Joyce Reynolds-Ward is a writer, horsewoman, former middle school learning specialist, and skier splitting her time between Portland and Enterprise, Oregon. Besides earning a SemiFinalist placement in Writers of the Future, she’s had short stories and essays published in Random Realities, M-Brane SF, The Fifth Di…, Nightbird Singing in the Dead of Night, Zombiefied, River, Gobshite Quarterly, Gears and Levers 1, How Beer Saved the World, Trust and Treachery, and Fantasy Scroll Magazine. Her novels in The Netwalk Sequence– Life in the Shadows: Diana and Will, Netwalk: Expanded Edition, Netwalker Uprising, and Netwalk’s Children are available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other sites. The final installment in the Netwalk Sequence, Netwalking Space, will be available in December 2016/January 2017. Seeking Shelter at the End of the World (a cozy apocalypse) is available from eTreasures Publishing. Pledges of Honor, the first book in Goddess’s Honor, a high fantasy with a non-European setting, is now available. The prequel to Pledges, Beyond Honor, is now available, and Book Two in Goddess’s Honor, Challenges to Honor, will be available in 2017.
Joyce is also publishing short stories and novellas from the Netwalk Sequence which are illustrated using photographs of some of the pictures she has taken over the years which help illuminate the inspiration for the stories. Dahlia, Winter Shadows, and Shadow Harvest are all available on Amazon.
Examples of Joyce’s professional education writing can be found at ChildsWork.com. When not teaching, she’s often thundering about on her intrepid reining mare Mocha, living la vida ski bum, and writing. Follow Joyce’s adventures through her blog, Peak Amygdala, at www.joycereynoldsward.com.
The Netwalking Space Plot Matrix
by Joyce Reynolds-Ward
I owe a lot of the enjoyment and pleasure I had in writing Netwalking Space to a strategy I discovered when writing a previous book. In March of 2015 I had two big things going on in my life. The first was to write the next book in my science fiction series. The second was to move myself, my husband, and my horse 350 miles from Portland to Enterprise, Oregon, to begin a life split between the two places. I was already behind in getting that book out, so I couldn’t just put writing aside until most of the move was finished. But writing while moving meant that I needed to figure out how to keep track of a fairly complex book so that whenever I could snatch a moment, it would be possible to pick up the flow of my writing with minimal fuss and bother.
So I decided to borrow a technique I had seen attributed to J.K. Rowling, and use a plot matrix. Hers was different and tied to page count; mine focused on scenes. I took a 8 ½” x 11” legal pad and turned it lengthwise. Down the short side, I listed characters. In each column, I noted whether said character was in that scene and if they were, what they were doing. If not in the scene but doing something important, I noted that as well. Two pages were dedicated to the beginning, two more to the middle, and two more to the end.
It worked well and I only had to reorganize it once. Even better, when it was time to send the book off to my editor, she didn’t find big continuity holes. The final edit was relatively painless.
I have to do this again, I told myself. So when it became time to plot out Netwalking Space in July of 2016, I sat down with my old friend the yellow legal pad to plan my matrix. This time, while I wasn’t moving, I still needed to be able to pick up my thoughts after a day’s drive between Portland and Enterprise, as well as during our side trips to Clatskanie where we maintain a garden with a friend. Another consideration was the number of series threads that needed to be wrapped up in Space. Finally, I wanted the book to be as standalone as I could make it.
All these factors meant I needed to be as organized as possible. The plot matrix, combined with an expanding accordion folder to keep the main yellow legal pad and other notes I kept on the work, was key to my survival. I just needed to set up the laptop, pull the legal pad out of the expanding folder, check where I was in the matrix, and get to work. The beauty of this method was that I didn’t need to dither about where the story was going, because I knew what was going to happen next. But the necessary shortness of the notes on each scene also allowed for some major twists and turns in the story, so I didn’t sacrifice a lot of spontaneity while writing it. If anything, working off of that matrix meant it was easier to throw another twist into the mix, because then I could make notes in a different ink color about what changed going forward and what might change in rewrites.
This method let me have fun while writing the story. I actually enjoyed writing sections of the book midway through instead of gritting my teeth and telling myself I will get through this, I will get through this—that muddle in the middle that every writer dreads. I got to make myself laugh when writing the first alien contact sequence that was mildly inspired by every cheesy science fiction alien contact trope out there—and poke fun at it. The matrix made writing Netwalking Space enjoyable, entertaining, engaging…and I hope my delight in writing it carries over into the reading of the book.
I am sad to be leaving this series and this world, especially since I had so much fun writing this book. But Space brought my characters to a logical stopping point, with a paradigm change in their world. Despite all the angst that the book carries, I intended to leave it with a breath of hope as well—a wee bit of a happily ever after and resolution of lives of great drama. I hope my readers have as much fun reading it as I did writing it!
◊ ◊ ◊
*** Netwalking Space is available to purchase TODAY!!!! ****
◊ ◊ ◊
Buy the Book:
Amazon | Barnes & Nobel | Goodreads | iTunes | Kobo
About the Book:
78,954 alien devices appear just outside Pluto orbit, with a projected trajectory that ends at Earth…and the data shows they’re identical to the Gizmo war machine that destroyed ten Earth cities before it was captured and confined….
For four generations Bess Fielding and her family have led the battle to control the destructive Gizmo device that also allowed for the development of Netwalk, a digital virtual networking and communication system that allows personalities to upload at death. Bess, her mother Melanie, and her Netwalker great-grandmother Sarah have suspected Gizmo’s alien origin for years.
But when a fleet of Gizmo devices arrives at the Solar System, their focus on defending against this invasion is disrupted by disclosures of dark secrets from Sarah’s past. These revelations provoke a dangerous breakdown in Bess’s grandmother Diana, turning her into a Gizmo collaborator. Bess and her family must unite to save Diana and lead the fight to protect Earth—but who is trustworthy? Who is a betrayer? Who gets sacrificed to stop the invading fleet? Bess, Melanie, and Sarah are in a race against time and face tough choices…that will impact those they love.