Category Archives: Writing

My Writing: 2015

2015Every year I like to look back and see what happened, and look forward to what the new year will hold. So here’s a look at 2014 and a sneak peak at my plans for 2015.

2014 brought a lot changes, starting off with the sale of Marcher Lord Press. My publisher underwent a change in ownership and name. It’s different now, but not bad. I am looking forward to working more with Enclave Publishing in 2015.

A year ago I was finishing the last book in the Follower of the Word series. Heir of Hope took me almost a year to write, but it was a year well spent. I can’t wait to share with you the conclusion to Rowen, Lore, Caleb, and Nierne’s journey. Right now the projected release date is March 23rd.

On that note, I hope to reveal the new covers that were commissioned for the Follower of the Word series sometime this month. They are amazing, if I do say so myself ;). So be watching for a cover reveal!

I am now working on a new series. It is a Victorian steampunk (which is a definite change from fantasy). Steampunk is a genre that can be set in either a Victorian or western time period and usually involves steam-powered machinery rather than advance technology.

I’m about a third of the way through the rough draft of the first book, Tainted. I forgot how hard rough drafts are (especially when starting a new series), but I am also enjoying the new characters and settings. Right now the series is under consideration by a publisher, but I don’t know yet if it will be acquired. In either case, I plan on finishing this series :).

So that’s what 2015 is shaping up to look like for my writing, and what an exciting year it looks to be!

Story Settings and Capturing Real Life in Your Story

coffee dateHi everyone! I hope you all had a great Christmas 🙂

Since I missed my coffee date in November, I wanted to make sure I did one in December, so although it’s not Friday, today is a good day to answer a couple questions from my readers. So here we go!

Mary Jo asks: “I am always impressed by the way you describe the settings, places, surroundings in such detail. You make us feel as if we are right there with your characters. Do you see the settings you describe in your mind before you put them in print? Or do you use some other process?”

One thing my editor taught me was the importance of setting, especially in a fantasy book where you are introducing your readers to a whole new world. I actually have a list I follow of things to include and I establish the setting at the beginning of the chapter or scene so the reader can have the place firmly set in his or her mind. To find the list I use, here is a link to it (#96): www.wherethemapends.com

But how do I figure out what a place should look, smell, and feel like? One of my favorite sites to use is Pinterest. I love looking at pictures and figuring out what a place looks like, or the room, or the castle, or the person. I also use google a lot for research. And it doesn’t hurt to have an active imagination :). If you want to see some of my research on Pinterest or follow my boards, click here: http://www.pinterest.com/morganlbusse

Lastly, one of the secrets to a great setting is to use as many of the senses as you can. I have always had an very sensitive nose and pick up more scents than the usual human, which has come in handy with putting smells into my scenes. I also use all my experiences such as places I have visited, or the feel of something, or how something tasted, and use it to make a scene come more alive.

Thanks for the great question!

 

Camilla asks: ” I love to hear about situations in books that actually happened in REAL life! Your life or a family member’s, perhaps?”

In Son of Truth when Nierne realizes she doesn’t believe the Word will save her, that was based on an event in my life. I had always believed God would take care of me until the day came when I needed Him the most. In that moment, however, I did not believe He would come through. It was faith shattering for me (I was a young pastor’s wife at the time). How could I not believe God? But I couldn’t deny what was deep inside my heart. It was the truth. It is easy to believe in God when everything is going your way. But it is hard to step off the cliff and believe God will catch you. (Here is the post I wrote on that: No Faith, Know Faith)

Since then, I have come up again and again to that point of do I believe God will take care of me: When my husband was let go of a church, when we had no money, when my son was very sick. Each time it has been a battle of my own self-preservation versus letting go and believing God. I cling to the edge and cry. I don’t want to let go. But God gently helps me let go and carries me down.

He has always caught me. He has always taken care of me. That was what I wanted to share through the character of Nierne. She grew up as a scribe and knew everything about the Word, but she had a long way to go to where her faith was transferred from her head to her heart.

Thank you, Camilla, for the great question!

If you have any questions you want to ask, whether it is about my life, my writing, or my stories,  feel free to post it in the comments below or email me for my coffee date next month. I love interacting with my readers and this is one way where we can get to know each other 🙂

 

My Writing Space

coffee dateHello and welcome to another Friday Coffee Date where I answer questions from my readers. I received some great questions this week and can’t wait to dig in. So here we go!

Maegen asks: “I don’t remember if it said in the book or not, but I was curious, how old is the character Rowen in the first book?

Rowen Mar is the main character in my epic fantasy Follower of the Word series (to find out more, go to Daughter of Light, the first book).

I give hints about Rowen’s age, the fact that other women her age have already married (bonded) and had children, but I don’t come out and say her age.

Rowen is about twenty-two years old. In a society like this one, any woman over twenty and still unmarried would be considered strange and on her way to spinsterhood.

Thanks, Maegen, for the great question!

Patrick asks: “When you write, what are things you use to create your writing space? Music, clean desk, at home, at coffee shop, etc.

When I’m writing a rough draft, I don’t have a set spot. I write everywhere: on my bed, on the couch, at a coffee shop, wherever I can find some peace and quiet and my imagination can work. Sometimes I listen to music that puts me into the scene or character.

However, when I’m editing, I sit at my desk with calm music playing and a cup of coffee or tea. I seem to need a more stable environment for that part of my brain to work 🙂

And if I’m on a deadline, you can find me at Mojo’s (a local coffee place) with a big pot of tea and ear buds in. Tea and music help me really focus in on my writing, and I force myself to sit there and write until the teapot is empty.

Thanks for asking, Patrick!

If you have any questions, whether it’s about writing, my life, or my stories, feel free to leave them in the comments below and I will be happy to answer them in next month’s coffee date post 🙂

 

Heir of Hope, Book 3

Heir of HopeMany of you are anxiously awaiting the final book in the Follower of the Word series, so I thought I would catch you up on what I know and what I can share.

First, I just spent the last three weeks finishing the main edits for Heir of Hope. Whew! My brain is tired! But the final story is so much better now 🙂

Tomorrow I turn in the manuscript.

So what happens next?

Micro edits. That’s where my editor and I polish up every single sentence. We hope to be done with that by the first week of November. Then I’m pretty much done until the galleys arrive, the final proof before the story heads off to the printers.

The cover is also in the works right now and I should be seeing something this month (can’t wait!).

Then pre-release stuff (like early reviews and possible endorsements, along with a cover reveal).

Then finally it will be here for all of you to read. Having just finished the book again this afternoon, I can tell you Heir of Hope is definitely worth the wait. It has been an emotional journey for me and there were days I wasn’t sure I would ever finish this book. But here it is and almost done.

So there you go. Less than six months to the release date (barring any unforeseen circumstances). In the meantime, stay tuned for more details such as the cover, blurbs, and other exciting things. And if you want to really make sure you don’t miss anything, consider signing up for my newsletter.

Thank you for being such great readers and for your patience 🙂

 

Author Inspiration, Time Management, and Winner of the Fall into Books Hop

coffee dateHi everyone! Due to a blog hop last week, I had to postpone my coffee date until today. For those visiting for the first time, every fourth Friday of the month I open up my blog to questions from my readers. I have two questions leftover from last month, so here we go!

Robert asks: “Who (or which authors) inspired you to become an author?”

Hmmm, I never thought about being an author until they day I walked into a Christian bookstore and asked to see their fantasy section (stop laughing!). So you could say it was the lack of speculative fiction that inspired me to write 😉

However, there are a few authors that I love and looking back, are probably the biggest reason I write what I do. The first one is J.R.R. Tolkien.

My dad introduced me to The Hobbit at a young age. By the time I entered my senior year in high school, I had read through The Hobbit, the Lord of the Rings, and the Silmarillion at least three times. I loved the world Tolkien created, especially how he wove myths from our world into his world (I based my senior writing project on this very subject).

Later on, I discovered Terry Brooks and a whole new fantasy world to explore. I loved the adventures and world-building, but I also enjoyed his character development. Characters didn’t just go on journeys, they changed, matured, and sacrificed. That hit home for me.

Lastly, my work has been compared to Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series. I’ve read the first book and have to agree. Neither of us write about fantasy creatures like dragons, orcs, or elves. Rather, we focus on people with power and how it changes the world.

Thanks for asking, Robert!

Lesley asks: “How do you balance it all–family, being a wife, personal time, writing (your job)?”

I decided when I started writing almost ten years ago that my family came first. Writing would always be there, but they would not. Of course, that means it takes me longer to put out a book, but I haven’t missed a moment with my kids or husband.

I write everyday, four days a week. My goal is 500 words a day, but usually I can write more than that. Friday is date day with my husband and nights and weekends are for my kids. Of course, when a deadline approaches or the edits come back with a two-week turnaround, I have to put in the hours, but my family knows I’ll be back when I’m done.

Great question, Lesley!

Feel free to leave any questions you have in the comments below and I’ll be happy to answer them next month during my coffee date Friday!

crfallbadge1Now, for the winner of the Fall into Book Blog Hop!

Drum roll please…

Ryebrynn! You are the winner of the kindle copy of A Time to Die! Congratulations! I will be emailing you so we can get that book to you 🙂

And while I’m on it, today I am featured on Real Life & Character Romance where I share how I met my husband and give some hints into the romance blossoming between the assassin and scribe in my Follower of the Word series. Haven’t read my books yet or want to give a copy to a friend? Then head on over and comment for a chance to win a copy of either Daughter of Light or Son of Truth!

http://shannonvannatter.com/morgan-l-busse-real-life-character-romance

Thanks, everyone!

 

Surprised By My Own Voice

VoiceVoice. That elusive part of writing. The part that distinguishes one writer from another. Voice is hard to nail down, but once found, brings a uniqueness to one’s writing.

So what happens when your voice doesn’t match your genre?

I write fantasy. When most people think of fantasy, they think of J.R.R. Tolkien. His voice is eloquent, lengthy, lyrical, and full of description. Many fantasy writers share a similar kind of voice. It’s the standard when it comes to this genre.

However, my voice is different. I discovered my voice after writing Daughter of Light, the first book in my epic fantasy series. My writing voice is blunt, short, and to the point. I tell the story in a strong, quick tempo, moving along at a clip pace. Not the style usually employed by the average fantasy writer.

A couple reviews reflected the fact that some readers did not like my voice. They wanted the poetic sound usually found in fantasy.

I didn’t know what to do, so I decided to try and change my voice. I believed I needed to write in a certain way in order to be a fantasy writer. It was like trying to write a square word into a round story. It didn’t work. In fact, those scenes stuck out so bad that my editor called me on it. He gave me the freedom to be me, and to write like me.

So I tossed out those scenes and went back to writing like Morgan.

After reading an article Ralene Burke wrote about voice, I realized even more how important it is to embrace my own voice. Not only is voice my style of writing, it encompasses the stories I write and how I write them. No one can write the stories I write, in the manner that I write them. When I write a story, I draw on the things I have went through: parent’s divorce, death, loss of jobs, loss of house, cancer scares, months of wondering how we will survive, deep depression, and emotional wounds dealt by people.

Through all my life, even in the darkest times, I found hope. And I clung to that hope like a life thread. Through my writing I explore the darkness and how to find hope.

My life and my writing style have formed my voice. To not be true to my voice would be the equivalent of not being true to myself.

Sometimes I don’t like my voice. I wish I could write eloquent prose, running along with beautiful descriptions, long colorful sentences, and dialogue that sounds more ancient.

But that’s not me. I’m Morgan and I will write in Morgan’s voice. After all, I’m the only one who can write my stories 🙂

How about you? As a writer, have you discovered your voice? Did you like it or did you wish you could write like someone else?

 

Story Momentum

coffee dateHi everyone! Welcome to my first Coffee Date Friday! Every fourth Friday of the month I am opening my blog up to questions from my readers. You can ask anything from writing to personal (for the most part ;). I first announced this on my Facebook page and already have a couple questions lined up. So I will start with those. If you think of more questions, leave them in the comments and each month I will answer a couple of them. Now let’s begin!

Brenda asks, “How do you keep the momentum of the story going?

Take out all the boring parts ;). Ok, that’s only part of it. When I first start dreaming up a story, I see different scenes in my head. I keep a folder on my computer with those scenes in it. Then when it comes time to actually write the book, I take those scenes and start moving them around, testing them and seeing if and how they fit together. If they don’t fit, they get axed. If they do, I ask how did my characters end up in those situations?

It’s amazing how our subconscious ties things together. Many times those scenes fall into place, creating the story for me. And then I write it.

There are different story aspects that keep a story going: the romance thread (are they going to fall in love?), the mystery thread (what’s going to happen next?), the villain thread (how is the hero going to stop the villain?), the “make things worse” thread (wow, how is the hero going to get out of that one?), and so on. By using at least one of these per chapter, I keep the reader turning the page. That is how I keep the momentum of the story going.

Thanks for asking, Brenda!

Now for the next question.

Maegen asks, “Do you ever get stuck in a scene or chapter? If so how do you get the story moving again?”

First, I love the way you spell your name! Very unique take on Megan 🙂

Ok, so I made it sound like all I have to do is dream up the scenes, put them together like a jigsaw puzzle and write the story in the previous question. I wish it was that simple. Then I would never get stuck in a scene.

Sadly, there are times when I do get stuck. I call them “plot knots”. It’s where something isn’t working out, or the story is getting boring, or I’ve written myself into a corner and can’t get out. So yes, I do get stuck in a scene or chapter. And that’s when I panic (especially if I’m under a deadline) and wonder why I didn’t just choose to do something else with my life, like become a professional cake baker ;P

So how do I get moving again? Well, if I get the sense that it’s a boring scene, I axe it right then and there. If it’s a scene that is needed but the pieces aren’t working together, I take a break. I go for a bike ride, play a video game, watch a movie, read a book outside my genre, something to give that part of my brain a rest. Usually the scene will come to me that day or the next (and usually right at bedtime too!).

However, there are days when I’m just stumped. That’s when I move on and work on a different part of the book, on a scene and chapter I already have firmly inside my mind until the problem scene works itself out. Luckily those are few and far between.

Thanks for the question, Maegen!

That’s all for today. If you have any questions you would like me to answer next month during my Coffee Date Friday, please leave them in the comments below 🙂

 

Enclave Publishing

A couple months ago I shared that my publishing company, Marcher Lord Press,  was bought by Steve Laube (you can find my post about the sale here). That sale has brought about some changes within the company, many of them good in my opinion. I wanted to update you, my readers, on these changes.

First, a name change came with the company. Marcher Lord Press is now Enclave Publishing. The mission is still the same: to produce quality Christian fantasy and science fiction. With that name change is a new website: Enclave Publishing. If you haven’t had a chance to check it out, you need to. It looks great!

This fall will see the first set of novels from Enclave Publishing. Instead of doing the usual pre-order, Enclave is doing a kickstarter. Take a moment and check out the books that will be available this fall and consider choosing one of the options for a discount on these select books. Enclave Publishing Kickstarter

Finally, I know many of you have been asking when Heir of Hope, the third book in the Follower of the Word series, will be released. With the purchase of Marcher Lord Press came some changes within the company. One of those changes was my release date. I can now say it will be 2015. I am expecting my first set of edits back in a couple weeks and will begin the big revisions.

I will also have other book news coming in the next couple months. If you don’t want to miss out, consider signing up for my newsletter. I only send it out when I have book or author news and it’s a great way to make sure you know what’s happening and when a book is releasing. Click here to sign up.

It’s going to be a busy and exciting couple months for me and for Enclave Publishing 🙂

Thick Skin

I never really liked the term “thick skin.” The Urban Dictionary defines thick skin as the ability to withstand criticism and show no signs of any criticism you may receive getting to you. In the writing business, a writer is expected to have thick skin. After all, it is one of the few professions where you put your heart and soul out for the world to critique you in a very public way.

RhinoThe reason I never liked the term is because many times it seems thick skin goes deeper, into a hardening of the heart. But if my heart is hard and calloused, how can I write from my heart? And how does one develop this “thick skin” that supposedly saves you from the hurt and doubt that comes from criticism?

Those were the thoughts I had this morning. I’ve been writing for years, I have two published books with another one soon to be released, and finaled in a couple awards.

I don’t have thick skin. What I do have is experience. It is not success that builds thick skin, it is disappointment. No matter how much you prepare for that first hard hitting review or intense criticism, it still hits hard. It is in that moment that you start to figure out who you really are as a writer.

Who do you write for? Why do you write? It is the answer to these questions that keep you going. This is your “thick skin.” No matter what other people say, you know deep down this is why you do what you do.

Who do I write for? Honestly? I write for myself. Yep. I don’t write for an audience, I don’t even write for God, although my writing becomes an outpouring of my questions, awe, and understanding of God.

Here’s why: audiences are fickle. Their tastes can change from year to year. If I were to tailor my writing after my audience, I would be chasing the wind and find disappointment when what I wrote doesn’t match up with what the current audience desires. If I am going to spend a couple hours a day for a year or more on a novel, I am going to write the story that burns inside of me. Granted, that may mean I don’t find an audience for my story, but I will have spent the better part of my time enjoying what I did.

Why do I write? I am a storyteller. I have these stories with complex characters thrown into awful situations and I have to figure out how they survive! As I start to write the story, I connect with the character. I feel what they feel. I understand their past and why they ended up in this situation. I ask the same questions they are asking.

This is my thick skin. When I receive a review that hurts, I remind myself why I write. No matter what the person says, he or she cannot take that away from me. When someone dislikes a character or scene, I take it in stride. I wrote for myself. I won’t please everyone. As long as I am pleased with the character or scene, then that is enough for me.

How about you? What is your “thick skin”? Why do you write and who do you write for?

 

Writing Process Blog Tour

I’ve been tagged by my friend and fellow author Anne Elisabeth Stengl. If you haven’t checked out her books, you need to. Seriously. She writes fantasy stories with a mythical/fairytale kind of flavor. Tales of Goldstone Wood are some of my favorites stories (and quickly becoming my daughter’s as well).

With that, onto the questions she sent to me!

1) What am I working on at the moment?

I just finished Heir of Hope, the third and final book in the Follower of the Word series and now it is in my editor’s hands. Wahoo! It is not slated to be released until 2015, but it will be worth the wait. Not sure? Here the response from one of my beta readers after she finished the book: “Wow, just wow.”

Now I’m working on a completely new project, a Victorian steampunk. To find out more about steampunk, check out Nadine Brande’s article here. In a nutshell, it is genre where the story takes place in a world where technology is run on steam. My world will have a Victorian era flavor to it, which has been a lot of fun to research the last few weeks.

My new story revolves around a high society young woman and bounty hunter in a Victorian world where science is crossing into the mystic in search of secret knowledge.

Airship

 

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Well, for one thing I write for adults. There are not that many Christian fantasy novels that are geared toward the adult reader. That doesn’t mean teens shouldn’t read my book (they do, and I have received some great emails from teens who were encouraged by my books). It simply means my characters are adults and they deal with adult issues.

I also don’t have the fantasy creatures and world building that people usually associate with the fantasy genre. There are no dragons, no elves, no orcs, etc… Don’t get me wrong, I love that stuff, but I write more about people who are given extraordinary gifts and then explore what they do with them.

My work has been compared to The Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind and Shannara by Terry Brooks. If you’ve heard of either of these authors and like their stories, then you’ll probably enjoy the Follower of the Word series.

 

3) Why do I write what I do?

Hmm, good question. Probably because I couldn’t write anything else.  I love historical fiction, and I have thought about writing in that genre, but I’m sure something magical or fantastical would make its way into my story and then it would end up being a fantasy 😉

Since I was little girl, I have always had a very colorful imagination. The fantasy genre gives me a place to explore my ideas and stories. That and I love the freedom that comes with being able to create my own world.

 

4) How does my writing process work?

It usually starts with a character. I see this character in some kind of situation and start asking who are they? What happened to them to get them into this situation? And what will happen to them next?

For example, when I first saw Caleb Tala, the assassin in the Follower of the Word series, he had just murdered a man. I wondered who Caleb really was, why had he done this, and what was going to happen to him next? From there his story grew.

I collect the pieces of the story in a folder on my computer, accumulating dialogue, character information, and plots for months and years. When I am finally read to sit down and write the story, I know the majority of the story (like the beginning, the end, and major plotlines). Then I write.

As a mother and a pastor’s wife, I only have a couple hours a day to write, Monday-Thursday. I’m also a slow writer (sloooooowwww!) so it takes me about a year to write a book. However, I’m very meticulous while I write, so when I go back and edit, there is usually very little change to the story, just cleanup.

After cleanup, the manuscript is shipped off to my editor and I start my next story 🙂

***

Thank you so much for stopping by! Now it is time for me to tag two more authors.

First is Nadine Brandes. Nadine’s debut novel, A Time to Die, will be releasing this fall. It is a YA dystopian about a world in which everyone has a clock that is ticking down to the day they die. I can’t wait! Anyway, Nadine will be posting next Wednesday, June 25th. Go check out what she has to say: www.nadinebrandes.com

And my second author is Angie Brashear. Her debut novel, Of the Persecuted, just released! It is currently on my to-be-read pile (so no spoilers!). Angie will post her part of the blog tour on Saturday, June 28th. Check out her blog here: www.angiebrashear.com