Saturday, November 12, 2016

With Every Beat

You are supposed to start your story when everything goes awry. Writers call it media res and it means that you begin a narrative "in the middle of things" rather than at the beginning of the event. 

You dump the reader right into the juicy bits of the events...right when things are taking a turn. Preferably for the worse.

The main character in my current project, The Dreadful Dark, lives each moment as if things are going to go awry in a bad way. That is because she can literally drop dead at any moment.  She has a heart condition, something called Long QT Syndrome that sends her heart racing with chaotic beats...and it does it randomly.

When she is sent to the desert to recuperate after an operation, strange happenings and the dangerous secrets of a mysterious family known as The Dreadful Darlings, draw her into a world of longing and fear and suspense.

Where a typical person might fear for their life, cringe at the sight of death, run from the unexplained...well, Venus is not typical.

"When death is your constant companion, it is familiar, and nothing is frightening about the familiar."  ~Venus Bell

So my story begins...not at the hospital or as she makes her way to her eccentric uncles Earthship home in the barren landscape...

No, our story begins in the chill of the desert at night. Underneath a riot of stars against the velvet black sky. In the shadows of an abandoned sanitarium nearly reclaimed by the sand, she meets a boy both dark and strange. 

Is he all that his name implies? Or is there something about Rowan Darling worth saving?

In the midst of malevolent forces gathering against them, Venus finds that her heart is far stronger than she had ever imagined.

+Raquel Byrnes

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Dreadfully Creepy

There is something so AWESOME about starting a new project. Working through a three book series like the one I just finished is rewarding, sure...I feel happy to have completed Lady Blackburn's story.

However, the excitement of discovery in research, of brainstorming 'what if's,' and the start of weaving together the images in your head into a cohesive plot are some of my favorite things in the world.

This go around I will be writing a Gothic Mystery series entitled The Dreadful Darlings. So...SO happy to finally get to work on this project.

It was my motivation during the last chapters of The Chasm Walkers when my deadline loomed and my eyes drooped while writing at 2 in the morning.

I love the dark and dreary stories. A die-hard Poe and Henry James fan since childhood, I always did enjoy a good ghost story.

So here I am gathering dream journal entries and sifting through my subconscious for what scares me and you know what? I discovered something amazing.

I am not frightened by the dark. I am unnerved by the bright and blaring. The shifting shadows of a scorching sun on barren ground. The far out fringe of the desert dwellers where I live.  

In short...not the English moors or the murky bayou waters. I am afraid of the things that thrive in the light and heat.

This should be an interesting journey....

If you like creepy and exciting -- 

Check out my YA Steampunk Thriller, The Tremblers coming soon!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Exhibition of Wonders

So for my Steampunk series I have absolutely LOVED doing research for these books. There is something so fun about world building when you're doing Alternative History because you get to delve into a sea of 'what ifs' and that is my FAVORITE.
Photo by Myrabella

This week I have been learning all about diving bells and anthropomorphic diving suits of the Victorian era for my third book, The Chasm Walkers, which has submersible vessels.

I am so shocked by what was already possible that long ago. This guy is from 1882. Does that not inspire! I could also be a space suit. Those face windows though!

Building upon the fevered dreams of those intrepid inventors was both an honor and a challenge.  How far can you push the boundaries, even in fiction, and still remain believable? The suspension of disbelief is an essential and truly delicate thing.

One of my favorite inspirational pieces was the Strandbeest by Theo Jansen. This innovative apparatus was just a wellspring for ideas for mobility out in the Wastelands in my second book, the Wind Reapers.

These strange contraptions propel cool!

And although #steampunk can be filled with mystic and magic. I chose to ground my series in science. So when researching chemical cascades to create my Tremblers, I had to have monsters I could believe existed.

It seems like in the age of industry, nothing seemed impossible for a piece of properly designed machinery. Calculating engines, harvesting machines, scientific apparatus...all of it conceived in wonder.

LOVE IT. Its what gets me up in the morning.

After this series, I am debating on working on a Gothic Thriller. I love the spooky and the strange. Its sort of who I am. I remember once finding the prettiest music box ringtone for my phone. When it went off, my daughter said it was from a horror movie about ghosts.  I had no idea. It just appealed to me and sounded cool.

I wrote some Gothic Romances before...they were set in haunted carnivals and decrepit mansions. I LOVED writing them. So I may give it another go.  As I have been told before, "You do you, Boo."

I believe I will, thank you very much. I shall let my inner eccentricities out to play. Mwahaha!

What do you love most about what you do? Is it the people. The places? What draws you in, keeps you interested, and motivates you even when things get hard?

To learn more about my upcoming YA Steampunk Thrillers, check out The Tremblers or visit my Author Site.

Friday, August 5, 2016

The Tremblers Playlist

Music that inspired the YA Steampunk Thriller, TheTremblers
From what I listened to while writing the aero ship battles to songs that capture the desperate romance in a crumbling world...I hope you enjoy the songs and lyrics that moved me to create this world.


Friday, July 22, 2016

As Cmdr. Taggart Says...

I'm in the home stretch now. I can see the final chapters so clearly that I can almost taste them. Okay, I may need to work on my imagery here, but you get the point. The last book in my YA Steampunk series is coming to a close...EVER SO SLOWLY!

Its taken a lot to get here. Many tangents that had to be back-tracked. Too many wrong turns to retrace. Closing out a series is difficult. This I knew, but...this last book is such a struggle for some reason.

Perhaps it is because I pre-wrote the synopses for all three books via the publisher's request and so had a hard time just following the characters as they fleshed out.

Maybe my vision changed the deeper I delved into the story so the pre-imagined story line didn't fit anymore?

I am not sure.  I do know that I will not flesh out an entire series so tightly again. I loved knowing where I was going and maybe wrote some scenes ahead of time. That was helpful. I am a die-hard plotter after all. I live for charts and outlines and note cards.

But I also like the freedom of free writing and creative journeys so I need to find a balance there.  It is funny, this realization, that I might do well with some looser parameters and room to play because my critique partner, who is a dyed-in-the-wool pantser, just went to a conference workshop on plotting and is finally starting to embrace that in her process. The timing is cosmic sarcasm...I'm sure of it.

So as I head towards the climax of the story and the series, I will have to find the will to continue to grapple with this story that I have both loved and hated in turns over the past two years.  It is my favorite creation and the most painful to date to produce.

But as my Galaxy Quest Captain would exhort..."Never Give Up! Never Surrender!"

Look for The Tremblers, Book 1 in The Blackburn Chronicles out this fall.

+Raquel Byrnes 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Beauty vs. Sublime

Darling House in The Dreadful Darlings

In doing preliminary research on my next book, I was pondering the difference between beauty and the sublime. Beauty, as you may know, is concerned with symmetry and harmony...order. 

The sublime on the other hand is almost the opposite. It is beauty and wonder in the face of the awesome and terrible and usually chaotic. Much like witnessing a lightning storm while on a mountaintop. 

The Dark Alley by Kimerajam
Frightening, yes. Awe inspiring, indubitably. Able to make you ponder your own mortality....absolutely. Seductive, definitely.

I've always had a fascination with the edgier side of literature. My mother was a huge Poe fan and her favorite poem, The Highwayman, is rife with imagery that would inform a lot of my earlier, amateur writings as a teen.

Angst and dread. Sacrifice and true love. The inevitability of death. The hope of redemption. Ahhh the adolescent goth years. Boy do I have some pictures to prove my love of matte crimson lipstick.

So to find the darling in the darkness. Hope in the horrible. And epiphany in the eerie. That is my goal these next few months as I start to gather the pieces of my next tale. I've been inspired by so many things, but photos by far help me to really get into the dark and dangerous aesthetic of the genre.

More news on my progress as it comes. I'm taking my time with this series. I intend to savor the writing process. Get back in to the love of just spinning a good yarn.

What has fascinated you since your youth? Has it changed or does it still drive your choices?

+Raquel Byrnes 

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

How To Get Your Heart Broken

How to Get Your Heart Broken by Rose Fall 
Release Date: March 21st 2016 
Genre: YA Contemporary 

A self-proclaimed cynic, Eli is unsurprised by her boyfriend’s betrayal. Yet, its impact goes beyond what she realizes; a cruel bet, an array of secrets, and a thousand lessons not yet learned teach her how to trust again as an unlikely boy shows her a kind of love she never knew existed. After Eli finds her boyfriend cheating on her, she seeks an escape. She heads to the beach to spend the summer before college with her two best friends. When Eli is unable to move past the betrayal, the girls devise a distraction; a bet about their handsome neighbor. Yet their thoughtless competition goes too far and their friendships are tested as they began to wonder how much they really know about each other and themselves. In the chaos, they manage to learn the truth about love, self-acceptance, and the journey back from rock bottom. 

Buy Links: AmazonPaperback

 About the Author 
Rose Fall was born in New York City to Senegalese immigrant parents. She is currently studying Communication and Global Studies at UNC Chapel Hill. Her debut novel "How to Get Your Heart Broken" is set to be released Spring 2016. You can find her at her blog on 

Author Links: WebsiteGoodreadsTwitter 

Blog Tour Organized by: YA Bound Book Tours

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

5 Core Rules for World Building

I love making up new worlds. From steam powered alternate histories to dangerous realms in both time and space. It allows me to be creative and Type A at the same time because each 'universe' that you conjure up has to have a set system of rules in which the characters and phenomenon operate.

This is very important. Because it will save you a LOT of rewriting between drafts. I recently had this discussion with another author who has an awesome idea for a plot involving well known literary characters. The problem was, it was unclear whether or not in the 'book universe' she was creating if they were real...had come into existence spontaneously...only existed in their own book worlds...etc.

And because these questions are hard to define after the fact...she put the novel aside. Hopefully it is just for now, but sometimes overwhelming problems with wrapping our minds around our own creations can be intimidating. Which can kill creativity and passion for a project.

So here are 5 Core Rules for setting up a framework for how your book's universe will operate.

  • If you have a Magic System...make it well defined so that the reader understands what is possible and what is not. Brandon Sanderson, one of my favorite authors, has a post specifically about Creating Magic Systems in Fantasy.

  • Clearly illustrate the political and/or religious powers. What are their goals. What have they done to achieve them? How might that cause conflict with the citizens of that world?

  • What is it like for the average Joe to live in the world? This helps to provide a frame of reference for your reader. Is your main character in the elite or are they the downtrodden? Are there classes at all? Is everyone expected to be the same or divided for their differences? Do other forms of intelligent life coexist? Elves and humans...aliens and mermaids?

  • What are some major defining moments in your world? What is historically relevant? Natural disaster, plague or sickness, a war that changed the way people thought or lived? What about an advancement in science that changed the world -- for better or worse. Or nothing...just time. Gradual advancement in technology or culture?

  • Which brings me to my last point. Define the problem in contrast to the status quo right away. This is crucial in both scifi and fantasy because it prevents you from simply getting lost in world building for the sake of making stuff up. It helps you focus on what part of the world is important for your reader to know about.
There are of course so many other aspects to World Building but these core 5 should help to create a solid framework for you to hang your story.  Let me know what you do to define your novel's universe. I'm always up for some writing tips. 

Photo by shaka

Monday, January 25, 2016


So everyone...EVERYONE in my family but me is sick. Like a chorus of throwing up all night long. Just so you understand, I have six kids. With me and my husband that is eight of us in the house. So that's a lot of ginger ale and crackers if you know what I mean.

Because of this, I am finding myself running around like crazy trying to keep everyone in relative comfort. Not easy. Between the chills and the fever everyone either needs a blanket or is trying to kick it off.

But I have found some time to write. Slowly and with great difficulty, but there are words making it onto the page and by some miracle...they are not disgusting me so much that I delete them.

So that's progress. Sorta.

I'm hoping that I don't get sick. As it is right now, I am the only one not affected and it kinda feels like I'm the last one standing in a survival movie.

Will report back with progress on both book and whether or not I have succumbed to whatever is plaguing our house.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

A Bend in the Road

Photo by HotBlack

As I close in on what is the last book in my YA Steampunk Series, I lift my head out of the fog of writing furiously to look around.

I see change. A definitive step in the direction I've been avoiding for some time...yet knew was inevitable.

Through the years many have suggested this path, but I resisted. Content to just deal with the issues that constantly popped up in my current situation despite the frustration and feeling of helplessness. I had always hoped things would get better or that I would somehow be able to gain enough traction to change the situation.

It has become clear to me now that what I hoped for is not going to happen.  That's okay. I get it now.

If I wasn't ready for such a big step in the past. I feel like I am now. So here is to change and adventure and taking scary steps.

Until next time..Go Write!

+Raquel Byrnes