Author: Julie Eshbaugh
Release Date: June 7th 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Romance, Retellings, Fiction
As Kol gets to know Lo, tensions between Mya and Lo escalate until violence erupts. Faced with shattering losses, Kol is forced to question every person he’s trusted. One thing is for sure: this was a war that Mya or Lo—Kol doesn’t know which—had been planning all along.
Three Essential Pieces of the Process
Thank you for having me here today! I’d like to share with you a little bit about my writing process. In particular, I want to share three rules I live by when I’m drafting that keep me on track.
* Know where you’re going
I’m a big believer in using an outline. I know that not all writers work this way (one of my best writer friends needs to write without knowing for certain what’s coming,) but I need to know how the book will end before it starts. That said, I do let the story veer from the plan when the writing leads to better ideas or a character evolves into someone who would never do what I had planned for her to do. Then I go back and slash a lot of the original outline and do what I call a “course correction.” Once I have a new roadmap, I’m back to the draft again.
* Write every day
When I’m drafting something brand new, I feel I need to work on it every day. I have lots of reasons for this, but the most important for me is that it keeps me connected to the characters and the world. This may sound cheesy, but I write with the idea that I’m channeling the main character, somehow transcribing their story onto the page. If I take too long away from that process, I start to lose that connection. (To be clear, I don’t actually believe I’m channeling the character! That’s just the best way to describe the feeling.)
I also feel that writing every day helps remind me of the importance of the project. The things that are most important to you are the things you spend the most time doing. If you work on your story every day, you’ll always be reminded that writing is a high priority. If you’re unpublished, it helps remind you every day that you are a writer. It doesn’t have to be a huge amount per day. Maybe five hundred words on your lunch hour. But progress every day is important to me.
* Track your progress
For each project, I keep a spreadsheet and I list my wordcount for the day. It helps me so much to watch the project develop and grow from the first day to the end. I’ve looked back at the spreadsheet for IVORY AND BONE as I’ve been working on Book 2, and it’s helped me to see that there were dry spells where my progress slowed as well as times where I got a lot done. It also keeps me accountable. One unproductive day is expected, even a few in a row—but a week of poor progress may mean that something’s wrong. Sometimes I slow down when the
story isn’t working and it’s time to rethink the outline. Other times I’m just too distracted. Tracking my work helps keep me moving in the right direction!
So there are the three pieces of my writing process I couldn’t write without. I hope you found something here that might work for you, too! Not everyone works the same way of course. Finding the best process has been an ongoing task for me. I’m still finding new ways to approach the work.
Thanks so much for having me on the blog today!
Thank you so much for taking the time to share some of your thoughts with us! It was amazing to have you featured on Here’s to Happy Endings!
IVORY AND BONE
By Julie Eshbaugh
The darkness in this cave is so complete I can no longer see you, but I can smell your blood.
“I think your wound has opened up again.”
“No, it’s fine.” Your words echo against the close walls. Even so, your voice sounds small. “I ran my fingers over it. It’s dry.”
We need light and heat. I pat the ground, feeling for the remnants of the fire we made in here before.
“The wound is under your hair, Mya, and your hair is drenched.”
“My hair is cold—wet with rain and ice. It would be warm if it were wet with blood.”
Injured, bleeding, freezing—yet still stubborn.
“I’m going to try to get a fire going,” I say.
My hands search the floor, fumbling across silt and cinders, until they land on a chunk of splintered wood that flakes at the ends as if it’s been burned. A short distance away the ground drops down into a shallow hole—the fire pit.
I crawl farther into the dark, one hand extended out in front of me, my knees grinding against knots of broken wood and nubs of rock. At last, my hand lands on what I remember as a deliberate, orderly stack of firewood piled against the far wall.
It’s unnerving to be in a place so dark. It’s even more unnerving to be here with you.
As I turn pieces of wood in my hands, my eyes begin to adjust to what little light filters in from outside. Black yields to gray as shadows become objects. I separate kindling and tinder. On a flat rock beside the wood I discover the starter kit—a long whittled stick and fireboard. “Give me just a little longer and I’ll get you warmed up, all right?”
I wait, but you don’t answer.
“Go ahead and make a fire. I think I’ll just sleep a bit.”
“No—no sleeping. I need you to stay awake. I need company. Someone to talk to.”
“What are we going to talk about?”
Rolling the firestick between my fingers, I hesitate. “What do you think we should talk about?”
Maybe I shouldn’t have asked this question. There are countless things that could be said between us, and probably countless more that should be left unsaid.
I grasp the firestick between my palms, one end buried in a notch cut in the fireboard, surrounded by fistfuls of dry grass like clumps of human hair. Rubbing my hands back and forth, I twirl the stick like a drill. My hands pass down the entire length of the stick once, twice, three times. Friction builds, and at last a ribbon of smoke curls around the board.
Distracted by my task, I almost forget the question I asked you. I’m not sure how long you’ve been silent. “Mya?”
“Fine,” you say, the word scratching in your throat like you’ve swallowed bits of gravel. “I’ll try to stay awake, but you need to give me something to stay awake for.”
“Why don’t you tell me a story?”
“I don’t know any stories.”
An ember catches. An orange glow blooms in the kindling. I lie on my side and blow a
steady stream of breath into the grass, coaxing out garlands of smoke.
“Everyone who’s ever lived has a story to tell, Kol.”
As the fire spreads I sit up, turning your words in my mind. What could I possibly tell you?
All my stories have become entwined with yours. “What do you want to hear?” I ask.
“Tell me something wonderful—a story that’s startling and marvelous.” Despite your grogginess, there’s a lilt of expectation in your voice. “Tell me about the most startling and marvelous day of your life. . .
Julie Eshbaugh is the author of the upcoming Ivory and Bone (HarperCollins, 2016). She used to have trouble staying in one spot, having lived in places as varied as Utah, France, and New York City. Julie eventually returned home to the Philadelphia area, where she now lives with her husband, son, cat and dog. Her favorite moments are when the unexpected happens and she cheers loudest when the pitcher gets a hit.