• 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.

    How Writing REFLECTIONS Changed My Life

    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.

  • 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?

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

  • The 777 Challenge

    London Tower Bridge
    I was tagged by friend and fellow writer Brett Michael Orr to participate in The 777 Challenge. Following protocol, I’m sharing seven lines from the seventh page of my current WIP, Blood and Water. (Hopefully, I’m finished with the first draft of it soon – my self-imposed deadline is my birthday on the 17, which is next week!)

    Without further ado, here’s the excerpt:

    Jay had spent the past few weeks looking for a cure. It was like Maia said—there was no help in London. He wondered if they would’ve been safer if they’d stayed in Chicago. Location didn’t matter now, but before the virus started—no, he couldn’t spend time dwelling on the “what if”s. It was Maia’s decision to move to London and his to follow after her. The virus was everywhere, and it had spread fast. Perhaps they never would have been able to avoid it.

    Now, I’m supposed to tag seven other writers to take on the challenge. Since I’m writing this blog post on a break, I don’t have much time. If you want to participate, please go ahead! And feel free to leave links to your seven lines in the comments below. 🙂

    What do you think of The 777 Challenge? Are you going to participate?

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    Check out seven lines from @brianawrites’ WIP as part of The 777 Challenge, via @brettmichaelorr. (Click to tweet)

  • BLOOD AND WATER Draft 1, Chapter 14 (Excerpt)

    cup-of-ice-water
    Maia was the one who came in to wake him. He was surprised to find he’d been sleeping in Fleur’s bed. How had he gotten from the bath to the bed? He didn’t remember anything beyond Fleur pouring freezing water on him.

    “Dr. Devereaux wants to increase the dosage,” Maia said as she opened the blinds. Sunlight poured in. Was it the same day as it had been or already the next? “She thinks your body is more responsive, which means I could see side effects soon if we don’t make a change.”

    “You mean, you’ll get sick again like I did,” he said.

    “We’re both still sick.”

    “I know. But you know what I mean.”

    Maia chewed the inside of her cheek, the way she did whenever she had something on her mind. It had always been Jay’s way of knowing when something was wrong, and he had learned to pay attention to it.

    He sat up against the pillows. “What’s going on?”

    “I’m not sure I want to tell you.”

    “Maia, that’s not fair. Now you have to tell me.”

    A muscle jerked in her jaw. “It’s about Sean.”

    “Okay, what about Sean?”

    “He doesn’t want Melanie around you anymore.”

    Jay felt his stomach drop into his feet. He slumped against the pillows and let his head loll back. So that was it, then—Melanie had finally explained to Sean what was going on. The timing was terrible, but then again, he knew it had to happen sometime. They couldn’t have kept it a secret forever.

    “I’m sorry,” Maia said. “I know this must be hard.”

    It was so much more than that, but what had he expected? It wasn’t as though they could run off in the middle of the night and elope. There were still people alive who would ask questions and worry if they disappeared.

    “I’ll be okay,” Jay said.

    To be continued… Look for the completed draft of BLOOD AND WATER coming soon!

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    “‘I’m sorry,’ Maia said. ‘I know this must be hard.'” Read an excerpt from @brianawrites’ novel BLOOD AND WATER. (Click to tweet)

  • BLOOD AND WATER Draft 1, Chapter 10 (Excerpt)

    calais-france
    When Jay woke up, he had no idea what was going on. Everything looked foreign. There was something damp and heavy on his forehead. He reached up and discovered a washcloth. With a single touch, everything came flooding back to him: the Chunnel, Calais, Dr. Devereaux, and treatment. He’d consented to treatment without really knowing what it entailed. Was that wise? Probably not. Did it matter? Not at all.

    He couldn’t wait around for death, whether it was his or Maia’s. They needed to find a solution.

    When he tried to sit up, someone pressed a hand against his chest. He looked up to see Dr. Devereaux standing over him, frowning in the waning light. How much time had passed? How long had he been asleep? Was it sunset already?

    “Where’s Maia?” he asked.

    “She’s across the hall,” she said. “We’ve all been waiting for you to wake up.”

    Jay took the washcloth off his head and set it on the floor. Dr. Devereaux made no move to pick it up. After looking around, he noticed that they were the only people there.

    “Where are my friends?”

    “Across the hall,” she repeated, “in the laboratory. If you feel up to it, we’ll go there now.”

    A laboratory. That meant chemicals, instruments, science – potentially even a cure. He swung his legs over the side of the couch, planting his feet on the floor. Dr. Devereaux hovered over him. When he started to stand, she grabbed his arm. The contact surprised him. Her hand was cold.

    “Careful,” she said. “You’re weak. We’ll go slowly.”

    He didn’t feel weak, but he was still groggy. When was the last time he’d had a full night’s sleep? He couldn’t remember. He needed to rest. Maybe if he got a few more hours’ sleep, he’d feel better.

    “It’s okay.” He lowered himself down onto the couch. “I think I’ll just sleep for a little bit longer.”

    Dr. Devereaux didn’t let go of his arm. “Jay, you’ve slept enough. We need to get you some food and water and check your vitals. You’re malnourished, dehydrated, and very, very ill. Do you understand?”

    It took too much effort to answer her. Jay put his feet up and stretched out on the couch. He turned over on his side.

    “Jay,” she said, “se il vous plait. Please.”

    He let his eyes fall closed. “I’ll get up in a minute.”

    Why did everyone want him to use so much energy? Didn’t they know how sick he was? He needed his rest. He felt like he’d walked halfway around the world. He’d had a seizure, for God’s sake. Why couldn’t everyone just leave him alone and let him sleep for a while?

    A white-hot pain exploded against his cheek. His eyes snapped open. Dr. Devereaux stood with her hand out, massaging her palm. His fingers probed his skin. It burned.

    “You slapped me,” he said.

    What do you think will happen next? I’d love to hear your thoughts and predictions below!

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    “He couldn’t wait around for death, whether it was his or Maia’s. They needed to find a solution.” (Click to tweet)