On Setting and The Order of the Key

IMG_1781

When plotting out a book idea, setting becomes an essential tool. There are a couple of things you need to consider when you’re deciding where to set a novel. For one, you need a general space and time. For my novel, The Order of the Key, it’s present day New York. But just like a movie has various sets and location shoots that need to be considered in advance, setting goes much deeper than a time and general locale.

When I decided on a setting, I chose utility.

About 90% of The Order of the Key takes place at the Franklin Estate and its surrounding land somewhere near Buffalo, NY. The house, surrounded by acres of forest, is bound by wards so nothing can get in–or out. If that sounds claustrophobic, it’s supposed to. Jacklyn refers to the Estate and its surrounding forest as “Capture disguised as freedom.”

When Jacklyn and her siblings arrive there, they are in awe of the size and the beauty of the decor in a house that can board their entire family and then some. But, then, they believe they’re coming for temporary training. They don’t realize they’re moving there.

The Estate isn’t supposed to be a possession of The Order, but a possession that the extremely rich Franklins have allowed The Order to utilize. Therefore, it needed to fit Lavinia Franklin’s personality, and also be large enough to house the entire Order.

Jacklyn and Lavinia are mirror images of each other. Jacklyn has read one too many comic books and she is very much about the image of a hero–how she should behave based on what she knows. Lavinia doesn’t see herself as the villain, but she does see herself as power-driven. She understands that she’s the Amanda Woodward (for those younger readers, Melrose Place’s no-nonsense, antagonistic business woman who always gets what she wants) of the Estate and yes, that reference is a little out of date, but Lavinia is not a teenager. Lavinia maintains the Estate according to an image of Old World riches, because it helps perpetuate that image of her being a hard-working, elegant woman, able to make the tough choices. But what she really is, and her setting also dictates this, is that of a modern day robber baron.

The Estate needed to be opulent, it needed to be large, and the space around that was necessary mostly because it would ease the claustrophobic vibe of them being cooped up in a house and watched all the time. It was necessary that the feeling exist, especially in certain scenes, but an entire book like that would be tough to live with, so I granted them the surrounding outdoor area for more open space.

However, I am happy that future books get the gang out of the house a lot more. Not gonna tell you how though. Not yet, anyway.

Advertisements

Fancasting The Order of the Key

In August, I participated in an online event for Kyra Dune’s release of her latest YA Fantasy novel, Elfblood. As those events go, I played a game with attendees. For this specific game, I decided I would throw out some character description and let other people cast the characters for my upcoming novel, The Order of the Key. I promised to post the best results here, so here we are (Also, read to the end for a quick publishing update)!

Jacklyn Madison: Jacklyn is 18 years old with dark curly hair, hazel eyes, and an athletic build. She’s kind and loving, but she’s got a sarcastic streak, quite a bit of pride, and a big mouth that always seems to get her into trouble. She starts out a little naive but she becomes stronger the more she learns in her time at the Estate. She’s tough, a fighter, but gentle…even killing monsters leaves her feeling guilty.

The submissions for Jacklyn, some of them seemed far too innocent. Some of them seemed far too sexual. To me, the best entries skated the middle of the road between sweet and sexy. 

If you wanted known actresses, you could go with one of these two.

Belinda Clemons suggested Pretty Little Liars star, Lucy Hale. I could totally see this!

Belinda Clemons

Another good one? Lori White Lazzara suggested ex-Disney star and musician Demi Lovato.

Lori White Lazzara 4

If we’re looking at a relative unknown, Lori White Lazzara came up with another option.

Lori White Lazzara 3

I HAVE NO IDEA WHO SHE IS! Her picture is all over the place on hair styling websites and she’s gorgeous, but I don’t know who she is. So…if anyone does, let me know. 🙂

Kyp Franklin: Kyp was born a leader. He’s incredibly intelligent and driven, but he’s emotionally closed, somewhat hard to read. Known for his complex relationship with the truth, Kyp has a one-track mind. He has every intention of turning the current mission of The Order upside-down. Dark-haired, dark-eyed, brooding and attractive, Kyp would probably be the last person in the world to even consider his own appearance…unless he can use it to manipulate his way into a better position to meet his goals.

MANY gorgeous guys were submitted for Kyp, but all of them…while fun to look at…scanned a little too old for Kyp, and…I hesitate to say this, a little too beefcake.

Personally, I’ve never had a casting idea for Jacks. But I have had one for Kyp. Kevin Zegers of The Mortal Instruments would be my choice…although the eyes are wrong. The rest, however, are so perfect for Kyp, I almost made his eyes blue. No, not really.

600full-kevin-zegers tumblr_mdo0mzEmdS1rgdltlo1_500 tumblr_mfx3109ioW1rak8qko1_400

I’ve written about this before. I had no idea who this guy was when I dreamed Kyp up, but I saw him and was blown away by how close he was to my mental image of him.

Lavinia Franklin: Lavinia is refined and cold. She has a temper, but is far more the type to cut you with her words through gritted teeth, or wait until later, so she can destroy you when nobody is watching. Her brutal side is mostly hidden unless she feels she requires a show of strength. Devious and manipulative, Lavinia always has a plan. With long brown hair and a tall and slender figure, Liv is just as beautiful as she is deadly.

For this one, Angela Walker Cruz was the closest to my idea of Lavinia. Actress Jo Champa has the right look in many images of her.

Angela Walker Cruz

My own personal casting choice for Lavinia, would be Hemlock Grove‘s Famke Janssen.

Her entire face screams, “Don’t screw with me.”

There are plenty of other characters, but if I did all of them, it would take quite awhile. I think that once the book is released, I will revisit the idea again, and ask for some feedback from readers about who they would like to see.

For anybody wondering what’s up with the release, it has been delayed due to a few necessary edits and the fact that we are hard at work at an amazing cover that will do Jacklyn and her crew justice. Once things are set and the wheels are in motion, I will let you know all about it. Don’t forget about me. The Order of the Key is still well on the way. It will be in your hands soon, and now that I’ve found my forever publishing home, the next ones will be released much more smoothly.

Do you all have any casting possibilities for me? Please feel free to post them below!

*Happy Dances* I have new promo art!

Hello everybody!

For anybody who was able to make it to the recent event I attended, it isn’t a surprise that I now have some Order of the Key promo art to show off. And I. AM. EXCITED. Check it out below.

11749405_961887780498939_1511009366_n 11750000_964725970215120_176685065_o (1) IMG_1781IMG_1783 IMG_1785IMG_1786

I can’t wait for you guys to understand the significance of every single one of these quotes. Stay tuned for more info!

Introducing Jacklyn Madison: Character Bloghop 2014

It’s time for a character-centric blog hop! Here you will get to meet the lead of my YA novel The Order of the Key. But first, a bit of an intro. 

I was tagged by the great and powerful Hannah Goodman. Hannah is the founder and editor of Sucker Literary, which features undiscovered and new YA authors and happens to employ me as a reader. You can find the blog post that tagged me here. In that post, she discussed her novel, My Summer Vacation, which was originally published in 2006 and went on to win a bronze IPPY in 2007. It is set to be re-released in September 2014.  Other books about her main character, Maddie, have been met with awards and praise. The final Maddie book in the series remains unpublished at this time but is looking forward to finding a home soon! For more info about Hannah, check her out on the web at hannahrgoodman.com.

This is what My Summer Vacation is all about:

My Summer VacationSixteen-year-old, Maddie Hickman is desperately seeking solace from her sophomore year of high school, a year of broken hearts, torn friendships, and family secrets revealed. Thanks to a position as a CIT (counselor-in-training) at Caleb’s Rock, a hippy, artsy-fartsy summer camp, as her mother calls it, solace has been found—or so she thinks. Maddie begins her summer at the pub shop writing short stories and poems, trying to recover from a terrible breakup with her first love and her family’s struggle with

her alcoholic sister. To maintain inner peace, Maddie swears off cute boys. Although

working alongside Noah, a fellow pub shop CIT, whose hot, nerd-boy looks and

ability to quote Shakespeare at just the right moment makes her swoon. Maddie decides a friendship with camper Zak is safe enough and can help her avoid the temptation of Noah, since Zak isn’t as cute and is a year younger. But when Zak asks her for kissing lessons so he can make the move on another girl, Maddie finds herself wondering if she should have sworn off not-so-cute boys, too.

Be sure to check it out!

*****

And now, without further ado, I’d like you to meet, my character. Care to answer a few questions, dear?

What is your name? Are you fictional/historical? Hi. The name’s Jacklyn. Jacklyn Madison. Or Jacks. Or Jackie. My friends, the ones who’ve known me forever, know me as Jacks. Your second question confuses me. Of course I’m not fictional. I do love to read about fictional heroes. I kinda wish I was one of them. At least the stakes wouldn’t be real then. Maybe, one day, I’ll be considered historical. You know…I kinda like that…

When and where is your story set? When? Now. Duh. I don’t have a time machine. Those aren’t real too, right? I mean, I just found out that having powers and monsters are real, so maybe? Anyway, my story is mostly set in my…um…friend…Kyp’s estate. Or, his mother’s Estate. Where she trains all of the people with powers like mine.

What should we know about you? Well, I guess the big one is that I’m a Key. Keys are humans with supernatural abilities. For one, my blood closes rifts between dimensions, and it also gives me some strengths that make it easier to battle the creatures that climb out through those dimensional rifts. And damn those things are ugly, creepy things…that want to eat you…Anyway, every Key gets their own set of talents. Mine are related to my body – and before you get gross and I have to club you over the head with a big stick, I mean super strength, super senses, super speed. Stuff like that.  Anyway, I came to the Estate with my Mom, my brother Morgan, and my sister Gana. They’re Guardians. While Keys have multiple powers, Guardians get singular powers to master.

It’s nice that I’m here with my family. Even if they are probably some of the very few people I trust in this place.

What is screwing up your life? Well, at first I was really excited to be the long lost member of The Order of the Key. First, I get to be a superhero, which I kinda always wished I could do. Second, I get to learn more about my father who died when I was young. And third, I get to spend more time with Kyp, the guy who found me, who happens to be pretty adorable, if not a bit of an arrogant know-it-all.

My problems, however, began when I realized that Kyp’s mother, Lavinia, the leader of The Order, has some upsetting views. Interesting fact: Keys can’t die unless a ritual is performed over them. Guardians can die like any other human being. So why does Lavinia use the Guardians to protect the Keys? My family is not expendable. And why is The Order run like a scary dictatorship? The minute I started to realize something is screwy, Kyp told me why he really wanted to find me – to recruit me for his mission. You see, Kyp is planning a little coup…one that will get me stuck in the middle of a family feud complete with subterfuge, stand offs, and murder.

What is your goal? At first, I just wanted to be a hero. Now I just want to stop Lavinia and keep the people I love alive.

What is the title of your book? I suppose The Order of the Key would be a good title.

So, when will the book be published? When will you get to hear my story? Unsure. The Order of the Key is currently making the agent rounds. The rest depends on when someone picks it up as an agent and when someone picks it up as a publisher. I’m gonna say when, not if, because it just feels better, self-esteem wise.

*****

And now, I will tag the following authors, who will be participating on their blogs on Monday, September 15th.

First up – Scarlett! You may remember her from when I guest blogged on her site recently.

Scarlett Van DijkScarlett Van Dijk was born in 1993 in Geelong, Victoria, before soon moving to South Australia. Her love of writing grew during her time at Wilderness  School, with her first novel, Sky Stone, begun at the age of fifteen. After graduating high school, Scarlett entered the University of South Australia studying the Bachelor of Medical Radiations (Medical Imaging) and will complete the degree this year (2014). While editing Sky Stone, Scarlett began writing the second book in the Sky Stone series, titled Guardian Core. Scarlett’s love for creative writing is accompanied by an interest in martial arts, reading, and desktop publishing. Learn more about Scarlett and her writing at www.scarlettvandijk.com.

Second, meet Kay Kauffman, she’ll introduce herself below. You can find her at her blog at suddenlytheyalldied.com. 

Kay Kauffman PicAs a girl, I dreamed of being swept off my feet by my one true love.  And at the age of 24, it finally happened…and he’s never let me forget it.  A mild-mannered secretary by day and a determined word-wrangler by night, I battle the twin evils of distraction and procrastination in order to write fantastical tales of wuv…twue wuv…with a few bad haiku thrown in for good measure.

I’ve been spinning yarns for more years than I care to admit and I’ve got the calluses and paper cuts to prove it.  My first novel, The Lokana Chronicles, is currently undergoing a major rewrite in advance of another round of queries.

I reside in the midst of an Iowa corn field with my hopelessly devoted husband and his mighty red pen; four crazy, cute kids; and an assortment of adorable kitties, chicks, and bunnies.

Third, meet the writer I once shared a writer’s workshop with, an author who can give a well-balanced critique, Ms. Kimberly A. McKenzie.Head Shot

Kimberly A. McKenzie was born in 1970 on Williams Air Force base in Arizona to Robert Klemm and Casandra McKenzie. She is single, divorced, and without any children of her own. Her decision to write under a pen name is due to the respect and love she has for her mother. The passion for writing has been with her life-long and she has been employed in the technical writing field across industries for ten years. Starting in poetry in her early twenties, Kimberly has written and published short stories and poems and two books and she believes that writing comes from life, those we know, and the ever-changing possibilities of the fiction writer’s imagination.

And last, but certainly not least, meet Julaina Kleist-Corwin.Julaina AA

Julaina Kleist-Corwin is editor for her anthology, Written Across the GenresShe teaches creative writing for the City of Dublin, California. She has won several first place awards in short story contests. Her work has been published in The California Writers Club Literary Review and Harlequin’s 2012 and 2013 Christmas anthologies and other collections. You can find her at her blog at www.timetowritenow.com, on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JulainaC, or on Pinterest at http://www.pinterest.com/jkleistc.

Each of them will be posting their own post in the blog hop on Monday, the 15th. Be sure to go visit them then!