Thursday, February 18, 2021

Blog Tour + Guest Post + Giveaway - We Are the Fire by Sam Taylor


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We Are the Fire by Sam Taylor
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: February 16th 2021

Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult


 As electrifying as it is heartbreaking, Sam Taylor’s explosive fantasy debut We Are the Fire is perfect for fans of An Ember in the Ashes and the legend of Spartacus.


 In the cold, treacherous land of Vesimaa, children are stolen from their families by a cruel emperor, forced to undergo a horrific transformative procedure, and serve in the army as magical fire-wielding soldiers. Pran and Oksana―both taken from their homeland at a young age―only have each other to hold onto in this heartless place.

Pran dreams of one day rebelling against their oppressors and destroying the empire; Oksana only dreams of returning home and creating a peaceful life for them both.

When they discover the emperor has a new, more terrible mission than ever for their kind, Pran and Oksana vow to escape his tyranny once and for all. But their methods and ideals differ drastically, driving a wedge between them. Worse still, they both soon find that the only way to defeat the monsters that subjugated them may be to become monsters themselves.


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A Funny Thing That Happened on the Way to Publication


By the time I’d received my book deal for We Are the Fire, I’d written five fantasy manuscripts, and all were standalones… except WAtF. Originally, I’d always envisioned this book as a duology. I knew there was more about Oksana and Pran’s story that I needed to share with readers.

And my editor, Emily Settle, agreed. But the answer wasn’t a sequel. She challenged me to wrap up Oksana’s and Pran’s story in a single volume.

*****Panic time*****

Once I stopped freaking out about how I’d wrap up a complex, dual POV fantasy story in one book, I made myself sit down and get to work. I read through WAtF again—my first time looking at that story in nearly five months. I’d sensed the manuscript had some pacing issues and would benefit from tightening. There was plenty of stuff from the first part of the story I could cut, leaving me with room to see Oksana and Pran to their story’s conclusion.

So I grabbed a stack of index cards, and wrote down, from memory, scenes I must have for the story to make sense. Spoiler alert: It was far less than Early Drafting Sam was sure were needed.

Revising Fire for publication became an exercise in simplifying my storytelling—a useful challenge for a writer who often overcomplicates her plots. As I created a new outline for the book I pushed myself to identify the simplest solutions to story events. And I ended up with a plan for a much more concise book that’s tight on tension.

Revising the first chunk of the story (my original “Book One”) was surprisingly quick. Once I stopped being precious about my work, it wasn’t hard to streamline the story into a fast-paced opening. But then I hit the second part: what came after the original ending, scenes I had barely explored in an uncompleted rough draft.

While revising the first part had been instinctual, the story sometimes knitting itself back together before my eyes, when it came to Part Two, I struggled for every. single. word. And I hated all of them. Some days, I could barely stand to work on the book. This story that I’d believed in for years—I kind of hated it. I didn’t see how I could turn it into anything other people would want to read.

“What on earth is going on with me?!” I wondered.

One afternoon, it hit me—I was going through Second Book Syndrome. With my debut novel. Because I was working on what I’d always envisioned as the second book.

Having words for what was happening helped get me over the hump. That, and the looming deadline for my revision. Since becoming a mom, my writing time is much more limited. I had to make what time I did have count.

So every day that I sat down to work, I pushed myself to write something. I had to create new words each session, because once Little T woke from his nap, writing time was over. So I wrote, even if it was only part of a scene, or snippets of dialogue. Each time, I'd get something down. Scene by scene, word by word, I chipped away at the intimidating Part Two.

After a few weeks, when I finally typed the climactic scenes, I looked through everything I’d written... and realized that not only had I accomplished the impossible—creating a new ending for this story—I absolutely loved what I’d come up with. WAtF was complete, and it was fierce. This was a book I’d be thrilled to share with readers.

With the help of two of my most trusted critique partners (an excellent writing community is essential!!) I cleaned up the manuscript into something I was proud to send back to my editor. And all that work paid off. My editor’s response to the new manuscript: “Holy crap on a cracker, this revision is so damn good!!!!”

Could I get that for a blurb, please??


About the Author


Sam Taylor grew up in Arizona’s deserts and now lives among Connecticut’s trees. She spends her days writing, being mom to the world’s cutest boys, whirling through dance workouts, and baking too many cakes. She does not possess fire magic, but does have one fire-colored cat. We Are the Fire is her debut novel.


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