I’m so glad you’re here today.
Since you are reading this post, I suppose you have an interest in how I came up with the story of my debut novel Loading Life. And I suppose (with my fangirl side locked tightly away) that I’ll tell you.
If you don’t know what Loading Life is about, let me tell you:
Hero Leander, the official troublemaker of Devi Omega Academy, is one mess up away from being permanently kicked out of school – or worse. To save him, his teacher and guardian, Mr. Kirkland, pairs him up with Annie Mei Fields, a straight-A student and the top Charisma-user of the school, on a history project. Hero is determined to leave her hanging, but Annie Mei will have none of that.
As she forces him to hit the books, they soon discover that an evil corporation is kidnapping teens in order to cure a deadly disease. Annie Mei thinks they should fight back. Hero doesn’t want to get involved. . . That is until his only friend is also taken.
Hero and Annie Mei put their lives on the line in order to save their world. But with gang attacks, drug deals, twisted corporate goons, and a teacher that won’t get off their case, these two unlikely fighters have little time to think about their next step. They have to save the world, and hopefully get a passing grade.
And as I was writing this adventurous sci-fi/fantasy, I was drawing on the love I have for anime and superhero stories.
But where did I even get the idea?
It all started with a random thought I had one day. You see, many people have told me that I’m very nice and that’s why others are attracted to me – why they want to hang out with me. This was on my mind when I thought ‘hey. What if that was my superpower? Likeability, or niceness, or charm, or . . . charisma?’ It was from that point that I knew I wanted to make a story about a girl with charisma.
When I had downtime, or was just letting myself think of nothing in particular, ideas starting popping up about this girl. What if she was a sweetheart villain? Or maybe a superhero who would save the day? I kept thinking and thinking and thinking. I wrote down all these ideas in a notebook one of my friends had gotten for me for my birthday. And within a matter of time, I had a huge bulk of the world made out.
It was also during this time that I came to the realization that I wanted to write books for a living. I was actually working on another novel, when I came to a giant wall. This particular novel would take me a great deal of time to fully develop. The world was so vast! And I didn’t really want to wait. That’s when I picked up my little notebook of ideas and started designing a world that was closer to my own.
Devi Omega was born. It was in this vast city that I wanted a computer/virtual reality-like world to unfold. I wanted my characters to be like those in video games. It truly reminded me of Sword Art Online at first. (And, if you don’t like that anime, please read the manga. It goes further into depth about the characters and the world. Just saying.) But I wanted something more than that.
I asked myself: ‘What if the citizens of Devi Omega were born and lived their lives in a video game? What if their world was a video game and had nothing to do with the outside – with the ‘real world’ that I grew up in?’
That’s when the characters started having health bars and attack bars. That’s when they all started getting powers that I call special abilities. And everyone in Devi Omega has a unique special ability . . .
Everyone except Hero Leander.
You see, I wanted my book to feel like an anime in words. I wanted a main character who people didn’t like- except the sarcastic best friend, of course. I wanted a main character that could hold his own, but still be able to grow into someone even better. And I wanted to use the base of the main character that I had developed for the novel I had put to the side. So I used that base and created a wannabe-thug with terrible grades and an even worse mouth, who no one could understand. And I gave him a heartbreaking name that would play into his overarching story. Hero Leander was born.
But I knew I needed someone else to play opposite him. His best friend, Reut (said like root) was a good pick, but not the best. I also needed to keep that Charisma girl in the story somehow. I had created this whole world for her, and I didn’t want to throw that away. And that’s when I started to develop her more. Since Hero was a thug-like character, I wanted her to be sweet and intelligent. I also wanted her to be physically capable of kicking butt, even if she didn’t have the so-called body for it. (I didn’t want her to be super buff just to take on some badies.) I wanted her to be feminine, to combat Hero’s masculine nature. And she absolutely had to be liked by (almost) everyone, since that’s what hero powers were about. But I knew I needed more than that. She had to have depth. She had to be someone who loved learning and reaching her goal of being the best she could, but also yearned to be out of the spotlight and just be her. Even if it was for a little while. That’s when I created Annie Mei Fields. And she was perfect.
When I got my two main characters established, I added even more. I needed a guardian for Hero and parents for Annie Mei. I needed bullies and bad guys and surprises. I also needed a few characters that my readers would know nothing about. At least not at first.
And when I had my cast and my world, I started writing. I wrote the first draft for only a few chapters until I realized that my story was going nowhere exciting. I had to stop, make an outline, and get back to writing. I tweaked the outline through drafts two, three, and four. When I finished with draft four, I tracked down a beta reader – and sadly, I only had one – who read my book and gave me the feedback I needed to improve my story. I rewrote it again and thought that was it. I published it with a beautiful cover created by one of my best friends, MadCatStudios. And I loved it. But . . .
After a few months, I realized I had so many spelling and grammatical errors in the book! (And this is why you hire an editor!) I also saw that many people didn’t find my cover appealing. I became a little depressed about the whole thing and didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t be a writer . . .
And then life slapped me in the face.
My overnight job I was working was getting worse. Between working nocturnally, missing out on seeing friends and family, and just being tired ALL THE TIME, I wanted out so bad. I needed this book to succeed. So I went back to the drawing board.
I asked my friend if I could get a new cover. I didn’t want to hurt him by not using the picture he worked so hard on. But he understood and told me I should do what I needed to do. And I needed to make my book appeal to the masses of anime nerds.
(And let me just take a second to say that MadCatStudios is an amazing artist! His work is great and I love it. I didn’t just ask him to do the first cover because it was free. I asked him because he has talent. So go check his stuff out on DeviantArt!)
Anyways. . .
I hunted down a great editor and artist on Fiverr.com. After sending my manuscript to the editor and my ideas for the cover to the artist, I waited as patiently as I could. My editor was amazing and he sent my work back in a timely manner! I worked hard for a week incorporating all of his edits. (Visit him here!)
Yet another problem arose.
The artist I commissioned didn’t fulfill his promise. Between a few missed deadlines and ignoring many of my requests, I finally asked him if he’d like to break it off. And he did without fuss. I honestly think he had many projects underway and he couldn’t fulfill his promises to me. It was sad, but I didn’t dwell on it too much.
I had to find an artist!
I searched one of my folders on Fiverr that I had saved some artists in. I found one that was perfect and sent her an email. After a few back-and-forth messages, I commissioned her for a piece. And I definitely got what I asked for:
I took the time to create a cover that would match my story. And after I reuploaded my cover and fully-edited story onto Createspace, I laid down and breathed a sigh of relief.
My book was done. Completely this time.
And now I’m here, telling you all of this. And I hope you learned something from my story. Between never giving up and always hiring an editor, anyone can become an author. With buckets of sweat and tears that is.
If you’re interested in reading Loading Life, please check out the first three chapters here! Or if you’d like to buy it, the eBook and paperback versions are sold on Amazon.com and other retailers listed below.
Amazon – https://tinyurl.com/LLebook
iTunes – http://tinyurl.com/itunesLLbook
Kobo – https://tinyurl.com/ycx7byjt
Inktera – http://tinyurl.com/inkteraLLbook
Smashwords – https://tinyurl.com/LLsmash
24 Symbols – http://tinyurl.com/24LLbook