The Extrahuman Union

Archive for the ‘Fly into Fire’ Category

Recently I wrote about finishing the first draft of the final book of the Grayline Sisters trilogy, and how that felt. I had no idea I’d be making another post like it so soon after.

I finished the second draft of WAKING GIFTS (Extrahumans #4) last week. It was an excruciating effort–I basically rebuilt the story from the ground up because what I’d originally put down simply wasn’t working. I changed just about everything about the book, including the title (it was originally THE GIFT OF GREAT YIA, then THE BELLS OF VALEN, and now WAKING GIFTS). I think it’s pretty decent. I know I can turn it into something good. So at some point, this book will exist, and you’ll get to read all about what happens when Jill gets everything she thinks she wants (hint: nothing good).

And then that will be the end of the Extrahumans series.

There are several reasons for this, some about business, some personal. Mainly, though, this is a decision that grew out of the story.

I’d originally planned on five books, but at some point I realized that the plans I’d had for the fifth book were not particularly workable, and not actually about the characters we’ve been following.

Worse, it had nothing to do with Penny. Basically, even though she is the main character in only one of the books, Extrahumans is at it’s very heart the story of Penny Silverwing, her friends, her family, her lovers, and her transformation from who she is at the beginning of BROKEN to who she becomes by the end of WAKING GIFTS. Penny drives the stories and ties them all together, and she’s at the center of the extended “family” of characters. Her arc, after this story, is done.

Extrahumans

This story also completes the arcs of many of the other characters, such as Jill (obviously), Emily, Sky Ranger, and Felipe. It also does provide some answers to some of the big questions that the series has been asking, and wraps up some of the larger, overarching storylines.

So this is a good place to end it. I thought about ending it with THE SPARK, but there were simply too many unanswered questions. I don’t feel that way about this book. This is a good end point.

Now, that doesn’t mean that this will be the last story in this universe, and that this is the last we’ll ever hear of these particular characters. There is so much left to tell! But this particular series will end with book 4, and I’m happy with that.

I am so grateful to all of you who’ve been sticking with this series. I know WAKING GIFTS has been a long time in coming compared to the first three. I hope I can make it worth your while!

So, on to the updates!

THE SEEKER STAR (Grayline Sisters #2) – Hoping to have a cover reveal for you real soon. Plans are that it’ll be out late this year, but I don’t have a date yet.

WAKING GIFTS (Extrahumans #4) – Second draft finished. I’d like to send this to the publisher by the end of the year.

THE FALLEN STAR (Grayline Sisters #3) – First draft done, doing a few edits here and there.

Short stories: WAR STORIES has been sent out to Kickstarter backers! My story “The Radio” is in the first section. It is a very, very cool anthology from Apex which you should check out when it goes on general sale in the fall. I should also have another short story out either late this year or early next year, we’ll see.

Lastly, I’m going to be at Readercon this Friday–if you’re there, say hi!

That’s all for now!

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All right, the suite of stories and extras set in January, 2110 (just before the events of FLY INTO FIRE), is complete! If you’re interested, here’s the sequence:

I had a ton of fun creating all these extras. If you appreciate this kind of thing, please do visit all these excellent sites and let them know!

In other news, Bibliognome has a great contest open right now where you could win digital copies of both BROKEN and FLY INTO FIRE! All you have to do is write a superhero haiku. Is that not cool? Go check it out!

Yesterday, I linked you to a short piece in which Ernesta Trägel, the head of ConFedMilPol (Confederation Military Police–the secret police in the Extrahumans world), drinks vodka and watches videos while avoiding work. See, the future’s not SO different from now.

Today, she finally got that report done in and issued a memo to the President of the Confederation. Here is the text of that memo, which concerns various extrahuman activities and the meddlesome Order of St. Val on Valen. Both the story and the memo take place right before the events of FLY INTO FIRE.

A quick note on Ernesta Trägel’s rank, which is listed on the memo as Corporal. Trägel, when she became head of ConFedMilPol, had no military experience and decided to take a token very low rank as a gesture of respect for the institution. However, she is currently the only corporal in ConFedMilPol, and very clearly commands those of much higher rank. It’s the sort of little misdirection the new Confederation does an awful lot of.

Trägel is a fascinating and fun character, I really want to use her more.

Link: Mysterious Memo (Bibliognome)

I’m terrible at guest posts. I mean, I love doing them once they’re done, and I always enjoy working with book bloggers and other writers to create something for their sites! However, I have an awful time coming up with topics. One of my problems, I think, is that I’m just not that great when it comes to talking about myself, my writing, or my creative process. I never know what to say.

I had a number of posts coming up, and this time I thought I’d write short pieces, little vignettes set in the extrahumans’ world, instead of more traditional guest posts. The first one’s up today, over at The Discriminating Fangirl, which is a great blog you should all read more of. The story is about Ernesta Trägel, the head of the Confederation Military Police (ConFedMilPol, the Confederation’s secret police force), getting an order to write a report and thinking about the past. Ernesta is a rockin’ character who has yet to make it into any of the books.

There will be two more of these shorts coming out very soon. One is about Renna Fernandez Silva, her friend Amy, and Sky Ranger waiting to escape from Earth. The other is the actual report Ernesta Trägel writes to the President of the Confederation. Watch this space (and my new Google+ page) to see when and where they appear!

Anyway, here is the link to the story: Ernesta Trägel Watches a Video of Sky Ranger

Hi everyone! Quick update post here. I’m putting together lists of reviews of Fly Into Fire. There haven’t been a lot yet, but here’s what there is so far.

If you don’t see one that you know of, let me know! I add all the reviews I can gather, positive or negative.

Plus many more at Goodreads and Amazon!

So far people seem to like the book as much as they liked Broken, which is wonderful!

Other things going on… I had a guest post about writing a sequel over at fellow SF writer Liana Brooks’ blog which kind of got lost in the general chaos of release week, but go check it out anyway! It’s still good. I should be having a few more guest posts here and there over the next few weeks as well, which I’ll post here and especially in my Twitter account.

I’m also working on new things while polishing up older stuff. I’m making progress with Demon Girl’s Song, and it’s slowly but surely turning from a pile of hideous malformed mutant sludge into something resembling a decent story. I’m also outlining a few new projects, and trying to get myself to a place where I can really dive into them.

I did a little revision work on The Daughter Star, which I hope made that story better. And I am nervously awaiting the arrival of revisions for The Spark, which will arrive at some point. Plus political columns, day job, cat wrangling, the works. I’ve barely had time to read anything!

Thank you all for following along, and for reading!

As I was writing up a new epilogue for a book I’m working on, I was reminded of some of the criticism I’ve seen directed towards epilogues and prologues lately. Apparently they’ve become A Bad Thing, though I don’t know when this happened. I’ve seen a few agents, editors and other publishing types bemoaning manuscripts sent to them with a prologue; one suggested she trashed any book that happened to have one.

This seems like an overreaction to me. True, prologues and epilogues, which are little scenes set outside the main story that serve to get the book started and bring it to a close, can be either ghastly, dull or both. But done right, they can serve an important purpose. Personally, I love them. I use them for all kinds of things, and they play lots of different roles in the stories I write.

 

Setting the stage

A good prologue has a lot of purposes. One of them could be to set up potential conflicts, give a (reasonable) amount of background or establish a setting. The prologue in Romeo and Juliet does all of those things. In a very short space, the audience now knows what the setting and major conflict are. This prologue also basically tells the audience exactly what will happen: they know they’re watching a tragedy from the outset. This changes how people experience the play, though it doesn’t stop them from wishing it could all come out differently this time. The entire mood of the play would be vastly different without the prologue.

This is part of what the prologue in THE SPARK does. One of the characters commits a terrible act of betrayal, and the prologue sets this up. When we see this character later on, it’s with the knowledge that she’s about to betray her friends. We also have some context; her betrayal, when it comes, doesn’t happen in a vacuum. We know why she does what she does.

The prologue in FLY INTO FIRE vividly describes the destruction of Union Tower, which creates a somber, tense mood that bleeds into subsequent chapters. It also affects our view of Sky Ranger, since this event is something he’s trying to find some way to either outrun or accept for the entire book (and, really, for the rest of his life).

Lastly, prologues can be used to set mood. I’m experimenting with adding a dreamy, rather abstract prologue to something I’m working on now, which contrasts with the initial feel of the first part of the book. But it does set up some of the more dreamlike and fantastic events that happen later on, which I like.

 

The capstone

Epilogues, on the other hand, are all about putting a cap on what’s just been read. The epilogue at the very end of Harry Potter’s seven book epic is a nice example (I’ll let you look it up. Don’t pretend you don’t have the book lying around somewhere). The epilogue here does a couple of things to put a period at the end of the series’ sentence. First, it establishes a return to normality and the continuation of the very things the heroes fought for. The scene is set at the train station, waiting for the train to Hogwarts, which both reinforces that normality while passing the torch to a new generation. It also extends the arc of the major characters, leaving them paired up and with a gaggle of children to put on the train. The final words of the book and the series establish that Voldemort has not returned, and so all will be well. The epilogue caused a lot of controversy among some fans, but it does what it sets out to do by wrapping up what needs wrapping up. The book and the series wouldn’t feel as complete without it.

The terse epilogues in Dragnet are another great example of wrapping up a story. Each episode concludes with a few lines about what happened to the criminal, leaving the audience feeling satisfied.

I like using epilogues to wrap things up, and also to give some context to what’s been read. The epilogue in BROKEN is St. Val’s letter, which explains a few things and also in essence grants Penny her heart’s desire. The epilogue in FLY INTO FIRE has the characters gathering a year after the events of the main story, which draws a line under those events. There’s also a bit of symmetry there, one of the first scenes in the book takes place in the same location as the epilogue, and the coming together of the epilogue balances the destruction of the tower in the prologue. The epilogue of THE SPARK is all about glimpsing both the future and the past, and could also work as an endpoint for all three books. All of these epilogues, which are set outside the story, wrap up character storylines and establish that the world and the characters have moved on, though perhaps not unscathed.

Epiconclusionlogue

I can understand why folks might not be fans of prologues and epilogues. They can feel trite and unnecessary, especially if they’re long and drawn out. I think the best prologues and epilogues are short snippets. If they’re chapter-length, then I start to wonder why they aren’t just chapters! I do feel, though, that when they’re done right, prologues and epilogues add immeasurable value to a story.

What do you think? For them? Against? Any favorite examples, either good or bad?

At last, the release day for FLY INTO FIRE is here!

Go ahead and grab it:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Candlemark & Gleam (where the first book in the series, BROKEN, is free for today only!)

Please do add the book on Goodreads if you’re there!  And if you feel like leaving reviews or ratings, positive or negative or somewhere in between, how awesome are you?

I kind of can’t believe it. This book didn’t have nearly the gestation period that BROKEN did, it only took about three and a half years from start to finish compared to BROKEN’s six. Still, that’s some serious time that this book has been sitting around not being published, and here it is at last. I hope you all enjoy it!

Thank you all for reading! And thank you for all your wonderful support this past year. I still can’t quite wrap my mind around the fact that yes, I write books and people read them. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do, and it’s just as amazing as I ever thought it would be.

Stay tuned, there will be lots more from me this year and in the future!


Susan Jane Bigelow’s Extrahuman Union

Hey! Welcome to the Extrahuman Union, home of Susan Jane Bigelow. Prepare to be stripped of all meaningful identity. While you're processing, check out more about me on the about page!

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BROKEN

Extrahuman Union #1

SKY RANGER

Extrahuman Union #2

THE SPARK

Extrahumans #3

THE DEMON GIRL’S SONG

YA LGBT epic fantasy!

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