Star Pack

Author Writing Prompt!

Dawn Napier, the author of Star Pack, has an assignment for you writers! Check out this fun writing prompt to get you started on your next great novel!

 

Prompt: 

You’re in a boat over a deep, dark lake. Something scrapes the length of your boat, and you hear someone whisper your name.

 

Now, grab your pen and paper, or open up a new Word document, and get writing. I like to add some mood music to my writing. Here are a few “creepy” songs to use while you write. Feel free to share your creepy song suggestions, or even a bit of your writing, in the comments!

  1. Dock Boggs, “Pretty Polly”
  2. Snakefinger – “Sawny Beane/Sawny Beane’s Death Dance”
  3. Radiohead, “We Suck Young Blood”
  4. Misfits, “Wolf’s Blood”

Rolling Stone has a great list on their website, too. You can find the list here!

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Have you met Dawn Napier, yet?

Our author, Dawn Napier, author of Star Pack, has a few more writing projects in the works. Check out Star Pack on our website! We took some time to ask her a few questions about her writing, her inspiration, and some other fun questions. Check out her interview below!

 

Dawn’s favorite color is red – so we decided to add a little color to our interview!

 

 

Ink Smith: What are your current projects?
Dawn: I’m currently writing a sequel to Star Pack, and I’m finishing a last coat of polish on a recently completed fantasy novel called Vellichor.

Ink Smith: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Dawn: It’s called Sea Pack, and it’s the continuing adventures of the space-faring werewolves I wrote about in Star Pack. They have moved on to explore the rest of our solar system, and they’re currently about to make contact with life on Europa.

Ink Smith: What is your favorite book?
Dawn: Watership Down by Richard Adams

Ink Smith: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Dawn: Science fiction is hard. My last couple of books have been fantasy, and in a fantasy novel if something’s not working you can just change the rules. But even with extragalactic werewolves I have to at least try to follow the laws of physics. NASA is finding out new things about our local planets every day, and I have to try to keep up with their discoveries so my book stays current while I’m writing it.

Ink Smith: Did you learn anything from writing your book(s) and what was it?
Dawn: I learned that you can’t world-build by the seat of your pants. I had to learn how to plot in order to finish it.

Ink Smith: What inspired you to write your first book?
Dawn: I don’t have any idea. It never occurred to be NOT to write it.

Ink Smith: What is your favorite food?
Dawn: Shrimp Fried Rice

Ink Smith: Do you have a specific writing style?
Dawn: I guess you could call it Stephen King meets Piers Anthony and their love child collaborates with HP Lovecraft.

Ink Smith: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Dawn: I had a few themes and symbols in the back of my mind when I wrote it, but I’d rather people read it and enjoy it on their own terms. I’d love to hear from people who have found messages of their own in it.

Ink Smith: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Dawn: I have no idea. I think I was about six.

Ink Smith: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Dawn: Don’t TRY while you’re writing. Don’t try to sound like anyone else, but also don’t try too hard to be original. Don’t try to make the story follow a certain path, and don’t try to guide your characters’ fates. You’ll find your own voice organically the more you write, but you have to sit back and let the muse do her thing.

Ink Smith: If you had to do it all over again, what would you change, if anything, in your latest book?
Dawn: I would have made the character’s names have meanings.

Ink Smith: Who is your favorite author, and what really strikes you about their work?
Dawn: Stephen King. I started reading his books when I was 12, and I loved how he wrote about kids. My parents divorced when I was 11, and during that turbulent time, I often felt that I was at the mercy of the four winds. In King’s books, the kids are the smart ones, the ones who understand what’s going on. And they’re the ones who have the power to stop the monsters. I found that deeply reassuring. I still read his books and feel soothed by his familiar voice. He probably wouldn’t appreciate me saying that I find his books soothing. But compared to the real world, sometimes…

Ink Smith: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Dawn: If you don’t have a library card go get one now. Libraries are a magical place where anyone can learn anything for free. They’re staunch defenders of the Constitution, and they will help you learn whatever you need to know without checking your credit or health history. Everyone needs to use and love their libraries, so they stay with us forever.

Ink Smith: Final thoughts?
Dawn: Just keep writing, just keep writing…

 

About Dawn Napier

Dawn Napier grew up in Waukegan IL, and upstate New York. She has a husband, three children, and a ridiculous number of pets. She grew up reading Stephen King, Isaac Asimov, Mercedes Lackey, and Piers Anthony. When she’s not reading and writing, she is hiking with her dogs, napping with her cat, or cleaning up after her herd of adopted guinea pigs.
Visit her online on Facebook and her website dawnsdarktreasures.com!

Meet Dawn Napier

Dawn Napier is Ink Smith’s newest author. Her novel, Star Pack just launched this week!

Have you met her yet?

Dawn Napier

Dawn Napier grew up in Waukegan IL, and upstate New York. She has a husband, three children, and a ridiculous number of pets. She grew up reading Stephen King, Isaac Asimov, Mercedes Lackey, and Piers Anthony. When she’s not reading and writing, she is hiking with her dogs, napping with her cat, or cleaning up after her herd of adopted guinea pigs.

 

Check out her Author Facebook page for updates about her work, or her website dawnsdarktreasures.com.

Plotting vs Pantsing: You Can Have It Both Ways

Writers have a way of turning the nuts and bolts of creation into a heated political debate. I don’t know if this is the result of increased exposure in the form of social media or if we’ve always been this way, but it’s interesting to watch. One of my favorite hot-button debates is the issue of plotting vs pantsing.

Plotting is exactly what it sounds like. You map out the course of the story and figure out how it’s going to end before you start writing. Some plotters map out every twist and turn, while others create a rough outline that they know their characters will escape by the end of the book. Plotting is like architecture; the writer designs and measures and sketches before he begins to build.

Author Jan Ropers puts it thusly: “For me the fun moved from figuring out how it would end to how they were going to get there.” Rather than plan out every step, Ms. Ropers figures out how it’s going to end and then “pantses” her way to that ending. Different authors have different methods for plotting, depending on their literary needs.

Pantsing is more like planting a seed and watching to see what comes up. The pantser sits down with only the vaguest idea of what she’s doing and makes everything up as she goes. Sometimes the pantser starts with an image, or a character type, or an odd combination of thoughts that come together and make the writer say, “Hey I wonder what would happen if…”

The plotter writes to tell what happens; the pantser writes to see what happens.

In my earliest attempts to write a novel, I tried to plot. But I realized that if I planned the story out in advance, I got bored and lost interest in the story. Planning made me not care about writing the ending, because I already knew what would happen. This discouraged me, because at the time I thought I had to know how the story would end in order to write it.

As he often did in the course of my angst-riddled adolescence, Stephen King came to my rescue. In his brilliant memoir On Writing, he says, “Why be a stickler about the ending? Every story comes out somewhere.” So I said what the hell and gave it a shot. I sat down and started writing about a dragon kidnapping a unicorn. That was all I had—just that one image—but it was enough to get me started. I forced myself to write at least a few words every day, and six months later I had completed my first novel. It was absolutely terrible, one of the worst books I’d ever read in my life. But by golly I had finally finished something. I was on my way.

Every book I wrote for the next ten years was a complete ad-lib. Sometimes the starting point was a young woman avenging her mother’s death. Sometimes it was a party my husband had formed in his favorite role-playing game. But each time I went in with no idea where I was going. Sometimes I didn’t even know if the story would be a short story or a novel until I’d written ten thousand words and the characters were still doing things. I did what I did and loved every minute of it. I decided that plotting was an acceptable method for control freaks, but not for the free-and-easy creative likes of me.

Until the fateful day a serendipitous conversation on Twitter changed my whole outlook on the writing process. Never let it be said that the Internet is anti-creative; I’ve gotten some of my best ideas from random conversations with strangers on the other side of the globe.

I don’t remember the exact course of the discussion, but it included this question: “Why are werewolves never depicted with weapons? They never have knives or guns, even when they’re wearing clothes.”

My companion responded, “Because they don’t need weapons. They’re super strong and have razor teeth. A weapon would be pointless.”

That was a good point, but I said that nevertheless I would read the hell out of a story about werewolves with ray guns. Then I flashed on the image of a wolf-headed man in a 50’s style space suit, complete with fish bowl helmet, holding a bright silver ray gun. Werewolves in space. Why the hell not?

It seemed like a simple enough idea, so I took of writing the way I always do: I picked a scene, picked up a pen, and went to town. I finished two or three chapters in high spirits. And then the Doubts started creeping in. And then I sputtered and stalled.

Part of my trouble was my overwhelming awe of science fiction as a whole. I grew up watching Star Trek and Doctor Who; I cut my literary teeth on Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov. I felt instinctively that sci-fi was this vast empire of wisdom that I, a simple horror writer, could never hope to enter.

This feeling was exacerbated by the realization that writing this book was actually hard. It genuinely felt like work. My werewolves were from another planet, with alien technology and alien ecosystems, and I had to create and maintain this vast structure all by myself. My daily word count went from a thousand words to five hundred, then to zero. It was just too much.

My husband, bless his heart, wouldn’t let me give up. He insisted that Star Pack was one of my best stories yet, and if I gave up I’d never get to the next level as an artist. So I dragged my butt through it, and three years later I finally had a finished manuscript. (As a point of reference, my usual timeline is between six and nine months.) I’ll always be grateful to him and my writer friends who insisted that my story was good and that alien invasion was going to be the Next Big Thing in publishing. I have no idea if that’s actually true or they were just blowing smoke to get me to stop talking and start writing, but it worked either way.

I learned a lot from this experience, more than I’ve ever learned from my “easier” books. The first and most important is try never to give up on a work in progress. Sometimes it can feel like you’re handcuffed to a corpse, but you have to drag that sucker across the finish line. Secondly, don’t underestimate the power of people telling you what you want to hear. Sometimes a little candy-coated baloney is just what the doctor ordered.

Finally, when you try out a new genre, be prepared to find out a new way of writing it. Pantsing is fine for genres like horror and fantasy, where if you get stuck you can just change the rules to make it work. But it turns out you can’t create an entire planet, culture, and ecosystem by the seat of your pants. Not without a lot of cursing, despair, and moaning, “This isn’t going to WORK!” to your significant other. Geography, even on an alien planet, needs to make sense. If you have predators living on your alien planet, they need prey to feed on. And the prey needs to eat, too. Worldbuilding as you go along is like building a flight of stairs in the dark with a flashlight.

When I realized that I had it in me to write a sequel, I took a deep breath, broke out my trusty notebook, and set to work on an outline. I spent about a week describing the land my new characters would hail from, then another week on the planet my explorers would discover. Finally I composed a rough outline of the events of the book. I still don’t know how it’s going to end, but I know where the people are going and how they’re going to get there.

And I still haven’t lost interest in the story. Even though I have a good idea of what’s going to happen, I still want to write it out. So plotting did not, as I have long feared, ruin my enthusiasm for writing the book.

I’m still a pantser at heart and probably always will be. But I feel great knowing that I’ve found a new way to do what I love. It’s like a new restaurant with an old love. You’ll always have your traditional date spot, but making new discoveries can bring a fresh outlook to a long-term relationship.

Star Pack by Dawn Napier

Keep an eye out for our upcoming novel Star Pack by Dawn Napier, hitting the shelves December 2016! 

star-pack-cover

The hunters have reached the stars, with the help of a remarkable mineral called the leap gem. Across the galaxy they travel, collecting scientific wisdom and harnessing the natural resources of the worlds they discover. When they discover a distant planet with gravity and oxygen similar to their own, it looks like a world ready-made for conquest. Mirra, the youngest star captain in history and possibly the most ambitious, leads her pack to the surface with the expectation of mastering and owning this new world.

She names it Otsanda, the She-Wolf.

But there are a few surprises waiting for her and her crew. The first is that the world is already inhabited by intelligent creatures, making it unfit for colonization, to Mirra’s bitter disappointment.

The second is that the two-legged inhabitants bear a striking resemblance to the Garou hunters themselves. The resemblance is so close, in fact, that the science officers wonder if the two species could be related. But that’s impossible.

The third surprise is that the natives seem to know all about the hunters. They scare each other with stories about them, about their moonlit curse and their bloodthirsty past.

They call them “werewolves.”