Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Guest Post: Author Jenna Black

Resistance is the second installment in acclaimed author Jenna Black’s YA SF romance series.

Nate Hayes is a Replica.

The real Nate was viciously murdered, but thanks to Paxco’s groundbreaking human replication technology, a duplicate was created that holds all of the personality and the memories of the original. Or...almost all. Nate’s backup didn't extend to the days preceding his murder, leaving him searching for answers about who would kill him, and why. Now, after weeks spent attempting to solve his own murder with the help of his best friend and betrothed, Nadia Lake, Nate has found the answers he was seeking...and he doesn’t like what he’s discovered.

The original Nate was killed because he knew a secret that could change everything. Thanks to Nadia’s quick thinking, the two of them hold the cards now—or think they do.

Unfortunately, neither of them fully understands just how deep the conspiracy runs.

The Leap of Faith
I'm not the most trusting person in the world.  Nor am I what you'd call a pillar of self-confidence.  Doubt and I are close personal friends.  Which can make starting any book feel rather like jumping out of an airplane.  Without a parachute.
For me, the second book of a series is almost always the toughest.  When I start writing the first book of a series, it's generally something that's not under contract - which means there's basically no pressure.  If the book doesn't work out, then I can shrug, say "oh well," and try something else.  But that second book...It's under contract.  It's got a deadline.  There are fans waiting for it, and the have expectations.
Some people carefully plot out their series and have the plot arc all set in their minds when they start.  I'm not one of those people.  When I'm writing a first book, my entire focus is on that first book.  I may have a few big-picture ideas for what will come in the future of the series, but I don't let myself think too much about the details.  I can't, because if I start looking at the arc of the whole series, it starts to get overwhelming.  There are too many variables - and too many ways I can find myself getting distracted so I don't actually work on the book that's on my plate right now.
So basically, starting the second book in a series is an invitation to panic.  I may feel good about the previous book, but now I have to do it again, and I have no idea how I'm going to manage it.
What I've learned is that in one way or another, starting a new book - especially the second book in a series - requires a leap of faith.  I have to believe that whatever magic happened in the first book will happen in this one, also.  I have to jump out of that airplane and believe I have that parachute, even if I don't have hard evidence to support that belief.
I've often been disappointed to find that almost nothing about writing seems to get easier with experience, as logic would generally suggest it should.  But in this one area, I think I am finally starting to see an improvement.  The first few times I had to take that leap of faith, it was terrifying, and I had a lot of trouble shouting down the voice in my head that said I couldn't do it.
Fast forward to when I had to start writing Resistance.  I was ruthless with myself when writing Replica, not allowing myself to do any plotting for the other two books in the series.  I had a plan for the major plot development that's revealed at the end of Resistance, and that was it.  But one thing I've learned about myself is that I love telling stories, love spending time with my characters and figuring out what terrible things I can put them through.  I have jumped out of this plane before, and so far I haven't ended up splattered on the pavement.
I won't say writing Resistance was easy.  Nothing about writing is easy.  But instead of facing this new beginning with terror, I faced it with a hint of confidence.  I believe that the story would come to me once I got started, no matter how daunting the project appeared.  And I was right.  I'm very happy with how the book turned out.
I think I've learned a very powerful lesson as a writer, one I'd like to pass on to all the other writers out there who struggle with self-doubt:  trust yourself.  Take that leap of faith and write that daunting story.  I can't promise it was always work out for you, but I can promise it'll work better than letting your own self-doubt get the better of you.
About the Author:
Jenna Black is your typical writer. Which means she's an "experience junkie." She got her BA in physical anthropology and French from Duke University.
Once upon a time, she dreamed she would be the next Jane Goodall, camping in the bush making fabulous discoveries about primate behavior. Then, during her senior year at Duke, she did some actual research in the field and made this shocking discovery: primates spend something like 80% of their time doing such exciting things as sleeping and eating.
Concluding that this discovery was her life's work in the field of primatology, she then moved on to such varied pastimes as grooming dogs and writing technical documentation. Among her other experiences . . .
Ballroom dancing.
Traveling all seven continents. Yes, even Antarctica.
Becoming a Life Master in Bridge.
Singing in a barbershop chorus.
Read the true story of Jenna's first trip out of the country by herself at the age of 16: Jenna's Zaire Adventure. And remember, insanity is a good thing for a writer.
She's also a proud member of the Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, and would love for her readers to support her fellow authors!
Jenna is represented by Miriam Kriss, of the Irene Goodman Literary Agency.

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