Why would Woven be banned?

Books are banned for some pretty ridiculous reasons. But I’m proud to say that all of my books probably could be banned. 

At least, they share many of the same traits and themes seen in commonly banned books. This is something I’m quite proud of. 

(Also, check out the Banned Books website for information and resources.)

Today I want to talk about my first series, Woven. 

No matter how many books I write, this will always be my first baby. So let’s talk about why it would totally be banned.

Homosexual activity

This is one that always trips up books. Especially young adult books. And yes, shockingly, there are gay characters in Woven. There’s even gay marriage in the first book, Broken Patterns.

I didn’t do this because I want Ally points or to be woke. I wrote gay characters, and a battle for gay rights, into my book because it’s something I’ve experienced in my life. The LGBTQ+ struggle is one Millenials have experienced since we were children. Of course, I’m going to write about it. 

Discussion of mental illness

In the second book of Woven, the main character Lenore is struggling with depression. 

I’ve struggled with anxiety. People I love deal with depression. Mental illness is a real problem and we need to be more open about it. So, when I was writing about Lenore, I wanted to write about something I was going through. I wanted to write not just about suffering from depression, but about being the partner of someone who is suffering.

Discussions of rape and abuse

I’m kind of shocked when people are surprised that bad guys in books are, ya know, bad. But Calvin, who’s the antagonist for much of the Woven series, is a bad guy. He raped people. He beat the hell out of people. He is not a good person. 

That’s made most clear, I think, in the prequel book Falling From Grace

We cannot be afraid to write bad guys as bad. Even Magneto, the most understandable bad guy of all time, has done horrific things. 

I’m not saying I wrote a snuff scene here. I’m saying that the antagonist in my books does bad things.

So, my fellow writers, it’s your turn. Why would your book be banned? Let us know in the comments. And please, provide links to your potentially banned books. 

Getting ready for Preptober? I have a planner for you! Check it out now on my Ko-fi store. 

Falling From Grace is now available for Pre-order!

Pretty exciting news today. Falling From Grace, the fourth book in the Woven series, is now available for pre-order!

Meet Grace.

A woman of the rebellion, Grace’s life has been one of hardship. Her people live in poverty, under the uncaring eyes of their mad king. So when her brother in law, Calvin, leads an army to overthrow the king, she inspires the women to become healers, witches and warriors.

But once she gets Calvin on the throne, her world only becomes darker.

Given all of the power of the crown, Calvin gives into his darker instincts. While Grace learns to be a witch and queen, Calvin slowly loses his mind. He becomes a crueler king than any the country of Calistar has ever seen. Grace finds that her greatest challenge is overthrowing the king she put on the throne.

You can preorder it right now by clicking here!

When you do preorder it, I have a special gift for you. Send me a screenshot of your preorder recipt at nicolecluttrell86@gmail.com. I’ll send you the first for chapters of Grace right away.

And, you’ll be entered to win an autographed copy of Broken Patterns, sent right to your door, for free!

Don’t forget, you have to send me a screenshot of your preorder recipt to enter for the free book and get the first four chapters of Falling From Grace.

 

Things to remember when writing different classes

Today’s cover art is from Anastacia Cooper.

As an author, no one is more critical of my work than me. No one is a bigger fan than me, either. But we all know how fantasy fans are. We only truly rip apart what we love most. And when it comes to Woven, I’m always thinking of things I wish I’d done better. I’ve written other books since then, and I’m sure I’ll find a thousand faults with them over time. 

One thing I’ve struggled with in Woven is that three of the four main characters were noble from birth. While not a single character was supposed to be running things, everyone but Victor was a princess or prince.

That was fun and all, but it was also really limiting. How someone sees the world differs dramatically in different social classes. So when I was writing Grace, her point of view was far different than Lenore’s. Honestly, it was a lot closer to my point of view. 

Today I wanted to share with you the four things I had to shift my writing perspective when writing for Grace.

Dialog

The first change is almost cosmetic, but it’s important. It was how people talked. A princess is going to talk far differently than a common woman, and honestly, it’s a lot more fun writing for the latter. A lot more telling people off and swearing up a storm.

Work

Another big change was the work each character did. Grace goes through many changes in this book, as her responsibilities change. She goes from keeping a house and feeding her family to running a castle. What she even considers work changes from the start of the book to the end. Things that once were chores seem like a vacation now.

What’s important to remember is that what a character does every day is always going to seem easier and more boring than something new. Someone who is used to washing, mending, cleaning and gardening is going to consider a day of meetings, decision making and paperwork freaking exhausting! This was a real shock to me when I transitioned from retail to a desk job years ago. I didn’t think using my brain would be so tiring but man! 

Appreciation

This is something I’ve experienced in my own life. What you appreciate and what you take for granted depends largely on what you’re used to. And as much as we all try not to take things for granted, we all do it. I took for granted that I was healthy until my cholesterol got all messed up. But I’ve never taken my next paycheck for granted. I’ve never taken my home or the health of my loved ones for granted.

Grace will never take a meal for granted. She’ll never take the safety of her home or family for granted.

She does take for granted that her oldest friend and protector, Calvin, will always be there to protect her. That she can depend on him so long as he can depend on her. 

Like most of us, the things she takes for granted are often the things she losses. 

Fears

In a related note, what scares us is often tied to what we take for granted. What we’re certain we won’t ever lose. 

In Woven, Lenore fears largely for her people. She’s not often scared for herself because she’s always been physically safe. She’s never skipped a meal, never had to scape and suffer. But she fears that she’s going to fail her people. And that she cannot abide. 

Grace is afraid that she won’t have food for her family. She’s afraid that soldiers are going to kill them. She’s afraid that they will simply not survive. And it’s likely that no matter how many years of comfort she may or may not have, those fears will probably never go away. 

After writing for nobility and writing for average people, I do have a preference. And if you liked me writing about princesses, I might have some bad news for you. I think I like writing about regular people more. The reason is pretty simple and I hope you’ll agree. 

I love writing people who don’t have the overt power to make changes, but they do it anyway. I mean, isn’t that what we’re all trying to do, change our communities and worlds for the better? My real-life heroes are not usually destined for greatness. They’re everyday people who decided to make a difference.

Comparing Victor and Calvin, or a discussion of the fine line between man and monsters

Today’s lovely cover image is by Esteban Arboleda Bermudez.

Last week I compared and contrasted Lenore and Grace. That was a lot of fun, so I thought I’d do it again. This week, I want to compare Victor and Calvin.

Unlike with Grace and Lenore, when the point was that I wanted them to not mirror each other, Victor and Calvin have more similarities than not. Of course, one’s an out and out monster, while the other is a hero. But that’s sort of the point of these two.

There’s a thin line between a man and monster. Or a woman and monster for that matter. That’s why I wanted to write this book, though. Calvin is a monster, but that’s not all that he is. Victor is a hero, but there are shadows in his past as well.

So let’s compare these two brothers and see what made one a king and one a killer.

Victor, as you may know if you’ve read the first trilogy, sees shades of gray. He walks between the legal and illegal side of Septa, visiting prostitutes and being on good terms with the kings of the underworld. But he’s a good man, good father, a good husband. And as he embraces the dark and light in himself, he accepts the good and bad in the people he interacts with.

Calvin doesn’t see shades of grey. He sees black and white, good and bad. Septa stole land from Calistar decades ago, they will always be bad. The aristocracy of Calistar is evil, all of them. The Brotherhood are good men, everyone. Their women and children are good and worth doing anything to save.

It’s a simple and clear world view and one that’s totally wrong. I suppose the duality of these two characters shows my own bias. The mentality that they are good and we are bad is the root of all evil in the world, in my opinion.

Another difference between Victor and Calvin is loyalty and their opinion of it. For Calvin, loyalty is essential, no matter the situation. Once you are loyal to someone, you had better stay loyal to them. Once you hate someone, you’d better keep right on hating them.

No matter the future actions of that person.

For Victor, loyalty is earned and can be lost. And while it might take some time to earn it, it takes only a moment to lose it. 

That aside, the two have more in common than they don’t. Neither of them has much patience for laziness. Both have a view of how women and men are supposed to be, though Victor’s opinion about that changes. And both would do anything, even horrible things, for their children.

I hope you enjoy seeing a different side of Calvin from the one we saw in the Woven trilogy. He’s a lot more than just a monster, though he is certainly that. 

A Falling From Grace playlist

This fantastic cover art is courtesy of Efes Kitap from Pixabay.

One of my favorite writing practices is creating a playlist for my books. Music is magic, words and tones blending to create an emotional reaction to the listener in a way that I can’t describe but we all understand.

Today I want to share with you my playlist for Falling from Grace. If you want to listen to the songs, here’s a link to my playlist. 

I hope that this list gives you a feeling of the story and the journey that Grace goes on through the book.

Renegades by X Ambassadors

When I see you again by Wiz Kalifa

Headstrong by Linkin Park

Monster you made by PopEvil

Animal I have Become by Three Days Grace


How to save a life by The Fray

Landslide by Stevie Nicks

Gold dust woman by Stevie Nicks (I’m a fan)

You don’t own me by Lesley Gore

I will survive by Gloria Gaynor

The Writing Life, July 21

Don’t forget to sign up for the thirty days, thirty ideas challenge. Time is running out, August is coming!  Click right here to sign up.  Hurry up, you’ve only got nine more days!

It’s been an interesting week. Just full of ups and downs, and big news things. Well, big to me, at least.
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If you’re an avid reader, you might have noticed something missing on Saturday. I didn’t post a writing prompt. I did add one to Friday’s market, but I did not devote a whole day to it like I have done in the past.

Here’s why. As the one year anniversary of PBW draws close, I have been taking inventory, looking at numbers, and thinking on what I want to do in my second year as a blogger. Making a business plan, and whatnot. My goal is simple, have a 5% increase on all of my numbers (page views, visitors, likes,) over the same month of the previous year.

I realized something though, when I was pouring over my stats. Check This Out and Writing Prompt Saturday are not super popular columns. Worse, I don’t feel like I have anything left to say on those topics. So I have decided to discontinue those two them.

Going down to three columns a week is going to benefit me, but I also think it’s going to benefit the site. You see, I realized I haven’t done anything but keep up recently. Keeping up is fine, and all, but it’s not where I want to be. Now that I’m not spending all of my PBW time writing posts, I can finally get a start on some major projects I’ve had on the back burner for way too long. Another perk is that I can focus on quality over quantity.

What do you think? Are you sad to see these columns go, or more interested in seeing what’s coming next?

What Rocked This Week-

* I heard back from two of the short stories that were out. They were both rejected, but I sent them right back out.
* I downloaded Pandora onto my tablet, finally. It’s been a very musical week.
* Yesterday, July 20, was the second anniversary of the day I created Woven. To be more specific, it’s the day I wrote the character outline for the main character, a boy who weaves named Devon. I’d written a few books before this, but they’d either been dead ends or so bad I’d rather they never see the light of day.

When I first started Woven, man was I terrified. I figured it would be one book, if I could even manage that. I sat in the park of my little town, the one right across from the courthouse where a year and a half later I would marry my husband, with a marble covered notebook and take out soup from my favorite coffee shop. Back then, I was in a dark place. I wasn’t happy, wasn’t writing, and working way too much. I wanted, more than anything, to be a writer again. And so I had promised myself that I would write, just twenty minutes a day. Something, anything, it didn’t matter. I fed the birds the bread from my lunch and scribbled out a prayer on the page. I begged God to not let this story die like so many others had. I sat there, with a character breathing on my lap, and I was so scared to lose him.

Two years later, I am months away from a final draft of Broken Patterns. The second book, Starting Chains, is rough drafted. I’ve got thirteen more ideas to come after. If I ever questioned whether God answers my prayers, I don’t anymore.

What I’m looking forward to this week-

* I’m buckling down this week to get ready for my vacation next week from the day job. Got a ton of little last minute things to do, and we’re not even going anywhere.
* I’m right at the finish line on two big projects, and I am working more than I should to get them done. There’s something about seeing the end of the tunnel that just makes me want to run for it.

So what are you doing this week? Anything exciting?

Done!

Okay, so I didn’t write a response to the Writing 101 post today, because I was busy finishing this instead.


Photo by Garrett Luttrell
Photo by Garrett Luttrell

That pile of five composition notebooks is the first draft of Starting Chains, book two of Woven.  After working on it since November, it is finally done!

Oh, and that’s my sort of creepy cat, Harper.  She’s not always so glowey, as my husband puts it.

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