REFLECTIONS Now Has a Book Trailer!

I know what you might be saying: "Briana, why create a book trailer for a novel that's been out for more than a year?" Well, because I WANT TO! Also, because I've only just gotten the hang of using iMovie, and because I think Reflections deserves love more than anything else I've written... but you know. Same thing.

Anyway, I'm thrilled to share this brand-spanking-new book trailer with you. I've never made one before, and it was a lot of fun! Let me know what you think in the comments below. What book should I give this treatment to next?

RELATED LINKS:

Thanks for watching! Also, keep your eyes on this space—I have some big changes coming soon!

How Writing REFLECTIONS Changed My Life

As I edit, polish, and refine my manuscript for Pitch Wars (eep!), I can’t help marveling at how much this one book has changed my life. When I started out writing Reflections, I knew it was going to be important. It tackles several difficult issues that need to be addressed, and it has more than one personal connection to my own life. However, I never anticipated it becoming a kind of nourishment for me.

Writing this novel changed my life, and I don’t say that lightly. I learned so much while writing this book--about myself and the world around me--that it almost doesn’t matter to me if anyone else reads it. Of course, I do want someone to read it, and even better if they’re as effected by the novel as I have been so far. This book is more important to me than anything I’ve written. Writing Reflections changed my life because it allowed me to connect with victims, confront my own issues and experiences, and move through tough stuff toward positivity and acceptance.

WRITING REFLECTIONS ALLOWED ME TO CONNECT WITH VICTIMS

I know a lot of women who have suffered various kinds of abuse--too many women who have been hurt in ways non-victims can never understand. While I was in college, I was lucky enough to participate in a production of The Vagina Monologues. One of my favorite parts of the show, and arguably the most profound, happened toward the end. After a brief video conveying sexual assault statistics, the show's director asked everyone who had ever been hurt or abused to stand up. The number of women rising to their feet was staggering. It hit me like a punch to the gut. These were women I saw on campus every day, women I had classes with, even women who had just performed onstage with me. It was heartbreaking, yes, but it was also powerful.

These women deserve to have their stories told. They deserve to know that what happened to them in the past does not define them. More than anything, they deserve to get a taste of what it's like to be the hero. No matter how broken they may feel, they are stronger than they know. Writing this book--writing Rama--not only allowed me to grasp the truths I most needed to hear, it also allowed me to connect with other victims of various kinds of abuse, including physical, emotional, and sexual.

WRITING REFLECTIONS ALLOWED ME TO WORK THROUGH MY ISSUES

In the past, I've been betrayed by men. My trust has been destroyed more times than I can count. For the longest time, I thought I would never be happy. I had a hard time making peace with myself because of my extensive trust issues. After all, if I couldn't get over myself, nobody would love me, and if nobody would love me, I couldn't get married and then I wouldn't have kids and then andthenandthen--

But that isn't what matters. Ideally, I'd like to learn to trust the men I meet, but I recognize now that isn't necessary for my happiness. I can still be happy and comfortable with myself, flaws and all, by embracing my lack of perfection. Sure, I've been let down, but none of that was my fault. At the same time, the fact that I've been a victim doesn't mean I have no control of my life. Instead of focusing on the past, writing Reflections helped me forgive those who have hurt me and redirect my energy toward building the life I desire.

If I can be happy being alone--if I can accept myself fully for me--then and only then will I find any kind of peace.

Of course, this philosophy applies to physical features as much as it does emotional ones. Like everyone else, there are things about my body that I've often wished to change. As a teenager, I struggled to come to terms with my height, cystic acne, and the shape of my nose. I was even bullied because of the way I looked. Instead of considering all the things my body did for me and the aspects of it I actually liked, I dwelled only on the negative. My self-esteem eroded and dwindled down to nothing. Over the years, it has slowly improved, but while writing Reflections, it skyrocketed. I honestly can't remember the last time I've loved myself so fully. I adore and appreciate every part of my face and body. Sometimes I have off days, but for the most part, I am now able to drag myself out of the funk and smile at myself in the mirror.

This post might be the longest on my blog to date, but it's also the most important. While I am of course hopeful that Reflections will be picked up by someone someday, if nothing else, I can say it's made a difference in my life. I should be so lucky if it helps someone else.

REFLECTIONS Draft 1, Chapter 1 Excerpt

dressing-room I finished the first draft of my YA urban fantasy novel Reflections sometime last week. I can't remember the exact date right now, and I'm not too concerned about it, because I get to take a break now. I'm taking two weeks off from writing to rest, relax, and recover before diving into the second book in the Blood and Water series.

Since a lot of you have been asking me about Reflections, I wanted to take time to share a sizable excerpt with you. So, without any further ado, here's the first chapter of a (very) rough draft of the novel. Enjoy!

NOTE: General trigger warning for body dysmorphia, self-esteem issues, self-criticism. Onward.

CHAPTER 1. the dressing room

The dressing room was hot, but that wasn’t the reason Ramachandra “Rama” Ganeshan was sweating. She and her best friend Myra Hare had been at the mall for hours, and although Myra had a dozen outfits stuffed into bags on her arm, Rama hadn’t found a single thing she liked.

She never found anything she liked anymore.

The department-store dressing room was small, way smaller than it needed to be. Either the air conditioning had gone out in this part of the building, or Rama was really worse off than she thought. Sweat ran down the back of her neck and trailed along her spine. What’s worse, she could see the sweat beaded on her face as she cautiously assessed her reflection.

Standing in front of the dressing room mirror, Rama hated what she saw. The dress was as awful as all of the others—too tight in some places, too low in others, and too short around her thighs.

Disgusting.

As she studied her reflection, she wanted to throw up. She prayed for the ground to open up and swallow her whole before Myra could ask her what was wrong, why she was taking so long, and whether she planned to buy the dress.

There were too many questions, and she didn’t feel like answering any of them. They were all too complicated, and she didn’t have the patience. Besides, she wasn’t sure she had all the answers, either.

Then again, she wasn’t sure that she had any of the answers.

Myra’s knuckles rapped against the door. “Hey, can I come in?”

“Just a second.” Rama smoothed the dress over her stomach. Too tight. She’d known it would be. Still, there was no way she’d ask Myra to go look for the next size. “I’m changing back into my street clothes. I don’t think I’m getting this one, either.”

“Rama,” Myra said, “that’s like, the eighteenth outfit.”

“I know. I’m sorry. Just give me a minute.”

Myra sighed, but she didn’t argue. Rama felt guilty for dragging her best friend into such a mess, but Myra had been the one to propose the shopping trip. They hadn’t been spending enough time together. Myra had just made the cheerleading team, and Rama was taking three AP courses, which meant her nose—as hooked as it was—was constantly buried in a book. She had so much homework that sometimes, she didn’t even leave the house on the weekends. She didn’t count that as a loss—it wasn’t as though she liked going anywhere now, anyway. She was far too busy to even help her parents with running the restaurant most nights, and that was an obligation. A social life? Forget it.

Her parents, like all of the others in town, must have been thrilled with this development. There had been a rash of unsolved murders of young girls in the past few months, and the mayor of Aldale, West Virginia had even gone so far as to establish a curfew for anyone under eighteen. It just wasn’t safe to be out alone at night. It wasn’t safe to be alone at all.

But Myra’s parents thought all the precautions were too strict. Sure, the children needed to be careful, but as long as they exercised common sense and good judgment, there was no need for them to take such drastic measures. They’d explained their point of view to their daughter, and it hadn’t taken much else for Myra to be convinced. Of late, she’d taken to trying to recruit Rama to her side of the debate.

“We should go to the mall today,” Myra had said at her house that afternoon. “It will do you good to get out.”

For some reason, Rama had gone along with the plan. She’d even, at one point, thought that Myra might be right. It probably would do her good to get out.

But now, in the dressing room, Rama wasn’t so convinced. She wasn’t sure what the worst part of the dress was—the way it scratched her skin, the way it dipped low enough in the front to expose the scar below her collarbone, or the way it clung to her hips and made her feel like a cow.

She didn't even need the dress, didn't she? It wasn't as though she actually went anywhere anymore, let alone somewhere that she would wear something so nice. It didn’t even cover her scar, which had been her biggest reason for wanting to buy new clothes, anyway. If it couldn’t even do that much, did it do her any good?

She ran her fingertips over the scar and winced as though it were fresh. Myra was the only one besides Rama who had seen the scar, and thankfully, she’d never asked Rama where it had come from. If she had, Rama would have had no idea what to tell her. There was absolutely no way she’d tell anyone the truth—if she said it aloud, she had to acknowledge that it had happened, and then she couldn’t pretend it was just a nightmare anymore.

Rama swallowed the lump in her throat. The walls of the dressing room were closing in around her, and the ceiling was going to cave in any minute. She would be crushed or suffocate and die in the middle of the mall and no one would miss her, that was the worst part, not even Myra who had dragged her to the mall try on the stupid dress in the first place.

“You okay?” Myra asked from the other side of the door.

“Fine,” Rama lied. “I'm just hungry is all.”

“It's making you cranky.”

“I know, and I'm sorry. Look, can we just go?”

Myra sighed again. “You said you needed new clothes, and you haven't gotten a single thing. I don't want to leave without you buying something.”

“I hate everything I try on.” Rama pulled the dress off over her head and tossed it onto the chair. The plastic hanger that had been there clattered to the ground. Rama stooped to pick it up. “I don't see the point in staying here when I don't want to even get anything now.”

“Let me see if I can find you something else then. Just let me try, okay?”

Rama looked at herself in the mirror again. Shiny white stretch marks pulled across her hips and thighs, dipping into the ragged waistband of her underwear. The under-wire of her bra was sticking out on one side. Her hair was disheveled, dull, and full of tangles.

She wanted, more than anything, to be someone else—anyone else.

Anyone that wasn’t her or anyone like her.

And she’d be willing to do almost anything to make that wish come true.

Rama was still thinking about how much she hated her body when Myra returned with an armful of clothing. She knocked on the door, and Rama paused a minute before opening it enough for Myra to shove the clothing in. Rama dropped the pile of clothes on the chair. None of them were to her taste—fit too tight; showed too much skin. Drew too much attention. What had Myra been thinking?

“Well?” Myra asked.

“Close the door,” Rama said. There was no way in hell she’d wear any of that stuff. But she couldn’t say that to Myra. She wouldn’t understand. She never could.

No one could.

And she wouldn’t try to make her understand where she was coming from.

“Something’s wrong,” Myra said. “I wish you’d just tell me what’s bothering you.”

Rama took in a shuddering breath.

“It’s not about clothes, is it?”

“It’s not about the clothes.” It was never about the clothes. She squeezed her eyes shut, willed away tears. In her mind’s eye, she saw him again—the man with the mustache. Chicken tikka masala. Her stomach churned.

“Rama.”

She opened her eyes. Myra was still there, lips narrowed into a thin line.

She touched Rama’s arm. “You’ll never be happy until you learn to make peace with your body, you know.”

That was easy enough for her to say. Myra had long legs and curves in all the right places—that was one of the biggest reasons she’d made the cheerleading squad. As far as Rama knew, she’d never had a single pimple. Self-esteem issues? Forget it. Myra had absolutely nothing to complain about. And she certainly had never been attacked like Rama had, never hated her body as much as Rama hated hers now.

Rama sniffed and covered the scar on her chest. There was no way in hell she’d ever tell Myra what had happened that day in the restaurant.

Myra took the clothes from Rama and sighed. “Okay, you win. You don’t have to try this stuff on if you don’t want to. Shopping is supposed to be fun, not torture, you know.”

A smile quirked the corners of Rama’s lips. “I appreciate your help.”

“It’s nothing,” Myra said. “Why don’t we head back to the car? We can get milkshakes before I drop you off. I’ll grab your bike.”

In her battle with self-image, she’d almost forgotten—she’d ridden her bicycle to Myra’s house, and then they’d gone on to the mall. She needed her bike to get home. Sure, she could always hitch a ride with Myra, but Myra was asking for more quality time. Rama needed to be alone. And Myra wanted them to get milkshakes.

Rama chewed her lip. The last thing she needed was a milkshake. She kept saying she was going on a diet, but maybe she wasn’t serious. She couldn’t figure out how to make a diet work when she lived above a restaurant and had two chefs for parents. At any rate, she’d already done too much thinking about her body that day, and she needed a serious distraction. A milkshake wouldn’t cut it. Neither would her friend.

“I’m going to bike home, I think. I could use some fresh air.”

“Do you think that’s a good idea? You’d be alone.”

“I know. It’s all right, I promise. I’ve done it before.”

Myra cast a sidelong glance at her. “Have you done it since the murders?”

“Doesn’t matter. I’ll be fine.”

“How can you be so sure?”

Rama exhaled loudly. “I’m going straight home, no stops on the way. It isn’t even dark yet—won’t be dark for a while—and I really need to think. Come on, Myra. Just let me take my bike.”

She could tell that Myra wanted to press her for details, but somehow, she resisted. “Suit yourself. Let’s go, girl.”

What do you think? Are you excited for Reflections?

Tweet tweet:

"She wanted... to be someone else—anyone else. Anyone that wasn’t her or anyone like her." (Click to tweet)

Get to Know the Characters of My WIP Reflections

Photo Credit: Chris Wild on Flickr It's been ages since I've done a blog tag, and I've recently gotten back into the habit of working on my novel Reflections, so I'm glad the lovely Brianna da Silva tagged me in this game!

Here's the gist of it: you take six questions and answer them for each main character in your WIP. I think you're supposed to use six characters, but I didn't because I was afraid the blog post would run too long. Oh well. I have all of the key players here, and maybe sometime down the road, I'll do another post like this with the minor folks. We'll see what happens.

I've altered some of the questions to suit my novel, of course, but I'm using the same six questions for each character. At the end, I'll be tagging six more people to take part in this challenge as well. If you're not tagged, feel free to participate anyway. I had a lot of fun with this, and it was a great deal more helpful than I thought it would be.

Enjoy!

Note: If you're not sure how to determine your characters' Myers-Briggs types, you can take the fairly short inventory here. That's what I did!

1. RAMACHANDRA

Contradiction: Doesn't feel comfortable around people; hates being alone with her thoughts.

Myers-Briggs: ISFJ.

Favorite color(s): Green and brown. Earth tones.

Crystal (if applicable): Rose quartz.

Favorite scent: Any kind of incense, but mostly sandalwood and vanilla. Her mother burns a lot of incense when she isn't working in the restaurant.

Where does she see herself in 10 years? She isn't sure, but she wants to go to WVU in Morgantown, maybe major in pre-med. At one point, she wanted to help her parents with the restaurant, but now she's determined to get as far away from Aldale (and her problems) as she can.

Image via Pinterest

2. LEDA

Contradiction: She'd be an ideal tribe leader but isn't keen on a leadership role.

Myers-Briggs: ENFJ.

Favorite color(s): Purple, blue, and green.

Crystal (if applicable): Aquamarine.

Favorite scent: Lilacs. She has several lilac candles in her bedroom and she burns them as often as she can.

Where does she see herself in 10 years? Still married to Nathaniel, of course, and hopefully a mother in some capacity. Like her husband, she doesn't expect to stay with the tribe for the rest of her life. She'd be content finding another tribe to join, maybe somewhere out west. If that doesn't work out, she has no problem giving up her abilities and perhaps trying to have children again--if such a thing is possible.

3. VINCENT

Contradiction: Dislikes lies and deception; relies to lies and deception to succeed as a Shifter. He'll also cover up dishonesty for the sake of protecting his tribe.

Myers-Briggs: ESTJ.

Favorite color(s): Orange, gold, and black.

Crystal: Citrine.

Favorite scent: Wood, especially dark wood like mahogany.

Where does he see himself in 10 years? Dead, unfortunately. Running a tribe is stressful enough in and of itself, and tribe leaders don't live very long as a rule. Usually it's a combination of stress, exhaustion, and sapped power that does them in. If he gives too much power away, after all, his crystal will start feeding off his personal life energy. Since he's often too busy to remember to top the crystal off with outside energy, he needs to be careful if he doesn't want to be dead in a decade or less.

Image via Pinterest

4. NATHANIEL

Contradiction: He's Vincent's second-in-command, but he doesn't really want to be a Shifter anymore.

Myers-Briggs: INFJ.

Favorite color(s): Blue and green.

Crystal: Aventurine.

Favorite scent: His wife's hair, especially when it's wet from rain or the shower.

Where does he see himself in 10 years? In another tribe somewhere out west, maybe even out of the life altogether. It's not an ideal environment in which to raise kids, and he wants to have a family with Leda someday.

5. CARTER

Contradiction: Despite his arrogant personality and status in the tribe, he often feels powerless.

Myers-Briggs: ENTJ.

Favorite color(s): Purple, black, and silver.

Crystal: Amethyst.

Favorite scent: Smoke.

Where does he see himself in 10 years? Tribe leader. He wants to be bigger, better, and stronger than Vincent. He does respect Vincent, though, and doesn't want to outright steal the position from him. His plan is to wait until Vincent either dies or steps down willingly--even though Nathaniel is the second-in-command, Carter knows he doesn't really want to take Vincent's place.

Thanks for reading this post! I hope you enjoyed learning some more about my characters--I know I did! And now, here are the six people I'm tagging to participate in this as well. Remember, you can change any of the questions to suit your WIP, too!

  1. Rae Oestreich
  2. Mariella Hunt
  3. Brett Michael Orr
  4. Kelly Sedinger
  5. Josh Cook
  6. Ava Jae

How do you get to know your characters? Are you excited for Reflections?

Tweet tweet:

Interested in REFLECTIONS? Get to know some of @brianawrites' characters! (Click to tweet)

An Excerpt from REFLECTIONS

pexels-photo (2)

THE NEWSCAST

Three days later, Rama was wiping down tables in the restaurant when she heard Jessica’s name. She’d been hearing Jessica’s name repeating on a loop in her head for days, but to hear it spoken aloud was startling.

She looked up from her work and fixed her eyes on the television over the bar, which was constantly turned to the news. Most of the time, the sound was muted, but her father had turned it on before going to the kitchen to begin preparing dinner. Rama didn’t know what the news report was about, but as soon as she heard Jessica’s name, the television had her undivided attention.

Since she’d had the strange encounter with Jessica in the forest, she wondered whether she’d imagined everything she’d seen—if it was the result of a head injury after all. She hadn’t been satisfied by Jessica’s strained explanation and erratic behavior, and she’d been looking everywhere for signs that she wasn’t going crazy.

When she heard Jessica’s name on the news, she knew that she’d seen something.

“Mr. and Mrs. Spurlock reported that their daughter left for school on the morning of the fourteenth and never made it home that evening,” the newscaster announced. “They didn’t bring the case to the authorities until two days had gone by without any word from Jessica.”

The camera cut to an exterior shot of the Spurlock’s home, a two-story Victorian, with Roy and Maureen Spurlock standing on the porch. A reporter held a microphone up to Maureen’s face.

“We thought she might be spending the night with her boyfriend,” Maureen said. “She did that sometimes.”

Does that,” Roy corrected.

Rama put down the rag. It felt like someone had taken a seat on her chest.

Maureen sniffed. “We just… we’ve lived in Aldale since before Jessica was born. This is one of the safest towns in the world—most people don’t even lock their doors around here.” She looked to Roy. When he nodded, she continued. “Whatever happened to Jess… we just want her back here, safe and sound. Whether she ran off on her own or what, she’s welcome to come back here, no questions asked.”

Roy leaned over to speak into the microphone. “We love you, Jessica. We always will.”

Tears shone in Maureen’s eyes. She opened her mouth to speak, but she was overcome by emotion and had to turn away from the camera, the reporter, and the microphone.

“If someone’s taken her—” Roy started.His voice broken on the last word, and he dissolved into a sob. He took a minute or two to compose himself before wiping his nose with a handkerchief. “She’s our only daughter. We just want her back. We’re willing to do whatever it takes to make sure she comes home.”

Rama’s ears roared. Her face was on fire. If that was the real Jessica she’d seen in the forest, what the hell was she doing out there? Why was she torturing her friends and loved ones like she was? Didn’t she have any idea how her absence was upsetting them?

“Rama, turn that up, please,” her father Dhayal called from the kitchen. He stood in the doorway, gazing intently up at the television. “Don’t you go to school with her?”

Rama went over, grabbed the remote control from behind the bar, and turned the volume up so that her father could hear it. On screen, the Spurlock’s home had vanished, replaced once again by the familiar newsroom.

“Jessica Spurlock’s whereabouts are still unknown,” the newscaster said. “Anyone who has seen or heard anything related to her disappearance is encouraged to go to the police or call our toll-free hotline at the bottom of the screen.”

Rama debated writing the telephone number down. She had seen something related to Jessica’s disappearance. Then again, she still wasn’t sure whether it had been real.

What could the police do with a teenage girl’s hallucination?

Some Snippets from REFLECTIONS

Some Snippets from REFLECTIONS I just hit 10K in my urban fantasy WIP Reflections, but it feels like I've written so much more. Most of it is trapped inside my head, unable to make the passage from my brain to my fingers to the keyboard. I'm not sure how to fix that. At any rate, I'm making progress, so I guess I won't complain.

I've been posting some snippets of the novel on Twitter, but it's been a while since I've put one up, and I haven't been keeping you all updated as much as I'd like to. I'd like to remedy that disparity today--in this post, I'm sharing several snippets from different points in my WIP (I'm writing out of sequence). I'll try to avoid spoilers as much as I can, but if you'd rather not risk it, feel free to click away. Otherwise, keep reading. I can't wait to hear your thoughts! We'll start towards the beginning:

Standing in front of the dressing room mirror, Rama hated what she saw. The dress was as awful as all of the others—too tight in some places, too low in others, and too short around her thighs. As she studied her reflection, she wanted to throw up. She prayed for the ground to open up and swallow her before Myra asked her what was wrong, why she was taking so long, and whether she planned to buy the dress. There were too many questions, and she didn’t feel like answering any of them. They were all too complicated, and she didn’t have the patience.

Here's one from a little later in the novel, somewhere around the middle:

Rama hadn’t thought about the investigation for over a week when Leda came to her in the cave. Her hands were on her hips and her face was stern. Rama set down the pitcher she’d filled with water. She didn’t have time for a lecture, but she doubted Leda cared. “Can we make this quick?” Rama asked. “I have to meet with Vincent.” “Ramachandra.” It was the first time she’d heard Leda use her full name, and the inflection in her voice made Rama’s skin prickle. “What is it? What’s wrong?” Leda’s eyes shifted around the room. “Why don’t you have a seat? Please.”

And last but not least, here's a little snippet from the end. Again, I'll try to avoid giving anything away:

“We need to talk to Vincent,” Rama said at dinner. “We?” Leda asked. “I can’t do it without you.” She stared at her hands, folded in her lap, and tried to choose the right words. “Leda, when I came here… I had no idea who I was or what I was doing. I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror without feeling sick.” Rama took a breath and risked a look at Leda. She was smiling. “Living here has changed me. You’ve taught me so much—not just about shifting, but about being comfortable in my own skin.” “Oh,” Leda said, “I didn’t teach you—” “Please,” Rama said. “I need your help. Come talk to Vincent with me. That’s all I ask.”

There's so much more of this novel I'd like to share with you guys, but I think everything else is a spoiler. Of course, I could just go ahead and write the novel as fast as I can so--oh, yeah. Actually, I think I'm going to do just that. God willing, I'll have it out as soon as I possibly can.

I love you guys so much. I just want you to know that.

What are you working on right now? What do you think of these snippets?

Tweet tweet:

Curious about #Reflections? In this post, author @brianawrites shares some snippets from her latest novel. (Click to tweet)

Shapeshifter Mythology in REFLECTIONS

Shapeshifter Mythology in REFLECTIONS I'm all moved into my new townhouse! Now that I'm settled, I'm going to try to update this blog more often. I want to share more of my writing with you guys, so with that in mind, today's post is all about the project I'm working on now. Enjoy!

When I started writing my WIP Reflections, I knew I wanted it to include shapeshifters. I'd never written urban fantasy before, so I was looking forward to including a little bit of magic. I haven’t read many stories about shapeshifters, and they’ve always fascinated me. I couldn’t wait to get started. Of course, I knew next to nothing about what my shapeshifters would be like. I didn’t think that mattered and started writing, anyway.

Soon, I hit a wall. I got to my first big shapeshifter scene and realized I had no idea how any of it worked. For me, a great deal of writer’s block comes from not knowing where to go next, so I had a massive problem on my hands. I needed to correct it or I’d never get any more work done on the project.

As nervous as I was about moving forward—I had no idea how to develop any kind of mythology!—I was certain I could do it. And anyway, I had to.

So I got to work. When developing a mythology, like worldbuilding, I figured I needed to come with answers to a few crucial questions. After half an hour of brainstorming to determine what I needed to know, here’s what I came up with:

  • Who/what created the shapeshifters?
  • How did they get their power originally?
  • What are the strengths and limitations of their abilities?
  • If their power isn’t endless, what motivates it? Do they have a personal power source?
  • Does each individual have unique abilities or distinctive traits, or is everything uniform?
  • What is their “kryptonite”?

These weren’t all of the questions I came up with, but they did form the framework for the introspection I had to do to move forward. I took about another hour to think through each question, jotting down every thought I had without censoring myself. When I was finished, I had some answers. Here are some of them:

  • Someone traded his or her fertility for the ability to shapeshift—this is also how a shifter can become a tribe leader
  • It comes from gemstones that have been imbued with power by other shifters
  • Shapeshifters (well, mine, anyway) can only shift into the guise of another human, and they can’t pick and choose what to change. For example, if you’re a shifter and you want someone’s nose, you have to also take on the form of their whole body
  • Each shifter’s power is store in their crystal, which must periodically be “topped off” by a tribe leader
  • Each shifter has a specialty, and some are more adept at shifting than others. Each shifter also has a unique gemstone that can only be used by them
  • A shifter’s true form is revealed in their reflections, shadows, and photographs. Shifts can also be broken by extreme emotion

Once I put all of this information together, I had a solid foundation to work from. In addition, I had my own unique “brand” of shapeshifter—and I knew the basis for almost every character in the novel. The feeling was incredible. I could now move forward with my writing.

Since then, I’ve hit a couple different snags, but none related to this mythology I set up. I might talk about some issues I’m facing in my next post because I think that some of you might be able to help me solve them. For now, though, I’m content with the progress I’m making.

While writing this novel, I've definitely had to focus more on planning and worldbuilding than usual. That's one of my favorite things about writing, though--the more you do it, the more you learn. No wonder I keep going. :)

How do you create a mythology? What are your tips for worldbuilding?

Tweet tweet:

What's your worldbuilding process like? Author @brianawrites shares her process for her novel #Reflections. (Click to tweet)

Novel Playlist: REFLECTIONS

Note: I shared some of this playlist in a previous post, but since the Blood and Water playlist got a post of its own, I feel like the Reflections one should, too. Also, I've added more songs. Enjoy! Novel Playlist: REFLECTIONS

love making playlists. Like I've mentioned before, one of the first things I do when I start a new WIP is make a playlist to listen to while I'm working on it. And since I just started working on Reflections, I just had to share the playlist I've created.

Creating a novel playlist is a great way to get you in the mood to write your novel. As soon as I press play, my brain knows it’s time to get into the zone. I make sure to only listen to this playlist when I’m writing Reflections, so the association is set in stone. If you’re feeling stuck with a project, try putting together some songs that remind your of your story so far.

For my Reflections playlist, I chose songs based on their lyrics, tempos, and moods. Check out the track list below.

REFLECTIONS SOUNDTRACK

1.  Waiting for Love by Avicii 2. Shut Up And Dance by Walk the Moon 3. Elastic Heart by Sia 4. Fight Song by Rachel Platten 5. Photograph by Ed Sheeran 6. Vintage by High Dive Heart 7. Hold Me Down by Halsey 8. Roses by The Chainsmokers 9. Smooth Sailin' by Leon Bridges 10. Ghost Town by Adam Lambert 11. Majestic by Wax Fang 12. Fools Gold by Fitz and The Tantrums 13. Seven Wonders by Fleetwood Mac 14. No Rain by Blind Melon 15. South by Hippo Campus 16. Bad Moon Rising by Creedence Clearwater Revival 17. Swing Life Away by Rise Against 18. Not in Love by Crystal Castles 19. The State of Dreaming by Marina and The Diamonds 20. Recover by CHVRCHES 21. Mirror by Ellie Goulding 22. Devil May Cry by The Weeknd 23. Silhouettes by Of Monsters and Men 24. Shelter from the Storm by Bob Dylan 25. The Sound of Silence--Reprise by Simon & Garfunkel 26. Shake It Out by Florence + The Machine 27. Devil May Care by Half Moon Run 28. Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promises by The Avett Brothers

Want to listen to the playlist for yourself? Click here.

What other songs should I add to this playlist?

Tweet tweet:

What songs would be on your novel playlist? Check out the soundtrack to @brianawrites’ novel #Reflections! (Click to tweet)

All About REFLECTIONS

Those of you who follow me on Twitter may remember me tweeting about trunking a novel, The Palest of Pinks, that I started for NaNoWriMo this year. I despise trunking novels, so I try to do it as little as possible (read: never). I haven't put a manuscript away since Mud Eyes (which I am determined to bring back into the light someday), so tucking this one in for a long winter's nap was difficult. Still, I'm putting it aside in favor of a YA urban fantasy I've been kicking around for a while. It's called Reflections, and it's a murder mystery, but with shapeshifters. all-about-reflections

I've had plot bunnies for Reflections knocking around in my head for half a year now. The same thing happened to me with Blood and Water, which is why I've decided to focus on writing this one--it could be an indication that I'm onto something big.

Now, I'm still very much in the planning process of writing this book, but I thought I'd share a few things I know about it so far.

Setting

For a long time, I've wanted to set a story in the mountains. Most of my extended family lives in West Virginia, and I've visited the state so many times that it's impossible to get the landscape out of my head. As a result, I've set Reflections in the portion of the Appalachian Mountains that extends through West Virginia. The majority of the action takes place in Aldale, a fictional small town just shy of the New River.

Characters

For me, I can't write a novel unless I've fallen in love with the characters. My stories are so character-driven that I often have the protagonist's voice clamoring for my attention long before  put my fingers to the keyboard. It happened with Jay in Blood and Water, and it's happening with Ramachandra now. Here are some of the key people I've "met" already:

  • Ramachandra "Rama" Ganeshan (17)--the novel's protagonist; a bright, temperamental girl with low self-esteem.
  • Banu Ganeshan (13)--Rama's younger brother and Unma's twin; a prankster with a heart of gold.
  • Dhayal Ganeshan (39)--Rama's father; a funny, kindhearted man who runs an Indian restaurant with his first love and wife, Piya.
  • Piya Ganeshan (37)--Rama's mother; a stubborn woman with a warm heart beneath her rough exterior who runs an Indian restaurant with her husband.
  • Unma Ganeshan (13)--Rama's younger sister and Banu's fraternal twin; sensitive like her sister, but much more introspective.
  • Vincent Harrow (33)--Leader of the Appalachian Shifters; charismatic, charming, and lethal.
  • Carter Gabriel (18)--A young Shifter who befriends Rama
  • Nathaniel Langdon (25)--Vincent's second-in-command and Leda's husband; his loyalty to Vincent seems endless.
  • Leda Langdon (22)--Nathaniel's wife; she has only recently become a Shifter and is struggling to adjust to life under Vincent's rule.

There are two other characters I know right now, but I don't want to share them with you because it'll spoil something! Let's just say you'll know them as soon as you read them, eh? ;)

Key objects

I almost wanted to title this section "motifs," but I'm not quite sure the moniker fits. Nevertheless, there are several items that will be important throughout the novel, including (but not limited to):

  • windows
  • mirrors
  • crystals
  • water
  • tattoos/scars
  • keys

The crystals will be especially important, which is why I've spent so much time looking at and sharing pictures of them lately. I can't wait to see how everything comes together.

NOVEL INSPIRATION

Like Blood and Water, I'm drawing on several different sources of inspiration for Reflections. If you'd like to get an idea of what the story is about and what Rama's world is like, check out the Pinterest board and Spotify playlist. Also, make sure you're following me on Instagram--I'll be posting some inspiring photos there as well!

Clearly, I'm excited about this new project. I can't help feeling like I'll learn a lot from this novel, and I can't wait to share the journey with all of you, too. Thanks, as always, for your support! It truly means the world to me.

Tweet tweet:

Curious about @brianawrites' new project? Check out this new post in which she discusses #Reflections! (Click to tweet)