On writing the Lost Angel Chronicles

I’ve been asked here and there where I came up with the idea for the Lost Angel Chronicles–for the Institute, for the characters fighting against it and the characters who are involved with it.  One of my cousins, after reading What Angels Fear, couldn’t sleep for a few nights, wondering where I had come up with such a “twisted” idea (Allie was more than a little disturbed, from what I gather, after reading What Angels Fear).

The Lost Angels came from a few different places.  The first and earliest of them was a chain novel project I worked on with some fellow ops from the #Authors channel on the Undernet (from what I understand, it still exists, though I haven’t been around to check it out in a very, very long time).  What started with a girl arriving at a mysterious institution became something much darker very quickly when I had the opportunity to introduce Hadrian Bridger, Allyson Conner, and Ky Monroe–much to the dismay of at least one of my fellow writers, who was going for more of an X-Men kind of thing (this was in the days before Harry Potter, mind you).  I had the idea for Hadrian in listening to Sarah McLachlan’s “Building a Mystery”–a quiet, mysterious and powerful boy with a candle and a Tarot deck secreted away in a safe place.

When I embarked on my first foray into NaNoWriMo, I obtained the blessing of my fellow chain writers to take some of the characters and concepts created as part of our short-lived project and develop them into something new and broader, more full than what we’d embarked on before.  I adjusted the timeline forward and began on a November afternoon with a college-aged Ky Monroe thinking that the people she’d loved when she was young were now all dead at the Institute’s hands.  I was a college junior at the time, a liberal living in a conservative area of Michigan, feeling constricted and disturbed by the amount of evangelizing going on at my public university and knowing I wasn’t alone in the feeling.  I was majoring in history and anthropology with a minor in political science and started to think about what could happen if a militant evangelical cult got its hands on children and teenagers with special gifts.

It was pretty much all downhill from there.  By the end of November, I’d written more than the requisite 50,000 words and was still going.  I hit 80,000 words and change in December and called it a day, then tucked the manuscript away, knowing that there were pacing issues and other conceptual issues that I would need to address someday.  I would write a sequel to When All’s Said and Done the following year for NaNoWriMo, an unfinished project I titled When the Gods Cry, dealing with the now-married Ky Monroe and Hadrian Bridger and their circle of friends (including an also-married Reece and Matthew) and the unexpected kidnapping of Ky and Hadrian’s young children by a remnant of the Institute.  This, too, was placed on a digital shelf and left for a time when I had more time and brainpower to devote to it, and there both projects languished for a long while, overshadowed by works like Epsilon and the nascent Awakenings, among other projects.

One bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree later, a fateful road trip with my best friend many years later sowed the seeds of my return to the universe I’d created with When All’s Said and Done.  I had seen signs for Starr Commonwealth before on other trips along I-96 and I-94, but something on that particular trip (I think we were on our way to the Silver Leaf Renaissance Festival) tripped a synapse in my brain.  A few days later, I sat down at my desk with iTunes, a sheaf of college-ruled notebook paper, and a green felt-tipped pen and started to write.

A half dozen and more pages later, I realized that I was writing about Ridley Thys, one of the Lost Angels, mentioned only in passing in When All’s Said and Done and When the Gods Cry, a character that had featured briefly in the project initially developed as the chain novel way back when I was still in high school myself.

What Angels Fear and the whole of the Lost Angel Chronicles are in part about what rampant extremism can lead to when left unchecked (or, as the UNSETIC Files and later Lost Angels works will show, when extremism is left largely unchecked).  It is also about characters and people–what binds us together and keeps us apart, what makes us tick.  What brings Julia and Ridley together is a belief that no one should ever suffer as he’s suffered, a trust born of desperation that blossoms into more.  It’s about people learning to care, learning to love–and learning that the price of loving someone can be very high indeed.

While I’m sorry to have disturbed some people who’ve read it, I’m glad that What Angels Fear made them feel something.  I’m glad it makes people think.  I don’t write literary fiction, I write genre fiction, but sometimes, that’s the best way to put forth an idea and start a conversation.

If What Angels Fear and the rest of the Lost Angel Chronicles starts a conversation, I’ll be happy.  If they don’t but they entertained and left people wanting more…well.  I’ll just have to feed that demand for more.

Have you read What Angels Fear yet?  Leave a note with your thoughts and gut reactions.  I’d love to hear them as I continue to craft the continuing stories of Julia, Ridley, Ky, Hadrian, and al the rest.

Snippet Sunday: What Angels Fear

Apologies for having missed last week’s Snippet Sunday–I had intended to post something while on my flight back from Phoenix, but the Wi-Fi on my plane was sadly malfunctioning.

What Angels Fear print coverThis week’s snippet is from What Angels Fear, the first story of The Lost Angel Chronicles.

From the outside, Andover Commonwealth looks like a normal town, but when Julia Kinsey takes over her late uncle’s shop, she discovers that the tiny Michigan community has a far darker side than she ever imagined.

Julia used to spend summers with her aunt and uncle in Andover and she’s no stranger to its more run-of-the-mill oddities, including the local preacher who’s always given her the creeps.  From the moment she first sees the Reverend’s ward, Darien, her life is turned upside down as she’s driven to dig deeper into the community’s darkest secrets.

And Darien might just be the key to it all.

It’s all connected to the place outside of town, the Institute, the focus of most of the town’s activities–religious and otherwise–and Darien knows something about that place, something he can’t or won’t talk about.  All Julia really knows is that she needs to get him out of town before it’s too late.

Snippet below the break.

Continue reading

First print release! – What Angels Fear

I’d intended to post about this last week and failed.  As of 17 March 2012, my first print book (novella), What Angels Fear went live on Createspace and Amazon.com.

It was actually not all that hard to put together, but I chose to publish this smaller piece first so I could get used to the formatting demands and the processes of Createspace as a POD service.  My overall experience with Createspace was actually really good and the finished product is very, very nice.  The cover (which is built on one of their stock templates) turned out awesome and the interior looks great in my opinion.

I’m very pleased with the result, which is available for $4.95 (plus shipping) via the links above.  It’s 122 pages and includes a raw preview of my next print release.

The next book I plan to release in print is Awakenings book one, which comprises the first year of postings on the project.  It’s twelve chapters plus a prologue and an epilogue; since I’m going to print the “deluxe” edition rather than the “basic” edition, there will be extra features such as a FAQ and an essay about working on the project.  These are coming together as I edit the raw text of the web serial into (what I hope is) a very readable book format.  As it stands, the trade paperback will be around 370 pages, though that number will shrink and grow as I edit and format the book to my liking.

The cover of Awakenings will be my first fully designed print cover, which I dearly hope will look awesome, and will be my first title distributed beyond Createspace and Amazon.

Kind of scary and exciting, huh?

New release ramblings

Good news!  What Angels Fear, a Lost Angel Chronicle, is now available on Smashwords, Amazon (UK, DE, FR), and Barnes and Noble.  It is the first installment of the Lost Angel Chronicles, a universe that includes my once-touted When All’s Said and Done.  I had anticipated releasing it after Epsilon: Broken Stars, but that’s tied up in editing this week (the people I tapped couldn’t look at it until this week).  The editing on What Angels Fear was faster–thanks again, Krinny!–and so I was able to start publication on Monday.

The end result was it being fully available on the three front-line venues as of this morning.  It will hopefully be distributed to Kobo Books, the iBookstore, Diesel, and other ebook retailers soon (through Smashwords wonderful Premium catalog, which Falling Stars is already available through).  It’s also already on GoodReads, where I appreciate reviews and shelf-adds.

So what does this mean?  Simply that I’ve gotten a third “world” of my writing established in digital ink.  Anyone who’s read back on this blog a little bit knows exactly how many things I’ve developed over the years and either abandoned or simply shelved for later.  There have been two women in my life (incredibly supportive best friend type women, one mostly during my teenage years and one during my adult life) who have urged me to go back to certain projects over the years, or not to completely abandon something, and occasionally told me to focus down on one thing, finish it, and only move on after that’s done.  As a general approach, that only occasionally works for me.

Of course, sometimes it does work.  This was one of those times.

I finished off What Angels Fear after I wiped out the final of Broken Stars.  I didn’t dare touch it while I was in the final push, largely because the scenes I was working on for Broken Stars were so difficult and because Julia Kinsey and Ridley Thys are very, very different characters from Aaron Taylor, Sam Cooper, Mac Desantis, and Lucas Ross.  Their worlds are also very different.  I’ll admit that at one point I’d considered making it all the same universe, but my conclusion was (and still is) that it just wouldn’t work, due to the number of supernatural elements extant in the Lost Angel universe, elements that don’t exist in the Epsilon universe (or any of my science fiction universes as of this writing).  Turning back to Julia and Ridley’s world, and by extension Ky Monroe, Matthew Thatcher, and Hadrian Bridger’s world, was a welcome shift.  Of course, it was helped by the sudden desire to write something with vampires that seized me.

No, What Angels Fear doesn’t involve vampires.  But they’re in the world, right along with secret agents and people fighting the good fight.  More of that will come up in When All’s Said and Done, which features Angel Kyle Anne Monroe as its narrator.  I anticipate turning to that project in the near future.

Unfortunately, Nanowrimo is looming, and while When All’s Said and Done was my inaugural Nanowrimo project back in 2004 (coincidentally, also my first win), I can’t exactly turn around and redraft it for my project this year.  Instead, I’ll be working on the second book of the Epsilon series, Epsilon: Redeemer.

My retail job looks like it might keep me from traveling this November, so I might just have a shot at getting something done.

Wish me luck.


You can find Erin on GoodReads these days @ http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5211226.Erin_Klitzke
And on Smashwords @ 
http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/EMBKlitzke 

Broken Stars nearing completion; new tale soon in the offing…

[progpress title=”Epsilon: Broken Stars” goal=”70000″ current=”68374″ label=”words”]

[progpress title=”What Angels Fear” goal=”21000″ current=”18738″ label=”words”]

 

So, I know that I tweeted that I’d announce the actual name for SEKRET PROJEKT this weekend, and it was mostly that I didn’t get around to making a blog post to that effect–it was on the business cards I was handing out this past weekend at the Grand Valley Renaissance Festival, promoting my writing as much as I was selling other things (jewelry and sewing things).

The true name to SEKRET PROJEKT is What Angels Fear, and it’s the story that I talked about in this post last summer.  It’s a short work in the same universe as When All’s Said and Done, my first Nanowrimo project.  I hope to release What Angels Fear shortly after the release of the forthcoming Epsilon: Broken Stars, which is nearing completion.

Rather than a true science fiction piece, What Angels Fear is a paranormal yarn in which normal chick Julia Kinsey meets a boy named Darien who seems a little…off.  A chance encounter in the creepy little town of Andover Commonwealth sends her down a rabbit’s hole into a mystery that could put her life in jeopardy.  It is almost a direct prequel to the story in When All’s Said and Done (in fact, as the current draft of When All’s Said and Done stands, events that take place at the end of What Angels Fear take place during the first few chapters of When All’s Said and Done).

Here’s a little taste of Julia’s story:

            A flicker of movement caught my attention and I tore my eyes away from the building, peering through the gap in the inner wall.  The angle made it hard, but I thought I’d seen…

There!  A gaunt figure stared at me from just within my line of sight.  It was a man, dark-haired and scrawny, dressed in what looked like sweats.  Though I couldn’t see his eyes, or really make out the features of his face, I had the feeling he was looking right at me.

Something about him reminded me strongly of Darien, though I couldn’t say what.  I tried to beckon him over.

He just shook his head and looked down.

What’s going on in there?

Something jerked the figure back and out of sight.  The massive gate in that inner wall ground shut with the sound of metal against stone.  No iron bars there, just solid sheets of metal.

Whatever it is, they don’t want people to know.  My pulse quickened and I stepped back from the main gate.

A hand grasped my arm.  I jerked, reeling away from the touch.  The hand snapped open and I went down on my butt in the grass.

“Who the hell are you?”  I demanded before I’d actually seen who’d grabbed me.

A woman about my age stood over me.  She had bristle-short red hair and was dressed in a black jumpsuit that made her look like some sort of extra from The Matrix.  She stared at me for a moment, then said softly, “You need to get out of here before someone else finds you.”

Someone else?  I was a little worried about anyone finding me.

She offered me a hand up.  I stared at it for a moment as if it were a snake about to strike.

“Who are you?”  I asked again.

She shook her head slightly, stone-faced.  “You don’t want to know.”

Her expression reminded me of someone else.  Oh, shit.  Darien.  That’s who it reminds me of.  It was the same blank mask of an expression that he wore most of the time, though this girl seemed much, much more functional than he did.

I took her hand slowly and let her pull me to my feet.

“You should get back to town,” she said quietly as she released my hand.  “You’re missing the show.”  She turned back toward the wall and walked toward it, looking back at me for just a moment.  With that last long, measuring look, she walked through the wall and vanished.

What Angels Fear, © Erin Klitzke 2011

 

I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t think I’d want Julia’s life.

What Angels Fear should hopefully be out by the end of the year.  And speaking of release dates…

I still don’t have a solid one for Epsilon: Broken Stars, but I hit the 68k mark this morning, which means there’s less than 2k words left to write before I meet my 70k goal.  The tale will go a bit longer than that, however (I have at least two chapters yet to write, one in the section I’m working on now and one at the end of the book).  Price point will be $2.99 when it releases, and I’ll keep things updated here when it comes to release dates and the like.  I’m hoping for mid-month, but that’s going to depend on two factors: inspiration, and how fast I can get editorial turnaround from my volunteers.

This year’s nanowrimo project, however, will be the sequel to Broken Stars that focuses on Lucas Ross, leader of the Resistance and friend of Broken Stars narrator, Aaron Taylor.  There’s a few thoughts for that already bouncing around in the back of my brain.  Hopefully, that will take less time to materialize than Broken Stars has!