Thursday, April 16, 2015

Emma Burke: to Contract, or not to Contract

ARCHETYPE PB"Voices articulate words—No, we don’t need her anymore; put her with the others—and I struggle to make sense of them to no avail. I know what they say is important. So important. Vital. Yet all meaning flashes through the vast darkness of my mind, fleeting streaks of lightning. Alluring, coaxing, but gone before I can decipher patterns in the chaos."
If there's one common theme to most of the reviews and blog posts out there for ARCHETYPE & PROTOTYPE, it's that Emma doesn't use contractions. 
Don't be alarmed, but... I'm not a fan of this either. For completely different reasons. One being...I've used six contracted words in this post already, and we've (7) only just begun. Writing two entire novels without contractions (the exception being the dialogue for all other characters) was insanely hard. Unless you've tried this and know, you have no idea. Try guessing, then increase that by a million. 
I'd go through and answer every question posed about this, but then you'd probably catch on to the fact that I'm a total stalker. No, not really. Only sometimes. Just a little.
What? I get bored.
So here's WHY I chose to go contraction-less. I listened to the voice in my head. It's as simple as that. I like to think all my characters have their own distinct voice, and Emma's just one example of how different they sound in my head. Emma is soft spoken, very sweet sounding actually, and speaks carefully. Slowly. 
“You are my wife,” he tells me.
I study his lips while they frame the words. He has a lovely mouth and I reach out to touch it often, but he never lets me. He says I must focus on one thing at a time.
“I am your wife,” I say carefully, and the words sound right, so I smile.
In the beginning, the voice came to me this way, and it was natural. I didn't think about it at all for pages and pages. I remember getting to a point and sitting bolt upright with the realization that I hadn't used a single contracted word for Emma's voice. And I loved it. I thought, "Man, that's pretty darn clever, Misty!" I'm all "It's a clue!" and it sort of is. But really it's because she woke up and literally had to relearn to speak.
(What's the age a child finally learns to use contractions? Anyone? My kid is four, and still doesn't contract. I'm sure it's different for every kid, but... I'm just saying. A&P spans two years.)
I struggled after that with when to have Emma start contracting. First, it was going to be a quarter of the way through. Then it was the halfway mark. Then I actually did write the entire last quarter with contractions. Want to know what happened?
Her voice changed.
I panicked at that point, because she wasn't the same character anymore. She was "Emma 1.0" through and through, and I didn't want that. The plan was never to have her revert back to her previous self. To do that, she'd have to unlearn everything she'd just gone through, and wouldn't her months spent in ARCHETYPE have redefined her in some way? For me, the answer was obvious. YES. They absolutely had.
Then PROTOTYPE came along, and of course I'm struggling with the same question. To contract, or not to contract? A few pages in, I was all over those contractions. I'm telling myself that a year and a half has passed, so of course Emma's learned to use them by now. Except the woman in my head--that already wasn't coming to me as easily as she had in ARCHETYPE--spoke hard and fast. She didn't sound sweet, she sounded bitter. She was thoughtless.
(I like to call her my "go-to" voice when the characters aren't talking to me. Explaining that would take a whole other blog post.) 
That's how Emma ended up contraction-free in PROTOTYPE. It wasn't a product of "bad writing" or "lazy writing" (<--that one makes me laugh right out loud) or to annoy everyone. The logical writer in me knew going in that I could possibly be sacrificing readers, and she was right. But sacrificing that voice would have killed the story I was trying to tell, and it was an essential brush stroke to this entire canvas. 
“No, Emma.”
He lifts his head, and eyes the color of seawater stare back at me. I know this color because it is in a large photograph in my room. They tell me the photograph is of the sea before, but they do not tell me before what.
“I do not understand,” I say.
He leans back in his chair and combs hair away from his face with long, slender fingers. The dark strands slick back and hold in their usual style. “You’re repeating my words only to please me.”
He turns his head and squints into the sun shining through the windows. With an elbow propped on the chair’s arm, he raises a hand to his chin and massages his jaw.
Leaning forward, I attempt to catch his gaze with my own. “This is what you wanted,” I whisper.
Those beautiful eyes turn my way and he stops rubbing his chin, still saying nothing. He only watches me in agonizing silence. Then, abruptly, he stands and buttons the front of his suit jacket. It is dark blue today. I like this color on him.
Bending over me, he presses a whisper-soft kiss to my temple. “One day you will say it and believe it.”
He leaves the room and now I understand. I must learn about this word “wife.”

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

5 Signs that your #Writer might be Schizophrenic


We joke about it all the time. Writers, that is. But let's look at Schizophrenia seriously for a moment. 

Behavioral Signs:

1 - Disorganized Behavior. Have you seen a writer's des—? OH, shiny! Where was I? Oh, right. Tweeting. Oh crap, I should finish that chapter first. When was the last time I ate?

2 - Social Isolation. I recently heard a writer friend refer to herself as a "violent introvert." Socializing makes me extremely nervous, and if I could isolate myself from the entire world... Put a bunch of writers in a room, and we'll spend hours discussing how this is our greatest wish. Then we'll talk about our schizophrenia. Then we'll run out of things to talk about, smile politely while looking for a way to flee the room for that aforementioned isolation. Go ahead. Tell me I'm wrong.


4 - Hyperactivity. OhMyGodOhMyGodOhMyGod. I had the best story idea today. OhMyGodOhMyGodOhMyGod.

5 - Nonsense word repetition. Oh look. I just used that...and just...10 times in that paragraph. Maybe I should do a search for my other repeaters, like blinkedand gritted, and furrowed, and...and...and... There has to be another way to describe a turning stomach. I mean, seriously.

Don't even get me started on the voices. There be all the voices.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

#Prototype Release, and OH! #SDCC!

The last of my Emma babies is out in the world! *sniff* I can't believe it! What a crazy year, and it's only half over. Today marks my THIRD release this year. My last unless something crazy pops up--keep an eye on my Wattpad, because you NEVER KNOW.
Never fear. I'm working super hard to get more books out, so don't go anywhere!
In other news, I'll be at San Diego Comic Con this weekend!! Here's where/when you can find me:
FRIDAY: Penguin Booth #1028 @ 4pm for a "Friday Firsts" signing with Lydia Kang and Walter Jury! I'll be signing paperback copies of ARCHETYPE. 
SATURDAY: PANEL: Sci-fi, Robot, and AI, Oh My! Room 7AB at NOON. I'll be staring hard at authors Daniel H. Wilson, Jason Hough, Daniel Price, Andy Weir, and Nick Cole! Afterward, you can find me signing copies of PROTOTYPE @ 1:30, Table AA09. 
COME SEE ME! LET'S HANG OUT! I'll be stalking Stephen Amell if you feel like tagging along.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

July #PROTOTYPE Giveaway & New Excerpt

eBook Available Now!
eBook Available Now!
This is officially the LAST raffle (from me, anyway) to get an advanced copy of PROTOTYPE! Can you believe she releases on the 24th?! So close!
Let's make this raffle extra special, shall we? How about a signed hardcover set?? First place winner will win both ARCHETYPE & PROTOTYPE. Hardcovers. Signed.
Following winners have a chance to win a signed ARC of PROTOTYPE (the advanced paperback version), a signed paperback of ARCHETYPE with it's crazy good cover, or an ARCHETYPE T-shirt.
Just for stopping by, everyone gets an excerpt! Here's one of my favorite parts. Little background: Emma's running from men who are trying to capture her.
I do not look back but instead listen to the dropping off of footfalls and, according to their tones, frustrated curses. I run into the trees and lose several more. Well into the first mile, I reach the entrance to a cemetery. Stone steps lead up the steep hillside. Aging statues of angels, heads bowed in prayer, frame either side of the entrance. Ivy winds up their ethereal bodies. Loose green leaves carpet each step. The sun shines through dense foliage, casting heavenly fingers around the blessed area.
I duck behind large headstones, hoping to lose whoever still follows. When I think I have been out of sight for a while, I push through the door of a mausoleum and close myself inside. Dust particles float in shafts of sunlight from small windows near the top. Three stone coffins fill the space. Dried flowers rise stiffly from dust-coated ceramic vases.
Voices sound close outside and I scramble to the nearest coffin to test the lid. The stone is heavy but scrapes aside with little trouble. A putrid and dank-scented cloud encapsulates the air around me. My gag reflex hitches and I cannot bring myself to look down at first. The raised calls outside grow closer, though, and force me into action.
Whoever the woman was, she has completed the decomposition process, making things easier. She wears the remains of a full-length white dress, pearls at her throat, and a diamond ring to rival mine.
I could sell those.
I grip the coarse stone edge and shake my head. I cannot believe I just considered robbing a dead woman’s grave. There are no circumstances that dire. Not even mine. Besides, I will owe her once I do what I am about to do.
Carefully, I push the remains aside and climb in. The interior smell is nowhere near as bad as the initial release, but it is still awful. I hold my breath and exert all my strength into shifting the heavy lid back into place. Soon, not even a slip of light passes through.
My next draw of breath drags in the foul air and pulls tears from my eyes. Oh God, there is a dead woman next to me. Dead. I want to cover my face but I dare not move. A sharp hipbone sinks into my back like a knife. The back of my head lies on a bed of ribs. I am living inside my nightmare. Trapped by the infinite dark with death at my back.
Outside, the unmistakable sound of the door opening makes me stiffen. Two men speaking in rapid Spanish are inside the mausoleum. The scuffling of shoes against concrete echoes in the space. I hear them travel between the coffins, taking their time. I hold my breath when one of them speaks directly over me, his voice muffled. Three taps, like palm slaps, sound on the lid.

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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Writing Diary: Week 19

Paperback Now Available!
Paperback Now Available!
Big, big number to report this week. I missed last week because I went away on vacation with the family. Luckily for this writer, it was a chance to write until I passed out for 7 straight days.
I went into the vacation intending to work on both manuscripts, but got pretty swept up in the Adult Scifi. I'm further into it now than I am the YA Scifi. As much as I love the YA, I couldn't put this story down. And it's refreshing to be back in an adult PoV, but I sense a break coming, so I'm sure I'll be back to reporting #'s on the YA very soon.
Okay, so here it is!
Adult Scifi: 56,663!
If you've been keeping track, that's 20K in TWO WEEKS. I don't know about the rest of you, but I'm pretty stunned. That's practically a damn novella. 
Fave Lines: Turns out I don't have many of those. It's such a rough draft! Plus I've reached territory in which, if you've read PROTOTYPE, you'll recognize names and such. Lots of telling info. SO. Keeping it light this week.
I’d been asleep for too long. The waking kind. The seeking vengeance and forgoing an actual life sort of sleep. I’d been going full-tilt toward a future I hadn’t yet realized was as empty as my bed. All those barriers I thought guarded me from the evil in this world also hid the possibilities.