Update – May 2019

Hi there!

First off, this is a gentle reminder that Catalyst Moon: Storm (Book 3) is now available on Amazon! Massive thanks to those who have purchased it so far! 💜 If you are able, I humbly ask that you leave a review so that other readers know what they’re in for.

Second, in case you didn’t hear the news, Catalyst Moon: Incursion (Book 1) is the Spring Book of the Month over at F-BOM! I’m thrilled beyond measure to have my work featured among the likes of other awesome, feminist authors (and readers), so please do take a look at what Cecelia & Lindsey are doing, because it’s important and amazing. Even if you already own Incursion (and if you don’t, you should!), there’s going to be a ton of great member-only content on their site, including multiple interviews by yours truly. (We had a blast recording them! I could quite literally talk for hours about writing, feminism, and Catalyst Moon.) Check out F-BOM today! 😍

In actual writing news, one of my betas has finished her read of Book 4. I’m pleased to report that, other than a LOT of continuity issues on my part, (plus my tendency to ramble), the book seems to be in fairly decent shape overall. I still need to do a lot of work to make it palatable, but let’s not worry about that right now. 😉 Of course, my other beta is still working through, so she may have a different take. Time will tell.

As I’ve reported in a previous post, Book 5’s discovery draft is done, although the story is far from written. I’ve completed my first read-through and it’s…rough. There are a lot of unnecessary elements that clog the narrative and will need to be reworked, which means that probably 60% of the book, (if not more), will be rewritten. Honestly, though this task feels a bit daunting, I’m excited to tackle the rewrites because the story will be better: more satisfying and more cohesive.

Book 6 is still very much in the planning stages. I’ve decided to rein in my usual barrel-forward-at-all-costs approach and try to, you know, PLAN these next three books as sorta their own trilogy, even though they are the continuation of elements set up in books 1 – 3. This may seem like an obvious solution, but for the author who is up to her eyeballs in Catalyst Moon, this was a revelation. In any case, book 6 should be the final installment in the current story arc. I have MANY plans for the next story arc, so stick around; the best is yet to come. 😁

In self-publishing news, I’m working with the talented Fiona Jayde on redoing Book 1’s cover, and plan to redo Book 2’s as well. Marketing has unfortunately had to take a backseat due to 2019 being a battering ram; I have to be judicious with my time and energy, so most of both are saved for my family and the actual creation of content, (ie: my books.) In a perfect world, I could do it all, but alas…

Lastly, if you’re in the North Florida area on June 29th, stop by Infinity Con and say hi! 😘

Until we meet again, stay awesome,

Lauren

F-BOM!

I’m thrilled to finally announce that Catalyst Moon: Incursion has been selected as the book of the month (well, technically the season) by the fine folks at the Feminist Book of the Month!

More info here | Spoiler-free review

This is a huge, huge honor. I strive to make my work inclusive and feminist; groups like F-BOM prove that my work is paying off. I hope that one day, inclusive, feminist stories are the norm across all genres. 🙂

Stay tuned, folk, as I’ve got a Reddit AMA happening on Wednesday, April 3rd. Until then, check out Book Three: Storm and let me know what you think. 😍

Stay awesome,

Lauren

PS: If you haven’t already, please join my mailing list for free stories and exclusive access to all things Catalyst Moon!

Catalyst Moon: Storm is live! (plus Feelings About Things)

Get yours here: US | UK | DE | CA | JP | AU

Every book is a journey of sorts, for the author as much as the reader. Storm is important, not just because of the characters’ struggles, but also on a deeply personal level for me. Storm is the first book I’ve completely self-published. Granted, I had to re-publish Incursion and Breach once I parted ways with Inkitt, but Storm is the first book where I was solely in charge of everything from editing to promotion.

I’ve learned SO much about self-pubbing, and hope to continue that trajectory with each book, but right now I’m content to just feel the love and pride that comes with overcoming a challenge. When I first learned that Inkitt wasn’t going to be publishing books on Amazon any longer, I was crushed. Like… I couldn’t stop crying, was utterly heartsick, devastated, etc. Maybe it was an overreaction, but my writing is so dear to my heart, so important to me, that their decision shattered my world.

But after I grieved for what I’d lost, I started to consider what I’d gained.

Freedom.

The only person I am accountable to is myself. I control the content, the edits, the cover, the release schedule, the promotion – everything. And while this realization was overwhelming at first, (and still is, at times), it’s also liberating, because my creative property – the thing I spend practically every waking moment thinking about, if not actively working on – is 100% my own. No one can take it from me. No one can tell me “that’s not going to sell,” or “we don’t like your ideas.” And that’s a damn good feeling.

If you’re an author and are wondering whether it’s “worth it” to try and get a publisher… I say no. Do it yourself; there’s no better time. Yes, the market is saturated with books, especially fantasy novels. Yes, it’s hard and will test the limits of your patience, experience, and fortitude. Yes, you will probably “lose” money, (though I believe that money spent in service of something you love is never wasted.)

But it’s 100% worth every struggle to see my labor of love brought into the world by my own hands, mind, and heart. Ultimately, I don’t care about making money (though it would be nice), I just want to write great books and share them with people who love them. That’s all that matters. That’s my legacy. 💜

Until we meet again, stay awesome,

Lauren

Update – March 2019

The discovery draft (ie: the rough draft) of Catalyst Moon #5 is DONE. It needs a lot of work and love, but holy cats…I made it, y’all. My world has changed dramatically since I started writing back in September of 2018, so it’s been quite a journey for me as well as my long-suffering characters. The last 10k words were probably the hardest; there’s a lot of complex stuff happening and I struggled with portraying it “well.” I was worried that my writing was crap, that the story was terrible, etc. The usual bout of writerly self-loathing. But in the end, I gave myself permission to write garbage, which oddly freed me from my hesitation and made me push on. (I also bribed myself with glittery eyeshadow, which worked marvelously.)

If you’re interested, here’s my word count log for this book:

Behold my chicken scratch! But you can see that some days I busted my ass, while other days, I fought for a single sentence. Writing is often a slow, painful grind, but for me, the challenge is its own reward. Plus, you know, it’s nice to have another book under my belt. 🙂 I’m going to sit on this one for a month or so while I address some other outstanding projects (a couple novellas), then do my first read-through and figure out exactly how much of a mess I’ve gotten myself into, and what in Ea’s realm it’s gonna take to fix it.

In other news… The cover for Catalyst Moon: Storm (Book 3) is also DONE, and it’s fabulous. No – it’s AMAZING!!! Fiona Jayde did a fantastic job, and I cannot wait to share it with y’all! My trusty ARC troopers (@ me if you get the reference) are doing a final check, and I anticipate launching the book around the end of this month.

So that’s it for now! Next post will probably be about the cover, and then expect me to ask/beg y’all to share news of Book 3’s release to your social media buddies. [insert hopeful smile]

Until we meet again, stay awesome,

Lauren

PS: On April 3rd, I’ll be doing an AMA on the reddit Fantasy book forum, so come say hi!

 

Update – seeking readers for ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) of Book 3

Hiya!

Short post today. I’m working with a cover artist for Catalyst Moon: Storm (Book 3), and am busy prepping for this book’s launch. To that end, I’m seeking anyone who’d like an ARC (advanced reader copy) ahead of the launch. In return, I’m asking for

a) a quick note once your done to let me know of any typos/errors/inconsistencies, etc.

b) an honest, unbiased review once the book launches

What you get:

a) a PDF version of Catalyst Moon: Storm (Book 3) before it’s released!

b) any future Catalyst Moon books prior to their release, as I’m trying to start an exclusive ARC club for my lovely readers. 💜

c) my eternal gratitude

That’s it!😊  If you’ re interested, comment here or drop me a line at lalogareads@gmail.com

Thank you, and stay awesome!

Lauren

 

 

on heart v. brain (or, the everlasting struggle)

Nothing is simple.

So, Catalyst Moon #3 is basically ready to go, I just need cover art. I’m trying to get it out to y’all, I really am, but I’ve discovered a divide within myself, namely between what I know is the “smart,” “marketable” path, and what my heart wants.

Conventional wisdom tells me that my best bet to get folks to read my books is to pick a cover that fits genre conventions. The cover needs to convey not so much what the book is about, but what “categories” it falls into, (ie: fantasy, adventure, romance, etc) so the reader knows more or less what they’re getting. It’s why you see so many shirtless dudes on those romance novels, and why there are SO MANY grim-faced fellas with swords on fantasy novels. (Is no one happy in those books? Ever??)

My issue is that I CANNOT stand the standard cover fare for my genre. I’m sorry, but most of them look boring and ugly, and the idea of spending hundreds of dollars on something I find so distasteful… Well, it sucks.

But my brain – my rational side – tells me these ugly covers are the best way to get readers. These are what’s selling now, and if I want to Be Serious about this whole self-publishing gig, then I need to swallow my pride and ignore my desire and go with what objectively works.

But y’all.

I’ve been scouring the interwebs for a cover artist. I’ve talked to a few, but no one’s portfolio has captured my heart. I know how silly and pretentious this all sounds, believe me, (#firstworldproblems), but it’s a truth I can’t ignore. My heart wants a gorgeous “artistic” cover that attempts to convey the story I’m telling, not the categories that Amazon prompts me to select.

This hesitation on my part is for good reason. Waaaaay back when CM 1 came out, my publisher initially took all my crazy notes to heart and commissioned this incredible artwork from Natalya Pushokova:

Stunning. 😍😍😍 I love this so, so, SO much. It’s just…ugh, SO GOOD!!!

But when they tested the cover, no one knew what the book was about. 

So, back to the drawing board. The next version of CM1’s cover is the current one:

Which is fine and seems fairly popular. I’ve gotten a lot of nice comments about it. But it’s a far cry from what the arty gorgeousness my heart wanted. So yeah. Heart v. brain…brain won this round.

Now that I don’t have a publisher to answer to work with, I’m working on finding a way to merge these conflicting desires. The thing is, my “issues” aren’t just about money or art or book sales. They go deeper. Namely: Is what I’m doing worth all this frustration and effort? I consider my writing to be art, but the world is not kind to artists. There are approximately a bajillion other epic fantasy series out there. Is Catalyst Moon really worth all this inner conflict, or would it (and me, by extension) be better served by quietly going along with conventional wisdom in the hope of attracting more readers?

Sorry to be a downer. I’m not looking for a resolution from anyone – that will have to come from within – but if anyone has been in my shoes and can possibly relate, let me know. In the meantime, I’ll try to pull my head out of my own ass and figure this out.

Stay awesome,

Lauren

Many thanks to The Awkward Yeti for perfectly and adorably portraying my inner turmoil.

on discovery drafts (aka: your first draft isn’t “shit,” you just don’t know what your story is about)

“The first draft of anything is shit.”

I’m over this axiom. Not necessarily because of the message it’s trying to get across, but because it does so in a way that’s designed to shock and dishearten. Perhaps for some people this is helpful, but that tactic always rubs me the wrong way. First of all, there’s enough disheartening obstacles in the storyteller’s path, and second, because the first draft ISN’T shit…it’s just not what it could be. It hasn’t reached its full potential. Perspective is key. Sure, a baby bird looks like a piece of used chewing gum stuck with feathers, but that doesn’t mean it’s a “shit” bird. It just hasn’t grown up yet.

Stories are the same.

(Caveat: Everyone’s experience is different, so I am only speaking about my own. Perhaps the process will be different for you.)

No matter how much I daydream, brainstorm, plan, and outline, the first/rough draft of any given story emerges as a somewhat different animal than anticipated. For me, stories are like living things: you can give them the best care and nurturing, and they will grow up to be completely different than all of your careful planning. Perhaps other, better authors don’t experience things this way, but I’d reckon that more than a few folks can relate to the feeling of looking at a completed first draft and going, “Huh. Didn’t see that coming.”

I’m here to tell you that is okay. More than okay; it’s normal. Writing a book is really hard. Writing a great book, with a compelling plot, interesting characters, and everything else that readers want, is damn near impossible. But you can do it. You just need to be patient with yourself and with the process.

I don’t write first/rough drafts, though I will sometimes refer to them as such to avoid confusion when talking to others. I write discovery drafts. This is the magical time when I ignore my inner critic/editor and simply play in the sandbox that is my WIP. Yes, I stick to my outline as much as I can (while often changing things around as I come to them), but I don’t edit as I go (aside from a few little bits here and there), and I don’t read over the entire story until after it’s written. I do this because, for me, it’s impossible to know if something is working until I’ve written “the end.” Elements that may seem out of place when I’m halfway in suddenly make sense at 3/4 way in, and I’m able to bring them all together by the ending.

Beyond that, though, it’s impossible for me to do the high-level editing (relating to themes, character arcs, plot, pacing, etc) before I have a sense of what the story is *about.* Not what I think it’s about, (per my outline), but what it IS about: the truths it reveals; the struggles and the triumphs, how they fit together, and what they mean.

The only way I can discover what my story is about is to write it. Hence, discovery draft.

So in the end, my advice to you is to keep doing what you’re doing, but don’t be so hard on yourself if you feel like your first draft is “shit.” Don’t berate your story for not being what you think it should be. Find out what it wants and needs, nurture it, and your words will grow wings.

Take care and stay awesome,

Lauren