Update and Excerpt from Chapter 9

*Update* Good news! Reset has hit the 75,000 word mark! That means she’s about three-quarters finished. I’m kind of surprised/amazed by how fast it’s coming. It’s only been five months since I started writing Reset. With that kind of pacing, I could finish it in six. But then of course, I’ll probably spend another six months editing the thing. But for now, let’s just appreciate the fact that we’ve made it this far!

To celebrate, I’m sharing another excerpt! This one is taken from chapter 9. Enjoy!

Excerpt from chapter 9 of Reset, by Baylie Karperien

“Oh my gosh—did you see?” Vita exclaims, putting her face right up to the fence. “Look down there!”

Everyone looks.

The ground cuts off about five feet away from the fence. Beyond that, there is only sky and space and cloud, a swirling cloud of fog dazzled with sunlight.

“Are we in the sky?” I say, half-whispering.

“No,” Marshall laughs. “That’s the canyon below us. I mean, the river’s right down there. You can sort of see it through the fog. In a couple hours, that fog will be cleared, and you’ll be able to see it. Some days, the river takes on a green, emerald-like hue. It’s quite lovely, I mean, if you like that sort of thing.”

“It’s beautiful,” Wren whispers.

I snap my head to look at her. That’s the first thing she’s said since all of this happened. Karlsen is right beside her, staring at her. She’s still gazing down into the fog. Karlsen’s eyes seem to glisten, and he wraps his arms around her, pulling her into a sloppy bear hug.

“I love you,” he says to Wren, whose tiny form has disappeared within his hug.

“I love you too,” she mumbles, muffled beneath him. Everyone seems to crowd around, watching, wanting to say something, but not knowing what to say. And then Vita moves forward, and she attaches herself onto their hug, and then Eivor is following her, and Anker, and before I know it, I’m connected too, and all of us are, a hard protective shell around Wren, a human shield, a warm embrace, a loving family. All of us are connected to each other, and for the first time I realize that these people, they are all that I have left. They are every friend, every family, every acquaintance I have ever had, they are my last little bit of reality in a world of make-believe.

And then we hear it.

The siren.

A screaming, piercing noise, desperate and wailing, calls to us from the facility. Our hug dissolves, and we all stand, frozen in our places.

“Holy—everyone get back inside. Now!” Marshall yells, his face erupting in panic. We don’t move, unsure of what’s going on, of what to do, or where to go, when he turns back to us. “I said NOW!” he screams, his voice rising above the piercing cry of the siren.

“What is it?” I yell, and then I hear the noise. A sort of humming, almost like a truck or a Light Transit would make, except this is different, somehow. The noise rises steadily, until the sound become a roar, ripping into my brain and splitting apart my eardrums and pushing me to the ground. No, not the sound, the air. A burst of air is forcing me to the ground, and I can’t move, I can’t get up, I’m paralyzed with fear and I’m on the ground, my mouth in the dirt. I push myself up to my knees, force myself to resist it, but I want to sink into the ground, dive into the ground and bury myself in the rock. My skin is burning and my head is splitting and I see it, a form, a huge, massive, terrifying flying thing in the air. It’s floating up there, it’s sitting on a bed of air like a comfy sofa cushion. I can only see its belly, dark and terrible and man made. A terrible darkness, blocking out the sun.

Someone pulls me to my feet. It’s Marshall, he’s talking to me, but I can’t hear a word, and I realize that I hear nothing, only the terrible hum of the flying thing. He’s pulling on me, but I can’t move, I can’t go, and he’s lifting me up, he’s taking me out from under it, away from the terrible, terrible thing. Maybe I will be okay, maybe I am safe, and then everything changes. I hear a new sound begin, but then all the sound in the world stops and all that’s left is a sickening ringing that resonates in my eardrums. The ground is shaking, shaking, ripping apart, the world is falling apart, Marshall is falling, I am falling. I am on the ground again. I pull myself up. I find Marshall. I grab his hand and force him up. And then the ground shakes again, and it is an explosion, an explosion, they are dropping bombs on us from inside the belly of that terrible, terrible thing in the sky.

People are all around me, the ground is shaking and the people are pulling at us, smothering us, pulling us inside, and I see Hue’s face and he’s alright and I know that I’m alright. He is screaming at me, but I can’t hear a sound, I put my hands to my ears and my hair is all sticky, all sticky and bloody and red. And then, somehow, I am inside, I am running, somehow. Somehow, I am going downstairs, I am going down under the ground, down to the living floor below the ground, where the earth shakes but the building is safe, safe, safe. The building does not shake when the earth does.

Reset Teaser: Excerpt From Chapter 33

So, here’s a quick update on the sequel to Unsettled, titled Reset. Reset is also the title of the trilogy, which is a little confusing, but will make sense when you read them. Plot-wise, it is the central book of the trilogy. Everything—and I do mean, everything—changes in Reset. The world that Phoenix thought she knew is gone. And soon, the foreign world she has come to understand will be gone too.

Word count, as of right now, is 53,551. We’re about halfway to the end! And then months of revisions, edits, and proofing…but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it! For now, here’s a quick teaser to get you hooked!

Excerpt From Chapter 33 of Reset, by Baylie Karperien

“What’s your name?” A tap on my shoulder alerts me to someone sneaking up beside me. I turn towards the sound.

“Terrence!” I exclaim as I see him.

“We’ve got the same name? Who’d name a girl like you Terrence? That’s a real shame, I’ll say. I can give you a new one, if you like. How ‘bout Scowly? Or Grumps. Mm—no, no, no, I got it. Frown-Face. I like that one best,” he chews thoughtfully on a carrot, half-smirking. “Suits you.” He chokes down a laugh.

“Thanks a lot. And I could call you Pest,” I say, turning back around. He skitters after me like a spider.

“Most people call me Pain-In-Backside. But I find it a bit of a mouthful,” Terrence smirks as he circles to get in front of me again.

“But it is accurate,” I sigh.

“So? What’s your real name? Unless it actually is Terrence. In which case, I’m terribly sorry for you.”

“Phoenix.”

“Like the place?”

“What?”

“You know, Arizona?” He sees my blank face and bites his lip. “You’re still stuck on the League system, aren’t you? Phoenix is a city in the Mountain Sector of Lower North America. What used to be the state of Arizona.”

“The Mountain Sector,” I echo. “I’ve been there, I think. Is that anywhere near the…Great Canyon, or something like that?”

“Grand Canyon,” Terrence corrects. “Yeah. For a Guardsman, you’re not very smart.”

“Thanks.” I start walking, needing to move. I want answers. I don’t have time to be sitting around like this. Patterson said that we’re almost out of time. I think he knows what’s going on, maybe even more than Marshall. I have to talk to him.

“I mean, I’m thirteen, I’m out of school, and I know more about geography than you? I thought Guardsmen were supposed to be of a ‘superior intellect’,” Terrence makes air quotes as he walks alongside me, lifting his long legs high to avoid stepping on anyone.

“Well, I’m not a regular Guardsman.”

“Then what kind of Guardsman are you? Never mind, don’t answer that. You still haven’t told me about your name. Phoenix as in city, or Phoenix as in bird?”

“Bird,” I answer, still thinking about Patterson.

“Cool,” Terrence murmurs. I pace back and forth, avoiding the various people sitting cross-legged on the floor, their faces solemn as they wait to hear what happens.

“How long has it been?” I ask, realizing that I’ve lost all sense of time.

“Maybe an hour,” he shrugs.

Thanks for reading! Hope all is well with you.

Love to all,

Baylie

Witty, Pretty, Nitty-Gritty—Writing Dialogue that Captivates Readers

Dialogue is so crucial to good writing. If description was the skeletal structure of your story, then dialogue would be the organs, muscles, skin, hair, etc., that make your story come to life. Dialogue allows you to build tension, introduce conflict, show character growth, explore relationships, question the very nature of humanity…alright, let’s not get carried away. But writing captivating dialogue is essential to writing captivating fiction. Unless, of course, your protagonist is stranded alone on a deserted island for the entirety of the novel—in which case, I pity your readers, even more than I do your protagonist. But enough of that. Here are three styles that make for captivating dialogue:

  1. Delectably Witty

The greatest dialogue I have ever read, in my own small opinion, is found in the works of Austen. Jane Austen, that is, whose novels are renowned for their complex characters, endearing love stories, and of course, their witty banter.

Ouch.

Austen’s dialogue is fast paced and sparkling with life. Each sentence in her writing has a depth of meaning greater than the entire text of many novels published today. Her dialogue is fascinating, because it is brilliant. However, her dialogue is not only witty, but it is also realistic. That is why it packs such a punch. Clever dialogue, when done well, is a joy to read. Clever dialogue, when it is not done well, is an affront to the reader’s intelligence. If you are going for wit in your dialogue, I advise you proceed with caution.

  1. Enchantingly Pretty

Not all of us are Janes. Some of us are Williams. If witty, fast-paced, and clever, just isn’t your style—if you have a poet’s heart, and spend an inordinate amount of time staring at stars, flowers, or bodies of water, perhaps this style suits you best. Shakespeare, whose brilliant works have inspired countless adaptations, not to mention a hefty chunk of the English language, knew how to write beautifully.

Note, of course, that Shakespeare’s dialogue also contained a great deal of wit—which brings me to my next point. There is no real one style of dialogue. You are writing the things that characters say, that’s all. But infusing your dialogue with a little bit of pretty or witty can take your writing from the ordinary to the extraordinary. The key is to refrain from becoming cheesy. And how do you do that? By writing your character’s words, not your own. Dialogue is all about individuals interacting, and if you try to turn that into a display of your own wordsmithing skills, it will undoubtedly flop. Write not to pack in a clever punchline or breathtaking metaphor, but to carry on a conversation. And in doing so, allow your characters to create their own clever punchlines and breathtaking metaphors, as a part of the natural flow of conversation.

  1. Plain Old Nitty-Gritty

Sometimes, writing isn’t about charm or beauty. Sometimes, the only way to write realistically is to cut out all the fluff, scrap the grandiloquence, and stick to the heart of the matter. To write humanly. To write simply. But don’t think that getting down to the nitty-gritty will be easier than writing eloquently. In fact, it is incredibly difficult to write dialogue that is simple, honest, plain, and heartfelt. But it is also incredibly effective, when done well. It is important to avoid cliche here, and to focus on what’s important in your story, and what’s important to your characters. Don’t try to create drama. Just write down what happened. Then let the readers bring their own drama.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about captivating dialogue as much as I’ve enjoyed writing about it! If you read young adult fiction, you can get my novel, Unsettled, here.

Love to all!

Baylie

How to Make Readers Hate You–In a Good Way

Writing a coherent sentence is hard enough. But writing an entire book made up of coherent sentences that also make people feel something…well, that’s a little more difficult.

As a reader, I find it vital that a novel be compelling. If a book does not make you think, or feel, or believe something, it is generally not worth reading. Compelling books are those books that you can read, over and over again, without becoming bored with them, books that go beyond exciting action sequences and dramatic affairs of the heart. Compelling books are the books that make you feel alive. Books that make you cry. Books that make you frustrated. Books that make you laugh. Books that make you so angry, you can’t sleep. Books that make you hate the author for writing a book so good that it ruined your life.

That is the kind of book that I hope to write one day. Not because I want to be the cause of someone’s ruin, or because I want to make people hate me. But because I want my writing to touch people. Writing is nothing but a waste of time and energy if it doesn’t have any effect on anyone. But how do you write a compelling novel? How can you make your words matter to people? How can you make your characters important to the tens of thousands of strangers across the globe who will one day, hopefully, read your novel?

The simple answer is this: you can’t. You can’t make anyone feel anything. That’s entirely up to the reader. Everyone who reads a novel will come out of it with something different. No matter how “good” your book may be, it’s still going to be the object of someone’s contempt. It’s still going to bore a lot of people. And confuse a lot of people. And quite a lot of people will never make it past the first chapter.

But what can you do, to make your writing more compelling?

  1. You can write from your heart

People are always saying, “Write what you know”. I say, write what keeps you up at night. Write what is burning in your brain, screaming to be let out on paper. Write what catches your attention. Write what turns your life upside down. Write what stops you in your tracks and makes you wonder. Yes, write what you know. But that doesn’t mean you should write about only what you know. If it did, there would be no such thing as fiction. Writing what you know means taking your own experiences and translating them into a world that you’ve created. It means not writing from what you’ve seen, but what you’ve felt. It means writing from your heart. Writing about what touches you, what infuriates you, what gives you peace, what breaks your heart. Writing about what you hope for, what people around you hope for, it means writing about the garbage in your life, it means writing honestly and openly, and it’s not easy. But it’s compelling, and it’s real.

  1. You can make it relatable

This is very much the same as writing from your heart, but it also means making your writing accessible. Open to interpretation. It means writing people that we all know—the loving mother, the grumpy neighbour, the weird uncle with a fetish for yellow polka dots. It means writing about the important things, the things in life that everyone experiences. Loss, triumph, fear, love, insecurity, success, the list goes on and on. A little green Martian can be more relatable than the average Joe, if you make him so. First write from your own life, and then make it connect to the reader’s life.

  1. You can make it so small, that it’s huge

We, mankind collectively, become easily jaded. If you write about a problem so large that it is insurmountable, we will easily forget about it. A war, a plague, an injustice…it can be the whole plot of a book, but if you focus only on the entirety of the problem, readers may just stop caring. Not entirely, of course, but we are quick to dismiss those problems in the world that have no personal significance. For example, when we think of poverty in the world, we know that innocent children will die every day from hunger. Yet, we’ve sort of come to accept it, horrible as it may sound. We know that we cannot save all of the children. So we just accept it, and move on.

However, what would happen if you were told that a single child was starving, and needed your help? You would feed them, of course. Unless you’re some kind of heartless, self-absorbed monster with no human compassion. You see, it is a part of our nature that when we are faced with the small problems, the personal problems, the tiny details—those things that we can fix—that we are most moved. Focus on the little things, and use them reveal the hugeness of the problem. Focus on the minuscule, the heartbreaks, the goodbyes, the baby birds who have fallen from their nest. Focus on the grimy, tear-streaked face of a little girl who lost her doll in a fire. Don’t just write about the bad. Write about how the bad destroys the world of the innocent. There is nothing more compelling than that.

Thanks for reading, I hope you’ve gained something. Happy writing!

Love to all,

Baylie

Choosing the Colour of Your Story’s Spectacles—How to Use Point of View in Writing

To me, point of view is something that tends to decide itself. When a story has developed in my head to the point at which it can begin to leak out of my brain onto paper, I have usually already decided what point of view to write from. However, I have also, on occasion, begun writing from one point of view, only to change my mind part way through. This makes for a lot of rewording, rehashing, and rewriting. To avoid such a situation, it is wise to ascertain, before you begin writing, what point of view will best carry your story. Using the correct point of view is essential to your story, and yet, there is no real “correct” when it comes to perspective. It is, entirely, a matter of choice, although it can be difficult to tell the story of one character’s experiences when you are trapped inside the mind of another. The point of view you choose to write from will ultimately colour your tale, influencing where the plot leads, and perhaps more importantly, doesn’t lead. Point of view is the lens, the spectacles through which your story will be viewed, and you get to choose if you want them to be rose-coloured, or very limited in view, or everywhere at once, making them the first pair of omniscient spectacles to ever be created (I’d like to see such a pair).

There are many variations and stylistic choices that can be made regarding point of view, but here are a few basic structures:

First Person (I)

Written from the perspective of a single character, this point of view is used most commonly in young adult literature. Your story unfolds entirely from the viewpoint of a single character, typically the protagonist. This perspective is difficult to write from, as everything must be related from the mind of a single character. Character voice must be strong and intact, and the author cannot, under any circumstances, sway from that voice—which may become a problem, especially if you decide you want to tell readers about what’s going on on the other side of town. But this perspective is very intimate, and really allows you to get inside a character’s inner workings, which is why I chose it for my first novel, Unsettled.

Multiple/Changing

If you want to write from a deep point of view, really getting inside a character’s mind, but you need to get out once in a while and follow a different path, this may be for you. Switching between characters, while tricky to handle, can be very effective. Changing perspective with alternating chapters or some other definitive marker for readers to identify will allow you to experience the story from multiple perspectives, while still writing from the first person point of view. One of my novels-to-be-written, once I’ve finished the Reset series, will be written from multiple points of view in the first person. This can be done in many different ways. The story can be told sequentially, as experienced by different characters, or multiple seemingly unconnected plots can be woven together. There are many different ways you could go with this. Just be careful that you’re not simply switching voices—you must also be switching minds. You must write each character with a completely different way of thinking, and this is exceptionally difficult. It can also result in chaos, if your readers become overwhelmed and confused by frequent, poorly-executed perspective changes.

 Second Person (YOU)

This is generally the least used point of view in fiction. Second person point of view is told from the narrator’s perspective, addressing another character, or the reader, as “you”. I am currently writing in the second person, but just in case you’re still not sure what I mean, let me give you an example:

“You are currently reading this blog post. You are in great danger. If you believe that you are being watched, immediately drop to one knee and begin proposing to the nearest passing stranger. When it is safe to do so, continue reading the contents of this post. If the danger does not pass, attempt to rip your computer into small pieces and eat them. These words must not fall into enemy hands, understand?”

This perspective is generally used in “Choose your own adventure” stories, although it has been used in other fiction, albeit sparingly. It is generally avoided in fiction because it, well, it’s a little jarring to readers, and while it can be effective, it’s a little off-putting to be told that you, specifically you, must eat your computer. Most of us don’t particularly like the taste of computer circuitry. I know I certainly don’t.

Third Person (THEY)

Limited

Third person limited is quite similar to first person, however, there is one key difference. First person is written from the perspective of a single character. Third person limited is written from the perspective of a narrator—that’s you! Therefore, while the inner thoughts and feelings of one character may be related by the narrator, you are free to provide information and insights that are not the personal opinions of that character. “Limited” simply means that you are stuck to that one character—you won’t be able to divulge the thoughts of all your characters, only those you’ve chosen to follow. Much of fiction is written from the third person, as it is a very effective point of view from which to drive the plot and is both engaging and non-threatening to readers.

Omniscient

Third person omniscient allows you to, basically, do whatever you want. You know everything, see everything, and tell everything. The thoughts and feelings of any character are fair game. You are no longer bound by time, space, or any of the laws of physics. You basically get to say whatever you want to, which sounds pretty great, although it can be rather challenging. Switching between characters, settings, etc., can be a little overwhelming for both writer and reader, and while it makes it easier to say whatever you want to say in order to get the story moving, it may distance readers. Without any sort of compelling connection to the characters and story, readers may find this perspective lacking.

Well, have you decided? Hopefully you didn’t take me seriously in my example about writing from the second person, because if you actually went and ate your computer, you’d have no way to finish this article, and that would be a real shame. Also, you’d probably need some medical help, though I don’t know what kind of specialist they’d bring in for that one. Mental help wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

Hopefully, now that you know all about point of view, you’re ready to write a bestseller!

Love to all!

Baylie

How to Cure Boring Writing—Keeping Your Novel From Dragging On, and On, and On….

Have you ever been writing, just minding your own business, as your characters run around, doing their stuff, advancing the story line, furthering their own development, ultimately inching the story ever closer to its explosive climax and gripping conclusion, when you suddenly realized that

A. You are absolutely bored to tears, and

B. You can barely stand to read what you’ve written.

Well, if this happens to you, never fear! Unless this is your usual state of writing, in which case I recommend you find a new hobby, or job, or whatever the case may be—one which doesn’t involve writing. But if this is just a temporary affliction, there are several easy fixes which will help you keep your writing fresh and exciting for you, and more importantly, for your readers. Because if even you are bored by your writing, that’s only going to be compounded for your readers. Here are three easy ways to freshen up your novel, even when you find yourself utterly uninspired.

  1. Cut the Chit-Chat

In my experience, oftentimes when my writing lacks depth, drive, and decisiveness, it’s due to an imbalance between dialogue and description. Most likely, I will have written long passages reliant almost entirely on dialogue, with very little description thrown in. These passages often ramble pointlessly, as characters are forced to hash out every basic detail and delicate nuance of the plot. Sometimes, I become so focused on the dialogue that entire chapters of rambling, mindless, forced discussion ensue. If you want to keep engaged with the story and further the plot without driving your readers mad, cut the chit-chat. Delete, delete, delete. Every unnecessary, dull line of dialogue must go, and in its place, use description to keep the reader filled in.

2. Sum it Up or Flesh it Out

There are times, as a writer, when we must make decisions for the good of our story. Examine the scenes you’ve written, and determine which scenes are dull because they are unnecessary, and which scenes are dull because they lack depth or meaning. If a scene seems unnecessary, but cannot be removed because it furthers the story, sum it up. I often write entire scenes which can be shortened into a single paragraph—most often transition scenes, bringing characters from one place to the next. In such a case, shorten through description, or eliminate it entirely and mesh the information into another scene, revealing it bit by bit. If a scene simply lacks depth or meaning, then add to it. Flesh it out. Remove dull, dragging sections, and replace them with a solid, meaningful balance of dialogue and description. Sometimes, a point will be lost because it is carried on for too long—to the point where it becomes painfully obvious and loses its meaning. Other times, a point will be lost because it is not carried on long enough—and a couple lines of dialogue are not enough to capture the depth and breadth of a character’s experience.

3. Make it Personal

Even if you are writing in a fictional universe which only exists in the deepest corners of your imagination, you have to make every scene, every chapter relevant to you, or your work will certainly not be relevant to readers. Maybe you don’t have any personal experience to draw upon when writing a gunfight, and that’s okay. That’s why you have that imagination of yours. But colour everything you write with your personal experiences, and you will find a more vibrant, living world breathing on your pages.

Now that you’ve stoked that writing fire deep within your soul, go forth! Write well! And never, never, ever write anything that bores you.

Love you all!

Baylie

Today’s the Day!

Can you believe it? I can’t! Unsettled has been released on Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, and Indigo as an ebook, and on Createspace, an Amazon company, as a paperback. It will be available on Amazon in paperback form within a few days. It has been quite a marvelous journey getting here! Reset, book two of the series, is approximately a third of the way through its first draft, and will be released in 2016. I am so grateful for everyone who has supported my blog, for everyone who has encouraged me, and for everyone who hasn’t laughed in my face when I mentioned I was writing a novel.

Oh, and by the way, I have to apologize for a week of missed blog posts~it’s been busy. Between work, dance, and school, I’ve had no time to spare. I hope to continue posting regularly, when my schedule calms down a little and I have the time, which should be soon. In the meanwhile, you’ll have to excuse my occasional absence.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going in for a sales pitch. If you are the least bit interested in young adult fiction, dystopian futures, socioeconomic imbalance, unlikely heroes, first love, mass rebellion, or saving the world from certain destruction, read Unsettled! You can get the ebook for less than the price of your morning Starbucks (which, incidentally, should have been named Fivebucks, seeing what they charge for coffee). And, second to reading the book, the nicest thing you could do would be to review it. Unless, of course you give me a bad review. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Just kidding. You can write a nasty review if you want. Any sort of feedback would be appreciated, I suppose. And then, if you cared enough about the book to review it, tell your friends about it! Even if you tell them not to read it…at least then they’ll know it exists.

Well, it’s been a lovely visit, but I really must get back to my work.

Phoenix, however, is waiting for you to meet her.

Love you all!

Baylie

Poetry Reading: Nightlight

Nightlight

By Baylie Karperien

Love was a nightlight

A lingering glow, the last to stay bright

But the day belonged to the man

With exhaust churning from the hectic traffic jam

Electronic blips and red lights symbolizing stop

Starbucks, Burger King, and super-sized cups of pop

The number on a bank statement defining whether they could stay

And cold pavement lives with secrets it has hidden far away

Secrets stolen from the passersby

Perhaps the only truth they know has always been a lie

As each man fights for something he has known to be the truth

Politics, human rights, and the status of our youth

And we measure our success by just how far we get ahead

But the more ahead we get the closer come to being dead

And the world is obsessed with itself

And the world is obsessed with the day

And the world forgets that all the world will pass away

Into the night

And the only thing that matters then

Will be the lasting glow of light