Monday, October 21, 2013

Guest Post: Amber Forbes, When Stars Die

Hey all, today we have a guest post by author Amber Forbes!

When Stars Die doesn't have a specific point of inspiration. It came from the mind of a fourteen-year-old who received the biggest burst of inspiration in her writing life. For once it was an original story that was entirely my own, with little outside influence, other than my dreams and my desire to write about witches and convents. But the journey of getting When Stars Die to how it is today was not an easy one.
 
First, I didn't even write When Stars Die first. I wrote its sequel, which was originally called Witch Tourniquet, meaning a witch that stops the bleeding--so a witch that stops the suffering. The original intention of this book was that the main character, Alice, was meant to set all witches free because she was a chosen one. I wrote this book, and it was a 180,000 word monstrosity filled with bad writing and clich├ęs galore. And to think I wrote a query letter for this book, certain I was ready for publication. It wasn't until someone told me that 180,000 was too long did I start tearing the book apart and revising it. I parced it down to 90,000, but that still wasn't good enough. So I kept tinkering with it over the years, receiving beta reader feedback and everything else necessary to create a solid work. It still wasn't enough.
 
It wasn't until I met Georgia McBride, founder of YALITCHAT, did I begin to seriously work on my writing. She tore my book apart, but I suppose I was a gifted writer because I took her comments and was able to make it right the first time. So she went chapter-by-chapter, critiquing everything. Then we got to a point in the book where everything de-railed. I think I fixed the de-railing because I sent it off to her former intern to have it critiqued, and she loved it. But I began to realize something still wasn't right. This is when I realized I needed to bring When Stars Die back out (which I started at fifteen and put it on hiatus for years), in order to make Witch Tourniquet work, which is now called Stars Will Rise.
 
I worked on When Stars Die for a year, outlining it and re-outlining it. The outlining process made such a difference in my overall storytelling ability. It made it easier to order things, spot plot holes, and made sure that something happened in every chapter. When Stars Die wasn't overall a difficult book to work on, to be frank, because I took the skills I learned from Georgia for Stars Will Rise and applied it to When Stars Die. Then I found AEC Stellar Publishing through Shannon Thompson, decided to take a chance on this new company, and ultimately landed a contract with them. I have been very pleased with my experience so far.
 
As for Stars Will Rise, I have kept most of its original content but am in the process of tearing the last half apart to ensure the sequel is better than its first book.
 
Last, I want to share an excerpt with you of When Stars Die:
 
The sound is a dagger scraping crosshatches on a frosted windowpane, its echoes loud in this insensible room I’ve been locked in for the past few days. I want to remedy my fears over the sound, but I’m more terrified of the impending trials that will determine my readiness to be professed in the Order of Cathedral Reims. The trials are the reason I have been locked in here.
Colette sits beside me, lost in knitting a scarf she has been working on for a week—the amount of time we’ve been trapped in here with minimal food, water, and sanity. Her ability to shut out the world with a click of the needles is something I have always envied. For her, the world is nonexistent.
But not for me.
The sound strips my nerves raw, so I tighten my shawl and rise from the creaking mattress. My boot-clad feet meet the floor, and in spite of my stockings, cold still shoots through the soles, hibernating in my bones. Pulling in a deep breath of biting air, I tiptoe over to the door and press my eye to the keyhole that overlooks a bright hallway. The air freezes in my chest. I knew I heard those blasted shadows, the eerie, almost impossible sounds they make whenever their black cloaks trail along the cobbled floors of Cathedral Reims. Sometimes I wonder if they’re witches, people born of the Seven Deadly Sins and considered worse than murderers in the eyes of the law. Then I remember my little brother is nothing like them. They are mere shadows. Mere shadows.
Two of them stand outside the room. I recognize them. The tall one is Asch, and the little one is Sash. I don’t know where I heard their names. Here, in my dreams, in nightmares, or somewhere else.
I wish they would go away. I wish, I wish, I wish. I close my eyes. Open them. They are still there. Why must they be here? Theosodore, our Mother Superior’s lackey, could gather us any moment for the first trial, a trial that will test everything we are made of, and here are Asch and Sash teasing my nerves with their cold, white fingers. But I don’t know what it is about them. They haven’t done anything in the two months since I’ve started seeing them, but their presence makes sharp fear burrow into my muscles and knot them. I believe I’m the only one who can see them. This frightens me. Perhaps waiting for these trials has made me mad.

Links:Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AmberSkyeForbes
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AmberSkyeF
Blog: http://amberskyeforbes.wordpress.com
Webpage: http://amberskyeforbes.com
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18387010-when-stars-die
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/When-Stars-Amber-Skye-Forbes/dp/0989312879/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1381354240&sr=1-2&keywords=when+stars+die

Bio: Amber Skye Forbes is a dancing writer who prefers pointe shoes over street shoes, leotards over skirts, and ballet buns over hairstyles. She loves striped tights and bows and will edit your face with a Sharpie if she doesn't like your attitude. She lives in Augusta, Georgia where she writes dark fiction that will one day put her in a psychiatric ward...again. But she doesn't care because her cat is a super hero who will break her out.  

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