Apr 30

The Writing Process Blog Hop

I was invited by fellow writer Colette Vernon Black, author of the amazing new science fiction novel, Noble Ark, to participate in the ongoing Writing Process Blog Tour. Check out Colette’s blog at: www.coletteblack.blogspot.com/ to learn more about her work.

I’ve taken a leave-of-absence from blogging for a few months, while I meet some editorial deadlines for the first two Seventh Shaman books, Running from the Gods and Wrestling with the Gods. So I thought this would be a good way to reenter the blogosphere. Here are the four questions, and my answers.

1. What are you working on?   My current project is The Seventh Shaman, a young adult science fiction series. Akuleh (he prefers to go by Ku) was orphaned at the age of twelve when his widowed father, a Chanter or medicine man, was killed. He knows his father made a prophecy at his birth but doesn’t know what it contains. When his abusive stepmother starts calling him Death Bringer, he believes that’s his destiny and decides it’s time to leave before anyone else he cares about is killed. So he runs away from home at sixteen, lies about his age, and enters the military to become a fighter pilot. Eventually he learns the contents of the prophecy he fears, and how it will impact not only his own life but the future of his whole race. Seventh Shaman will be a 5-book series. Books 1 and 2 are in the editorial process, and I have a good start on the first draft of Book 3.

2. How does your work differ from others in its genre?  It differs in a few ways. If these stories were set here on Earth, the teenage protagonist, Akuleh (his name means “Looks Up”) would be American Indian. My choice of a non-white protagonist was very deliberate, as I see far too few non-white heroes and heroines in young adult fiction. And of the few minority protagonists out there, even fewer are American Indian–or, in this case, the otherworldly equivalent. Though my own heritage is very Anglo, I’ve had an affinity for the American Indians since childhood, and this appreciation increased when we had a Navajo foster brother as a member of our family for many years. At first look, the Shaman books might appear to be military science fiction, but Ku’s shamanic background, and the abilities that come with it, influence his choices and actions as much as the military training he receives, and bring in an element of fantasy. He has to deal with his cultural issues along with the challenges of military training, and sometimes they conflict.

3. Why do you write what I do?  Bottom line, to uplift and encourage my readers, especially young people dealing with life-challenges that would appear insurmountable to many of us. I want readers to recognize that no matter how horrific their circumstances or backgrounds, they as individuals have divine worth, their lives have meaning and divine purpose, and they can achieve great things if they’re willing to accept and seek it.

4. How does your writing process work?  I start with a basic idea of where the story will start and where it will end. This includes the overall arc as well as each volume. Then I have to decide what it’s going to take to get the characters from Point A to Point B. What are the motivations? What are the key events necessary to move the story forward and change the characters, and when must they happen? Where will various threads intersect and how will they affect one another? That’s where more complex outlining takes place. But I love it when the characters take matters into their own hands and I discover things about them that I didn’t know to begin with. I don’t spend a huge amount of time specifically on character-development because most of mine seem to just emerge in my head (or heart) mostly formed. It’s more like getting to know real people, and learning about them, more than deliberately giving them certain traits or histories. Once the first draft is done–or sometimes, while it’s in progress–I start farming it out to beta readers. I have a few who look for specific issues. For example, one male friend I’ve known since high school has been coaching me on how to think like a teenage boy! Once I’ve looked at and applied feedback from my beta readers, the manuscripts go to my editor, Joshua Essoe, who’s notorious for “eviscerating” them–but they come out of the process so much stronger! My manuscripts go through several drafts. Along with eventual publication as print and ebooks, The Seventh Shaman series will be published as graphic novels. Artist Douglas Fakkel currently is working on a 5-page chapbook to introduce the books. Watch this blog for progress reports!

Thanks again to Colette for inviting me to participate in this blog hop! I offered the baton to four of my author friends, but only one was willing to accept it.


Heidi L. Kleinmann Murphy writes romance-oriented (historical, paranormal, religious) under H. Linn Murphy, and Sci fi/dystopian/YA under the name Indigo Chase. She has a wonderful husband and six crazy children. They live in the desert, against her will. She has no visible pets (just one crafty, invisible, indigo hippo). She hopes someday to find her family’s castle in Britain, and the origins of her privateer quartermaster.  I had the privilege of being one of Heidi’s beta readers last year, so I know she’s a worthy recipient of the Writing Process blog tour baton.

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