New books ahead!

New books ahead!

They say that professing a goal to the world will help motivate you to keep it. So, in that spirit, I wanted to share a new challenge I’m embarking on this fall. (I can’t believe it’s fall already!) Thus far, I’ve written one book each year for the last three years. But, I’m interested in getting more books into the world in the hopes to build some more fans and momentum for my author side-biz. So, I decided to set a bold goal for myself: I’m going to write three books in the next four months. Plus a novella.

Before you tell me I’m crazy to sign myself up for such madness, let me explain. If I write 2,000 words a day for the next 120 days, I’ll have written 240,000 words, or three 80,000 word books (that’s a little less than 300 pages per book). Now, that may seem like a lot, and it is in some ways, but in other ways it’s not. I write about 1,200 words an hour. So really, this equates to about 1.5-2 hours of writing per day. All this year, I’ve been getting up to write before work, between 5-5:30. If I keep that up, and write consistently each day and on the weekend, I can do it. I’m excited at the prospect. I’ve already plotted the books out, and started September 1st. So far I’m on schedule, in fact, I’m a little ahead of schedule, at 20,032 words!

So what are these books, you ask? The first is a third book in my Moonburner series, which will be called Starburner. It’s going to be set about 20 years after Sunburner ends, and will feature Kai and Hiro’s daughter, Rika, as the main character. It starts when the black sails of invaders appear on the horizon, and will have a prominent romantic angle. The book will take the characters to an entirely new island in the world and feature a new culture and characters. I’m really excited about the story! I’m aiming to release this book May 2018.

The other two books will be book two and three in my Confectioner’s Guild trilogy. The Confectioner’s Guild is a young adult fantasy mystery about a young chocolate-maker who finds out she has the ability to make magical food, right before she’s framed for the murder of her guild master. Book 2 features a prominent mystery element as well, as Wren and her friends investigate a kidnapping that unfolds while a hostile power lays siege to their city. In the third book, the bad guys have taken over (spoiler!), and they must repel the foreign invaders and take their city back. I’m also halfway done with a prequel novella that features one of the main characters. The world of the Confectioner’s Guild is loosely based on the west coast of the U.S. (especially Washington!) and the city, Maradis, is based on Seattle. So you Pacific Northwesterners will find yourself in familiar territory. I plan on releasing these three books (if all goes according to plan) in September, October, and November 2018. The novella will release earlier in the year and will be a freebie to get people excited about the trilogy. 

So, that’s my crazy plan. I’m pretty good at sticking to goals I set my mind to, and so I’m really hopeful that I can pull this off. I’m just so excited to bring these stories into the world, I don’t want to wait another few years to write them! Plus, the process of writing a book is getting easier each go round, which is lending me extra confidence and courage. Hopefully I’ll be reporting back in the new year that I have some fantastic new stories to share with you! If I can edit them all in time. And that, my friends, is a problem for another day.


2016 Year End Rundown and 2017 Goals

2016 Year End Rundown and 2017 Goals

A lot has happened in 2016! I published Moonburner and Burning Fate, edited Sunburner, and finished the first draft of a new book, The Confectioner’s Guild! I completed NaNoWriMo for the first time, produced an audiobook, teamed up with some amazing YA authors to publish That Moment When Anthology of short stories, and brought you some great giveaways too. Along the way, I’ve learned a lot about writing, editing, publishing, and marketing books.

Sometimes I get a little envious of authors who write for their day job, marveling at how many books they publish each year. But when I think of what I’ve managed to do while working as a lawyer, I feel pretty good about how far I’ve come (and realize why I was felt stressed for a lot of the year)!

I’m looking forward to 2017 being even better. Overall, I want to keep learning, keep enjoying the process of writing and editing, while connecting with more authors and fans, and selling more books. Oh is that all? It’s important for me to find balance–making forward progress while still not driving myself insane with ALL the things I could be doing, because there is basically an endless amount of work that could be done.

Some specific goals for next year (because if you write them down AND share them, they’ll be much harder to ignore!)

  • Consistently get up early to do my author work before I head to work
  • Finish revising Sunburner and publish it, with a goal of a June 2017 launch
  • Start a street team to help with the Sunburner launch
  • Finish editing The Confectioner’s Guild and submit to literary agents (and hopefully get an agent!)
  • Write the first draft of the sequel to The Confectioner’s Guild in November and December
  • Work on connecting with local schools and bookstores to do some in person events
  • Connect with more writers and authors in person, though attending the PNWA Conference and PNWA and SCWBI events
  • Grow my email list to 10,000, my Facebook following to 2,000 and my Twitter following to 5,000
  • Lastly: keep learning & keep reading!

I think that will be plenty to keep me busy throughout next year.

Thanks for following and reading!

DONE! First draft of my third book is complete!

DONE! First draft of my third book is complete!

Whelp, The Confectioner’s Guild is done. It wasn’t pretty there towards the end. This book was definitely the equivalent of a marathon where I went out way too fast.

I raced right along to get my 50,000 words done for NaNoWriMo during November, and then…I just REALLY didn’t want to finish it. But, I eventually dragged myself back to the keyboard and finished! Remember, if you want to get a taste of The Confectioner’s Guild, you can read the first three chapters for free in the That Moment When Anthology!

Ya short story anthology

Last year, when I wrote Sunburner in two months, I told myself I would never do that again. And I remember why I said that now! It’s really hard to put out 1600-2000 words a day consistently, especially when works get busy (which it did as soon as November hit, thanks Murphy’s Law)! But, the afterglow is so nice, because you just wrote a book in two months and can take your time editing and making it the most perfect it can be. So, perhaps it all evens out in the end.

Next for me is 10 days off for the holidays, and I will be starting my final edits of Sunburner first thing come January to incorporate feedback from my beta readers. That should be off to the publisher by January 31, if I stick to my schedule, and I will be able to begin my edits to The Confectioner’s Guild with a fresh set of eyes.

But now, a glass of bubbly to celebrate. Happy Holidays!

NaNoWriMo 2016, Here I Come

NaNoWriMo 2016, Here I Come

Guys, I’m gonna do it. NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month. Where writers all over the world get together for the singularly insane challenge of writing 50,000 words in a month. Sunburner is going off to beta readers next week, and so it is the perfect time for me to turn to a fresh new task–writing a new book!
I’ve had an idea for a new book in a new world for months now. Like a shiny new toy, I’ve been so excited to write it, but I’ve forced myself to finish editing Sunburner first. It’s called The Confectioner’s Guild, and it’s about an apprentice chocolate-maker who makes magical confections. Her life is turned upside down when the head of her guild is murdered, and she finds herself as the chief suspect! It’s mystery meets fantasy meets YA and did I mention chocolate? I’m excited to research this one. Yum!
YA Fantasy Confectioners guild Luana
I’m aiming for 90,000 words with this novel, and I’ve already written the first 5,000. The first 5,000 will be part of an Anthology put out by the Alliance of Young Adult Authors, which should come out in January, so you’ll be able to get a taste of the book very soon…no pun intended! My goal is to write the next 85,000 words in 45 days, from November 1-December 15. Roughly. That’s 2,000 words a day, approximately, which is even more than I would have to do to qualify as a NaNoWriMo victor! It’s ambitious, but I accomplished a similar feat last year when I wrote Sunburner (which wasn’t officially through NaNoWriMo).
But, I am giving myself permission to let all the other author biz stuff slide while I’m focusing on this. So, I won’t be blogging or on social media much. I WILL be on Twitter, as I’ll be tweeting my word count and progress each day, so if you are curious about the book or the process, follow along. My username is @clairedeluana. #amwriting!
The Chick’s Guide to Writing Dudes

The Chick’s Guide to Writing Dudes

My WIP Sunburner is my second novel, but it’s the first where I’m writing from a male point of view. In my first novel, Moonburner, the entire book was from the protagonist Kai’s POV. Now, about 2/3rds of the story is from Kai’s POV, while the rest is from the perspective of Hiro, heir to the sunburner throne and Kai’s love interest. I have doubted myself throughout the writing and editing process, wondering if Hiro’s chapters fall flat.

In my case, Hiro is what I think of as a pretty typical dude in fantasy literature: strong, handsome, chivalrous, skilled in combat, smart but not overly intellectual, concerned with maintaining his honor and status. That’s all well and good, but what does that look like on the page? Inside his head?

So, I took some time to think about and research a few differences between men and women, and how they might impact portrayal of a male versus female protagonist. Full disclosure: stereotypes ahead!

Alright, here we go.

  • Women tend to absorb more information through their senses and store more of it in the brain for other uses than men do. Meaning, women are more detail-oriented, while men are more prone to be big-picture thinkers.
  • Psychologically, men are more visually oriented than women. I.e., a male character might spend more time seeing and observing his setting visually.
  • Women talk a lot more than men. Each day, women speak up to 8,000 words and use as many as 10,000 gestures. Men use fewer daily words (up to 4,000) and gestures (up to 3,000). This will definitely impact characterization, though just because a guy isn’t saying something, doesn’t mean he isn’t thinking it.
  • But…when a man says something, it’s often exactly what he’s thinking. There’s less hidden meaning and innuendo.
  • Women are more emotional than men. Seriously. Their brains have a larger hippocampus and deeper limbic system, which means they can feel a larger range of emotions. But that doesn’t mean guys don’t have feelings!
  • Because men often aren’t as comfortable with the full range of emotions, a typically male approach to a stressful (especially emotional) situation may be to withdraw, rather than engage or open up.
  • Men are more pragmatic–looking for solutions immediately, rather than sympathizing or empathizing. I don’t have a scientific study for this one, but seriously, I feel like every dude I’ve ever complained to has immediately tried to solve my problem. Sometimes I just want to vent!
  • Men tend to have a higher libido and have more daily thoughts about sex. Especially if you’re writing romance, this is an important point!
  • Men are more ego driven, which can influence behavior. This can manifest in needing to feel like a provider, defend their honor or the honor of their partner if insulted, proving they aren’t afraid, etc. They also have weaker impulse control, which could account for higher levels of aggression and violence in men.

So that’s all well and good, and provides a nice framework for writing a stereotypical dude character. But one of the most important parts of creating compelling characters is making them multi-faceted and interesting. Thus, you don’t necessarily want a male character who perfectly conforms to all the stereotypes of male behavior…he will likely be far more interesting to the reader if he has unique attributes, perhaps even some attributes that would be considered  typically female. Just be cautious about going too far, as part of the author’s job is to meet reader’s expectations, not confound them.

If you want to dig deeper into this, check out some of the sources I relied on for this post:

13 Real Differences between Male and Female Brains

Different Brains, Different Behaviors: Why Women Lead Differently than Men

How Often to Men Think About Sex

Men are from Mars, Women are From Venus

How to Write from a Guy’s POV



Is Following your Dreams a Pipe Dream?

Is Following your Dreams a Pipe Dream?

“We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.” I love that quote by Kurt Vonnegut, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that he was a writer. To set out to write a novel for the first time is a cliff-jump. Anytime you set out to try something you’ve never done before it’s like jumping off a cliff. With no parachute and no wings. Except the ones you grow on the way down.

When I talk to friends and acquaintances about the fact that I’ve written a book and that it’s getting published, most of them seem impressed or astonished that I’ve been able to make it this far. And don’t get me wrong, I’m proud of the time and effort I’ve put into my writing career, but I also don’t see it as that extraordinary. I decided what I wanted to do, and I did it. Is that so unusual?

But…I guess…it is. All of us have dreams that end up ditched in the gutter. Why? Why don’t we even try to achieve them? Sometimes circumstances outside of our control get in the way: financial hardship, health issues, obligations. But more often, we get in our own way. We are afraid. Afraid to take the leap of faith, to trust in ourselves, to risk failure or vulnerability. It’s safer to stay in our comfort zone where we know that we can handle what comes our way.

What else gets in the way? Self-doubt. Feeling we aren’t good enough/smart enough/rich enough/productive enough/etc. to accomplish our dreams. That we don’t measure up to the people around us, or worse, to who we want to be. That we can’t start working on our dreams until we are _________ enough.

Right now, I am close to publication. Close to the point where my work will be out there for the world to see, to judge as a success or failure, to love or hate, to debate, critique, and pick apart. And so I feel those things—fear and self-doubt. They are there and ever present. But they also aren’t crippling me. And it makes me wonder why. Why was I able to overcome them?

First, perhaps, it was a gut thing. A feeling, a passion, that I could do this. I was recently listening to a podcast interview with Joanna Penn, who is a wildly successful fiction and non-fiction author. She was joking about how new authors come with what she called a “heavy dose of over-confidence.” It’s true. I have it. You have to have it to dare to dream.

But more importantly, I think it was because though my goals were measurable in an external way my main goal was an internal one: don’t be satisfied with the status quo if it isn’t fulfilling.  Inside me was desire to set aside fear and self-doubt and try to develop a life that makes me more happy and more fulfilled. Perhaps try and fail, but perhaps try and succeed. Without the try, there only ever could be failure. (Sorry Yoda, but I think you sold the try a little short). Isn’t the chance to achieve your dream worth the risk of failure? For me, it was. And even though I’m just on the path, and who knows where it will take me, it feels damn good. It feels like a win.

I also think I’ve been able to overcome fear and self-doubt because my external goals were generally things that I had control over. They weren’t totally dependent on what other people think or other people’s acceptance.

First, what was my short term goal? To sell a million copies? Nope. To write and publish a book. I could accomplish that even if I self-published and never sold a copy. I will hold it in my hands knowing I created it. Selling more than 10 copies to my immediate family will be just icing on the cake. Do I want to sell a million copies? Of course. Will part of me be disappointed if I don’t? Yup. But it’s made better by the fact that I’ve already accomplished my goal.

Second, I have a long-term perspective. I’m not chasing instant gratification; I’m playing the long game. It takes the pressure off tremendously. If I could write and publish a book every year, by the time I retire from lawyering, I will have thirty books! That’s pretty awesome. Even if they weren’t all runaway hits, if I’m doing things right and improving my craft as I go along, I should have some sales to show for my efforts. And how cool to have a legacy of writing as a part of my life. To leave that behind. So even if my first book doesn’t find much success, maybe my second will. Or my seventh. Or twelfth. You get the picture.

And so there is is. I love being on this journey. Even if I’m like Edison who takes a thousand tries to figure out how to build a light bulb, it’s ok. I’m still gonna try.

You can reach for it too.  Your dream. You know what it is. What you really wish you could be doing when you are typing away in your office, or rushing out of the house, or stuck in traffic. It feels so good to step through fear and self-doubt and walk on a path you create for yourself. Even if it’s just the first step, try.


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