Guest Post by Author Claire Luana
Two years ago, when my husband and I were on our honeymoon, we talked about what we would do for a living if we could pick any job in the world. I realized that I would choose to be a fiction writer. And you don’t get there without trying! So I started writing.
I worked for several months outlining a trilogy of novels. But every time I started writing, I got stuck. I had another idea hanging around in the back of my mind and I decided to give into it. Within about 10 minutes I had a one-page outline of the plot and the title for Moonburner. I was off and running. I think it’s really true what they say about the muse striking you!
My inspiration for Moonburner was loosely based on China's One Child policy, which led to generations of Chinese families choosing to have boys over girls. It made me think: what would happen in a world where families didn't want girls because those girls had some magical ability that was forbidden? This led to the premise of Moonburner, where Kai, the main character, is born into a land where magic is forbidden to women, and she is forced to masquerade as a boy to hide her powers. This inspiration is also why I set Moonburner in a world with more of a medieval Asian influence, rather than the typical European fantasy world readers are used to.
I wrote Moonburner in about three months, and took another six months to edit it. There were a lot of challenges along the way. I did a lot of googling. What is a story arc? Ok, I figured that out. Now, how to write a good character? And so on. I especially found editing to be challenging. I had never tackled writing something of this scope before (Moonburner is 95,000 words), and I had a hard time figuring out how to keep all those plot threads straight in my head. There was a lot of trial and error, but ultimately, I settled into a groove.
After I completed editing and went through the beta reading process, I thought a lot about how to publish. I chose to go the indie/small press route for a couple of reasons. The main reason I didn’t try to get traditionally published is because I am impatient. I didn't want to wait years to get an agent, then more years to find a publisher, with no actual promise of either. The main reason I didn’t self publish is because I don’t have a lot of time (I also work full time as a lawyer). I didn’t want to learn how to do all the technical stuff that goes along with self publishing (formatting, getting set up on various platforms, finding your cover designer, etc). So, I felt that trying to find a small press that didn’t require submissions from an agent would be the way to go. I queried about 10 publishers over the course of two months, and got a bite from Christopher Matthews Publishing. (If you’re interested in the pros/cons of the various publishing routes, check out a blog post I wrote on the subject when I was in the thick of my decision-making process! http://claireluana.com/authors-choice-how-to-publish/)
Moonburner was published through Soul Fire Press, a division of Christopher Matthews Publishing. CMP and Soul Fire are hybrid publishers. Hybrid publishers differ from a traditional or indie publisher in that the author makes an up-front monetary investment in the book. But, hybrid publishers also differ from vanity presses or self-publishing companies in that they do not accept every book submitted to them. They curate their material and only publish what they think is worthwhile.
This model was exactly what I was looking for. I got the nice ego-stroking of someone saying "this is good," (hey, you totally need that as a first-time author!) and I didn't have to spend the time to hire all my own freelancers and figure out the self-publishing process.
I have enjoyed every step of this journey to becoming a published author. But it is a LOT OF WORK. I definitely have two jobs. It’s not all sitting in stylish coffee shops with sleek Moleskine notebooks penning effortless prose. A lot of the time it’s dragging yourself to the laptop after a long day of work while you’re longingly looking at your husband cuddling with the dogs on the couch. It IS worth it, but I have to constantly remind myself to take a long-term outlook. If I had any advice for aspiring authors, it would be to remember the great line from He’s Just Not that Into You: “We’re not the exception. We’re the rule.”
I’ll explain. Every aspiring author wants to be JK Rowling, going from penniless writer in an Edinburgh coffee house to worldwide billion dollar success. I know I certainly do! But she’s the exception, not the rule. For every JK Rowling, there are thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of authors publishing great books slowly growing a fan base over a span of years. Those authors are the rule. I am the rule, not the exception. This mantra has helped me take a long-term viewpoint and approach to my writing. We are an instant gratification society, and it's easy to get discouraged when you don't see instant results or success. But if you truly want to be a writer, you can’t get discouraged. You have keep at it. Learn how to do it better. There is no special sauce, only hard work. So do the work, and little by little, you'll get there.
When 17-year old Kai is exposed as a female sorceress—a moonburner, she knows the punishment is death. Despite the odds against her, Kai escapes her fate and undertakes a harrowing journey to a land where moonburners are revered and trained as warriors.
But the moonburner citadel is not the place of refuge and learning that Kai imagined. The ongoing war against the male sorcerers, or sunburners, has led the citadel leadership down a dark path that could spell the end of all magic. Armed with a secret from her past and a handsome but dangerous ally in the sunburner prince, Kai may be the only one able to prevent the destruction of her people.
About Claire Luana
Claire Luana grew up in Edmonds, Washington, reading everything she could get her hands on and writing every chance she could get. Eventually, adulthood won out and she turned her writing talents to more scholarly pursuits, graduating from University of Washington School of Law and going to work as a commercial litigation attorney at a mid-sized law firm.
While continuing to practice law, Claire decided to return to her roots and try her hand once again at creative writing. Her first novel, Moonburner, will be published in 2016 with Soul Fire Press, an imprint of Christopher Matthews Publishing. She is currently working on the sequel, Sunburner. In her (little) remaining spare time, she loves to hike, travel, run, play with her two dogs, and of course, fall into a good book.