The third and final book of the Internal Defense series will be here soon, and I finally have the cover to show you! (…Okay, the cover has been done for a while, but I didn’t want to share it until I had an actual release date for the book.) This was a difficult cover to design – it had to look right with the covers of all the other books in the series, have the same theme as the other covers in the series (namely, an important concept in the book represented in a figurative way, with a strong central image), and fit the book itself. I had the Necessary Sacrifices cover figured out long before I had finished the first draft (that seems more industrious than it is – I tend to use cover design as a way to avoid writing while still feeling like I’m accomplishing something ), but for this book it took me until I was well into the revision.
But thanks to my many hours of browsing stock photo sites, many Photoshop-induced dents in my skull, and the comments of several beta readers who told me (all independently of each other) that a certain location was the most vivid and meaningful in the book, the cover is here! Enjoy:
They know about the lives she’s saved. About the prison break she carried out against impossible odds. They know she turned a dying resistance into the first real threat Internal Defense has faced in a long time.
And even now, with the resistance under attack from the inside, they know Becca can save them.
The conclusion to the story that began with The Torturer’s Daughter and Necessary Sacrifices, No Return explores what happens when an ordinary person becomes a legend – and how to choose between who you are and who the world needs you to be.
No Return will be released on May 21st, 2014. You can add it to your Goodreads TBR list here.
I’m following Megan Thomason, fellow Infinite Inkling, in this blog tour about authors’ writing processes. Visit her website here: http://www.meganthomason.com.
What am I working on?
Right now I’m finishing up the last of my edits on No Return, the final novel of the Internal Defense series. I’m looking forward to getting this book out there and wrapping up the series, and yet at the same time, it’s a strange feeling. I’ve been writing about these characters for so long that it’s going to be hard to let go.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Most dystopian novels focus on creating an exotic world very different from our own, and then telling an epic story about fixing that world. I wanted to do something different with the Internal Defense books. As I said when asked to explain the motivations behind my books for the recent launch of Infinite Ink Authors, I wrote this series because I wanted to create a more realistic-feeling dystopia. Most dystopias are larger than life, both in terms of whatever is wrong with the world and in terms of the heroes who are trying to fix it, but there are plenty of real-world governments, both now and in the past, that could be classified as dystopian. I wanted to combine that kind of atmosphere with contemporary American culture, and show what that world would look like from the perspective of someone who has never known anything else – and then turn that ordinary person into a hero.
Why do I write what I do?
That’s a hard question to answer. The simplest explanation is that I write what I do because these are the stories that come to me. But I suppose I love both speculative fiction and the YA category because I’m endlessly curious. I love to explore what makes people who they are, and YA is the perfect place to do that because the characters in YA are often learning about who they are and deciding who they want to become. And I love to explore new possibilities and ideas. I like to ask “Why?” and “What if?” and “What makes things this way?” There’s no better place to do that than in speculative fiction.
As for who all my stories end up being kind of dark (okay, maybe more than kind of)… it sounds strange, but I think it’s actually because I’m a huge idealist. And idealism doesn’t mean as much in a happy world. It’s easy to believe in hope when everything is going well, and it’s easy to do the right thing when your choices are black and white. That’s not what interests me. I like to write about people who do the right thing even when it costs them everything, who believe in a better world when things are at their darkest, who fight for what they believe in even if they know they can’t win.
How does my writing process work?
It’s different for every book, and is always changing as I learn more about the craft of writing and about how my own mind works, but these are the steps I usually go through:
- I come up with an idea.
- I noodle around with the idea for a while, scribbling down notes and getting a sense of the shape of it. This is usually where I figure out what my main character is like, the basic trajectory of the plot, how I want it to end, and what themes the story will focus on. It’s also where I start getting ideas for specific scenes.
- I take the scene ideas I’ve already come up with and fill in the gaps between them, until I have a basic outline that takes the story from beginning to end with no missing pieces.
- I outline each of my scenes in more detail, using a process similar to this.
- I write the first draft. This usually goes pretty quickly – a few weeks on average – because I already know where I’m going.
- After putting the book aside for at least a few days, I reread it and figure out what I need to change. While writing the first draft, it’s hard to see the big picture; this is where I can finally step back and see the book as a whole. I look at how each scene fits into that larger picture, and what I need to do to make all the parts of the story fit together seamlessly. I write notes for each scene – creating a new outline, in a way – laying out what needs to be changed, what needs to be added, and what needs to be removed.
- I start the actual revision. The revision process always takes at least twice as long as the first draft, sometimes much more than that. Not because my first drafts are that messy – I actually write pretty clean first drafts – but because it’s just a slower process. In my first drafts I go down every path I see, following every tangent, especially in terms of what my characters are thinking and feeling. In the revision, I prune away everything that isn’t necessary. I’m ruthless. If something doesn’t serve the story, out it goes. It’s normal for my books to lose at least ten thousand words between the first draft and the second. No Return lost more like fifty thousand.
- After the second draft, the book is basically done. I don’t do five or ten different drafts – I do a single revision, but I make it massive. By the time I’m done, I know I’ve turned the book into the story I want to tell. All that’s left after this is my final line edit and proofreading pass – and then publishing!
Following me next week on the #mywritingprocess tour are:
Katie French, YA dystopian author and fellow Infinite Inkling: http://www.katiefrenchbooks.com
Ariele Sieling, YA sci-fi author: http://www.arielesieling.com
Christopher Kellen, fantasy and science fiction author: http://www.christopherkellen.com
Want to discover a bunch of new YA spec fic authors?
Want a chance to win free books and maybe an Amazon gift card?
What to find out what I’ve been helping to put together for the past couple of months?
Visit the Infinite Ink Authors site here!
The Shattered Worlds boxed set is available now! Get six full-length dystopian novels, including The Torturer’s Daughter, for only 99 cents. And if you want to follow along on our blog tour, you can find the schedule here.
Have you entered the Shattered Worlds giveaway? If not, there’s still four days left – enter here to win copies of all the books in the set plus their sequels, copies of the sequels only, or a $60 Amazon gift card!
Remember Through a Tangled Wood, the fairytale anthology my Beauty and the Beast retelling was published in a couple of months back? (If you haven’t read it, what are you waiting for? It’s free!) This week, all the authors from the anthology are teaming up to giveaway a whole bunch of free books. If you’re looking for a book to hide under the covers with during the next snowstorm, enter the Snuggle Up and Read Giveaway here:
The Torturer’s Daughter is one of six complete novels included in Shattered Worlds, a new YA dystopian boxed set. Shattered Worlds will be released on February 26th and will be available for a limited time on all major ebook retailers. To celebrate the release, we’re giving away three prizes, including an Amazon gift card and all the books from the boxed set plus their sequels:
Enter the giveaway below, and add the book to your Goodreads shelves here!
The First Unforgivable Thing, my contribution to the Darkest Worlds charity anthology, is now available on its own! This story is set in the world of the Internal Defense series and takes place between Necessary Sacrifices and No Return, but can also be read on its own. For this one I took a break from Becca’s perspective to show the story of someone else working for the resistance – someone who will also make an appearance in No Return - and I’m very happy with how it turned out. (Which is saying something, really – I usually have to be convinced my writing is any good. I actually like this one.)
The First Unforgivable Thing
When a dissident working undercover as an interrogator is ordered to torture a confession from the only girl he’s ever loved, he chooses to defy both the totalitarian regime and the resistance by helping her escape—but she has an agenda of her own…
My short story “Flight,” a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, is now available in the anthology Through a Tangled Wood! Through a Tangled Wood is an anthology of unconventional fairy tale retellings, from a post-apocalyptic Hansel and Gretel to a look at Snow White from her stepmother’s point of view. The anthology is free on all the major ebook stores, so go grab a copy! Or if you’re not convinced, scroll down to read descriptions of all the stories.
Through a Tangled Wood
A variety of writers come together to twist traditional fairy tales into unusual and mysterious stories. From Beauty and the Beast, to Hansel and Gretel, to the Ugly Duckling, these stories will be sure to pull you into a fantastical world of princes, romance, and maybe a little science fiction.
“Plan B” by Katie French. When Nolan is selected as one of the few candidates to work in the Breeders’ hospital, he thinks all his troubles are over. Now he can afford precious medicine to save his ailing father. He’s heard of the Breeders’ cruelty, of their inhuman experiments, but he’s sure they’re fabrications. Then he stumbles into the Plan B room and learns how truly awful the Breeders can be.
“Tailless” by Ariele Sieling. A retelling of the Ugly Duckling, set on a far away planet in an unknown galaxy. While fighting a war with her people’s biggest enemy, young Bode struggles to understand why she feels out of place in her community, and why she, unlike her comrades, was born without a tail.
“I Am the Maid” by Sarah Dalton. A hostile zombie killing Maid Marian meets an ill-behaved ex-soldier Robin in this post-apocalyptic retelling of Robin Hood. When a young girl falls deathly sick, the two are forced to join forces in order to outwit the Sheriff, and the mysterious Guy Gisbon.
“Three Wishes” by Marijon Braden. When Aladdin rubbed the magic lamp, things went pretty well for him. But a few thousand years later, the world has changed and the genie is old, cranky, and doesn’t play fair. Young Alison thinks she’s found the answer to all her prayers, but instead finds that having wishes come true isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
“Killing Snow White” by Jamie Campbell. A magical retelling of the story of Snow White, told entirely by the Evil Queen who supposedly tried to poison her. Think Snow White is innocent? Think again.
“A House in the Woods” by H.S. Stone. At the conclusion of a scavenger hunt for Old World artifacts, Hansel and Gretel find themselves lost on the outskirts of the city after dark. They stumble upon a house in the nearby woods, hoping that they will find help inside, but the house’s inhabitant has other ideas.
“Flight” by Zoe Cannon. A retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Dragged to the palace at swordpoint, commanded to cure the cursed prince with a kiss, Lucia wants nothing more than to return to her solitary world of books and magical study. But she soon discovers that she and the prince share more in common than she could have imagined… and that the truth behind his curse could destroy—or save—them both.
World of Shell and Bone has been one of my favorite indie dystopias since I read it last year. The second book in the series, Land of Masks and Moonlight, comes out today, complete with a new (and beautiful) cover redesign for both books in the series. I was lucky enough to beta-read this one, and if you’re a fan of the first book, you’ll definitely want to pick it up. (And if you haven’t read the first book, go grab it now while it’s on sale!)
The sequel to the Amazon Top 20 science fiction bestseller is here!
Three weeks on a ship to China as a stowaway. Backbreaking labor in paddy fields. A one-room shack for a house.
Vika Cannon will endure anything if it means giving her unborn child and her sister Ceres a chance to grow up. The Great Land may be fraught with dangers of its own, but it’s still safer than the grim Asylums and stinging acid rains of their poisoned home. The brutal conditions seem a small price to pay…especially with Shale Underwood to come home to.
But when a local cell of New Amanian Radicals is captured, Vika knows it’s only a matter of time before her true identity is revealed. In order to survive, she must immerse herself in an underground society where masked strangers revel in the spoils of illicit power.
A mistake now could result in her unmasking—and the obliteration of everything Vika holds dear. As the net around her cinches tighter, she begins to understand that nothing in life is free.
What will Vika trade for her family’s safety?
To celebrate the release of Land of Masks and Moonlight, it is being offered for $2.99 for one day only, until December 10 at 11:59 Eastern! After that, the price will go up to $3.99.
Haven’t started the series yet? Book 1, World of Shell and Bone, is only $0.99 until December 12th!
About S.K. Falls
A huge fan of spooky stuff and shoes, S.K. Falls enjoys alternately hitting up the outlet malls and historic graveyards in Charleston, SC where she lives and imbibes coffee. Her husband and two small children seem not to mind when she hastily scribbles novel lines on stray limbs in the absence of notepads.
Since no writer’s biography is complete without mention of her menagerie of animals, you should know she has one dog that doubles as a footstool, a second that functions as a vacuum cleaner, and a cat that ensures she never forgets that her hands are, first and foremost, for pouring cat food.
S.K. Falls is represented by Thao Le of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.
Darkest Worlds, an anthology of young adult and new adult dystopian stories, is available now! The anthology contains six novellas, including stories from bestselling and award-winning authors. All proceeds from the anthology will go to Girls Write Now, a charity providing writing instruction and mentorship to underprivileged girls.
My contribution is The First Unforgivable Thing, a story of defiance and doomed love set in the world of the Internal Defense series. The novella takes place between Necessary Sacrifices and the upcoming No Return (and introduces a character you’ll meet in No Return!), but can also be read as a stand-alone story.
Here’s the full list of stories in the anthology:
Nessa: A Breeders Story by Katie French, author of The Breeders: Eighteen-year-old Nessa knows what it’s like to be an endangered species. Growing up in a dying world where nine out of ten babies are born male, she survives by trusting no one. When Marlin, the nineteen-year-old gunslinger, kills the man who has been keeping her enslaved, Nessa decides he might be her meal ticket. What she doesn’t realize is love is still possible, even in their decimated world.
MOON by S.K. Falls, author of World of Shell and Bone: Loyalty. Obedience. Patriotism. Moon Stewart has no doubt that the New Amanian way of life is the right way. The only way. But was there ever a time when she felt differently? In this companion novella to the dystopian bestseller World of Shell and Bone, the secrets of Moon’s past are revealed, giving readers a glimpse into the mind of their favorite antagonist.
The First Unforgivable Thing by Zoe Cannon, author of The Torturer’s Daughter: When a dissident working undercover as an interrogator is ordered to torture a confession from the only girl he’s ever loved, he chooses to defy both the totalitarian regime and the resistance by helping her escape–but she has an agenda of her own…
The Keeper by A.G. Henley, author of The Scourge, a finalist for the Next Generation Indie Book Award: Peree knows his duty as the new Keeper of the Water Bearer, Fennel, is to make sure his people get every drop of their share of the water she collects when the flesh-eating Scourge roam the forest. He will motivate her, distract her, do anything he can to keep her working. He knows his duty is to his people and his people alone. What he doesn’t know is that he’s falling in love with her.
Survival Lessons by Kate Avery Ellison, author of Frost: A young Farther prisoner named Eva escapes into the monster-filled wilderness of the Frost with a band of fellow inmates, all of whom are harboring secrets…but little do they know that Eva has secrets of her own. Set in the world of The Frost Chronicles.
clean slate complex by Megan Thomason, author of the daynight series: Homeless Alexa Knight agrees to help the do-gooder non-profit The Second Chance Institute in return for medical care for her sick mother. The SCI is wooing the poor and downtrodden into their Clean Slate Complexes–where “everything is provided” from jobs to food, shelter, clothing, and education. Unfortunately, as with all things that sound too good to be true, there’s a catch…