Sunday, 14 August 2011

The Write Confession: IRON WILLED Excerpt

I've been banging on for months that I'm writing a YA novel, and I bet you're all sick of it! I would be if someone kept going on and on without showing up with the goods. So here's a bit of a confession: I've been too scared to show anyone my work. If it gets panned I'll have to think about more editing which I am so exhausted of. Our recent discussion about kick ass YA heroines got me thinking though. Would Rose or Katniss be too scared to take this kind of leap? Maybe, but I bet they would do it anyway.

So here it is. I probably should put this segment into some perspective but if I did that I might as well have just given you guys the first chapter. You're a clever bunch. I have faith that you'll figure it out.

An excerpt from my unpublished novel IRON WILLED:

Claudia and I had just run around the training track twice when a voice called out to us from the stands.
‘Hey girlies. You can run but can you actually fight?’
In a dimly lit room I doubt I would have been able to tell him and Rex apart. He was just as big, but instead of Rex’s warm expression and wide smile he had a sneer on his face.
‘Leave it alone Will, they’re just trying to get you into trouble,’ Claudia warned.
‘I’m getting sick of being picked on,’ I said through gritted teeth.
‘Fighting them won’t stop them from picking on us. We need to walk away. When they realise that they can’t get to us they’ll leave us alone.’
I doubted that very much, but numbness started to permeate my mind causing me to rethink the idea of beating this guy to a pulp. I even started to feel sorry for him. 
It was too much. She’d gone overboard with the feeling control and I snapped out of it throwing her a stern look.
‘Sorry, but we can’t risk them kicking out another one of us.’
Other officers had started gathering, hoping to witness another fight. Seeing their eager faces I realised that what Claudia had said was probably right. They wouldn’t leave us alone if they knew that we were so easily goaded.
‘Let’s go C.’ I said gathering up my jumper.
I really had made up my mind not to make trouble, but when Claudia bent down to pick up her water bottle he made the mistake of patting her on the ass.
It really said something about us that her first reaction was to jump up in surprise and mine was to grab him by the hand and break his fingers. I’m nowhere near as strong as some of the boys but my ability allows me to concentrate enough electrical charge that I can turn it into physical strength.
            From what I could make of Rex’s memories that one time he tried to leech my powers, he and his sisters had been taken away because of abuse. This was the man who’d put them through it.. As he yelled in pain from the broken fingers I slammed my foot into his chest just below his ribcage. He toppled over, winded and gasping.
‘God damn Willow,’ Claudia yelled.
My mind clouded with foreign but familiar memories of big hands shoving a preteen Rex down a flight of stairs. Just like in my nightmares, the attacker turned and advanced on a little girl no older than eight. Her faun like eyes widened in terror and in between memory and reality I caught a chunk of his hair and forced him flat against the floor with my knee. Making sure that I spoke softly enough so that only he could hear, I said, ‘You’re lucky that it’s me you’ve pissed off this time and not Rex. I know what you did and if he finds out you’ve touched Claudia he is going to kill you. Think about that.’
I straightened up and motioned for Claudia to follow. She did so silently, disappointment evident in her eyes. I didn’t care anymore. They already thought we were freaks. No one said anything as we left but they all parted to let us pass. Dad used to say that fear wasn’t the best motivator, but it was better than nothing. I might have the empathic power of a brick wall, but even I could see they were afraid.

There you go. I want you to love it but if you don't that's okay too. How else will I learn?

* In other news, do you guys ever read a book that's written so well it makes you question whether you should bother writing anymore because you feel like nothing you can produce will ever be that good? I'm feeling like that every time I pick up a book these days. Not good motivation at all!!


  1. You're on fire with this one Lan. Willow is a kickass female character, even from this small peek into the bk. So Im dying with too many questions now - what are the powers/gifts that your characters have? What kind of world is it? Whats her background? Wheres she from? Whats going on? I want MORE OF THIS BOOK! - all very good indicators that Iron Willed must be one heck of a gripping read since I totally want to know more.
    So glad u feel ready to start sharing it. Hows that query letter going?

  2. Lani, I feel sick. I am so close to pulling this post down because I don't think I can handle the criticism. I am in the wrong line of work. Query letter is coming along OK. I keep blog stalking to procrastinate. Have read a while heap of articles about self publishing and am seriously leaning towards it. Are those serious questions you ask or just your inner thoughts on paper? I could post a short synopsis maybe...

  3. Don't take it down! I'm glad you posted it. Like you said, 'How else will I learn?' I think that's the hardest part about being a writer--taking criticism. But it's what helps us grow. I know about procrastinating. I keep doing that with writing in general.

    With that said, I have to say I am very intrigued by that brief glimpse into your story. You have a great voice. I would love to read more of it. ^_^

  4. Thanks Jess! Voice is about all I've got right now! Just realised that all my tenses are mixed up so have to do another edit :( I have managed to procrastinate like crazy all night. Will try and fix this tomorrow!

  5. You have taken a huge step! Putting yourself out there is so hard and you have started the process! Please don't give up.

    I really enjoyed the excerpt you posted. I am curious about the characters and the setting and want to know what happens next. I think you are off to a terrific start, keep writing :)

  6. I thought I left a comment already, but I think I goofed the captcha or something. Happens when I'm insufficiently caffeinated. ;)

    I really like what you've written. Willow is intriguing, and sounds like the kind of character I'd like. I'm very curious about Rex, and what his role is, and I'd honestly love to read more of your story.

    Thanks for sharing! I know it's hard - the first time I went to a writer's group, I nearly passed out. (For real. LOL)

  7. This is a huge step, Lan, but it's a really good one! I'm glad you took it! I think that this scene has so much potential to make up a really great book, because your writing is nothing short of professional.

    Willow is pretty kick-ass -- seems like my kind of heroine!

    Yeah, sometimes there are books out there that feed on my confidence a little bit because they're so great. Sometimes it's the writing, and sometimes it's the amazing storyline that makes me think that I could NEVER write anything that breathtaking. But you shouldn't let this discourage you! Only use it to make your own story better.

    I know I'm really bad at giving advice LOL but I'm not lying when I say that I think you'll make it as a published writer! :)

  8. Hi Lan :)

    I was introduced to your blog via Lani's blog Sleepless.

    Just wanted to post up and say - I really enjoyed your writing!.

    I think you have great talent & you shouldn't be shy to share it with others.

    Wishing you well. J

  9. I'm the same. I've written one novel and am writing a second but I'm way to nervous about putting it upi for people to see. I know I will have to let it go sometime as i give it to publishers etc to look at but the blogging world seems so much more scary than that.
    I applaud your bravery - and you know what - you are way better than you think. With just that preview I am hooked, I want to know so much more! Who is this Willow - she rocks!
    Keep at it. As the world's best procrastinator I know how you feel - but don't give up!. :D

  10. Lan
    I'm so glad you shared with us. I would have commented this morning before I went to bed, but I'm sure a 5am comment wouldn't have turned out to good. I have to agree with what some others have said. This little excerpt makes me curiouser and curiouser. (I know alice in wonderland reference.)

    I think the powers are what draw me in, and what's happening to them. (I'm a sucker for powers)

    Willow seems like strong-willed character, and that's good we see to much of the female characters that depend on the males a lot.

    You have to remember that it may have taken these other authors along time before they become who they are. Does that make sense? Even at 4pm I don't make sense. Still don't let others: books or people discourage you from doing what you want and enjoying it.

    I think it's a start to something awesome. If you ever need me for anything. Email me. You know I'll always answer.

  11. Dear all, thank you so much for your kind words and encouragement. So much better than the blank stares I received from one of my writers groups. I am having major time issues today read: am late for work because I couldn't sleep but will respond to you all when I get home. Thanks again!

  12. I think it's good, and I want to know more too. I don't know if it was the feeling I got or the writing but it sort of reminded me of Jellico Road. Everyone loves that book and, hey, it's published. ;) I'm a sucker for powers too so I'm already hooked. BTW, I totally know how you feel about reading an amazingly well written book and then wondering why you should bother.

  13. Your writer groups give you blank stares? Wow, that's not very helpful of them. They should push and encourage you. The hardest part is finishing it, which it sounds like you have done! Crits are hard, and rejection even harder. Just remember to keep in mind your work is worth more than one persons opinion. They can only improve your writing skills, and... well most of that applies to people who haven't produced finished work- like me. Instead you should be celebrating you got so much done!! Massive congrats!

  14. I hate good teasers - they tease me too much! You can tell a lot about Willow in that excerpt... An underestimated young girl who has just had enough of BS and she's ready to kick ass, woohoo!
    Regarding the other question, self-doubt has always been my prob. I'll read something by my fave authors and I think, how the hell can I write something like that? But it also gives me something to works towards, grr.
    p.s. faun or fawn? :)

  15. Lauren: Thanks so much for taking the time to read the excerpt and for your great feedback :)

    BJ: I thought I disabled that stupid captcha thing. I hate it. If I ever got spam it would boost the views on my blog!! It's funny how snippets of a book can make you wonder about a character. Rex isn't even a main character. This bit just features him a lot!

    Mimi: You're great at giving advice and it makes me feel so much better knowing that I'm not the only one fretting about comparisons between my writing and someone elses.

    Jo_an: Hello there! I am loving all the cross blog interaction. Makes me feel like this could be a real community. I am so glad you liked the excerpt.

    Bex: I am so bad at getting things done on time or to schedule. That's the problem with the internet. There's always something more interesting to do whilst you're meant to be writing. I hope my "bravery" will inspire you to post something of your own because I would love to read your story. Bloggers are much scarier because essentially we will be your readers, but we could also be a much bigger asset than any editor. I should take my own advice :)

    Ash: What are you doing up at 5am?!? Your comment really connected with me. I am always imagining that authors just happen overnight and you either have a great talent or not. I forget about all the hard work and blood, sweat and tears that we shed along the way. I will most definitely come to you for any novel stuff in future!

    Jenny: Your comparison of my writing to Jellicoe Road made my day! I loved that book to bits and if I am ever that good I would be eternally happy.

    Beth: I've parted ways with that particular group. I think they were under some impression that I was writing something literary. Thank you for the congrats. I have done so much editing that it feels like I've been working on this book forever.

    Elizabeth: Yes! It should have been fawn! I quickly changed it from something else boring before I posted and was so worried that noone would like it that I just wrote any old thing. My editing eyes are blind right now. Thank you for picking it up :)

  16. Lan: Lol. I'm a night owl. Plus I seem to get more done. *shrugs* I usually stay up til 3 or so and then when I lay down to sleep I have my tv on and I get into my charmed seasons and don't realize what time it is. I've always been like this.

    I'm glad it did. I've just come to this realization myself. Watching their twitter feeds, and reading some of their blogs, and even some of their you tube vlogs. It won't be over night success. What's weird is I try and tell this to my friend, and she's like how do they get published so quick? I tell her they don't always. I hate to sound mean, but it's something I've learned over the past year having my blog.

    Aww thanks that makes me feel good. Oh time for bed 8am comes quick when it's already 4.

  17. Ash: You are crazy. I could barely keep my eyes open at work today. Need to spend a little less time stalking and more time sleeping. Have a cold too so that doesn't help!

  18. Lol. I'm pretty sure I'll be sleeping while on the conference call at 830 as long as they dont ask me questions I'll be good. :) Although snoring may indicate to them someones sleeping. j/k some of my best/craziest thoughts/topics come from lack of sleep. Sleep who needs it? Except maybe to have dreams that can lead to ideas. Off to dreamland.

    Hope you get to feeling better.

  19. OoO...I like it a lot. I definitely wanted to keep reading, which is always a good sign. Way to go!


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