Re-read The Children of the Moon Chapters 1-5

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CM-1-5Q1*Writing Bryn’s internal dialogue throughout the first part of this story was like writing an entirely new character, one who was as foreign as she was unpredictable. Writing from the perspective of someone going mad was not only a lot of fun but it gave me permission to experiment with different kinds of diction and foreshadowing.  I had a lot of room to play and that spontaneity really transferred over to other parts of the story, hence the large number of left turns that really make this story unique and totally genre-less. Bryn’s short manic chapters were much longer in earlier drafts, mostly because I felt like there wasn’t enough Bryn in the story. After getting to know Roman even better in the last book I have a tendency to prefer writing in his voice and didn’t want to lose sight of the actual hero of this story, which is Bryn. Luckily, after she ascends from her madness, she really shines in this story in a way I hadn’t been able to explore in previous books. She becomes a leader and powerful beyond her wildest dreams but she also makes choices that are so distinctly human and chooses to fight, no longer just for her own life, but for the lives of Dreamers everywhere.

CM-1-5Q2*Knowing that the shadows drive the Rogues mad with self-hate–something Roman has always struggled with–sets the perfect stage for Roman to overcome his fears. Until Bryn confirms the worst of them. I know each novel in this series has focused on separating them somehow but it’s always for a purpose. In the first book they were separated by suspicion and Bryn’s illness, in the second book they were separated by Roman’s lie, and in the third book they’re separated by Bryn’s madness. The problem is that they both need so much saving and in order to find the strength to save each other they have to save themselves first. Over and over and over again. Because with each incarnation, not only are they more powerful but they’re also more at risk. Roman has recovered from a traumatic car accident, he woke from a 6-month coma, he learned how to walk again, and he’s discovered this fire inside himself that can rid the world of evil. And yet, the moment Bryn’s body shows fear, the moment her vacant eyes begin to see him the way he’s always seen himself, he believes he’s just as evil as the shadows he’s meant to destroy. He believes that his mother’s words were true.

CM-1-5Q3*The decision to have Roman be the thing that torments Bryn and drives her mad wasn’t an easy one. In early drafts of those scenes I tried out some different fear scenarios, trying to find something scary and traumatic enough to force her into insanity. I used the vines and her childhood nightmares, I used Anso in a much more direct way, and I even tried to incorporate Sam’s ghost. Nothing had quite the same stomach-turning sting as Roman physically tormenting her while also declaring his love. It wasn’t until after I incorporated that part into the story that I started to worry how readers would react. It’s obviously not the real Roman torturing her, not the character we all know and love, but even though it’s all an illusion Bryn still struggles mentally and emotionally with reconciling her feelings for this person who is now causing her pain. Once again I was thinking about all of the possible roadblocks I could put in their way even after Bryn regains consciousness. These two never have things go their way but I think that’s one of the things that makes the story so compelling. The irony of these soulmates constantly being torn apart is heart wrenching and after Bryn wakes up, their separation reaches new depths, because for the first time Bryn is the one who makes the choice to retreat. It may not be a conscious choice from the very beginning but she’s essentially suffering from PTSD and Roman in the real world is a trigger for her pain more than he is a remedy for it.

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*Just realized that I’ve essentially broken the no sleeping/waking/dreaming in the first chapter rule for each one of these novels.

*This has resulted in these characters spending wayyy more time in hospitals than I originally anticipated. I think I expected the paranormal elements to liberate them from that particular setting (you know, once it’s revealed that Bryn was never really sick) but these kids just keep getting hurt!

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Re-read The Boy In Her Dreams Chapters 41-46

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BD41-46Q1*The archetypal hero usually reaches a point where they have to isolate themselves from others emotionally in order to survive. It’s a coping mechanism but it’s one that sooner or later will begin to sever the human connection that led them to make the ultimate sacrifice in the first place. Humanity is both the source of the superhero’s power and the source of their greatest weakness. For Bryn, it would have been so easy to isolate her from everyone she loves and in the finale this desire to separate herself from her family and from Roman is something she’s constantly battling with. But unlike most superheroes, Bryn really doesn’t have that option. For every person she saves, every person she touches, she absorbs their very essence and in the process relives every single moment of their lives. She sees and feels everything forcing her to make the ultimate sacrifice while always experiencing the emotional weight of that choice.

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*One of the most powerful moments in the story is when Bryn comes face to face with her future self. Everything about her is a warning and yet every step Bryn takes is only bringing her closer and closer to that fate. There’s a part of Bryn that already knows there’s a war coming but for the longest time she’s been fighting herself, her body, her disease. Now that fight has manifested in the real world and for the first time she sees one of its casualties up close. And it’s terrifying. Because it’s real. Because she can see and touch it. Because it can see and touch her back. Bryn from the future isn’t just a warning, she’s a nightmare.

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Re-read The Boy In Her Dreams Chapters 36-40

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*Using real places as the setting for my fiction not only adds depth but when I’ve hit a block, looking at photos or reading about that place serves as a starting point and works to jump start my own creativity. But actually choosing those particular settings can also be time consuming and tedious. The Koln building and Rheinpark represent some really significant moments in the story revolving around Bryn and Roman’s supernatural connection. In Rheinpark they forgive and fall in love all over again and at the top of the Koln building they find out how powerful that love and connection actually is. Choosing the right setting for these moments was really important and even though I’m writing books and not recording things on film it was crucial to design certain scenes with the visual components of the setting in mind. At a certain point I do begin to think of these scenes as being part of a film and I usually choose the settings that match the context of the scene both aesthetically and emotionally.

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*Roman and Bryn’s conversation at the top of the Koln building is one of the most significant scenes in the entire series. It’s epic and romantic and full of foreshadowing. It also creates this false sense of security, although brief, by distracting from the fact that all this power Bryn and Roman have is obviously meant to serve a purpose. This is one scene that actually didn’t change much during revisions. I keep a notepad on my phone where I write down lines of description and dialogue–most of which come to me as I’m trying to fall asleep. Sometimes those snippets are for specific characters or specific stories but sometimes they’re not. While writing the first book I ended up with a lot of great lines that I knew I wanted to mirror in other parts of the story so I was able to fill my notepad with a lot of lines specific to the TGIB series. Roman’s internal dialogue was the easiest to write, mostly because for whatever reason I relate more to Roman, so everything I’d saved–everything Roman felt and wanted to say to Bryn–fit so seamlessly into this moment and the chapter practically wrote itself.

BD36-40Q2*I really like this moment in the story. Bryn and Dani are opposites in a lot of ways but they never openly point out those differences or bring up the things they don’t like (or fear) about each other. And they never talk about Bryn being sick and the fact that Dani’s not–something that obviously affects their relationship but would cause even more of a strain if Bryn admitted she was jealous of Dani’s health or if Dani admitted that she’s afraid of being sick too. But then she does. In her panic Dani reveals the truth–that it’s her biggest fear to be like Bryn. And Bryn realizes something too–that it was her biggest hope not to be alone.

BD36-40Q4*Roman has a real moment of clarity in the scene where the Rogues come across the destroyed Koln building. During the first half of the series Roman has this idealized version of Bryn as some kind of savior. She brought him back to life and as Roman still deals with his own demons and *sometimes* secret desire to end his life she gives him a reason to keep living. But in order for their love to be real, I mean really real, they have to see each other for what they really are. The truth is that neither one of them are perfect and both of them are dangerous. Roman sees the consequences of Bryn’s power for the first time and for the first time he’s afraid. As he should be.

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*Ticking time bomb # 2-the Dreamers’ injuries carrying over into the real world.

*Totally saw Felix’s guy-crush on Roman from a mile away and I love it.

*AND…why not throw some time travel in there, while we’re at it #genrebendinghardcore

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Re-read The Boy In Her Dreams Chapters 31-35

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*Bryn couldn’t be the only one belonging to a secret society. The Rogues were a really exciting addition to the story, one that I didn’t expect to be so essential to Roman’s development and just overall wellbeing. They save him just as much as Bryn does and once again I was able to write about friendship; about these kind of cosmic bonds more powerful than blood. They also teach him the most important thing about being a hero; about being good. That it’s not as black and white as he thinks. Heroes can be flawed, in fact, the best ones are.

*Dani and Felix’s squabbles throughout book 2 are so characteristic of that phase in a relationship where you’re both feeling insecure for different reasons and it starts making you act mean and selfish, while at the same time desperate and needy, and just plain crazy. Bryn goes through such a huge transition in this novel but I’m glad that Felix and Dani also have a chance to evolve. Bryn may be fighting an actual monster but they are faced with something just as scary–the future. That time after graduation can be really terrifying. It’s like you’ve been tethered to this adolescent routine and all of the sudden you’re cut loose, dangling over this huge black hole otherwise known as adulthood. Eventually Bryn’s problems sort of become a kind of distraction for Dani and Felix, especially Dani. But at the same time, the very thing Dani is running away from–the future and all of the possibilities that exist within it–is the very thing Bryn wants more than anything.

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*And so the moral of the story is revealed. The “themes” I explore in my writing are never black and white and they tend to happen completely by accident. I started writing this series during a time when my dreams were all I had so it doesn’t surprise me that the story ended up being about a girl whose dreams are so powerful that they can change the future. It also makes sense that this would be the story to connect with people on such a big scale because beneath the paranormal elements and beneath the romance it’s a story about the power that exists in all of us, the power to change our future, the power to change the world.

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*If I ever pulled a Stephanie Meyer and re-wrote this series in an alternate universe, I’d have no choice but to make Roman a unicorn. And that might be kind of awesome.

*I keep having these moments where I’m anticipating reading certain scenes from earlier drafts, half-way cringing as I wait to come across some mediocre plot point or small but still embarrassing mistake only to find that I’d replaced it with something so much better. It’s been so long since I wrote these novels that it’s like I’m experiencing these stories the way readers are and even though it’s mentally exhausting it’s also really exciting!

*I don’t know why but this is one of my favorite exchanges in the entire series. It’s hilarious.

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*Oh, and stuffed mushrooms from Red Lobster are BOMB.

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Re-read The Boy In Her Dreams Chapters 26-30

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BD-26-30Q1*Roman’s walk to Bryn’s door is so symbolic and I feel like I held my breath even as I wrote it. This moment is a triumph but it’s also Roman’s first conscious step into the darkness. Walking, running, being in charge of his body isn’t just about healing anymore. It’s about fighting. About protecting Bryn. He may be on the verge of reuniting with her but he’s also on the verge of war. Both of them are.

BD-26-30Q2*The next few paragraphs are just as revealing. I expose Roman so much throughout these stories–physically and emotionally–and it’s not always easy. Sometimes I feel guilty about showing the reader his flaws…all of them. But Roman’s self-doubt and his inability to see his own strength are what make him the kind of hero he ultimately becomes. His willingness to sacrifice and to love Bryn so deeply are a direct result of his own insecurities. He relearned how to walk; he beat the odds and yet he’s still afraid of his brokenness being exposed even though his scars are not proof of his weakness but of his strength.

*Bryn has her own triumph-followed-by-a-devestating-revelation when she reaches the top of the cathedral. Her body conquered the 500 steps but as she looks out on infinity those 500 steps seem minuscule compared to the fight she has coming. I never realized before how much her scene and Roman’s mirror one another; how at this point in their journeys they’re beginning to catch glimpses of all of the horrible things to come.

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*Chapter 29 marks Bryn and Roman’s long-awaited reunion and not only is this chapter a beast but it’s the kind that had to be subdued with hugs and kisses and all that ooey-gooey love stuff I’d been trying to avoid for the majority of book 1. Honestly, my first drafts are always pretty stale in the romance department and I never feel comfortable enough to write those scenes until my CPs convince me that it’s necessary. I just don’t want to turn people off in a way that causes them to stop rooting for my characters because I know how easily I get turned off by relationships that don’t feel genuine. Romance, whether there’s too much or too little is entirely subjective but I don’t want my characters to kiss unless they absolutely have to. I don’t want them to touch unless it’s the only move that makes sense. I want there to be an inevitability to every move they make and every word they say so that no matter how grandiose the gesture the reader can play along because they love these two characters together more than they love them apart.

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*FYI, every single one of my female MCs is secretly obsessed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Because I’m obsessed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

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*More things on my bucket list once these novels make me a millionaire: Roman’s road trip food challenge, Bryn’s sailing trip around the world, and building a cabin in the woods with my own personal ski lift.

*Author tip-there are literally youtube videos of everything. In order to research Bryn and Roman’s ride on the cable car I searched for the Seilbahn tunnel and found tons of videos of people recording themselves riding from one end to the other.

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