Monday, January 26, 2015

My personal thoughts on Ensnared's ending...

This past Sunday, the Splintered Series officially hit the New York Times Best Sellers list:

And I want to thank you! This could've never happened without all of  the awesome reader support. I'm planning a giveaway to celebrate and show my gratitude. It's coming soon! So be sure to stop by in March for details.

But first, not too long ago, I said I would share what went through my mind as I was wrapping up the final book of the Splintered trilogy. Anyone who has followed the series to its end deserves the inside track. 

So, let's get to it... 

Ensnared has been out for almost a month. If you've finished reading it, you’re probably feeling one or more of these emotions:
A) Elated
B) Bittersweet
C) Contented
D) Tangled up in feels
E) Dissatisfied
F) Vexed

G) Angry 
For those of you who are feeling E - G, I empathize. Although I have no control over how the ending might make people feel -- since reading is such a personal experience -- I've been there myself, upset about the final pages of a favorite series because I was left confused, dejected, or unsatisfied. So I do understand. 

I recently saw a fabulous article on Buzzfeed, and found this line pertaining to authors: "Taste is subjective, and you're not running for elected office." More fitting words have never been said.

Now that I'm in the author's seat, I look at those endings that once disappointed me -- or made me feel jumbled up inside -- quite differently. I now realize that it’s impossible for any writer to make everyone happy. 
Their only job, then, is to be true to their characters, and to tell an intriguing tale. 

One of my favorite quotes is by Gordon Lish: The secret of good writing is telling the truth.

I promise never to lie to you. I told the truth through my characters' eyes, down the line. And I'm hoping that Ensnared at least accomplished the following things for you:

  • Presented vivid settings, creatures, and scenarios that whisked you into the pages and helped you escape your everyday world. 
  • Offered twists and turns that kept you guessing and at the edge of your seat. 
  • Inspired swoons and angry outbursts and an occasional smile. 

If so, that's all I can really hope for as an author. I touched your emotions, and allowed you to wear someone else’s skin in a world that you would otherwise never see. Love triangles are subjective, and there is no resolution that everyone will consider perfect. So what I tried to do, from this book's beginning to its end, was entertain and inspire imaginations. And in that, I hope I succeeded.

To meet publishing guidelines, I had to cut 10,000 words from Ensnared's final manuscript, and a big chunk of those words came out of the last few chapters. There are deleted scenes that I wish could've remained in the book because they helped show how deep the sacrifices were running and how many emotions were involved in those decisions at the end.

However, I do get to share them with you (along with some new Splintered tales) in a follow up novella that will be released sometime within the next few months. But until then, I wanted to share what went through my mind as things were wrapping up in Ensnared. Believe me, the feelings/questions some of you have experienced, I did as well. 

Part of an author's process (often with the help of their editors or critique partners) is to play Devil's advocate and ask the tough questions they anticipate might run through readers' minds. We do this so that we can satisfy the answers for our own inner-editor enough to look past other people's opinions and find the story's ONE TRUE ending. 

Every book has one. But sometimes authors get talked into writing what the majority wants to happen instead (not always by readers ... sometimes by their publishers or friends). Or, the author decides it's too scary to write the true ending because it's in some way controversial, so they choose one of the easier, more palatable routes. 

When you read a controversial ending, the kind that causes mixed feelings or frustration -- or just a pure, heady emotional rush, whether it be positive or negative -- those are the endings that the author had to soul search to find. And rest assured, that author was terrified at some point to go through with it. 

That's how it was for me. 

Going through with the ending I knew was right for Ensnared was scary, because I had to justify it even during the editing stages. It was difficult and intimidating. But I believed in this ending so strongly, I fought for it. 

Why? Because it's the only ending that was true to my characters. They’re the ones who live in my head, so I was determined to make the choices that they wanted me to make so they wouldn’t haunt me day and night. ;)

Fortunately, I got to keep my ending. I'm so grateful for that! It helped, that for almost every question and concern tossed my way during edits, my own inner-editor had already asked it of me, so I had an answer. 

It's those "inner-editor" moments I'm sharing today, because they're some of the same questions you might be asking, and because the answers give insights into how the story played out, how the character arcs and canon figured in, and why certain plot choices were made, from my point of view as the author. 

Since there are Ensnared spoilers involved, and I wanted to keep the body of my blog spoiler-free, I wrote them into a PDF that you can link to below. 

Comment warning: I love chatting with my readers, so I left the comments open. But please be aware there might be spoilers there, so read them at your own risk. 

Now, onto my personal thoughts...

Before you delve into the PDF, BE AWARE . . . it has TONS of spoilers inside. Big fat, hairy-scary, matzah ball spoilers galore. 

Not only do I  talk about the ending, I also reveal some key plot points. So I'm asking that you please DO NOT open it unless you either want to be spoiled (Why? Why would you want to be violated in such a way?! The travesty! The humanity!); or, more preferably, you’ve already read book 3 and want an exclusive glimpse at the inner workings of the author’s mind.

Just be sure before you follow the link…

Click here to read the very spoilery PDF

I look forward to hearing from you in the comments! 

Also, I'm doing a live chat about Ensnared on February 7th at 2pm Central (8 pm GMT), in case you want to hang out with other readers, talk to me about the series, and possibly win some prizes. Follow the hashtag #NetherlingsRead on twitter for more info, or check out this announcement video:

Thanks for dropping by today, and I hope to see you again soon. :)

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Splintered Series Final Chapter and An Exciting Announcement...

At last, Ensnared is out in the world! I hope you're either reading/have read/will be reading it soon because in a few weeks I'll be writing up a blog post about why it ended like it did. 

Everyone has their opinions whether the ending was amazing or terrible, fair or unfair, or "real-life enough" (that one is baffling; this isn't contemporary fiction, it's fantasy and Wonderland ... of course magic was going to play a pivotal role in the ending since I wrote it organically and stayed true to my enchanted story-world). @.@

But only the author has insight into how the story played out across the page while writing it, how the character arcs and canon figured in, and why certain plot choices were made. Each one had a reason, and you deserve to know them since you've been faithful and have followed the series to its end. :)

<Slightly Spoilery...highlight to read> I'll also be including excerpts from all the books and the novella that alluded to this ending, contradicting any suggestions that I was derivative or mimicked the ending of any other recently closed books series. Unless I'm psychic (I wish!), I had no idea, over a year and a half ago, how any other authors were going to end their books these past few months. ;)

So be watching for that one! 

If you've already read Ensnared or haven't read it and would like to take part in a read along, I'll be doing a live skype show in February to discuss the book. The hosts have arranged a readalong (check out the hashtag #NetherlingsRead on twitter), and there are prizes up for grabs. Here are more deets:

Hope you can join us!

Also, I have another announcement that I'm dying to make, but I have to wait for the green light from my publisher. When it's time to tell everyone, I'll go big and have a fun giveaway, too! The prizes will include some signed Ensnared hardbacks/ Unhinged paperbacks, and Alice goodies.

Right now, I'm in the midst of some looming writing deadlines + book launch activities and am trying to stay focused, so I'll be pretty quiet until then. 

Be back soon!