Harperpages

The blog of author Harper Alexander


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Restraint – Wonderland Excerpt

It’s excerpt time! Taken from today’s 1,000-word progress on the almost-finished Wonderland! A little mushy, but hey – I’m a sucker for that stuff.

***

It was a strangely meaningful concept – someone with the power and aptitude to wrestle sharks, to shred her where she stood if he wanted, but who would never touch a hair on her head. There he was, muscle and power and instinct and blood on his hands, but the ferocity bypassed her. His killer hands rested by his sides, not touching her.

But she recalled a time when they had touched her. When he had taken those beaten-up fingers, capable of anything, and trailed them over her skin with warpaint sentiments. And they had been gentle.

Like a butterfly straining against its cocoon, something nudged inside her, wanting to feel that touch again. There was something in the restraint, in the fact that he could ravage her like a rabid wolf and then his touch registered with the lightness of a feather. It was surprising, confusing, intriguing.

Made her curious what he was holding back.


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NaNoWriMo Butt Kick

There’s nothing like NaNoWriMo, a time when authors far and wide put their noses to the grind stone to crank out 50k words in one month, to kick my butt into gear where writing at least the last 10k of an 80% finished book is concerned. So, yes, I’m using NaNoWriMo and everyone else’s unbridled fervor as the thing that finally leaves me with no excuse not to get this dumb baby done!

That’s right – Wonderland may have missed its summer release, but it’s not as if I didn’t get close, and as of today we’re up to 88% finished. I already know Thanksgiving is going to try to throw a cork in my writing goals over the next couple weeks, but I’m on a pretty good roll right now. The end is so close in sight, maybe I’ll just…get there before Thanksgiving even comes a-gobbling, and flit around the kitchen making pies at my leisure with the smirk of an author who has finished her book.


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Wonderland Progress and Plot Splicing

Wonderland is cruising right along, right about at the 3/4 completion milestone. I just got back from an almost two-hour writing spree at the park, which was just what I needed to clear my head from the work week and get back in the writing groove. Only a few chapters to go, now. And I’m finally feeling like this MC has the depth I’ve been aiming for. Only took a book and a half to get her to this point. Better late than never, right?

My secondary thought of the day has to do with the always multiplying plot-bunnies in my head I can never seem to keep a handle on. I’ve been haunted by the thought lately that I probably already have more must-write book ideas than I’ll ever be able to actually fulfill in my lifetime, not to mention all the storylines that are bound to inspire themselves in the future. This is a very depressing thought. Part of the solution is just to set my life up so I have more writing time, but even then there are too many to ever complete. It’s occurred to me that a more viable solution is to try to combine some of the plots currently pending on my to-write list. I am both really excited and a little skeptical of this idea, as I’ve envisioned some of these storylines strictly in their purest form for so long, but I think combining some of these awesome ideas can only equal more awesome books in the end.

So there you have it, today’s writing tidbits! Time to go type up my progress on Wonderland, and dream of the moment I can finally start promoting the crud out of Paradise because its sequel is finally out. IT’S ALMOST TIME.


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Writing Main Characters – My New Secret

I discovered something interesting the other day. For awhile now, I’ve struggled with my main characters. I have trouble developing them, liking them, making them even the slightest bit interesting at all. I really try, I follow all the formulas, I sit and I daydream and try to get in their heads, try to think about what I’ve loved about past MC’s of mine, try to remember what my secret used to be when I LIVED to sit down every day and get in my MC’s heads… All to no avail. They continue to fall flat, like I’m just out of juice.

Meanwhile, however, there’s always some side character that just happens to sort of steal the show. Their lines are funnier, or cooler; their personalities are edgier; they’re the ones that spark with potential chemistry with the love interest… I’m not sure how or why it happens, but it’s been happening in every story lately. I lifted my pen the other day to point this out to my writing mate, and suddenly realized the key to the problem might lie within the problem. There I was, unable to force the character I was trying to force, while another character stole the spotlight with ease. There I was, beating my head against one and denying another that I desperately wanted to write instead. And I finally realized…if one character is speaking to me, demanding the spotlight, why don’t I give it to her?

I think sometimes, getting ‘serious’ about writing and all of the research that comes with that, all the tips to hone your craft and polish your work, can really work against you. My struggle with main characters these days definitely correlates to realizing their importance. Obviously, they’ve always been important. But you don’t get very far into honing your hobby as a craft without having it officially preached that your main characters really carry the story. So, yeah, somewhere along the way I definitely psyched myself out with the pressure to make them great. It used to come naturally, because there was a time when I wrote purely for fun, purely as an escape, without deadlines or rules or any of these other formulas or pressures to write for an audience. I’ve never done well under pressure. Apparently, neither do my main characters.

So I’m planning an experiment. How interesting would it be to plan a plotline, throw some players onto the board and see who ends up standing out? I don’t think I’ve ever started a story without coming up with the main character first, so it’s going to be interesting. I’m not really sure how to do it, and it might be a disaster. I’m sort of envisioning just writing a chapter from each character’s perspective, and seeing who shines above the others. Seeing whose perspective I’m most drawn to writing. It may require writing continuous chapters from all of their perspectives as the story progresses, and cutting the less relevant ones later, but I’m thinking it might be worth it.

Who knows, I may have just found a loop hole in my characterization struggles. If I can trick myself into cultivating awesome little upstarts on the side, I’m not going to deny them their glory.

How do you deal with mental blocks where your MC’s development is concerned? Are there any tricks you’ve found to work better than others? Leave a comment and let me know!


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Paradise – Now Available!

Paradise 3D Rendering

Paradise is live! I was supposed to promote it all day, but got tied up in some other obligations. Normally I’d insist on making a book release more of a priority, but since this IS the re-release, I was persuaded to let it slide a little. Not to say it doesn’t deserve a little noise, because I’m really excited for the makeover it’s had under new editorship, and am ready to scream from the rooftops THIS IS THE VERSION I WANT THE WORLD TO READ.

I almost feel like this is my writing debut, just because I took the time to make sure this one was done right. MANIACAL GIGGLES.

Okay, back to business (or in other words, back to working on the sequel!) For those of you interested in purchasing Paradise, you can do so here.


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Hurrayzies and Fancy-Shmancy Interior Book Design

Paradise Chapter Page

I’VE DONE IT! Paradise is officially, OFFICIALLY complete, and ready to be re-released for the last time – professionally edited, tediously polished, and wrapped up in a nice tidy bow of OFFICIALISM. This is it, guys. The most official one of my books has ever gotten. I decided this was the year I was going to get serious about this writing stuff, and in only the second month of the year, I have followed through with that resolution. I could not be more excited or proud of myself!

So the epic re-release is going to take place on February 29th (spread the word!). The kindle and paperback versions will both be available via Amazon.com. I got both files formatted today, and one thing I’m really excited about and had to give you a sneak peak of is the interior design for the paperback! These are the gorgeous chapter headings gracing 31 lucky pages of the book:

Paradise Chapter Page

Totally cool, right? I can’t wait to hold a copy in my hands! I hope you’ll pick up a copy of your own and join me for an adventure in Paradise – I have some great things planned for this series!


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Editing and Epiphanies

I’m on track with edits for the re-release of Paradise, so expect to see that out by the 29th.

In other news, while I was trying to get to sleep last night, I finally had an epiphany about a big fat plot hole that’s been looming at the end of this series. I’m happy to say I know how I’m going to solve it! Now I just have to figure out how to explain it in scientific terms. (Or maybe I don’t, because there’s really only one sciency guy in the book, and if he’s the one explaining it to everyone else, he’d probably have to dumb it down and explain it with other concepts and metaphors anyway, so maybe I’m off the hook… But still, I’d kind of like to explain it to MYSELF scientifically, just so I have a thorough grasp of the concept. It probably won’t be believable unless I do.)

Anyway, I’m stoked. And now I’m not dreading Book 3 like I have been, because it was this big vague thing that was supposedly going to wrap up the series and magically tie off all the loose ends.

But, well, now that’s exactly what it’s going to do!

In other OTHER news, I’m about to start reading The Night Circus. So excited!


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New Paradise Release Date

Paradise 3D Group Book Rendering 1

Paradise is back from the new editor, and I’m hard at work applying the suggested edits. Based on the scope of what needs to be updated, and the rate I’m getting it done so far, I have planned the release date for February 29th! Remember, the first edition of Paradise is already out, and this will be a fresher, more polished version replacing the old one. But as far as I’m concerned this might as well be the official release, because I can confidently say this round of edits has helped fulfill the vision I intended for the story, and now everything will be staged as necessary for finishing the sequel. So there you have it! The ‘official’ version of Paradise will be hitting shelves (and e-readers) on February 29th!


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A Creature at the Door

Days of Twilight and Mischief Blog Banner 1 Lowres

An excerpt from Days of Twilight and Mischief, due out next month!

***

That night, something else came to the door. We were unaware, as we slept, but later – much later, after my time in Dar’on – I would become acquainted with the creature and how it operated. Thus I can paint a clear account of its visit.

It came out of the shadows and shuffled across the field on all fours. Not as something normally meant to crawl on all fours, but like a human who chose to do so for some reason beyond common comprehension. So long had it chosen this method of travel that its back had stooped severely, becoming a hunched, deformed thing, and it moved in a swift, distorted fashion across the field. Somewhat ape-like, somewhat spider-like. Every motion twisted and flicked to create a freakish shadow that tricked the eye, appearing as often like an extension of the creature itself as it did a mere impression of it.

Around the manor and up to the door it scuffled, where it carefully opened the screen, raised a stringy, clawed hand and dragged a diagonal pattern of scratch marks across the face of the door.

It might have stopped there, leaving your average signature of claw marks to be attributed to any number of wild creatures. But it was only the first of four swipes. The second, it dragged diagonally across the first to create a many-layered X. The third went horizontally across the middle of the X, and the fourth vertically as if to connect the last compass points.

Yet it was not the symbol of a compass that would greet those who came to the doorstep of Manor Dorn from that day forward, but the likeness of a web. One final flourish of the creature’s claws, a perfect circle around the middle of the symbol, finished the representation.

Then, rather than dropping back to all fours to scurry away into the night, the creature looked upward into the acrid midnight sky and placed its strange hands against the face of Manor Dorn, and scurried straight up the side of the house and over the rooftop, down the other side, and disappeared in a ripple of field grasses.

In the morning, when I saw the symbol of a spider web scratched across our door, I would think to myself it was like Fate sealing Tane into our fold, sealing all of us together into the same house. I had brought him into our midst against my better judgment, and now we were all caught in the same web, strung together in an irrevocable binding of fate.

An ill feeling settled in my stomach, but there was nothing for it. I gazed a moment longer at the disquieting mark and then left it to its reign on our manor, not about to meddle with it lest I get further caught up in its snare.