Breach – new cover reveal! 😍

It’s done.

My books are now scrubbed clean of every remnant of my former publisher. While I liked their version of Breach’s cover better than their take on Incursion’s, I’m not sorry to see it gone. My time with Inkitt taught me a lot – about the publishing world and about myself – but ultimately, it’s for the best that we parted ways.

If you’ll excuse the bad pun, the new cover for Breach begins a new chapter in my writing career: one where I stand on my own, one where all potential rests squarely on my shoulders. This is terrifying notion. I can’t and won’t deny that truth. But I’ve got dreams and aspirations, and to achieve them, my internal drive must be fiercer than fear.

So, forward. Always. 😁

Anyway, here’s the new cover! Fiona Jayde did a FABULOUS job and I’m already brainstorming book 4’s. 😆

Until we meet again,

Lauren

interview with Inkitt

Hi there!

To celebrate the launch of Catalyst Moon: Breach (Book 2), my amazing publisher, Inkitt, interviewed me about the book, my writing process, and other neat stuff. The interview is below. Enjoy!


Inkitt: How did it feel writing the sequel, as opposed to the first book, Catalyst Moon: Incursion? I imagine you grew even closer to the characters and the world you created felt even more like home. Has your writing process changed or advanced at all, and if so, how?

Lauren: The road to Breach has been…lengthy. I started drafting what I thought would be just book 1 back in September of 2012; the outline at the time contained what will now be books 1 – 3. About a hundred thousand words in, I realized the story was too long and needed to be divided into more manageable chunks, both for me and the reader.

I’m a discovery writer, which means that, while I work from a loosely structured outline, much of the story unfolds as I write the rough draft. The more I write, the more the story evolves. After the rough draft is done and I have a better idea of what the story is about, it’s easier for me to rewrite the entire thing rather than edit endlessly – which is what I did for Incursion. By contrast, Breach was rewritten at least twice, and I think it’s a stronger story for it.

Currently, book 3 is being rewritten, while book 4 is about ⅔ of the way through the initial draft. My hope is that the story has solidified enough so that I won’t have to rewrite book 4 once it’s done, and that this (third!) rewrite of book 3 will be the last.

Obviously, time is a disadvantage of this process. It takes a lot of time to write and rewrite, and sometimes the work feels daunting. But one of the (many) advantages is that I come to know my characters intimately; writing them to such a great degree allows me insights and realizations about them that I might not have otherwise gotten.

Inkitt: You mentioned before what an important role character development plays in your books – how did you find the evolution of the emotional, physical and mental journeys of your characters?

Lauren: I learn about my characters first and foremost by writing them. Even if what I write doesn’t find its way into the final story, (see the convoluted process in my previous answer), the writing process itself lends familiarity, which makes characters breathe.

Another thing I do – which is admittedly a little strange – is imagine my characters in every scenario, even if I don’t write those scenarios. For example, while waiting in line at the grocery store, I’ll think over how Kali would handle the situation, or Stonewall. (She’d probably get distracted reading magazines while he’d start second guessing every purchase and wondering what he forgot.) It sounds silly and can be a bit mundane at times, but it’s helped me form a much clearer picture of who these people are, what they want, and how they conduct themselves in their world. It’s also a great way to get funny looks when your imagination takes you to interesting places while you’re in public. (My imagination has caused spontaneous laughter in not-always-appropriate situations.)

Inkitt: What was the publishing process like the second time around? Did it feel a bit less daunting now that you’ve gone through it once before? Were there any notable differences?

Lauren: The process itself feels much the same as the first time, albeit a bit more streamlined. I think Inkitt’s publishing strategy has evolved and y’all are overall more adept at getting polished books out into the world. For example, I was pleased to see Breach go through multiple stages of editing and proofreading on your end, which is an excellent change from Incursion’s single round of edits.

As to if publication feels less daunting…yes and no. Yes, because I have a better idea of what to expect, both internally and externally, which means I’m better prepared to handle the emotional tsunami that is publication. (For me, at least.) No, because putting my work “out there,” in the world, is always frightening. No matter how often I go through this, (even if it’s only publishing stories online), the act of offering up something so close to my heart is terrifying. I love what I do and I want other people to love it as well, but past experience has shown me that that will not always be the case.

Inkitt: Leading up to the publication date of CM: Breach – how has it been interacting with your audience, having a real fan base anticipating the sequel? Did your readers’ feedback influence the plot line of the sequel at all?

Lauren: Every now and then people reach out to me on Twitter or something and express their excitement over book 2, and it blows my mind every time. Storytelling has always been primarily for my own enjoyment; it’s still extremely difficult to comprehend that other people find value in these stories, too. It’s incredibly rewarding, but sometimes hard to wrap my mind around.

As to reader feedback influencing book 2… Not really. In part because book 2 was written before book 1 was published, but also in part because the story is evolving as I write, and readers don’t have the scope that I do.

Inkitt: Now, a few questions for the newcomers – what type of reader do you think will enjoy this book and the series the most?

Lauren: Lovers of fantasy, for starters, but maybe those who want something a little different than the usual sword and sorcery fare. Those seeking a world that features equality in gender and sexual orientation. Folks who enjoy a slow burning story and a well-crafted romance that drives the plot but doesn’t overshadow it. Someone who enjoys realism in characters’ behavior and actions, but is maybe a little weary of the current “grimdark” trend and wants a story about finding love and hope in difficult times. Readers willing to trust someone who is a new author, (but is not a new writer). Anyone eager to get lost in another world.

Inkitt: How do you find the time to write these incredible works of fiction while having a regular day job?

Lauren: I write every morning before I start my job as an office drone. I also write in spare moments throughout the week, and on weekends. It’s not easy and I don’t have much of what you’d call a “social life,” but I don’t see this as a sacrifice because I’m doing what I love.

Inkitt: Three things that changed in your life after Catalyst Moon: Incursion got published.

Lauren: Well, for starters, I had a great new lockscreen for well over a year. (Although Breach’s phenomenal cover has since taken over.) In all seriousness, publication brought forth a lot of changes, some expected, some not. Of those expected, my drive to get out the rest of the story has increased tenfold; basically 100% of my writing efforts are geared toward that outcome.

As for unexpected changes… Publication was my dream for so long. Once it happened, I had to find another goal beyond “have two books published instead of one.” This search prompted me to think of my writing as something that could be a career, if I work hard enough. Before publication, I never allowed myself to think “yes, I could do this for a living,” because I didn’t have enough confidence in myself. Now that I see it is possible for me to be published, I’ve started thinking of what else I can do, how far I can ride this train. Publication has made me think in much broader terms than I did before; it’s made me realize I have to trust myself more, too.

Publication has also made me realize that I dearly want to share my stories with others. My writing isn’t just for me any longer, although stories often start that way and although I would still write even if I knew no one else would ever read any of it. It’s taken me a long time and a lot of soul-searching to realize that I want other people to love what I write. And as someone who struggles with issues of confidence and self-worth, that’s a difficult truth to admit.

And because of all of that, I think – I know – I’m a stronger person now than I was before Incursion was published.  

Inkitt: Will you tell us a fun fact(s) about you, hidden talent or funny pet peeve.

Lauren: Music is my muse. When planning a scene, thinking over a character arc, or simply brainstorming, my favorite thing to do is put in my earbuds, crank up something inspiring, and go for a walk in the woods. Music gets the imagination flowing like nothing else. This is why I love music festivals so much! They’re a vacation for brain and body, which allows me to “recharge” my mental batteries and stay true to the joy of creating art. There is something so inspiring about being in the presence of a musician doing what they love, among an audience who is totally absorbed. I envy musicians a little bit, because they get the instant gratification of seeing audiences respond to their creations!

Inkitt: What book(s) are you reading right now?

Lauren: I don’t have much time to “read,” but I enjoy audiobooks! I’m currently listening to Eon: Dragoneye Reborn, by Allison Goodman. It’s a really cool epic fantasy featuring a ton of Eastern mythos and imagery. Plus dragons!

Inkitt: And finally, the question on everyone’s mind: will we see more from the Catalyst Moon universe or have you started working on a new story idea?

Lauren: Yes and yes. I’ve got about 5 books planned for the current Catalyst Moon story arc featuring Kali, Stonewall, and the rest of the gang. As I said earlier, I’m rewriting book 3 and the rough draft of book 4 is about ⅔ of the way done. I also have a novella/novellette set in the CM ‘verse, which needs some editing before it’s fit for human consumption. After this arc is done, I have plans for many other stories set in the world of Catalyst Moon, set both before and after the current arc.

I do have ideas for stories not set in the CM ‘verse, but right now, my focus is on Catalyst Moon.

Update – August 2017

Howdy! In case you haven’t seen my numerous tweets and Facebook posts, Catalyst Moon: Breach (Book 2 of the CM Saga) is OUT! You can snag the ebook right here, or even grab a physical copy if you’re into that sort of thing. 😉 If you’re reading this and didn’t realize there’s a book 1, thank you for stopping by! You can grab BOTH books in a handy bundle right here!

Naturally, now that much of the “business” bit of publishing is behind me, I’m turning my full attention back to drafting the third rewrite of Book 3, tentatively subtitled “Storm.” My hope is to have the draft completed by late October, if not sooner, and into my beta-readers’ hands before the holiday season picks up. Since this is the third rewrite, I feel that the book is in a more solid place than Breach was at this point last year, so hopefully the betas won’t have too much work to do. Famous last words, I know. 😉

In non-writing news, I recently had the opportunity to view the solar eclipse that passed through the US earlier this week. The weekend before the eclipse, my husband and I drove up to North Carolina to hang out with family. We ate lots of yummy food, watched a King Kong movie, and climbed a mountain. On Monday, the day of the eclipse, we all went to a little town called Sumter, South Carolina, which was in the path of totality. A local park was hosting a (free!) event, so we were lucky enough to watch this amazing natural spectacle with lots of other people. We were doubly lucky because the sky was almost totally clear the entire time, (though it was beastly hot), so we got a perfect view.

My awesome sister-in-law had the foresight to order the special glasses so none of us would burn our retinas, so we got the full effect. The glasses are dark, much more than any sunglasses, so that literally the only thing you can see is the sun; it looked like a small, gold sphere in a sea of black. As the moon crept across it, the sun took on what one of my nephews called a “Pac-Man” look, the “mouth” widening as the moon moved, until the sun looked more like a crescent moon than anything else. As the moon crawled across it, the crescent’s points shrank into nothing. Even at 99%, the tiny bit of sun was enough to illuminate the entire area. The light was dim, not dark; sort of like that you’d see before a bad storm, and the air was slightly cooler.

Once the eclipse reached totality, cheers erupted through the crowd and it was deemed safe to remove our glasses. Pictures like the one above don’t really do it justice and I can say with 100% honesty that this was one of the most incredible sights I have ever witnessed. I’m still trying to process it, but I’ll try to explain. The sun was gone, replaced by a black sphere, surrounded with a silver-white halation; the purest, most perfect circle of light you can imagine. Flares of radiation, some longer than the diameter of the sun, stretched out on all sides. The sky was not black, but a deep blue, like twilight. In fact, it was twilight everywhere; every horizon was flushed gold and pink as if with sunset. All around us, the other eclipse-watchers stared at the sky in wonder. I swear the world held its breath, waiting for the sun’s return.

We experienced totality for about two minutes. When the first gleam of the sun emerged, everyone cheered again. I’m normally not one for crowds, but there was something special about witnessing this event in a group of like-minded people; a sense of community that ran deeper than state lines or skin color. Humanity, turning out for something special.

For more information about when and where you can view solar eclipses in the US, check here. I’ll be there; I hope you are, too.

Take care & stay awesome,

Lauren

Catalyst Moon: Breach – cover art!

Hi there! I’m back, quickly, because I’m plugging away at the FINAL round of edits for Breach. But I had to stop and share the gorgeous cover art with y’all!

Are you ready? [drumroll]

Here you go:

 

Ahhh, it’s just so beautiful, I’m beside myself! 😀 It’s exactly what I wanted and perfect for the book. Please let me know what you think!

Also, if you have a spare hour and a hankering to hear me and the marvelous Bryan Aiello discuss Star Wars, writing, and Catalyst Moon, check out our conversation here!

Alright, enough chitchat. Time to get back to work!

Thanks, and stay awesome,

Lauren

Update – September 2016

Hi there!

It’s been a minute, I know, but I never said I was a consistent blogger. However, I have a very good reason for not posting anything in a while.

screenshot of breach DONE

As of today, books two AND three of the Catalyst Moon saga are drafted. 182,740 words total between them, in one loooong document that I’ll break up at a logical spot somewhere in the center. (I’ve thought this through, I swear.)

Of course, there’s quite a lot of work still to be done. When I say the books are “drafted,” I mean there are words on the page, but there are still plot holes to fill, character arcs to round out, and bits of dialog to rewrite. There’s also probably one or two typos in there, somewhere. Oh, and the moon phases! Don’t even get me started on the effing moon phases. (I’m a stickler for astronomical continuity.)

Incursion (book one) was originally part of the outline I’ve been working from, and THAT was a huge pain to break into its own story. What I have now is a giant mass of story that I need to chop up and refine into two stories. My plan is to give my brain a few days to settle down, (I’ve been eating, sleeping, and breathing this book for so long), then do a re-read and make notes about all the work I have yet to do. From there, I’ll break the book in half and focus on the first part, (book two) as I edit, edit, edit. Then, for a change, I’ll edit some more. Then I’ll send book two off to my beautiful, brilliant beta readers and work on book three while I anxiously await their feedback. More editing, possibly some crying. (Who am I kidding? There will almost definitely be some crying. It’s a process, yo.) Then I’ll send the book to my lovely editor at Inkitt, and, once again, anxiously await her feedback. Then…say it with me…MORE EDITING!

In short, the work is just beginning. 

But for now, I’m kicking back and relishing the feeling of being DONE with a project that’s been hovering over me for years – about as long as Incursion has been around. I started writing Incursion in September of 2012, and wrote book two, Breach, about six-ish months after that. While doing my edits for Incursion, so much of the story changed that the rough drafted I’d written for Breach made no sense any longer, (plus it was really, really broken), so I took the “easy” way out and rewrote the thing, starting in September of 2015.

You might be saying, “But Lauren, exactly how many books ARE you going to put in this series?”

Great question, thanks for asking. 

Originally, Catalyst Moon was going to be maaaaybe three books, tops. Three became four, which has now become six. At the risk of sounding too much like a fantasy author cliché, I think the story I want to tell for this arc will be best told in two trilogies. This means the first set of books (1 – 3) will focus on one thing and the second set (4 – 6), will focus on another thing. Generally. Some aspects are still a little vague in my mind, but it’s coming together. I’m not really a writer; I’m a gardener of stories.

As it stands today, this is my plan*:

  • Play Elder Scrolls Online with my husband because I’ve earned a break, dammit. Plus, those mudcrabs are cruisin’ for a bruisin’.
  • Reread Book 2, aka the 182k word behemoth, and make copious notes about how to prepare it for human consumption.
  • Do what the notes say, focusing on Book 2 and setting Book 3 aside for later.
  • Send Book 2 to betas and start editing Book 3.
  • Also start outlining Book 4 – 6.
  • Get beta suggestions for book 2 and do them.
  • Send book 2 to editor.
  • Do what she says. Mostly.
  • …..
  • Publish book 2. There’s probably more in that previous step, but I can’t think that far ahead right now.
*subject to change without notice, rhyme, or reason.

The absolute latest I’d like to have Book 2 out is next July, around the same time Incursion came out this year, so…yeah. Wish me luck!

One last thing:

It’s considered gauche to publicly respond to reviews – even to thank the reviewer – but I’d like to do so here. To everyone that has reviewed Catalyst Moon: Incursion, either on Amazon, Goodreads, or somewhere else I’m not privy to, THANK YOU. You are amazing, and I have so much love in my heart for your generosity of time and spirit.

Stay awesome,

Lauren

PS: For the curious, the background photo, (dubbed “featured image” by WordPress), is my super-duper technical record of my word count progression over the last several weeks. The whole image is here:

breach WC

Apologies for my handwriting. The crossed-off number is from when I realized I’d written a scene wrong, and had to delete it entirely. Fun times.

Moral of the story: Keep. Writing. Even when it feels like you’re making no progress at all. Even a tiny step forward brings you that much closer to achieving your goals.