cover landed in my inbox. I just… it’s perfect. It’s everything WE OWN THE NIGHT is. And I couldn’t be happier!

So, in celebration of this amazing cover, I’m doing a pre-order campaign! For everyone who pre-orders, I’ll ship you a signed poster of this lovely cover and a bookmark! Just send proof of purchase to niteowlradio@gmail.com!

Also, you’ll automatically be put in the running for a NITEOWL BUNDLE PACK! Which includes all of the stuff in this picture, and e-copies of both THE SOUND OF US and WE OWN THE NIGHT!

I love my readers, and I just want to say thank you. Thank you so, so very much. Because of y’all, I’m able to grow as a writer, and I hope to keep writing stories for y’all for a long time to come!