My Novel at 4 Months (plus, a Giveaway!)

Good morning, friends, and Happy Last Full Week of February! Wow, I can’t believe we’re almost at the end of 2022’s second month…or that my 30th birthday is next week (😱)…or that Operation Lionhearted is 4 months old!

(Technically, it’s a little over 5 years old, but the final published version is still a wee babe.)

But let’s just cut to the chase, shall we (especially since you’ve seen the title of this post)? I’m currently hosting a giveaway on Instagram: one paperback + a bundle of stationery made by Yours Truly with a special Lindy Tremaine-centric theme!

There are three rules, but they aren’t onerous: just like and save the post, follow me, and then name your favorite heroine + tag a friend. This giveaway is exclusive to Instagram and it ends tomorrow night, so be sure to secure your entries!

In the meantime, I thought it would be fun to answer a few questions about my writing process, my characters, and the joys and challenges of writing a science fiction novel. If you’re a writer, feel free to steal and adapt these questions for your own blogs and novel(s)!

What was the first scene you wrote?

I’m very much a “linear” writer: I start at the beginning and do my best to write my way from Chapter One to the epilogue. So, naturally, the opening scene–Lindy’s flashback of her mother’s death–was the first scene I wrote.

Interesting side-note: that scene was inspired by the Star Trek episode “The Conscience of the King,” in which Captain Kirk’s memories of a massacre he witnessed as a child come back to haunt him.

What was the last scene you wrote?

Lindy Tremaine’s final scene with the Renegade was the last one I wrote, mere months before publication. Nearly all my beta readers agreed that those two characters needed emotional closure (if you’ve read the book, you know why!), but that they didn’t have proper closure in the original version. So I wrote an entirely new scene, and I believe the novel is more emotionally satisfying as a result.

Moral of the story: listen to your beta readers!

Available on Amazon + Barnes & Noble in paperback and ebook

What was the most fun scene to write?

There are two possible answers to this question:

  1. The scene in Chapter 9 where Lindy interrupts Ethan during his bathroom break
  2. The scene in Chapter 19 where Rael (the villain) accuses Princess Mariamne of knowing his supposedly dead sister’s whereabouts

It’s a wonder my laptop’s keyboard didn’t burst into flames for either of these scenes, because I remember typing like a fiend!

What was the hardest scene to write?

Any of the action scenes. Trying to visualize fighting moves (and make them realistic πŸ˜…), battle plans, and building layouts was really difficult. The battle scene in Chapter 27 was particularly troublesome.

Which character gave you the most trouble?

(*blurts without hesitation*) MARIAMNE. That woman! She gave both me and Lindy an equal amount of grief, haha. There for the longest time, I wasn’t sure if she was a heroine or a villainess–and not only that, but I went through several different names before I finally found the perfect one for her.

Which character surprised you the most?

Definitely the Renegade. His identity is one of the biggest surprises of the entire novel–so much so that it surprised me! I never planned that big plot twist at the end of Chapter 25. It just hit me between the eyes as I was writing the scene.

My “dream cast” for my main characters!

What was the most complicated aspect of writing a sci-fi novel?

“Creating” sci-fi technology that isn’t a blatant rip-off of Star Trek or Star Wars is hard. At the end of the day I decided that blasters and light-speed travel are widely-accepted sci-fi elements, and as long as I gave them new names, I wouldn’t be sued πŸ˜‚

I will say, though, that figuring out the time differences between Meridian and Valya was very complicated. I had to make sure, especially in the final third of the novel where I give specific times for each chapter (and sometimes each scene!), that I got those right.

What was the easiest part about writing a sci-fi novel?

Making up my own unique planets and cultures, and letting them be as “modern” and high-tech as I wanted them to be. I doubt that my next novel will feature any worlds quite as technologically-advanced, but in 2016 when I was immersed in the worlds of Star Trek and The Lunar Chronicles (not to mention spy movies like Mission Impossible), it was a lot of fun.

What do you hope readers take away from the character of Lindy Tremaine?

On the outside, Lindy does look like the stereotypical “strong heroine.” She can fight her way out of a dangerous situation, and she stands up to princesses, tyrants, and pragmatic politicians. But on the inside, she’s a pretty normal person: she’s afraid of her past, she has conflicts with her grandmother, she develops a major crush on her colleague (who can blame her??), and her idea of a fun evening involves pizza, ice cream, and her favorite TV show.

There aren’t many capable, intelligent women with fun and gentle sides in modern storytelling, and I tried to write the kind of heroine I rarely see but love most (I’m thinking of women like Peggy Carter, Rey, and Wonder Woman). I hope my readers enjoy Lindy’s complexity and capaciousness, as well!

Still one of the best things my cover designer gave me!

That’s all for today, but remember to enter the giveaway before tomorrow night! I’ll announce the winner Wednesday morning on Instagram.

4 thoughts on “My Novel at 4 Months (plus, a Giveaway!)

  1. It was nice to hear how it was writing some scenes. I think you nailed the opening by doing the flashback. One question. did you let your beta readers read as you wrote or did you give them the finished book. Were you surprised at any changes they may have suggested? Okay that is 2 questions. Working on my writing since retired but I am years behind your talent level. Looking forward to future books Maribeth. God Bless.

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    1. You’re allowed two questions, haha! And yours are excellent 😁

      Answer to Question 1: I sent the book to 5 trusted beta readers in late winter/early spring of 2021, and they read Draft #6. They’re all fellow writers and/or readers, so I felt confident that they’d give me honest (but kind!) advice. And my confidence was very well-placed! Once I got all their critiques back (in May 2021, I believe), I went through them all with a fine-tooth comb and implemented about 97% of their suggestions. Took me about two months, and the end result was Draft #7–AKA the book I published.

      Answer to Question 2: I remember two suggestions in particular that startled me. I highly, highly respect the beta reader who offered them, but I strongly disagreed with her on those two points. And really, when it came down to it, it was a matter of personal preference in writing style and characterization.

      But like I said, 97% of the criticisms and suggestions were completely on point, and I’m so grateful for my beta readers! They were awesome.

      Like

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