Wolf Pit Draft Complete!

I did it.

After 6 grueling months, several weeks of depression, and enough overtime at work to last me a lifetime, I finally finished the first draft of The Purple Door District: Wolf Pit. Book 1 clocked in at about 76,000 words. Wolf Pit? As of now, she's a whopping 99,000 words. Granted, she still has to go through editing, but I'm headed in the right direction. 

So what does this mean for the final piece? 

Ideally, I would like to publish Wolf Pit by December 2019. I'm not officially making this the date, as it's going to depend on a couple of things.

1. I'm attempting to get accepted to #writementor with my YA fantasy book Dragon Steal. If I'm selected, I'm going to spend the summer working with a published mentor to get my book in shape for an agent showcase. That means PDD might have to get pushed back a bit.

2. Editing. Editing takes a lot of time and the book is longer than the first one. I need to do my revisions, I have to send it to my co-world-creator, AE Kellar, to pass her inspection, I need a few sensitivity readers to look it over, not to mention my main editor Leona Bushman will have to rip it apart so I can rebuild it. And after that, I have proofreaders who need to review it. That all takes time, and I don't want to rush it. So, if I don't make the December deadline, I imagine it'll be ready by early 2020. 

I'm sure I'm going to get the stink eye from some of my readers and a scolding from fellow authors. Why is it taking me so long to put out a book? Well, there are a few factors. I work a 40+-hour job each week, volunteer for The Iowa Writers' House, and I'm a Director of The Writers' Rooms. On top of that, I spend time marketing my main book, querying Dragon Steal, blogging, interviewing authors, etc. It all takes time, and when writer's block or depression hits, that means it's going to take even longer. I honestly don't take many breaks from the computer. I'm usually always doing something when it comes to writing, even if it's not for PDD specifically. 

Believe me, it's not that I don't consider PDD a priority, I just have to make sure I pay the bills and put food on the table. And at the same time, I have to take care of my mental and physical health, which have both been up in the air over the past year. I wish I could write as a full-time author and produce more, but at this point in my life, that's not a possibility. So while I hate to delay the books, it's something I just have to do. That's why I try to keep my patreon updated so that people have short stories about the characters they can read while the book is in production.

Now, that all being said, what's Wolf Pit about? (Spoilers: If you haven't read PDD 1, I suggest you not read the book promo). 

Tess Montgomery isn’t your typical member of the Chicago wolf pack. In fact, she’s not a wolf at all. She’s an adopted fire magus of the pack and thus doesn’t always “play by the rules.” When her father and her best friend Nick are kidnapped in what the parahumans assume is a Hunter operation, Tess’s pack is thrown into turmoil. With Alpha Paytah unable to step outside the bounds of his new position as Violet Marshall of Chicago’s Purple Door District, Tess takes the reins to plan a rescue attempt.

Meanwhile, Nick and his fellow wolves find themselves in a world of battle and bloodshed. The Hunters have set up an illegal fighting pit where the strongest survive and the weakest are traded or killed. It’s all Nick can do to keep up the spirits of his packmates and help them escape. Or survive long enough until they’re rescued.

Unfortunately, Tess’ rescue mission fails spectacularly, leading to her capture. She finds herself the unwilling guest of a local Hunter named Arjun. Handsome, charming, and deadly, Arjun tries to convince Tess that not all Hunters are the enemy.  He even offers to help her find her packmates. But is he true to his word, or does he have his own wicked plans in mind?

As you can see, there's a lot going on in this book and many POV switches so you can experience what's happening both in Tess's world and Nick's. It was a challenge to provide equal time to both, but I'm hoping it works out.

I'm really excited to share the cover and the story with all of you. The cover I'm planning to release on May 1st, 2019 in its full glory. Those of you who are patrons, however, get to see it early ;-) That's my gift to you since my story this month is going to be a bit late due to finishing up PDD. 

I want to thank you for following me on this crazy journey/adventure, and I hope you're excited for Wolf Pit

2018 Wrap Up and 2019 Goals

I can't believe that 2018 is finally over. It felt like the year that just would not die! I made resolutions last year, but most of them I don't even  remember, except for wanting to start querying Dragon Steal, which I did manage to accomplish. For this post, I'd like to go over some of the awesome (and not-so-awesome) things that happened this year and cover my goals for 2019. 

2018 in Review

  • Finished editing Dragon Steal and submitted it for publication.

    • I've received several rejection letters but recently got a full manuscript request. While the rejections have hurt, at least the book is out there! 

  • I created my own website and started developing a branded persona on twitter, facebook, instagram, etc. I have over 1,000 followers both on twitter and on instagram.

    • Even better, I've met a ton of amazing authors and creators through these sites who I can't wait to work with next year! 

  • Wrote, edited, and published The Purple Door District.  I can't believe I developed my own marketing and indiegogo campaigns, formatted the book, published it, and held a launch party all in the space of six months. The question is, can I do it for PDD2? 

  • Had "Latte with a Shot of Poltergeist" and "Frozen Heart" published in anthologies. 

  • Submitted more short stories and poetry than I ever have before. While I received a lot of rejections, I at least received a few publications. 

  • Officially launched The Writers' Rooms with my co-Director, Alexandra Penn. We also finished our Articles of Incorporation and got certified as a non-profit corporation. 

  • Helped develop the concierge anthology through The Writers' Rooms. 

  • Returned to my college and taught a few classes about publishing and NaNoWriMo.

  • Wrote 50k words for The Purple Door District: Wolf Pit

  • Lost about 45 lbs through exercise and healthy eating. 

  • Attended my first book signing event with other authors and signed up for even more in 2019. 

  • Hosted giveaways for my book and swag that was developed by local creators. 

  • Started my patreon account to help raise money for my writing career. 

  • Received honorable mention in Writers of the Future. 

  • Truly started my profession as an author. 

It's been a really big year for me writing wise. I still can't believe that six months ago I decided to publish The Purple Door District. It seems like ages since I made that decision. I've managed to publish a few pieces of work this year, including on wattpad and patreon. 

Next year, I hope to do even more, but also find a way to take care of myself at the same time. 

2019 Goals

  • Focus on my mental health and take better care of myself mentally and physically.

  • Find an agent and publisher for Dragon Steal.

  • Finish writing and publish The Purple Door District: Wolf Pit.

  • Work on Fates and Furies with my co-author, AE Kellar, and hopefully publish the first book, if not in 2019, then in early 2020. 

  • Submit more short stories and poetry for publication. 

  • Start working on The Purple Door District #3 and Dragon Steal #2

  • Return to working on Traitors of the Crown

  • Lose more weight for health reasons and get healthier. 

  • Attend multiple writing conventions to both sell my books and to meet other authors. 

  • Start my path to becoming a full-time author. 

These are pretty ambitious goals, but I think most of them are possible. I really do need to focus on my mental and physical health, though, because I managed to break myself a few times while working on PDD. If I can't hold myself together, I won't be able to accomplish any/all of this. 

I'm really proud of what I did this year. It's my biggest year as an author, and I can't wait to see what 2019 holds. I'm also a little scared. What if next year doesn't unfold as well? I guess that's all part of growing up and making plans as a writer, though. Some years you're going to make it big, and some years are going to be a lot slower. I hope 2019 is still a fantastic one. 

What are your goals for 2019? Feel free to share them below! Also, let me know what topics you'd like me to cover this year! 

Happy Writing!

Erin 

The Purple Door District: Behind the Scenes

The world of The Purple Door District started out as the stubborn brainchild of AE Kellar and myself. We have spent years writing together, researching, brainstorming, and developing characters and rules governing our parahumans and worlds. Our main series, Fates and Furies, is still in production but occurs in the same urban fantasy setting.

But let me backtrack a little.

AE Kellar and I met each other on a Redwall roleplaying site when I was still in high school. We had a mutual interest in the book series by Brian Jacques, obviously, and the forums gave us the opportunity to create our own characters, be they cat in AE’s case, or a silver-striped red squirrel named SilverRose Brighteye. Some of you may recognize my NaNo name.

For those unfamiliar with roleplaying on forums, basically one person writes out a few paragraphs of a scene with their character, someone responds, and the two people (or more) write back and forth to create an adventure. Redwall provided the world for us; we just had to worry about the characters and plot.

We wrote together for years, developing characters and immersing ourselves in the world. Eventually, we sought after a change and started roleplaying on an urban fantasy website that has long since closed. That’s when we realized that we might have found our niche. We took our characters, built a world, and ran with it, rping back and forth most nights. We’d alternate taking point on a plotline and naturally switch to the next person.

Unless we both brainfarted, in which case we just started up a new plotline.

Years of writing produced thousands of pages of writing (I’m not joking, AE took a picture of the pile of paper). Eventually, we realized we wanted to do something with it, and thus Fates and Furies was born. But in order to fully create the series, we had to know more about our world.

When we started to design the District, I latched onto it and suddenly had ideas blossoming in my head about creating one in Chicago (I grew up around the area). Plus, as a birdmom of seven feathered kids, it gave me the chance to professionally write about a werebird, even if I still get the side eye. With AE’s blessing, I wrote The Purple Door District to introduce you to our insanity.

But what about the PDD struck a chord in me? It was the community. I loved this idea that people of different talents, appearances, and strengths could come together to protect one another. A lot of urban/paranormal fantasies focus on the battle between werewolves and vampires or different magical groups. It was nice to think that there was a neutral ground where everyone could get along under the direction of The Violet Marshall. With the way the country is going today, I felt it was important to show that it’s possible for a mixing pot of people to actually come together peacefully. I chose Chicago specifically because I knew I could create a diverse cast. Even more characters will appear in The Purple Door District Book 2.

Community plays a huge role in my life. I help bring writers together through The Writers’ Rooms, a non-profit corporation that focuses on providing a free, safe environment for writers no matter their background, income, experience, gender, etc. And I work with The Iowa Writers’ House which also supports writers through workshops, lectures, and bicultural fellowship. In the writing world, I firmly believe that the only way we can succeed is if we support one another. Rising Tide, as Brian K Morris calls it.

Even through the book production, I reached out to the community for help. I asked Oni Algarra and Gabriella Bujdoso to create art for the book, indie artists who post on deviantart and instagram respectively. My cover artist is a Fiverr creator named Les. Sara Cunningham used her marketing magic to create sand jars and postcards for my book. Amanda Bouma taught me how to make jewelry so I could develop Bianca’s necklace. Leona Bushman, a fellow urban fantasy writer, guided me through editing my book and polishing it for publication. Alexandra Penn helped me format the book and was one of my main supporters who gave me the courage to publish the book. And my wonderful proofreaders, Shakyra Dunn and AE made sure the book was ready to go. I couldn’t have done this without my community, and I’m excited to support them just as they supported me. That’s partially why I created the Indiegogo campaign. I wanted to help give back to them.

As of November 5th, The Purple Door District is available for pre-order on amazon. There are no words I can use to convey my pride, joy, and hint of terror at having my book out there (I think I used up all my words in the manuscript haha). I do know that, had it not been for AE, I never would have been able to create such an immersive world.

We jokingly say that AE is the brain and I’m the heart, but I think it’s very true. While AE fills our books with well-researched facts and logic, I add feeling, creativity, and literary flare. I couldn’t have done it without my walking encyclopedia. All you see in The Purple Door District exists because of our love for storytelling and our incessant need to get fewer than 8 hours of sleep a night.

Keep an eye out. Fates and Furies is on the horizon.

And thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for all of your support during this crazy and amazing journey.

Welcome to the District.



Creating God Systems

Long time no write! I'm sorry it's taken so long for me to get back to the blog, but I'm hoping to post regularly now that I'm leading a Fantasy/Sci-Fi group in Iowa City. I'll post more information about that later. For now, I would like to talk about the art of creating a God system. Many fantasy/sci-fi stories present different forms of higher powers. But how do you make them? It's really up to you, but I can give you some ideas on how to get started based on what I've done in my own writing and what I've seen.

Gods based on mythology

One way to introduce Gods into your book is to look into mythology. For example, what Gods appear in Norse mythology, Greek mythology, Celtic mythology, etc.? Each one of these Gods has a purpose, an appearance, a reason to be in the story. If you're rewriting mythology, you can freely use these Gods to your own desire. Maybe Thor makes an appearance, or Odin, or Apollo and Athena. Perhaps you're writing about vikings and you want to keep true to Norse mythology.

My advice to you is if you're stumped, read different types of mythology and see if you can create Gods that way, or reinvent those Gods. It's okay to take something that's already known and apply it to your writing, just try to put an interesting twist to it!

Symbolic Gods

My favorite thing to do is to create Gods based on symbols or elements. For example, I have five Gods in one book. Each one is based on the seasons: Fall, Winter, Summer, Spring. The final God, however, is the Goddess of balance, neither light nor dark, life nor death. Each God represents a compass location, have particular colors, and are said to provide particular gifts to mortals.

One example is my Goddess Ren. She is the Goddess of Death and Night, but this isn't necessarily a bad thing. Her followers say that life cannot come without death and death can bring life (reincarnation/dead bodies bringing about new earth). She is celebrated during the Autumnal Equinox. Her avatar is a black serpent or a black dragon. And her governing colors are red, orange, and black for the changing leaves and fire. She is also the Goddess of the West (a call out to the Wicked Witch of the West).

Using symbols helped me understand my Goddess. It also made me realize that I needed other Gods to balance her, so I have one of fertility to counter her power of death. This is a really fun way to create Gods and mess with your characters' lives.

Gods based on character needs

Sometimes the best way to build a God is determined by the needs of your characters. You may start writing and realize that your character believes in some higher power. What higher power should she follow? Well, what does she need? Is she looking for strength, guidance, answers to questions? In the Catholic faith there are patron saints that are meant to protect people in certain ways. Think of your character's needs and decide, who is her patron saint, or her patron God? From there, ask yourself if one God is enough or if you need more Gods.

The funny thing that I didn't realize about my book is that part of it revolved around my character losing her faith then finding it with the aid of a certain God. It helped give more depth to my character, and also made her more interesting. She was able to relate to me as well as to my readers. So, focus on the needs of the character and you might be able to figure out your God or Gods.

Gods who influence characters' lives

To go along with character needs, you have to consider if the Gods get involved with mortal life. Are they intangible, or do they actually walk among mortals? Do they treat mortals as equals or beneath them? If you're going to have Gods walk with them, then what should they look like? Is it hard to tell them apart from mortals? Or is it very obvious that they're big, blue, and powerful? Perhaps they have a spell on them to make them look like mortals.

You need to ask yourself these questions and see how big of a role your Gods play in the world. How little or how much they appear will determine how in depth your God system needs to be. If they're only there for the sake of basic beliefs, then you may only need names. But if you want them present, you must think how they're going to influence the world.

A final piece of advice, don't make Gods for the sake of making your story complicated. Make them have a purpose so they can move the characters and the story forward. If their presence slows down your writing, then consider cutting their appearance out.

How you make your Gods can be as complicated or simple as you want it to be. Just remember to have fun!