Sophomore Slump – Writing Book 2 (Ghosts & Ashes)

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This is a difficult post for me to write. I’ve wanted to write it for some time but I kept putting it off. But now I’ve run out of excuses so here we go.

Writing Ghosts & Ashes, the second book of the Broken Moon series, was far more difficult than I thought it would be at the outset. I thought it would be much like writing The Star Host which flowed out in four wonderfully hectic months back in 2015.

It wasn’t.

I attempted to start writing G&A in November 2015 for NaNoWriMo. At that time, I had just received word from Interlude Press that they were interested in The Star Host as a series and I was eager to get the sequel started. I thought that going at it full tilt during November would be a great way to get the beginning of a rough draft down in a word document.

It wasn’t.

I floundered… badly. The beginning of the book eluded me. How to start the second piece of Ren and Asher’s story? The Star Host ends on a hopeful note. But the next part of the journey is rocky. How do I get the characters there? Should I time jump? Should I show the events leading to their terse relationship or should I jump right in to the trouble? What about Millicent? What about Rowan? What about the consequences of the events on the drift?

At the end of November, I had a sad few thousand words and was frustrated. So I set it aside.

I normally don’t write in December. I take it off. I use it as my month break from writing and editing and marketing and go back to the well so to speak. I allow myself a reprieve from the “you should be writing always” mentality to keep from burning out. So I took December off and just relaxed. January would be better. I knew it would be. I’d be ready to write in a few weeks.

I wasn’t.

Getting back into a groove was difficult. But I pushed myself. I skipped around and wrote the scenes I had clearly in my head. I made my outline stronger so when the words did come, I had a place to put them. But I still struggled, to put it mildly.wrist1

Then the incident happened.

On January 19th 2016, three days after my birthday, I was assaulted at work. The injury was to my right wrist and hand – my dominant hand. I lost feeling in my ring and pinky fingers. My wrist swelled to the point I couldn’t move it. I was in pain constantly.

The injury started me on a journey of doctors’ appointments, x-rays, MRIs, needles, medications, braces, not to mention pain, which eventually led to surgery in May. It also led to mounds of paperwork, dealing with an unsympathetic day job, and consultations with a lawyer.

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I had an MRI in April, three months after the assault, which showed the cartilage in my wrist was torn.

During all of this – I wrote Ren and Asher’s crumbling relationship, Ren’s PTSD, his anxiety, his pain, his anger, and his misguided perceptions.

I knew G&A was going to be an angsty book at the outset and I knew the ending before I started writing. But I would be lying if I didn’t say that my own personal experiences that were happening during the development of the book didn’t color the prose. The book is darker. Ren is darker.

One of the last scenes written for G&A was Ren’s panic attack that happens on the second page. It was written during the first or second round of edits. I wrote it a few weeks after I returned to work and experienced a panic attack when someone cornered me against my car. I was calm until I drove away but I ended up pulling over and breaking down.

I turned G&A in to my editors on May 1st 2016. I had surgery on May 5th.

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I won’t go into the details of the aftermath of the surgery. But I will say that even with surgical intervention and physical therapy, I still have limited sensation in two of my fingers and I wake up in pain every day. My doctor diagnosed me with a permanent partial disability.

Did all this change the plot of the book? No. Did it change the tone? Yes. Absolutely yes.  And it did change some scenes – like I noted above. And it did change Ren. He’s angrier. He’s less forgiving. He’s wary. But he’s stronger too. He knows he can survive. He is going to come out of the other side.

He believes he can make it.

After a hellish year… I’d like to say that I believe I can make it too. I’m getting there.

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