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Monday, April 10, 2017

GUEST POST: The Pressure Of Writing A Series by Elizabeth Vaughan (Author of the Warlands Chronicles)



 Visit Elizabeth Vaughan's Website Here

Fantasy Book Critic is excited to welcome Elizabeth Vaughan to our blog today as a special guest blogger. Elizabeth Vaughan is a USA Today bestselling author for her Warlands Chronicles series. Her recent book, titled WarDance, is the fifth book in the Warlands Series and is scheduled to be released April 11, 2017. 

Summary of WarDance:
Spring returns to the Plains, and with it, the Time of the Challenges, when warrior fights warrior in a contest for rank and status. For Simus of the Hawk, now is the time to raise his challenge banner, to fight for the chance to finally become Warlord.

But his deadliest challenge does not come from other warriors, or even the sundered Council of Elders. For on the first night of the Challenges, a mysterious and deadly pillar of white light scorches the night sky—instantly changing everything for the People of the Plains.

Now a warrior-priestess, Snowfall, stands before Simus, who dares to speak of peace, of reconciliation. Her knives are sharp, her tattoos alluring, and her cool grey eyes can look through Simus and see…everything.

Now Simus and Snowfall must solve the mystery of the pillar of white light, and protect their people from all the destruction and chaos it brings. Snowfall fights for her place beside Simus, despite resistance from friend and foe.

The warrior-priests have abused their power for many years. Can Simus face the challenge of trusting Snowfall with his honor? And perhaps . . . with his heart?

To celebrate her book release, she has stopped by to talk with us about the pressures that come with writing a series! Welcome Elizabeth to our blog!  
 
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For my first publishing contract I wrote a trilogy. My publisher called it ‘The Chronicles of the Warlands’. I thought I was done.

So I started a new series - a new trilogy. We called it ‘The Star Series’. Clever me, or so I thought. But that creative spark in the back of my brain? My muse, my inspiration, what ever you want to call it. Yeah, half way through the second book of that new trilogy it woke up and said, very clearly “The two series are linked.”

And then it laughed. Evilly.

Linked? In the same world, the same time frame? No way, said I.

But the ideas persisted and grew. And to my horror/pleasure I realized that they were. Wonderfully, horribly linked. Yikes, I thought. What am I going to do? Can I really pull this off?

Thankfully, I remembered two pieces of writing advice from Dennis McKeirnan. The first is a quote: “When things change, the story begins. But when things go wrong, the adventure begins.”

Of course, I am fairly sure that Dennis was talking about plots, not the actual writing of the book, but it helped me. Because writing, in its own way, is the adventure of a lifetime. At least, it has been for me.

The second piece of advice from Dennis is found in the foreword of his book ‘The Dragonstone’ wherein he refers to Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes books.

This is getting kinda convoluted, you say?

Stay with me.

See, what Dennis points out about Conan-Doyle’s stories is that at times, Watson will make reference to a relic in the room, a reminder of the Singular Affair of This, or the Adventure of that, or the Mystery of the This-and-That. Now, that is not the story that Watson is going to tell you, mind. Instead, the vague reference to the past is left to taunt you with the possibilities.

Dennis refers to this while writing as ‘dropping red slippers’ i.e. ‘loose ends’ and then going back and finding them and using them to knit the story together in a way that even the author could not have foretold.

I would love to tell you ‘why yes, I planned this all from the start, and aren’t I the clever one?’ But the truth is that vagueness is an author’s best friend. Loose ends are an author’s bestie best friend.

Especially when writing a series.

So I went back, re-read my books, and sure enough . . . I had to run some time-lines, re-plot from events in other books, but Lord Almighty I almost cried when I realized there were lots of red slippers that I could use in very convoluted, evil author ways. Ways that made the story stronger and far more powerful. Ways that linked the two trilogies together, and brought the characters together in ways that kinda left my mouth hanging open.

Of course, part of the problem, as Dennis pointed out in the foreword of his book Red Slippers, is that once you pick up one red slipper, more just seem to fall out on the page. Some of them are now deliberate on my part. Others, not so much. Regardless, whether their stories get told or not, the reader must discover for themselves. By reading all our books [insert evil author grin here].

This is one of the strongest joys of writing - the ‘AH!’ moments that catch an author by surprise. Usually there is no one around when I make these discoveries in my writing room, or in the shower, or driving to work. But the pure pleasure of these moments keeps me writing.

Which is to my benefit, and hopefully, to yours.

GUEST AUTHOR INFORMATION: Elizabeth A. Vaughan is the USA Today bestselling author of the Warlands Chronicles series. She loves fantasy and romance novels, and has played Dungeons and Dragons since 1981, both table-top and the online game. Her most recent book, WarDance, comes out on April 11. You can learn more about her books at www.writeandrepeat.com.

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