Interview with Madeline Freeman author of Crystal Magic

Madeline Freeman is the author of young adult urban fantasy with ten books to her name across four series. Crystal Magic is the first book in the Clearwater Witches series. What was your inspiration behind writing Crystal Magic? What prompted you to tell Krissa's story? I wrote the first draft of what would become Crystal Magic when I was about 13. In the original version, there were something like 9 or 10 girls with the name "Crystal" (all with different spellings). I liked the idea of these girls being drawn together because of their name, and I wanted the Krissa character to be different, and to have a connection to Clearwater she didn't quite understand. That original story is, as you can imagine, pretty terrible. It's full of in-jokes I had with friends at the time, and the plot was nothing like it is now. But the story never left me. Over the better part of the next two decades (Crystal Magic was published when I was 32), the characters and the idea would come back to me. I have notebooks and files filled with ideas about what should be kept (almost nothing) and what should happen instead. After my first series (The Naturals Trilogy) was completed, I needed something else to work on. My father never forgot my first "book" (then called The Crystal Society) and would bring it up every once in a while, so I figured why not give that old idea some new life.

Crystal Magic opens with Krissa at the principal's office. Were you ever called to the principal's office? I was never called to the principal's office as a student--not for anything bad. But I worked as a teacher for ten years and spent some time in the office environment during that time.

Your website says you love dinosaurs and outer space. Will either of these feature in a future book? Perhaps both in a science fiction or time travel story? I don't currently have any ideas for books involving dinosaurs or outer space, but that's not to say they'll never happen. I enjoy science fiction stories, and I like learning about science, but I'm not sure I could write a sci-fi book. But who knows what the future will hold?

How did you discover the urban fantasy genre? What made you want to write in the genre? I think I've always been drawn to the urban fantasy genre. I remember devouring LJ Smith's books (The Vampire Diaries, The Forbidden Game, The Secret Circle, etc.) back in middle- and high school. I think I like the genre because it's like the world we live in, only there's magic.  I was having a conversation with an author friend of mine (Mary Twomey) recently where we discussed writing in more realistic genres. The problem? Outside of fantasy, you have to use conventional methods to solve problems--or, as she put it, "I can't werewolf my way out of this." I like building the magical worlds and giving regular characters extraordinary powers. It's fun to see what they do with them.

How long does it take you to write the first draft? Do you pre-plot or pre-plan your characters before you start writing?  I've written drafts in as little as 15 (working) days. I've also had drafts that take more than a year. The more I write, the more I streamline my process. I used to come up with a premise and an ending before sitting down to write. That's when writing would take me forever. I've found I thrive with a thorough outline. I like knowing where my characters are headed. In a way, writing my outlines is like penning a mini first draft. I can identify plot issues and slow spots in the outline. That saves on rewrites later.

What do you find is the most difficult aspect of writing? What is your favourite aspect of writing?  Sometimes the most difficult thing about writing is writing. I had to take some time off this summer due to injury, and even though I've been back to work for a month or so, my writing stamina isn't where it used to be. My favorite thing about writing is when the characters reveal to me something I didn't know. Sometimes this happens in the drafting process, but often it occurs in the middle of a scene. Something that wasn't quite right will click into place. It's like the characters poke me and say, "See?" It reminds me that the creative process is always active and evolving--no matter how prepared you think you are for it.

What resources would you recommend for writers? Susan Kaye Quinn's books The Indie Author Survival Guide and For Love or Money are full of great information. For plotting and outlining, I like Cathy Yardley's Rock Your Plot and Libbie Hawker's Take off Your Pants!: Outline Your Books for Faster, Better Writing. Chris Fox's Write Faster, Write Smarter series is also good.

Thank you so much for the interview, Madeline!

Crystal Magic is currently available for free. Try it!

Beta readers wanted

As I'm wrapping up edits of Hunting A Demon (Melantha #2), I'm looking for interested beta readers. If you'd like to read and offer me an opinion on the book, please let me know. Here's what it's about: When Melantha Caldwell suspects her friend and fellow spell-turner, Savion Lebrun, is following in his father's footsteps and becoming a black magic sorcerer, she decides to find out exactly what he's doing when he's not attending high school or magic lessons. What she discovers surprises her: he's spending time with another girl-- a ballet dancer named Hope, who has suddenly developed sleep walking and seizures.

Meanwhile, there's a strange sickness affecting spell-turners everywhere. First Gran is infected, then Savion, leaving Mel no choice but to trust the new spell-turner in town to help her figure out what's wrong with Hope. He calls himself Phoenix and he's much more than he seems, but he's willing to help Mel and teach her spell-turning while her tutor is honeymooning.

After Mel learns the truth about Phoenix and the real reason he's in town, she's not sure she can trust him. Then Mel realizes Hope has been possessed by a demon, she and Phoenix are the girl's only hope of getting it evicted, and if they don't work together, the demon will be free to carry out its own plan for the destruction of humankind— starting with the girl named Hope.

Books I read in July

Have you seen the new Goodreads homepage yet? What do you think? I'm not sure I like it. It seems narrower somehow? Half of my screen shows what I'm reading and stuff about my book lists and advertising, while the newsfeed is squashed into the other half of the screen. I find it annoying. I go there to read the newsfeed, get book recommendations, see what others are reading, and this new squashed up format is irritating on the eyes. It's like the designers forgot the reason people use Goodreads in the first place. Screen Shot 2016-08-03 at 8.47.25 AM

Despite the problems of the new homepage, Goodreads tells me I finished 11 books in July. Well, that's not entirely true. I didn't finish all of them. I've decided life is way too short to finish books I don't like. Here's a quick look at what I liked:

 Fans of Cassandra Clare won't be disappointed. This story takes us into newish territory, as Clare gives us more about the group of Downworlders we haven't spent much time with: the faeries. In addition to Shadowhunter lore, Clare has done her research into faerie lore. I really liked how Clare worked in Poe's "Annabel Lee." And she's worked in another "impossible" romance. I'm really looking forward to seeing how she works this one out.

 I got in line at midnight to get this book. (I've never done that before. It was fun!) I spent the next morning reading it. It's a nice, quick read about grown-up Harry and one of his sons. As a parent of teenagers, I appreciated this story. There are some unanswered questions, and not a lot of time spent on some characters, but it's also not a Rowling book. Some of the dialogue is very on the nose, and that surprised me because otherwise the emotions are very complex. I wouldn't mind seeing the play, so I hope there will be a video recording.

 I wish I'd known about this book when I was twelve. I would have loved it. A fantasy with a strong heroine? I'm all about that. This is exactly the book I was looking for at twelve. Discovering it would have changed my life. There are problems with it-- I wanted Sophie to do more than clean house, although I understood she did so to earn her place in the castle and she did end up doing more, sort of. I guess I wanted her to have a stronger role and more development. I also wonder about Howl? How old is he? Is it appropriate for him to have feelings for a girl Sophie's age? And I felt that his feelings were all over the map, with a sudden change at the end. I think that could have been developed more. The end was a bit abrupt.

 A while ago I took an online course on drawing for beginners. In this course I watched videos, then completed assignments and sent them in for evaluation. This book is that course, but in a graphic novel format. There's a wonderful story here to enjoy if you don't want to learn to draw.

Writing Books

 This writing book was pretty good. I learned a few things, but mostly it was stuff I already know. (But I have been reading writing books for twenty years.)

I do love being able to track what I've read in Goodreads. In the days before Goodreads I tried to keep a running list in small notebooks, but just as with journalling and morning pages, I wasn't very good at keeping up with it.

Since Goodreads was purchased by Amazon, changes have been happening. I'm not entirely sure where these changes are going to lead-- certainly to more advertising-- so I'm keeping my eyes open to other services, like Reco by the people at Indigo. I've tried Shelfari and didn't like it.

How do you track your reading?

[clickbait poetry] Why summer is so unfair for people in the city, as explained by science

In which I take a clickbait headline and write a poem in response. I can’t promise it will be good poetry. This is a creativity exercise. Poetry uncensored. Feel free to add your own Clickbait Poetry in the comments. IMG_2100Why summer is so unfair for people in the city, as explained by science.

Why skies bleach the sun for people once frozen, as explained by time.

Why gravy slides off the plate for people on food stamps, as explained by rats.

Why poverty strikes the heart of people casting stones, as explained by kings.

Why stars shine so bright for people in the dark, as explained by life.

Why summer is so unfair for people who toil, as explained by sweat.

Headline from Unworthy:

[clickbait poetry] "We can no longer wait. We can no longer be patient."

In which I take a clickbait headline and write a poem in response. I can’t promise it will be good poetry. This is a creativity exercise. Poetry uncensored. Feel free to add your own Clickbait Poetry in the comments. IMG_1040We can no longer wait. We can no longer be patient. Action. Answers. Something must be done. People. Enough is enough. Action in the hearts of men.

Death comest too easy. Death knows us too well. Death will brush your shoulder and french kiss you goodnight. Death in the hearts of men.

Fear comes too easy. Fear knows where to find us. Fear on the television. Fear on the radio. Fear in the hearts of men.

Headline from Twitter:

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