Guest Post: Shielded by KayLynn Flanders

Crushed on by Christy Jane, on May 21, 2020, in Guest Post / 1 Comment

Guest Post: Shielded by KayLynn Flanders

When I saw the cover for Shielded, I think I gasped. It is SO BEAUTIFUL! I am thrilled to have connected with KayLynn and have her share about what it took to get Shielded out in the world (soon! Look for it July 21st!). Check out how KayLynn became a debut author below!

Guest Post: Shielded by KayLynn Flanders

Shielded (Shielded, #1)

by KayLynn Flanders
Published by: Delacorte Press
on July 21, 2020
Pages: 432

For fans of Sorcery of Thorns and Furyborn comes a thrilling new fantasy about a kingdom ravaged by war, and the princess who might be the key to saving not only those closest to her, but the kingdom itself, if she reveals the very secret that could destroy her.
The kingdom of Hálendi is in trouble. It's losing the war at its borders, and rumors of a new, deadlier threat on the horizon have surfaced. Princess Jennesara knows her skills on the battlefield would make her an asset and wants to help, but her father has other plans.
As the second-born heir to the throne, Jenna lacks the firstborn's--her brother's--magical abilities, so the king promises her hand in marriage to the prince of neighboring Turia in exchange for resources Hálendi needs. Jenna must leave behind everything she has ever known if she is to give her people a chance at peace.
Only, on the journey to reach her betrothed and new home, the royal caravan is ambushed, and Jenna realizes the rumors were wrong--the new threat is worse than anyone imagined. Now Jenna must decide if revealing a dangerous secret is worth the cost before it's too late--for her and for her entire kingdom.

Guest Post – Writing & Rewriting

For at least twenty years of my life (I don’t remember feeling this way when I was three, but maybe I did), I did not want to become a writer. I thought creating whole stories was too hard. I always had ideas—popping up in the epic imaginary games I played as a child, all the way through walking across my college campus and making up stories for why she was smiling while looking at her phone or why he wouldn’t look up at the trees blossoming overhead. 

I’ve always loved stories. Stories were always my safe space. My space to explore life and experience more than I ever dared in reality. But even though it wasn’t reality, my feelings were real. I learned to stand up for what I knew was right with Jane Eyre, to love and let others in with Mary Lennox, and that sometimes you have to leave your comfort zone to have adventures (thanks, Bilbo and Frodo).

For me, words have the magic of connecting one person to another, the power of lifting us both. I grew to love words. Enough that I became an editor so I could help other people’s words shine brighter. 

But then a time came in my life where I wasn’t finding the story I wanted to read. I’d finish a book and be frustrated with the characters or disappointed I hadn’t loved the book like I expected to. And I don’t know exactly what shifted inside me, but suddenly, I wanted to see if I could do it—if I could write a story of my own.

I’d had an idea rolling around in my mind that had stuck around for several months, so I decided, maybe I did have a story to share. Maybe I was strong enough to create my own words and write a book. 

So I did. I wrote a forty-page summary of everything I wanted to happen, and then I busted out an eighty-thousand-word draft in about two months of late nights. 

It was a terrible story. Well, I’ll rephrase. The core of the story was good; the characters were amazing. But I didn’t have the skill (yet) to tell the story in an engaging way. 

So I went to writing conferences, I read craft books, I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and let others read my secret story that had only ever lived inside my head. I took a lot of advice; I ignored some as well. I could feel and see that things weren’t quite right yet, even after making some fixes in my draft. That the story I’d written wasn’t yet at the level of the books I’d been reading. 

Then I started revising. 

And the next draft was a lot better. But not quite good enough. 

I noticed more things to change with each round of revision, and made lists and notes and comments to myself. I went through my manuscript cutting swaths of text, whole scenes. Characters, even, who either faded away or merged together into a new entity. I killed people, then decided to bring them back, changed my ending at least thirty times, and my beginning at least twice that. 

My point is, I love my characters. I love my story. I love my book. I love it enough that I was excited every time I went back and revised. I loved it enough to re-write it seventeen times, to the point where I felt like I was writing fanfiction of my own story. The total revision count (including line and copyedits and proofreading) is around twenty. 

Writing down a story, as hard as that is, isn’t actually the hardest part of writing. The hardest part is knowing your characters well enough—and loving them enough—that you want to let them inhabit your brain for three years (or more). That you want to try again and again to get their story right. Anyone can write down a story. But crafting an experience, creating a portal to another world where your reader can feel real emotions, takes work. 

Can you do it? Absolutely. Focus on the improvements you’re making. The direction you’re heading. Don’t expect yourself to get everything right on the first try. Let yourself go down a path that maybe leads to a dead end, figure out why it’s a dead end, and then press forward in a new direction. 

Find a support system who understands the emotion toll of creating. Take breaks to fill your own creative well with movies or books or nature or people. Make writing and rewriting fun. 

So if writing books is something you want to do, start your journey with eyes wide open, and then go get it. I never thought I could do it, yet here I am. I believe in you.

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